Keeler Johnson's Kentucky Derby Top 10 -- 1/30/18
In what could be considered the calm before the storm, very little happened last weekend on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but with three major prep races scheduled for February 3rd, there’s no doubt that the action is about to heat up quickly.The upcoming races are the $250,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, the $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, and the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita. Surprisingly, only one of the horses ranked in my Kentucky Derby Top 10—Enticed—is expected to run this weekend, but that means there will be plenty of opportunities for up-and-comers to jump on to my list if they run well.
In the meantime, the biggest news from last weekend was Bolt d’Oro’s return to the work tab. The Mick Ruis-trained colt went three furlongs in :36.80 under regular rider Corey Nakatani, but the following day it was announced that the four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano will be aboard Bolt d’Oro when the colt returns to racing in the March 10th San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita. Castellano is already the rider of a few other promising Derby contenders, such as Instilled Regard and Mask, which means he’ll likely have some tough decisions to make as the Derby draws closer.
On the racing front, one horse that did catch my eye last weekend was Life’s a Parlay, who broke his maiden going a mile at Gulfstream for trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Uncle Mo turned in a very sharp performance, dueling hard for the lead with Travelling Midas through fractions of :23.33, :45.92, and 1:09.73, which gave the two leaders a 7 1/2-length lead over their closest pursuers. In the end, Life’s a Parley shook clear of Travelling Midas and managed to hold off the late-running Personal Time to win by 1 ½ lengths in the time of 1:36.68. Granted, Life’s a Parlay came home slowly (running the final quarter in :26.95), but that was understandable given the fast pace that he set. I’ll be curious to see where Life's a Parlay runs next.
Also, Runaway Ghost—fifth in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (gr. I) behind McKinzie, Instilled Regard, and Solomini—returned to score an eye-catching 7 ¾-length victory in the one-mile Riley Allison Stakes at Sunland Park on January 28th. After dueling for the lead through fractions of :23.96, :47.93, and 1:12.08, Runaway Ghost ran the final two furlongs in :12.06 and :11.88 to draw off and win with ease. With that performance under his belt, I wouldn't be surprised to see Runaway Ghost target the Sunland Derby (gr. III).
Shortly before this article was published, it was reported by the Daily Racing Form that Mask has suffered a setback that will cause him to miss a couple weeks of training. As a result, I have removed him from my Top 10 for the time being. Here's how my list stands heading into the big weekend....
- Good Magic
- Bolt d’Oro
- Instilled Regard
- Catholic Boy
- Noble Indy
- Magnum Moon