Justify

Justify

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Justify Favored in Final Derby Future Wager Pool

Mendelssohn second-choice at odds of 5-1 in the KDFW Pool 4.

Four weeks in advance of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I), lightly raced and unbeaten Santa Anita Derby winner Justify closed as a resounding 3-1 favorite in Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW).  

Four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert's late-blooming Justify improved his record to a perfect 3-for-3 on Saturday with a three-length victory over seasoned Grade I winner Bolt d'Oro in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby.

Ireland-based Mendelssohn, the 18 1/2-length winner of the UAE Derby (GII) for Coolmore and trainer Aidan O'Brien, closed as the 5-1 second choice. 

All told, six horses finished with single digit odds. The Todd Pletcher-trained Florida Derby (GI) winner Audible was the 7-1 third choice. Rebel winner Magnum Moon, also trained by Pletcher, closed fourth in the betting at 8-1 odds and will run in next Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI). Juvenile champion and Breeders' Cup Classic (GI) and Blue Grass (GII) winner Good Magic closed at 9-1, slightly ahead of Bolt d'Oro, who also was 9-1. 

Justify, who won his seven-furlong career debut on Feb. 18, is attempting to buck one of the last so-called Derby "rules" that is rarely challenged. Apollo, who won the 1882 Kentucky Derby, is the only Kentucky Derby winner to win the "Run for the Roses" without racing as a 2-year-old. The record of horses in the Derby without a race at age 2 since 1937 is 61-0-3-5. During that span, the only horses to finish in the Derby Top 3 without racing at 2 were runner-ups Coaltown (1948), Strodes Creek (1994) and Bodemeister (2012) and third-place finishers Hampden (1946), Agitate (1974), Reinvested (1982), Curlin (2007) and Battle of Midway (2017).

Horses in order of favoritism in the three-day April 6-8 KDFW Pool 4 (Odds and $2 Win Will Pays): #12 Justify (3-1, $8.40); #15 Mendelssohn (5-1, $12.60); #1 Audible (7-1, $16.60); #14 Magnum Moon (8-1, $19.80); #8 Good Magic (9-1, $20.60); #2 Bolt d'Oro (9-1, $21); #24 Pari-mutuel field of all other 3-year-olds (17-1, $36.80); #10 Hofburg (22-1, $47.80); #22 Solomini (25-1, $53,80); #5 Enticed (27-1, $56.80); #17 My Boy Jack (27-1, $57.60); #18 Noble Indy (31-1, $64.60); #20 Quip (31-1, $64.80); #6 Flameaway (42-1, $87.60); #7 Free Drop Billy (47-1, $96.40); #21 Runaway Ghost (53-1, $109.40); #9 Gronkowski (61-1, $124.60); #3 Bravazo (65-1, $133.20); #4 Combatant (66-1, $135.60); #13 Lone Sailor (78-1, $159.40); #19 Promises Fulfilled (98-1, $198.80); #11 Instilled Regard (104-1, $210.80); #23 Title Ready (285-1, $573,80); and #16 Mississippi (scratched).

Others that closed as 3-1 favorites in recent Pool 4s of the KDFW were Nyquist (2016), Uncle Mo (2011) and Big Brown (2008). Nyquist and Big Brown won the Derby. Empire Maker, the runner-up to Funny Cide in the 2003 Kentucky Derby, was a 5-2 favorite in the final pool that year. 

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager, offered for a 20th consecutive year, enables bettors to wager on possible Kentucky Derby contenders in advance of America's greatest race at odds that could be more attractive than those available on the day of the race. The $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds will be run for the 144th consecutive year on Saturday, May 5.

Total handle for the KDFW pool - the final of four wagering pools in advance of the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby - was $543,010 ($339,036 in the Win pool and $203,974 in Exactas), a 23.3% increase from last year's $440,511 ($294,665 in the Win pool and $145,845 in Exactas). This year, Churchill Downs handled $1,893,353 in future wagers since November - a significant 25.4% jump from last year's total future wager handle of $1,510,195. 

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