Destination Louisville


New Year’s Day has come and gone and that means the race for the Kentucky Derby has begun. Some are ready to become immersed in it, while others aren’t quite ready to smell the roses and taste the mint juleps this early in the year.

But regardless of whether you’re ready or not, the long, arduous journey has begun. Picture the masses gathering at the Verrazano  Bridge for the New York Marathon, knowing they have 26 grueling miles ahead of them. Now picture the mass gathering of four-legged steeds and their trainers, from Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas up to New York, and west to California. Ahead of them are approximately 26 perilous furlongs, each one filled with exultation or heartbreak. By the first Saturday in May, only 20 will qualify to enter the realm of immortality.

Some of the human participants will have only one shot at glory, knowing their quest could end with each race, with each workout, with each gallop, with each innocuous little stone on a horse path, and with each kick against the stall wall. Others will begin their march with a battalion of Derby hopefuls. But even sheer numbers do not assure a starting berth.

We have seen an interesting group of 2-year-olds stamp themselves as potential Derby horses, but how they make the transition from 2 to 3 remains to be seen. And there is the excitement of knowing that for the next month and a half, each maiden race or rare allowance race could bring a new exciting face on the scene.

Although lists of Derby contenders change on a daily basis, here is our first feeble attempt to rank some of the leading hopefuls, both proven and unproven. We have separated the proven horses from the maiden winners, as we have seen way too many horses break their maidens as if they are the next superstar only to plummet back to earth when they face winners. Yes, there will be horses some feel belong on here that have been omitted. That is because it is impossible to catch every promising maiden winner or runner-up, while others will be left off due to simple oversight. So, feel free to add any names you feel are deserving of mention.

1—Violence (Todd Pletcher/Medaglia d’Oro) – He is the one horse with no knocks. He is undefeated in three starts at three different racetracks on both coasts, at three different distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, and he is already a grade I and grade II winner on dirt and synthetic. He is bred to run all day and is from one of the most potent tail-female lines in America. And unlike a lot of Pletcher’s previous Derby hopefuls, he has the perfect running style, settling early in fifth, fourth or third and wins by only as much as he has to, while appearing to have a lot in reserve. He also is as impressive looking a 3-year-old as we’ve seen and just seems to glide over the ground. For him to travel to California and win a grade I in his first try over a synthetic surface, just cruising past the leader inside the eighth pole, was extremely impressive. In short, he seems to have everything you look for in a Derby horse.

2—Power Broker (Bob Baffert/Pulpit) – This is a high ranking for a horse who finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at odds of 2-1 and who is a bit on the light side, with the hot blood of Pulpit running through him. Baffert will have to handle him with kid gloves and we doubt you’ll see him have more than two starts before the Derby. With that said, his 6 1/2-length romp in the grade I FrontRunner Stakes in his dirt debut was brilliant, and he was given zero chance in the Breeders’ Cup by going six-wide on both turns and in fact was wide every step of the race. He still managed to make a threatening move to reach contention in the upper stretch over a speed-favoring track, but failed to sustain it after having lost so much ground. He still was beaten only five lengths. If he can keep together and cool off that hot Pulpit blood, he can go a long way, especially with his strong tail-female family, being inbred to Buckpasser, and his dam being a half-sister to Miss Shop, a grade I winner of over $1.1 million.

3— Shanghai Bobby (Todd Pletcher/Harlan’s Holiday) – Boy, if only his female family had a bit more stamina, he would be hands-down the number one Derby contender. With names like Orientate, Mt. Livermore, Carson City, and Valid Appeal on the dam side, we just don’t know how far his extraordinary talent is going to carry him. Yes. Carson City is the broodmare sire of Barbaro, but Barbaro was by Dynaformer, one of the great stamina influences. With that said, you simply cannot ignore what this colt has accomplished, winning the Hopeful, Champagne, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which is just what we’ve been looking for in our next Triple Crown winner. His victory in the Hopeful was brilliant, and his five-length romp in the Champagne (the classiest 2-year-old race in the country in our opinion) was extraordinary, as he tracked a solid pace and flew home his last quarter in :24 1/5. He showed his courage winning the BC Juvenile after tracking a blistering pace (:45 2/5, 1:10 1/5). Even though they crawled home, there were a lot of good horses behind him and he could be excused for regressing after his Champagne score and traveling cross-country. Based on his talent and accomplishments, this colt right now is in a class by himself.

4—Normandy Invasion (Chad Brown/Tapit) – The jury is still out on him, only because his female family is so speed-oriented, with broodmare sire Boston Harbor and great-grandsire Capote, and his tail-female family tracing to Royal Serenade, a champion sprinter in England. His third dam, Gay Serenade, did produce two-turn stakes horses Gulls Cry and Sole Mio (who made some noise on the Derby trail), but there is a lot of speed to overcome. With that said, his nose defeat in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes was one of the most impressive races by a 2-year-old last year, as he unleashed an explosive move on the far turn and was able to sustain it to the wire. At this point, we just don’t know if he hung a little at the end or the victorious Overanalyze ran his guts out to hold him off. Maybe it was a combination of both. We just have to decide whether he wants to keep going or whether he reached his limit at nine furlongs. For now, that move he made and the smoothness of his stride is enough to keep him in the Top 5.

5—Dewey Square (Dale Romans/Bernardini) – This well-bred son of Bernardini somehow wound up breaking his maiden by nearly 12 lengths at Hoosier Park before easily taking an allowance race at Churchill Downs. He then finished a strong third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the Kentucky Jockey Club. He’s been turning in some strong works at Gulfstream and should come out running in 2013. Love his inbreeding to Dr. Fager and Secretariat, with classic winners Pleasant Colony and Assert also in his female family. Add sire Bernardini and his descendants Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid and you have a ton of class, speed, and stamina top and bottom. Dale Romans is a heartbeat away from a Derby score, having finished third twice in the last three years with grass and synthetic horses. He finally has a pure dirt horse, who already has won at Churchill Downs.

6—He’s Had Enough (Doug O’Neill/Tapit) – One of the oddest race records we’ve seen for a young 3-year-old, and until he runs again you have to throw out his three out-of-the-money finishes on synthetic and grass and just go by his remarkable second, beaten a head, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he overcame a horrendous trip to just miss catching the 2-year-old champ. In his last start, the CashCall Futurity, he again had a bad trip, breaking slowly and dropping back to 11th and then getting bumped in the upper stretch. All things considered, his fifth-place finish wasn’t all that bad. His pedigree is strong on both ends. Third dam, Courtly Dee, a granddaughter of War Admiral, produced major stakes winners Althea, Native Courier, Twining, and this colt’s second dam, Aquilegia. He’ll follow last year’s Derby winner I’ll Have Another and debut in the Robert Lewis.

7—Uncaptured (Mark Casse/Lion Heart) – We don’t know how far his sire can carry him, but Lion Heart did win the Haskell and was runner-up in Smarty Jones’ Kentucky Derby. Although this colt’s tail-female family is pretty obscure, his dam is by Arch and he is inbred top and bottom to Hail to Reason, one of the great classic influences. With six victories in seven starts, he has a strong foundation, and his six wins have come at six different distances from 4 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. What is even more impressive is that he never tailed off, winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in his final start in one of the gutsiest performances of the year, defeating a tough colt in Frac Daddy and the aforementioned Dewey Square, who is ranked ahead of him based mainly on pedigree. In his previous start he trounced Belmont Futurity winner Overanalyze by eight lengths in the Iroquois, and that colt came back to win the Remsen. This colt looks like a throwback to the tough, hard-knocking horses of the past.

8—Overanalyze (Todd Pletcher/Dixie Union) – He is obviously a talented, gutsy colt, but he needs to show more consistency. His first two wins were followed by a well-beaten defeat (seven and eight lengths), but his victory in the Remsen over Normandy Invasion was a big effort, and you have to love it when they dig in the way he did. He’s been galloping steadily and reportedly is progressing beautifully for his debut. Pedigree isn’t exactly inundated with stamina, so we don’t know how much farther he wants to go, although we do like his broodmare sire, Unaccounted For, who spent the end of 1995 chasing Cigar.

9—Goldencents (Doug O’Neill/Into Mischief) – His victory in the Sham was more workmanlike, and he was a under a heavy barrage of whips by Kevin Krigger, who hit him about a dozen times left-handed and then eight times right-handed through a final eighth in :13 3/5. He’s by a relatively obscure stallion (until Saturday) and he has a relatively obscure tail-female family, and seemed one-dimensional until the Sham when he was outrun early by the Baffert-trained Manando and sat off the pace for the first time, which made this a big step forward. He is a flat-out runner with a world of speed and the ability to carry it a distance. How far, we still have no idea. Following his 7 1/4-length romp in his career debut going 5 1/2 furlongs over Del Mar’s Polytrack, he was ambitiously shipped east for the one-mile Champagne Stakes, coming with a ton of hype. Sent off at 7-2, he went to the front and ran hard the whole way, finishing second to Shanghai Bobby. Not being nominated to the Breeders’ Cup, he waited for the rich Delta Jackpot and scored a wire-to-wire victory, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Bern Identity. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here as far as looking like a classic-type horse.

10—Bern Identity (Kelly Breen/Bernstein) – He’s never run a bad race in seven starts and has proven to be a strong stretch runner, despite an abundance of speed in his pedigree and three unraced mares in his tail-female family. We don’t know how far he wants to go, but you can be sure he’ll be making a good deal of noise on the Derby trail. He broke his maiden by nearly 14 lengths going five furlongs at Belmont and followed that up with a classy score in the Sanford Stakes. After a lackluster third in the Hopeful, he won a prep for the Delta Jackpot by three lengths before closing strongly to finish second to Goldencents in the Jackpot. You had to love the way he was gobbling up ground down that short stretch. So far, it’s hard to knock him.

