Log In

Top-Ranked Kentucky Derby Preps are Telling

by Jeremy Plonk

April 15, 2019

Most of what happens on Twitter either informs me or infuriates me. Rarely is there any middle ground. But on Sunday I got tagged on a conversation with Countdown to the Crown reader Glenn Atkinson and he mentioned something about the scouting report I had not even realized. While this is the 14th year for Countdown, the format hasn’t changed much in that time. Maybe that’s bad in this ever-changing world. But when it comes to measuring history, consistency comes in handy. 

Glenn mentioned that Countdown’s Top-5 rated stakes performances going into the Derby was one of his factors used in handicapping the Kentucky Derby and that it had been highly predictive. He Tweeted: “I think that he had the winner on that list every year since at least 2012, maybe in the top two.” While I was flattered to read the compliment, my initial reaction was that it could not have been right. 

Turns out, Glenn’s an awfully accurate researcher. And the Countdown Top-5 rated stakes performances has done itself (and me) proud. I went back through the archives from Horseplayerdaily to ESPN to DRF and Horse Player NOW and enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Here are the actual published Top-5s since 2012. {Curiously, in 2015, I stopped the stakes-race rankings a few weeks short and did not continue beyond the 4-week window. Dortmund was atop the charts, but American Pharoah had yet to run his Arkansas Derby. So there is no 2015 final Top-5 in official form.} 

2012 Stakes Race 

1. BODEMEISTER (Arkansas Derby, OP, 4/14) – SECOND DERBY 
2. I’LL HAVE ANOTHER (Santa Anita Derby, SA 4/7) – WON DERBY 
3. CREATIVE CAUSE (San Felipe, SA, 3/10) 
4. DULLAHAN (Blue Grass, Kee, 4/14) – THIRD DERBY 
5. TAKE CHARGE INDY (Florida Derby, GP, 3/31)

2013 Stakes Race 

1. ORB (Florida Derby, Gulfstream, 3/30) – WON DERBY 
2. ITSMYLUCKYDAY (Holy Bull, Gulfstream, 1/26) 
3. VERRAZANO (Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, 4/6) 
4. VYJACK (Gotham, Aqueduct, 3/2) 
5. REVOLUTIONARY (Withers, Aqueduct, 2/2) – THIRD DERBY

2014 Stakes Race 

3. CANDY BOY (Lewis Memorial, SA, 2/8) 
4. HOPPERTUNITY (Rebel, OP 3/14) 
5. CONSTITUTION (Florida Derby, GP, 3/29)

2016 Stakes Race 

1. NYQUIST (Florida Derby, GP, 4/2) – WON DERBY 
2. NYQUIST (San Vicente, SA, 2/15) – WON DERBY 
3. MOHAYMEN (Holy Bull, GP, 1/30) 
4. CUPID (Rebel, OP, 3/19) 
5. DANZING CANDY (San Felipe, SA, 3/12)

2017 Stakes Race 

1. ALWAYS DREAMING (Fla Derby, GP, 4/1) – WON DERBY 
2. CLASSIC EMPIRE (Arkansas Derby, OP, 4/15) 
3. McCRAKEN (Sam F. Davis, Tam, 2/11) 
4. GIRVIN (Louisiana Derby, FG, 4/1) 
5. HENCE (Sunland Derby, Sun, 3/26)

2018 Stakes Race 

1. JUSTIFY (Santa Anita Derby, SA, 4/6) – WON DERBY 
2. MAGNUM MOON (Arkansas Derby, OP, 4/13) 
3. BOLT D’ORO (San Felipe, SA, 3/10) 
4. MAGNUM MOON (Rebel, OP, 3/17) 
5. MENDELSSOHN (UAE Derby, Mey, 3/31) 

So who will have the top performance of 2019? Maximum Security’s Xpressbet Florida Derby sat atop the charts coming into this week. Did Omaha Beach supplant him in the Arkansas Derby? You’ll have to check out Friday’s edition this week!