2019 Kentucky Derby Predictions With Odds & Analysis

Michael Sherman, Last Updated: November 30th, 2020 Horse Racing Sites Plus Sign Up Bonuses
2019 Kentucky Derby Predictions With Odds & Analysis

Kentucky Derby 2019 is upon us, the 145th edition of the “greatest two minutes in sports.” When it comes to horse race betting, you can place horse racing bets online at TVG and Derby Jackpot.

Here is my analysis of the Kentucky Derby and a general guide for how to bet this year’s Derby. I will go through the list of 20 horses and make comments regarding each horse, including my thoughts on their chances here in this year’s Kentucky Derby, as well as other items to consider before wagering on the race.

Please read our Horse Race Betting Guide for more information on how to play the horses. We discuss how odds are calculated, each type of bet and more in this guide.

The following article is by long-time horseplaying enthusiast Michael Sherman. Michael has been involved with horse racing for over 25 years. You can follow Michael on Twitter @msherman85.

Kentucky Derby Horses & Odds

1. Horse: War of Will
Odds: 20-1

2. Horse: Tax
Odds: 20-1

3. Horse: By My Standards
Odds: 20-1

4. Horse: Gray Magician
Odds: 50-1

5. Horse: Improbable
Odds: 5-1

6. Horse: Vekoma
Odds: 20-1

7. Horse: Maximum Security
Odds: 10-1

8. Horse: Tacitus
Odds: 10-1

9. Horse: Plus Que Parfait
Odds: 50-1

10. Horse: Cutting Humors
Odds: 20-1

11. Horse: Haikal (SCR)

12. Horse: Omaha Beach (SCR)

13. Horse: Code of Honor
Odds: 10-1

14. Horse: Win Win Win
Odds: 15-1

15. Horse: Master Fencer
Odds: 50-1

16. Horse: Game Winner
Odds: 4-1

17. Horse: Roadster
Odds: 6-1

18. Horse: Long Range Toddy
Odds: 30-1

19. Horse: Spinoff
Odds: 30-1

20. Horse: Country House
Odds: 30-1

21. Horse: Bodexpress
Odds: 30-1


Kentucky Derby 2019: Horse-By-Horse Analysis

War of Will (20-1): 1

War of Will (20-1): This horse is proven most successful when he breaks well and is within striking distance of the lead at first call. He did not have a very impressive 2yo year but seemed to be coming into his own for his 3yo campaign, Grade 3 and Grade 2 winner. Lost all chance in Louisiana Derby early. For him to have any chance from this post position, he must gun immediately from the gate. Also worth noting is that he is 1/1 at Churchill and that race came in the slop. Track conditions for Saturday’s race may be wet and sloppy. Use in Exotics if at all

Tax (20-1): 2

Tax (20-1): Horses running style indicates that he prefers to make a run and sustain his drive. This race however, with a field of 20, would need Tax to have some racing luck on his side as well. He projects to have to follow the horse to his inside or risk being sideswiped by horses coming in during the initial run into the first turn. Junior Alvarado may have a knack for getting horses in an advantageous position but I fear that Tax will be too compromised to make any meaningful run here in the Derby. Leave off my tickets

By My Standards (20-1): 3

By My Standards (20-1): Horse needed a few races but then seemed to fit it all together, maiden victory in LA followed by an upset in the LA Derby. Would certainly need to build on these races. Trainer uses jockey Saez, over the past two years at Churchill, Calhoun’s home base he has a 16% winning percentage with Saez yielding a positive ROI. The horses running style however does not suit him here, he seems to want to sit off a moderate to fast pace and make his move early. Do not believe the added distance will do this horse any good. Deep exotics if at all

Gray Magician (50-1): 4

Gray Magician (50-1): Huge outsider, leaving off my tickets

Improbable (6-1): 5

Improbable (6-1): Horse had an excellent 2yo campaign. Was heavily backed by the public in his three starts as a 2yo and I won’t hold that against him. In Baffert’s effort to make a run with this horse for the Derby, he tried the Oaklawn path through Arkansas. In the Rebel, it would appear as if he had the setup he wanted as the 2/5 favorite only to surrender his lead deep stretch. In the slop at Oaklawn, he followed Omaha Beach (#12 in this race) but if you watch the stretch run, you really never thought that Improbable would gain at all on Omaha Beach.

