Ky. Derby Trail: Sneak Preview

The first Derby Dozen comes out next week, but we’ll get a jump on it with a more comprehensive look before this weekend’s stakes. Then we’ll make any adjustments based on the results. So, this is more of a speculative list, with a great deal riding on the Hutcheson and Holy Bull Stakes, as well as a couple of allowance races featuring one of our top prospects Checklist. We’ll also be keeping a close eye on under-the-radar horses Danger to Society, Idol Maker and Stately Character in the Holy Bull. Any of these four would move way up with a victory or even a top effort.

Read the full column here


Leave a Comment:


Hello Steve:

I was asking recently what you thought of MajorMotionPicture. You were kind to answer back. What I'm wondering is do you think he is already off the Derby trail?

29 Jan 2009 10:00 PM

60+ horses and Haynesfield is not one of them????

29 Jan 2009 10:12 PM


 Haynesfield was at 70 on the list i think. I like old fashion and Square eddie as of now. I hope Nic and Rockland do well this weekend. Kinda cool that Smarty has a foal on the derby trail in his first crop.

29 Jan 2009 10:46 PM
Karen in Texas

That's a really comprehensive list! So far, I like Old Fashioned. People who have seen Poltergeist recently think he may be something special. Thanks for the list and insights!

29 Jan 2009 11:06 PM

Where is Stardom Bound? She is as good as any of the colts.

29 Jan 2009 11:18 PM

Well Steve looks like we have another Harlan's Holiday to watch in fact 2 of them but Saratoga Sinner is really got to step up his game in the Holy Bull.

29 Jan 2009 11:31 PM

What about.....ah never mind.

29 Jan 2009 11:52 PM

Great comment Maximus, that one made me laugh out loud.

30 Jan 2009 12:35 AM
Racetrack Jack

Where's Jack Spratt? Just won a stakes at Gulfstream Park from post 14 on the turf, and has some stamina sires in his pedigree.

30 Jan 2009 7:11 AM

Steve, You have picked up a few horses that I've had on my watch list for a while but I certainly agree with your assessment.

1> Imperial Council - his long awaited appearance should be very soon. Albeit just a maiden win this much is expected from this blue-blood. He's training great and Shug doesn't get that high on a horse very often. - Watch out.

2> Giant Oak - I was shocked to see you had picked up on this boy and rated him so highly, but you are spot on. He has been patiently brought along and oh heavens what a long easy way of going he has. Thought I had my sleeper but you let the cat out of the bag.

3> Theregoesjojo - Out of all the preps so far this horse turned in one of the best performances I've seen to date. His turn of foot was exceptional in blowing past Jerkens Quality Road with ease - will be greatly looking forward to his next step up.

Outside of the obvious front runners in this catagory - Old Fasioned, Midshipman, Vineyard, etc. there are a awful lot in that gray area. The next few weeks should go a long way in clearing the picture. Look forward to your updates.

30 Jan 2009 7:30 AM






RACE RECORD: 2=1-1-0.




30 Jan 2009 8:39 AM

Dunkirk!  He empresses me as much any 3 three year old maiden I've ever seen.  If he stays healthy this is Pletcher's derby winner. Period end of coversation. What a stride, forget the time and speed figure just watch him gallop.

30 Jan 2009 8:49 AM




7th RACE, #13; NOT 3rd RACE, SORRY!!


30 Jan 2009 9:26 AM

I like Vineyard Haven, but because of his being in Dubai, putting him on hold.  Stardom Bound as well until she performs well against males and is actually pointed towards the Derby.  That being said, I like Stately Character mainly because of his sire.  Same can be said of Perfect Song.  Looking forward to see how it turns out.  

Always like reading your articles.  

30 Jan 2009 9:28 AM
Steve Haskin

There is a note about Stardom Bound at the end. Haynesfield and Dunkirk were added late because I simply overlooked them. They obviously would be ranked higher, but too many formatting problems shuffling the numbers around so I put them at the bottom with an explanation.

Majormotionpicture has had his problems, has already missed a start, and hasnt worked since Jan. 3. With only one 6f race last summer it's hard picturing him making the Derby.

As a note, Charitable Man is still in training in Ocala and hasnt been sent to McLaughlin yet. Once he does and starts working, he will be on the list. But it's getting a bit late.

30 Jan 2009 9:50 AM
Steve Haskin

Edgard, I'm sure I've left several horses off the list. Its easy to miss a 6f maiden race at Tampa, but it does look like an impressive race, and I'll certainly put him on file and keep an eye on him. His pedigree actually is pretty strong. Thanks for pointing him out.

30 Jan 2009 9:57 AM
russell maiers

Thanks, great food for thought! Here we go again. So far I like a few but need to wait for another race to get my opinions rolling.

30 Jan 2009 3:07 PM
Abbie Knowles

Will be cheering for Midshipman, Stardom Bound (if she runs!), Freisan Fire and Nicanor, mainly as of now, and they would always get my vote, but of course it is ages off the 1st Saturday in May and a lot can happen between now and then!  So will just have to see whose there on the day!  

