When you’re asked to think of a state associated with horse racing, most people are going to say Kentucky.
They should say Arizona.
Two of the sport’s most prolific trainers, Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher, both went to The University of Arizona, and are responsible for six of the 20 horses entered in the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
So naturally it’s time for Arizona Wildcats fans to get back on the #AHorsesProgram train for the next month or so.
Who are the horses Arizona fans should be rooting for during the run for the roses? These are the ones who could join Arizona legend American Pharoah as Triple Crown winners.
morning line odds in ()
5. Audible (8-1)
Audible is going to be one of the favorites to win this race after winning the Florida Derby on March 31. This is one of several Pletcher horses that has a legit shot at winning this thing and allowing him to repeat as a Kentucky Derby winner, following in Always Dreaming’s hoofsteps.
The big question following Audible into the 1 1⁄4 mile Derby is if he can make it the distance. The Florida Derby was 1 1/8 mile, the longest race won by any horse sired by Into Mischief. So the pedigree is working against this particular “Arizona” horse.
7. Justify (3-1)
On the other hand, Justify is Baffert’s best shot at winning a derby for the first time since American Pharoah.
This horse won the storied Santa Anita Derby on April 7. However, it’s been since 1882 that an unraced two-year-old won the Kentucky Derby, so there’s 135 years of history playing against Justify finding his way to the winner’s circle.
Justify is one of three horses in this race sired by Scat Daddy. Scat Daddy has had a lot of international success as a sire, but has not had an offspring win an American Triple Crown race.
So there’s a lot of things working against Justify even though he’ll likely be the post-time favorite.
16. Magnum Moon (6-1)
Like the first two Arizona horses, Magnum Moon is coming off a big win, taking home the Arkansas Derby title on April 14. It was his fourth-straight win to start his career. If Magnum Moon were to win the Kentucky Derby, he would become the fourth horse to win the Rebel, Arkansas, and Kentucky Derbys. The most recent? American Pharoah.
And like Justify, this is another horse looking to become the first unraced two-year-old since 1882 to win this race. Just one more thing Pletcher and Baffert have in common.
Justify also has good bloodlines, with 2013 Derby winner Orb and three of the past four Belmont Stakes champs also in the family tree.
This is also the start of a huge block of Arizona horses in the gates.
17. Solomini (30-1)
If you’re looking to make money and root for Arizona at the same time, this might be the horse for you.
Solomini will not be picked by a ton of people this weekend, but does have some decent showings against some of the other horses previously listed on here. Solomini finished 2nd in the Rebel Stakes and 3rd in the Arkansas Derby behind Magnum Moon in his only two starts as a three-year-old.
Baffert has a better chance of winning with Justify, but maybe we’ll see Solomini channel his inner Solomon Hill?
18. Vino Rosso (12-1)
This horse won the Wood Memorial on April 7 after struggling in his first two starts as a three-year-old. So maybe Pletcher has Vino Rosso trending in the right direction?
Vino Rosso has also closed strong in these three races, which bodes well in the longer Kentucky Derby.
And the bloodlines? One of the best sires possible in two-time Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Champion Curlin.
If this race has a horse come from off the pace to take home the roses, it’s this horse. So if Vino Rosso falls behind early, don’t write him off too early.
19. Noble Indy (30-1)
Pletcher’s fourth horse in this race is also coming off a win, taking home the Louisiana Derby on March 24.
Noble Indy’s great grandsire is Seattle Slew, who won The Triple Crown in 1977.
In stark contrast to Vino Rosso, Noble Indy tends to use up all of his energy at the beginning of the race, which could be problematic in a 1 1⁄4 mile race like the Kentucky Derby.
So you might see him out front early, but Noble Indy will have to find some late-race speed to be a real contender for Pletcher and company in this one.
All info from kentuckyderby.com