Kentucky Derby | Contenders | Race Profile
2018 Kentucky Derby Contenders
Discover the Kentucky Derby contender field and point accumulation
One of the fascinating things about the build-up to the Kentucky Derby is watching the development of young Thoroughbreds. Still babyish as two-year-olds, the Derby hopefuls begin to grow up as three-year-olds -- a process often compared to junior high kids morphing into high school athletes.
Fans can track the horses' progress during the "Road to the Kentucky Derby," a series of 35 races that take place from the fall of their two-year-old campaign through the spring of their three-year-old year, culminating in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Horses earn their way into the Derby by scoring points in these 35 races (the full schedule, along with the sliding scale of points available for a top-four finish in each race, is available at kentuckyderby.com).
Just as major sports teams advance through playoffs, meeting stiffer competition as they get closer to the championship event, so do Derby aspirants aim to climb through each successive prep race. They might not have to win, but they do have to perform well enough -- and stay healthy -- to remain on the trail.
Because the competition gets tougher as the trail unfolds, the Derby points system awards the most points for the marquee preps in late March or April. The winners of the Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, UAE Derby (in Dubai), Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass, and Arkansas Derby each bank 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby, clinching a spot in the field.
So hop onto the Derby trail -- you might find a hot prospect!
2017-2018 Kentucky Derby contender point earners list
|Points Order||Morning Line Odds||Horse||Breeder / Owner||Trainer / Jockey||Points||Earnings|
|Ramona S. Bass, LLC.||Todd Pletcher||150||$1,140,000|
|Low, Lawana L. and Robert E.||Luis Saez|
Free Drop Billy
|Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC||Chad Brown||134||$1,838,400|
|e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables LLC||Jose Ortiz|
|Oak Bluff Stables, LLC||Todd Pletcher||110||$803,520|
|WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. and SF Racing LLC||Javier Castellano|
|WinStar Farm, LLC||Todd Pletcher||110||$640,000|
|WinStar Farm LLC and Repole Stable|
|John D. Gunther||Todd Pletcher||107||$572,500|
|Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable||John Velazquez|
|6||12-1||WinStar Farm, LLC||Mick Ruis||104||$980,000|
|Ruis Racing LLC||Victor Espinoza|
|Godolphin Racing LLC|
|Clarkland Farm||Aidan O'Brien||100||$1,947,299|
|Derrick Smith, Mrs John Magnier & Michael Tabor|
|China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing, WinStar Farm||Mike Smith|
My Boy Jack
|Phoenix Rising Farms||Mark Casse||70||$672,260|
|John C. Oxley|
|Glenna R. Salyer DVM||Bob Baffert||54||$716,000|
|Zayat Stables, LLC||Flavien Prat|
|Calumet Farm||D. Wayne Lukas||54||$349,913|
|Brereton C. Jones||Keith Desormeaux||52||$622,000|
|Don't Tell My Wife Stables and Monomoy Stables, LLC|
|Robert J. Baron||Dale Romans||52||$256,480|
|Helen K. Groves Revokable Trust||Dale Romans||44||$497,200|
|Albaugh Family Stables LLC|
|Alexander Groves Matz, LLC||Tom Amoss||42||$273,347|
|Juddmonte Farms, Inc.||Bill Mott||40||$192,000|
|Juddmonte Farms, Inc.|
|Mr. Amore Stable||Jason Servis||39||$647,500|
|Mr. Amore Stable|
|Paget Bloodstock||Steve Asmussen||32||$350,000|
|Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Willis Horton Racing LLC|
|Katierich Farms||Jerry Hollendorfer||29||$246,000|
|OXO Equine LLC|
Kentucky Derby Contender Short Summaries for 2018
Contender: Good Magic
Good Magic entered the 2018 campaign as the horse to beat thanks to his impressive win in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that also helped him earn the Eclipse Award for 2018 Champion 2 Year Old Colt.
His season, however, did not break out in the best way as he fell to third in the 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes after posting as the favorite. That race was instead won by Promises Fulfilled with Strike Power coming in second. Undeterred, Good Magic pressed on with Chad Brown training him and Jose Ortiz in the saddle.
A much needed win in the 2018 Blue Grass Stakes, which he won easily, has re-invigorated Good Magic’s stock making him one of the plausible outside threats to win the Kentucky Derby. He is the second highest earner of all horses, behind only Mendelssohn, with $1,855,000 and was a $1,000,000 acquisition by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds who share ownership with Stonestreet Stables.
