East or West, who holds the stronger Kentucky Derby hand?

It’s a light week ahead on the Road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, so now’s a good time to take stock of the division following the first 50- points-to-the winner-prep race. With less than seventy-five days until the first Saturday of May racing fans are continuing to formulate opinions on the crop of 2018. With that comes the discussion of whether an East or West Coast based horse is likeliest to find the winners’ circle at this [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 2/20/18

Bravazo winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir The Road to the Kentucky Derby took a few major twists last weekend with upsets in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) and Southwest Stakes (gr. III), plus a brilliant debut from an exciting colt at Santa Anita. Suffice to say, my Kentucky Derby Top 10 has been shaken up a bit this week. Here’s how I rank the contenders [...]

Is Japan’s Sumahama a Kentucky Derby Contender?

Tokyo Race Course (Photo Courtesy of the JRA) The Road to the Kentucky Derby might just be getting serious in North America, but across the globe in Japan the action reached its peak on Sunday with Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse, the final and most important race in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Sixteen horses faced the starter in the 1,600-meter (about one mile) event, with the favorite in the Japanese wagering being Sumahama, who [...]

Pace, Track Favored My Boy Jack in Southwest Stakes

My Boy Jack winning the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography Racing fans were treated to an eye-catching sight on Monday when My Boy Jack produced an explosive rally from off the pace to win the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park. From a visual perspective, My Boy Jack looked terrific. Reserved at the back of the pack early on in the 8.5-furlong Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race, My Boy [...]

Mine That Bird Derby Highlights Sunday Card at Sunland Park

Sunland Park - Coady Photography On a bit of a quiet weekend of racing, Sunland Park in New Mexico will take center stage on February 25th when hosting a nine-race card that includes three stakes races. The first of the featured events is the $75,000 Island Fashion Stakes (Race 7), a one-mile race for three-year-old fillies that serves as a local prep for the March 25th Sunland Park Oaks. A small field of six has been entered, with the filly [...]

Pedigree Handicapping: From Dirt to Turf to the Winner’s Circle

Photo by © Breeders' Cup/Todd Buchanan 2014 When a horse tries a different racing surface for the first time, it can be difficult for handicappers to know what to expect. For example, if the horse has been racing on dirt, how will they react when switching to turf? Due to the uncertainty involved, there is a tendency for handicappers to dismiss the chances of horses like this and favor runners that are already proven over a particular surface. However, an [...]

Bravazo Finishes Fast in Risen Star Upset

Bravazo winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir Let’s face it—it’s just doesn’t feel like Kentucky Derby prep season if the Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas doesn’t have a horse in the mix, which is why you have to be pleased by the results of Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds. The 8.5-furlong race offered 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points to the [...]

Paved Beats the Colts in El Camino Real Derby

Paved winning the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields - © Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography Question: When was the last time a filly won a Kentucky Derby prep race? Prior to yesterday, and subject to correction, the most recent example I could think of was Evita Argentina beating colts in the 2009 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) sprinting seven furlongs at Santa Anita. Nine years and one day later, we finally saw another filly prevail in a [...]

Presidents’ Day Spot Plays at Oaklawn Park

Monday is Presidents’ Day and that means it is Southwest Stakes Day at Oaklawn Park. The racing office in Hot Springs, Arkansas has a special holiday card on tap that includes not only the Grade 3 Southwest, but also the 59th running of the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap for older males. The ten-race card commences at 1:05 PM local time and offers horseplayers a solid day of action with plenty of opportunities to end the long racing week on a [...]

Keying Dark Repulser in Japan’s Hyacinth Stakes

Tokyo Race Course (Photo Courtesy of the JRA) If you’re planning to stay up late on Saturday night (perhaps to catch another exciting night of the Winter Olympics) you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on the simulcast from Tokyo Racecourse in Japan. The highlight of the night, at least for North American racing fans, is the 1,600-meter (about one mile) Hyacinth Stakes, the final prep race on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Three of the [...]