Nunnsense | KY Derby 145 Preview And Contenders

CD Backside 5-2-2018-69

It’s my favorite time of the year again. You all know I love my Cards but I am a huge horse racing fan too. I’ve watched every prep race, I’ve calculated times, researched breeding, asked “experts” their opinions and read more articles than I care to share. I’ve been doing this for a long time. In fact, I hit my first Derby race in 1994 with Go For Gin. Since that great day, I have wagered on 22 Derby races. In 18 of those 22 races, my horse has finished in the top 4.

My goal here is not to just give you my opinion on who will win but rather give you enough information to make an educated wager. Everyone wants to win money and I want to help you win.

Here are some facts, trends and the contenders for the 145th running of the Ky Derby.

  • 100 Point Prep Race – The past 6 KY Derby winners have all won a prep race where the winner receives 100 points. 6 years doesn’t seem like much of a streak but the prep race points system was initiated for the 2013 Ky Derby, so this is a pretty good predictor of the winner. The horses who have won a 100 point prep race are; By My Standards, Plus Que Parfait, Maximum Security, Tacitus, Roadster, Vekoma and Omaha Beach.
  • Winning Final Prep Race – The last horse to win the KY Derby that didn’t win his final prep race was Super Saver in 2010. The horses who won their last prep race are: Omaha Beach, Roadster, Maximum Security, Tacitus, By My Standards, Vekoma, Cutting Humor, Plus Que Parfait. 
  • Post Positions – No position has produced more winners (ten winners) than post #5.  Post #10 has nine wins overall. The place to be in recent years has been anywhere outside No. 12. In reverse order back to 2008, such winners include Nyquist (No. 13), American Pharoah (No. 18), Orb (No. 16), I’ll Have Another (No. 19), Animal Kingdom (No. 16), Big Brown (No. 20).
  • Beyer Speed Figures – I am a big proponent of these speed figures. In the past, if a horse had a speed figure of 100 or higher, they had a legitimate chance to wear the roses. This year, there are only 3 horses that have registered a 100 Beyer figure; Omaha Beach (101) , Maximum Security (101) and Improbable (100). However, the gap between the 100 club and the rest of the top contenders is not that large this year – Meaning, it wouldn’t take much of an improvement by a long shot to jump up and run a 102 Beyer and that could be good enough to win. Roadster (98), By My Standards (97) are the two I really would watch. 
  • Longshots – The biggest long shots in Ky Derby history are Donerail (1913) $184.90, Mine That Bird (2009) $103.20, Giacomo (2005) $102.60, Gallahadion (1940) $72.40 and Charismatic (1999) $64.60.


Here are the contenders:

Omaha Beach 

On paper, he is the best horse in the field and will most likely be your morning line favorite. He beat both of Baffert’s big Derby contenders in his last 2 races by besting Game Winner in the Rebel Stakes and then Improbable in the Arkansas Derby, less than a month later. Hall of fame jockey Mike Smith, rode both Roadster and Omaha Beach. He has chosen to ride Omaha Beach in the Derby so that has to be a good sign. This horse can handle many different surfaces so if it rains (please no), he can handle it just fine. There is nothing bad that I can find with this horse. He has the pedigree to run all day. He has improved with every start and there is no reason to believe he won’t improve at least just a little on the first Saturday in May. He has everything I look for in my Derby horse as he checks all the boxes for me. It just seems too easy so I am a little scared to put my money on him.

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Richard Mandella

Owner: Fox Hill Farms

Color: Dark bay or brown

Career record: 7 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,121,800

Probable odds  7-2


This is the horse that intrigues me the most. He is the Baffert horse that was supposed to be the next Justify but quickly fell into the shadows of his stablemates. After finishing 3rd in his 2nd start, Baffert sent Roadster to have throat surgery to correct a breathing problem. He returned to racing after a six month layoff and not too many people noticed but he won an allowance race with ease. Baffert thought enough of his performance that he entered him in the Santa Anita Derby, where he defeated the favorite, Game Winner. I feel that he is a horse that is getting ready to become a superstar but I just don’t know if it starts with the KY Derby. I have a feeling it does. Expect to see him running fast down the stretch, probably next to the Omaha Beach and Game Winner.

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Speedway Stable

Color: Gray or roan

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $706,200

Probable odds 4-1

Game Winner

He is the most proven horse in the race. He is a grinder and a fighter. Although he is winless as a 3-year-old, he has not run a bad race. He lost by a nostril to Omaha Beach and by a 1/2 length to Roadster. If his race against Omaha Beach would have been about 10 feet longer, he would have won. Can he turn the table on his rivals? It’s setting up nicely for his style. Game Winner’s classy pedigree contains a good dose of stamina to help him get the Derby’s 1 ¼-mile distance. He always seems to get caught 4 or 5 wide. In fact, it was estimated that he ran at least 40 feet farther than Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby but on lost by a 1/2 of a length. I don’t think there is any doubt he will finish in the money-making him the safest across the board bet in the field. Can he win it all? He absolutely can.

