Kentucky Derby 2019 Betting Preview

Martin Green

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 8:44 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2019 8:44 PM UTC

America’s leading three-year-olds will battle it out for fame and fortune at the Kentucky Derby next month and the race looks wide open.

<p>There is no clear favourite among the diverse group of 20 budding superstars slated to compete in the big race in Louisville on May 4. <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&amp;a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&amp;f=1" title="Bet365">Bet365</a> makes Omaha Beach, Game Winner and Roadster the 7/1 joint favourites, with Roadster and Maximum Security both at 9/1, Tacitus at 10.1 and Vekoma at 12/1 in the antepost market. The prize purse has increased 50% to $3 million for this year’s renewal, the prestige is enormous and it promises to be a ferociously competitive race.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster galloped at &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/santaanitapark?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;@santaanitapark&lt;/a&gt; on April 24th for trainer Bob Baffert. He will be among the favorites in the &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/hashtag/KentuckyDerby?src=hash&amp;amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#KentuckyDerby&lt;/a&gt;. &lt;a href=\"https://t.co/cmUoYJTfD5\"&gt;pic.twitter.com/cmUoYJTfD5&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— XBTV (@WatchXBTV) &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/WatchXBTV/status/1121106857534222336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;April 24, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p>All eyes will be on the Bob Baffert trio of Game Winner, Roadster and Improbable. Last year his star three-year-old, Justify, won the Kentucky Derby and then landed the Preakness and the Belmont to complete the Triple Crown. He became just the second horse of the modern era to pull it off. In 2015 American Pharoah ended a 37-year spell in which no horse won the Triple Crown, and three years later Justify emulated that feat. Baffert trained both horses, and he now has six Kentucky Derby victories to his name, so his presence looms large over this race.</p><p> </p><p></p><h2>The main Kentucky Derby contenders</h2><p></p><p>Game Winner was the champion two-year-old last year after winning all four starts. This year he has raced twice and finished second on both occasions, losing our to Omaha Beach by a nose in the Rebel Stakes and stablemate Roadster by half a length in the Santa Anita Derby. However, the Rebel Stakes defeat can be excused as it came after a 15-week break, and he moved too soon in the Santa Anita Derby. It would be folly to write him off for the Kentucky Derby and this highly rated stalker is the most popular choice among punters.</p><p>When asked last year which of his next crop could emulate Justify in 2019, Baffert opted for Roadster before he had even raced. He justified the hype with that victory over Game Winner in the Santa Anita Derby. Roadster finished third behind Game Winner in 2018, but he has won his other three starts and he has the pedigree, the stamina and the pace to triumph at Churchill Downs next month.</p><p>But it speaks volumes that jockey Mike Smith, who was aboard Roadster for all three of his races, decided to ride Omaha Beach instead at the Kentucky Derby. Omaha Beach is trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella and he has displayed his credentials by vanquishing both Game Winner and Improbable this year. Jockey Smith was aboard Justify last year and he clearly feels that Omaha Beach is well placed to give him another victory in the biggest race of the year.</p><p></p><h2>The best of the rest</h2><p></p><p>Improbable was the joint favourite along with Game Winner for the Kentucky Derby before the 2019 season began, but his standing has since dwindled somewhat. After an unbeaten two-year-old campaign, he has finished second in both races this year, losing out to Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby. He will need to improve in order to challenge for the Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security remains unbeaten as he heads into the race heads into the race and you can expect him to lead from the front in the early stages of the race. Whether he can hang on is another question.</p><p>There is plenty of value among some interesting long-shots, but it is worth noting that short-priced horses have dominated in recent years: Justify was 5/2 in 2018, Always Dreaming was 9/2 the previous year, Nyquist was 2/1, American Pharaoh was 5/2 and California Chrome was 5/2. There is no horse with such short odds this time around, so it should be a thrillingly open race, but a serious long shot has not won since Mine That Bird at 50/1 in 2009, so many punters will prefer to concentrate on the leading lights clustered near the front of the betting.</p>
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