11—Frac Daddy (Kenny McPeek/Scat Daddy) – Hard to get a good grasp of his pedigree, as he seems to have a little of everything, but nothing outstanding. The Scat Daddys are runners, but we don’t know how far they want to go, and his broodmare sire Skip Away, hasn’t produced any classic horses. His tail-female family traces to Fast Hilarious, who had a ton of speed, but could carry it a mile and a quarter. And his great-grandsire, Fast Play, should give him some stamina. He nearly beat the far more experienced Uncaptured in the Kentucky Jockey Club, coming off a 9 3/4-length rout in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Churchill. He settles off the pace nicely and like several other top contenders this year, has good tactical speed. There are few more dangerous trainers than McPeek, who knows how to get a horse geared up for a big race.

12—Shakin It Up (Bob Baffert/Midnight Lute) – He’s improving with every start and was closing strongly to be finish third in the Hollywood Prevue. He had a few issues after that, but is back in serious training and has three strong works under him. Most are anxious to see him at two turns, considering he’s by sprint champ Midnight Lute, but remember, Midnight Lute is by Real Quiet, out of a Dehere mare and was only a sprinter because he had a breathing problem. Dam is by Vindication, out of Hall of Famer Silverbulletday, so his pedigree is all Baffert top and bottom. His tail-female family has strong Rokeby Stable blood combined with stamina influence Tom Rolfe.

13—Fury Kapcori (Jerry Hollendorfer/Tiznow) – He’s tough, has plenty of speed, and can carry it. His only two victories have come at Fresno and Golden Gate, but strong seconds in the CashCall Futurity and Real Quiet stamp him as a class horse. Any son of Tiznow with speed and class has to be respected as a tough competitor and he fits that bill. In fact, he can boast of having a two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner as sire and a front-running Kentucky Derby winner (Go For Gin) as broodmare sire. He won’t get much help from his tail-female family. Hollendorfer always dangerous, but has had tough luck on the Derby trail. Back working at Hollywood.

14—Capo Bastone (Todd Pletcher/Street Boss) – He’s been turned over to Pletcher and is now another foot soldier in that vast army of Derby hopefuls. Street Boss, a pure sprinter, may turn some off, but Street Boss is by Street Cry, out of an Ogygian mare, so don’t let that bother you too much. His broodmare sire is Handicap Triple Crown winner Fit to Fight. Not much going on in tail-female family. He’s been progressing from race to race, finishing fourth in the Del Mar Futurity, third in the FrontRunner, and a fast-closing third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He should like the tracks back east.

15—Dynamic Sky (Mark Casse/Sky Mesa) – His only dirt appearance was a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but we saw enough in that race to believe he is a live future book longshot. Every one of his four career starts has been in stakes and he broke his maiden in the Simcoe Stakes at Woodbine in a gutsy performance. After a good second in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, he hit the dirt at Santa Anita and was moving inside Power Broker on the turn when Capo Bastone came charging inside him and basically wiped him out, shoving him out into Power Broker and putting him in a tight squeeze with two horses leaning on him from both sides. His jock finally bailed out and then yanked him hard to the inside. By then he was pretty much done, but still was beaten only 5 1/4 lengths. Casse emerging as an elite trainer, and owner John Oxley won the Derby with Monarchos.

16—Mylute (Tom Amoss/Midnight Lute) – He’s certainly well seasoned with seven starts and he appears to be improving with each one. His second to Bern Identity in the Jean Lafitte stamped him as a colt with promise, and he followed that up with a strong third in the Delta Jackpot behind Goldencents and Bern Identity. Sent to Fair Grounds, he decimated a good allowance field by 10 3/4 lengths going a mile and 70 yards. Finishing second was the highly regarded General Election, who was coming off an impressive three-length maiden score at Churchill Downs. His broodmare sire, Valid Expectations, is known more for speed than stamina, but it does give him 5x4 inbreeding to In Reality, and his maternal great grandsire is Strike the Gold, who is a rare find in American pedigrees. He also traces to Al Hattab, and they don’t come any tougher than that hard-knocking gray.

17—Itsmyluckyday (Eddie Plesa Jr./Lawyer Ron) – Have no idea what to make of this colt. He came up through the ranks at Monmouth and then Calder, where he won back-to-back stakes at five furlongs and a mile and 70 yards. He can be excused for his sixth in the Delta Jackpot, and his fast-closing fourth in the Dania Beach on grass was a good effort. But who could have predicted he’d win the Gulfstream Park Derby by 6 3/4 lengths in a startling 1:34 1/5 for the mile. And this after stalking a :44 4/5 half and 1:09 three-quarters. He still came home his final two eighths in a respectable :12 2/5 and :12 3/5. He should handle longer distances, and other than his sire being inbred 5x5 way on top to Nearctic, he is pretty much an outcross. His next against better company will tell a lot.

18—Delhomme (Todd Pletcher/Dixie Union) – He hung tough after setting all the pace in the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes, finishing third and getting beat only three-quarters of a length. Prior to that, he broke his maiden on the front end at Belmont, covering the mile in a sharp 1:35 2/5. He did, however, come from sixth to finish second in his career debut at Saratoga going six furlongs. Dixie Union, as everyone knows, sired last year’s Belmont winner, dispelling doubts he couldn’t sire a distance horse. His broodmare sire, Out of Place, won the Clark and placed in the Whitney and Donn Handicaps among others, and his maternal great-grandsire is El Prado, so distance should not be a problem. He would move up with a good debut coming from off the pace.

19—Brown Almighty (Tim Ice/Big Brown) – This is another horse who had a horrible trip in the Breeders’ Cup; his coming in the Juvenile Turf. After breaking from the outside, he was moved prematurely on the backstretch to take the lead, normally the kiss of death on the grass. He hung tough and was still right there in the upper stretch when Fantastic Moon and Kieran Fallon ducked in sharply and knocked him off stride and into a crowd of horses. Desormeaux had to take up, and pretty much wrapped up on him and let him coast to the wire. So, ignore that ninth-place finish and hope he takes to the dirt at Oaklawn. He is a stakes winner at Louisiana Downs and was beaten a neck in the Sunday Silence Stakes and 1 1/2 lengths in the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland. The Big Browns should handle the dirt, but his tail-female family is pretty obscure. Broodmare sire Gone For Real is a son of Gone West, out of a Drone mare, and Drone is one of those hidden gems.

20—Balance the Books (Chad Brown/Lemon Drop Kid) – All his races have been on grass and his tail-female family is mostly European grass breeding, but the rest of his pedigree cries dirt and that’s where we’d like to see him next. By Lemon Drop Kid, out of a Seeking the Gold mare and inbred 4x4 to Buckpasser, that’s pretty much all you need to know. He is a relentless and powerful stretch runner and came flying late to win the With Anticipation and Bourbon Stakes before finishing a fast-closing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, coming from 12th in a 14-horse field and encountering traffic problems in the stretch. It’s time to see if he’s a Derby horse. If he doesn’t handle the dirt, no harm done. But if he does, watch out. We’d have him ranked higher, but he hasn’t worked since the Breeders’ Cup.

21—Gulfport (Dale Romans/Unbridled’s Song) – It wouldn’t be the Derby trail without a talented Unbridled’s Song and wondering if he’ll stay sound. This colt, out of the million-dollar earner Dream Supreme, is one of those horses who has excelled only at Churchill Downs, where he has two victories and a second, while getting beat 7 1/2 and eight lengths in his two starts at Belmont and Saratoga. But his last two races at Churchill were very impressive and he recently turned in a six-furlong drill in 1:12 2/5 at Gulfstream. Now we just have to see how he’ll handle Gulfstream in the afternoon and how far he wants to go.

22—Den’s Legacy (Bob Baffert/Medaglia d’Oro) – He needed to run a big race in the Sham to wipe out his poor FrontRunner performance, which was his only start on the dirt in eight career starts. He ran well enough, but had the perfect ground-saving trip and looked like a potential winner after cutting the corner into the stretch. But he didn’t show much punch through the stretch and just sort of plodded his way into second through a final eighth in :13 3/5. His female family is OK, especially his inbreeding to Tom Fool. Baffert has several maiden winners that probably are higher on his radar, but you have to at least admire his consistency and ability to handle all surfaces.

23—Avie’s Quality (Josie Carroll/Elusive Quality) – Although Elusive Quality sired Smarty Jones, there is always the question of stamina with his offspring. However, this colt has run four times, all around two turns, and his last two victories – the Display and a maiden race – were impressive enough to suggest he wants to keep going. There is also the matter of his never having run on dirt. You can’t tell much from his two slow breezes at Palm Meadows. His broodmare sire, Lord Avie, recently died at age 34 and he would be a fitting legacy to a tough, gallant warrior. His maternal great-grandsire is the classy Arctic Tern, a son of Sea-Bird, and his third dam is by the stamina influence Pretense, so his female family should carry him a long way if he handles the dirt. If you’re a follower of the Rasmussen Factor (RI), he is inbred to Somethingroyal through Secretariat on top and Sir Gaylord on bottom.

24—Fortify (*Kiaran McLaughlin/Distorted Humor) – Finishing second in the Hopeful, third in the Champagne, and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and having a strong pedigree top and bottom normally would put him a lot higher, but he’s been sent to Dubai, so we have no idea how much progress he’ll be making at 3 and how he will handle the Tapeta surface at Meydan. Even if he does handle it, will racing on that surface help him get to the Derby as a legitimate contender? Way too many question marks with him to rank him any higher. Love his inbreeding top and bottom to Tom Rolfe.

25—Tulira Castle (James DeVito/War Pass) – He’s alternated wins and seconds in his four starts and is coming off a strong allowance victory at Gulfstream going a mile in his dirt debut. He now needs to step up and face better quality horses. He certainly has the pedigree. Although we don’t know much about War Pass as a sire yet, his potential is unlimited and this colt’s female family is chock full of intriguing horses you don’t see in many pedigrees, such as broodmare sire General Assembly (Record-breaking Travers winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up to Spectacular Bid), Unconscious (California Derby winner and favorite for the 1971 Kentucky Derby), and Unconscious’ sire Prince Royal II (a son of Ribot who won the 1964 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe). And his fourth generation sire in his tail-female family is Tom Fool, who rarely appears that close up in a pedigree anymore.

