With neither ANOTHERTWISTAFATE nor SUENO finding the winners' circle in Keeneland's Lexington Stakes, the Arkansas Derby was the last chance for an upstart to make the 2019 Kentucky Derby field. However, as expected, OMAHA BEACH and IMPROBABLE went one-two at Oaklawn Park. The only question is which of the two would win and likely be one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Derby.
OMAHA BEACH ran another impressive race and has defeated Kentucky Derby qualifiers GAME WINNER, IMPROBABLE and LONG RANGE TODDY in his last two outings. That's an unbelievable story considering OMAHA BEACH needed five races to break his maiden. Since, he's won the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby.
With the 2019 road to the Kentucky Derby official, here are the top 24 qualifiers. The first 20 get automatic bids and the next four receive alternative entry status in case one of the top 20 scratches. (Source: https://www.kentuckyderby.com/horses/leaderboard)
#1 TACITUS - 150 Points
#2 OMAHA BEACH - 137.50 Points
#3 VEKOMA - 110 Points
#4 PLUS QUE PARFAIT - 104 Points
#5 ROADSTER - 100 Points (wins tiebreaker based on non-restricted stakes earnings)
#6 BY MY STANDARDS - 100 Points
#7 MAXIMUM SECURITY - 100 Points
#8 GAME WINNER - 85 Points
#9 CODE OF HONOR - 74 Points
#10 HAIKAL - 70 Points
#11 IMPROBABLE - 65 Points
#12 WAR OF WILL - 60 Points
#13 LONG RANGE TODDY - 53.5 Points
#14 TAX - 52 POINTS
#15 CUTTING HUMOR - 50 Points (wins tiebreaker based on non-restricted stakes earnings)
#16 WIN WIN WIN - 50 Points
#17 GRAY MAGICIAN - 41 Points
#18 SPINOFF - 40 Points
#19 BODEXPRESS - 40 Points (wins tiebreaker based on non-restricted stakes earnings)
#20 MASTER FENCER - 19 Points (Qualifies via the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby)
Possible Alternative Entries
#21 SIGNALMAN - 38 Points (wins tiebreaker based on non-restricted stakes earnings)
#22 ANOTHERTWISTAFATE - 38 Points
#23 SUENO - 32 Points
#24 BOURBON WAR - 31 Points
And there you have the horses that will run for the roses in the 145th Kentucky Derby, Saturday, May 4, 2019 at Churchill Downs.
Here's a brief video walk down memory lane to the Derby and how we got here.
Early on, CAIRO CAT, GUNMETAL GRAY and COMPLEXITY won the first three prep races and put their names on top of the leaderboard. Remember them? Didn't think so.
Then GAME WINNER ran away from the pack in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and firmly place himself as the early favorite to win the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
IMPROBABLE burst onto the scene with an easy 5 length win in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity.
WAR OF WILL introduced himself as the even-money favorite in the first 50 points for the winner qualifier in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.
HAIKAL shocked the 1-1 post-time favorite, INSTAGRAND in the Gotham Stakes. INSTAGRAND missing the Derby must be the biggest disappointment. Many believed he was a serious contender.
OMAHA BEACH pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the second division of the Rebel Stakes, nosing out 1-to-2 favorite GAME WINNER in a race that OMAHA BEACH controlled.
At 22-1, BY MY STANDARDS earned his way into the Kentucky Derby by winning the first 100-point qualifier, the Louisiana Derby.
Of course, there was a lot more as the path to Louisville, Kentucky twisted and turned, full of favorites and longshots from the United Arab Emirates (PLUS QUE PARFAIT) to Japan to Europe and from sea to shining sea is the good ole' USA.
Much like the qualifying races, 2019 is a year where the Kentucky Derby is unpredictable. After digging through all the numbers and watching the races as the road unfolded, a case can be made for any of the top 13 horses on the leaderboard to find their way to the winners' circle.
From the eye test and our preliminary feelings from the last seven-months, here are our top five 2019 Kentucky Derby Contenders.
#1 OMAHA BEACH
#5 GAME WINNER
Of course, we'll be crunching the numbers, analyzing past performances and watching how the horses handle their Churchill training in the weeks ahead. As always, we'll be sharing our thoughts with you right here as the Kentucky Derby approaches. So, check in with us frequently and make sure you get our 2019 Kentucky Derby Wagering Guide on race day.