Top 10 Kentucky Derby & Kentucky Oaks Contenders

Posted by Matt Cullen on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 @ 16:34 PM

Derby Experiences' Top 10 Contenders: Updated 4/16/13

Derby Experiences
 will be posting our Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Insider's Top 10 Contenders leading up to the races in May. In Kentucky, Thoroughbred racing is a way of life and Loren Hebel-Osborne has made her life-long passion a career.

Loren has updated her Top 10 Contenders following this weekend's Kentucky Derby Championship Series Races and explains why she thinks these horses will be in the running at Churchill Downs®.

Kentucky Derby Top 10


I’m not getting off him yet – still my favorite. I think he needed the race in the Florida Derby. Pressure is off a bit now for Derby which is good for smaller stable to handle.


Jaw dropping, gutty performance in the Florida Derby.  This is a race horse and veteran trainer Shug McCaughey looks to finally have his shot at the roses!  


Very impressive performance in the Louisiana Derby. Broke badly at the start but recovered gamely to almost win.  He might be blossoming at the right time and his sire is hot, hot, hot! Training like a monster at Churchill!


This is one gutty race horse.  Didn’t like the way he jogged back with the pony after the race (might be a problem there)  but if he makes it to the Derby – he will be tough!


I’m the first to admit that I was wrong about this horse!  He looked like he was having a blast – ears forward after break and extended stride when horses approached.  Race time was slow but if he gets the trip in the Derby – he will wear roses.


I absolutely LOVE this horse.  I don’t know if he is a top, top horse yet but his heart is bigger than his body – he is a warrior and loves it!


Wood Memorial performance suggests he can’t go that far but geldings have a special place in my heart – he stays on my top ten for now

Frac Daddy

I’m so glad I stayed with this colt.  I loved him at Churchill last year and Kenny McPeek has been carefully preparing for his 3-year-old campaign.  He will improve again when he returns to his favorite track – Churchill Downs.  


I’ve been waiting for this horse to show up again and he did in a  big way at the Arkansas Derby. A beautiful colt who is agile and a quick turn of foot.


It was a fabulous win in the Santa Anita Derby but his stride was shortening in the last 16th – not sure he can stay.

Flashback is off list and the Derby trail with a knee chip. Hear the Ghost is also off the Derby trail with injury. Finally, Shanghai Bobby is off my list and the Derby Trail.  


Kentucky Oaks Top 10

Unlimited Budget

She’s like auto pilot set at a very high cruising speed.  A very efficient mover who just clicks off the fractions.  Blew away the field in the Rachel Alexandra Stake. Was awesome again in the Fairgrounds Oaks.

Midnight Lucky

She is a freak!  Two jaw dropping performances – most recently in the Sunland Oaks where she set a track record in a hand gallop- stay healthy – very special filly. Second in ranking only due to her lack of experience.

Kauai Katie

A beautiful filly with a lot of expression.  Not sure she wants to go two turns but I want to see more.

Dreaming of Julia

So much class and she shows up every time ready to do battle – can’t wait to see her train at Churchill.

Rose to Gold

She’s little and tough.  Ears pinned for the whole trip. NO one was going by her in the Honeybee.  A red head on a rampage – love it! But if she’s not in the mood on Oaks Day … red heads can refuse to run too!

Blonde Fog

This is another filly who needs to learn to relax up front if she is to be able to carry that speed all the way to the wire.  She doesn’t have a lot of experience.  Blinkers are not very severe, he may even cut back to smaller cups to get her to relax.


With all the speed in the race, this filly could close.


Mandella has gotten her to relax at home but I’m still concerned about her shipping and being able to relax. Ulcers due to nervousness and fretting is a chronic management issue for the trainer. She really needs the trip in the Oaks – no traffic.

Pure Fun

Drops a bit on my top ten but I still love this filly and think her preferred surface is dirt. Kenny McPeek will have her ready


Incredible romp in the Ashland – makes my list but think she may prefer polytrack or turf – may have helped her be so impressive.  With other speedy fillies in Oaks she may not get the lead so easily.

Broken Spell is off my list and maybe off Oaks trail with another poor performance in Ashland

Derby Experiences

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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.