Others to watch -- Archwarrior Remember him? He was once the next coming…before he even started. So strong was the hype preceding his debut, many felt his 3 1/4-length victory was below their expectations, despite running the six furlongs in 1:10 flat. He still was bet down to 3-1 in the Champagne Stakes, but after a lackluster fourth-place finish, he pretty much disappeared. He returned to the work tab with an easy three-furlong breeze on Dec. 24, but we’re still waiting for his next work. Vyjack remained undefeated with a gutsy win in the Jerome, but the two horses he beat were 41-1 and 39-1, so we don’t really know the quality of the field. He still has to prove he wants any part of classic distances. Runner-up Siete de Oros, a Parx shipper, battled gamely the length of the stretch with blinkers on. Purple Egg, undefeated in three starts and a stakes winner at Tampa, was scratched out of the Gulfstream Derby, so we'll have to watch him closely. Avare looked impressive winning the off-the-turf Eddie Logan Stakes, but we really don’t know what he beat and he still has questions to answer. Manando ran a big race in the Sham, coming off a maiden victory and hanging on stubbornly to finish third after outrunning Goldencents early. Bradester and Gunderman ran one-two in a recent allowance race at Gulfstream, but the latter lost a lot of ground and was coming back at Bradester at the finish. My Name is Michael ran a strong second in the Display Stakes at Woodbine, but has never run on dirt. Maryland-based Whiskey Romeo is bred for speed, but has been untouchable in three career starts. Always in a Tiz finished second to Vyjack in an allowance race after breaking his maiden in his career debut. Forty Tales looked good winning an allowance race at Parx for Pletcher and is now two-for-two. Distinctiv Passion is a fast horse who’s won two in a row sprinting in California, but distance is a big question, despite maternal great-grandsire Greinton. Same with Spectacular Bid winner Merit Man. Look for third-place finisher Little Distorted to improve stretching out. Smooth Bert is a solid New York-bred who won the Damon Runyon going a mile in his last start. Two Pletcher colts, Darwin and Micromanage, have a ton of ability, but probably will be heard from later on.
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MAIDEN WINNERS

1—Verrazano (Todd Pletcher/More Than Ready) – His career debut was a near-perfect victory, in which he did displayed a good deal of class for a first-time starter. There is always the question of distance with his sire, but he is a half-brother to last year’s highly ranked Derby contender El Padrino. He settled nicely in third and seemed comfortable tracking a :22 1/5 and :45 flat pace. He cruised up to the leader at the head of the stretch, switched leads on cue, and drew off with complete authority under a hand ride, while striding out beautifully at the finish. He has good length to him and appears to be a powerful, well balanced colt.

2—Revolutionary (Todd PLetcher/War Pass) – There is no telling how good this colt is and how much room for improvement he has after breaking his maiden in his fourth start going a flat mile. What was more impressive than his 8 1/2-length margin and how effortlessly he drew off was the fact that he did it while racing very greenly in the stretch. He was on such cruise control down the lane that Ramon Dominguez turned around to see if anyone was near him. Whether the colt was getting bored or was just green, he switched leads three times in the final sixteenth. He changed to his right lead turning for home and seemed to be moving smoothly when he switched back to his left lead for two strides, then back to his right lead, and back to his left nearing the wire. We loved the way he was striding out and how strong he was galloping out. His female family is loaded with class and stamina (out of an A.P. Indy mare), and his tail-female family traces to fourth-generation stallions Tom Rolfe and Herbager, two of the great stamina influences of our time.

3—Flashback (Bob Baffert/Tapit) – He was highly touted going into his debut and lived up to the billing, drawing off to a 3 1/2-length victory after settling nicely in fourth early, while about seven off the rail. He changed leads smoothly, and after a single cross by Julien Leparoux, drew clear while throwing his ears around. Love the fact that this was a seven-furlong race, which made it more a test of class than pure speed. Third-place finisher, Appealing Tale, came back to break his maiden at a mile by 6 1/4 lengths. His broodmare sire, Mr. Greeley, isn’t known for stamina, but his tail-female family has Pleasant Colony in the third generation and Nijinsky in the fourth, and he’s inbred 4x4 to Nijinsky. The only issue we have right now is the fact that he’s had physical problems since that race and we’ll have to monitor his progress very closely. With only the one start, there isn’t much room for error or any setbacks.

4—Omega Star (John Shirreffs/Candy Ride) – From a visual standpoint, he was as impressive as anyone, displaying a combination of class, speed, and professionalism in his first start since being transferred from Jimmy Jerkens to Shirreffs. Breaking from the disadvantageous rail going 6 1/2 furlongs, he eased back to seventh, while rating beautifully for Corey Nakatani. With swift fractions of :21 4/5 and :45, he bided him time patiently, waiting for an opening. As soon as a seam developed, he just glided right through, opened a clear lead and drew off under no urging in the slightest, showing off his long, fluid strides, in much the same manner as his broodmare sire, Fusaichi Pegasus. You might say his stride was somewhere between his sire’s and broodmare sire’s. Love his inbreeding top and bottom to Lyphard and having Roberto in his tail-female family. If you’re not familiar with his maternal great-grandsire Alzao, he is the broodmare sire of Japanese superstar Deep Impact.

5—Mountain Eagle (Nick Zito/Birdstone) – This is the best of the Whitney family blood, with Birdstone on top and Silver Spoon on bottom through her classy, well-bred daughter Inca Queen.  With a pedigree likes this, it is unfortunate he had to be gelded. After a decent fourth at 29-1 in his debut at Churchill Downs, he turned in a huge effort stretching out to a mile at Gufstream, tracking the pace and then coming home his last quarter in :24 2/5, while drawing off to win by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:35 4/5. The fact that he was able to accomplish that while never switching leads makes you wonder how much he can improve if he gets his lead changes straightened out.

6—War Academy (Bob Baffert/Giant’s Causeway) – Pedigree-wise, it doesn’t get much better, with Giant’s Causeway on top, broodmare sire A.P. Indy, and a strong tail-female family, with Gone West and Nureyev and the classy mare Gay Missile. His career debut going 6 1/2 furlongs wasn’t anything flashy, but he showed all the signs of a good horse. Settling off the pace in third, he was hard-ridden on the turn, responded to a left-hand whip and ran hard to put away his stablemate Denzel, while being forced out a bit in the stretch. We love the way he built up momentum in the final furlong and the way he was striding out at the finish.

7—Belvin (Bob Baffert/Empire Maker) – Another impressive Baffert maiden winner, he was coming off a strong fast-closing second in his career debut to Distinctiv Passion, who came back to win an allowance race on the front end in 1:08 3/5. Although he had to battle for a length victory in his next start, after sitting just off the pace, it was a fast-run race, with blazing fractions of :21 3/5 and :44 2/5 and a final time of 1:14 4/5 for the 6 1/2 furlongs. He showed a lot of fight, turning back the serious challenge of Forest Boy, who came charging up alongside him in the upper stretch. But he dug in and was easing clear at the wire before opening up by five lengths on the gallop-out. He is inbred top and bottom to In Reality, one of the more potent inbreeding stallions of recent years.

8—Appealing Tale (Peter Miller/Tale of the Cat) – Stamina is a question mark, but he did break his maiden going a mile, while drawing off to a 6 1/4-length victory in his third start. In his previous start, he was third behind Flashback and Mentor Kane. He has good tactical speed and is showing marked improvement with every start. By Tale of the Cat, out of an Unbridled’s Song mare, and Valid Appeal his maternal great-grandsire, there are major distance concerns, but the way he’s been running, he should be effective at least up to a mile and an eighth.

9—Palace Malice (Todd Pletcher/Curlin) – He hasn’t run since his impressive maiden score at Saratoga Aug. 4, but has been working steadily at Palm Meadows. In his career debut he was beaten a half-length by the talented Carried Interest, and then captured a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race by 3 1/2 lengths in a sharp 1:16 2/5. This is an appropriate year for Cot Campbell and Dogwood to finally land the roses, and this colt certainly has the pedigree. The Curlins have come out running, and broodmare sire, Royal Anthem, was a classy horse who could run all day. Tail-female fourth generation is strong, with Roberto and BC Classic winner Skywalker.

10—Declan’s Warrior (Nick Zito/Majestic Warrior) – Not much to tell yet based on his only start back in October at Belmont, in which he closed like a rocket from far back to just get up by a neck going 5 1/2  furlongs in a sprightly 1:03 4/5. Sent off at 34-1, he dropped back to last from the rail and saved ground every step of the way. He closed relentlessly after appearing to beaten at the eighth pole. His most recent work was a sharp three-furlong drill in :35 flat. Not quite sure about Majestic Warrior as a classic sire, but he is by A.P. Indy, out of a Seeking the Gold mare. No distance concerns at all in female family, tracing to Hail to Reason, Herbager, Northern Dancer, and Prince John.

(We wanted to put Orb on the list off his mile maiden score in November, but he had one work in Florida on Dec. 24 and hasn’t worked back. We’ll keep an eye on him on the work tab.

92 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Old Old Cat

First year of the new selection criteria.  It's going to be interesting when people complain that their horse could not make the cut with better credentials (money won) than some of the entrants.

I love your intermingling of the pedigree with the actual race situations and results.  Great column as usual.

07 Jan 2013 3:38 PM
SAK MAN

Happy New Year Steve,

It is never too early in the year to think and talk the Triple Crown Trail. I agree an exciitng array of new three year olds. I just saw the Santa Anita Derby nominations and Baffert has 25 nominated!!!

But I will still take my chances with BROWN ALMIGHTY. I am glad to see you have him ranked but don't move him up too high for his odds will drop too much. LOL

I have been impressed with him since I saw him break his maiden at Arlington Park last summer. He has been on the lawn up to now but that has been the plan of trainer Tim Ice.

BA has worked four times on the dirt at Oaklawn Park, the route he will take to the Derby,and I think he likes it. Two bullet works in a row with yesterday's work at 5F 1/28.

Go Brownie!!

SAK MAN

07 Jan 2013 4:30 PM
allatime

Nice opening list.  Have you heard anything if Balance the Books will try the dirt.  Will be interesting to see happens if the late prep races all get overfilled with entries and some nice horses are left on the also-eligible list or some nice horses start drawing the 12, 13 and 14th post positions in the final rounds of preps.

