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.

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Maximus Mischief On the Rise

The field rounds the first turn of the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography Although no new names have joined my Kentucky Derby Top 10 following the weekend of December 1-2, that doesn’t mean my rankings have gone completely unchanged. To the contrary, Maximus Mischief has moved up following an eye-catching victory in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), while Code of Honor has dropped a slot after unexpectedly missing the Remsen. My [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Signalman Moves Up

Signalman winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) - Coady Photography The action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby picked up over the weekend with Signalman claiming a gutsy victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) and the filly Make Happy powering to a decisive win in the Cattleya Sho in Japan. Plus, two weekends ago, we saw trainer Bob Baffert debut yet another exciting two-year-old who appears to have a very bright future. [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Pedigree Ratings

Instagrand winning the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar - © BENOIT PHOTO Analyzing pedigrees is a big part of searching for promising Kentucky Derby contenders. A horse might show promise sprinting, but does it have the pedigree to excel going the Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles? With this in mind, I’ve poured over the pedigrees of the horses in my Kentucky Derby Top 10 and have rated their pedigrees on scale of 1 to [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Game Winner the Early Leader

The field rounds the first turn of the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography Well, the 2018 Breeders’ Cup is in the history books, and you know what that means—it’s time to start looking ahead toward the 2019 Kentucky Derby! A handful of official prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby have already been run, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and less than six months remain until the first Saturday [...]

Keeler Johnson’s (Way Too Early) 2019 Kentucky Derby Top 10

Game Winner winning the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo Yes, I know the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby hasn’t even officially started yet. And yes, I’m well aware that it’s way (way) too early to start ranking next year’s top Derby contenders. But hey, we all love talking about future stars, and since the Del Mar and Saratoga meets are over (and the upcoming weekend racing action is quieter as a result), why [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 4/18/18

Magnum Moon winning the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) - Coady Photography It’s been a long and winding road, but the final prep races for the 2018 Kentucky Derby were run last Saturday, meaning that the field for the “Run for the Roses” is more or less established. From now until the Derby, the main focus will be on the pre-race workouts, with handicappers watching the morning training sessions to get a glimpse of each contender and gauge how [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 4/10/18

Good Magic winning the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) - Keeneland Photo With just two prep races remaining to be run, the field is pretty much set for the 2018 Kentucky Derby, leaving handicappers to debate the merits of the many impressive performances we’ve seen over the last several months. For me, the results of Saturday’s three major prep races—the Santa Anita Derby, the Blue Grass Stakes, and the Wood Memorial—did little to change my opinions of the [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 4/3/18

Audible winning the Florida Derby (gr. I) - Photo by Adam Coglianese Photography The Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby took some twists over the last few days, and for some well-regarded contenders, the road has gotten bumpy. The prep races over the weekend were the Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park and the UAE Derby (UAE-II) at Meydan, in which Audible and Mendelssohn stamped their Derby credentials with impressive victories. But some of their beaten rivals [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 3/29/18

Noble Indy winning the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr. Question—what do Bravazo, Combatant, Free Drop Billy, Mississippi, Promises Fulfilled, Quip, and Reride have in common? Answer—they’re all contenders for the 2018 Kentucky Derby and they all scored their maiden victories at Churchill Downs, where the Derby is held each year. While experience over the main track at Churchill Downs certainly isn’t a bad thing for a Derby contender, you might be [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 3/19/18

Magnum Moon winning the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography We’re in the homestretch now. Last week was a bit of a milestone on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park and the Jeff Ruby Steaks (gr. III) at Turfway Park essentially representing the last races in the penultimate round of Kentucky Derby prep races. Next week, we’ll enter the final round with the Louisiana Derby [...]