Derby Dozen (video) - March 12, 2012 - Presented by Shadwell Farm

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Creative Cause Mike Harrington Click Here!

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

Yes, he’s back in his familiar No. 1 spot, with all due respect to Rags. I just needed to see him take that important second step, and he used the San Felipe as a perfect prep to move forward again in the Santa Anita Derby. Harrington has done it the old-fashioned way, with the 7f sprint debut as a sharpener and then a two-turn tightener. CC accelerated quickly when Rosario nudged him on the turn and had so much momentum he floated way wide turning for home. CC raced erratically when Rosario kept snatching the reins on him and throwing crosses, trying to keep away from the whip, which the colt does not like or need. Rosario did give him a left-handed crack and CC ducked out from it. When Rosario finally went to a vigorous hand ride after coming together and locking horns with a stubborn Bodemeister, CC looked his antagonist in the eye, leveled off, and found another gear approaching the wire. Although the margin was three-quarters of a length, by the time he hit the turn galloping out, he was 6 lengths ahead of Bodemeister and kept widening. The proverbial street fighter, he’ll try to beat you any way he can. It’s a joy to see a horse handled the way this horse has been handled. He doesn’t need to be cranked to the max for the SA Derby, and as a result is going to be sharp, fit, and tough come Derby Day. The 1 ¼ miles and the extra race under his belt could give him the advantage he’ll need against Union Rags.


Union Rags Michael Matz

Dixie Union—Tempo, by Gone West

He’s still the one with the potential for greatness, but I had CC at No. 1 for the first four weeks and he’s earned his way back on top. Rags is the most gifted 3-year-old in the country, but I’ll depart from the crowd and stick with the gray warrior. We still have to see how much Rags gets out of the Florida Derby. With only two starts and already having an easy race, he needs to get into some sort of a slugfest, unless he’s just so much better than the others and will be able to dominate them on May 5 like Big Brown did. But these are much more formidable foes. Remember, Barbaro got his slugfest in the Florida Derby and it set him up for his rout in the Kentucky Derby. Returned to the work tab with a :50 3/5 breeze.


El Padrino Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Pulpit—Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway

Drilled a half in :48; Pletcher with big decision regarding Louisiana Derby or Florida Derby. There isn’t much more to say about him other than what we’ve been saying all along. He’s not going to blow you away or have your jaw dropping, but try finding a chink in his armor. He does everything, and does it well. When you combine talent, tactical speed, consistency, temperament, and pedigree, how can you not consider him one of the major Derby contenders? I keep bringing up his Risen Star closing fractions of :23 1/5 and :06 1/5 for a reason. You don’t see many young horses coming home that fast, especially out-battling a horse closing almost as quickly after controlling the pace. The 5 ½-length gap to third substantiates the magnitude of both colts’ efforts.


Hansen Mike Maker

Tapit—Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat

Each week, some horse who was prominent in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile enhances that form with a huge performance. When was the last time the BC has had such a major impact on the Derby trail? He truly sits upon an exalted throne. First it was Union Rags, then the champ the following week, and now Creative Cause this week, completing a remarkable trifecta for the Juvenile form. In a few seconds you’ll read about the superfecta. As far as this guy, his connections have to feel good about the Derby picture, considering how much he learned and how far he moved forward in the Gotham. That’s what these Feb. and March preps are for.


Dullahan Dale Romans Click Here!

Even the Score—Mining My Own, by Smart Strike

Surprise! Hey, can’t leave him out of the Juvenile Jackpot after his eye-opening performance in the Palm Beach Stakes. No, he didn’t win, but you could not have asked for a more perfect debut, even if it was on the grass. This was not the same big, long-striding dude from last year who took forever to jump start his engine. Physically, he looked awesome, and as soon as he came out of the gate he got right down into the bit and was able to stay in touch with the field. He settled beautifully down the backside, while maintaining his striking distance. When Desormeaux asked him he showed off his patented quick-burst acceleration and pounced on the favorite Howe Great in a flash, while circling four wide. Here he was with his head in front of a brilliant colt in Howe Great before they even turned for home. In case you want a term for what was just described, it’s called a DIRT move. But it was grass and that is not a winning grass move, especially losing so much ground. Like last year, he had his head a bit high, but once Desormeaux hit him and he leveled off, he dropped his head and was striding out beautifully in the final furlong, while under no pressure to try to catch the winner. Oh, did I mention he came home in :22 4/5 and :11 2/5 (:34 1/5 final three-eighths) and ran his 1 1/8 miles in 1:46 3/5?


Sabercat Steve Asmussen Click Here!

Bluegrass Cat—Miner's Blessing, by Forty Niner

Only a week away from his long, long-awaited debut. It seems like we’ve been waiting longer than four months, but he’ll finally debut in the Rebel Stakes and we can figure out just where he fits, if at all. Right now, just waiting for a final work. My persistence is based solely on what I saw last year from a visual standpoint. I have no idea how he’s progressed from 2 to 3, or even how good he really was last year. This has been my one and only gut selection and it will be good to see just what we’re dealing with. If he runs a big race it’s going to open up a lot of eyes.


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

Flower Alley – Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch

My feelings about his skipping the San Felipe were made known in detail in my latest online column. Does it diminish how serious a horse I think this is? Not at all, and I can see him being one of my big plays come Derby Day. I’m just leery about the fine line they are treading and the chance he could run another corker in the Santa Anita Derby. Best case scenario for him is run the exact same race as Silver Charm in the ’97 Santa Anita Derby. That would be the kind of race that would toughen him up, give him a fairly solid foundation, and set him up for a big effort in the Kentucky Derby. He sure looked magnificent working 6 furlongs in 1:10 between races a little over a week ago.


Liaison Bob Baffert Click Here!

Indian Charlie—Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop

Bet you were expecting to see Bodemeister here, and certainly not this colt. But if there was a sneaky-good performance this year it was his fairly quiet fourth in the San Felipe. He seemed lost without the blinkers, but wait until next time. No one knows how to use Derby preps better than Baffert, and this horse had a lot of questions to answer after his Lewis debacle. When he swerved in a bit at the break, he immediately took himself into virgin territory, hanging out at the back of the pack. Down the backside, he again was stuck down on the rail with a tight wall of horses in front of him and no escape route. He lost whatever position he had and dropped back to last. At this point he appeared lost, with no chance at all of winning. The fact he at least picked himself off the floor and closed methodically to finish fourth, beaten 5 ½ lengths, was a step in the right direction, and he got a lot of the kinks out. Remember how slowly Baffert worked him going a mile? No way he was fully cranked for this race. Look for a huge improvement next time out, second race blinkers off. You sure don’t have to worry about him being too rank early anymore.


Alpha Kiaran McLaughlin

Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky

The way things have been going, McLaughlin is going to need a soothsayer to tell him whether to stay in Florida and face Union Rags or go back to New York and take on Hansen. Neither prospect seems all that appealing, but such is life on the Derby trail, especially this year when there seems to be a tiger behind every door. But who knows, maybe there are stripes under Alpha’s bay coat and sharp claws under his hooves. You never know where tigers are lurking on the road to Louisville. Forget Rags and forget Hansen. There’s no more inner track to conquer, and Alpha just has to go out and do his thing and run a big enough race to get him to Churchill in peak condition. It seems like ages ago since he’s run, so he better turn the screws a bit wherever he shows up.


Gemologist Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Tiznow—Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector

In yet another change of plans, he’ll now make his debut in an allowance race at Gulfstream the day before the Rebel, as Pletcher couldn’t get a return flight. Unbeaten Hopeful winner Currency Swap should give him a good test. He’s going to need it. Let’s not forget this is a grade II-winning undefeated colt who desperately needs a good race under him. If he runs big and remains unbeaten, everyone will take notice. If he doesn’t run big, then he’s going to have perform a magic act in the little time he has remaining. Had his final work, a :49 3/5 breeze.


