Justify, Mendelssohn Listed as Early Kentucky Derby Favorites

The 2018 running of the Kentucky Derby is still a few weeks away, but bettors are already eagerly wagering on the event. On Sunday, Bob Baffert’s Justify closed the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) as a heavy 3-1 favorite to win the race. Ireland-based Mendelssohn was right on Justify’s heels at 5-1.

Justify doesn’t have a lengthy track record of success, but the colt has won all 3 races in which it has participated. Justify won the Santa Anita Derby over the weekend by 3 lengths over another Derby favorite, Bolt d’Oro.

In all, 6 horses closed the KDFW with single-digit odds. In addition to Justify and Mendelssohn, Audible (7-1), Magnum Moon (8-1), Good Magic (9-1) and Bolt d’Oro (9-1) were the others. Magnum Moon, who is trained by renowned trainer Todd Pletcher, is set to run in next weekend’s Arkansas Derby. Pletcher also trains Audible, who recently won the Florida Derby.

Justify’s dominance despite his inexperience shows his massive potential. He will also be trying to break a trend that has been ongoing since way back in 1882. Since the 1882 running of the Derby, no horse that went unraced as a 2-year-old has ever won. Since that year, horses that did not race as 2-year-olds have a record of 61-0-3-5 at the Kentucky Derby.

A few such horses have finished in second place: Coaltown (1948), Strodes Creek (1994), Bodemeister (2012). A few others (Hampden in 1946, Agitate in 1974, Reinvested in 1982, Curlin in 2007 and Battle of Midway in 2017) finished third.

The rest of the horses likely to take part in the race closed as follows: Hofburg (22-1), Solomini (25-1), Enticed (27-1), My Boy Jack (27-1), Noble Indy (31-1), Quip (31-1), Flameaway (42-1), Free Drop Billy (47-1), Runaway Ghost (53-1), Gronkowski (61-1), Bravazo (65-1), Combatant (66-1), Lone Sailor (78-1), Promises Fulfilled (98-1), Instilled Regard (104-1), Title Ready (285-1) and Mississippi (scratched).

Other horses listed as 3-1 favorites to go on to win the Derby are Big Brown in 2008, Uncle Mo in 2011 and Nyquist in 2016. Empire Maker, who finished as runner-up in 2013, closed as a 5-2 favorite that year.

The object of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is to give bettors the chance to place an early bet on a horse at what figure to be more favorable odds than those we’ll see on the first Saturday in May. The $2 million race, which is running for the 144th consecutive year, will take place at Churchill Downs on May 5. This is the 20th straight year of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

The KDFW’s total handle for the pool wound up at $543,010, which is a 23.3 percent increase from the amount wagered ahead of last year’s Derby ($440,511). $339,036 of the bets came in on the winner, while the other $203,974 came in on Exacta bets.

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Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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