Here is a list of trainers who will have their horses ready for the 2012 Kentucky Derby next Saturday May 5th at Churchill Downs. The 138th running of the “Run for the Roses“.
Below each name, you will see how many Derby’s they have won along with other interesting statistics and information.
When you think best trainers in the United States, his name will be one of the first mentioned if not the first mentioned. Winner of three Derby’s including his first with Silver Charm in 1997, then made it back to back year’s with Real Quiet in 1998. His last was War Emblem in 2002. He’s tied with two other trainers with those three wins. James Fitzsimmons won his during the 1930′s and Max Hirsch won his over a 15 year period (1936, 1946 and 1950). If Baffert wins this year, that would put him alongside D. Wayne Lukas and Henry Thompson with four. He has a formidable chance with potential favorite Bodemeister (Arkansas Derby winner) and Liaison (CashCall Futurity winner). It’s hard to believe a trainer who seems to have won every other race, hasn’t won the Derby in nine years. That tells you just how hard it is to win this prestigious race.
13 of 21 horses finished off the board. It’s amazing to think one of the best trainers in the last 15 years has a 62% off the board percentage. However, winning 3 and having 8 on the board in that time frame puts him in a select category.
As the same with Baffert, Pletcher is considered one of the top trainers in the country. For the last few years he has consistently been near the top or at the top of every statistical category; wins, graded wins, in the money and win percentage. He won the 2010 Derby with Super Saver (his only win), and looks to have a fantastic opportunity to notch number two with undefeated colt Gemologist (Wood Memorial winner) and El Padrino (Risen Star Stakes winner).
He’s had multiple horses entered 8 times, but that hasn’t meant success for Pletcher. 79% off the board percentage is proof of that.
He is most known now for winning the Derby last year with Animal Kingdom, but Motion’s first attempt in the Derby dates back to 1998 where he saddled Chilito to an 11th place finish. It would be another 10 years before his return to the big dance. It wasn’t a good one however, as Adriana would end up 19th out of 20 horses. Last year, most people didn’t think Animal Kingdom would win the Derby as his the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes has never been a race to lead to Derby success. That changed as he went on to win at odds of 20-1. Giving Motion and Owners Team Valor International their first Derby win. This year, they bring Went the Day Well in hoping the same path can repeat success. Went the Day Well won the Spiral Stakes late last month.
Matz is one of the few in this race to have saddled a Derby winner. He won the 2006 edition with the phenom Barbaro. It was a tragic story as the colt was severely injured after the start of the Preakness stakes. He was eventually put down the following January. He hasn’t had a horse like since. However, he does have horse who could live up to those expectations. Union Rags was considered the overwhelming favorite to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby after his convincing wins in the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special Stakes and Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. He first defeat came to Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. After a couple of months off, he easily took the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. His 3rd place finish in the Florida Derby was a shocker as everyone expected him to cruise to yet another victory. Is he finally going to show the big run that everyone has expected? This will be Matz third horse entered in the Kentucky Derby.
The trainer who recently retired last year’s Horse of the Year, Havre de Grace is set to return to the Kentucky for the first time since 2009. He had a strong of three Derby’s in a row starting with a runner-up performance by Hard Spun in 2007, another runner-up finish by Eight Belles in 2008 and 16th with Friesan Fire in 2009. This year, he brings Mark Valeski to Churchill Downs. This colt hasn’t won a stakes race, but qualified with two 2nd place finishes. The first was a nose defeat to El Padrino in the Risen Star Stakes, then the Louisiana Derby. Most people don’t think of him as a threat as he lost to a horse that went off at odds of 109-1. This is a solid horse despite that loss. Larry Jones has come up short on two occasions, but will have this horse ready to go. Will he be able to break through and that the win?
The sheer number of wins each year for him is astonishing. With horses spread out all over the country, he has one of the largest stables. Last year, he led the country with 348 wins and in 2010 led with an incredible 506 wins. 215 ahead of the next trainer! He has yet to win the Kentucky Derby, although he finished 2nd last year with Nehro. His best showing in 10 chances. This year, he brings two horses to the event. Daddy Nose Best seems to be his best chance after winning both the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields and Sunland Derby in a time of 1:48:59 going 1/8 miles. The 3rd fastest time this season for three year olds. His other prospect is Sabercat. Winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes last fall, but hasn’t registered much in 2012. He did finish 3rd in the Arkansas Derby, but was 10+ lengths behind winner Bodemeister.
3rd: 1 (Curlin)
The list of trainers with no Derby winners continues here. McLaughlin has been been close, very close for that matter. He had Closing Argument finish 2nd to Giacomo in 2005. Last year, he finished 11th with Soldat. An injury occurred during the race that kept the horse out of action until March 4 of this year. Next week, he will have Withers Stakes winner Alpha to try and get the stable their first Derby win. The Bernardini colt comes off a strong 2nd place finish to Gemologist in the Resorts World Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. His last Derby horse was Jazil who tied for 4th in the 2006 Derby (Barbaro).
