Haskin's Derby Report: Beware the Second Wave

Since January, we have seen pretty much the same names on the Derby Dozen and other rankings, but it is important to note that we see that every year, and very often the Derby winner is not on those early lists. Who, at this time, had heard of or paid any attention to Animal Kingdom, Big Brown, Mine That Bird, Funny Cide, War Emblem, Grindstone or Giacomo?

So, let’s assume that this year’s Derby winner still has not busted out yet and is a rare find on any Derby lists, just as the aforementioned horses were. To deviate from the typical lists we’ve seen every week, this might be a good time to make a secondary list of less-accomplished horses and see how it compares to the current Derby Dozen and the Top 12 point getters on the first NTRA 3-year-old poll after the Derby is run.

Here then is our Second Wave Top 20. Some horses no doubt have been left out, so feel free to toss any names our way we may have overlooked. There’s nothing to prevent us from making it a Top 20 list.

1—TREASURY BILL – He actually made our Top 12 list last week, only to fall down one spot this week, but remains our No. 1 live longshot, even though he has yet to go two turns. It is because of that we have him prominent on our radar screen, because he is bred to run all day and shouldn’t have run as well as he did in sprints, especially against a crack field of fast horses in the San Vicente Stakes. He’ll be facing a tough field in the Rebel, but a win or a second would catapult him way up on everyone’s list. We have written about him extensively already.

2—RYDILLUC – He’s a total guess, coming off three monster turf scores and a poor showing on dirt in his career debut, but if he does make a successful transition to Polytrack in what promises to be a large Blue Grass field and then handles the dirt at Churchill Downs, we’re looking at a horse who could be very special, based on what he’s shown in all aspects of the game and a pedigree that is predominantly dirt-oriented. His upside is tremendous and we’ll see if he can take advantage of it. Remember, most of the horses on this list have big question marks, that’s why they’re on this list and not on the main list. But with question marks comes big prices if they answer those questions correctly.

3—ELNAAWI – His Gotham third was very impressive, especially for a horse with only two career stakes and first in a stakes. He had to overcome an eventful trip, while losing a lot of ground and racing greenly. This was an excellent learning experience. He has the looks and the pedigree and can only improve big-time off this race. Unlike the top two, he is proven on dirt and around two turns. He just lacks their power and quickness. But he definitely looks like a Derby-caliber colt if he can pick up enough points in his next start, likely the Wood Memorial.

4—DEPARTING – This is another colt who has shown the kind of smooth, effortless stride you look for in a good horse. He obviously needs to move forward off his impressive victory in the Texas Heritage Stakes at Sam Houston after being scratched from the Risen Star because of a bad post, and he’s had only three career starts and wasn’t beating a top-class field. But he did earn an excellent 97 Beyer in the Texas Heritage without feeling the whip once and was being geared down in the final yards, galloping out strongly. We just love the way he moves, so, going mainly on the visual aspect, he does look like a talented colt with great promise.

5—BALANCE THE BOOKS – With him it’s all about the dirt. If he handles it, he is most certainly talented enough and classy enough to win the Derby. The big negative was having to miss the Palm Beach with a fever, and Chad Brown will have to go to Plan B and run him in the Spiral and then wheel him back in three weeks in the Blue Grass, so he has a lot of cramming to do. Like Rydilluc, we won’t know if he can handle dirt until Derby Day, assuming he makes the starting gate. Although there is an abundance of grass in his pedigree, there is enough dirt to suggest he will handle it. What he does have going for him is a powerful stretch kick and a determination to get to the wire first, as narrow a margin as that might be. All in all, we just think he’s a very good horse.

6—DICE FLAVOR – Another who has never been on dirt, and his sire, Scat Daddy, has become known more as grass sire, but there is something about this colt that stood out when he crushed the field in the El Camino Real Derby in his first start on a synthetic surface. He appeared to be in serious traffic trouble turning for home, but when a hole opened, he was steered to the outside and burst through in an instant and was gone, demonstrating a smooth, fluid stride. If he can move with that kind of authority on both grass and synthetic, perhaps he’ll take to the dirt as well.

7--SHAKIN IT UP – Unlike Baffert’s other big guns, he will be taking the likely easier route in the Sunland Park Derby. That race, which has produced a Derby and Belmont winner in the last few years, should get him into the Derby, but will it get him into the winner’s circle of the Derby? If he stretches out successfully off his victory in the San Vicente over Treasury Bill, he can definitely make some noise in Kentucky, especially with his pedigree, but winning the Derby off only one two-turn race is very rare.

