Known Agenda wins the Florida Derby (photo by Adam Coglianese)
KENTUCKY DERBY COUNTDOWN IS ON
When does a hillbilly turf writer think about the Kentucky Derby?…Pretty much all the time. When does the every day sports fan think about the world’s most famous race? With about a month to go, the time to get behind a horse is upon us all. With that in mind, let’s examine our top ten Kentucky Derby contenders entering the week. As we all know, things in this game can change at a moments notice. The best looking three year old in our eyes was Life Is Good out of the Bob Baffert barn, but an injury last week in training has put him on the shelf for 60 days. For right now, these are the ones hot on our list. As we have asked many times before, “can you pick the winner of the Kentucky Derby? “ Let’s get out of the gate…
1 Concert Tour- He’s got a lot going for him, speed, two stakes wins, unbeaten in 3 career starts, his pappy Street Sense won the 2007 Kentucky Derby, but most importantly he runs out of the Bob Baffert barn.
2 Essential Quality- Unbeaten in four career starts including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Trainer Brad Cox is one of the best in the business but is still searching for Derby glory. Gets his final test in the Bluegrass Stakes on April 3 at Keeneland.
3 Hot Rod Charlie- Two lifetime wins in seven career starts but has been in top three six times including runner up at Breeders’ Cup. Showed plenty of horsepower in recent Louisiana Derby win and conditioner Doug O’Neill has won the Derby twice before (2012, 2016).
4 Known Agenda- Florida Derby win told us this son of Curlin has great tactical speed and is headed in the right direction. Trainer Todd Pletcher has been to the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle twice as well (2010, 2017).
5 Caddo River-This son of the hard-knocking Hard Spun looked fantastic in the Smarty Jones but was a disappointing fifth in the Rebel Stakes. Gets a chance to rebound in the Arkansas Derby on April 10 and he needs qualifying points to get in for trainer Brad Cox.
6 Greatest Honour- Three wins in a row had him looking like perhaps THE one, but then the Florida Derby exposed his trip dependency as a closer. Big finishing kick means he is always dangerous for veteran trainer Shug McGauhey.
7 Medina Spirit- A runner with courage and plenty of fight, this son of Protonico has been first or second in four lifetime starts (2 wins). The only horse to beat him was his highly regarded stable mate Life Is Good. Bob Baffert trained and dangerous for sure.
8 Mandaloun- Another Brad Cox runner with lots of talent. Looked fantastic in Risen Star Stakes win but was flat as a pancake in Louisiana Derby. One of his three career wins came at Churchill.
9 Helium- Unbeaten in three lifetime starts with two on the grass and one VERY impressive win on dirt in the Tampa Bay Derby. Trainer Mark Casse won the 2019 Preakness and Belmont Stakes and seems to have a horse on the rise with this son of Ironicus.
10 Dream Shake- Son of Twirling Candy has only raced twice, a super impressive maiden win over a talented field and a third in the San Felipe behind Life Is Good and Medina Spirit. Will be running for his spot in the Churchill starting gates on April 3 in the Santa Anita Derby for trainer Peter Eurton.