Kentucky Derby 2019: Who’s Going All the Way?
And they’re off!
Here comes the famed Kentucky Derby, Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs. It’s the 145th running of what’s been called “the greatest two minutes in racing” and a great day to be a horse-race bettor.
The multi-million dollar wagering handle ensures excellent value for the horse you select. A large field of 20 creates both the havoc of potential traffic problems and the good chance that a stellar horse will be overlooked. The Derby’s featured horses have won qualifying races all over the country, but usually not against each other.
Here are some tips to help land you in the winner’s circle:
- Seize the edge given by modern technology. Watch prep races like the 2019 Florida Derby, Blue Grass, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita and Arkansas Derby events and the Rebel Stakes on You Tube. You can get a feel for the horses who made their way to Churchill Downs.
- Find an angle. Maximum Security had the best final 3/8 of a mile of any prep horse in his last race. Does he have the best finishing kick, or did the slow pace he set in the Florida Derby help him preserve energy for the last run? Does the late-running style of Tacitus, the Wood Memorial winner, or Long Range Toddy, the Rebel Stakes champ, fit this race?
- What about jockey Mike Smith, who rode Justify to a Triple Crown win last year? He had a choice of mounts for this race and took Omaha Beach, the possible favorite. The jockeys know. Game Winner finished right near him in a prep. Maybe those two in an exacta bet?
- Throw the bomb. You’ll see much betting support given to Omaha Beach, Game Winner, Vekoma, Roadster, By My Standards and other prep race standouts. Choose a longshot to throw in the second, third or fourth spot, even to win. Instilled Regard, at 50-1, finished fourth behind heavily-played horses last year and completed a $1 superfecta exceeding 19,000 last year. Go deep!
- Track conditions. If it’s sloppy, early speed will be prominent and even more attention will go to Omaha Beach, who has two recent wins in the slop. If it’s listed as fast, top horses will want to be near the pace early and try to save energy for a strong finish.
- The distance. No horse has run this 1 ¼-mile length. That makes it more difficult to quantify and lends a wild-card element to it.
- Watch the board. Odds for the win and exacta payouts will be posted. It’s possible the favorite will go off higher than the standard 5-2 we’ve seen in recent years. Even two strong horses in the 4-1 and 5-1 range will return a handsome exacta payout in a field this big.
- Traffic conditions. There are 20 horses, making the break and positioning critical. Outside horses will run too much extra distance if they don’t break sharply. The first turn can create interesting, and difficult, scenarios.
- Pace. Recent winners have been on or near the lead much of the race, as opposed to the deep closers who won in previous years.
Good luck, race fans! There’s an avalanche of information out there—the key is how you assess it.