Ky. Derby Trail: Southwest & Middle East


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Steve you are a very smart man but you could not be more wrong about Old Fahioned.  He is the 2009 version of Pyro.  The horse is simply too slow to play with the big boys and that was obvious when Rachel Alexandra ran on the same track a full second faster and never saw the whip unlike Old Fashioned who was hit 4 times. Real fractions in a mile race should be 22.95 45.31 1:09.87 and a final of 1:35.66 under wraps.  Find a horse like that and you have a Derby winner.  Bringing up a horses time from 5 years ago to make your point sounds desperate. Its time to move on from this horse and to have him No.1 is to ignore everything you know about racing.  1:37.41 is not a good mile time on any track.

17 Feb 2009 10:27 AM
Mr Yeti

Old Fashioned is certainly a derby contender after yesterdays Southwest. While the victory was not overly visually impressive,he did everything that he had to do and mowed down a very game Silver City,another horse that belongs on the Derby watch for another race at least. Poltergeist was a letdown,but theres still a few opportunities left for him to make his mark. I'm glad I don't have Old Fashioned in the Derby futures,settling instead on Beethoven and Big Drama,but I believe that he will be in the mix in May

17 Feb 2009 10:48 AM
Brian A.

I love your analysis of all the contenders races Steve, and unlike Draynay, I agree with your Old Fashioned placement.  He was coming off a long layoff, so to me that was a pretty impressive show, not having had a three year old prep yet.

 Old Fashioned is still my number one till he shows otherwise.

17 Feb 2009 11:07 AM

he broke from the gate had a decent pace i really don't think he had to work for it and the last couple of furlongs because once silver city quit he didn't have any competition i think that he is a decent horse but stardom might be a little better that being said i wouldn't run old fashioned more that 3 time before the kentucky derby or you will wear him out and i hope larry jones knows that. and this horse old fashioned reminds me of real quiet who ran back in the 90s i dont think he is quite a good a big brown was last year but i think he better than street sense was in 2007 would i put him as 1 on a projection sheet? yes because tell me who is better vineyard haven just lost in dubai so we all know he can cut it and silver city cant make it i don't think because he tired out after a mile and chocolate candy didn't look all that impressive this weekend i mean if it was me i think about redoing the sheet all the was through 8 we will see what happens in the next few weeks but personally i cant make up my mind on who to like none of the horse i have seen so far beside haynesfield had impressed me so far as much as old fashioned

17 Feb 2009 11:13 AM


    RA, faced absolutly nobody and had no real pressure. OF had that was up on hot fractions with another very fast speed horse in SC. It is not surprising that after going at each other the whole race they were tired at the end. Beating SC and Flat out is pretty impressive, compared to the field of nobodies RA beat.

17 Feb 2009 11:53 AM

I understand Draynay's point that Old Fashioned was not sensational but I have to admit that it was a workmanlike performance in which he justified the confidence of his backers.  Coming off a layoff one has to think that he'll move forward and definitely be one of the ones to beat in the Derby.  I am also happy for his trainer Larry Jones who has to be a very good trainer (of the calibre of Bob Baffert) to have posted two Derby runners-up in a row and now threatens to capture the big prize with one of his two stalwart 3YOs, Old Fashioned or Friesan Fire.

I wish him all the best but am still rooting for the big Florida horse Big Drama.  His 3YO debut will be worth waiting for I believe.

17 Feb 2009 12:00 PM

LDP... Do me a favor.  So far Old Fashioned has won the Remsen and the Southwest.  Name all the graded stakes winners he has beaten.  To have this horse listed above Desert Party defies all logic.  Last year I beat my head in telling everyone that would listen that Colonel John was not fast enough to make it in the Derby.  I am not going to beat my head in trying to convince Old Fashioned fans he is JUST TOO SLOW.  Rachel Alexandra ran a full second faster on the same track in hand !!!  Finishing a mile race in over 51 seconds will not cut it in Kentucky.  Let him win a G1 race before you get too excited so far all he has beaten is Maidens and Optional Claiming winners.  This is horse racing folks look for talent !!! Running a 1:11.04 and then finishing in 1:37.41 is not top flight talent.  Check out what Big Brown did last year in his allowance race on March 5th it makes OF look like he was running in mud.

17 Feb 2009 12:14 PM

Hi Steve, A few positives and a few negatives regarding your recap.

The Southwest: It still doesn’t seem your sold on how good Old Fashioned is. The only question he had to answer coming into this race was would he settle and rate kindly. He did exactly that and drew off like a professional. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that time only counts if you’re serving it. Unless there is a glaring discrepancy on the teletimer, the manner in which a horse accomplishes his task is a heck of a lot more meaningful. In this case he did both off the layoff – he’s apparently the real deal.

I know you mentioned Flat Out but didn’t exactly point out just how good a race he ran under the circumstances. First of all Flat Out got flat out left at the break spotting the field four or five lengths, continued to pick up horses while going five wide into the lane and closed extremely well only beaten about four by the winner. I thought that was a monster race by a lightly raced colt. Where do you think his next start will be?

The El Camino Real: I greatly respect your opinion but didn’t see any positive out of Chocolate Candy’s race. He was life and death to beat nothing but a maiden winner in a second tier race. You indicated that he’s still learning, wow, he’s had more foundation than most on your list. He looks like a nice, useful, hard hitting horse that’s a cut below the big boys.

The Sam Davis: What a great storyline on General Quarters you can’t help rooting for him. Bottom line seemed to be the disappointing efforts expected from the runners up.

Imperial Council lived up to all expectations in his come back, hope he’s not too far behind to catch up. I asked Edgar at Laurel yesterday what he thought of his race Saturday. His response – “ Beautiful.” Where do you think he’s pointed next?

Interesting notes on Asmussen’s horses especially Fierce Thunder, but didn’t Nuclear Wayne get sidelined – haven’t. seen a work tab on him for a long time?

Right now, excluding the Dubai horses which seem to be an enigma, it seems Old Fashioned and Pioneer are a clear cut above the rest.

As always, thanks for the updates.

p.s. Draynay, Your certainly welcome to your opinion, but kindly refrain from using hypothetical times and Beyer numbers only when they suit to make your case. I’m quite sure Steve has seen enough racing to formulate his own opinion on Old Fashioned and as of now he deserves the number one ranking.

17 Feb 2009 12:15 PM

When a horse runs an opening quarter mile in 23 or less and 6F in 1:11 and goes on to run a mile in a low closing quarter, we can't hold that against Old Fashioned. He hadn't run for 3-mos as well. Larry usually doesn't blow their socks off in training. It's the fast 23 initial quarter that takes the starch out of a horse who hasn't run for awhile. A little slower first quarter equates to a much, much faster closing quarter that's the dynamics of oxygen processing. His 1:11 6f time compared to races that day at 6F. He hasn't run his best race yet that's for sure. He likes and expects to win. Love his gliding over the track...what a mover. I'm rooting for Old Fashioned in the KY Derby...third time's the charm for Larry.

17 Feb 2009 12:20 PM

Mr Haskin, at this point, we don´t know if this is an exceptional crop, one of the best in recent years, or just a another blur. So far, is so intriguing this crop, above all because the champion 2yo - MIDSHIPMAN - and the second best - VINEYARD HAVEN - are in other land. They are an enigma, as well as Desert Party, even though his extraordinary performance last week. It seems to be a real good group, don´t you think. Well, it´s just a matter of time to find it out. We are expecting anxiously the big ones on the road to the derby (Florida and Santa Anita Derbies, the Blue Grass, the Wood Memorial and the Arkansas), to get a clearer landscape. This derby trial reminds me a lot that of 1988, intriguing with several talented colts and fillies, and interesting because any one had the chance to do it.  

17 Feb 2009 12:31 PM
Karen in Texas

Where should Old Fashioned be, if not at the top, currently? I just replayed all his races, and one thing I know is that his running style is nothing like Pyro's was approaching the Derby. He has run on the front or as far back as fifth at the start; he has been alone on the lead turning for home; he has been challenged on the lead turning for home; and he has won at 1 1/8 miles. He won the Southwest after a layoff. Basically, he has done everything that was asked of him. If you assume that Unbridled Song's offspring can get distance and that Larry Jones very much knows what he is doing, then there is no reason for Old Fashioned not to be placed at the top of the Derby list at this time. (Desperate??)

17 Feb 2009 12:34 PM


I always look forward to all the speculation at this time of the year. And make no mistake, it is all speculation.  No one is better at summarizing the action and the possibilities than you.

I do have some sympathy for Draynay's feeling that Old Fashioned was not very fast in the Southwest. On the surface 1.37 and change does not impress. However times are hard to go by. You can look at Pioneer of the Nile -- maybe his time looks better than OF. Plus it is hard to bet against Bob Baffert. But then Pioneer has not run on dirt. Oaklawn has been pretty slow lately so it is hard to compare to SA and OF obviously loves the dirt surface. They are a deserving 1-2 but I can see putting them either way, 1-2 or 2-1. Better box that exacta!

