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If there is rain at the 2019 Kentucky Derby, this 12-1 long shot could win it all

A horse works on a wet track early Friday morning at Churchill Downs. (Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)

The Kentucky Derby has been run over a sloppy or muddy track five times over the last decade, including last year when Justify earned the first jewel of his Triple Crown. That could be the case again Saturday.

Everything you need to know about the 2019 Kentucky Derby

Jason Samenow of The Post’s Capital Weather Gang said Friday that the National Weather Service was projecting 1 to 1½ inches of rain with a slight chance of flooding in the region surrounding Churchill Downs. The majority of that rain is expected midmorning through the evening. Any accumulation would be in addition to the rain from Friday, which forced all but one stakes race on the turf at Churchill Downs to be run on a muddy track.

Rain or shine, Improbable still checks off a lot of boxes. His second-place finish over a muddy track in the Arkansas Derby resulted in a strong Brisnet speed figure of 98 despite jockey Jose Ortiz having to deal with his horse going five wide at the half-mile marker and both his sire and broodmare sire have had success passing down an ability to relish the slop. The progeny of both Improbable’s sire, City Zip, and his broodmare sire, A.P. Indy, have a 19 percent win rate in the mud.

2019 Kentucky Derby horses, post positions, odds, analysis and start time

However, with Omaha Beach scratched due to an entrapped epiglottis interest in Improbable is certain to increase. Churchill Downs odds maker Mike Battaglia even reduced Improbable’s morning-line odds from 6-1 to 5-1 on Wednesday night, giving him and Roadster the shortest odds behind Game Winner.

Analysis: Here is the Bob Baffert horse that will win the Kentucky Derby

Win Win Win (12-1), on the other hand, provides a lot of value in the slop.

His pedigree looks very good on paper. His sire, Hat Trick, is a Group 1-winning miler in Japan and Hong Kong by 1989 Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence. His dam’s sire, Smarty Jones, winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby over a sloppy track, boasts a 17 percent win rate among his offspring on wet tracks. Win Win Win also inherited a lot of speed from these two horses — his dosage index of 4.50 means his lineage passed on 4½ times as much speed than stamina — putting his pedigree in line with past winners both on fast and sloppy tracks.

One reason this dark bay colt gets overlooked despite his ties to past Kentucky Derby winners is his perceived running style. In the Tampa Bay Derby he was four wide and seven lengths behind the leader at the first call and five wide into the stretch, eventually nabbing a third-place finish. In his final prep race, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, Win Win Win was 11th at the first call (half-mile marker) and 8th at the second call (three-quarter mile mark) before gaining ground in the stretch to finish second by 3½ lengths. But he bumped the gate at the start, was steadied — taken in hand by his jockey, usually because of being in close quarters — near the five-sixteenths pole and pushed into the five path on the far turn.

Putting Win Win Win’s troubled trip aside, his performance in the Blue Grass Stakes was impressive. Keeneland is a speed-favoring track, so Win Win Win’s ability to close into a fast pace is notable. Plus, he set a new career pace top (speed figure from the start of the race to the second call) in that outing which typically foreshadows a step forward in a horse’s next race.

Then there is the jockey switch from Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr., who led all North American-based riders in wins and mount earnings in 2018, to Julian Pimentel, who will make his first start in the Kentucky Derby. Normally this would be a downgrade but the Maryland-based Pimentel was on board Win Win Win for his first four races (three at Laurel, one at Tampa Bay Downs), resulting in three wins and a second-place finish, including a track and stakes-record in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, covering seven furlongs in 1:20.89.

He’s a seriously nice horse,” Pimentel told Joe Clancy, editor and publisher of “When he won going seven-eighths at Tampa, the question was always if he could run longer. Now it looks like he can run all day. He has done everything right even though he hasn’t won again. He’s been running at the end. That shows that he’s a nice horse. At Keeneland, you check a horse like that and sometimes they don’t come back. They give up. It’s nobody’s fault, it happens. But he came back.”

In addition, Pimentel has been a lucrative betting opportunity in 2019. If you placed a blind $2 win bet on all 27 of Pimentel’s mounts this year in route races you would have walked away with a net profit of $1.72, a huge return on investment despite not knowing anything else about the race except for which horse Pimentel was aboard.

A misunderstood fast horse with a familiar jockey on board at long odds? Not a bad combination for the first Saturday in May.

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