Haskin's Derby Trail: Revisiting Four for the Weekend

Four of our highly touted horses, as early as Oct. 13, 2011 and as recent as April 6, are running this weekend. Two already have the graded earnings to get in the Derby, one needs an in-the-money performance, and one needs to win.

All of them – Holy Candy, Dullahan, Optimizer, and Sabercat – should be good prices, with Holy Candy and Sabercat morning line longshots. We feel all have a legitimate shot to win or are good plays in the exotics.

Rather than rehash everything we like about these four horses, we’re just going to reprint what we’ve written about them and see how many of them can get through the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby and earn their way – monetarily or by accomplishment – into the Kentucky Derby.

HOLY CANDY (Blue Grass Stakes 30-1):

(April 6, 2012)  Holy Candy did not defeat much in his maiden victory and his Beyer speed figure was pretty slow compared to the leading 3-year-olds. But here is where the intangibles come in play. From strictly a visual standpoint, his maiden score was arguably the most impressive race by a 3-year-old we’ve seen all year. It was a race you had to see to appreciate.

There was something about his scintillating victory that really caught the eye and made you take notice. His prior races were all good and against some talented horses, but this one was extraordinary. The pace was slow, and he really had no business running down the pacesetter, trained by Baffert, even though he’s certainly not one of Baffert’s top 3-year-olds. But Holy Candy turned in a blistering final half in :46 1/5 and final quarter in :22 4/5, exhibiting a powerful and efficient stride that covered a great deal of ground. He blew by the leader and quickly drew off to win by 3 ½ lengths. By the time he reached the first turn galloping out, he was 15 lengths in front and looked like he wanted to go around again.

It's difficult judging a horse's true ability in a maiden race, and we've seen many spectacular maiden winners regress when they face winners. All we’re saying is that this is a horse to keep a close eye on wherever he winds up running. He could be something special.

DULLAHAN (Blue Grass Stakes 6-1):

(Oct. 13, 2011)  It seems a contradiction to the senses to boost the merits of the Breeders’ Futurity, run over Polytrack, and several of its participants. But the feeling here is that we saw a couple of potential stars emerge from the race, whose true talents actually will not be seen until they run on dirt. One of them already has become our live longshot for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a force for next year’s Kentucky Derby trail.

First, however, let’s address the Futurity winner Dullahan. The first inclination would be to dismiss his chances in the Juvenile, based on his two mediocre performances over the Churchill Downs dirt surface in his first two career starts. That would be a mistake.

All you have to do is watch the Futurity to see that this is a big, scopey, long-striding colt who would not be expected to run big going 5 ½ and six furlongs, the distances of his first two starts. He actually ran OK in those races to finish third and fifth. He improved when stretched out to the grass, finishing a close second in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Saratoga and third in the With Anticipation Stakes. We believe the improvement was due to the stretch-out and not the grass. This colt is bred top and bottom for the dirt, being a son of the Unbridled’s Song stallion Even the Score and a half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, and traces to a great Greentree Stud family, most notably Broodmare of the Year Track Medal, a full-sister to Swaps.

He ran decently in sprints on the dirt, improved on the grass, improved even more on the Polytrack, and should improve again when he returns to the dirt going two turns.

The most impressive aspect of his performance in the Breeders’ Futurity was the quick-fire acceleration he showed on the far turn, blowing past horses, despite racing wide four-wide every step of the way. He also was able to sustain his move for five-eighths of a mile, something you don’t often see a 2-year-old do. And finally, he appeared to actually find another gear in the final furlong and seemed to be getting stronger the farther he ran.

So, watch out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. This performance was legitimate and we may have only seen the tip of the iceberg with this colt.

(March 12, 2012)  Surprise! Hey, can’t leave him out of the Juvenile Jackpot after his eye-opening performance in the Palm Beach Stakes. No, he didn’t win, but you could not have asked for a more perfect debut, even if it was on the grass. This was not the same big, long-striding dude from last year who took forever to jump start his engine. Physically, he looked awesome, and as soon as he came out of the gate he got right down into the bit and was able to stay in touch with the field. He settled beautifully down the backside, while maintaining his striking distance. When Desormeaux asked him he showed off his patented quick-burst acceleration and pounced on the favorite Howe Great in a flash, while circling four wide. Here he was with his head in front of a brilliant colt in Howe Great before they even turned for home. In case you want a term for what was just described, it’s called a DIRT move. But it was grass and that is not a winning grass move, especially losing so much ground the whole way. Like last year, he had his head a bit high, but once Desormeaux hit him and he leveled off, he dropped his head and was striding out beautifully in the final furlong, while under no pressure to try to catch the winner. Yet he still was slowly getting to him, despite under no more than a mild hand ride. Oh, did I mention he came home in :22 4/5 and :11 2/5 (:34 1/5 final three-eighths) and ran his 1 1/8 miles in 1:46 3/5?

