Keeler Johnson's Kentucky Derby Top 10 - 12/8/17

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December 8th, 2017

Get ready, everyone! The prep races on the road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby are already underway, and with just five months remaining until the big race, it’s time to start analyzing the contenders and thinking ahead to which horses will be ready for glory on the first Saturday in May.

Starting today and continuing every week until the Derby, I’ll be sharing my personal Kentucky Derby Top 10 list here on Bet America, complete with thoughts and insights on every horse.

Compiling a weekly Kentucky Derby Top 10 is an exercise involving equal parts handicapping and bragging rights. Practically speaking, ranking the top Derby contenders from week to week allows us to hone our opinions of each horse and develop a thorough understanding of how they’re progressing as the Derby approaches. At the same time, there’s bragging rights to be had for anyone that ranks the eventual Derby winner ranked #1 as early as December, a feat that’s much easier said than done.

So without further ado, here’s my first Top 10 list of the 2018 Kentucky Derby contenders….
  1. McKinzie
Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert has plenty of prospects for the 2018 Derby, and the most promising might be McKinzie. The well-bred son of 2007 Derby winner Street Sense was a bit green in his debut, but won convincingly by 5 ½ lengths while earning huge speed figures. The Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) on December 9th will tell us more about McKinzie’s potential.
  1. Good Magic
After a couple of near-misses in his first two starts, Good Magic put everything together to crush a deep field in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), winning with authority by 4 ¼ lengths. By Curlin out of the stakes-winning mare Glinda the Good, Good Magic is bred to improve with maturity and could be poised for a huge year in 2018.
  1. Bolt d’Oro
Bolt d’Oro turned in arguably the best race by a juvenile so far in 2017 when he won the FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) with breathtaking ease, but a very wide trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile cost him any chance at victory and led to a third-place finish.
  1. Solomini
Was no match for Bolt d’Oro when second in the FrontRunner Stakes, but turned the tables when parlaying a superior trip into a runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He’ll join stablemate McKinzie in the Los Alamitos Futurity.
  1. Catholic Boy
Started his career on turf but was full of run when winning the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) in his dirt debut. The quality of the field he beat is a question mark, but distance shouldn’t be an issue.
  1. Montauk
Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Derby twice and could have a big chance again with Montauk, who won his debut at Belmont on October 7th by 11 ¼ lengths. A Florida prep schedule is in the plans.
  1. Enticed
He’s kept good company and has already won at Churchill Downs, posting a solid victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) last month.
  1. Nero
Sold for $950,000 as a yearling, this Baffert runner ran second in his much-hyped debut at Del Mar this summer and is back on the work tab after getting some time off.
  1. Shivermetimbers
This Jerry Hollendorfer-trainee finished behind the likes of Cool Bobby and McKinzie in his first two starts, but recently defeated a quality field while posting a fast time in a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar.
  1. Ruggero
Time will tell if he can be competitive against the best three-year-olds in North America, but Ruggero looked good winning the Cattleya Sho in Japan and could represent his home nation in the Derby.