A Look Ahead at the 2018 Triple Crown

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January 2nd, 2018

Happy New Year! The arrival of 2018 means the arrival of a fresh year filled with opportunity and potential, and for fans of Thoroughbred horse racing, it also means a new Kentucky Derby prep season is underway with a chance at seeing a future Triple Crown winner in action.

Let’s kick off the year with a list of four things to look forward to during the 2018 Triple Crown season….
  1. The Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro Rematch
The two most accomplished juveniles of 2017 were Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro, who stamped themselves as promising prospects for the 2018 Triple Crown by scoring big victories with impressive speed figures. Their only meeting came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), in which Good Magic won convincingly while Bolt d’Oro suffered a very wide trip and finished third. Assuming they stay healthy, they should be poised for an exciting rematch in the Kentucky Derby.
  1. Foreign Flavors in the Derby
With the expansion of the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby and the creation of a European Road to the Kentucky Derby, at least two foreign-based runners will be offered spots in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, and the international participation could very well rise to three or four thanks to the UAE Derby in Dubai, which offers a total of 170 Derby qualification points to the top four finishers.

Names to keep an eye on this winter include and from Japan and the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt Mendelssohn, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) at Del Mar in November.
  1. Todd Pletcher’s Belmont Stakes Contenders
Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont Stakes three times and has sent out 11 horses to finish in the Belmont Stakes trifecta since 2006. Even more impressive, Pletcher is just a nose and a head away from having won four of the last five editions of the Belmont. It would be a surprise if Pletcher doesn’t pull out a contender or two for the 2018 Belmont, with the well-bred Marconi—a half-brother to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Mucho Macho Man and already a winner going nine furlongs—being a prime possibility.
  1. Bob Baffert’s Derby Candidates
McKinzie. Solomini. Nero. Ax Man. Regulate. St. Patrick’s Day. Vision. Heck Yeah. Mourinho. Zulfikhar. Talent Scout. Zatter. The list of promising candidates with good Triple Crown odds trained by Bob Baffert goes on and on, and while it’s unlikely that they’ll all develop into stakes winners, it would come as no surprise if 2018 sees Baffert secure a fifth Kentucky Derby victory.