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2019 Kentucky Derby Preview: Why Maximum Security Is More Than Just A Name

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2019 Kentucky Derby Preview: Why Maximum Security Is More Than Just A Name

Have you ever attended the track with a novice handicapper who bets on a horse's name, when you, the experienced one, studies the program in great detail yet somehow the novice cashes the winning ticket?

Frankly, my 2019 Kentucky Derby pick isn't solely based on its name — Maximum Security — but I have to admit, I really like it.

After two Triple Crown winners in the past four years, there's no obvious outstanding candidate to accomplish that feat. Omaha Beach — the Arkansas Derby winner, which was the route American Pharoah took to the Triple Crown in 2015 — was scratched this week.

Baffert's Bunch

When handicapping the Kentucky Derby, the analysis has to begin with Bob Baffert and his trio of entries. Although those three colts have different owners, the trainer of three entries may be able to engineer a favorable pace for his chosen mount.

Baffert's multiple Grade 1 winners (Roadster, Game Winner and Improbable) will all be at the lower end of the odds spectrum.

Roadster and Game Winner finished first and second, respectively, in a soft six-horse field in the Santa Anita Derby. Game Winner will have to overcome the outside No. 16 post position and will need a perfect trip to be victorious. Improbable, twice beaten by Omaha Beach, will seek redemption in the Derby.

Maximum Security

First of all, he's the only undefeated horse in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Remarkably, he was claimed for the minimum $16,000 in December! His victory would be one for the "little guy" versus the other wealthy owners, who spend millions for their contenders.

More importantly, Maximum Security romped wire-to-wire in the Florida Derby. He set a moderate pace at the start and pulled away from the field in the stretch.

His No. 8 post position sees many of the top contenders outside of him, which may result in their pressing hard to get good position into the first turn, thus providing cover for Maximum Security prior to the long stretch at Churchill Downs (NASDAQ: CHDN).

Finally, there is his jockey, Luis Saez, who has guided many horses to graded stakes victories on different tracks. Saez will be aiming for his first trip to the Winners Circle in the "Run for the Roses." He's been the top jockey at Gulfstream Park over the last few years and in 2018 once saddled seven winners on one card.

Other Contenders

Another Derby prep winner that might fetch attractive odds is Tactius. The colt scored an impressive victory in the Wood Memorial by thundering down the stretch to win from way back. In the grueling 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby, closing speed and stamina are a must.

Blue Grass Stakes winner Vekoma and Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards are worthy longshots. The winner of those two Derby prep races, however, hasn't historically triumphed in the Kentucky Derby.

With an 18-horse field and several able contenders, there should be some juicy payouts for the holders of winning tickets. If not, a Mint Julep isn't a terrible consolation prize.

Photo credit: Bill Brine

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