2019 Kentucky Derby Preview and FAQ
May 2019

Everything You Need To Know About The 2019 Kentucky Derby

by Jen Perkins in Features category

It’s almost time for the fastest two minutes in sports! The 145th Kentucky Derby is quickly approaching on May 4, 2019. Here is everything you need to know to watch, wager and win in this year’s Run for the Roses.

When is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is always held on the first Saturday in May. This year, it will be on Saturday, May 4, 2019.

The Derby is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. There will be a number of excellent stakes races on the card that day, but the Kentucky Derby will be Race 12, with post time at 6:50 pm ET/3:30 pm PT.

How Can I Watch the Kentucky Derby?

You can watch the Kentucky Derby in several ways:

NBC and NBC Sports will have extensive coverage of Churchill Downs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, tune into NBCSN for pre-Derby coverage and live coverage of Thurby, Louisville locals’ favorite night of live racing at Churchill Downs.

Come back on Friday for coverage of the entire Kentucky Oaks card, also on NBCSN.

On Saturday, NBCSN will cover the Kentucky Derby undercard from 12:00-2:30 pm, then switch over to NBC from 2:30 on to for all the stakes races including the Kentucky Derby, interviews with the connections, and profiles of some of the horses and trainers.

If you sign up for a free online account with a legal online betting provider, you can watch all the Churchill Downs races via live streaming video on your computer or mobile device. Sign up for an account at TVG, Xpressbet, or the home the Kentucky Derby,, to open an account in time for the biggest day of horse racing this weekend.

How Do I Bet on the Kentucky Derby?

If you open an account with TVG, Xpressbet, or TwinSpires, you can also bet the Kentucky Derby online, along with any other race from Churchill Downs or any other racetrack. You’ll be able to bet directly into the same pools as people at Churchill Downs, with all the same bet types, whether you’re a show bettor or you are building a ticket for the all-stakes Pick 4.

If you live near a racetrack, check with your local track about what festivities they may have on Derby Day – most tracks have a Kentucky Derby party and some may even have live racing of their own!

How Long is the Derby?

The race is 1 ¼ miles and takes about two minutes from the time the horses leave the gate to when the first horse crosses the wire. The race is a dirt course and will feature two turns.

The fastest running of the race was in 1973, when Secretariat finished in 1:59.40.

The 2019 running of the Kentucky Derby will be worth $3 million. The share for the winner of the race is $1,860,000. Jockeys typically earn 10% of the winners share, so the winning jockey of the Kentucky Derby will take home over $180,000 for a two-minute race.

Will the Favorite Win?

In a race of 20 horses, anything can happen. However, for the last six years, the horse that was the post-time favorite at the start of the race won the Kentucky Derby: Justify, Always Dreaming, Nyquist, American Pharoah, California Chrome and Orb.

However, favorites win less often than horses with better prices. The winning horse with the highest odds in the history of the race was Donerail, who won in 1913 at odds of 91-1; that means a $2 win be would have returned $184!

Even as recently as ten years ago, Mine That Bird won at odds of 50-1. Also, if a favorite wins, there are still good opportunities for prices on other tickets. California Chrome was the favorite when he won in 2014, but the horse that ran second, Commanding Curve, was one of the longest shots on the board and paid $15 to show. The $1 exacta, with a favorite on top, paid $170.

This year, the morning-line favorite was #12 Omaha Beach, who was scratched from the race on Wednesday. He was to be ridden by Mike Smith, who won last year with Justify.

Game Winner, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last year, is the new morning-line favorite. Game Winner is one of three Derby entries from the Bob Baffert barn. Baffert, who trained 2018 and 2015 Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah, could tie the all-time record for number Kentucky Derby wins as a trainer with six victories if Game Winner, Roadster or Improbable win on Saturday.

What are Some Fun Kentucky Derby Traditions?

Official Drink

If not for the Kentucky Derby, even bourbon fans may have forgotten about mint juleps, now the quintessential Derby Day drink. Mint juleps feature bourbon, simple syrup and fresh mint over crushed ice. No Kentucky Derby party should be without these ingredients on the first Saturday in May.

