Why I’m Betting Nero in the Malibu Stakes

McKinzie winning the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita © Benoit Photo Get ready, everyone! Racing in North America will be taking a one-day hiatus on December 25th to celebrate Christmas, but we’ll be right back in the thick of things on December 26th when the annual winter/spring meet at Santa Anita kicks off with a stakes-packed afternoon of racing. Among the highlights is the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), a seven-furlong sprint for three-year-olds that has attracted [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 3/14/18

Bolt d'Oro (left) and McKinzie battle to the wire in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) - © Benoit Photo While it can be difficult to determine the strength of a given crop of three-year-olds until the year is over and the whole racing season can be reviewed, early indications suggest that this year’s Kentucky Derby contenders are a very deep and talented group. There’s Quip, who recently returned from a layoff to win the Tampa Bay Derby [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 3/6/18

Promises Fulfilled winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) - Photo by Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photography Two months… two months until the 2018 Kentucky Derby. That’s not a lot of time, and from here on out, the top-ranked Kentucky Derby contenders will have to make the most of it. For the majority, just one or two prep races remain on the agenda, and with Derby qualification points on the line, no one can afford any significant setbacks. Over [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 2/27/18

Bolt d'Oro - © Benoit Photo. It’s been a bit quiet on the Kentucky Derby trail over the last week, but that won’t be the case for much longer. The upcoming Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park promises to be one of the most significant Derby prep races to date, and two races on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby are scheduled to be held this Thursday and Friday. I’ll kick off this action-packed [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 2/20/18

Bravazo winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir The Road to the Kentucky Derby took a few major twists last weekend with upsets in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) and Southwest Stakes (gr. III), plus a brilliant debut from an exciting colt at Santa Anita. Suffice to say, my Kentucky Derby Top 10 has been shaken up a bit this week. Here’s how I rank the contenders [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 2/12/18

Mourinho (right) leads Combatant (white and black silks) into the homestretch of the Smarty Jones Stakes - Coady Photography Last Saturday, two horses listed in my weekly Kentucky Derby Top 10 competed in graded stakes races. One—Catholic Boy—was beaten a half-length in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III), an official prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The other—Nero—was beaten 3 ¼ lengths in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes (gr. II). While it would be [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 2/6/18

Audible winning the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park - Photo by Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photography It was a very busy weekend on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with three official prep races and a seemingly endless number of maiden and allowance races giving fans plenty to analyze and consider. Most eyes were focused on the stakes races, which saw Audible score a convincing win in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II), Avery Island rebound with [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 1/30/18

Bolt d'Oro - © Benoit Photo. In what could be considered the calm before the storm, very little happened last weekend on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but with three major prep races scheduled for February 3rd, there’s no doubt that the action is about to heat up quickly. The upcoming races are the $250,000 Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, the $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, and the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 1/22/18

Good Magic winning the 2017 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Photo by Carson Denis/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup) On a quiet weekend without any official Kentucky Derby prep races, the biggest news came from Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, where the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Good Magic made his much-anticipated return to the work tab. The son of Curlin went three furlongs in a bullet :36.95 as he prepares for an undetermined seasonal debut expected to come in early [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 1/17/18

Instilled Regard winning the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir Following a busy week that featured three Kentucky Derby prep races and a full slate of competitive maiden and allowance events, there’s plenty to digest on the road to the Derby! Needless to say, my Kentucky Derby Top 10 underwent some significant changes over the weekend. Newcomers to the list include Instilled Regard, a decisive winner of the Lecomte Stakes [...]