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Public Thinks It's Figured This Kentucky Derby Out

by Jeremy Plonk

April 9, 2018

The battle lines look pretty defined in this year’s Kentucky Derby lineup in terms of the haves and have nots. The top of the crop can be debated based on your personal preferences and observations. But there’s a very distinct line at some point. And that point is six.

Look at nearly any Top-10 or 20 list and analysts have a consistent agreement who belongs near the top. But more importantly, the closing odds in the final Kentucky Derby Future Wager on Sunday showed that the public absolutely knows where to draw that line.

The haves are clear: Justify, Mendelssohn, Audible, Magnum Moon, Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro. That list doesn’t figure to increase after the Arkansas Derby, though could lessen by one if Magnum Moon regresses. At most, it’s six, and its minimum is five.

Look at the KDFW odds on the top 6 with nearly $340,000 in real wagering as the balloting:

  • #12 Justify (3-1, $8.40)
  • #15 Mendelssohn (5-1, $12.60)
  • #1 Audible (7-1, $16.60)
  • #14 Magnum Moon (8-1, $19.80)
  • #8 Good Magic (9-1, $20.60)
  • #2 Bolt d'Oro (9-1, $21)

There are 6 single-digit propositions nearly a month out from the Kentucky Derby and the next-closest pari-mutuel pursuer is Florida Derby late bloomer Hofburg all the way up at 22-1 odds. The public already has just blown past the medium-range horses in that 10-1 to 19-1 range. And consider this was with 24 wagering interests, not 20. A shortening of the field may even intensify the focus on the 6 fancied runners.

The last 2 Derby races had 6 horses total in single-digit odds between them, 4 last year and just 2 the previous year when Nyquist was solidly favored. There were 10 horses combined those 2 years in that 10-1 to 19-1 range that’s visibly missing from the final KDFW pool.

This seems certainly like a year between the haves and the have nots in the public discussion and ever-growing world of racing punditry. And the bettors seemed to agree with that sentiment nearly 340,000 times over this past weekend.

Now let’s see if that confidence wanes over the next 3-4 weeks, or if the longshot lookers give into their temptations by the first Saturday in May and pound down some of those 30-1 and 50-1 shots like we’ve seen in the past. Quite possibly this is the effect of 5 straight winning favorites in the Kentucky Derby, something we haven’t seen in over a century.

Might the public have become too enamored with its ability to be right?

What a fun time we’re going to have finding out.