2019 Kentucky Derby Longshots Betting: Do Any Sleepers Have a Shot in the Mud?


Jamie Rhodes, USA Today Sports.

May 04, 2019, 08:00 AM EDT
  • The 2019 Kentucky Derby will begin on Saturday, May 4 at 6:50 p.m. ET on NBC, with a potential sloppy track.
  • Game Winner (5-1) is the favorite to win the Run for the Roses, but this is a wide-open race where longshots could cash.
  • Adam Staple provides a few betting strategies and suggests a Pick 4 for Derby Day.

If you’ve been following the lead up to the Kentucky Derby you know that this race is going to be a wide-open affair. You could make an argument for any horse in the field.

There’s a lot of volatility in this race and the forecast, which is calling for rain, will only add to the uncertainty. Handicapping how these horses will hand an off-track makes picking a winner even more difficult.

One thing I think that has made handicapping a little easier, however, is the scratching of Omaha Beach, the likely favorite before his withdrawal.

If you read my analysis about the Kentucky Oaks, the reason I was off the favorite — Bellafina — was that I thought she would have a tough time with a hotly-contested pace. And if we take a deeper look at the Derby field, there’s one thing missing without Omaha Beach: A hotly-contested pace.

What’s so fascinating about this 19-horse field is that most people, including my colleagues at the Action Network, will tell you that this race has a lot of early speed and that almost always ensures that the winner will likely come from off the pace.

You could argue that last year’s winner, Justify, won on the lead — but he actually didn’t. He was sitting a very comfortable second when longshot Promises Fulfilled conceded the lead at the half-mile mark.

To be able to go wire-to-wire at the Kentucky Derby requires  an extraordinary amount of luck, not only to break well from the gate, but to also not get side-swiped right away from the mass of horses around you.

Even if that happens, the horse would still need to get clear on the field without using too much energy since you’re running a distance you’ve never tried before. So, how can that happen here?

What made Omaha Beach so interesting to bettors is his consistency once he got on the lead. In his two most recent stakes wins he didn’t break especially well, but still took the lead pretty quickly and out-ran fairly large fields.

The Case for Maximum Security

His main competitor for the lead on Saturday was going to be No. 7 Maximum Security (10-1), who went wire-to-wire in the Florida Derby, his only graded-stakes race. Everybody knows what this horse’s strategy will be Saturday but WHO is going to stop him?

Most likely it will be No. 1 War of Will (20-1), No. 2 Tax (20-1), No. 4 Gray Magician (50-1), No. 5 Improbable (6-1), No. 6 Vekoma (20-1), No. 16 Game Winner (5-1), No. 17 Roadster (6-1) and No. 19 Spinoff (30-1). That group of horses all want to be near the lead but none have shown that they want to control the pace.

This is going to give Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez every opportunity to dictate the pace if they are able to grab the lead. Whether Maximum Security is actually able to get on top is a whole other story.

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