07 Jan 2013 4:32 PM
jjjjeff

Hi Steve,

I wonder if you (or anyone else) can confirm an injury to Gulfport that will keep him off the Derby trail.

This was mentioned yesterday on A.P. Indy's twitter site.

Thanks,

Jeff

07 Jan 2013 5:21 PM
hbc

Excellent article steve. Have you heard any news about George Vancouver? Has a fantastic pedigree!

07 Jan 2013 5:32 PM
rojthedoj

  Thanks for satisfying the hunger for in depth cogent info on the march toward the triple crown. Always insightful in trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Racing has taken such a back seat, that one usually can only find pablum about the sport.                                 Your hard work and love for the ponies are truly appreciated.                                         ROJTHEDOJ

07 Jan 2013 5:34 PM
Cassandra.Says

I hope you can sneak a peek at the older division sometime between now and the Derby: who's coming back, who's going to Australia via Dubai, and how far up the ladder Scorpion Warrior will go.

Four-year-old has only been beaten by two horses: best of the rest behind Majestic City and lapped on 2nd to I'll Have Another. Breaking his maiden after an 18-month absence he ran 21.75, 44.47, 56.33, 1:08.36. What class horse breaks 22 at the start and finishes in 12 flat? Professionally and effortlessly, too.

07 Jan 2013 5:49 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Welcome back Steve, you were missed!  Happy New Year to you and hope you had a great few weeks off.  Any Zenyatta visits in there to carry us through January?  This is a wonderful article and a great attempt at deciphering the early contenders.  I'm more than ready, I say bring it on!!!! I've "had enough" of winter already, I HATE IT!!!  Ok, ok, ABF, chill out, we get it, we get it.......you hate winter!  Bring on the Derby!

Pletcher looks to be holding the early trump card with Violence and Shanghai Bobby.  I like these two right now, but so much can change.  And I definitely agree, strength in numbers doesn't guarantee a staring berth, or anything for that matter.  So many succombed to injuries last year, too many.  I hope this year is different.  

Well now we certainly have a war theme going on with these names.  If there is Malice in the Palace they all better go to the War Academy and learn how to stop the Violence.  Declan's Warrior and Archwarrior (yep, I remember him talking through the stall hole in Saratoga!) will need to counterattack the Normandy Invasion in Dewey Square and avert a Revolutionary war.  Ofcourse it's gonna take a Power Broker like Shanghai Bobby to Fortify the troops and keep Shakin It Up.  Ok, we cannot Overanalyze this!  

Please update us on Paynter when you have a chance Steve.  Is he settled back in Baffert's barn now?  I am so thrilled those two are reunited.  

07 Jan 2013 6:10 PM
Ranagulzion

Welcome back Steve ...been waiting patiently for your first column on this year's triple crown trail. I notice that you've avoided any comment on the hot topic of the new points system ...I presume you like the change based upon your opinions in previous years. Looking forward to your up-to-date remarks this issue.

Your prelimenary list of Derby hopefuls is quite comprehensive except for the omissions of the impressive BCJ Turf champion George Vancouver and Michael Trombetta's crackerjack maiden winner Ore Pass. Its too early to really argue on rankings given that the last 2YO season didn't show us a lot but interesting days are ahead.

07 Jan 2013 6:25 PM
Alwaysnortherndancer

Here we go again !  Happy to see you back Steve ! AQlways , always look forward to your columns. Just compared my list with yours.

There are a couple fillies I like from the BC Juvie Fillies 1-2 finish,, but wih point system in place, I don't know how likely it is we'll see a filly run.......so my Canadian heart says "Go Uncaptured "

My head says...Violence or Normandy Invasion ( the latter of whom ought to be Canadian with that name ! )

Fasten your seat belts !!!

07 Jan 2013 6:37 PM
Kathy Weightman

Happy New Year, and how exciting to be starting back down the Derby Road!  I've been keeping a list of young'ns who have either impressed me or whose pedigrees attract me. Many of yours are included and I particularly like Violence, Verrazano, Belvin, Uncaptured and Fury Kapcori.  I thought Belvin's maiden win was not only impressive, but the 2nd and 3rd finishers have a lot of promise as well.  Forest Boy was a strong second (Forestry-Belvedere Miss by Pleasant Colony) and Footbridge was really rolling at the end for third (Street Cry-Thousand Islands by Dubai Millenium). LOVE his pedigree for distance.  

Let the games begin!

07 Jan 2013 7:10 PM
The Deacon

'And so it begins', a new season of hope, excitement and tough handicapping. Like the top 2 Steve, after that right now for me,its way too early. Somewhere in this list is probably the Derby winner though.

07 Jan 2013 7:58 PM
jackson

What/happened/to/Sky/Captain/a/son/of/Sky/Mesa..he/was/a/maiden/winner

last/July//regally/bred/but/disappeared?

07 Jan 2013 9:42 PM
josh

Love your analysis Steve, as always.

I completely agree with you analysis of Violence, seems to have no knocks right now.

However,I am really looking forward to Normandy Invasion this year. I think he has the perfect mix of speed and his Dam's side and Stamina on his sire's side. Tapit will be a Classic winning sire. Tapit was more mild than the other sons of Pulpit, plus his female line is full of stamina, Tap Your Heels by Unbridled with her dam's sire being Nijinsky II. Also, his nose loss in the Remsen, at the top of the stretch he was 10 lengths behind!

I am looking forward to your Derby Dozen list, Steve!

07 Jan 2013 10:18 PM
Senator L

You always earn your paycheck Steve

Thanks for all your hardwork.

It seems like we're due to have a filly race again. Is that something that wouldn't be decided until the last minute or do trainers like to try them against boys right away?

07 Jan 2013 10:30 PM
Karen in Texas

So glad you're back, Steve! It's very early for picking the serious contenders, but I know I want Palace Malice to come back 100% and ready to roll. I appreciate that your lists are always quite comprehensive.

jjjjeff---I think Gulfport is off the Trail.

www.allhorseracing.ag/.../injury-report

07 Jan 2013 10:54 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Pletcher has at least ten of these colts on here to micromanage, including micromanaging Micromanage himself!!!  (Couldn't resist that one!)

A Happy Birthday wish to Bob Baffert for this Sunday, Jan. 13.

07 Jan 2013 11:14 PM
Coldfacts

No mention of following colts:

Whiskey Romeo (Forstry – Yoursmineours by Belong To Me) He is one of the most exciting undefeated colt around.  Champion 2&3YO Lookin At Luck was produced from A Belong To me mare.  Preakness winner Shackleford and UAE Derby winner Discreet Cat were both sired by Forestry. This colt has breath taking speed and covers ground effortlessly. The 3r place finisher in the Jerome was  whipped by him like rented mule. The Hutchinson is likely to the  scene be his next massacre.

Orb ( Malibu Moon – Lady Liberty by Unbridled) He was third to Violence after spotting him 5L due to a poor start. He was only beaten 1 1/2L closing from another zip code. If Violence is ranked #1, I think this colt merits mention.

Fear The Kitten (Kittens Joy – Dynarhytm by Dynaformer) This colt finished 5th in the Kentucky Jockey Club stakes beaten 4-5L closing from a long distance last. Three of the four colts that finished ahead of him have been mentioned. Dewey Square was just 3 1/2L ahead of him. He was the only colt in the race that closed significant ground in what was a slowly run race. Hes gives the impression he will run all dayr. The same cannot be said for the likes of Uncaptured and Frac Daddy who finished ahead of him.  

Mr. Palmer (Pulpit – In Truth by Quiet American) In all three of his starts he closed from either last or one position better. He has a very fluent galloping action and gives every indication that longer is better.  Quiet American mares have produced BCC and Preakness winners Saint Liam and Bernardini. His second dam was sired by Believe It who was dam sire of Derby winner Real Quite.  I think he is better than fellow Pulpit Power Broker.

Long River (A P Indy – Round Pond by Awesome Again) Both sire and dam sire won the 10F Breeder Cup Classic. He was disappointing in the recently contested Jerome but is regally bred and faith should not be lost. He will stay 10F easily and has shown enough ability to keep supporters interested. He will be better at 9F and longer.

Foot Bridge  (Street Cry – Thousand Island by Dubai Millennium) Both sire and dam sire won the 10F Dubai World Cup. He was and encouraging 3rd on debut behind Melvin. He was drawn on the inside and took a lot of dirt before being switched outside for his run. He closed powerfully but was wrapped up after it was clear the two ahead would not be caught. Street Cry has sired a Derby, Breeder Cup Classic and Melbourne Cup winner. Dubai Millennium sired 54 foals in his only crop. One of his mares produced the winner of 2011 Dubai World Cup. Both Street Cry and Dubai Millennium were assigned Time Form ratings exceeding 130. If Foot Bridge runs to his pedigree the Derby field will be at his mercy.  

08 Jan 2013 12:54 AM
Baby Jane Towser

Any opinions on the Zito/Whitney maiden winner Eton Blue - not sure what to make of his victory but he is by Giant's Causeway out of Bird Town and is inbred 3x3 to Storm Bird, just like champion Summer Bird, who is by Birdstone, Bird Town's half brother.

08 Jan 2013 1:31 AM
Amy Hurley

Welcome back, Steve!  I love to read your comments on the Triple Crown Trail, and look forward to it every year to help get through the long, cold winters.  It's never too early to start talking Derby!  Agree with your evaluation of the well-known elements.  But what do you think about a couple of mid-Atlantic-based runners from smaller outfits?  Whiskey Romeo had looked very good at Laurel for Tony Dutrow, but may have distance limitations.  Also, Res Judicata looked good for John Servis (and by Smarty Jones, no less), prior to losing a recent stakes at Parx.  What do you think of these two as potential longshot Triple Crown (e.g. Preakness) hopefuls?  

08 Jan 2013 4:43 AM
Auburndee

Hi Steve,

Love Omega Star (that beautiful, EASY stride,) but that was Julien Leparoux on board.  (I follow the Candies, and I remember JL breaking Capt Candyman Can's maiden: nice Karma.)

