Unbeaten Justify challenges Mendelssohn at head of Kentucky Derby market
Bullish Baffert predicts further improvement from Santa Anita winner
Justify has replaced Mendelssohn as favourite for the Kentucky Derby with Betfred and trainer Bob Baffert is predicting further improvement to come from the three-year-old.
Unbeaten in three starts, Justify made his debut only in the middle of February and produced a dominant victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at the weekend, when he had the likes of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third Bolt D’Oro in behind.
While the majority of British and Irish bookmakers elected to keep runaway UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn favourite for the Churchill Downs showpiece on May 5, Betfred shortened Justify to 4-1 favourite (from 6) to provide Baffert with a fifth victory in the Classic. Mendelssohn is between 4-1 and 5-1 favourite with most firms.
Baffert, who has handled the likes of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and all-time leading money-earner Arrogate in recent seasons, believes there is more to come from Justify, with the colt’s performances to date a result of his “raw talent” as opposed to hard training.
“He’s doing that all on his own,” Baffert said. “He did it pretty impressively [at Santa Anita] and he's still a little green. In the other races he had horses with him early. This time he was by himself.”
No European-trained horse has won the Kentucky Derby, although the likes of the Clive Brittain-trained Bold Arrangement, who was second to Ferdinand in 1986, have come close.
Kentucky Derby (May 5)
Betfred: 4 Justify, 9-2 Mendelssohn, 13-2 Audible, 10 Bolt D'Oro, Good Magic, 12 Magnum Moon, 20 bar