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Submitted by John DaSilva on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 6:04 PM

John DaSilva Previews The Derby
Tuesday, May 1

As of this morning the entries are in for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. The post positions have been drawn and the Morning Lines assigned. If your “countdown” to the race hadn’t already begun then it has now.

Heading into the Wood memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby on April 7 I had already seen enough to convince me that this year’s crop of 3-year olds was deeper in talent than any in recent editions. But then when Vino Rosso, Good Magic and Justify did their winning thing in each of those races I was even more convinced, while at the same time finding things to like in colts like Enticed, Flameaway and Bolt d’Oro who ran second respectively to those winners. Then they ran the Arkansas Derby April 14 and Magnum Moon said, “how about me?”

How deep is this field? Both Vino Rosso and Good Magic, despite winning their final 100 point Derby Preps are 12-1 each on the Morning Line.

As incredible as the average payoffs for the Derby have been the last two decades, this year could produce as high or higher rewards even with legitimate contenders taking the top 4 spots.

Here is a PLUS and MINUS line or two on all 21 colts entered today (includes AE runner Blended Citizen.)

With the post positions and Morning Line odds having been established late this morning the horses are listed from the rail out.

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FIRENZE FIRE (50-1)
Plus – Has shown willingness to close when given strong pace. Trainer is 25% overall in 2018. Wins at 31% with shippers.
Minus – Hasn’t come close to winning in last 3 races. Speed figures considerably slower than most of these. Sire does not suggest stamina. Bad post draw.
FREE DROP BILLY (30-1)
Plus
- Competitive second to Audible in Holy Bull and third to Enticed in Gotham. Bullet work over track 4/21 followed by solid half mile 4/28.
Minus – Switches from Irad Ortiz to Robbie Albarado. Raced greenly and got in trouble last two. Speed figures are slower than most rivals.
PROMISES FULFILLED (30-1)
Plus – Has shown competitive speed in 4 of 5 career races. Fountain Of Youth win over Good magic was strong. Has three strong works over the surface last three Saturday’s.
Minus – Both sire (Shackleford) and dam sire (Marquetry) line are mile speed so distance a huge question. Likely pace victim.
FLAMEAWAY (30-1)
Plus
– Has shown plenty of heart in final preps. Beat Vino Rosso in Sam F Davis win. Showed versatility good speed from outside post when second in Blue Grass. Solid drill 4/28.
Minus – Often settles for runner-up honors. Sire Scat Daddy traces back to Storm Cat line that has never produced a Derby winner.
AUDIBLE (8-1)
Plus
– From formidable Pletcher barn. Win in Holy Bull and Florida Derby were almost in hand. Florida Derby has produced 3 of last 5 Kentucky Derby winners.
Minus – Another from the Storm cat line which has not produced a Derby winner. Both sire Into Mischief and dam sire Gilded Time had sub 7 furlong average winning distances.
GOOD MAGIC (12-1)
Plus
– Blue Grass victory was strong bounce back from 2018 debut in Fountain Of Youth. Blood lines on both sides (Curlin and Hard Spun) flatter distance. Jockey Ortiz/Trainer Brown at 44% last 60 days.
Minus – BC Juvenile winners have not fared well in Kentucky Derby. Blue Grass Stakes has not produced much positive results in last 10 years.
JUSTIFY (3-1)
Plus
– Likely Derby post time favorite has done nothing wrong in 3 race career. Has highest last race speed number in the field. Best dirt speed is highest among the group. Strong 7 furlong drill 4/27.
Minus – Only 3 career starts. Did not race as a two-year old. Apollo in 1882 was last Derby winner to not start as a juvenile. Son of Scat daddy is another in the winless Storm Cat line.
LONE SAILOR (50-1)
Plus
– Resilient second in Louisiana Derby was a strong effort. Three strong drills at CD since 4/11. Has speed to set pace.
Minus – Colt not bred to carry speed. Low percentage Stakes trainer. Low percentage jockey. Still eligible for NW2L after 8 starts
HOFBURG (20-1)
Plus – Strong rally for second in Florida Derby in just third career start. Son of leading sire Tapit should like added distance. Sharp half mile drill at CD on Sunday.
Minus – Only 3 career starts. Female line (Touch Gold) is more mile oriented. Still eligible for NW2L.
MY BOY JACK (30-1)
Plus