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: Gary and Mary West

Color: Bay

Career record: 6 starts – 4 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $1,846,000

Probable odds 7-1

By My Standards

He will probably be this years “buzz” horse. I really like him but wanted to keep it quiet so I could get better odds. He was one of the first horses to get to Churchill and has looked amazing in his workouts. Most people won’t think twice about him because he won the Louisiana Derby – a race not know for producing KY Derby horses.  I also worry  a little about the distance as he is the son of Goldencents. I look for him to show up big on KY Derby day and at a nice price to help my exotics.

Jockey: Gabriel Saez

Trainer: Bret Calhoun

Owner: Allied Racing Stable

Color: Bay

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $653,710

Earnings per start: $130,742

Probable odds  20-1


He was the horse I really like coming into his 3-year-old campaign. He was supposed to run at Santa Anita but the track was shut down so he was shipped to Oaklawn for the Rebel where he was run down in the stretch, finishing 2nd by a neck. Then he faced Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby where he was fractious in the gate and had to be backed out. At the top of the stretch, he had leader Omaha Beach in his crosshairs only to settle for second once again, this time by a length. He was running with his head cocked to the side. If he gets it figured out, beware of him. Big talent with big possibilities.

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and Starlight Racing

Color: Chestnut

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $619,520

Earnings per start: $123,904

Probable odds 6-1


I don’t know what it is about this horse but I’m just not a fan. I’m usually a sucker for a gray horse so I don’t know what my problem is. This horse is the leader in the points standings and winner of the Wood Memorial. In that race, he was bumped entering the first turn, but recovered to grind out a 1 ¼-length victory over Tax. He is bred to handle the Derby’s 1 ¼-mile distance as a son of leading sire Tapit. He is a closer and would love a fast early pace to run at but I’m not sure he will get the pace he needs. Many people love this horse and he has a legitimate shot so don’t let my gut feeling steer you away from him. Jockey, Jose Ortiz finished 2nd las year in the KY Derby.

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Color: Gray or roan

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $653,000

Probable odds 5-1

Maximum Security

I want no part of this horse. The dialogue surrounding this horse is either you love him or completely dismiss him. I fall in the latter. He won the Florida Derby on an easy slow lead. He was never threatened. He will not get the luxury of an easy solo lead in the biggest race in the world. I feel he needs the lead so expect to see him in front early. I believe that the owners will send him to the lead and if he holds on, then great. But if he fades, their other horse, Game Winner, who will be stalking the pace, can have a legit shot to win for them. I’ll pass on this one.

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Jason Servis

Owners: Gary and Mary West

Color: Bay

Career record: 4 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $649,400

Probable odds 9-1

Other Horses I like In My Exotic Bets

  • Code Of Honor
  • Vekoma
  • Long Range Toddy
  • War of Will

Pace Setters (On or near the lead)

  • Maximum Security
  • Omaha Beach
  • Vekoma
  • War of Will

Stalkers (Just behind the leaders)

  • Game Winner
  • Roadster
  • Tax
  • Spinoff
  • Gray Magician
  • Long Range Toddy

Closers (Running late)

  • Code of Honor
  • Win Win Win
  • Haikal
  • Master Fencer
  • Country House

If It Rains

  • Omaha Beach


This field is unlike most. There is no clear-cut favorite. In my opinion, the winner will most likely come from these three, Omaha Beach, Roadster or Game Winner. However, with the talent in this field not being separated by much, the possibility of a really long shot to hit the board or win is more likely than it has been in the last 6 years. The positive thing is that if you hit, it’s gonna pay really well. The favorite is likely to go off at 4-1. Exactas and trifecta with the favorites will pay well too.

Good luck and I hope you win some money!

Check back for updates as I will be out there photographing horses all Derby week and will update this as I talk to trainers and watch workouts. 

UPDATED 5-2-19

After spending the week on the backside watching the workouts, talking to the trainers and horsemen and now knowing the post positions, I have much more insight on how the race plays out. It seems to me that since War of Will drew the 1 post they have no choice but to try and send him to the lead. He has looked really good in his works this week. Maximum Security wants the lead so he can set slow fractions. I don’t think that will happen and we are not sure if he actually needs the lead or not making him a tough horse to figure out since he is bred for the distance. With Omaha Beach out of the race, Game Winner becomes the favorite. He looked amazing this week and I still expect him to finish in the money. The horse I loved the most this week was Improbable. Looks like he loves this track and I expect a big race out of him. I think he is the one. Code of Honor is a beast. If the pace early is fast, expect to see him flying down the stretch. If the pace sets up like I think it will, I believe Vekoma will be in front or towards the front as they turn for home. He could very well hang around and finish in the money. By My Standards has looked great in every workout and people are taking notice.

Here is my projected order of finish

  1. Improbable
  2. Game Winner
  3. Vekoma
  4. By My Standards
  5. Tacitus
  6. War Of Will
  7. Spinoff
  8. Tax
  9. Code of Honor
  10. Roadster

Yes, I’m betting Improbable to win. Hoping to get 4-1 or better. Let’s make some straight cash, Homie!

Good Luck and wager responsibly.

Derby 145 morning -1

As Always, GO CARDS!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.