A promising march to the Kentucky Derby was derailed on Wednesday after favorite Omaha Beach was scratched after being diagnosed with a throat ailment that will require surgery and keep the three-year-old colt out of action for an estimated two to three weeks.
The absence of Omaha Beach has led to a major shakeup, both on the post positions and Kentucky Derby betting odds ahead of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
With Omaha Beach sidelined, a trio of horses trained by the legendary Bob Baffert now dominate the top of the odds to win 2019 Kentucky Derby, with Roadster now leading the way as a +350 favorite, just ahead of Game Winner at +400, and Improbable at +500.
Roadster has rounded into form since turning in a third-place performance at last fall’s Los Alamitos Futurity. With last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner Florent Geroux as his mount, Roadster has galloped to victory in two outings since early March, capped by a spectacular stretch run to edge out stablemate Game Winner at last month’s Santa Anita Derby.
Roadster has also benefited from Omaha Beach’s misfortune with improved post positioning. Earlier this week, Roadster suffered the misfortune of drawing into the unlucky No. 17 post, which has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner since the race first employed post positioning in 1930.
With Omaha Beach now out of the race, Roadster moves into the 16-post, which has produced five winners since 1930, most recently in 2013, when Orb earned the win as the favorite on the Kentucky Derby odds.
Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November, Game Winner has endured hard luck in a pair of graded stakes outings this year, preceding last month’s second-place run at Santa Anita with a second-place finish behind Omaha Beach at the Rebel Stakes.
However, with Orb’s jockey Joel Rosario as his mount, and slightly improved post position following the departure of Omaha Beach, Game Winner remains a threat to land Baffert a second straight win in the Run for the Roses.
In addition to his Kentucky Derby success atop Orb, Rosario takes a solid recent track record into this year’s race, including wins in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and is now set to start from the 15-post, alongside stablemate Roadster.
Improbable has also endured hard luck in 2019, finishing second to Omaha Beach at the Arkansas Derby after turning in a second-place performance behind Long Range Toddy at the Rebel Stakes. However, Improbable likely enjoys the most enviable post position of the three Baffert-trained colts atop the odds to win the 145th Kentucky Derby, drawing into the five-post, which has produced a record 10 Kentucky Derby winners including 2017 winner Always Dreaming and 2015 winner California Chrome.
Tacitus, Maximum Security Round Out Top Favorites
Further down the Kentucky Derby odds, Tacitus lags closely at +600 while Maximum Security rounds out the list of top contenders as a +800 wager.
Tacitus makes the journey to Churchill Downs after posting wins in his first two graded stakes races, including a victory at the Wood Memorial in early April. Mounted by 25-year-old jockey Jose L. Ortiz, who powered Tapwrit to victory at the 2017 Belmont Stakes, Tacitus drew into the eight-post earlier this week, which has produced eight Kentucky Derby winners, with Mine That Bird most recently achieving the feat in 2009.
With Luis Saez as his mount, Maximum Security is the lone undefeated horse in this weekend’s Kentucky Derby field, most recently storming to victory at the Florida Derby in his graded stakes race debut. Maximum Security will also enjoy a favorable post position after drawing into the seven-post, which has produced seven winners including last year’s Triple Crown champion Justify.
*Odds as of May 2, 2019