Baffert's Got Another Strong Derby Hand

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D.S. Williamson

December 10th, 2018

It's almost become a foregone conclusion that the great Bob Baffert heads into the New Year with the top 3-year-olds on the planet. No exception to 2019. Bob's stable has at least 4 Derby contenders already with more on the way.

Just as a reminder to all of us, his Triple Crown winner this year didn't even break his maiden until 2018.

So, we can't expect Bob's top Triple Crown runner to come from the 4 horses I list here, not when the new Justify might not have even run yet.

Bob Baffert's Top 2-year-Olds Heading into 2019

1. Game Winner

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Champion is undefeated, but although I've got him on top, I wouldn't attempt to argue with anyone who believed he didn't deserve #1. Game Winner has the all the makings of another Triple Crown winner. He's already battle-tested, can run as close or as far as behind as he wants, and beat his competition in the Juvenile even though it was obvious that he wasn't feeling his best.

Two things could derail Game Winner from winning Baffert another Derby. First, he might not hit his peak until later in 2019. Bayern, Arrogate, and West Coast all got much better in the summer. Second, the other horses on this list might just be better than he is.

2. Coliseum

This Godolphin son of Tapit's the real deal. Coliseum should only get better. He ran lights out in the maiden and, let's be honest, jockey Joe Talamo could have pushed him to win by 10 lengths instead of 6.

Godolphin has never won the Kentucky Derby. This year we know they're committed. Instead of keeping this top runner in Dubai, they're campaigning him in California under Baffert's care. If you wish to take home the Derby, why not go to the best, right? Baffert could turn this guy into an absolute beast.

3. Improbable

4. Mucho Gusto

Improbable's already 3-for-3 and there's no telling how much better he'll get. City Zip isn't known for producing stayers, but Improbable gets plenty of stamina from his mom, Rare Event, because his grandsire on his mom's side is A.P. Indy. He displayed the turn of foot in the Los Alamitos Futurity that should make his connections giddy. I love how he's won at Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, and Los Al, proving he brings his game with him.

Mucho Gusto ran fast early on in the Los Alamitos Futurity. He must improve, but Bob always gets them to improve. He won the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes in only his second lifetime race. He too has staying power because his sire, Mucha Macho Man, won the Breeders' Cup Classic while Giant's Causeway produced his broodmare.

Don't sleep on any of Bob Baffert's 3-year-olds. Right now, if I had to wager, I'd go with Coliseum to win the Kentucky Derby. He's got plenty of upside and by putting him under Bob's care means Godolphin's throwing down the gauntlet.