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2019 Kentucky Derby Preview and Best Bets

Ben Rasa



Ben Rasa gives his Horse Racing picks and breaks down both divisions of the Arkansas Derby this Saturday from Oaklawn Park.

The Run for the Roses is set to take place for the 145th time as the Kentucky Derby is on tap this weekend at Churchill Downs. Saturday, May 4th is Derby day and we have 20 horses set to battle it out for the first leg of the Triple Crown and one of horse racing’s biggest prizes.

** If you are unfamiliar with horse racing or wagering on the ponies make sure to stop by at Friday at 11:30 AM EST  for our Awesemo Odds betting show where we will be giving the full analysis of everything you need to know for Derby day **

For most people, Derby day is an event where you take a few dollars and throw them on a horse just to make the race interesting and have some fun.  Did you know that it is actually legal on a national level (with a few states as the exceptions) to bet on horse racing online. Click here for the full analysis.  If you are new to horse racing and want to get some action on the Derby, check out TVG and/or Twin Spires.  We have partnered with both sites and are offering our readers great bonus deals.


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The TwinSpires bonus will be credited immediately after $500 in completed wagers.

Once you’ve signed up, the next step is to analyze the field for this prestigious race. The first thing to notice is that Omaha Beach, who was the favorite, has been scratched late and that changes the entire race. Since horse racing is pari-mutuel wagering, the odds are going to be continuously changing as we get to post time, but below is each horse and where they currently stand:

The Horses (listed by post positions)

1: War of Will 20-1 –Tyler Gaffalione gets the mount here, but a post position isn’t an ideal situation. War of Will ran in the Louisiana Derby and wasn’t in contention, but could be one of the horses to try and set the pace out of the gate.

2: Tax 20-1 – Junior Alvarado is riding Tax, and similar to War of Will, this horse should be close to the lead out of the gate. Lost to Tacitus in last race and will be hard pressed to make a ton of noise in this field.

3: By My Standards 20-1 – Won the Louisiana Derby at similar odds, but still difficult to see him getting in the mix here. Gabriel Saez is riding, as he usually does, and he will have to position the horse perfectly to set up a potential late charging run.

4: Gray Magician 50-1 – Drayden Van Dyke rides Gray Magician who is definitely one of the longest shots on the board. Gray Magician is 1 for 8 in terms of wins and really hasn’t shown anything to make you think he grabs a piece of the leaderboard on Saturday.

5: Improbable 5-1 – Serious contender here for Bob Baffert and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr as Improbable is going to go off one of the favorites come post time. Improbable was beaten by Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby, but as I mentioned earlier, he is no longer running and Improbable has the talent to find the winners circle here. I doubt he will set the pace so he should be in the middle of the pack or lurking a bit behind the leaders turning for home.

6: Vekoma 20-1 – Jocky Javier Castallano will need avoid getting blocked during the stretch run as this horse comes from off the pace. Ideally Vekoma is going to want a speed duel to ensue with some fast fractions early in the race so that a closer can make a late charge from the back of the pack. Could be a horse to consider in some exotic wagers, but unless a perfect script develops getting a W seems like a reach.

7: Maximum Security 6-1 – To me this is the most interesting horse in the race and a true wildcard in terms of where this horse should be odds wise. Maximum Security won the Florida Derby, is unbeaten in his four races, and likes to set the pace showing some early speed in previous races. The key is to try and slow the pace and not get into a speed duel with another horse, as that will spell disaster for both of them. He got a perfect trip in the Florida Derby and if he is able to replicate that there’s no reason he cannot find the winner circle in a wire to wire like fashion.

8: Tacitus 8-1 – Winner of three straight including the Wood Memorial makes Tacitus a definite threat to the field. Jose Ortiz will be aboard the horse with Tapit bloodlines and with only four starts to his name we don’t have a clear picture of how good this horse is. That could make for a lot of value if the odds hang towards 10-1, but if heavy money comes in, we could see Tacitus trend towards one of the favorites come post time.

9: Plus Que Parfait 30-1 – Would be a monumental upset if Plus Que Parfait wins the Derby as he seems overmatched against this talented field. Should be middle of the pack unless a new strategy develops from Ricardo Santana Jr, who gets the mount for this longshot.

10: Cutting Humor 20-1 – Won the Sunland Derby, which is nice, but certainly not the prestige of some of the other Kentucky Derby lead-in races. Horse will be a nice price, but someone I have little interest in as he doesn’t stand out in any way and will be really stepping up the competition.

