Eskendereya Todd Pletcher
Giant's Causeway—Aldebaran Light, by Seattle Slew
It’s OK if he regresses a little in the March 20 Florida Derby, but he still should run another big race. Pletcher has been working him easy, latest being 5f in 1:02 2/5. Stablemate Rule will be the one to beat if he runs. Pletcher would then have to train both up to the Derby off a six-week layoff.
Lookin at Lucky Bob Baffert
Smart Strike—Private Feeling, by Belong to Me
After a performance like his in the Rebel, at only 80% cranked, how can you not admire his determination and professionalism and his ability to overcome adversity? This is an exceptional horse who just wants to win. And kudos to Garrett Gomez for an amazing recovery and keeping cool, letting the horse gather himself. We’ll wait until the Fla. Derby to see if he replaces Eskendereya on top spot.
Interactif Todd Pletcher
Broken Vow—Broad Pennant, by Broad Brush
Been waiting to put him back on here; just needed the chance to prove he’s a Derby horse. There’s no reason why he won’t perform just as well on the dirt, having already won over it. He was a little aggressive early, but settled beautifully and closed into a blazing final three-sixteenths. Would love to see final prep on dirt, but Pletcher is loaded in all those races.
Awesome Act Jeremy Noseda
Awesome Again—Houdinis Honey, by Mr. Prospector
Moving him way up despite the weak competition in the Gotham because he has so much upside and did so many things right. Yes, he’ll need to step up in the Wood Memorial, but if he survives the Euro bounce and runs big again, the sky’s the limit.
Odysseus Tom Albertrani
Malibu Moon—Persimmon Hill, by Conquistador Cielo
Have no idea what to make of the Tampa Bay Derby. Closing fractions were slow and the entire field was separated by only 3 3/4 lengths, but for sheer grit and the ability to hit a hole with a vengeance, that was awfully impressive. Looked like a beaten horse, and it wasn’t until he changed leads that he hit another gear.
Super Saver Todd Pletcher
Maria's Mon—Supercharger, by A.P. Indy
He should get a lot out of the Tampa Bay Derby. He got stuck on his left lead and still fought back gamely over a track he might not have cared for. But, again, he needs to get off the lead, and time is running out. Something’s got to give with him and Rule or WinStar could have two horses at each other’s throat.
Rule Todd Pletcher
Roman Ruler—Rockcide, by Personal Flag
Decision on the Florida Derby was scheduled to be made March 15. Drilled a solid 5f in 1:01 1/5. Wherever he runs, this is the time to finally take him back; what else is new? No reason to think he won’t be as effective rating off the pace, but has to show it. He still has a lot of improvement left in him.
Dublin D. Wayne Lukas
Afleet Alex—Classy Mirage, by Storm Bird
He didn’t take the necessary move forward, but went five-wide into the first turn and made an ill-advised premature move when Nakatani tried to box in Lookin At Lucky, who clipped his heels. Inner splits of :23 1/5 and :24 were too fast. Switched to his left lead late, indicating he was getting tired. He deserves another shot, but needs s smarter ride than that.
Noble’s Promise Ken McPeek
Cuvee—The Devil’s Trick, by Clever Trick
You won’t find many horses as tough and honest as this guy, and he’d have a heck of a record if it wasn’t for Lookin at Lucky. But now it’s time for him to find the winner’s circle again; too many heartbreaking defeats and he needs to show he can open up on horses once he gets the lead.
Sidney’s Candy John Sadler
Candy Ride—Fair Exchange, by Storm Cat
He’s fast and he has the ability to run anyone chasing him into the ground. Four six-furlong works helped give him plenty of bottom stretching out to two turns. Came home very fast and was particularly strong galloping out, but he likely won’t get that soft a pace again.
Discreetly Mine Todd Pletcher
Mineshaft—Pretty Discreet, by Private Account
You never know how he’s going to work. Breezed a slow five furlongs in 1:04 1/5, his second easy work since the Risen Star. Obviously, he needs to crank it up for the March 27 Louisiana Derby, which is coming up fast.
Caracortado Mike Machowsky
Cat Dreams—Mons Venus, by Maria’s Mon
He ran OK, but didn’t have any excuses. He had every chance at the head of the stretch, but the winner came home too fast for him after setting dawdling pace. He has to improve off that if he’s going to move on. The two horses he beat in the Robert B. Lewis ran badly in the San Felipe.
Conveyance Bob Baffert
Indian Charlie—Emptythetill, by Holy Bull
Yes, getting desperate having a tie, but this is not a particularly strong Top 12 and it’s difficult leaving an undefeated horse who’s won on dirt and trained by Baffert off the list, even if he is taking the easy route in New Mexico and is one of way-too-many talented speed horses this year. He’d be a lot more dangerous in most other years. Still looking for that one explosive closer.
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