Kentucky Derby 2019: Entries, odds and post positions

April 30, 2019 10:32am


Now the
2019 Kentucky Derby handicapping can truly begin.

Post positions for the full field of 20 were drawn Tuesday for the 145th renewal of Churchill Downs’ feature going 1 1/4 miles and, this year, for a record $3 million in purse money.

With Omaha Beach the morning line favorite, the Kentucky Derby goes as Saturday’s 12th race of 14 with a 6:50 p.m. ET post time. NBC will broadcast.

Here’s a look at the field in Derby points order with trainers and jockeys. Mike Battaglia set his 45th straight morning line odds as well.

1. War of Will, 20-1 (Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione): The Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2) winner suffered a mild injury a few strides from the gate in the Louisiana Derby (G2), finishing ninth as the heavy favorite. Casse swears there are no lingering physical issues, but the inside draw stands as a major issue for a horse who wants to factor early.

2. Tax, 20-1 (Danny Gargan/Junior Alvarado): Claimed out of his maiden win at Keeneland by the current connections, he has since made three starts, all 1 1/8-mile graded stakes at Aqueduct, including a victory in the Withers Stakes (G3). Gargan is a first-time Derby trainer with a colt looking fit to stalk the pace.

3. By My Standards, 20-1 (Bret Calhoun/Gabriel Saez): Calhoun, a winner of more than 3,000 races, has his first Derby starter in a colt that couldn’t appear any better in his morning works. The son of first-crop sire Goldencents looks to reverse the trend of Louisiana Derby (G2) winners coming up short on the first Saturday in May.

4. Gray Magician, 50-1 (Peter Miller/Drayden Van Dyke): The California-based colt poised to become the first UAE Derby (G2) runner-up to try the Kentucky Derby, too. He may not be good enough, but connections are giving this a try knowing Gray Magician should have no problem grinding out 1 1/4 miles. He'll be one of the highest prices in the field.

5. Improbable, 6-1 (Bob Baffert/Irad Ortiz Jr.): As with Game Winner, this Baffert colt has twice been a runner-up to start his season, but there were always been high hopes for the chestnut who once filled Triple Crown winner Justify’s stall. Last fall, Improbable scored an authoritative stakes win over the Churchill track. Blinkers come off for the Derby.

6. Vekoma, 20-1 (George Weaver/Javier Castellano): The Blue Grass Stakes (G2) winner won’t earn style points for an unconventional, criss-crossed stride. But that hasn’t seemed to slow him down yet. Multiple graded stakes winner Vekoma is lightly raced and figures to fit into the early pace scenario. How far will he go?

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7. Maximum Security, 10-1 (Jason Servis/Luis Saez): Offered for a $16,000 tag in his first start, the Gary and Mary West homebred is unbeaten and relatively untested. He posted the top late pace figures for this field having set an easy pace in the Florida Derby (G1). How will he fare when there’s more pressure on the lead?

8. Tacitus, 10-1 (Bill Mott/Jose Ortiz): One of only two back-to-back points prep winners entering the Derby, this first foal out of the champion Close Hatches won’t wow you in the mornings, but he has consistently proved himself on race day. The gray overcame plenty of early trouble to take the Wood Memorial (G2) last time.

9. Plus Que Parfait, 30-1 (Brendan Walsh/Ricardo Santana Jr.): He wasn’t successful racing domestically to open his 3-year-old campaign, so Plus Que Parfait traveled overseas to win the UAE Derby (G2) with some brave stretch moves. Going back to last year, he ran a credible second in a Grade 2 race at Churchill Downs.

10. Cutting Humor, 30-1 (Todd Pletcher/Corey Lanerie): He made a major move forward to win the Sunland Derby (G3) in record-setting fashion. With John Velazquez staying on Code of Honor, it’s not too bad to pick up Churchill’s perennial meet-leading jockey, Lanerie, for this spot. Look for a ground-saving trip and one big run late.

11. Haikal, 30-1 (Kiaran McLaughlin/Rajiv Maragh): The Gotham Stakes (G3) winner surged by his competition late, but he’ll still have to prove himself around two turns after finishing a non-threatening third in the Wood Memorial (G2). Haikal is a sibling of the late Takaful, a Grade 1-winning sprinter.

12. Omaha Beach, 4-1 (Richard Mandella/Mike Smith): He earned Derby favoritism with victories shipping from California for Oaklawn Park's Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). Oh, and keeping last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Smith, in the irons sure helped. Handicappers like his ability to make an early move and sustain it.

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13. Code of Honor, 15-1 (Shug McGaughey/John Velazquez): McGaughey’s first Derby contender since his 2013 win with Orb is a highly regarded and well-bred colt who, if there’s anything to knock, may be on the slender side size-wise. There’s growing to do, but the Fountain of Youth (G2) winner has already proven to be a fighter.

14. Win Win Win, 15-1 (Michael Trombetta/Julian Pimentel): The trainer of 2006 Derby favorite Sweetnothernsaint has his second starter in this Hat Trick colt who set a Tampa Bay Downs stakes record around one turn, then proved himself going two when he closed to nab second against a speed bias in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2).

15. Master Fencer, 50-1 (Koichi Tsunoda/Julien Leparoux): The first-ever Japan-bred colt to run in the Derby is also the third based in his country to give a go at the race. He couldn’t beat his local stakes competition, so it’s unlikely he does much at Churchill Downs either. But Master Fencer’s presence will newly open the Derby to Japanese betting.

16. Game Winner, 5-1 (Bob Baffert/Joel Rosario): Undefeated at 2, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner at Churchill, this son of Candy Ride has suffered two narrow defeats in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1). But Baffert also brought him back slowly, looking to peak again at the right time.

17. Roadster, 6-1 (Bob Baffert/Florent Geroux): Coined “the TMZ horse” after Baffert last July mentioned this could be his next American Pharoah or Justify, Roadster has so far lived up to expectations. Sidelined to end his 2-year-old season for a breathing issue, he’s 2-for-2 since with a victory in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).

18. Long Range Toddy, 30-1 (Steve Asmussen/Jon Court): He didn’t much like the slop last time in the Arkansas Derby (G1) but has proven to be a consistent stakes contender otherwise. Two back, he showed an elite turn of foot to track down Improbable in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and won multiple stakes races at 2 on minor circuits.

19. Spinoff, 30-1 (Todd Pletcher/Manny Franco): This isn’t your typical crop of Pletcher contenders, though Spinoff looks like a colt on the improve. The son of Hard Spun didn’t wow in a pair of starts at age 2 but returned to beat winners in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance by 11 3/4 lengths, then went straight into the Louisiana Derby (G2) to be second.

20. Country House, 30-1 (Bill Mott/Flavien Prat): The only Derby contender to hit the board in two major preps, this son of Lookin At Lucky might be the worst gate horse in the field. Post position won’t matter given that. He’ll be making up ground in the late stages after fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and third in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

There is one also-eligible in Bodexpress (Gustavo Delgado/Chris Landeros), the maiden who ran second in the Florida Derby (G1). He has until the 9 a.m. ET Friday scratch deadline to draw into the field. Others next on the Derby preference list -- Signalman, Anothertwistafate, Sueno and Bourbon War -- will each target what's shaping up to be a strong Preakness Stakes on May 18 at Pimlico.

 

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