Omaha Beach Defeats Game Winner in Rebel Stakes Division 2

Omaha Beach winning the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography It was a sight to behold—two top-class Kentucky Derby candidates flying to the finish line of the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, leaving their rivals far, far behind while battling courageously to the wire. Both ran so gallantly, it was a shame there had to be a loser. But when they flashedacross the finish line, it was the up-and-coming Omaha Beach [...]

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 [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: A “Win-Win-Win” Situation

Win Win Win winning the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs - Photo by SV Photography In the two weeks since my last update, two new names have joined my Kentucky Derby Top 10, including an exciting stakes winner from Tampa Bay Downs who looks like a potential beast in the making. How do they all stack up? Let’s take a look…. Game Winner He’s come back firing in his workouts, throwing down three furlongs in a bullet [...]

Analyzing the Strength of the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Field

Game Winner winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) - Coady Photography Just over two months have elapsed since thirteen young Kentucky Derby contenders vied for supremacy in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, giving us time to formulate clearer opinions on the overall strength of the Juvenile field. https://youtu.be/czkxQKL7gI8 So far, eight of the thirteen Juvenile starters have come back to run again, with a mixture of success and disappointment. Let’s take a [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Major Changes to Kick Off 2019

Gunmetal Gray winning the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita - © Benoit Photo For the first time in more than a month, there’s been a major shake-up in my Kentucky Derby Top 10. Following disappointing efforts in Saturday Derby preps from Code of Honor (previously ranked #6) and Coliseum (ranked #8), I have elected to remove both colts from my list for the time being. I have also dropped Roadster (ranked #5), who hasn’t turned in a timed [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Gunmetal Gray

Gunmetal Gray winning the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita - © Benoit Photo The most hyped 2019 Kentucky Derby contender in Jerry Hollendorfer’s barn is certainly the undefeated Instagrand, but in terms of accomplishments to date it’s hard to deny that Hollendorfer’s steadily-progressing Gunmetal Gray has surpassed his stablemate. He might not have the flashiest pedigree, being by Exchange Rate out of the allowance-winning Include mare Classofsixtythree, but what his pedigree lacks in flash it makes up for with [...]

Gunmetal Gray Rallies to Victory in Sham Stakes

Gunmetal Gray winning the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita - © Benoit Photo When the dust settled in the aftermath of Saturday’s $100,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita, racing fans were surely left scratching their heads over one of the strangest Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races in recent memory. Much of the pre-race hype centered around Bob Baffert’s promising debut winner Coliseum, a quirky son of Tapit who started as the overwhelming 3-5 favorite. [...]

Keying Coliseum in the Sham Stakes

Bob Baffert at Saratoga - Photo by Courtney Heeney/Coglianese Photography Remember 2017, when Gormley “upset” American Athem in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita and paid a whopping $5.20 to win? Remarkably, that modest payoff has been the highest in the Sham since the one-mile event became a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race in 2013. During that same timeframe, the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has started horses in five editions of the [...]