Not only does the defection of Omaha Beach from the 145th Kentucky Derby change the pre-race odds a bit, it also changes the complexion of the race as far as how the pace is expected to unfold.
In a race with very little early speed, the absence of the front-running Omaha Beach means that now there is even less, which could set things up for another horse to try and control the pace and steal it on the front end. It may also make it tougher for late-running horses to track down the leaders.
Here's a look at how the scratch effects some of the other top contenders in the race, with Kentucky Derby horse odds provided by Bovada's racebook. Note that as of early Thursday the morning line track odds for the horses have been adjusted, but the odds at Bovada have not.
This means better value for Bovada horseplayers who get their bets in early. For comparison purposes, both sets of odds will be shown.
Also note that with the removal of Omaha Beach from the #12 spot in the gate, all horses outside of that slot will move in one spot, but retain the same program number. Bodexpress draws in as #21, but will break from the #20 gate.
Kentucky Derby 2019 Odds
#16 - Game Winner (9-2 ML, 5-1 Bovada)
With Omaha Beach out, Game Winner inherits the favored status. At the same time, he's never been the kind of horse to go right to the lead, prefering to stalk the frontrunners from typically 3-4 lengths back. It's not expected much will change here for the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile champ except he may get a bit closer in the early going.
#17 - Roadster (5-1 ML, 6-1 Bovada)
Roadster may have caught the biggest break of all without Omaha Beach in the field. Not only does he get out of the cursed #17 spot in the gate (where Derby runners are 0-40), jockey Florent Geroux will likely not have to use him quite as much early to try and clear the field and get position going into the first turn.
#5 - Improbable (5-1 ML, 6-1 Bovada)
Another stalking type without a ton of gate speed, it was expected he'd be sitting mid-pack early and nothing really changes in that regard. Like Game Winner, he may want to be a bit closer to the pace early in the race, so as not to leave himself with too much to do when they turn for home and the real running begins.
#7 - Maximum Security (8-1 ML, 10-1 Bovada)
Oh, to be a fly on the stable wall for Maximum Security this morning to hear the discussion between trainer Jason Sevis and jockey Luis Saez. In three of his four wins he's gone right to the front and taken the field gate-to-wire. Particularly in his Florida Derby win he made the lead out of the gate and then controlled the pace, clicking off an easy 48:98 seconds through the first half mile and 1:12.90 through the first three quarters. It was expected Omaha Beach would be pushing him harder than that, but if he gets away with those types of fractions on Saturday, he might be very hard to catch.
#8 - Tacitus (8-1 ML, 10-1 Bovada)
A decided closer, he sat far back in the Wood Memorial while the front runners battled it out though a sub-47 second half-mile, and used a big run off the far turn to sweep to the lead. Without a contested fast pace up front early, he may have to get out of his comfort zone and start his run on the lead much sooner than he would like.
#1 War of Will (15-1 ML, 20-1 Bovada)
Breaking form the #1 gate, it was expected that he is going to have to move early to avoid getting trapped on down on the rail in the first turn, and now his job is made a little easier. Since moving from turf to dirt racing he has progessively got faster leaving the gate, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that he'll be up to or very close to the lead as they move onto the backstretch.
#21 - Bodexpress (30-1 ML, 30-1 Bovada)
While certainly not expected to win the race, the maiden newcomer may throw a spanner in the works as far as the pace. He has displayed some early speed in the past, and coming out of the #20 hole, jockey Chris Landeros may decide his one and only chance is to gun for the front right away and try to take them as far as he can.
Kentucky Derby Picks
As mentioned above, it's easy to see jockey Saez on Maximum Security trying to recreate a carbon-copy of the Florida Derby, and in a race full of stalker-and-closer types he just might get away with it. Game Winner is likely to find himself in a prime position just off the pace down the backstretch and from there it will come down to class if he's able to take over in the lane. Roadster has shown enough versatility and speed to stay in contact with the leaders, and with a little racing luck at the break War Of Will can hang on for a piece.
Check out the online racebooks listed below and get in on great early odds for the 2019 Kentucly Derby.
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