2019 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Master Fencer

The recent confirmation that Japan’s Master Fencer will contest the 2019 Kentucky Derby has added a bit of international intrigue to the Run for the Roses. Master Fencer will be just the third Japan-based runner to compete in the Derby, and he’ll be making history as the first Derby starter bred in Japan. His participation will naturally provide a challenge for handicappers, since it’s difficult to determine how his form compares to that of the more clearly established Derby contenders [...]

Der Flug Wins Final Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Prep Race

The Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby reached its conclusion with the Fukuryu Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse on March 31, though it remains to be seen whether the four-race series will produce a starter for the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Eight horses lined up to contest the 1,800-meter race, though with the well-regarded Derma Louvre on the road for the UAE Derby (UAE-II) and last month’s Hyacinth Stakes winner Oval Ace absent from the action, the Fukuryu field was a bit [...]

Kentucky Derby, Oaks Candidates Face Off in Japan’s Hyacinth Stakes

Tokyo Racecourse (Photo courtesy of the Japan Racing Association) If you’re a forward-looking handicapper already anticipating major spring races like the UAE Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Kentucky Oaks, then I encourage you to stay up late on Saturday night and check out the Hyacinth Stakes in Japan. Held over a metric mile at Tokyo Racecourse, the Hyacinth (which technically takes place at 12:25 a.m. Eastern on Sunday Morning) serves as the third leg of the Japan Road to [...]

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 [...]

2018-19 Road to the Kentucky Derby Year-End Review

The field rounds the first turn of the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography With the running of the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun in Japan on December 19th, the final Kentucky Derby prep race of 2018 entered the history books, giving us an opportunity to look back on the season before the calendar turns over and we continue headlong toward the 2019 Derby. During the course of the primary Road to the Kentucky [...]

Filly Make Happy Earns Derby Qualification Points in Cattleya Sho

Tokyo Racecourse (Photo Courtesy of the JRA) If you haven’t already placed a bet on the “All Other Three-Year-Old Fillies” option in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1, maybe you need to open your wallet and reconsider, because against the odds a filly has already won a Kentucky Derby prep race. That victory came courtesy of Make Happy, who posted a convincing win in the November 24th Cattleya Sho at Tokyo Racecourse in Japan, earning 10 qualifications points on [...]

Early Impressions on the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby

The field rounds the first turn of the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography With less than six months remaining until the 2019 Kentucky Derby, we’re about to enter what I like to consider the second stage of the qualification process. The first stage included the major Breeders’ Cup prep races such as the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and American Pharoah Stakes (gr. I) and culminated with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. [...]

2018-19 Road to the Kentucky Derby Kicks Off With Iroquois Stakes

Coady Photography The journey ultimately comes full circle; it begins where it ends, and ends where it begins. That journey, of course, is the 2018-19 Road to the Kentucky Derby, which kicks off on September 15th with the running of the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. It’s only fitting that the Road to the Kentucky Derby should begin at the track where the historic “Run for the Roses” will be held [...]

Is Japan’s Sumahama a Kentucky Derby Contender?

Tokyo Race Course (Photo Courtesy of the JRA) The Road to the Kentucky Derby might just be getting serious in North America, but across the globe in Japan the action reached its peak on Sunday with Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse, the final and most important race in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Sixteen horses faced the starter in the 1,600-meter (about one mile) event, with the favorite in the Japanese wagering being Sumahama, who [...]

Keying Dark Repulser in Japan’s Hyacinth Stakes

Tokyo Race Course (Photo Courtesy of the JRA) If you’re planning to stay up late on Saturday night (perhaps to catch another exciting night of the Winter Olympics) you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on the simulcast from Tokyo Racecourse in Japan. The highlight of the night, at least for North American racing fans, is the 1,600-meter (about one mile) Hyacinth Stakes, the final prep race on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Three of the [...]