8—CROP REPORT – Another grass horse, but those are the ones who have that unknown quality and might be worth taking a shot on, as long as you realize you are indeed taking a shot, based on a guess that they’ll handle the dirt. This European import made his U.S. debut in an allowance race on grass, and although he finished third, he had way too much ground to make up after breaking a step slowly. But he made an absolutely striking appearance before the race and exhibited a monster turn of foot, rallying between horses once he found room,. All in all, there was enough to see to suggest there could be something special there

9—OMEGA STAR – Forgetting the fact he’s been running in Cal-bred races since going to John Shirreffs and was upset in his last start at 4-5, the son of Candy Ride has a ton of potential, as long as he’s ridden the right way. He might have taken the lead too soon in the Cal Breeders Championship, stretching out from 6 ½ furlongs to a mile, and was caught late by an improving and far more experienced Tiz a Minister, both of whom will be moving way up in class in the San Felipe. Shirreffs has been giving him a steady diet of six-furlong works and teaching him to save his best running for the end. What was most impressive about him in his maiden score was his long, powerful stride, with a reach like his broodmare sire Fusaichi Pegasus. We’re not saying he’s going beat the likes of Flashback and Goldencents, but keep an eye on him in the stretch, especially if the pace is hot.

10—HEAR THE GHOST – There has been a lot of buzz over this Ghostzapper gelding, who has only run in two sprints in his career. He looked sensational in his maiden victory, powering home with an eye-catching stretch run and then closed very fast in the final yards to finish second to the swift Distinctiv Passion in the six-furlong San Pedro Stakes, run in 1:08 2/5. There is no doubt he has a great deal of talent and carries a lot of intrigue with him as he tackles the San Felipe. But never having run farther than six furlongs, he has an awful lot of catching up to do if he’s going to be considered a legitimate Derby horse.

11—GROUND TRANSPORT -- Began his career with a good second to Departing at six furlongs, and then followed that up with a pair of smart victories at Fair Grounds going two turns. He is another who is a beautiful mover, and mowed down his opponents with an explosive final eighth in his last start, and there's no telling how good this horse is. Being by Big Brown makes him even more exciting. Would love to see him face Departing again in the Louisiana derby to see who has made the most progress.

12--TIZ THE TRUTH – We have him ranked No. 10 only because he has had to battle a quarter crack, which caused him to miss a start, and you never want to have any setbacks on the Derby trail. This son of Tiznow looked so good breaking his maiden at a mile we put him in the Top 12, despite his never having faced winners. Normally, we would dismiss him completely with a quarter crack, but Baffert said he’s confident he can get him fit and ready for the Wood Memorial. So, based on that comment, we’ll keep him here, and if he does make it to the Wood in good shape, we would have to take him a lot more seriously

13—MUDFLATS – This colt really intrigues us, mainly because everyone is going to dismiss his fifth-place finish in the San Vicente after running a dismal race in the Jerome following his purchase by Doug O’Neill. But we actually thought he ran a huge race in the san Vicente and made a giant leap forward in the race. He was into the bridle early this time and made a good move on the far turn to reach contention, only to appear to clip heels after turning for home and have to steady just when the real running began. He dropped back to last and out of contention, but once he found his best stride, he was running strong in the final sixteenth and just missed fourth by a head and third by three-quarters of a length. He came out of the race sharp, as indicated by his :59 2/5 work. Tail-female family traces to major stamina influences Stage Door Johnny and Herbager.

14—WAR ACADEMY – It’s way too early to give up on him after his fourth-place finish in the San Vicente, in which he was beaten only 2 ½ lengths. With 2 ¾ lengths separating the entire field of six, the race did not get good speed figures, but the feeling here is that every one of those six horses are top-notch stakes horses. This son of Giant’s Causeway hadn’t run since Nov. 9 and had only one maiden victory under his belt. He ran into some traffic at the top of the stretch and had to wait for a hole to open, while stablemate Shakin It Up got the jump on him and went on to victory. He is another who probably has too much catching up to do, and he’ll need to find two more races in order to make the Derby.

15—GOVENOR CHARLIE – Like War Academy, he’s trained by Baffert and has only two career starts, but in his last start, he ran an extremely game race, stretching out from six furlongs to a mile and battling back to out-game the highly regarded Footbridge. The son of Midnight Lute ran the mile in a solid 1:36 1/5, with the remainder of the nine-horse field strung out over 22 lengths. He’s one of the lesser known Baffert 3-year-olds, but expect to hear his name a lot more in the months to come. He is another who needs to find two more races somewhere.

16—CARVE – This is an interesting colt in that he was claimed by Steve Asmussen for $30,000 in his career debut from Al Stall and Claiborne Farm/Adele Dischneider, which certainly is something you don’t see every day. That was at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn and the gelding won impressively by four lengths. Asmussen gave him Lasix for an allowance/optional claimer and the son of First Samurai again came charging down the stretch, this time running down the Baffert-trained Title Contender, who had opened a three-length lead at the eighth pole. He still has a ways to go to prove his speed and class, and he’ll get the opportunity in the Rebel Stakes.

17--SALUTOS AMIGOS – He will attempt to stretch out from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles in the San Felipe. What he brings is excellent speed, breaking his maiden in his last start, pressing a :43 2/5 half and winning going away by almost four lengths in 1:08 2/5. He is on this list because he looked like he wanted to go on, and there is a ton of stamina in his female family. He also turned in a bullet six-furlong work in 1:12 3/5, so trainer Eric Guillot is obviously putting some bottom into him. Something’s got to give with three San Felipe starters on here, and all three have an extremely tough task even to finish in the money, and that also includes the aforementioned Tiz a Minister, who has a devastating closing kick, and the newly blinkered Kochees.

