Ricky’s All Eyes on the Sky – 145th Kentucky Derby - DFS Karma
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Ricky’s All Eyes on the Sky – 145th Kentucky Derby

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The greatest two minutes in sports will bring 20 new challengers, bidding for a chance at the Triple Crown.  First, however, they will have to prevail at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.  The post draw came Tuesday at 11am, when owners held their collective breath with each pill pull, hoping their horse would be put in a gate that positions them to win.  We now have a better picture of how the race should play out and which horses will have to exert the most from outside positions at the start.  This is when we can finally say handicapping the race has begun.

But not so fast.

The weather is being watched extra carefully after last year’s super soaker, when Justify completed his first of three wins to capture the Triple Crown.  Currently, reports and weather models are conflicted.  Weather.com is showing 70 degrees with a 70 percent chance of rain in the morning, followed by 50 percent chance of rain in the evening.  If you’re a horse racing fan, you’ll like Accuweather.com’s optimistic forecast.  Its showing 70 degrees, cloudy skies and only a 24 percent chance of rain in the evening.

Post time for the Kentucky Derby is slated for 6:50pm EST.  The field will be running 1-1/4 miles in pursuit of a record setting $3M in purse money.  Below, we will look at a list of the horses, in order of post position with morning line odds set by long time oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.


  1. War of Will, 20-1 (Mark Casse/Tyler Gafflione) [8:3-1-1, $501,569]

War of Will was at the top of many peoples lists as an easy top 5 horse before his prep in Lousiana Derby, where he finished 9th.  His speed figures are also a little low, as he has not topped 100 this year.  When it rains, it pours, as this horse drew the rail position – a very unfavorable spot if you ask most players. Being one of the most heavily raced horses in the derby, there is a lot to prove.  I don’t see it happening for Mark Casse this year. Could complete an exotic, but do not have him winning.


  1. Tax, 20-1 (Danny Gargan/Junior Alvarado) [5:2-2-1, $326,300]

First time with a derby contender, owner Danny Gargan has accepted his draw position. Speaking more than most trainers, he also has a game plan with his horse.  Either he wants to follow War of Will along the rail, or he has instructed his jockey to go in front of War of Will and ride the rail.  Tax, known for his stalking nature, is hoping for a lot of speed to wear down the pacesetter and chasers, so he can stalk and be there at the finish. No better than 3rd place, in a perfect scenario. Likely toss, unless your plan is to spend money on a deep exotic.


  1. By My Standards, 20-1 (Bret Calhoun/Gabriel Saez) [5:2-2-1, $653,710]

By My Standards shocked everyone when he won the Lousiana Derby.  There is a lot left to be desired when watching this horse.  However, experts are saying to watch out for this horse to shock again.  Im not so sure about that.  Unless playing with a large bank roll, id stay away from this horse doing any better than third place.


  1. Gray Magician, 50-1 (Peter Miller/Drayden Van Dyke) [8:1-3-2, $584,140]

Gaining his points to the derby from a second place Dubai finish, this horse will likely be 19th or 20th in both price and finishing in the derby.  One thing this horse has going for him is that the distance of the derby should not be a problem.  He just hasn’t had any real competition and the derby isn’t the place to go and get it. Completely eliminate this horse from all bets.


  1. Improbable, 6-1 (Bob Baffert/Irad Ortiz Jr.) [5: 3-2-0, $619,520]

One of three Baffert horses to vie for the roses, this was the horse least likely to finish atop.  But that was before the draw.  Things have changed, as this is Bafferts best post position and opens up at 6/1 morning line odds.  In two starts this year, he has finished second both times, but not without excuse.  In his Arkansas Derby prep, weather did not cooperate, he ran a miserable race, and still came second to Omaha Beach.  I believe this horse could possibly win the derby, if the track is damp at worst. Able to win the derby.  Must use on top for all exotics.

