We Had 3 Advisors to Select 2018 KY Derby Winner — Justify: Murphy, Clark & Higginbothom

When all was said and done, and written and reported, we had three advisors, friends, and pontificators that selected the correct winner of the 2018 Kentucky Derby — Justify.

They will hold the title as the “King of the Experts” in our major handicapping contest until the next major event — the 143rd Preakness Stakes in two weeks. At that time, we will have another round of “expert analysis” and “free advice.”

Until then, here is another look at the trio and their respective “opinions and expertise” from earlier this week:

Rob Murphy:

(Rob Murphy, Breeding Analyst / Handicapper Extraordinare / Great Friend/Brother)

1. Justify

2. Bolt d’Oro
These are the 2 best horses.
3. Lone Sailor worked great over the track.  Might be able to pick up 3rd.

Justin Clark:

(Legal Eagle / Lobbyist / All-Round Good Guy)

  1. I will likely play Justify, My Boy Jack, and Bolt d’Oro several different ways. Justify appears to be a beast, even if lightly raced.  I liked My Boy Jack’s wins at Keeneland and Oaklawn, and he doesn’t look like a horse that will tire down the stretch, though if he falls behind pace it could go sideways. Bolt d’Oro has the best “history on his side” argument. Speed numbers fit, right kind of experience and lead-up wins, and he didn’t just exit the UAE Derby. (Don’t sleep on Audible.)

Steve Higginbothom:

(The man in the middle)

If you are not excited about this year’s first Saturday in May then go see your doctor, you may be suffering from Low T. Just thinking about the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home”
while the horses parade has tears running on my keyboard. We all hope the weather will not disappoint as it did last year and all of the beautiful ladies can style their gorgeous hats
and dresses. It will be an exciting site for this talented field of 20 horses. This roster across the board is as  deep as I can remember which may open the door for some handsome pay offs.
It is difficult to rule many of these horses out but the big question is who can go the difficult test of a mile and a quarter. This is why the Kentucky Derby separates the great horses from the good horse pretenders.

Gene asked for my picks so here is my unqualified best guess.
I have to go with Justify as my top pick. Justify has Beyer figures from his last three races of 104,101, and 107. What he may lack in experience can easily be over come by his sheer speed
and good number 7 post position. If he can handle the pressure of the roar of 150,000 around the paddock and post parade, he should be in the drivers seat for a good ride.

Mendelssohn is my next choice. This handsome globe trotting champion has won on three continents with a projected Beyer of 107 in his last UAE win. He has a boss hog attitude which may be stimulated
with the crowded paddock but I feel he can handle the pressure of this spectacle. I look for him to up stage his doubters and run a big race.

Bolt D’Oro is my third pick. I like this gutty horse who has been having a hard time winning after his stellar 2 year old season. He has a new rider and battle tested in some very tough west coast races.
I think Bolt can handle the bumps in the early portion of the race and it is his time to step up to the challenge and hit the board Saturday.

Audible is my fourth choice. He is battle tested and has easily won his last 4 starts by wide margins. He is rested since the Florida Derby and I am confident Todd Pletcher will have him ready to run.

Magnum Moon is a horse I would not throw out of my betting mix. His 17 post position is a tough draw but he easily won the Rebel and Arkansas Derby and was not really pushed for fast fraction.

My Boy Jack is my long shot pick of day.

Paraphrasing the great Harvey Pack, “May Your Horse Be With You” this derby weekend.

Heading into the race, I thought he might be up against it,” said Servis. “It looked like there was a speed bias for most of the day on the track. He didn’t have the easiest of trips; he didn’t break on top and had to deal with some traffic, but I’m not going to knock the ride. Manny got the job done. It’s nice when things work it. They don’t usually, but when they do, it’s nice.”

Trainer Jason Servis, after his 3YO colt Firenze Fire got up on the wire to win the Jerome Stakes over the determined Seven Trumpets
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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