Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Another Twist in the Trail

War of Will winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) © Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr. There might be a new name atop the 2019 Kentucky Derby qualification leaderboard, but the top six names in my Kentucky Derby Top 10 remain unchanged. That’s not to say that there aren’t some changes further down on my list. War of Will moved to the top of the qualification leaderboard by virtue of his victory in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby: Eight Unraced Nominees to Remember

Justify winning the Kentucky Derby - Coady Photography It seems hard to believe, but last year at this time, Triple Crown winner Justify was still a week away from his career debut. Perhaps emboldened by the extraordinary success of the colt who shattered the “Apollo Curse,” seventy unraced horses have been nominated to the 2019 Triple Crown, including three who haven’t even been named yet. If you’re in the mood to look for the second coming of Justify [...]

Sparky Ville Wears Down Dessman in San Vicente Stakes

Sparky Ville winning the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) - © Benoit Photo Over a wet-fast, sealed racetrack at Santa Anita that was slower and significantly less speed-favoring than usual, Sparky Ville became a graded stakes winner by out-dueling two heavily-bet Bob Baffert trainees in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II). Sparky Ville’s chances were aided when the 7-10 favorite Coliseum and his stablemate Dessman broke slowly at the start of the seven-furlong sprint and subsequently rushed [...]

How to Bet the San Vicente Stakes

Santa Anita - Photo by © Breeders' Cup/Todd Buchanan 2014 Trainer Bob Baffert has won the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita on nine occasions, and since he’ll be sending out two of the five starters in Sunday’s renewal of the seven-furlong sprint, it stands to reason that he’ll have a strong chance to win a tenth. Baffert’s two runners are #2 Coliseum and #3 Dessman, the favorites on the morning line at 6-5 and 5-2. [...]

Dubai Carnival Update: Walking Thunder Carries Derby Dreams for Dubai

Thunder Snow winning the 2018 Dubai World Cup - Coady Photography From the deserts of the Middle East to the bluegrass of Kentucky, who’s coming to Churchill Downs by way of Dubai? With 170 Kentucky Derby qualification points on the line in the March 30 UAE Derby (UAE-II) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, we're bound to see one or two horses use the desert challenge as a springboard to Churchill Downs. Although no UAE Derby starter has ever [...]

Pros and Cons of the Weekend Derby Prep Winners

Mucho Gusto winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) - © Benoit Photo Last weekend was a big one on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with three major prep races being held across the country, but if we’re perfectly honest, the results—while intriguing—came up a little disappointing. A sloppy, sealed track led to the scratch of highly-regarded Nolo Contesto from the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita, which allowed Mucho Gusto to romp [...]

Mucho Gusto Shows New Dimension in Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Mucho Gusto winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) - © Benoit Photo Everyone knows that Mucho Gusto is fast, but on Saturday the son of Mucho Macho Man revealed a new dimension to his racing ability, settling off the pace before producing a strong finish to win the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita in dominant fashion. Over a sloppy, sealed track that was playing fast all day, the once-beaten Bob Baffert-trained [...]

Track Condition Could Be Key Factor in Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Mucho Gusto winning the Bob Hope Stakes (gr. III) at Del Mar - © Benoit Photo Regardless of Albert Hammond’s opinion that “It Never Rains in Southern California,” the weather figures to have quite an impact on the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita. There’s plenty of rain in the forecast between now and Saturday afternoon, when the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race will be contested, but remember, the main [...]

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 [...]

Baffert is Loaded in Quest for Record-Equaling Sixth Kentucky Derby Win

Game Winner winning the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo Trainer Bob Baffert has already swept the Triple Crown twice among 15 victories in Triple Crown races, record totals that have established Baffert as the all-time leading trainer in the spring classics. Five of those classic wins have come in the Kentucky Derby, which places Baffert second on the all-time wins list behind only the Calumet Farm legend Ben Jones, who trained six Derby winners. [...]