Kentucky Derby Odds Update: Contenders set for Saturday race

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Justify and Mendelssohn are each contending with a deep field and some inauspicious history heading into the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Justify and Mendelssohn remain the top betting favorites on the odds to win the Kentucky Derby at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The top of the board for the 1¼-mile race which takes place early Saturday evening at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., also includes Bolt d’Oro, Audible, Magnum Moon, Good Magic, Vino Rosso, and Hofburg.

When Always Dreaming won in 2017, he was the fifth favorite in a row to capture The Run for the Roses. Bettors will have to decide whether the law of averages is due to kick in or if the streak holds.

Both of the top two horses have the rule of precedents working against them. Justify, who will run from the No. 7 position in the 20-horse field, has only three career starts. He was unraced as a two-year-old last year and no such horse has won the Kentucky Derby since Apollo in 1882.

Mendelssohn, who runs from the No. 14 position, won the recent UAE Derby but no winner of that event in the United Arab Emirates has ever come to North America and so much as placed at the Derby. Nor has a European runner. However, history is made to be broken and Mendelsson not only won the UAE by 17 lengths, but he has had exposure to U.S. tracks.

There is a 50 percent chance of rain in Louisville, which could make for a wet track. Bolt d’Oro, who starts No. 11 and will be guided by two-time Derby-winning jockey Victor Espinoza, could be less affected by a wet track than his other four-legged counterparts. Bolt d’Oro was one of the early favorites and might be worth a second look as an outside shot.

Bolt d’Oro’s price was in the 9-to-1 range earlier this week before coming down as the competitors began to go through their paces at Churchill Downs.

Audible and Magnum Moon are two of the four horses in the field trained by Todd Pletcher, who trained aforementioned 2017 winner Always Dreaming. Audible is starting from the No. 5 position, which is where five of the last 21 winners broke from the gate.

Each has shown they have the speed and stamina to carry them over 1¼ miles, making them worth including in exactas and trifecta picks.

If there’s a darkhorse to back, or to employ to up the payout on an exacta, trifecta or superfecta (picking the top four horses), it is likely Hofburg. The Florida Derby runner-up has been impressive during workouts and it is worth noting that his Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, is very selective about bringing three-year-olds to the Kentucky Derby.

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.

War of Will wins the 2019 Preakness Stakes

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War of Will, jockeyed by Tyler Gaffalione and trained by Mark Casse, won the 144th Preakness Stakes after a brief inquiry. This is the first Triple Crown win for both Casse and Gaffalione.

The win comes two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, where War of Will was one of the primary horses Maximum Security impeded during one of the most historic and controversial Kentucky Derby races on record. War of Will, known as “WOW” around the barn, finished 8th at Churchill and was elevated to 7th.

“I’m very happy for the horse, he deserved it more than anything. He’s so special,” said Gaffalione. “It really hasn’t even hit me yet. I can’t even put it into words. I just can’t thank my family enough for their support.”

Jockey John Velazquez was unseated off of Bodexpress out of the gate, and the riderless No. 9 horse continued to run with the pack. Stewards flagged the incident but quickly cleared it and listed him as “did not finish.” Outriders couldn’t attempt to catch him until later in the race because of how close he was running to other horses.

“I’m good,” said Velazquez. “To tell you the truth I’m just disappointed.”

After starting four back from pace-setter Warrior’s Charge, War of Will clung to the rail until sneaking through an opening down the homestretch to take over the lead. Longshot Everfast finished 1 1/4 lengths behind in second, and Owendale took third. Improbable, Bob Baffert‘s morning line favorite jockeyed by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, finished in fourth. Maryland-bred Alwaysmining ran 11th. See the full results here.

War of Will’s win comes just two weeks after one of the most controversial Kentucky Derby races in history. Maximum Security led wire-to-wire but was disqualified 22 minutes after crossing the finish line for impacting the forward progress of several horses, including War of Will and Bodexpress. Track stewards disqualified him, and every horse was moved up one position. Longshot Country House (65-1) finished second and was elevated to first.

For the first time since Grindstone in 1996, the Kentucky Derby winner didn’t run. Country House showed signs of a developing illness and stopped training. Maximum Security was rested after the Derby.

This was also the first time that none of the top-3 Kentucky Derby finishers have run in the second leg of the Triple Crown since 1951.

The Preakness Stakes, raced annually at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, is marked by its shorter distance and smaller field. Run just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, the fast turnaround time can be the biggest challenge for horses who just ran at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

NBC’s coverage of the Triple Crown concludes at Belmont Park for the 151st Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8 on NBC and the NBC Sports app.

Last year, Baffert’s horse Justify won the 143rd Preakness with Smith en route to win the 2018 Triple Crown. Owned by WinStar Farm, he became the 13th horse to do so and Baffert’s second, just three years after American Pharoah in 2015.

Baffert’s Improbable remains favorite to win the Preakness

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BALTIMORE (AP) Bob Baffert-trained Improbable remains the favorite for the Preakness.

Improbable is 3-1 to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown after being installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. He was also the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, finished fifth and was placed fourth after Maximum Security was disqualified.

War of Will, who was initially the second choice in wagering at 4-1, was 6-1 as of late Saturday morning. Bourbon War, who didn’t run in the Derby, has been bet down from 12-1 to 9-2.

Last-minute addition Everfast, who opened 50-1, is no longer the longest shot on the board; he is now 22-1. The longest shot now is 26-1 Market King, who is trained by six-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lukas.

Odds will continue to fluctuate until post time at 6:48 p.m.