The 2018 Kentucky Derby Trail Class – Who will be the stars of tomorrow?


September 13th 2017

I recently wrote an article for US racing profiling my three current favorites on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail: Bolt d’Oro, Copper Bullet and St Patrick’s Day. The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Besides these three promising 2-year-olds, there others that are on my radar:

  • Zatter – The Zayat Stables, Bob Baffert-trained colt who finished 2nd in the Del Mar Futurity. He has produced 84 Beyer Speed Figures in his only two starts. The only question I have is how he will like distance since. His sire was Midnight Lute, who was a two-time Breeders’ Cup champion sprinter. 
  • Sporting Chance – The recent winner of the Hopeful Stakes. The son of Tiznow is being trained by D. Wayne Lukas, a three-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer. If his Hopeful Stakes race is any indication, he’s still a bit raw but D. Wayne will get him straightened out.
  • Instilled Regard – This 2 year-old son of Arch is being trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. He comes with high expectations, being purchased for $1,050,000 in the Ocala Breeders’ 2-Year-Old March sale. Instilled Regard’s only start came against St Patrick’s Day at Del Mar on Sept 2nd where he finished 2nd to the full brother of American Pharoah. I normally don’t get too excited about a 2-year-old after one start but it was the manner in which he closed that makes me see that he will like added distance.
  • SolominiAnother Zayat Stables’ Bob Baffert-trained colt. His sire is Curlin so he may end up liking distance better than stablemate Zatter. He broke his maiden at Del Mar September 2nd in his very first start. Keep a lazy eye on this one.
  • Dak AttackThe Dale Romans-trained son of Ghostzapper. This colt is a sentimental favorite for two reasons. First, I was a big fan of Ghostzapper and his eye-popping Beyer Speed Figures. Secondly, trainer Dale Romans lost promising colt Not This Time last year due to injury. And I will go to my grave believing that Not This Time would have been the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner had he remained healthy. Dak Attack is undefeated in two starts.
  • Run AwayThe Santa Anita Juvenile and Best Pal Stakes winner. He finished 3rd behind Bolt d’Oro and Zatter in the Del Mar Futurity but don’t take him off your radar just yet. The Kaleem Shah owned colt, trained by Simon Callaghan, has won 3 out of 4 career starts.

On the Docket…

My next blog will likely be a preview of the Iroquois Stakes scheduled for September 16th at Churchill Downs. The Iroquois is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

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Labor Day Special – An early look at the 2018 Kentucky Derby Class


September 3rd 2017 – Updated September 4th 2017 4 PM CST

The 2018 Kentucky Derby trail officially kicks off September 16th with the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. However tomorrow, we have a Labor Day special with two Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds in the Hopeful Stakes and Del Mar Futurity. These two races will give us some insight on who the stars of next year’s Derby Trail class might be. I have a few on my radar already.

Copper Bullet

Currently, I am very high on the Steve Asmussen-trained colt named Copper Bullet who won the Saratoga Special Stakes (shown below). Same owner/trainer combination as Gun Runner. I first wrote about him back in June Unfortunately, it was announced yesterday that he will be sidelined due to shin issues and likely miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

I am also very high on three other horses: St Patrick’s Day, Run Away and Zatter.

St Patrick’s Day

The Bob Baffert-trained St Patrick’s Day is a full brother to American Pharoah. He broke his maiden yesterday at Del Mar (shown below)

Run Away

Owned by Kaleem Shah, trained by Simon Callaghan, the son of Run Away and Hide is a perfect 3-for-3 with his Best Pal Stakes victory (shown below). He’ll be a Labor Day runner in the Del Mar Futurity.


Owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Bob Baffert. The son of Midnight Lute defeated St. Patrick’s Day at Del Mar back on August 20th (shown below) which was the first career start for both colts. Zatter will face Run Away in the Del Mar Futurity.

Below are the post-positions, weights, jockey assignments and odds for the Hopeful Stakes and Del Mar Futurity:

The Hopeful Stakes  – 7 furlongs – Race #9 at Saratoga – Post-Time: 4:05 PM CST. Televised by Fox Sports 2 and TVG

1. Mojovation (118) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 2/1 
2. Oskar Blues (118) – Davis/McPeek – 10/1  
3. Firenze Fire (122) – Ortiz Jr/Servis – 7/2 
4. Psychoanalyze (118) – Franco/Lynch- 15/1
5. National Flag (118) – J.Ortiz/Pletcher – 9/2 
6. Sporting Chance (118) – Saez/Lukas – 8/1
7. Givemeaminit (116) – Rosario/Stewart – 10/1
8. Free Drop Billy (118) – Albarado/Romans – 4/1 

My Pick:  Mojovation is the fastest horse in this field. Free Drop Billy has the 2nd fastest closing speed but he was beaten by Firenze Fire in his last start. If you like a longer shot, Oskar Blues has already put up a decent time of 1:23.99 at this 7 furlong distance at Saratoga. I like a 1 with 3,8 Exacta and win/place/show bets on Mojovation.

The Del Mar Futurity  – 7 furlongs – Race #8 at Del Mar – Post-Time: 7:36 PM CST. Televised by TVG

1. Soul Streit (120) – Smith/Baffert – 4/1
2. Master Ruler (118) – Roman/Sadler – 20/1
3. Run Away (123) – Prat/Callaghan – 5/2
4. Tatters to Riches (120) – Baze/Mullins- 4/1
5. Fleetwood (118) – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 20/1
6. Bolt d’Oro (120) – Nakatani/Ruis – 6/1
7. Gracida (120) – Espinoza/O’Neill – 12/1
8. Dia de Pago (118) – Gonzalez/Cerin – 12/1
9. Zatter (118) – Bejarano/Baffert – 7/2

My Pick: I think Run Away picks up his fourth win in four starts. Zatter will battle but I am concerned that he won’t be able to overcome his outside post-position. If you like longer shots, the Doug O’Neill-trained Gracida with Victor Espinoza on board could surprise and be a good show bet if his odds stay above 10/1.

On the Docket…

My next blog will likely be a Breeders’ Cup Contender ranking update followed by a preview of the Iroquois Stakes scheduled for September 16th at Churchill Downs. The Iroquois is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: