Who’s a 2018 Kentucky Derby Contender According to Dew

Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

by Justin Dew

Even though there are still four hugely important Kentucky Derby prep races to be run, I have already made some key decisions about my Derby Day wagering. That’s not to say I can’t go back and change my mind later. It’s possible that the upcoming prep races will change everything. But things are definitely starting to take shape.

Gulfstream Park horse toteThere is a 0% chance that Mendelssohn makes a prominent appearance on my tickets. I don’t care that he is related to Beholder, nor do I care that he allegedly earned a huge Beyer Speed Figure in winning the UAE Derby. That racetrack was a conveyor belt, and that race had to take a lot out of him. I think he will be over-bet based on the margin of victory and the track record time. If he is a freak of nature and runs huge in Louisville, then I will tip my cap and tear up my tickets. I am definitely glad that he is coming to America, and there is no doubt that he is a very exciting racehorse. I’ll even go a step further and say that I’d like to see the Coolmore people win the Kentucky Derby someday. But Mendelssohn is a bet against for me.

How much did we really learn about Audible from his Florida Derby win? I had him ranked very high before the race, and he certainly did not disappoint. But with the insane early pace, and with Catholic Boy apparently bleeding, he almost had no choice but to win. I am clearly not going to fault him for winning, but we can expect to see much lower odds in the Kentucky Derby based on how visually impressive he was in the Florida Derby. Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

And speaking of the Florida Derby, if Hofburg runs in the Kentucky Derby, I have a strange feeling he is going to become the wiseguy horse. Everyone will start talking about how he will love a mile and a quarter and is just learning what the racing game is all about, and how Bill Mott is the greatest trainer in history and blah blah blah. But just like Audible, Hofburg benefited from the blazing early fractions and passed a bunch of horses that were stopping and/or bleeding. I actually thought Mississippi ran a fantastic race, but I don’t think he will have enough points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate. It sounds like Promises Fulfilled will continue on to Louisville, where I see him finishing somewhere between ninth and 16th.

Perhaps the most significant Kentucky Derby development this weekend was the announcement that McKinzie is injured and will miss his start in the Santa Anita Derby. I’ll have more to say about him later this week, but suffice it to say I was looking forward to betting against him in Kentucky also.

There are a few horses who have already made their final prep that I would like to discuss. Noble Indy doesn’t do it for me, and based on what I’m reading he doesn’t do it for many other people either. I have a feeling Jon Velazquez will end up on Audible instead of this guy. Bravazo is interesting to me. Let’s see how he trains at Churchill Downs. And Runaway Ghost didn’t look like a horse who will have trouble with the Derby distance when he won at Sunland. I can see him closing late for a big piece of the Derby pie.

handicappers Dew Justin Rich NilsenLots to look forward to this weekend. It seems as if the Blue Grass Stakes is shaping up as an absolute battle. And it will feature the horse who I think is the most likely winner of the Kentucky Derby.

 

— Editor’s Note: I got to know Justin Dew (left) when he was the official blogger for the very official Kentucky Derby website.  He’s an amazing father and fantastic gambler.  Just ask him.  He’ll tell you.  Welcome aboard, Justin!

 

Racehorse Hofburg One to Look at in the 2018 Florida Derby

Press Release

Juddmonte Farms homebred Hofburg, an impressive maiden winner March 3 at Gulfstream Park, will make just his third career start and first in a stakes in the 67th $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) March 31.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Hofburg is the 10th horse expected when entries are taken and post positions drawn late Wednesday morning for the prestigious 3-year-old prep that has produced a remarkable 59 Triple Crown race winners in its first 66 runnings, including three of the last four Kentucky Derby (G1) champions.

Hofburg, out of the Touch Gold mare Soothing Touch, was fourth in his career debut going seven furlongs Sept. 2 at Saratoga Race Course. He didn’t race again until being stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for a maiden special weight at Gulfstream, where he was initially hesitant to load in the starting gate then settled just off the pace, took a clear lead entering the stretch and held on to win by a half-length.

“We don’t have a lot of seasoning in us, but the one good thing is we did have a race last August at Saratoga and he ran really well. We’ve been pretty high on the colt all along,” Mott said. “He had time after that race, and his race here was very good. It was over the racetrack, he had a wide trip and came out a winner.

“It’s a big reach, but looking at what’s probably available for him we just thought it was worth taking a chance with him,” he added. “We’ve always regarded him pretty well and thought we’d give it a try.”

Mott, seeking his first Florida Derby victory, is hoping Hofburg’s pedigree and ability can help overcome his lack of experience. Juddmonte won the 2003 Florida Derby with subsequent Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Empire Maker.

In addition to being by leading sire Tapit, Hofburg’s half-sister Emollient, also trained by Mott, won six of 18 starts including four Grade 1 races and more than $1.3 million in purses from 2012 to 2014.

“She broke her maiden on the dirt and won an a-other-than on the dirt and then she wound up being a multiple Grade 1 winner on the synthetic and on the turf, but she was a very good mare,” Mott said. “This colt comes from a good female line and a good sire line, so he’s got a lot going for him.”

The Florida Derby anchors a spectacular March 31 program that includes seven stakes, five graded, worth $2.3 million in purses. The field is expected to include Holy Bull (G2) winner Audible, Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Promises Fulfilled, Remsen (G2) and With Anticipation (G3) winner Catholic Boy, Swale (G3) winner Strike Power, Dania Beach (G3) winner Speed Franco, Millionaire Runner, Storm Runner and Tip Sheet.

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