Uncle Mo Todd Pletcher
Indian Charlie—Playa Maya, by Arch
Opinions regarding the colt range from his being a superstar to having little shot at 1 1/4 miles. What else is new? Pedigree will not be an issue. Hard to fault his debut; he did everything he was supposed to and looked great doing it. And regardless of the slow pace his final half and final quarter were sensational, as was his gallop-out. His slow opening half-mile could end up helping him if The Factor makes it to the Derby. You certainly don’t want to take on that horse too early.
Premier Pegasus Myung Kwon Cho
Fusaichi Pegasus—Squall Linda, by Summer Squall
It’s hard to find any faults with him. He’s got it all – the speed, the pedigree, the running style, the explosive kick, and is being given an opportunity to develop; stretching out in distance with every start. You can’t make a better transition to two turns than he did in the San Felipe. It’s that quick turn of foot from the five-sixteenths pole to the quarter pole that wins most Derbys.
Soldat Kiaran McLaughlin
War Front—Le Relais, by Coronado’s Quest
By having three 1 1/8-mile races going into the Derby, plus a full 2-year-old campaign, he will have more miles under him than any of his opponents. After two wire-to-wire jobs it’s time to return to his old style of running. Turned in a bullet 5-furlong breeze in 1:00 3/5, fastest of 27 works on the tab. He will be tough again.
Dialed In Nick Zito
Mineshaft —Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat
He went into his allowance race off only two works in five weeks, and according to Zito he will go into the Florida Derby off one 5-furlong work in four weeks. Zito doesn’t do things without a reason, but this is pretty unusual. He could be the least worked Derby horse in memory. With only four career starts and so few works he needs to get a lot out of the Florida Derby. Still believe he’s an extremely talented horse, but needs an honest pace.
Stay Thirsty Todd Pletcher
Bernardini—Marozia, by Storm Bird
Had his first breeze since the Gotham, going an easy half in :50 2/5. Looks like the Florida Derby will be his next start, and he’ll sure get tested for class in that race. He and Dialed In would love to see Flashpoint in there, and there is a good chance they will, as his connections are leaning in the that direction. His main task, like several others, is to get faster and quickly. He should get better as the distances increase.
Mucho Macho Man Kathy Ritvo
Macho Uno—Ponche de Leona, by Ponche
Breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 in preparation for the Louisiana Derby. He’ll be going up against some new faces and if he can duplicate his effort in the Risen Star he’ll have to be considered one of the horses to beat on May 7, despite the six-week layoff to the Derby. We’ve already stated the historical significance of that task, but we also have to keep mentioning his extraordinarily late (June 15) foaling date and ground-devouring stride.
To Honor and Serve Bill Mott
Bernardini—Pilfer, by Deputy Minister
In his defense, he had been on the farm for a short while, was no doubt short for his debut, was floated four-wide early, and simply got tired. But Mott has seen a big change in him since and he gets Garrett Gomez. He’s put on a little weight, his coat looks good, and if he can turn it around and get battle-tested in the Florida Derby, he has enough 2-year-old foundation to still be in good shape come May 7.
The Factor Bob Baffert
War Front—Greyciousness, by Miswaki
This colt has one weapon – speed – and he knows how to use it. He has the ability to run his opponents into the ground early and then keep going, thanks in part to his powerful and efficient stride. His :06 1/5 final sixteenth was excellent, and he galloped out strong. There is nothing conservative about him; he stretches that neck out and just goes, and there is no wasted action. Whether he can sustain that for 10 furlongs while facing pace pressure is another matter, but the fact that he was getting stronger at the end of the Rebel is a positive sign. Each race is a new test for him and he has to keep passing them with flying colors.
Jaycito Bob Baffert
Victory Gallop—Night Edition, by Ascot Knight
If he could root, he’d no doubt root for his speedy stablemate The Factor to make it to the Derby and assure the kind of pace he needs to be effective. What he needs in the Santa Anita Derby or Wood Memorial, wherever he winds up, is to get faster, plain and simple. He hasn’t even come close to reaching his peak and will only improve with each race, but only has one more shot to get sharp enough to be a major threat in the Derby.
Santiva Eddie Kenneally
Giant’s Causeway—Slide, by Smarten
So, is waiting for the Blue Grass Stakes and prepping for the Derby on Polytrack a good move or a bad one? I like him having the time off now and coming back in the Derby in three weeks. He just needs to get something out of it, and you never know what kind of weird race you’re going to get on that surface and what it will do for him in the Derby. It’s been a disaster for some horses, but set Street Sense and Paddy O’Prado up for big efforts on Derby Day. Have to contemplate this move a little more. It’s sort of the same path (and schedule) Closing Argument took before finishing second in the Derby at 71-1, but the Blue Grass was on dirt back then.
Anthony’s Cross Eoin Harty
Indian Charlie—Screening, by Unbridled
Returns to the Dozen after a few weeks’ absence. Not crazy about his having only one race in 12 weeks leading up to the Derby, but like his 10 point Beyer jumps in last two and most recent bullet work in :46 4/5. Work was the fastest of 25 on the tab, and the second fastest work was :48 1/5. Plenty of stamina in female family and he just may be getting good at the right time. Lots of room for improvement, and blinkers on last out seemed to help.
Astrology Steve Asmussen
A.P. Indy—Quiet Eclipse, by Quiet American
I must have a stubborn streak keeping him on here with so much uncertainty surrounding his schedule, but can’t help but thinking that he ran his last two races last year with an entrapped epiglottis that has been corrected by surgery. That might turn out to mean little or nothing, but I just want to see how the “new” Astrology runs when able to get his air. If he runs big in the Sunland Park Derby, then he must come back in three weeks, but where? If The Factor (who has the same ownership) runs in the Arkansas Derby, he will have to go up against him or he has no shot of making the Kentucky Derby off one start.
Elite Alex Tim Ritchey
Afleet Alex—Catch the Moment, by Unbridled
Using this extra space to mention him and a couple of others who could emerge as contenders after this weekend. Good move skipping the Rebel and going the extra sixteenth on that long stretch. He drew outside again, but Fair Grounds can be kind to closers who lose ground turning for home because of the stretch. He’s shown tremendous promise, but now needs to step up and show what he’s got. Machen, Nacho Business, and Wilkinson also are right on the cusp. Curious to see what Beer Meister does at Sunland. Took Silver Medallion off until they announce their plans with him. By not going in the Louisiana Derby, he may have to remain on the synthetic. He wasn’t listed as a Sunland Derby possible. We’ll know soon enough. Still think he’s interesting.
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