11: Haikal 30-1 – Haikal is a closer who benefits from the length of this race, but when dealing with 20 horses that’s a lot of traffic that Rajiv Maragh will have to navigate. If you think someone goes with a horse like Maximum Security and sets a brutal pace then Haikal is a horse you want to keep an eye on. When you are a closer like this you are reliant on the other horses to set that pace so he needs that cooperation to have a chance.

12: Code of Honor 10-1 – John Velazquez is aboard Code of Honor who is one of my favorite horses that should be coming from the back of the pack on Saturday. He ran third to Maximum Security in the Florida Derby, but as I mentioned earlier when you stalk the leaders sometimes the race doesn’t unfold properly which was the case there. Should go off at a reasonable price and is a threat to hunt down the leaders on that stretch run.

13: Win Win Win 14-1 –Ran second in the Bluegrass stakes to Vekoma and another horse who likes to be out of the picture early in the race. He makes up for that with some late charging runs, but like a broken record I will repeat that he needs a speed duel to unfold from the leaders. I really like this horse and similar to Code of Honor I expect him to make a move late and have a chance to steal this race if the right situation unfolds in front of him.

14: Master Fencer 60-1 – I like Julien Leparoux who is the jockey aboard Master Fencer, but that’s all the positives I can find. Might be the longest shot on the board and outside of just hoping for a monster pay day I don’t see much to like here.

15: Game Winner 4-1 –Won his first four races of his career and finished second in his last two, so Game Winner comes in ready to contend. Roadster outdueled him in the Santa Anita Derby, but he still seems like the horse to beat and the odds reflect that. I’d expect Joel Rosario to have him sitting right off the leaders and just see how the race unfolds before letting him go as they turn from home.

16: Roadster 9-2 – Not the best starting post position for a horse that I don’t think will be looking to set the pace, but there is no doubting the talent. As I  just mentioned he outdueled Game Winner in Santa Anita and is a winner of both starts in 2019 so the recent form all checks out. The price has and is going to continue to take a hit due to Omaha Beach not racing  but along with Game Winner, Roadster seems like the horse to beat in this race.

17: Long Range Toddy 30-1 – Another horse who isn’t getting a ton of buzz and probably for good reason as he doesn’t stand out in any way. Jon Court is the jockey and Long Range Toddy really will be hard pressed to make noise here. Not sure exactly what the game plan will be as he doesn’t show a ton of early speed, but also shouldn’t be trying to make a huge move turning from home.

18: Spinoff 30-1 – Manny Franco gets the mount for Spinoff who finished second in the Louisiana Derby last time out. On the positive side, he has hit the board in all four of his starts, but still hasn’t won against a field of any quality in his short career. Someone I will consider in exotic tickets as he does seem to have a knack for getting in contention even though I would be shocked if he takes down the race.

19: Country House 30-1 – Flavian Prat rides Country House who similar to a horse like Vekoma is going to want to hang back and hope for very fast fractions from the leaders. This will help him considering he is breaking from the 19th post, but with so many horses trying to close can be difficult due to a crowded track and traffic jams turning for home.

20: Bodexpress 40-1 – he was the replacement for Omaha Beach, but as the odds indicate he’s more of an afterthought than a serious contender in this one. Awful starting position and winless in his career doesn’t seem like the blueprint to success here.

Final Thoughts

This is one of the wider open Kentucky Derby’s in recent memory and with Omaha Beach out of the running it adds another element of unknown into this race. If Maximum Security gets a clear trip again he might show he’s the best of the bunch, but I don’t see that happening. Improbable should be sitting in perfect position to be there at the end and although Roadster and Game Winner are going to be tough outs.

I’m going with Improbable to take down the Derby in 2019.

Good luck everyone!

If you have any questions find me in the premium slack chat or @JazzrazDFS on twitter.


*Ben Rasa (aka Jazzraz)* has been involved with sports and numbers for quite some time dabbling in the poker world , sports wagering and of course finding a home in the DFS world. While he enjoys playing NFL, NCAAF and NBA he has found his best advantage on the links with PGA and the Euro Tour. Jazzraz focuses on GPPs and uses a analytical approach to try and find pricing inefficiencies as well as trying to go against the grain to find those under owned lesser know players that can make the difference in giant field tournaments. You can contact Ben by emailing

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