Kentucky Derby

Racing Dudes 2019 Top 20 Kentucky Derby Rankings #5

Jim Safford

Welcome to the 2019 Kentucky Derby Rankings! Each week leading up to the race, we will provide our Top 20 Kentucky Derby Prospects, as well as updates with the latest news on each horse. You can also visit our Kentucky Derby page for loads of information, including the latest news, rankings, prep race schedules, our Derby Trail Tracker, the Kentucky Derby point standings, and much more! Here is our fifth set of Kentucky Derby Rankings for the 2019 season:

Horse Racing Picks

1. Improbable

Derby Points/Rank: 10 – 14th

Race Record: (3) 3-0-0

Earnings: $269,520

Breeding: City Zip – Rare Event

Owner: China Horse Club, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Last Race: Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) at Los Alamitos, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Jon White/Ryan Stillman

Analysis: It can’t be this easy, right? The owners of Justify are back once again, this time with Improbable, who looks an awful lot like the 2018 Triple Crown winner. He is a perfect 3-for-3 so far while never being challenged. Currently, he is working well at Santa Anita in preparation for his 2019 debut, but where will that be now with Santa Anita up in the air?

2. Game Winner

Derby Points/Rank: 30 – 3rd

Race Record: (4) 4-0-0

Earnings: $1,496,000

Breeding: Candy Ride – Indyan Giving

Owner: Gary and Mary West

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Last Race: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Paul “Free Beers” Withrow

Analysis: The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is getting set for his 2019 debut with several solid works at Santa Anita. He can become the third Juvenile winner to win the Kentucky Derby and is especially dangerous with Baffert on his side. There is no doubt that if the Derby was today, he would win; however, can he continue to develop and peak at the right time?

3. Mucho Gusto

Derby Points/Rank: 14 – 10th

Race Record: (4) 3-1-0

Earnings: $234,000

Breeding: Mucho Macho Man – Itsagiantcauseway

Owner: Michael Lund Peterson

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Last Race: Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Aaron Halterman

Analysis: This is both the third-best Baffert horse and the third-ranked horse on our Top 20 list, and that shows Baffert’s strength and depth. Mucho Gusto has an advantage over the top two horses in his own barn, though, as he made his 2019 debut a winning one in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3). It looks like the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park could be his next start.

4. War of Will

Derby Points/Rank: 60 – 1st

Race Record: (7) 3-1-1

Earnings: $491,569

Breeding: War Front – Visions of Clarity

Owner: Gary Barber

Trainer: Mark Casse

Last Race: Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Jon White/Ryan Stillman

Analysis: So far, he is 3-for-3 on the dirt while never even being challenged. His LeComte Stakes (G3) win was very impressive. Now, with another victory in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), he has put himself in a great position moving forward. He is the first horse to basically lock in a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

5. Instagrand

Derby Points/Rank: 0 – NR

Race Record: (2) 2-0-0

Earnings: $144,000

Breeding: Into Mischief – Assets of War

Owner: OXO Equine LLC

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Last Race: Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar, Finished 1st  

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Mike “Saratoga Slim” Spector

Analysis: Instagrand is all the rage; however, I’m suggesting we tap on the breaks just a bit. I’m in love with his talent, but we are talking about a horse that has never been around two runs or raced since August of last year. His first race as a 3-year-old is going to be ultra-important, which comes this Saturday in the Gotham Stakes (G3).

6. Code of Honor

Derby Points/Rank: 54 – 2nd

Race Record: (4) 2-1-0

Earnings: $384,820

Breeding: Noble Mission – Reunited

Owner: W.S. Farish

Trainer: Shug McGaughey

Last Race: Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Patrick “Mad Dog” Meagher

Analysis: A big bounce back win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) has this horse locked into the Kentucky Derby starting gate. There is no doubt he took advantage of a hot pace in that race; however, at least he showed the talent needed to win at the higher levels. He will play a factor in the Florida Derby (G1) and perhaps on the first Saturday in May as well.

