HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

10 names to know on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail

With the the Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind us, the focus now turns to the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Though we are still six months out it is never too early to start looking ahead and building our list of contenders. So, let's take a look at 10 names to know early on the Derby trail. 

1. Good Magic: Curlin - Chad Brown - Jose Ortiz

The best possible way to break your maiden is by doing it on the big stage. Prior to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the Chad Brown trainee had yet to find the winner's circle in two career races, but a pair of runner-up finishes proved more than enough to handle the field at Del Mar last weekend. 

One of the second-place finishes came in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont. Now that Good Magic has added the biggest win of the Juvenile season to his resume, he is now the Kentucky Derby points leader with 24. That amount has oftentimes been enough to qualify outright for the Derby, so expect his connections to ease into the 3-year-old season with a well-calculated plan for the months leading up to the first Saturday in May. 

2. Bolt d'Oro: Medaglia d'Orgo - Mark Ruis - Corey Nakatani

In the leadup to the Breeders' Cup, this colt fit into the category of overwhelming favorites that didn't look beatable. Then the Juvenile ran, and we were left scratching our heads. 

Bolt d'Oro is no longer undefeated, stuck with an outside trip at Del Mar that left him third. Still, it would be naive to seriously downgrade his chances of winning the Derby already with two Grade 1 wins to his name.

3. Mendelssohn: Scat Daddy - Aidan O'Brien - Ryan Moore

With the introduction of the European Road to the Kentucky Derby this year, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that a talented young colt like Mendelssohn has his connections thinking about a trip to Churchill Downs. To date, he has yet to race on dirt and he hasn't scored any Derby qualifyin points, but his trainer is confident that the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner is going to be ready for the dirt. 

Time will tell if Mendelssohn will make it to Louisville, but based on what we saw at Del Mar, his pedigree for the dirt and his opportunity to qualify from Europe, it would be wise to keep your eye on this son of Scat Daddy. 

4. Engage: Into Mischief - Chad Brown - Jose Ortiz

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby have an interesting relationship. While the Juvenile sends its winner into his 3-year-old season as the favorite, more often than not, the eventual Derby winner didn't even participate in that race.

Consider Engage one of the potential contenders falling into that category. There's a lot to learn yet from this colt, but as he continues on from his last effort, a victory in Belmont's Futurity stakes around one turn, the son of Into Mischief could earn your attention by the early part of next year.

5. Copper Bullet: More Than Ready - Steve Asmussen - Irad Ortiz

Another stakes winner that bypassed the Breeders' Cup Juvenile is Copper Bullet. He, too, deserves our attention having started his racing career at Keeneland in April before coming back break his maiden at Churchill Downs in May. 

Copper Bullet has been sidelined recently with a minor injury following his breakthrough performance, a win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, but a little rest before reloading in preparation for the 3-year-old season can actually be a good thing. 

6. Solomini: Curlin - Bob Baffert - Flavien Prat

Unlike the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, this son of Curlin has a lot growing up to do if he is going to be considered a Kentucky Derby contender. But if patience is required, Solomini is in the right hands with Bob Baffert as his trainer. 

His trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was filled with immaturity but he still finished second. He also has 12 Kentucky Derby points already so his path to qualification should play out nicely for his connections as it should provide them with multiple options to consider. 

7. The Tabulator: Dialed In - Larry Rivelli - Jose Valdivia 

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile wasn't The Tabulator's best effort, but we know his potential. There's another chance to see him run this year, too, with Remington Park's Springboard Mile now a points-paying Derby prep.

This colt's win at Churchill Downs in the Grade 3 Iroquois earned him 10 points, positioning The Tabulator to reestablish himself as a top contender next time out.

8. Run Away: Run Away and Hide - Simon Callaghan - Fravien Prat

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile seemed like the obvious destination for this colt after he won the Santa Anita Juvenile and Best Pal Stakes, but he hit a setback with a third-place effort in the Del Mar Futurity.

Run Away is scheduled to start on Saturday in the Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar. While it's not a points-paying prep -- and it runs at just seven furlongs -- there will be plenty of opportunities for this contender to earn his way into the Derby should be stretch out.

9. Hollywood Star: Malibu Moon - Dale Romans - Joel Rosario

During this Juvenile season, trainer Dale Romans and Albaugh Stable made quite the impression with as many as three Breeders' Cup Juvenile contenders. Ultimately, connections held out Dak Attack but sent both Hollywood Star and Free Drop Billy.

At least one from the bunch deserves recognition here. Of the three, Hollywood Star is the one I recommend keeping an eye on with a seemingly high ceiling.

10. Firenze Fire: Poseiden's Warrior - Jason Servis - Irad Ortiz 

Firenze Fire may not have beaten Good Magic or put in his top effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but he did both in the Grade 1 Champagne. Before that he also scored in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga. 

With two graded stakes, you can cross off that performance at Del Mar and keep eyes locked on him entering 2018.


comments powered by Disqus

About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer  


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State, I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. It was there that my attraction to the Sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance, and the tradition continues annually because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, Ky., on Derby Day.

Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champion's trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. It begins when 2-year-olds hit the track continues until the field is set, the picks are in, and the roses are awarded. 

Twitter: @thederbypost

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories