With the conclusion of the Southwest Stakes from Oaklawn on Monday, it is finally time for the Championship Series of Races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Having had 9 Kentucky Derby preps so far this year, my Top 5 is coming into focus.
No. 5: Mor Spirit
Winning the Los Alamitos Futurity to end 2015 wasn’t all too impressive as he beat a tiring group of horses. But coming back in the Robert B. Lewis and putting away his driving foes near the wire, gives him a spot on this list. Bob Baffert has a very strong 3yo that just looks to get better as the races get longer. How he will square off against Nyquist is still up to question, but beating Frank Conversation in the Los Al Futurity (a horse that came back to win the El Camino Real Derby and is targeting the UAE Derby) leads me to believe that he is a strong contender.
No. 4: Swipe
Currently recovering from injury, Swipe has been the closest horse to beating the undefeated Nyquist. He is scheduled to return to the worktab on Tuesday (2/16) and seems to be heading towards the Fair Grounds (as Exaggerator is going towards Santa Anita). Getting away from Nyquist will be big and hopefully seeing something from him soon. Reminds me a lot of Calculator, a horse that I said was the best 3yo last year, before an injury took him away for the season. While I see Swipe as possibly being the best horse this year, his inability to beat Nyquist and the possibility that he may miss the Derby keeps him outside the top 3 for me.
No. 3: Brody’s Cause
Targeting the Tampa Bay Derby, the Breeders’ Futurity winner looks primed to give Dale Romans his first Kentucky Derby win. A closer, Brody’s Cause didn’t have much of a chance in the short Keeneland stretch. Closers perform well at Churchill Downs (most years) and he could be the big closer in this years race. I am very much looking forward to how he will perform as the months roll on.
No. 2: Nyquist
Still undefeated after his win in the San Vicente over Exaggerator, Nyquist has shown why he was the 2yo champion. However, he has yet to prove that he can get a mile and a quarter (or even a mile and an eighth) making stamina a big question. He started the year off ranked number one in my eyes but his connections deciding to start of the season in a sprint race doesn’t make me want to trust his stamina. Many questions loom over him, but talent alone keeps him in the top 2.
No. 1: Mohaymen
No doubt in my mind who the top horse is right now. Mohaymen has done nothing wrong and continues to impress. Very happy that McLaughlin brought him down to Florida instead of letting him run on his home track of Aqueduct. Undefeated through 4 races and has been getting better and better each race, Mohaymen won impressively in the Holy Bull. Looking forward to him in the Fountain of Youth.
Honorable Mentions (6-10):
6- Frank Conversation
7- Sunny Ridge
8- Cocked and Loaded
9- Hit It A Bomb