Kentucky Derby Futures: Forget the Lotto, Bet These Longshots

Fans cheer home a winner at Churchill Downs. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

One of the most exciting pit stops on the Road to the Triple Crown involves laying down some cash on a futures pick for the 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. Starting now, and through April, America’s Best Racing will bring you up to date with the changing odds and notable entries at two of the main Kentucky Derby future wager bookmakers in Las Vegas – the books at Wynn Las Vegas and William Hill.

Bolt d'Oro and Good Magic (Eclipse Sportswire)

We’ll revisit these odds when new sheets are released (usually after a major prep race is completed). With each passing prep race, the number of viable Derby contenders will shrink, but as of now, there are literally hundreds of horses out there that carry the dreams of owners and gamblers alike to find the Churchill Downs winner’s circle somewhere around 7 p.m. ET on May 5 – and some of them may have not even raced yet.

Aside from the Las Vegas books, the first of four Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools offered by Churchill Downs Inc. runs from Nov. 23-26. That’s the closing weekend of the track’s fall meet, highlighted by the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, a Kentucky Derby qualifying points race. "All Others" is the betting favorite before the pools open at 7-5 odds; among individual horses, Good Magic leads at 8-1, followed by Bolt d’Oro at 10-1. During that time, Churchill will also offer its only Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager, where bettors can lay money on a particular stallion that they feel is on the cusp of siring a Derby winner. "All Other Sires" is the morning-line favorite at 4-1, followed by Curlin at 8-1. The 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year is the sire of both Good Magic and Solomini.

Nov. 16 Odds Leaders


1. Bolt d’Oro (15-1)

2. Good Magic (18-1)

3. Montauk (22-1)

4. McKinzie (30-1)

5. Solomini (30-1)

William Hill (as of Nov. 12)

1. Bolt d’Oro (10-1)

2. McKinzie (12-1)

2. Montauk (12-1)

4. Good Magic (16-1)

5. Solomini (25-1)

The Early Leaders:

Bolt d’Oro: Given a pass by some when he ran third in the Nov. 4 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to his wide trip throughout the race, this talented colt nevertheless lost some of his luster after entering the World Championships as a single on many horseplayers’ Pick 3 and Pick 4 tickets. He’s certainly got the pedigree to run well as the distances get longer in upcoming Derby preps, as he’s a son of Medaglia d’Oro out of an A.P. Indy mare. Owner-trainer Mick Ruis will keep him in California over the winter and target Santa Anita Park’s main points races in early 2018.

Good Magic: Visited the winner’s circle for the first time on the sport’s biggest stage after upsetting the Sentient Jet Juvenile in a runaway at 11.50-1 odds. Hasn’t run a bad race yet as he was second in his two prior starts in New York, including the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. He’s another whose pedigree is tailored for longer distances, by Curlin and out of a stakes-winning Hard Spun mare. Look for him to surface at Gulfstream Park early next year for Chad Brown.

McKinzie: The first of two maiden winners to take a good chunk of early Derby futures money, this son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense won by 5 ½ lengths in his career debut on Oct. 28 going seven-eighths of a mile at Santa Anita, pulling away impressively after switching leads in midstretch and posting a first-out Equibase Speed Figure of 116. Trainer Bob Baffert and owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman have teamed up to win some of the sport’s biggest races with such stars as Midnight Lute, Lookin At Lucky, and Hoppertunity. This colt’s dam (mother) is multiple graded stakes winner Runway Model.

Montauk (Viola Jasko/NYRA)

Montauk: Another who impressed in a seven-furlong career debut, this Medaglia d’Oro colt contested the pace through Belmont Park’s sweeping turn and powered clear to an 11 ¼-length blowout on Oct. 7. He skipped the Sentient Jet Juvenile, and as of Nov. 16 he hasn’t posted a workout since his win. Like McKinzie, he’s got top-level connections in trainer Todd Pletcher and the owner partnership of Robert LaPenta, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing, and others. His dam is multiple graded stakes winner Indian Vale, a daughter of the legendary A.P. Indy.