Your opinion on this horse should be an extension of sorts to your feelings on Omaha Beach. Omaha Beach for me may have been visually impressive in the Arkansas Derby but it seemed as if Omaha Beach had everything go his way his last two. Improbable for me is horse that I would stand clear of, with the full understanding that if this horse can negotiate his own trip with own advantages, he could have a say at the end. Leaving off my tickets, perhaps mistakenly

Vekoma (20-1): 6

Vekoma (20-1): This is the first of the horses who is a must include on my ticket. He has really done very little wrong as a lightly-raced 3yo. Broke his maiden at first asking beating two next out winners in a race that came back very live from Belmont. He follows that up with a win at 1M at the Big A. After spending some time away, he returns to run a favorable 3rd and ran well late after spotting the field 7 lengths through some quick opening fractions. We won’t see fractions like that here and Vekoma will be closer to the pace.

The jockey change to Javier for the last on the stretchout worked well and again you get the sense that this horse wants more distance. He is versatile in the fact that he can sustain his lead through the later stages of the race, claiming the lead after the quarter pole in last yet in the Nashua and his maiden victory, his running styles were slightly different as were the race dynamics. This speaks to his versatility. His post position is somewhat favorable as well, speed to his outside with Maximum Security, he can assess through the first few panels and determine pace to his outside as well as to what is happening to his inside. I will be using him on my tickets, great horse for value with a real opportunity here. Placing a WPS Bet, perhaps some exotic tickets

Maximum Security (10-1): 7

Maximum Security (10-1): This horse for everything he has done is underwhelming for me. He faced the ultimate class test in the Florida Derby but really had everything go his way. If he has everything go his way on the front end today it could be a merry go round race for this horse. I want to guard against that but be prepared for it. Worth noting that his one off track win saw him come from off the pace. Make no mistake though, this horses best chance is to make a clear run to the lead, ration his speed, and save some in the tank for a stretch run. I happen to like horses that run on the lead stretching out but if you look at some of the fractions he set in the Florida Derby, you have to wonder if he will get away with it here. I will be betting him, reluctantly, strictly based on how I believe this race may shape up. All or nothing for me and this horse. Win Bet

Tacitus (10-1): 8

Tacitus (10-1): Of the deep closers, if I would play any of them, Tacitus would be the one. I like the way that jockey Jose Ortiz allowed the pace to dictate his running position. He made a sustained run in the Tampa Derby after trailing through very fast fractions, he had everything go his way. Fast forward to the Wood where it is hard to determine how much he was affected by the careless riding into the first turn in what was an oddly run Wood. The price will probably be right but I would relegate Tacitus for exotics. Definitely include in exotics

Plus Que Parfait (50-1): 9

Plus Que Parfait (50-1): Huge outsider, leaving off my tickets

Cutting Humor (20-1): 10

Cutting Humor (20-1): Huge outsider, leaving off my tickets

Haikal (SCR): 11 - Update: Scratched

Haikal (30-1): Haikal is not necessarily a bad horse or a huge outsider, however, I feel he is more of a sprinter type. He is a deeper closer than Tacitus and I just do not see enough of a contentious pace developing to give a horse like this any type of chance, especially at 1 ¼ mi. Haikal has a potential injury situation and once we have an official word, we will update. Leaving off my tickets - UPDATE 5/3/19: Haikal has been scratched and will not be running.

Omaha Beach (SCR): 12 - Scratched

Omaha Beach (SCR): Scratched (will not be running)

Code of Honor (15-1): 13

Code of Honor (15-1): This was one of my favorite 2yo for trip horses. He is either fractious in the gate or never gets off cleanly with no trouble. He has run huge races considering the trouble he has faced and ran into a good horse in Maximum Security in Florida Derby. Additionally and most importantly, he will not be pace compromised. He can make his own race. He has won on the front end as well as coming from off the pace in FOY. His issue is staying out of trouble. He needs to break well and Johnny V. has to allow him to settle to give him the best chance here. I think he runs very well here and makes noise, Win candidate for me.

