2019 Kentucky Derby: Keeler Johnson’s Morning Line Projection

Churchill Downs - Coady Photography In recent years post-time favorites in the Kentucky Derby have been starting at relatively short prices, especially when you consider the uncommonly large size of the annual Derby field. This has coincided with a historic streak of six consecutive winning favorites. Orb, who prevailed in the 2013 Derby at odds of 5.40-1, has been the only member of the current streak to start above 5-1. He’s been followed into the Derby winner’s circle [...]

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 [...]

Pletcher Heats Up with Two Derby Qualifiers; More on the Way?

Cutting Humor after winning the Sunland Derby (gr. III) - © Coady Photography/Sunland Park Trainer Todd Pletcher has won two Kentucky Derbies, has saddled more Derby starters (52) than any other trainer in history, and has sent out at least one Derby starter every year since 2004. Yet until recently, there appeared to be a chance that Pletcher would be without a Kentucky Derby starter for 2019. His best three-year-olds just weren’t making headlines, and you had to [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Anothertwistafate Impresses the Most

By My Standards winning the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) - © Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr. This year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby prep season has been filled with memorable upsets, so it’s only fitting that the two big races last week saw two more odds-on favorites fall to defeat. War of Will, previously ranked fifth in my Kentucky Derby Top 10, finished ninth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) but came out of the race with a muscle [...]

Cutting Humor Edges Anothertwistafate in Sunland Derby

Cutting Humor after winning the Sunland Derby (gr. III) - © Coady Photography/Sunland Park In a clear-cut demonstration of how trips can affect the performance of a racehorse, Cutting Humor had the last laugh in the $800,000 Sunland Derby (gr. III) at Sunland Park, parlaying a clean run into a gallant victory in the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of First Samurai entered the Sunland Derby off a troubled seventh-place [...]

How to Bet the Sunland Derby

Mucho Gusto winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) - © Benoit Photo There’s certainly no shortage of early speed entered in the March 24 Sunland Derby (gr. III) at Sunland Park, which could potentially make things tricky for the two morning line favorites in this Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race. Those two would be #1 Mucho Gusto and #2 Anothertwistafate, who are shipping in from California with an eye on taking down the winner’s [...]

Spot Plays for Southwest Stakes Day at Oaklawn Park

Jack Van Berg breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography High-class Monday racing action isn’t common, but Oaklawn Park is making an exception by scheduling three graded stakes races for February 18, Presidents’ Day. It’s a fun card with a lot of options, so let’s go through the fields and look for some spot plays…. Race 3: Maiden Special Weight There are some promising first-time starters in this race, including #1 Good as Money (a Calumet [...]

How to Bet the Southwest Stakes

Sueno galloping at Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography When I started handicapping the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III) on Presidents’ Day at Oaklawn Park, I initially began by trying to separate the six runners coming out of last month’s Smarty Jones Stakes. I took note of the fact that #1 Gray Attempt won the Smarty Jones in gate-to-wire fashion, tenaciously clinging to a narrow advantage down the homestretch while giving the impression that he was in better control [...]