Kentucky Derby 145 Preview
posted Apr 29 2019, 07:10PM
story by Pat Infante
posted in All Sports, Betting

Preview of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby

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  War of Will is an interesting horse in which he was a top derby prospect early in 2019 after wins in the Lecomte and Risen Star at Fair Grounds in Louisiana. He did look very impressive, but the fields he was beating was somewhat suspect. He came back and tanked in the Louisiana Derby finishing a well beaten 9th. He was rumored to have slightly pulled a muscle in that race which could be a valid excuse for such a poor performance. I just don’t like the ‘tank’ race. Everytime one of these derby hopefuls throw in a lunker in their 3 year old season they never seem to bounce back in the Derby. The pedigree is solid and suggest the 10 furlongs will be well within his range. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to take a flyer and include him on some tickets at what should be a nice price and decent value but the 1 post is always tough and means he will likely be forced to go to the front if he can break well. If he doesn't break well then it's all over.


 Tax finished 2nd in the Wood Memorial and really ran a solid race. He is as honest a race horse as you will find as he always seems to run a good race. He is a horse that I wouldn’t discount in a race like the Kentucky Derby and I would of used him a lot heavier on my tickets if he didn’t draw the 2 post. Im still going to use him but I will back off a bit on how much I thought I was going to use him. He will probably have a very fair and playable price by the time the gates open. He breaks well and has enough tactical speed where he should be able to position himself well and make a move as they come around the far turn. Knowing that this horse has yet to run a bad race I consider him playable on the bottom of my exotics.


 By My Standards was the upset winner of the Louisiana Derby at odds of 22-1. His trainer Bret Calhoun commented that after his maiden win February 16th the light bulb went off and he was training like a different horse. He is a horse that may be coming into his own at the right time. In  lifetime start he has never finished out of the money and now rides a 2 race win streak into the derby. No horse who ran their last prep in the Louisiana Derby has won the Kentucky Derby this century. He did run a fast final ⅜ in his LA Derby win closing in 37.82. For a winner of one of the big preps he is likely to go off long odds for a final prep winner, which makes him an interesting long shot play or to use underneath. For 7 straight years the Kentucky Derby winner has won one won one of the big 6 final preps.


 Gray Magician is ‘the other’ horse coming out of the UAE Derby. Im not very impressed with the horse he lost to in that race, Plus Que Parfait. So, naturally this one is an even bigger tosses for me. He has shown to be average at best here on the mainland. He could factor into the pace of the race but that's about it I won’t have him on my tickets and if he wins the race I’ll be tearing up every ticket I got. Worth the risk. Not a fan of this one in the least.


 Improbable is one of Bob Baffert’s big three in this race along with Roadster and Game Winner. He is owned by the same connections as last year's Triple Crown Champion Justify. He finished a well clear and impressive 2nd in the Arkansas Derby losing by a length when he ran into a buzzsaw in Omaha Beach. He is sired by City Zip which would imply he could be distance challenged but I believe the female side of his pedigree has enough stamina in it to get the distance. He closed fast in the Arkansas Derby with a final ⅜ and ⅛ of a mile in 37.45 and 12.94 which is a very good indicator he will be a force in the derby. He is every bit in the mix of a crowded top tier of horses in this race and should not by any means be taken lightly.


 Vekoma won the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland. He has won 3 of 4 lifetime starts. In his race previous to the Bluegrass he did finish 3rd behind Code of Honor and Bourbon War. His pedigree says the derby distance should not be an issue. However what I saw in the Bluegrass with my eyes tells a different story. If you re-watch the stretch run his legs looked like spaghetti. He looked like a tired horse and the closing fractions displayed the same with 39.35 second final 3/8th.  You have to respect the fact that he was a winner of one of the big 6 final prep races as the past 7 derby winners all won a big 6 prep in their final start before the derby but I think I will look elsewhere I just don't like what I saw in the stretch. This is one of the percieved better horses of the race that I will take a stand against. 


 Maximum Security debuted in a $16K claimer who is now in the Kentucky Derby as an undefeated winner of the Florida Derby. The Florida Derby was a pace-less race where Maximum Security cruised on the front end and came home flying, running his final ⅜ in a eye popping 35.96 seconds. Obviously that burst was credit to all energy saved strolling on the front end to fractions of 24.42, 48.98, and 1:12.90. Combine that with the fact that the Gulfstream Park track was extremely speed favoring that day to the horses on the front end. It does give reason for caution. All in all he is undefeated, albeit his previous races were much lower level races, he ran two consecutive 100 plus beyer speed figures, he is from the Raise A Native sire line, and female family 1-n, both of which have had tremendous derby success. As far as running style he has run from the front and I wouldnt start to change things now. I’d go right to the front with him and hope he can win gate to wire like War Emblem in 2002.


