Baffert hopes 7 is lucky for Derby favorite Justify

By Ron Flatter  ( 

With Martín García riding Tuesday morning, Kentucky Derby favorite Justify galloped once around the main track at Churchill Downs. (Photo courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Louisville, Kentucky

It was not like trainer Bob Baffert was overly confident about the post position for Kentucky Derby favorite Justify. He just did not realize that Tuesday morning’s draw would be so early here at Churchill Downs.

“I was in the parking lot,” Baffert said after Justify drew ideally into post 7 for Saturday’s 144th Derby. “I didn’t even know it was going on. My wife Jill said, ‘I think they’ve already drawn.’ We came in, and I see WinStar colors on the board. I asked, ‘Who’s that in No. 7?’ And a girl told me it was Justify.”

The rest of the Justify team was on time, seated at a table in the crowded Aristides Lounge and cheering when the lightly raced winner of the Santa Anita Derby did not get stuck out wide or in the kiss-of-death “1” hole. Once the 20-horse field was fully filled, Justify (3-1) was declared the morning-line favorite, mirroring the betting trend already established in Las Vegas.

UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn (5-1) drew post 14 – the outside stall in the main gate – and was made the second choice on the morning line followed by undefeated Magnum Moon (6-1) in post 16, Audible (8-1) in 5 and Bolt d’Oro (8-1) in 11.

As nonplussed as Baffert might have seemed, he did make quick work of analyzing a draw that did not seem to compromise any of the shortest-priced contenders.

“I think all the good horses are in good spots,” Baffert said. “It’s one of the toughest Derbies that I’ve ever seen and one of the best draws that I’ve ever seen. My excuses are really dwindling, so now I’ve got to come with the horse.”

Actually, Baffert comes with two horses. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Rebel Stakes runner-up Solomini (30-1) will start from post 17.

“There’s never been a winner out of the ‘17’ hole,” Baffert said. “Can you believe that? I know that from Point Given (finishing fifth in the 2001 Derby). But you know what? American Pharoah had it for a day. He was in the 18, then the 17, then the 16 after scratches.”

The short straw was actually drawn by Firenze Fire (50-1), the Jerome Stakes winner that, as a closer, has not shown a penchant his last three races for stretching out to the Derby’s 1¼ miles. “I’d rather be inside,” trainer Jason Servis said with some insistence. “I think it’s a lot better than 19 or 20, really.”

Dale Romans, who has Free Drop Billy in post 2 and likely pace-setter Promises Fulfilled in 3, had a more predictable reaction when he said, “If I had to hand pick the posts I probably would’ve picked a little differently. It is what it is. We’ll work with what we have.”

And with four horses starting Saturday, Todd Pletcher was really only happy with Audible getting the 5. Magnum Moon in 16, Vino Rosso (12-1) in 18 and Noble Indy (30-1) in 19 were all hung outside. “Ideally I wouldn’t want three of my four horses in the auxiliary gate,” Pletcher said. “But it’s horse racing, and that’s what happens.”

Written by handicapper Mike Battaglia, the morning line is his estimate of what the post-time odds will be. In the case of Good Magic, it is in stark contrast to the futures posted by Johnny Avello at the Wynn Las Vegas, where money has been bet on the Derby since last fall. Good Magic is 12-1 here compared with 5-1 at the Wynn. In a thought conveyed by many in English, a post in Spanish on Twitter said, “12-1 Good Magic? Ese tipo está loco.”

Following is the Kentucky Derby field with each colt’s trainer, jockey and morning-line odds. The scheduled post time is Saturday at 6:50 p.m. EDT.