  1. Vekoma, 20-1 (George Weaver/Javier Castellano) [4:3-0-1, $788,850]

Everyone that has watched this horse run before will always talk about its funny stride.  Make no mistake – it is an awkward run style, but it works.  Vekoma is a speed horse, and he will look to have a better shot at contesting on dry conditions.  Will his run style hold up at the distance is the question that is yet to be answered.  Using on the bottom of exotics.


  1. Maximum Security, 10-1 (Jason Servis/Luis Saez) [4:4-0-0, $649,400]

The biggest question mark of the race is sitting in Justify’s post position.  Maximum Security is unbeaten lifetime but has many doubters.  Among the biggest criticism is the slow pace of his prep race in Florida.  The slow fractions are staggering, however no other horses came up to challenge. I’m under the belief that he has gears that haven’t been asked.  When you look to races before the derby, he has won by 9, 7 and 18 lengths.  One of those races was in sloppy conditions.  Maximum Security is more likely than not to be the pace setter.  A question that hasn’t been answered, can he go the distance with the best of the best challenging him. Win contender.  This could be a very nice price horse if he wins, or it will go very poorly and he will finish in the back.  The horse has not given any reason to doubt him and I wont start now.


  1. Tacitus, 10-1 (Bill Mott/Jose Ortiz) [4:3-0-0, $653,000]

Position 8 has produced the second most Kentucky Derby winners since 1930. I’m in love with this position for one of my other favorite horses.  With two wins this year in weaker stakes company, Tacitus showed us he can win on the rail, as well as overcoming some adversary. Making a case for Tacitus not to be on the board is hard, which is why I caution anyone that tosses him. Win contender.  Should hit the board, with idea conditions.


  1. Plus Que Parfait, 30-1 (Brendan Walsh/Ricardo Santana Jr.) [7:2-1-2, $1,590,400]

Plus Que Parfait got into the derby by winning the Dubai Derby.  Almost everything else up to that point has been sort of ‘meh.’  I don’t believe that we will be talking about this horse Saturday night.  Toss, unless youre using a large bankroll.  In that case, 4th or worse.


  1. Cutting Humor, 30-1 (Todd Pletcher/Corey Lanerie) [6:2-2-1, $516,967]

Cutting Humor managed to win the Sunland Derby to get his points.  This is a horse that will look lost in the derby field.  I believe he can run the distance, but not as fast as the rest of the field.  Look for him to pass exhausted horses near the tail end of the pack. Toss – Overmatched in this field and brings no special talent.

  1. Haikal, 30-1 (Kiaran McLaughlin/Rajiv Maragh) [5:3-1-1, $373,900]

The morning line price sent on Haikal is very puzzling.  This horse has the ability to shock America, as a great closer.  He lost to two other derby contenders in Tacitus and Tax, and is unproven at the distance.  If trained properly, I could see Haikal completing your exotics. Probably wont win, but 2ND through 4th is a possibility, at a bomber price.

  1. Omaha Beach, 4-1 (Richard Mandella/Mike Smith) [7:3-3-1, $1,121,800] (SCRATCHED DUE TO INJURY)

Omaha Beach is your ML favorite, and for good reason.  Mike Smith had the option to ride Roadster for Baffert or Beach for Mandella.  Picking Omaha Beach, it became clear that Smith – a hall of fame jockey – thought more of this horse.  On a sloppy track, Beach held off Improbable in the Arkansas Derby, cementing himself as a true contender.  I look to Beach to be off the pace, and force Maximum Security to run quicker than he would want to.  This is the matchup I am looking forward to, and hope it plays out this way.  Omaha Beach is a win contender, and should be used for most players. However value could become cloudy if too many options are used.  I think Beach will not be in the winners circle when its all said and done.


  1. Code of Honor, 15-1 (Shug McGaughey/John Velazquez) [5:2-1-1, $478,820]

Too many excuses being made why Code of Honor wasn’t a factor in the Florida Derby winners circle.  I think the horse just isn’t actually that good.  I project his price to go up as the race nears.  If this horse does anything at all, it wont be enough Derby day. Exotic contender, if that.