Lastly I really have to be skeptical about a horse winning the Derby coming from the Northern California circuit. Or Fair Grounds for that matter, as you have noted. I am looking for the winner to come from California; Florida; Arkansas; or New York. So I'd question Chocolate Candy in there. Likewise I question putting Imperial Council in the Dozen at this point.  

Time will tell. Look forward to next week.

17 Feb 2009 12:41 PM

mg... two things.. 1.) Steve has forgotten more than I will ever know about horse racing but his placing of Old Fashioned is wrong. 2.) The times I posted were not hypothetical they were the times Big Brown posted in his first race back off a long layoff as a 3 year old and he ran a lot faster and easier than Old Fashioned.  Nothing is good or bad except by comparison.  If you compare those two races you can only conclude Old Fashion is a good horse but he is no Big Brown.  Old Fashion has raced 4 times now and still cannot break a Beyer over 101.  With his 4th race Big Brown was winning the Kentucky Derby.

17 Feb 2009 1:22 PM

Until I am proven wrong about Unbridled's Song, that his get don't want any part of 1 1/4 miles, I will say the same thing about him that I said about Holy Bulls sire Great Above.  No son/daughter of Unbridled's Song will ever win the Derby.  He is not bred to stout enough mares to throw a 3 year old that can withstand the racing and least that is what he has shown so far.  Look at his son First Defense.  That horse should have eaten up 1 1/4 miles, even being out of Honest Lady.  He stopped every time after 7 furlongs. Now I know Eight Belles was 2nd last year, but 2nd is not WINNING.  The same thing was said of Bold Ruler until his offspring started winning at 1 1/4 miles as 3 year olds.  Older horses are another story as we all know when horses get older they can sometimes stretch out....hello Political Force?  But our industry is so geared to the 3 year olds, that winning as an older horse gets you labled as a late bloomer and your offspring get that same label.  Maybe if Unbridled's Song was bred to Windsharp, he might throw something capable of handling 1 1/4 miles more than one time.  Old Fashioned is not bred to go 1 1/4 miles, and Larry Jones, while a fantastic trainer, probably knows what he is up against.  I would love to see him win the Derby just to silence all those who jumped on him for Eight Belles.  If he tells me Old Fashioned can get the distance, then until he gets beat, I will place my $2 bet on him.  

17 Feb 2009 1:24 PM
Steve Haskin

Draynay, thank you for your advice. Even lectures are always welcomed. I'm not crazy about Old Fashioned as a Derby winner. He's not the type of horse I normally embrace. But let me ask you, when you say he's too slow to play with the big boys, what boys are you referring to? I wasn't aware there were any big boys out there. Give me a horse, with the exception of Vineyard Haven, who deserves to be No. 1 and I will certainly consider him.

17 Feb 2009 1:49 PM

Dray, being No. 1 on the Derby Dozen in February doesn't mean much. Either  another horse will earn his/her way to the top, or OF will "earn" his way down (or not). There are negatives to every horse on the list, so really, it's a crap shoot. I thought it more interesting that Steve put Imperial Council on the list rather than the fact he placed OF at No. 1.

17 Feb 2009 1:54 PM
Steve Haskin

mg, I did mention Flat Out jumping in the air at the break, and I also mentioned beforehand that because the race had just been run I would go into more detail about it next week.

as for Chocolate Candy still learning, I've seen horses take a 10 or 12 race before the light went on. Learning has nothing to do with foundation, it's all about physical and mental maturity. Please don't equate positive things I write with winning the Derby. I'm just trying to point out each horse's strong points and weak points. If I thought Chocolate candy was going to win the Derby, I'd have him #1. I'm not even that crazy about the horse I do have #1.

speaking of which, regarding this comment from Old Timer -- Lastly I really have to be skeptical about a horse winning the Derby coming from the Northern California circuit. Or Fair Grounds for that matter, as you have noted.

What have I noted? I don't recall saying a horse from Northern California or Louisiana is going to

win the Derby. Actually, I did say I couldn't recall any horse based at FG winning the Derby

17 Feb 2009 2:06 PM

The best performance that I saw by any 3 year old the past weekend was Rachel Alexandra's race. Where ever she goes next, she will be hard to beat.

Old Fashioned was visually impressive but his time was not great..remember Pyro??

17 Feb 2009 2:40 PM

Old School  Shug McGaughey is being awfully quiet about his next start.  Bottom line Easy Goer, Sightseeing and all his other decent hoses went Wood before Derby.  Only Question is Gotham Wood or Allowance Wood.

17 Feb 2009 3:19 PM
russell maiers

Nice job Steve. I thought Chocolate Candy ran very good. He showed he can get a mile and an eigth, and showed determination and some guts. Did he beat anyone? No. He ran on a track that doesnt have a lot to do with the derby. Yes. And no dirt. You nailed the key point, he keeps improving. I think people forget these horses are in the stage of really growing up. Thats why I see the frustration when a great two year old peaks early. Blame on the trainer etc., when sometimes they were just ahead of the game and were not to be as great as it looked like they would become. Smarty was always being slammed and went off as third choice in the derby, but he was always improving until the Belmont dumb ride. The  tracks he raced on were considered insignificant at the time also.

Old Fashion ran really, really good. As you pointed out a lot of horses who did not win ran well.

So the opinions get stronger and the excitement gets louder. Next races should be wonderful because a lot of these horses need to see if they can get some distance.

17 Feb 2009 3:33 PM


I like Pioneer alot,also very interested in following Haynesfields' next race to determine if he will be moving up. I feel it's still much too early to get a handle on the Derby. I do think VH is far better than last week.

17 Feb 2009 3:34 PM

Steve let me first give you all the credit in the world for placing Imperial Council in your top 12. It takes guts to place a lightly raced horse out there but for those like Tiznowbaby notice that the horse is undefeated since barely getting beat his first time out against some horse named Hello Broadway.  His racing splits in his last show amazing talent and when he stretches out to win Steve will look like a genius.  Steve let me tell you who belongs No. 1 right now its STARDOM BOUND.  She has faced the very best and beat them with ease which is more than I can say for Old Fashioned who has yet to face any Graded Stakes winners.  Eight Belles was the best horse last year minus Big Brown and since we have no Big Brown yet its hard to argue any horse is better than Stardom Bound right now.  Another I would list above Old Fashioned is Desert Party who has beaten a 2 time G1 winner twice.  He has much better credentials than Old Fashioned. Again... lots of love for placing Imperial Council in the top 12.

17 Feb 2009 3:35 PM
Abbie Knowles

It is lovely to hear of the devotion of General Quarter's Owner to him and how he is looking after his colt so well!  

It would be a real dream come true if he won and would probably generate a lot of good publicity for racing just as Funny Cide and his Owners did.  

I am not saying that General Quarters will win the Kentucky Derby but it would certainly be a great story and a great day if he did!!!  He is certainly an improver and stanger things have happened!  He shoots up my list towards the top!

Chocolate Candy has at least showed he has resonable reserves of stamina and a whole load of heart!  He seems to be a great tryer which is what is needed so don't write him off just because he was not visually impresive.

Delighted that Desert Party is now in the Top 12 and has impressed folks.  I am sure he will win big races whatever happens on the 1st Saturday in May but he is certainly one of those whom I would love to see in the Winner's enclosure that day!

Still prefer Friesan Fire to Old Fashioned though the latter is lovely too!

God Bless

Best Wises


17 Feb 2009 4:21 PM

Dray, I didn't say it was wrong for Steve to put Imperial Council on his dozen; I said it was interesting. It makes me take more notice of the colt. I wouldn't dream of telling Steve he's wrong.

17 Feb 2009 4:28 PM

Comparing times at Gulfstream Park to Oaklawn is like comparing apples to potatoes. Both are very different surfaces. Gulfstream Park often is like a paved highway that favors speed and gives up final times that appear better than they are. Oaklawn tends to favor early speed as well but has not been as fast of a surface by comparison. Only an amateur mind or casual observer would rely on strict comparison of times between any track. That's like saying post position is the biggest factor in an outcome of a race. It's simply not true. There are many factors to be considered and they all add up to the best experts being right only a little better than 30% over time.

It makes no sense to be comparing big browns times at GP last year to OF's times at Oaklawn this year. They had no need to have Old Fashioned cranked up at this point for his top effort. big brown had to be cranked up in order to get eligible for the Derby from the start last year. He never improved much at all after his Allw. win at GP (only 3 points on the Beyer scale from that point to his best)and he achieved his first figs of the year on the paved highway called GP that played right into his hand.

If Old fashioned doesn't show improvement in his next outings he's likely to not win the Derby. The point he is at right now is to go into the Derby an improving horse and ready for a top effort the first Saturday in May. He has the Graded earnings required unlike a big brown who had to be cranked up because he couldn't afford a second place finish or worse because he would not have qualified to be in the Derby. To simply dismiss Old Fashioned is naive. He still must prove more but that all remains to be seen, It was not a necessity for him the second weekend in February. What he showed on Monday was easily enough to not dismiss him yet as a serious contender.

