Kentucky derby 2019: who's who?


The final weeks leading up to the historic Kentucky Derby are undoubtedly among the most electrifying and suspenseful days in horse racing. With the final preparation races complete and our qualifying colts in line, you can practically feel the thunder of hoof beats across the Churchill Downs dirt; the tender petals of roses draping over broad, sweat soaked withers. The first Saturday in May draws ever nearer, and with each passing moment, the feverish anticipation among fans grows ever higher.


This year, a diverse field of dexterous three-year-old colts have filled the highly coveted twenty starting positions. With such a wide-open field of aptitude, selecting a winner for this year's Kentucky Derby may be more of a challenge then it has been in previous years. For six straight years, the post-time favorite has gone on to win the roses in the Kentucky Derby, the longest streak of it's like in the history of the race. This year's post-tie favorite will look to extend that streak to seven in a row, however, many feel that this year's edition of the race may be primed for an upset.





Will a favorite once again dominate his competitors? Or will an unforeseen challenger sneak away with the win? Let's break down the current field, and where they factor in the race!


- THE FAVORITES -


Omaha Beach

War Front - Charming

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Richard Mandella

Owner: Fox Hill Farms, Inc.


Winner of the (G1) Arkansas Derby in his most recent start and second on the Kentucky Derby leader board, Omaha Beach will likely, and rightly, be the favorite in this year's edition of the Kentucky Derby. A son of Claiborne Farm's War Front, the bay colt gamely turned back the hard fighting Improbable in the (G1) Arkansas Derby to skip home over the sloppy Oaklawn Park surface. Earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for his effort, the young millionaire looks to become his sire's and trainer's first Kentucky Derby champion.

Tacitus

Tapit - Close Hatches

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: William Mott

Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc.


The points leader on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, this strapping son of Gainesway Farm's Tapit holds claim to a nearly spotless career record. He is exiting a win in the (G2) Wood Memorial where he defeated (G3) Withers Stakes winner Tax by 1 1/14 lengths after enduring his heels being clipped by another runner, and several instances of bumping. While he has proven himself amply capable to make it into the Kentucky Derby starting gate, winning will be a challenge, as Tacitus will have to overcome the 'curse' of the Wood Memorial, which has not produced a Kentucky Derby champion since Fusachi Pegasus in 2000. In light of Justify's demolition of the one-hundred-thirty-six-year-old 'Curse of Apollo' last year, anything is possible, and a win here would be the first for his sire and trainer.


Improbable

City Zip - Rare Event

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. and Starlight Racing


With connections like these riding upon such a well muscled chestnut with a wide, flashy blaze, it is difficult not to have visions of Justify when surveying Improbable. A close runner up behind Omaha Beach in the (G1) Arkansas Derby, Improbable has shown himself to be a furiously gritty contender on the trail. A winner of three of his five starts, this colt has never raced worse than second in his career, and ran valiantly in defeat in the (G1) Arkansas Derby after becoming fractious in the starting gate, being "upset" by his newly added blinkers, taking mud, and charging late after a wide trip. With the blinkers coming back off for the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert is reportedly happy that the colt is still in contention for the Derby, and is confident that he will move forward from his effort.


Maximum Security

New Year's Day - Lil Indy

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Jason Servis

Owner: Gary and Mary West


Maximum Security is a horse who, at this stage in his career, has yet to do anything wrong. Unbeaten in four starts, Maximum Security began his career with a 9 3/4-length maiden victory, making his presence known early on. He has since earned his Kentucky Derby hype by winning the (G1) Florida Derby by a clear margin of 3 1/2 lengths, earning one-hundred points on the trail. A son of New Year's Day, the colt looks to stay perfect, much like Justify did in his Kentucky Derby victory last year.


Game Winner

Candy Ride - Indyan Giving

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Gary and Mary West


Last year's Eclipse Award champion two-year-old male, Game Winner made his initial presence known last year, dominating the (G1) Del Mar Futurity, the (G1) American Pharoah, and the (G1) Breeders' Cup Juvenile. While the son of Candy Ride has yet to pick up a victory this season, he has presented two smashing runner-up performances in the (G2) Rebel Stakes, and the (G1) Santa Anita Derby, where he was beaten by a mere nose, and a half-length. He will be entering the Kentucky Derby as one of trainer Bob Baffert's three contenders, all of which have garnered much favoritism among handicappers.