18--HONORABLE DILLON -- Was debating whether he was "unknown" enough to be put on this list, based on his victory in the Hutcheson Stakes, but decided to add him, because he still will be a good price in the Tampa Bay Derby. He also is somewhat unknown, not having been two turns and racing greenly in the Hutcheson. His pedigree suggests he'll stretch out with no problem, and if he can learn to switch leads and be more focused in the stretch, he has every right to improve. He certainly doesn't need to beat Verrazano or Dynamic Sky and Falling Sky to move forward off this, but if he's competitive against those horses and races more professionally, then he'll be on everyone's radar screen.

19--NINA'S DRAGON -- If I were starting this list over, I would rank him higher, but it's tough to start shifting places now. Not only has he run well on dirt, even though it was at Pleasanton, and not only was he closing fast to be second in the El Camino Real Derby in only his fourth career start, but looking at his pedigree, his sire, Tizbud, is a full-brother to Tiznow, Budroyale, and the dams of Paynter and Oxbow, and his maternal great-grandsires are Seattle Slew and the little known Superbity, who won the the grade I Flamingo Stakes and is by Groshawk, a grade I-winning son of Graustark. So, there is plenty of class and stamina on dirt in his pedigree.

20--TITLETOWN FIVE -- Wayne Lukas has been extremely high on this colt, especially after his stunning nine-length maiden romp at Churchill Downs last fall. He returned in the Gazebo Stakes at six furlongs after a four-month layoff and battled head and head the whole way, only to be caught in the final furlong by a 10-1 shot from Steve Asmussen. The horse he battled with early faded to last, beaten over 13 lengths. Titletown Five is by Tiznow, so he has every right to stretch out, and you can bet Lukas will give him the opportunity.

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Leave a Comment:


Sorry, I overlooked it the first time but I just can't help myself:

How many Rs in Govenor Charlie?


Also worth a mention: both of the Midnight Lute colts Shakin it Up and Govenor Charlie are out of Silverbulletday daughters.

07 Mar 2013 3:26 PM

I would love to see Shakin It Up come flying down the Derby stretch to give Bob and his buddies another win with a son of Midnight Lute. I always wanted to see what he(Midnight Lute) could do if Bob had had the chance to stretch him out. Steve, do you know how tall he is? Would love to know.(hope not too big)

07 Mar 2013 4:04 PM

I liked Siete De Oros from the Gotham as well as I liked Elnaawi. They were both running on at the end and got some good experience running in tight quarters.

07 Mar 2013 4:59 PM
El Kabong


Love the story but still no love for Uncaptured? His workouts look good, and he's still on course to have a prep schedule similar to Street Sense, Animal Kingdom and Super Saver. But, If you have heard something about his training I will once again bow to your wealth of knowledge and insight. When I saw your, I thought for sure you had written this with him in mind:) No? I feel so left out.

07 Mar 2013 5:23 PM
El Kabong

your header. Sorry, I type slower than I think.

07 Mar 2013 5:25 PM

Since we're looking off the page a bit, what do you think of Fear The Kitten? He's lightly raced, and has turf breeding with Kittens Joy, but i think he has been improving. With a win in the Spiral he's got a shot. Barbaro had dominant turf breeding and I think his time frame works for an improving 3 yr old to be hot coming into Derby season. Now i'm not saying he is Barbaro by any stretch, and he has to win convincingly in the Spiral, but Kittens Joy horses have been doing well this year (of course there seems like a million of them are running now)and i think he could be one of those from 'out of the cloud' horses. My 250-1 future bet sure hopes so. Just interested in any thoughts. Thanks

07 Mar 2013 5:54 PM
Criminal Type

Gotcha, I dunno about Shakin it Up but Midnight Lute is 17 hands even.

07 Mar 2013 5:57 PM

Wheres Ground Transport? Was beaten by Departing(#4) first time out sprinting. Has done nothing wrong in his last two. Yes, he will be stepping up in the LA Derby, but wheres the love??

07 Mar 2013 6:10 PM

steve-thanks for the listing. did any of these horses race last summer at saratoga?

07 Mar 2013 6:31 PM
Steve Haskin

El Kabong, do you really believe Uncaptured belongs on a list of second wave horses. He was 6 for 7 last year and won the Ky. JC. not exactly a late bloomer. He's No. 14 or 15 on my main Derby Dozen, but with the setback he had I'm not rushing to put him on when others are winning stakes. Plenty of time to put him on.

No love for? is getting kind of tedious. Everything is not about love or hate. There is an in between.

Keenlyn, I mentioned very clearly that I probably overlooked a few and would like to hear names. I do like Ground Transport. I just overlooked him, I said I would add horses I overlooked and I will add him.

