Here we go: It's Justify vs. the Apollo Curse on Saturday at the 144th Kentucky Derby. Who comes out on top? Well, if any trainer can break a 135-year old curse at the biggest horse race in the world, it's Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. His latest Kentucky Derby favorite, Justify, is generating the most buzz ahead of Saturday's Run for the Roses as he tries to become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the despite not racing at age 2.
There's also a NBA team's owner who will be watching the Derby between playoff games on Friday and Sunday. Justify is one of two horses in Saturday's 1.25-mile race who didn't race at age 2, with Magnum Moon being the other. Six horses have won from the No. 7 post in the history of the Derby, most recently Street Sense in 2007., as well as a horse owned by an
"We didn't want the 1-hole, that's for sure," Baffert, the four-time Derby winner, told the Associated Press. "I was relieved when I saw him in seven."
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The field of 20 horses received their post positions on Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs, with Blended Citizen making the field as an "also eligible" addition if one of the other 20 horses in the field can't run Saturday. Mendelssohn, trained by Aidan O'Brien, also drew a good post at No. 14, and neither horse will likely see their odds drop significantly with those posts, which are more towards the center. The first 10 saw a few of the favorites get drawn, but Justify was the main one to get picked.
Fan-favorite Audible, which has gotten backing by the audiobook company of the same name, took the fifth post, which historically has been extremely friendly to horses. One of Todd Fletcher's four horses in this race, Audible has had decent odds. This can only improve those odds moving forward. Lone Sailor, the horse of late Saints' owner Tom Benson drew the No. 8 post. Current Saints' owner Gayle Benson will reportedly be in attendance to watch Lone Sailor between Pelicans playoff games.
Kentucky Derby post draw, updated odds
Free Drop Billy
My Boy Jack
Favorite would break curse older than a century
Justify, of course, currently has the best odds at 3-1 out of Post 7. The horse is looking to break the Apollo Curse. No horse has won without racing at 2 years old since Apollo in 1882. Justify and Magnum Moon are the only two in this field that could end the 135-year-old curse.
"I don't buy into the Apollo Curse or whatever at all, mainly because Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have got the horses," four-time Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas said, via the Associated Press. "Todd's going to have his (horse) ready, and Baffert is going to have his."
Best and worst post positions
Post positions may not matter for the long haul, but they can make all the difference in the scrum at the beginning of the race. According to America's Best Racing's Christina Moore, No. 17 is the dreaded post position. No horse has ever won the Derby out of that gate, and only three have finished in the money. Solomini is a longshot at 66-1 to do so. Beyond that, Posts 18-20 have yielded just one winner, and nine in the money finishes between them. Vino Rosso out of No. 19 is the one most likely to buck that trend at 14-1 odds.
Post No. 5 is the magic number, with 10 champions starting out of that gate. At 6-1 odds, Audible has decent potential to build on that legacy. 21 horses have finished in the money from No. 5, surpassed only by Posts 2 (seven winners, 25 ITM finishes), run by Free Drop Billy at 43-1 odds; and 10 (nine winners, 24 ITM), owned by My Boy Jack -- also at 5-1 odds.
Which post is the best depends on which jockey it is, with some preferring to stay outside due to less bustle and others preferring the middle. Ultimately, however, no amount of luck in the draw will top the horses with more stamina. Justify running out of Post 7 is a good draw for the favorite, and certainly wouldn't do anything to hurt his odds moving forward.
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