2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders: DORNOCH

The 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) is Saturday, May 4, at Churchill Downs, offering a record $5 million purse. The field is limited to 20 starters based on Derby qualifying points from dozens of prep races. 



If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – or something like that, anyway – Dornoch will have no excuses on the first Saturday in May.

Dornoch is a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage

The brown colt is by Good Magic, who was runner-up in the 2018 Run for the Roses to eventual Triple Crown winner Justify, and his dam, Puca, is by Big Brown, who won the Derby and the Preakness in 2008. BTW, Big Brown also was the sire of Dortmund, third in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. That lineage is impressive enough in itself but wait! It also makes him a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby hero Mage.

So, at the very least, stamina won’t be an issue.

There likely won’t be any guesswork as to his racing strategy, either: Dornoch’s three wins have all been on the front-end, breaking his maiden by 8½ lengths at third asking going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland, ending his juvenile campaign in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct, losing the lead in the muddy stretch to the fast-closing Sierra Leone and fighting back to win by a nose, and kicking off 2024  with an easier outing in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Danny Gargan tried to switch things up in Dornoch’s last race, having jockey Luis Saez rate the colt behind pacesetting Top Conor (23.15, 46.48 and 1:10.53) in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Dornoch was having none of it, however, keen when he was behind horses and then not responding at all in the stretch to finish fourth.

“I think he kind of resented the dirt in his face,” Gargan said. “[Plus], we may have run a tired, flat horse. We will just have to throw [that] one out.”

Should Dornoch win on the first Saturday in May, it would mark the first time siblings have won the Kentucky Derby.

2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders Odds and Post Position: Dornoch

Betting advice: Dornoch showed a lot of grit coming back to win the Remsen after being headed by Sierra Leone in the Remsen but made no effort to come back after running mid-pack in the Blue Grass. If he gets the kind of free-running trip he likes, he could be dangerous.

Post Position: 1

Odds: 20/1

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Danny Gargan

Owners: West Paces Racing, R.A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing, Pine Racing Stables

Career record: 6-3-2-0

Career earnings: $552,275

Most recent race: Blue Grass Stakes, April 8, (4th)

Top Equibase speed figure: 102

Pedigree: Good Magic-Puca, by Big Brown

Color: Bay

Running Style: Front-runner

Notes: Dornoch is named after the venerable and ancient Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland, where the game has been played for more than four centuries … One of Dornoch’s owners is former All-Star outfielder Jayson Werth, whose stable name is Two Eight Racing, having worn No. 28 when he played for the Philadelphia Phillies … Gargan’s only Derby starter before this year was Tax, who finished 14th in 2015. Gargan had claimed the gelding for $50,000 out of a maiden race at Keeneland and he wound up winning more than $1 million … This will be the first Derby starter for most of Dornoch’s owners except Ray Hill, who owned Tax and Vekoman, who was 12th in that Derby.



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