(Life Is Good winning the G2 San Felipe Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

(Essential Quality winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile / Coady Photography)

(Concert Tour winning the G2 San Vicente Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

Over the past 146 runnings of the Kentucky Derby, only 9 times has a horse been able to win the “Run for the Roses” while still undefeated in their racing career.

That is 146 runnings.

That is 9 undefeated winners.

That is a percentage of 0.06164384.

That is darn tough.

In other words?

That is rare.

Of all those undefeated Kentucky Derby winners, there has only ben one — 1 — to go on to win the Triple Crown and retire as undefeated in their race career.

That’s a percentage of 0.00684932.

In other words?

That is nearly impossible.

That one time came just three years ago when the grand Triple Crown winner Justify broke the “Apollo Curse” and won the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Prior to Justify, it was all the way back to 1882 when Apollo won the Kentucky Derby without any races on his resume as a juvenile.

Needless to say — even though we wrote it out just as a simple reminder — it is really difficult to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced at least once as a 2YO.

But, needless to write — even though we scribble it out just as a simple reminder, again — it is nearly impossible to win the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown as undefeated in the race career.

Yet, here we are again.


After Saturday’s impressive and inspiring victory in the G2 San Felipe Stakes, the 3YO colt Life Is Good is looking more like Life Is Great as he heads toward the long and winding road to Louisville and Churchill Downs and another showdown with history, fate and what may be the best crop of 3YOs to face off in the Kentucky Derby in years; if not history.

After Saturday’s butt-kicking and dirt kick-backing win in the San Felipe Stakes, Life Is Great is now a perfect 3-for-3 in his short, abbreviated and electrifying race career.

And, after Saturday’s totally dominating victory inn the San Felipe Stakes, Life Is Awesome may be the next colt to try to win the entire Triple Crown and remain unbeaten, if not unchallenged.

But that’s not all the story, either.

We are here again, with possibly two contenders that will enter the starting gate on May 1 with an undefeated, unblemished record.


After winning the G3 Southwest Stakes just 8 days ago, the 2YO Champ Essential Quality seems to have all the essential qualities to win the Kentucky Derby, too.

And, guess what?


This one is undefeated, too. Essential Quality is a perfect 4-for-4 with two G1 wins in addition to the 2021 debut. And, he has won all of his starts — the MSW, the G1 Breeders’ Futurity, the G1 BC Juvenile, and now the G3 Southwest Stakes — with style and grace.

A possible showdown of undefeated horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby?

But, guess what?


Make that three top contenders who could find their way to Churchill Downs and the Derby still unbeaten.

A third is Concert Tour, who is a sterling 2-for-2 after winning the G2 San Vicente Stakes back in February and now a leading contender for the March 13 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. This 3YO son of Street Sense could join Justify as the 2nd horse since Apollo to win the Derby without having made a start as a 2YO, too.

Now that, my friends, would be something truly special.



Can any horse join Justify, Nyquist, Big Brown, Barbaro, Smarty Jones, Seattle Slew, Majestic Prince, Morvich, and the grand filly Regret to become the next undefeated horse to win the Kentucky Derby.

Only time will tell us.

But these three colts may tell a lot before they are done, too.

They may rewrite history, too.

Here’s our latest look at the top contenders for this year’s KY Derby

RankingsHorseSireTrainerJockeyLast RaceNext RaceComments
1Essential QualityTapitBrad CoxLuis Saez1st in G3 Southwest StakesTBDStill the “Champ;” Still Undefeated
2Life Is GoodInto MischiefBob BaffertMike Smith1st in G2 San Felipe StakesApril 3 — G1 SA DerbyMay Be the Lightning in Bottle
3Greatest HonourTapitShug McGaugheyJose Ortiz1st in G2 Fountain of YouthMarch 27 — G1 Florida DerbyShug’s Next Easy Goer?
4MandalounInto MischiefBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in G2 Risen Star StakesMarch 20 — G2 Louisiana DerbyDon’t Forget About Him
5Concert TourStreet SenseBob BaffertJoel Rosario1st in G2 San Vicente StakesMarch 13 — G2 Rebel StakesArkansas Bound
6KeepmeinmindLoabanRoberto DiodoroDavid Cohen1st in G2 KY Jockey Club @ CDMarch 13 — G2 Rebel StakesTough Spot
7Medina SpiritProtonicoBob BaffertJohn Velazquez2nd in G2 San Felipe StakesTBD2nd Best to “The Best?”
8Caddo RiverHard SpunBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in Smarty Jones StakesMarch 13 — G2 Rebel StakesTime To Step Up
9Hot Rod CharlieOxbowDoug O’NeillJoel Rosario3rd in G3 Robert B. Lewis StakesMarch 20 — G2 Louisiana DerbyHuge Off Layoff / Next
10ProxyTapitMichael StidhamJohn Velazquez2nd in G2 Risen Star StakesMarch 20 — G2 Louisiana DerbyNeeds a Win
11Midnight BourbonTiznowSteve AsmussenJoe Talamo3rd in the G2 Risen Star StakesMarch 20 — G2 Louisiana DerbyWill Need “A” Game
12Risk TakingMedaglia d’OroChad BrownEric Cancel1st in G3 Withers StakesTBDDecision Time
13RombauerTwirling CandyMichael McCarthyKyle Frey1st in El Camino Real DerbyTBDMay Be Best “Closer”
14Highly MotivatedInto MischiefChad BrownJavier Castellano3rd in G3 Gotham StakesTBDRan Better Than Looks
15Known AgendaCurlinTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr1st in GP Allowance on 2-26March 27 — G1 Florida DerbyTime to Play With Big Boys
16Dream ShakeTwirling CandyPeter EurtonJoel Rosario3rd in G2 San Felipe StakesTBDHighly Touted…Ran OK
17HeliumIronicusMark CasseJose Ferrer1st in G2 Tampa Bay DerbyMay 1 — KY DerbyHuge Upset to KY Derby???
18PrevalenceMedaglia d’OroBrendan WalshTyler Gaffalione1st in GP MSW on 1-23March 27 — G1 Florida DerbyHuge Step Up / Lot to Ask
19PrateInto MischiefBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in FG MSWTBDHas Not Worked Since 2-21???
20CowanKantharosSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario2nd in Saudi DerbyMarch 27 — G2 UAE DerbyCloser Has To Find Next Gear
20-aDrain the ClockMaclean’s MusicSaffie Joseph, Jr.Edgard Zayas2nd in G2 Fountain of YouthTBDTrainer Says 1-Turn Races
20-bFreedom FighterViolenceBob BaffertManny Franco4th in G3 Gotham StakesTBDStunk in Gotham