Breaking down the 7 horses with the best chances of winning the Kentucky Derby

From Game Winner to Tacitus to Win Win Win, the field at the Kentucky Derby is more wide open than it has been in years.

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From Game Winner to Tacitus to Win Win Win, the field at the Kentucky Derby is more wide open than it has been in years.
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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

  • On Saturday, 20 horses will step into the gates at Churchill Downs for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby.
  • Omaha Beach entered as the early favorite to win but was forced to scratch from the race because of an injury.
  • Below, we go post by post to break down the chance of each of the seven favorites of winning the roses now that Omaha Beach is out.
  • Follow all our Kentucky Derby coverage here.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The 2019 Kentucky Derby field is set.

On Saturday, 20 horses will step into the gates at Churchill Downs, with one winning the Run for the Roses and taking the first step toward Triple Crown immortality.

After the official draw determined the post positions for the 20 horses in the field this year, the morning line was set, and bettors began considering where they’d put their money down before the starting gun on Saturday.

Read more: Kentucky Derby 2019: A beginner’s guide to betting the biggest horse race of the year

On Wednesday, the early favorite, Omaha Beach, was forced to scratch because of an injury. The news came as a shock to racing fans ready to support him, and his absence makes this year’s run at Churchill Downs as open a race as we’ve seen in years.

Read more: The favorite to win the Kentucky Derby was forced to scratch due to injury, completely reshaping the biggest race of the year

While any horse could win on Saturday, seven horses stand out as having the best potential to take home the roses and possibly make a run at the Triple Crown.

Below, we break down the seven favorites of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.


Game Winner

Post position: No. 16

Opening odds: 5-1

Why he can win: Just two horses have ever crossed the finish line before Game Winner, and one of them was Omaha Beach. The other was Roadster, a stablemate who barely edged out Game Winner at the Santa Anita Derby last month. If Game Winner runs his best race on Saturday, there’s no reason he shouldn’t leave with the roses.

Reasons to be wary: Roadster closed strong on Game Winner at the Santa Anita Derby. If Game Winner is forced to keep pace near the front of the pack again, Roadster or another strong closer could take advantage of the extra length of Churchill Downs and catch him at the last moment once again.


Roadster

Post position: No. 17

Opening odds: 6-1

Why he can win: Roadster had already beaten one of the best horses in this field when he outran Game Winner at the Santa Anita Derby and proved in the same race that closing at the Kentucky Derby shouldn’t be a problem, even if he has some ground to catch up heading into the final turn.

Reasons to be wary: Roadster’s strong finish at the Santa Anita Derby was impressive but came in a race that featured just six horses. Even if he has all the closing speed in the world, if Roadster is too far back when he wants to make his move, finding an open lane in a 20-horse field might prove difficult.


Improbable

Post position: No. 5

Opening odds: 6-1

Why he can win: Like Game Winner, Improbable has lost to only two horses in his career, one of which was Omaha Beach. The other was Long Range Toddy, who beat Improbable by a nose with the help of a brilliant ride from jockey Jon Court. In three separate races, Improbable is undefeated, and if he can find a favorable path on Saturday, he’s got the stuff to win.

Reasons to be wary: While some horses are coming into the Kentucky Derby in their best form, Improbable has lost his past two races. Of course, it takes only one great race to flip that script, but there are other horses in the field already trending in the right direction.


Tacitus

Post position: No. 8

Opening odds: 10-1

Why he can win: Tacitus has won his two biggest races by taking advantage of a blistering pace set by the leaders. Biding his time in the middle of the pack, Tacitus has proved extraordinarily adept at picking his spot and shooting for the lead. If the race gets off to a similarly hot start, no horse is better suited to take advantage with a late run.

Reasons to be wary: The horses at Churchill Downs are likely to be a bit more disciplined than in some of Tacitus’ previous races, and he’s not the only strong closer in the bunch. If the moment to break comes and another horse is in a better position, Tacitus’ chance of winning could close in a single stride.


Maximum Security

Post position: No. 7

Opening odds: 10-1

Why he can win: Maximum Security is undefeated, with a knack for taking an early lead and never letting up. He’s shown impressive speed when the open ground is ahead of him and could surprise the field with a quick start.

Reasons to be wary: As a frontrunner, Maximum Security could struggle to find his spot near the front of the pack early in the 20-horse race. It’s unclear how he’ll react when he has to respond to another horse’s pace rather than setting one himself.


Code of Honor

Post position: No. 13

Opening odds: 15-1

Why he can win: Code of Honor is one of the lightest horses in the field, which could play to his advantage if breaking free from the group comes down to moving through a narrow gap. He’s fast enough to hold off some late charges.

Reasons to be wary: The most significant test Code of Honor has faced so far in his racing career came in late March at the Florida Derby, where he finished well behind Maximum Security and Bodexpress. If he couldn’t beat those horses then, he’ll need quite a race to take them – and 17 other contenders – down on Saturday.


Win Win Win

Post position: No. 14

Opening odds: 15-1

Why he can win: It’s in his name, right? Win Win Win has the speed necessary to take home the roses on Saturday and should be comfortable starting near the middle of the pack. If he can find the right line through both turns of the race, he could contend.

Reasons to be wary: Win Win Win has had to recover after tough starts out of the gate in numerous races. While he’s proved capable, it’s tough to do at the Kentucky Derby, where the winning horse is likely to need his best race. Further, the longer wait time in the gates could wind up leaving Win Win Win ever more anxious to start than in previous races.


More Kentucky Derby 2019 coverage:

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Getty/Patrick Smith

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