Has quickly become one of the most recognized names in Horse Racing over the last couple of years. He’s on the list of trainers in this year’s race to not have won a Derby yet. Last year, he saddled Shackleford to a 4th place finish then on to win the Preakness. You get the feeling it won’t be too long for Romans to win a Derby. It might even happen next week. Dullahan has been longing for the additional distance and it showed a couple of weeks ago in his come from behind win in the Blue Grass Stakes. He passed the field, then caught up to Hansen and cruised to victory. The extension to 1 1/4 miles will only make him better.
3rd: 1 (Paddy O’Prado)
4th: 1 (Shackleford)
This is the 5th trip to Louisville on the first Saturday in May for the hall of famer from Northern California. His last visit was in 2009 when Chocolate Candy finished 5th. This year, he brings in a horse many feel could display his best result to date, and quite possibly pull of a major upset. Rousing Sermon finished 2nd to Liaison in the Real Quiet Stakes and CashCall Futurity in the Fall. So far it seems he runs too late and runs out of real estate. In the Louisiana Derby, he came late once again and just caught Cigar Street for 3rd place by a nose. The 1 1/4 miles seems ideal and if the pace sets up like expected, he should be able to make his late run and contend for the win.
One of the few European trainers who consistently brings horses to the big races in North America, had his first Derby encounter back in 2002. He actually brought two horses that time. Castle Gandolfo ran 12th and Johannesburg finished 8th. Johannesburg was brought over the previous November and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Johannesburg has gone on to have an outstanding career as a sire. Last year, O’Brien brought Master of Hounds. It was a better 5th place result. This year, he brings back Daddy Long Legs to the United States. Last November, he ran in the BC Juvenile and finished 12th. Upon return, he won a Group 2 stakes and most recently won the U.A.E Derby in Dubai. That more the qualified him for the Derby with over $1,000,000 in graded earnings.
The last two Derby’s have not gone well for Maker. He had Derby Kitten (13th) and Twinspired (17th) in 2011 and Stately Victor (8th) and Dean’s Kitten (14th) in 2010. This year, he comes in with a much better chance. The reigning two year old male champion Hansen comes into the Derby with a more impressive resume than his stable siblings. He won the Gotham Stakes with ease and he finished 2nd last time out in the Blue Grass Stakes. His only concern is the distance. It looked as if he tired at the end of the 1 1/8 miles race. You would think the 1 1/4 miles race would be too much. Time will tell.
Based in Southern California, O’Neill has been a annual fixture at or near the top of the trainer standings at Hollywood Park, Santa Anita and Del Mar. He has won many graded stakes victories over his career including Grade 1′s, 2′s and 3′s. However, the Kentucky Derby is not one of them. This year, he has a legitimate chance to capture it with I’ll Have Another. It was an unexpected rise to stardom for everyone (except the connections of this horse). After finishing 2nd to Creative Cause in the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar last summer, he was hurt in the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. He didn’t race until February 4th in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. At odds of 43/1 he would easily defeat the field. He followed it up with another tremendous performance in the Santa Anita Derby out dueling Creative Cause at the end.
Woodbine’s leading trainer in Toronto, Ontario brings Prospective to the Derby. He is a multiple graded stakes winner with wins in the Grey Stakes (G3) on all weather at Woodbine and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs. His last race was 6th in the Blue Grass Stakes where he made a late move and went wide on the far turn and turn for home. He has a lot of upside, but would need to have a clean trip to have a chance. This will be his second time at the Derby, with the first a 10th place finish with Seaside Retreat in 2006.
It’s been six years since a gray won the Kentucky Derby (Giacomo 2005) and two more since 1997 (Silver Charm 1997, Monarchos 2001). Harrington is hoping Creative Cause makes it four times in the last 16 years that a gray wins the Derby. It would give him his first Derby winner in his first try. He has never brought a horse before. Harrington stables his horses in the Southern California circuit where he has won multiple graded stakes. Creative Cause has already won three graded stakes in his short career including the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita last summer.
Byrne is one of four to come to the Derby for the first time. He brings Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy. The colt pulled off a big upset defeating Union Rags and El Padrino on that day.
Known for having good sprinters in his stable each year, it was quite a shock for everyone to see him commit to sending Trinniberg. Not that he isn’t a talented horse, but the fact that he has never run farther than a mile. He is a multiple graded stakes winner already, but 1 1/4 miles is a serious stretch (no pun) for him to compete.
This is Smith’s first time as well. The Illinois Derby has sent one Derby winner before (War Emblem), could it happen again? I highly doubt it, but stranger things have happened. Done Talking had a nice come from behind win to take the Grade 3 race a few weeks ago. This race will have enough speed, but I don’t see hims tacking up to other strong come from behind runners.