The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the coveted horse racing Triple Crown, will go off at Churchill Downs at 6:46 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 5.
You can tune in on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) for the Derby undercards from 12 -2:30 pm ET and stream the races here. Then it’s over to NBC at 2:30 pm for coverage and the main event, with a stream available here.
If all 20 horses start, the total purse would be $2,192,000. The winner earns $1,432,000. Horses are in post position order below with trainers, jockeys and morning-line odds. Here’s the preview and picks.
Kentucky Derby Preview and Picks for 144th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs: Will the Favorite Win a Sixth Straight?
1) Firenze Fire: Jason Servis, Paco Lopez, 50-1
Has proven no match for the top of this crop. No reason to think the winner of the Jerome will be anywhere near the leaders at the finish line.
2) Free Drop Billy, Dale Romans, Robby Albarado 30-1
No wins in three starts as a 3-year-old. Make it 0-for-4. Has shown no improvement and will be no threat.
3) Promises Fulfilled, Dale Romans, Corey Lanerie 30-1
Led wire-to-wire in the Fountain of Youth. Came back with an abysmal performance in the Florida Derby, finishing 35 lengths behind Audible, after setting pace with an insane opening quarter. Expect this Romans’ trainee to try and make the front early, but do not expect to see him there when they turn for home.
4) Flame Away, Mark Casse, Jose Lezcano, 30-1
Two wins and two seconds in four starts in 2018. One of two clunkers in his career came in his only start over Churchill last year. Honest sort and always trying. Could be worth throwing into superfectas to try and boost the payoff.
5) Audible, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 8-1
Pletcher looks to go back-to-back. Always Dreaming won the Florida Derby in 2017 and Audible comes into the Run for the Roses with an impressive victory in this year’s edition of the prep. Audible was aided in the Florida Derby by a wild sub-22 second opening quarter. Hot pace in this race makes him dangerous down the stretch.
[Also See: The 10 Longest Shots to Win Kentucky Derby]
6) Good Magic, Chad Brown, Jose Ortiz, 12-1
Coming into first leg of the Triple Crown off victory in the Blue Grass. He has top connections – Brown and Ortiz — and has made $1.85 million in five career starts. Improving and will be ready to put forth best effort on biggest day of any 3-year-old’s career.
7) Justify, Bob Baffert, Mike Smith, 3-1
Undefeated in his three starts and has looked like a rock star in each victory. Impeccable trainer-jockey combination. The big question: Will no starts at 2 and lack of experience come back to haunt the Baffert trainee on Saturday? No horse has won the Derby unraced at 2 since Apollo in 1882. That’s a lot of history to overcome. However, Justify has justified his role as the morning-line choice by looking better in each of his starts. If any horse-trainer combo can thwart the unraced-at-2 jinx, it is this one. Six horses have won from post seven, most recently Street Sense in 2007.
8) Lone Sailor, Tom Amoss, James Graham, 50-1
A live longshot from the Amoss barn. The big negative is one victory in eight starts. The positives? Strong closes in his last two races and a sensational workout – five furlongs in :57 3/5 on April 19. May not take home the roses but should be used in exotics.
9) Hofburg, Bill Mott, Irad Ortiz Jr., 20-1
Will make only his fourth career start, like Justify, however one of the Mott trainee’s races did come as a 2-year-old. Ran like the good thing he was believed to be while finishing second to Audible in the Florida Derby. Another horse with stellar connections – okay, this is the Derby so most do – and was “smooth as silk,” according to trainer Mott in his final Derby prep. A definite use for the exotics and don’t be surprised if he is in the thick of it at the finish.
10) My Boy Jack, Keith Desormeaux, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1
Will make his 11th career start when entering the gate on Saturday. So, he is long on experience as opposed to some of the top contenders. He did win the Lexington as the 3-2 choice in his most recent effort. However, the competition ramps up many notches for Team Desormeaux and it feels like this is too deep.