7. Bourbon War

Derby Points/Rank: 21 – 4th

Race Record: (4) 2-1-0

Earnings: $155,100

Breeding: Tapit – My Conquestadory

Owner: Bourbon Lane and Stable and Lake Star Stable

Trainer: Mark Hennig

Last Race: Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, Finished 2nd

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Dan “Wish Dan” Waite

Analysis: He closed like a freight train to finish a fast closing second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). That’s the type of performance that will catch a lot of eyes, while also seemingly meaning he will enjoy the distances getting longer. He proved he belongs from a class standpoint.

8. Gunmetal Gray

Derby Points/Rank: 18 – 8th

Race Record: (6) 2-2-0

Earnings: $247,200

Breeding: Exchange Rate – Classofsixtythree

Owner: Hollendorfer LLC, Pearl Racing, and West Point Thoroughbreds

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Last Race: Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita, Finished 2nd

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Aaron Halterman

Analysis: We see this type of horse every single season on the Kentucky Derby Trail. He will always show up with an honest effort and make a nice run at the end, but he is not talented enough to win a major Kentucky Derby Prep event.

9. Country House

Derby Points/Rank: 20 – 5th

Race Record: (4) 1-2-0

Earnings: $120,175

Breeding: Lookin At Lucky – Quake Lake

Owner:  Shields, Jr., Mrs. J. V. and McFadden, Jr., E. J. M.

Trainer: Bill Mott

Last Race: Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, Finished 2nd

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Jared Welch

Analysis: This horse proved that he is going to be solid moving forward after his strong closing second in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. That is a race that he should be able to build on moving forward. Mott holds a very strong hand going into the big races along the trail.

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10. Galilean

Derby Points/Rank: 0 – NR

Race Record: (4) 3-1-0

Earnings: $261,000

Breeding: Uncle Mo – Freisa

Owner: West Point Thoroughbreds, Barker, Denise and Sandbrook, William

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Last Race: California Cup Derby at Santa Anita, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Brandon “B$” Bauer

Analysis: There is no doubt that his latest win in the California Cup Derby was impressive enough to run him against opening company in his next start. No matter the level of competition, this horse should fit in pretty well, as he has proven to be a runner. It will be interesting to see where they try this colt next, as Hollendorfer stated that he could go out of town for his next race.

11. Harvey Wallbanger

Derby Points/Rank: 10 – 15th

Race Record: (5) 2-3-0

Earnings: $299,520

Breeding: Congrats – Adorabell

Owner: Harold Lerner LLC, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Akman, Scott K. and Braverman, Paul

Trainer: Kenny McPeek

Last Race: Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: NONE

Analysis: The upset Holy Bull Stakes (G2) winner debuted at #10 in the rankings, but was that win a fluke, or is he a for-real prospect? That is up for debate, especially since his speed figure came back fairly slow. However, he is one to keep an eye on because he could improve with his second start of 2019.

12. Vekoma

Derby Points/Rank: 10 – 17th

Race Record: (3) 2-0-1

Earnings: $188,850

Breeding: Candy Ride – Mona De Momma

Owner: R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables

Trainer: George Weaver

Last Race: Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, Finished 3rd

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: The Fans

Analysis: The Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) showed us enough to think this horse deserves a shot at another prep race for his next start. He may not be a special colt; however, he has every right to improve off of this effort. This is not one to close the book on just yet.

13. Mind Control

Derby Points/Rank: 10 – 13th

Race Record: (5) 3-1-0

Earnings: $323,400

Breeding: Stay Thirsty – Feel That Fire

Owner: Red Oak Stable (Brunetti) and Madaket Stables, LLC

Trainer: Gregory D. Sacco

Last Race: Jerome Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Mike “Saratoga Slim” Spector

Analysis: This horse seems to be a lot like Gunmetal Gray. He is likely to show up with a solid effort during all of these prep races; however, he might not be talented enough to win a major event. He runs this weekend in the Gotham Stakes (G3).

