Kentucky Derby 2019 Radar: See Game Winner, Improbable work

January 10, 2019 10:56am
The big horses are back -- on the work tab, that is.

Undefeated Bob Baffert trainees Game Winner and Improbable, both also Eclipse Award finalists for their 2-year-old seasons, drilled for the first time in the new year Wednesday toward 2019 Kentucky Derby trail starts.

A son of Candy Ride campaigned by Gary and Mary West, Game Winner breezed three furlongs in a bullet 35.20 seconds. The $110,000 auction purchase has already earned back ten times his price tag with a trio of Grade 1 wins in the Del Mar Futurity, American Pharoah Stakes and Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

A chestnut that managing partner Elliott Walden has taken to calling "little Justify," Improbable, by City Zip, also worked 3/8 of a mile Wednesday. Clockers caught him in 38 seconds flat in what was the colt's first drill since moving his record to 3-for-3 in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) on Dec. 8.

Baffert told us recently that he's expecting both horses to prep twice for the Derby.

“They have enough foundation on them,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “Those clients — they want to be there for the big show. We’ve just got to find the right spots. We’re sitting on them, but sometimes you sit on them too long. You’ve got to make sure they don’t get stale on you. 

Santa Anita's San Felipe (G2) runs in March 9. Expect to see one there. Then, given Baffert's willingness to ship, especially to Oaklawn Park, the other could go in the March 16 Rebel Stakes (G2). Those lead into major final preps, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Arkansas Derby (G1).

“You can’t worry about that first out," Baffert said. "That second out’s going to be more important to them. You have to count on their talent to get their points.”


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About the Derby Radar

New for the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps next out. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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