Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Omaha Beach Stays on Top

Code of Honor wins Fountain of Youth Stakes (Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin) 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 week or so, as the 20 Derby candidates wrap up their serious [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby: Contender Birth Dates and Historical Trends

Omaha Beach wins the Arkansas Derby (Coady Photo/Oaklawn) Based on their birth dates, it appears that the 2019 Kentucky Derby contenders are skewing a bit younger than usual this year. You can usually count on there being a handful of January-born contenders, along with a few born in May, while the majority will have been born during the February/March/April window. But 2019 is shaping up to be a bit different. Not a single top 25 Derby contender was [...]

During Kentucky Derby Prep Season, Less is Often More

Possible Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach will have to break the "Smarty Jones Curse" in order to win the roses. Photo by Coady Photography While it used to be common for horses to employ busy prep schedules in advance of the Kentucky Derby, in recent years, Derby winners have been taking a “less is more” approach to their winter/spring racing action. Gone are the days when a Derby winner might run seven times as a 3-year-old prior to [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby: Who’s on the Bubble?

Anothertwistafate winning the El Camino Real Derby - © Vassar Photography/Shane Micheli How many qualification points will be required to run in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, and which horses will secure the last few slots in the starting gate? That’s the question everyone is asking now that the 2018-19 Road to the Kentucky Derby is complete, and the field of 20 horses is pretty much set. It would be set in stone ,except that there are still 19 [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: A New Leader

Omaha Beach winning the Arkansas Derby (G1) - Coady Photography 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 five probable betting favorites. Not surprisingly those four are all ranked near the [...]

Owendale Impresses in Lexington Stakes

Owendale winning the Lexington Stakes (gr. III) - Keeneland Photo What a difference two months can make. After failing to challenge when finishing eighth in the Feb. 16 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, Owendale looked like a completely different horse in the April 13 Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, producing a sweeping rally from off the pace to triumph in eye-catching fashion. A wide but clean trip may have been the key factor for Owendale. Under a [...]

How to Bet Keeneland’s Lexington Day All-Stakes Pick 4

Rushing Fall winning the Jessamine Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. Photo: Keeneland/Coady Photography The second Saturday of the 2019 Keeneland spring meet features another action-packed afternoon of high-class racing, including the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) and the Lexington Stakes (G3). Those much-anticipated events comprise the last two legs of an all-stakes Pick 4 that has the potential to yield a nice payoff, but only if you can identify the winners of the Ben Ali Stakes (G3) and the [...]

Why I’m Betting Anothertwistafate in the Lexington Stakes

Anothertwistafate winning the El Camino Real Derby - © Vassar Photography/Shane Micheli When ten horses line up to contest Saturday’s $200,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, the one sure bet is that I’ll be all-in with my support of #4 Anothertwistafate. The 1 1/16-mile race serves as a final, desperate qualifier for the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1), and offers 20 qualifications points to the winner. Those points alone are unlikely to yield a spot in the starting gate, but [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: It’s a Rather Perplexing Year

Roadster winning the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo 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 excluding some promising horses (the Blue Grass Stakes winner Vekoma being [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Where to Rank Maximum Security?

Maximum Security winning the Florida Derby (gr. I) - © Adam Coglianese Photography 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 year when a 71-1 maiden can finish second in the [...]