The 2019 Kentucky Derby field is down to 19 after Gotham Stakes winner and double-digit longshot Haikal scratched from the race on Friday morning with a foot abscess. He's the second horse to withdraw from Saturday's 2019 Kentucky Derby, as Omaha Beach, the morning-line favorite, scratched on Wednesday with a breathing issue. This will be the first time since 2015 that the Run for the Roses will have less than a full field of 20. The latest 2019 Kentucky Derby weather is calling for a soggy day at Churchill Downs, with rain chances over 70 percent ahead of the 6:46 p.m. ET post time. Three horses trained by Bob Baffert are among the top favorites: Game Winner (6-1), Improbable (5-1) and Roadster (9-1). However, the overall favorite is Maximum Security, who's listed at 9-2 in the current 2019 Kentucky Derby odds after fetching 10-1 on the morning line. With weather playing a factor in horse racing's most prestigious event, you'll want to hear what SportsLine's Jody Demling has to say before entering any 2019 Kentucky Derby picks and predictions of your own.
A fixture in the horse racing world who has been writing about, talking about and betting on races for years, Demling comes into the Kentucky Derby 2019 on a mind-blowing streak: He has hit the Derby-Oaks double at Churchill Downs nine of the last ten years. That means he held a ticket with the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks nine times in the last decade.
The Derby is just part of a highly successful betting career for Demling, who also nailed his ninth Preakness winner in 14 years at Pimlico last May. He followed that up by predicting Justify's groundbreaking victory in the Belmont Stakes, as well as calling the winners of the Haskell Invitational, Pennsylvania Derby and Lecomte Stakes, just to name a few. He also hit last year's Arkansas Derby and Louisiana Derby.
Demling nailed the superfecta at this year's Pegasus World Cup for a $678 payout on a $1 bet. He also hit the superfecta at the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and picked the winner of the Risen Star Stakes in February, War of Will. He also hit the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta at this year's Arkansas Derby, the final Kentucky Derby prep race. Anyone who has followed him is up huge.
Now, with the 2019 Kentucky Derby lineup set, Demling is sharing his picks at SportsLine. We can tell you he wants no part of Roadster, one of the top Vegas favorites at 9-1 Kentucky Derby odds. In fact, he says Roadster doesn't even crack the top five. Though the Baffert trainee is coming off a gutsy half-length win in the Santa Anita Derby over stablemate Game Winner, Roadster ran 38 feet less than Game Winner, who was wide on both turns. On Tuesday, Roadster drew post No. 17 for the Derby, which could lead to a much wider trip than the one he had at Santa Anita. That could spell danger for anyone choosing to pay the 9-1 premium he's commanding.
In addition, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith passed on the opportunity to ride Roadster in the Kentucky Derby to jump on Omaha Beach. Smith will be replaced by Florent Geroux, who will be riding Roadster for the first time.
Instead, Demling is high on War of Will, a long shot at 17-1. War of Will vaulted to near the top of early-season Kentucky Derby 2019 rankings after winning the Lecomte Stakes and Risen Star Stakes in New Orleans. In his next race, the Louisiana Derby, he stumbled out of the starting gates and finished ninth. Since then, however, the horse has trained brilliantly, and trainer Mark Casse says War of Will is all systems go. Following this week's post draw, he told reporters, "Our horse is really on his game, so he'll come away from the inside post running."
The scratch of Haikal helps War of Will. He'll now leave from post No. 2 instead of the dreaded post No. 1, which often is the victim of the crush of horses from the outside moving to the rail trying to save ground. Even though no horse has won from the No. 2 post since 1978, the extra room between War of Will and the rail will make a major difference.
Demling is especially high on a monumental long shot that would net any backer a colossal windfall. Demling is sharing which horse it is, along with his entire projected leaderboard, over at SportsLine.
Which horse wins the Kentucky Derby? And what huge long shot does Demling say contends? Check out the latest Kentucky Derby odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Demling's picks for the Kentucky Derby.
Maximum Security 9-2
Game Winner 6-1
Code of Honor 12-1
By My Standards 15-1
Win Win Win 15-1
War of Will 17-1
Cutting Humor 25-1
Gray Magician 31-1
Long Range Toddy 49-1
Master Fencer 50-1
Plus Que Parfait 55-1
Country House 64-1