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An Early Look At The 2019 Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is still over four months away and the horses are still competing for the slots in the world famous horse race.  Yet as early as now, the horse racing betting odds for the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” are already out and some have even began placing their bets on their respective favorites.

Let’s take an early look at the 2019 Kentucky Derby and have a quick glance at the odds and the early favorites to win the race:

The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is It is a Grade 1 stakes horse race for three year old thoroughbreds  held every first Saturday of the month of May at the Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky. It is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world and the showcase of horse racing in the United States of America.

Dubbed as the Run for the Roses, the one and a quarter mile long race is the first of horse racing’s Triple Crown and is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race. It is also known as the “Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports”, alluding to the approximate length of time the winner runs from the starting gate to the finish line.

Unlike most horse races, the Kentucky Derby has a larger field which consists of 20 horses. These horses must first go through the “Road to the Kentucky Derby”, a series of 35 races which take place at various race tracks across the United States and the world. Horses that finish in the Top 4 in each of the 35 races are awarded points and the 20 horses with the most points after the 35th race will earn a spot in the starting gate of the 2019 Kentucky Derby race.

With the Kentucky Derby held continuously since 1875, this year’s race will be the 145th edition of the Kentucky Derby and will be presented by Woodford  Reserve. The Kentucky Derby weekend will be on May 3 and 4, 2019 but the big race will be on May 4th with the horses expected to be off the gates at 6:50 pm ET.

Richest Kentucky Derby Ever

This year’s Kentucky Derby will be the richest ever after the purse for the first leg of the Triple Crown will be a guaranteed $3M which is $1M higher than last year. The increase in the 1/14 mile race for three year olds highlights a record-breaking 34 race stakes schedule worth a total $12.03M for the 145th edition of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve.

With the $1M increase, the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby will not only take home the gold trophy but will be $1.86M richer. The runner-up will receive $600,000.00 while the third placer will get $300,000.00 and the 4th placer $150,000.00. The Kentucky Derby purse had been at $2M since 2005 and was at $1M from 1996 to 2004.

Game Winner Is Early Favorite

The early betting favorite to win the Run for the Roses is Game Winner at +800. The Bob Baffert trained juvenile has impressed with four straight wins to start his career. Game Winner was adjudged “Rising Star” by the Thoroughbred Daily News for his first career start: a six-furlong maiden special weight race at Del Mar last August 18, 2018 which he won by 5 ¾ lengths.

Less than three weeks later, he made his graded stakes debut at the Del Mar Futurity last September 3, 2018. He bested Rowayton and race favorite Roadster (also trained by Bob Baffert) to bag his second straight win. A third win came in the American Pharaoh States which he won by 4 ½ lengths. The victory established Game Winner as the early 2019 Kentucky Derby Favorite. In his last race, Game Winner won the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs to solidify his claim as the early 2019 Kentucky Derby Favorite.

The fact that trainer Bob Baffert trained recent Triple Crown winners American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) has enhanced Game Winner’s stock. It also helps that he brings an outstanding pedigree to the track being a descendant of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Likewise, two of the last 12 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby with Nyquist the last one to achieve the feat in 2016.

However, with the actual Kentucky Derby is still over four months away, anything can still happen. But if Game Winner remains as the betting favorite heading to the first leg of the Triple Crown, he will have history on his side as the last five betting favorites have won the Kentucky Derby.

Improbable, at +1000  is another Baffert colt and right now, he is considered as the serious threat to Game Winner. After winning his maiden last September 29, 2018 at Santa Anita Park, he won the Street Sense Stakes with relative ease. Improbable went 3-3 when he was victorious at the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) by five lengths.

Gunmetal Gray is currently the third favorite at +2000 and with his experience, bettors hope he will pay off big time. The colt was victorious at the Sham Stakes (G3) by  last January 5th. He also finished 2nd to Game Winner in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes and was an average 5th in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

A third Baffert colt, Coliseum at +2500, may not be too far behind from Game Winner and Improbable. Sired by 2004 Wood Memorial winner Tapit, Coliseum’s maiden win at Del Mar was as easy as they come, winning by seven lengths in a wire to wire victory. However, he finished sixth and was beaten by 4 ½ lengths as a favorite by Gunmetal Gray in the Sham Stakes (G3) earlier this month.

Here are the complete odds to win the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Odds are taken from Bovada as of 1/13/19:

  • Game Winner              +800
  • Improbable                  +1000
  • Gunmetal Gray            +2000
  • Rowayton                    +2000
  • Coliseum                     +2500
  • Complexity                  +2500
  • Maximus Mischief       +2500
  • Signalman                  +2500
  • Cairo Cat                    +3300
  • Call Paul                     +3300
  • King for A Day            +3300
  • Knicks Go                   +3300
  • Mucho Gusto              +3300
  • Code of Honor            +4000
  • Network Effect            +4000
  • Royale Marine            +4000
  • Standard Deviation     +4000

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