We are less than a week away from the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. The 2018 “Run for the Roses” is set to take place on Saturday, May 5th. The race takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Coverage for will start at 2:30pm ET on NBC. Post time is set for 6:34pm ET.
While the field has not officially been set, we have a good idea of the top contenders that will take the track. I’m confident enough to release my win/place/show predictions.
Keep in mind that the post position draw will take place on Wednesday. At that point the official morning-line odds will be announced. If you aren’t familiar with the morning-line odds, be sure to check out our Kentucky Derby betting guide.
You will have to wait to bet on the race at your local track until these odds are released, but you can wager online right now if you like. Several sportsbooks have already released odds to win the race.
Expert Handicapper Prediction on Winner of 2018 Kentucky Derby
Win: Mendelssohn (4/1)
Depending on where you look, Mendelssohn is either tied with Justify for the best odds in the field or right there behind him. I know a lot of people like Justify and have him winning the race, which I completely get given the odds on favorite has won this race each of the last five years. The thing is, if you are betting on Justify because of what’s happened in the past, there’s even more history that suggest you shouldn’t wager on him to win. Justify didn’t race as a 2-year-old and there hasn’t been a horse win the Kentucky Derby after not running as a two-year-old since Apollo in 1882.
Mendelssohn just won the UAE Derby by and impressive 18 lengths. Not bad considering it was it his first start on dirt and first race at more than a mile. It was his third straight win, as he’d won the Patton Stakes and G1-Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf in his previous two starts. Keep in mind that this was the highest-priced yearling of 2016 at $3 million. I think he’s the best horse in the field and wouldn’t be surprised if he won this going away.
Place: Audible (6/1)
I gave some serious consideration to picking Audible to win this race, but in the end I think Mendelssohn is the better horse (I’ll be doing a Box Trifecta with my picks). Audible has the best odds of the four horses in the field for trainer Todd Pletcher, who you might recall won last year’s race with Always Dreaming. That’s not the only similarity between Audible and Always Dreaming. Both will have entered the Kentucky Derby off a win at the G1-Florida Derby.
That’s four straight wins for Audible, who is looking to become the first New York-bred horse to win this race since Funny Cide accomplished the feat back in 2003. I also love the style in which he races, as he likes to hand back in the middle of the pack and use his closing ability to catch and pass the pace-setters in the stretch run.
It also helps to have a top-notch jockey in a race of this magnitude, and for that Always Dreaming will be ridden by Javier Castellano, who knows a thing or two about maneuvering his way around Church Hills Downs (11 Derby starts).
Show: Hofburg (16/1)
I always like to have at least one horse outside the betting favorites and for me it makes a lot of sense to include Hofburg. The reason being, is he really raced well against Audible in the Florida Derby and wasn’t losing ground when the two crossed the finish line. I think the extra 1/4 of a mile could make all the difference for this horse not only showing, but maybe even pulling off the upset and winning this race. Keep in mind that the Florida Derby was just his 3rd start, so there’s reason to believe we haven’t seen the best this horse has to offer.