1. Firenze Fire (Jason Servis, Paco López) 50-1

2. Free Drop Billy (Dale Romans, Robby Albarado) 30-1

3. Promises Fulfilled (Dale Romans, Corey Lanerie) 30-1

4. Flameaway (Mark Casse, José Lezcano) 30-1

5. Audible (Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano) 8-1

6. Good Magic (Chad Brown, José Ortiz) 12-1

7. Justify (Bob Baffert, Mike Smith) 3-1

8. Lone Sailor (Tom Amoss, James Graham) 50-1

9. Hofburg (Bill Mott, Írad Ortiz Jr.) 20-1

10. My Boy Jack (Keith Desormeaux, Kent Desormeaux) 30-1

11. Bolt d’Oro (Mick Ruis, Víctor Espinoza) 8-1

12. Enticed (Kiaran McLaughlin, Júnior Alvarado) 30-1

13. Bravazo (D. Wayne Lukas, Luís Contreras) 50-1

14. Mendelssohn (Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore) 5-1

15. Instilled Regard (Jerry Hollendorfer, Drayden Van Dyke) 50-1

16. Magnum Moon (Todd Pletcher, Luís Sáez) 6-1

17. Solomini (Bob Baffert, Flavien Prat) 30-1

18. Vino Rosso (Todd Pletcher, John Velázquez) 12-1

19. Noble Indy (Todd Pletcher, Florent Geroux) 30-1

20. Combatant (Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr.) 50-1

*21. Blended Citizen (Doug O’Neill, Kyle Frey) 50-1

*Also eligible but would only draw into race if another horse is scratched by Friday at 9 a.m. EDT.

Ron Flatter’s racing column is posted every day this Kentucky Derby week at You may also hear the Ron Flatter Racing Pod this week on Wednesday and Friday at Wednesday’s pop-up edition will include handicappers Dave Tuley of VSiN and Patrick McQuiggan of the South Point race book in Las Vegas. Flameaway’s trainer Mark Casse will be one of the guests on Friday’s edition. Please subscribe and post a review where available at Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music and Stitcher.

back to news



View All
  • Wednesday Line Moves for UFC Fight Island 8

    Wednesday Line Moves for UFC Fight Island 8

    Happy Wednesday! Today we have a loaded betting menu featuring 30-plus  college basketball games, 10 NBA games and 5 NHL games. For an updated breakdown...
  • Magny should shine in Fight Island 8

    Magny should shine in Fight Island 8

    Wednesday’s UFC event begins at 6 a.m. Pacific Time, so the theme might as well be Beatdowns and Bagels. Max Holloway dominated Calvin Kattar...
  • Watch bombers in Palm Springs event

    Watch bombers in Palm Springs event

    Kevin Na shot 61-65 on the weekend to win the Sony Open in Hawaii at as high as 80-1 odds. Na (40-1) will attempt to win in back-to-back weeks this week...
  • Schedule critical in CBB futures bets

    Schedule critical in CBB futures bets

    Last week we discussed the importance of taking a positive approach to college basketball futures betting. That is, focus on playing plus numbers instead...
  • First impressions as hockey returns

    First impressions as hockey returns

    It’s great to have hockey back, but bettors must temper their expectations and trust their preseason projections. Therefore, this is a great time...
  • Tuley's Takes on Championship Sunday

    Tuley's Takes on Championship Sunday

    The NFL’s divisional playoff round was a mixed bag for us here at the Tuley’s Takes home office, though I spent Saturday at Circa with VSiN...
  • Injuries dog Chiefs, but Packers on roll

    Injuries dog Chiefs, but Packers on roll

    And then there were four. We’re looking forward to what is maybe the single best day on the NFL calendar: Championship Sunday. The matchups are...
  • Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

    Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

    For as different as this NFL season has been due to the impact of COVID-19, the first two weeks of the playoffs have generally followed the trends of...
  • How to gain edge betting CBB rematches

    How to gain edge betting CBB rematches

    (To view the charts with this report, subscribe to Point Spread Weekly) In a typical college basketball season, and to a lesser degree this season,...
  • Mahomes mystery puts oddsmakers in bind

    Mahomes mystery puts oddsmakers in bind

    It’s generally easy for oddsmakers to post lines on most NFL games. The numbers are typically airtight, unlike in college football. A quarterback...
  • Championship Sunday capsules

    Championship Sunday capsules

    NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME Buccaneers at Packers (3:05 p.m. ET Sunday) The Packers opened as consensus four-point home favorites against the...
  • With Pacers surging, Clippers on long haul

    With Pacers surging, Clippers on long haul

    Another week gone, and bettors have yet to see any NBA team separate itself from the pack. The Los Angeles Lakers seem like the surest thing on the board,...

Google Play
App Store