Of all the interests that Todd Pletcher has in the upcoming Kentucky Derby, Audible might be his very best colt. Sired by Into Mischief out of Blue Devil Bel, Audible made his stakes debut in the 2018 Holy Bull and was unstoppable as a 6/1 outsider. That victory propelled him to the 2018 Florida Derby where he went off as the 9/5 favorite and left no doubt as to his credibility.
Now with four straight wins after surrendering his juvenile debut at Belmont Park, Audible is 4-0-1 in five starts with $882,920 in career earnings. He is ridden by John Velaquez and is owned by a conglomerate of major groups including the China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm. Audible was first sold as a yearling for $175,000 and then had part of his ownership acquired for $500,000 as a two-year-old. Since then, he has clearly established himself as one of the best horses to bet on in the upcoming Kentucky Derby.
Contender: Noble Indy
The pathway for Noble Indy to the Kentucky Derby involved the biggest upset of the year, when Bravazo surged in the 2017 Risen Star to win as a 21/1 longshot. That crushing and unexpected loss sent Noble Indy back to the drawing board, but he fortunately regrouped with a strong performance to win the 2018 Louisiana Derby and increase his career earnings to $691,600 while also improving his overall record to 3-0-1 in four starts.
Though the Louisiana Derby victory returned Noble Indy to his winning ways, it has put a dent in an otherwise unblemished record and calmed the excitement surrounding his potential. Still, WinStar Farm will be hard pressed to find fault with their home grown product. Noble Indy was sired by Take Charge Indy meaning that his grandsire is the beloved A.P. Indy, who won the 1992 Belmont Stakes.
Contedner: Vino Rosso
It took some time, but Vino Rosso finally earned a major stakes race and made it count. The Curlin colt took the 2018 Wood Memorial Stakes by storm, boosting his overall earnings to $620,500 while improving his record to 3-0-1 in five starts. He is owned by Mike Repole and Vincent Viola, the latter of whom also owned a share of 2017 Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming.
Though Vino Rosso ran well as a juvenile in breaking his maiden and winning a follow-up allowance through his two-year-old season, he failed to make a striking impact during his three-year-old campaign. Vino Rosso debuted in the 2018 Sam F. Davis Stakes and finished third behind Flameaway and Catholic Boy, before losing the Tampa Bay Derby to Quip.
However, his masterful triumph in the Wood Memorial proved that this up and comer has what it takes to put forth his best when it truly matters. Being trained by defending derby champion Todd Pletcher also helps his reputation as a proper threat to steal the show.
Contender: Bolt d’Oro
It’s been a rocky road to the Kentucky Derby for Bolt d’Oro, a Medaglia d’Oro colt that was once the favorite to win it all. Bolt d’Oro picked up wins in the Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner Stakes early on the trail but then fell to Good Magic in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Since then he has not established his top form but came second in the Santa Anita Derby shortly after winning a hotly contested San Felipe.
Owned and trained by Mick Ruis, who has made an ultimately triumphant return to racing as a former rider, Bolt d’Oro maintains a promising position as one of the top horses in the Kentucky Derby. He was originally purchased as a yearling for $630,000 and is ridden by Javier Castellano.
There is still reason to have faith in the colt, but his recent loss to Justify at the Santa Anita Derby showed that he may be further behind than we thought. There are some that rate him quite high, but horse players did the same with Classic Empire in the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
Though his name causes temptation at the betting window, Enticed as been a shaky take for horse players along the Road to the Kentucky Derby. After breaking his maiden as a two-year-old, he went on to place third in the 2017 Champagne Stakes prior to winning the 2017 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
Following a disappointing run in the 2018 Holy Bull Stakes, where he placed fourth, Enticed would rebound to win the one-mile Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Though he would open the 2018 Wood Memorial as the favorite, he would finish as runner-up behind Vino Rosso.
Enticed is a Medaglia d’Oro colt who owns a record of 3-1-1 in six starts. His career earnings tip the scales at $595,680. As a home grown product of Godolphin racing, the expectations will always be high on him. Kiaran McLaughlin is his trainer.
All it took was one race for Mendelssohn to make a definitive impact on the sport of horse racing. The impressive colt used Meydan Racecourse as a nuclear testing ground to obliterate the 2018 UAE Derby by 18 ½ lengths, earning him the 100 points he holds on the trail currently. He will bypass further races and head straight to the Kentucky Derby.