Mark Valeski Larry Jones Click Here!

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

The talent is there, but like a few of the others, will he have enough bottom with only two distance races in his career? Jones knows how to stretch them out, and no one should forget the job he did with Hard Spun. We’ve already expounded on the virtues of his C.V. Whitney dominated female family, so he certainly has a solid pedigree to fall back on. He also appears to be extremely sensible and showed his ability to adapt to new and different scenarios.


Bodemeister Bob Baffert Click Here!

Empire Maker—Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat

Call him the defier of history. The 120-year-old Apollo curse awaits him. No big deal, obviously. Winning the Derby with as few as four career starts (accomplished once since 1918). Shrug it aside. His talent and brilliance will save the day. At least that’s what his connections are hoping. As impressively and gamely as he ran in the San Felipe, if you want to see what inexperience can do, just watch him drift about seven horse paths out after some left-handed encouragement in the final sixteenth. By doing that it forced him to run sideways at a crucial point and put himself right in close range of Creative Cause’s radar. CC was engaged in his own meandering scamper and had no one to actually light a fire under him until Bodemeister came calling. This colt has tremendous upside and a limitless future, but still has issues to overcome (like those mentioned above and a hot Derby pace) if he’s going to make any kind of splash on the first Saturday in May.

Knocking At The Door

Castaway Bob Baffert Click Here!

Street Sense – Priceless Storm, by Storm Cat

He’s been climbing the ladder one rung at a time, and he could just get to the top on the right day. Forget the speed differential between him and stablemate Secret Circle. When it comes to the Derby, time is on his side and there’s no rush for him to start breaking stopwatches. He just needs to keep forging forward, and still has two more preps to work with. From a visual standpoint, he was very impressive in the Southwest and that’s all you need to take out of that race. Right now, he’s Baffert’s dark horse to make noise on Derby Day.

News Pending Dale Romans Click Here!

Harlan’s Holiday—Motivated Sreva, by Lear Fan

Drilled a sharp five furlongs in 1:00 4/5, his first work since the Fountain of Youth. There are some generals that like to attack in full force with everything they have and not waste time. But there some, like Dale Romans, that use guerilla tactics and try to pick you apart slowly and quietly. Romans hasn’t had the weapons to launch a full-scale attack, but he’s been popping off sneak attacks lately that have caught the enemy by surprise. First it was this guy, who came out of nowhere to snatch second in the Fountain of Youth. Then came an even more obscure combatant, Finnegan’s Wake, who snuck off with a third in the Gotham Stakes. That was followed Saturday by another nondescript fellow named Cozetti, who absconded with a third-place prize in the Tampa Bay Derby. And finally came his main warrior, Dullahan, who came away with a well-orchestrated second in the Palm Beach Stakes. All of a sudden, Romans has four potential Derby horses, three of which he virtually pulled out of a hat.

Prospective Mark Casse

Malibu Moon—Spirited Away, by Awesome Again

Well, what do you know, another BC Juvenile starter making a splash in stakes races at 3. He joins an amazing list – Hansen, Union Rags, Creative Cause, Dullahan, Alpha, and Drill. His Juvenile was his only out-of-the-money performance in seven career starts. He improved with blinkers on in the Tampa Bay Derby and must be respected wherever he shows up next. His competition was questionable and he only got an 88 Beyer, but he definitely is on the improve.

My Adonis Kelly Breen

Pleasantly Perfect—Silent Justice, by Elusive Quality

A versatile colt, who can be effective from anywhere on the track, only Hansen and Algorthims have finished in front of him this year. He should continue to improve as the distances keep stretching out. Breen is looking forward to bringing him back for another crack at Hansen in the Wood Memorial, and it’s never wise to overlook Breen in big stakes.

Howe Great Graham Motion

Hat Trick—Ginger Sea, by Western Warrior

There’s no way I can tell if he’s a Derby horse when his owner has said all he’s a grass horse. However, grass horses have done well in the Derby recently and we’re seeing more and of them making a Polytrack stop before heading to Churchill Downs. This colt runs like a grass horse, but he has handled the dirt well at Philly Park and has looked good in his two turf stakes scores this year. They pulled it off last year, so why not try again with him or Lucky Chappy or State of Play. It’s open season on the Derby.

Take Charge Indy Pat Byrne Click Here!

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

Only time will tell if scratching out of the Tampa Derby at the last minute was a good decision. We’ll have to see who he runs into in the Florida Derby. Bottom line is that he needs a big effort and he’s going to have to produce one off a long layoff against the top-ranked 3-year-old in the country. They haven’t left themselves with many options, so this race will determine whether he’s a Derby horse or a Belmont horse. 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

Worked a half in :48 for most likely either the Illinois Derby or Wood Memorial. He looks like a good fit for the Wood, but they may decide Hawthorne is the better place to collect much-needed graded earnings. Crazy about his pedigree. 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. No pressure with him. If it doesn’t work out, he can point for the Belmont or go back to the grass.

Went the Day Well Graham MotionClick Here!

Proud Citizen—Tiz Maie’s Day, by Tiznow

Well, Team Valor has at least one horse who is accomplishing something on the dirt. I wish he had another race under him and had received his class test already, but you have to make do with what you have, and he does look to have a bright future. He seems very straightforward and professional and is improving with each race, so they’ll just have work with that and see where he takes them.

Najjaar Dan Peitz

Jazil—Hasheema, by Darshaan

He could be the wise-guy horse in the Rebel because of his exciting running style, but he’ll be going up against far better horses than the ones he’s been facing. If he makes that big move on the turn and can get himself into good position turning for home it will be very interesting to see if he can finish it up against some fast proven stakes horses.

Midnight Transfer Carla Gaines

Hard Spun—French Satin, by French Deputy

Hung tough against two very fast and classy horses in his two-turn debut in the San Felipe. It was a big step forward for him, but there is still a question how effective he can be going classic distances, as he did back out of it just a bit in the final sixteenth.

Zackn'mat Marty Jones

Northern Afleet – Pic Me for Fun, by Piccolino

We’ll give him one more week and if he still hasn’t worked, we’ll have to put him on the back burner unless we hear otherwise. Just something about this horse I like. He runs hard all the time, and is always coming at the end, regardless of the distance. His broodmare sire, Piccolino, 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.

Rounding out the Top 40 are Z Dager, a solid enough third in the Risen Star; Southwest division winner Secret Circle; El Camino Real Derby winner Daddy Nose Best and runner-up Lucky Chappy; four more Pletcher horses, Discreet Dancer, who is better than he showed in the Fountain of Youth; Ender Knievel, an impressive allowance winner who likely is headed for the Sunland Derby; Spring Hill Farm, who should improve off his fourth-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby in only his third career start on a track over which he was spinning his wheels; and Windsurfer, a real sleeper who ran a super race breaking his maiden after going wide every step of the way; Brother Francis, who was a close third in a maiden race on the grass, but turned in another strong effort. He just needs to learn how to win; sensational Fair Grounds maiden winner Cigar Street, who has a lot of catching up to do; Borderland Derby winner Isn’t He Clever; Scatman, game second to Secret Circle in the faster Southwest division; Golden Ticket and Cozzetti, second and third, respectively, in the Tampa Bay Derby; 

 Stirred up, who won his first two-turn race over a really nice horse in Holy Candy; Finnegan’s Wake, third in the Gotham; impressive allowance winner Politcallycorrect; Well Armed’s full-brother Arm Force; Hopeful winner Currency Swap, who debuts against Gemologist on Friday; Battaglia winner State of Play, who likely will run next in the Spiral or return to the grass; and Union Rags’ stablemate Teeth of the Dog.


Leave a Comment:

Dr Drunkinbum


  Your top four are in the top five. I would throw I'll Have Another into the top five. I'm anxious to see Sabercat. Bluegrass Cat was my WPS bet in the 2006 Derby. It's funny, I read the entries before the captions and was suprised at Dullahan. Then I go back and see "surprise." I see your point. He has had some strong moves in big races but I don't see him as 10f. I agree with your assessment of Midnight Transfer. I have doubts about continuing on the trail. Creative Cause number one and Bodemeister number 12? Quite a difference for two that finished so close and Bode in only his third career. Tremendous performance with the Classic pedigree to boot. My top five 1.I'll Have Another  2. El Padrino  3. Hansen  4. Union Rags (I see the light) 5. Creative Cause.  Any one of the top five could be number one. Number six is Bodemeister.

12 Mar 2012 5:37 PM


This is one fiesty/salty Derby Dozen column in support of Creative Cause. I have to admit you've been vindicated by the grey colt. Good job. Howeer for my part I still haven't seen a more impressive opening salvo with as much upside as Union Rags in the FOY. He's still the one they all have to beat in Louisville.

Please give your opinion on the Swale conqueror, Trinniberg, entering the Derby trail. After all, two other graduates from last year's Hopeful Stakes, Currency Swap and I'll Have Another are on it. I know that his profile fits that of a crack sprinter but the connections admitted that they could "go crazy" on him, which I interpret to mean jumping on the Kentucky Derby trail.

This colt is so fast that he canters his first quarter in 22 and change and half mile in 45 and change (when asked to run he can go 20 and change for a quarter and did so in the inaugural Breeder Cup Juvenile Sprint). The rider Willie Martinez who first advised the trainer to remove the blinkers doesn't know how far in distance Trinniberg wants to go but quipped that he'll get there pretty fast ...and he wasn't talking tongue in cheek.

I figure that with stamina influences, Herbager, Secreto, Never Bend and Dunce, all within the first five generations on his pedigree matrix, he could enter the Derby fray as a "fire-breathing" mystery horse, capable of burning a few front-running pretenders and doing a disappearing act, at least until Union Rags appears on the scene. A Union Rags/Trinniberg Exacta? Tell me, am I dreaming or what?

12 Mar 2012 5:44 PM

Midnight Transfer ran very well for his first time around two turns.  Look for big improvement next out.  Funny Cide also was (appearing to) backing up in the LA Derby before he went on to run a Derby ready prep. performance in the Wood.  

12 Mar 2012 5:57 PM
Indiana Johnny

Steve, I really enjoy reading your articles and look forward to your Derby Dozen every week.( I think you deserve a big fat raise :-)

Its getting more exciting every week on the Derby trail.

We seem to have a better group of quality horses this year, its going to be fun handicapping the preps and the Derby.I hope the BC Juvy form keeps holding togther.

12 Mar 2012 6:00 PM

I dont think CC has much upside and he took too long to switch leads.Bodemeister on the other hand has much upside.I still think UR had as smoothe a race as one could have and he won his prep by 4 lengths,he made it look easy thats what the great ones do.

12 Mar 2012 6:02 PM

Thinking you are right about so many carry overs from the BC Juv. ... does seem a bit odd?...    

This dozen is certainly getting closer to a gate slot for sure...

Throw in some one or two of the Turf brothers, like: "Howe Great"; "Exothermic"; "Summer Front";  and we may have a real competitive Derby on our hands...

There are definitely a few others left still however to expect good things from...      

Also its looking more and more like a 50-50 Storm Cat bred field vs. a non Storm Cat bred field...

How many gate slots are really left open with so many over $200K already and big purses left?? is always the issue from here on...  

Sorry bubble boyz, either you lacked the talent on the day you needed to have exposed it or your connections need to rethink your footstep follower's PATHS to earnings in the coming future years!! that being if this DANCE come MAY really was the real GOAL!

12 Mar 2012 6:24 PM
El Kabong


Could not agree more with your assessment of Dullahan. There's alot more to this guy that will emerge with more ground and it was very evident in yesterday's race. Very excited about his future. Not since viewing Spinal Taps amps have I seen so many impressive 11's one right after the other.

Any word on Exothermic's situation?

Was really looking forward to Gemologist in the Rebel. Again, not to win, but to see where he was at in terms of some good competition. It was looking like a repeat of the Super Saver campaign which was spot on. Given their time to book and prepare for this event, I am having a hard time accepting the excuse for not heading to Arkansas, but what do I know? Please don't answer that.  Now he'll have only one shot to get the earnings he needs. I hope it works out.

12 Mar 2012 6:28 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Look !!!! Up in the sky !!! It's a Birdstone, it's a plane!! No!!! It's Haskin, more powerful than a Triple Crown winner, faster than a ten a.m. deadline, and who disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, The Bloodhorse, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the Derby way.

12 Mar 2012 7:36 PM

Steve, great work as always; really appreciate your effort.  Was deeply disappointed in the Empire Way's performance - just nothing at all there.  Disappointed also with Ever So Lucky but the layoff and previous scratch along with HOF trainer make me optimistic about his chances later in the campaign - but not the Derby.  I wrote in another thread about the Swale and TB Derby being run almost simultaneously.  After years and years of complaints from the public, it's hard to believe this still happens - and with major races.  TB races were running about 25 minues behind listed post times.  Think they could have waited five more minutes to start the Derby.  Thanks again.

12 Mar 2012 8:45 PM

Agree with a lot of your expert opinion.  But I'd drop out Sabercat, Alpha, and Liaison.  Ive been on the Prospective bandwagon a long time, and made money on him this weekend, but was disappointed with the beyer. He'll have to pick it up to be in the mix.  I'd probably move My Adonis up.  He's very versatile and can be a bomb in the exotics.

12 Mar 2012 8:58 PM

Dr. D.,

That was great.  I love it!  Steve is our Superman for sure.  I know I am thankful everyday for Bloodhorse and the knowledge that is stored in Steve's brain.  It's keeping me sane because my world is crumbling all around me right now.  

This is way off topic but I discovered a book by actor Kevin Sorbo, the Hercules guy.  It is called, "True Strength" recently published.  It is supposed to be insightful in battling depression and health issues what he had, and inspirational.  He is an actor of high moral standards and involved in childrens' programs in CA.  It may help some of you others who I know too are going through hard times out there as well.  (And he's ridden several horses in his movies guys!)

Off topic again, but this is Steve's girl - Zenyatta video of her and her little colt is precious.  Ann Moss nearly in tears and cuddling the foal in the hay is beautiful.  Thank you Lane's End, the Mosses, and Bloodhorse for that.

12 Mar 2012 9:12 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

It's true, I am an old timer, and I do love horse racing. Now, when I was blogging back in 1969, I told them that there will never be another Secretariat !!!!!! He's just too good. And way ahead of his time.

12 Mar 2012 9:42 PM
zan the man

Listing Dullahan at #5 is foolishness, period.

And Liaison over Bodemeister?

Wishful thinking.

And poor old Secret Circle is still flushed into the bottom of the barrel with a bunch of unproven, unaccomplished wannabe's.

Prof. Haskin, methinks your sentiments, and your slavish devotion to breeding "potential", is leading you astray.

I'll happily take these prop bets:

Howe Great over Dullahan

Bode over Liaison

Secret Circle over Gemologist

12 Mar 2012 10:34 PM

I have no idea why anyone would have El Padrino in their top 5.  Mark Valesky was fat going into his race with El and got mugged all the way to the wire first time going 2 turns and El is a top horse ?  Nonsense.

12 Mar 2012 11:19 PM

Any word on Exothermic's situation?

Exothermic Pointed to Keeneland Start.