OPTIMIZER  (Arkansas Derby 6-1):

(Oct. 13, 2011)  Now, if you’re looking for a horse who was almost or equally as impressive as the winner, but who is going to be a big price in the BC Juvenile and looks like a hot prospect for next year’s Derby trail, then pay close attention to third-place finisher Optimizer, who has unlimited potential.

If you feel he is a grass horse because he is by English Channel and ran big in his first two career starts on the grass you would be dead wrong. English Channel happened to be a grass horse, but wasn’t bred to be a grass horse. Optimizer only raced on grass because trainer Wayne Lukas needed to run him two turns and the only two-turn races for 2-year-olds at Saratoga are on the grass. Lukas believes his dramatic maiden victory and his second in the With Anticipation Stakes, in which the rider lost the whip at the sixteenth pole, were both achieved on class alone. The only reason he ran him in the Breeders’ Futurity on Polytrack was because it was two turns and he was looking to get enough points to make it into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile field.

This colt worked lights out on the Oklahoma training track and continued to work big on the dirt at Churchill Downs, blowing out a half in :48 breezing for the Breeders’ Futurity, the second fastest of 31 works at the distance.

Optimizer’s female family is a Who’s Who of Phipps family breeding. His dam, Indy Pick (by A.P. Indy), is out of Fantastic Find, winner of the grade I Hempstead and placed in the grade I Test, Ballerina, and Gazelle. Fantastic Find also produced Finder’s Fee, winner of the grade I Acorn and Matron, and who won or placed in 10 other graded stakes.

Fantastic Find’s dam, Blitey (by Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Riva Ridge), won the Test, Maskette, and Ballerina and produced grade I winners Dancing Spree and Furlough, in addition to Fantastic Find and graded stakes winner Dancing All Night.

Blitey’s dam, Lady Pitt, won the Coaching Club American Oaks, Delaware Oaks, and Mother Goose and was champion 3-year-old filly in 1966.

This is as strong a female family as you’ll find anywhere, and there is no doubt Optimizer will improve the farther he goes. In the Breeders’ Futurity, he was the other horse flying around the far turn, as he rallied from 12th. Unlike the winner, however, he raced greenly through the stretch and got stuck on his left lead. Robby Albarado kept hitting him left-handed and after getting to the outside, the colt finally changed to his right lead. It took him a few strides to find his rhythm, as he continued to race greenly, but once he did he leveled off and began closing in on Dullahan and Majestic City, getting stronger with each stride.

Lukas said he can’t wait to get him on dirt after seeing his action over it in the morning. The colt is still learning what the game is all about, and with his pedigree, powerful stretch kick, and the look of class about him, his future could be limitless. We’ll find out for sure in the Juvenile, a race in which he only needs to move forward to prepare him for the Derby trail.

SABERCAT (Arkansas Derby 15-1):

(Feb. 6, 2012)  Last year, he was visually as impressive as anyone. Turned in an electrifying move in the Delta Jackpot and never broke stride despite being taken hold of when he almost ran up over horses. Showed quick turn of foot drawing off in Garden State romp. Likes to run his foes into the ground and put them away quickly, but also can be tenacious, as he showed out-battling the talented My Adonis in maiden race. He’s won three straight, all at a mile or longer. He just needs to improve his speed figures. He’s been galloping at Santa Anita and progressing beautifully for a March debut.

Impressive winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot and Garden State Stakes, he is a son of the promising young stallion Bluegrass Cat, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, who is out of an A.P. Indy mare and traces to the great Phipps mare Numbered Account. His dam, Miner’s Blessing, is a daughter of Travers and Haskell winner Forty Niner, out of a Halo mare. Miner’s Blessing is a half-sister to Conquistadoress, second in the Ashland and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. This family is four generations of Stuart Janney Jr. (breeder of Ruffian) and his son Stuart Janney III breeding, and we love old traditional families that span several generations. Prior to Janney, this was a solid Wheatley Stable family that traces to Man O’ War and La Troienne. Sabercat’s dam also is inbred to major stamina influence Tom Rolfe, by Ribot.

