After Late Charge, Roadster Now Takes Over as Kentucky Derby Favorite

Posted on: April 9, 2019, 01:52h. 

Last updated on: April 9, 2019, 02:06h.

Three-quarters of a mile into Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby, Roadster looked like his Kentucky Derby hopes were dashed.

Roadster, left, made a late charge to surpass Game Winner in the final few strides and win Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. With the win, Roadster replaced the colt, both of whom are trained by Bob Baffert, to become the favorite in Kentucky Derby futures betting. (Image: Benoit Photo/AP)

The Bob Baffert-trained colt, who missed five months of racing while recovering from throat surgery, fell to last in the six-horse stakes race. Then, in that instance, something happened.

Jockey Mike Smith called upon the colt to start his rally as they entered the second turn, still several lengths behind the leading pack. However, Roadster found another gear as he chased down Game Winner, another Baffert horse, to win the Santa Anita Derby by a half-length.

“We got a good break and then we dropped back,” Smith told reporters after the race. “He took a breather, while the others were going out there quick. When I asked him again, he was gone.”

The New Derby Favorite

In just three-eighths of a mile, Roadster went from out of Kentucky Derby to its possible favorite on race day.

On Sunday, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas made Roadster its new Derby futures favorite at 9-2. Improbable and Omaha Beach, who will run in this weekend’s Arkansas Derby, are at 6-1 and 7-1, respectively. Game Winner and Florida Derby winner Maximum Security are at 8-1.

Wood Memorial winner Tacitus is at 10-1. Tacitus, who also won the Gotham, is just one of four horses who have won multiple Derby prep races since last fall.

Churchill Downs finished its final futures pool on Sunday evening, and Roadster closed as its favorite at 6-1. Game Winner and Maximum Security finished at 7-1, with Tacitus and Improbable at 8-1.

Omaha Beach landed at 10-1 in the pool.

Vekoma, who won Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, finished the Churchill Downs pool at 15-1. He’s currently 16-1 at the SuperBook.

The wide-open nature of this year’s prep races will likely mean whoever ends up the favorite on May 4 may still command attractive odds.

Notwithstanding the results of Saturday’s Arkansas Derby,” said Darren Rogers, senior director of communications and media services for Churchill Downs in submitting his Derby poll ballot for Horse Racing Nation. “Lookin At Lucky’s 2010 record as the highest-priced Kentucky Derby favorite (6.30-1) could be in jeopardy. Tremendous betting opportunities loom in less than four weeks.”

Derby Field Taking Shape

Roadster and Vekoma secured their entries into the Kentucky Derby with their stakes wins, earning 100 points apiece. So, too, did Win Win Win with the 40 points he earned for finishing second in the Blue Grass, and Tax, who finished second in the Wood.

Game Winner and Tacitus previously earned enough points to race in the Derby. As have War of Will, Code of Honor, Long Range Toddy, By My Standards, Maximum Security and Plus Que Parfait.

Another horse also earned a berth in the Kentucky Derby over the weekend. Japanese-raced Master Fencer accepted the slot that is guaranteed to a colt who raced in that country’s prep stakes. He finished second in the Fukuryu Stakes on March 31.

Three other colts placed ahead of him in the standings. However, their connections turned down the chance to run at Churchill Downs. That opened the door for owner Katsumi Yoshizawa to accept the invite.

Churchill Downs also will hold a sport in the 20-horse field for the top European horse competing in its prep series. That spot will be decided, if a horse’s connections opt to accept the invite, after the Cardinal Connection Stakes in Great Britain on Thursday.