Mendelssohn is one of two very impressive Scat Daddy colts competing in the Triple Crown this season. Not only is he 4-1-0 in 7 starts across international competition, he enters the derby as the highest overall earner amongst his peers. The three-year-old has earned a massive $1,961,137 thanks to wins in the UAE Derby and the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. His three race winning streak now propels him as the second favorite in early odds for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
Also catching the attention of horse players was the acquisition price that the Tabor-Magnier-Smith group spent on Mendelssohn. His yearling sale price of $3,000,000 is by far the highest of any horse entering the American Classics this season.
With a perfect record of 3-0-0 in as many starts, Justify has quickly and rapidly ascended the ranks to become the Kentucky Derby favorite. Like the race’s presumptive second choice, Mendelssohn, Justify is a Scat Daddy colt. Been quite a year for this particular sire.
All three of Justify’s wins have come at Santa Anita, with his most significant victory coming in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby. Most importantly, Justify vanquished Bolt d’Oro and did so easily during the 1 1/8th mile race which he completed casually in 1:49.72. This win brought his career earnings up to $666,000 while also providing 100 derby points which all but guaranteed his spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Even more impressive is that Justify became the favorite in the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager Pool 3 which closed on March 11th, well before the colt took to the track to compete in his first stakes race. His pedigree, training times and proven talent in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby have given Justify all the momentum required to attack the Kentucky Derby with vigor and the majority of the action at the window.
Though he shares a father with the two favorites in the 2018 Kentucky Derby, Flameaway is seemingly a slight step behind his half brothers. A son of Scat Daddy out of Vulcan Rose, Flameaway was purchased by noted owner John C. Oxley for $400,000 after being bred by Phoenix Thoroughbreds. He is trained by Mark Casse.
With a record of 5-2-0 over nine starts, Flameaway has collected $704,834 in career earnings but has done so with a mixed bag of results. He most recently finished second to Good Magic in the 2018 Blue Grass Stakes, while also serving as the runner-up in the 2018 Tampa Bay Derby. Prior to that he had collected wins in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and the Kitten’s Joy Stakes.
Originally run on turf, Flameaway also competed in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf but fell to 8th for his worst career finish.
His three-year-old season has been much stronger, and with valiant efforts in his last two outings, he is sure to draw some interest. Whether he can close the gap with his half siblings on the track remains to be seen.
As a home grown product of Calumet Farm, who have retained his rights, Bravazo has been a wonderful surprise overall. The Awesome Again colt have come with some interesting pedigree, but he failed to put together the consistency that horse players prefer. Bravazo did, however, post the largest upset in Kentucky Derby prep race betting this year.
Going off as a 21/1 longshot in the 2018 Risen Star Stakes, Bravazo came alive with a heroic effort that helped him beat fellow pace setter Snapper Sinclair and hyped top choice Noble Indy. His stock, however, came crashing back down to earth in the 2018 Louisiana Derby where he finished a distant eighth overall.
With $436,528 in career earnings through 8 starts, with a 3-1-1 record, Bravazo will likely continue to be led out with the hope of hitting the jackpot but it’s hard to expect any type of consistency out of the horse. On his best day, he can run with the elite talent in the country. It’s just difficult to determine when that day will come next.
Contender: Promises Fulfilled
Promises Fulfilled is a Shakleford colt out of Marquee Delivery trained by Dale Romans. There was heavy interest on the promise of this young competitor early on when he cracked wins in his first two tries. Making his stakes debut in the 2017 Kentucky Jockey Club, Promises Fulfilled would fall to third place behind Enticed and Tiz Mischief.
Travelling to Gulfstream Park for his next encounter, Promises Fulfilled won the 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes to inspire his faithful. However, the upward trajectory of Promises Fulfilled took a nose dive when he failed to perform at the 2018 Florida Derby, drifting to a distant ninth place finish despite decent odds.
The Robert J. Baron owned contender is now 3-0-1 in five starts and earned $337,280. He has just enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby but has been listed as a longshot already.
Contender: Magnum Moon
It’s only taken three starts for the currently undefeated Magnum Moon to solidify his place as one of the true contenders for the Kentucky Derby crown. The Malibu Moon colt won his stakes debut in the 2018 Rebel Stakes, and is one of many Todd Pletcher trainees in the running for the American Classics.
