Derby Dozen (video) - February 27, 2012 - Presented by Shadwell Farm

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Union Rags Michael Matz 

Dixie Union—Tempo, by Gone West

Well, we’ve got ourselves a legitimate, top-class Derby favorite. This was as dominating and effortless a victory as you’ll see on the Derby trail, or any other trail. Most important, he ran a straight course and did everything perfectly. There is no doubt he has grown into a man, and a big one at that. He has shown on countless occasions he has a good mind, other than last year’s occasional stretch foibles. But that seems to be behind him now. He came home in :23 4/5 and :06 2/5 under wraps late, and continued to draw away despite the short stretch run. It must also be noted, however, that the 2nd and 3rd-place finishers had never competed in a stakes. But he showed in the Champagne what a special horse he is and people forget how much ground loss he had to overcome in the BC Juvenile, just as they forget how much stamina he has in his tail-female family. Remember, speed from the sire, stamina from the dam. He also has the perfect running style for the Derby, settling back off the pace and unleashing an explosive run from the three-eighths pole to the top of the stretch. And his stride is a thing of beauty.


El Padrino Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Pulpit—Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway

He had only two things to prove: win on a fast track and show what he’s made of under fire. He now has nothing to prove. If you look like a Derby horse, run like a Derby horse, fight like a Derby horse, and are bred like a Derby horse...Well, you can fill in the rest. He also has the luxury of just using his next start as a springboard to the Derby. He’s already battle-tested, has run back-to-back fast races, has a solid foundation under him, and the horses who have finished second to him have finished way ahead of the others. And when you can come home in :23 1/5 and :06 flat, as he did in the Risen Star, you are one serious horse. Normally a quiet, easy-going horse, he did scare the heck out of his connections when he got spooked in his saddling stall (something he may have inherited from his sire) and leaped in the air with all four legs off the ground. It actually was quite a feat of athleticism, but thank goodness no one was seriously hurt.


Creative Cause Mike Harrington Click Here!

Giant's Causeway—Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer

The reviews of his debut seem to be divided between those who feel he’s simply not fast enough and is too one-paced and those who feel the San Vicente was an excellent prep in which he closed fast over a distance way too short for him. Being one-paced at seven furlongs when you’re bred to run all day is not a negative. Things have a way of changing dramatically at 1 ¼ miles and there is no quit in this horse. He will be coming at you regardless of the distance. It’s hard to knock his :35 flat final three-eighths and :11 4/5 final eighth. That’s not bad for a one-paced horse. Forget the three lead changes. He’s been beautiful with his lead changes; just refrain from using the whip on him trying to win a seven-furlong prep race. Lowering him to #3 was the result of what the other two did and not what he failed to do.


Sabercat Steve Asmussen Click Here!

Bluegrass Cat—Miner's Blessing, by Forty Niner

Moving forward in his works, breezing five-eighths in 1:00 2/5. He’s going to be facing a tough field in San Felipe and basically just needs to show he’s competitive with these horses before moving on to the Santa Anita Derby for his big test. Just not a believer in bringing a horse back from 2 to 3 in such a tough spot. There’s no room for error and you may be asking him to do more than he’s ready to do, but I feel with his quick turn of foot and classy demeanor he still will be a major force come Derby Day. Whether you take the Delta Jackpot seriously or not, his race visually was one of the most impressive 2-year-old performances of the year. But he needs to show he’s fast enough to compete with the top contenders and not a lot of time to do it.


I'll Have Another Doug O’Neill Click Here!

Flower Alley – Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch

Worked a half in :48 3/5, as he prepares for the Santa Anita Derby off a two-month layoff. Speed figures playing a big part in skipping the San Felipe, as they’re afraid of a “bounce” after running a “4” on the Ragozin sheets. But who knows if a bounce isn’t a good thing at this point. If you run too fast too soon, get the bounce out of the way in a prep race. If he waits and runs another huge number in the Santa Anita Derby, then they have to be afraid of another bounce in the Kentucky Derby. But that’s all numbers jargon. Who knows, this could be the right way to go about it if they’re sure they can put a good foundation under him and have him ready to peak on Derby Day off one race in eight weeks. There’s just no room for any mistakes.


Out of Bounds Eoin Harty

Discreet Cat—Unbridled Elaine, by Unbridled's Song

Worked 5 furlongs in :59 4/5 for the San Felipe, where he’ll take on a field of classy horses. Considering his size and his room for improvement, there’s no telling how good he really is. He certainly doesn’t have to win, only move forward and set himself up for the Santa Anita Derby and then the Kentucky Derby. He’s coming off a big effort and the last thing he needs is an off-the-charts performance now. The horse he beat, Secret Circle, came back to win a division of the Southwest, and third-place finisher Longview Drive didn’t run as badly in the other division as it looks on paper. He’ll switch over to Godolphin colors from now on.


Fed Biz Bob Baffert Click Here!

Giant’s Causeway—Spunoutacontrol, by Wild Again

Breezed 6 furlongs in a very un-Baffert-like 1:16 (7f in 1:28), as he was just given a lung opener. You can bet he’ll be razor sharp for wherever he shows up next. San Felipe would seem like the logical spot, as he’s 2-for-2 at Santa Anita. But Baffert always leaves his options open. Other than not changing leads until the wire in his last start and not having run yet in a stakes, he seems to be doing everything perfectly and is improving as rapidly as any 3-year-old out there. Zackn’mat, who he defeated two races back, ran an excellent second in Saturday’s Borderland Derby at Sunland against a very fast horse who loves that track. If there is a special horse waiting to bust out, this could very well be him.


Alpha Kiaran McLaughlin

Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky

Worked a half in :49 3/5. Their strategy is similar to I’ll Have Another’s, skipping the Gotham to wait for the Wood Memorial. But he has two distance races under him this year and a much stronger 2-year-old foundation. If everything goes smoothly, he should be on course to peak on Derby Day. McLaughlin has done a masterful job building foundations under Invasor for the BC Classic and Closing Argument for the Derby. All Alpha has to do is get faster in the Wood and then move forward again on May 5. He’ll be fresh for the Wood, so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be good and sharp.


Hansen Mike Maker

Tapit—Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat

Ready to make amends in the Gotham Stakes, not so much because of his defeat in the Holy Bull, but to prove he’s not one-dimensional. Yes, he appears to be committed to the lead, that’s who he is. But he can’t run off like he did at Gulfstream, even stumbling at the start. Owner feels he’s not getting the respect due a champion, but to get respect as a Kentucky Derby contender you have to show some semblance of adaptability and not expend so much energy early in the race. If he can accomplish that over a normally speed-favoring Big A inner track he’ll get all the respect that is due him. Hey, he’s the only horse to defeat Union Rags.


Gemologist Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Tiznow—Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector

Stepping up his works, drilling five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 4/5 with Gotham hopeful Dan and Sheila. He is another on a two-race schedule, but WinStar has already gone that route successfully with Super Saver. He’ll likely debut in the Rebel Stakes, where the competition seems fairly light at this point after Baffert exposed the locals in the split Southwest. With Algorithms’ injury and Discreet Dancer disappointing at 4-5 in the Fountain of Youth, he very well may be Pletcher’s secret weapon, although there should be nothing secretive about an undefeated grade II winner by Tiznow.


Mark Valeski Larry Jones Click Here!

Proud Citizen—Pocho’s Dream Girl, by Fortunate Prospect

What’s the Derby trail without Larry Jones? This colt ran a remarkable race stretching out from 6 furlongs in the Risen Star. Putting up such a fight against a seasoned, talented horse like El Padrino showed what he’s made of. No wonder why he’s been touted so strongly by Jones. What I like most about him is his tail-female family, which is the very best of C.V. Whitney. Third dam Silver True won the Spinaway and produced Suburban and Whitney winner Silver Buck, sire of Silver Charm. Fourth dam Silver Fog, by Mahmoud, is the dam of Hall of Famer Silver Spoon, winner of the Santa Anita Derby against the boys and eight other major stakes, and Silver Bright, winner of the Arlington Lassie and dam of State Dinner, winner of the Suburban, Met Mile, and Whitney.


Liaison Bob Baffert Click Here!

Indian Charliee—Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop

Loved his mile work in 1:43 enough to put him back on. Believe you can attribute his last race mainly to be being too keen early and failing to relax, while stuck down on the inside yet again. That work may have been just what he needed. He also showed a lot of athleticism staying on his feet in the Lewis after stumbling badly and unseating his rider. If this horse can finally get a clear trip outside horses and settle early he should return to the form he showed last year. He’s already proven he’s a classy, gutsy horse who does just what he has to. He’s probably even better than his winning margins indicate. Some have concerns about an Indian Charlie getting a classic distance, but he only needs to get him 1 1/8 miles, and his female family will carry him the rest of the way. This is the time to get a piece of him in any future wagers.


News Pending Dale Romans Click Here!

Harlan’s Holiday—Motivated Sreva, by Lear Fan

Romans said over a month ago he was going to put him back on dirt and now he has himself another Derby horse along with Dullahan. Bold move putting him in this spot, but it paid off. After coming from far back in his last start to finish second on grass, he was razor-sharp in the Fountain of Youth, making a rather startling early move on the first turn to challenge for the lead and then racing 4-5 favorite Discreet Dancer into the ground after battling with him down the backstretch. After being passed by Union Rags, he drew clear of the others down the stretch to finish a clear-cut second, and was striding out like a fresh horse in the final yards. He has the refined look of a stayer and should keep moving forward. Dam won 11 of 43 starts and is a half-sister to Swale winner Adore the Gold. Third dam is a half-sister to multiple group/grade I winner Zoman, winner of the D.C. International. Also traces to La Troienne.

Knocking At The Door

Algorithms Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Bernardini—Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance

Can’t keep him in the Top 12 until we know the severity of his injury. Splint bone injuries can vary in recovery time, so we’ll just have to wait. Only keeping him here for this week until we know more. But even if it proves not to be serious this is a huge setback and has knocked him completely off his schedule. For a horse who has had only three career starts and has never been two turns, it would seem the Derby is a longshot. It’s a shame because we have no idea how good he is or how he would have fared in the Fountain of Youth. But he’s not out of the picture until they say he is.

Empire Way Mike Harrington Click Here!

Empire Maker – Delta Princess, by A.P. Indy

Drilled six furlongs in 1:14 for either the San Felipe or Rebel, as Harrington will keep him and Creative Cause separated. Some believe he’s closing the gap on his stablemate, especially after his strong second in the Robert Lewis, but unlike Creative Cause he’s in need of graded earnings. Harrington says he feels there is a lot of improvement still to come. You can’t get a more illustrious pedigree, so we’ll just have to see where that takes him.

Castaway Bob Baffert Click Here!