17 Feb 2009 5:25 PM
Steve Haskin

Tiznowbaby, feel free at any time to tell me you think I'm wrong. All opinions are welcomed, as long as you dont say I AM wrong. Most people will be proven wrong, but right now, no one is right and no one is wrong.

17 Feb 2009 5:30 PM

Steve I have just seen your revised Derby Dozen list and I have to say that the high ranking of Pioneer Of The Nile runs totally contrary to your previously stated skepticism of horses untried on dirt.  Yes he has looked impressive on the synthetic but do you think that he is that much better than fellow synthetic standout Chocholate Candy.  Also what has Patena gotten/done apart from pedigree to be ranked above Friesan Fire who beat him handily and has shown definite progress subsequently?

It is good to see Desert Party breakthrough into the "Dozen" however in the same way that you had Old Fashioned in the mix based upon his 2YO status before the Southwest, you should also have other top rated 2YOs of last season there until their debut confirms or debunks them.  Specific reference is being made to Midshipman and Big Drama.  I am challenging the apparent logics of your ratings which I know has to have some personal subjectivity.  I see that you have been high on Imperial Council(great Derby-pedigree and promising performance) but do you think that he exudes more class than say Mr. Fantasy or Silver City?  Should he really be in the Dozen at this stage?

The fillies group is looking very interesting.  Perhaps they should be left out of the Derby reckoning until it becomes clearer which, if any will be taking on the colts.  I for one would prefer to see them (Rachel Alexandra, Stardom Bound and Evita Argentina)compete against each other in the Kentucky Oaks.  

17 Feb 2009 5:56 PM

Well Dray,

    BB beat a lot of so called graded stakes winners last year that should've only been maidens or allowence horses. SC and Flat are both very good horses, and both should be considered a legit derby horse. Am i saying that they're my favorites, no, but the deserve respect, especially since SC was on a three race win streak, and Flat out won the Smarty Jones, a stakes race, impressively. O and if you think OF was slow remember your fav VH ran about 1.39 1.40, thats two to three sec slower. Also as i said about RA, she ran against nobody, it's easy to go on to just cruise fractions, but what if she was actually pushed into them like OF and SC pushed each other. RA ran against nobody, so it's not surprising that she won like she did, when she faces Stardom Bound, or any of the other outstanding fillies that there are and not a field of nobodies and does it the same way please do me a favor and let me know, then i'll admit i'm wrong, as of now, sorry but, to be truthful i'm not convinced.

17 Feb 2009 5:58 PM

Well Slyder ... Let me try to get my amateur mind around what you are saying. But first let me ask you it fair to compare what Rachel Alexandra did on the same track at the same distance and less than 24 hours apart ?  She ran a full second faster or about 5 lengths and did it without EVER seeing the whip. If you liked what Old Fashion did you should LOVE what Rachel Alexandra a few hours earlier.  By the way last year EVERYONE told me his brilliant allowance race meant nothing and they were ALL WRONG.  This year MANY are telling me Old Fashioned final time is unimportant and I am telling you here and now they are wrong.  My point on this blog has not been that Old Fashioned is not a good horse my point has been he has no business being listed No. 1 on any list.  Placing him in front of Stardom Bound, Desert Party, or Vineyard Haven is just crazy in my opinion.  The horse has beaten 0 horses going to the Derby and 0 horses with a Graded Stakes wins.  And finally you inability to look at how Big Browns race compares to Old Fashioned does not speak to my amateur speaks to yours.

17 Feb 2009 6:10 PM

The most impressive win I saw this weekend was Imperial Council. Last week it was Desert Party. I believe it is way to early in the game to pick a stand out Derby horse. In another four or five weeks hopefully someone will develop into a stand out.

17 Feb 2009 6:41 PM

This is the best analysis of the Derby prospects I have seen anywhere and I read them all!

17 Feb 2009 6:52 PM
Steve Haskin

Ranagulzion, please do not throw out references to "personal subjectivity" without explaining what you mean. I dont rank horses based on anything personal. Think before you imply. Pioneerof the Nile is based on the fact that there is no one else I'm crazy about. It is my skepticism that prevents me from making him #1. I will not put a synthetic horse on top.

As for Patena, you've never thought more of a runner-up than the winner? What about him making his dirt debut and giving Friesan Fire 6 pounds? If horses never reversed finishes with other horses, handicapping would be very easy. And then there is pedigree.

Are you really putting Big Drama and Midshipman in the same category of 2-year-old accomplishments? And by the way, Midshipman has never run on dirt and being in Dubai I think its prudent to wait and see how runs.

17 Feb 2009 7:29 PM
Karen in Indiana

Well, up until this article, there wasn't really anyone I've been rooting for. I liked Cribnote, but he's only worked once. But, after your story, I will have to go for General Quarters for that reason and because I've been impressed with Sky Mesa as a sire. When I went to Three Chimneys last year, everyone was over on Smarty Jone's side looking at him & I was peering in between the fence slats at Sky Mesa. I just have a feeling that he's going to be a very good influence in the long run. So, here's to General Quarters!

17 Feb 2009 7:33 PM

Since we are going to compare half-mile splits from Southwests run five years apart, we should put those races in perspective by also examining what happened to the pacesetter in each race. Silver City ran the first half in 45-4/5th and held on for a good second ahead of the Lukas horse who ran third all the way around. This was Silver City's first run beyond 6-1/2 furlongs.

In the 2004 Southwest, Wildcat Shoes set the same half as Silver City, but Wildcat Shoes slowed down considerably in the later stages of the race, finishing 7th, 11 lengths behind Smarty Jones.  

17 Feb 2009 9:55 PM

The big disappointment for me was Poltergeist, but I'm giving him a second chance. One of the more impressive races I saw this weekend was Evita Argentina's San Vincente, but I hear she's just a late-running sprinter so who knows if she's going to show up in the Kentucky Oaks.

17 Feb 2009 11:21 PM

With this, I know I am right. The winner of the Derby will be a horse.

18 Feb 2009 1:51 AM

And to those who bring up this subject, come on, stop with the "Big Brown" comparisons, he was 'a freak' in a generally weak year, and off his sub 1:42 maiden on the turf there were many of us who had him listed and rated high long before he dispeared for 5 months!!! We were just NOT properly informed as to his conditions until after he reappeared and became news again!! which was probably some fault of the poor investigation by the sport writers who get paid to inform us!  

18 Feb 2009 5:11 AM

  As to your comment of having "Midshipman" and "Big Drama" under consideration in ones’ top 'X' list, YOU BET I DO, because one thing I have learned watching 2 year old Kentucky Derby developers, is that strong 2 year old campaigns make the best of foundations. And I do believe that until knocked off his perch!, as the Gr. I  Juvenile winner, that “Midshipman” may be #1 or should at least be considered as such, and although maybe not YOUR #1! , I must ask, why not? Write an article! For one, I am certainly open to all the information out there I can get before going to the window and losing my poke. And, the 5.5 dosage factor on “Old Fashioned” and his smallish pectorals do scare me a little, and minimally, sets me to thinking!!!

  Also, “Pioneerof the Nile” has at least proven he can get stuck in the eye and run to wire! and IN COMPETITION!  And, I will go with any horse on dirt that comes off the turf.  “Firesan Fire” measure’s fine breeding wise, I just want see him tackle bigger competition and we will. Defending these fine animals as comparing them to ‘your dozen’, they may all deserve a shot at the 20 posts, and then the issue gets settled in the “greatest two minutes in sports” if they don’t break a leg trying to get to ‘the dance’. Unfortunately on that day, there is only one winner, where just like the Super Bowl, we usually forget who finished second UNLESS they get euthanized. If bridge is the ‘blood sport’, this game may be the ‘bloodline sport’, but you’ve got to still cross the finish line first and so far in 1:40.94 or whatever, “Midshipman” has done that in a Gr. I race and against real competition!  

  Again, I love “Patena”’s bloodline, but there are 100+ out there that someone paid one hell of lot of money more on that they must have thought something of their blood line outside of a fine set of teeth! And tomorrow we get to look at one or two or six more when “Dunkirk” hits the track at Gulf Stream Park against one of the two more highly rated mere Va. breds in this year’s crop. !! And, just where are “Augustusthestrong”, “Eye On Jacob”, and  Matz’s one time out “Ice Road”, and Baffert’s one time out “Zensational” ??, and etc., I pose the question once again????

18 Feb 2009 5:19 AM
m palmer

Steve, I have never considered Old Fashioned a top derby prospect. Let me be clear, he is a nice colt but he does not fit the derby winner profile that I have developed from details of past winners.

(a) Subject to correction, the sire of the runner-up in one year has never sired the winner the following year.

(b) No great-grandson of Mr. Prospector has sired a derby winner to date. Three of his sons and five of his grandsons have sired derby winners. It appears Mr. Prospector’s influence diminishes with an additional generation. (Those who are going to call me crazy go ahead)

(c) His broodmare sire Meadowlake, appears to be about two generation removed from derby impact. Meadowlake goes back in his 4th generation on his sire side to Prince John. Prince John’s sons Stage Door Johnny and Speak John were broodmare sires for 1985 and 1994 derby winners Go For Gin and Spend A Buck. Meadowlake influence as a grandson appears weak. I think it is worthwhile to note that five of Northern Dancer’s sons have been broodmare sire of derby winners. None of his grandsons are on the derby board. However, Deputy Minister has been brood mare sire of several Preakness & Belmont winners.

