Lone Sailor Odds to Win the 2018 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
In most circumstances this is the kind of horse you would pay very little attention to heading into the Derby. His breeding doesn't jump off the page. His career has been undistinguished - marked by a history of aiming high and falling short. His connections aren't terrible but aren't at all inspiring, either. He seems outclassed. To get any attention at all a horse like this would have to do something particularly noteworthy. And on April 19 this horse did just that. That morning he had a truly ridiculous work at Churchill Downs - ridiculous in a good way. He started out nine lengths behind two workmates, and six furlongs later he was two lengths in front. Those horses were moving, too. Lone Sailor recorded a stunning 57 3/5 seconds for five furlongs, and 1:11 3/5 for the full six. That five-furlong time is historically fast. It appears that the last time a horse ran that fast at Churchill Downs in the morning was Hard Spun, who posted that time in his last work before finishing second in the 2007 Derby behind Street Sense.
Now, races aren't won in the morning, and there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about that performance. But it does make it a little easier to respect this horse - or at least to pay attention to him.
Last race: The good news here is that Lone Sailor comes into the Derby off the best race of his career. But the problem is that that effort still wasn't enough to win the race, and the race wasn't a particularly impressive one. The Louisiana Derby was the weakest of the major prep races run this year, and the Louisiana Derby has long been the least relevant of those races when it comes to Derby success. And while the colt finished second, he should have done more. My Boy Jack was leading the race and had it won before he started moving backwards. Lone Sailor had the lead and should have held it, but he was outdueled by Noble Indy. And it's not like Noble Indy is a major Derby contender, either. It was a result that was more problematic than inspiring.
Prior experience: You can't complain about a lack of experience for this colt unlike so many others in the field. That's something, I guess. But it is a mixed bag. He debuted in August and was underwhelming. Three weeks later he had an amazing day, winning by more than 11 lengths. But that race was on a sloppy track, so it proved that he liked on off surface as much as anything. We'd have to watch him more in the Derby if the forecast is for a lot of rain, I guess. His owners aimed high after that race. Too high, it seems. He was third in the Breeders' Futurity. Second in the Street Sense. Fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Then ninth in the Lecomte to start his three-year-old season. Time and again he just wasn't good enough when facing top fields. After the Lecomte he dropped back to allowance company, and he again finished second. And then the Louisiana Derby. So, the horse has just one win in eight career starts, and that came eight months ago over eight furlongs on a sloppy track. That's hardly inspiring.
Trainer: Tom Amoss is a very capable trainer - he has more than 3,500 career wins. But he is a regional trainer, mostly shining in Louisiana. He has been out on his own since 1987 and has just three Grade 1 wins. Guys like Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert can get that many in a good weekend. He knows how to get horses ready to run, but he is playing over his head in this spot and can't be considered an asset for the horse. Given that this is the kind of a horse that needs all the help he can get just to be competitive in this spot, that's a concern.
Jockey: James Graham is a competent journeyman jockey, but like his trainer here he is not used to playing at these levels. He has just one more Grade 1 victory than Amoss, and the last came back in 2015. He is not having a great year this year and is not a huge asset for this colt in a race this big. On the plus side, though, he does have chemistry with the horse - he was aboard for that stellar work the other morning.
Breeding: His sire, Majestic Warrior, is a son of A.P. Indy, so he should have had all sorts of stamina. But his only impressive win came at seven furlongs, and he struggled when stretched beyond that. He started out hot as a sire but has since been moved to Japan - hardly a positive sign for a sire. The best thing he contributes to his offspring is the blood of his father. Damsire Mr. Greeley was mostly a sprinter himself, and he accounts for a good portion of the speed that Lone Sailor has flashed. But he doesn't offer as much stamina, and his offspring have not been known for winning long. There are more distance questions with this colt than many.
Odds: Lone Sailor sits as a major long shot at 80/1, which has him tied with Promises Fulfilled and ahead of only Firenze Fire. He is not well liked by oddsmakers, but it is hard to argue that he is being hugely disrespected.
Can Lone Sailor Win the 2018 Kentucky Derby?: No. He's just not good enough. His best race wasn't enough to win the worst major Derby prep, and he's facing by far the best field he has ever seen. If he decides to flash that speed, which he has never previously done in a race, he'll have Justify and others to deal with. And if he tries to come from off the pace as he usually does then he'll be chasing other, better horses. It just doesn't set up well for him at all.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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