Updated Kentucky Derby Top 5

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D.S. Williamson

March 16th, 2017

There wouldn't be much of a Kentucky Derby Top 5 if Mastery hadn't gotten hurt. Mastery was so impressive in the San Felipe that I was ready to drive down to Vegas and make a huge future bet on the horse. Then, he got hurt. I hope he comes back strong.

The Derby is now wide-open. Or, is it? I left off any horse, like McCracken and Classic Empire, that are trying to come back from an injury. It's tough enough to win the Derby when everything goes right.

See below for my updated Kentucky Derby Top 5.


He needs to run faster in his next prep to have any shot of winning the Kentucky Derby. Either that, or he must peak at the Derby. Tapwrit has the type of turn of foot that, timed right, should lead to a Top 3 finish in the Run for the Roses. Unless, which is what I'm worried about, he just doesn't want to run 1 1/4 miles. He sort of flattened out a bit after getting the lead in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Then again, Tapwrit broke badly, and had to make a long, sustained, move to get the lead. What it means is that he's already proven that he can get out of trouble when he gets into it. No other three-year-old that I can remember has done that this year.

J Boys Echo

I think knocking horses for perfect trips in Derby preps makes no sense. So many things can  happen in the Kentucky Derby. The perfect trip horse can definitely win, but the perfect trip horse also, more often than not, is the best horse in the race. Real Quiet got a perfect trip when he won the 1998 Kentucky Derby. He was the best horse in the race.

J Boys Echo ran fast when he won the Gotham Stakes. He relaxed well, which is what a horse must do in the Kentucky Derby. Don't knock the horse for doing exactly what he's supposed to do.

Cloud Computing

I was ultra-impressed by how Cloud Computing ran in the Gotham Stakes. First, it was only his second lifetime race. He was much closer to the strong pace than J Boys Echo. Second, he buried El Areeb when called upon. El Areeb was 2/5 in the race. Then, after burying the 2/5 chalk, Cloud Computing kept fighting. If he can win the Wood Memorial, or just get enough points to get into the Derby, he's a logical contender. Trainer Chad Brown has him where he wants him.

One Liner

He beat a really good horse in Petrov in the Southwest Stakes. It took a while for Johnny V. to get him going, but when he did One Liner responded well. What I like is how how One Liner appears to enjoy running past his foes. He almost took his time next to Petrov in the stretch before deciding to blow by him. It's as if One Liner wants his competition to know that he's better than they are. Trainer Todd Pletcher stated that One Liner needs a lot of time in between races. He may not make the Derby. I sure hope he does. Even if he doesn't get another prep, I think he's a solid contender.

Irish War Cry

I'm not ready to give up on this guy. He regressed badly in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. Hey, I saw that. But, horses have regressed only to come back stronger. I think he's one of those horses. There were a couple of things that happened in the Fountain of Youth that led to such a bad regression.

First, he had a pace-setter to chase. Irish War Cry isn't used to that. Hopefully, he learned from the experience. Second, he was the victim of a terribly quick opening quarter-mile in  :23.43. Graham Motion doesn't know when, or if, he's going to put a prep into Irish War Cry. What that means is, like One Liner, Irish War Cry might not even run in the Kentucky Derby. But, if he does, rest assured that Graham will have him ready.

Don't be surprised if in a week or two I have a totally different Kentucky Derby Top 5. That's the year were in where no horse has broken out.