2019 Kentucky Derby Final Rankings

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D.S. Williamson

April 17th, 2019

The final preps for the 2019 Kentucky Derby are in the books! Omaha Beach held off Improbable for an Arkansas Derby win while long shot Owendale won the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes. While Owendale doesn’t have enough points to make it to the starting gate, he did knock out Anothertwistafate from garnering a Derby bid.

Omaha Beach gained enough points to place him second on the list behind Wood Memorial winner Tacitus. Improbable’s second place finish was good enough to put him eleventh on the list. Both will run in the Derby on May 4. Where did they end up on my rankings heading into the final 3 weeks before the most exciting two minutes in sports?


Omaha Beach Glides to the Top

 1. Omaha Beach

Mike Smith rushed him up to take the lead before the first call. That hadn’t to have been easy because they ran the first quarter-mile in 23.08 He runs effortlessly and refuses to let any horse pass him. Once he gets the lead, the Derby could be over. We know Richard Mandella’s going to get him to improve on May 4.

2. Maximum Security

Ah, but will Omaha Beach get the lead over Maximum Security? The Florida Derby winner is undefeated in 4 starts. Sure, he started his career as a $16,000 maiden claimer. All that means is trainer Jason Servis didn’t know what he had until Maximum Security showed him what he had. He’s the real deal.

3. Tacitus

The Wood Memorial was impressive, but how much did it take out of him? Tacitus went through a lot in only the fourth start of his career. His sire, Tapit, hasn’t produced a Derby winner yet, but he has sired 3 Belmont Stakes winners. Bill Mott should have him ready.

4. Vekoma

He slowed down considerably in the final third of his Bluegrass Stakes victory, but while so many see the funky stride, I see a speed horse in a Derby that appears to be lacking a lot of it. He’ll be in the first flight with Omaha Beach chasing Maximum Security. That should give him a chance because his pedigree, a Candy Ride from a Speightstown broodmare, says distance won’t be an issue.

5. Tax

I’ve finally decided to give Tax his due. The Danny Gargan runner might be the most consistent horse in the race. In the Wood Memorial, he kept fighting after Tacitus got the lead. Who knows? If jockey Junior Alvarado had been closer to the front runners, Junior might have put enough distance between himself and Tacitus to hold that one off. Tax is sired by Arch which means 1 ¼ miles will be a breeze.

6. Spinoff

A lot of Derby fans are going to laugh at me for putting the top two finishers in the Louisiana Derby ahead of Bob Baffert’s 3 starters. I like Spinoff. I believe he learned a lot from the Louisiana Derby. Not to mention they ran the three-quarters in 1:11.2. Almost as important is how he’s improved significantly from race to race while Todd Pletcher knows how to get them to peak on the First Saturday in May.

7. By My Standards

The way he fought Spinoff to take the La Derby was awfully impressive. Because he was sired by Goldencents, it’s a legitimate question as to whether he can get the Derby distance. But, he went from maiden winner to Grade 2 winner and it was legit. Another move forward would put him right there.

8. Improbable

Of Baffert’s three entrants, Improbable seems like the most likely winner. He got beat by a very good race horse in the Arkansas Derby. Try as he might, he just couldn’t get past Omaha Beach. Those are the positives. The negatives are that he’s got descending Brisnet speed ratings and he hasn’t improved from the Los Al Futurity win.

9. Roadster

Yes, he caught Game Winner, and, yes, he had to work to do it because Mike Smith pulled him about 8 lengths behind Instagrand before the final turn. However, he might have worked too hard. Not only that, if he lollygags behind Omaha Beach, Vekoma, and Maximum Security, he’s going to be 12 lengths behind before the final turn and he’s going to have to chase three horses that should relish the 1 ¼ miles.

10. Game Winner

The champ makes my final Kentucky Derby Rankings even though he hasn’t gotten any faster from when he was a two-year-old. Game Winner will always try hard. He’s going to have to improve if he wants to win the Run for the Roses, though. Game Winner might have peaked in in the BC Juvenile. He’s yet to take the all-important three-year-old leap.

The Kentucky Derby is three weeks away! Sharpen your handicapping pencils and get ready for the most exciting two minutes in sports!