by SCOTT SHAPIRO
The 2018 “Run for the Roses” is less than six months away, and while we have 23 weeks before we can make exotic wagers on the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports, pari-mutuel win wagering on the 2018 Run for the Roses begins Thanksgiving.
There are two wagering options this time around: One of 23 individual horses or all others and one of 23 sire’s progeny or all other sires. Both pools open at noon ET on Thursday and close at 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 26.
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We’ll focus on the individual pool for this article with the field (i.e. #24 all others) installed as the 7-to-5 morning line favorite.
Finding value has not been easy over the last four years with “All Others” in Pool Number 1 being a winner in 2014 with California Chrome and 2017 with Always Dreaming. Eventual two-year-old male champions American Pharoah and Nyquist hit the wire first as the top betting options outside the mutuel field in 2015 and 2016, respectively. They were also favored in their Derby wins.
This begs the question what is the best way to attack this wager.
Should I let recent history dictate terms or instead search for better value despite recent trends that suggest otherwise?
While “All Others” is by far the likeliest outcome again in 2018 the price is too low for consideration at what is expected to be 4-5. Sure, I am not in love with any of the 23 top contenders for the first leg of the Triple Crown with more than five months to go, but placing a futures bet on something at less than even money is simply not for me.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Winner Good Magic and the odds-on favorite in that race Bolt d’Oro are the individuals likely to take the most support outside of the mutuel field. Both have shown superior talent and have the look of runners that will relish additional ground, but I just cannot swallow taking what I predict will be 10-1 or less on either of these this far out.
Good Magic was extremely impressive at Del Mar after running second in both of his first two starts for trainer Chad Brown. The pricey son of Curlin finished with authority and has every reason to improve in his three-year-old campaign, but despite recent history suggesting it will be a logical contender if not the “All Others” I will pass on the Kentucky bred in Pool 1.
The same is true with Bolt ‘d Oro. The Mick Ruis trainee had an impossible trip in the Juvenile earlier this month and still managed to finish third. He is a fine looking colt that dominated the Southern California two-year-old scene earlier this year and if he continues to improve and wins the 2018 Kentucky Derby I will not be shocked. However, I cannot back a barn that has never been in this spot before at 10-1.
A barn that I can endorse wagering on though is that of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert has three runners listed amongst the top 23 individual wagering interests in Pool number 1 with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Solomimi the one likeliest to take the most money. Solomini has moved forward in each of his last couple of starts, but I prefer the upside and the price on McKinzie.
The son of Street Sense is listed at 20-1 off of a maiden victory on October 28th at Santa Anita. The colt named after the longtime Los Alamitos executive that passed away earlier this year stalked a couple lengths off a three-horse duel on the backstretch, confronted the leaders on the turn and kicked away under limited urging from Mike Smith en route to a stylish maiden breaking score on debut.
He still has yet to take on winners and was victorious around one turn, but his conditioner knows how to win this race and the price is right to take a shot. I will make #14 McKinzie my lone play in Future Pool Number 1 for the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Hopefully he can get Baffert his fifth Derby.
Visit TwinSpires.com to wager on the 2018 Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs closing weekend.