(Omaha Beach winning the Arkansas Derby is HRN’s ML Favorite / Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

By Jonathan Lintner, HorseRacingNation:

Horse Racing Nation releases early Kentucky Derby morning line
Given back-to-back prep wins by Omaha Beach, along with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith’s decision to ride him in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the Richard Mandella trainee safely projects as the morning line favorite for the May 4 race at Churchill Downs.
That’s according to HorseRacingNation.com co-founder Mark Midland, who on Wednesday listed early odds with the Arkansas Derby (G1) hero the top choice at 9-2.
“Obviously, the Mike Smith decision was huge,” said Midland, who in 1999 created Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager. “Were he to ride Roadster, that might have created more momentum for that runner.”
Instead, Roadster, the Bob Baffert trainee who won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his most-recent start, is Midland’s projected 5-1 second choice with Tacitus, the Wood Memorial (G1) victor, third on the board at 6-1.
The trio has in common something most in the Kentucky Derby field don’t: two straight wins entering the Run for the Roses. Following a tumultuous prep season for favorites, this year’s race is viewed as fairly wide open and could challenge the 6.3-1 record set by Lookin At Lucky in 2010 as the Derby’s highest-priced parimutuel favorite.
Behind the top choices, Game Winner (8-1), Improbable (10-1) and Maximum Security (10-1) are next on the HorseRacingNation.com list.
“Baffert’s other two runners, Game Winner and Improbable, are drifting up in price after consecutive losses,” Midland said. “However, both have won over the Churchill Downs track.
“Maximum Security, the Florida Derby winner, is a former claimer and still considered a longshot by many,” Midland added. “But the feeling is he will receive consistent support due to his undefeated record, powerful victory and perhaps a lack of other pace in the Derby.”
Longtime odds maker Mike Battaglia will set the official morning line when Derby post positions are drawn. Of course, the prices are a prediction of how the public will wager, and that’s no simple task when working with a 20-horse field.
You only have to go back to last year and 30-1 morning line longshot My Boy Jack, who went off as the Derby’s 6.7-1 second choice behind Justify, for evidence.
“While sometimes Derby odds seem to defy logic,” Midland said, “often the odds and pecking order follow common sense.”


 Early Kentucky Derby Odds
 Horse  Morning Line
 Omaha Beach  9-2
 Roadster  5-1
 Tacitus  6-1
 Game Winner  8-1
 Improbable  10-1
 Maximum Security  10-1
 Code of Honor  15-1
 Vekoma  15-1
 By My Standards  20-1
 War of Will  20-1
 Country House  30-1
 Cutting Humor  30-1
 Haikal  30-1
 Long Range Toddy  30-1
 Tax  30-1
 Spinoff  30-1
 Win Win Win  30-1
 Gray Magician  50-1
 Master Fencer  50-1
 Plus Que Parfait  50-1