Which Kentucky Derby Preps are Best in January?

Kentucky Derby Prep Lecomte Stakes Has Been Most Productive

According to Horse Racing Nation co-founder Mark Midland, of the five Derby preps run in January, the Lecomte Stakes has been the most productive in turning out starters on the first Saturday in May, with 11 Derby runners in the last 10 years. So chances are good that we’ll see at least one Lecomte contender at Churchill Downs.

Removed from the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail prep schedule is the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, which was won by Mask last weekend by more than six lengths. So this year there are four Derby prep races in January. The Jerome Stakes was cancelled due to frigid weather Jan. 1 and rescheduled for Jan. 13 at Aqueduct.

But running in the Derby is one thing. Actually contending is another. Of all of the runnings of Derby preps set for January over the last 10 years (38 total races), only 22 horses have gone on to run in the Derby. And only Lecomte runner Golden Soul hit the board with his longshot runner-up effort in 2013. The next best finishes came from Destin (sixth in 2017) and Oxbow (sixth in 2013), both also from the Lecomte. No horse from a January running of the Sham, Jerome, Mucho Macho Man or Smarty Jones has ever finished better than eighth in the Kentucky Derby.

Horses who run well in the Lecomte can look forward to the Risen Star Stakes (G2) on February 24, and if they have the talent the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 24.  Both those races are part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, offering 50 and 100 points to the winner and a spot in the Kentucky Derby field. Other options for horses exiting the Lecomte are stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn Park in February – both good places for Derby prospects to show their stuff.

Sham (2 Derby starters in last 7 years; average finish = 13.0) 

  • Gormley (2017, 9th in Derby), Goldencents (2013, 17th)

Note: The Sham was moved to early January in 2011.

Jerome (1 Derby starter in 5 years)

  • Vyjack (2013, 18th)

Note: Only run as a Derby prep the last 5 years.

Lecomte (11 Derby starters in 10 years; average finish = 10.5) 

  • Untrapped (2017, 12th), Destin (6th), Mo Tom (2016, 8th), Tom’s Ready (2016, 12th), War Story (2015, 16th), Vicar’s In Trouble (2014, 16th),

Golden Soul (2013, 2nd), Oxbow (2013, 6th), Pants on Fire (2011, 9th), Friesan Fire (2009, 18th), Z Fortune (2008, 10th)

Mucho Macho Man (4 Derby starters in 6 years; average finish = 15.8)

  • State of Honor (2017, 19th), General A Rod (2014, 11th), Wildcat Red (2014, 18th), Itsmyluckyday (2013, 15th),

Note: Only run as a Derby prep the last 6 years (called Gulfstream Park Derby 2012-2014).

Smarty Jones (5 Derby starters in 10 years; average finish = 12.4)

  • Mr. Z (2015, 13th), Far Right (2015, 15th), Will Take Charge (2013, 8th), Optimizer (2012, 11th), Archarcharch (2011, 15th)

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