However there are plenty representatives of Seattle Slew's dynasty on the trail so am praying that at least some will make it to Churchill Downs and maybe one of them win the run for the roses, as "Slew" did 31 years ago!!!!!

God Bless

Best wishes


30 Jan 2009 3:27 PM

Steve, I forgot to ask you on my post. Last time on your blog I had mentioned Larry Jones' one time Derby trail horse Oconee Gold and you were going to see if you colud find info on him. Have you had any luck - that horse had a big upside.

30 Jan 2009 4:24 PM

After his defeat today, what do you think of Checklist? Any chance at all of him running in any of the Triple Crown races?

30 Jan 2009 4:45 PM
Bay Meadows

Steve, I just read your Derby Dozen Preview where you listed 70 horses and 4 maidens to watch.  I was very surprised that Taqarub was not mentioned.  Three for three lifetime and the Inner Track record at Aqueduct is not to shabby. I realize there may have been questionable competition, but he has blown them away when asked.  Do you have any thoughts on him?

30 Jan 2009 4:47 PM

I think it is the year fo Kenny McPeek. He has a pretty good crop of 3 year olds. I really like Theregoesjojo. What does his prep schedule look like?

30 Jan 2009 7:14 PM
Steve Haskin

Sorry, I forgot about Oconee Gold. I will look him up.

Checklist obviously suffered a major setback, but he did stumble badly soon after the start, not once but twice, second time almost going down.

Taqarub looks to be strictly a sprinter to miler, but I guess he deserved to be somewhere on there. It's hard to think of everyone with that many horses.

30 Jan 2009 7:18 PM

I'll go with anything from Larry Jones ~ 2 seconds in K. Derby ~ this is the year to win!!

30 Jan 2009 8:06 PM

I am just very very excited about Capt. Candyman Can and/or Big Drama. Does anyone know what kind of a setback Big Drama had in training?

30 Jan 2009 8:39 PM

Thank you so much!  This is the preview list I have been waiting for, Mr. Haskin.  I've already printed it out to make my own notes and try to keep up with what all is going on.  You've made such a comprehensive listing, and I know it is impossible to include all the   possibilities, but I'm grateful that now we've got a good place to start our trail to the Derby.  It's such a fun part of the racing year!  Thanks!

31 Jan 2009 10:19 AM
Thompson House Residents

Hi Steve...Residents of Thompson House Nursing Home in Brattleboro, Vt. follow your blogs...We love reading your comments...thanks to Ken and Cal, we feel we know you....go Giant Oak....

31 Jan 2009 3:17 PM

Hey Steve

What did you think of Take the Points and Masala? do you think they can stretch out or is one mile the limit?  I don't know what to think of Idol Maker, he always seems to quit in his races lately.  

31 Jan 2009 8:28 PM
Dreamer's Mom

Holy Cow!  I thought my job was hard-training horses and raising teenagers, but I wouldn't trade places with you for anything!  Do you get motion sickness flipping through the DRF?  

Thanks for the list-so happy to see "family" represented so well-our "babies" are Seattle Slew line so I follow them like a crazy person.  Can't wait for an A.P. Indy to win the Derby (presented by Yum!) this year!  I have to do that don't I?  The "presented by Yum!"thing, right?

31 Jan 2009 10:13 PM

Nice to see a Harlan's Holiday take a Derby prep. Dion's horse lost nothing in defeat, he was dead game right to the wire. Danger to Society looked to be in tight on the backside and I'd give him another shot down the road.

01 Feb 2009 9:22 AM
Mr. Hot Stuff

Did you see my move today at SA in the 5th?  That was off of two weeks rest and I was 10 length ahead 150 yards past the wire.  That is because I am a 1 1/4 colt, this California boy is going to Kentucky!!!!

02 Feb 2009 12:01 AM

I am hoping since Take the Points won his allowance race on Sat beating Well Positioned, Masala and Copper Cascade, he will move up on the Derby list :)

02 Feb 2009 9:07 AM

We are now into February and I still have not seen a horse as good as Vineyard Haven was back in October of 2008.  Unless something breaks from the pack I see no sense in looking past Vineyard Haven.  The Derby race may be over this year before it ever gets started. Yes, it is early but no horse has shown as much talent yet.  I am still waiting...

02 Feb 2009 10:28 AM

I think this is the year for Kenny McPeek also (about time!). I think Free Country looks great! =]

02 Feb 2009 1:33 PM

phoenixky1: I'm headed to Vegas on the 5th. Just for fun cause your so passionate about the horse you bred, I'm going to put $ on him for the Derby Futures! What the heck I'd just put it in a slot machine anyway right?

02 Feb 2009 3:29 PM
Yando Stable

Keep an eye out for the return of Cribnote who looked tremendous at saratoga last Summer.

02 Feb 2009 3:40 PM
2 time valley player of the year

Too bad vineyard and midshipman are in dubai, they looked so good last year. If godophin wants to win the Derby so bad why do they keep the horses over there,when they have a great trainer like bobby Frankel under contract here? I would be very surprised if they come back in the spring and show the same talent they had as 2 yr olds.

