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.

Newgate wins Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Baffert runs 1-2-3-4

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Newgate won the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by a neck, with Bob Baffert as the trainer of all four horses in the Kentucky Derby prep race at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Newgate ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.11 and paid $4 and $2.60 as the even-money favorite. There was no show wagering because of the field size.

Hard to Figure returned $5.20 at 12-1 odds. Worcester was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. Arabian Lion was fourth.

“So much improvement in all these horses,” Baffert said. “I was actually nervous before the race, worried that something weird might happen, but I can relax now.”

The Lewis was a Kentucky Derby prep race, but no points were awarded because Baffert has been banned for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The Hall of Fame trainer was in Louisville to testify in federal court as he seeks a temporary injunction to end the suspension, which runs through the end of the upcoming spring meet. It was meted out following a failed drug test by Medina Spirit after the colt finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Newgate earned his first graded stakes victory. The colt was second, beaten by a neck in the Sham Stakes last month in his previous start.

“Frankie Dettori has been teaching him how to just sit back, relax and come with a punch and that’s what he did today,” Baffert said.

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Newgate’s career earnings to $241,975, with two wins in six starts.

Baffert: 2-year Churchill Downs suspension hurt reputation

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Sam Upshaw Jr./USA TODAY NETWORK
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs never gave advance notice nor reached out to explain its two-year suspension, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said in federal court, and reiterated that the penalty has caused irreparable harm to his business and reputation.

Baffert has sued the historic track and is seeking a temporary injunction to stop his suspension following a failed drug test by the now-deceased Medina Spirit after the colt came in first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

The suspension for a series of failed tests by his horses runs through the end of the upcoming spring meet and could exclude Baffert from the Derby for a second consecutive spring.

Almost a year ago, Kentucky racing officials disqualified Medina Spirit and suspended Baffert for 90 days for those failed tests. Churchill Downs elevated Derby runner-up Mandaloun to winner.

“They’ve hurt my reputation,” Baffert said during nearly two hours of testimony in U.S. District Court. “My horses should’ve made much more money. I didn’t run for 90 days, and I had to let people go.”

Churchill Downs wants the case dismissed, citing nine failed tests by Baffert-trained horses as justification for disciplining horse racing’s most visible figure. The list of violators includes 2020 Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Gamine, who was ultimately disqualified.

Medina Spirit failed his test for having in his system the corticosteroid betamethasone, which Baffert and attorney Clark Brewster have argued came from an ointment rather than an injection.

Track president Mike Anderson said the decision by Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen stemmed from Baffert’s “refusal to take responsibility for repeat violations” during a news conference at his backside barn after Medina Spirit’s failed test was revealed.

“We wanted to make a statement that this was a consequence of not doing the right thing,” Anderson said.

Attorneys Matt Benjamin and Christine Demana, who are representing Churchill Downs, also disputed Baffert’s contention that business has suffered by noting his latest crop of promising 3-year-old colts on this year’s Derby trail.

One of them, Arabian Knight, won last week’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn by 5+ lengths to give Baffert his record sixth win in the race. The horse is ineligible to earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points as the winner because of Baffert’s suspension.

A slide presented also showed that Baffert horses made 477 starts from May 10, 2021, through December 2022 and won marquee races such as the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Corniche, the Eclipse winner) along with Grade 1 wins in the Pennsylvania Derby and Malibu Stakes (Taiba).

Friday’s 3 1/2-hour hearing followed four hours of testimony on Thursday. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings gave no indication when she would rule. But Brewster said he expects a decision “within several days.”

Baffert testified that he had had a good relationship with Churchill Downs, though he noted that he was paying for his seats at the track and having to “grovel” to get them. He also insisted that he tried to be a good ambassador for horse racing, especially after American Pharoah and Justify won the Triple Crown in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

“I think today was great because I finally got to tell my story in a nonbiased atmosphere,” he said. “I hope for the best, and hopefully we’ll be here.”