The Kentucky Derby Futures Wager (KDFW) remains a popular way for bettors to get in on the derby well before the race goes off, and is a nice insight in to what the market thinks. For the longest time, Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro were alone at the very top with a couple horses sliding in and out. But the recent KDFW Pool 3 results have pushed a relative unknown right to the head of the three-year-old grouping.
That horse is named Justify, and he closed KDFW Pool 3 betting with an astonishing $31,671.43 in action that propelled his mark to 6/1 to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby. So who is this horse and how did we get here?
Not so surprisingly, Justify is a Bob Baffert trainee ridden by the living legend known as Mike Smith. He was purchased as a yearling for a whopping $500,000 given his pedigree as a Scat Daddy colt with traces of Ghostzapper in his lineage. Smith himself has compared Justify to another noted Triple Crown winner as well. “I hate to compare him to other horses right now, but doesn’t he remind you of an Easy Goer way back in the day,” said Smith. “Just a big ‘’ol red horse with a big, powerful stride. The distance didn’t seem to bother him. I know that was just a mile, but he could have galloped out another quarter of a mile if he had to.”
Justify cruised through an allowance in 1:35.73 in such a way that it caught the attention of savvy horse players around the country. People streamed him heavy in the KDFW Pool 3 to drive his odds ahead of Bolt d’Oro, who managed to hold on to a 7/1 mark, but also ahead of McKinzie’s value at 9/1. There was rumors that he would head for a showdown with those two at the Santa Anita Derby, but the more likely path seems to be the Arkansas Derby.
Baffert gave the horse top marks even though he wasn’t at the track itself. “That acceleration around the far turn came so natural. He switched leads and naturally opened up his stride and was two in front. I was like ‘Wow.’ I didn’t ask him to move and he just did that extremely easily. He came off that turn like it was a stroll. Just very, very impressed.”
The fact that Justify has moved to the top of the charts in the KDFW Pool 3 odds is significant. No horse – including Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie – has truly separated themselves from the pack just yet. Somehow Justify seems to not only keep pace by running in allowances, he’s setting the pace without even contesting a stakes contest. The world will be waiting to see if he’s the real deal come Arkansas Derby time.