Will Regulate Upset the Robert B. Lewis Stakes?

American Pharoah winning the Breeders' Cup Classic - © Breeders' Cup/Tyger Williams 2015 Remember the 2014 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I), when the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert entered a relatively unheralded maiden named American Pharoah? American Pharoah had shown little when finishing fifth in his debut a month earlier, but that didn’t stop the colt from cruising a decisive victory in the Del Mar Futurity, achieving the rare feat of breaking his maiden in a graded [...]

McKinzie Shows Improvement in the Sham Stakes

McKinzie winning the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita© Benoit Photo In a move that caught everyone by surprise, trainer Bob Baffert elected to run his Grade 1 winner McKinzie in the $100,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita on January 6th, the first Kentucky Derby prep race of 2018. The move was unexpected since McKinzie had won the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) just four weeks earlier, and Baffert tends to give his Futurity winners [...]

Keying Surprise Entrant McKinzie in the Sham Stakes

McKinzie (inside) in the homestretch of the Los Alamitos Futurity (© Benoit Photo) Talk about a last-minute surprise! When entries were taken for Saturday’s $100,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita, a small but competitive field was expected for the one-mile Kentucky Derby prep race. Then trainer Bob Baffert entered his up-and-coming Grade 1 winner #6 McKinzie and the complexion of the race changed entirely. On paper, McKinzie looms as a standout in the Sham Stakes. The son [...]

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 [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 – 12/13/17

Le Vent Se Leve winning the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki Racecourse (Photo courtesy Akihiro Takeda/Churchill Downs) As a general rule, I try not to get too excited about horses that prep for the Kentucky Derby outside of North America. We’ve seen some very good horses come to the Derby by way of Dubai—Desert Party, Mubtaahij, and Lani all come to mind from recent years—but all have inevitably faltered at Churchill Downs, and you have to go back to 1971 [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 – 12/8/17

Good Magic winning the 2017 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Photo by Carson Denis/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup) Get ready, everyone! The prep races on the road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby are already underway, and with just five months remaining until the big race, it’s time to start analyzing the contenders and thinking ahead to which horses will be ready for glory on the first Saturday in May. Starting today and continuing every week until the Derby, I’ll be sharing my [...]