 Tacitus is the best bred horse in the race and won the Wood Memorial after winning the Tampa Bay Derby. He is sired by Tapit, who has sired 3 of the past 4 Belmont Stakes winner, and he was the first foal produced by champion Close Hatches, a five-time Grade 1 winner.  He is 3 of 4 lifetime and trained by Bill Mott. Tacitus has a little bit of versatility and isn’t really bound by any one singular running style. Tacitus does like to make a late move but he has the ability to be able to sit closer to the pace, more so than some of the deeper closers in the field. So if he can carve out a nice trip in the race he could be right there to make a run and i’d almost expect him to get a piece of the super. Since the derby points system started every horse who has won the Kentucky Derby has won one of the 6 big preps, he checks that box so he certainly has a shot to be right in the mix and is a legit win contender.  


 Plus Que Parfait gets into the field after a win in the UAE Derby is Dubai. Typically these horses don’t do well in the Kentucky Derby and comparing his times in the UAE Derby to those of previous winners he ran it far slower. Worth noting the last 2 UAE Derby winners finished dead last in the Kentucky Derby. If Plus Que Parfait was to win the Kentucky Derby I will be tearing up every ticket I have. Maybe the easiest toss in the field for me.


 Cutting Humor won the Sunland Derby and in an eye-catching 1:46.94, eclipsing the former track record of 1:47.21 set by Oh So Regal in 2018. He was able to rebound off his Southwest Stakes seventh-place finish but that race was kind of a total throwout after he got wiped out on the first turn and was forced to race five-wide a good portion of the race. I don’t know if a son of First Samurai can get a mile and a quarter, and his female family is loaded with speed, not so much distance, but he has earned his way into the Derby and is trained by Todd Pletcher.


 Haikal likes to do his running late which he did to finish third in the Wood Memorial after his also late running win in the Gotham back on March 9th. I have a couple of problems with him. His beyer regressed in his last race and seems to top out in the mid 90s. He did close the fastest of the top 3 in the Wood Memorial but he sat much further off the pace then the Tax and the winner Tacitus, so that was to be expected. I always have a problem with closers as win candidates in the derby because their so trip dependant in a 20 horse field that traffic issues could really stunt their rally. By no means am I saying he is a total toss and I will use him underneath on some tickets and if all hell broke loose up front, lets just say he reminds me a little Giacomo, 50-1 winner of the 2005 Derby. SCRATCHED


 Omaha Beach won the Arkansas Derby in what I believe was the most impressive race any horse has won this prep season. I've had my eye on this horse since before he broke his maiden and he continues to impress me more and more with each race. He is tactical, push button, and always looks under control and always looks like he is sitting on a full tank. The pedigree is there and I don't think they have gotten anywhere close to the bottom of this horse. He is ‘full of run’ personified. For most of the prep season Game Winner and Improbable where considered the top two horses of the crop and in his last two races he took down both. Bottom line, Omaha Beach is a major threat to win this race and needs to be included in your tickets. SCRATCHED


 Code of Honor is the late running third place finisher of the Florida Derby. Worth noting that the Florida Derby was a paceless race and nobody was closing into those fractions under those circumstances. His previous race he won closing on a very fast pace set by Hidden Scroll which was the perfect set up for him. Im never a huge fan of deep closers in the derby as win contenders because they have to carve out a traffic free trip with 19 other horses to deal with but I do like to include these types on the back end of my exotics due to them being able to pass tired horses in the stretch. He has 2 wins in 5 lifetime starts but overall I think he is a quality horse but my guess is he finishes between 5th and 10th. Wouldn't shock me if everything broke perfectly for him to round out the tri or super.


 Win Win Win finished a fast closing 2nd in the Bluegrass. He had to check hard around the turn almost coming to a stop before blasting off and closing a 12.69 second final 1/8th in a very visual impressive fashion. This is a horse that would be my dark horse to win the Derby if I knew he would be able to get out of the gate quick. It's been such a recurring issue for him that he breaks as poorly as you could imagine. Thats gonna be a problem in a 20 horse field. But if you told me that wouldn't be an issue on derby day Id be very very very high. Problem is, it is an issue, a HUGE one, not a new one, so obviously they can't correct it. Same thing every time. Even with that said, i'm gonna include this horse based on raw talent and play him heavy on my tickets. He’s just too talented not to, but at the same time I understand his race may be over shortly after it starts. It also doesn’t hurt to have 5 Kentucky Derby winners and 4 Belmont winners in his pedigree.


 Master Fencer whose connections accepted an invitation to become just the third horse based in Japan along with the first horse bred there to try the Kentucky Derby. Master Fencer accumulated his 19 "Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby" points via a fast-closing second in the Fukuryu at Nakayama Racecourse and a fourth-place finish in the Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse. I'll be the first to admit im not much astute to the Japan horse racing circuit, but everything here just says toss. Maybe the easiest toss of the field.


