By Tom Jicha

The winner of the past six Kentucky Derbys has been undefeated as a 3-year-old going into the race. Omaha Beach, 3-for-4 this year, could end that. But the leader of the HRI poll could extend the streak of six straight winning Kentucky Derby favorites. To do it, he'll have to score the anti-Baffert hat trick. He's already taken down Game Winner and Improbable. On May 4, he'll take on Raodster.

All streaks must come to an end. Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles finally got a hit Saturday after going a record-breaking 0-54.

If the HRI weekly Kentucky Derby poll is on target, the run of seven straight Kentucky Derby winners being undefeated as 3-year-olds going into the race will come to a halt on May 4.

Omaha Beach fortified his status as No. 1 with a convincing victory in the Arkansas Derby, thanks to a heady middle-move by Money Mike that broke open the race. Improbable made a gallant attempt to run him down but the jump Omaha Beach had was insurmountable.

Omaha Beach will take a three-race winning streak into the Derby but ran second in a maiden race four days into his sophomore season.

The end of the streak is not a given. Three solid contenders—Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster (No. 2 in the HRI poll), Wood Memorial winner Tacitus (No. 3) and Florida Derby winner Maximum Security (No. 6) have yet to be beaten in 2019.

The Arkansas Derby, the final milepost on the Kentucky Derby trail had minimal impact on the HRI poll. There is some minor shuffling of the order but there are no new shooters and one dropout, Win Win Win from a four-way tie for 10th last week.

The last resort Lexington had no impact on the HRI poll and likely will not produce a Derby starter, as it did in 2018 with My Boy Jack. Heavy favorite Anothertwistafate needed the 20 points for winning to crack the Derby field but had to settle for the 8 that goes to the place horse. His total, 38, will put him close to the magic number of 40 (for now) but this is horse racing, not horse shoes.

Unless there are defections among the top 20, Anothertwistafate, currently 23rd on the points list, will be on the outside of the starting gate looking in.

Bodexpress who came out second best on a tiebreaker with with Spinoff at 40 tops the waiting list. Signalman also has (38) but wins a tiebreaker (money in graded stakes) with Anothertwistafate. Sueno, second in the Lexington is next at 32 and arguably the best horse to be shut out, Bourbon War has 31.

1. Omaha Beach (60) He’ll get a chance in Louisville to score the anti-Baffert hat trick. He beat Game Winner in the Rebel then held off Improbable Saturday. Next up is Roadster in the Derby. Richard Mandella, who unbelievably has never won a Derby, will go into this one with the favorite. Continuing the streak theme, the public betting choice has won the past six Run for the Roses. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 121/121)

2. Roadster (41) He went from zero to hero with his eye-catching rundown of Eclipse champion Game Winner in the Santa Anita Derby. Last summer Baffert considered him the barn’s best Derby hope. He fell off the radar screen after a breathing problem contributed to him running third behind Game Winner in the Del Mar Futurity. That problem clearly has been corrected. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 120/120)

3. Tacitus (38)
It might seem strange to call a colt with only four lifetime starts “battle hardened” but it fits this regally-bred colt, who overcame being roughed up around the first turn in the Wood Memorial after splitting horses in a crowded Tampa Bay Derby. The Derby is one of the few absentees on the resume of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. He’s long overdue. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 120/120)

4. Vekoma (29) He’s still not getting the attention he probably deserves because his close to the pace style was ideal on Blue Grass Day. He also has an odd way of going, throwing his legs out. Other than a better than looked third in the Fountain of Youth, he’s been perfect, so pretty is as pretty does. He is getting respect from the whales. He was pounded from 5-2 going into the gate to 7-5 at the wire. Two-dollar players can’t do that. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 119/119)

5. Game Winner (28) All winter, without leaving his barn, he was everyone’s horse to beat for the Roses—and maybe the Black-Eyed Susans and Carnations, too. Then he took his reputation to the race track and got beat twice, albeit by less than a length combined. Now he will be “the other Baffert” at Churchill Downs, the track where he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He’s facing a negative streak. No Derby winner has been winless as a 3-year-old since Super Saver in 2010. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 115/119)

6. Maximum Security (21) A $16K claimer in December, he’s the most perplexing horse to assess. He’s won all four career starts by 35 lengths but except for the Florida Derby, where he was allowed to set a leisurely pace, he was beating nothing. There’s also the question of whether it’s the horse or Jason Servis’s magic touch. If the latter, will it travel? (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 116/116)

