Justify, Mendelssohn and Magnum Moon are frontrunners in a field of 20 thoroughbreds set to compete in the 2018 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, according to the latest odds from the track’s official website.
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Saddled by legendary trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, Justify currently holds 3-1 odds of winning the “Run for the Roses.” Baffert, 65, trained 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Justify is a relatively inexperienced competitor at this year’s event, with just three races – and three wins – so far in a short career.
“He’s always been a superior animal,” Baffert told the Louisville Courier Journal. “When they’re that big and beautiful and then they can run and the way he’s bred, all the ingredients are there. Now we just need some racing luck.”
Mendelssohn currently ranks second among Kentucky Derby entrants with 5-1 odds, followed by Magnum Moon at 6-1, Bolt d’Oro and Audible, each at 8-1. Among the longshots, several horses have 50-1 odds of winning the first leg of the Triple Crown, including Firenze Fire, Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Instilled Regard, and Combatant.
Widely considered one of the largest single betting events of the year, the entire Kentucky Derby program drew a record $209.2 million in wagers in 2017, up 9% from $192.6 million one year earlier. Betting on the flagship race itself totaled $139.2 million, up 12% from $124.7 million in 2016.
Twin Spires, the official online and mobile betting portal of Churchill Downs, took $32.8 million in wagers last year.
This year’s field is competing for a total purse of $2 million, with $1.24 million of that total earmarked for the winner.