Kentucky Derby 2018: The 5 favorites to win the 'Race for the Roses'

The 2018 Kentucky Derby field is set.

On Saturday, 20 horses will step into the gates at Churchill Downs, with one winning the "Run for the Roses" and making the first step toward Triple Crown immortality.

It's an incredibly talented field this year, with reasons to both love and doubt every horse entering the day with good odds. Currently, five horses stand out with odds in the single digits, including two undefeated horses and others that have dominated in their recent run of races.

Take a look below as we break down what you need to know about the favorites before placing your bets on this year's Kentucky Derby.

The 5 favorites to win the Kentucky Derby
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The 5 favorites to win the Kentucky Derby


Post position: #7

Current odds: 3/1

Why he can win: Justify is undefeated in his three career races, and is a deserving favorite coming into the Kentucky Derby. He's trained by Bob Baffert, who's helped four horses en route to Derby wins, most recently with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Also, if you're looking at trends to follow, the favorite has now won five straight Kentucky Derbys — that's a pretty good run for a 20-horse race.

Reasons to be wary: If Justify is to win, he'll have to break the "Curse of Apollo" to do it. Justify never raced as a two-year-old, and no horse has won the "Run for the Roses" without racing as a two-year-old since Apollo did it in 1882. And with only three races under his belt, running in a packed field of 20 might be a bit new to him.

(Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)


Post position: #14

Current odds: 5/1

Why he can win: Mendelssohn is a powerful horse — look no further than his win at the UAE Derby in which he beat the field by more than 17 lengths. He's run and won all over the world, and if he has a good race, could potentially pull away from the pack.

Reasons to be wary: While his win at the UAE Derby is one of the most compelling reasons to put your money on Mendelssohn, history tells a different story — winners of the UAE Derby have never finished higher than sixth in the Kentucky Derby. Whether it's the travel or some trouble with their internal clock, many horses have shown signs of dominance on the other side of the world, only to disappoint at Churchill Downs. The more I look at this race, the more it feels like Mendelssohn will either win it running away or not be a factor in the finish at all.

 (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Magnum Moon

Post position: #16

Current odds: 6/1

Why he can win: Magnum Moon is also undefeated in his young career and has shown an ability to win while running different races, taking first both from the pack and leading wire-to-wire, including a win by four lengths at his most recent start in the Arkansas Derby. For some experts, he's the strongest horse in the field, having never won a race by less than two lengths. Trainer Todd Pletcher knows how to coach a winner, having helped Always Dreaming to a first-place finish at the Derby last year.

Reasons to be wary: First, he's never faced a field like this. While that's true for every horse racing on Saturday, it merits specific mention when touting a horse as undefeated. Additionally, according to ESPN's Chris Fallica, horses entering the race with the third best odds haven't won the Derby since Strike the Gold did in 1991.

(Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)

Post position: #5

Current odds: 8/1

Why he can win: Audible has won four straight races coming into this one, and is racing out of post five, which has produced a remarkable five Derby winners in the past 21 years. Like Magnum Moon, he is trained by Todd Pletcher, who has experience winning at Churchill Downs. An exacta box with the two Pletcher favorites feels like a fun bet to have in your pocket come Saturday.

Reasons to be wary: From BlackJack Fletcher at The Action Network— "My concern for Audible is his running style. He's a closer. He likes to sit off the pace near the back and then make his charge. That is going to be very difficult for him to do in a 20-horse field on Derby Day. If he gets blocked in, hung out too wide or just gets a rough trip, he may have too much work to do before the wire."

(Photo by John Voorhees/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Bolt d'Oro

Post position: #11

Current odds: 8/1

Why he can win: Bolt d'Oro gave chase to Justify at the Santa Anita Derby earlier this year, before just falling off the pace. Jockey Victor Espinoza has won two of the past four Kentucky Derbys, and after coming so close to handing Justify his first loss, could know just the right way to push his horse to maneuver to yet another victory.

Reasons to be wary: As said above, he's already lost to Justify in a solidly run race. He's a strong horse, but Justify just might be stronger.

(Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)

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