Top 5 Early Kentucky Derby Contenders

Posted by Matt Cullen on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 @ 14:01 PM

New Year, New Road, Same Dream

Ringing in the New Year is usually celebrated as a chance to start a new, with hopes of keeping your resolution for a whole year.

But for two-year-old thoroughbreds, a New Year means the chance to contend for horse racing’s most prestigious crown: Kentucky Derby Champion.

The excitement for the 2013 Kentucky Derby is heating up as the best thoroughbreds from around the world attempt to qualify.

The excitement for this year’s Derby is further amplified by a change in the qualifying process. The path to the 2013 “Run for the Roses” looks a little different with a new points system established by Churchill Downs, Inc.

The new point system, officially branded as the "Road to the Kentucky Derby,” will feature 36 stakes races overall and include 17 marquee events for three-year-old Thoroughbreds that comprise a compact, 10-week run up to the first Saturday in May to be known as the "Kentucky Derby Championship Series."

Road to the Derby Standings

As we approach month five of Derby qualifying, it’s time to predict which thoroughbreds will realize the dream of racing in this year’s race. Below are my top five early contender picks for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

Top 5 Early Kentucky Derby Contenders

Shanghai Bobby

Shanghai Bobby is at the top of many early experts’ contender lists. With a 5-0 race record and wins at the Grey Goose Juvenile and Foxwoods Champagne, Bobby has the most impressive start to this year’s Road to the Derby. His trainer, Todd Pletcher, won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a strong showing from him at this year’s Derby.



Another Todd Pletcher trained thoroughbred, Violence has proved his worth with a 3-0 career race record. A win at December’s CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park got this duo off to a great start for 2013. Violence may go under the radar this year due to Shanghai Bobby’s dominance, but he could be worth a look when you’re making your bets this May.


Points leader in 2013, Goldencents has positioned himself well for a run at this year’s Derby. He is trained by Doug O’Neill and has two wins and a place in three qualifying races. If Goldencents can continue this momentum, O’Neill could go win back-to-back Kentucky Derby’s after last year’s improbable showing by I’ll Have Another. 



Bern Identity

This thoroughbred is not a sexy pick, but if you like hard work and effort, Bern Identity is your horse. A win at the Sanford Stakes and place at the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes put him on many experts’ lists. Trainer Kelly Breen has given this horse many opportunities to race against top competition, gaining valuable experience that could suite him well in Derby qualifying races.




He’s Had Enough

I’ll Have Another part two? It’s possible! He’s Had Enough may by Doug O’Neill’s sequel horse to last year’s Derby champ, I’ll Have Another. He’s Had Enough finished a close second to Shanghai Bobby at November’s exciting Grey Goose Juvenile. If the Juvenile was a foreshadowing of this year’s Derby, we will all be in for a treat!


Attend the 2013 Kentucky Derby

There has never been a better time to book your Kentucky Derby ticket packages with Derby Experiences. Our Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Ticket Packages are designed to provide you with an unforgettable experience for you and your guests. For information on how you can attend the 2013 Kentucky Derby visit


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Kristen Doolan

Kristen Doolan was born and raised a Florida State Seminole. Making her way from Florida to North Carolina, Kristen achieved her B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing at The University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is an avid traveler, college football addict, beach bum and loves spending time with her family and friends. 


Jazzy Morgan

Jazzy Morgan is originally from London, England and a die-hard Manchester United Fan. She grew up in Connecticut and made the move down south in 2011 where she attended Winthrop University and received her B.S. in Family & Consumer Sciences and a minor in Marketing. Jazzy enjoys traveling, working out, reading her monthly Vogue & Cosmo and keeping up with fashion trends.


Evan Chronis

Evan Chronis was born in Omaha, Nebraska but has made his home in south Charlotte for almost two decades. A Tar Heel born and bred, Evan received his B.A in Media and Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill. He is an avid Boston sports fan thanks to his family’s New England roots, and a fanboy of Wes Anderson films.