Street Sense – Priceless Storm, by Storm Cat

Yes, his stablemate, Secret Circle, ran a full second faster in his division of the Southwest and his Beyer was 10 points higher, but how fast you are at a mile in February does not necessarily indicate how fast you’re going to be at 1 ¼ miles in May, and his 92 Beyer was nothing to frown upon. From a visual standpoint, he was very impressive, and going into the race it appeared as if he was in the much stronger division; certainly the more accomplished and deeper division. Just liked the way he tracked the pace while settling beautifully after breaking from the 11-post, drew off with ease in the stretch, and was striding out in the final furlong. Tail-female family goes through Priceless Gem, conqueror of Buckpasser and dam of the great Allez France, Hall of Famer Searching, and the legendary La Troienne.

Dullahan Dale Romans Click Here!

Even the Score—Mining My Own, by Smart Strike

Finally back on the work tab, breezing five furlongs in 1:01 4/5. Still like this colt a lot, but would have preferred to see him try the dirt one more time before the Derby instead of taking the safe grass--Polytrack route that has become popular the last few years. In his case it’s the Palm Beach and Blue Grass, where he’ll meet some very talented horses going the same route, including Exothermic and Howe Great. I liked him a great deal after the Breeders’ Futurity and even after the BC Juvenile and have a feeling I’ll be liking him again once he gets back in the starting gate.

Bodemeister Bob Baffert Click Here!

Empire Maker—Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat

It’s been over two weeks since his last race, and waiting for him to get back on the work tab. He has shown he has a world of talent, but he’s playing catch-up with only two career starts. You rarely see a young 3-year-old run a :23 4/5 second quarter and proceed to run each subsequent quarter faster than the one before; and do it drawing off to a 9 ¼-length romp in 1:34 2/5, earning a 99 Beyer. And this was after being rushed up from the outside post. He obviously needs to get two races in him before the Derby, and even then, winning the Derby off four career starts is going to be tough. Only one horse, Big Brown, has done it with four starts or less since Exterminator in 1918.

Take Charge Indy Pat Byrne Click Here!

A.P. Indy – Take Charge Lady, by Dehere

Good to see him back on the work tab, breezing five furlongs in 1:01 1/5. The Tampa Bay Derby would seem like a logical spot. That track is conducive to the big early move he made in his last start against El Padrino. We’ll just wait to see what Byrne has in store for him. This is another colt with a lot of room for improvement. He runs well on both dirt and Polytrack, so there are a number of directions in which he can go. But one would think he’ll stay on dirt. He has that big move in him, but needs to finish it off. Twice he’s opened clear leads and has gotten caught in the final furlong. But that’s just a matter of timing and maturity more than anything else.

Our Entourage Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Street Cry – Sand Springs, by Dynaformer

Although his victorious 3-year-old debut was on grass and he has yet to win on dirt, he was beaten only two lengths in the Remsen, finishing right behind El Padrino. He also has failed to change leads on grass and Polytrack, but changed leads beautifully in the Remsen. He showed an excellent turn of foot when challenged in Saturday’s allowance race, even without changing leads. By the sire of Zenyatta, out of a mare by Barbaro’s sire Dynaformer, he has the Rasmussen Factor (RF), being inbred to Natalma, and also is inbred to Hoist the Flag, giving him three doses of Ribot, and to Hail to Reason through Roberto and Halo. He’ll likely try dirt next to see if he can make his way into the Derby.

Exothermic Rusty Arnold

Empire Maker – Irridescence, by Caesour

Even though it was different surfaces he still was flattered by the second-place finish of News Pending in the Fountain of Youth. Worked 5 furlongs in a bullet :58 4/5 at Palm Meadows in company inside the dogs. Palm Beach actually is shaping up as an intriguing Kentucky Derby prep, with him, Howe Great, and Dullahan. If this colt handles the dirt in the Derby the way he does the grass, and he should with his breeding, there’s no telling what he’s capable of. He demonstrated as explosive a turn of foot (very European-like) as we’ve seen all year and just bounds along with big, beautiful strides, which make it appear as if he’s leaping off the ground. His tail-female family is almost all South African, and his broodmare sire is out of a full-sister to one of the greatest iron horses of modern times, the indefatigable Jim French. He’s also inbred to the great Tom Fool through his classy daughters Dinner Partner and Mrs. Peterkin.

Zackn'mat Marty Jones

Northern Afleet – Pic Me for Fun, by Piccolino

He ran into the proverbial buzzsaw in Isn’t He Clever in the Borderland Derby. The winner has shown he loves Sunland Park, and this colt ran a huge race once he leveled off and got into his stride. But by then it was too late against a horse who had opened a big lead and came home his last sixteenth in :06 1/5. This is a consistent colt, who has closed fast to finish first or second at 6 furlongs, 7 furlongs, one mile, and 1 1/16 miles. And he’s shown he can run with classy horses, having finished second, beaten 1 ¾ lengths, to Fed Biz. Who is broodmare sire Piccolino you ask? He was bred by John Nerud and is by Fappiano, out of stakes-winning Mochila, a half-sister to Cozzene. Pic Me For Fun is inbred to Dr. Fager, so there is a great deal of Nerud’s influence in his pedigree.

Souper Speedy Tom Albertrani

Indian Charlie—Speed Succeeds, by Gone West

As of Sunday, he hadn’t worked since Feb. 14, so time to keep an eye on the work tab. Last work was a five-furlong breeze in 1:03 1/5. Not sure how far he’ll stay with his front-running 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 40 are Ever So Lucky, who is way behind now after missing the Hutcheson; Rousing Sermon, who also was disappointing in the Lewis; Z Dager, a solid enough third in the Risen Star; Dan and Sheila and Done Talking, who are headed to the Gotham; Secret Circle; Mr. Prankster, impressive winner of the WEBN Stakes and Turfway Prevue; the first two finishers in the Sam F. Davis, Battle Hardened and Prospective; My Adonis, who showed flashes of brilliance at 2 and made up 15 lengths in the Holy Bull to finish third; San Pedro winner Midnight Transfer, who worked a sharp 7f in 1:24 4/5 for the San Felipe; El Camino Real Derby winner Daddy Nose Best and runner-up Lucky Chappy; Sir Bond, an explosive maiden winner at Fair Grounds for Neil Howard who worked a half in :48 3/5 Sunday; three more Pletcher horses, Ender Knievel, an impressive allowance winner who likely is headed for the Sunland Derby; Spring Hill Farm, who made it two-for-two with a mile allowance score at Gulfstream two weeks ago; and Windsurfer, who ran a super race breaking his maiden after going wide every step of the way; Consortium, also heading for the Gotham; and grass specialist Howe Great, another grass horse who is pointing for the Palm Beach and then Blue Grass.

Other names to watch are the Borderland Derby winner Isn’t He Clever; well accomplished maiden Brother Francis, who is back working; Scatman, game second to Secret Circle in Southwest division; Street Life, who ran an awesome race at Aqueduct; impressive allowance winner Politcallycorrect; Well Armed’s full-brother Arm Force; Gulfstream Derby winner Reveron, the powerful stretch runner Najjaar, who was scratched out of an allowance race last Friday; Hopeful winner Currency Swap, Went the Day Well, a big stretch runner who should show huge improvement next time out in the Gotham; and Union Rags’ stablemate Teeth of the Dog.

In Action Last Week

Isn’t He Clever showed that two turns is well within his scope by winning the Borderland Derby by 1 ¾ lengths over his favorite track. Runner-up Zackn’mat finished 10 lengths ahead of the third horse. New York-bred The Lumber Guy, a son of Grand Slam, made it two romps in as many starts by wiring the field in the seven-furlong Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel, winning under a hand ride by 4 ¼ lengths in 1:23 1/5. We’ll see if he continues to stretch out or point for the Bay Shore. Ken Ramsey is back again, this time with the impressive allowance winner Politicallycorrect, a dirt-loving Kitten Joy who drew off to a 3 ¼-length score at Gulfstream, covering the seven panels in 1:22 2/5 after a dismal effort in the Gulfstream Park Derby. Well Armed’s full-brother Arm Force showed huge improvement with blinkers added, breaking his maiden by 3 ¾ lengths in 1:23 after pressing a :45 half. Eoin Harty and Bill Casner look like they have a good one. Taylors Deal, a former $25,000 claimer bred in British Columbia, made it two in a row, winning the Turf Paradise Derby by 2 ¼ lengths. Ismael Grande came from off the pace to score by 1 ¼ lengths in a one-mile Oaklawn allowance race, defeating favored Zoebear. Kid Sidney, a son of Lemon Drop Kid, won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Oaklawn by a head at 11-1 for Jinks Fires.


Leave a Comment:

Don from PA/DE

UR is #1, no doubt,love him, but the real gem that may well be his match is "Gemologist", if he stays healthy, continues to work ziplike and wins his next race, there is your KD exacta BOXED. Just look at this gem..ALL of his races he is "DRIVING" in his wins, and his time at CD in November is equal if not better than him as well, and although Steve, I know he remains unraced since NOV, he should really have a much higher rating in your KD dozen, as you have been "high" on other long unraced runners such as Creative Cause...can you see this as well?

27 Feb 2012 3:17 PM
Sam Santschi

Steve, Interested in any further thoughts about Midnight Transfer.  Sure training well.  Gets big test in SF.  Thanks.  

27 Feb 2012 4:22 PM

Couldn't wait to read your Derby Dozen today! Union Rags was terrific in the FOY; couldn't have been prouder of him were I his owner! It looks like we have a great crop of three year olds this year....could this be THE year? Sure hope so.


27 Feb 2012 4:32 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Your synopsis on all of these three year olds is just tremendous Steve. There are so many good ones not in the top 12 that the list still could go through many changes. The top two would certainly seem to be El Padrino and Union Rags at this point. The two not on the top 12 that I like are Empire Way who has a ton of room for improvement and Midnight Transfer who could be real special, we just won't know until the San Felipe. I'm hoping that Algorithms will heal enough to continue on for The Derby but if not then he could be a force beyond that. I think we missed out on a great matchup in the FOY. Algorithms would have easily passed up the pace setters before Rags did then Rags would have had to catch him. We might have had another stretch duel. Let's hope Algorithms gets healthy and everyone else stays healthy.

27 Feb 2012 4:42 PM
Kyle S.

Couldn't have been more impressed with Union Rags' effort in the FOY.  And while I don't think it mattered much yesterday, I love the pickup of Leparoux for this colt.  With that said, I'm still going with Fed Biz at the top, as I'm eagerly anticipating his stakes debut in the San Felipe.  I believe he'll show he's in a class by himself based on class, potential, and pedigree.

27 Feb 2012 4:48 PM
Scott's Cause

Really appreciate you doing all the leg-work in these pre-prep races.  Gotta believe Baffert might do it this year, but maybe with one of his underachievers.  Doesn't look like he has any of them.  Very intrigued with the B-Meister, looks good, runs good.  But playing catch up??? My super long-shot, Groovin' Solo, whose mama has thrown some serious runners and that cagey Mr. Cho pullin the strings....Off the Subject..Love you with SByk

27 Feb 2012 5:12 PM
Steve Haskin

Don, yes, I can see this. I'm not sure how good or fast he is. He could be very good. I just was more impressed with Creative Cause and Sabercat in a general and visual sense. When he gets closer to a race I can see myself moving him up several notches if he continues to work well.

Sam, I really dont know what to make of Midnight Transfer and wont until he stretches out. I know he's been highly touted in California, but he just has that one narrow sprint win. I'll just keep an open mind until the San Felipe.

27 Feb 2012 5:14 PM

Could not disagree with El Padrino more being listed 2nd.  Mark ran him to the wire even after El came over on him twice.  Mark lost by a nose after being driven into the 1 hole and he didn't make the top 10?  Union Rags is head and shoulders above this field.

27 Feb 2012 6:08 PM
detroit jean

what happen to that son of awesome again paytner might he be preakness bound

27 Feb 2012 6:29 PM
Karen in Indiana

I wasn't really on the Union Rags band wagon last year, mainly because lately it seems like a lot of the horses that do that well as 2 yr. olds don't do that much at 3. But watching UR Sunday, I was impressed and the more I've thought about it, the more I like him. I haven't seen a 3 yr. old that I've been this excited about since Big Brown. And this one has a much more likable trainer. :-)

27 Feb 2012 6:41 PM

Union Rags did everything right yesterday, and is my #1.

However, I question the level of competition he faced yesterday, and think he received an easy trip sitting to the outside of a very moderate pace.

Pace does go greatly affect the shape of races.  When the pace is strong, it's not uncommon for stalkers to get sucked in as well, as they are pushed to keep close to fractions much quicker than they are used to.  In the 2001 Derby, Point Given, from a purely positional standpoint, appeared well paced in the early going, but the pace ended up being much faster than Gary Stevens either expected or realized.  Being so close to such a fast pace took the starch out of Point Given's kick, and he was able to rally only meekly for 5th.

Union Rags faced a legit pace in the BC Juvy.  In that race, he was positioned just about where he has been placed in most of races, on the outside near the front of the mid-pack horses.  While on paper Hansen's BC pace doesn't appear that much faster than what Union Rags faced in the FoY, Churchill that weekend was about a second-2 seconds slower than Gulfstream has been playing recently.  So, Hansen's first quarter in 23 and 1 was like a 22 and 3, that 47 and 1 half like a 46 and 2.  Chasing this strong pace(and having to go wide) took something out of Union Rags' kick.  Watching that race, I can understand those with doubts about Dixie Union at the top of his pedigree.

The good thing about Union Rags is he is easily tractable.  10 furlongs is going to be a test for almost all of these 3 year olds, even those on paper that are bred for it.  For Union Rags to be successful in the Derby, he will need an astute ride from Leparoux.  If the pace is the typical mad dash it is for the Derby, then it will be vital for Union Rags to settle further back than he typically does. If he is up stalking a 45 half and 109 and change pace, I think it will push his stamina far too much; I don't think Rags has the stamina of Barbaro, who could sit close to a solid pace and then just keep running forever.  Of course, if the Derby pace is slow like it was last year, Leparoux will need to recognize this quickly and utilize Rags' tactical speed.

The FoY gave us a clear #1.  But let's not just go ahead and hand the Roses over to Union Rags. Supporters of Union Rags seem almost upset that others would have any reservations about the horse, believing it a near certainty that the horse will not only win the Derby but make a serious run at the Triple crown.

But this happens every year.  Last year it was Uncle Mo.  The Derby was supposed to be a formality, the Triple Crown his to lose.  These folks were so confident that they had trouble understanding why others couldn't see the light.  The year before that it was Esky.  And every year there are bandwagons for other contenders, with some predicting Derby success just as confidently.

For those with such confidence, please try to understand why others might take a wait and see approach wih your crush horse.  Each of the last 23 years I have heard how "this" is the year, and that "this" is the horse that will deliver us a Triple Crown and save the sport.  And then the races are actually run.  Please, don't be indignant if others are a little more sketical and need to see more proof.

27 Feb 2012 7:01 PM
Karen in Texas

Union Rags and El Padrino definitely belong at the top of the list after the weekend races. Disappointing that Algorithms had to scratch from the FOY---now is not a good time for physical issues while on the Derby trail. Mark Valeski really showed some "fight" and earned his position on the list this week. I'm hoping for continued improvement from Castaway. Is he going to the Rebel next?

27 Feb 2012 7:24 PM
Forbidden Apple

1-Out of Bounds 2-Alpha 3-Union Rags 4-Saber Cat 5-Creative Cause 6-Empire Way 7-I'll Have Another 8-Gemologist 9-Battle Hardened 10-El Padrino 11-Fed Biz 12-Consortium 13-Arm Force

Union Rags ran brilliantly with an effortless gallop to take down another graded stakes race. He has speed on top with plenty of stamina from the dams side. Barbaro had stamina on top and speed on the dams side. I could not help my memories of Barbaro pouring out after watching Union Rags gallop down the stretch. I still have to keep my boy Out of Bounds on top because his talent level is higher than most give him credit for. The San Felipe just might turn out to be loaded with top class horses. And I know how easily Union Rags mopped up Alpha in the Champagne, but that was in 2011. I still think Alpha was not on his game in the Champagne and has improved this year. When the KY Derby comes around it should be clear to me which of these three classy colts is best.

El Padrino's last quarter was 23.73(23 3/5), not 23 1/5. Yes he did finish up the last 1/16 in 6 seconds, but the race was slow before that. He's a nice horse for some prep races, he does not deserve such a high ranking.

And Fed Biz is also ranked very high for a maiden winner. I put him on my list only because of his potential and trainer.

27 Feb 2012 7:25 PM
Criminal Type

Steve, I can't tell you how much your words concerning Union Rag's validate everything I have thought about this colt since last July. I knew he was special then and to have someone as knowledgable about the sport and mechanics of the horse as you say what I've been thinking is a wonderful thing.

Dray, yes, Union Rags is head and shoulders above the rest, Literally. He is exactly what Bob Baffert said about another Matz trained colt " a man among boys ".

I don't get the Rags ran slow thing when his time was better then Awesome Marias the day before and she was amazing. Not to mention he was carrying more weight. I guess some people will never be satisfied with what is damn near perfection.

27 Feb 2012 7:30 PM
Zen's Auntie

Awesome summary Steve, as always.  What a cool group is coming together here. I love all the untested but certinly talented colts starting to blossom!

Obviously Matz is in the catbird seat and when you get pretty much all the attention of Matz good things happen to you.

Castaway and Our Entourage along with Out of Bounds excite me a bunch right now, we may have to see them grow up more but all 3 look like they could get that kind of spine tingling good I like so much. Gemologist too he looked so mature as a 2 year old I cant wait to see him run again.  

God Bless them all and keep them sound I hope AlGOrithms heals quick.

It might still be snowing but I am ready for spring, bring on MAY!!  

27 Feb 2012 7:41 PM

I wouldn't write off shared property yet. Speed favoring track and I like his pedigree.  

27 Feb 2012 7:53 PM

All I can say is thank you Steve for being you.  This info is so great, I haven't even digested the half of it yet but am making time to.  Is there anything better than being in the Haskin school of horseracing in this elite group?

Very impressive win in the FOY, ah yes, the "terpsichorists" did prevail with fancy footwork in first and third places, Rags and Discreet Dancer!  Nice to see Northern Afleet's got one in the mix too.  Northern Afleet is a great sire, overlooked by a lot of breeders as he is on the small side for looks, but he's got "it" the stamina and the distance and he's affordable.  I see poor Indian Charlie has two in there as well, Liaison and Souper Speedy.  But where are the little Hard Spuns, I see Street Sense even has one in here.  And Baffert has Bodemeister, named after little Bode, how cute is that!  The little kid must be ecstatic! So much to read, back later.........

27 Feb 2012 8:14 PM

Linda in Texas et al,

Pirate Queen gave birth today to a grey colt by Quality Road!!!!!  It's her first baby.  Info on Zen's website.  I'm sure she's proudly wearing your name tag.

27 Feb 2012 8:21 PM


I have to remonstrate with you. Union Rags should have been at #1 from day one. I just can't see how Creative Cause could have leap-frog him between the BCJ and prior to the FOY. I wonder how those who voted against him for 2YO champion now feel, having seen Hansen walloped and chased out of town for an easier spot in New York. Also, poor Javier Castellano, hopping off of the priceless to go after the big bucks.

Anyway, this colt is going to bring a lot of joy to North American racing. He has some formidable challengers waiting in the wings, no doubt but I say bring them on. Very sorry about Agorithms' injury. I hope they give him sufficient time off to heal properly and rejoin the fray for the mid-summer classics.

I wouldn't write off Discreet Dancer. He may not have fully recovered from the fever causing issue and besides, he needed a tough race to season him a bit. I believe that he is better than he showed in the FOY. I also expect that Spring Hill Farm will make your dozen after his next outing.  He along with El Padrino and Gemologist maintains a strong hand for todd Pletcher.

27 Feb 2012 8:56 PM

Highs and lows, Union Rags brought back images of the past, the truely great horses of the 1970s but at a different track - Hialeah Park, and the Flamingo Stakes. Childhood memories.

El Padrino looks as though he will knock down a brick wall to win, and he may have to, but, unfortunately, the minor(?) injury of Algorithms took away half the enjoyment of the races.

Fingers crossed, it is only a minor 'bump' on the road for Algorithms.

27 Feb 2012 9:14 PM


This is a serious DOZEN!  I have to agree with you on NEWS PENDING.  Post parade and gate, I started thinking, "This guy looks like he needs to be taken seriously!"  And he ran serious.

EL PADRINO got some lift on his leap in the paddock.  Quite impressive!  And MARK VALESKI belongs.  I thought EP was going by him but MV had other ideas.

UNION RAGS, like Karen in Indiana says, made me think of BIG BROWN and CURLIN except that LEPAROUX didn't use the stick!  What does that mean?  I have a feeling Pletcher was a little relieved ALGORITHMS didn't have to square off with him.  Just a hunch.

I'm trying to remember but it seems DULLAHAN ran against HOWE GREAT.  He finished behind but I remember how good he looked coming through the wire.


27 Feb 2012 9:15 PM


Did you watch the head on with EL PADRINO and MV?  I thought the same thing as you until I watched head on.  MARK VALESKI came over first & then EP the second time.

27 Feb 2012 9:20 PM
Steve Haskin

Forbidden Apple, El Padrino made up 2 lengths in that :23 3/5 quarter giving him a :23 1/5 quarter. And Fed Biz is not a miaden winner. He won a one-mile allowance race last time out.

Ranagulzion, Creative Cause was No. 1 because I was looking for someone a little less obvious while projecting ahead to 1 1/4 miles. I'm still projecting ahead. Just because a stock is a better price one day doesnt mean it's going to be a better price in 6 months. You always have to project. The Derby isnt decided in the BC Juvenile.

Detroit Jean, nothing has happened to him. There's only so much you can do now with a horse has had only one 5 1/2-furlong race. Even the Preakness is a bit of a stretch, assuming he can get 3 more starts in before then.

Karen in Texas, I would think Castaway will run next in the Rebel, but Baffert rarely declares his intentions this early.

27 Feb 2012 10:05 PM

To be honest if El Padrino was not a Pletcher horse and the favorited with Castellano on board that horse is dropped.  Castellano kept coming over and over and forced Mark from the 3 hole to the 1 hole and just 18 inches from the rail when the race was over.  It was one of the most clear fouls in stretch I have ever seen and lost Mark the race.  The stewards blew the call and they know it.  You can't brush a horse and drive it to the rail and win by a nose and tell me it didn't effect the outcome.  It was a horrible call and El Padrino should have been dropped.  The racing public was ripped off.

27 Feb 2012 10:33 PM

Before the FOY was run and on another blog, someone said Union Rags was the best 3-yr old colt in the country;  I disagreed because he had not yet run as a 3-yr old.  Well folks, he (or she) was right; Union Rags is the best 3-yr old in the country; by "head and shoulders" as someone else has suggested.  Beautiful to see that big colt come flying to the front coming out of the turn and then bounding down the stretch with those beautiful long strides.  Reminded me of another Michael Matz 3-yr old not so many years ago.

I loved the fight shown by Mark Valeski.  I'm glad to see Larry Jones has another nice colt on the trail.  It was a nice come home time for both he and El Padrino.  Looking forward now to the San Felipe and Gotham, though frankly, I've never thought much of Hansen's potential as a Derby horse.  

I'm hoping Algorithms makes it back to the work tab soon.  I've had horses pop splints and it's never kept one out of training for long, but then mine weren't race horses. There is a big difference between stress on a pleasure horse's leg and stress on a race horse's leg. I'm sure Pletcher will do right by him and not push before he is ready.

27 Feb 2012 10:38 PM

Big Tex when Mark came around the final turn with the lead he was 8 to 10 feet off the rail.  At the finish he was about 18 inches and inside every horse in the race because castellano drove him there with El constantly coming over.  It was a horrible call and I feel for the owners of Mark they were robbed.

27 Feb 2012 10:39 PM
El Kabong

Well said Steve.

And anyone who has not viewed that Allowance race by Fed Biz needs to asap. Note how easily he repels a challenge, doesn't change leads until the finish(good sign if he learns, and he will), and note his pricked ears and gallop out. This guy could be a moose. Raw talent like Steve has mentioned and you have to watch that race. What it doesn't show is the reaction of Bejarano and Baffert that I watched live. I won't bang this drum again but in a word, genuine euphoria puts it's mildly. And as I have mentioned on other blogs, Bejarano has ridden the best(except empire way and I'll have another) so his emphatic statements just might come to fruition. IF you can get price on him next out, and you might, take it.

27 Feb 2012 10:42 PM

This is not getting alot easier, your top twelve is changing with the races accordingly and is always very interesting and informative. You even mention that Mark Valeski goes toe to toe with El Padrino but he only ranks number 11. This is a tough call, but I loved his sire Proud Citizen and with the fact he was able to go with a horse with alot more experience going a route of ground, I have to rank him right up there with El Padrino, with the possiblity that he will outperform him the next time they meet up, assuming he will get better the next time he goes a route of ground.

27 Feb 2012 11:22 PM
Steve Haskin

Predict, Just because two horses finish close to each other doesnt mean they automatically have to be ranked right next to each other. When Barbaro was all out to beat Sharp Humor iin a close finish in the Florids Derby, would you have ranked them together? Can you remember the name of the horse who beat Super Saver in a photo in the Arkansas Derby? Mark Valeski is obviously a very good horse, but theres plenty of time to move him up into the top 5.

27 Feb 2012 11:35 PM

Point well taken, I didn't rank Sharp Humor with Barbaro, and yes When Line of David , Super Saver and Dublin finished in one of the most exciting finsihes to the Arkansas Derby, I didn't expect Super Saver to do so much better in the Derby than Line of David. I'm a big fan of Jones and less so of Pletcher, but I love both of these horses, can't wait to see them run again. May be that one or the other or both might bounce in their next race, but if I had to pick one that will, I would guess it to be Mark Valeski. What do you think ?

28 Feb 2012 12:10 AM


What happens if Castellano & EP do as you describe in a stretch run with Game on Dude?  Do you think the same result?  Rosie N & Mark Valeski have the right to fight for / hold their ground, no?  That wasn't near as rough as Twirling Candy, Game on Dude, and Setsuko In last year's SA Handicap.  

28 Feb 2012 1:35 AM
The Deacon

Gun Bow:  Totally agree with you. Not taking anything away from Steve's top two but this is still February. Many of these colts will get hurt, just like they do every year. I also believe whoever wins the Wood Memorial automatically gets disqualified from Derby contention, at least in my book. Steve put together a very good, informative list but it is way too soon to get on any band wagon.

I am also not to sure any horse from California will do well at Churchill Downs. Santa Anita, historic as it is isn't the same race track as it was back in the day. It is a speed biased surface and 3 year olds have a tendancy to struggle going east. In horse racing, never put your heart before your head, too much can happen. History is a good teacher......

28 Feb 2012 2:03 AM


Steve, why, all of a sudden, is every third colt a ridgling? It's not genetic, it's ubiquitous. It's got to be developmental: either environmental contamination with estrogens or some new fad for raising sales yearlings like growth hormones. Or perhaps for managing pregnant mares.

Pass this to anyone you can think of who might want to investigate.

28 Feb 2012 2:12 AM


Last year there was one among TC nominees, a Tapit. This year there are 10: Bernardini (1R, 6 nominees), Corinthian (1/4), Giant's Causeway (1/6), Corinthian (1/4), Giant's Causeway (1/6), More Than Ready (1/4), Shakespeare (1/3), Smart Strike (2/8), Speightstown (1/4), Unbridled's Song (1/12), War Front (1/10).

While most of these are inbred to Mr. Prospector . . . what else is new? This has been true of large numbers of our horses for quite a few years now, and wouldn't be springing any genetic surprises on us at this late date.

28 Feb 2012 3:38 AM

Steve, what do you think of the notion that "cats" don't run well at Churchill on Derby Day.

28 Feb 2012 6:13 AM
Steve Haskin

Thre's too much being made of the stretch run of the Risen Star. It was two horses leaning on each other without any major bumping. It wasnt a big deal and will help both horses in the long run.

Predict, a bounce by El Padrino wouldnt be a bad thing at all. He's already won two fast races this year and has had his gut check. Look at how many Derby winners were beaten, many of them narrowly, in their final prep. It's the horses who win their final prep by huge margins and fast time that are at a disadvantage in the Derby. A bounce is OK as long as it's not in the Derby.

Cassandra, I have no answer on your ridgling question. It's hard to base any conclusions on one year. Let's see if the trend continues.

28 Feb 2012 6:16 AM
Steve Haskin

Kevin, the same thing I do of the past notion that the Pletchers dont run well on Derby Day.

28 Feb 2012 6:18 AM
John Boudreau

In the Pre-race interview with Jerry Baily he Commented how Much Union Rags had GROWN UP since he saw him in the Fall at the BC and after looking at him on the Track and in the Warmup to the FOY he Looked like a Man amoung Boys!!! I Don't Really like only 2 Preps But he had a Good 2 yr. old Foundation>>  Barring a Setback He WINS The Derby!!!!

28 Feb 2012 6:49 AM

This list will certainly look fifferent after the Derby. Sure Union Rags looked great, but beating a small field at 8.5 furlongs at Gulfstream doesn't compare to a 20 horse field going 10 furlongs at Churchill. This year's Derby winner probably hasn't even won a race in 2012.

28 Feb 2012 7:06 AM

Steve, your thoughts on Casual Trick, Zito must be scratching his head as to what is up with this colt. I would have thought with his pedigree he would be doing better.  

Also, do you know what the stride angle of Union Rags is?



28 Feb 2012 8:08 AM

Great top twelve.  Who shows up in the Florida Derby to take on UR?  Looking forward to see Sir Bond run on Friday.

28 Feb 2012 9:02 AM

Of course Steve was going to place UR no 1 were you expecting another choice,but keep in mind this list is on paper, they still have to run the race.I follow Gulfstream regularly and let me bring up something about Barbaro that anyone that wants to compare UR to him might want to consider.In the Florida Derby he was the 1st horse if memory serves me to win from an outside post at a mile and an eighth with the new track configuration that they unveiled at Gulfstream.One more coment I would like to ad is in the Champagne Alpha dropped back towards the rear and only ran a part of the race.As we have seen so far in 2012 he is more effective running much closer to the pace and in the Kentucky Derby IMO being closer to the pace is better because of all the traffic in a 20 horse field.If UR gets the same trip he got in the FOY in the Derby the rest are running for 2nd,but in the Derby the best horse does not win as much as he would in a smaller field.

28 Feb 2012 9:29 AM

An addition to my last post that I just recalled after I submitted.Remember Battle Hardened he ran a good 2nd out of an outside post in a 1 1/8 maiden race before he won the Sam Davis.I knew at 12-1 morning line, he was an overlay in that race, and his previous race was probably a deciding factor as to why his trainer stepped him up to a stake as a maiden.Of course the field of Bettors as a group also knew this,I think he went off at 4-1.

28 Feb 2012 9:52 AM

Barbaro won his Florida Derby tracking the pace from the outside post and followed up with a derby trip that kept him relatively close to the pace before inhaling the pacesetters and easily winning.The point is I think the last prep is very important in the trip that the horse gets and if he can get the same trip in the Derby.Later Big Brown went on to win the Florida Derby from the farthest outside 12 and in the Derby drew post 20 and repeated his last trip as close as possible with another 8 horses running.I dont think UR will even get a 10 horse field in his Florida Derby, after his FOY but we will find that out in a month.

28 Feb 2012 10:03 AM

The only closer coming out of the  Florida Derby in recent history is Ice Box and he got 2nd.Dialed In didnt hit the board.

28 Feb 2012 10:08 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   You know what they say about random occurences or bad luck- "That's the way the ball bounces !!!"

