The complexion of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby underwent a significant change when betting favorite Omaha Beach was scratched from the race this week. The colt vaulted to the top of the odds board on the strength of an impressive run at the Arkansas Derby in his final prep race, sprinting past Improbable and Country House. Omaha Beach remained at the top of the list earlier this week, but was scratched due to a breathing problem.
The readjusted odds now have Bob Baffert-trained Game Winner as the favorite at +521 with Roadster, another Baffert horse, and Tacitus as co-second choices at +625. The absence of Omaha Beach opens up the 20-horse field and it’s about time we see a non-favorite win the Run for the Roses, because that hasn’t happened in the last five runnings.
The 145th edition of the Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday, May 4, 2019, with a post time of 6:38 p.m. ET from Churchill Downs in Lexington. The race will air live on NBC.
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- Game Winner +521
- Roadster +625
- Tacitus +625
- Improbable +725
- Maximum Security +885
- War of Will +1616
- By My Standards +1616
- Code of Honor +1817
- Tax +2052
- Vekoma +2253
- Win Win Win +2253
- Spinoff +2554
- Haikal +3055
- Gray Magician +4550
- Cutting Humor +4550
- Long Range Toddy +4550
- Country House +5250
- Plus Que Parfait +6050
- Master Fencer +6550
Baffert is a blessed man. Looking for his record sixth win at the Kentucky Derby, his closest competition and the morning line favorite Omaha Beach was scratched with a non-life threatening breathing problem. That opens the door for one of Baffert’s horses to claim victory and all three are at the top of the odds board.
There are favorites, but unlike last year there is no favored horse to win the Run for the Roses. Justify was clearly the best of the three-year-olds 12 months ago and he lived up to the hype by not only winning the Derby, but also etching his name in history as a Triple Crown winner. Baffert had a great time last year and now he’s looking to triple his pleasure with a trio of horses that could go 1-2-3. Figuring out the order is another task.
Game Winner climbs into the favored spot by default with Omaha Beach no longer in the running. Favored in his last two races leading up to the Derby, Game Winner lost them both with a narrow second in each, falling to Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby and to Omaha Beach at the Rebel Stakes. A tough draw on the post could leave him to high and without much closing experience it’s hard to know how he finishes.
One horse to keep an eye on in the eighth stall is Tacitus, who has won three straight races and was the leader in Kentucky Derby points. He improved his odds by winning the Wood Memorial, finishing ahead of both Tax and Haikal, two contenders on Saturday. Tacitus is sired by the legendary Tapit and will look to become the first Wood Memorial winner take first at the Kentucky Derby since 2000.
Roadster had an impressive win over Game Winner at the Santa Anita Derby and his climb up the charts has been sudden. He missed time with injury but won his last two starts. The only jockey to ride the colt, Mike Smith will not be in the saddle on Saturday, electing to ride Omaha Beach instead. Baffert said he’s sticking with Floret Geroux after Omaha Beach exited.
Kentucky Derby Picks
The field has never gone the 1 1/4 mile distance and the track is expected to be sloppy again. That will certainly impact the field and the closing speed of certain horses. Game Winner is the favorite for a reason and he’s shown the ability to burst and maintain, which will help his chances. Tacitus has improved times over his last few races and looks to be a contender, as does Improbable. We definitely have the chance for an upset, something that hasn’t happened at the Derby since 2013, and the top of the field is close in terms of speed and strength. Tacitus hasn’t had a lot of races in his career, and he’s versatile enough to hold off the field, making him my pick to win.
Kentucky Derby Predictions: 1. Tacitus 2. Improbable 3. Game Winner
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