Bravazo Finishes Fast in Risen Star Upset

Bravazo winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir Let’s face it—it’s just doesn’t feel like Kentucky Derby prep season if the Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas doesn’t have a horse in the mix, which is why you have to be pleased by the results of Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds. The 8.5-furlong race offered 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points to the [...]

Will Combatant Upset Mourinho in the Southwest Stakes?

Mourinho (right) leads Combatant (white and black silks) into the homestretch of the Smarty Jones Stakes - Coady Photography In recent years, no trainer has dominated the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races at Oaklawn Park more thoroughly than Bob Baffert. Since 2010, the Hall of Fame trainer has won 13 of the 30 Derby prep races contested at Oaklawn, including four editions of the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III). Baffert will have a strong chance to [...]

Keying Instilled Regard in the Risen Star Stakes

Instilled Regard winning the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir With 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points on the line, you can bet that the race for victory in Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds will be competitive and exciting. Ten horses have turned out to contest the 8.5-furlong event, which has been won in recent years by the future Breeders’ Cup Classic winners Gun Runner and [...]

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 [...]

Instilled Regard Demonstrates California’s Strength in Lecomte Stakes

Instilled Regard winning the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir In recent years, California-based three-year-olds have proven dominant in the Triple Crown races and the prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Certainly the West Coast held a clear edge in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016, when horses like I’ll Have Another, California Chrome, American Pharoah, Nyquist, Exaggerator, and Bodemeister rose to prominence, and early evidence suggests that [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 – 1/9/18

Mask winning the Mucho Macho Man Stakes - Photo by Kenny Martin/Coglianese Photography It’s not every day that you see a horse win a stakes races as easily as Mask won the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Chad Brown, the son of Tapit entered the one-mile race with just one run under his belt, that being an impressive maiden win at Belmont Park in which he overcame a slow start to win [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 – 1/2/18

Principe Guilherme winning an allowance race at Fair Grounds (Hodges Photography) Well, 2018 has arrived, the juvenile stars of last year are officially three years old, and it’s time for things to get serious on the road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Actually, the road would already be underway if cold weather hadn’t led to the cancellation of the Jerome Stakes (gr. III) on New Year’s Day at Aqueduct. The race is expected to be rescheduled and held [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 – 12/27/17

Always Dreaming winning the 2017 Kentucky Derby - Coady Photography Much has been made through the years about trainer Todd Pletcher’s perceived lack of success in the Triple Crown races, primarily the Kentucky Derby. An oft-quoted statistic from years ago spoke of Pletcher’s early disappointments in the Derby, in which his starters went 0-for-24 before Pletcher scored a victory with Super Saver in 2010. But much like the Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who lost with [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 – 12/19/17

Principe Guilherme winning an allowance race at Fair Grounds (Hodges Photography) “He’s like a young Gun Runner.” That’s the thought that crosses my mind when I think about the exciting two-year-old Principe Guilherme, who brought his record to a perfect 2-for-2 with an eye-catching allowance win at Fair Grounds on December 16th. Some of the similarities are obvious. Principe Guilherme, like Gun Runner, is from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Both colts opened their [...]