Kentucky Derby 2019 Contenders and Pretenders

Kentucky Derby 2019 Contenders and Pretenders

Category : News - Thu 02/05/2019 - 07:53 EDT

On Saturday the Churchill Downs gates will fly open and 20 colts will make The Run for the Roses, trying to grab the winner's share of the $3 million purse and the first leg of the US Triple Crown. They'll be racing 1 1/4 miles on the Churchill dirt, with a field that includes one Florida bred and the Florida Derby winner.

The top 19 qualifiers from the Road to the Kentucky Derby series that started last September have all been confirmed for the 2019 Derby, along with Master Fencer, who qualified through a separate series run in Japan.

Barring any last minute scratches, the field will include long shot Florida-bred Win Win Win, as well as contender Maximum Security, winner of the (G1) Florida Derby in April. 

Below we’ll take a look at four horses that can win the Derby and why we think that’s the case, and four others that should be tossed out when you do your handicapping. Morning line Kentucky Derby horse odds are provided by Bovada’s online betting platform. 

Kentucky Derby Odds 2019 – Contenders

Omaha Beach (4/1)

Why he can win: It took him five starts to get his maiden win, but he was never out of the money in those races, finishing second three times in a row, twice by a nose. Since he’s found the winner’s circle he hasn’t looked back, and has now won three straight. We love the way he fought off the challenge of Derby runner Improbable in the stretch of the Arkansas Derby. That race was run in the slop, so if it rains in Louisville on Saturday, it may increase his chances even more.

Maximum Security (10-1)

Why he can win: He’s never been beaten in four lifetime starts. Sure, he was dominating lower-level competition through the first three of those races at Gulfstream, winning by a combined 34 lengths. But he answered all questions in taking the (G1) Florida Derby from gate-to-wire over a decent enough field (he was only the fourth betting choice) by 3 1/2 lengths. Without a lot of other blazing speed in the race, it’s entirely possible he takes them gate-to-wire again. 

Tacitus (10-1)

Why he can win: Of all the entries in the race, he’s probably the most battle tested and that can be an advantage in a race that sometimes resembles a stampede, especially in the early stages. In both of his last two races he had to deal with early traffic trouble and he came through with wins, including last out in the (G1) Wood Memorial, an effort that was more impressive than it looks on paper. 

Game Winner (6-1) 

Why he can win: Well, he’s one of three entries in the race trained by Bob Baffert – the same Bob Baffert who has won the Derby five times already, and two Triple Crowns – so that’s an advantage right there. But besides that, he’s the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ, he’s never been worse than second in his career and although both defeats have come in 2019, one was by a nose, the other by a half length. 

Kentucky Derby Odds – Pretenders

Improbable (6-1)

Why toss him out: Okay, he has a lot of things going for him, and a fair number of smart handicappers are picking him for the win. Yes, he’s also a Baffert trainee, yes, he has a Grade 1 win in the Los Alimitos Futurity, and yes, he has a win over the Churchill dirt. But we just can’t shake the feeling that others have improved going from two years old to three, and he has not. He was caught at the wire in the Rebel Stakes by a 20-1 long shot, and try as he might he couldn’t get by Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby stretch. Those aren’t positive signs.

Plus Que Parfait (30-1)

Why toss him out: After running fifth and then 13th in his last two Derby qualifying races, he wouldn’t have been close to making it into the race if he hadn’t shipped over to win the UAE Derby in Dubai. By all accounts, he beat one of the weakest fields in the UAE in recent history, and no winner of the UAE Derby has yet to come back and win in Kentucky. Enough said.

Gray Magician (50-1)

Why toss him out: He’s never except for a single maiden victory five races back, and similar to Plus Que Parfait he woudn’t even be in the race if he hadn’t gone to Dubai and ran second in the UAE Derby. If he couldn’t beat that one there, how is he going to beat him here, let alone 18 others?

Master Fencer (50-1)

Why toss him out: He only had the most qualifying points to get into the field because four other horses racing in the Japan series were not actually nominated to run in the Kentucky Derby, and so the spot fell to him by default. Five previous Japan-based runners have raced in the Derby, none have finished in the money, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll be the first.

Betting the Kentucky Derby 2019

Since most of us can’t get to see the Kentucky Derby in person, the next best thing is to watch it on TV and bet from the comfort of home. Check out the recommended online racebooks listed below, and make your bets on the race.


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