07 Mar 2013 6:53 PM


07 Mar 2013 7:10 PM

I wonder if this thesis has something to do with the 100 pointers down the road with the novel point qualifying system in place this year.Most of the field for the 2013 KD could consist primarily of the 1st and 2nd place finishers of these 6 preps in the US and one in Dubai,although I only think the winner from Dubai will run if any at all compete from the prep in the United Emirates.

07 Mar 2013 7:12 PM
El Kabong


He certainly doesn't. I didn't see any mention of him at all on the dozen knocking on the door lately, although I may have missed it. I know you can't list them all and yes, Uncaptured has plenty of time to crash the party. I figured you may have heard something about his training that I hadn't read. Looking forward to the Spiral. On a different note, I loved the video from Dubai at the dawn workout. Little Mike looked ready to brawl, and Dullahan was oblivious to all his stammering. They seem to be in there element over there.

07 Mar 2013 7:43 PM
Steve Haskin

El Kabong, Knockin at the Door is normally for horses who have run the past weekend and who are scheduled to run the following weekend. I change names every week. I occasionally list pertinent works, and I've listed two of his works on Knockin at the Door.

07 Mar 2013 8:01 PM
Your Only Friend

Hear ya loud and Clear on "Treasury Bill"....good trainer, look for horse to progress in weeks too come.....but still long time till Derby Day ,things happen.

07 Mar 2013 9:04 PM

I think mine that bird, has messed peoples heads up.....handicappers, owners, now think you dont have to be good anymore to run in the derby.......all i hear, is "anything can happen"... or "mine that bird didn't run fast either".......people! You have to run at least 105 beyer usually to win the derby! You people have lost your minds! These horses might improve 8 lengths?  ...........ya never know huh?

07 Mar 2013 9:09 PM
Age of Reason

Slew, since Dice Flavor made this very intriguing list of Steve's I'll take the liberty of continuing our discussion on him from Mr. Haskin's previous blog.

Actually, Dice Flavor HAS ran on dirt...technically. In his first start down the hill at Santa Anita he had to cross the dirt track before turning into the turf homestretch, and I'll admit that I went back and watched that race specifically to see how he acted for the 3 seconds or so when he crossed the dirt. Talk about grasping at straws! He was in traffic trouble and getting shoved around at that point anyway, so it was a meaningless excercise. But, after having watched all of his races (including the El Camino Real 3 or 4 times), I've been impressed by his consistent and consistently strong closing kick. He took a lot of interference in the El Camino Real that would have finished many good horses (poor Courageous Cat getting hit-and-run by Goldikova springs to mind), and stil kicked clear with professionalism and authority. I also liked that he's both battle-tested and lightly raced, though that's normally paradoxical. And finally, his running style (at least to my eyes, love to hear what the rest of y'all think also) at least doesn't scream turf/synthetic (Dullahan, anyone?) so I suppose his chances of liking Churchill's mother earth are as good as any. Then again, I tend to be over-analytical and may just be overthinking things. As has become my motto lately, "We shall see!"

07 Mar 2013 11:01 PM

Not to forget Dynamic Strike trained by Dickie Small after winning the Miracle Wood.

07 Mar 2013 11:13 PM

El Kabong,

Uncaptured is working very sharp and will run at Turfway. His trainer is very high on him and feels he is ready to run a big one follwed by the Blue Grass.

08 Mar 2013 8:18 AM
Eric Rickard

I know this is for the Derby; but did you notice Calastoga's race at Gulfstream on thursday? Looks awesome and fast.

08 Mar 2013 8:48 AM

I really like this horse Dice Flavour,if this horse takes to the dirt and stays sound there all in trouble.His finish in the El Camino Real derby was visibly brilliant.  

08 Mar 2013 10:02 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   How many Derby winners since we have had Beyer speed figures, have run a 105 Beyer prior to March? How many haven't? Do your homework, then come back to class and give a presentation. What is the best Beyer at this point of your future wagers? I think Verrazano might be the only one with a 105 Beyer at this point. Are you saying that he is the only one that can win the Derby and that your future wagers on Flashback and Normandy Invasion are worthless because they don't have a 105 Beyer yet? How you can dramatically criticize people's Derby hopefuls at this point is beyond comprehension. The biggest prep races haven't even been run yet.

08 Mar 2013 11:14 AM
It aint easy being good!

Age of Reason Dice Flavor is my #1 horse and see the same thing you do. I believe alot of people say that Dulluhan running style was more suited for syth/turf. I have watched Dice flavor run and his style seems like it would translate to dirt. He is a true 10 furlong horse and wont be backing up if he makes the gate May 5th.

08 Mar 2013 11:42 AM
Plod Boy Phil

re: Dice Flavor

Visually impressive perhaps, but passing stopped horses almost always looks good. Nina's Dragon enjoyed a similar 'with Flow' run and did it while widest.

No thank you to all off the pace horse from this race.

08 Mar 2013 12:09 PM
El Kabong


Thanks for the update. Mr. Casse would look splendid standing next to a horse covered in Roses. Here's to yet another new trainer getting his chance at Louisville. Bring on the Spiral.

