pre kentucky derby justify workout

Meet the Favorites of the 144th Kentucky Derby

Going to Churchill Downs for the hats and the bourbon but not the horses? Attending a party and want to make a knowledgeable bet? Read below for what you need to know for the 2018 Kentucky Derby favorites!

1. Magnum Moon

A son of Malibu Moon bred on similar lines to 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, this dark bay colt is a grandson of A.P. Indy who himself is a son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. He boasts a pedigree that gives him a fighting chance in this classic. He’s another undefeated contender (along with Justify) in the 2018 Kentucky Derby field that threatens the curse of Apollo. Despite training all through his second year, the sheer size Magnum Moon kept him from the races. One of four horses in Todd Pletcher’s quartet, Magnum Moon’s resume includes wins in the (g. II) Rebel Stakes and (g. I) Arkansas Derby.

Good Magic orchestrating his final tricks before the 144th Kentucky Derby.

2. Good Magic

The name Stonestreet Stables brings the blazing image of Rachel Alexandra and 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin to mind who happens to be the sire of this consistent chestnut. Good Magic broke his maiden in the 2017 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile upsetting the favorite, Bolt D’oro and solidifying his place as the Eclipse Award winner for Best Two-Year-Old. While he only has had two starts on his three-year-old campaign, a win in the (g. II) Toyota Bluegrass Stakes earned him a place in the starting gate at Churchill Downs as well as proving that he could only improve after a disappointing third in the (g. II) Fountain of Youth. His morning workouts seem to get better and better which gives the 2017 Eclipse Award trainer Chad Brown a reason to smile.

3. Justify

This son of the late-Scat Daddy has commanded a presence ever since his first race back in February. Justify didn’t slide under the radars – the chestnut colt put them on high alert by blazing the track with a 104 Beyer rating for his maiden. Baffert’s “Big Red” became a focal point on the Derby trail when McKinzie was injured and scratched from the Santa Anita Derby. It meant that lightly seasoned Justify would be facing Bolt D’oro, arguably one of the best colts on the 2018 trail. Bolt D’oro couldn’t catch Justify in the final furlongs and the chestnut colt earned the highest Beyer score of 107 while galloping his way to be one of the favorites for Saturday’s race.


European invader Mendellsohn making his way down the rail on 5.3.2018.

4. Mendelssohn

Younger siblings are sometimes overshadowed by more successful siblings. Mendelssohn is proving that he can hold his own against his G1-winning and 6 million-dollar-earning sister Beholder, and his brother, top sire of 2018, Into Mischief. He brought in 3 million dollars for breeder Clarkland Farms at the 2016 Keeneland Sale where he was sold to international racing icon Coolmore who might be best known for standing the 2015 Triple Crown winner, American Pharaoh. Apart from being regally bred, Mendelssohn has proven he is worth every penny with wins on three different surfaces and three different countries that include the 2017 Breeder’s Cup Turf Juvenile and the UAE Derby where he earned his place in the starting gate at Churchill Downs.

5. Bolt D’oro

Had he come any other year besides 2018, Bolt D’oro or Good Magic could have easily been the morning line favorites. This son of Medaglia D’Oro was the golden child for two-year-olds in 2017 with wins in the (g. I) Del Mar Futurity and the (g. I) FrontRunner Stakes and was the anticipated winner of the 2017 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. Good Magic performed his first trick on the colt and Bolt D’oro seems to have had trouble finding his stride ever since. A future Spendthrift sire, this colt has faced some of the toughest contenders this Derby field has to other and given the depth of it, his second and third placings are no small feat. The Beyer speed figures give glimpses of a colt who has the speed to be at the top of his class and the determination that if things go his way on Saturday, he might have a few magic tricks of his own.

Honorable Mentions

While it is easy to be awed by Justify or marvel at the size of Magnum Moon, there are real credible Kentucky Derby contenders that while not the favorites in this historic race still deserve consideration. Vino rosso showed a promising win in the (g. I) Wood Memorial that also highlighted it’s runner-up Hofburg as a worthy longshot. D. Wayne Lukas who leads the history books with four Kentucky Derby wins has Calumet connections with runner Bravazo and then there is that compelling workout done by Lone Sailor for 57.60 in 5 furlongs, a number that hasn’t been seen in a decade since Hard Spun. If the weather brings swampy conditions to the track, look for the Desormeaux brother’s My Boy Jack who has a knack for closing late and embracing the slop.