The 2019 Kentucky Derby is Wide Open, Meet the Contenders

Posted by Christy Caplan
Kentucky Derby Contenders 2019
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Update: Omaha Beach was scratched because of a breathing problem and out of the race. He'll have surgery in the next few days and then will be sidelined. The horse was diagnosed with epiglottis which is generally not life-threatening.  

Fox News reports,

"Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia revised the morning line to make Game Winner the 9-2 favorite for the 1 1/4-mile race Saturday.

Improbable and Roadster were installed as the co-second choices at 5-1, giving five-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert the top three choices in the 20-horse field."

This is not the first time a favorite had to scratch before the race. In 2009, a favorite had to scratch due to a hot spot on his ankle.

This year's race has the largest-ever guaranteed purse of $3 million, an increase of $1 million from last year. 

Original story, published on April 4, 2019,  follows below. 

What do you think of when you see mint juleps, fedoras, and roses? The Kentucky Derby of course! The 145th Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 4, 2019. Who are the early contenders for the Run of the Roses? We've done our research and compiled a list of the top ten for your reading pleasure. We also included the next race they're in so you can follow along this month.

Fun factThe "Run for the Roses," gets its name because of the prize that is given out to the winner. A gorgeous blanket of 564 red roses is given to the winner of the Kentucky Derby at the end of each race.

The Baltimore Sun tells us to watch the following ten contenders between now and the first Saturday in May.

1. Improbable 

Next race: Arkansas Derby, April 13

2. Game Winner

Game Winner
Horse Photos

Next race: Santa Anita Derby, April 6

We've been watching the news coming out of Santa Anita Park after the rise in horse deaths. Read more about the latest and PETA's statement. 

3. Omaha Beach

Next race: Arkansas Derby, April 13

4. Code of Honor

Last race: Came in third at the Florida Derby on March 30

5. Long Range Toddy

Next race: Arkansas Derby, April 13

6. By My Standards

Next race: Kentucky Derby, May 4

7. Tacitus

Next race: Wood Memorial or Blue Grass Stakes, April 6

8. Bourbon War

Last race: Came in fourth at the Florida Derby on March 30

9. Spinoff

Next race: Kentucky Derby, May 4

10. Roadster

Next race: Santa Anita Derby, April 6

We are huge fans of horse racing here at Wide Open Pets. We hope this list helps you with Kentucky Derby prep before you head out to watch the race at Churchill Downs on May 4!

There are many races to keep you busy between now and then including Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, Santa Anita Derby, Lexington, and the Arkansas Derby.

We will continue to keep you posted on who's hot and who's not. Trainer Bob Baffert has two leading contenders. Baffert's contender, Game Winner, the most accomplished 3-year-old in the class after his victory in the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile is on our list.

Other fun facts from the Baltimore Sun story?

  • Code of Honor won the March 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes after a poor showing in his first race of 2019.
  • Trainer Todd Pletcher has never feared bringing inexperienced contenders to the big stage (Spinoff).
  • Bourbon War's trainer, Mark Hennig, has been a consistent winner but has never broken through on the Triple Crown stage.
  • Trainer, Bill Mott, is another Hall of Fame selection seeking his first Derby win with Tacitus. Tacitus won the March 9 Tampa Bay Derby!
  • Omaha Beach will get a shot at Improbable in his final prep race, and if he wins he would have a strong claim to go off as the favorite at Churchill Downs.
  • By My Standards existed on the periphery of the Derby discussion before surging to victory in the March 23 Louisiana Derby
  • There are a number of Kentucky Derby prep races coming up so follow the schedule and don't miss out!
  • The day before Derby each year is the Kentucky Oaks, a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies staged annually in Louisville, Kentucky

One horse you should also watch, trained by Jason Servis, is Maximum Security as he won the Florida Derby.

We'll see you at the starting gate in Louisville!

Other races to have on your radar? The Belmont Stakes and Preakness. Why are these important? The Triple Crown is a title awarded to a three-year-old Thoroughbred horse who wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. A.k.a. the triple crown winner.

Do you have a favorite to win? Please leave us a comment below!

WATCH NOW: The Lollipop Was Named After a Racehorse

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The 2019 Kentucky Derby is Wide Open, Meet the Contenders