With the Kentucky Derby Prep Season kicking off this coming Saturday at Churchill Downs with the Iroquois Stakes, it’s time to take a look at next year’s Kentucky Derby contenders. Right now, my way too early Kentucky Derby favorite is the Doug O’Neill-trained colt Nyquist. O’Neill trained 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another and it appears O’Neill has a great stable of horses this year.
Nyquist won the Del Mar Futurity on Monday (shown below) and is unbeaten in three starts. Nyquist won this 7 furlong race with a time of 1:23.28. American Pharoah got the first win of his career in last year’s Del Mar Futurity, posting a time of 1:21.48.
With the win, Nyquist is assured a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race in October–a race that his sire Uncle Mo won in 2010. I was more impressed with Nyquist’s win in the Best Pal Stakes (shown below) where he posted a 89 Beyer Speed Figure. He stalked the pace and BOOM he was gone.
Although Doug O’Neill believes his top 2-year-old is Nyquist, he’s got another great horse in Ralis who rallied for a win in the Hopeful Stakes race Monday at Saratoga and posted a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.
And every year, you have to look to see what Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have in their stables. Todd Pletcher’s top 2 year-old right now appears to be Sudden Surprise. Sudden Surprise won the Funny Cide Stakes on August 28th and posted an 89 Beyer Speed Figure in this 5 1/2 furlong race.
From the Bob Baffert Stable, Justin Squared broke his maiden at Del Mar on Saturday and produced an 86 Beyer Speed Figure. Mt Veeder has an excellent pedigree in whose sire was Ghostzapper (whose sire was Awesome Again).
A lot talent will rise to the surface in the coming months. There are quite a few great pedigree colts that have yet to race, including some half-brothers to American Pharoah in the Zayat Stables in Sakara and Nile Brewery. Another half brother to American Pharoah, trained by Linda Rice, is Championofthenile who broke his maiden and posted 94 Beyer Speed Figure at Saratoga September 4th.
Here are some other horses to keep an eye one:
“Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Sentient Jet):
Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs – September 12th
FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita – September 26th
Champagne Stakes at Belmont – October 3rd
Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland – October 3rd