Was really looking forward to Gemologist in the Rebel. Given their time to book and prepare for this event, I am having a hard time accepting the excuse for not heading to Arkansas, but what do I know? Please don't answer that.  Now he'll have only one shot to get the earnings he needs. I hope it works out.

El Kabong 12 Mar 2012 6:28 PM.

Currency Swap is in the same position as far as earnings go and maybe only one shot also, as he is in the race as Gemologist.

12 Mar 2012 11:35 PM

Looking forward to seeing Currency Swap debut, if he looks as good as I suspect, he would have two weeks to the Florida Derby; could this be the plan to get him ready for the Kentucky Derby? I don't think he is just a good sprinter. His breeding looks to be an excellent blend of speed and stamina. We know this guy is classy and is one tough race horse, would love to see what he could do against a horse like Union Rags. That said, I think this years' Derby is going to either be the easiest pick since Big Brown, meaning Union Rags wins easily or it could be the toughest since Giacomo, meaning anyone could win this thing.

12 Mar 2012 11:43 PM
Mike Monarchos

Steve, what's Pletcher thinking with Gemologist? Here's a colt that won two 2-turn races at CD as a two year old and he's running him in an allowance race at GP on Saturday? Gemologist only has a little over 100,000 in graded stakes earnings. He's going to need at least 150,000 to get in the Derby.

Where's he going to get it? Looks like another one of my Derby Futures bets is going down the drain.

I've already lost Algorithms, and Fed Biz. These futures bets are pretty frustrating, to say the least!

12 Mar 2012 11:57 PM
Susan R

Secret Circle's been in the top 35/top 40 for awhile. I'm surprised he's not a bit further up on your list. Is that because you think he won't get a mile and a quarter?

13 Mar 2012 1:51 AM
Steve Haskin

Chirf Picawinna, I don’t know what you were watching, but Creative Cause changed leads smoothly and right on cue and right when he was supposed to. You couldn’t ask for a better lead change.

Dr. D., very good. What’s great is that when one of my horses runs lousy, all I have to do put  my glasses on and no one recognizes me.

Zan, fool’s die hard.

Ranagulzion, Trinniberg is strictly a sprinter. Even if he wasn’t it’s too late to start preparing him to go 1 1/4 miles in less than two months

Indiana Johnny, thanks. I wish you were my boss.

Susan R., Secret Circle is bred to go long, he just just hasnt shown any signs that he wants to. But we'll know more after the Rebel.

13 Mar 2012 8:11 AM

So Creative Cause won, had a beautiful stride and a great late kick.  He looked near perfect...but he's not in my top ten.  Why?  He ran a little green, and after all his experience he should not have.

1./Hansen...I like what I'm seeing, more and more each time I watch him progress.

2./Union Rags..Can't ignore such a big strong colt though I'm doubting he'll go 12f.

3./Bodemeister...if he ran that great with so little experience, even green, what monster will he be when he peaks? needs $$$

4./Prospective...loved his Sam Davis, battle-tested in the TBD, Seattle Slew on top and bottom..more to come from this colt.

5./Secret Circle..still have faith in him...well-bred..bound to do more

6/ New Pending...very promising

7./Howe Great...a gift with talent from Sunday Silence.

8./ lone Bernardini, looks like a grinder, but a fast one.

9./Take Charge Indy...well bred.  I think he's slowly coming into his gears.

10./Scatman...I liked his finish in the SW. Again...lots of promise.

I had to demote Empire Way even though I still think he has the best breeding to be a winner.  I do think his trainer is probably putting more work into CC than EW...sort of like that UM-Stay Thirsty error of last year.

I like Mark Valeski too, but I need to see more from him.

13 Mar 2012 8:24 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) SABERCAT - I just need to see him stalk a fast pace & see how he closes.  He impresses me.




7) BODEMEISTER - How much improvement will he show?

8) CASTAWAY - Talented and gritty

9) HOWE GREAT - Reminds me of ANIMAL KINGDOM but there's still dirt to run on for him.  What if he's better on dirt?

10) DULLAHAN - Reminded me of EL PADRINO in that he seems like he's just getting rolling around 1 1/16th.  Beautiful horse.



12B) SECRET CIRCLE - I think he's still learning & he had more in the tank in the Southwest.

12C) PROSPECTIVE - I just think he does what he has to and there's more coming.


I'm really bummed about ANIMAL KINGDOM.  I wanted to see him represent in Dubai.

13 Mar 2012 8:46 AM

Steve, I think that's a great observation on DULLAHAN and, in particular, DESORMEAUX.  What were HOWE GREAT's fractions coming home?

13 Mar 2012 8:55 AM
Tiz Herself

Am looking forward to Gemologist's return this week.

Also hope that the Purim colt Gold Megillah (not sure where he is) gets his chance in better company as well.

My top Derby horses

Creative Cause, Union Rags, Hansen, Dullahan, Secret Circle, Gemologist, Drill (he is coming in under the radar), Sabercat, Gold Megillah, Animal Spirits, Motor City, So Brilliant, I'll Have Another, Perspective, Longview Drive, Mr. Bowling, Bodemeister, El Padrino, Wrote (IRE) although he'll likely be in Europe for their classics, Immaculate (one could dream, however he may be too far behind), Discreet Dancer and News Pending

13 Mar 2012 9:21 AM
Don from PA/DE

Steve, I am thrilled by "Gemologist" not running in the Rebel rouser street fight brawl, don't really buy the return plan excuse, but who cares, running him Friday will be a great way to loosen him up and see if he is ready to compete in KD, so I will be watching the $80,000. allowance race closely, comparing speeds/rates with Union Rags race if possible, only a mile though, and if he meets the grade, he has plenty of time to be placed in a graded stakes, longer, in next few weeks as his only real big prep for KD, if he gets some purse money and is healthy should qualify, Mike...I love him too and haven't torn up my future tickets yet, hang in there my friend, I have trust "Gem" will be up on the radar real soon, and Steve I understand why you have him where he is, and feel you are "high" on him as well, needs time to move up and prove us right, then he will get the praise, and favour he deserves!  Agreed? Don

13 Mar 2012 9:24 AM
Tiz Herself

Steve, what do you think of the possibility that On Fire Baby might try the boys in the Derby?

The Oaks is going to be full of talent again this year. Not sure if My Miss Aurelia or Weemissfrankie will be ready, but there is still Believe You Can, Candrea, Millionreasonswhy, Broadway's Alibi, DisposablePleasure, Lady of Fifty, Up (IRE), Northern Passion, Sweet Nothings and Captivating Lass. Killer Graces, Stephanie's Kitten, Stopshoppingmaria, and Willa B Awesome

13 Mar 2012 9:26 AM
Tiz Herself

And the boys I can't forget about Isn't He Clever and Basmati (is he in training?)

13 Mar 2012 9:27 AM
Forbidden Apple

1)ALPHA 2)CREATIVE CAUSE 3)UNION RAGS 4)I'll Have Another 5)Sabercat 6)Gemologist 7)Bodemeister 8)El Padrino 9)Dullahan 10)Hansen 11)Empire Way 12)Prospective 13)Arm Force

My top 3 are serious Derby contenders so far, after that it's a scramble. I see Alpha and Creative Cause as classy horses that want the Derby distance. Union Rags is tough, i'm expecting a much sharper try from him next out. I'll Have Another is going to be hard to catch in the SA Derby, excellent cruising speed. Sabercat and Gemologist still have time to prove they belong. Bodemeister just might be knocked out after tangling with Creative Cause. El Padrino is no threat to the top 3 as of now. Empire Way was awful on saturday, he is better than his last race.

13 Mar 2012 9:51 AM

Steve: Towards the end of your postings you state that "Street Life, who ran an awesome race at Aqueduct and came back to beat winners in an allowance race".  It was my understanding that he was a scratch. Am I incorrect?