  1. Win Win Win, 15-1 (Michael Trombetta/Julian Pimentel) [6:3-2-1, $367,300]

Win3 is an interesting horse, with even more interesting workouts.  Looking like a prep race, Win Win Win emerged victorious during workouts with a few other derby horses earlier this week.  A closer by nature, this horse should have no problem with the distance, as well as factoring into the final picture.  Distance should only make this horse better and we may have a long shot price with a possible win. Win not likely – but not ruled out.  More likely would be 2nd on. Must use in your exotics.


  1. Master Fencer, 50-1 (Koichi Tsunoda/Julien Leparoux) [6:2-2-0, $234,392]

I wish I could tell you more about this horse from Japan, but im not versed in Japanese racing.  I have looked at his races and found that the competition cant be matched to American horses.  I think if this horse hits the board at all, it would be one of the biggest surprises of all time, based on losing to the weaker competition.  Toss, avoid, don’t use!


  1. Game Winner, 5-1 (Bob Baffert/Joel Rosario) [6:4-2-0, $1,846,000]

Game Winner will probably be your second favorite when the race starts.  However, he has lost both of his 3 year old starts.  Omaha Beach BARELY held on to beat Game Winner, and his next race he was passed by stablemate Roadster.  GW did not need the points, and Roadster did, which has some people wondering if that was planned a head of time.  Gate 16 is not ideal, but worse positions have won the race. Win contender.  Should be used all over in exotics.


  1. Roadster, 6-1 (Bob Baffert/Florent Geroux) [4:3-0-1, $706,200]

An absolute devastating draw for Roadster. Much will be said about a horse NEVER wining from post 17, but Roadster was dubbed “The Next Justify” by his trainer, so nothing is impossible.  As a two year old, he finished 3rd behind Game Winner.  He was diagnosed with a breathing issue and had throat surgery.  As a 3 year old, he won all 3 races – including that controversial win over Game Winner – and looked like a new horse. Win Contender.  Besides a bad position, if this horse wants to live up to his nickname, he should put on one hell of a show.


  1. Long Range Toddy, 30-1 (Steve Asmussen/Jon Court) [8:4-1-1, $854,459]

LRT had the trip of a lifetime against Improbable to win in Arkansas.  Months later, Toddy lost to Omaha and Improbable in the Arkansas Derby.  He has mud in his veins, so I think a wet track would help him, but with all the other talent, I don’t think we’ll see him in the trifecta. If using him at all, he should be higher than 3rd.


  1. Spinoff, 30-1 (Todd Pletcher/Manny Franco) [4:2-1-1, $260,000]

Spinoff has 4 starts in his career and came 2-1-1.  His workouts look okay, but I just cant foresee a scenario where this horse wins.  When you bet superfectas, everyone knows any horse can come fourth, but even this horse seems like a long shot.  Manny Franco is used to riding long shots and has had success on them. Small bankrolls – Toss.  Large bankrolls – “Anything can happen”


  1. Country House, 30-1 (Bill Mott/Flavien Prat) [6:1-2-1, $260,175]

I was hoping this horse would get the 20 hole.  I don’t think there’s anything that this horse will be able to do against the derby, but has been known to dabble in 2nd or 3rd and ruin some races accidentally.  Being this far out, I will be throwing him away as I don’t see a scenario that a horse like this will be able to factor. Toss.

My derby bets will look like the following: [based on Fast conditions – things will change if its slop]

$25 Straight Win bets – 5, 7, 8, 16 = $100.00
$2 Exacta – 5,7,8,16/5,7,8,11,12,14,16,17 = $56.00
$0.50 Trifecta – 5,7,8,16,17/5,7,8,14,16,17/5,6,7,8,11,12,14,16,17 = $87.50
$0.10 Superfecta – 5,7,8,16,17/5,7,8,14,16,17/5,7,8,12,14,16,17/1,2,5,6,7,8,11,12,14,16,17,18 = $112.50


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