Denton S. Kentucky Derby Picks

By Denton Senft

Posted: August 10, 7:17 PM

Churchill Downs

May 04 2019

5:05 PM

Kentucky Derby May 4, 2019

  1. Game Winner PP 16 5-1 (Joel Rosario/Bob Baffert)- Baffert comes to the Derby with another strong group of horses and I believe all three are in it with a big shot. My favorite of the bunch though is Game Winner. Game Winner is 6 for 6 in the exacta in his career and while not being able to win thus far in 2019 he has still been as game as they come in defeat. The defending BC Juvenile champion who won that race here in Churchill Downs is one horse that I have no questions marks about which is why he’s my top choice. He has a top trainer, he’s bred well, he has run true in every race of his career, and his running style fits this race well. I think he’s sitting on a big one that will lead him to his first win of his 3 year old campaign.
  2. Improbable PP 5 6-1 (Irad Ortiz Jr./Bob Baffert)- I really like all three Baffert horses and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them all hit the board. Game Winner and Improbable were horses as two year olds that we heard about a lot and Omaha Beach has stolen the spotlight from both of them by beating them in the Rebel and Arkansas Derby by a combined 1 length. In both races Omaha Beach had the better of things when sitting the trip and I think both Game Winner and Improbable can turn the tables come Saturday. Improbable put blinkers on for the the Arkansas Derby and was a big issue in the gate and had to be reloaded. He was forced to run wide from his rail draw to put himself in a position to run with Omaha Beach and was game in defeat.
  3. Tacitus PP 8 10-1 (Jose Ortiz/William Mott)- I have loved everything about Tacitus leading up to the Derby and his run in the Wood Memorial might be my favorite major prep race performance. He had all sorts of trouble going into the first turn and if there’s one thing we know come Derby Day trouble is something a majority of these horses will deal with in some way shape or form. Your winner typically gets the luckiest of trips but what I love about Tacitus is how he handled that trouble. Jose Ortiz nearly was thrown from his mount but both he and Tacitus regained composure in the first turn settled back into the race and when he was asked to go he fired in a big way. His stretch run was visibly impressive and he looks like he can run for days. From the 8 post and with speed from Vekoma and Maximum Security from directly inside of him I think Ortiz will be able to get him into whatever position he wants him to be in early in the race. This could prove crucial. We know he’ll be rolling in the stretch and he could easily find his way to the winner’s circle.
  4. Code of Honor PP 13 15-1 (John Velazquez/Shug McGaughey)- Code of Honor is another in here who should come from off the pace and while he ran 3rd in the Florida Derby behind Maximum Security I think that race was more impressive from his standpoint than some might realize. He ran wide throughout behind a slow pace while breaking from the 9 post. After the half mile I thought he looked used up just trying to be in the race with Maximum Security but in the stretch he began to gain ground and was running his best. He had no pace to run in but still was closing late. I think he gets plenty of pace to run into on Saturday and he could be involved at a great price.


Other Contenders

I’ll preface this by saying there are only 3-4 horses that I will have no exposure to in some way shape or form on my tickets. When it comes to wagering this race I think it comes down to making a stand on a horse you really like and playing as deep as you feel you can/need to on the back end of exotic wagers.

War of Will  PP1 20-1 (Tyler Gaffalione/Mark Casse)- War of Will was the unfortunate horse to draw the rail. While for years this is been looked at as the post position of doom  War of Will is ultra talented. The Jockey/Trainer duo are two of my favorites at the craft in the entire country. Because I think he will be completely tossed by so many I’ll be sure to use him underneath on my exotics and hope to catch the right break and have his talent show on Saturday. 

Maximum Security PP 7 10-1 (Luis Saez/Jason Servis)- While I didn’t list Maximum Security amongst my top 4 I will have plenty of him on my tickets. This horse is actually my favorite horse in this field and I think he’s going to be an absolute handful as he moves forward in his career. What he did as an unproven lightly raced horse in the Florida Derby was incredible. I loved him in that race and I still love him now. The issue in this race is how the pace should play out. If you read my Oaks analysis you will know I am super high on Motion Emotion and Maximum Security is my Motion Emotion in the Derby field. The pressure he faces will determine the outcome of this race. I expect to see the first quarter go in the 22 second range which is quick but will be more so because of horses trying to position themselves into the first turn. The half mile and ¾ mark is what to me will decide this race. If Maximum Security is on the lead which I expect he will be and puts up anything close to a 47 second half mile or slower and he will be an absolute handful in the stretch and might win it wire to wire. If the pace is quicker than that he most likely doesn’t hit the board.

Win Win Win PP 14 (Julian Pimentel/Michael Trombetta)- I have a slight bias towards this horse as he ran the early races of his career super close to home at Laurel Park. In the Tampa Bay Derby he finished 3rd to Tacitus who I mentioned above as a legit contender in this field and in that race Win Win Win ran wide throughout and was closing really well in stretch despite that. He then came back in the Blue Grass where he finished second to Vekoma. In that race nearing the top of the stretch he had to check up and lost a ton of momentum, while I don’t think it would have led to him running down Vekoma the way he ran home gobbling up ground on a speed favoring track was something to see. If the pace is hot expect to  Win Win Win closing on the leaders late.

Roadster PP 17 6-1 (Florent Geroux/Bob Baffert)- Baffert’s third horse is another talented one. His run in the Santa Anita Derby to run down Game Winner was extremely impressive. He dropped back nearing the stretch and at one point looked like he might fade to last. Instead when Mike Smith flipped the switch Roadster made a big sweeping move on the far turn at a track where that type of move is not all that common. He’ll get Florent Geroux aboard for the first time so we’ll see if they can form a good connection come Saturday.

Suggested Betting Strategy

$20 WPS #16 Game Winner

$2 ex box 16 with 1,5,7,8,13,14,17

$.50 tri 16 with 1,5,7,8,13,14,17 with 1,2,3,5,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,17,20

$.50 tri 1,5,7,8,13,14,17 with 16 with 1,2,3,5,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,17,20

Oaks Derby Double 2,3,6,8,14/5,7,8,13,16