13 Mar 2012 10:52 AM

1) El Padrino

2) Union Rags

3) Creative Cause

4) Hansen

...and here is where is gets muddled for me.

Alpha, Sabercat, I'll Have Another, Bodemeister and Castaway are in the next group; order TBD after their next preps.

My Adonis is underrated, IMO.  I think if he improves off his last, he could be a serious contender.

Scatman could make some late noise on the trail as well.

Great group this year.

Great analysis as usual, Steve.

13 Mar 2012 10:53 AM

Draynay Larry Jones has promised Mark Valesky fans that he will be skinnier for the LAD.He wont have to worry about muggings the Godfathers crew has moved their focus to Florida.

13 Mar 2012 10:53 AM

Ok Steve just watched the replay,I still think that out of the top two in the San Felipe I prefer the upside potential of Bodemeister.Remember Creative Cause finished behind both Hansen and UR on the same track as the KD.The last prep for UR is head and shoulders above CC,that is my opinion and I will believe that until I see a race on the track that convinces me otherwise.

13 Mar 2012 10:57 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

I too was impressed with Dullahan in the Palm Beach. Looked very good to me.  I loved the Derby Dozen.  The "tiger stripes and claws" commentary put a big smile on my face.  Thanks for the great writing and thank you for the DIRT move info.  Love it all. Enjoyed all the blogger comments too,, especially Dr. D's Superman analogy.

13 Mar 2012 11:20 AM

i have a been playing around with a different sort of  theory to help me understand what is really going on in these races and to help me evaluate different performances both within each race and between different races.

it involves weight allowances, track give, and lasix (and pedigree but only to fill in blanks if i have too little data--and i use ipedigree differently than normal--i look for sires who raced successfully in the lasix period).

while hansen, rags, and creative cause have been carrying 122-123 lbs in almost every race since their maidens last year, horses like el padrino have never carried weight in their lives and will have a 6 lb jump in weight assignments in their pre-derby derby races. many won't race again after that--it happens every year. feather weights suddenly jump up in weight significantly, and may even race well the first time, but come out of their races with all sorts of year-ending and career-ending injuries.

this is the real reason why i think you see horses like i'll have another avoiding races--he's never carried weight, the first time he does, could very well be the last time he races--the trainers would rather gamble that the last time is the ky derby--ala animal kingdom, than the florida derby, ala dialed in.

the horses that have done best in the ky derby over the last few years aren't as surprising as it first appears when you look back at the weight assignments in their earlier races--even with mine that bird.

hansen, rags, and creative cause have been successfully carrying 122-123lbs since their maiden races last year. creative cause has never carried less than 118lbs, and has carried 122lbs in each of his last 5 races. rags has also has never carried less than 118lbs and has carried 122lbs in his last 3 races. but hansen, hansen's the champ--he carried 122lbs in his maiden race and has carried it in every race since, excluding the gotham--in which he carried 123lbs--he gave most of the gotham field 7lbs and still beat them by 9 lenghts.

at equal weight, it is arguable that algorithms would never have beaten hansen, but since algorithms is a good horse, giving him 6 lbs gave him the edge.

it is very unlikely that he would have beaten hansen carrying 122 lbs, and he certainly wouldn't have beaten him by 5 lengths. how do i know this?--algorithms couldn't sustain the rigors of 116lbs (and looking at bernadini's offspring, none have carried weight well on hard tracks--they excel at the softest dirt track in the US--saratoga, a dirt track with almost as much give as a synthetic track)--even though his injury is attributed to training, it is likely that is was initially sustained in the holy bull and aggravated by training.

what this also tells us is that these hansen, rags, and cc are coping with lasix pretty well, and have developed much stronger bones than the johnny-come-latelies of the spring campaign.  

one facet of my theory posits that  a horse that loses to another  while carrying equal or less weight, is very unlikley to ever beat that same horse at the same or longer distance, so long as the other horse is sound and healthy (and doesn't have a crazy bad trip).

for instance, since bodemiester couldn't beat creative cause while getting 5lbs going 1 1/16th, he is very unlikely to beat a sound, healthy creative cause at equal or greater weight, going a mile and 1/16th or more (barring a severely bad trip by cc).

i don't have a top 12, because there aren't enough horses with money who have carried weight yet, but here's my top 5:



creative cause

(hansen has earned the right to be on top until one of the others shows on the track that they can beat him--he earned that (uncle mo, who didn't race all last spring was given the benefit of the doubt, it is insulting that hansen is not--dr. hansen is far more gracious than i)

liaison (because he has carried weight in his last 3 races fairly well--and while he carried it much better on a track with give than on santa anita's concrete strip, churchill is softer than santa anita, so he should carry the weight better in the ky derby than he has in his last 2 races)

dullahan--he's the only other horse that has carried weight with any success.

13 Mar 2012 12:11 PM
It aint easy being good!

Forbidden Apple thank you for making some sense. I think Alpha is rated way too low. He is the last Bernandini standing right now. He is a grinder that will wear his the opposition down. Alpha is being overlooked the connections arents scared of Union rags says alot about the confidence they have in Alpha!

Alpha Win place show ....YES PLEASE!

13 Mar 2012 12:59 PM

What happened to Exothermic?  Last I read he was pointing to the Blue Grass next and that was the reason for not entering in the Palm Beach.  However, I haven't seen him work since 2/24.

13 Mar 2012 1:05 PM

I knew when CC won the San Felipe that he would be back on the top of the list. I too, like the horse but, the horse that most impressed me in the race was Bodemeister. He ran his guts out the whole way and was still game on the end.

When these young horses make your list, they should all be considered talented and worthy contenders for the Derby. Some are just more precocious than others. It's too difficult for me to rank them. Your job to do so must be overwhelming at times. You do an excellent job although I suspect it's not always objective. Yeah, I admit Hansen is my personal favorite for many reasons. His connections have complained that he doesn't get enough respect from the media. I say that the media, the armchair experts and all of the connections haven't got a clue about the outcome of the Derby. If they did, we wouldn't have anything to talk about anymore and it really is a lot of fun, isn't it?  

13 Mar 2012 1:16 PM

I left Santa Anita on Saturday with a quite favorable opinion of the San Felipe.

Although I had seen Creative Cause win 2 graded stakes races in person, I arrived at Santa Anita wanting to see something a little more electric from the horse.  To me, Creative Cause was a horse that did everything well, but just didn't do any one particular thing great.  He doesn't possess great early speed, but has enough lick to always work out a good trip.  He is able to make solid runs to reach contention around the turn, but he hasn't demonstrated a real explosive turn of foot.  And, with a stamina pedigree, he does finish well, but not like a freight train.

Saturday's San Felipe changed my opinion of Creative Cause, and in a positive way.  I wasn't blown away by his performance, but there were 4 things I really liked.

1) He showed enough early speed to work out an excellent stalking position a few lengths off what turned out to be moderate 2nd and 3rd quarters.  With that pace, you weren't going to be able to make up a lot of ground.  Creative Cause has the type of tactical speed that allows Rosario to place him in a spot appropriate to any pace scenario.  Being impervious to pace is a valuable skill.

2)  Creative Cause actually did display some pop making an eye catching move on the far turn to draw even with Bodemeister. This is the type of move that can win big races, and is the type of move that has been successful in the Derby.  The fact that he didn't go on to then bury Bodemeister(Rosario even commented after the race he thought he would win easy at the top of the stretch) is attributable to two factors.  One, Bodemeister wasn't slowing down much and fought back with a solid effort through the lane.  Bodemeister turned in a personal final sixteenth in just over 6.40, so Creative Cause would have needed to shave under 6 seconds to win clear.  Second, Creative Cause got to looking around and shifting about at the top of the stretch and really didn't level off until the final yards.  