(d) Old Fashioned is January 27th foal. January foals rarely win the derby although they have significant maturity advantages on the first Saturday in May. For some unknown reason the younger horses close the maturity gap by the time the derby comes around. Barboro was an April 29th foal and handily defeated the very good Bluegrass Cat a January 23rd foal in the derby. The 3 months made no difference. Will the three months Old Fashioned has on the April 30th  Friesan Fire make a difference? Horses in their natural habitat do not foal in January. Most January foals are products of manipulated conceptions and are like fruits out of season. They are good but they just do not win the derby. Bethoven, Imperial Council, Capt Candyman Can, Indygo Mountain and Todd Pletcher’s $3.5M maiden winner are all January foals. In spite of Imperial Council and Todd’s $3.5m colt early foaling dates they have made a combined 4 starts. Does this suggest problems?

(e) Larry Jones’ best shot at the derby was with Hard Spun and that has past.

(f) What are the chances of Larry winning the Derby after two consecutive second place finishes? I suspect remote.

18 Feb 2009 7:08 AM


Rachael Alexandra's performance was impressive indeed. Is it fair to compare with Old fashioned's race the next day? Maybe, and maybe not. Track conditions change day by day and sometimes dramatically. Not knowing if for instance a weather pattern moved in overnight I will not commit to emphatically stating it's a fair comparison. The reality is that not all tracks play the same day by day and certainly it is not relavant to try and compare times over different tracks year by year.

I think Old Fashioned did what he had to do Monday, nothing more. I also believe to win the Derby he will have to step it up a couple of notches. I won't dismiss him off of his performance because he has plenty of room for improvement. If he makes it to the Derby the quality of the field will have alot to do with who wins as well. If another weak field shows up it won't take much faster to win. Let's hope that's not the case again. I see alot of untapped and unproven potential out there but that doesn't mean any of them will improve by leaps and bounds either. It's way early and I certainly won't count Old Fashioned out for now.

18 Feb 2009 7:45 AM


Why do you insist on comparing times from last years Fla. Derby winner at Gulfstream Park and Old Fashioned's at Oaklawn this year?

It's not relevant.

Let's look at the runner up in the Fla. Derby last year to expand on that. Smooth Air who had run fractions of 1:10 for 6f in the Hutcheson at GP earlier in the year ran second and put up a 1:35.6 for the mile in the Fla. Derby. Where did he finish in the Derby? Way back in the pack against very weak rivals. Futhermore he has never been able to duplicate those fractions on the dirt at any other track. In his win in the allowance caliber Ohio Derby last year his mile split was right around 1:37.4. Smooth Air has shown he is nothing special on dirt to this point in his career. His Gulfstream Park fractions reflected the track more than it reflected his ability.

Gulfstream Park produces faster times due to the nature of the track. It's not relevant to try and strictly compare times posted at other venues and even more irrelevant to compare in different years. I think it is called Handicapping 101.

18 Feb 2009 8:16 AM

Steve, you don't have to go THAT far back to get a horse based out of LA. In 1989 the Louis Roussel-trained Risen Star was third in the Derby behind Winning Colors after running eight wide around the turn for home, and then he won the Preakness and the Belmont. :)

While Friesan Fire hasn't completely shown that he can do that yet, his pedigree and last two races prove that he is growing more capable everyday!

I love all the speculation this time of year. It makes me anticipate the results so much more!

18 Feb 2009 9:44 AM
Steve Haskin

Da truth, lets not compare Silver City to Wildcat Shoes.

m palmer, good points and well researched, but there have been too many Derby winners in recent years that should not have won the Derby based on historical data and pedigree. And, again, I am hardly enamored with Old Fashioned. He's #1 by default.

Cheryl, I am well aware of Risen Star, but I said I can't recall the last horse based at FG that WON the Derby. I made no mention of finishing third or what he did after the Derby. I brought it up merely as a pont of interest, not to say a horse will not do it this year. It's up to the reader to interpret if it has any meaning.

18 Feb 2009 10:12 AM

Wiz !!! Hey where have you been ?  Seems like you haven't been reading the blogs so let me fill you in on what has already been asked and answered.  Rachel Alexandra a few hours earlier on the same track at the same distance and under wraps finished more than a second faster than Old Fashioned but no one is talking about it because it makes their top choice Old Fashioned look silly.  If you can find the replay watch the race she sets a meet record with ease and never had to get whipped again and again like Old Fashioned.  I compare the Big Brown race with the Old Fashioned race to bring up some valid points. Both were coming off layoffs and the distance was the same and both tracks were dry fast dirt.  Last year I picked Big Brown to win the Derby and you didn't so let me help you out this year.  Handicapping 101 told me that Big Brown ran a 1:09.87 and a 1:35.66 mile while jogging home.  Old Fashioned ran a 1:11.04 and then had to get whipped coming home to finish in over 16 seconds.

This Unbridled horse is NOT a 10 furlong horse.  If you have to get whipped to finish a mile in over 16 seconds your not my Derby horse.

People tell me all the time horses from Dubai can't win the Derby because they haven't well I am here to tell you Unbridled horses can't win the Derby because they haven't.  Again and again they have tried but they come up SHORT. One more thing... stop with the "Gulfstream Park produces faster times" nonsense.  Fast horses produce fast times and some of the best horses in recent years have been in Florida.  Take a look at Z Day and Imperial Council go at it in BLISTERING fractions.  Go to youtube and type in Imperial Council and WATCH the race.  If you can't see the talent in that horse I can't help you.  Was it the track setting those fractions? No it was two very good horses going at it.  If yo can't understand that then you won't pick the Derby winner this year either.

18 Feb 2009 10:12 AM

Steve my reference to "personal subjectivity" should not be inferred as anything sinister or underhanded about your ratings.  Perhaps it would have been sufficient for me to simply omit the adjective "personal" as there is always going to be subjectivity in our rankings.  I've been reading your articles a few years now and I admit that you are a fair minded analyst/columnist whom I respect greatly therefore no offence is intended.  Just boil it down to the rough and tumble of Derby prognosticating.

Regarding the principle of rating of Pioneer Of The Nile I think that our difference is only in degrees.  Because of my personal skepticism of the synthetic runners on dirt I wouldn't be found rating Chocholate Candy (a horse that I like a lot or any synthetic specialist) higher than probably #8. And yes in his case (runner-up to POTN)as in your Patena choice over Friesan Fire I do prefer a runner-up on occassions over the winner.  So you see Steve we are actually buddies in principle.

Having said that now, I have to part company with you regarding your underating Big Drama.  I certainly ranking in the same class as Midshipman, Vineyard Haven and Old Fashioned (without apology) and I have been around this game for a long time and know a champion racehorse when i see one.  I understand why he was not considered to be among the candidates for the Eclipse awards, having only raced in one open company Grade 3 stakes (Delta Jackpot) but I will say that if this horse trains-on from his 2YO form to 3 in time for the Derby (fingers crossed) you will indeed see the 3YO that you want to get excited about.  Five wins in a row including four stakes races and the ability to carry his natural speed around two turns behind quick fractions while displaying the ability to rate as well as dig-in when challenged are the stuff of champions.  His low profile connections and coming from Calder race track account for his "under the radar" status but I believe that his 3YO debut will be worth the wait after a minor setback.  I am happy to be on record about this since you challenged me on this point.  

By the way his pedigree will make tom fools of a lot of people because his sire Montbrook and broodmare sire Notebook throw mostly sprinters, but very often certain grand genetic qualities skip a generation or two and based upon what this horse has demonstrated so far, Spend A Buck's sire Buckaroo could again be a serious Derby producing influence, appearing within BD's first 3 generations, coupled with the fact that Big Drama is inbred on both top and bottom to Buckpasser and Buckpasser's classic sire of old, Tom Fool.  So don't be fooled about this horse.  Interesting days lie ahead.

You're the man Steve.  

18 Feb 2009 11:00 AM

Draynay slow down a bit and beware of foot-in-mouth disease.  I think you intended to say (or did you?)that Unbridled Song has not yet produced a Derby winner but his sire did throw Grindstone to win the Derby in the same year that Unbridled Song ran (1996).  I must caution you that Unbridled Song is still a relatively young sire who is very hot at the moment and consistent in throwing quality performers, so his probability of getting a Derby winner is quite high coupled with the fact that Fappiano (A Derby-winner-producing sire) is his grand sire i.e. appearing within the very significant first three generations of his offsprings.

18 Feb 2009 11:10 AM
Jason Shandler

Steve: Have you heard where Shug might be going with Imperial Council?

18 Feb 2009 11:15 AM
Steve Haskin

Ranagulzion, personal and subjective are pretty much the same, and as I said, there is nothing personal about my rankings other than the fact that in some ways everyone's rankings are personal in that they are theirs.

