Enticed Odds to Win the 2018 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is perhaps the most powerful owner of thoroughbreds in the world. Between his Godolphin and Darley operations he has won most races in the world worth winning. He is the driving force behind the Dubai World Cup, for example, and has won his own race a ridiculous nine times. Despite an international presence, the one area where he has not had a lot of success is in Triple Crown races. He won the 2006 Preakness with Bernardini, and that is the sum total of it. He had high hopes last year with UAE Derby winner Thunder Snow, who went on to win the Dubai World Cup this spring, but that colt bizarrely stepped out of the gate last year and refused to run.
The Derby is the biggest race in North America, so you can be sure that the Sheikh is motivated to win it. And this is his only chance this year. It could be worse, though - while this isn't a clear favorite, he's still a live contender in a deep field.
Last race: Enticed wound up a solid second in the Wood Memorial, trailing Vino Rosso by three lengths but finishing well clear of the field. He deserved better, though - he got a raw deal in the stretch. Enticed showed maturity setting off a horse free on the lead and clearly running too fast. He didn't chase him but was content to draft off of him from a distance while maintaining second. By the time the stretch began he and Vino Rosso were locked in a duel that would clearly decide the winner. Enticed was inside. Vino Rosso drifted in, forcing Enticed closer to the rail. Vino Rosso kept coming in, and the two horses collided hard twice. Enticed showed courage to keep going but ultimately didn't have it in him. I don't like to question the stewards much - nothing good comes of that - but I think they should have punished the winner here. Either way, it was a solid effort.
Prior experience: The colt had three wins in five starts before the Wood, and a couple of them were really striking. He broke his maiden in August at Saratoga, but all that really proved was that he can handle a muddy track. He made a big jump up to stakes company next time out and finished third in the Champagne, trailing two horses he will see again in the Derby - Firenze Fire, who has fallen hard from that peak, and reigning two-year-old champion Good Magic. The next time out in the Kentucky Jockey Club he got his first graded stakes win. What stands out most is the location - the race was at Churchill Downs, proving that he is fond of the surface he'll have to conquer in the Derby. After a brief layoff he started his three-year-old campaign in the Holy Bull, running fourth in an effort that made it seem like he was not ready. But he seemed to benefit from the race effort, because he came back a month later to win the Gotham convincingly and set himself up for the Wood Memorial.
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin became a private trainer for Sheik Mohammed in 1993 and held that position for a decade. He returned to the U.S. full time in 2003 and opened his own stable, with Sheikh Mohammed as a significant client ever since. They have had a lot of success together over the years, but that win with Bernardini is the only Triple Crown race McLaughlin has won. He came close in 2015 when Frosted was second to American Pharoah in the Belmont, but he hasn't generally shone in this race. He's an asset to horses in general but less so in these circumstances.
Jockey: Junior Alvarado doesn't have a ton of Triple Crown experience, but that is by circumstance as much as anything. The trainer he most often rides for is Bill Mott, and Mott rarely chases the roses. Alvarado rode Mohaymen to a fourth-place finish in the Derby, so he is capable at a fairly high level. But I'm not entirely convinced that he is at the level of the top riders here.
Breeding: Like Bolt d'Oro, Enticed is a son of Medaglia d'Oro. That horse was known best for how skilled he was at finishing second in major races - the Belmont, the Dubai World Cup, the Breeders' Cup Classic twice. He was bought by Sheikh Mohammed early in his stud career, so Enticed is a homebred. Medaglia d'Oro is best known for siring two all-timer fillies - Preakness winner and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and two-time champion Songbird. Aside from Rachel Alexandra, he has yet to sire a Triple Crown race winner. Enticed's damsire is Mineshaft, the 2003 Horse of the Year who won multiple times at the classic distance and is a son of A.P. Indy, so stamina influences are in strong supply. Mineshaft's breeding career has not nearly matched his racing one, though. The closest he has come to Triple Crown glory with a son was Suddenbreakingnews, who was a non-threatening fifth in 2016. Another son, J Boys Echo, was an also-ran last year. There is plenty of class in this pedigree but not a lot of indications that it will lead to success in this combination.
Odds: Enticed sits at 15/1 to win the Kentucky Derby in futures betting, which has him positioned behind the top contenders but ahead of the long shots.
Can Enticed Win the 2018 Kentucky Derby?: Sure. He clearly likes the track, he should get the distance, he has shown some toughness, and there seems to be more of a ceiling for him. But he is a clear step behind the top horses, and I don't love the breeding or the connections when it comes to this challenge. It feels likely that if he were to win he would beat me.
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