 Game Winner was the 2 year old champ after winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile back in November. He took a layoff and came back to run 2nd to Omaha Beach in the Rebel Stakes on March 16th, then ran 2nd to Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby. The pedigree is surely there for the mile and a quarter and there certainly is enough raw talent to be a factor in this race. I guess my main concern is I question whether he is still progressing or is he what he is at this. Which is really good. However, his beyers since after his first race breaking his maiden run as follows: 93, 97, 93, 96, 97 so he basically run the same quality race since last year. You always want to find the horse peaking on derby day that is going to get over that 100 BSF mark. Can he do it? sure. Has he flattened out and maybe he is what he is? Maybe. Will I include him on my tickets and could I see him winning this race? I’ll definitely include him and although not my top pick he is capable of winning and it really wouldn't surprise me at all.


 Roadster has been on the derby radar since even before making his debut in the fall when trainer Bob Baffert was asked by TMZ who his next Justify was and he proclaimed “Roadster”. Roadster has won 3 of 4 lifetime starts after charging home to win the Santa Anita derby. A race that has produced 3 of the past 7 derby winner. His lone loss was a 3rd place finish back in September in the Del Mar Futurity. It was discovered after that race that Roadster had a breathing issue and had a procedure to correct it. He then was on a layoff and came back to win 2 in a row. I really like his Santa Anita Derby win as he closed hard on a very deep track to catch top flight horse Game Winner at the wire. After training and racing on the deep Santa Anita track I think he could come in very fit to Louisville and float over the track. He is one of the strong contenders to win the Kentucky Derby.


 Long Range Toddy really disappointed in the Arkansas Derby finishing 6th. It looks as if his late burst has flattened as the races have gotten longer. He was a higher regarded horse when he closed hard won the 2nd division of the Rebel stakes beating Improbable and he did have a 3rd place finish in the Southwest Stakes. I never got on the Long Range Toddy hype train but im not going to sit here and completely toss him out of all my tickets. I will use him in a few underneath playing him defensively but I really think he is a cut below other horses with a similar running style. I've just seen it too many times where a horse has some early success then falters then comes back and blows up the tri or super for no rhythm or reason. See Instilled Regard last year.


 Spinoff is the Todd Pletcher trainee that got into the gate off a 2nd place finish in the Louisiana Derby. In that race he had an outside post, was wide on both turns, was making only his second start in seven months, and finished five lengths ahead of the third-place horse. He has the looks, he has the pedigree, he has the right running style, and he has the long, fluid action you like to see. The negatives with this horse is he has only had 4 races in his career and will be coming off 6 weeks rest and he did lose the lead in the stretch to a horse in By My Standards that isn't exactly viewed as a world beater. He did close that race fast and has the Buckpasser in the X angle going for him which when combined has led to much derby success for horses in the past. Bottom line he is one of the longer odds horses to keep an eye on and provides sneaky value underneath in exotics at a minimum.


 Country House ran in both the Louisiana Derby and the Arkansas Derby finishing 4th in Louisiana and 3rd in Arkansas. He is a late runner and those types I usually like to use underneath on the exotics. However I believe there are just better options there has not been much improvement in his beyer speed figures and I don't see a huge jump coming in this race. I think he will struggle in traffic and just don’t have the same late burst as others to play the role of an exotics bomber.


21. Bodexpress draws into the field with the scratch of Omaha Beach. Although he is a maiden I do like him better than a few horses in this race. He finished 2nd following behing Maximum Security in the pace-less Florida derby. The horses in post 13-20 will slide down one and Bodeexpress will break from post 20. Hes really in deep water here but a bottom end exotics flyer on a few tickets may be worth a look. 