I actually like many things about Chocolate Candy, but I just want to see him win against better horses in So. Cal or better still out of town, and of course on dirt. But I could have put him closer to Pioneer with no problem. He could move up a bit next week, we'll see.

I'm, not underrating Big Drama. He's just not in the same class as Midshipman based on accomplishments. I have a lot of respect for the horse, but I cant rank any horse high up if he hasnt worked in four weeks -- not a good sign.

18 Feb 2009 11:29 AM
Steve Haskin

Jason, If Shug knows where he's running h's not saying. All he said was he'd like to look for a mile race -- good luck finding that. Not many choices other than the Gotham and Wood.

18 Feb 2009 11:31 AM


First of all I did choose pick Big Brown in the Derby and I put my money where my selection was. My feelings going into the race was that Big Brown would either win or not show up in the top 4 at all so I played him on top only. I have the tax records to prove it. The super I hit paid 58K+ and the multiple tri's I hit made it a very nice day indeed. It took much more understanding than just Handicapping 101 to come up with those kind of results and it took some luck as well.

I'm way beyond just comparing times to choose a winner and I understand very well that different tracks produce different results when looking at fractions and final times. I get it that you do not like the chances of OF in this years Derby. For me it's way to early to eliminate an "Unbridled's Song" horse when we don't even know if he makes it to the Derby who might make it there as well. Who knows we may see another field full of Cool Coal Man's, Z Humor's, Adriano's, Monba's, Anak Nakal's, Vissionaire's, etc. and against those types it could happen.

18 Feb 2009 11:53 AM
Karen in Texas

As I was reading through the postings for today, I noticed the mention of Fairgrounds based horses and the Derby. The horse that came to mind was Black Gold, but that was probably before any of us could actually "remember". The other horse that I do remember was Grindstone, although to say he was "based" in Louisiana is not exactly right since I think he ran only six times total at five different tracks. I then found an article by Jay Hovdey in the BH stating that the only two Louisiana Derby winners to win the KD since 1924 were the above two horses. I guess it's a little off topic, but I thought it interesting enough to pursue!

18 Feb 2009 12:27 PM
Jason Shandler

Thanks Steve. If Imperial Council goes in the Gotham against Mr. Fantasy and Haynesfield it may be the most highly-anticipated Derby prep of the year so far.

18 Feb 2009 12:39 PM

Wiz... it is simple.  People tell me training times don't matter... they tell me splits don't matter... they tell me Beyer's don't matter... they tell me surface don't matter... I say it all matters its called handicapping !!!  Looking at multiple factors and coming up with a winner is handicapping.  Many of us come up with our choices depending on various factors.  You don't have to agree with mine I am simply letting you know how I factor to get my winners.  Splits are very important to me in my handicapping because it works well for me.  If you are looking at something we aren't let us know.  My favorite part of blogging is listening to how someone picked a horse.

18 Feb 2009 12:44 PM
Steve Haskin

I agree. And Pletcher has a nice colt heading there, too, Take the Points.

18 Feb 2009 1:38 PM


Don't you hate that when you get that form from the IRS where they take 25% right off the top LOL!  I hit some on that day too.  Sadly Eight Belles was in my picks and I had a really hard time with that.

Just couldn't stand having money off her demise.  

18 Feb 2009 1:58 PM

Me thinks draynay should get a copy of Dean Keppler's book "Betting The Derby" and do some reading if he thinks a sire like Unbridled's Song is never capable of producing a Derby winner. Pay particular attention to the chapter or section in which he talks about how horses these days are being bred more for speed than distance prowess. Keppler points out that there are still some stallions with "Classic" blood in their lines but the times have changed and it's not so essential anymore. It comes down to who shows up, they won't cancel the race if 20 colts with daddy's named Unbridleds Song or the likes are the only ones who make it.

18 Feb 2009 2:02 PM

M Palmer: your comments on pedigree of Derby winners were interesting and insightful.  However your conclusion was flawed because it is still too early to write off great grand sons of Mr Prospector as potential Derby-winner-producing sires especially through his son Fappiano who was the sire of Unbridled and the grand sire of Grindstone (both Derby winners).  Unbridled Song is still relatively young and very consistent in throwing classy runners.  He just might do it sooner than you think.

If I remember correctly Monarchos (2001 Derby winner) was a January foal so be careful about your dogma in these matters.    

18 Feb 2009 3:31 PM


What happened to eight belles certainly put a damper on my day as well. I did however make a rather nice tax deductible donation to a local riding stable for disabled children from my winnings as a result.

What bothers me most about the automatic takeout is I hate giving up my money to Uncle Sammie so some billionaire can get a bailout or we can fund a war based on lies. If it wasn't for wasteful spending I'd be happy to have to give them more this year.

18 Feb 2009 3:40 PM

If Haynesfield, Mr. Fantasy and Imperial Council all go in the Gotham, I will have to take that crapy ride up the turnpike to witness it. I swore I wouldn't do that ever again after  traveling to seeing Real Quite loose the triple crown.  All that said, I would really like to see Desert Party take the Derby; I think he is the most talented and has the right pedigree, I was excited when he was running here as a two year old, but I don't know if the long plane ride just destroys any chance these horses have.

18 Feb 2009 4:06 PM
Steve Haskin

Add Take the Points and Danger to Society to Gotham field and you have a very strong race. But Imperial Council is pure speculation.

18 Feb 2009 5:28 PM




18 Feb 2009 5:51 PM
m palmer

Monarchos was not foaled in January. His foaling date was February 9, 1998. The fact that Grindstone sires Belmont winner Birdstone, does not negate the fact that none of Mr. P’s., great grandsons have sired a derby winner. He is the only great grandson of Mr. P. that has sired a winner of a Triple Crown race. One would have search hard to find a derby winner that was foaled in January. I will provide you with a bit more information regarding Old Fashioned profile. Even in the era of high purses, No broodmare that has earn over $400K was produced a derby winner. His dam earned $434K so that another negative against him. The dam of Sunday Silence has the record for highest earning derby winning broodmare ($381K) Todd Pletcher has the $3.7M colt Dunkirk slated to start in an allowance race on 02/19/2009. He is January foal as well and his dam earned over $1M. Subject to correction, no broodmare that has earned over $1M has ever produced the winner of a Triple Crown race. He can be automatically eliminated as a potential derby winner.

The history of past derby winners cannot be ignored when trying to identify future winners. Their profiles are overwhelming similar.

18 Feb 2009 8:07 PM

Shouldn't War Emblem be considered a "Fair Grounds" horse who won the Kentucky Derby?  He came to Fair Grounds in November, made three starts there, then shipped out to Chicago after running 6th in the Risen Star on February 17th. He first ran at Sportsman's on March 17th, having had no published works over that track.

Funny Cide wasn't based at FG, but he ran in the Louisiana Derby.

This is reaching back a ways, but Lynn Whiting had Lil E Tee in training at Fair Grounds before shipping him up to Hot Springs to begin his 3yo campaign.  

18 Feb 2009 8:08 PM

Matt H. glad you like Old Fashioned keep that thought all the way to May.  Does it bother you that he has only beaten Maidens and Optional Claimers to this point.  To suggest he is better than G1 winning Stardom Bound is just plain crazy.  Steve I hope Imperial goes to the Gotham and crushes all the pretenders.

18 Feb 2009 8:53 PM
Old Timer


Perhaps I was not clear in my earlier posting. When I said "I really have to be skeptical about a horse winning the Derby coming from the Northern California circuit. Or Fair Grounds for that matter, as you have noted." I meant that in the Derby Dozen (#  6 Friesan Fire) you noted that you could not recall a horse who won the Derby after coming through the Louisiana series of preps. I was just agreeing with this comment.

18 Feb 2009 8:56 PM
Steve Haskin

Old timer, I said I couldnt recall one, just as a point of interest, but as Da Truth points out, War Emblem was based there, so now I can recall one. So, never mind.

18 Feb 2009 9:28 PM
Dreamer's Mom

Hey Steve since you seem to have all this extra time on your hands, why not an Oaks list?  Just kidding...I am amazed every week by your lists.  I am, however, kind of serious about some info on the Oaks end of things.  I am still in awe after seeing Rachel Alexandra and am already a Stardom Bound fan-who else might we be seeing the first FRIDAY in May?  

18 Feb 2009 9:36 PM
The Wizard
Old Fashioned looks like the real deal. The only problem I see for him is his father....Unbridled's Song was an unsound horse who could have been a great one. And unfortunately his offspring have the same tendency. Think Song and a Prayer, Buddah, Rockport Harbor and Eight Belles, etc.

But if he bucks the odds and stays sound, Old Fashioned could be something special. Look for a big effort and higher Beyer in the Rebel.

By the way, that horse that finished second to him in the Southwest, Silver City, another son of Unbridled's Song, is no slouch. Coming off winning 3 in a row, he ran a good race and deserves another shot in the Rebel.

