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Kentucky Derby Sleepers: Looking for Live Longshots

Picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby is easy right? Just select the favorite and then after the two most exciting minutes in sports just go cash your tickets.

That strategy has worked six years in a row, starting with Orb in 2013, who returned $12.80 for a $2 win wager, and including last year where Justify got the job done as the favorite, returning his backers $7.80.

Bet on the 2019 Kentucky Derby here!

What the heck is happening?

From 2005 until 2012 the average win mutual was $41, and we had two upset winners that paid over $100—Giacomo ($102.60) in 2005 and Mine That Bird ($103.20) in 2009.

This year Game Winner is the 9-2 morning line favorite after the scratch of Omaha Beach on Wednesday.

The Bob Baffert trainee is the real deal, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last year, leading to him winning the Eclipse Award for top juvenile of 2018.He has lost both of his starts this year, but put in solid efforts in runner up finishes.

He is a logical favorite but has to deal with two of his stablemates that both have solid credentials, Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster and Arkansas Derby (G1) runner up Improbable. They are the co-second choices on the morning line at 5-1.

Yes, Hall of fame Trainer Bob Baffert, who has saddled the Triple Crown winner in two of the past four years will be sending out the top three betting choices in the race. It will be the first time in the history of the Kentucky Derby a trainer has had the three betting choices.

That is a lot of firepower for one barn and makes it just a little less likely a longshot is going to win this year’s edition.

However, they still have to run the race. On Kentucky Oaks Day, we saw the champion juvenile turf filly of 2018 Newspaperofrecord go down to defeat at odds of 1-5 in the Edgewood (G3).

So, let’s look for three Derby longshots that might have a chance to be in the hunt when they come into the stretch under the Twin Spires on Saturday evening:

Tacitus (8-1)

Tacitus is coming off a good looking win in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct going nine furlongs, He started off his three-year-old campaign by winning the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). He broke his maiden over a wet track and has a solid off track pedigree. He is by Tapit and the first foal to race out of the stakes winner Close Hatches, a multiple Grade 1 winner who earned $2.7 million and was the champion older female in 2014. 

The colt is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who has not had any success in the Derby (0 for 8, the best finish with Hofburg last year (seventh). The Wood has not been a productive race over the past 15 years or so. We have to go back to Funny Cide in 2003 to find the last Derby winner to prep there. Overall 20 Derby winners used the Wood as a prep. The colt looks as if he still has some upside and should get a good trip sitting mid pack with a perfect post.

Code of Honor (12-1)

Code of Honor is trained by Shug McGaughey who won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb in the slop. I have liked this colt since his runner up finish in the Champagne (G1) last year in his second career start. He failed to fire in the Mucho Macho Man in his three-year-old debut, checking in fourth, and bounced back with a smart win in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at 9-1.

Last out in the Florida Derby (G1) he was bumped coming out of the gate, raced near the back of the pack behind a dawdling pace and made up some ground late. He needs pace and may not get it, but I am confident jockey John Velazquez will get this guy close enough that he will have an impact late.

Spinoff (30-1)

Trained by Todd Pletcher who has two Derby wins under his belt (Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017), this colt is lightly raced and flying under the radar. He was third in the Saratoga Special (G2) last summer at Saratoga and has put in two impressive efforts this year. He rolled over first-level allowance company by 11 ¾ lengths at Tampa Bay Downs off a six-month layoff. Then he made his stakes debut in the Louisiana Derby (G2) where he tracked the early pace, took over the lead heading for home but got run down by By My Standards. He is bred to like a wet track and is going to be a big price. The outside post is not ideal, but he has enough tactical speed to be in the mix early.

Handicapper Michael Dempsey will be covering the Triple Crown for OddsShark and his full card reports with selections, analysis, fair odds line and wagering recommendations for major tracks can be found daily at turfnsport.com.

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