Roadster

Quality Road - Ghost Dancing

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Speedway Stable LLC


He has come a long way from his initial five seconds of fame earned via an article released by tabloid news source TMZ. After asking trainer Bob Baffert who his next Justify or American Pharoah would be, the double Triple Crown winning trainer calmly remarked, "Roadster," which immediately sparked a firestorm of hype from horse racing social media around the colt, who was, at the time, still only an untried maiden. Since that time, Roadster has gone on to win three of his four career starts, including the (G1) Santa Anita Derby, which produced last year's Kentucky Derby winner in Justify. With his current credentials going into the Derby, we will likely see the bold gray son of Quality Road earn co-favoritism as the first Saturday in May draws nearer.


- THE FACTORS -


War of Will

War Front - Visions of Clarity

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Gary Barber


Back-to-back winner of the (G3) LeComte and (G2) Risen Star, War of Will earned much favoritism early on the trail. However, it was in the (G2) Louisianna Derby that things took a turn for the son of War Front. Shortly after the break, the colt appeared to stumble and take several missteps, which ended in him ultimately finishing ninth. It was later found that the incident was due to a 'strain of the patellar ligament.' After bouncing back into training less than a week after the (G2) Louisiana Derby, War of Will has progressed splendidly following his rough final Kentucky Derby prep. The biggest question for the strapping wide blazed colt is whether or not he will be the War of Will of old?


Vekoma

Candy Ride - Mona De Momma

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: George Weaver

Owner: R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables


Vekoma has found a good deal of success in his short career span. Winner of the (G3) Nashua Stakes and most recently the (G2) Blue Grass Stakes, Vekoma's lone defeat came in the (G2) Fountain of Youth, where he placed third. Interestingly enough, Good Magic, winner of the (G2) Blue Grass Stakes last year, also preceded his victory at Keeneland with a third place finish in the (G2) Fountain of Youth before going on to finish second in the Kentucky Derby.


Win Win Win

Hat Trick - Miss Smarty Pants

Jockey: Julian Pimentel

Trainer: Michael Trombetta

Owner: Live Oak Plantation


Never off the board in his career of six starts, this young Florida-bred was second in the (G2) Blue Grass Stakes behind Vekoma in his most recent start. A solid contender in this race, don't leave him out of your wagers.


Cutting Humor

First Samurai - Pun

Jockey: To be announced

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Starlight Racing


Winner of the (G3) Sunland Park Derby in track record time, Cutting Humor is a Todd Pletcher trainee to watch for in the Kentucky Derby field. Off the board in only one of his six career starts, this colt possesses ability and speed.


Tax

Arch - Toll

Junior Alvarado

Danny Gargan

Owner: R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Lynch, Hugh and Corms Racing Stable


An ultra consistent colt in five starts, this young gelding has never been off the board. Exiting a second-place finish in the (G2) Wood Memorial behind Tacitus, Tax's figures have improved with each of his outings.


Spinoff

Hard Spun - Zaftig

Jockey: To be announced

Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher

Owner: Wertheimer and Frere


Todd Pletcher's second entry into the Kentucky Derby, this son of Hard Spun has been impressive in his relatively modest career span. With a 2-1-1 career record in four starts, his most recent start yielded a second-place finish in the (G2) Louisiana Derby.


Long Range Toddy

Take Charge Indy - Pleasant Song

Jockey: Jon Court

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Willis Horton Racing LLC


Upset winner of the (G2) Rebel Stakes over Improbable, Long Range Toddy is one of the more experienced colts entering the Kentucky Derby, with eight total starts under his girth strap. With over $850,000 in earnings, Long Range Toddy is out to prove that he is more than a fluke.


- ADDITIONAL CONTENDERS -


Gray Magician

Graydar - Burg Berg

Jockey: To be announced

Trainer: Peter Miller

Owner: Wachtel Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Barber, Gary


Country House

Lookin At Lucky - Quake Lake

Jockey: To be announced

Trainer: William Mott

Owner: Shields, Jr., Mrs. J. V., McFadden, Jr., E. J. M. and LNJ Foxwoods


Haikal

Daaher - Sablah

Jockey: Rajiv Maragh

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Owner: Shadwell Stable


Plus Que Parfait

Point Of Entry - Belvedera

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Brendan Walsh

Owner: Imperial Racing, LLC


Master Fencer

Just A Way - Sexy Zamurai

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: K. Tsunoda

Owner: Katsumi Yoshizawa


Code of Honor

Noble Mission - Reunited

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Claude R. McGaughey III

Owner: W.S. Farish


By My Standards

Goldencents - A Jealous Woman

Jockey: Gabriel Saez

Trainer: W. Bret Calhoun

Owner: Allied Racing Stable, LLC


Who will win the Kentucky Derby?


We're excited to find out as the run for the roses approaches!

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