08 Jan 2013 7:19 AM
JerseyBoy

Welcome back Steve. Excellent list.

I cannot say more than you have said about Violence. He has been the goods so far. Let us hope he stays sound. It is his race to lose at this point.

However, I can see the headlines and the feigned indignation they would generate:

-Violence wins

-Violence triumphs

-Embrace Violence

-Why I love Violence

It should be a nice ride.

08 Jan 2013 8:57 AM
Karen in Texas

So glad you're back, Steve! As always, you've compiled an excellent and comprehensive Derby list. At this point I just hope to see Palace Malice come back strong and ready to roll!

jjjjeff---I tried to submit a link last P.M. showing a statement by Romans saying Gulfport is, in fact, injured and off the Derby Trail. For some reason my comment has not been posted, but you should be able to Google his name and locate the source.

08 Jan 2013 10:47 AM
Steve Haskin

Orb WAS mentioned. Purple Egg and WhiskeyRomeo have been added to Others to Watch. Titletown Five hasn't worked since October.

Sorry to hear about Gulfport. He looked like a good one.

Balance the Books also hasnt worked in a while. If he comes back OK I imagine he'll be tried on dirt with his pedigree.

08 Jan 2013 11:06 AM
Karen in Texas

Since I'm being Little Miss Information this morning....the above link shows Titletown Five out 60-90 days with a knee chip.

08 Jan 2013 11:37 AM
TripleCrownKaren

There is a lot to like in this current crop of KY Derby contenders.   I really love the Dr. Fager/Secretariat connection of DEWEY SQUARE and I think Dale Romans is LONG overdue to get "his" Derby.   I'm also keeping an eye on my "Tiznow" connections as i really think his offspring have inherited his "fight" when it comes to eyeballing the competition in the deep stretch.....they just don't spit the bit when the going gets tough.    I think I'm going to have fun watching this develop.    Fuggedabout the Super Bowl.......it's TRIPLE CROWN time!!  :)

08 Jan 2013 12:09 PM
Coldfacts

Violence:

1ts Saratoga 7F, MSW in 1:22.91 by a neck over Title Town Five  

1st Nashua in 1:35.32 by 2L over Vegas No Show

1st Cash Call Futurity 1:43.50 by 1 1/4L over Fury Kapcori

Three victories by a combined 3 ¼ lengths and he is the number on ranked colt. To Honor and Serve and Buddy’s Saint won the Nashua in 1:35.86 and 1:35.67 respectively. I do not recall any of two being ranked #1. The winning time of 1:43.50 for the 2012 Cash Call Futurity would have been the slowest in the last 13 renewals if not for Comma To The Top’s 1:44.72 recorded in 2010.

He is a nice colt but could not be considered as either dominant or overly impressive in any of his victories. In his last he was fully extended for 11/4L victory. Was he running away from the runner up and 3rd place colts? No! How much more capacity for improvement does he have over those that he has failed to dominate? His undefeated stable companion Shanghia Bobby has won 5 races including two Gl and is a far more impressive and has won against better company.  Goldencents has three victories from 4 start and his only loss came at the hands of the champion 2YO designate. Like Violence he too defeated Dan’s Legacy handily. Is Violence better than Goldencents? I do not think so as it took Shanghia Bobby to lower his colors.

While I recognize that Violence’s pedigree is screaming 10F, this is not sufficient justification for his #1 ranking. If the ranking is based on who will be best able to get 10F then Uncle Mo should never have been ranked #1

08 Jan 2013 12:13 PM
TerriZ

Welcome back Steve Haskin and wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year. Thanks for such an informative article.

Another nice maiden to add to your list is Play It Loud; he won his initial race on turf at one mile at Gulfstream on 1/1/13 in the 6th race. His sire is Unbridled's Song and his mare, Bisharpsonata is by Pulpit. He was ridden by Johnny V and has been trained by Michelle Nihei. If you get a chance, look up his race video.

As far as fillies go, look out for Private Ensign by AP Indy; her grand dam is Personal Ensign and she is trained by Dale Romans. Is she grandma's girl? Only time and racing will tell. She too, won her maiden.

08 Jan 2013 12:13 PM
Pedigree Ann

Just a few addenda to your pedigree precis:

Uncaptured's female line is not so much obscure as it is pure Canadian. Both Rold Ruckus and Right Combination were top sires Up North and the family has produced a whole raft of Canadian SWs, including champion Giboulee, of whom you may have heard. Uncaptured's SP 3rd dam is also a half-sister to the dam of Italian Derby winner Bahamian Knight.

Fury Kapcori's female line comes from Florida via Del Mar SW Evil Elaine, dam of juvenile champion Favorite Trick (son of Phone Trick) and Keeneland SP-er Crafty and Evil. The latter had only one foal, winner Gin Running, dam of San Gorgonio (G2-9f) winner Tizfiz, Turf Paradise Derby (8.5f) winner Dixie Commander, and Fury Kapcori. 'Fury' is a full to Tizfiz, so is likely to get the 9f of Derby preps, maybe even more.

Not much is going on in Capo Bastone's family because his dam was the only foal of the second dam, who was in turn one of but 3 foals from the SW third dam, two of them female. But the fourth dam Quadruple was also dam of French group winner Tobin Lad plus another SW and two SP horses. This is more Canadian stuff (with van rides to Ky), with SWs like Fantasy Lake, British Banker, Why Change and Exclusive One (a sire in Brasil).

Belvin has the handicap of being a half-sibling to top sprinter Apriority and another sprint SW. Perhaps Empire Maker can overcome the sprint-producing tendency of the dam, or perhaps not. Wait and see.

08 Jan 2013 12:50 PM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, thank you once again for pointing out all the flaws in the rankings...as you do with everyone else's top 3-year-olds. I'm sure yours are more worthy. I dont know what your concept of a Derby winner is, but if you have followed the Derby you'd know that winning your early races by huge margins and in fast times does not bode well for being at your peak on Derby Day. A prep means just that. And how do you know how good Fury Kapcori is..or anyone this early in their career? There is more to the Derby than statistics and margins and times. Once in a while you should add some visual opinions to back up your comments and morass of statistics. The big challenge is finding Derby winners with your eyes and not with mere numbers and baseless comments. I've been following the Derby for 45 years and I'm still learning new things every year, and admit it is all speculation. Trust me, you will enjoy the Derby trail more if you didn't know everything.

08 Jan 2013 1:10 PM
JerseyBoy

Coldfacts:

In the Wynn Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Kentucky Derby favorite is Violence. On Steve’s list the horse ranked number 1 at the moment is Violence. You disagree with Steve’s ranking.

This is always an easy route to take because when you oppose a specific horse in a potentially large field you risk only one chance of being wrong but you have several chances of being right.

Rather than just saying that Violence should not be ranked number 1, why don’t you name the horse you feel should be ranked number 1 at this stage. Name that horse and that horse only.

08 Jan 2013 2:00 PM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

Glad to see your list again.  It's become a real January-May tradition for me.

Go easy on ColdFacts.  He has a brusque blog manner.  

Anybody have thought on Goldencents' pedigree?  

08 Jan 2013 2:00 PM
Ranagulzion

Karen in Texas,

You're awesome with those timely information links. Happy new year to you.

Well I guess the Unbridled Songs are never to be trusted on the triple crown trail ...Gulfport is sidelined before he even got started. This is quite disappointing for me as I was really looking forward to his appearance in the Holy Bull stakes later this month. Also classy million dollar colt Darwin is off the trail on a break ...at least he's one to look forward to in the summer.

For now my sentimental choices are the Pletcher trio of Overanalyze, Violence, Archwarrior, Mike Trombetta's speedball, Ore Pass and Bob Baffert's Shakin it Up.  Hope these remain sound.

08 Jan 2013 2:25 PM
Mary Zinke

The one whose races I like best so far is #23, Avie's Quality.  Also, of course wishing good luck to Fury Kapcori. Hopefully, he will set back off of the pace a little.  I see that the Bashford Manner winner, Circle Unbroken, has been working out at Fair Grounds. Not so sure about him having a pedigree for the Derby.  Any word on the one that beat him at Mountaineer, Maybe So?  

08 Jan 2013 2:51 PM
hank

Finally it is time again for the best of the best, your weekly dozen picks for derby, One question D Wayne Lucas has a real nice two year TitleTown Five you have not mentioned him at all or I missed it, Do you have any reports on him?

08 Jan 2013 3:25 PM
Coldfacts

Rusty Weisner

Brusque: abrupt: abrupt, blunt, or curt in manner or speech in no doubt.

I meant neither Mr. Haskin nor the fans of Violence any disrespect. If my post was received in this light then they have my humblest apology.

I was just puzzled as to Mr. Haskin’s rational for ranking Violence #1 ahead of his stable companion Shanghia Bobby who is likewise unbeaten, boosts a far superior race record and show the grit and determination of champion racehorse in winning the BCJ. His response provided some insight. I am still of the opinion that the cold facts do not support his #1 ranking but I am well aware that the same facts can lead to  different opinions.

I do not believe I am abrupt. As usual I try to provide facts that gives insight into the basis of my disagreements. In retrospect I could have stated that I respectfully disagreed with the ranking. However, I was of the opinion that Mr. Haskin is aware that all his supporters have nothing but immense respect for his body of work and disagreements are not accompanied with disrespect.

08 Jan 2013 4:08 PM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, I never said you were disrespectful, and I certainly dont mind if you disagree with me. I am just trying to impress upon you that this is all about opinion, based on several factors. Cold facts have never and will never accurately predict the winner of the Kentucky Derby. We're all guessing. You choose to go by the names Cold and Facts, both of which depict a lack of human qualities, such as the powers of observation and the admission of possibly being wrong. Nothing is so calculated that the human element is eliminated. I specifically mentioned my #3 ranking of Shanghai Bobby is based strictly on pedigree, but you overlooked that and again turned only to statistics. We are not talking about the best horse. We are merely trying to ferret out the elusive Derby winner based on all sorts of criteria. In short, facts are not everything, whether they are cold or not.

