Ten for '18: Horses I'm Looking Forward to Watching in the New Year

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

December 18th, 2017

We're less than two weeks from the start of a new season of Thoroughbred racing both in North America and Europe, and with the arrival of 2018 comes hopes and expectations for an exciting return to the races of personal favorites.

While thoughts and discussions center around the spring classics on both sides of the pond for the first half of the year, here are 10 other horses (in alphabetical order) I'm looking forward to watching next term.

Caledonia Road

Cashing on a longshot, especially at Breeders' Cup time, certainly makes it easier to become a fan of certain horses. This filly is a case in point after a strong display in the Juvenile Fillies (G1) while overcoming a wide journey from post 12. Potentially sewing up a divisional championship with that victory, attention now turns to getting her to the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Wintering in Florida with the rest of the Ralph Nicks stable, she has the look of a filly that can run all day.


In the shadow of Arrogate throughout 2017, but he wound up posting a 2-0 record over that stablemate in both the Pacific Classic (G1) and Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). A bang-up second to Gun Runner in the latter, he, too, is pointing for the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in late January, where he merits a strong look to turn the tables on the soon-to-be retired Horse of the Year.


Trainer John Gosden had Europe's two leading horses by the end of the 2017 flat season. After narrow defeats in the Epsom Derby (G1) and Irish Derby (G1), the son of Frankel showed great progress winning the Great Voltigeur (G2), Prix Niel (G2), and Champion (G1), the latter by seven lengths. Convinced Cracksman would be better suited at a Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) tilt at the re-opened Longchamp in 2018, Gosden left him out of this year's Arc. It will be fascinating to see when and where he preps on his way back to Paris.


While she disappointingly didn't come to hand until well after the Kentucky Oaks (G1), dominating wins in the Alabama (G1) and Beldame (G1) were steps in the right direction and evidence she is as good as her debut win at two seemingly indicated. She's obviously better than what she showed in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), and if she can maintain her consistency throughout the year she has the talent to make a run at divisional honors.


A truly remarkable filly who reeled off consecutive wins in the Cheshire Oaks, Epsom Oaks (G1), Irish Oaks (G1), King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1), Yorkshire Oaks (G1), and Arc for Gosden, who calls her the best filly he's ever had. The encore could be just as sweet, and a clash between her and yard mate Cracksman is something we just all have to cross our fingers and hope will come about at some point down the line.

Forever Unbridled

An older female championship off just three starts? Yes, she did do that. Don't expect to see a whole lot more out of her in 2018, and connections were likely wise to remove her from Pegasus World Cup consideration. Defending her title will be tough against the likes of Abel Tasman and Elate, but trainer Dallas Stewart certainly has the knack at getting her to fire whenever she runs. Her potential Distaff title defense will come on her home court of Churchill Downs.

Imperial Hint

Took an unconventional route to the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) via Laurel, Gulfstream, and Parx, but certainly proved he belonged and was indeed one of the leading specialists in the land. Trainer Luis Carvajal presumably will target bigger races throughout 2018, and this guy figures to have a balanced, well-spaced campaign in advance of another Breeders' Cup shot in Louisville.


Out-finished a Preakness (G1) winner and nearly did the same against a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner in only his second career start in the Jim Dandy (G2). His Smarty Jones (G1) score was magnificent, his Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) third game, but the Breeders' Cup Classic was simply too much for the relatively inexperienced colt. Expected to contest the Malibu (G1) on December 26, so we'll get a sneak preview of what might potentially be in store for his four-year-old campaign soon enough.

Rushing Fall

It's far too early to draw comparisons between her and another Chad Brown-trained turf filly from a few years back (i.e. Lady Eli), but she will enter her sophomore season in a relatively same position. Can run in just about any kind of condition, obviously has a terrific turn of foot, and so far has been ridden with absolute confidence. Her future is bright indeed.

West Coast

Couldn't quite reach Gun Runner or Collected in the Classic, but appears he'll get his shot at redemption in the Pegasus World Cup. Didn't come to hand in time for the classics last spring, but was easily the most impressive member of the crop by season's end and will give the older male division a much needed boost with Gun Runner on his way out after the Gulfstream race.

(West Coast photo: Bill Denver/Equi-Photo)