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    2019 Kentucky Derby Analysis

    Saturday May 4, 2019

    The preps are over and now it is time to decide on what have witnessed and come up a thoughtful analysis that we can use in betting this year’s Kentucky Derby. After rewatching all the preps on video, these are my thoughts about what we all eagerly await just 2 weeks from today.

    Omaha Beach has certainly risen to the head of the class by beating Baffert’s highly regarded Game Winner and Improbable in division 2 of the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn. Omaha Beach was impressive in the way he won these 2 races to stamp himself as the likely favorite in this year’s Kentucky Derby. He has a versatile running style, seems to be trouble free, runs close enough to the pace to pounce on the early leaders and take over at the top of the stretch and pull away holding off the late closers. It appeared Game Winner had him in the Rebel, until Omaha Beach dug in, to win by a nose. His Arkansas Derby was even more impressive. It didn’t appear Improbable was going to get by him even if they went around again. This late developing son of War Front, who is best known for his turf runners, and a trainer in Richard Mandela, who doesn’t usually try the Derby trail, is the horse to beat and will likely be favored.

    Baffert seems to have the next three most serious challengers. After rewatching the Rebel and the Santa Anita Derby, I have concluded that Game Winner may be ready to regain his best form in the Derby. While I originally thought he might not be himself, I have reconsidered. His race against Omaha Beach in Division 2 of the Rebel was magnificent and he fell just a nose short after not racing since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. I was critical of his Santa Anita Derby effort because he had to be hard ridden in the stretch, but that race came just 3 weeks after his all out return effort following a 5 month layoff. A lot depends on his post position but if he is not forced to go extremely wide early he might be able to turn the tables in the Derby on Omaha Beach. It could be a very thrilling stretch finish, one for the ages.

    Improbable lost more ground than he lost by in Division 1 of the Rebel and put up a valiant effort to get off the rail and challenge Omaha Beach the length of the stretch in the Arkansas Derby. I don’t know if he can beat the top two but he tries hard every time and I like his grit and determination. He has greater mid-race acceleration than Game Winner, but he has yet to show he has the same heart to finish the deal.

    The Baffert horse I was most impressed with when I watched the race who didn’t impress me as much in my video review is Roadster. While his Santa Anita Derby win was very impressive beating Game Winner, he needed to win the race to get into the Derby and benefitted by a perfect setup which he isn’t likely to get in the Derby. I am not saying he can’t repeat that effort but his late running style doesn’t fit pattern of success that has been the key to recent Derby winners.

    I am taking a stand against Maximum Security. He got away with a lonely lead setting slow fractions in a weak edition of the Florida Derby. I am usually very eager to embrace the Florida Derby winner. I picked Barbaro (2006), Big Brown (2008), Orb (2013), Nyquist (2016), and Always Dreaming (2017) all based on their impressive Florida Derby triumphs. The Florida Derby is the most successful prep producing 24 Derby winners. But most of those winners had more foundation that Maximum Security. In looking at the level of competition he had in the Florida Derby, I think he may not be that special. I may be seriously underestimating him, but I am not buying him. California horses have dominated recent Derby’s, I’ll Have Another (2012), California Chrome (2014), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018). I believe that is where the major talent is this year as well.

    I am not at all impressed by Tacitus (Wood), Vekoma (Blue Grass), By My Standards (Louisiana Derby) and none of the  runner-ups in these preps with the exception of Win Win Win who was flying at the finish in the Blue Grass. He might be a good reacher in the Derby Trifecta and Superfecta from way out of it.

    This is the way I see the 2019 Kentucky Derby 14 days out from “the best two minutes in sports”.


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