08 Mar 2013 12:17 PM
Pedigree Ann

Chief P. -

The top 3yo in Dubai at the moment is the South-African-bred Soft Falling Rain from the Mike de Kock barn. Since he is considered a 4yo in the US (foaled in SH spring, Sept-Nov), any points he takes down will be out of play.

08 Mar 2013 12:33 PM
Rusty Weisner


Dynamic Strike is running at Laurel tomorrow in the Private Terms, a three-year old stakes at 1 1/8.  I had been planning to go but have to make it the next weekend, instead, which is too bad.

08 Mar 2013 12:49 PM

Thanks for the additional list Steve I think you could expand it to 20+ and you would still have people giving you grief they obviously miss the point or take it to seriously.My addition would be Tittletown Five I've watched his previous races in which he won impressively  or more then held his own and combined with Lukas always being motivated to get horses to the Derby and the new point system giving late developing   horses a chance all he needs he one win.

08 Mar 2013 12:54 PM
Rusty Weisner

They made Vegas No Show the favorite against him in the Miracle Wood, if you can believe that.  I'll look for that angle when I go:  overbet Aqueduct shippers.

08 Mar 2013 1:05 PM

I love Ground Transport, hopefully he'll prove to be the sleeper in the LA derby.  He's one of the very few left in my horses to watch list and I'm glad that Steve noticed him...that meant he looks good enough for a mention.   I have very high expectations on this horse and I'm expecting him to at the very least get a very close 2nd but I pick him to win the LA derby and win it easily.

I'm anxious to see Balance the Books run in the spiral against Uncaptured.   I can't imagine him not liking the dirt but we'll see.

El Kabong : You're not alone with the feeling that Uncaptured is not getting attention, I have had him on top of my dozen for awhile now,  but I think we'll have to wait until the Spiral because he had some issues and his fitness is a question.  For me, the only concern is whether he really is back to 100%.   If he is, he'll make the Derby field from either a combo of points from Spiral and BG or straight out winning the BG.  Anyway, I'm really anxious to see him run.

08 Mar 2013 1:27 PM
Steve Haskin

Nina's Dragon and Titletown Five have been added to complete the Top 20. I especially like Nina's Dragon after looking closely at his pedigree. He could be a real sleeper. As I wrote, I would have ranked him much higher had I not overlooked him. Thanks for jolting my memory.

08 Mar 2013 1:34 PM

  lol  ... looking into the ‘sack of potatoes’ are we ?  I would say that there are many more out there that might yep slip into the picture also.

  He’s a few from my 50 + !!! bred to cover some distance you haven’t yet mentioned, although of course I am far from sure whether all are on still ‘on the trail’…

“Bold Dance”; “Bradester”; “Carving”; “Cerro”; “Declan’s Warrior”; “Distinctiv Passion”; “El Duro”; “Eton Blue”; “Forever Thing”; “Fortify”; “Forty Tales”; “Integrity”; “Intrepid Citizen”; “Little Distorted”;

“Majestic Hussar”; “Malibu High”; “Merit Man”; “Offlee Fast”; “Park City”; “Perfect Set”; “Perfect Title”;

“Power Broker”; “Qualify”; “Quazieme Monarque”; “Saint Viguer”; “Speak Logistics”;

“Summer Exclusive”; “Summer Shiner”; “Title Contender”; “Transparent”; “Uncaptured”; and “Valid”;

…where until further evidence, none of these on watch have fallen completely off of my own ‘radar’ yet.

08 Mar 2013 5:34 PM

Dr....Most of the one's that HAVE run 105 have missed the derby......thanks for making my point...........itsmyluckyday wont win........peaked in jan..

08 Mar 2013 7:05 PM
Age of Reason


I noticed that Mr. Palmer is entered in tomorrow's stake at Laurel, and even got a shout-out from the DRF crew in their write-up. Best of luck to your 'namesake'!

08 Mar 2013 7:35 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


    It is true that some of the higher Beyers don't make it to the Derby. As for Itsmyluckyday, I don't think he peaked in January. I expect even better in his next.

08 Mar 2013 7:45 PM

CROP REPORT will win next start on grass or in SPIRAL,   this horse I think has the potential to pull a ANIMAL KINGDOM, under radar  looking good on synthetic/grass and first dirt race in DERBY.  hearing might go Grass race then BLKUEGRASS

08 Mar 2013 9:40 PM

Why do you think its true dr?................after this one, dont forget your lesson learned ok?

08 Mar 2013 11:07 PM

Honorable Dillon is my upset pick of the weekend.  For what that's worth...

09 Mar 2013 6:29 AM

Steve - I'm glad that you have included 2 of my Future Bet 2 horses on this list. I have Treasury Bill at 28-1 and Titletown Five at 61-1 in exacta boxes with 10 other legitimate contenders. I would love to see Treasury Bill win the Rebel next week. I also have Oxbow in FB 1 and FB 2 bets. I will be rooting for an Oxbow/Treasury Bill exacta in next weeks Rebel as I try to qualify my future bet horses for the Derby. Titletown Five may be pointed to the Sunland Derby, where he will face Shakin it Up. I would love to see Titletown Five win this race so that Lukas could train him up to the Derby. Also glad to see that the Sunland Derby is 1 1/8, which gives Titletown Five a chance to stretch his legs.