– Always fires. Has won or hit board in 8 of 9 races (3-3-2) at a mile or longer. Needed big Lexington win to qualify and did it.
Minus – Sire Creative Cause is another who traces back to Storm Cat. Will have to come from well back in the pack. Two best speed numbers put him in second half of field.
BOLT D’ORO (8-1)
Plus
– Despite settling for second in San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby he kept coming in lane. Has speed to get good position early. Bred huge for distance on both sides (Medaglia D’Oro and A.P. Indy mare.) Sharp 7 furlong drill 4/22 and half mile 4/28. Trainer 23% in Graded Stakes. Jockey Espinoza two Kentucky Derby wins last 4 years.
Minus – Has had opportunity to win and did not get the job done. Tends to be head strong and difficulty to handle.
ENTICED (30-1)
Plus – Strong second to Vino Rosso in Wood Memorial after winning the Gotham. Trainer McLaughlin at 19% in Graded Stakes. Strong stamina lines on each side (Medaglia D’Oro-Mineshaft.) Won Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes over the surface last fall.
Minus – Failed as the favorite in the Wood. Has been beaten by Firenze Fire, Audible, Good Magic, Free Drop Billy (twice) and Vino Rosso during 6 race career.
BRAVAZO (50-1)
Plus
– Has the venerable “coach”, Wayne Lukas saddling him…you never know. Surprise win in the Risen Star put him on the map. Three strong CD works between 4/13 and 4/29.
Minus – Speed figures well below the majority of runners in the Derby. Despite hall of fame career Lukas only 3% in Graded Stakes of late. Jockey Contreras rides for first time.
MENDELSSOHN (5-1)
Plus – Has emerged as a powerhouse as a three-year old. Record breaking UAE Derby win validated his win in last year’s BC Juvenile Turf. Strong international trainer/jockey combo (O’Brien-Moore.) Versatile enough to win or place in stakes races in 4 different countries on three different surfaces.
Minus – UAE Derby graduates have fared poorly in the Kentucky derby. He is another son of Scat daddy from the Storm Cat line.
INSTILLED REGARD (50-1)
Plus
– Sharp work at Santa Anita on Sunday. Trainer Hollendorfer is at 19% in Graded Stakes races.
Minus – Female line is sprinter speed. Lone win since breaking maiden was in Grade 3 Lecomte 4 races ago. Distanced by Justify and Bolt d’Oro in Santa Anita Derby.
MAGNUM MOON (6-1)
Plus
– Undefeated in 4 career starts. Part of strong Todd Pletcher line up. Bred both sides (Malibu Moon-Unbridled’s Song) to handle distance. Sharp half mile work 4/27 after 4/14 Arkansas Derby romp. Hot jock Luis Saez.
Minus – Drifted a bit when clear in last two. Did not start as a two-year old so has to deal with Apollo “curse.”
SOLOMINI (30-1)
Plus
– As son of Curlin is eligible to improve with racing and distance and third off layoff. While still eligible for NW2L after 6 starts he has hit the board in every race and 5 have been Graded Stakes (4 Grade 1.) Strong works 4/23 and 4/29 after third in Arkansas derby just 9 days earlier.
Minus – Tends to find ways to get in trouble and still seems immature. Last two speed numbers at Oaklawn suggest regression.
VINO ROSSO (12-1)
Plus
– Bounce back win in the Wood Memorial was slid. With Curlin on male side and Street Cry on female side he is bred to run all day. John Velazquez chose to stay with this Pletcher option. Best of 75 work at CD on 4/27.
Minus – He bounced in Tampa bay Derby one month after Sam F Davis win. Races one month after Wood win. Wood Memorial has not produced a Derby winner since Funny Cide in 2003.
NOBLE INDY (30-1)
Plus
– Another of the carefully prepped Pletcher runners. Fought hard to win Louisiana Derby after hitting gate and getting bad start. Has won 3 of 4 lifetime.
Minus – Has not raced in 6 weeks. Breeding on both sides is sprint-mile oriented. Loses services of Louisiana Derby pilot John Velazquez.
COMBATANT (50-1)
Plus
– Always tries. Makes up much ground late. Trainer Steve Asmussen does get them to improve.
Minus – Speed figures well below the majority of his opponents. Still eligible for NW2L after 7 career starts. Another son of Scat daddy, which means the winless Storm Cat line.
BLENDED CITIZEN [AE] (50-1)
Plus
– Improved with win two back in Jeff Ruby Stakes. Was not totally disgraced with late interest in Blue Grass Stakes. Trainer O’Neill has saddled recent Kentucky Derby winners Nyquist and I’ll Have Another. Sharp work 4/21 at Keeneland.
Minus – Needed 5 races to break his maiden. His 2 wins from 9 career races came on turf and synthetic. Jockey Frey at only 9% on year. Has been beaten handily by Good magic, Flameaway and Instilled Regard.

 
 

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