Kentucky Derby Field Set For Saturday May 4th at Churchill

Update on May 1st — Original betting choice Omaha Beach was scratched out of the Derby on May 1st which opened the door for Bodexpress to join the field of 20. The Kentucky-bred is a son of Bodemeister, a million dollar earner who was bred in Virginia by Audley Farm. In 2012, Bodemeister finished second in the Derby and Preakness after winning the Arkansas Derby. Bodexpress thus far has bankrolled $208,000 from runner-up finishes in the Florida Derby and a pair of maiden special weight races at Gulfstream. He is pictured on the track this morning at Churchill Downs.

Bodexpress is shown on the track at Churchill Downs May 2nd preparing for Saturday’s “Run for the Roses”. Phoot by Kurtis Coady.

The following appeared in and wax written by Evan Hammonds. The 145th Kentucky Derby is Saturday May 4th and there are plenty of places in Virginia to watch and wager the big event. The four VA-Horseplay OTBs will accept Derby wagers all day/evening Friday and on Saturday until post time of 6:45 PM. The locations are at Ponies & Pints (Richmond), Breakers (Henrico), Buckets (Chesapeake) and The Windmill OTB Sports Grill (Collinsville). Colonial Downs Racetrack/Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in New Kent will offer Derby wagering as will the Virginia Gold Cup event at Great Meadow in The Plains. And of course Virginia residents can wager on line via,, and

The Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Trainer Bob Baffert, a five-time Derby winner and trainer of two Triple Crown winners, will have three runners in the Derby: Game Winner, the champion 2-year-old male of 2018, drew post 16 and was made the 5-1 second choice; Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster (6-1) will break from post 17; and Improbable (6-1) will be in post 5.

Baffert said he was pleased with all his posts.

“Anything but the one or two or three, I’m fine with that,” he said. “And I think the good horses all drew well, so there was no really shockers in there.”

With two of his runners next to each other, he said: “they’ll be easy to watch.”

Post 17 is 0-40 historically. Baffert compared it to the 136-year-old “Curse of Apollo” broken by Justify, who became the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old.

“I’m OK, it’s not the end of the world,” he said.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has two runners for the Derby in Tacitus and Country House. Juddmonte Farms’ Tacitus drew post eight and was listed at 10-1. Country House (30-1) was not as lucky, drawing the outside hole.

Country House, third place finisher in the Arkansas Derby, gallops at Churchill Downs April 18th in preparation for the Kentucky Derby. Photo by Kurtis Coady.

“I was hoping to be in the middle with him,” Mott said of Tacitus. “He’s a little different type of horse, has a little more early speed, tactical sort of speed, stalker-type; maybe the kind of horse that could possibly be mid-pack. He’s actually probably got to take the chance of encountering as much traffic, maybe even more than Country House, even though Country House comes from farther back, just because he’s starting sort of in the middle of the pack. But all we can do is hope for a clear trip.

“I thought he could probably deserve 6-1 or 8-1. I thought he was that good, I thought what he’s shown. But they’re the professionals and I guess we’ll see how that goes when they start putting the money through the windows because that will really tell what the handicappers think.

“I think he’s getting his mind more on business,” Mott said. “He was a bit of a handful as a 2-year-old and he’s a big, strong horse. He wants to play around a little bit so to speak, but it seems like we’ve seen a little more focus from him just recently. Being down here, I think maybe he realizes that there’s something more important going on than what he had to deal with when he was a baby.”

As for Country House, Mott added: “When they said 20 for Country House, I said, ‘That’s fine with me.’ Given his running style, I think it’s OK. No reason he shouldn’t have a fairly clear run down to the first turn anyway. You don’t know what’s going to happen after that. Once he tucks in he’s going to have to find room turning for home, but at least the first quarter of a mile you should be fairly clear and not be bothered. Anytime you’re inside of anybody, you got to worry about getting shuffled, because in these big fields and these good riders, they’re going to want to get over. They want to get over going into the first turn. I think for Country House it’s fine.”

Gary Barber’s War of Will, winner of the Lecomte Stakes (G3) and Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford (G2), was the unfortunate one to draw the rail. He’s 20-1 on the morning line.

“There’s a lot of disadvantages being one,” said trainer Mark Casse. “You load early, you sit there, and then there’s that little gap, which sometimes horses like to go left a little bit. It’s definitely not where you really want to be. I just was talking to Gary and I just kept laughing. What are you going to do? I’ve been doing this 40 years. You better learn to laugh.

“I don’t know the numbers, but it didn’t sound any worse than 17,” Casse said. “He breaks, he’s going to come away from there running and probably play catch me if you can. He is very sharp right now, very sharp. I’ve never seen him so sharp. And if he breaks the way he normally breaks, at least we have the shortest way around. I would think he’ll probably be on the lead.”

The live simulcast area at Colonial Downs features a sharp TV signal presentation from 8 different tracks at the same time. Both tellers and self bet machines are available to place wagers.

