Maximum Security impressed so much winning the Grade 1 Florida Derby this past Saturday that he immediately jumps to the top of my Derby Rankings. The former maiden claimer took the lead and dominated.
Could he do that on the First Saturday in May? Maybe. Who knows? It’s not like any horse outside of Maximum Security has turned into the superstar ala Justify last year. A horse could after this Saturday when three major prep races: the Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial, and the Bluegrass Stakes, will be run.
But, for now, Maximum Security takes my top spot. Check out my updated 2019 Kentucky Derby Top 5!
2019 Kentucky Derby Top 5
1. Maximum Security
He got an easy lead, yeah, I get that, but he didn’t slow down that much in the stretch and Irad Ortiz didn’t ask for his best. His grandsire is Street Cry while his grand-grand sire on his broodmare’s side is A.P. Indy.
It’s not like he was ever a throwaway horse. He had never shown Jason Servis much in the mornings, which is why Jason ran him in that $16,000 maiden claimer 3 races ago. Servis saw what he had and immediately started moving him up.
Hey, sometimes you make a mistake. Jason did, it didn’t hurt any, and now he’s got a real Kentucky Derby contender.
2. Omaha Beach
Feels weird that I don’t have a Bob Baffert runner in my Top 2. Bob’s horses could jump into the first two slots if they run well this Saturday. From what I’ve seen so far, though, they appear a cut below Justify from last year. A major cut below.
Richard Mandella trains Omaha Beach. That alone gives me confidence he belongs in my Top 5. The Rebel Stakes winner should only get better from here. He won’t go off the favorite in the Arkansas Derby in a couple of weeks, Improbable will, but I’m not sure Improbable at his best can get by this horse. His stablemate, Game Winner, didn’t.
Grandsire Danzig on top and grandsire Seeking the Gold on the bottom means he gallops all day. Because he’s got so much natural speed, anybody thinking he can’t challenge Maximum Security on May 4 didn’t watch the Rebel.
In the Louisiana Derby, By My Standards saved a lot of ground while Spinoff had to go wide around the first turn. The Todd Pletcher trainee looked like a winner in the middle of the stretch only to get nabbed.
Pletcher wants to train him up to the Derby, but if something wacky happens this week, he might have to put him in the Arkansas Derby for some points. Improvement is expected while he’ll stick close enough to Omaha Beach and Maximum Security to get first run.
4. Game Winner
The champ remains in my Top 5 even though he didn’t win the Rebel Stakes in his first prep this year. He’s supposed to run this week in the Santa Anita Derby. That’s interesting because his chief rival in that is Instagrand. Game Winner might find an easier race in the Wood Memorial or Bluegrass.
Still, he deserves his spot in the Top 5. If he wins on Saturday, fantastic! I’m not sure he will, though.
He was a bit short in the Gotham Stakes. Also, he was pretty close to some wicked fractions. They ran the half in 44.25. It’s hard to see any horse hanging on while sticking close to a crazy pace like that. Instagrand’s got a ton of talent. He most definitely reminds of another Hollendorfer 3-year-old Derby contender, Event of the Year. That horse might have won the Run for the Roses if he hadn’t gotten hurt before the race.
Hollendorfer will have him more fit on Saturday in the Santa Anita Derby. If he does beat Game Winner, he’ll head to Kentucky one of the favorites and probably at the top of my list.