28 Feb 2012 10:14 AM
Abigail Anderson

Hi Steve: Loved the idea of seeing & hearing you on video. I really like seeing you "think out loud." I,too, was impressed with Union Rags this weekend. I hadn't seen him as a 3 year-old until last Sunday but WOW! does he ever look sound and tough. I also like El Padrino, Out of Bounds (agree he's a wild card for reasons cited though), Take Charge Indy & Dullahan.

28 Feb 2012 10:17 AM


I like your stock market metaphor but I still believe that Union Rags was always a more promising blue chip investment than Creative Cause.  We'll see. Good luck.

28 Feb 2012 10:51 AM

Gun Bow,

As one of those you are chastising for being over the moon the last few years about Quality Road, then Eskendereya, then Uncle Mo and now Union Rags, please understand that there are differences in the support for each of these horses. Quality Road was a serious Derby horse when trained by Jimmy Jerkins, after turning back the challenge of Todd Pletcher's Dunkirk in the Florida Derby in 2009. I dont recall projecting him as a Triple Crown winner, just for the Derby and he got injured, changed stables and the rest we know.

In the case of 'Esky' he was the total Triple Crown package, the most promising and dominating colt since Big Red himself but he got injured. Even on hindsight, there should be little doubt that he waould've romped the Triple Crown series, therefore you chastisment of Triple crown forcasters like myself needs to be nuanced and not broad brush.

Uncle Mo had shown the potential to sweep both Derby and Preakness IMO but also suffered ill-health. I stil believe so, regardless of the views of posters like Carlos in Cali, Lazmannick, Mike Relva, Coldfacts and some others including yourself with whom I disagree occassionally but respect highly.

All of the above horses were knocked off the Triple Crown trail by health issues yet their supporters are being lambasted, for what reason ...for their foresight?

Injury struck the BIG HORSE three years in a row. The law of averages suggest that this year Union Rags escapes that misfortune and I am wagering against injury. He stays healthy and lands the Triple Crown.  I'll repeat: UNION RAGS stays healthy and WINS the TRIPLE CROWN, breaking the thirty four years drought. That may be a wager that Las Vegas and the William Hill folks might want to offer, but then again, they'll know that the odds are against them and avoid such a bet. The futures with Union Rags is already threatening to bring their houses down.

Speak easy on this matter Gun Bow, my friend.

28 Feb 2012 11:31 AM

Ridglings or Monorcids in other species is a genetic condition. In the dog show/performance world, monorcids are not eligible to compete and are routinely neutered. One would never thinking of using a monorcid dog as that dog would throw monorcids and the female littermates could be carriers.  The horse world seems to be quite different.

28 Feb 2012 12:01 PM

rags had a very nice race in foy, but i doubt the race really provides meaningful information going forward.

that he won giving a lot of weight to the field is a very good sign, but i don't get impressed by horses running their final 16th, after comfortable fractions, in a time that would have been 25.76 for final quarter. in the derby he'll be carrying 4 more pounds and be asked to go faster, earlier, longer. i'm not saying that's a bad time, i'm saying its a fairly ho-hum time.

hansen, carrying the same weight as rags, earned his slow final fraction in the holy bull. rags didn't earn his slow final fraction in the foy. that is a yellow flag to me--it's not a terrible sign, but it raises questions.

if a quality horse has an easy race, like rags's foy (who averaged 24 second furlongs), he should be closing in closer to 24 seconds, than to 26 seconds--and given his speed at the mile in foy, even though exhausted, hansen would still have beaten him a nose while carrying the same weight, and algorithms would have beaten him by 5, and most certainly would have hung on to the that lead for another 16th).

hansen averaged 23 second furlongs in the holy bull--the key for him, is to run those 23s steadily, and not as 21s followed by 26s. a one turn mile isn't a race designed to allow him to do do that--it is closer to a sprint, than a route.

the key for harnessing speed over distance, isn't run slow early, and run fast late--the key, is to run just under your red zone for the entire race--and my guess is that hansen's red zone right now is 22.runing in his red zone, he'll hit the wall in 6 furlongs, running just under it, he'll hang on.

the problem with foy is that didn't tell me anything about rags' red zone--that might be good for conditioning purposes, but it doesn't tell me how he'll fare under more stressful situations.

looking over past derby dozens, i'm struck by how the same criteria is used time and again, without success.  meaning no diresepct mr. haskin, walking away from having reviewed the last several years of the dozen, it seems to me that placing so much value on visually appealing races by popular horses is perhaps not the best way to evaluate a past performance or a future potential.

28 Feb 2012 12:13 PM

Steve I don't know how you can say the finish at the Risen doesn't matter.  Let me show you why it DOES matter.  You have El Padrino 2nd on your list after that win.  I have him 9th with no place to go without facing Mark again or going to Florida to face Union Rags.  I am confident that if he faces Mark in the Louisiana he will lose with Mark improving greatly going 2 turns for the 2nd time and anyone running against Union Rags is running for 2nd.  The point is Steve if you believe like I do that Castellano drove Mark to the rail by pushing him over again and again and that Mark actually should have won then you must drop El Padrino quite a bit like I did.  I am  certain his next race will be a loss and he will fall down the list but he should have fallen off his last race which was GIVEN to him not earned.

28 Feb 2012 12:52 PM

Enjoy your D-Dozen as always. Please don't give any more ink to Najjaar who's my sleeper in the Rebel since you may hurt his odds.  Not sure if he resembles more of a Shetland pony like his sire Jazil, but he sure has a heck of a stretch kick.

28 Feb 2012 12:57 PM

It certainly was a nice effort visually but the race was slow according to the figure makers, Discreet Dancer is a sprinter/miler at best and News Pending looks like another that won't stay on even when pressing a slow pace.  Dixie Union sired about 750 foals before he died and not one ever won a major race beyond 9f despite many of his SWs being out of mares by well-known stamina sires.  I won't discount Union Rags' chances in the Derby considering being bred for 10f no longer seems to be an absolute requirement, but I do think it's premature to anoint him at this stage considering several others have been better on the TC trail thus far.

28 Feb 2012 1:15 PM
Karen in Texas

There is not a known cause for 'ridglings' or 'cryptorchids' at the present time. Not to take up too much space on a Derby trail blog, here is a veterinary link.

28 Feb 2012 1:18 PM

The excitement and electricty in the air at Gulfstream on the weekend of the Fountain of Youth were felt by all especially the horses. Quite a few of the horses acted up in the ring.

Did they perceive the spirit of Barbaro at Gulfstream? One doesn't know, but Union Rags is following his same pathway to the Derby.

We shall see what the Derby Gods determine. And if things play out correctly, UR will have some dates with the two queens in Kentucky in several years.

28 Feb 2012 1:28 PM
Fran Loszynski

I see Union Rags and Hansen side by side post positions and Kentucky Derby favorites. You give every horse his respect and due Steve. They have to prove who they are! By the way if you want to laugh today go into Google and Type in "We bought the wrong horse" video. Your side will burst from laughter.

28 Feb 2012 1:37 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

Union Rags just looked so beautiful in the FOY.  When I saw him, I felt I'd found my Derby horse.  That gorgeous head and beautiful mane flying down the stretch.  I loved it!  And then watching Ms. Wyeth in the Winners' Circle.  Just great.  And thank you so much for all the commentary on the Derby Dozen.  I learn so much.  

28 Feb 2012 2:35 PM


You are correct that injuries have recently deprived us of some of our top prospects.  But that really isn't something new.  AP Indy was scratched the morning of the Derby.  Two points about this.

First, I think it impossible to go back and say with any certainty what WOULD HAVE happened had Esky or Quality Road or any other horse remained healthy.  One simply cannot assume they would have won anything just because they impressed a large percentage of people.  We only know what will happen with certainty AFTER it has happened.

Let's say Smarty Jones or Big Brown were injured after the Preakness and forced to miss the Belmont.  These were horse that had easily won 2 legs of the Triple Crown(so we aren't dealing with contenders in April, March, or February); they had already gone so far down the road, winning their last preps, taking the Derby, and then crushing the Preakness.  Had they been forced to miss the Belmont, how many would have been certain that they would have won the Belmont, and the Triple Crown, had they not been injured?  

Second, anyone making long-range prognostications has to figure that injuries are a real possibility.  Injuries are one reason why I try to stay away from long-term predictions.  

At the very least, the possibility of injuries should force us to look for the horses that not only are talented but have the physical constitution to survive the grind of the Triple Crown trail.  If it were just about talent, betting the Triple Crown would be much easier.  The talent of a horse like Esky, and what he would have done had he remained healthy, is frankly irrelevant; the reality is that Esky didn't have the physical constitution to even make it to the Derby let alone win the Triple Crown.  To win the Triple Crown, a horse must not only be talented, but it must be consistent and durable(and have a bit of luck).

But the main point of my first post is that I don't want to be criticized by supporters of a horse if I remain a little skeptical and want to see more.  While I have trouble understanding those that get head-over-heels about a horse and predict wins in races X,Y, and Z, I certainly don't see anything wrong with it.  Actually, such enthusiasm and hope is as old as the game itself and is very much a positive. I'll let others dream, I just don't want to be made to feel guilty if I have doubts about a particular horse.    

28 Feb 2012 2:49 PM

I've just spent some time on the Juvenile, pausing and backing up.

It is NOT true that Union Rags was ahead one jump past the wire. It was still too close to call two jumps past.

And Union Rags didn't shy, duck out or swerve in the stretch. It looks to me like the usual wandering of a tiring horse. The gallop is not a symmetrical gait and it takes energy to keep a straight line.

28 Feb 2012 3:08 PM

Karen in Texas:

Your link does not say there is no known cause of cryptorchidism, it says there is more than one cause.

28 Feb 2012 3:29 PM

Zorro, I appreciated the comment that, because of the 20 horse field, the best horse doesn't always win the Derby.  So true.  My grandmother always said it was wrong to "hate" anyone or anything, so I'll just say this.  I strongly dislike the 20 horse field allowed at the Derby and virtually no where else is American racing.  It bothers me that "luck" seems as big if not bigger an issue than talent, in the outcome of American's most prestigious race.  Though I have noticed similarly huge fields in other countries.

28 Feb 2012 4:01 PM

Steve: Have you heard anything about whether 'Summer Fronts' connections are going to try him on the dirt anytime soon? He's looked scary on the grass and if able to transfer that form to dirt might make things interesting.

28 Feb 2012 4:01 PM

Steve: Just saw your comment that the connections of 'El Padrino' are considering the Florida derby as well as staying in Louisiana. My gut feeling is that even though he'd have to run against Union Rags , he'd get more out of running at Gulfstream. While he did win the Risen Star and was game down the stretch,it looked like the rider had to really push him to get him into the race. Not sure if he cares for the Fairgrounds surface.