14. Tax

Derby Points/Rank: 12 – 11th

Race Record: (4) 2-1-1

Earnings: $186,300

Breeding: Arch – Toll

Owner: R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Lynch, Hugh and Corms Racing Stable

Trainer: Danny Gargan

Last Race: Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: The Fans

Analysis: Tax earned a 96 Beyer speed figure for his Withers Stakes (G3) win, which was the highest in a busy weekend of races for 3-year-olds. This continues to be an incredible story because the horse competed in two maiden claiming events before jumping up to the graded stakes level.

15. Anothertwistafate

Derby Points/Rank: 10 – 19th

Race Record: (4) 3-0-0

Earnings: $94,545

Breeding: Scat Daddy – Imperfection

Owner: Peter Redekop B. C., Ltd.

Trainer: Blaine D. Wright

Last Race: El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Paul “Free Beers” Withrow

Analysis: This horse is a synthetic monster after three straight amazing wins at Golden Gate, but he has shown enough talent to debut on the rankings this week. He simply ran the other horses off their feet in the El Camino Real Derby. He will try dirt next in the Sunland Derby (G3).

16. Well Defined

Derby Points/Rank: 10 – 16th

Race Record: (7) 3-1-1

Earnings: $490,570

Breeding: With Distinction – Fru Fru

Owner: Stonehedge LLC

Trainer: Kathleen O’Connell

Last Race: Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: The Magic Mike Show

Analysis: A big win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) puts this horse on the radar. However, he did get a perfect trip in that race, which won’t be as likely to happen as the races get tougher. For now, he does deserve some respect after that wire to wire win, though. He runs this weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

17. Hidden Scroll

Derby Points/Rank: 5 – 24th

Race Record: (2) 1-0-0

Earnings: $50,600

Breeding: Hard Spun – Sheba Queen

Owner: Juddmonte Farms, INC.

Trainer: Bill Mott

Last Race: Fountain of Youth Stakes. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, Finished 4th

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Jon White/Ryan Stillman

Analysis: There is no question in my mind that Hidden Scroll was the best horse in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). However, if he does not learn to rate his early speed, he will have a tough time winning major stakes races. On the other hand, if he can learn to sit off horses, he is a prime Kentucky Derby candidate. His next start will be his make or break moment.

18. Win Win Win

Derby Points/Rank: 0 – NR

Race Record: (4) 3-1-0

Earnings:$127,300

Breeding: Hat Trick – Miss Smarty Pants

Owner: Live Oak Plantation

Trainer: Michael J. Trombetta

Last Race: Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Finished 1st

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Dan “Wise Dan” Waite

Analysis: We are about to see what he’s made of when he starts this weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). He showed enough talent in his Pasco Stakes win to give him s0me serious consideration in this race.

19. Sueno

Derby Points/Rank: 8 – 22nd

Race Record: (5) 2-2-1

Earnings:$190,440

Breeding: Atreides – Class Above

Owner: Silverton Hill LLC

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Last Race: Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park, Finished 2nd

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: The Fans

Analysis: This colt could sneak in and make the Kentucky Derby starting gate by hitting the board along the trail. He will be spotted well in his next two starts and is always going to come with a run at the end.

20. Long Range Toddy

Derby Points/Rank: 16 – 9th

Race Record: (6) 3-1-1

Earnings:$401,125

Breeding: Take Charge Indy – Pleasant Song

Owner: Willis Horton

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Last Race: Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park, Finished 3rd

Racing Dudes Fantasy League Owner: Aaron Halterman

Analysis: This colt has proven to be useful so far; however, he has lost both the Smarty Jones and Southwest Stakes (G3). The waters only get deeper from here, which could be dangerous for him.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. blu3grass65

    March 7, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Your right, Bourbon War was “closing like a freight train” and mine included it will “catch a lot of eyes” but my initial reaction was and continues to be Code of Honor. He attended that silly pace back no more that a length/length an half late on the back stretch …at which point Velazquez just dropped down in the saddle a bit and shook him a bit and off he went. He got kinda bumped out of the turn/ coming into the stretch and late he was looking around or ? Velazquez had to straighten him out again. He sure did not look tired to me just green. I love closer’s but for the Derby its been a horse that can run on or near the hot pace for a long time now. I hope they go to the Bluegrass.

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