2019 Arkansas Derby Odds, Preview: How to Bet the Final Kentucky Derby Prep Race

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Oaklawn Race and Casino.

  • The 2019 Arkansas Derby takes place today at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
  • Improbable is the betting favorite to win the race, but Adam Staple is searching elsewhere for better value.

It’s getting very close.

Kentucky Derby Day is right around the corner and the last day of major prep races take place today, headlined by the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

If you’ve been following the races over the last month you may have noticed that nothing has been predictable so far. No matter what happens today, the Derby will be a wide-open affair with the favorite going off around 3-1 or higher. That’s great for bettors looking for value but it will make for a very wide open field.

2019 Arkansas Derby Odds and Picks

  • No. 1 Improbable, 8-5
  • No. 2 Six Shooter, 30-1
  • No. 3 Omaha Beach, 2-1
  • No. 4 Tikhvin Flew, 30-1
  • No. 5 Laughing Fox, 20-1
  • No. 6 Grey Attempt, 8-1
  • No. 7 Galilean, 10-1
  • No. 8 Country House, 12-1
  • No. 9 One Flew South, 50-1
  • No. 10 Jersey Agenda, 30-1
  • No. 11 Long Range Toddy, 5-1

On paper this appears to be a two-horse race.

If you recall from the split divisions of the Rebel Stakes, No. 1 Improbable ran well to just get nipped at the wire by No. 11 Long Range Toddy, who was a longshot on that day.Trainer Bob Baffert will add blinkers and change riders for Improbable, the likely favorite, and Jose Ortiz should make Improbable tough to beat.

In the other division of the Rebel Stakes, No. 3 Omaha Beach outlasted big favorite Game Winner (who just lost by a neck at the Santa Anita Derby last weekend). Omaha Beach seems to be steadily improving in every start and this race is another step up, but he seems ready for what should be a tough race. He’ll be a bit more value than Improbable and given that they’re pretty even on that track, and on paper he’ll be my choice.

There are a few notable horses at longer odds, starting with Long Range Toddy. He wasn’t a serious contender when he beat Improbable his last time out at Oaklawn and it will still take some convincing to have us believe he’s a legitimate threat at the Kentucky Derby. Was his last race a fluke? I think it was, but what makes him mildly appealing here is I don’t think the betting public is sold on him either. That will make him a likely juicy price. So if you have a little faith in him, you’re likely to get a decent return.

The other longshot I’m considering is No. 8 Country House at 12-1. I was high on this horses at the Rebel Stakes four weeks ago and even though he was unimpressive and finished fourth, I think he’s worth considering in an even tougher field. His trainer, Bill Mott, is not the type to keep running a horse over his head if he thinks he’ll just keep getting beat. If he’s back in here it means he has faith. This guy is going to be a big price and may have the talent to pull the upset. He’s worth keeping a close eye on.

Pick to win: No. 3 Omaha Beach (2-1)
Value play: No. 8 Country House (12-1)

2019 Lexington Stakes

Another race to pay some attention to today is the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. While it doesn’t offer the number of points to get a newcomer into the Kentucky Derby, it offers just enough for a horse just outside the number needed to qualify for the 20 spots at Churchill Downs.

One horse who just needs a few points to qualify for the Derby is No. 4 Anothertwistafate (2-1). His only impressive race was running 2nd in the Sunland Derby in New Mexico, hardly a great launching pad for a Derby Champion (except for 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird in 2009).

He’ll be pressured by No. 3 Sueno (5-1) and No. 5 Harvey Wallbanger (7-2). If either of those two win the race they might have enough points to make the Derby field as well.

The most consistent of those three horses is Sueno. He’s run three decent races in his last three starts with a pair of second-place finishes and a third-place run. Those starts were in legit stakes races and it won’t take a huge effort to beat this bunch. If you can get anything over 5-2 he’s definitely worth a play.

  • Pick to win: No. 3 Sueno (5-1)
  • Value play: No. 9 Zenden (6-1)

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