There’s been many horses to consider along the derby trail, but Magnum Moon’s win in the Rebel came with a 3 ½ length gap over second place finisher Solomini. It was the type of performance that Magnum Moon needed in order to generate favorable momentum. Now that he has it, he doesn’t seem keen on losing any of it.
As a modest acquisition for Robert and Lawana Low that cost them just $380,000, Magnum Moon has now earned $577,800 and gathered enough points to compete in the derby. However he will take one more shot on the trail by headlining the 2018 Arkansas Derby as the 8/5 favorite.
Contender: Free Drop Billy
Free Drop Billy has captured attention due to his commanding running style which is equal parts grace and wonder. He broke out after a simmering juvenile season with a win in the 2017 Breeders’ Futurity, but fell to a disappointing ninth place in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile eventually won by Good Magic.
Entering his three-year-old season, hope remained optimistic that Free Drop Billy could mature in to a contender. He first challenged the 2018 Holy Bull Stakes but lost to Audible, and then fell to third in the 2018 Gotham Stakes which was won by Enticed. Another third place effort in the 2018 Blue Grass Stakes has thrown his current direction in to disarray but Dale Romans has assured that Free Drop Billy is currently pointed towards the derby.
With a record of 2-3-2 in 8 starts, Free Drop Billy has earned a respectable $625,220 after being purchased as a yearling for $200,000 by the Albaugh Family Stable which retain his ownership rights to this day.
Contender: Lone Sailor
Sired by Majestic Warrior, Lone Sailor has taken a wide angle towards the 2018 Kentucky Derby. He is owned by GMB Racing, who recently mourned the loss of Tom Benson, who acquired the colt for a low price of just $120,000. Since maturing from a yearling, Lone Sailor has had quite the career.
After two attempts, he finally broke his maiden at Saratoga in September 2017 and then went on to finish a quiet third in the Breeders’ Futurity one month later. A trip to the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to end his juvenile season didn’t bode well as he trailed to fifth with a record of just 1-1-1 in five starts.
The three-year-old season for Lone Sailor continued a sore spot as he finished a devastating ninth place in the 2018 Lecomte Stakes. Trainer Thomas Amoss took some time to re-tool how he approached racing and then returned his colt to the track in the Louisiana Derby, where he ran masterfully as a runner-up with 9/1 odds.
Now with an overall record of 1-3-1 in 8 starts and $334,237 secured in his saddle, Lone Sailor will enter the 2018 Kentucky Derby as a longshot hoping to achieve the unthinkable.
Though he has been held back by trainer Will Mott, Hofburg has had an intriguing derby trail that climaxed in a second place finish in the 2018 Florida Derby. That has been his only stakes performance thus far, and while it didn’t result in a victory, it’s helped Hofburg capture the interest of horse players around the country. Being a homegrown colt out of Juddmonte Farms also helps.
Hofburg is the only Tapit colt in the running this year, and debuted in September 2017 during a maiden special weight hosted by Saratoga. He would finish fourth and ultimately return to the drawing board under Mott. Returning to the competitive track in March 2018, he won his maiden using a wide path at Gulfstream. That performance influenced Mott to toss his colt in to the Florida Derby, where he ran well and finished just behind Audible.
Hofburg seems to be taking an abridged and direct path to the Kentucky Derby and is one of the more valued dark horses in the race. He is not near the favorites, but he’s in the next tier down. That’s pretty big respect for a horse that is just 1-1-0 in three starts with $227,950.
Contender: Firenze Fire
As a homegrown colt from Mr. Amore Stable, not much was ever expected out of Firenze Fire. He has been run feverishly as a young contender as he tries to carve out a place amongst the top tier headed towards the 2018 Kentucky Derby. While he has earned $669,100 over nine starts with a 4-1-0 record, a major win has eluded him so far, though not for a lack of trying.
Firenze Fire broke out as a juvenile in the 2017 Sanford Stakes and Champagne Stakes, with a fourth place finish sandwiched in between in the Hopeful Stakes. An uncharacteristically bad start derailed his chances in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile where he placed seventh overall.
Returning for his three-year-old season, Firenze Fire won the 2018 Jerome and then ran a distant second to Avery Island in the Withers Stakes. Since then he has placed fourth in both the Gotham Stakes and the Wood Memorial.
