Baffert is Loaded in Quest for Record-Equaling Sixth Kentucky Derby Win

Game Winner winning the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo Trainer Bob Baffert has already swept the Triple Crown twice among 15 victories in Triple Crown races, record totals that have established Baffert as the all-time leading trainer in the spring classics. Five of those classic wins have come in the Kentucky Derby, which places Baffert second on the all-time wins list behind only the Calumet Farm legend Ben Jones, who trained six Derby winners. [...]

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 [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Mind Control

Mind Control winning the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga - Photo by Adam Coglianese Photography We’ve long known that Mind Control is a very talented colt over short distances, but on New Year’s Day he took an important step toward the 2019 Kentucky Derby by demonstrating that he can handle a mile and isn’t purely a sprinter. That was a bit of a question mark prior to Mind Control’s front-running victory in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: No Changes (For Now)

Improbable winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo As the racing year winds down, the final Kentucky Derby prep races of the season are wrapping up. On Sunday, Long Range Toddy forged to a narrow victory in the Remington Springboard Mile, earning 10 qualification points toward the 2019 Derby. Still to come on Wednesday is the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun, the second leg of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, in which the California-bred [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Long Range Toddy

If you’re looking for a 2019 Kentucky Derby contender with the pedigree to excel running 1 ¼ miles on the first Saturday in May, then you’ll be excited to check out Long Range Toddy, who burst onto the Derby scene with a hard-fought victory in the Remington Springboard Mile on December 16th. All of Long Range Toddy’s immediate ancestors were successful running a mile or farther, including his Florida Derby (gr. I)-winning sire Take Charge Indy, his dam Pleasant Song, [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Game Winner Challenged By His Stablemate?

Bob Baffert at Saratoga - Photo by Courtney Heeney/Coglianese Photography For the first time this season, a horse has emerged to challenge Game Winner for the top spot in my Kentucky Derby Top 10, a position that the son of Candy Ride has tenaciously held since September. Ultimately, Game Winner narrowly retained his leadership spot, but the fact that a horse as talented and accomplished as Game Winner isn’t first by a mile speaks volumes about the talent [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Improbable

Improbable winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo Trainer Bob Baffert is well accustomed to wheeling and dealing with expensive horses. Triple Crown winner Justify cost $500,000. Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate cost $560,000. Two of Baffert’s flashy maiden winners this year cost $925,000 and $625,000. But some of Baffert’s best runners this season have been quite inexpensive by those standards, and that includes Improbable, who sold for just $200,000 at the 2017 Keeneland [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Maximus Mischief

Maximus Mischief winning the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct - Photo by NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand Is there anything more exciting in racing than an undefeated, graded stakes-winning Kentucky Derby contender? Hard to say, but in the quiet months of winter such a horse has to rank pretty high on the excitement meter, and Maximus Mischief has the racing world abuzz after bringing his race record to a perfect 3-for-3 with a victory in the December 2nd Remsen [...]

Maximus Mischief Handles Class, Distance Tests in Remsen Stakes

Maximus Mischief winning the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct - Photo by NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand Big steps up in both class and distance can be problematic for some horses, but they were certainly no obstacle for Maximus Mischief in Saturday’s $250,000 Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct, as the speedy colt kept his unbeaten record intact with another eye-catching victory. With qualifications points for the 2019 Kentucky Derby on the line, the 1 1/8-mile Remsen marked [...]