2018 Kentucky Derby: It’s Pletcher’s Brigade Versus Two Freaks

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D.S. Williamson

April 29th, 2018

The 2018 Kentucky Derby is less than a week away. That means it's time to get down to specifics. One of the things I noticed is that this year's Derby comes down to four Todd Pletcher horses and a couple of freaks.

A case can be made for every one of Todd's horses to win the Kentucky Derby. A case can also be made for the two freak horses to win on May 5. One freak, Justify, is trained by the greatest thoroughbred horse trainer to ever live.  The other, Mendelssohn, is trained by whom many consider to be the best horse racing trainer working today.

2018 Kentucky Derby:  It’s Pletcher’s Brigade Versus Two Freaks

Todd Pletcher's Brigade

I've added Vino Rosso's Wood Memorial win to this blog. If you wish to see how Audible, Magnum Moon, and Noble Indy performed in their final Derby preps, just look for the 2018 Florida Derby, 2018 Arkansas Derby, and 2018 Louisiana Derby on YouTube.


I still say he's got the talent to win the Kentucky Derby. A couple of high-profile national handicappers have stated that he'll need things to set up for him to win on May 5. Not really. He can make his own trip because he can run close to the pace if needed while he showed in the Florida Derby that he can come from the clouds.

Magnum Moon

If he's matured at all since racing greenly in the Arkansas Derby, he's a contender. Magnum Moon has the talent to win the Triple Crown. Hopefully, the immaturity he displayed in the Arkansas Derby doesn't bite him on Derby Day.

Noble Indy

I still say he can improve off his gutsy Louisiana Derby victory. He was all out to hold off Lone Sailor. No worries. He did all the running in that race. He'll be well-rested. Plus, he might come into his own on May 5.

Vino Rosso

Talk about a gusty performance! I love the fact that two-time Derby winning jockey John Velasquez takes the call on Vino Rosso. Johnny V. must feel that Vino Rosso has a shot to win the Run for the Roses. Who am I to argue with the great Johnny V.?

Bob Baffert's Freak


Freak might not even describe how awesome of a horse Justify is. He floated out in the stretch and still held off Bolt d'Oro. Up until March, Bolt d'Oro was a 3 to 1 chalk to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Justify is one heck of a race horse.

The real question is whether he's American Pharoah, or Indian Charlie. If he's American Pharoah, he wins on May 5. If he's Indian Charlie, he could end up third on Derby Day.

Aidan O'Brien's Freak


His UAE Derby win was the most impressive by any 3-year-old this year. The thing I love about Mendelssohn is that he beat his competition so easily. He can relax on the lead, or right off. Aidan O'Brien is treating the 2018 Kentucky Derby like any other horse race.

That's the way to do it. Why mess around with what's worked in the past? Mendelssohn could be the best racehorse on the planet. The big question is whether there's still some upside to how he performs.

Unless there's a huge upset on May 5, the Derby winner should be one of the 6 horses highlighted here. Mendelssohn and Justify are the freaks while Todd Pletcher brings 4 legitimate contenders to the Run for the Roses.

The 2018 Kentucky Derby is days away. Excited yet?