09 Mar 2013 7:28 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Most of them were injuries. Pushed too hard, too young, on medications is one possibility but  you can't discount bad luck on a few. At least three are from the same barn but it's a big barn so percentage wise isn't that high. It's all speculation. As far as lessons are concerned I forget them all the time and have to relearn them. The game is complex, old lessons forgotten, new lessons learned. Things change too. There are far more variables than most people take into account.

09 Mar 2013 9:20 AM

We can all be excused for overlooking cold facts but there is no absolutely no excuse for disparaging comments about any Derby winner. The Derby is by far the most difficult race to win and MTB record setting performance is one of the best seen in the last 40 year or more. I could understand if he had inched by Pioneerof The Nile by a HD but he did not. The decimated the field with his rider having time to look back and  point his whip to those he had left in his wake.

To classify MTB as being no good  underscores the overwhelming ignorance associated with  some contributors. Mine That Bird was 2008 Canadian Champion 2YO. Which other Derby winners were Canadian Champion 2YOs? Northern Dancer and Sunny’s Halo!

MTB recorded a time of 2:02.66 on a sloppy track. Super Saver and Smarty Jones recorded time of 2:04.45 and 2:04.06 on similar tracks. Animal Kingdom recorded a time of 2:02.04 on a less challenging track.

MIT was a diminishing 1/2L behind eventual HOY Rachael Alexander in the Preakness. He was 3rd to the eventual Champion 3YO Summer Bird in the Belmont. The little gelding took on the ultimate test for 3YOs and came away flying colors .How many before has been in the top three in all three legs of the TC?

How can anyone with a functional brain consider this horse no good?

I respectfully request that some contributors engage their brains before engaging  their keyboards.

09 Mar 2013 9:36 AM

There were two Scat Daddy colts in the 2012 Derby i.e., Daddy Knows Best and Daddy Long Legs.

Daddy Knows Best won Synthetic, Turf and Dirt and Daddy Long Legs won on Synthetic and Turf.

Both colts were impressive in their Synthetic and Turf victories but were amongst the also ran in the Derby.

Why is there so much interest in Dice Flavor?

09 Mar 2013 9:53 AM

The unbeaten Park City has captured my attention as a second wave mention. He will be part of the Tampa Bay Derby field and I do not believe he was nominated as filler.

He broke his maiden in July at 5F with a closing effort in a good time of 58 2/5 and then disappeared. His next start was almost 7 months later where met a loose on the lead Cat Five Hurricane in a 6 1/2F Optional Claim. He squeezed out a fighting NK victory.

In Both his wins the recorded fractions were very fast i.e.,  22 & 45 and he closed on both occasions. He was sired by the very hot Harlan’s Holiday out of a Pleasant Colony broodmare. From his running style he is no sprinter. For him to win a 5F in 58 and a 61/2F in 1:17 and a bit, it suggests he is a very classy colt that is a serious unknown quantity.

He is one of three unbeaten colt in the TBD and with a very hot pace expected, this colt could be closing for a major piece of the pie.

NB: He did not look very comfortable on the GP surface and might just prefer TBD.

09 Mar 2013 10:28 AM

I for one am very disappointed to see that the triple crown races keep falling to lightly raced horses that after winning, so often are never heard from again.  Where are the battle tested champions of old that gave the fans a hero to cheer for for entire seasons??  I refuse to believe that thoroughbreds are so fragile that they can only handle 3-4 races in a year and then they are done.  If they spent more time RACING and less time TRAINING perhaps we could enjoy more of their performances.  These athletes thrive on competition, and it should be the trainers job to keep them sound and race them as often as possible.  THAT is what the sport needs, Champions, not one hit wonders.  The likes of War Admiral, Affirmed, and Citation would be ashamed!!

09 Mar 2013 1:44 PM

I for one am very disappointed to see that the triple crown races keep falling to lightly raced horses that after winning, so often are never heard from again.  Where are the battle tested champions of old that gave the fans a hero to cheer for for entire seasons??  I refuse to believe that thoroughbreds are so fragile that they can only handle 3-4 races in a year and then they are done.  If they spent more time RACING and less time TRAINING perhaps we could enjoy more of their performances.  These athletes thrive on competition, and it should be the trainers job to keep them sound and race them as often as possible.  THAT is what the sport needs, Champions, not one hit wonders.  The likes of War Admiral, Affirmed, and Citation would be ashamed!!

09 Mar 2013 1:45 PM

Since I've seen Crop Report and Treasury Bill and He's Had Enough staggering lengths behind the winner of their respective races, I don't have much faith in them.

Age of Reason: 3 seconds on dirt does not make a race on dirt.  I think Dice Flavor has something very special.  I just hope they nominate him soon...he already has 20 points if they do.

