Kentucky Derby Make the Case: Vekoma and Tax

Vekoma winning the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) - Keeneland Photo Not a lot of love is flowing towards Bluegrass Stakes winner Vekoma and Wood Memorial runner-up Tax. Nobody’s talking about either horse having a shot to win the May 4 Kentucky Derby. That might be an issue because both appear well-suited for decent Derby runs. First up? Vekoma. After making the case for and against Vekoma to win the Run for the Roses, we’ll turn our attention [...]

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 [...]

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, [...]

How to Bet the 2019 Wood Memorial

Tacitus winning the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) - Photo by SV Photography There are plenty of promising and accomplished runners to consider in Saturday’s $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct, 1 1/8-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race that has attracted eleven entrants. I’ve taken a look at the five morning line favorites and have divided them into two categories—“For,” containing the horses that I like best, and “Against,” featuring the short-priced runners that [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Tacitus Joins, Hidden Scroll Returns

Tacitus winning the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) - Photo by SV Photography The indefinite suspension of racing and training at Santa Anita has thrown a monkey wrench into the plans for Game Winner and Improbable, delaying their scheduled returns to action by one week. Nevertheless, they remain at the top of my Kentucky Derby Top 10 despite a busy weekend that saw Tacitus upset the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II), Haikal rally to victory in the Gotham [...]

No Shortage of Derby Contenders Boasting Triple-Digit BRIS Speed Figures

Game Winner winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) - Coady Photography Generally speaking, Beyer and BRIS speed figures are arranged on a similar scale. A young horse that posts a triple-digit number is a fast and probably stakes-caliber runner with a bright future. But interestingly, the Beyer and BRIS speed figures paint differing pictures of the 2019 Triple Crown contenders. On the Beyer scale, just two members of this foal crop have cracked the triple-digit barrier, those [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10: Network Effect Rejoins the List

Signalman winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) - Coady Photography Last week was relatively quiet on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, so there hasn’t been much change to my Kentucky Derby Top 10. I guess that’s to be expected since half the horses on my list haven’t even run yet this year. That includes Network Effect, who’s back on the work tab and back on my list following a brief hiatus. Just missing the cut [...]