Well Defined Sprints Away From Rivals in Sam F. Davis Stakes

Well Defined winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) - Photo by SV Photography The $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) at Tampa Bay Downs was supposed to feature a fast pace and a speed duel between a few of the prominent front-runners in the field. But Well Defined simply laughed at that notion, waltzing along on an uncontested lead to win the race in dominant fashion. Equipped with blinkers for the first time, Well Defined [...]

Is Knicks Go Vulnerable in the Sam F. Davis?

Knicks Go winning the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) - Keeneland Photo I don’t think anyone will deny that #3 Knicks Go was among the best two-year-olds of 2018, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll be unbeatable in Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) at Tampa Bay Downs. Knicks Go will surely be favored in the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race, but he’ll be making his first start in 2 ½ months [...]

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 [...]

Analyzing the Strength of the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Field

Game Winner winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) - Coady Photography Just over two months have elapsed since thirteen young Kentucky Derby contenders vied for supremacy in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, giving us time to formulate clearer opinions on the overall strength of the Juvenile field. https://youtu.be/czkxQKL7gI8 So far, eight of the thirteen Juvenile starters have come back to run again, with a mixture of success and disappointment. Let’s take a [...]

2018 Year in Review: Horse Racing’s Top 5 Biggest Upsets

Knicks Go winning the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) - Keeneland Photo Although 2018 was generally a very productive year for racing’s established stars, that doesn’t mean the season went by without any memorable (and occasionally monumental) upsets. Some upsets featured high-priced winners, while others featured favorites that were defeated at very short prices. Comparing and ranking them is tricky, but after going back through the year’s results, here’s my opinion on five of the biggest racing upsets [...]

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 [...]

Rating the First Round of 2019 Kentucky Derby Preps

Game Winner winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) - Coady Photography With the running of Sunday's Remington Springboard Mile, the last North American Kentucky Derby prep race of the year entered the history books, bringing to a close the first stage of qualification for the 2019 “Run for the Roses.” From September through December, nine Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races were conducted across the country, and while the majority offered the same number of qualification [...]

Signalman Digs Deep in Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

Signalman winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) - Coady Photography You can argue that luck played a significant role in allowing Signalman to reach the wire first in Saturday’s $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. But luck merely put Signalman in the position to win, and it was unquestionably his class and determination that sealed the deal. Facing a full field of thirteen rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky [...]

Playing Against the Favorites in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

Knicks Go winning the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) - Keeneland Photo Full field? Check. Competitive betting race? Check. Official Kentucky Derby prep race? Check again. The 2018-19 Road to the Kentucky Derby will resume on Saturday with the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, and from a handicapping perspective, there’s nothing not to like about this 1 1/16-mile event. I find the race particularly exciting because I’m not convinced that the expected favorites [...]

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 [...]