Sidelines with John Clay

Five prominent trainers missing from the 2019 Kentucky Derby

John Clay and Ben Roberts handicap Kentucky Derby 145

Herald-Leader sports writers John Clay and Ben Roberts give their picks on the 2019 Kentucky Derby field from Churchill Downs.
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Herald-Leader sports writers John Clay and Ben Roberts give their picks on the 2019 Kentucky Derby field from Churchill Downs.

Plenty of the old Kentucky Derby training gang is here. Five-time winner Bob Baffert is back. So too is two-time winner Todd Pletcher, for a 16th straight year, in fact. Shug McGaughey is back looking for his second try, Steve Asmussen and Bill Mott are trying to chase down their first.

Still, there are some familiar names missing from the list of trainers for Derby 145 on Saturday. Here are five:

Chad Brown: Never mind that the 40-year old has won the Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer each of the last three years, he wound up without a Derby horse this year for the first time since 2015. Brown’s top 2-year-old Complexity has yet to run in 2019 after finishing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Before that, Complexity won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. Remember, Brown won the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing and finished second in last year’s Derby with Good Magic. He’ll be back.

D. Wayne Lukas: The man who once dominated this race is absent for the fourth time in the last six years. Lukas won with Winning Colors in 1988, Thunder Gulch in 1995, Grindstone in 1996 and Charismatic in 1999. He’s had only one horse hit the Derby board since — Proud Citizen second in 2002. Lukas did have Calumet Farm’s Oxbow, who ran sixth in 2013 before winning the Preakness.

[Another Kentucky Derby horse has scratched]

Recently, Lukas trained Bravazo, who finished sixth last year. And he had Mr. Z, who ran 13th in 2015. His only real prospect this year was Market King, who ran third in a division of the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn. Alas, Market King finished a poor 11th in the Blue Grass leaving D. Wayne on the sidelines Saturday.

Dale Romans: It’s the first time since 2013 that the Louisville native has missed out on the Derby. Surprisingly, Romans’ colts failed to fire on the Derby prep trail. Admire ran eighth and Monster ninth in the Blue Grass Stakes. Everfast was ninth in the Florida Derby. But then Romans’ light in the classic races has faded just a bit since he won the Preakness in 2011 with Shackelford and finished third in the Derby with Paddy O’Prado (2010) and Dullahan (2012). Promises Fulfilled was 15th and Free Drop Billy 16th for Romans in last year’s Derby.

Jerry Hollendorfer: The 72-year-old Hollendorfer finished third in the 2017 Kentucky Derby with Battle of Midway and fourth last year with Instilled Regard. He had three legitimate contenders on this year’s Derby trail. Gunmetal Gray won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, finished second in the Robert B. Lewis, but suffered a condylar fracture after finishing fourth in a division of the Rebel. Galilean finished third in his division of the Rebel, but ran fifth in the Arkansas Derby. And Best Pal Stakes winner Instagrand turned out to be a sprinter. He’ll run in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.

[Omaha Beach’s connections suffer a crushing low]

Keith Desormeaux: The 49-year-old Louisiana native ran second in 2016 with Exaggerator, who went on to beat Nyquist in the Preakness. After finishing 16th with Sonneteer in 2017, Desormeaux ran fifth with My Boy Jack last year. His best hope this year was Sueno, who ran second in the Sham and third in the Louisiana Derby but did not earn enough points to qualify for Kentucky.

Just missed the list: After winning the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another and the 2016 running with Nyquist, Doug O’Neill is absent for the second straight year. He had One Flew South, who finished 11th in the Arkansas Derby, and Parsimony, who ran last of 14 in the Blue Grass.

With Omaha Beach scratching, trainer Bob Baffert has the top three Kentucky Derby contenders in Game Winner, Roadster and Improbable. Baffert will be trying for his sixth Derby win on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at Churchill Downs.



Kentucky Derby 2019 field

NoHorseOdds
1War of Will15-1
2Tax20-1
3By My Standards15-1
4Gray Magician50-1
5Improbable5-1
6Vekoma15-1
7Maximum Security8-1
8Tacitus8-1
9Plus Que Parfait30-1
10Cutting Humor30-1
11HaikalSCR
12Omaha BeachSCR
13Code of Honor12-1
14Win Win Win12-1
15Master Fencer50-1
16Game Winner9-2
17Roadster5-1
18Long Range Toddy30-1
19Spinoff30-1
20Country House30-1
21Bodexpress30-1
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