Kentucky Derby Top 10: Each contender in a single word

January 14th, 2020

Ready for a challenge? Rank your 10 favorite horses on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby—then try to describe them in a single word.

When you think of an acclaimed young Derby contender like Thousand Words, Dennis’ Moment, or Authentic, what words come to mind? Fast? Talented? Dominant?

This fun exercise forces handicappers to distill their typically complicated opinions into an overall impression. Don’t get bogged down in the details—just put down whatever word comes to mind first.

Go ahead and mull over your choices, then see how your impressions compare against mine in my latest Kentucky Derby Top 10.

1. Anneau d’Or - Stout

It’s hard to find a better-bred Triple Crown contender than Anneau d’Or, a son of Medaglia d’Oro out of a graded stakes-winning Tapit mare. Anneau d’Or is bred top and bottom for stamina and shouldn’t have any issue handling classic distances.

2. Thousand Words - Determined

Thousand Words had to work hard in his debut and in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). He won those races by the combined margin of three-quarters of a length. He hasn’t been flashy, but he has shown grit and determination, two traits you need on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

3. Maxfield - Impressive

Maxfield was breathtaking in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), when he swept powerfully from the back of the pack to win by 5 1/2 lengths. He was so full of run, it seemed as though he’d joined the race at the three-eighths pole.

4. Dennis’ Moment - Troubled

Dennis’ Moment lost his rider in his debut and stumbled badly at the start of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), which cost him any realistic chance at victory. He has shown flashes of talent, but troubled runs have made it difficult to gauge his true ability.

5. Storm the Court - Underrated

He isn’t getting a lot of hype this winter, but Storm the Court defeated all who opposed him in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, including Anneau d’Or, Dennis’ Moment, and Eight Rings. Maybe folks are underrating Storm the Court, because he started the Juvenile at 45-1, but don’t sell him short. Adding blinkers seemed to make a big difference in Storm the Court’s form, so his future could be bright.

6. Authentic - Green

Authentic was tons the best in the Sham (G3), a race he won by 7 3/4 lengths. He might have won by twice as much if he didn't duck in and spook at the crowd down the homestretch. He obviously has ability, but he is also green as can be.

7. Eight Rings - Unpredictable

Eight Rings broke his maiden with ease and crushed Storm the Court in the American Pharoah (G1), but he has had difficulties, too. Eight Rings ducked in and lost his rider in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), and he faded unexpectedly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. You never know what to expect when he heads to the track.

8. Tiz the Law - Nostalgic

Would there be a better Derby storyline than the return of Sackatoga Stable to Churchill Downs? They struck gold in 2003 with the unheralded New York-bred Funny Cide. Now they’re back with Tiz the Law, another New York-bred with the potential to be something special.

9. Dieu du Vin - Wild card

How else would you describe an undefeated Derby contender based in Japan? Dieu du Vin has a strong pedigree and could develop into any type, but there’s really no way of gauging how he might stack up against the best in North America.

10. As Seen On Tv - Promising

A wide trip and a fast pace probably cost As Seen On Tv victory in the Mucho Macho Man S., considering he only lost by a head. A stoutly bred son of Lookin At Lucky, As Seen On Tv figures to improve around two turns. That could be a scary prospect, because he has already posted fast speed figures.