08 Jan 2013 5:19 PM
Ranagulzion

Coldfacts,

In addition to being undefeated, Violence has a lot more upside to him based uopon pedigree, physical attributes (big rangy colt) and being fairly lightly raced, he appears to have more scope for improvement at this point. He also runs like a horse that does enough to get the better of his opponents but doesn't run away once in front. I think that Overanalyze showed more dimensions to his class than Violence but it is merely a hair-spliting discussion at this early stage of the Triple Crown trail. Shanghai Bobby deserves respect as a very classy miler-type and his undefeated status coupled with the manner of his victories (especially in the Champagne) gives credence to his position in the top three, although I know that its a matter of time before he's found out in the stamina department. Take it easy Bro.

08 Jan 2013 6:34 PM
Delrene

Happy New Year to you Steve.  Enjoyed your early observations and selections.  Wouldn't it be just the best if they ALL stayed healthy, injury free and in the money?  It will take me awhile , perhaps never, to understand the point system.  Happy that May is not just around the corner.  

08 Jan 2013 7:30 PM
Lammtarra's Arc

Uncaptured, and Avie's Quality for this Fan :)  Hope they both make the gate in Kentucky!

08 Jan 2013 8:00 PM
Susan from VA

Mr. Haskin-

Glad to see Drone's name.  I have a friend with a mare with Drone in her background.  She certainly thinks highly of Drone.

08 Jan 2013 8:06 PM
Lammtarra's Arc

For the Folks asking about George Vancouver...He will run at Epsom so I doubt a venture across the pond is in the books.  Knowing Coolmore they might run him in the UAE Derby, skip the Guineas, and run the E.Derby.

08 Jan 2013 8:10 PM
Uncle Smiley

Steve:

As always, so much to calculate, in your book.  Such a pleasure to read.

But your number three, Shanghai Bobby, looks so much more attractive if Rosie Napravnik stays in the irons to bring  home the first Triple Crown in this Century, under the hands of the first distaff jockey to get the job done.

Uncle Smiley

08 Jan 2013 8:21 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, your answer to Cold Facts is exactly correct. If all that was needed was statistics, everybody would pick the one with the best numbers and that horse would win. Where's the excitement and intrigue in that?! The whole Derby trail is about looking, examining, thinking, watching and then taking a leap of faith and making a choice. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm tickled if my choice is just in the money. Who could have known Mine That Bird would beat the pants off the horses he did? Didn't see that one, but I had Animal Kingdom after reading how good everyone said he looked like working out.

08 Jan 2013 9:00 PM
Karen in Texas

Ranagulzion----Thanks, and Happy New Year to you as well! That Derby contenders injury report site will probably prove to be useful in the coming months, unfortunately. This journey has only just begun.

08 Jan 2013 9:12 PM
Alex'sBigFan

I really like the looks of this Violence more and more, perusing through his photos where I can find them.  I think I would have named him Cafe Frappe as he is by Medaglia D'Oro, frappe meaning to beat, and since he has a Cappucino, a Storming and a Violent in his pedigree.  The Medaglia D'oro fillies have been awesome lately, let's see what this big boy does.  I agree with Jersey Boy, if Violence starts winning and kicking up a storm on the Derby trail the headlines are going to be funny or misleading!

"Vegas Promotes Violence"

"Violence Erupts at Derby"

"Javier Controls Violence"

08 Jan 2013 10:27 PM
Paula Higgins

Thank GOD for this blog Steve. I have been reeling all day from the Notre Dame-Alabama game, if you can call it that. My brother went to Notre Dame and so we are in mourning. Your Derby analysis has given me something to be happy about. Interesting reads about all of them. I like Shanghai Bobby alot and horses outrun their pedigrees every now and then, so I am putting my chips on him. Violence is also interesting. But as we all know, keeping them  primed AND healthy for Derby is the key. Too much can happen between now and then and usually does.

Steve, I had a Haskin reading marathon during the holidays and read DR. FAGER, JOHN HENRY and TALES FROM THE TRIPLE CROWN. All of them were great and each book had its own personality. Loved them all and I highly recommend them. Reading about John Henry's personality was a hoot. What a personality boy he was! The section on  Spectacular Bid was wonderful and really crystalized how truly special he was.

08 Jan 2013 11:22 PM
predict

Steve, thankyou for the initial ranking, a vast amount of information for sure. I am curious if you form your rankings from observations only or do you also discuss the horses listed with the owners and trainers before you comment on them. Do you ask trainers who they have this year that they think could go to the Derby? Would also love any comments or information you may have on Reckless Abandon, Dawn Approach and Rolling Fog.

Right now I'm most impressed with Distinctiv Passion( I also was once enamored with King Glorious, I just can't help it) and Itsmyluckyday. If Distinctiv Passion does two turn effectively, he may not win the Derby, but he will certainly set the tone of the race if he does make the starting gate. I'm hoping that the

Greinton that runs in his veins will get him there.

09 Jan 2013 12:07 AM
Linda in Texas

Hi Steve, glad you are back and we all thank -Keelerman for writing a very nice column about Dark Secret. For me it was a preamble to your first column back from your 3 week vacation with so many new names for me. I have not been doing my homework obviously and boy howdy do i need to burn the midnite oil and study up.

Snow Top Mountain looked so lovely in the video of her on bloodhorse.com at the sale and went for 950,000 big ones. I especially admire the gentleman who she kept busy dancing around while being auctioned. He is a patient man and always keeps all of the horses as the main focus. Lordy Lordy someone is going to be so lucky to be able to drive down their lane and see that beautiful gray mottled mare with her foal in their paddock. She is gorgeous.  

I love this sport and look forward to the next 4 plus months to the big day in May to see who all has made it to the starting gate. Getting there is all the fun for us. I wish them all safe training days, lots of hay at the door of their stall and peppermints when they deserve them.

Happy New Year all and nice to see so many newish names. And of course the oldish ones too:)

The Deacon, a horse ran in a race over last week end named 'Deacon Speakin' and i wondered if he was named after you??  I would like to think so.

Let's just not Overanalyze while we Micromanage the Violence before Shakin' It Up to the point of being a little Shanghai Bobby'd like a Normandy Invasion and then Uncaptured by Private Ensign while WhiskyRomeo *The Military Alphabet for W   R.... Drones over.

Sorry ya'll i know that was corny and the devil made me do it!But those names just cry out for something.

I must say before this year gets going that last year turned out to be a nice surprise to all. Just when we thought no one would shine,many did so i am reminded that on any given day the big behemoths can, will and usually do surprise us. Just like my all time favorite Coach Lombardi said and i have said this before, just like on any given Sunday - - - etc. etc. etc. so too on any given race day!

Thanks Steve.

And Alex'sBigFan, take a look on Ebay or Michael Blowen's Old Friend's web site at the beautiful gray chapeau that Maggie has designed for auction fashioned after a big black fella named Thunder Ruble. His photo accompanies the photo of the hat which is beautiful and made me think of you. Not the gray part, just a very elegant hat. I think the 11th of January is the last day one can bid on it. And that is 2 days before your birthday!!!

Cheers everyone and Rider's Up, the New Year is with us! May it be a great safe one for all.

Now back to my homework.

Linda

09 Jan 2013 1:07 AM
Derby Dew

Steve,

You're off to a good start from the gate on the road to the triple crown.  A very comprehensive list for us Derby fanatics to digest.

I have a soft spot for Dewey Square, whose dam, Somethinaboutbetty, I followed during her racing career (my sister's name is Betty).  I liked her pedigree and anxiously awaited her performance as a broodmare.  Breeders have welcomed her as she has matched up with some of the best stallions..... Tapit, Purim, Unbridled's Song, Distorted Humor and Dewey's sire, Bernadini.  

Dewey Square was offered at the September 2011 Yearling Sales, but did not reach his reserve amount in the bidding and subsequently, Siena Farm brought him back home and kept him to race in the their silks.  Now in the capable hands of Dale Romans, Dewey Square has plenty of upside in his quest for the Roses.

He needs only to stay sound to make his momma proud on the 1st Saturday in May, you'll see.

09 Jan 2013 4:46 AM
Coldfacts

JerseyBoy,

“His undefeated stable companion Shanghia Bobby won 5 races including two Gl and is a far more impressive and has won against better company”

I was of the opinion that it could be inferred from the above  extract from my post whom I think should have been ranked #1 despite what appears to be a stamina challenge pedigree. The other colt cited in my post has three victories from four starts and  finished a stubborn second to the 2YO champion designate. Goldencents entered the Champagne are winning his debut at 5 1/2F on a synthetic track. It was a bold move by his connections as a victory in a 5 1/2F MSW hardly justified shipping a colt cross country to contest an 8F G1 against a stakes winner on a new surface. Violence was not subjected to any such a challenge in his second race as he merely shipped from Saratoga to the Big A to contest a weak field in the Gll Nashua. To many Goldencents record will reflect a 2nd place finish in the Champagne but it will not  reflect the overwhelming challenges he faced. Like Violence he has a victory at a 8 & 81/2 furlongs.

I am aware that Violence has the superior 10f pedigree of the three colts. However, despite Uncle Mo's questionable 10F pedigree he was ranked #1 based on his PP. Do you see any inconsistency?  

09 Jan 2013 6:30 AM
Coldfacts

Mr. Haskin,

Many thanks for your insights and your comments have been duly noted.

09 Jan 2013 6:32 AM
Coldfacts

Ranagulzion,

I agree with the 10F pedigree assessment of Violence by all. Union Rags and Uncle Mo were top class 2YOs with suspect pedigree for 10F. Did this deter a  #1 ranking for them? No! If the ranking policy has been tweaked to identify the colt with best PP and 10F pedigree then I rest my case. If not, there is clear inconsistency.

It is unlikely that my records are correct. However, I think there are four prominent colts that will commence their 3YO careers unbeaten in three or more starts. I make them Shanghia Bobby, Violence, Whiskey Romeo and Purple Egg.

