Kentucky Derby Make the Case: Improbable and Tacitus

Improbable wins Street Sense S. (Coady Photo/Churchill) The Kentucky Derby on May 4 figures to be one of the most difficult to handicap in years. The 2019 Derby is incredibly deep. There won’t be a clear-cut favorite like Justify last year. That’s why it’s important to think about the pros and cons of each entrant. In this blog, I provide a Derby case for and against both Improbable and Tacitus. The Bob Baffert trained Improbable could go off [...]

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 [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: It’s a Rather Perplexing Year

Roadster winning the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo I must admit, it’s getting harder and harder to compile my Kentucky Derby Top 10 rankings each week. Unlike last year, when the top contenders seemed pretty clear-cut at this point in the season, the 2019 Kentucky Derby picture remains completely wide-open with less than four weeks until the big race. I feel like I’m excluding some promising horses (the Blue Grass Stakes winner Vekoma being [...]

Tacitus Prevails in Roughly-Run Wood Memorial

Tacitus winning the Wood Memorial (gr. II) at Aqueduct - © NYRA/Coglianese Photography In one of the roughest races seen on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this winter, favored Tacitus emerged from a battle-weary field to win the $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct in hard-fought fashion. Chaos reigned during the run to the first turn, and even Tacitus did not emerge unscathed. A generally ragged start was made worse when Tax, breaking from the rail, [...]