Odds are good that the Curse of Apollo will be broken

The Curse of Apollo has stood since 1882, the last year a horse that was not raced as a two year-old won the Kentucky Derby. Perhaps the biggest story swirling around Churchill Downs this year is the possibility that the curse will be lifted, as two horses fitting the description have arrived as favorites. Magnum Moon (now listed at 8/1) and Justify (4/1) each skipped their two-year old seasons, and neither has lost a race as a three-year-old.

There’s a lot of reasons the Curse of Apollo has stood for so long, and none of them have much to do with what will happen this weekend. The most important: not a whole lot of premier-level horses skip their two-year old seasons in the first place. Trainers and owners are understandably eager to get their most valuable assets out on the track. Circumstances aligned for two of the top horses of this year group weren’t able to race as two-year-olds, which we should consider mostly a coincidence.

When you add together the betting odds on these two horses, you get an implied probability of about 21%, or a little over 4/1. Those aren’t fantastic odds, but they sure are better than anything we’ve seen recently.

Battle of the sires

Nine of the horses in this field come from just three sires. Curlin, probably the best Triple Crown sire right now, gives us Good Magic, Vino Rosso, and Solomini. Medaglia d’Oro gives us Bolt d’Oro and Enticed, while Scat Daddy’s last crop includes Justify, Mendelssohn, Flameaway, and Combatant. You’ll notice that a lot of those names also appear at the top of the odds sheet, and the odds indicate that the winner will be one of these nine horses.

The betting market has Scat Daddy’s last crop at right around 11/9, and the top two at 3/2. Seeing Scat Daddy finally get a Kentucky Derby, and with his last crop, is the kind of feel good story horse racing fans love.

Odds are in favor of Todd Pletcher or Bob Baffert

It does get a little boring watching the same trainers win year after year, but the betting odds favour either Bob Baffert or Todd Pletcher recording another win this weekend. Each brings an exceptional stable of horses to Churchill Downs, with Baffert’s duo being led by the betting favorite Justify (currently 4/1) and Pletcher’s quartet led by Audible, at 6/1. Baffert has the favorite, but Pletcher has the depth: with Justify and Solomini Baffert’s odds add up to about 3/1, and with his quartet of Magnum Moon, Audible, Noble Indy, and Vino Rosso, Pletcher’s odds add up to 11/9.