The Win Bet

I must admit as I sit here and write this im still a little stunned and dumbfounded from the news of the scratch of Omaha Beach. I had my eye on Omaha Beach since before he won a race and really felt strongly that he waa going to win the derby. He had beaten the two big Baffert horses in his last two races in Game Winner then Improbable, who were considered the top two prospects the majority of the prep season. He drew a great post position and I figured he would set up a greatt stalking position in 4th or 5th and it just felt like he was going to get that American Pharoah or Justify trip and take over at the top of the stretch. With that said, once you eliminate Omaha Beach, I feel the race sets up one of 3 ways. Either Game Winner or Improbable win or we see a longshot closer come from the clouds. Both Game Winner and Improbable were right on the tail of Omaha Beach in his last two races and I just think no other horses would of been that close to him. Matter of fact in Omaha Beach's 3 year old season no other horses have. If you really want to follow the trends to make a pick there is one horse that follows the 5 keys trends to winning the Kentucky Derby. Those trends are having 100 points on the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’, winning their final prep race, being undefeated at 3, running in no more than 3 preps at age 3, and the final time of that final prep in under 1:51.00. There is only 1 horse that checks all those boxes and it is Maximum Security, which also at around 10-1 offers more value then the likely 4-1 you will get on Omaha Beach. The derby pace will surely be much faster than the dog walk he got in the Florida Derby. With War of Will drawing the 1 post, his trainer commented he will have to go right out to the front. Most of the closers drew outside of post 7 the inside of that post there is a lot of horses that like to be forwardly placed and that could create a serious rush to get a good position and maybe you see an opening quarter sub 23 seconds. If that is the case, as previously mentioned it could set up for a closer like Tacitus or Win Win Win. A couple of longshots if things go really wonky could be Spinoff who is lightly raced but looks to be loaded with raw talent. Another one that intrigues me if the race falls apart would be Haikal, something about that horse just reminds me of Giacomo who won the 2005 Derby at 50-1. 


The Exotics Bombers


The derby for me is all about playing the exotics and the key to the exotics is finding the bombers. The horses above 15 or 20 to 1 that land in the top 4 positions depending which bet you are making. There is a few horses I like at a price that I think could be sneaky good plays if a little racing luck goes there way. The first one is Spinoff trained by Todd Pletcher, from a raw talent stand point he is on par with some of the top horses of this crop the knock is he is pretty lightly raced. He is another horse that has improved his beyer each time out from 60 to 75 to 84 to 95 in the Louisiana Derby. The question is does he lack experience with only 4 races under his belt? But because of that question is the reason you will get 20-1 or more and if he grows up he can take another step forward and outrun his odds. Win Win Win is a horse that visually looks a lot better on video than he does on paper. I was really impressed when in the Bluegrass Stakes he got stopped on the turn and once he get back going he blasted the last 1/8th of a mile in 12.69 seconds on a track that no one was closing on that day. Tax is a horse I liked a lot more before the post draw i think the 2 post is terrible for him but i'll throw him on the bottom of a couple of tickets due to how much I liked him before the draw. Code of Honor is a horse who should sit mid pack and make a run and drew a pretty good post for what he will be looking to do.


$.50 Trifecta = $110

16 Game Winner, 5 Improbable W/  1 War of Will, 2 Tax, 3 By My Standards, 5 Improbable, 7 Maximum Security, 8 Tacitus, 13 Code of Honor, 14 Win Win Win, 16 Game Winner, 17 Roadster, 19 Spinoff, 20 Country House W/  1 War of Will, 2 Tax, 3 By My Standards, 5 Improbable, 7 Maximum Security, 8 Tacitus, 13 Code of Honor, 14 Win Win Win, 16 Game Winner, 17 Roadster, 19 Spinoff, 20 Country House

*** If you willing to move this ticket to a $156 bet you can add 6 Vekoma and 10 Cutting Humor in both 2nd and 3rd *** - Vekoma is the horse that scares me the most leaving off the above ticket and Cutting Humor just picked up Mike Smith as the Jockey with the scratch of Omaha Beach who he was scheduled to ride. 

$2 Exacta Box = $60

2 Tax, 7 Maximum Security, 8 Tacitus, 14 Win Win Win, 16 Game Winner, 17 Roadster

$2 Longshot Exacta Box = $60

1 War of Will, 2 Tax, 5 Improbable, 13 Code of Honor, 14 Win Win Win, 19 Spinoff

$2 Exacta = $20

7 Maximum Security, 8 Tacitus w/ 5 Improbable, 7 Maximum Security, 8 Tacitus, 14 Win Win Win, 16 Game Winner, 19 Spinoff 

$2 Exacta = $10

14 Win Win Win w/ 1 War of Will, 5 Improbable, 6 Vekoma, 7 Maximum Security, 3 By My Standards

$1 Super = $8

8 Tacitus, 14 Win Win Win w/ 8 Tacitus, 14 Win Win Win, 16 Game Winner w/ 2 Tax, 8 Tacitus, 14 Win Win Win, 16 Game Winner w/ 2 Tax, 8 Tacitus, 14 Win Win Win, 16 Game Winner



Horses I Like for the Undercard...

Race 1 - 2,3,5,6

Race 2 - 1,3,4,6

Race 3 - 1,3,4,6

Race 4 - 2,4,5,9

Race 5 - 1,10,12

Race 6 - 2,5,7

Race 7 - 3,6,8,10

Race 8 - 4,6,8,12

Race 9 - 1,2,8,10

Race 10 - 4,9,10,13

Race 11 - 7,9,10,12



Follow me on twitter @PInfante97

Pat Infante
I am from the Jersey Shore. Not the TV show, the actual geographical area. I have been in the car business for over 18 years. Being in the car busines...

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