His erratic stretch runs are definitely something Harrington can work on over the next 2 months.  But the positive is that Creative Cause was able to make up between one and two lengths through a 24.27 4th quarter, meaning he probably turned in a personal quarter of 24 flat or even quicker, and then finished by running a final sixteenth in about 6.20.  30 and one-fifth is not bad at all for a final 5-16th.

3) When he did get his  mind back to the task, he really did level off and eat up some ground.  Watching the race live, in deep stretch I really thought Creative Cause just wasn't going to be able to get by Bodemeister.  Then in the shadow of the wire, Creative Cause suddenly just went by Bodemeister and was starting to draw off right as they hit the wire, turning what I thought would be a photo finish into a clear win.

4) Once leveling off, Creative Cause just kept on motoring past the wire, turning in an awesome gallop out.  I've never been huge on gallop outs(notice how Ron the Greek abruptly pulled up after his Big Cap win, this even though he was drawing away from the field through the lane), but Creative Cause was almost 10 lengths clear coming out of the clubhouse turn.  Then, as other horses were pulled to a stop, he just kept going and going, and going.  There was no other horse remotely close to Creative Cause when he finally came to a stop.  That tells me Harrington has been right all along and that this horse really does want distance and has been successful at sprints only because he's so talented.

Note that Creative Cause received a 102 Beyer.

13 Mar 2012 1:32 PM

Bodemeister ran very well in defeat and Baffert must be encouraged.  With Fed Biz off the trail, Bodemeister is now Baffert's "could be anything" horse.  

After a solid 1st quarter, Bodemeister did benefit from a relatively moderate pace.  However, unlike his fast maiden win, Bodemeister was challenged up front in the San Felipe.  Thus, although Bodemeister was running slower fractions, the pace in the San Felipe might have been more demanding because of the constant pressure he had to deal with.  American Act is a solid 3 year old and he wasn't going to let Bodemeister just blow him off the racetrack.  

So, Bodemeister had to work some to get past American Act, and right after accomplishing that goal, was immediately tackled by Creative Cause and Midnight Transfer.  Bodemeister put up quite a fight through the lane, running a personal final five-sixteenth in about 30.75.  He demonstrated some immaturity shifting out late, but it was just his 3rd career race.  He has now put together back-to-back 100+ Beyer figs around 2 turns.

Some may be dubious about Bodemeister's ability to get 10 furlongs given he lost ground through the stretch.  But, again be reminded that he lost ground because Creative Cause was really running down the stretch.  In addition, Bodemeister appears to be one of these speed horses that as long as he's not asked to go super fast early can keep on turning out 12 second eighths for about as long as needed. By Empire Maker, his pedigree lends credence to this opinion, as does his conformation(tall and rangy).

A key question is how he will settle if a horse does go out in 1:09 and change.  Additional obvious concerns are his inexperience and lack of foundation.

Midnight Transfer ran a solid race to get 3rd, clear of anyone else.  He certainly deserves to keep moving down the Derby trail.  However, his punch was somewhat dulled in his first start around 2 turns, and physically, with a short and more stocky build, he doesn't have the look of a classic horse.  But looks can be deceiving.

Steve, you are absolutely correct that Liaison ran a sneaky good race.  One shouldn't be too harsh evaluating Liaison's performance in the San Felipe because Baffert is clearly experimenting with the horse.  And he can afford to do this because Liaison has big earnings from the Hollywood(Cash Call) Futurity.  

Blinkers were off Liaison, and the plan was to drop back.  Yet, the plan wasn't to drop out to last, which is where he found himself after some traffic trouble. It was going to be a challenge for any horse to win coming from last after spotting quality horses a handful of lengths when they were running moderate fractions.

Steve correctly points out that Liaison was able to keep battling, and watching the race live my eyes caught him making a real smart move around the turn.  So, he was making up some ground even though the leaders were turning in a strong internal quarter.  Liaison really wasn't able to make up more ground after that, but that's partly a result of the first 2 finishing well.  

I too expect an improved effort 2nd time without blinkers and 2nd time as a closer, and I don't expect him dropping quite so far back because he does have good tactical speed.

Fans of I'll Have Another might be a little discouraged by how the Bob Lewis also-rans performed in the San Felipe.  Lewis runner-up Empire Way finished 9th, original 3rd place Lewis finisher Groovin Solo ran 10th and last, and the horse moved up to 3rd in the Lewis, Rousing Sermon, was 5th(although beaten just one more length than he was in the Lewis).  Of course, Isn't He Clever did exit the Lewis to win a stakes at Sunland.  

Unless someone ships in, it looks like, barring defections, that the Santa Anita Derby should be a 3-way showdown between Creative Cause, Bodemeister, and I'll Have Another, with Liaison a value play if Baffert keeps him here.

13 Mar 2012 1:37 PM
Karen in Texas

I don't really have a top 10 or 12 list, just a loosely grouped 5 or 6 that I'm "watching" at this point. Fed Biz was one of them, and now he's gone. It's fair that Creative Cause is again at the top. He, Hansen, and Union Rags are part of my group; and then El Padrino, Castaway, and Spring Hill Farm. Something about the way Castaway ran/won the Southwest caught my attention, and we should know more soon with the upcoming Rebel. Even if SHF was "spinning his wheels" in the TBD, I'm thinking he probably won't make the Derby--maybe needs a little more time. Overall, the Derby picture is gaining focus.

13 Mar 2012 1:37 PM
The Deacon

Hi Steve, I notice Street Life dropped out of your honorable mention list. Any idea what's in store for him next...I like his upside but way too green to contend for the Derby.

Current List for me......

1. Hansen

2. Union Rags

3. Creative Cause

4. I'll Have Another

5. Bodemeister

Still too soon to make a clear choice. Folks need to remember that Hansen and Union Rags appear to love the Churchill Downs racing surface, that in itself makes a huge difference..

Dr. D:  Easy on the hooch old friend..........I do have to admit Steve is a pretty amazing writer.

He needs to write another book.

Maybe we could convince him to write about Zenyatta, I know he fell in love with her as we all did.  

13 Mar 2012 1:58 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


 Thanks !!!


   That's funny !!! (When your horse runs lousy, put on your glasses and nobody recognizes you.)

13 Mar 2012 3:05 PM

Steve:  I have great respect for your opinions.  Heck, you've forgotten more about horse racing than I will ever know.  But I just don't see Liaison the way you do at all.  Think he is a cut below.

My top 5 is:

Union Rags

Creative Cause

El Padrino



Also, like Bodemeister, Mark Valeski, Midnight Transfer and I'll Have Another.

13 Mar 2012 4:15 PM
Karen in Texas

Another one out with Spring Hill Farm scheduled for surgery. It seemed to me that he made a nice move going into the turn and then oddly leveled off--if he sustained that fracture at the break, then it's a wonder he made it that far. I think George Bolton sincerely expected good things from this horse, as did several of us on these blogs.        

13 Mar 2012 6:14 PM

To this point there has not been a more impressive win than Union Rags in the Champagne.

Pinched at the start,pulled up re routed and won for fun.

As far as I am concerned even though he lost the BCJ he is undefeated.

This horse has shipped to 4 different tracks won at all 4.

I hope come Derby day he goes of with Barbaro type of odds as everyone tries to outsmart themselves.

As of today the horse to beat.

Still have a long way to go hope all stay healthy and good luck.

13 Mar 2012 8:59 PM
El Kabong

He's Bigger, He's stronger, He's the most improved 3  year old who is also hanging closer to the pace because he is faster. He will love the distance and he's going to be fresh as a daisy and strong as a mule. Been watching film all day and I want to be on the books. DULLAHAN RULES!!! Say goodnight Gracie.

13 Mar 2012 8:59 PM
El Kabong

Karen In Texas,

You are correct. I agree with your assessment having watched that race over and over. Horses are tough but they aren't stupid. They react. That's when he reacted. Possible it happened at the break but didn't shift and cause pain until then. We lost a good one. What tough year. So much talent and so much tragedy stealing it from our fold. And yet there is still a talented crop left. We'll look back on this class with respect when all is said and done.

13 Mar 2012 9:09 PM
Mike Monarchos

Don, I'll try to be patient and won't tear up my futures tickets on Gemologist yet. I just think he should have run a 3 year old race before now since he needs at least 150,000. more in graded earnings to make the Derby. Where's he going to run after the GP allowance race?

    My top five:

(1) El Padrino - despite what Draynay says. He's well bred, has a great disposition,and is a fighter!


13 Mar 2012 9:14 PM
Mike Monarchos

Well I screwed up that last post! Hit the send button by mistake. It's not easy typing on a cell phone.

       The rest of my top five:

(2) Creative Cause - has a Derby pedigree, and ran well in San Felipe.

(3) Union Rags - Love Michael Matz.

(4) Hansen - improved in NY.

(5) Gemologist - a big colt  by Tiz who loves CD! Now if he can just make it to the race.

    I guess we can say that about all of them though, due to durability problems.

13 Mar 2012 9:28 PM

Papillon, enjoyed your analysis with the weight. I don't know why, but I always check to see who is carrying the weight, who is the high weight in a race. Funny, though, horses today don't carry much weight compared to the horses made of hickory in the past.  John Henry, Round Table, Secretariat, and many of the ladies as well, and many, many more often carried 130+ pounds.  If that were tried today, there would be a hue and cry.  As you mentioned, horses today would be breaking down more than they already are.  In the past two months, since the start of the year, there have been about 2 breakdowns per week of horses both on the Derby Trail and older horses.  I'm getting more than a little weary of reading about this or that horse with bone chips, bone chips, and more bone chips, or fractured knees, condylar fractures, or worse.  I'm not trying to start a discussion on this issue...just wanting to remember our warriors who run around that oval for our pleasure and profit, and hope things change for the better soon.  Effecting change takes time, and there are some encouraging can tell by the amount of the grumbling from those opposed to any change!

13 Mar 2012 9:31 PM
Don from PA/DE

Mike, "Gem" will have several to run in, if he moves on after GS race, would think Illinois Derby most likely, but really don't know, anyone will do, and don;t think he will need much more $$$ finishing 1-3 should do in any. Time will want to see how is fractions compare to discreet dancer Jan 7 maiden win at GS 24/47/111/136 if he is near that or even better, bang-zoom to the moon Alice....I would hope. Don

13 Mar 2012 10:35 PM
The Deacon

Deltalady:  No disrespect but as great as Secretariat was he never carried 130 lbs in a race. The most he ever carried was a 126 lbs, which was during the Triple Crown campaign. Most 3 year olds never carry 130 lbs, they don't that kind of weight on young horses as a rule. It is important to be accurate when posting blogs that relate to history. We get new readers and bloggers all the time and some of them are new to the industry. As great as Citation was he never won a race carrying 130 lbs.......

14 Mar 2012 1:08 AM

I like Creative Cause enough, but Union Rags was racing erratically in the Juvenille and still beat him. Plus the whole argument for not having Union Rags as #1 originally was because he had such a poor habit of bearing out (even though it only cost him the loss to Hansen by a small nose), but Creative Cause runs one of the most sloppy stretch runs I've seen all spring. I understand giving credit where it is due, and not picking the obvious favorite, but I don't see how he has been more impressive or won more easily that Rags.

14 Mar 2012 1:49 AM

CALM down people....CREATIVE CAUSE always changes leads perfect.....the horse was just responding to the JOCKEY doing PUSH-UPS and DANCING on his back! I mean i wonder what shoemaker would think of think of the rider....dont get me wrong, love rosario, but WTheck! The horse was probably thinking"what the heck youre confusing me!"

14 Mar 2012 1:52 AM

Street Life is running in a stakes race at Laurel on Saturday.  Count me amongst those anxious to see how he does.

14 Mar 2012 5:56 AM
Fran Loszynski

Steve the two great ladies photos of their foals Awesome! You must be in your glory over Zenyatta's! Love begots a winner. These ladies deserve a great legacy, hope to see them run with Afleet Alex's young.  I too, am watching Zackn'mat he could run up and be the longshot  Belmont winner of the Triple this year. There's style there. Yes, Union Rags, Hansen and Zackn'mat, my eye is on them. Hope you're feeling well Steve, your columns show you are!

14 Mar 2012 12:07 PM
It aint easy being good!

Can someone help me out how do you have Bodemeister even in consideration? Ok he ran a good race but he was beat when he hit the wire. That horse doesent want any part of 1 1/4th. A horse to keep an eye on is my adonis he will be overlooked and he is getting great racing experience. He reminds of nehro in the sense that he has the case of seconditis but will be good value if he makes the gate!

14 Mar 2012 12:44 PM

It aint easy being good! how can he not have Bodemeister on his list when he is picking Creative Cause number 1,who is now a multiple grade 1 winner on that track.He barely beat a maiden winner Bodemeister by 3/4 of a length at the wire.

14 Mar 2012 5:43 PM

It aint easy being good! I meant to type multiple graded winner on the SA track.

14 Mar 2012 5:45 PM

BTW Steve in the right bet Bodemeister dosent have to defie history and the stat you quoted is a hard one to defie,but all he has to do is finish 2nd like his sire Empire Maker,and one of Empire Makers offspring Pioneer of the Nile.The one colt I thought could defie history was Curlin and his past performances are in the books.

14 Mar 2012 5:57 PM
Forbidden Apple

I agree that Dullahan is a strong race horse, but he seems like a synthetic/turf type. I was a huge fan of Brilliant Speed last year and hoped that he could win on dirt, not the case. I just checked out Dullahan's past performances and he has 1 career victory and it was on synthetic. I also agree that Roman's is a crafty conditioner, his goal is now the Bluegrass. Why is he not contesting a race on dirt?

Bodemeister might have just emptied his gas tank on saturday.

Alpha and Creative Cause are the horses to beat on dirt at 1 1/4 miles.

14 Mar 2012 7:23 PM

Bodemeister is by Empire Maker (Unbridled) out of a Storm Cat problem I can see with 10f and a bit more experience.

Liaison, on the other hand is by Indian Charlie.  I have no faith in his ability to go past 9f.

I like Dullahan, and have been impressed when I've seen him run...which hasn't been I tend to doubt the soundness of an Unbridled Song with so little actual race time.

Empire Way, though he faltered in the San Felipe, still has impeccable breeding, and needs a different venue to shine.  It just might be in Kentucky...but he needs another race before then.

14 Mar 2012 7:32 PM
El Kabong

Mike Monarchos,

Gemologist will probably go to the Arkansas Derby where he would only need to finish 4th to get that much graded earnings. My eyes are glued to that race on Friday. Should be a good race and a good prep for the Ark. Derby, which is my guess on his next step. Currency Swap will be tough. I hope they run nose to nose in a gut wrencher to the wire.

14 Mar 2012 8:59 PM

Steve : I read that Exothermic will either go straight to Bluegrass or Lexington.  Any way you can confirm this ?

