Road to the Kentucky Derby
Handicapping

The Road to The Kentucky Derby : Two Contenders and a Question Mark

It’s March, and therefore it is time for some early Kentucky Derby picks. I am well aware I am shooting in the dark when the trail has simply just  begun to unfold, and will in turn get a lot of “Too early to tell’s” from a bunch of guys sitting at their cubicle desks making future wagers on any horse who clearly won’t have a shot come May, but it’s okay. I am fully prepared to ignore their comments like I always do.

So, let’s do it. Let’s talk about some potential Kentucky Derby horses, including one who is running this weekend in the Fountain of Youth, shall we?

Game Winner

Without a doubt, he is the most accomplished horse of his crop thus far. I may get heckled here for picking a colt who is likely to be one of the early favorites, but I don’t bet… therefore chalk doesn’t phase me in the slightest.

Undefeated and an Eclipse Champion, the son of Candy Ride is trained by none other than Hall of Famer, Bob Baffert. If anyone knows how to prepare a horse to fire on the first Saturday in May, it’s the white-haired wizard, who also trains the buzz horse of 2019, Improbable.

Game Winner is an imposing individual who possesses both the ability to press and to rate. He’s mentally mature, well-traveled, and insanely handsome.

Until his last two works, I felt he was a sure-fire star among his peers. But, I must say, I haven’t been entirely “wowed” with his activity in the mornings of late. 

He appears sluggish down the stretch, even switching leads occasionally— 2 thinks I don’t like to see a week out from a prep race. 

Still, he sits atop my list at the moment, and he will need to give us a poor performance in the San Felipe next weekend, for me to remove him from that slot. 

Gunmetal Gray

Okay, I know he has yet to have a standout performance at racing’s highest level, but there’s plenty of time for that. Gunmetal Gray has done nothing but intrigue me since his 2nd in the American Pharoah last year. He has since followed with a victory in the G3 Sham Stakes and most recently, a closing 2nd in the G3 Robert B. Lewis behind Bob Baffert’s umteenth Derby contender, Mucho Gusto.

So why do I have so much faith in a horse who seems to *almost* get there each time? Because he looks so damn good doing it. Sure, he sits far off the pace, which often helps him to come up slightly short before the wire, but Just have a feeling this guy will relish 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs.

Now, will Jerry Hollendorfer enter him? I say he will. After all, the son of Exchange Rate, who is owned by our friends at WestPoint Thoroughbreds is picking up points along the Derby trail, regardless of whether they are through victory. While Hollendorfer has always been clear that he does not see the Kentucky Derby as a bucket list item for himself, he has entered both the late Battle of Midway and Instilled Regard in recent years.

I say this one goes too, and I say he surprises a lot of people.

Hidden Scroll

Here he is, the horse whose name has been blasted throughout the waves of social media since his muddy debut last month. 

Hidden Scroll looked nothing short of a rare talent during his 14 length romp in his first outing, and when he crossed the finish line, he and trainer, Bill Mott, immediately found themselves on the Kentucky Derby radar. 

While an immediate bump up to graded stakes company is not the usual way of Mott’s workings, he feels he has a horse who may just possess the “it” factor needed to win the most famous horse race to ever be run. 

To me, it’s a tall order. Surely,  a 14 length win tells us Hidden Scroll has potential, but could be simply be a mudder? Will he be able to give another standout performance on a larger stage, against competition much stiffer than he faced in debut?

We find out this weekend, in the Fountain of Youth. While it is a tall order, I do believe Hidden Scroll has the makings of a Kentucky Derby horse, and therefore, I believe he wins. Just not by 14 this time. 

That’s it, my friends. I typically throw together a top 5 by this time, but to be frank, there just are not 5 horses I like as of yet.

I’ll keep you posted 😉

 

Article written by Nicole Schiveley

Chief Creative Officer

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