HRN Original Blog:
The Tattooed Tracksider
Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Won by a favorite the last three years, the Classic lacks a standout horse.
Posted Friday, September 14, 2018
Do the million-dollar horses often become million-dollar earners?
Posted Monday, August 20, 2018
Accelerate has done it all this year, but leaving California remains an unknown.
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018
The Breeders' Cup Distaff is shaping up to be the race of the Breeders' Cup.
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2018
We run down five horses that will threaten Justify in the Belmont.
Posted Monday, May 07, 2018
Through both my camera lens and a first hand photo account from the first timer himself, the 2018 Derby is told through photographs!
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2018
This year, a loaded card highlighted Blue Grass Stakes Day and it can all be seen through the lens of my camera.
Posted Sunday, April 01, 2018
March preps are sometimes final races before the biggest race in a three-year-old colt's career. Are they serious indicators of who is winning the Kentuckt Derby
Posted Sunday, March 18, 2018
This year, a loaded card highlighted Jeff Ruby Steaks Day and it can all be seen through the lens of my camera.
Posted Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby hit full swing with last week's Grade 2 Risen Star, the first "Championship Series" race on the trail to Churchill Downs. So, what does that mean for horses with potential spots in the race? Do February prep winners have a chance at winning on the first Saturday in May?

Based on these preps' past 10 years, they have a chance to place in the Kentucky Derby, but not necessarily win it.

Derby trail races run in February include the Robert B. Lewis, Withers, Holy Bull, Sam F. Davis, El Camino Real Derby, Risen Star, and the Southwest Stakes. Each of these races are 10 points to the winner, with the exception of the Risen Star, which is essentially a "win and you're in" at 50 points.

The Robert B. Lewis this year was won by Lombo, a son of Graydar. The last horse to finish on the board in the Kentucky Derby after winning the Robert B. Lewis was Dortmund in 2015. Dortmund finished third in the Kentucky Derby behind American Pharoah and Firing Line. The last winner of the Robert B. Lewis to win the Kentucky Derby was I’ll Have Another in 2012. Also, in 2009, Pioneerof the Nile won the Robert B. Lewis and finished second in the Kentucky Derby behind 50-1 Mine That Bird. Overall, the Robert B. Lewis winner typically has a decent chance to make the Kentucky Derby and possible have an affect on the outcome.

The Withers, run at Aqueduct, has a terrible record for the winning  and making the Kentucky Derby, and having any affect in the outcome. Revolutionary, the winner of the 2013 Withers, placed third in that year’s Kentucky Derby. He is the only horse in the last 10 years to do so. This year’s winner, Avery Island, is unlikely to have any affect on the Kentucky Derby based on the history of the Withers.

The Holy Bull, a prep race for the rest of the Florida races, featured Audible's freakish performance as he demolished a nice field of 3-year-old. However, based on the last decade years, winners of the Holy Bull make the Kentucky Derby but fail to have any effect on the outcome. In 2016, Mohaymen managed to finish fourth. In 2015, Upstart, who performed very well in the Holy Bull, finished 18th and last in the race, more than 60 lengths behind American Pharoah. The last winner of the Holy Bull to win the Kentucky Derby was Barbaro in 2006. 

The Sam F. Davis is a local prep at Tampa Bay Downs for the Tampa Bay Derby, which is six weeks out from the Kentucky Derby and makes spacing difficult for another prep. The winners of the Sam F. Davis usually make the Kentucky Derby, but don't make a serious affect in the race. Destin, the 2016 winner, finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby behind Nyquist after the six-week layoff. In the last 10 years, five winners of the race have made the Kentucky Derby. This bodes well for Flameaway, the 2018 Sam F. Davis winner.

The El Camino Real Derby has never had a winner of the race finish in the top three, but in 2009, the winner of the race, Chocolate Candy, finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby behind Mine That Bird. This year’s winner, Paved, is not targeting Derby.

The Risen Star is where one should look at winners making it the Kentucky Derby. Again, not looking here for the Kentucky Derby winner is another piece of advice. In the last decade, eight Risen Star winners have entered the Kentucky Derby starting gate, but only two have finished on the board: Gun Runner (2016) and Mucho Macho Man (2011). This means D. Wayne Lukas just has to keep 2018 Risen Star winner Bravazo healthy and happy and he has a Kentucky Derby spot. However, does he have a chance to hit the board? Not a huge chance, but a slight one, at least historically speaking.

Finally, the Southwest Stakes, a prep for the Rebel at Oaklawn, has had six winners in the last 10 years enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate. However, only one has finished on the board in the Kentucky Derby, and that was Denis of Cork, who finished third in 2008 behind Big Brown and Eight Belles. That does not bode well for 2018 Southwest winner My Boy Jack, but he does have a chance to make the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby.

Overall, the February preps are a bit more telling than the January races. But it's possible the eventual winner ran behind the victor in this round -- or in the case of Bolt d'Oro or Good Magic, hasn't run at all this year.

Page 1 of 5

Meet Casey Laughter

I have loved horses for as long as I can remember, starting when Funny Cide crossed the wire in the 2003 Kentucky Derby. Thanks to my Dad, I now consume every ounce of thoroughbred literature I can.

When I am not stuffing my brain with pedigrees, I spend my free time with my fiancé, Daniel, and our dog, a Boxer mix named Piper. I enjoy hiking, reading, canoeing, and just relaxing.

In addition to Horse Racing Nation, for which I've shot numerous events, including the 2018 Kentucky Derby, I work for Bella Baby Photography, as well as a blog on my own platform.

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories