Creative Cause Mike Harrington
Giant's Causeway—Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer
He’s had a pair of six-furlong works and is progressing nicely for 3-year-old debut. Harrington also has Robert Lewis runner-up Empire Way for powerful one-two punch. This colt can do it all and appears to have no weaknesses. It’s just a question of how he stacks up against the talented 3-year-olds we’ve seen so far this year. Because he doesn’t have a strong closing kick and is more of a one-paced grinder, it is essential he keeps improving the farther he goes and that his running style works more in his favor at 1 ¼ miles. In his three victories he’s never been touched with the whip. His lead change is so smooth you can barely see him do it. He had trouble in both losses, is bred to run all day, and is relentless in the stretch. He’s won at five furlongs and 1 1/16 miles, earning a 98 Beyer in debut. He just keeps coming at you and with little encouragement; the consummate pro.
Union Rags Michael Matz
Dixie Union—Tempo, by Gone West
He’s been working steadily at Palm Meadows and has two five-furlong works under his belt. If he can keep a straight course down in the stretch, he will take a major step forward and become the complete package. Still believe he’s the most gifted colt seen so far, and can’t remember a horse running more impressively in the Champagne. He showed his class as well as great athleticism. He has beautiful action and demonstrated an impressive turn of foot in the BC Juvenile, while racing very wide every step of the way. In fact, Trackus has him running 78 feet farther than the winner. He was in front one step past the wire after having to get back in stride following his antics in the stretch. There is no doubt he possesses untapped ability.
Algorithms Todd Pletcher
Bernardini—Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance
His time in the Holy Bull was changed to 1:35 1/5 and his Beyer jumped to a 105. Pletcher’s 3-year-olds have a tendency to run huge early in the year, so he’s going to have to make sure he doesn’t peak too soon. He has some strong speed influences in his family, but with careful nurturing, his stamina should prove dominant, with the likes of Bernardini on top and Cryptolearance, Avatar, Fappiano, Graustark, Dr. Fager, and Tom Rolfe on the bottom. Like Creative Cause, this handsome, smooth-striding colt has no apparent weaknesses and does everything like a seasoned pro. Love the way he bounded away in the Holy Bull under a hand ride. Undefeated in three starts, his Beyers have jumped at least 10 points in each race. He went his second quarter in the Holy Bull in a blistering :22 2/5 and his next quarter in :23 4/5, demonstrating his extraordinary cruising speed.
El Padrino Todd Pletcher
Pulpit—Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway
Well, at least he had a higher Beyer speed figure than Algorithms for a few days, but his 100 was as fast as you’d want him to go this early in the year. His victory was as impressive visually as any 3-year-old race this year. You had to be impressed with the way he bounded past a classy stakes horse in Take Charge Indy, who had opened a huge lead and finished 13 ¾ lengths ahead of the third horse. Like Algorithms, he did it on his own without the whip. He’s already shown his class finishing a close third in the nine-furlong Remsen and looks like he still has improvement left in him. Only thing he still has to do is win on a fast track, but there is no doubt this is a quality horse.
Sabercat Steve Asmussen
Bluegrass Cat—Miner's Blessing, by Forty Niner
He finally turned in his first work of the year, breezing a half in :48 3/5 at Santa Anita. He may be out of sight, out of mind, but don’t be surprised to see him jump right out of the box with a huge effort in the San Felipe. His speed figures last year were nothing to rave about, but he was visually as impressive as anyone, especially his electrifying move in the Delta Jackpot. He never broke stride despite being taken hold of when he almost ran up over horses. He also showed a quick turn of foot drawing off in his Garden State Stakes romp. He is one who is capable of improving big-time from 2 to 3, especially with some time off. He likes to run his foes into the ground and put them away quickly, but also can be tenacious, as he showed out-battling the talented My Adonis in a maiden race. He’s won three straight, all at a mile or longer. He just needs to improve his speed figures and continue on the work tab without any glitches.
Out of Bounds Eoin Harty
Discreet Cat—Unbridled Elaine, by Unbridled's Song
Worked 5 furlongs in 1:00 3/5 and moves way up the ladder in California after the poor efforts by Liaison, Rousing Sermon, and Sky Kingdom in the Bob Lewis. He’s not as advanced as some of the others, but immensely talented. By one of the most brilliant horses of recent years, out of a Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner, if there is a horse with tremendous scope for improvement it is this tall, long-striding winner of the Sham Stakes. His Sham score was almost a carbon copy of his maiden victory, stalking a rapid pace in third or fourth and then running down the leaders in the final furlong with great determination. He’s nowhere near his peak and there’s no telling how good he may be.