18 Feb 2009 9:40 PM

OK is there anyone else out there besdies me that once to see a "Fillies List"?, because I don't think Steve will publish one on my account alone? ANY SUPPORT?? Heck, POOL #2 will be the ONLY "Fillies Pool"! SO, it is time for a "FIllies List"??  Help me out here if you agree! will ya?  

18 Feb 2009 9:51 PM

Draynay, I think it's a bit arrogant to say that an Unbridled's Song will not win a Derby. Maybe, maybe not but keep in mind A.P.Indy and Storm Cat don't have Derby winners, but sprinters/milers like Distorted Humor, Elusive Quality, Boundary, Our Emblem and Maria's Mon do. Even Mr. Prospector had to wait 26 years to get a Derby winner.

19 Feb 2009 6:23 AM

Chris for the record I am not saying a Unbridled Song will not win the Derby I am saying a colt from Unbridled Song CAN'T win the Derby. A good reason to believe that is because Unbridled couldn't do it either so why believe one of his can?

I guess people should be lining up for Bellamy Road colts too.  Bellamy Road got about as close as Unbridled Song to winning the Derby.  I think I would rather go to the Barn of Big Brown.  I am not claiming to be a genius but wouldn't you go to the barn of a horse who actually has talent and won the Derby ??? How many Triple Crown races did Unbridled Song win?

19 Feb 2009 9:03 AM
Karen in Texas

Unbridled and Grindstone both won the Derby.

19 Feb 2009 10:57 AM

Dear Steve,

I agree with you 100%on Old Fashioned.  A win is a win is win. Yes, he did labor a bit at the top of the stretch, but he did pull away the further he went. To come off a three month lay-off and beat fit horses in stakes-equaling time is not too shabby.  To paraphrase "The

Natural":  "These guys are always lookin' to tear something down.  He made a meal of outta that field!"

May I digress?  My Longobucco longshots Cribnote, Munnings and Night Action have all but disappeared from the planet.  Do you have any idea where they are, how they are doing, and if their trainers plan on running them this year?  


Alan Longobucco

19 Feb 2009 10:59 AM

M PALMER: I appreciate your research and findings very much.  Thanks for the correction on Monarchos' foaling date.  He was the oldest foal in that Derby field and his foaling date of February 9 is not very far removed from being a January foal.  My point is that historical trends are helpful in forcasting but it is not an exact science.  Trends are broken occassionally and exceptions apply to most rules.

The career earnings of a broodmare has no real/scientific bearing on her capacity to throw a derby winner.  It just hasn't happened yet for a broodmare that has earned in excess of $400K.  Perhaps a statistical study of the number of mares in that earning bracket that have thrown Derby contenders would give a more accurate idea of their chances/probability of producing a derby winner.  Good stuff man.

19 Feb 2009 12:06 PM


Yeah I donated her money to the horses too.  I just couldn't keep it. I kept some of it.  I didn't make as much as you did that day but enough to get the IRS on my ass.  That is amazing how they just love to take that right off the top before you even see it LOL.  They get a alot with these winnings.  But I agree.  When I got my check, I had a very hard time with it because of Eight Belles.  

I heard that there was like a half million donated toward her demise from winnings off of that race.  That was cool news.  

19 Feb 2009 12:21 PM

Stardom Bound.  :)

19 Feb 2009 12:22 PM

Ok, I have to throw my two sense in on the issues of times being to slow.  Last year horses were allowed to run on steriods, this year they can't.  It has to make a difference in the end.  These horses this year are running with no pharmacetical help.  If a little slower time means keeping sounder horses I am all for it.  Big Brown was great until he was kept off of the juice and then he was never the same.  These are just babies, some not even a true three yet the faster times will come we are still early in the year...  Thanks Steve for your comments about my boy Take the Points, I can't wait for him to get his feet wet in stakes company.  He is nominated for the Fountain of Youth, I am waiting to see if they also nominate him for the Gotham, I believe he can run with the best of them.

19 Feb 2009 1:38 PM
Julie L.

The best a horse has done in winning the El Camino Real Derby is a second in the Derby and a third in the Preakness, this was done in 1992 by a nice son of Lear Fan out of Morna by Blakeney his name is Casual Lies and he now stands at stud in New Zealand. His trainer was a woman and much was made of that fact as she was the first to send out a Derby contender. Though Northern California has yet to produce a Derby winner they did come close  and that fact should be remembered.

19 Feb 2009 2:32 PM
Steve Haskin

Alan, Cribnote just had his first work back, a half in a solid :48 3/5, so we'll have to keep an eye on him.

Take the Points is supposed to run in the Gotham.

19 Feb 2009 4:43 PM

Dunkirk scored today.

19 Feb 2009 5:26 PM

What is with Chocolate Candy's blurb on Haskin's Derby List?  Dubai race???

19 Feb 2009 5:28 PM


Dunkirk can't win the Derby, he's by Unbridleds Song. At least that's what the resident inexpert here says. Guess nobody told Garret Gomez who flew all the way across the country for the mount in an allowance race. That says alot, maybe Garret's still searching for his Derby mount.

19 Feb 2009 6:11 PM


A little birdie told me that Perfect Song may be running again in the next week or so. Any word on when and where?

19 Feb 2009 6:13 PM

I'm not Steve, but Perfect Song is entered at Turfway on Saturday. Race 3: Allowance/Optional Claiming 6.5 furlongs on the Polytrack.

19 Feb 2009 6:20 PM
The Wizard


No, Unbridled's Song didn't win a Triple Crown Race, but ran a courageous race in the 1996 Derby on three legs.

And wasn't it Nick Zito, who trained U. S. to his last win, a  track record tying race at Gulfstream, (only to see him break down again and be retired) that "Unbridled's Song was the fastest horse he ever trained". That tells me a lot.

By the way, after your constant over rating and annoying rants about Big Brown last year, if you don't like Old Fashioned...well now I know he might be the horse to beat in the Derby if he stays healthy! lol

19 Feb 2009 7:22 PM

Hmmmm, well Steve,--I am sorry that my highly watched Va. bred "American Dance" didn't move up to grade with a better performance!!, However, we saw no let down from "Warrior’s Reward" huh?!! --easily now into my top 30 again!! --And, even though this was not a touted GRADED race!!! ... if you are still looking for a horse not to 'default’ as your #1, that is, with his  

1  1/8  23.55;  :47.39;  1:11.70;    1:37.06’  1:50.15; … finish!!... I suppose "DUNKIRK" may soon take the place up at the top your list!  huh??? He certainly moved right into my TOP 4 !!!

  Dunkirk: Kty.; Tr. Todd Pletcher; Unbridled’s Song/Secret Status-A.P. Indy-((Alydar));

2     2   0   0  

a ** $3.7 million $$ keenelander*; 15.4 breeding rating;

winner 1 1/8 1:50.15;

Warrior’s Reward: Kty.;

Tr. I. Wilkes;  

Medaglia D’oro/For All You Do-Seeking The Gold;

2     1   1   0

20 Feb 2009 1:17 AM


Thanks, I'll be watching the race.

20 Feb 2009 7:37 AM


20 Feb 2009 11:25 AM
Steve Haskin

Josh, what are you talking about?

Dunkirk was amazing, but he's on schedule to run in the Derby off only three starts, none at 2. If he's as freaky as Big Brown maybe he can pull it off.

20 Feb 2009 11:50 AM

What is it with some of you writing in caps with extra exclamation marks? My brain is hurting reading that; I don't like to be shouted at, thanks.

People tell me that the problem with UBS offspring is that a lot of them get pushed too hard too early so they end up either injuring themselves or breaking down. I'm not saying anything against Larry Jones and Eight Belles - that was a freak accident in a "freak" year - but I think that the rate of UBS-sired horses breaking down would be much lower if we weren't pushing them all to win the Kentucky Derby.

I'll keep Old Fashioned on top of my non-existent list for now and see what Mr. Hot Stuff does in the Sham Stakes.  

20 Feb 2009 3:04 PM

  Well now, regardless of what you think of this list or whatever order you want to rank them in, or even if you have the love of another hopeful unlisted, here is a list of 23 horses for 20 slots at the Derby, which leaves little room for anymore surprises. Yes, some won’t make their required earnings quotas due to flat out poor showings or poor mappings of campaigns en route to earnings, and one of two may drop out due to injury or other considerations. However, even if we lose say 5!! from this list, that only opens the door for two or three more to sneak in with some surprised showing in one of the major preps left out there!! I am also assuming of course that we are again talking of earnings in the $180,000 range to make ‘the dance’.  

  And so, we already have: “Beethoven”; “Big Drama”;

“Captain Candyman Can”;

“Chocolate Candy”; “Desert Party”;

“Dunkirk”; “Friesan Fire”;

“Flying Pegasus”;

“General Quarters”;

“Giant Oak”; “Haynesfield”;

“Hello Broadway”;

“Imperial Council”; “Midshipman”;

“Mr. Fantasy”; “Old Fashioned”;

“Patena”; “Papa Clem”;

“Pioneerof the Nile”;

“Regal Ransom”;

“The Pamplemousse”;

“Vineyard Haven”; and

“Warrior’s Reward”.