Solomini: The Sentient Jet Juvenile runner-up posted a swift :47.40 half-mile workout on Nov. 15 for owner Zayat Stables and trainer Bob Baffert, the same connections that brought us American Pharoah. In his three starts, he’s posted a sharp first-out win followed by seconds to Bolt d’Oro in the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes and to Good Magic in the Sentient Jet Juvenile. This Curlin colt is out of an unraced Storm Cat mare who is a half-brother to 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman. He is closely related to 2016 Whitney Stakes winner Frosted, among several other high-class horses.

Five to Follow:

Engage: This Into Mischief colt owned by Woodford Racing and trained by Chad Brown is sitting at 75-1 in Wynn’s book based on a 2-for-3 record and a sharp 3 ½-length win in the Futurity Stakes on Oct. 14 at Belmont. He’s yet to race beyond three-quarters of a mile, and Into Mischief has so far had more success siring sprinters and milers rather than Kentucky Derby mile-and-a-quarter horses, but he’s been highly regarded from the outset. Woodford Racing and Brown teamed up to win two graded stakes this year with 3-year-old Timeline. He’s currently offered at 100-1 odds by William Hill.

Mask: Another Brown trainee, this Tapit colt broke a bit slow in his career debut going 6 ½ furlongs at Belmont on Oct. 20, moved up steadily through the turn, and then split horses to win going away by three lengths in an eye-catching debut. He’s offered at 65-1 by Wynn and 75-1 by William Hill and races for the Farish family’s Lane’s End Racing, which bought him for $685,000 as a yearling at the 2016 Keeneland September sale. His dam (mother) is a stakes winner who’s a half-sister to 2009 Whitney Stakes winner Bullsbay.

Nero: Another high-priced yearling, this colt was bought by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables and the Coolmore partnership for $950,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of selected yearlings in August of last year. He’s only made one start for Bob Baffert, back on Aug. 27 in a 5 ½-furlong Del Mar maiden. In that race, he set a swift pace under a hand ride from Martin Garcia, shortened his stride in midstretch and appeared spent, but responded when challenged very late by subsequent stakes winner Beautiful Shot only to lose by a nose. He’s at 65-1 in Wynn’s book and 80-1 at William Hill, and has been training steadily since August at Santa Anita. Pedigree-wise, he’s a son of American Pharoah’s sire (father) Pioneerof the Nile and is a half-brother to graded stakes winner Ocean Knight.

Principe Guilherme (Coady Photography)

Principe Guilherme: This Nov. 10 first-out winner at Churchill Downs didn’t switch leads until nearing the finish line, but still scored by 6 ¼ lengths going seven-eighths of a mile for trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Three Chimneys Farm. His dam (mother) is Aubby K, a Grade 1-winning sprinter, but there are some other stakes winners deeper in his pedigree that suggest he should be able to carry his speed around two turns in future races. He’s sitting at 50-1 odds in Wynn’s futures book and at 100-1 in William Hill’s.

Promises Fulfilled: This Dale Romans-trained colt improved to 2-for-2 in his career on Oct. 13 at Keeneland, winning a seven-eighths-of-a-mile allowance race in a game effort. He set a fast early pace in that race, moved clear with challenger Smart Remark from the rest of the field, and kept that foe at bay in the late stages. Prior to that, he won his career debut in a six-furlong maiden at Churchill by four lengths on Sept. 17. Romans trains Promises Fulfilled for Robert Baron, and the Shackleford colt posted a bullet five-furlong workout in :59.60 on Nov. 14 at Churchill. Offered at 75-1 by Wynn and 125-1 by William Hill, his pedigree may be more suited to one-turn races as he’s the son of a mare who placed in a one-mile graded stakes and also produced stakes-winning sprinter Marquee Miss. Time will tell.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!