Kentucky Derby 2019 Daily: On jockey changes aplenty

April 16, 2019 11:11am

Welcome to Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Daily, which will each day leading up to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs detail all the news and notes related to contenders in one convenient space.

The jockey decision will apparently have to wait, and there’s no reason for Mike Smith to rush a choice between riding Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Omaha Beach or Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster in less than three weeks’ time in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

While that outcome will free up one mount, and potentially set off a domino effect for others, Monday felt like moving day for other riders scrambling to shore up their plans exiting the final weekend of preps.

Already Sunday, Jose Ortiz elected to jump off Improbable, second in the Arkansas Derby, to remain on multiple Grade 2 winner Tacitus. The Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman then reported that his brother, Irad Ortiz Jr., will pick up Improbable.


The agent of Ricardo Santana Jr. announced he — Steve Asmussen’s first call rider — will take on the assignment for UAE Derby (G2) winner Plus Que Parfait. That likely leaves Jon Court on Asmussen-trained Long Range Toddy, who won the Rebel Stakes (G2) but missed the board in his final prep.

Jockey Javier Castellano, who rode Vekoma in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), told us he hasn’t firmed up Kentucky Derby plans. But logically, would he hop off a major prep winner?

A summary of other moves reported Monday:

So that leaves us with, in points order and pending other changes…

1. Tacitus (Jose Ortiz)

2. Omaha Beach (Mike Smith/TBA)

3. Vekoma (Javier Castellano/TBA)

4. Plus Que Parfait (Ricardo Santana Jr.)

5. Roadster (Mike Smith/TBA)

6. By My Standards (Gabriel Saez)

7. Maximum Security (Luis Saez)

8. Game Winner (Joel Rosario)

9. Code of Honor (John Velazquez)

10. Haikal (Rajiv Maragh)

11. Improbable (Irad Ortiz Jr.)

12. War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione)

13. Long Range Toddy (Jon Court)

14. Tax (Junior Alvarado)

15. Cutting Humor (TBA — Velazquez on last time)

16. Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel)

17. Country House (TBA — Rosario on last time)

18. Gray Magician (TBA — Rosario on last time)

19. Spinoff (TBA — Velazquez on last time)

20. Master Fencer (Julien Leparoux)

Derby links

Free Kentucky Derby past performances are now available courtesy of Brisnet, which also ranks runners based on last out speed and pace ratings, among other metrics.

Omaha Beach shot to No. 1 in Monday’s new release of the 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll. Is he your Derby favorite?

In his annual post-preps piece, HRN’s Brian Zipse separates Kentucky Derby contenders from pretenders.

Having chatted with Andy Beyer, HRN’s Reinier Macatangay discusses the diminished importance of a triple-digit speed figure heading into the first Saturday in May.

In case you missed it…

Sunday’s Derby Daily report featured comments from Bob Baffert, who notes four top betting choices base at Santa Anita Park — “so I don’t want to hear any more about how bad it is in California.”


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Horse Racing Nation's Kentucky Derby daily blog counts down to the May 4, 2019, race at Churchill Downs with a once-a-day update on all things Derby. Get the latest news and chatter, workout reports and a look at fields for upcoming preps all in once place.

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