“The Pressbox’s” KY Derby Rankings Has A New #1 For First Time: Roadster

RankHorseTrainerRiderLast RaceNext RaceComment
1RoadsterBob BaffertMike Smith1st in G1 SA DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Looked Like “The Man” in SA Derby
2Game WinnerBob BaffertJoel Rosario2nd in G1 SA DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Did Rosario Move Too Early in SA Derby?
3ImprobableBob BaffertJose Ortiz2nd in G2 Rebel Stakes 1G1 Arkansas Derby on 4/13/19Could Give Team Baffert a Power Trio
4TacitusBill MottJose Ortiz1st in Wood MemorialG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Made Winning Move Over “Game” Tax/Getting Better
5Omaha BeachRichard MandellaMike Smith1st in G2 Rebel Stakes – 1AG1 Arkansas Derby on 4/13/19Another Speedster That Will Need to Stretch Out
6TaxDanny GarganJunior Alvarado2nd in G2 Wood MemorialG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Former Claimer Keeps Hanging Around
7HaikalKiaran McLaughlinRajiv Maragh3rd in G2 Wood MemorialG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Still Think The Speed May Set It Up For Him in Derby
8War of WillMark CasseTyler Gaffalione9th in G2 LA DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Training at Keeneland / Can He Recover In Time?
9Bourbon WarMark HennigIrad Ortiz, Jr.4th in Florida DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19If He Has the Points to Get In, Watch Out / Best to Come
10Code of HonorShug McGaugheyJohn Velazquez3rd in Florida DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Better-Than-Looked in Florida Derby Against Bias
11GalileanJerry HollendorferFlavien Pratt3rd in G2 Rebel Stakes – 1G1 Arkansas Derby on 4/13/19Cal-bred Will Need To Take Another Step Forward
12Long Range ToddySteve AsmussenJon Court1st in G2 Rebel Stakes — 1G1Arkansas Derby on 4/13/19Arkansas Derby Will Be Acid Test
13AnothertwistafateBlaine D. WrightJuan Hernandez2nd in the Sunland DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Still in Arizona & Training Quietly / Noise Soon To Come
14VekomaGeorge WeaverJavier Castellano1st in G2 Blue Grass StakesG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Looks the Part, but Stretch Run Was Staggering, Wobbly
15Win Win WinMichael TrombettaIrad Ortiz, Jr2nd in G2 Blue Grass StakesG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Arguably, the Most Impressive in BG / Can He Break Better?
16SignalmanKen McPeekBrian Hernandez3rd in G2 Blue Grass StakesG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Ran Better in 2nd Start Off Layoff / Can He Move Forward?
17By My StandardsW. Bret CalhounGabriel Saez1st in G2 LA DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Is He As Good As He Looked in LA Derby?
18Cutting HumorTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez1st in the Sunland DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Will Need to Improve Off The Last Win
19SuenoJ. Keith DesormeauxCorey Lanerie3rd in the LA DerbyUndecidedBeginning to Like This One More & More
20InstagrandJerry HollendorferFlavien Pratt3rd in G1 SA DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Distance Now Becomes A Concern / 3rd of a Layoff?
1SpinoffTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez2nd in LA DerbyG1 KY Derby on 5/4/19Can He Add Distance to His Game?
2Mucho GustoBob BaffertJoe Talamo3rd in Sunland DerbyG3 Lexington Stakes on 4/13/19Terrible Ride in Sunland Derby / Change of Jockeys?

We should have known all along.

After all, Bob Baffert gave us every clue in the world a year ago when Roadster was just a young, spry 2-year-old with a dazzle in his legs and a sparkle in his eye. After all, Roadster was the one that the world’s great trainer of Kentucky Derby winners in modern day history hand-selected for the masterful Mike Smith to ride. And, after all, when Roadster came back this year, after having a bit of throat surgery to alleviate a breathing issue and a long layoff, it was Smith who declared that his steed was back and ready to contest the grueling road to the Kentucky Derby.

We should have known all along.

Now, after watching Roadster run down and roll past his steady stablemate, and last year’s 2YO Champ Game Winner to capture the Santa Anita Derby over a stellar field of 3-year olds, we all know for sure what we should have known from the beginning.

Roadster is really good — just like Baffert and Smith said.

Roadster is back — just like Baffert and Smith said.

And, Roadster is rolling to the 145th Kentucky Derby as a major contender and a huge threat — just like most of us say now.

With just four weeks to go before the Kentucky Derby and with only a couple of major preps left for this year’s edition of the “Run for the Roses,” the fans are starting to validate and recognize. In numbers. In the final “Kentucky Derby Future Wager” that Churchill Downs conducted this past weekend, it was Roadster that the fans bet down to 6-1 odds and made the favorite. In most people’s eyes and handicapping schemes, it is Roadster that has emerged from the fray of this wild Winter & Spring, when the unexpected became the expected in Derby prep after Derby prep. And, in “The Pressbox’s KY Derby Rankings,” too, Roadster has inched his way past Game Winner — just as he did in the Santa Anita Derby — to take over the top spot.

Soon after dismounting from Roadster following the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, and making his way to the glorious winner’s circle celebration, Smith was jubilant as he should be. But there was a bounce to his words that matched his stride. There was conviction in his tone that equalled his praise. There was something special in his horse, and something special in Smith’s tone.

“We knew before he and Game Winner started running that they both had ability,” Smith told the Santa Anita media team following the race. “They were breezing by the competition like this and putting them away. We were’t sure which one was better. The first time he ran for me he showed he had all the gears. The second time he had the problem with his wind. We fixed that, and he’s dong all the right things. We got a good break and then we dropped back. He took a breather, while the others were going out there quick. When I asked him again, he was gone.”


Strong word.

Now, he is going. To Louisville. To the Kentucky Derby. To the big time.

Baffert, the Hall of Fame trainer, echoed the Hall of Fame rider.

“They’re two good horses (Game Winner and Roadster),” Baffert said after the race. “Game Winner was out there by himself and when he gets by himself…he needs company. It was a good, hard race for both of them, and coming in, that’s what you want to see.

“It was a great finish. They were both finishing well, they were fighting. Game Winner is a fighter. It was a great stretch run…at the eighth pole, I knew I was going to win, I just didn’t know which one, but it was exciting. They’ll both like a 11/4 mile. I think Game Winner’s next race will be better. I’ve been brining him along really easy.

“Roadster is a light horse, but always shown brilliance from day one,” Baffert continued. “We’re just lucky we were able to bring him back, because after Del Mar I was worried hat may the (throat) surgery didn’t go well, because it could’ve gone worse. But I couldn’t thank the surgeon that did it enough. He’s one of the best in the business…Today he passed the test to know he’s good enough to go to the Big Show.”

And, he’s coming in style. As the hot horse. As the top horse.


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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