Can Mendelssohn end Europe’s Kentucky Derby drought?

Kentucky Derby entrant Vino Rosso trains during a morning workout at Churchill Downs Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in Louisville, Ky.

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I did not expect him to be around for this race.

I’ve made a few nice scores. John listened and finally caved. He’s a strong horse, a better-than-average closer, and runs with big strides down the stretch. Given that the last five editions of the Derby have been won by the favorite, all eyes are on Justice.

The 2018 Kentucky Derby field of 20 horses has been set. Does his inexperience/ the “Curse of Apollo” worry you at all? There are two big ones in play.

Underneath Justify, I checked off Robert and Lowana Low’s #16, Magnum Moon.

The only colt ever to win the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old was Apollo, a gelding who surprised the betting public with a late run – described as a “cyclonic rush” in the official race notes – in the final eighth of a mile to beat heavy favorite Runnymede by half a length. At the same time, you have to respect 136 years of history.

The second hurdle is the Curse of the European Shipper.

Sassy Sienna earned her second victory as a 3-year-old on April 13 in the Grade 3 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens aboard.

But only one of them, however, has social media support and sponsorship deal with audio books app Audible-acquired by Amazon in 2008 for 0 million. “I’m also going to have plenty of tickets with Justify off the board completely”, Thomas told Francesa.

I am going against that curse this year and backing Mendelssohn. His sire was the late Scat Daddy, who has four sons in this year’s Derby. A $3 million Kentucky-bred yearling, he’s also competed in England and Ireland.

Returning from the desert, Mendelssohn completed his Derby preparations at the famed Ballydolyle training center in County Tipperary.

That is a very plausible scenario for me being a huge Justify fan. But as the son of Union Rags, a Belmont Stakes victor, his lineage suggests the longer the race goes, the better off Free Drop Billy could be.

The flagship network NBC Sports will take over the undercard races at 2:30 p.m. through the Derby which will go to post at approximately 6:46 p.m. And jockey Ryan Moore is one of the best in the world, even though he, too, has never won the Kentucky Derby. Although Mendelssohn led from start to finish in the U.A.E. Derby last month, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf he relaxed in fourth before rallying and with that kind of versatility to go along with his bloodlines and the talent he’s shown to date, Mendelssohn is my top pick to win Kentucky Derby 144.

Players club members, which is free of charge, will receive a free entry at the kiosk to deposit their choice for the derby victor. It’s a tough sequence that goes 14 x 14 x 10 x 20 that will certainly reward the multi-race player that hits the sequence. Only eight have finished in the money, including Battle Of Midway past year.

Had trainer Mick Ruis avoided the lightly raced, ultra-talented Justify in his last prep, he would likely be sitting as the second favorite on the morning line. His Blue Grass win reconnected him with his backers.

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Justify enters the race as the favorite at 3/1, and is an excellent bet for casual gamblers looking to get a little money down on the race as the favorite has won the Kentucky Derby for five straight years. This week is his first trip back to the “Bluegrass State” since.

Photos: The 2018 Kentucky Derby