Rating the 2019 Kentucky Derby Prep Races

Omaha Beach winning the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography As we head into the final round of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, now seems like a good time to look back at the 17 North American prep races already run this year and assign a rating to each one. My ratings—based on a scale of 1 to 5—attempt to blend the apparent strength of each race on paper with its potential [...]

Gray Attempt Successfully Stretches His Speed in Smarty Jones Stakes

Gray Attempt winning the Smarty Jones Stakes - Coady Photography Sprint to the lead. Run everyone off their feet. Hang on to secure the victory. Rinse and repeat. That’s been the magic formula for the up-and-coming three-year-old Gray Attempt, who secured his third straight front-running triumph when forging to a hard-fought win in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on January 25 at Oaklawn Park. Never mind that he was stretching out to a mile for the first time—he [...]

Sorting the Contenders in the Smarty Jones Stakes

Gray Attempt winning the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds - Photo by Hodges Photography The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on Friday with the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park, a one-mile race that strikes me as considerably easier to interpret than last week’s Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. Whether that indeed proves to be the case is another question entirely, but here’s how I break down the main contenders: The Deserving Favorite #8 Gray [...]

Mourinho, Combatant Impress in Smarty Jones Stakes

Mourinho (right) leads Combatant (white and black silks) into the homestretch of the Smarty Jones Stakes - Coady Photography In the hours following the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on Monday at Oaklawn Park, most of the focus was on the impressive winner Mourinho, who stamped himself as a serious Kentucky Derby contender with an authoritative victory in the one-mile race. But while Mourinho is deserving of the accolades being sent his way, I’m just as interested—maybe even more [...]

Will Combatant Upset Mourinho in the Smarty Jones?

Combatant breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography) When playing the races, one of my favorite angles to watch for is a horse receiving a very specific type of troubled trip, a trip so subtle that many bettors miss its significance. Normally, a ground-saving trip racing inside of horses is ideal, but only if you are able to unleash your run at the opportune time. In my opinion, this consideration is the key to handicapping the $150,000 [...]

Keen Ice Faces 3-Year-Olds in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Punters looking to play the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park Oct. 7 have one major question to ask: do they trust the form of two older horses well beaten by Gun Runner at their last starts, or do they trust two of the better 3-year-olds. Keen Ice may start favorite in the 1 ¼ mile test, which carries direct entry to the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). A distant third-place finisher in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, Keen [...]