Kentucky Derby Futures: Guess Who’s No. 1?

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. 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.

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 have dwindled, and now there only 30 or so 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. 

After an April 7 afternoon that saw three major Kentucky Derby preps come off the books – with Justify (Santa Anita Derby), Good Magic (Toyota Blue Grass Stakes), and Vino Rosso (Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets) all gaining more backers in Vegas and elsewhere – this upcoming Saturday brings the final two points races for the 144th Kentucky Derby. Oaklawn Park concludes its Racing Festival of the South with the Arkansas Derby, offering 170 points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale. At Keeneland, the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes offers points to the top four on a 20-8-4-2 scale and is expected to draw a couple of horses right on the qualifying-points fence for the Kentucky Derby who will need to win the race to secure a spot.

In addition to the Vegas action, Churchill Downs concluded its fourth and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager on April 8, and Justify was the top horse in the betting, carrying 3-1 odds.

April 2 Wynn Odds Leaders to Win the Kentucky Derby:

1) Justify (5-2)

2) Good Magic (7-1)

2) Mendelssohn (7-1)

4) Audible (8-1)

4) Bolt d’Oro (8-1)

6) Magnum Moon (9-1)

April 2 Wynn Odds Leaders to Win the Triple Crown:

1) Justify (8-1)

2) Bolt d’Oro (25-1)

3) Audible (30-1)

3) Good Magic (30-1)

3) Mendelssohn (30-1)

6) Magnum Moon (45-1)

Notable Changes:

Justify (BENOIT photo)

Justify: He now sits as the 5-2 Kentucky Derby favorite on Wynn’s book, down from 6-1 last week, and there’s a pretty good chance those odds will be very close to his morning-line odds set by Mike Battaglia at the April 4 Derby draw. He answered the biggest question remaining about his lack of experience with an authoritative three-length win over multiple Grade 1 winner Bolt d’Oro in the Santa Anita Derby, and although several smaller ones remain, truthfully they’re the same questions that apply to every Kentucky Derby contender to one extent or another (How will he respond to a huge field? Can he navigate a hectic trip? Can he get the distance?) This is simply the most visually impressive colt of his class, somewhat reminiscent of Curlin in his physique and American Pharoah in his stride, with the speed figures to match. His odds at Wynn may go even lower in the next two weeks as the buzz escalates. Read more about him in Mike Curry’s latest Making the Grade profile.

Mendelssohn: This impressive foreign invader is also starting to sway more backers who were dazzled by his 18 ½-length runaway in the United Arab Emirates Derby Sponsored by Saeed & Mohammad Al Naboodah Group. He’s now listed at 7-1 on Wynn’s sheet, down from 12-1 last week, and if all goes well and he makes the Derby, he brings a load of intrigue into the race – especially if his Coolmore connections and jockey Ryan Moore strategize to gain the early lead and control the pace as they did in Dubai.

Good Magic: Somewhat lost in the shadow of Justify’s dominance and Vino Rosso’s improvement, this champion displayed the same sort of professionalism he first showed last fall in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when returning to form in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. His odds change at Wynn mirrored Mendelssohn’s, dropping from 12-1 to 7-1, and if he can secure a good stalking position and clean trip under Jose Ortiz in the Kentucky Derby as he did at Del Mar last year and Keeneland last week, his pedigree and closing kick should put him right in the mix racing down Churchill’s long stretch.

Vino Rosso: This Repole Stable/St. Elias Stable colt posted the biggest odds drop of the week by far, moving from 65-1 to 16-1. Before the Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets, he was on the outside looking in with regards to Derby qualifying points, but now he’s safely in the field. Like Good Magic, he has a stalk-and-pounce running style that should serve him well in the Kentucky Derby if he has a clean trip, although to these eyes he doesn’t have the same turn of foot as does Good Magic (or his stablemate Audible, for that matter). Along with Audible, Magnum Moon, and Noble Indy (also 16-1 at Wynn), this son of Curlin is part of perhaps the deepest bench Todd Pletcher has brought to at the Kentucky Derby – and that’s saying something.

Ones to Watch:

Greyvitos (BENOIT photo)

My Boy Jack and Greyvitos: These two stakes-winning colts headline the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes and are the most likely Kentucky Derby candidates if they run well at Keeneland. My Boy Jack currently sits in the 21st spot on the Road to the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard with 32, and although there are usually a couple of late defections from the top 20 in the final days before the run for the roses, any additional points earned Saturday will do the Southwest Stakes winner a world of good – first or second, especially. Greyvitos has a tougher task. He tallied 10 qualifying points back in December when winning the Springboard Mile at Remington Park, but suffered an injury setback and will be making his first start as a 3-year-old in the Lexington Stakes. He needs to win the race just to get near the top 20 leaderboard, and then his connections need to hope for defections. In his favor, the Adam Kitchingman trainee has been working well in California in preparation for this last-gasp attempt at the Derby, drilling five furlongs in 1:00.20 on April 7. Wynn’s odds: 40-1 for My Boy Jack; 75-1 for Greyvitos.

Arkansas Derby Probables: Magnum Moon and Quip are two Arkansas Derby likely starters that are already locked in for the Kentucky Derby, but the other probables have work to do in Saturday’s 170-point race. Solomini, currently getting 16-1 odds at Wynn, ranks 19th on the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard with 34, and it’s conceivable that if he were to run worse than fourth he’d be leapfrogged by other horses in the Arkansas Derby not named Magnum Moon and Quip, and possibly by My Boy Jack from Keeneland as well. Steve Asmussen has three horses entered in the Arkansas Derby, led by Combatant, who has accumulated 22 qualifying points and is listed as 60-1 on Wynn’s sheet. That late-running colt could get into the Kentucky Derby picture with a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby, as could Dream Baby Dream (85-1), who has 20 points and is even more pace-dependent than Combatant. Asmussen’s other entrant, Tenfold (85-1), may have the most potential of any horse in the field but will only be making his third career start.

Upcoming Derby Preps: Saturday’s $1 million, Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, held at 1 1/8 miles, and the $200,000, Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, run at 1 1/16 miles, are the final two domestic prep races for the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Both will be televised on TVG. Here are Wynn’s future-book odds for both fields, listed in post position order:

Arkansas Derby:

1) Beautiful Shot (200-1)

2) Machismo (225-1)

3) Tenfold (85-1)

4) Dream Baby Dream (85-1)

5) Solomini (16-1)

6) Magnum Moon (9-1)

7) Plainsman (300-1)

8) Quip (30-1)

9) Combatant (60-1)

Stonestreet Lexington Stakes:

1) Battle At Sea (not offered)

2) Telekinesis (250-1)

3) Seven Trumpets (300-1)

4) Honor Up (not offered)

5) Magicalmeister (not offered)

6) Greyvitos (75-1)

7) Pony Up (250-1)

8) Gracida (500-1)

9) Navy Armed Guard (500-1)

10) Zanesville (not offered)

11) Arched Feather (500-1)

12) My Boy Jack (45-1)

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