Justify, Mendelssohn atop 2018 Kentucky Derby Odds after post position draw

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Justify and Mendelssohn are the early favorites on the odds to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, and after Tuesday’s post position draw they know where they’ll be starting from in the Triple Crown race at Churchill Downs on Saturday afternoon.

Justify drew the No. 7 post for the race, while Mendelssohn has been assigned the No. 14 post. The No. 7 post has produced eight Kentucky Derby winners since 1900, while the No. 14 post has produced just two.

2018 Kentucky Derby: How to Watch, Post Time, Horses and More

Always Dreaming, last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, started from the No. 5 post, and that position has had the most success in the Run for the Roses since 1900 with 14 winners coming out of that gate. Audible has the No. 5 post for Saturday’s race.

And Audible sits behind only Justify and Mendelssohn on the latest 2018 Kentucky Derby odds. Audible holds down a betting line of +500 (wager $100 to win $500) after the post position draw, with Justify at +325 and Mendelssohn at +450.

Other posts that have produced double-digit Kentucky Derby winners since 1900 are No. 1 (with 12), No. 4 (with 11), No. 8 (with 11), and No. 10 (with 10). Firenze Fire, at +6600 on the Kentucky Derby odds, will start from the No. 1 post position on Saturday, with Flameaway (+5000) at No. 4, Lone Sailor (+5000) at No. 8, and My Boy Jack (+3300) at No. 10.

Rounding out the post positions are Free Drop Billy at No. 2, Promises Fulfilled at No. 3, Good Magic at No. 6, Hofburg at No. 9, Bolt d’Oro at No. 11, Enticed at No. 12, Bravazo at No. 13, Instilled Regard at No. 15, Magnum Moon at No. 16, Solomini at No. 17, Vino Rosso at No. 18, Noble Indy at No. 19, and Combatant at No. 20.

Of the 20 post positions, the only one to have never produced a winner is No. 17. Solomini sits in the middle of the pack at +1400 on the 2018 Kentucky Derby odds. Magnum Moon (+700), Good Magic (+900), and Bolt d’Oro (+1100) round out the top of the early-week lines.

Todd Pletcher, the trainer for last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, has four horses in the field for Saturday – Magnum Moon, Audible, Noble Indy, and Vino Rosso. Bob Baffert, with four Kentucky Derby winners on his resume, including Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, has both Solomini and Justify in action on Saturday.

Justify is coming off a victory in the Santa Anita Derby, and the lightly-raced horse is unbeaten in his three career starts. Justify also didn’t race as a two-year-old, and the last horse to win the Kentucky Derby without competing as a two-year-old was Apollo – way back in 1882.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.

Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.

Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.

Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.

“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.

The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.

Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.