Three Takeaways from the 2019 Santa Anita Derby

Roadster winning the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo In a much-anticipated showdown between two of trainer Bob Baffert’s top Kentucky Derby hopefuls, the lightly-raced Roadster got the better of his favored stablemate Game Winner in a thrilling battle to the finish line of the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park. After taking some time to analyze the results and study the replay, here are my three main takeaways from [...]

Why I’m Betting Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby

Roadster winning his debut at Del Mar - © Benoit Photo It might not be logical to expect the champion two-year-old and three-time Grade 1 winner #6 Game Winner to lose back-to-back races, but when he starts as the heavy favorite in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park, I’ll be tempted to oppose him. Am I crazy? Maybe. Why would I side against the horse that I have ranked #1 in my [...]

Kentucky Derby Rankings Updated Top 5

Maximum Security impressed so much winning the Grade 1 Florida Derby this past Saturday that he immediately jumps to the top of my Derby Rankings. The former maiden claimer took the lead and dominated. Could he do that on the First Saturday in May? Maybe. Who knows? It’s not like any horse outside of Maximum Security has turned into the superstar ala Justify last year. A horse could after this Saturday when three major prep races: the Santa Anita Derby, [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Tacitus Joins, Hidden Scroll Returns

Tacitus winning the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) - Photo by SV Photography The indefinite suspension of racing and training at Santa Anita has thrown a monkey wrench into the plans for Game Winner and Improbable, delaying their scheduled returns to action by one week. Nevertheless, they remain at the top of my Kentucky Derby Top 10 despite a busy weekend that saw Tacitus upset the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II), Haikal rally to victory in the Gotham [...]

Three Takeaways from the Gotham Stakes

Haikal winning the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) - © Adam Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand The old phrase “pace makes the race” was demonstrated clearly in the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) on March 3 at Aqueduct, won by the late-running Haikal in a driving finish. Indeed, it’s not a stretch to conclude that the outcome of the race was determined almost solely by the extraordinary pace of the one-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep event. On a day [...]

Why I’m Betting Haikal in the Gotham Stakes

Instagrand winning the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar - © BENOIT PHOTO There is an abundance of early speed entered in Saturday’s $300,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, so it’s hard not to envision the one-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race unfolding at a rapid pace. For example, #6 Instagrand led gate-to-wire in his two impressive victories last year. #7 Not That Brady has set the pace in his last four starts. [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Code of Honor Returns

Code of Honor winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes - © Adam Coglianese Photography Code of Honor is back. Hidden Scroll is gone (at least temporarily). Roadster is moving up, Signalman is moving down, and that pretty much sums up the changes to my latest Kentucky Derby Top 10. The Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), won by Code of Honor in late-running fashion, was the main catalyst for change, but it was nothing compared to the action [...]

No Shortage of Derby Contenders Boasting Triple-Digit BRIS Speed Figures

Game Winner winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) - Coady Photography Generally speaking, Beyer and BRIS speed figures are arranged on a similar scale. A young horse that posts a triple-digit number is a fast and probably stakes-caliber runner with a bright future. But interestingly, the Beyer and BRIS speed figures paint differing pictures of the 2019 Triple Crown contenders. On the Beyer scale, just two members of this foal crop have cracked the triple-digit barrier, those [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Things Are About to Get Serious

Roadster winning his debut at Del Mar - © Benoit Photo Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because the Road to the Kentucky Derby is going to feature hectic, non-stop action from here on out. After weeks (months?) without any significant changes in my Kentucky Derby Top 10, expect to see some major shifts over the next couple of weeks as my top six contenders compete in races like the March 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), [...]

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) [...]