If bourbon is not your alcohol of choice, you can also celebrate with an Oaks Lily, the signature drink of the Kentucky Oaks. The Kentucky Oaks is a race just for 3-year-old fillies and is held at Churchill Downs the night before the Derby. The winning filly receives a blanket of lilies (in addition to a trophy and serious cash), inspiring the drink of Kentucky Oaks day. The Oaks Lily is a vodka-based cocktail with triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime.

Official Song

The official song of the state of Kentucky is “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night”, an anti-slavery ballad composed in 1852 by Stephen Foster. It is a tradition to play the familiar song before the running of the Kentucky Derby each year, with many fans singing along in the grandstand.

In addition to gaining fame as the song played before the Kentucky Derby, the composer, Stephen Foster, is also honored as the namesake of the Stephen Foster Handicap, a Grade 1 event for older horses held each summer at Churchill Downs.


Red roses are the signature flower of the event. A long-standing tradition after some stakes races is to drape the winning horse and rider with a blanket of fresh-cut flowers. In the Kentucky Derby, it has been tradition to make this blanket out of roses since the 1880s, so the race has long been nicknamed the “Run for the Roses” in honor of the roses awarded at the end of the race.

Each year, over 400 red roses are used to make the Derby blanket, and roses are often found in the Kentucky Derby logo or other branding of the event.

Derby Hats

Most fashion at the racetrack is casual, but fans to tend to dress up for stakes races at the track as a way of celebrating those races that offer the most money and feature some of the best horses. The Kentucky Derby is the most famous horse race in the United States and is a destination travel event for many, so people do their best to dress to the nines.

Hats for both men and women are not required but are popular both at Churchill as well as Kentucky Derby parties across the country. Watch the live video coverage on TwinSpires or NBC to catch some of the most outrageous hats. Derby parties often have a hat contest or offer supplies to help create your own.

If you value your peripheral vision and prefer not to wear a hat, many women opt to clip a fascinator in their hair to stay festive but practical. Men, whether you wear a hat or not, this is a perfect opportunity to sport your favorite bow-tie.

Who is Running in the 2019 Kentucky Derby?

On Tuesday morning, the field was officially entered and post positions were drawn for this year’s Kentucky Derby. The race will feature 20 horses, more than any other race in the United States.

Here is the official line up, including morning-line odds and the connections for each runner:

#1 War of Will (15-1)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

#2 Tax (20-1)
Trainer: Danny Gargan
Jockey: Junior Alvarado

#3 By My Standards (15-1)
Trainer: Bret Calhoun
Jockey: Gabriel Saez

#4 Gray Magician (50-1)
Trainer: Peter Miller
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

#5 Improbable (5-1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

#6 Vekoma (15-1)
Trainer: George Weaver
Jockey: Javier Castellano

#7 Maximum Security (8-1)
Trainer: Jason Servis
Jockey: Luis Saez

#8 Tacitus (8-1)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Jose Ortiz

#9 Plus Que Parfait (30-1)
Trainer: Brendan Walsh
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

#10 Cutting Humor (30-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Corey Lanerie

#11 Haikal (30-1)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh

#12 Omaha Beach – SCRATCHED
Trainer: Richard Mandella
Jockey: Mike Smith

#13 Code of Honor (12-1)
Trainer: Shug McGaughey
Jockey: John Velazquez

#14 Win Win Win (12-1)
Trainer: Michael Trombetta
Jockey: Julian Pimentel

#15 Master Fencer (50-1)
Trainer: Koichi Tsunoda
Jockey: Julien Leparoux

#16 Game Winner (9-2)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Joel Rosario

#17 Roadster (5-1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Florent Geroux

#18 Long Range Toddy (30-1)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Jon Court

#19 Spinoff (30-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Manny Franco

#20 Country House (30-1)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Flavien Prat

#21 Bodexpress (30-1)
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Jockey: Chris Landeros