(Current comment)  His 2012 debut in the Rebel looks terrible on paper, but he was shuffled to the back of the pack early and was way too far back for his style of running. He actually appeared to be moving with good momentum turning into the stretch, but was in some traffic and just couldn’t sustain his run coming off such a long layoff. We feel with a good trip this time you’re going to see big improvement. He doesn’t need to win, but a strong in-the-money performance would certainly send him to Louisville with some kind of a shot.

Other weekend tidbits

If Optimizer and Sabercat don’t pan out at Oaklawn, the Todd Pletcher-trained Stat (10-1) looked terrific winning an allowance/optional claimer, drawing off to an easy win , despite racing greenly and drifting out. Pletcher and John Velazquez at 10-1 looks enticing. Also, Isn’t He Clever with blinkers off could be very tough in here after getting a badly mistimed ride in the Sunland Derby. He still finished 7 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Stirred Up, who had just beaten Holy Candy. And his sire, Smarty Jones, was the last horse to win the Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby.


Leave a Comment:


Optimizer has great potential and Wayne Lukas is the perfect trainer for a horses like this who is still trying to sort it out.

13 Apr 2012 9:55 AM
John Boudreau

Great Info as usual Steve>> I Like a Prospective--Dullahan Box and Hope Neither of the Grey's Show UP>>Good Luck>>  !!

13 Apr 2012 10:07 AM
steve from st louis

Steve, those old Phipps horses in Sabercat's past beat a drum roll of excellance over the American turf. As an aside, I don't mean to disparage a Hall of Famer, but what has Shug done lately with the best blooded horses outside of Dubai? He reminds me of Jack Van Berg and D. Wayne Lukas, Eclipse champions with their best days  disappering in the rear view mirror.

13 Apr 2012 10:42 AM
steve from st louis

excuse me, I meant Optimizer's past.

13 Apr 2012 10:43 AM
Sam Santschi

Not because you're touting him a bit, but all the comments on the various blogs make me think that Optimizer if he can manage 2nd or third in Ark, will be the wise guy derby horse.

13 Apr 2012 11:25 AM

Thanks for updating and reprinting this, Steve.  I watched Holy Candy's mdn. win a few times and he looks powerful.  Have a real concern he can step it up in the Grade I Blue Grass this soon but will keep on eye on him.

13 Apr 2012 11:32 AM

Like Giddyup i also like Optimizer as a spoiler don't be suprized if he takes the whole cake,horses like him will have something to say in the final 1/16 i also like Daddy Long Legs to bomb this party.These speed horses that are touted in the top ten are not my kind of bet i will take a stayer anyday going the 10 furlongs,the key is if they get a clear run ala Animal Kingdom, Mine that Bird Street Sense and the likes.

13 Apr 2012 12:25 PM

As much as I truly like Dullahan, and his performance last year, his training seems to have often been delayed due to physical issues.  I keep wondering about his soundness.  

I love Hansen, but I think his best asset, speed, will be inhibited by the poly track.  Somehow, I see Prospective and Howe Great doing well in the Bluegrass.  I think Scatman may have the same problem as Hansen, with dirt form hindered by poly.

In Arkansas, though I'm a fan of Bode and Mike Smith, I feel the experience of Secret Circle has set him apart at Arkansas, with Najjar being a big threat.

And I'm hopng Absinthe Minded gets back on form today, and Ron The Greek tomorrow...both my sentimental choices.

13 Apr 2012 1:15 PM
Pedigree Ann

Shug's had a couple of winners at the Keeneland meet already, at prices, too. Private trainers are at the mercy of the stock they receive and the Phippses/Janneys don't campaign claiming horses, and any filly that gets hurt or doesn't look like she is going to race at higher levels is retired to become a broodmare. Or sold.

13 Apr 2012 1:23 PM

I especially like Sabercat in the Arkansas Derby, I will play him along with Isn't He Clever, Bodemeister, Secret Circle and Optimizer. If the pace is really quick it could be a race for Najjaar and Cozzetti, but anyway you look at it, I'm hoping Sabercat runs big.

I am expecting a very fast pace in tbe Blue Grass. I think Dullahan and Russian Greek at the end. Also think Hansen will be part of exotics alongs with Prospective.

Both of these races are pretty tough to play with alot of confidence in anyone, so I can't imagine what the Kentucky Derby will be like; tough,tough tough.

13 Apr 2012 2:02 PM

I think the "wise guy" horse will be Daddy Nose Best.  Even though he won Sunland, he's still under the radar (for now).  

