LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Already, despite the main prep races being one to two months away, we have an early idea of which horses to watch in advance of the 145th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, but who are they?

From the imperious unbeaten juvenile champion Game Winner to an eye-catching debutant at the Pegasus World Cup meeting in the shape of Hidden Scroll, we have amassed a list of 11 colts to look out for as we get closer to go time in Louisville on May 4.

Game Winner

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Trainer: Bob Baffert

Of course it would be no surprise to see Bob Baffert win the Kentucky Derby yet again and right now he has the number one candidate on paper in the form of this four-time winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Game Winner.

Having already beaten fellow contender Gunmetal Gray easily before scoring at Churchill Downs in the big one, he’s proved he has the speed and stamina to cope at the top level against good opposition with the only reservation at this stage being that he didn’t annihilate his field last time in Louisville and stronger opposition may emerge between now and April.

Gunmetal Gray

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Beaten twice by Game Winner and again this year by Mucho Gusto, many will have written off this guy but it seems he needs a little extra distance so the mile-and-a-quarter run round Churchill Downs may well suit him.  He could be a live outsider if lining up on the day.

Harvey Wallbanger

Trainer: Kenneth McPeek

As a son of Congrats, Harvey Wallbanger’s debut over six furlongs was always going to test his speed a little too much, so it was no surprise at the start of February to see him leave that form long behind when winning the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

On breeding he should stay the Kentucky Derby distance very well and it’ll be interesting over the next few weeks to check on the form of those he beat in Florida, namely Everfast and Maximus Mischief.

Hidden Scroll

Trainer: Bill Mott

Homebred by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation, competing in the Kentucky Derby is in the blood of this one despite his trainer’s comments that he could be more suited to the Preakness Stakes.

Both the sire and dam sire of Hidden Scroll ran second in the Run for the Roses during their careers, and after an astonishing 14-length demolition of a good field on his first start at the track during Gulfstream’s Pegasus World Cup meet this striking son of Hard Spun announced himself as a major contender.  Look out for him running in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 2.


Trainer: Bob Baffert

After winning the Los Alamitos Futurity, Improbable drew comparisons with Triple Crown hero Justify and while that is a very lofty peak for the City Zip colt to reach, reach it he might.

Improbable won during the Breeders’ Cup meet and so has already handled the track well, that win being achieved easily and so his success at Grade 1 level was not unexpected and he could prove to be the number one contender from this barn even ahead of Game Winner.


Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

While it’s true that sire Lawyer Ron was top class over the Kentucky Derby distance, most of his progeny have shown more speed than stamina and Instagrand is another who excelled over shorter trips last season as a juvenile, winning over five and 6 furlongs.

With all of that in mind it’s doubtful whether he will see out the race, but if he does then he certainly has the class to take a hand in the finish as a Grade 2 winner but his prep over the spring will reveal all.


Trainer: Bill Mott

Despite being a winner and having finished a strong second in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last year, surely this colt can only get better over further as breeding suggests he needs much more than the 6 or seven furlongs he encountered on the track last year.

His daddy Blame also ran over shorter trips as a juvenile before eventually winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic so as he steps up in distance we are sure to see plenty of improvement from him.

Mucho Gusto

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Baffert has many options and this one sits somewhere right in the middle; a winner versus Gunmetal Gray this year at Grade 3 level but easily second-best behind team mate Improbable in the Futurity.

Sire Mucho Mucho Man took a big step forward around this time of the year as a three-year-old before running well in the Derby so look out for another improved performance soon.


Trainer: Kenneth McPeek

Given that he was beaten at Grade 1 level at Keeneland in October and scraped home first in Grade 2 company in November, it would appear at a glance that Signalman lacks the quality to win this race.

His third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile however from the widest gate of all and thus getting too far back before staying on suggests otherwise and he looks the type who can step up when required at the top level.

War Of Will

Trainer: Mark Casse

This colt has a lot of miles on the clock already for such a young animal but seems to thrive on racing so don’t rule him out!

Beaten into fifth by Line Of Duty in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, War Of Will has had his attentions turned to the dirt and is now an easy Grade 2 winner who looks like he’ll take the step up to Grade 1 level in his stride.

Win Win Win

Trainer: Michael Trombetta

Much like Hidden Scroll, this horse made a belated debut in January but ran away with his conditions race at Tampa Bay Downs.  His breeding doesn’t scream Kentucky Derby so he’ll need a big run in a major prep to fully enter calculations.

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