2019 Kentucky Derby Horses as Famous Athletes
With the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, let's take a look at the top 10 Kentucky Derby points winners and find out who their world famous athlete counterpart is based on their character, race history and connections.
1. TacitusJuddmonte Farms' Bill Mott-trained gray colt is strong and athletic but lightly raced. The son of Tapit and champion mare Close Hatches clocked a Brisnet Speed Figure of 103 in the Wood Memorial (G2), which he won alongside the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in his only two starts on the year. “Tacitus” is Latin for “silent” or “mute.” It’s also the name of one of the greatest Roman historians, who wrote the Histories and the Annals.
Athlete: The humble, closed-lipped NBA legend, Tim Duncan.
2. Omaha BeachThe winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Rebel Stakes (G2) is known for his tactical speed. Sired by War Front, Omaha Beach is the likely Derby favorite. The dark bay colt is owned by Fox Hill Farm and trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, who is searching for his first Kentucky Derby win.
Athlete: Peyton Manning. The “Omaha” reference is too easy, but he also won Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy his first Super Bowl in 2007, in Dungy’s fifth season as the Colts head coach.
3. VekomaKnown for his awkward running style, the chestnut colt is typically found galloping near the lead early on, right behind the pacesetter. Owned by R.A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables, the son of Candy Ride won the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, where he beat out fellow Derby contender Win Win Win. His trainer George Weaver has raced one other horse in the Derby, Tencendur, who finished second to last in 2015, the year American Pharoah won the Triple Crown.
Athlete: Rick Barry. He hit a career 90 percent from the free-throw line in the NBA, but he did so in the most awkward way—utilizing the “granny shot.”
4. Plus Que ParfaitThe chestnut colt, who won the UAE Derby (G2), is known to run in the middle of the back before making a late push for the lead. The son of Point of Entry is owned by Imperial Racing and trained by Brendan Walsh, who’s never raced a horse in the Derby prior to 2019. “Plus Que Parfait” is French for “more than perfect.”
Athlete: Zinedine Zidane. Maybe not “more than perfect,” but pretty close, as he’s been named FIFA World Player of the Year three times, won the 1998 Ballon d’Or and earned player of the year in Ligue 1 and Serie A in 1996 and 2001, respectively. The Frenchman is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time in his sport.
5. RoadsterSpeedway Stable’s gray or roan colt is one of Bob Baffert’s three contenders in the Derby field. The 3-year-old underwent throat surgery to clear an obstruction following his third-place finish in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and did not race again until March at Santa Anita Park, where he won an optional-claiming allowance. He did so again in April’s Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Athlete: Fellow famous roadster Kyle Busch. He suffered fractures in his right leg and foot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Daytona in February 2015, then returned in May to win five races to secure his first Sprint Cup title.
6. By My StandardsThe bay colt will give Allied Racing Stable and trainer Bret Calhoun their first Derby contender. The son of Goldencents is a middle-of-the-pack runner who most recently won the Louisiana Derby (G2) as a 22-1 longshot, besting Derby contender Spinoff by three-quarters of a length. The horse is generating buzz during training ahead of the first Saturday in May but will likely head into the Derby as an underdog once again.
Athlete: Rickie Fowler. He’s yet to win a major, but he’s come so close. He’s placed in the top five twice at the Open Championship, twice in the PGA Championship and twice in the U.S. Open. In 2018 he opened the Masters at 25-1 odds but finished second at Augusta. He’s not expected to win the upcoming PGA Championship, but at +1925, he could finally earn his first major title as a longshot.
7. Maximum SecurityThe only unbeaten horse heading into the Derby is this bay colt owned by Gary and Mary West. Trained by Jason Servis, the son of New Year’s Day should find himself near the lead early. He scored a 3 1/2-length win in the Florida Derby (G1), a race he led from the start. Servis’ brother John previously won the 2004 Derby with Smarty Jones.
Athlete: Jim Harbaugh. He was an athlete once, but is far more well known for his coaching career. Jim, like Jason, is a successful coach, but his brother’s career is currently overshadowing him. John Harbaugh won the Super Bowl in 2003 with the Ravens against Jim, who then coached the San Francisco 49ers. Just like Jason Servis, who is looking to find his own Derby glory to compete with his brother’s, Jim is in the hunt for his crowning moment, which he’s searching for at the collegiate level as the head coach of Michigan.
8. Game WinnerAs a juvenile Game Winner went undefeated in four starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), which clinched his Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male. He has yet to win as a 3-year-old but lost by a nose to Omaha Beach in the Rebel Stakes and by half-length to Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby.
Athlete: Going off the name alone, who else but Michael Jordan makes sense here?
9. Code of HonorThe chestnut colt is a versatile and does well out of the gate. The Shug McGaughey trainee won the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park and came in third at the Florida Derby. His jockey John Velazquez has won the Derby twice, in 2011 with Animal Kingdom and 2017 with Always Dreaming.
Athlete: LeBron James—a versatile athlete who is not only excellent on the court, but an outstanding role model off the court. He seemingly lives by his own code, thriving in basketball, business and philanthropy.
10. HaikalOwned by Shadwell Stable and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the bay colt is a longshot. He earned a victory in the Gotham Stakes (G3) and a third in the Wood Memorial, behind Tacitus and Tax. “Haikal” is an Arabic word meaning temple.
Athlete: The holiest of them all—Tim Tebow.
Read more about the Kentucky Derby field at BetAmerica.