13 Apr 2012 7:11 PM

Out of the 4 I like Dullahan and Sabercat.I think Optimizer has a shot if he runs like his last,which was an 11 or 12 horse field in which the(spacing)  lengths from 1st to last wasnt much.I expect the Arkansas Derby to be more spread out for a 11 horse field and more ground.

13 Apr 2012 7:28 PM
Mike from Michigan

Is it me or is anybody else wondering why Hansen is even running in the Blue Grass, I mean it's only 3 weeks until the derby and he certainly doesn't need the earnings?  If I owned him, he would be at Churchill training.  Just saying.

13 Apr 2012 7:41 PM

Hansen is running in the bluegrass because he towers over the field....he is coming into the race perfectly, and will likely be the fav. for the kentucky derby.......3 weeks means nothing.....any more questions?

13 Apr 2012 8:30 PM

Mixed feelings about Hansen going in the Blue Grass also like Mike from Mich.  What will it prove?  If he wins he likes the polytrack and shows versatility.  In this day and age of the meds, etc. running back 3 weeks seems soon, and in the big one no less.  I guess they skipped the Wood and avoided shipping making it easier to remain home for Hansen until the Derby.  Who knows, let's see and let's just hope they are not in the dam barn now painting his tail as we speak Friday night!!!!!!!  Go Hansen tomorrow!!!!!  

13 Apr 2012 10:14 PM

Steve in St Louis.......You watch the Makers 46 today? An old Hall of Famer won it. He also had a maiden win at Aq today, she is a full to Sightseeing. Her name is Sea Island. Not many trainers have had full siblings win races. Well Shugs done it more than once. Look up Cadillacing.........Oh and the Donn was won by Hymn Book another grade 1 race, besides the Makers 46. Hymn Book is in the Oaklawn Handicap tomorrow another grade 1. NEVER count out a Shug horse. What, you want him to be like Pletcher and Assmussen? Never be there with the horses cz you got way too many. So you juice em? Phipps/Janneys wont push a horse. Unfortunately they realized after Ruffian, and that whole fiasco to not be forced to run a horse again. FYI Janneys/Phipps are related. They want their horses to last not push push and be unsound. Rachel is a good example of a horse being pushed, and not coming back the same....

13 Apr 2012 10:22 PM

Watch for Dullahan in the Blue Grass. Remember he is a half to Mine That Bird. Whom everyone dismissed in the derby. I cashed a real nice ticket that day. I hope for a Hansen/Dullahan Exacta.

13 Apr 2012 10:25 PM
Mike from Michigan

@KY VET....just one, ever hear of the 'Triple Crown'?  In case you haven't, that is 3 grueling races run in about a 5 week span.  Do you understand what I am talking about now?

13 Apr 2012 11:01 PM
jean thomas

here my picks for the bluegrass 1st hansen 2nd dullahan 3rd prospective and for arkansas derby 1st stat 2nd bodemeister 3rd secret circle

14 Apr 2012 4:41 AM

I wonder too, Mike from Michigan.  If they wanted to find out if the horse could go a mile and eighth and are still experimenting with rating, why do it today?  Nowadays, when horses are still running prep races,would it make any difference in their minds if Hansen wins or loses today?  You know they will still run him in the derby, though you have to admire the decision a tad for kind of returning to the training tactics of yesteryear.  May all be safe today.

14 Apr 2012 7:45 AM

Steve from st lewie, lemme see if I can dig up some "data" from the archives on Shug...oh here's one Data Link....when yesterday price $26 +....I hope you had him...if you were a fan[like me] you would have been following this one since Gulfstream where the barn had more than an Inkling that this one was sitting atop his form cycle...Steve H.....I have Sabercat as running a big one this weekend, and the price should be quite handsome

14 Apr 2012 8:02 AM

I'm going with Bodemeister and Optimizer and Hansen and Prospective.  I am concerned about Hansen though....  It seems that a few times in recent years, a horse that seemed much the best did not run well at all at Keenland. Is is just me or has anyone else thought that?  

14 Apr 2012 8:49 AM

IMO Hansen is running because if he didnt he would go into the Derby with his longest race being at 1 1/16.He is too valuable to run in the Derby at 10 furlongs if he is not effective at 9 furlongs.Have you forgotten Repoles experiment with UM going from 8 furlongs to 10.Workouts are good once a horse has reached peak for the distance, but a race is what really brings them to peak.

14 Apr 2012 9:40 AM

Shugs runners have done well on the Keenland turf.I caught his 1st winner on turf at 7-1 Vodoo Storm.

