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Ryan Moore upbeat on Mendelssohn's Kentucky Derby chances

04 May, 2018, 14:23 | Author: Shawna Walton
  • Kentucky Derby: Can Justify beat the Curses?

The 144th Kentucky Derby starts this year's Triple Crown racing season, and the only time it can truly be topped is when the victor of the Run for the Roses also takes the Preakness, and attention shifts to the Belmont Stakes for a potential Triple Crown victor. It was just his second since 2009 and occurred because his lone candidate got hurt. Although he won the Wood Memorial, the Kentucky Derby has not been won by a horse coming out of the Wood Memorial since 2003 when Funny Cide, runner-up in the Wood, took home the roses.

Justify is one of the greenest colts Baffert has brought to Churchill Downs. Hofburg, Bolt d'Oro, Mendelssohn, Magnum Moon and Vino Rosso can all win the race depending on how it unfolds.

"I have to deal with Apollo", lamented Baffert, before noting that times and horses have changed a lot since the days of Apollo. I count at least five horses - Justify, Mendelssohn, Magnum Moon, Audible and Good Magic - who might have been favored in other years with lesser competition. "So I've been really fortunate to have some really good horses". Classic Empire finished in fourth place. Even if a horse has one race as a 2-year-old, and have that time, I think actually the time after the race is probably as important as the race at two. With that being said, I think win contention goes eight deep. Sassy Sienna will begin on the rail at 15-1 but could set the early pace in the 14-horse field that includes 5-2 second choice Midnight Bisou, victor of three in a row.

"A curse is a curse until it's broken", said Joe Kristufek, Churchill Downs' lead racing analyst and unabashed Cubs fan. As soon as he gets away from people he's quiet. "I don't worry about it".

Baffert nearly had a third starter this year until McKinzie developed a hind end issue that knocked him off the Derby trail. Hopefully it'll work out.' So that's why I got Justify. Good Magic ran third in the Fountain of Youth back in early March and lacked any kind of late kick. "We'd really have a 1-2 here".

The Derby has always been a draw for the rich and famous, with some of the biggest stars in sports, fashion and Hollywood mixing with royalty. This is the same length as numerous prep races for the Derby (such as the Santa Anita and Arkansas Derbies) but still the longest race most of these fillies have run so far in their lives. Only two fillies had ever won the Derby: Regret in 1915 and Genuine Risk in 1980.

"I work hard at it". To me, Magnum Moon is the best threat because we just don't know how good this horse is. "If you don't have success, you're not going to get those opportunities". He started with one horse.

If all this doesn't muddle the picture, consider there are 20 horses, some of which have no shot and create a lot of traffic for the genuine contenders.

Now that Justify has won three straight races in easy and impressive fashion, Young talks about a possible Triple Crown victor.

Someone mentioned to Baffert that he seemed confident entering the 2015 Derby with American Pharoah.

Also known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports", this year's big race will feature 20 horses and their riders all competing for a grand prize of $2 million, according to Sporting News. Despite my problems with Justify, I'd be ready to select him to win the Preakness in his next start.

On that occasion the victor was ridden by jockey John Velazquez, and he will ride Vino Rosso who is one of four horses that Pletcher will saddle and hope for a repeat success.

This time, however, is it too good to be true? You have to let them regroup a little bit after their first race or two.

Life's been good to Bob Baffert, so far.

"Bob's got a great feel for it", he said.

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