Win Win Win (15-1): 14

Win Win Win (15-1): Another one of those deep closers who has had ideal setups however was most impressive with last race in which she was bumped early, steadied, and finished very well. Also encouraging to see a work over this track which was 4th best of 76 on that day. Has work to do but may include in deep exotics

Master Fencer (50-1): 15

Master Fencer (50-1): Huge outsider, leaving off my tickets

Game Winner (5-1): 16

Game Winner (5-1): This horse scares me, in a very good way. This horse fits the profile of the type of Baffert horse that may cycle now and run a huge figure. Typically, Baffert horses have great 2yo campaigns or cycle at the right time of their 3yo year. This horse may do both. This horse was 4/4 as a 2yo, winning three Grade 1s in the process (including the BC Juvenile run at CD.)

Additionally, he had done so making many different types of moves along the way, all while stretching out in distance. Rightfully so, he came into Oaklawn as the odds on favorite and was nosed by Omaha Beach. In the Santa Anita Derby, I believe that he ran better than the winner, Roaster, drawn to his outside in this Derby. Roadster made his move late and took advantage of a moderate pace which I do not think we will see here. Game Winner for me is one of the more likely Win contenders and must be used on all tickets. Win Bet and on top in exactas and trifectas

Roadster (6-1): 17

Roadster (6-1): See above in description of Game Winner. Leaving off my tickets

Long Range Toddy (30-1): 18

Long Range Toddy (30-1): The resume on this horse starts to come around when beginning his 3yo campaign and establishing himself as a horse who may have some say in the pace here. When stretching out it appears as if he consistently runs within a length of the lead at every call. He simply faded in his last effort in the Ark Derby but with questionable pace setters drawn around him, if he breaks well, He may establish himself close to the lead heading into the first turn with limited impediments surrounding him. Would use underneath in exotics, except on an off track

Spinoff (30-1): 19

Spinoff (30-1): Better suited for sprinting, leaving off my tickets

Country House (30-1): 20

Country House (30-1): Outsider, leaving off my tickets

Bodexpress (30-1): 21

Bodexpress (30-1): Outsider and a maiden, leaving off my tickets

Kentucky Derby Predictions

Maximum Security has the gate speed to break on top and potentially clear the field in the first few hundred yards. He will not have to run as fast as previously so getting to the lead and establishing the lead may come with little effort. Horses will be gunning to his inside mostly, so he hopes to clear and sit in the two-three path, whichever yields him best position into first turn.

Tax will go to sit off the frontrunner, albeit the horse to his inside or Maximum Security. As horses and their rider battle for a favorable position into the first turn (You cannot allow yourself to race wide around both turns,) I project that Vekoma under jockey Javier Castellano will sit right off Maximum Security and secure that position into the first turn.

My hope is that Code of Honor break well and steer clear of this trouble, jockey Johnny V. (John R. Velazquez) simply, or not so simply, must keep this horse out of trouble and in the clear, spotting the field no more than 5 lengths.

As they make their way up the backstretch, I project fairly moderate to slow fractions, as track conditions at post time may have an impact here. Game Winner is bred for distance and I am looking forward to his run into the turn and subsequent stretch run, as well as Code of Honor. If the fractions were not too taking, Maximum Security and Vekoma will be there as they turn towards home. They will have to hold off late charging Tacitus. I do not hold the belief that Maximum Security will get the distance, however Vekoma will be around late as well as Code of Honor and Game Winner. These three horses are the key horses for me.

Kentucky Derby Picks

  • Win Bets: Maximum Security, Vekoma, Code of Honor
  • Place Bets: Vekoma, Code of Honor
  • Exacta Box: Game Winner WITH Vekoma, Code of Honor
  • Exacta: Vekoma, Code of Honor WITH Tacitus, Win Win Win
  • Exacta: Game Winner WITH Tacitus, Win Win WIn
  • Trifecta: Game Winner WITH Vekoma, Code of Honor WITH Vekoma, Code of Honor, Tacitus, Win Win Win, War of Will, By My Standards.

To understand about these wagers, please read our How To Bet On Horses Guide.

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Michael Sherman

Michael Sherman is BonusSeeker's lead horseplayer pundit. He takes joy in handicapping from the Daily Horse Racing Form and picking winners since the age of eight. Michael is also a proud husband and father of two young children. His other interests include cooking and being a Dead Head.

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