2019 Kentucky Derby: Trainers, Facts and Trends

Bode Baffert (and Mike Smith) holds up the Derby trophy as his father, trainer Bob Baffert (second from left), enjoys the moment after Justify won the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs (Skip Dickstein/Times Union) Some of the best-known trainers in North American horse racing will be represented by major contenders in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, but as usual, the “Run for the Roses” will make room for a few newcomers as well. Sixteen different [...]

Kentucky Derby Make the Case: Improbable and Tacitus

Improbable wins Street Sense S. (Coady Photo/Churchill) The Kentucky Derby on May 4 figures to be one of the most difficult to handicap in years. The 2019 Derby is incredibly deep. There won’t be a clear-cut favorite like Justify last year. That’s why it’s important to think about the pros and cons of each entrant. In this blog, I provide a Derby case for and against both Improbable and Tacitus. The Bob Baffert trained Improbable could go off [...]

Tacitus Prevails in Roughly-Run Wood Memorial

Tacitus winning the Wood Memorial (gr. II) at Aqueduct - © NYRA/Coglianese Photography In one of the roughest races seen on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this winter, favored Tacitus emerged from a battle-weary field to win the $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct in hard-fought fashion. Chaos reigned during the run to the first turn, and even Tacitus did not emerge unscathed. A generally ragged start was made worse when Tax, breaking from the rail, [...]

Tacitus Breaks Through in Tampa Bay Derby

Tacitus winning the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) - Photo by SV Photography Early speed, middle moves, late rallies, a wild finish with a half-dozen horses in the hunt—from start to finish, the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at Tampa Bay Downs had it all. Ultimately, it was Bill Mott’s lightly-raced Tacitus who emerged from the fray victorious in the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race, which was no small feat considering that Tacitus was racing [...]

Why I’m Betting Hidden Scroll in the Fountain of Youth

I don’t think anyone will deny that #5 Vekoma and #6 Signalman are the most accomplished runners heading into Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, a major stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. In a field of eleven three-year-olds, they’re the only proven graded stakes winners. Last year, Vekoma went 2-for-2 and defeated high-class rivals like Epic Dreamer, Mihos, Network Effect, and Call Paul in a maiden race and the Nashua Stakes (gr. [...]

Six Horses That Could Take Bill Mott Back to the Derby

Hidden Scroll winning his debut at Gulfstream Park - Photo by Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography During a career that began in 1973, trainer Bill Mott has won a staggering 4,893 races, the seventh-highest total in the history of North American racing. Those victories include a Belmont Stakes, ten Breeders’ Cup events, and 448 other graded stakes races. It’s obvious why Mott is in the Hall of Fame. Yet for all his success, Mott has never won the Kentucky [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Where Does Hidden Scroll Rank?

Hidden Scroll winning his debut at Gulfstream Park - Photo by Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography 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 the first Saturday in May? That remains to [...]

Eight Fillies Seek Graded Victory in Comely Stakes

Blamed galloping at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography Calling all three-year-old fillies! Friday’s $200,000 Comely Stakes (gr. III) might not be the most anticipated race on Thanksgiving week, but the nine-furlong event at Aqueduct does represent the penultimate opportunity for sophomore fillies to seek a graded stakes victory on dirt this year. Suffice to say, someone is definitely going to benefit from this opportunity, because none of the eight entrants in the Comely have previously won at the [...]

How to Bet the Hagyard Fayette Stakes

Hofburg training at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography When seven accomplished runners line up to contest the $200,000 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (gr. II) on Saturday at Keeneland, the feature race on the last day of the meet, most eyes will be focused on the lone three-year-old in the field, #6 Hofburg. That’s certainly understandable, since the Bill Mott-trained son of Tapit has compiled a promising record this year, most notably finishing second in the Florida Derby (gr. I) [...]