Uncle Mo Todd Pletcher
Indian Charlie—Playa Maya, by Arch
One mo week to the long-awaited debut in the Timely Writer. At this point, the decisions have all been made and as Mike Repole said, on May 7 he’ll either look like a genius or an idiot. But for now it’s one step at a time, and they not only have to get past this seemingly innocent little race, but get something out of it before the much bigger test in the Wood Memorial. In a year lacking in two-turn brilliance so far, we’ll have to wait until the Wood to see if he can supply that spark.
Soldat Kiaran McLaughlin
War Front—Le Relais, by Coronado’s Quest
The more you study his record and watch his races the more you realize he’s as proven as any horse on the Derby trail. His pedigree, which once seemed like an issue, doesn’t seem as important now, and he just looks like a flat-out runner, on any surface, at any distance, and running on or off the pace. Following two front-running scores, it would be ideal to see him take back in the Florida Derby as he did last year in his grass races.
Stay Thirsty Todd Pletcher
Bernardini—Marozia, by Storm Bird
Who knows how good he will be once he matures. After breaking slowly and going four-wide into the first turn, he switched leads three times in the stretch, lugged in on a couple of occasions (not as badly as the BC Juvenile), and still came home in :24 2/5 and :06 2/5. This was a solid debut and gave him that all-important first two-turn victory. Some knocked his performance, but it was only a prep and his first start in four months. As long as he learns from it and moves forward, especially mentally and speed-wise, he will be a force in the classics. One thing he doesn’t have to worry about is stamina. He’s not a big horse, but you had to be impressed with his muscle tone in the paddock.
Dialed In Nick Zito
Mineshaft —Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat
There are several spins you can put on his surprising defeat at 1-5. You can move him down your list or blame the slow pace and give him another chance. The take from here is simple: he was dead short, having only two works (4f and 5f) in 5 weeks and going two turns for the first time against older horses and being lulled to sleep by Leparoux. The positive was his :12 2/5 final eighth. His supporters can only look at the race as a learning experience and convince themselves he his going to run a much-improved race in the Florida Derby with some pace. There is a huge difference closing from far back into :45 2/5 and :46 1/5 half-miles around one turn and sitting two lengths off a sloth-like :49 2/5 and 1:13 4/5 going two turns, while stuck in traffic most of the way.
Mucho Macho Man Kathy Ritvo
Macho Uno—Ponche de Leona, by Ponche
Ritvo: “(The Louisiana Derby) will give us an extra week to prepare him for the Ky. Derby.” That race is six weeks before the Derby, and the last horse to win the Derby off a six-week layoff was Needles 55 years ago. Preferring 6 weeks over 5 weeks to prepare for the Derby shows how Derby training has changed. Remember, Needles went into the Derby having won the 1 1/8-mile Flamingo and Florida Derby. On the other hand, he’s an extremely late foal and a big heavy-striding horse, so perhaps he’ll appreciate the 6 weeks. It’s not your typical way to get to the Derby, but there’s nothing typical about the Derby trail anymore.
To Honor and Serve Bill Mott
Bernardini—Pilfer, by Deputy Minister
If you want to keep him relatively high on your Derby list don’t watch any more replays of the Fountain of Youth. Just would like to have seen him last longer. He now needs a huge turnaround in the Florida Derby to even be competitive on May 7. He has proven he’s a talented colt and he’ll need all that talent and a near-perfect two months. This is what can happen when you leave yourself with only two preps. If he can get the same kind of race Barbaro did in the Florida Derby -- a good stiff battle to the wire -- he could still be OK.
Brethren Todd Pletcher
Distorted Humor—Supercharger, by A.P. Indy
Breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01 2/5. With Uncle Mo’s impending debut and Stay Thirsty’s Gotham score, he’s been sitting quietly in the wings waiting for the Tampa Bay Derby. He showed he loves the surface and will be tough again. If he keeps moving forward and getting faster he is going to be serious contender, considering how visually impressive he looked in the Sam Davis and how much more professional he was than his previous race. And he’s already won at Churchill Downs.
Jaycito Bob Baffert
Victory Gallop—Night Edition, by Ascot Knight
Baffert feels he might be at a disadvantage going 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita’s souped-up surface in the San Felipe, but he sure seems to love it in the mornings. He only needs to be coming fast at the end to be on track for the Derby. To rehash his works, he’s coming off a 5-furlong drill in :58 3/5, following 1:24 and 1:25 2/5 works at 7 furlongs. If he runs a big race Saturday, he likely would catapult up to #1 or 2, depending on what Uncle Mo does; that’s how much upside he has.
Astrology Steve Asmussen
A.P. Indy—Quiet Eclipse, by Quiet American
Probably have been way too patient with him, considering he not only hasn’t started yet, but now they still don’t know where he’s going to run, with the San Felipe ruled out. But it’s too late to turn back now; have to stick with him. He had some issues last year that compromised his performances, but they have been corrected, and his 1:12 3/5 work suggests he’s finally getting sharp. Rebel looks like the logical spot.
Santiva Eddie Kenneally
Giant’s Causeway—Slide, by Smarten
Breezed an easy half in :51 4/5. His next start will tell us a lot. You couldn’t have asked for a much better comeback race than the Risen Star, and well see if he moves forward off it. He showed some quickness reaching contention and fought hard until giving in to the winner inside the final furlong. The question now is will he have one or two more starts before the Derby. The spacing of the Louisiana Derby is tricky – it’s either waiting 6 weeks to the Derby or run again with 3 weeks separating races, which most trainers these days shudder at the thought of.
Rogue Romance Kenny McPeek
Smarty Jones—Lovington, by Afleet
Breezed a half in :48 3/5. Although this crop of 3-year-olds looks like it needs a jolt right now going two turns, it is horses like him and Santiva who just keep coming at you every race. Would just like to see a little more punch when starting his run. How can you not like any horse by Smarty Jones whose broodmare sire is the grandsire of Afleet Alex?
Gourmet Dinner Steve Standridge
Trippi—Potluck Dinner, by Pentelicus
There has been some talk about sending him to California for the Santa Anita Derby, which is contrary to the stay-close-to-home philosophy these days. But he’s already traveled to Louisiana and California and looks to be more like the journeymen horses we used to see. He is going to be a money machine this year, because he always tries and has the talent to be right there with anyone.
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