A Totally Serious Rundown Of All This Year's Top Played Out Kentucky Derby Storylines

A Totally Serious Rundown Of All This Year's Top Played Out Kentucky Derby StorylinesThe Kentucky Derby has been run every year since 1875 without missing a beat, and, as you might imagine, any event with that kind of provenance is bound to attract epic storylines like mint juleps in silver souvenir cups attract “social drinkers” in tacky suits.

This year’s running of “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” promises a lot in terms of juicy prospects for drama on and off the 10 furlong dirt track at Churchill Downs, so the 144th annual Run for the Roses is already shaping up to be one of the most talked about events in the race’s long history for players in sports betting states.

History could be on the line if certain horses win, curses could be broken, veteran trainers could finally get the victor’s wreath on a colt of theirs and other trainers look to get a repeat W, the crowd could top out well north of 170,000 people, and several horses might (and probably should be) get busted for being living billboards. It’s all on the line going into the Kentucky Derby this year, so read on to find out what might just be several reasons to actually care about what happens. You don’t want to be a bandwagon fan for all of two minutes at the Derby party you no doubt will be attending, do you?

1. Could Justify end the “Curse of Apollo?”

Justify is a horse with a lot riding on his performance at the Kentucky Derby, so it is probably all well and good that he is the most highly favored horse to win the wreath of roses this year. Indeed, the oddsmakers at Bovada.lv, the leading legal offshore racebook site, have assigned this California boy +400 moneyline odds (7-2) and he drew a fairly favorable Gate 7 post position too. So what’s the big deal with Justify? If he wins the 2018 Kentucky Derby then he’ll be the first horse that was never raced as a 2-year-old to win the first Triple Crown race since the gelding Apollo did the deed in 1882. He’s got the pedigree to be successful (his daddy is the premier sire Scat Daddy) and the training (his coach is the four-time Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert) to make it happen, and if he does then look out for all the talk about him winning the triple crown like Baffert’s trainee American Pharoah did in 2015.

2. Could Mendelssohn become one of a few foreign-born horses to win the Derby?

Mendelssohn and Justify might have the same proud papa in Scat Daddy, but this colt has a different row to hoe when it comes to the aspirations placed on a possible win at Churchill Downs this weekend. That’s because Mendelssohn, who is sitting on 6-1 odds despite a pretty bad Gate 14 draw in the starting gate, stand a good chance of becoming the first horse born outside the United States to win the Kentucky Derby since Bold Forbes in 1976. His win by 18 ½ horse lengths at the UAE Derby is proof that he has a better than average shot to make a dent in the history books, but that woeful starting position could hold him back.

3. Can Good Magic win the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby?

Good Magic is looking to become only the third horse in the history of horse racing to have won the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile championship as a 2-year-old foal and the Kentucky Derby as a 3-year-old colt. That may not seem like too much of a tall order on paper, but trust us, it’s a big deal. Most horses that won the biggest prize for younger horses that go on to qualify for the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” do not go on to make much noise. In fact, the Juvenile was founded in 1948 and no horse won a Triple Crown race did until Timber Country in 1995. If Good Magic can achieve this feat, which hasn’t been done since 2007, then he could go on to seriously contest for the Triple Crown and make history all over again. It’s worth watching, for sure, and this factor is playing into his 7-1 odds going into this weekend’s race.

4. Will trainer Todd Pletcher win back-to-back Kentucky Derbies?

Todd Pletcher has a better shot – or should we say a better four shots – to be the trainer of two Kentucky Derby winners in as many years. Pletcher is bringing with him two big names in Magnum Moon (Gate 16, 12-1 odds) and Audible (Gate 5, 6-1 odds), alongside two potential spoilers in Vino Rosso (Gate 18, 17-1 odds) and Noble Indy (Gate 19, 51-1 odds). Even though only the two former entrants have a good chance to make a real run for it, anything can happen at the biggest race in horse racing, which is what the Kentucky Derby Truly is. At any rate, Pletcher is reportedly keeping Audible – his prized pony – in the stable right next to the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming. Maybe some of his older stablemate’s luck will rub off on Audible, who shared a +400 moneyline at Bovada.lv with the current odds leader Justify.

5. Would a Supreme Court decision against PASPA help out horse racing betting?

The thing to remember about the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) is that it only applies to sports betting operations, not sports bettors on an individual level, and it doesn’t have any prohibitions against horse racing betting either. That means that, even if the US Supreme Court decides – as New Jersey and many other states around the country hope – that the long-hated and now largely toothless PASPA is unconstitutional for its restrictions on widespread legality for sports betting, there won’t be any immediate or direct effect on racebooks. Horse racing betting outlets, even websites based overseas, are apparently already completely legal. Here’s the kicker though: if PASPA goes bye-bye then it’s only a matter of time before other types of sports betting outlets start offering fixed odds action on horses and races too. That could, presumably, give a lot of boost to interest in horseplaying as well, since there would be even more chances for wagering enthusiasts to get in on the hobby.