14 Apr 2012 9:44 AM
Mike Monarchos

Everyone seems to like Dullahan in the Blue grass. Why? His top Beyer is an 86, and that was on turf. Hansen's is a 96. Prospective has a 90. Hero of Order has a 90. Scatman has a 101 and an 88. So I guess Beyers aren't important?

I'm going to bet a tri this way: Hansen/Prospective with Hansen/Prospective with Heavy Breathing, Dullahan, Holy Candy, Howe Great, Ever So Lucky, Hero of Order, and Scatman.

14 Apr 2012 10:41 AM

There was a small mention of Najjaar sometime ago. His explosive closing style was highlighted. His last start was in the Gll Rebel where lunged forwards before the gates opened causing him to be slowly out. He spotted the field 20L down the backstretch and closed with unrelenting intensity to be beaten 4 1/2L. It is also worth noting that he was taken seven wide at the top of the stretch. He finished ahead of SABERCAT and 3 3/4L behind OPTIMIZER. If these two colt were revisited, then Najjaar should at least be included in a footnote. It is unlikely that either of these two colts will finish ahead of Najaar if he has a clean break. His rebel efforst came 14 day after he defeated older horses over a distance of 8 1/2F. Fourteen day is a quick turnaround especially heading into a graded race. Najjjaar had to overcome a 14 day turnaround; being slowly out of the gates; a 20L deficit; seven wide at the top of the stretch. To be only beaten by 41/2L is indeed remarkable. Below are two of his works that have captured by attention:

March30, 2012: Worked 5F in 1:01 3/5 gallop out in 1:14

April 6, 2012: Worked 24.40, 36.60, 1:00 gallop out in 1:12.20

Najaar is notoriously slow worker. The March 30th works is normal. The April 6th work suggests that all the horses returning from the Rebel are in serious trouble if he gets out of the gates in good order. A runner up finish will not get Najjaar into the Derby and consequently he has to go one better than Steppenwolfer for trainer Peitz.

Bodemeister is making his first ship and fist attempt at 9F. Isn’t He Clever has not won outside of New Mexico. Mr. Pletcher’s colt is a grinderwho should be effective at the over the dustance . The aforementioned colts are the ones Najjaar has to beat and I think he can.

14 Apr 2012 10:58 AM

Fellow horseplayers I dont know if you have ever heard this but trainers and their stables have form cycles.Shug didnt have a good Gulfstream meet, but look at what he has done at Keeneland. His stable as a group wasnt winning at Gulfstream, but has not been the case at Keeneland.Shug has a stable of quality runners by ability and breeding.Wesley Ward didnt have a particularly good Gulfstream meet compared to previous meets and he didnt run many horses in the last month of the meet or so,now his stable is ready for a majority of runners to run well at Keeneland.I dont think this is coincidence, depending on a trainers stable and circumstances, they point to certain meets, and Keeneland is a 15 day meet, so a stable with less runners can compete with juggarnaut stables such as Pletchers, for top trainer.

14 Apr 2012 12:41 PM

Steve- I Sabercat Installing rockets this weekend. Cause i gotta say...Here is a horse that beay MyAdonis, who can win on a fast track at this level. He then won the DeD race with a STUNNING 27 3/5 final quarter mile. then he proceeded to come home in 26 3/5 in his last race. Mre like Saber Kitten if one thinks this horse has a shot at any excata finish this, or any weekend against this level. Whereas Miester or Circle "look" the fastest, I am leaning towards Cozetti to work out a board hitting trip in the 1 or 2 spot. Tough race to bet though.

14 Apr 2012 1:15 PM

Oaklawn players I just looked at the entire card,and Assmussen is running 10 horses out of 12 races.If he runs all 10 I will bet anyone on the site he will only win 3 races 2nd and 3rd is another story.If he gets a win in the 1st or 2nd he probably will scratch a horse,KY Vet pay attention this is a business.The races are not run or won on paper.

14 Apr 2012 1:43 PM

wow.... I certainly typed my last comment in hieroglyphics. Here is the English version of my last comment.....  

Steve- Is Sabercat installing rockets this weekend. Cause I gotta say...Here is a horse that beat My Adonis, who can't win on a fast track at this level. He then won the DeD race with a STUNNING 27 3/5 final quarter mile. Then he proceeded to come home in 26 3/5 in his last race. More like Saber Kitten if one thinks this horse has a shot at any excata finish this, or any weekend against this level. (3 martini lunch)

14 Apr 2012 3:51 PM

Optimizer a wise guy horse??? My father, who taught me well, had a saying for horses like Optimizer..... "Always coming-Never gets there"

14 Apr 2012 3:56 PM
Mike from Michigan

For what it's worth my pic fo the Blue Grass is 'Ever So Lucky'nd in the Arkansas Derby 'Sabercat.  Safe ride or all.

