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Everything you need to know about 2019 Kentucky Derby

Posted at 2:31 PM, May 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-04 19:01:01-04

 

Update –  Maximum Security is the winner of the 145th Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby is a few hours away. Gamblers and horse-racing fans alike are getting prepared. This year’s field features 20 horses who will be competing for a largest-ever guaranteed purse of $3 million, an increase of $1 million from last year.

One variable to keep on eye on this Saturday is the weather. The rain has been a factor in the previous two years, rating the track at Churchill Downs as both “sloppy” and “muddy.” The grass track at Churchill Downs is currently rated as fast.

According to the National Weather Service, light to moderate rain is expected to move northeast this morning. Light rain showers are expected to move through the Louisville area through noon today. While rain may taper off before post-time, the wet weather and previous races may slow down horses for the Running of the Roses feature.

Rain has fallen on Derby day 68 times over its past 144 runnings. With over three inches of rainfall on race day, last year’s was the wettest-ever in Kentucky Derby history.

The warmest temperature ever recorded for the Kentucky Derby was 94 degrees in 1959, according to the National Weather Service. The coldest was 36 degrees in 1940 and 1957.

One shocker coming into the race is that the favorite, Omaha Beach, a powerful horse who has won three straight races and entered with pool-best odds of 4-1, has dropped out. The horse reportedly was scratched due to a breathing problem. Game Winner is now the new favorite, with recent odds giving the horse a pool best 5-1 chance of victory. On the other end of the spectrum, a long-shot making waves before the big race is Tacitus, who comes in at 10-1. Tacitus won the Tampa Bay Derby and the Wood Memorial in his last two starts and could be the classic underdog carried forward with big momentum.

One group of horses to keep an eye on are the trio of Improbable, Roadster and Game Winner, all trained by the legendary Bob Baffert, winner of the 2018 Triple Crown with Justify and the 2015 Triple Crown with American Pharoah. This year Baffert looks to win a record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby, which would match “Plain” Ben Jones, winner of six Derby races between 1938 and 1952.

That said, this may very well be Game Winner’s race to lose. In each of the past six years, the horse who broke from the gate with the shortest odds ended up winning the Kentucky Derby. Known as the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports, the Derby track measures 1 and ¼ miles, making it the second-longest of the Triple Crown races.