Welcome to Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Daily, which will each day leading up to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs detail all the news and notes related to contenders in one convenient space.
Jon White, odds maker for Santa Anita Park, has every reason to favor the California-based contenders atop his weekly ballot for the 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll. And rightly so, this week the Rebel Stakes (G2) winner Omaha Beach sat No. 1, just ahead of the close runner-up, Game Winner.
“No doubt many are going to scoff at Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby — just as many did in the Florida Derby — but do so at your own peril,” White said. “He’s one fast racehorse who succeeded at the longer Florida Derby trip and just might also prove to be a tough customer in the even longer Kentucky Derby in a year in which nobody has been running all that fast.”
The front-running Jason Servis trainee received two No. 1 votes, from Paulick Report editor Scott Jagow and Joe Kristufek, analyst at Churchill Downs. Overall, the Gary and Mary West homebred son of New Year’s Day came in at No. 5 in the consensus rankings.
Not bad for a former $16,000 claimer, as has been often noted, who went on to win a pair of starter allowance races with ease before taking the step up in class. Maximum Security will enter the Kentucky Derby 4-for-4.
“I doubt Maximum Security will survive on top of my poll after next weekend,” Jagow wrote, with the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2) all coming up Saturday, “but I have him there for now in this wild and crazy Derby season.
“Why not? While his Florida Derby win was pace-aided, he’s unbeaten and repelled a couple of current Derby favorites in one of the most relevant Grade 1 preps.”
Mike Shutty, another voter, and the mind behind Horse Racing Nation’s Super Screener handicapping, supplied some numbers to back up voting Maximum Security fifth this week.
“Take a look at American Pharoah and Always Dreaming’s BRIS Running Lines in their penultimate preps leading up to their Derby win which featured very slow pace set ups,” Shutty said.
American Pharoah E1 = 82; E2 = 85; LP = 109 Final Speed Rating = 99
Always Dreaming E1 = 58; E2 = 54; LP = 112 Final Speed Rating = 84
And now, Maximum Security in the Florida Derby:
Maximum Security E1 = 71; E2 = 77; LP = 123 Final Speed Rating = 102
“I think the winner of the this year’s Kentucky Derby goes through California,” Shutty said, “but given how wide open this year’s field appears to be at this juncture, Maximum Security is firmly in the contender mix off that Florida Derby effort.”
• The overall story of the Derby Media Poll is one of chaos and voters seeking clarity. See more of their comments and the full Top 20 released Monday.
• With some thoughts from trainer Bill Mott, HRN’s Brian Zipse talks Tacitus, the Wood Memorial contender who could represent the Hall of Famer’s ace in the hole.
• In Derby trail news of the day, the Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman reports Bob Baffert-trained Dessman could try the Wood Memorial as well.
• In another move, this one more expected, trainer Michael Trombetta has booked the one-turn stakes hero Win Win Win for a trip to Keeneland.
In case you missed it…
Sunday’s Derby Daily report listed early probables for this weekend’s preps, with Game Winner’s the Santa Anita Derby the headline event.