02 Feb 2009 5:44 PM
Abbie Knowles

Plenty Seattle Slews in the mix and yes you were impressive Mr Hot Stuff just like your brother Colonel John is!

With more and more of the Seattle Slew line appearing on the radar all the time, think I will wait until the 1st Saturday in May and cheer along any who turn up!!!!  It is a long way ahead and a lot can happen between now and then but hope as many as possible of Slew's progeny do make it!!!  

After all Slew did have 6 of the runners in The Travers and got the 1st, 2nd and 3rd!  i think.  Pyro was 3rd wasn't he?  Delighted The Colonel and Mambo in Seattle remain in training!   Hope they each have a stellar year and more epic encounters!

Enjoyed the new article on the and the new top 30!!!  Plenty of my favourites listed there!

God Bless

Best wishes


02 Feb 2009 7:32 PM
lucky leo

is there a list of nominated horses for the triple crown?

and where can i find it?


03 Feb 2009 9:36 AM

Wanda, I think you will get your money back and then some on Take the Points.  I am an equine therapist and I have laid my hands on some of the best bred horses in the country and the good ones always have an air about them that you can't explain.  He has had that since the day he hit the ground.

03 Feb 2009 10:02 AM

Yeah, Take the Points moved up on the list to 24.  Hopefully after the Fountain of Youth, which I think will be his stakes debut, he will be in the top 12...

03 Feb 2009 10:03 AM


It's already February and you are still waiting and you think the  Derby race may be over b4 it gets started? Nobody aside from Vineyard Haven has shown talent yet? You have a very short memory. Last year at this time Big Brown was a only a maiden winner and didn't hit the track until March for his 3 yr old debut. His one race to date was on turf and he had only recorded a 90 beyer fig in that one. Big Brown didn't even hit Mr. Haskins "Derby Watchlist" until March 14th. and was a "pool" horse in the first two Futures Bets.

Give it a chance, most of the top prospects have yet to race this year and there are many first out maiden winners who ran faster than Big Brown did in their first out that may not have hit the radar yet. If this year's 3 yr olds who show up for the Derby are as weak as last years group that went to post it could happen again that most will not have heard of the eventual winner until later.

03 Feb 2009 1:45 PM

Slyder what are you talking about?  Why don't you name all the horses at Gulfstream this year that have posted times of 45.31 1:09.87 and then glided to a 1:35.66 like Big Brown did.  Thinking you are going to find another Big Brown this year is reaching for the stars... maybe in the next 20 or 30 years but I doubt it.  Again, I will be here waiting let me know when you see any horse CLOSE to Vineyard Haven.

The fact that he is in Dubai means nothing.  Great horses usually win the Derby and they need a little luck along the way.  In the past the horses they have chosen have not been the best.  Vineyard is without doubt the best this year... look out.

03 Feb 2009 6:00 PM

Mr. Haskin: Would Fitzaslew crack your top 100? He looked awfully good and almost held off Brave Victory in his first start since the Cradle. Plus, he's bred to get the Derby distance.

04 Feb 2009 12:51 AM

Read Steve's comments about times at Gulfstream this year, I thought the same thing. They have done something to the track to slow things down.

04 Feb 2009 8:47 AM
Abbie Knowles

I am another Fitzaslew fan (I would be!!!!)so would be interested to know what you think of him too.  He sounds to have courage and that is always a help!

Your new article on the website today is a great read too as ever!

God Bless

Best wishes


04 Feb 2009 4:43 PM

Steve:  Thanks again for all you do!  Do you have any insight into QUALITY ROAD's next race.  Although he lost his 3 year old debut, he did fight and can improve with some relaxing early (i.e. Candyman's recent performance).  Jimmy Jerkens is always one to respect and I do not recall him much on the Derby trail before.  I'm also interested in your thoughts on the horse, perhaps beyond what you've already shared.  Thank you!

04 Feb 2009 5:52 PM
2 time valley player of the year

Should be a exciting saturday with the 3 yr old prep races. We should see talented colts who are ready to run.Too bad for saratoga s, that's the sad part about racing but he lives.

04 Feb 2009 6:24 PM
2 time valley player of the year

Where are the entires for the Whirlaway?

04 Feb 2009 6:36 PM


At this point in his career Big Brown had run only once and put up just ok fractions. We had not seen the type of splits you describe until his Mar. 5th. Allowance Race. He was way under the radar the first week in February. I think that's a good point to remember. There are going to be some more surprises on the way to the Derby just like there was last year.

slyder made a good point and you missed it. He pointed out that there have been a number of first out maidens who ran faster than Big Brown did in his first out. I don't see anywhere where he said he thought there was another Big Brown out there. He just said it is possible that just like last year the Derby winner may still be a relative unknown at this point.

05 Feb 2009 8:02 AM

Steve, I just want to know when TTP original flight was shedueled. Not for argumental purposes, i'm done with that. I just like to have all the facts, and i preffer them to be right, that way i can anaylize the race better. So i know that after TTP original flight was cancled he was reshedueled and got in two days i think before the sham, do you know when he was originally suppose to be flown out for the sham?

03 Mar 2009 12:11 PM

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