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Kentucky Derby predictions: Experts offer advice on who will win Saturday’s big race

The Herald-Leader asked several horse racing aficionados to handicap Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Morning-line favorite Omaha Beach was looking like a popular choice before Wednesday’s announcement that he would be scratched from the race. So, who is everyone going with now?

Here are our experts’ predictions:

John Clay

Herald-Leader

Win: Roadster

Place: Game Winner

Show: War of Will

Comment: Roadster’s pure talent will make the difference.

Jared Peck

Herald-Leader

Win: Maximum Security

Place: Roadster

Show: Cutting Humor

Comment: Jason Servis’ colt has a win in the mud and maybe some gears he hasn’t even shown yet.

Ben Roberts

Herald-Leader

Win: Maximum Security

Place: Game Winner

Show: Improbable

Comment: With Omaha Beach out, I’ll take the speed. Catch him if you can.

Frank Angst

The Blood-Horse

Win: Vekoma

Place: Roadster

Show: Game Winner

Comment: As good as Vekoma has been, I expect a big move forward here. His running style and post position should help him secure an early position in his comfort zone.

Rick Bozich

WDRB

Win: Improbable

Place: Game Winner

Show: Roadster

Comment: I can take a hint: it’s Bob Baffert’s race until he says it isn’t.

Bill Finley

National turf writer

Win: Game Winner

Place: Roadster

Show: Win Win Win

Comment: We still haven’t seen Game Winner’s best race in 2019.

Jason Frakes

Courier Journal

Win: Roadster

Place: Improbable

Show: Tax

Comment: I’m a sucker for a story, and Roadster’s is one of the best — from 2-year-old phenom to throat surgery to qualifying for the Derby in his last chance. He’s not the most touted of Bob Baffert’s trio, but look for him to wear the roses.

Neil Greenberg

Washington Post

Win: Improbable

Place: Win Win Win

Show: Spinoff

Comment: Improbable’s running style sets up well for this race and his second-place finish over a muddy track in the Arkansas Derby resulted in a strong speed figure despite jockey Jose Ortiz having to deal with his horse going five wide at the half-mile marker.

Steve Haskin

The Blood-Horse

Win: Win Win Win

Place: Spinoff

Show: Tax

Comment: With my big horse Omaha Beach out, no strong feelings other than maybe Tacitus or Game Winner, so I’m going with all long shots.

Melissa Hoppert

New York Times

Win: Improbable

Place: Game Winner

Show: Tacitus

Comment: Improbable finished second in the Arkansas Derby on a sloppy track. He also has the same connections as the Triple Crown winner Justify, and lately all they do is win, win, win.

Tom Leach

UK Sports Network/The Leach Report

Win: Maximum Security

Place: Game Winner

Show: Roadster

Comment: No strong opinion this year so give me the only horse with two Beyers of 100-plus.

Marty McGee

Daily Racing Form

Win: Win Win Win

Place: Tacitus

Show: Game Winner

Comment: Imagine all the fun the headline writers are going to have when Win Win Win wins like a winning winner.

Ray Paulick

Paulick Report

Win: Tacitus

Place: Game Winner

Show: Spinoff

Comment: Tacitus is by leading sire Tapit out of champion Close Hatches and has never run a bad race for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who may finally get that elusive Kentucky Derby win.

Jay Privman

Daily Racing Form

Win: Game Winner

Place: Win Win Win

Show: By My Standards

Comment: Thought it was Mandella’s year but Derby still goes to California connections.

Jennie Rees

WAVE-3

Win: By My Standards

Place: Tacitus

Show: Spinoff

Comment: No firm belief once Omaha Beach came out, but By My Standards checks a lot of boxes and is training fabulously.

Kenny Rice

NBC Sports

Win: Game Winner

Place: Roadster

Show: Tacitus

Comment: Game Winner will enjoy the return to Churchill, and Baffert makes his sixth trip to the winner’s circle.

Nicole Russo

Daily Racing Form

Win: Game Winner

Place: War of Will

Show: By My Standards

Comment: Champion Game Winner, who loves Churchill, feels like Occam’s razor; War of Will, who had terrible luck at the draw, and By My Standards have trained sensationally.

Tim Sullivan

Courier Journal

Win: Game Winner

Place: Roadster

Show: Improbable

Comment: In scratching Omaha Beach, Richard Mandella has cleared the way for Bob Baffert’s sixth Derby victory. The tougher call is which of his horses wins.

Mike Watchmaker

Daily Racing Form

Win: Improbable

Place: Tacitus

Show: Game Winner

Comment: Improbable was my Derby horse at the start of the year and I’m sticking with him, especially at what should be generous odds.

Tim Wilkin

Albany Times Union

Win: Roadster

Place: Code of Honor

Show: Game Winner

Comment: His potential comes full circle and gives Baffert No. 6.

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