Omaha Beach was shaping up to be the favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1), even beforethe Tuesday morning post position draw at Churchill Downs, but when the talented colt drew favorably in post position #12, his status as favorite was most assuredly cemented.
Omaha Beach was the penultimate horse to be assigned a post position, and there was a 50-50 chance he could have landed in post #3, a much less desirable draw. But as luck would have it, the versatile colt drew post #12, a perfect position outside of the other main speed horses.
Thanks to his ideal post and his impressive victories in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Rebel Stakes (G2), Omaha Beach was made the 4-1 morning-line favorite in a deep and competitive field. Game Winner, the champion 2-year-old male of 2018, landed a similarly favorable draw in post #16 and is listed as the 5-1 second choice on the morning line. His stablemates, #5 Improbable and #17 Roadster (both grade 1 winners), are the co-third choices at 6-1. All together they comprise a powerful trio of Derby contenders conditioned by the five-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert.
In a year where injuries and setbacks involving major Derby contenders were few and far between, a record-breaking 40 Kentucky Derby qualification points were required to make the 20-horse cut. #21 Bodexpress, also with 40 points, lost a tiebreaker for the final spot and is the lone also-eligible entrant. In the event that there is a scratch from the main body of the field before 9 a.m. ET Friday morning, Bodexpress will start from the far outside post position.
Most of the horses received workable post positions for their running styles, but there were a few exceptions. The speedy #1 War of Will drew the dreaded rail post and will surely have to gun for the lead in order to avoid getting boxed in during the run to the first turn. On the opposite end of the spectrum, #19 Spinoff—who will ideally be tracking the pace—could find himself hung wide on both turns while breaking from post 19. Even Improbable could have to work hard early on while breaking from post 5. Despite his abundant talent, he can be sluggish during the opening furlongs of his races and risks getting buried in traffic if he doesn’t break cleanly and quickly from the gate.
The complete field for the 2019 Kentucky Derby, with jockey assignments and morning line odds:
|1||War of Will||Tyler Gaffalione||Mark Casse||20-1|
|2||Tax||Junior Alvarado||Danny Gargan||20-1|
|3||By My Standards||Gabrial Saez||Bret Calhoun||20-1|
|4||Gray Magician||Drayden Van Dyke||Peter Mille||50-1|
|5||Improbable||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Bob Baffert||6-1|
|6||Vekoma||Javier Castellano||George Weaver||20-1|
|7||Maximum Security||Luis Saez||Jason Servis||10-1|
|8||Tacitus||Jose Ortiz||Bill Mott||10-1|
|9||Plus Que Parfait||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Brendan Walsh||30-1|
|10||Cutting Humor||Corey Lanerie||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|11||Haikal||Rajiv Maragh||Kiaran McLaughlin||30-1|
|12||Omaha Beach||Mike Smith||Richard Mandella||4-1|
|13||Code of Honor||John Velazquez||Shug McGaughey||15-1|
|14||Win Win Win||Julian Pimentel||Michael Trombetta||15-1|
|15||Master Fencer||Julien Leparoux||Koichi Tsunoda||50-1|
|16||Game Winner||Joel Rosario||Bob Baffert||5-1|
|17||Roadster||Florent Geroux||Bob Baffert||6-1|
|18||Long Range Toddy||Jon Court||Steve Asmussen||30-1|
|19||Spinoff||Manny Franco||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|20||Country House||Flavien Prat||Bill Mott||30-1|
|AE 21||Bodexpress||Chris Landeros||Gustavo Delgado||30-1|
The Kentucky Derby is the 12th race of the afternoon Saturday, with an approximate post time of 6:50 p.m. ET. Want to tune in and catch all the action? Check out our guide to the TV broadcast schedule!