Top 7 Kentucky Derby Trainers
The horses may be the main attraction at the Run for the Roses, but it’s the trainers that have the most anticipation built up before the race. A Kentucky Derby win is a major accomplishment on any trainer’s resume, as they must first have their horse(s) qualify to make the limited field. Only the leading talents have been capable of two Kentucky Derby wins, with the best trainers winning three or more.
Here are the top 7 Kentucky Derby trainers in history, including two that have entries in the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
1. Ben A. Jones (6)
With six wins, Ben Jones has been the most successful Kentucky Derby trainer. His Derby winners include Lawrin, (1938), Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), and Hill Gail (1952). Aside from Lawrin, all these horses were owned by Calumet Farm. Whirlaway and Citation went on to be Triple Crown winners, making Jones one of only two trainers to record multiple Crown wins.
2. Bob Baffert (4)
Bob Baffert trained the most recent Triple Crown winner, which was American Pharoah in 2015. In total, Baffert has had four horses win the Kentucky Derby: Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), and War Emblem (2002). Interestingly enough, all of these horses won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. There are two Baffert-trained horses in the 2018 Kentucky Derby, one of which is the favorite to win the title. Justify has 7/2 Kentucky Derby odds and will be ridden by Mike Smith, while Solomini has 22/1 odds to win the Derby and will be ridden by Flavien Prat.
3. D. Wayne Lukas (4)
D. Wayne Lukas has been a staple in the horse racing industry since 1974, with 48 horses running in the Kentucky Derby. His most recent horse is Bravazo, who has 60/1 odds to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Lukas’ four Kentucky Derby winning horses include Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996), and Charismatic (1999). Some of Lukas’ past assistants have become trainers themselves, including Todd Pletcher, Kiaran McLaughlin, and Dallas Stewart. McLaughlin has one horse in this year’s race, which is Enticed with 25/1 odds.
4. Herbert. J Thompson (4)
Herbert. J Thompson initially started out with harness racing and switched to Thoroughbred racing. Throughout his career, he had four Kentucky Derby winners: Behave Yourself (1921), Bubbling Over (1926), Burgoo King (1932), and Brokers Tip (1933). All of his horses were owned by Colonel E.R. Bradley. His most famous horse, Brokers Tip, became one of two maidens to win the Kentucky Derby after beating Head Play in the memorable 1933 race.
5. Max Hirsh (3)
The first Kentucky Derby winner for Max Hirsh was Bold Venture in 1936. Bold Venture went on to sire Assault and Middleground, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1946 and 1950 respectively. Assault even went on to become the Triple Crown winner. Hirsh had one of the longest training careers, spanning 70 years with King Ranch.
6. James Fitzsimmons (3)
James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons was the first trainer to have two Triple Crown wins, and those were with Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935. Fitzsimmons’ third Kentucky Derby winning horse was Johnstown in 1939. All three horses were owned by William Woodward Sr.’s Belair Stud, a farm that produced many of the greatest Thoroughbreds in the nation during the early 90’s.
7. Todd Pletcher (2)
Though there have been multiple trainers with two wins, Todd Pletcher is the most recent. His first Kentucky Derby win was in 2010 with Super Saver over a sloppy track. Pletcher’s second win was with Always Dreaming in 2017. Pletcher is the all-time leader in purse earnings and has trained four horses in the upcoming Run for the Roses. Audible has 13/2 odds to win the Kentucky Derby, while his remaining three horses have the following odds:
- Magnum Moon 15/2
- Vino Rosso 12/1
- Noble Indy 30/1