We are profiling the top-contenders for the 2019 Kentucky Derby based on pre-race odds as set by book-maker William Hill. These articles will highlight why the featured horse can hit the wire first in the 145th run for the roses.
Our attention starts with likely race-time favorite OMAHA BEACH.
Jockey Mike Smith has spoken. The veteran jockey rode fellow Kentucky Derby qualifier ROADSTER in three of his four lifetime races, including winning the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. Smith was also onboard for OMAHA BEACH’s Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby Ws.
Smith had to make a choice, ride trainer Bob Baffert’s ROADSTER or Richard Mandella’s OMAHA BEACH. Tuned-in horseplayers anxiously waited for the jock’s decision with the understanding the Hall-of-Famer would pick the horse he believed has the better shot to win.
The 53-year-old selected OMAHA BEACH, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his 2018 Triple Crown triumph with JUSTIFY. Jockeys switching horses is an old-school betting angle and one worth watching. It’s said jocks know the horses they ride the best.
Churchill Downs’ oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said Smith’s decision makes OMAHA BEACH the morning-line favorite. Being the favorite at post-time is the place to be. The public’s choice has won every Kentucky Derby since the point qualifying system was implemented for the 2013 race.