Solomini is one of Bob Baffert’s trainee competing for attention along the derby trail. He is long been listed as a podium placer thanks to his 1-3-1 record in five starts, but his lone victory came during a maiden special weight at Del Mar. Hampering Solomini’s momentum is the fact that he routinely comes up short in stakes races.
Highly regarded for his speed, Solomini can at least say that he’s last four races to very highly rated rivals. Running second behind Bolt d’Oro in the 2017 FrontRunner Stakes led to another second place finish in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on the heels of Good Magic. The beloved speedster then finished third in the 2018 Los Alamitos Futurity during his three-year-old debut behind McKinzie and most recently climbed back to second in a 2018 Rebel won by Magnum Moon.
Headed to the 2018 Arkansas Derby as a 2/1 second choice, Solomini will attempt to shed his reputation as a bridesmaid and earn his first stakes victory. Purchased by Zayat Stables for $270,000 as a yearling, Solomini has earned a handsome $652,000 over the course of his career. While he’s always in the money, he’s rarely on top, though that will hopefully change in the upcoming Arkansas Derby on April 14th.
Contender: My Boy Jack
My Boy Jack is a Creative Cause colt who created buzz early on in the season after converting from turf to dirt. He ended his juvenile season with a 7th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and trainer Keith Desormeaux made the decision to transition him to an alternate surface.
The results provided interesting returns out of the box as My Boy Jack ran third to McKinzie in the 2018 Sham Stakes during his three-year-old debut. He then travelled to Oaklawn Park to compete in the Southwest Stakes, earning his first stakes victory on dirt, and then competed in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds where he placed third.
My Boy Jack is next slated as the favorite in the Lexington at Keeneland on April 14th. Not bad for a $20,000 yearling purchase who has gone on to post a record of 2-3-2 in nine starts and earned $525,145 in the process.
Buy, Sell, Hold - 2018 Kentucky Derby Video
2016-2017 Kentucky Derby contender point earners list
|PP||Morning Line Odds||Horse||Breeder / Owner||Trainer / Jockey||Points||Earnings|
Lookin At Lee
|Ray Hanson||Steven M. Asmussen||32||$428,600.00|
|L and N Racing, LLC|
Thunder Snow (IRE)
|Darley||Saeed bin Suroor||100||$1,621,063.00|
Fast and Accurate
|John R. Penn||Michael J. Maker||50||$320,712.00|
|Kendall E. Hansen|
|Indian Creek & Jonathan Sheppard||Steven M. Asmussen||34||$212,858.00|
|Santa Rosa Partners||Todd A. Pletcher||100||$589,000.00|
|Brooklyn Boyz Stables|
State of Honor
|Manfred Conrad & Penny Conrad||Mark E. Casse||62||$310,364.00|
|Bob Austin & John Witte||Joe Sharp||150||$849,800.00|
|Calumet Farm||Steven M. Asmussen||50||$401,129.00|
|Aaron & Marie Jones||Doug F. O'Neill||113||$760,000.00|
|Reddam Racing LLC|
|Brandywine Farm & Stephen Upchurch||Antonio Sano||84||$1,137,800.00|
|Peacock Stables, LLC|
Battle of Midway
|Thor-Bred Stables, LLC||Jerry Hollendorfer||40||$224,000.00|
|Fox Hill Farms, Inc.|
|Calumet Farm||J. Keith Desormeaux||30||$236,000.00|
J Boys Echo
|Betz/Blackburn/J. Betz/Ramsby/CNHHNK||Dale L. Romans||63||$305,000.00|
|Albaugh Family Stables LLC|
|Steven Nicholson & Brandi Nicholson||Mark E. Casse||132||$2,093,820.00|
|John C. Oxley||Julien R. Leparoux|
|Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC.||Ian R. Wilkes||40||$385,048.00|
|Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC|
|My Meadowview LLC||Todd A. Pletcher||54||$325,570.00|
|Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and LaPenta, Robert V.|
Irish War Cry
|Isabelle deTomaso||H. Graham Motion||110||$676,660.00|
|Isabelle de Tomaso|
|Castleton Lyons & Kilboy Estate||John A. Shirreffs||125||$884,000.00|
|Moss, Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S.|
|Whispering Oaks||Chad C. Brown||74||$966,000.00|
|Klaravich Stables, Inc. and Lawrence, William H.|
|Calumet Farm||Todd A. Pletcher||40||$200,000.00|