We all have a lot of races yet to see.  Best horse doesn't always translate into Derby winner...but we have faith, and a bagful of hope.

I hope everyone enjoys these preps.

09 Mar 2013 2:04 PM

Wow! Gulfstream 3, Declan's Warrior and Narvaez dogfight down the home stretch to the wire..dead heat.  What a fantastic run from 2 determined colts.  I'll be watching them when they go longer than 7.5f.  

09 Mar 2013 2:16 PM

Coldfacts: While I agree that Mine That Bird earned his win, and was not a fluke....the statement

"The Derby is by far the most difficult race to win"

is incorrect.  The most grueling TC race is the Belmont at 12f, and real horsemen consider it the true test of a Champion.

While the UK would consider the 4 mile Grand National as their most difficult.

09 Mar 2013 4:53 PM

Who said mine that bird was no good?

09 Mar 2013 5:07 PM

Mine that bird was good......at the derby, and preakness.......he improved over 8 lengths.......the odds might be a clue .....

09 Mar 2013 5:12 PM

Oh my gosh...Gulfstream..Fort Larned, winner of the BC Clasic, 2 steps out of the gate went to his knees and almost on his side, lost rider Hernandez, ran riderless up the rail, passing the field by 12 lengths.  Discreet Dancer gets the win in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Hernandez ok...no word on Ft Larned who was 1/2 mile in front of the field.

And Verrazano cruised to victory in the TB Derby.

09 Mar 2013 5:51 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

Verrazano did well the pace was so so the place horse was 32 to 1 what happen to flasback when the pace was fast? so to turn the fantasy in reality is very inportant to know your game,unrace at 2 Stroke Creek by hello sire of 2 derby winners before him finished 2d to Go For Gin in the 1994 derby and he was facing Brocco The chanpion 2 year old,Bluming Affair by dynaformer Who finished 3d at this derby and Tabasco Cat who went to win the preaknees and the derby over derby winner Go For Gin do you want to talk about class? and last year a son of belmont winner Enpire Maker who had the hart to finish 2d in the derby despite having ran 3 consecutive races at 9 furlongs who have done that this century? so like i say open the gate and you will realize that one thing is with  spoon and other with fork, i hope you understand my humble coment.

09 Mar 2013 8:39 PM

Age of Reason,

Regarding Mr. Palmer,I did not see your post until today.

At 9/5 I missed big pay day as he should have been 1/2.

This colt is a 10F horse but is he fast enough?

If his connections have Derby ambitions I think they might consider the to the Wood.

Although late, Thanks for the alert.

10 Mar 2013 8:07 AM
El Kabong


The KJC's form just got a nice boost from the second wave of Java's War. This guy is a classic. He was slow out of the gate in the KJC and was very wide down the the backstretch and coming home. He needs a derby rider. Martinez, chilly Willy, did a good job yesterday, but had one hesitation in the far turn and it cost him a little momentum. That said,  the breeding on this guy is really suited to go the classic distances. After yesterday, I like Uncaptured's chances better but Java has the royal breeding to relish 10F's. Maybe Calvin would like another victory from out of the clouds. Another cup of Joe for you Steve? I can't wait to see this guy run farther.

10 Mar 2013 8:22 AM


You are probably alone is your assessment that the Belmont is a harder race to win than the Belmont.

Connections do not pray for favorable post positions and good trips in the Belmont. Connections do not ship all over the country  trying to secure graded earnings, now points to secure a place in the Belmont.

The like of Da'Tara, Ruler On Ice, Commendable etc., would be chasing the ambulance in the Derby.

Most years Belmont’s fields are small and void of quality. A second stringer that avoided the Derby and Preakness can easily get loose on the lead and steal the race. Likewise an also ran from the Derby that avoided the Preakness can defeat a Derby/Preakness participant due to extract recovery time.

You have reminded me regularly that horses are herd animals. When 20 are assembled for race it transition from a race to a stampede. When five are assembled it’s a grazing session or a slow canter.

10 Mar 2013 8:34 AM

“I think Mine That Bird, has messed people’s heads up.....handicappers, owners, now think you don’t have to be ( good) anymore to run in the derby”

The above extract from a particular post was slightly edited due to capital letter being added where appropriate in the referenced gelding’s name and brackets added to the word ‘good’.

I remain the most English challenged on this board, but despite my deficiencies, the above statement clearly infers that the subject gelding was being as used as a measurement.

If Mine That Bird’s victory in the Derby has led to the misconception that a horse does not have to be good to win the great race, then it is being inferred that the subject gelding not worthy winner of the great race.

There is no such status as being good up to the Derby and Preakness. The gelding was third in the Belmont. If his goodness  stopped at the Preakness, how would his 3rd place finish in the Belmont be explained?


He was one of two horses in the Belmont that contested the Derby and Preakness. The other finished off the board. Is there a point where a Champion 2YO’s goodness stops?

MTB was very small gelding that took on the ultimate challenge for 3YOs and paid the price. His willing heart was far bigger than his tiny body. It is an inequity from which his tiny body did not recover.