14 Apr 2012 4:06 PM

Ky Vet.... Hansen TOWERS over the field? Wow. If he loses, does that mean that they only "ran him to stretch his legs"?? He may win, but TOWERS over the field?

I can see him folding up like a wet Sunday paper the last 1/8. In all honestly, I expect that to happen. TOWERS over the field. Wow........ I have a small bet on Prospective, as the 1-4-10-11-12-13 all insure a nice pace. But I don't bet the synthetics too often, thus the small play.

14 Apr 2012 4:08 PM

Chief Picawinna. When they start putting the jockeys and trainers on the bottom, then I'll start playing them.

-Ploderman's dad

14 Apr 2012 4:10 PM

Steve, after watching the Blue Grass Stakes, I just have one query was the track favouring speed? I know the surface is fickle and as changeable as ... The old dirt track may have had a bias, but at least it was consistently bias.

Without being derogatory to Dullahan and I do like the horse, is Dullahan simply the best 3 year old that runs on the Keeneland polytrack? He certainly looks the part of Derby contender.

As for Bodemeister and the Arkansas Derby, visually breathtaking and wonderfully pleasing that Bob Baffert has another major contender for the Derby, just hope Bodemeister hasn't lost all his 'firepower' getting into the Kentucky Derby.

14 Apr 2012 7:15 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, what is it with Kent Desormeaux pulling up horses so quickly after a race? I watched him wrestle Big Brown to a stop after the Preakness (not going to the Belmont, a sore point). It looked like he did the same thing with Dullahan. These aren't cars with brakes, it takes time to stop that much momentum. The way Dullahan was hopping around after the wire, I would be mad as heck if I was Dullahan's trainer.

14 Apr 2012 8:07 PM

Very impressed by Holy Candy's performance in Blue Grass. Had he not been bothered at the break he may have gotten to the Derby and been my pick. Similar to what happened last year to Alternation-and we see what kind of horse he's become.  

14 Apr 2012 9:00 PM

Plodderman OK keep playing the horses and when they start going out of their stalls on their own we will know that they are in complete control of what they do.

14 Apr 2012 9:20 PM

Draynay that Nehro is a real beast huh! LOL look for your N2X race and 3/5 before you cash on him...

14 Apr 2012 11:02 PM

Chief... How much you lose booking those bets on how many races a trainer wins at Oaklawn? If you would have looked at the racing form you would have seen going in no one was hotter at Oaklawn in the last 7 racing days then Asmussen/Nakatani. But then again that's right in order to pick winners your not suppose to read a form and look at numbers! Maybe draw straws or play tiddlywinks to come up with the winners...  

15 Apr 2012 10:05 AM

As impressive as Bodemeister and Mike Smith were, and getting a 105 Beyer...does anyone realize the Bluegrass was faster..on poly yet?

It amazed me.  But if they keep Mike on Bode, he's headed to my #1.

I think Hansen's biggest headache is his owner behaving like a total jerk.  Enough antics!  Let the horse be who he is, and get the hell out of his way!

15 Apr 2012 1:14 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, now you see why i won't go out on a limb and bet one over the other. I keep a handwritten list of every race and entrant with their numbers. As HRTV shows the parading i look over each horse, i write my thoughts at the bottom of each listing and then i watch the race. I must say that i had Dullahan,Hansen and Hero of Order but i was not 100 percent correct. Earlier i wrote out beside Daisy Devine's name "will win" and she did. And what really surprised even myself, after watching the horses parading to The Arkansas Derby, i wrote "Bode will win,Mike S aboard, i hope they have EMS near Baffert with oxygen." Wishful thinking that came true on his win. And Secret Circle his stablemate right in there at second. This was a really great day of racing. And after feeding my animals, i came back to watch more races out of Charles Town and good grief there was Pants on Fire, Tackleberry, Caixa Electronica and Uh Oh Bango and more racing for a million bucks. Caixa a 7 year old won coming from well back. What a nice way to end a super day of horse racing. Even Homeboy Kris won his race in the llth at Calder.

I saw no injuries but had a real scare watching Dullahan being pulled up and stopping way too quickly. Those types of stops are what injures a horse if he wasn't already. Hope he is okay today.

Now how does the Kentucky Derby

stack up? Reshuffle the results here then take into consideration the ones who did not race yesterday and try and come out with the winners. To me it is anyone's race to win. I think the handicappers have a real test in store to figure out where to place their money.

