2019 Kentucky Derby Need-to-Know Guide + Field Preview

California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Flickr/Bill Brine/CC Photo.

Here’s the ultimate quick guide to the 2019 Kentucky Derby field — because as the resident horse person, we know you’ll get grilled at your Derby party for the inside scoop.

“The fastest two minutes in sports” goes off on Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and as always, the field is full of intrigue, favorites and long shots. Headed to a Derby party? Want to fill up on trivia about the 20 horses entered in this year’s race? We’ve got the quick and dirty crib sheet that will give you the rundown on the field — make sure you vote in our poll for who you think will win this year!

If you’re really serious about picking based on workouts and form, click here to watch a playlist of Derby workout videos. Odds listed are morning line as of press time.

All the 2019 Derby Links You Need: 

Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

When: Saturday, May 4

Post time: 6:50 PM

Purse: $2 million

Distance: One mile and a quarter over dirt

How to watch: NBC will have televised broadcast starting at 2:30 PM EST on race day. Live stream is available via NBC Sports Live Extra, but a cable subscription is required. Twinspires.com will stream the race; an account is required.

Stats: For details about each horse, including racing history, pedigree, post position and photos, check out KentuckyDerby.com. For the quick and dirty guide, check out our field preview (and vote in our poll!)

Picks worth pondering: Washington PostNew York TimesChicago TribuneSports Illustrated

Online betting: If you’re looking to up the ante, a variety of online betting sites are at your service. We recommend Twinspires.com for ease of use – it has all the bells and whistles for experienced bettors, but it’s simple enough for novices to use as well. Brisnet.comis another useful resource. Gamble responsibly.

…plus one you don’t.

The Field 


Post Position 1: War of Will (20-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by War Front bred by Flaxman Holdings Limited
Owned by Gary Barber
Trained by Mark Casse
Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 LeComte Stakes and G2 Risen Star Stakes

War of Will has experience running on both turf and dirt; his sire War Front has developed a reputation for siring great turf runners but if War of Will’s performances in the LeComte and Risen Star are any indicator, he’s certainly not limited to just the grass! War of Will took some strange steps in his most recent performance, a distant ninth in the Louisiana Derby, but the colt seems to be back on form.

Post Position 2: Tax (20-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred gelding by Arch bred by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider
Owned by R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Lynch, Hugh and Corms Racing Stable
Trained by Danny Gargan
Ridden by Junior Alvarado
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Withers Stakes, second in the G2 Wood Memorial, third in the G2 Remsen Stakes

Tax showed improvement, moving up from a third in the Remsen to win the Withers Stakes. Aqueduct winners haven’t traditionally fared terribly well in the Kentucky Derby, with most of the recent winners taking southern routes to the first Saturday in May.

Post Position 3: By My Standards (20-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Goldencents bred by Don Ladd
Owned by Allied Racing Stable, LLC
Trained by W. Bret Calhoun
Ridden by Gabriel Saez
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Louisiana Derby

By My Standards was an upset winner in the Louisiana Derby, going off at 22-1. This was the colt’s only stakes race of his career so far, having only broken his maiden one start prior in his fourth career race. Stranger things have happened at the Derby, however — By My Standards might be an interesting pick if he’s peaking at the right time.

Post Position 4: Gray Magician (50-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Graydar bred by Twin Creeks Farm
Owned by Wachtel Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber
Trained by Peter Miller
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke
Claims to fame: second in the G2 UAE Derby

The globe-trotting Gray Magician hasn’t won a stakes race in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, and only broke his maiden in his fourth career start at the end of 2018 at Del Mar. He’s certainly been coast to coast AND to Dubai, but has yet to claim his big score. He’ll be a long shot on Saturday.

Post Position 5: Improbable (6-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by City Zip bred by St. George Farm LLC and G. Watts Humphrey Jr.
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. and Starlight Racing
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, second in the G2 Rebel Stakes and G1 Arkansas Derby

With Bob Baffert in his corner, plus the same combination of owners as last year’s Triple Crown winner Justify, it’s hard not to see a lot of appeal with Improbable (he even looks a little bit like Justify too, at a glance). The colt had two strong second-place finishes on his road to the Kentucky Derby and if he’s peaked at the right time, he should be a serious contender.

Post Position 6: Vekoma (20-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride (ARG) bred by Alpha Delta Stables, LLC
Owned by R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables
Trained by George Weaver
Ridden by Javier Castellano
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes

The lightly-raced Vekoma has never placed lower than third — and his other three races have ended in wins. Whether or not he has the class and depth of experience to take on the rest of a strong field remains to be seen, however.

Post Position 7: Maximum Security (10-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by New Year’s Day bred by Gary and Mary West Stables
Owned by Gary and Mary West
Trained by Jason Servis
Ridden by Luis Saez
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Florida Derby

Maximum Security rocketed to fame quickly: he has a perfect four-for-four record, but made his leap from the claiming ranks to the Florida Derby with shocking ease. Can he keep the streak going in the Kentucky Derby, or will that fairy tale come to an end?

Post Position 8: Tacitus (10-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Tapit bred by Juddmonte Farms Inc
Owned by Juddmonte Farms
Trained by Bill Mott
Ridden by Jose Ortiz
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and G2 Wood Memorial

Tacitus’ sire Tapit has certainly established himself as a breed shaper in recent years, so many are expecting great things from Tacitus. He’s certainly proven some ability with two wins on the road to the Kentucky Derby both in Florida and in New York, and with favorite Omaha Beach out of the running, Tacitus’ stock is rising.

