When the post positions were first announced and the morning line set, Omaha Beach was opened as a 4/1 favorite breaking from a very favorable spot at No. 12. Trained by Robert Mandella with veteran jockey Mike Smith getting the ride, the Kentucky-bred three-year old was in prime position to become the seventh Kentucky Derby favorite in a row to make good on this lofty designation by winning the race.
The New Favorites
Mike Battaglia is the official oddsmaker for Churchill Downs with the responsibility of setting the opening odds for each race. Once Omaha Beach was scratched from the field due to breathing problems, he elevated Game Winner from 5/1 odds as the second-favorite to 9/2 odds as the new favorite.
Once all the odds were adjusted, Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert found himself in excellent position to add another Kentucky Derby title to his impressive resume with Improbable and Roadster rounding out the top three favorites at 5/1 odds.
Going chalk with the Baffert trifecta is a very viable betting strategy for Saturday’s main event at Churchill Downs. All three of those entries are solid colts with some impressive wins under their belts. Game Winner was the champion two-year old after winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill. Improbable was another top juvenile. However, he joins Game Winner as a pair of three-year old thoroughbreds still looking for their first win this year. Each colt has placed second in a pair of major preps. Roadster earned his place in the field with his recent victory in this year’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.
A Pair of Top Contenders
Moving down the list of entries, both Maximum Security and Tacitus next at 8/1. They opened at 10/1 odds on the original morning line after winning a major prep race their last time out. Trained by Jason Servis, Maximum Security took first place in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. He will break from the No. 7 post with jockey Luis Saez leading the way. Tacitus is coming off a victory in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He is trained by William Mott with jockey Jose Ortiz getting the ride out of the No. 8 gate.
You could work either of these colts into the mix when it comes to finishing in the money at Churchill. My lean would be towards Maximum Security given his overall body of work.
The Best of The Rest
Anytime you have a race with a 20-horse field it becomes hard to handicap. When the expanded field just so happens to be the best three-year old thoroughbreds in the game, the degree of difficulty gets dialed up.
One of my favorite colts in Saturday’s field is trainer Mike Trombetta’s Win Win Win. The Florida-bred colt came close to winning the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland his last time out with a second-place finish behind Vekoma. He will break from the No. 14 post in the Kentucky Derby at 12/1 odds. Jockey Julian Pimental will get the ride.
If you are looking for a solid entry with longer odds on the board, Cutting Humor would fit the bill. Coming off a victory in this year’s Grade 3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park, his morning line odds are set at 30/1. Trained by Todd Pletcher with Corey Lanerie as his jockey, this three-year old colt will break from the favorable No. 10 post in the middle of the field.