Almost forget another fave and It's Tricky won at Aqueduct in Race 9 and a Grade II. Love her name, said it before.

Thanks Steve hope you enjoyed the races. Will be waiting for your next words of wisdom.

15 Apr 2012 1:19 PM
Matthew W

Creative Cause will be the highest priced favorite in Derby History! Him, or Union Rags, will be 7-1 at the lowest! Dullahan, if he dirts, looks nice! "My horse", I'll Have Another, just went up to 10-1! More contenders than I have ever seen! Best proposition bet in racing history! Distance, field size, faster pace, and all those contenders--can you dig it?!

15 Apr 2012 4:59 PM

Hi Steve,

Now that Optimizer has proven he should really only race on turf, his preferred surface (being by English Channel), you should also know that his great ancestress, Blitey, also produced the unraced Oh What a Dance -- dam of champion, Heavenly Prize. BTW -- I still maintain that you are racing's *best* writer, bar none.

15 Apr 2012 5:35 PM

Furlongs nobody took me up on the bet he ran all 10 and he won 5  placed 2 and took one show with Sabercat.Eight out of 10 in the money.In retrospect all the horses were well placed in their races and had the screws tightened,after all he won the training title on the last day of the meet, the same one we are discussing.Btw I do look at past performances but in a slightly different way than they might teach a newbie in habdicapping 101.I have been doing this for a long time, and I know what races I have more success at and I know just using past performances without using added edges(learned over years)is a losing proposition for me.But my point is that we all should not follow like sheep and we should use our own insight or discoverd angles to be profitable over a longer term.I have been profitable over a one year period when I was betting every single day,so I am not just making all this up on the fly.

15 Apr 2012 7:48 PM

Shug is the best hay and oats trainer out there. As a fan I have always felt if Rachel Alexandria had been turned over to him the joy she once had for racing would have given us the treat for the eyes we had come to expect of her.

Kent is a gifted jockey and must have needed to pull the horse up, otherwise he would have galloped out. As wonderful as Big Brown was and is, the shadow of how the horse was handled by his team keeps following Kent around. Kent did nothing but watch out for the horse and himself. I hope he has the best of luck during the triple crown and can get the stigma of Big Brown's Belmont off his back.

16 Apr 2012 8:38 AM
Pedigree Ann

Baffert cleaned up in Arkansas this year because the 3yos training there were not much. As were the horses racing at Fair Grounds. It happens in cylces, sometimes one region is loaded, sometimes it is another. Have to be flexible and recognize which is up and which is down for the season.

I have but one word (well, two words) of caution for the Bodemeister fans - Bellamy Road. He was a genuine horse and a genuine stayer (showed it in the Travers) but got caught up in a fast pace and couldn't finish in the Derby. There are some non-cheap speed horses coming into this race - Hansen and Take Charge Indy for two - and nobody should be getting an easy lead.

16 Apr 2012 10:05 AM

105 now up to a 108 beyer! LOL By the time the Beyer Boys get this horse in the starting gate guess he will be up to a 110, its a complete joke!! This is just a small reminder why I use Brisnet PP's before I would DRF... I thought Bodemeister was super looking in the Ark Derby and I think he has a world of talent but he is going to have to look Hansen in the eye in the Ky Derby and that is not going to be an easy task. Hansen was running splits at Keeneland that truly makes it a wonder how he hung around at the end! I thought Hansen ran the best race of his life in a losing effort on Saturday when you consider the fractions he was setting. There is no doubt to me that Hansen is NOT a horse that wants to rate and is a need the lead kind of horse. With Bodemeister and Hansen being two of the fastest 3 years out there at this point this Derby is looking like its going to be fast up front, and when you have it fast up front something has got to give. Now let the real excitement begin!! Good luck at the windows...

16 Apr 2012 11:44 AM

Pedigree Ann- Take Charge Indy wants no part of the lead in the Ky Derby. Calvin goes to the lead when he needs to not because he wants too. TCI will rate behind horses and its up to you the handicapper to guess if he can make his move in the turn and make the lead at that point or just fade with the other speed in the race. I have never been much a fan of TCI but his FL Derby was a solid set up to be sitting off the pace and have that first run on all the closers in the race. He along with Creative Cause and I'll Have Another could be dangerous horses in this years Ky Derby. I am really looking forward to seeing how Dullahan works before the Ky Derby. I wanted to list Union Rags as well in that group making there first run but I wonder with the current jock if that move will be too late (AE:FL DERBY) and he just gets gobbled up from the closers in the race. Or the speed in front of him continues to go on. Anyway should be a fun race to handicap and watch as well!!

