2019 Kentucky Derby Preview

Big news came out Wednesday with the favorite, Omaha Beach, being scratched. An already open field is now even more open. Let’s take a look at the five horses that can be considered favorites and that are being talked about the most. The chart below shows the Equibase speed figures for each of the top five horses. The first point on the graph shows the race three races ago, second point is two races ago and third (far-most right) is the most recent race.

kent2019

Game Winner (ML 5-1)

Winner of the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile last November and trained by 2x Triple Crown winner (American Pharoah/Justify), Bob Baffert. Game Winner has already raced against both Omaha Beach (scratched) and Roadster, losing both in close races. Game Winner doesn’t get the best break and won’t have that huge move down the stretch, but he’s a grinder and that could be enough to win on Saturday. The same jockey, Joel Rosario stays on Game Winner for the Derby. Game Winner has never finished worse than second in his six starts and is likely to hit the board on Saturday.

Roadster (ML 6-1)

Another Bob Baffert trained horse, beat Game Winner in a really close Santa Anita Derby. However, Roadster has had Mike Smith aboard in his last few races. Smith elected to ride Omaha Beach in the Derby (now Bodexpress with Omaha Beach scratched). Smith had been really good at getting Roadster to hang around and all of a sudden fire when he wanted. It will be interesting to see if Florent Geroux can be as effective. If not, it’s possible Roadster never fires. Roadster also has the challenge of starting in that 17 position.

Improbable (ML 6-1)

The third and last of the Bob Baffert trained horses in the field. Has won at Churchill Downs before and finished second in the Arkansas Derby behind Omaha Beach. Had the highest speed figure of any of the favorites in their final race leading up to the Derby.

Tacitus (ML 10-1)

A lot of experts really like Tacitus. He has ran faster in each race and won three consecutive races leading into the Derby. Tacitus is a closer who will be running down the stretch and with a good draw at 8 Tacitus could be primed for a Derby victory. This is a horse that could get bet up on race day and could even become the favorite.

Maximum Security (ML 10-1)

The speed horse a lot of experts have liked. The question will be if he gets out to the front early or if he sits back. If anyone is most likely to wire-to-wire it might be Maximum Security. Maximum Security has won all four races in his career, however, did not face near the competition he will on Saturday. The pace will be much faster than he’s used to and no one is really sure how he’ll adjust.

Longer Shots That Can Hit The Board

Code of Honor (ML 15-1)

Liked by many in trifecta and superfecta picks to come in anywhere from 2-4 and some even thinking he has a shot to win.

Win Win Win (ML 15-1)

A speed horse who showed incredible speed three races ago, but hasn’t been quite as good since.

Vekoma (ML 20-1)

Another speed horse that will push the pace and has good position with the 6 spot. I wouldn’t be shocked if Vekoma hits the board.

A Few Other Mentions

Tax has ran well previously and could get that 3rd or 4th place finish, but a tough starting position at 2 could hurt him. Similarly War of Will has shown speed, but draws the 1 spot so it will be important how he breaks. Country House is a closer that could be flying late with Tacitus down the stretch. Some have talked up By My Standards, but I haven’t seen anything that would make me put money on him.

Super Long Shot

Long Range Toddy (ML 30-1)

Below is Long Range Toddy’s last four races:

Track Date Race Type Finish Equibase Speed Figure
Oaklawn Park 4/13/2019 Arkansas Derby (Gr. 1) 6 87
Oaklawn Park 3/16/2019 Rebel Stakes (Gr. 2) 1 109
Oaklawn Park 2/18/2019 Southwest Stakes (Gr. 3) 3 96
Oaklawn Park 1/25/2019 Smarty Jones Stakes 2 102

He’s been all over the place, but that win back on March 16 sticks out. That speed figure of 109 is enough to compete with the favorites. Important to note is that the favorite in that race, Improbable (at 2/5 odds in that one and one of the Derby favorites), looked like it was his race until Long Range Toddy came out of nowhere down the stretch. He’s been inconsistent, but he’ll have very long odds come Saturday. Both Long Range Toddy and Country House will have very long odds and are horses to look at for big value picks. I’ve heard some speak highly of Country House. In listening to experts over the last few weeks I’ve never even heard anyone mention Long Range Toddy, so take this with a grain of salt. He will provide early speed and he did show something in this race in March. Below is that race from March 16th.

My Picks:

1st- Game Winner

2nd- Tacitus

3rd- Improbable

4th- Code of Honor

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