2013 Kentucky Derby and Oaks Contenders

Posted by Matt Cullen on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 @ 11:07 AM

Derby Experiences' Top 10 Contenders: Updated 4/24/13

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

The prep races are over so now all eyes are on the final work-outs leading up to the Kentucky Derby.  Many Derby and Oaks contenders are already on the grounds. Churchill Downs has once again initiated special training hours for horses that entered for either the Oaks or the Derby from 8:30 – 8:45 a.m.   While some trainers still opt for other time slots when they believe the track to be at its peak condition (generally thought to be at 6:00 a.m. when the track opens for training) most entrants don their specially created saddle towels and hit the track for an all-stars type training extravaganza. Everyone wants to hold the bragging rights of having spotted the winner of the Derby or Oaks in advance. Here is my Kentucky Derby Top 10: 


He is not on the grounds of Churchill Downs yet but I’m sticking to my guns that this is my top pick due to his speed and raw talent.  I want to see him in person and watch him travel over the Churchill Downs track


Reports from his work in Florida were impressive – can’t wait to see him on the grounds. To know his trainer and have him be excited … that’s really saying something. Shug is as conservative as they get!   


This horse loves the track and has made his works look effortless.  Seems to really get along with Rosie.  Don’t forget that he was gaining the length of his stride in the LA Derby – what appears to be a key race.


A very lanky individual in person.  Very nice work with Calvin up.  This might be just the right match up of horse and rider.


As expected, he is as grand in his photos as he is in person.  I would still like to see a little more “scrappiness” in this colt to prove to me he can handle the bumping and knocking that is so prevalent in the 20- horse field.


Athletic mover and very aggressive in his training – even to gallop.  This is a real race horse that loves every minute!

Will Take Charge

Lovely big stride where he really appears to reach and flick those front feet.  He might be a little nervous as Wayne keeps blinkers on even to train.  Lots of erratic ears even in the morning.


Much bigger colt than I expected and looks incredibly fit – lean and dappled. Waiting for his work.

Frac Daddy

Rarely drops an ear in training – focused and pulling his rider around the track.  This is a scrappy colt who could make exotic wagering pay offs interesting and McPeek is on a roll!


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

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

Based on what I’ve been seeing in the morning, Midnight Lucky is the most impressive filly I have seen since Winning Colors and I believe she could win the Oaks OR the Derby.  While I don’t think the Derby is even a consideration for her (no rumors to begin) she looks to be mature way beyond her years - both physically and mentally!   She is confident and relaxed all at the same time and the condition of her weight and coat color are perfection.  Midnight Lucky easily makes my number one spot!

Midnight Lucky

Easily the most impressive horse on the grounds!  She’s big, beautiful, lovely easy stride, professional race horse that is unconcerned with media and chaos.  She’s a freak in so many ways.  She moves to my top choice – in fact I would put her at the top of my Derby top ten too – very very special filly.

Unlimited Budget

Waiting to see her in person at Churchill but this filly has been super impressive – cruises at a very high speed.

Kauai Katie

A beautiful filly with a lot of expression.  Made victory in the Acorn look like a workout.

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. Didn’t understand the Keeneland race but Kenny McPeek will have her ready for Churchill


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.

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.