When the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday, May 5, two of the 20 thoroughbreds in the field will have a chance to break the “Curse of Apollo.”
Way back in 1882, Apollo became the last horse to win the Derby without racing at all as a two-year old.
If Justify (+350) – trained by four-time Derby winning legend Bob Baffert and the consensus favorite via online sportsbook Bovada – or the Todd Pletcher-trained Magnum Moon (+750) cross the finish line first, they’ll become the first to do so in 135 years.
Justify and Magnum Moon are the only horses in this year’s field with a shot at snapping the curse. Even so, talk of Apollo’s Curse didn’t seem to bother Baffert when speaking to USA Today on May 1, when the official post positions were drawn:
“It’ll be broken whether it’s this year or whatever.
I think it’s changed. In the modern day we don’t get in a rush with these horses.
The Apollo curse is something I don’t even think about.”
Four-time Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas – who has Bravazo (+6000) racing from Post #13 in this year’s Run for the Roses – echoed Baffert’s sentiments in an interview with the Associated Press:
“I don’t buy into the Apollo Curse or whatever at all, mainly because Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have got the horses.
Todd’s going to have his (horse) ready, and Baffert is going to have his.”
Pletcher – a two-time Derby winner in his own right who led Always Dreaming to a first-place run last year – will have Magnum Moon running from Post #16.
As for Justify – the clear favorite heading into race day with wins in his first three career races – Baffert was pleased to see his steed draw Post #7:
“We didn’t want the 1-hole, that’s for sure.
I was relieved when I saw him in seven.”
Of his four previous Derby victories, Baffert’s horses have held inside position on three occasions. Real Quiet took the title from Post #3 in 1998, while Silver Charm (1997) and War Emblem (2001) held Post #5.
Perhaps offering hope to Magnum Moon backers, when Baffert trained American Pharoah to the Triple Crown in 2015, the three-year old opened from Post #15.
The most advantageous position, at least according to Derby history, is Post #5 – where 10 champions have started from over the years.
Audible (+650), one of four Pletcher-trained horses in the field, drew the lucky starting gate for the 2018 edition. With wins in his last four races, including the Florida Derby in his last outing on March 31, Audible should provide plenty of competition for Justify and the other contenders.
The closest horse to Justify according to the Bovada odds is Mendelssohn (+500), winner of his last three races – including the UAE Derby this March and the 2017 Breeders’ Cup juvenile turf race.
For a full look at odds on all 20 horses in the field for the 2018 Kentucky Derby, see the table below:
2018 Kentucky Derby Winner Odds on Bovada
|Pole Position||Horse (Jockey)||Kentucky Derby Win Odds on 5/2|
|1||Firenze Fire (Paco Lopez)||+10000 (100 to 1)|
|2||Free Drop Billy (Robby Albarado)||+3500 (35 to 1)|
|3||Promises Fulfilled (Corey Lanerie)||+5000 (50 to 1)|
|4||Flameaway (Jose Lezcano)||+4500 (45 to 1)|
|5||Audible (Javier Castellano)||+650 (6.5 to 1)|
|6||Good Magic (Jose Ortiz)||+800 (8 to 1)|
|7||Justify (Mike Smith)||+350 (3.5 to 1)|
|8||Lone Sailor (James Graham)||+5000 (50 to 1)|
|9||Hofburg (Irad Ortiz)||+1500 (15 to 1)|
|10||My Boy Jack (Kent Desormeaux)||+1800 (18 to 1)|
|11||Bolt d’Oro (Victor Espinoza)||+850 (8.5 to 1)|
|12||Enticed (Junior Alvarado)||+2500 (25 to 1)|
|13||Bravazo (Luis Contreras)||+6000 (60 to 1)|
|14||Mendelssohn (Ryan Moore)||+500 (5 to 1)|
|15||Instilled Regard (Drayden Van Dyke)||+6000 (60 to 1)|
|16||Magnum Moon (Luis Saez)||+750 (7.5 to 1)|
|17||Solomini (Flavian Pratt)||+2200 (22 to 1)|
|18||Vino Rosso (John Velazquez)||+1200 (12 to 1)|
|19||Noble Indy (Florent Geroux)||+3000 (30 to 1)|
|20||Combatant (Ricardo Santana)||+7000 (70 to 1)|