Justify and Mendelssohn Atop 2018 Kentucky Derby Odds

With just a day before the post position draw for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, Justify and Mendelssohn share the role as the betting favorite for the race at a line of 4-1 on the 2018 Kentucky Derby odds.

Justify is undefeated in three career starts, winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his stakes debut on April 7. After that race the colt dropped to 4-1 while Mendelssohn was listed at 5-1.

As the race draws closer, Mendelssohn has taken some action and is now the co-favorite. The colt won the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai by 18 ½ lengths in impressive style in his last outing on March 31.

While they share favoritism, both took very different paths to get to Louisville.

Justify did not make his debut until Feb. 18 and only two runners in the last century have won the Run for the Roses off just three career starts, the last to accomplish the feat being Big Brown in 2008.

The colt is seeking to become the first Derby winner to have not raced as a two-year-old since Apollo in 1882.

His trainer is Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has saddled four Derby winners including American Pharoah, who went on to win the Triple Crown in 2015.

Mendelssohn is attempting to become the first Kentucky Derby winner to exit the UAE Derby. Horses coming out of that race in the desert are 0 for 13 with the best finish a fifth by Master of Hounds in 2011.

His trainer Aiden O’Brien may not be familiar to some U.S. fans, but he is one of the top trainers in the world and set a record in 2017 by winning 26 Group or Grade 1 races.

He has won just about every major race including the Irish Derby (G2) a dozen times and has shipped to the U.S. and won 12 Breeders’ Cup races. Among those was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last fall at Del Mar with Mendelssohn.

However, he has not landed any of his five Kentucky Derby starters in the money.

With questions about Justify having enough experience and Mendelssohn shipping into the U.S., there is plenty of value to be found in a very deep Kentucky Derby field this year.

Audible won the Florida Derby (G1), a prep race that has produced the last two Kentucky Derby winners. The Todd Pletcher trainee is the current third choice in early Kentucky Derby betting at 6-1.

Pletcher will also saddle the fourth choice Magnum Moon (8-1) who won the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his last start.

Bolt d’Oro was the early Kentucky Derby betting favorite but he has dropped to fifth choice on the odds at 9-1. The colt could not catch Justify last out in a runner-up finish in the Santa Anita Derby.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Good Magic is also getting overlooked in early Kentucky Derby betting at 11-1.

There could be some shifting in the betting odds after Tuesday’s post position draw.

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