Instead of damage control follow up posts, the contributor that has sought undermined his achievement and has inferred that he was not good enough to be a Derby winner, should do the right thing  and post an apology  to the geldings many fans.

10 Mar 2013 9:11 AM

Pedigree Ann,

I listed 21 stallions from the MR. Prospector sire line that have sired classic winner in the US. As previously stated I regard Mr. Prospector and his sire line mutually exclusive.  

Mr. Prospector's achievements are his and those of his descendants I consider to be from his sires line.

You will note I did not include Miswaki, Machiavellian, Rhythm etc. They are all sons of Mr. Prospector that have sired winners of major races in Europe and Australia. In the case of Rhythm he is probably best remembered for being the winner of the first Breeder Cup Juvenile. Few will probably know that he sired the 2001 Melbourne Cup winner Ethereal.  

The thing applies to Storm Cat. I regard Storm Cat and his sire line mutually exclusive.

Storm Cat's achievements are his and those of his descendants I consider to be from his sires line.

I am aware of Giant’s Causeway, Forestry etc., exploits outside the shores of the US. Discreet Cat won the UAE Derby but that is not relevant to the point I was making.

Only one stallion from the Storm Cat sire line has sired the winner of Triple Crown race. Whereas 21 from the Mr. Prospector sire line have.

Despite the significant age difference between the Storm Cat and Mr. Prospector, he has more sons as stallions.

10 Mar 2013 11:17 AM

COLDFACTS: The statement that the Belmont is considered the true test of Champions by horsemen was actually almost a direct statement made in the book, "The Most Glorius Crown", written by Marvin Drager. So I certainly am not alone in my thinking.

No matter how many horses are entered, post position is irrelevant because the horses start slow and have plenty of time to get into position during the stamina test of 12f.

Of course a fresh horse can steal it, but the Belmont usually determines a Triple Crown Champion...or pinpoints a horse's flaws.

The Kentucky Derby, on the other hand, is considered one of the most prestigious races in the world, and certainly the premier race in the USA.  But, in a 20 horse field, there's an awful lot of luck needed to win it.

The Belmont weeds out the lucky horses from the champion horses.

I'm confident in Verrazano.  He did rate in the race, shows a preference to be outside the speed, took on every challenger with ease, and simply cruised.  I don't think he worked hard at all for his win.  I was very impressed by Java's War, who closed with lightning speed, and didn't seem to tire after his spectacular run.

In the San Felipe, dumb!  Flashback and Goldencents engaged in a duel when they were only 2 furlongs into the race.  They should have saved it for the homestretch.  It was the early duel that wore them both down.

I was very impressed by Tiz A Minister, who came rushing up from 12 lengths behind the field; he shows promise.  And he's handsome.  I was most impressed by the stride on Hear The Ghost.  He stayed midpack, and made his move in the homestretch, easily bypassing the tiring duelists.  His stride was long and always reaching for more ground, and he had the jump on Tiz A Minister whose stride had begun to shorten slightly in the final furlong.

And Hear The Ghost is a Ghostzapper-tough to beat.  Dr. D. called it, and I'm glad he got my attention.

10 Mar 2013 11:35 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

Dr Steve Roman shuld be happy when he see the San Felipe winner Hear The Ghost with a dosage profile of 41500,this will be the first derby winner with 5 points in the classic wing sinse he invented this formula and the irony is that his sire and grand sire won the breeders cup classic but at 4.

10 Mar 2013 5:41 PM

I think Steve makes a good point with this blog. Any trainers that remember all the media hype that surrounded Uncle Mo must wonder if maybe there aren't some advantages to keeping a potential Derby runner under wraps and off the public's radar for as long as possible.

11 Mar 2013 6:40 AM
Greg B

What about Al Stall's Sunbean? Although a LA bred, he has been quite impressive, scratching from the Risen Star because of the bad draw, easily won a state bred race on that day in I believe the fastest mile and 70 yard race of the meet. He also won on the same Friday night card that Departing won in I believe a faster time.

11 Mar 2013 2:54 PM

I should have added earlier...I was watching a History Channel special on Horse racing in America.  They paid a lot of attention to Seattle Slew.

In the narration and interviews, the owners and trainers both referred to the Belmont Stakes as the most challenging race in America.

Just saying....

11 Mar 2013 6:12 PM
Greg R

Yes, actually, at this time of year I HAD heard of Big Brown (saw his Saratoga debut on grass - he caused quite a buzz), Mine That Bird (he had come down from Canada to run in the States as 2 yr-old, right?....when he showed up again in New Mexico, of all places, I was mystified, and couldn't believe it was the same horse), Funny Cide as an up-and-comer who kept giving it the old college try and Giacomo, who kept chasing the "star" California colts as a 2 yr-old.  War Emblem had yet to emerge at that level at this stage.  Grindstone only hit my radar after the Ark Derby - in those days, we didn't pay quite as much attention to early-season Oaklawn races, did we?!  After Grindstone, Oaklawn steadily grew in prominence vis-a-vis the Derby Trail.

13 Mar 2013 12:00 AM

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