I'll Have Another Doug O’Neill
Flower Alley – Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch
No one was expecting him to blow open the Robert Lewis at 43-1, but the fact is, the credentials were there and his performance likely is legitimate, especially based on his solid second to Creative Cause in Best Pal Stakes. He looked like a flat-out runner in the Lewis, bounding down the stretch, although he showed a little greenness by jumping the gate tire tracks, switching back to his left lead and ducking to the inside. His time of 1:40 4/5 and :06 1/5 final sixteenth were impressive. Awesome female family, tracing to European legends Ribot, Sea-Bird, and Nijinsky, as well as Roberto, giving him three English Derby winners. Fifth generation sires on female side are a Who’s Who of class and stamina – Hail to Reason, Princequillo, Northern Dancer, Alydar, His Majesty, Stage Door Johnny, Nijinsky, and Sea-Bird. Also traces to icons Darby Dan, Claiborne, Greentree, Calumet, Windfields, and George Widener.
Gemologist Todd Pletcher
Tiznow—Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector
He had his first work of the year, breezing three furlongs in :39 4/5 at Palm Meadows. He’s gotten kind of lost in the Pletcher barn with the exceptional performances of Discreet Dancer, Algorithms, and El Padrino. It’s difficult to get a good line on him, with Ky. Jockey Club runner-up Timely Tally off the Derby trail with an injury, but 11th-place finisher Mr. Prankster has won the first two stakes at Turfway Park this year, including a 7 ½-length romp in Saturday’s WEBN Stakes. Gemologist also defeated a good one in Ever So Lucky in the KJC, so the form of that race should hold up well. A big, scopey colt, he’s unbeaten in three starts, two of them at Churchill Downs, has good tactical speed, and has to be taken seriously, at least until someone beats him.
Hansen Mike Maker
Tapit—Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat
With his one dimensional style of running, it only takes one defeat to lose some of the shine. The bottom line is that his Holy Bull defeat over a sloppy, sealed track was not a setback as much as his inability to settle, even on the lead. His blistering :22 flat second quarter was not what you want to see, but he at least held on for second and still should be dangerous in his upcoming races. It’s just that, as a potential Kentucky Derby horse, you want to see him harness some of that speed. Perhaps he can achieve that with a cleaner break. When they stumble and swerve in as he did, the tendency is to switch to the afterburners, which at this point is the only way he knows how to run. His next start will tell us if he’s a legitimate Derby horse. Maker has himself a solid second-stringer in Mr. Prankster, who is blowing them away at Turfway.
Alpha Kiaran McLaughlin
Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky
He wasn’t facing any world beaters in the Withers Stakes, but did everything the right way, dominating his opponents after turning for home and then finishing it off under a hand ride. And he was excellent in the gate this time. He’ll run all day and should keep improving. Throw out his BC Juvenile, in which he bled. His key race last year was a fast-closing second in the Champagne in only his second career start. After his six-length romp in a maiden race under the Darley colors he was upgraded to Godolphin blue. Like the way he’s been drawing off in his races, like a true distance horse. He’ll likely stay in New York and point for the Gotham and Wood Memorial.
Discreet Dancer Todd Pletcher
Discreet Cat—West Side Dancer, by Gone West
He’s had two easy breezes since his monster allowance victory, but missed his latest work with a slight fever. Fountain of Youth start now in question. With only two career starts and a world of speed there’s no need to look for any bullets in the morning. He has a great temperament and should have no problem settling. His ability to put his speed on cruise control makes him potentially something special. The main question is how far he’ll be able to carry that speed. Pletcher says he has “tremendous mechanics and great action” and he’s never seen the bottom of him. He still needs to step up against stakes horses, so his next start will tell how special he really is. Pletcher reluctantly was going to run him against Algorithms in the Fountain of Youth, as both have shown on more than one occasion how much they like Gulfstream Park, but his missed work may alter those plans.
Dullahan Dale Romans
Even the Score—Mining My Own, by Smart Strike
Romans backed off a little after the colt came down with a cough, but he’s doing well and is right on target for the Palm Beach Stakes Mar. 11 on grass and then the Blue Grass. He already has the earnings and Romans likes this route. He really caught the eye in his Breeders’ Futurity score, winning despite losing a ton of ground and making a wide five-furlong sustained run. But it was his fast-closing fourth in BC Juvenile on dirt that proved he was legitimate and convinced Romans he doesn’t need to run him on dirt again before the Derby. With his style of running he does need luck and needs to get faster, but he runs like he’s crying out for 1 ¼ miles and should show big improvement as he matures and grows into his big frame.
Knocking At The Door
Ever So Lucky Jonathan Sheppard
Indian Charlie—Bally Storm, by Summer Squall
If you like Gemologist, you surely have to like this colt, who finished a game second to the WinStar colt in the Kentucky Jockey Club in only his second career start and first over 6 ½ furlongs. It would be great to see his trainer, the always dangerous Jonathan Sheppard, on the Derby trail for the first time. Pedigree just so-so for 10 furlongs, but if anyone can get him to go that far it’s Sheppard, especially considering the colt’s laid-back temperament. He’ll make his first start at 3 in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes.
