Notebook Weekend Report: Kentucky Derby Special

The Kentucky Derby goes at 6:45 PM ET on NBC and is the highlight of the sports weekend. Earlier this week, I posted about the five favored horses in the 2018 Kentucky Derby field. But the fun of horse racing is the longshot. So with that in mind, here’s a look at the rest of the field, starting with super-longshots of 50-1 and moving upward to the 12-1 darkhorses.

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Lone Sailor (50-1): He’s run eight races and the only win was in his maiden voyage last September. But what’s interesting is that he’s finished in the money the other seven times, including big races at the Breeders Cup in November and the Louisiana Derby. If he goes top four on Saturday, the payoffs on the exacta, trifecta and superfecta go through the roof.

Instilled Regard (50-1): Similar pedigree to Lone Sailor. Ran seven races, and gone top four in all seven. That includes the Santa Anita Derby, the most prestigious prep race in the west and the Risen Star, a good Derby prep.

Bravazo (50-1): The only horse in the field under the care of legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who’s long been superseded by Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher and others as the biggest name in training. Bravazo’s win in the Risen Star is interesting, but there are a lot of very poor finishes.

Combatant (50-1): He’s been top four in all seven trips to the post. It does concern he hasn’t run a notable race outside of Arkansas. Not that horses know the difference between Kentucky and Arkansas, but given the payoffs at races like the Florida Derby or Santa Anita, it makes me wonder if ownership lacks the confidence to think they’re horse can make travel costs worthwhile.

Firenze Fire (50-1): Another horse whose connections have been shy about taking on the road. This will be Firenze Fire’s first race outside the New York/Delaware area. He does some nice wins, notably in Saratoga last summer and at Belmont’s Champagne Stakes in the fall.

My Boy Jack (30-1): My Boy Jack has shown himself of capable of winning big races, as he did at the Lexington Stakes and Southwest Stakes in Arkansas. He’s also shown himself capable of poor finishes in big races, like seventh in a Breeders Cup race.

Free Drop Billy (30-1): Steady in the money finishes in both New York and Florida, and a good bloodline—father is Union Rags, who won the Belmont Stakes in 2012.

Promise Fulfilled (30-1): Another son of a Triple Crown race winner, in this case Shackleford, who won the Preakness in 2011. Promise Fulfilled had a big win down south at the Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth Stakes. But on the big stage, so to speak, at the Florida Derby, he ran ninth.

Solomoni (30-1): The consistency is impressive—6-for-6 with in the money finishes, including at Breeders. But the most impressive thing about Solomini is the bloodline. His daddy is Curlin, who finished top three in all 2007 Triple Crown races, including a Preakness win Solomini is also trained by Bob Baffert.

Flameaway (30-1): A lurker, he’s ran four races and finished first or second each time. This includes a race at the Breeders Cup and the Blue Grass Stakes. And jockey Jose Lezcano is a proven winner.

Enticed (30-1): Led by the Irish trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Enticed has done well on Champagne the New York circuit, taking second at the Wood, winning the Gotham and grabbing third at the Champagne Stakes last fall. He also ventured to Florida for the Holy Bull where he settled for fourth.

Noble Indy (30-1): Another horse from a top trainer at good prices. Todd Pletcher is behind Noble Indy, who has a short resume of only four races with three wins. You get the feeling Pletcher and the owners have been holding back, not wanting to show their hand to soon, so to speak. Hence the possibility of a big payoff on a horse that might be better than we can know right now.

Hofburg (20-1): His second-place finish in the Florida Derby, which joins with Santa Anita in being the top two races of the run-up to the Triple Crown, is enough to raise eyebrows. But with only three races, this is another case of wondering if the owners have been holding back, aiming for the big payday on Saturday.

Vino Rossi (12-1): Another one of Curlin’s boys, trained by Pletcher and ridden by the great John Velazquez, one of the best jockeys in the East. Vino Rossi won the Wood Memorial, a prestige race at Aqueduct.

Good Magic (12-1): There are excellent racing reasons to like Good Magic. The jockey/trainer combo of Jose Ortiz/Chad Brown is very good. The victories in the Blue Grass Stakes and Breeders Cup Juvenile show an ability to win a big race. In the money finishes at big races in Gulfstream and Belmont show consistency. But for anyone who is a fan of The Wizard Of Oz, the best reason to like Good Magic is that his mother is named Glinda The Good. If he wins the Derby, you know the reason will be that and not anything related to his resume.

So between this list and what was posted earlier in the week about the five favorites, you have all the information you need to enjoy the Derby. My own bet is as follows—Good Magic to win, and included in a four-horse exotic box with Vino Rossi, Solomini and Mendelssohn. Boxing the horses gives me the chance of winning an exacta, trifecta or superfecta regardless of what order they come in. It’s a more expensive bet but when you’re playing with hypothetical money, why not be a high roller?


The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs has been as good as advertised. Three of the series have completed four games and all three are tied 2-2. The one exception, Boston-Tampa Bay, could be tonight if the Bruins win Game 4 in the Garden. That makes NBC the place to be this weekend, between its NHL coverage and the Kentucky Derby telecast.

The NBA second round hasn’t produced the expected excitement, at least not yet. All four series have played two games and Utah-Houston is the only one where there’s a split. And unless the Jazz can win both games in Salt Lake City this weekend, I’m not ready to assume even that means all that much.

Complete TV listings are below. In the meantime, check out other posts that went up on TheSportsNotebook this week, as we did some catching up on baseball…

The Dodgers Stumble Out Of The Gate
Three Players The Twins Need To Get Rolling
The AL MVP Landscape—Mookie Betts Is The Frontrunner


7 PM: NHL Game 4, Lightning-Bruins (NBC Sports Network)
8 PM: NBA Game 3, Warriors-Pelicans (ESPN)
10 PM: NHL Game 5, Sharks-Golden Knights (NBC Sports Network)
10:30 PM: NBA Game 3, Rockets-Jazz (ESPN)

5 PM: NBA Game 3, Celtics-76ers (ABC)
6:45 PM: Kentucky Derby (NBC)
7 PM: NHL Game 5, Penguins-Capitals (NBC)
8:30 PM: NBA Game 3, Raptors-Cavaliers (ABC)
9:30: NHL Game 5, Jets-Predators (NBC Sports Network)

3 PM: NHL Game 5, Bruins-Lightning (NBC)
3:30 PM: NBA Game 4, Warriors-Pelicans (ABC)
6 PM: NBA Game 4, Rockets-Jazz (TNT)
7:30 PM: NHL Game 6, Golden Knights-Sharks (NBC Sports Network)