Shanghia Bobby/ Harlans Holiday

Violence/Medaglia Doro

Whiskey Romeo/ Forestry

Purple Egg/Lion Heart

All have been impressive but have been assessed as having varying stamina deficiencies. How many of these assessments and speculations can be verified? Its thoroughbred racing and one can never be certain about stamina issue until said has been determined.  

The stallions associated with these colts are from the Northern Dancer sire line. This stallion line has produced 4 Derby winners in the last 26 years as compare to the Mr. Prospector sire line that has produced 15 Derby winners is a similar. I think it is worth highlighting that the first four past the post in the 2012 Derby were from the Mr. P sire line. This line also accounted for 8 of the 12 positions available on the board in 3 Triple Crown races.  Based purely on the success of this line (50 TC wins) shouldn’t Fortify the top colt from this line be ranked #1? He is more likely to win the Derby than those listed above. Just playing devil’s advocate!

09 Jan 2013 8:26 AM
Linda in Texas

Typo Correction:  The horse's name

after whom the hat i mentioned is fashioned is:

       " THUNDER RUMBLE "

If you look at the photo you will see that his name fits him perfectly.

Sorry for your Notre Dame issue Paula Higgins. UT was dusted in The 2009 BCS Game. Know just how you feel.

09 Jan 2013 11:07 AM
Rusty Weisner

I don't see any Derby points races for this weekend.  Any of these horses running?

09 Jan 2013 11:29 AM
Fran Loszynski

So glad to see you back Steve, Happy New Year! It's never too early for Derby talk. What do you think of Afleet Alex's son Called To Serve? Very impressive win in the Laurel, 5 lengths from out of nowhere. Also hope Howmuchthebestishe gets out there. Tapit sure has a "family" out there. Flashback is awesome. As I say every year, bring home the Triple Crown Alex! Also welcome back Gary Stevens, any horse he rides will have a great ride!

09 Jan 2013 12:07 PM
CICADA100

Always looking forward to your articles with my cup of coffee and danish.....welcome back.....love this article as usual.....could you tell me something about these horses...i didn't see them mentioned

tesseron

notacatbutallama

river seven

steeler

noble tune

title contender

know more

monument

super ninety nine

alwaaab

transparent

09 Jan 2013 12:38 PM
JerseyBoy

Coldfacts:

We are talking about the 2013 Kentucky Derby. This is a different field of horses from the ones that ran in previous Kentucky Derbies. The issue is which horse in this year’s field deserves to be ranked on top. What happened in the past years has no bearing on this. History has no bearing on the outcome of a race.  The horse that finishes first is the one that runs the distance the fastest. I think this year in a 10-fur, 3yo race, that horse will be Violence.

I would not draw any inference from your statement about Shanghai Bobby. I would rather you make that statement yourself. Why do you not just make it?

In his last start Shanghai Bobby won by a head at level weights. It was his smallest margin of victory ever. It was also his longest race. This might not be a coincidence.

The DRF Speed Fig+Track Variant in his last race was 90(71+19), his lowest ever. Violence’s lowest is 98(90+8), which he recorded in his first start. That was at Saratoga. Over the same distance at Saratoga, in his third start, Shanghai Bobby recorded 99 (91+8).

Violence’s highest figure on dirt at a mile or longer is 103(93+10) which he recorded in his second start.

Shanghai Bobby’s highest for the same distance on dirt is 106 (87+19), which he recorded in his 4th start.

As the distances got longer on dirt, Violence’s numbers improved. Shanghai Bobby’s numbers showed a big decline when he ran his longest race.

09 Jan 2013 12:50 PM
El Kabong

Paula H,

Know the pain. My bro graduated in 75 so we were on board for the First two battles in 73 and 74. Got paid back pretty hard the other night.

Steve,

It's cold, it's wet, its dark out and everyone around me is catching a cold or a flu. But I gotta fever Mr. Haskins and the only prescription is more Derby Cow Bell. Let's here for the list!

09 Jan 2013 1:06 PM
Karen in Texas

Rusty Weisner,

A quick check of colts running this week/weekend: Purple Egg--the Pasco on the 12th; Tree of Life--the California Derby on the 12th; and Avie's Quality--the Lecomte on the 19th.

09 Jan 2013 1:26 PM
Steve Haskin

Predict, I speak to trainers and owners on occasion, depending on whether I find their comments in general reliable. Often a trainer will love a horse and they turn out to be busts and other times theyre not too enamored with them and they out to be stars. In the very beginning I try to find them myself, and then when they start to get established I'll check with the trainer to see if he confirms my opinion. Some trainers are candid and forthright while others will tell you they love every one of their horses.

Fran, I do like Called to Serve. Sometimes, the Laurel horses go unnoticed and I forgot about him...this time. Thanks.

Notacatbutallama, Title Contender, Know More, Super Ninety Nine coming off poor efforts, Transparent still a maiden after 4 starts. I'll have to check on the others.

09 Jan 2013 3:00 PM
Man o' War

I know we don't pick our Derby winners based on name, but I have to say I did an incredulous double-take to see Violence's name in the CashCall Futurity just a day after the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut. The name is not the horse's fault; nonetheless, I think it is dreadful. With all the crazy people going on random shooting rampages lately, I am surprised this name ever sounded like a good idea to anybody. I don't know if Violence will win the roses, but to see Derby glory go to a horse with a name like this would disturb me.

09 Jan 2013 3:27 PM
-Keelerman

Rusty Weisner;

Dynamic Sky is entered in Saturday's Pasco Stakes at Tampa.

09 Jan 2013 5:33 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Linda in Texas,

Loved your post!  Funny stuff with the play on the names.  I agree the names call out for something, I did it too.  I'm still cracking up about your phrase of getting "Shanghai Bobby'd!!!"  It's great, and a horse named Deacon Speakin' is perfect.

Thanks for the hat info.  It would look great coming out of my new silver car.  Thunder Rumble is gorgeous, yep photo fits the name alright.

Thanks Fran for the info on Called To Serve.  Thanks for keeping track of all of Alex's kids.  I wear my Gainesway sweatshirt under my winter coat all winter so Alex is close to heart.

09 Jan 2013 6:04 PM
El Kabong

Steve,

Watching replays I was really impressed with the KJC. A lot of talent in top 4 finishers, but one horse who had a stinker in there that I thought would do better is Indiano Jones. His first try on dirt, I hope that wasn't the issue. I like this guy and his breeding is there just can't explain his performance but a line through it for now. That race however was a really nice display of talent that I think will pan out in the racing to come. Love to hear your input on that race in comparison to the others.

09 Jan 2013 6:47 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Man O'War,

I definitely agree, that is why I would have named this son of Medaglia D'Oro, Cafe Frappe or Latte Man, not Violence.  It seems the owners were just going for continuity of the Dam's name of Violent Beauty, but I don't know I cannot speak for them it's just a supposition.  I would have played up the "coffee" side of his pedigree instead.  Hopefully the horse Violence himself will be so athletic and so benevolent that he will overcome his bad choice of a name.

09 Jan 2013 9:00 PM
El Kabong

Steve,

I know it's a reach, and maybe you have no answer yet, but my brother and I are hoping balance the books will give dirt a shot. Any word of such an endeavor?  

09 Jan 2013 9:10 PM
Paula Higgins

El Kabong, my brother graduated in 1975 from Notre Dame as well. I wonder if they knew each other? Big school, but his name is Mike Novell. He was a biology major and has worked for Save The Children for the past 34 years in Asia. He won the Father Hesburgh Alumni Award for service to people in need (I am paraphrasing here). Yes, this was a rough loss for Notre Dame. I guess it can't be like 1977 with Joe Montana winning the National Championship every year.

Man O'War, I don't like the name of Violence for a horse either. I don't totally get why anyone would name a horse Violence. In any event, it's not the horse's fault.

Linda in Texas, loved your play on words.

Nice to see Gary Stevens back in the saddle again. Should be interesting.

09 Jan 2013 10:06 PM
Ranagulzion

Man 'O War, how's it that one with a moniker such as yours could be disturbed if a Derby winner has the name Violence? Beats me (LOL).

Frankly, I'd prefer if his name was altered to "No Violence" but maybe that name will be reserved for his sibling.

09 Jan 2013 10:47 PM
Cassandra.Says

Aha . . . once more you Yankees are writing down a Canadian two-year-old champion, although not an especially tiny one. You never learn!

BTW: Hotbloods are not defined by coldfacts.

10 Jan 2013 5:46 AM
JerseyBoy

Man o' War

Alex's BigFan

Ok. To satisfy everyone, I propose that all those who like Violence agree to buy an exacta box in Pool 1.

The exacta box will in effect be 2 separate bets:

It is this:

He’s Had Enough-Violence

10 Jan 2013 8:02 AM
Coldfacts

Derby Dew,

I lost a bundle on Dewey Square in the KJC Stakes and my back up horse Fear The Kitten did not get a fast enough pace upfront to land a blow. I like this colt a lot. When $575, 000 does not cause a yearling to change hands, the breeders must think they have something special. Homebreds have won 6 of the last 10 Derbies so at least he belongs to a category that has dominated the race in the last ten year.

I am of the opinion that his rider made an error in the KJC by not engaging the leaders from the off as the pace was very slow. Based on his previous starts het appears better on the lead. I have one reservation about him and that is his dam sire. The sons of Storm Cat have not been stellar broodmare sires of TC horses. If not for Tabasco Cat the dam sire of Derby runner up Ice Box, Strom Cat sons would not be on the TC chart. This might very well be an insignificant issue if not for the fact that over 100 of Storm Cat’s sons were used as stallions. The broodmare band from this group should therefore be huge.

10 Jan 2013 8:22 AM
Coldfacts

JerseyBoy,

“We are talking about the 2013 Kentucky Derby. This is a different field of horses from the ones that ran in previous Kentucky Derbies.”

I agree but was of the opinion that this was common knowledge.

“The issue is which horse in this year’s field deserves to be ranked on top.”

I gather Violence is more deserving than his more accomplished stable companion. I guess it’s a matter of opinions since their respective records are not being used as a measure. When the more accomplished is less deserving, the more deserving must have a significant advantage. Three races won by a combined 3 1/4L hardy qualify as stellar resume. I will commit to memory that more actually means less.

