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With Omaha Beach Scratched, Who Are The Best Picks For The 145th Kentucky Derby?

by May 2, 2019

The first Saturday in May is this weekend, which means the Kentucky Derby is upon us. The 145th running will feature a full field of 20 horses as bettors have a slew of options in front of them.

The headline of the moment is the fact that the favorite, Omaha Beach, has been scratched from the race just three days before post time. That’s left bettors scrambling to make some tough decisions as favorites had cashed in six straight Kentucky Derbies.

Who is the best bet now that Omaha Beach is no longer in the running? Let’s take a closer look at some important Derby trends and pick three horses for the race:

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Kentucky Derby Trends

Speed Matters
Since 1992, only one horse has won the Kentucky Derby after posting a Brisnet speed figure of 95 or less in their last race. That horse was Mine That Bird in 2009. The horses in the field that don’t meet that threshold are Code of Honor, War of Will, Long Range Toddy, and Country House.

Gate 17 Is Cursed
Call it bad luck, a curse or just a very bad trend, but history shows that the horse in post position 17 doesn’t win. No horse has ever won the Run for the Roses from that spot, going 0-for-40 in the process. That’s bad news for Bob Baffert’s Roadster, who is currently at 9/2.

Strong Performance In Prep Matters
Forty-two of the last 43 Kentucky Derby winners finished top-three or within four lengths of the winner in their last prep race. The last eight winners also won their last prep race.

Kentucky Derby Picks

Improbable
Kentucky Derby Odds: 5/1

Bob Baffert has a slew of entries (three), as per usual, but this may be the best bet. He’s never finished worse than second while picking up wins at the Street Sense last year and the Los Alamitos Futurity. He placed second at the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby this year.

There has been some concern about Baffert tinkering with his blinkers (they’ll be off) but this horse will have the same trainer and owner of Justify, who won the Triple Crown last year.

Tacitus
Kentucky Derby Odds: 6/1

There’s some intrigue here as jockey Jose Ortiz, who won the Belmont Stakes in 2017, decided to ride Tacitus instead of Improbable. We’ll see how that pans out.

Tacitus has looked fantastic heading into the Run for the Roses, winning the Wood Memorial and the Tampa Bay Derby. He’s now won three races in a row heading into Saturday’s race.

Maximum Security
Kentucky Derby Odds: 6/1

Maximum Security got a good draw as he’ll start in the seventh gate, which has produced seven previous winners. Only four other gates have produced more.

He’s the only horse in the field that hasn’t lost, although the Florida Derby is the only one of his four starts that was a graded race. However, he’s been mighty impressive with his speed. He won his first three races by a combined 34 ¾ lengths and then led the Florida Derby wire-to-wire for a win of 3 ½ lengths.

Only two horses in the field posted a Beyer Figure over 100: Omaha Beach and Maximum Security. With the former scratched, the latter might be a strong bet.

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Dave Golokhov is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Dave, check out his archive and follow him @davegolokhov.