28 Feb 2012 4:25 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I think Pletcher and barn deserve a lot of credit for catching and paying attention to Algorithms injury with possible catastrophy avoided. Looking forward to seeing him run in the fall or next year. A tremendous talent in my opinion, and off the trail isn't the worst thing. For many that are never the same again after The Derby it would have been the best thing for their careers if they had missed The Derby. It's not for the faint of heart, sprinters, or ill prepared. It's going to be very interesting seeing Hansen in the Gotham with him being mad as hell about losing his last race. Does that mean he's going to run even faster early? Or can he harness his speed? Will it be a battle or an easy win, or will he burn out? The other one I'm anxious to see is Ultimate Eagle in the Big Cap for older horses. Is Game On Dude going to hook him in a speed duel and who will win that suicidal matchup if one doesn't let the other control the pace? Although I don't think we know for sure if Game On is running in it. Setsuko, robbed of the win last year, is back in stakes for the first time since being gelded.

28 Feb 2012 4:32 PM
Karen in Texas

GunBow----You should not be criticized for remaining a little skeptical. It is only February (as Deacon stated) and this road to the Derby/TC has always been a journey of attrition. Very disappointing for me was the late scratch of I Want Revenge, another loss due to injury. I do believe that your point regarding the importance of pace scenario in races in general is valid, as is your explanation of the relative differences in pace/timing of the BCJ and FOY. UR did win sitting to the outside of a very moderate pace on Sunday. He has earned the #1 position, but will no doubt face greater pressure in the near future.                  

28 Feb 2012 5:08 PM
Karen in Texas

Cassandra----The link says there is not a SINGLE cause that has been established, and that contributing causes remain obscure. It is thought to be LIKELY (not certain) that cryptorchids are the result of a combination of factors. The recent mapping of the equine genome may help to establish a clear reason for the occurrence--I'm fairly sure the geneticists are searching.

28 Feb 2012 5:41 PM

Robinm I think in 2010 Super Saver peaked in the Derby and got a great trip, after chasing Line Of David in the Arkansas Derby, it set him up for running right off the pace and pouncing and getting the jump on Ice Box who  had an eventful trip.I thought Lookin at Lucky was the best horse in the 2010 Derby but he had a terrible inside trip.In 2009 I thought Pioneer of the Nile was the best but Calvin Borel gave Mine that Bird a masterful ride and an inside ground saving trip and he passed Pioneer of the Nile like he was standing still, after PON pressed and ran on the pace the whole race.I really think Mine that Bird not only got a great trip and masterful ride but he moved way up on an off track.I cant say I didnt cash wagers on both those Derbies because in 2010 my top three were 1,2,4 so I hit the exacta 4-2 but not the tri or super.In 2009 I keyed Pioneer of the Nile and also bet him heavy across the board so I dont mind if my horse gets 2nd as long as I win the wager.Last year I had AK but on the bottom of my key, but I got most of my money back when one of my main contenders Nehro got 2nd, didnt win the wager last year just got most of my money back.This year I dont think I will use key bets in the tri or super unless I like one runner instead of three like in 2009,when I was a staunch supporter of Pioneer of the Nile.BTW he was by Empire Maker and was trained by Bob Baffert both factors which I tend to favor in making my Derby bets.

28 Feb 2012 5:56 PM
Linda in Texas

Alex'sBigFan, thanks for that sweet note about Pirate Queen's Quality Road colt. Wonder whose color of coat he will be wearing, his dam or his sire's?

As soon as i know he can wear a halter and he has a name, i will order him a name tag like his mama and his 'Auntie Zenyatta' and she should be foaling any day, just any day. You know i am a Quality Road fan, so i could not be more delighted with the sire of Pirate Queen's colt.  

Hope you and your family are all doing well. And thanks again for the news about Pirate Queen. You know there a a couple of Grays running this year, not just a couple, i know of 4 i am watching!

And Steve your list is so right on.

I do not know how anyone could disagree with you. You have not missed anyone.

And i hope the winter has not been too cold for you. And the Daffodils should be blooming pretty soon! Thanks Steve

Linda R.

28 Feb 2012 6:35 PM
Tiz Herself

What a huge loss not having Algorithms on the trail! I hope he gets better soon!

Unable to watch video (not working for me) however I loved Union Rags's return. Can't wait to see more from this guy! For a guy like Mr. Matz, it is a feel good story seeing as how six years ago, he had who I thought would have been a Triple Crown winner in Barbaro and would love to see him reclaim the glory again.

Am waiting eagerly for Fed Biz's next start, he has some serious potential as well. And then there's Gemologist.

Wish a speedy and full recovery for Algorithms.

28 Feb 2012 6:48 PM
Tiz Herself

Wishing recovery or Thisskyhasnolimit. Poor guy. He's one of my favorites. Always tries so hard each time out.

28 Feb 2012 6:53 PM

You guys are the best source for info and insight!  I don't see half of what you all do.

I saw what I wanted to see out of El Padrino on Saturday....a determined dog-fight of an effort and a win.  

I hope he does face UR in the FD.  What better way to gauge your horse than to run him against "the best"?

Future Wager Pool 2 this weekend...loading up on Liaison, I think.  Got EP in Pool 1 but his odds wont be attractive in Pool 2.  

I'm starting a petition to bring Coldfacts back to this post...

28 Feb 2012 6:59 PM
Tiz Herself

Can't wait to see who all lines up in the Florida Derby. If El Padrino and Union Rags meet, should be amazing.

Liked News Pending's second in the FOY. It was always going to be who would be second to Union Rags. Harlan's Holiday was my Derby pick back in 2002 and is unfortunate that he didn't win. Always followed his kids from Denis of Cork, Into Mischief, Mendip, Riley Tucker, Majesticperfection, Twinspired (anyone know where he is?), Three Day Rush, Bear Holiday, Tasha's Miracle, etc.

28 Feb 2012 7:01 PM
Tiz Herself

Have to wonder if Hansen's connections will continue on decorating the horse's mane. Had to do a second take the first time I saw it. If he's in the gate the first Saturday in May, would be an interesting sight, no?

28 Feb 2012 7:06 PM
The Deacon

Gun Bow:  Again I agree with your latest assessment. Algorithms injured off Derby trail, stay tuned the attrition has just begun. Way too early to get excited but Steve put together a very good list. I am pretty sure one of these will win the Derby, but a Triple Crown, that is far reaching at this point. Wouldn't surprise me if we get another longest winner, it seems to be the trend. Gun Bow over the years has stated many accurate and logical posts, I enjoy reading them as I do many others........

28 Feb 2012 7:37 PM

Right now I feel the same way about Union Rags as I did about Big Brown.

This horse was at 80% and won for fun.

Unless the dreaded 1 hole comes up for the draw I love this horse.

Is their a bigger disadvantage in any sport than breaking from the 1 hole in the derby?

28 Feb 2012 7:53 PM

Oh dear.... Draynay!  Are you lost?  This is not Jason's blog....

28 Feb 2012 8:04 PM

I feel very lucky to have a 7-1 futures bet on UR.  Won't see odds like that the rest of his career.  

28 Feb 2012 8:08 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

1. Empire Way-Mike Harrington. Not exactly disguised as Clark Kent but will improve leaps and bounds and be more powerful than a locomotive. Won debut, then ran in three graded stakes races since, closing strong for second in the Lewis, G2.

2. El Padrino-Todd Pletcher. The Risen Star duel moves him forward.

3. I'll Have Another-Doug O' Neill. Best in the West until dethroned.

4. Creative Cause-Mike Harrington. Impressive bullet work at 6f nine days after closing strong in the San Vicente. Looks fantastic physically. Could very well be #1. And the Belmont will be no problem if he gets that far.

5. Union Rags-Micael Matz. Definitely looked good and finished strong in the FOY but the pace was slow and he was one of the front runners. Still, a very good race after the layoff. Looked really good physically and has a nice stride. Still have some 10f doubts but maybe I shouldn't.

6. Midnight Transfer-Carla Gaines. Gritty Hard Spun. The San Felipe Mar. 10th will let us know more about routing capabilities.

7. Spring Hill Farm-Todd Pletcher. Derby pedigree. Undefeated, cruised to both wins. Needs a test.

8. Castaway-Bob Baffert. Top Dog in the Baffert barn in my eyes.

9.Out Of Bounds-Eoin Harty-Could be super talented but at what distance?

10. Daddy Nose Best-Steve Asmussen-Gamer. Sire-Scat Daddy, with Thunder Gulch on the bottom.

11. Alpha-Kiaran McGlaughlin-Excellent distance pedigree. Another that needs a test.

12. Hansen-Mike Maker-He's mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. The galloping ghost doesn't spook easy and will have his monster face on in The Gotham. Could be scary again.

13. Bodemeister-Bob Baffert. Named after young son Bode but still has all of his teeth. His last race was powerful.

28 Feb 2012 8:16 PM


A tiring horse does not lengthen his strides, he shortens. The swirving has other explanations. Revisit and look at UR's Saratoga Special run as well.

28 Feb 2012 8:18 PM

Revised Derby Dozen:

1)Union Rags  2)Summer Front  3)Hansen  4)El Padrino  5)Creative Cause  6)Spring Hill Farm  7)Out of Bounds  8)Gemologist  9)Exothermic  10)Lucky Chappy  11)Secret Circle  12)Bodemeister 12)Discreet Dancer (deserves another chance)

Knocking at the door: Fed Biz, Sabercat, Battle Hardened, Motor City, Currency Swap, Got Even, Midnight Transfer

29 Feb 2012 1:00 AM
Criminal Type

Tizherself, Twinspired raced on Saturday in the 12th at Fair Grounds after the Risen Star. He finished second under Rosie Napravnik in the one mile allowance/optional claiming on the grass.

29 Feb 2012 3:42 AM
Criminal Type

Linda, Pirate Queen's Quality Road foal is gray, according to Zenyatta's last post. Speaking of the queen, she should be having her foal within the next few days. She was bred on April 2nd or 3rd. Tasty Temptation's Candy Ride foal is due the same day.

29 Feb 2012 3:47 AM


29 Feb 2012 6:27 AM

Aaaaaaaaaaaarghhhh!  Algorithms out?  Shades of To Honor And Serve.  What are you doing to me, Bernardini?

After watching the FOY, all I can say is, "Wow!"  I was certain Union Rags would jump to the top of everyone's list.  It was a dominating performance, well-timed and perfectly executed.  But in the post parade, I was most impressed by News Pending.  He's such a handsome colt, and for his first stakes race, he did very well.  I added him to my list; so happy you did the same, Steve.

AP Indy was a ridgeling, and I believe he eventually had to have one testicle removed due to the discomfort, long before he became a sire of sires.  He proved to be one of the most valuable sires of the past 20 years.  I don't know if it's a genetic anomaly or simply a result of the great numbers of foals who have made it to the track.