  If you don’t want to run your hoss up to 3-5 weeks before the Derby that doesn’t leave much room to make up the graded stakes required at this point, although we haven’t yet entered the majors for acquiring graded earnings, The Louisiana Derby, The Lane’s End, The Fla. Derby., the Wood Memorial, The Illinois Derby, The Santa Anita Derby, The Arkansas Derby, and etc. But likely among the above listing we’ll see those events filled with many from the above list and also likely see them also gobble up the required money earnings in those races. Thusly, how many more could break into this listed field with only 20 gates available!?!?!

  As to some ‘sleepers’ who might fill in those 2 or 3 other slots mentioned that might? yet open up at this point, fall the likes of, such as: “Bear’s Rocket”;

“Break Water Edison”;

“Captain Cherokee”;

“Danger to Society”;

“Flat Out”, “Flying Private”;

“I Want Revenge”;  


“Nowhere To Hide”;

“Rockland”; “Russell Road”;

“Take the Points”;

“Taqarub”;  “Theregoesjojo”, and “West Side Bernie”, and probably one or two more, although this leaves little hope for anymore surprises at this point. Although, I of course do expect one or two more at most! But, this listing is also about what we are looking at outside of any potential “Fillie entries” –“Stardom Bound”,

“Evita Argentina”, or

“Rachel Alexandra”,-- in my eyes.

   Strong  Field?  Weak Field?  

   Whatever, good luck with your top five choices!!

20 Feb 2009 3:56 PM

Sorry Justice, it was not my intention writing in caps; i don´t use to do it. I just didn´t notice it. Besides, the discussion in this blog is so good, that it´s imposible to shout anybody. Sorry

20 Feb 2009 4:46 PM
Abbie Knowles

On the latest maidenwatch (Kittens) there is the U tube video of Dunkirk's win.  He was so impressive wasn't he?  What do you think of him Mr Haskin?  Apparently he now goes straight for the Florida Derby which will tell us a lot more but he could not do more than he has.  A P Indy and Secret Status are influences for stamina I would have thought so i am not worried because he is by Undridled's Song.  Who is a lovely stallion.

Dunkirk leaps up my list of favourite horses and I will be following his career with interest throughout the year as I do all of my favourites.  After all 2009 is not just about one race is it?  Important though that race is!

God Bless

Best wishes


20 Feb 2009 6:55 PM
m palmer

Guys, I must have seen another race. When exceptional horses take the lead at that point in a race, they move away with authority. They do not have to be ridden aggressively. Did anyone see the head on replay? He carried his head like a mule. This horse does not stride out like a champion. If Dunkirk wins the derby I have to give up evaluating horses. It is my opinion is performance was average at best and there are a lot of negatives that have been ignored by his evaluators.

(a) His DOB is January 23, 2006. January foal RARELY win the Kentucky Derby. Many of the horses he defeated lack his ability, plus he has the maturity advantage. January foal are product of manipulated conception to gain a maturity advantage on the first Saturday in May. Bluegrass Cat from the Todd P. barn was a January foal who was 3 month older than Barbaro. His maturity advantage did not make a difference. Old Fashioned has a DOB of January 27, 2006. He is 3 month older than Friesen Fire. He will not finish in front of Friesen Fire if they make the derby.  

(b) No great grandson of Mr. Prospector has sired a derby winner to date. In fact, of the enormous number of Mr. Prospector great grandsons that exists, only Grindstone has sired the winner of a Triple Crown race.

(c) No broodmare that has earned a million dollars and over have ever produced the winner of a Triple Crown race. In fact, the highest earning broodmare to produce a derby winner is Wishing Well, dam of Sunday Silence. She earned $381K. The best horse produced by a member of the millionaire club has been Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Gulch who earned $3M.

(d) No A.P. Indy broodmare has produced a classic winner to date. He has had some of the best broodmares.

(e) The sire of the runner-up in one year has never sired that winner the following year.

For Dunkirk to win the Derby a number of firsts have to occur. His profile cannot overcome all of the above and consequently he is not the horse. If Cape Truth impresses in his next start, he is the horse. He won his debut at 7F in a fighting 1:22 plus. His pedigree profile matches perfectly those of past winners. His dam is inbred to Hyperion and Bull Lea. Inbreeding to Hyperion has featured in many derby winners. However, no inbreeding to Bull Lea, the sire of three derby winners has ever appeared in a past winner pedigree. Bull Lea was dominant both as sire and broodmare sire.  

20 Feb 2009 8:30 PM

TY Palmer

Now tell all which of the 401 nominations and the likely 15 + late entry fee payers will be the winner!!!, that is, if you have researched them all in such depth! And, just why bother even owning those other 400 if your going to keep making cases against everyone that has popped up into someone's present top 30 list? But I do appreciate reading your angles!

20 Feb 2009 9:31 PM

m palmer I could not agree more has everyone lost their minds? Dunkirk ? You have to be kidding! No racing foundation at all and he is going to show up and beat 20 battle tested horses in May? Dunkirk is not a derby horse and the total lack of foundation makes him a toss in the Derby.

20 Feb 2009 11:52 PM
m palmer

If the pedigree profiles of past Derby winners are examined closely, it will be blatantly obvious that Dunkirk will not be the winner of Derby 135. I suggest sticking to the winning profiles and avoid those that have not produced. The positives with Cape Truth cannot be opposed.

(a) His dam was sired by Far North a son of Northern Dancer. Northern Dancer is unequaled as a derby grandsire. Seventeen of the last 37 Triple Crown races were won by broodmares sired by his sons and grandsons. In five of the last 14 KDs, Northern Dancer’s sons have sired the broodmare of the winner. The talented but ill fated Eight Belles who was sired by Unbridles Song was produced from a broodmare sired Dixieland Band a son of Northern Dancer. Subject to correction her runner-up position is the best finish for a prodigy of her sire.

(b) His second dam was sired by Traffic Judge a son of Alibhai. The influential Alibhai sired 1954 derby winner Determined and remains the only unraced sire of a derby winner. He is featured in the pedigree of many derby winners. In fact, the pedigree of Bedazzle the dam of the brilliant Street Sense reflects inbreeding to Alibhai. Needless to say, she was sired by a son of Northern Dancer.

(c) His third dam was sired by To Market a son of Market Wise. The pedigree of the great Spectacular Bid reflects an inbreeding to “To Market” Spectacular Bid former WR holder for 10F on dirt 1:57 4/5 is the broodmare sire of the brilliantly fast Mr. Fantasy.

Guys, horse with these types of profiles win derbies. Dunkirk’s profile has not yet made it to the derby board and I am confident it will not in 2009. Stick to those profiles that have been successful.

NB: Expensive yearling have dismal records in the derby. Only Fusaichi Pegasus ($4.4M) has finished in the top spot. He was never able to repeat in the Triple Crown series Do you know that based on his excellent looks, he was called superman as a yearling. Dunkirk may have glittered in the eyes of many but he is certainly not gold.

21 Feb 2009 5:45 AM

Steve, I thought you might like to know that Take the Points will not be running in the Gotham but rather they are shipping him to California to run in the Sham on Feb 28.  It came as a surprise to me too.  Do you think a horse can ship from Gulfstream to Santa Anita and stand a chance?  I am worried...

21 Feb 2009 9:18 AM

m palmer:

by your stats,it seems like the Cons outweigh the Pros.Proof that your analyzation has gone overboard.

21 Feb 2009 1:13 PM
m palmer

Slew.em.All, I just provide the cold facts. I know they appear over the top but they are what they are. Storm Cat and his $500K stud fee has never sired a derby winner. He has now been pensioned to quarter horse mares. A.P. Indy and his $250-300K stud fee has not sired a derby winner with 13-14 crops. The great Mr. Prospector sired one at age 26. No Storm Cat, Mr. Prospector, A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat or Affirmed broodmares have produced a derby winner. The aforementioned stallions have sire 2,121 dams that have produced 11,968 foals, 7,694 runners and 5,424 winners. Of the 5,424 winners none were derby winners.

The derby is no ordinary race and it has to be seen for what it is i.e. weird

21 Feb 2009 2:57 PM

mpalmer, do you realize you contradicted yourself?  With all your cold, hard facts... you ended with it's the derby, i.e it's weird.  That's the whole point... stats have their place, but anything can happen in a 20 horse field of young 3-yr olds.  You are obviously well informed on racing, can you tell me if you remember a year where there were so many derby prospects from one single sire, like the situation this year with Unbridled's Song?  When has this happened before and with what stallion?  Thanks.

21 Feb 2009 3:40 PM

I think "luck" has to do with the winning results of the Derby.With 16+ horses in the starting gate,and a stampede going into the 1st turn,it's not always the best horse that wins,but the one with a smooth trip.

"January foals are a product of manipulated conception"'ve got to be kidding right? It just so happens that January is the beginning of breeding season here in the States.The luck of the draw,I guess.

21 Feb 2009 3:41 PM
m palmer

Helsbelles, Although I stated that the derby is weird, the pedigree profile of the past winners remain consistent. Derby winners are produced by low earning broodmares and stallions standing for modest fees at the time of the winners foaling date.  It is weird because the horse with the derby winner’s profile is normally not the best going into the race.  

