2019 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Keeler Johnson’s Top Ten

Each week during the Road to the Kentucky Derby, check out our top ten rankings for the leading contenders for the “Run for the Roses” by J. Keeler Johnson, a horse racing writer, blogger, videographer, handicapper, and all-around enthusiast. Use the comments at the bottom of each post to join the conversation on the top horses for the 2019 Kentucky Derby.


  • Omaha Beach winning the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) - Coady Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: The Final Rankings (4/29/2019) - The major workouts are complete, most of the contenders have arrived at Churchill Downs and just five days remain until the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. I’ve been sharing my Kentucky Derby Top 10 rankings every week since the beginning of November, when Game Winner, Improbable, Code of Honor and Roadster, comprised four of my top… ...Read More
  • Code of Honor Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Omaha Beach Stays on Top (4/22/2019) - Now that the Kentucky Derby prep races are complete, it’s safe to say morning training sessions have moved to the forefront of everyone’s attention as the Derby draws nearer. I haven’t seen anything in the various workouts and gallops to strongly shift my opinions of the top contenders, but that could change over the next… ...Read More
  • Omaha Beach winning the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) - Coady Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: A New Leader (4/15/2019) - The final prep races have been run, the field is pretty much set, and less than three weeks remain until the 2019 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. It’s being called one of the most wide-open Kentucky Derbys in recent memory, but one thing seems certain—the California contingent is strong, as usual, with four of the… ...Read More
  • Roadster winning the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: It’s a Rather Perplexing Year (4/9/2019) - I must admit, it’s getting harder and harder to compile my Kentucky Derby Top 10 rankings each week. Unlike last year, when the top contenders seemed pretty clear-cut at this point in the season, the 2019 Kentucky Derby picture remains completely wide-open with less than four weeks until the big race. I feel like I’m… ...Read More
  • Maximum Security winning the Florida Derby (gr. I) - © Adam Coglianese Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Where to Rank Maximum Security? (4/1/2019) - With barely more than a month remaining until the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the race remains as wide-open as ever. Two more upset victories in the Florida Derby (gr. I) and UAE Derby (UAE-II) did little to clarify the Derby picture; if anything, the prospective field has become even more perplexing. You know it’s a strange… ...Read More
  • By My Standards winning the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) - © Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr. Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Anothertwistafate Impresses the Most (3/25/2019) - This year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby prep season has been filled with memorable upsets, so it’s only fitting that the two big races last week saw two more odds-on favorites fall to defeat. War of Will, previously ranked fifth in my Kentucky Derby Top 10, finished ninth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) but… ...Read More
  • Omaha Beach (right) holds off Game Winner (left) in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) - Coady Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Game Winner Remains On Top (3/18/2019) - Although he suffered the first defeat of his career last Saturday, the performance of Game Winner in the Rebel Stakes was sufficient for the champion colt to retain the top spot in my Kentucky Derby Top 10. Not surprisingly, Omaha Beach—the colt who gallantly conquered Game Winner—has secured a high ranking as well in his… ...Read More
  • Tacitus winning the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) - Photo by SV Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Tacitus Joins, Hidden Scroll Returns (3/10/2019) - The indefinite suspension of racing and training at Santa Anita has thrown a monkey wrench into the plans for Game Winner and Improbable, delaying their scheduled returns to action by one week. Nevertheless, they remain at the top of my Kentucky Derby Top 10 despite a busy weekend that saw Tacitus upset the Tampa Bay… ...Read More
  • Code of Honor winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes - © Adam Coglianese Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Code of Honor Returns (3/5/2019) - Code of Honor is back. Hidden Scroll is gone (at least temporarily). Roadster is moving up, Signalman is moving down, and that pretty much sums up the changes to my latest Kentucky Derby Top 10. The Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), won by Code of Honor in late-running fashion, was the main catalyst for… ...Read More
  • Roadster winning his debut at Del Mar - © Benoit Photo Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Things Are About to Get Serious (2/25/2019) - Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because the Road to the Kentucky Derby is going to feature hectic, non-stop action from here on out. After weeks (months?) without any significant changes in my Kentucky Derby Top 10, expect to see some major shifts over the next couple of weeks as my top six contenders compete… ...Read More
  • War of Will winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) © Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr. Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Another Twist in the Trail (2/19/2019) - There might be a new name atop the 2019 Kentucky Derby qualification leaderboard, but the top six names in my Kentucky Derby Top 10 remain unchanged. That’s not to say that there aren’t some changes further down on my list. War of Will moved to the top of the qualification leaderboard by virtue of his… ...Read More
  • Signalman winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) - Coady Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Network Effect Rejoins the List (2/11/2019) - Last week was relatively quiet on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, so there hasn’t been much change to my Kentucky Derby Top 10. I guess that’s to be expected since half the horses on my list haven’t even run yet this year. That includes Network Effect, who’s back on the work tab and back… ...Read More
  • Hidden Scroll winning his debut at Gulfstream Park - Photo by Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Where Does Hidden Scroll Rank? (1/28/2019) - When Triple Crown winner Justify won the 2018 Kentucky Derby, he broke the much-hyped “Apollo Curse” and became the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year-old. Now that the “curse” has been broken, will the floodgates open with more and more unraced juveniles finding success on… ...Read More
  • Win Win Win winning the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs - Photo by SV Photography Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: A “Win-Win-Win” Situation (1/21/2019) - In the two weeks since my last update, two new names have joined my Kentucky Derby Top 10, including an exciting stakes winner from Tampa Bay Downs who looks like a potential beast in the making. How do they all stack up? Let’s take a look…. Game Winner He’s come back firing in his workouts,… ...Read More
  • Gunmetal Gray winning the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita - © Benoit Photo Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Major Changes to Kick Off 2019 (1/7/2019) - For the first time in more than a month, there’s been a major shake-up in my Kentucky Derby Top 10. Following disappointing efforts in Saturday Derby preps from Code of Honor (previously ranked #6) and Coliseum (ranked #8), I have elected to remove both colts from my list for the time being. I have also… ...Read More

Click here for full archive of all Keeler Johnson Top 10 rankings


Performance of Keeler’s Top Ranked Kentucky Derby Hopefuls in 2018

If you’re a betting man or woman, you’ll be interested to know that 3 of Keeler’s top 4 horses in his final installment of 2018 (April 18th) finished 1-2-3 atop the leaderboard at last year’s Derby.

If you’d played a boxed Trifecta using Keeler’s final top 4 contenders at $2 a wager (24 possible combinations) in last year’s Kentucky Derby, you’d have won $282.80 on a $48.00 bet. While past performance is never a guarantee of future results, we hope you enjoy this quality analysis of the top horses contending for the 2019 Derby each week as we get closer and closer to the big day.


2019 Kentucky Derby Profiles


CAIRO CAT

 


GUNMETAL GRAY

 


Improbable

IMPROBABLE

 


LONG RANGE TODDY

 


MAXIMUS MISCHIEF

 


MIND CONTROL

 


SIGNALMAN

 


WAR WILL

 


Omaha Beach

OMAHA BEACH


MASTER FENCER