Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top Ten

Each week during the Road to the Kentucky Derby, check out our top ten rankings for the leading contenders for the “Run for the Roses” by J. Keeler Johnson, a horse racing writer, blogger, videographer, handicapper, and all-around enthusiast.

Kentucky Derby Top 10: Early twists and turns

It’s only December, but the 2019-2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby has already taken a few unexpected turns.

Kentucky Derby Top 10: Kicking off the road to 2020

The 2019-2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby is already underway, and while consistency has not been a strong suit among the early Derby contenders, we’ve seen flashes of serious talent from at least a dozen colts.

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: The Final Rankings

Omaha Beach winning the Arkansas Derby (G1) - Coady Photography The major workouts are complete, most of the contenders have arrived at Churchill Downs and just five days remain until the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. I’ve been sharing my Kentucky Derby Top 10 rankings every week since the beginning of November, when Game Winner, Improbable, Code of Honor and Roadster, comprised four of my top five horses. Six months later they still rank among the main names in [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Omaha Beach Stays on Top

Code of Honor wins Fountain of Youth Stakes (Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin) Now that the Kentucky Derby prep races are complete, it’s safe to say morning training sessions have moved to the forefront of everyone’s attention as the Derby draws nearer. I haven’t seen anything in the various workouts and gallops to strongly shift my opinions of the top contenders, but that could change over the next week or so, as the 20 Derby candidates wrap up their serious [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: A New Leader

Omaha Beach winning the Arkansas Derby (G1) - Coady Photography The final prep races have been run, the field is pretty much set, and less than three weeks remain until the 2019 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. It’s being called one of the most wide-open Kentucky Derbys in recent memory, but one thing seems certain—the California contingent is strong, as usual, with four of the five probable betting favorites. Not surprisingly those four are all ranked near the [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: It’s a Rather Perplexing Year

Roadster winning the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo I must admit, it’s getting harder and harder to compile my Kentucky Derby Top 10 rankings each week. Unlike last year, when the top contenders seemed pretty clear-cut at this point in the season, the 2019 Kentucky Derby picture remains completely wide-open with less than four weeks until the big race. I feel like I’m excluding some promising horses (the Blue Grass Stakes winner Vekoma being [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Where to Rank Maximum Security?

Maximum Security winning the Florida Derby (gr. I) - © Adam Coglianese Photography With barely more than a month remaining until the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the race remains as wide-open as ever. Two more upset victories in the Florida Derby (gr. I) and UAE Derby (UAE-II) did little to clarify the Derby picture; if anything, the prospective field has become even more perplexing. You know it’s a strange year when a 71-1 maiden can finish second in the [...]

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 [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Game Winner Remains On Top

Omaha Beach (right) holds off Game Winner (left) in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) - Coady Photography Although he suffered the first defeat of his career last Saturday, the performance of Game Winner in the Rebel Stakes was sufficient for the champion colt to retain the top spot in my Kentucky Derby Top 10. Not surprisingly, Omaha Beach—the colt who gallantly conquered Game Winner—has secured a high ranking as well in his first week on my list. Game [...]

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 [...]