May 20, 2018

What Went Right & What Went Wrong: 2018 Kentucky Derby Edition

One of my most read articles in the aftermath of the 2017 Kentucky Derby was a recap of what went right and what went wrong. A lot more went wrong, and sadly, it does not appear that I learned from those mistakes as the 2018 Derby was another losing effort from a wagering standpoint.

I was against Justify all week, telling no less than 25 media outlets—from talk radio in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to international sports juggernaut Kentucky Sports Radio—that Justify was not worth backing as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

That stand was already in serious jeopardy three furlongs into the race when Justify was in the clear pressing Promises Fulfilled, and Mike Smith looked loaded. It was a similar trip as Always Dreaming last year except this year Justify turned away several bids—one from Bolt d’Oro and another from Good Magic—and was just much the best against these.

I was wrong about Justify’s talent relative to his odds. I.e., he definitely wins this race more than the 28% of the time his odds suggested he should. One thing I did get right in terms of advice for those who wanted to back him is to take advantage of the last time you’ll ever get this kind of price if he wins. That 5-to-2 you got today will be 2-to-5 in the Preakness and odds on probably for the rest of his races restricted to three-year-olds.

One horse I was even more against than Justify was Magnum Moon, and that opinion was correct. I also ended up off Bolt d’Oro, and he merits some respect for actually trying to make a move on Justify. He is part of what makes this crop fun, but I’m not sure about his classic credentials—especially if Justify is in the race.

My top pick Audible ran credibly and I have no regrets at the price. I was completely wrong about the “live longshots”, as I’m not sure I remember seeing either Hofburg or Lone Sailor do anything in the race.

I was right about the approach in this race had to be the superfecta. Even though I didn’t love Justify, I did think that the top third of this field was talented enough to expect enough of them to perform well that the trifecta might not be lucrative.

Three horses below 10-to-1 win odds all finished in the top 3 to generate a $141.40 trifecta ($1). Longest shot on the board Instilled Regard was fourth and ballooned the $1 superfecta payout to an eye-popping $19,618.20.

My superfecta wagers weren’t close, as I needed either Audible or Mendelssohn to win OR Lone Sailor or Hofburg in the number, but I like the approach given what it paid.

Now I have another 365 days to get it right. See you for Kentucky Derby 145 on May 4, 2019!

1 Comment on What Went Right & What Went Wrong: 2018 Kentucky Derby Edition

  1. What went right was Justify going to the front and wearing down the field with killer fractions in slop. Since he was the best horse it left only a couple to challenge in the stretch. Audible and Good Magic were up to it and one of these could steal Preakness. What went wrong was Mendelson and Magnum Moon getting squeezed early and colliding three or four times. Both quit late to save after tiring. In less company on dry track they could each likely challenge for a piece of the money. Neither liked the mud they were eating but I doubt Mendelson could have started any faster but Moon could have gotten out quicker

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