Kentucky Derby Top 10: Life Is Good if you're Bob Baffert

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February 18th, 2021

The 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1) is barely more than 2 1/2 months away, which means action is heating up in the winter prep races.

In the midst of a rare quiet week on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, I’ve assembled a ranking of the Top 10 contenders for the “Run for the Roses,” including a trio of horses trained by six-time Derby winner Bob Baffert.

1. Life Is Good

The undefeated son of leading sire Into Mischief is undefeated in two starts and most recently battled to victory in the Sham (G3).

With Brisnet Speed ratings of 100 and 98, Life Is Good is already one of the fastest horses on the Derby trail. Any additional improvement will make Life Is Good a formidable presence for Baffert.

2. Greatest Honour

He turned in an eye-catching performance to dominate the Holy Bull (G3) by 5 3/4 lengths and earned a 103 Brisnet Speed rating. I was particularly impressed with the way the Shug McGaughey trainee made a powerful, sweeping rally around the far turn to seize command at the top of the stretch.

Although Greatest Honour is a deep closer, he has the tactical turn of foot to reach contention sooner rather than later, a big plus for the Kentucky Derby.

3. Concert Tour

This Baffert runner brought his record to 2-for-2 with a gritty victory in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2).

A son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of a Tapit mare, Concert Tour is bred to stretch out and could develop into a top-class colt.

4. Essential Quality

The reigning champion two-year-old won all three of his starts in 2020 and capped the year with a stretch-running victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

But his sophomore debut has been delayed by the weather-related postponement of the Southwest (G3), and it is difficult to predict whether his strong juvenile form will carry over to 2021.

5. Medina Spirit

After he rallied to finish second behind stablemate Life Is Good in the Sham, Medina Spirit posted a gritty, frontrunning victory in the Robert B. Lewis (G3).

Considering Medina Spirit survived a fast pace to hold off two late runners, his narrow triumph was more impressive than it appears at first glance.

6. Mandaloun

The improving son of Into Mischief took a step forward when blinkers were added for the Risen Star (G2), where he tracked the pace then battled on down the stretch to prevail, with a 100 Brisnet Speed rating.

Mandaloun showed impressive tenacity to fight off challenges from both sides and is progressing in the right direction.

7. Caddo River

The talented speedster dominated the Smarty Jones S. in frontrunning fashion and romped by 10 1/4 lengths, over Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) runner-up Cowan.

A son of Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun, Caddo River clearly has the speed to be a player in the Derby. But can he handle 1 1/4 miles?

8. Hot Rod Charlie

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up wasn’t badly beaten when he finished third in the Robert B. Lewis.

Trained by two-time Derby winner Doug O’Neill, Hot Rod Charlie has shown significant improvement since blinkers were added and might still have more upside.

9. Prevalence

The stoutly bred son of Medaglia d’Oro smashed his rivals in a seven-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream last month, when he drew away under a light hand ride to win by 8 1/2 lengths.

Prevalance clearly has a lot of talent, but only time will tell if he can carry his speed around two turns against tougher company.

10. Fire At Will

This three-time stakes winner beat a quality field in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), but he also handled a sloppy main track just fine when he rallied to victory in the With Anticipation S. at Saratoga.

He’ll get another chance at dirt in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream, where we’ll hopefully learn how he handles a fast track.