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 [...]

Rating the 2019 Kentucky Derby Prep Races

Omaha Beach winning the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography As we head into the final round of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, now seems like a good time to look back at the 17 North American prep races already run this year and assign a rating to each one. My ratings—based on a scale of 1 to 5—attempt to blend the apparent strength of each race on paper with its potential [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach (right) holds off Game Winner (left) in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) - Coady Photography It’s been a big year for War Front on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The 17-year-old Claiborne Farm stallion has already made headlines as the sire of two-time graded stakes winner War of Will, and on Saturday, War Front was back in the spotlight again when his son Omaha Beach fought to a valiant victory in the second division of [...]

Six Horses That Could Take Bill Mott Back to the Derby

Hidden Scroll winning his debut at Gulfstream Park - Photo by Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography During a career that began in 1973, trainer Bill Mott has won a staggering 4,893 races, the seventh-highest total in the history of North American racing. Those victories include a Belmont Stakes, ten Breeders’ Cup events, and 448 other graded stakes races. It’s obvious why Mott is in the Hall of Fame. Yet for all his success, Mott has never won the Kentucky [...]

Keeler Johnson’s 2019 Kentucky Derby Roundup

The field rounds the first turn of the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography With just three months remaining until the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the prep season is really starting to heat up. It seems like yesterday that the Road to the Kentucky Derby was just getting underway with the running of the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, but that was nearly five months ago, and since then nearly two-dozen prep races [...]

Pros and Cons of the Weekend Derby Prep Winners

Mucho Gusto winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) - © Benoit Photo Last weekend was a big one on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with three major prep races being held across the country, but if we’re perfectly honest, the results—while intriguing—came up a little disappointing. A sloppy, sealed track led to the scratch of highly-regarded Nolo Contesto from the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita, which allowed Mucho Gusto to romp [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: A “Win-Win-Win” Situation

Win Win Win winning the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs - Photo by SV Photography In the two weeks since my last update, two new names have joined my Kentucky Derby Top 10, including an exciting stakes winner from Tampa Bay Downs who looks like a potential beast in the making. How do they all stack up? Let’s take a look…. Game Winner He’s come back firing in his workouts, throwing down three furlongs in a bullet [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: War of Will

War of Will winning the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir As the old saying goes, a good horse can come from anywhere, so by extension a Kentucky Derby contender must be able to come from anywhere… even if he’s a turf-bred youngster back from a foray in Europe. That, in essence, is the journey of War of Will, who joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a decisive [...]

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 [...]