Homeracing

Kentucky Derby Make the Case: Improbable and Tacitus

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D.S. Williamson

April 23rd, 2019

The Kentucky Derby on May 4 figures to be one of the most difficult to handicap in years. The 2019 Derby is incredibly deep. There won’t be a clear-cut favorite like Justify last year. That’s why it’s important to think about the pros and cons of each entrant.

In this blog, I provide a Derby case for and against both Improbable and Tacitus. The Bob Baffert trained Improbable could go off anywhere from third choice to sixth choice while Tacitus could offer anything from favorite’s odds to fifth choice odds. Check out profiles and the good and bad of each!

The Derby Case For & Against Improbable & Tacitus

Derby Case for and against Improbable

There’s a Kentucky Derby case to be made for Improbable. Before the year started, many considered the Baffert trained City Zip sired colt to Baffert’s most talented three-year-old in his barn. Improbable had blown away another Baffert horse, Mucho Gusto, in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity. He had also posted a strong 100 Brisnet Speed Rating.

Improbable looked like a winner in his 2019 debut, the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes’ first division. Long Range Toddy beat him by a neck. He went off second choice in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and although he couldn’t get past Omaha Beach, there was a lot to like about the race.

Baffert said the blinkers he had affixed bothered Improbable in the Arkansas Derby. Improbable won’t wear blinkers on the first Saturday in May. Running without blinkers might not help Improbable win the Kentucky Derby, though.

He has talent, but like Game Winner, he might have already peaked. The problem with trying to peak in the Kentucky Derby is that it doesn’t happen often. So, even though Improbable has a shot to win, he might not improve enough to win. That’s exactly the issue stablemate Game Winner has.

Both horses showed excellent promise at two. Neither has improved as a three-year-old. It’s tough to back a horse that hasn’t shown any sort of improvement, it doesn’t just have to be speed, from its two-year-old and three-year-old seasons.

Derby Case for and against Tacitus

A strong Kentucky Derby case can be made for Tacitus. There’s a lot, a whole lot, to like about the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial winner. The great Bill Mott trains. Although Mott has never won the Kentucky Derby, he did win the Belmont Stakes in 2010 with Drosselmeyer. Drosselmeyer also won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Juddmonte Farms owns Tacitus. Juddmonte Farms is one of the most powerful ownership groups in the world. They’ve had major success racing on three different continents.

That’s just his connections. When you study the Tapit sired Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial winner, you really become impressed. He had to run up the rail to win the Tampa Bay Derby. In the Wood Memorial, Tacitus had all kinds of trouble and still managed to get by talented Tax.

The Mott charge is the real deal. The only knock is that jockey Jose Ortiz has never won the Derby. He did win the Belmont aboard Tapwrit in 2017 and is considered one of the best jockeys in North America. When the worst thing you can say is that the jockey on your Derby horse has never won the Run for the Roses, you know you’ve got a contender!

Tacitus is most definitely a contender to win. His Brisnet speed rating in the Wood Memorial was a fantastic 103. His best attribute is that he’s faced trouble and still managed to win. Most runners on May 4 can’t say they’ve done that.

The Bill Mott runner deserves serious consideration to win the Kentucky Derby. Improbable could surprise, but his form suggests he won’t improve enough to win on the first Saturday in May.

 
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