2019 Kentucky Derby: Trainers, Facts and Trends

Bode Baffert (and Mike Smith) holds up the Derby trophy as his father, trainer Bob Baffert (second from left), enjoys the moment after Justify won the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs (Skip Dickstein/Times Union) Some of the best-known trainers in North American horse racing will be represented by major contenders in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, but as usual, the “Run for the Roses” will make room for a few newcomers as well. Sixteen different [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Omaha Beach Stays on Top

Code of Honor wins Fountain of Youth Stakes (Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin) Now that the Kentucky Derby prep races are complete, it’s safe to say morning training sessions have moved to the forefront of everyone’s attention as the Derby draws nearer. I haven’t seen anything in the various workouts and gallops to strongly shift my opinions of the top contenders, but that could change over the next week or so, as the 20 Derby candidates wrap up their serious [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby: Keeler Johnson’s Morning Line Projection

Churchill Downs - Coady Photography In recent years post-time favorites in the Kentucky Derby have been starting at relatively short prices, especially when you consider the uncommonly large size of the annual Derby field. This has coincided with a historic streak of six consecutive winning favorites. Orb, who prevailed in the 2013 Derby at odds of 5.40-1, has been the only member of the current streak to start above 5-1. He’s been followed into the Derby winner’s circle [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby: Contender Birth Dates and Historical Trends

Omaha Beach wins the Arkansas Derby (Coady Photo/Oaklawn) Based on their birth dates, it appears that the 2019 Kentucky Derby contenders are skewing a bit younger than usual this year. You can usually count on there being a handful of January-born contenders, along with a few born in May, while the majority will have been born during the February/March/April window. But 2019 is shaping up to be a bit different. Not a single top 25 Derby contender was [...]

During Kentucky Derby Prep Season, Less is Often More

Possible Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach will have to break the "Smarty Jones Curse" in order to win the roses. Photo by Coady Photography While it used to be common for horses to employ busy prep schedules in advance of the Kentucky Derby, in recent years, Derby winners have been taking a “less is more” approach to their winter/spring racing action. Gone are the days when a Derby winner might run seven times as a 3-year-old prior to [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby: Who’s on the Bubble?

Anothertwistafate winning the El Camino Real Derby - © Vassar Photography/Shane Micheli How many qualification points will be required to run in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, and which horses will secure the last few slots in the starting gate? That’s the question everyone is asking now that the 2018-19 Road to the Kentucky Derby is complete, and the field of 20 horses is pretty much set. It would be set in stone ,except that there are still 19 [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: A New Leader

Omaha Beach winning the Arkansas Derby (G1) - Coady Photography The final prep races have been run, the field is pretty much set, and less than three weeks remain until the 2019 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. It’s being called one of the most wide-open Kentucky Derbys in recent memory, but one thing seems certain—the California contingent is strong, as usual, with four of the five probable betting favorites. Not surprisingly those four are all ranked near the [...]

Owendale Impresses in Lexington Stakes

Owendale winning the Lexington Stakes (gr. III) - Keeneland Photo What a difference two months can make. After failing to challenge when finishing eighth in the Feb. 16 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, Owendale looked like a completely different horse in the April 13 Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, producing a sweeping rally from off the pace to triumph in eye-catching fashion. A wide but clean trip may have been the key factor for Owendale. Under a [...]

Four Takeaways from the Arkansas Derby

Omaha Beach turns back Improbable in the Arkansas Derby (G1) - Coady Photography The final prep race for the 2019 Kentucky Derby produced a thrilling finish, as Omaha Beach and Improbable battled to the wire in a strong renewal of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park. Wet weather may have produced a sloppy, sealed track, but it did little to dampen the quality of the race. There’s a lot to digest, but my primary takeaways [...]

European Representation Seems Unlikely in 2019 Kentucky Derby

When clear favorite U S S Michigan flattened out in the homestretch of the Cardinal Conditions Stakes at Chelmsford City Racecourse in England, the chance of having a European representative in the 2019 Kentucky Derby weakened considerably. The one-mile Polytrack race was the final stop on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series designed to offer a spot in the Derby starting gate to the horse that accumulated the most points in seven qualifying races. But the first six [...]