7 Kentucky Derby® Contenders to Watch in 2016

Posted by Carolynn Wilcox on Sat, Dec 19, 2015

For this, the seventh day of Quintmas, we’re bringing you seven Derby contenders you’ll want to keep your eye on leading up to May 2016!  


1  |  Mohaymen

10 total points on Road to the Kentucky Derby

He may be a little hard to handle leading up to races, but that temperamental nature has translated well onto the track.  Mohaymen has won all three of his starts, winning the Remsen to earn his 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and also placing first in the Nashua Stakes.  His lineage includes sire Tapit, who currently demands the highest stud fee of any stallion (even higher than American Pharoah), as well as phenomenal racehorses A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat.

2  |  Nyquist

30 total points on Road to the Kentucky Derby

In his five-race record, Nyquist has five victories.  Nyquist beat out the competition to win both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and FrontRunner Stakes this year, earning 30 total points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and solidifying himself as a strong two-year-old prospect. 

Naysayers are constantly bringing up the lack of Triple Crown™ success that Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners have seen in the past three decades.  According to Bob Ehalt, “Prior to Nyquist, there were 31 BC Juvenile winners and they were 1-for-31 in the Kentucky Derby (Street Sense was the loner winner in 2007)….  [Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners have] a combined record of 2-for-93 in Triple Crown races and 30 straight years without as much as a Belmont Stakes starter.”


With that said, let’s remember that up until 2015, it had been 37 years since a horse had won the Triple Crown™.  American Pharoah reminded us that a long dry spell is no reason to doubt, and though historic odds may be against Nyquist, he’s already proven his worth against serious competition in his two-year-old races.  Maybe 2016 will be the year that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile curse is broken!

3  |  Airoforce

10 total points on Road to the Kentucky Derby

Airoforce has won two graded stakes thus far, the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland.  The Kentucky Jockey Club race was actually his first contest on a dirt track, and in spite of wet, muddy conditions, he bested his competition to win by 1 3/4 lengths.  Success on a sloppy track is a good omen for this promising two-year-old – the Kentucky Derby has been run in wet conditions too many times to count, and unless the track is washed out or lightning is spotted, they won’t postpone the race.  Experience running a wet track is invaluable to a Derby contender, and Airoforce definitely has that!

4  |  Swipe

12 total points on Road to the Kentucky Derby

Though Swipe hasn’t claimed first in a race on the Road to the Derby, he has shown tremendous promise in his strong second-place finishes at both the FrontRunner Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  Not only did Nyquist claim the gold in both of those races, but Swipe has finished second to Nyquist four times in his last four starts.  This makes us wonder if they have some kind of arrangement worked out (only kidding)!  It’s entirely possible that we’ll see Nyquist and Swipe lead the pack in the 2016 Kentucky Derby!


5  |  Brody’s Cause

14 total points on Road to the Kentucky Derby

Currently in third place on the Road to the Derby leaderboard is Brody’s Cause with 14 total points.  Owned by Albaugh Family Stable and trained by Dale Romans, Brody’s Cause finished first at the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity in early October.  He covered 1 1/16 miles of mud in miserable conditions as his jockey, Corey Lanerie, went through five sets of plastic goggles!  He then went on to claim third place at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile just a few weeks later under much-improved conditions.  

6  |  Exaggerator

16 total points on Road to the Kentucky Derby

This potential Derby contender has had three impressive finishes, placing second in the Breeders’ Futurity, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and first in the Delta Downs Jackpot.  He was sired by Curlin, who won both the Preakness Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic during his racing career, and Triple Crown™ winner Seattle Slew also holds a place in Exaggerator’s pedigree.

7  |  Greenpointcrusader

10 total points on Road to the Kentucky Derby

Trained by Dominick Schettino, this handsome dark bay claimed first at the Champagne Stakes in October.  He has an outstanding pedigree that includes the likes of Bernardini, A.P. Indy, and Seattle Slew, and his win at the Champagne Stakes came on a sloppy track – like we said before, it’s great practice in case the Derby gets messy!


Who Will Wear the Roses at the 2016 Kentucky Derby®?

It was tough to pick just seven when there are so many incredible two-year-olds racing their hearts out for a spot in the Kentucky Derby.  We can’t wait to see what happens in late February when the truly substantial points come up for grabs!

Book your Official Ticket Package with Derby Experiences today to experience the incredible premium seating area upgrades that will be finished by the 2016 Derby and select the Derby parties that you’re dying to attend!  Upgrade to include a three-night stay and choose from a selection of elite Louisville hotels to complete your ultimate Derby weekend package!

View Premium Seating Options