Haskin's Derby Report: General on the Attack

Mike Maker has been looking forward to working General a Rod since his unexpectedly slow work last week. He has since compensated for the colt’s distractions by galloping him in blinkers, which has made him more focused and aggressive.

This morning, again wearing blinkers and with Joel Rosario aboard, the powerfully built colt turned in a half-mile work in :49 2/5, rattling off his eighths in :12 2/5, :12 1/5, :12 2/5, and :12 3/5. General a Rod was aggressive early as Rosario gave him a long run to the pole, keeping him well off the rail and grabbing a tight hold of the reins and keeping just enough restraint to prevent the colt from getting too aggressive early.

After breaking off at the half-mile pole, he still kept him off the rail over a drying out track that still had a good deal of moisture in it and had him about five-wide turning for home. General a Rod came home smoothly well off the rail, but jumped back on to his left lead nearing the wire. The clockers caught him galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 4/5.

This is one horse who doesn’t need any speed in his works. We know he’s fast and he’s tenacious and likes to battle on or near the front end. But that is not going to win him the Kentucky Derby. This was a solid enough work to help get him more focused than he was in his last work and to have Rosario get another feel of him before the race.

One horse who made a big first impression was Samraat, who is another with great presence. He has an absolutely beautiful head and a big, bright, kind eye and emits a great deal of class. He just jogged this morning, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how handles the track and how he does with his lead changes, which have been erratic in the past.

One of the gallopers who stood out this morning is a horse who I believe is going to be totally forgotten by the bettors and that is Candy Boy. I was impressed with his work in company the other day under Gary Stevens and how he accelerated taking off after his workmate, and also how he finished up. He’s a powerfully built colt, who was dead short in the Santa Anita Derby, in a race scenario not to his liking. Most feel as if he has too much to do to make up nearly nine lengths on California Chrome, but he does get a much better pace setup and has a race under him, and the Santa Anita Derby was not unlike 1996 when Snow Chief ran off and hid from Ferdinand, who also finished a well-beaten third. At this point at least, he’s an intriguing longshot possibility who should definitely love the mile and a quarter.

Another looker in this field is Dance With Fate, a Black Stallion type who moved very well over the track this morning.

The other forgotten and maligned horse in the field is Vicar’s in Trouble, and he appears to be doing better than many think. It’s going to be tough on Friday to sort through all the leading contenders and longshots and pick out the ones to concentrate on at the windows. If California Chrome comes up short, this is a total crap shoot, where most anyone has a shot to win if they run their “A” race. Off looks, there are several with whom I’ve been impressed, including Uncle Sigh, who is muscled out and carrying excellent flesh. So tune in on Friday and see how all this gets sorted out. I can tell you now it’s going to be a last-minute decision on how to attack this perplexing race.

A quick note on Harry’s Holiday: he was lathered up pretty badly coming off the track this morning despite fairly cool temperatures.

While everyone was over at California Chrome's barn, fellow traveler Dance With Fate takes a rest after the flight.

Wicked Strong is bright and alert as he takes a break from grazing.

Wicked Strong and Jimmy Jerkens.

General a Rod stood just like this for a good five minutes waiting for the track to open.

Samraat's demeanor catches your attention.

Samraat wins the most beautiful head and eye award. And notice those nice big ears.

Samraat regal demeanor is evident even after training.

Candy Boy has been on the muscle and feeling good.


Leave a Comment:


Samraat is gorgeous, looks more RAN to me than Northern Dancer, but he does carry RAN blood on his sire side, reminds alittle of Seeking the Gold, only as a chestnut.

Betting Angle, suggested for this Derby:

1. pick your top eleven horses

2. randomly assign them a number from 2 thru 12.

3. roll a pair of dice and the first four different numbers that come up, that's your superfecta box....

....good luck all with this crapshoot......

29 Apr 2014 2:56 PM
Sail On

Wonderful report, Steve, and the photos are super! I do wish we could hevs some photos of Vicar's In trouble.

I still like

Vicar's In Trouble


Wicked Strong

as my top three.

I also like Wildcat Red.

Uncle Sigh and General A Rod are good horses, but...

Also, I so wish that Social Inclusion could make the cut.

I do agree with you about Candy Boy, and Ride On Curlin, who has a big kick, but...

Thanks again for the super photos and please try for some shots of Vicar's In trouble.

29 Apr 2014 4:10 PM

1.Wicked Strong


3.Candy Boy

4.Medal Count

5.Ride on Curlin

6.Intense Holiday

7.General A Rod

8.Commanding Curve

29 Apr 2014 4:26 PM
Old Old Cat

Lake Churchill has drained leaving me no choice but to go with my fair weather horses California Chrome four lengths over Wild.CAT. bay.not.RED over SAM.the.RAT by a nose. Trifecta no box..

29 Apr 2014 4:52 PM
Mister Frisky

Thanks for the updates Steve,cant wait for your selections.

29 Apr 2014 5:28 PM

I've been thinking a lot about General a Rod's chances the past few days.  That picture you posted yesterday of him in his stall, giving a look that seemed to say "Hey!  Don't forget about me!  Guys?  Guys???" seemed appropriate, as he has been, if not somewhat forgotten, then essentially tagged as an "also ran" in the past couple of weeks.  

I'm trying to avoid the "11th hour fever", but horses like Uncle Sigh, Vicars in Trouble and Chitu are making it tough.  For now, I am stuck on your top 3, however: CC, Danza and Hop.

Can't wait for your final observations later this week, Steve(and more spectacular photos too, hopefully!).