16 Apr 2012 11:57 AM

Pedigree Ann -  Unless the majority of the speed horses decide not to get caught up in a duel, which I'm sure none of them want.

16 Apr 2012 12:21 PM

Have a heart, guys. Doesn't a driven young trainer ever get to a point where he can rest on his laurels? D. Wayne is closing in on 80 years old. Let him wind it down some without sneering that those who rest on their laurels are wearing them in the wrong place.

16 Apr 2012 12:31 PM
Karen in Indiana

Cris, HRTV interviewed Dale Romans yesterday and asked him about that & Dale said 'Everybody knows that's just what Kent does, pulling them up so fast'. I would hope that Dale told Kent 'Don't do that again or you are off this horse'.

16 Apr 2012 12:47 PM

Pedigree Ann:

I was right with you on Bodemeister cf. Bellamy Road and looked at his stretch run several times in slo mo. I don't think he'll bounce. He was off the bit and breezing, almost nonchalant; not likely to overproduce adrenalin and get an adrenalin shutdown off that finish. No stress on him anywhere in his run.

Bellamy Road in the Wood, on the other hand, was pretty hard ridden in the stretch, whip and scrubbing, when by rights he should have been snugged down. Some of these riders seem to forget they have a stake in the horse's next race.

16 Apr 2012 1:02 PM
El Kabong

Slew, you do, I do, I saw laz did and I know Steve will mention it. Still, there are going to be plenty who will under estimate Dullahan and that's just great news for me. I have seen enough from this guy and I just hope Kent can guide him home. He has all the goods. Now he needs the trip.

16 Apr 2012 1:08 PM
Bill Two

Dullahan was absolutely brilliant down the stretch Saturday. Assuming he can run equally well if not better on CD dirt who will beat him?  I remember Bob Baffert was asked by a reporter a few years ago whether a particular horse would be able to translate superior synthetic form to dirt.  He didn't even hesitate answering and quickly stressed that most horses run better on dirt.  With all of the speed horses signed on to the Derby this year - as usual - Dullahan certainly appears to be one of the horses to beat.  I wouldn't forget about Went The Day Well either.

16 Apr 2012 4:20 PM


Does anyone remember that the Ky Derby usually has a faster pace than the norm. One demension horses like Hansen-Bodemeister-Circle, ALL are done in by the fractions. The "best" horse rarely wins. Most horses that need to run 1-2 gennerally get burnt. Hansen is a 1000% lock to get run into the ground. He'll look great at the 1/4 pole, good at the 1/8 pole and beat at the 1/16 pole. Same with Bode and Circle.

16 Apr 2012 5:33 PM

Pedigree Ann:

The comparison of Bodemeister and

Bellamy Road is apt, but a major difference between them might be their prep race.

Bodemeister was off the bit and almost nonchalant cruising to the wire, while in the Wood Bellamy Road was driven in the stretch, whipped and scrubbed all the way, when he should have been eased. Seven lengths would have been enough, no?

While his race caller was saying "He's got a lot left," I was thinking "Adrenalin spike. Bounce."

16 Apr 2012 5:51 PM

Will Bodemeister bounce? No. Does it matter? No. He has beaten NOBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't let those 100+ Beyers fool you. It's easy when everything goes your own way.

17 Apr 2012 4:03 PM

Beyers are a guide,and when one horse stands out above all others you better pay attention.When they are within 5 pts of each other its a subjective call.BTW Bellamy Road ran a 122 Beyer,which is a figure that older handicap horses used to run to win graded stakes.Bode has run 3 100+ figures using Beyers,and Brisnet.Dont use him if you like because you dont have him in the futures bet, and are adamant that he will lose.Thats why his odds I hope will be over 5-1.He is not a lock as a 3yo,but if he gets a similar trip,running within himself near the lead you would be illogical to think he dosent have a chance before the race is run.BTW I hope he rates off of Hansen and 1 or 2 others and gets a Big Brown type of trip.It is possible remember Baffert said he didnt like his stretch run in the San Felipe so he removed the blinkers for the Arkansas Derby,that could be what he needed.

21 Apr 2012 10:19 AM
Tiz Herself

After rewatching the BC Juvenile and seeing Dullahan close to fourth (on a track described as peanut butter) he has to be considered.

Congratulations Steve on your Charles W. Engelhard Award. Could not have been awarded to anyone better!

21 Apr 2012 3:43 PM

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