11) Bolt d’Oro, Mick Ruis, Victor Espinoza, 8-1
This crop of 3-year-olds is deep and you need no more proof than to see how tough this son of Medalgia d’Oro has had it in two starts at 3. First, he engaged in a stirring duel with McKinzie, another Baffert trainee, in the San Felipe, eventually being moved up to first on a DQ. Then with McKinzie sidelined, he runs into Justify and finishes a solid second. Talented and bordering on brilliant, but will that be enough in 2018? Some horses are just born the wrong year.
12) Enticed, Kiaran McLaughlin, Junior Alvarado, 30-1
The good news is he is 1-for-1 over Churchill, taking a victory as a 2-year-old. The bad news? Feels like he is overmatched at this point of his career here. Had some traffic trouble while finishing second in the Wood Memorial. There does not figure to be a smooth journey with 19 foes in the Derby.
13) Bravazo, D. Wayne Lukas, Luis Contreras, 50-1
Who would not like to see Lukas win another Derby? He’s 82 and still sending out top horses. After winning first two starts at 3, this son of Awesome Again was awful in the Louisiana Derby. Hard to believe he will contend here no matter how much of a fairytale victory it would be.
14) Mendelssohn, Aiden O’Brian, Ryan Moore, 5-1
Was beyond brilliant in Dubai, posting an 18 1/2-length victory with dazzling ease. Top international connections. Had some travel trouble on way to Louisville, as flight was diverted to Indianapolis due to paperwork issues with a human, nothing equine. He is going to take money off the romp in Dubai. This race will not be as easy. The margin in his last race was eye-opening. However, keep your eyes wide open and take a long at how he looks on the track before opening your wallet on Saturday.
15) Instilled Regard, Jerry Hollendorfer, Drayden Van Dyke, 50-1
No match for Justify and Bolt d’Oro in Santa Anita Derby. Does not have the speed figures to match any of the best horses in this race. Would be shocking if he was involved in any exotic wager.
16) Magnum Moon, Todd Pletcher, Luis Saez, 6-1
Another horse looking to defy the “Apollo jinx.” All four starts have been victories but they have all come in 2018. Comes into the race off stellar performance in the Arkansas Derby, which he won by four lengths. Could the son of Malibu Moon make Pletcher the first trainer to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbys?
17) Solomini, Bob Baffert, Flavien Prat, 30-1
The “other” Baffert. Does not stack up to the top contenders in this talented field. Could not handle Magnum Moon in his most two recent efforts in Arkansas. Baffert is always a threat but this one would be a surprise. Add in that the 17-post has never won a Kentucky Derby.
18) Vino Rosso, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 12-1
Another Pletcher. Won the Wood Memorial in most recent start. However, he seems in rather deep in this field. Would be surprising to see him in the winner’s circle, to say the least. Others in his barn offer far more opportunity to cash.
19) Noble Indy, Todd Pletcher, Florent Giroux, 30-1
The third of the four Pletcher horses to draw a start in the outside gate. The Derby can – and has – been won from the auxiliary gate. That said, it isn’t easy and the Louisiana Derby winner is up against it, talent-wise and in the trip he will endure.
20) Combatant, Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 50-1
Won the cleverly named JR Steaks at Turfway, then came back and was no threat in the Blue Grass. Outside post and past performances suggest this son of Proud Citizen is way overmatched.
Five consecutive betting favorites have won the Kentucky Derby. That’s quite a roll. Will Justify make it six? History says no. History also says Magnum Moon won’t get the job done. There is also history to be made as Todd Pletcher sends out Audible and three other charges in pursuit of back-to-back Derby wins. That won’t happen.
Good Magic is trained by the brilliant Chad Brown. He has the horse coming into the race in top form. At 12-1, he’s too good to pass up.
Bolt d’Oro is ready to rock in the Run for the Roses. Yes, he finished second to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby. However, he can turn the tables here, having more experience than the morning-line favorite. At 8-1, he’s got a solid shot.
Hofburg is another horse lacking experience, and that may cost him the win but he definitely is a play for exotics.
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