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. Through April, America’s Best Racing will bring you up to date with the changing odds and notable entries at the pre-eminent Kentucky Derby future wager bookmaker on the Las Vegas strip – Wynn Las Vegas.
Last Saturday marked the final day for horses to snag Derby qualifying points and either firm up or gain a position in the top 20 rankings and thus a spot in the May 5 starting gate. Magnum Moon, already safely in the Derby field, became one of the probable favorites with a four-length romp in the Arkansas Derby. In the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, My Boy Jack did what was necessary and finished first by a head to earn 20 additional qualifying points and secure his own spot in the field.
Wynn’s odds on Kentucky Derby contenders may change in the final days as bets are still coming in and will be through Derby week, and contenders may be added to the futures sheet if current Derby horses have to withdraw due to injury or otherwise (which recently happened with Runaway Ghost). Overall, Wynn’s future-book odds at this point are a good barometer to judge how horses will be rated when Churchill Downs unveils its morning-line Kentucky Derby odds at the draw.
April 18 Wynn Odds Leaders to Win the Kentucky Derby:
1) Justify (5-2, opened at 300-1)
2) Magnum Moon (5-1, opened at 200-1)
3) Good Magic (7-1, opened at 100-1)
3) Mendelssohn (7-1, opened at 150-1)
5) Audible (8-1, opened at 200-1)
5) Bolt d’Oro (8-1, opened at 40-1)
April 18 Wynn Odds Leaders to Win the Triple Crown:
1) Justify (8-1)
2) Magnum Moon (20-1)
3) Bolt d’Oro (25-1)
4) Audible (30-1)
4) Good Magic (30-1)
4) Mendelssohn (30-1)
Magnum Moon: Following his overpowering Arkansas Derby win, he’s now become the second choice in Vegas at 5-1 (down from 9-1 on April 11), right behind fellow “curse of Apollo” rebel Justify. His speed figures may be a bit light in comparison with other top-line Kentucky Derby contenders, and he’s drifted out in the stretch in two of his four career wins, but as America's Best Racing's Mike Curry explains, he’s already shown versatility by winning from just off the pace and, in the Arkansas Derby, on the lightly pressured lead. One minor area of concern is that trainer Todd Pletcher’s first-call riders John Velazquez and Javier Castellano are confirmed for Vino Rosso and Audible, respectively – but then again, leading Gulfstream Park Championship Meet jockey Luis Saez has done nothing wrong on this horse in four starts.
Quip: Was all out to gamely hold second in the Arkansas Derby, and his odds at Wynn dropped from 30-1 to 22-1 as a result. If he does run in the Kentucky Derby (and as of mid-afternoon April 18, there was still a small degree of uncertainty as to his next start) he’ll be a live longshot to at least hit the board, and maybe do more if one or more of the top contenders have bad trips or just fail to fire. A mile and a quarter seems a bit too far for him based on his past performances and pedigree, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this colt summon an effort reminiscent of Florent Geroux-piloted Gun Runner in the 2016 Derby, which was good enough for third place. *** On April 23, Quip's owners and trainer Rodolphe Brisset announced that they would skip the Kentucky Derby and point their horse to the May 19 Preakness Stakes ***
My Boy Jack: He’ll be another intriguing longshot in the Kentucky Derby given his consistent closing ability and what projects to be an honest pace. Granted, he’s in the second tier of Derby contenders when speed figures are considered, but he’ll have loads of Triple Crown experience with Kent Desormeaux aboard and he has proved that he doesn’t mind rallying along the rail (in his Southwest Stakes win) or going wide (in his Lexington Stakes win and Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby third). His odds dropped from 45-1 to 20-1 at Wynn.
Flameaway: The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes runner-up’s odds slipped from 35-1 to 25-1 at Wynn, and he projects to be one of the four or five horses at the head of the field through the first mile or so, absent any early trouble out of the gate. Can he sustain his fight for 1 ¼ miles? Doubtful, but this colt’s competitiveness should never be discounted.
Horses to Watch:
Combatant and Instilled Regard: Both are on the outside looking in at the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard as of April 18 – Combatant is 21st with 32 qualifying points and Instilled Regard is 22nd with 29 qualifying points. They’ve got first dibs on the Derby if horses withdraw, and Combatant is getting 75-1 odds at Wynn, while Instilled Regard is at 35-1.