It is pretty much unprecedented the number of Unbridled Song offspring’s in the derby mix. This is the reason none of them will win. Stallions that stand for $100K and over are have very limited success in the derby. The Mr. Prospector sire line will probably account for 80% of the derby starters and probably City Style win end up winning.

21 Feb 2009 5:02 PM


    Remember BB? i believe he had only three starts coming into the derby, one was a turf start the year before. This has been done before, who's to say it can't happen again?

21 Feb 2009 5:06 PM
m palmer

I have stated in past postings that I dislike January foal as potential derby winners. My dislike stems from the fact that horses in their natural habitat do not foal in the winter months. A January foal is therefore a product of forced conception. For those who are interested in the reasons for my position, the extract below will hopefully provide some insight into t the reproductive cycle of a mare.

The estrous cycle (also spelled oestrous) controls when a mare is sexually receptive toward a stallion, and helps to physically prepare the mare for conception. It generally occurs during the spring and summer months, although some mares may be sexually receptive into the late fall, and is controlled by the photoperiod (length of the day), the cycle first triggered when the days begin to lengthen. The estrus cycle lasts about 19-22 days, with the average being 21 days. As the days shorten, the mare returns to a period when she is not sexually receptive, known as anestrus. Anestrus prevents the mare from conceiving in the winter months, as that would result in her foaling during the harshest part of the year, a time when it would be most difficult for the foal to survive.

While horses in the wild mate and foal in mid to late spring, many horses domestically bred for competitive purposes, especially horse racing and various futurities, are usually born as close to January first in the northern hemisphere (or August first in the southern hemisphere) as possible, so as to be at an advantage in size and maturity when competing against other horses in the same age group. When an early foal is desired, barn managers will put the mare "under lights" by keeping the barn lights on in the winter to simulate a longer day, thus bringing the mare into estrus sooner than she would in nature. Mares signal estrus and ovulation by urination in the presence of a stallion, raising the tail and revealing the vulva. A stallion, approaching with a high head, will usually nicker, nip and nudge the mare, as well as sniff her urine to determine her readiness for mating.

Barn Managers have to intervene for a mare to foal in January in most if not all cases. It is my view that a horse born out of season is like a fruit out of season. What negative impact does it have on the foal? Probably none; however, I cannot recall a thoroughbred great that was foaled in January. Irrespective of how good these foals are, they rarely win the derby although they have a sized and maturity advantage. This is fact not fiction. I am not declaring that January foals are not good; I just do not list them as likely derby winners. All authors have their systems of trimming their derby lists. I use many issues to trim my list and a January foaling date is just one of them.

21 Feb 2009 5:18 PM

Also,I likened your stats to the Derby Dosage Index hoopla of the 80's and 90's.  Nowadays those "calculations" are considered garbage when analyzing a Derby prospect..Good research though,but I'll stick to good old fashioned Trip Handicapping,no punned intended.

21 Feb 2009 5:21 PM
m palmer

Slew.em.All, the following horses are the ones I have identified as the pedigree profile to be the potential winner of Derby 135:-


Hello Broadway


Pioneerof the Nile

Flat Out

Giant Oak

Danger To Society

Wise Kid

Warrior's Reward

Millennium Lake

Cape Truth


City Style

Midshipman, Pioneerof the Nile, Wise Kid and Hello Broadway were all sire by great grandsons of Mr. Prospector and consequently will be cut from my list. City Style, Cape Truth and Ziegfeld were sired by grandsons of Mr. Prospector and will be watched. Mr. prospector’s grandsons have sired five derby winners which represents a record for a grandsire. City Style is a January foal but he is out running his pedigree and has left me puzzled. Notonthesamepage, Giant Oak, Danger To Society, Millennium Lake are all from the Storm Cat sire line. This has never produced a winner and is overdue. Most of Storm Cat’s better off springs are chestnut and Giant Oak and Notonthesamepage are chestnuts. Flat Out is the sole representative from the A.P. Indy sire line via his unassuming son Flatter. I like him a lot. Any horse that gives up a lot of real estate at the start of a race and reclaims a substantial portion in defeat is good, very good. The last time a Bold Ruler line stallion sired a derby winnerwas24 years ago.  Warrior's Reward by the brilliant Medaglia D'Oro was defeated by the celebrated Dunkirk but remains high on my list.

You probably have never heard of City Style. He is a horse that continues to puzzle me. He stated his career in a maiden claimer. After breaking his maiden he won the Sunday Silence stakes from 12 lengths last. He was then entered in the Breeder Cup Juvenile Turf and closed from 12 lengths second to last  to be beaten by 21/2L  behind Dnativum and Westphalia. He recently won easily in Dubai. His sire  City Zip started 11times as a 2YO and this may account for his toughness.

21 Feb 2009 6:58 PM

  Yes, it is only the 3rd week in Feb. and we are all only speculating, including Steve! And, we haven't even yet seen a Major prep outside of the Breeders Juv and really only a few minor ones, all while watching the various connections plotting their courses. I haven't had a ‘single favorite’ ever going into any Derby until "Big Brown" last year, although I admit was pulling for "Barbaro" and “Smarty Jones”. I carry 5 or 6 hopefuls in my pocket on Derby Day and keep my fingers crossed. I didn't have "Giamomo" either! But, I luv all the info I can absorb to get to those 5 or 6 choices!!!  And for one, I was glad to see the likes of an “Elysium Fields” return to racing.

22 Feb 2009 12:45 AM

Geeze , I am sitting here remembering shouting ...go cat!!, go cat!!, go cat go!! ...and they think "Flat Out" gave up ground??... ya should seen what non-maiden winner "Nolan's Cat" had to make up!! I rememeber him passing "Giacomo" and heading right along, but opps,  the wire...only 3rd!!! Where would he have finished if he hadn't spotted the field a FURLONG plus!?!?!

22 Feb 2009 4:12 AM
m palmer

“Elysium Fields” Liked him as a 3YO. Firstly, because his pedigree reflects five inbreeding between his third and fifth generarions. Two past derby winners reflected the same level of inbreeding i.e., Real Quiet and Charismatic. He showed a lot of promise as a 3YO. Good to see him back.

If you like “Elysium Fields” you should like Godolphin's Regal Ransom. His pedigree reflects five inbreeding between his third and fifth generarions as well. He is a late foal (May 26) that has been running well but has a large maturity gap to fill.

22 Feb 2009 7:11 AM

M PALMER: If there is one and only one stallion that I had to forcast as a Derby-winner-producing sire and probably producing multiple derby winners over the next decade it would be Unbridled Song.  His only weakness is that he occassionally passes on frailty in the legs of some of his offsprings but right now he is the successor to Storm Cat and AP Indy and I believe that he will outshine those two when it comes to producing successful Triple Crown horses, especially in the kentucky Derby.  The writing is on the wall.  Dunkirk's pedigree is awesome (I was very impressed with his dam Secret Status) and while I he has not yet broken into my Derby Dozen, he is on the bubble.  Remember there are exceptions to every rule.

22 Feb 2009 12:33 PM

Ya got to remember m palmer, they don't know how their bred, they can't read.

23 Feb 2009 11:18 AM

Ranagulzion... I agree with you this is the year for Unbridled Song.  He will have 6 or 7 in the Derby so how can he miss?  Any idea how many he has had in the Derby the last 5 years?

23 Feb 2009 11:30 AM

Looks like the Gotham may be tougher than the Fountain of Youth

Is the inner track at the Big A a real test or not?

23 Feb 2009 11:44 AM

yep the 'FOY' is shaping up to be a sprinters duel! Looks like "Beethoven"; "Break Water Edison"; & "Jack Spratt" won't have any problem with the distance, but "Taqarub";

"Theregoesjojo"; & "Notonthesamepage" may all go wire to wire in front of them??

Now wondering where that leaves "Capt. Candyman Can"??? Should prove most interesting!  I wouldn't touch this race even if I had a favorite!

25 Feb 2009 5:27 AM

its true unbridled song shure has the liscence to become a super sire...but...genes are unpredictable .If I had been at the sale when seattle slew went thru the ring i would have never guessed him becoming the SUPER SIRE ELITE he became..He didnt have near the breeding in my opinion that secretariat had..I have my eye on ghost zapper .

27 Feb 2009 8:53 PM

What is all this with Big Brown? He is not running this year, and a good thing too because he would have this bunch for lunch. Having said this OF did what he had to do, win. He picked up some form without taking too much out of the tank. By doing this he should be much better by the next race but not a peak form so he should be just about right by May. In the meantime, there are several good horses coming into form and the Derby should be great.

By the way I breed my mare in March or April because I live in the mountains and want a slightly later foal so ice is not an issue.

We do not need any slip and fall dramas. We put a band around the tummy and turn on the TV to listen and watch the mare at night so we do not have any surprises. Mother nature is allowed to decide the time. There is alot to do before the horse ever sees a race track, or a auction ring.

07 Mar 2009 7:02 PM

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