5 Horses Benefiting from the Derby Postponement

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

In a normal year, we would be busily rehashing the results of the Kentucky Derby right now while simultaneously looking ahead to the Preakness Stakes. Instead, we're in the midst of a lull on the racing calendar with only one North American stakes race on the agenda.

So let's take this opportunity to analyze how the postponement on the Derby until Sept. 5 might impact the field for the 1 1/4-mile classic. Specifically, let's review five talented horses that—for various reasons—stand to benefit from the delay of the Derby:


A stoutly-bred son of Bernardini out of the Gone West mare Speed Succeeds, Bank is a half-brother to Blue Grass Stakes (G1) winner Brilliant Speed and Remsen Stakes (G2) runner-up Souper Speedy. There's plenty of stamina in Bank's pedigree, so it's interesting how much promise he's shown sprinting for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

Bank showed promise in his debut at Churchill Downs last September, finishing a game third behind future Street Sense Stakes winner South Bend and Remington Springboard Mile runner-up Answer In. And while Bank faltered badly when stretching out around two turns at Keeneland, he went to the sidelines immediately afterward, suggesting he suffered a setback in his route debut.

In any case, Bank returned with a solid third-place finish sprinting at Oaklawn on Apr. 5, and with this comeback effort under his belt, he finally broke through with a victory going six furlongs at Oaklawn last Saturday. Bank showed tenacity to rally and win by a head, stopping the clock in the respectable time of 1:10.44. A Triple Crown nominee, Bank figures to improve with maturity and longer distances, so keep an eye on this $275,000 yearling purchase when he stretches out in distance down the road.


Sold for $3.65 million as a 2-year-old-in-training, Cezanne has long been a highly regarded prospect for five-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert. A son of Curlin out of a Bernardini mare, Cezanne is bred to thrive running classic distances, but an apparent setback last summer prevented him from reaching the races, and we're actually still waiting for Cezanne to debut.

On the bright side, Cezanne has turned in a lengthy series of fast workouts this year, suggesting he has at least a little talent to go along with his impressive breeding and lofty purchase price. He fired off five furlongs in :59.80 on Apr. 30 and should be ready to run by the end of spring, placing him on a trajectory similar to that of Baffert's 2016 Travers Stakes (G1) winner Arrogate. As dominant as Arrogate was during late summer and fall, he didn't break his maiden until June 5 of his sophomore year, so Baffert already has some experience developing late-maturing colts into division standouts.


The most obvious beneficiary of the Kentucky Derby postponement is the undefeated Maxfield, who unleashed a breathtaking rally to win the 2019 Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland by 5 1/2 lengths. The move Maxfield made on the far turn was extraordinary—a dramatic sweep past rivals while racing wide to assume command at the top of the stretch. Among his beaten opponents were Gouverneur Morris, Enforceable, and Ajaaweed, and they've all returned to win or place in graded stakes races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Unfortunately, Maxfield missed the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and underwent ankle surgery to remove a bone chip, a setback that left him with only a small chance of qualifying to the Kentucky Derby. But the postponement of the Derby has allowed Maxfield's connections to slow down and take more time preparing the stoutly-bred son of Street Sense for his return to action. The Godolphin homebred has been training steadily at Keeneland and is slated to run in the May 23 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs, a new Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race offering 10 qualification points to the winner. A strong effort off the layoff could place Maxfield on the path to a very successful season.

Mr. Monomoy

A half-brother to champion Monomoy Girl, Mr. Monomoy was on an upward trajectory during the first two months of 2020, parlaying a third-place finish in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) into a front-running victory in the first division of the Risen Star Stakes (G2). These efforts secured Mr. Monomoy 52 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, likely assuring him a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs.

Mr. Monomoy subsequently suffered a minor ankle injury during training, necessitating 60 days of rest. This setback would have undoubtedly kept the son of Palace Malice from competing on the first Saturday in May, but the postponement of the Derby has thrust Mr. Monomoy back into the picture. He should return to light training in the near future—perhaps he has already—and since he's pocketed plenty of qualification points, there won't be any pressure to gear him up for a late-season Derby prep race. His connections can take their time and utilize whatever training/racing schedule makes sense to prepare Mr. Monomoy for a peak effort on Sept. 5.

Mystic Guide

A beautifully-bred son of Ghostzapper out of the five-time Grade 1 winner Music Note, Mystic Guide could develop into one of the most exciting prospects on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. A Godolphin homebred trained by Michael Stidham, Mystic Guide debuted in a six-furlong sprint on Feb. 15 at Fair Grounds and ran deceptively well, rallying to finish third by 1 1/4 lengths despite enduring a slow start and a wide trip.

Mystic Guide subsequently stretched out to 1 1/16 miles on Mar. 21 and delivered a terrific performance. Reserved in fifth place early on while racing wide behind a modest pace, Mystic Guide took command in the stretch and powered clear with complete authority down the lane. By sprinting the fourth quarter in about :23.80, and the final sixteenth in :06.17, Mystic Guide drew off to win by five lengths while giving the impression he was just getting warmed up.

A traditional Kentucky Derby would have come much too soon for Mystic Guide to qualify, let alone prepare for a peak performance, but the postponed edition of the race could be ripe for Mystic Guide's conquest. It's not hard to envision this chestnut colt thriving with experience and longer distances, and best of all, there's no need to rush his racing schedule since the Derby is still four months away.

Which horses do you think will benefit from the postponement of the Kentucky Derby?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website www.theturfboard.com.

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