Kentucky Derby Contenders 2018: Picks for Best Horses

The 2018 Kentucky Derby looks to be as competitive as ever, with a number of top contenders making a strong case to be thought of as the favorite. Justify opens as the morning-line favorite thanks to a strong performance in the Santa Anita Derby along with legendary trainer Bob Baffert's nod of approval.

Both Justify and Magnum Moon are out to prove that Apollo's Curse is just a superstition. Apollo is the only horse to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year-old, and it happened all the way back in 1882. WinStar Director of Bloodstock Services and Assistant Racing Manager Sean Tugel, one part of Justify's ownership team, believes Justify has a chance to break the curse.

“Curses are meant to be broken,” Tugel told the Sharon Herald. “At some point, some horse is going to come along and do it and I really hope it’s Justify. I get it because there is a certain foundation a horse needs to run the mile and a quarter in the spring of his 3-year-old year, but this horse gives me goosebumps like no other 3-year-old has ever done, so maybe he’s the one.”

Mendelssohn is looking to become the first Derby winner of a different sort. If Mendelssohn can pull off a victory at Churchill Downs, it would be the first European trained horse to win the big race. Mendelssohn dominated at the UAE Derby in Dubai, winning the race by 18 1/2 lengths. Some worry the horse may have peaked too soon, but there is also the chance that Mendelssohn gave horse racing fans just a taste of his capabilities. Dermot Weld is the only European trainer to have a horse win an American classic, and Weld sees something special in Mendelssohn.

“It’s a pretty big call but this is quite doable and I believe he [Mendelssohn] has a great chance," Weld told the Irish Times. "I think he’s Aidan’s best chance of winning the Kentucky Derby and wouldn’t it be great to see it. He’s a very experienced horse which is very important. He’s already raced successfully in America and in Dubai so he’s a horse that obviously travels well and has a lot of travel experience."

Audible is another contender to win the Run for the Roses. The winner of the Florida Derby has a great track record of having success at Churchill Downs, and Audible is no different. Audible has notable trainer Todd Pletcher by his side, who was able to lead Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming to a Kentucky Derby victory in 2017.

Heavy has ranked the top contenders, and the horses are listed in order of least to greatest chance to win the Kentucky Derby. The odds listed are the morning-line odds. Click the next arrow to see the top contenders, or you can click on the horse's name below to read each horse's specific profile.

No. 5 Bolt d'Oro

No. 4 Magnum Moon

No. 3 Justify

No. 2 Audible

No. 1 Mendelssohn

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Shirley Bell

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