I'm still doubtful about El Padrino.  I thought both colts leaned on each other for a short distance in the Risen Star...but how long has it been since the Fair Grounds gave us a Derby winner?  Last year, Pants On Fire bled, and he was one of my favorites.  As far as favorites not making it into the gate on Derby Day, I think my biggest disappointment was I Want Revenge.

My top ten today (probably subject to many changes over the next 2 months) are Union Rags  (I think he can get 10f..just not sure about 12f)  Fed Biz, Secret Circle, Hansen (one more chance, Baby), Alpha, Scatman, News Pending, Out Of Bounds, Mark Valeski, Z Dager.  And I'm still keeping an eye on Swag Daddy.

Dr D: One objection..The FOY covered the mile in 1:36, which is faster than most of the preps I've seen so far. While the start was slow, the final fractions made it

faster than the Risen Star or either of the Southwest Stakes.  Although the Sham was faster, I still believe the Santa Anita track may be "souped up" because all the times there seem to be at hyper speed.

29 Feb 2012 7:19 AM

Johnny I agree with your statement in a more recent post Is their a bigger disadvantage in any sport than breaking from the 1 hole in the derby? Remember in 2007 Curlin broke from the no 2 post.

29 Feb 2012 8:42 AM

Thanks for the info Ranagulzion about Union Rags' race in the Saratoga Special. He won in the mud handily and looked like he was playing in the mud.

Also, in UR's maiden win, one of the horses he raced against Mark Veleski and the later ended up third.

29 Feb 2012 8:45 AM

Kevin I agree in derby futures in the next two pools barring a brilliant performance by any colt in the preps that will be run before pool 3 closes,UR should be 2nd choice in both pools after the field.

29 Feb 2012 8:46 AM
Age of Reason

Good morning, Mr. Haskin.

Is it just me, or is there something wrong with the video player this time? I have tried to watch it from three different computers, but have gotten the same Error message all three times: "The Video you are trying to watch is currently unavailable. Please check back soon." Is it just my machine, or are there others who've had the same difficulty? Thanks!

29 Feb 2012 9:58 AM

1) EL PADRINO - I still think he doesn't really get rolling until somewhere near 1 1/16 then he's got something else to show us.


3) OUT OF BOUNDS - He waited patiently while idling before having room to run in the Lewis.  Look to me like a high school student w/ an after school job playing with day care kids.  

4) SABERCAT - I just need to seem him stalk a fast pace & see how he closes.  He impresses me.


6) CASTAWAY - watched him at Oaklawn & I still think he's a late bloomer.

7). HOWE GREAT - Reminds me of ANIMAL KINGDOM but there's still dirt to run on for him.



10) FED BIZ - I want to see how he responds to being challenged.

11) GEMOLOGIST- Wish I could put THUNDER MOCCASIN here.  I'm thinking PLETCHER is keeping him close to the vest & out of scrutiny right now.  Conspiracy theory...!

12) SPRING HILL FARM - I like SMART STRIKE & am encouraged by RIBOT & PRINCEQUILLO on the bottom.



29 Feb 2012 10:31 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Objection sustained. It was a very good race in a very good time, and I have no objection with him being number one. I'm just not blown away like many people and was a  more impressed with El Padrino. I may be a little more biased by my pedigree impressions than I should be. The bigger races should clear it up a little more for me. I'm hoping for some big matchups prior to The Derby such as Union Rags against El Padrino  or even Alpha. I think that Union Rags deserves to be number one at this point but my list is always for the Derby win not for what they've accomplished so far. And I change my mind a lot. I'm leaning more toward Creative Cause being the top choice right now since he has a strong distance pedigree and always looks spectacular physically and because his last workout impresses me. Room for growth I still see Empire Way as having the most room for improvement. Long ways to go and many more to see. I might call you up for a sidebar at some point.

29 Feb 2012 11:02 AM
Steve Haskin

I cant watch the video either. Not seeing my mug is no great loss.

29 Feb 2012 11:13 AM

Dr. Drunkinbum you were more impressed by a horse that had to MUG Mark Valesky to win ?  Mark Valesky who the trainer admitted was a bit fat going into his FIRST 2 turn race ?  If El goes to the Louisiana he gets beat by Mark if he goes to Florida he will get whipped by Union Rags.  Let me know when El wins another race ALL YEAR.

29 Feb 2012 12:10 PM

Another great list and comments, Mr. Haskin. I do have to comment about Gunbow's opinion about pace causing Point Given not winning the Derby. It's my opinion that the Churchill track caused a multitude of problems for the horses that day. It was tightened to the point of replicating I95 It is a miracle that any of them finished that day. The result was very few contenders that day ever came back and raced successfully again. Point Given was an exception.

Union Rags is a magnificent horse. Matz has been given an undeniable gift. My heart's favorite is Hanson though. He is exciting to watch! Where is Pat Day when you need him anyway?

29 Feb 2012 1:46 PM

Dr D: Sidebar will be noted!  I simply do not take to El Padrino.  I was probably more impressed by Scatman in the SW.  

How disappointing not to see the showdown between Dude and Ultimate Eagle.  Game On Dude is skipping the Big 'Cap in favor of Dubai.

Any time now...THE Zen should foal.  That belly is a lot bigger.  I'm hoping for a leap year baby today.  Can't help thinking, since Vertigineaux's hook-up with Bernardini produced Eblouissante..wouldn't Zen and Bernie's hook-up produce a foal similar to Zen's little sis?

29 Feb 2012 2:00 PM

My bad, Sham, not the Lewis regarding OUT OF BOUNDS.

29 Feb 2012 2:52 PM
Linda in Texas

Criminal Type - Thank you for that

super news on 'his' color. That is amazing to me. I thought maybe dark would rule over light. That is great.

Tasty Temptation i remember also, after Pirate Queen was in foal they

separated her from Zenyatta. So the three 'ladies in waiting' are about to be mothers all.

I hope Charles at Lane's End or whoever is in charge of the mares and foals will allow a photo of PQ and QR's foal to show up somewhere. Frankly I would love a photo of all 3 moms and all 3 foals if truth be told.

Maybe that can be a project for one of the photographers for Nice fodder for an article.

I have never seen a young newly born gray foal. And now i read that Now I Know is booked to Uncle Mo, hope that one turns out gray also and we will have to wait a year for that one.

Thanks again Criminal Type.

I am hoping good racing luck comes

Ultimate Eagle's way in his next race. Great story on his awful case of near life ending Colic.

Creative Cause is looking really healthy. And as i watched News Pending before his race, i thought whoa, there is a good looking racehorse, i put a comment beside his name on my worksheets it said

"keep a close watch on this one."

Really i wish them all good racing luck. And good luck to those smart enough to know which ones to bet on.

Thanks Steve

29 Feb 2012 3:00 PM

My first post and I'd like to say to Coldfacts that there are those of us who don't mind reading what you have to say but by subtracting yourself from the equation, the rest of us are denied that extra opinion to ponder. This forum won't be any good if we're all the same, owning a zoo full of Zebras and who would come? So I ask you to please return, face your tormentors, throw the hammer down, you are a veteran and you should never be denied. I really like Union Rags but would love to see a match race between Bodemeister and Thunder Moccasin. Great stuff Steve.

29 Feb 2012 4:02 PM
Tiz Herself

It's unfortunate the injury bug continues for Junebugred and Consortium (have to wonder at the soundness in Bernardini's? Or is it just one of those freak things? First Alogrithms, last year To Honor and Serve missed time, now Consortium)...

29 Feb 2012 5:01 PM
Tiz Herself

Can't wait to see how  Raconteur does in the Gotham - and of course there is Tiger Walk who have been following for some time. And of course Hansen.

29 Feb 2012 5:03 PM
Steve Haskin

All the pleas to Coldfacts obviously are falling on deaf ears, so time to move on.

29 Feb 2012 5:08 PM
Criminal Type

Linda, in reality I expect that Pirate Queens foal is pretty dark with the telltale white hairs  of a gray/roan present in his coat. They lighten as they age. I bet he is a cutie though, I love QR's shaggy forelock.

29 Feb 2012 5:25 PM
Criminal Type

Linda, also, I forgot this, If you go to facebook and like Lanes End, you can see photos of the farm. They put up photos of the foaling barn this morning. There were photos of Dream Supreme and her Medaglia foal, one of Freedom Flag (daughter of Dixie Union out of Alabama winner Runup the Colors)and her new born. They also had a photo up of a gray mare and a dark foal laying in the grass that looks like it will be gray. I do not think it was Pirate Queen but Im not certain. You could eat off the floor in that barn, it's spotless. I also have Three Chimneys on my likes and they do the same thing. Ive seen a couple Quality Road foals so far. Also, Winstar put up that Drosseymeyers first two mares bred scanned in foal today.

29 Feb 2012 6:18 PM

The Gotham this weekend should tell us alot about Hansen, I don't like the twelve post for him, mainly because of Aque's inner track having a short run to first turn, I don't know alot about this track, but if anyone who is very familiar, please let us know your thoughts on this post position.

I will be playing an Exacta box with the 1 and 2 horse in the Gotham, will probably play this as a $10 box and probably play it about ten times. This will be the start of building my Derby funds. Good luck is out there, hope I find it this weekend.

I think this talk about ridglings is interesting, I wonder if the other horses that race against a ridgling notice this and what effect it might have on them. I wonder if anyone has ever assembled the " coldfacts" on this subject, it might be very interesting.

29 Feb 2012 7:05 PM

Steve, et al, a few jock observations if I may...Johnny V....was less than enthused w/ his ride o Sunday in the FOY...what the hell is the sense of taking the colt to the front and seein how far he can go...that 2nd 1/4 was ridiculous...where is the learning curve. Some have suggested the rail was not the place to be on Sunday...duh...then what was JR doing[don't take this as my questioning his abilities....but imo he could have made better decisions in that race...I read where Castellano had tuff choice in making a selecting mounts going forward to the Triple Crown. Given that, would love to be in Rosarios' agents spot and see if he'll sit chilling w/ Creative Cause or jump to Empire Way if this guy improves like I think[hope] he can. Lastly, hoping for Bejarano quik heal, and I too am looking forward to the San Felipe especially Fed Biz moving along...good handicapping to all

29 Feb 2012 7:24 PM
Forbidden Apple

Steve/El Kabong,

My mistake on calling Fed Biz a maiden winner. I was not trying to distort anything, an honest mistake on my part. I did watch his allowance race and it was impressive, now he needs to do battle with another top colt to see what he is made of. And as far as El Padrino is concerned, I still was not impressed with his race. I liked him after his Gulfstream race, maybe he prefers the Gulfstream surface better. I think Alpha is only in Florida to keep him out of the cold in NY. He will ship back to NY for the Wood. So El Padrino will have his chance to test his strength against Union Rags in the FL Derby.

I think Captain Bodgit got his wish, ColdFacts is done with the Derby Dozen after getting lashed out at for no reason.