“History has no bearing on the outcome of a race.”

I disagree! When one sire line has accounted for 15 Derby and 35 other Triple Crown victories, it has a history of winning.

“The horse that finishes first is the one that runs the distance the fastest. I think this year in a 10-fur, 3yo race, that horse will be Violence.”

You are aware that a victory can be secured via a disqualification. There is a significant difference between ‘will be’ and ‘Likely to be’ This sire line does not have a stellar history of producing Derby winners consequently extreme caution is suggested.

The information about the speed ratings for the two colts at comparative distances makes for interesting reading. Based on your summation SB had no chance of finishing ahead of Violence at the Derby distance. He raced without Salix in his last start and that could have accounted for his struggles. Until Violence defeats SB he will always be the ranked second to him irrespective of speed rating.

“I would not draw any inference from your statement about Shanghai Bobby. I would rather you make that statement yourself.”

Shanghai Bobby should have been ranked #1. Now that I have acceded to your request I can specify the  colt that is ranked #1 on my list. He is Mr. Palmer my name sake. That should give you a good laugh. He is a well-bred router that is trained by Bill Mott. Many adjectives have been used to describe me and you can add facetious to the list.

10 Jan 2013 9:18 AM
Steve Haskin

Ranagulzion, you obviously missed Ore Pass's last-place finish in a Parx allowance race last Saturday.

10 Jan 2013 10:27 AM
Steve Haskin

Baby Jane, I wasnt that impressied with Eton Blue or the other division of that race. He'll have to step up next time.

10 Jan 2013 10:31 AM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, this is what I'm referring to. You say I left out Footbridge. Where would you like me to put him? On the Top 25? On the Top maiden winners? He is a maiden after one start, and you write "If Foot Bridge runs to his pedigree the Derby field will be at his mercy." Really? That's your comment about a maiden? You are really that sure the Derby field will be "at his mercy off one losing race? I take it that is a cold fact.

10 Jan 2013 11:25 AM
slee

Hi Steve - this actually applies to a blog entry from late last year, but I found the story C. W. Anderson wrote about Dark Star.  I was pretty sure it was in "Black, Bay & Chestnut" and I was wrong - the story is in "Twenty Gallant Horses".

10 Jan 2013 11:50 AM
Steve Haskin

Paula, sorry I missed your comment about the books. Thanks very much and I'm so glad you enjoyed them.

10 Jan 2013 4:40 PM
Ranagulzion

Steve,

To my shame I missed Ore Pass' dismal effort at Parx but think it not reflective of the colts true ability and will therefore keep him on my watch list for now.  

10 Jan 2013 6:08 PM
Paula Higgins

Oh your welcome Steve! They were great reads and informative as well. I really enjoyed all three.

10 Jan 2013 8:27 PM
White Plains Eric

Revolutionary caught my eye in his first start at Saratoga.  He was wiped out at the start that day and I thought he did well for himself to finish 3rd.  I've been keeping my eye on him since and would like to think he has the talent and is starting to put it all together (8 1/2 length maiden score in his 4th start).  Scott Pletcher has his "first string" horses right now and his bench runs deep.  Steve, have you any insight on what Pletcher thinks of this horse and whether he'll be taking a shot with him against others who may have accomplished a bit more at this time?  Or just too early to tell?  Thanks.

10 Jan 2013 9:08 PM
ksweatman9

Unfortunately, the million dollar question is how much of this potential talent will we actually get to see? How many of these gorgeous creatures will make it to the derby? How many will end the year on the track? How many will end up in the breeding shed? Or even more tragic, not survive at all? The main reason I hate to see I'll Have Another win HOY is because we have to start putting more value on soundness. Maybe that doesn't seem fair. Lord knows it isn't the horse's fault, but in order to bring about change, it's imperative we adopt a different value system. Physical break down is failure, even for the brilliant ponies. Greatness doesn't equate to winning a handful of prestigious races, then falling apart and being retired. Winning alot, losing a few, being strong and hanging in there for the long haul is the stuff warriors are made of. Greatness is within their grasp. Breeding has to put more focus on strength and soundness and put speed on the back burner. I'm sure there are other culprits, but watching these majestic animals fall like dominoes is disturbing to say the least and very hard to accept.

11 Jan 2013 2:43 AM
El Kabong

Paula H,

I ran Mike's name past my brother. Ed didn't recognize him. He even looked up Mike's picture in his yearbook thinking he might have remembered a face but no luck. Ed had some biology in his background, an environmental engineer, but he only had two classes. More chemistry. Still, what a small world. Ed's roommate his first year was ND's starting running/tail back Eric Penick. That obligated us to get up at 7am on Sundays to watch ND replays hosted by Lindsey Nelson. Great memories. Outstanding effort by your brother to receive that award, you must be very proud of him.

Ranag,

Nice catch on the man o war/violence irony:) too funny.

11 Jan 2013 5:41 AM
Coldfacts

ksweatman9,

No amount of focus on soundness will alleviate the issues highlighted in your post. I have long accepted the reality that horses bred for thoroughbred racing will invariably sustain various injuries associated with what they were bred to do. A horse was never designed to carry 126lbs in its back while running at speeds of 30-40 miles per hour over any distance. It is therefore doing something unnatural and for which it was never designed. It will therefore always be injury prone in spite of the great preventative measures taken horse loving professionals. A horse in its natural habitat has the luxury of stopping for a rest when tired. However, in a race it is usually under the whip and sustained drives to the line even when tire.  I have long believed that whip whips should be outlawed.

11 Jan 2013 11:21 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

I read this list with great interest.  And I took notes!  I'm adding many to my Virtual Stable so I can keep up with them.  Thank you for the interesting, invaluable information.

11 Jan 2013 11:33 AM
Coldfacts

White Plains Eric

My pick in the MSW won by Revolutionary was the runner up Transparent. Revolutionary past and left him like he was glued to the ground. When I witness those impressive performances I normally pay attention to the horse when it returns to the winner’s enclosure. Revolutionary returned to the winner’s enclosure with more energy than he left the paddock. No 3YO would have defeated him that day. The average 8F split for the last 10 Derbies is 1:36 and a bit. Revolutionary ran 1:36.52 finishing in hand and came back pulling a bus.

Assuming his performance was based on his natural ability the Derby is over. However, since I am aware that such post-race energy levels are rare, I will way to see in what condition he returns for his next start.

11 Jan 2013 11:41 AM
Rusty Weisner

I liked Peace Rules (and won some money on him at his Haskell).

11 Jan 2013 12:28 PM
Coldfacts

Mr. Haskin,

When Out of Bound made his debut he finished 4th beaten handily by So Brilliant. I highlighted this colt as a serious racehorse off his 4th race finish based on my knowledge of characteristic of a good horse. No surprisingly those that comment on my post ridiculed the colt and me with the exception of Forbidden Apple who saw the colt and liked him as well. In his debut he was ridden by Mr. Bejarano left him to ride Secret Circle the BC 2YO Sprint Champion in the Glll Sham Stakes. Out of Bound won the Glll Sham @10-1 and justified my assessment and became the buzz colt in CA.  What caught my attention with OOB was the fact that at the start of the race he was off the monitor, totally uninterested in the event upfront. Suddenly this big powerful chestnut appeared on monitor as though shot from cannon. Ordinary horses do not make those kinds of moves while still running green. That was enough me.

Why this bit of history? Footbridge is not dissimilar to OOB. He showed me enough in his debut to tell that he is a very talented horse. He broke from the #2 post and was taking a lot of dirt and seemed uninterested. While stuck on the inside a colt trained by Mr. Assmussen ran by him and put on 6L as he went in serious pursuit of the leaders. Mr. Gomez switched to the outside and asked for an effort and the colt took off. He was angled 7 wide and displayed ground devouring strides to beat all except the two leaders who were long gone when he got going. The time of the race was a fast 1:14 and a bit. Footbridge is no sprinter but despite his greenness and inexperience came forwards willingly. When a colt with Street Cry as sire and dam by Dubai Millennium show that type of ability in a losing effort all 3YOs are on notice.

Between 2008 and 2009 I highlighted three horses on the now defunct MSNBC Message Board as ones to watch. Rachel Alexander was highlighted after her runner up finish the Debutante Glll as CD. Mine That Bird heading into the BCJ and Summer Bird after his maiden victory. All the horses took a leg of the 2009 Triple Crown.

I do not post certain statements from a position of ignorance.

11 Jan 2013 12:43 PM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, I will repeat my question, because you didnt answer it. In which category should I have put Footbridge, who is still a maiden -- Top 25 Derby contenders or Top 10 maiden WINNERS? Those are the only two categories I listed, so you tell me which one he belonged on.

11 Jan 2013 3:53 PM
Davids

Steve, you can never please all the people all the time, no matter how hard you try. I must admit I have a bit of a giggle reading your tête-à-tête with Coldfacts. A little warmth at this time of year can be quite comforting.

Has anyone be watching the A. P. Indy colt "Powerful" train at Hollywood Park? As a yearling he was the spitting image of his illustrious sire so there were/are high hopes for him.

I doubt he is a Kentucky Derby horse but the Belmont should be a jewel to contemplate on. At this stage, Flashback, Normandy Invasion,  Dewy Square, Power Broker, He's Had Enough, Orb, Bold Dance, Shaler, Dynamic Sky, and Battled are the ten for me.

11 Jan 2013 6:15 PM
White Plains Eric

Thanks, Coldfacts.  I subsequently read that he may be pointed to the Withers at Aqueduct 2/2.  We'll wait and see.

12 Jan 2013 8:16 AM
Deltalady

I can't add much to the comments here except to express my undying gratitude for your lengthy and detailed descriptions of each horse. I have printed it out, am studying it and using my highlighter.  Not that I want to commit it all to memory, but at least when their names come up, I will have at least a passing knowledge.  Some no doubt will fall out of contention for various reasons, and that will be the exciting part, to see where the "cream" is and what rises to the top.

You are the best, Steve. Appreciate you so much!!

16 Jan 2013 1:44 AM

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