Historically, the rail has proved fruitful, but of late it is the toughest spot to win from. Ferdinand (1986) is the last winner from Post 1. Post 2 is perhaps just as tough, as 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed is the last Derby winner to break from that spot where Tax will begin his journey this year.

The outside 20 post has produced one winner, Big Brown  in 2008.

This will be the seventh Derby run under Churchill Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby points system. The post-time favorite has won all six previous runnings.

This year’s top point producer is Tacitus with 150 based on his scores in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2). Omaha Beach was second in the points race with 137.5. Spinoff, with 40 points, is the last main Road to the Kentucky Derby horse to get in the field. Master Fencer, who earned 19 points on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and was the only horse from the his native country to accept the nomination, is the first Japan-bred horse to run in the Derby.

R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables’ Vekoma, winner of the 100-point Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) April 6 at Keeneland, drew post 6 and is listed as a 20-1 shot on the morning line.

“I wanted somewhere between five and nine, so six is fine,” said trainer George Weaver. “I must have gotten some hometown love. He should have some tactical speed. (Xpressbet Florida Derby [G1] winner Maximum Security) is right outside of us—they were very forward with that horse so we’ll try to use our tactical speed and get a good spot before the first turn.”

Spinoff is 30-1 and Master Fencer is tied with Gray Magician as the longest shots on the morning line at 50-1.

The draw was conducted by Ben Huffman, vice president of racing and the racing secretary for Churchill Downs, and stakes coordinator Dan Bork.

The parking lot at Ponies & Pints will play host a party in the parking lot on Derby Day.

Entries: Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1)

Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 04, 2019, Race 12

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/4m
  • Dirt
  • $3,000,000
  • 3 yo
  • 6:50 PM (local)
11War of Will (KY)Tyler Gaffalione126Mark E. Casse20/1
22Tax (KY)Junior Alvarado126Danny Gargan20/1
33By My Standards (KY)Gabriel Saez126W. Bret Calhoun20/1
44Gray Magician (KY)Drayden Van Dyke126Peter Miller50/1
55Improbable (KY)Irad Ortiz, Jr.126Bob Baffert6/1
66Vekoma (KY)Javier Castellano126George Weaver20/1
77Maximum Security (KY)Luis Saez126Jason Servis10/1
88Tacitus (KY)Jose L. Ortiz126William I. Mott10/1
99Plus Que Parfait (KY)Ricardo Santana, Jr.126Brendan P. Walsh30/1
1010Cutting Humor (KY)Corey J. Lanerie126Todd A. Pletcher30/1
1111Haikal (KY)Rajiv Maragh126Kiaran P. McLaughlin30/1
1212Omaha Beach (KY)Mike E. Smith126Richard E. Mandella4/1
1313Code of Honor (KY)John R. Velazquez126Claude R. McGaughey III15/1
1414Win Win Win (FL)Julian Pimentel126Michael J. Trombetta15/1
1515Master Fencer (JPN)Julien R. Leparoux126Koichi Tsunoda50/1
1616Game Winner (KY)Joel Rosario126Bob Baffert5/1
1717Roadster (KY)Florent Geroux126Bob Baffert6/1
1818Long Range Toddy (KY)Jon Kenton Court126Steven M. Asmussen30/1
1919Spinoff (KY)Manuel Franco126Todd A. Pletcher30/1
2020Country House (KY)Flavien Prat126William I. Mott30/1
2121Bodexpress (KY)Chris Landeros126Gustavo Delgado30/1
Kentucky Derby May 4, 2019 6:50 PM EDT
1War of WillTyler GaffalioneMark Casse20-1
2TaxJunior AlvaradoDanny Gargan20-1
3By My StandardsGabriel SaezBret Calhoun20-1
4Gray MagicianDrayden Van DykePeter Miller50-1
5ImprobableIrad Ortiz Jr.Bob Baffert6-1
6VekomaJavier CastellanoGeorge Weaver20-1
7Maximum SecurityLuis SaezJason Servis10-1
8TacitusJose OrtizBill Mott10-1
9Plus Que ParfaitRicardo Santana Jr.Brendan Walsh30-1
10Cutting HumorCorey LanerieTodd Pletcher30-1
11HaikalRajiv MaraghKiaran McLaughlin30-1
12Omaha BeachMike SmithRichard Mandella4-1
13Code of HonorJohn VelazquezShug McGaughey15-1
14Win Win WinJulian PimentelMike Trombetta15-1
15Master FencerJulien LeparouxKoichi Tsunoda50-1
16Game WinnerJoel RosarioBob Baffert5-1
17RoadsterFlorent GerouxBob Baffert6-1
18Long Range ToddyJon CourtSteve Asmussen30-1
19SpinoffManny FrancoTodd Pletcher30-1
20Country HouseFlavien PratBill Mott30-1
AEBodexpressChris LanderosGustavo Delgado30-1

Greg Hall, Ron Mitchell, Christine Oser, and Lenny Shulman contributed to this story