It's hard to believe that Hansen is the 6/5 favorite in the Gotham. I'm not sure of who I like for the win yet, but that is a favorite that I will play against.

29 Feb 2012 8:26 PM

As another poster commented, in dogs, those with undescended testicles are always neutered to prevent prevalence of the anomaly.  It is an inherited trait which is undesirable/unhealthy.

Really admired Union Rags' performance in FOY, love Out Of Bounds, looking forward to Hansen's Gotham.  Have not enough info about rest to have an opinion but suspect Fed Biz may intrude on the party.

29 Feb 2012 10:16 PM

Draynay you need to relax and you also need to adjust your tv set.  Mark Valeski came out and bumped EP first which actually was the hardest blow, it knocked EP off stride just a bit, after that it was more each of them leaning against each other.  Both horses were game and impressive.  I don't why your so bitter about, but you're definitely overexaggerating.

29 Feb 2012 11:02 PM
The Deacon

Draynay:  Mr. haskin's blogs for  most part are respectful and insightful. Those two qualities are way beyond your limited comprehension. You seem to find some sick pleasure in putting other peoples down when in fact you counldn't hit water if you fell out of a boat. Go back to the other inferior blogs where your rudeness seems to be appreciated.

Why Mr. Haskin allows you to comment is beyond me but I am sure he has his reasons......a person doesn't raise himself up by belittling others.

01 Mar 2012 2:09 AM
Steve Haskin

Horsehead, thank you and amen.

Deacon, I dont know why he has decided to return here, but he's free to give his opinion. I'm allowing him to do so, but you are right about his attitude and persistence and disregard for other people's opinions. Now that he's made his point, as erroneous as it might be, on numerous occasions, he'll have to find a new high horse to mount. The subject is now closed.

01 Mar 2012 2:26 AM

I heard yesterday on 'At the Races' that the rail had become the worst place to be as the day went along on FOY day.  I'm encouraged by that since I'd like to see DISCREET DANCER have a better showing.  Sounded like he was fighting through that lane the whole trip.  Should VELASQUEZ have known that, is my question?

01 Mar 2012 11:43 AM
Age of Reason

Bravo, Horsehead. I can tell you why Draynay hasn't moved on from the Risen Star, and it should be obvious: he had a chunk of money on Mark Valeski, and was mad that the stewards didn't help him thwart the rules to make money by declaring Mark Valeski the winner. In my thesaurus, next to the phrase "sour grapes", it says, "see also: Draynay". If his continuing psychotic hate-obsession with Zenyatta is any indicator, he will no doubt still be gnashing his teeth over El Padrino three years from now. Some people like to constantly revisit the past ("Hindsight is 20/20") as a cover for their utter failure to understand and predict events in the present. Such poor souls (if they have a soul) are surely well beyond our mortal ability to help. Can we move on now? :)

01 Mar 2012 11:49 AM

Thanks to the bloggers who have joined the Bloodhorse Bloggers league at RTTR contest again the league number is 833505011 and the access code is 619488159 come on and join and the invitation goes out to you as well steve

01 Mar 2012 3:11 PM
Ida Lee

The beautiful and extemely talented Union Rags has been my Derby horse since his first win as a 2-year-old. I've already had a dream of him in a blanket of roses...

01 Mar 2012 5:02 PM

Always love your lists Steve! I look forward to them every week! So much insightful information!  Keep up the great work!


Coldfacts is now posting on Jason's blog - don't know about you all but I don't think Draynay for Coldfacts was a good trade!   LOL

01 Mar 2012 8:38 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  That's quite a duo for Harrington. I'm rooting for both and Gaines with Midnight also. Out Of Bounds is very interesting. The West Coast is dynamite this year but The Deacon discounts the West Coast horses. I don't. With Algorithms out, I see the West Coast as being very strong. I love The Deacons posts but we often disagree about the West Coast horses. Usually he's right. This year he's wrong.

02 Mar 2012 1:13 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

What do you think about this theory- Later maturing horses likee AP Indy's and maybe Bernradini's are more likely to be harmed by Lasix and other medications. The body that matures late, is more vulnerable to meds that hinder the natural maturation process, and thus are more susceptible to being harmed by meds and more susceptible to injury. The bones and ligaments need a longer time to mature and if they are pushed too fast too early are more susceptible to injury with or without meds.

02 Mar 2012 1:26 AM
The Deacon

Dr. D:  I certainly could be wrong, wouldn't be the first time. My reasoning is valid but a west coast super horse could come along I suppose, ala Majestic Prince. I have been to Santa Anita and the track is lightening fast, the horses are running out of their mind times. What would Spectacular Bid run 10 furlongs today, he holds the world record of 1:57 4/5 I believe. Now fast forward, go to a sandy track like Churchill Downs that is usually slow and then put young 3 year olds on the surface and see what happens. I just can't see it but who knows you are right as much as I am. By the time the Derby rolls around and the injuries taking their toll anything can happen..........

Keep up the funnies, the world needs more humor.

On a side note, maybe Steve can start a contest on naming Big Z's baby, winner take all. How about Bernyatta!!

02 Mar 2012 3:23 AM


You are a true professional to post that guys comments no matter how out of whack they are.

This is much more than another blogger for this site who believes in censorship.

Thank You

02 Mar 2012 11:42 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon

  Maybe I'm just being hopeful. I probably am every year but I feel pretty good about them this year. There seems to be so many good ones. You're usually right. We'll see after the big races outside of Calif. I've got the winning name for sure.

02 Mar 2012 3:20 PM
Forbidden Apple

My Gotham pick is Side Road. I'm going to box him up with My Adonis in the exacta.

I also think that Emcee is going to run huge in the Tom Fool.

Ultimate Eagle is also set to run the race of his life. After tomorrow he should finally get his due respect.

Look out for the return of Soldat on sunday, he is 100% class.

02 Mar 2012 5:07 PM

(Sorry if this post twice.  It didn't seem to take the first time.)

I hate to point out that Dray is a chalk player, so I doubt he had a cent on Mark Valeski since El Padrino was the favorite.

Dr. D.:  Let me remind you, Eskenderya, Quality Road and I Want Revenge were not Bernardini progeny, but they failed to be in the starting gate on Derby day.  On the other hand, Stay Thirsty, a Bernardini colt raced all last year without problems...only THAS was sidelined.  There are a lot of Bernardini's out there, running just fine so...I think we're still ok.

I do, however, agree with Deacon, that Santa Anita has a souped up track for hyperspeed.  However, when Cali horses went to Oaklawn, they still won big with Castaway and Secret Circle.  So the form is transferring to other tracks.

For thrill seekers, watch Doug O'Neil's horses tomorrow.  That lead pony is more than likely to be Lava Man who remains with the barn as a pony.  I hope Gun Bow is taking notice.  I'd love to see a photo of that.

And tomorrow I have my fingers crossed for Ultimate Eagle and Hansen.  

02 Mar 2012 7:10 PM

With regard to Dr D's 'theory on medication/maturation,' I believe the Breeders' Cup Medication Policy in a step in the right direction with large ramifications in USA racing overall.

Obviously, many trainers have voiced vehement opposition to the policy but an eventual 'drug' free World Championship of racing week-end can only improve the image of racing in the US.

Anyway, back to the TC and A.P. Indy, has anyone seen Take Charge Indy at Palm Meadows?

02 Mar 2012 8:33 PM
The Deacon

Dr. D:  Share the winning name with me, I haven't had a Derby winner since Street are correct, California does have some nice horses. I hope I am wrong and I sure would like to see west coast racing back on the map. The best we have done is a second place finish by Pioneer of the Nile in 2009. It has been quite ahile before that. Maybe Giacomo in 2005 if folks consider him a west coast horse.............good luck

02 Mar 2012 9:25 PM
7 1/2 Furlongs

Steve -

    You are right about Liaison and the wager opportunity in Pool 2.  If he redeems himself in next race, 50-1 is an overlay.  Also,  

I like his stablemate, Castaway.

    What impresses me most about Castaway is his pedigree.  Going as far back as the sixth generation, he has double doses of Ribot, Princequillo, and Hail to Reason.  Can't name a more potent trio of distant relatives than this bunch.

    If he learns how to settle behind horses down on the inside, we will have a serious contender for the Derby.  Once again, thanks for compiling another awesome Derby Dozen list with honorable mention.

02 Mar 2012 11:58 PM


I noticed you mentioned The Lumber Guy, and I can't help but love this guys name. If he continues onto The Wood, you have to love the name for the race. I believe he Beyered a 90 in his Maiden breaker and then showed push button acceleration in the the Miracle Wood Stakes, which are signs of a good horse. I love the way this guy looks and think he might just be good enough to be a legitimate Derby horse, even though I don't think Derby distance when I see Grand Slam as the sire; can't wait to see what happens with him.

03 Mar 2012 4:08 AM
El Kabong

Fans of SOLDAT(from last year's derby)

Look for him Sunday at GP to make his return on Turf. Love this horse and hope Kiaran McLaughlin is right about his preference for Turf.

03 Mar 2012 1:10 PM

I guess Hansen answered some of thos e questions. What a race for a head strong colt. 12 wide patient,stalking, when asked did the job beautifully. This was not about the field he beat, but about how he ran the race. He answered my questions with an !!!

03 Mar 2012 5:45 PM

Hansen, 1 dimensional speedball, think again. On a tiring track and a widish trip, Hansen wasn't stopping.

Perhaps the answer to the Holy Bull is a fresh horse and a wet track, as Mike Maker postulated. With some nice horses off the TCT, through injury, over the past week the Gotham result was a ray of sunshine - well, perhaps not for the other trainers.

03 Mar 2012 5:52 PM

I guess Hansen answered some BIG questions today.He was totally awesome.

03 Mar 2012 7:53 PM


I just had to smile after the Gotham. :)))) I knew he would do it. I am the one who left you a message at fb. I am glad you were smiling also. What a race.

04 Mar 2012 3:09 PM

Wow, Draynay! That is the best comment you have ever posted. I believe Dray is right for once here. Back off the dray! I thought the very same thing when I saw the race. I am surprised that more people have not commented on the interference issue and that the stewards automatically denied claim. Mark should have been bumped up and the other horse dropped. That call made me sick.

04 Mar 2012 6:45 PM

btw i am not agreeing with dray on anything else just the fact that i felt mark v was robbed and el p should have been second. el p did bump into mark v hard enough that it appears that he had a slight stumble giving el p a slight advantage. once that still didn't put mark v away, and he fought back, el p's jock, i believe, decided to pressure him to the rail to slow him down and pinch off mark v. The move effected the outcome of the race, therefore, i think the stewards should have not denied the claim so hastily.

04 Mar 2012 7:18 PM


WHERE'S THE DOZEN FOR 3/05/2012???

05 Mar 2012 1:35 PM

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