7. Improbable (19) While Baffert might have liked Roadster more than Game Winner, this was the colt the wise guys thought would turn into the star of the barn. Perfect as a juvenile, with a win over the Churchill Downs strip, his spring works were things of beauty. The chaos at Santa Anita threw the game plan for him into disarray. He had to get on a plane on short notice for the Rebel, where he was nailed on the wire by Long Range Toddy. He wasn’t able to redeem himself in the Arkansas Derby but his second was enough to put him in the Derby starting gate. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 117/117)

8. Code of Honor (11) Heading into 2019, he was high on the Derby rankings. A dud at odds-on in the Mucho Macho Man plunged him to the rear of the conversational pack. He turned it around with a facile score in the Fountain of Youth. Suddenly, he was the second coming of Orb for Shug McGaughey. The Florida Derby didn’t turn out so well but the way Maximum Security was allowed to amble along on the lead took away his closing weapon. He’s still a contender on his best race. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 109/118)

9. By My Standard (10). Scored in the Louisiana Derby when heavy favorite where War of Will didn’t fire, possibly due to an injury during the running. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 117/117)

10. Cutting Humor (9). Snuck in by taking the Sunland Derby route. (TimeformUS speed figures last/best 112/112)

© 2019 Tom Jicha,

Craig Milkowski's TimeformUS Derby Top Ten

The following list are the top 10 TimeformUS Speed Figures run by horses eligible for the 2019 Kentucky Derby on dirt or on a synthetic surface. Turf races are excluded as none offer points towards a spot in the gate in the first Saturday in May.

I am now only considering races run at one mile and one eighth and only those run in March or April. Races earlier than that, even the scant few run at nine furlongs, have pretty much lost any real significance at this point.

We had our final preps of the year in the year in the Lexington Stakes and the Arkansas Derby. The Lexington was a fast race but is only a mile and a sixteenth and at this point none of the runners have earned enough points to start in the Kentucky Derby. Omaha Beach leapt to the top of the standings with his impressive win over a sloppy Oaklawn surface.

1) Omaha Beach 121
Backed up his strong win in the second division of the Rebel stakes with another Oaklawn score. He made a strong move to the lead on the backstretch and still had plenty left to hold off Improbable late. Should be a main contender in the Derby.

2) Tax 121
Confirmed his big race in the Withers back in February with a hard fought runner-up finish in the Wood, pressing a very fast pace. This is a talented horse with tactical speed and should be a big player in the division.

3) Improbable 120
Like his stablemate Game Winner, he wasn’t able to quite get to Omaha Beach at Oaklawn but ran a big race in defeat. He tried blinkers for the first time but trainer Bob Baffert has reported they are likely to be removed for the Kentucky Derby.

4) Tacitus 120
The winner of the Wood gets a slightly lower number due to the quick pace, but he was very impressive backing up his win in the Tampa Derby with this score. He is also versatile and has proven to run well in traffic which could be a factor in May.

5) Not That Brady 120
Rebounded well from his complete no-show in the Gotham last month while pressing a very fast pace, but this one doesn’t look like a horse that wants to go this far, let alone an additional furlong. He doesn’t have near enough points to get in the Derby even if the connections were tempted to try. The Belmont has been mentioned as being on his radar.

6) Vekoma 119
Improved off his return effort in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream with a fairly easy win against a somewhat lesser field than those seen in most of the other preps. He should be set for a big effort third off the layoff even if his running action isn’t very pleasing to the eye.

7) By My Standards 117
Shocked most everyone when winning the Louisiana Derby fresh off of breaking his maiden. Showed nice tactical speed but does exit a race with very little success at Churchill in recent years.

8) Spinoff 116
Runner-up behind By My Standards could arguably be considered best that day given the respective trips. He lost a lot of ground and was still beaten less than a length.

9) Maximum Security 116
Undefeated thus far and stretched out for the first time to take the Florida Derby rather handily. The pace was a farce that day and he had a clear lead. Obviously very talented but will be tested like never before next month.

10) Somelikeithotbrown 115
Set the pace in the Blue Grass before yielding late and dropping back to fourth in his first dirt start since his debut. Currently on the fence from a points standpoint; would add some speed to the mix if he happened to get into the Derby field.