Uncle Mo Todd Pletcher
Indian Charlie—Playa Maya, by Arch
Works are picking up, with a bullet 1:00 3/5 breeze with Stay Thirsty. Have no idea at this point who’s around with any credentials to run against him on Mar. 12, with the exception of Dialed In if he’s forced to shows up there.You obviously want to see him win, but how? Easy but not too easy? A stiff test but not too stiff? He basically just needs to get past this race and then hope he gets enough out of the Wood to be ready for a mile and a quarter.
Dialed In Nick Zito
Mineshaft —Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat
Encouraging to see him turn in a bullet 5f work in :59 4.5. Because the Derby trail in one week became more muddled, moving him up with the understanding he will have two more races before the Derby, which is imperative. Zito says that is the plan, and if an allowance doesn’t fill next weekend he’ll likely run him against Uncle Mo. He’ll be at a disadvantage with a small field likely, but he just needs a bridge to get him to the Florida Derby. After the War Pass debacle, Tampa is out. Would rather see him with a pair of two-turn races because of his inexperience, but a strong performance against Mo should serve him well.
Soldat Kiaran McLaughlin
War Front—Le Relais, by Coronado’s Quest
With To Honor and Serve folding so early and no one other than Gourmet Dinner within eyesight of him in the final furlong, he did pretty much what he was supposed to do, especially over a speed-favoring track. The fractions were fairly soft, but the track was playing funky all day, so you can’t pay too much attention to closing fractions, pace, or final time. He no doubt is a talented, versatile colt who is one of the very few that has been on a perfect schedule this year. But it’s time for him to start coming from off the pace again.
Mucho Macho Man Kathy Ritvo
Macho Uno—Ponche de Leona, by Ponche
This has been a difficult list to compile, because so many horses have major question marks. So, when in doubt, go with the Cinderella story. And he does have the credentials and physical tools to back it up. He hits the ground hard with those heavy strides and is an extremely late foal. But so far he’s done just about everything right and he looks like he wants to keep going.
To Honor and Serve Bill Mott
Bernardini—Pilfer, by Deputy Minister
Can’t totally give up on him, going 1 1/8 miles first time out and getting floated wide into the first turn. He had to work a bit to get a good position right off Soldat, but the pace wasn’t strenuous and he should have hung in there longer, especially working big over the deep Payson Park track. He had every right to get a little tired, and if he was on a three-race schedule he’d have time to bounce back and there wouldn’t be as much concern. But he was done by the quarter pole and now has to make a drastic turnaround in the Florida Derby and prove he can win from off the pace and not have everything his own way. This wasn’t the kind of race you want on a two-race schedule.
Stay Thirsty Todd Petcher
Bernardini—Marozia, by Storm Bird
Breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3 /5 in company with Uncle Mo. He couldn’t be training any better, and if he should come out first crack and win the Gotham he will be a serious Derby contender, especially with his pedigree. This will be a big test for him if he’s going to be considered something other than Mike Repole’s other 3-year-old. It was Zito who bought this half-brother to the Bob LaPenta-owned Andromeda’s Hero as a yearling for $160,000, but LaPenta pinhooked him at 2 and he was snatched up by Pletcher for $500,000.
Brethren Todd Pletcher
Distorted Humor—Supercharger, by A.P. Indy
He had his first work back since the Sam Davis, breezing a half in :49 2/5. He lucked into the Tampa Derby with Uncle Mo staying at Gulfstream, assuming his race fills. But it still should be a good test for him with better competition. It would make sense to follow the same path as his brother and head to the Arkansas Derby after that. From a visual standpoint he’s looked as good as anyone. And he’s getting more professional with every start.
Jaycito Bob Baffert
Victory Gallop—Night Edition, by Ascot Knight
Beginning to think the San Felipe may be the most intriguing prep of the year, with Astrology, Runflatout, and possibly Sway Away and Premier Pegasus. He may turn out to be the horse to watch on the first Saturday in May if he runs to his works and does everything professionally, unlike his fiasco in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. But those antics seem to be behind him.
Astrology Steve Asmussen
A.P. Indy—Quiet Eclipse, by Quiet American
There aren’t many arguments one can make to have him in the Top 12 other than to expect a different horse to emerge this year, even though he proved to be a top 2-year-old. Breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02 3/5 and may need a race. But after that he should improve in the Santa Anita Derby, and like Jaycito could be on track to peak on Derby Day.
Santiva Eddie Kenneally
Giant’s Causeway—Slide, by Smarten
For a young horse on his third trainer already, he’s been remarkably consistent and just goes out there and does his thing every race, Kenneally had to be encouraged by his debut, and no reason why he shouldn’t improve off it. The main key for him is to keep building those speed figures up. The Risen Star was a good start.
Gourmet Dinner Steve Standridge
Trippi—Potluck Dinner, by Pentelicus
Now that he’s run a strong second going nine furlongs in top company he has to be included among the leading 3-year-olds. He runs hard and gives his all every race, and his female family is almost all Tartan/John Nerud. You’ve got inbreeding to Dr. Fager, Aspidistra, and Intentionally, and the presence of other Tartan/Nerud horses Fappiano, Blue Hen producer Cequillo, and Who’s for Dinner, a major stakes winner and half-brother to champion Dr. Patches. Broodmare sire Pentelicus is a half- brother to the dam of Unbridled, who was bred by Nerud. Also the family of Quiet American. This is the legacy of Tartan and Nerud rolled into one package.
Rogue Romance Kenny McPeek
Smarty Jones—Lovington, by Afleet
Like Santiva, he’ll have to pick his game up a notch coming off a promising debut in the Risen Star. He doesn’t have an explosive late run, but keeps coming. If he’s going to win one of these he needs to show more acceleration and get into the hunt quicker.
Toby’s Corner Graham Motion
Bellamy Road —Brandon’s Ride, by Mister Frisky
Yes, having a tie for #12 again can be considered a cop-out, but with the Gotham coming up Saturday and the belief here that he is an improving, classy colt, there is no way we’re going to knock him off now. He has an advantage over Stay Thirsty with a race over the track this year, and we’ll see if he can take advantage of it. He could be a real sleeper come Derby Day.
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