29 Apr 2014 6:19 PM

I agree with you Steve, this is a very perplexing race to try and figure out. The race strategy is going to be fascinating to watch. Will one of the speed horses try and burn the field up? I just don't beleive you're going to be able to run well off the lead and win this race.

Great photo of Dance With Fate taking a rest!

29 Apr 2014 6:54 PM

Hi Steve, Love this pictures, gives us the opportunity to see many of them up close and personal. Just delighted that you see in Samraat what I saw in him when I first started following the preps and the Derby Dozen. Love that photo of Dance with Fate. He is a "Black Stallion" for sure. Look forward to you list!

29 Apr 2014 9:02 PM
Paula Higgins

I have always been high on Samraat. He has a very alert look. He seems smart to me and competitive. I like Wicked Strong too and my derby picks are made I think as follows:

California Chrome (unless he has a horrible work)

Wicked Strong



29 Apr 2014 9:34 PM

So how did Chrome look in his gallop this morning?

29 Apr 2014 9:41 PM

Thanks for the photos of Samraat, the one I've been waiting for !   He is a gorgeous looking colt.  I guess tomorrow is a big big day for me with (hopefully) some comments from you regarding how he handles the track and the post position draws.

I'm not worried one bit about the lead change issue and I don't think it will be an issue for him in the Derby.  Love this horse!

29 Apr 2014 10:38 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

I didn't know Samraat was so beautiful.  That head!  Wow! Thanks for sharing your photographs.  

29 Apr 2014 11:17 PM

This Derby is definitely defined Steve, by the use of your word "perplexed" and the "last-minute decision"  is the best doctor-advice for the treatment of contagious Derby Fever. Even though "The Chrome" is doing the best salesman job for the Derby, to whom the credits will go in this graduating class remains the question - or should we say mystery? Facts and figures, Dames and Sires; as for the trainers and clockers and jockeys seem to be needing the same Rx.

One can look at these photos and easily interpret that these athletes are not going to reveal the result of a test before they take it ~

Did you mention that General A Rod may be in blinkers - Mystery Guest! but no guess work on the fabulous photos and without a question a "Winning" Haskin' feature.

29 Apr 2014 11:31 PM

Dance with Fate and California Chrome need their "snooze" time to catch up with the time difference.  What a great picture of handsome Dance with Fate.  Thanks for all these tidbits.  So much to digest.... enjoy all your writings.

30 Apr 2014 1:51 AM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

This doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of General A Rod.

30 Apr 2014 7:26 AM

Samraat reminds me of Alysheba with his determination, can't help but root for him

30 Apr 2014 8:43 AM
Forbidden Apple

I'll be jumping up and down if I can get 15-1 on my top pick, Candy Boy! With plenty of pace and a race at 1 1/4 miles, I'm starting to see candy coated chrome.

30 Apr 2014 9:21 AM

Waiting for the draw....but still betting against CC. More power to him and his connections if he can take it, so far he looks like a machine BUT 3/1 or less in the demolition derby is just too low for me. California Chrome was surprisingly pedestrian on the thorograph sheets. I'll take a stand against him at the 3/1 he's going to be.Danza and Wicked Strong are my pre draw considerations. Everyone thinks they're going to bounce off their career bests, but they absolutely don't have to.  Sheets wise, while their last start was a big improvement over the race before that, they've only developed 4 (Danza) and 6 (Wicked Strong) points off their best 2YO figure (typical improvement is roughly 7 points on average). Horses running a lifetime top with only moderate to decent improvement over their best 2YO number are usually the ones who spring forward again.  By all accounts, Danza and WS have looked strong on the track this week.  Those two just look like horses peaking at the right time. But I am only and crazy, so who knows. B O L to all.

30 Apr 2014 10:30 AM

Also some great photos here ( "Mornings at Churchill Downs" ) :


30 Apr 2014 11:20 AM
Linda in Texas

Dance with Fate is plumb tuckered out. Did not realize how pretty and black he is.

Just checked the weather.com site and i'm seeing you all are home free without rain. Shows clear from today, Wednesday thru Saturday. Didn't check Sunday.

Photos are worth a thousand words. Keeping this short but have a great time and we thank you for the view you give us that otherwise would have no clue. Thanks Steve.

30 Apr 2014 2:01 PM

the 5 post is fine for CC unless he really blows the start at the gate. He has enough tactical speed to be in a good stalking position. He should win barring a suicidal pace being set early.

30 Apr 2014 8:48 PM

Well, here we are, post draws are done.  Now we start the grueling 60 or so hours trying to pick our horses.   I said in the other blog, this is the most competitive field I've seen in awhile.   Chrome is a standout on paper, unfortunately for me, this is the race where I'll know whether he's for real or not and I will let him beat me.

I'm quite happy with Samraat's post, I was hoping between 6 and 10 and he got 6!  And as a bonus, he has Chrome next him to the left and WMA to his right.  It also worked out well that the two speeds in the race will have no choice but to gun it from their posts which means we'll definitely see a speed duel.   I'm liking my chances....if it doesn't work out and Samraat is not good enough...there's always next year! lol

30 Apr 2014 11:46 PM
Lise from Maine


Just love the photo of Dance With Fate sleeping. He is so cute laying there, and it is different.

I am still wondering about betting on him. My final decision will be made on Saturday.

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

01 May 2014 7:15 AM

Thank you Steve, as always !. What a nice job of providing the current events that will help us sift through all the information. (and thanks, Jay Jay, for your offering of 117. how considerate !).

01 May 2014 8:40 PM

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