Wed 04/04/2018 - 03:18 EDT

2018 Kentucky Derby Betting Angle: Most Important Prep Races

2018 Kentucky Derby Betting Angle: Most Important Prep Races

Which Prep Races Produce the Most Kentucky Derby Winners?

Long before the current points system of determining the Kentucky Derby field, the Louisiana Derby, the Florida Derby, the Arkansas Derby, the Wood Memorial Stakes and the Blue Grass Stakes were already established as the most important prep races for the Kentucky Derby. For one thing, these have always been big money races, and prior to the points system, the amount of money won in unrestricted stakes races was used to determine the Derby field.

Secondly, the timing of these races, from six-to-three weeks before the Derby gives the horses the ideal amount of layoff time between races. From a betting angle, these races have historically produced a lot of Derby winners. Here's a look at each race, and its recent relation to winning the Run for the Roses.    

(G1) Florida Derby - 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park

In recent years, no major prep race has produced more Kentucky Derby winners than the Florida Derby. Since 2001, six horses that won the Florida Derby went on to capture the Kentucky Derby, including Monarchos (2001), Barbaro (2006), Big Brown (2008), Orb (2013), Nyquist (2016) and Always Dreaming last year. 

In addition to those, in 2010 Ice Box won the Florida Derby and ran second in Kentucky and in 2003 Empire Maker won the Florida Derby and finished second in the Kentucky Derby. In 2001, Invisible Ink ran third behind Monarchos in the Florida Derby, and then second behind him in the Kentucky Derby.

For 2018, Audible won the Florida Derby, and will look to become the third horse in a row to turn the Florida Derby-Kentucky Derby double on May 5.

(G1) Santa Anita Derby - 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita Park

In the past six years, the Santa Anita Derby has produced two Kentucky Derby winners, with I'll Have Another in 2012, and California Chrome in 2014. Prior to those, the last Santa Anita winner to then take the Derby was Sunday Silence in 1989, who followed Winning Colors, who turned the Santa Anita-Kentucky Derby double in 1988, the last filly to win at Kentucky.

More recently, Exaggerator won the Santa Anita Derby in 2016 and then ran second in the Kentucky Derby, Dortmund won in 2015 and then ran third in Kentucky, and Pioneerof the Nile won in 2009 and ran second in the Kentucky Derby.

The Santa Anita Derby goes on Saturday, April 7. 

(G1) Arkansas Derby - 1 1/8 miles at Oaklawn Park

The Arkansas Derby hasn't produced many Kentucky Derby winners in the past few years, but they can claim a big one in 2015, when American Pharoah won at Arkansas and then not only won the Kentucky Derby, but went on to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years. Prior to American Pharoah, Smarty Jones was the last Arkansas Derby winner to win the Kentucky Derby, which he did in 2004. As well, Super Saver ran second in the 2010 Arkansas Derby and then won the Kentucky Derby.  

Other recent Arkansas Derby winners to have an impact in the Kentucky Derby are Danza, who won in 2014 and then finished third in the Derby, and Bodemeister, winner in 2012 who ran second in the Derby. 

The Arkansas Derby goes Saturday, April 14.

(G1) Louisiana Derby - 1 1/8 miles at Fair Grounds Race Course

You have to go all the way back to Grindstone in 1996 to find a winner of the Louisiana Derby that went on to win the Kentucky Derby, but there have been a few close calls since. In 2016, Gun Runner won the Louisiana Derby and then ran third in Kentucky, as did Revolutionary after winning the Louisiana Derby in 2014. 

In addition, in 2015 Louisiana Derby winner International Star was the morning line favorite for the Derby, but was scratched out of the race with an injury the day before.

The 2018 winner of the Louisiana Derby was Noble Indy.

(G1) Wood Memorial Stakes - 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct Race Track

Fusaichi Pegasus was the last winner of the Wood to take the Kentucky Derby in 2000. In a bit of a quirk - and interesting if you like to play the superfecta - three times in a row the Wood Memorial winner ran fourth in Kentucky with Frosted (2015), Wicked Strong (2014) and Normandy Invasion (2013). Last year's Wood winner, Irish War Cry, was the post time co-favorite for the Derby but ended up running 10th.

The Wood Memorial takes place on April 7.

(G1) Blue Grass Stakes - 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland Race Course

The last Blue Grass winner to win the Kentucky Derby was Skip Away in 1991. More recently, Dullahan won the Blue Grass in 2012 and finished third in the Derby, and in 2010 Paddy O'Prado ran second in the Blue Grass and third in the Derby.

The Blue Grass Stakes goes Saturday, April 7

Betting the Winners at the Kentucky Derby

Given that 11 of the past 18 Kentucky Derby winners came out of one of the races listed above, it's important to watch video of these races and consider the results when you're making your bet at Bovada and trying to pick the winner for the 2018 Kentucky Derby. 

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