Post Position 9: Plus Que Parfait (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred ridgeling by Point of Entry bred by Calloway Stables, LLC
Owned by Imperial Racing, LLC
Trained by Brendan Walsh
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 UAE Derby, second in the Fleur de Lis

With limited data to compare, it’s hard to say how UAE Derby winners traditionally fare in the Kentucky Derby with only Mendelssohn to go on — but Plus Que Parfait certainly had great success in Dubai for Derby first-time trainer Brendan Walsh. He’s certainly an interesting long shot.

Post Position 10: Cutting Humor (30-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred colt by First Samurai bred by Dell Hancock and Bernie Sams
Owned by Starlight Racing
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Corey J. Lanerie
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Sunland Park Derby

Cutting Humor does have a stakes victory to his name and the likes of Todd Pletcher on his side. Still, the Kentucky Derby seems like a tall order for this colt who will have his work cut out for him.

Post Position 11: Haikal (30-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Daaher bred by Shadwell Farm, LLC
Owned by Shadwell Stables
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin
Ridden by Rajiv Maragh
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Gotham Stakes and third in the G2 Wood Memorial

Haikal has certainly looked the part in his stakes races at Aqueduct, though the Derby will be his first start outside of his home track. He’s never finished worse than third.

Post Position 12: Omaha Beach

Post Position 13: Code of Honor (15-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Noble Mission bred by W. S. Farish
Owned by W. S. Farish
Trained by Claude R. McGaughey III
Ridden by John Velazquez
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, second in the G1 Champagne Stakes, third in the Florida Derby

Code of Honor has certainly sparkled in the past, but doesn’t look like the most consistent entry. If the winning form of Code of Honor shows up on Derby Day, he may be a contender.

Post Position 14: Win Win Win (15-1)
Dark bay Florida-bred colt by Hat Trick (JPN) bred by Live Oak Stud
Owned by Live Oak Plantation
Trained by Michael J. Trombetta
Ridden by Julian Pimentel
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes, third in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby

Win Win Win has never placed lower than third in his racing career, which includes two graded stakes as well as a listed and a black type. He hasn’t won a graded stakes race and the Derby field may be a tall order.

Post Position 15: Master Fencer (50-1)
Chestnut Japan-bred colt by Just A Way (JPN) bred by Katsumi Yoshizawa
Owned by Katsumi Yoshizawa
Trained by Koichi Tsunoda
Ridden by Julien Leparoux
Claims to fame: Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby

Master Fencer is the Japanese qualifier for the Kentucky Derby, and while he has his work cut out for him to be considered a serious contender, his presence in the field is a positive sign for Japanese racing.

Post Position 16: Game Winner (9-2)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride (ARG) bred by Summer Wind Equine
Owned by Gary and Mary West
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Joel Rosario
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 American Pharoah Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby and G2 Rebel Stakes

The champion two-year-old colt has now been named the favorite after the scratch of Omaha Beach: he was undefeated as a juvenile, and finished a strong second in both of his 2019 starts. With Bob Baffert in his corner, he’s an easy pick as favorite.

Post Position 17: Roadster (6-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Quality Road bred by Stone Farm
Owned by Speedway Stable LLC
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Florent Geroux
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Santa Anita Derby

The Santa Anita Derby has been a stepping stone en route to winning the Kentucky Derby for many recent stars, and Roadster is a strong candidate to follow in those footsteps with all-star connections.

Post Position 18: Long Range Toddy (30-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred colt by Take Charge Indy bred by Willis Horton Racing LLC
Owned by Willis Horton Racing LLC
Trained by Steven Asmussen
Ridden by Jon Court
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Rebel Stakes, third in the G3 Southwest Stakes

Long Range Toddy put himself on the Derby map with his gritty victory in one split of the Rebel Stakes, defeating some key favorites. Whether or not he peaks at the right time remains to be seen.

Post Position 19: Spinoff (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Hard Spun bred by Wertheimer et Frere
Owned by Wertheimer et Frere
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Manny Franco
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Louisiana Derby

The lightly-raced Spinoff has never placed below third, but he’s never won a graded stake. The Kentucky Derby would be a huge race for this colt.

Post Position 20: Country House (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Lookin At Lucky bred by J. V. Shields Jr.
Owned by Shields, Jr., Mrs. J. V., McFadden, Jr., E. J. M. and LNJ Foxwoods
Trained by Bill Mott
Ridden by Flavien Prat
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Risen Star Stakes and third in the G1 Arkansas Derby

It took Country House three attempts to break his maiden, but he then broke into graded stakes company and ran competitively. He’s still a long shot to win, but he may be a contender.

Post Position 21: Bodexpress (30-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Bodemeister bred by Martha Jane Mulholland
Owned by Top Racing, LLC, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing Stable
Trained by Gustavo Delgado
Ridden by Chris Landeros
Claims to fame: second in the G1 Florida Derby

Bodexpress is winless in five starts — could he finally break his maiden in the biggest race in the nation? That would be quite a feat… but by drawing into the Derby thanks to Omaha Beach’s scratch, Bodexpress has already surpassed expectations.