Empire Way Mike Harrington
Empire Maker – Delta Princess, by A.P. Indy
The Empire Makers normally come around later and it looks as if he’s no exception. A full-sister to last year’s champion 3-year-old filly Royal Delta, he has shown improvement with each start, and although he finished a solid second in the Robert Lewis Stakes, we haven’t seen the best of him. If he keeps moving forward, he should be peaking just around Derby time. He’s certainly an able back-up for Creative Cause, giving Harrington a powerful one-two punch.
Fed Biz Bob Baffert
Giant's Causeway—Spunoutacontrol, by Wild Again
Highly promising colt who was impressive breaking his maiden, defeating Zackn’mat, who came back to break his maiden against a classy field. This colt gives all indications of being a runner.
Souper Speedy Tom Albertrani
Indian Charlie—Speed Succeeds, by Gone West
Not sure if he’ll stay 1 1/4 miles with his style of running, but he is one tough horse on the lead, and he did finish ahead of El Padrino in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen. He’s not an easy horse to get by in the stretch, and we’ll just have to see if he can be as effective coming from off the pace.
Rounding out the Top 30 are the first three finishers in the Lecomte, Mr. Bowling, Z Dager, and Shared Property; Mr. Prankster, impressive winner of the WEBN Stakes and Turfway Prevue; the first two finishers in the Sam F. Davis, Battle Hardened and Prospective; the most accomplished maiden in the country, Brother Francis; the late-running Russian Greek, winner of the Gold Rush and California Derby; My Adonis, who showed flashes of brilliance at 2 and made up 15 lengths in the Holy Bull to finish third; Take Charge Indy, who tried to bust Jan. 29 allowance race wide open with big early move, but couldn’t withstand El Padrino, while finishing nearly 14 lengths ahead of the third horse; San Pedro winner Midnight Transfer; and Smarty Jones one-two finishers Junebugred and runner-up Reckless Jerry.
Other names to keep an eye on are Casual Trick and Consortium, who, assuming they came out their respective races sound, deserve another shot over a fast track; Reveron, Motor City, Longview Drive, Currency Swap, Neck n Neck, Spring Hill Farm, Big Blue Nation, Zackn’mat, Najjaar, Apprehender, Exothermic, Thunder Moccasin, Teeth of the Dog, Cyber Secret, Liberty Bound, Castaway, Quick Wit, Fly Lexis Fly, and Maritimer.
In Action Last Week
Mr. Prankster has run two good races on dirt at Hoosier, but he has busted out on Turfway’s Polytrack, highlighted by a resounding 7 ½-length romp in Saturday’s WEBN Stakes. He should provide quite a reception for those shipping in for the Spiral Stakes. The Sam F. Davis Stakes was a wide-open affair, but the maiden, Battle Hardened, stood out, winning by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:44 2/5. Trained by Eddie Kenneally for Coolmore’s Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier, this son of Giant’s Causeway is another who is improving in leaps and bounds. Runner-up Prospective, winner of the Pasco Stakes, overcame a wide trip throughout and was running on well at the end, getting up for second, nosing out Gulfstream Park Derby winner Reveron and 69-1 shot Ravelo’s Boy. Michael Matz-trained Teeth of the Dog, a game second in a mile allowance race last out, turned in another gutsy effort, winning a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Gulfstream by a head over Dynamical, who was making only his second career start and first on dirt. Suns Out Guns Out (third) and Went the Day Well (fourth) closed fast off the slow pace and bear watching next time out. Also at Gulfstream, Todd Pletcher added another gun to his arsenal, sending out the Distorted Humor colt Ender Knievel to a 7 ¾-length victory, getting the mile in 1:37 2/5. He’s the type Pletcher normally would point for the Illinois Derby. At Oaklawn, Charles Cella’s Cyber Secret had no trouble winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer by 5 ¼ lengths over a weak field. In one of the more impressive performances of the weekend, Romp City, by Holy Bull, blew by Hard Line inside the eighth pole to win a maiden race at Laurel going away. Behind by four lengths at the furlong pole, he went by the leader so fast he was four in front at the wire, covering the seven furlongs in 1:24 3/5. At Gulfstream Sunday, Exothermic, a son of Empire Maker, looked terrific winning a nine-furlong allowance/optional claimer on the grass at Gulfstream for Rusty Arnold, coming home in :11 2/5, and could make the switch to dirt. He's a beautiful stiding colt with a devastating turn of foot. Dale Romans is considering putting second-place finisher News Pending and fourth-place finisher Finnegans Wake on the dirt. At Aqueduct, the Tapit colt Inflation Target, trained by Rick Violette, broke his maiden by 1 ¾ lengths, getting the six furlongs in 1:10 4/5.