15 Mar 2012 4:03 AM

thanks deltalady!

deacon--secretariat may never have carried 130lbs, but he carried 126lbs in the gotham (which he won in 1:33.2) the wood (which angle light also carrying 126lbs won in 1:49.4), the KY derby, which he won in 1:59, the preakness, and the belmont, which he won in 2:24.

delta lady's gist was correct--until the mid-1990's horses carried a lot more weight than they do now--the mid-1990s coincides with the onset of universal lasix use in racing. my belief is that lasix has made it almost impossible for horses to carry weight.

i got laughed off another board for trying to discuss weight, because most people who follow this sport base their opinions on weight on parameters that haven't existed for over 20 years.

i would say based on the data i've collected since the connection between weight and performance really jumped out at me in january, that weight and track give are more important than distance these days. horses have weights limitations which are even stronger than their distance limitations. distance is a flexible range of several furlongs, but weight is a concrete wall.

anyway, i came back to correct myself--i got after somebody for not taking the time to check before they post "facts" and then got lazy myself!

hansen did carry 116lbs once, in his second race (1 1/16, he won by 13 lenghts).  he carried 122lbs in his maiden (5 1/2f, won by over 12 lenghts), the bcj (1 1/16 won by a head), and holy bull (1 m, lost by 5 while giving 6lbs to the winner). he carried 123lbs in the gotham (1 1/16, won by 3, giving my adonis 3 lbs, and beat field by 9, giving them 7 lbs).

since rags beat creative cause, for now, he gets the benefit of the doubt (however, i am dubious that he will be able to do what 720 other dixie unions could not).

rags has carried 122lbs 3 times. at churchill, at equal weight, at 1 1/16 he was second to hansen by a head and beat creative cause by a 3/4 of a length.

creative cause has actually carried weight the most (5 times) but has had the most mixed results.

under a mile, while giving weight, he came in 2 and 3 carrying 122lbs. at a 1 1/16 he has won twice carrying 122 and 123 lbs respectively, and came in 3rd, by a length, to hansen at churchill, at the equal weight.

dullahan and liaison weren't the only other two horses to carry weight so far from this crop.  i was wrong. here's the list (there may be more--this is based on the pps i have), in order of consistency and results:

gemologist carried 122lbs once at 1 1/16 and once at 6f, he was first both times.

dullahan has only carried 122lbs once, at 1 1/16, at churchill. he was 4th, 6 lengths behind hansen.

take charge indy has only carried 122lbs one time. he was 5th by 6 1/2 lengths to hansen, at churchill, at equal weight.

alpha carried 122lbs once at 5 furlong were he was 2nd to rags by 5 lengths, and once at 1 1/16 where he was 12th by 15 lengths to hansen, at churchill, at equal weight.  

prospective carried 122lbs once at 7f (was 1st) and once at 1 1/16, were he was 13th by 20 lengths to hansen, at churchill, at equal weight.

liaison has carried 123 lbs twice at 1 1/16, was dnf (looked to have been about 5th or 6th) and was 4th to creative cause (lengths?).

mr. bowling has carried 122lbs twice. he was first at 1m70 and 11th at 1 1/16 to el padrino--who he was giving 6 lbs to (actually he gave 6 lbs to almost every horse in that race).

other horses who've carried 122lbs twice:

golden ticket (2nd by 2 lengths going 1 1/16 to finnegans wake, and 1st going 1 1/16)

twin (1st going a 1m, and 12th by 10 lengths to finnegans wake going 1 1/16)

side road (3rd by 9 lengths going 1m70 and 4th by 8 lengths going 1m)

other horses that have carried 122lbs once:

russian greek (1st going 1 1/16)

finnegan's wake (1st going 1 1/16--but was 3rd by 9 lengths to hansen while getting 7lbs)

shared property (3rd going 1m70)

king and crusader (1st going 7 1/2F)

tell all you know (1st going 7f)

spring hill farm (1st going 7f)

secret circle (1st going 6f)

cajun charlie (1st going 6f)

drill has carried 122-123 lbs a few times as well, but i don't have his data and he isn't pointed towards the ky derby.

looking at the objective data--hansen is the measure by which all of these other horses are judged.  i should be grateful that he gets no respect--the horses that are touted every year always fail to live up to their hype and it gives me better odds, the same time it makes me mad, because the data points to the conclusion that the best, the strongest, 3 year old in the country is hansen--until proven otherwise.  

15 Mar 2012 12:07 PM
El Kabong


I think Romans is satisfied with last year's BCJ at Churchill. Considering he had trouble at the start and was too far back, he closed well. The surface, based on that race alone would suggest it won't be an issue. What this guy needed was the strength, athleticism and speed to race closer to the pace. He has that now. He's traveling much better and is not going to leave himself with so much to do in the stretch. Don't want to get ice boxed from being too far off. Teaching him to be in position by the turn and moving him a little earlier was a key learning experience and I'll look for that move in the Bluegrass. Nice thing about synthetic tracks is that you get the cardio-v without the soreness, and damage. He should be ready for a 10f rumble on May 5th. I'll be more convinced when I see a similar placement in the pack and that top of the stretch move from him in the Bluegrass that he showed in the Palm. Surface does not appear to be an issue.

15 Mar 2012 12:59 PM
Don from PA/DE

El guess would be "Gem" next race will be carefully selected, depending upon the timing my thought is not AD, but either Illionois Derby or Bluegrass at Keenland where he broke his maiden and obviously likes the track there as well, little traveling to CD from there as well...time and fields...time will tell, I just have high hopes for this "Gem"

15 Mar 2012 2:05 PM

Steve or anyone else out there,

Do you know what's happened to Timely Tally? Haven't seen him on any worktab so wondering if he got injured in his last race.

15 Mar 2012 3:18 PM

Steve off subject what is your opinion of the HBO series LUCK?

I think it was pretty bad.

If this was a true reflection of the industry they would have alot to be ashamed of.

15 Mar 2012 3:18 PM
Mike Monarchos

El Kabong,

    That's a great name, by the way. I just checked the graded earnings list and Gemologist has a shade under 104,000. I'm betting it will take at least 250,000. To make the Derby this year. That means Gemologist will need to get second in a million dollar race to win 200 grand. Third place only gets him a 100 grand, which won't be enough!

Should Pletcher send him to Oaklawn, or keep

him at GP for the Florida Derby since he's running there tomorrow? It should be an interesting race tomorrow.

    If I was Pletcher, I'd leave Gemologist at GP, and send El Padrino to the Louisiana Derby, since he's already won over the Fairgrounds track. That would set up a nice race between two huge colts - Union Rags vs. Gemologist. Sounds good to me!

15 Mar 2012 7:30 PM

I can venture a top 5 now:

Union Rags

Creative Cause




Cannot get sold on El Padrino yet.  Watching Bodemeister and something about this Mark Valeski that I like, could be the overall look, demeanor, something.......

Steve, HBO cancels "Luck" after THIRD horse death since filming?  WHAT????  And they said they had higher safety measures in place than the horseracing industry has?  Unfortunate.  I cannot comment on "Luck" as I don't have HBO with my carrier.  This is all the "outsiders" mainstream needs to hear, not good.

15 Mar 2012 10:02 PM


Enjoyed your assessment of Santa Anita the other day.  I like Creative Cause as well.  He's got to get more focused in the stretch.  I got a kick out of his "looking around!"  They are travelling at top speed of what 40mph, what the heck are they looking at?  How many people are waiting in the grandstands????????  It's funny, I guess they all still need to mature and settle a little.  Keep the great analyses coming.  Hope you enjoyed Santa Anita, I cannot wait for Belmont Park and Monmouth this spring and summer.  

15 Mar 2012 10:12 PM
The Deacon

Papillon:  Delta Lady mentioned great horses from the past that carried 130 lbs, she included Secretariat. I corrected her by saying that he did not carry 130 lbs. I know full well the races he won and the weight he carried. Any long time fan of racing would know this. I to have seen most of the great one, since 1955. I believe accuracy is important on these blogs. I have no issue with anything else she stated, in fact I enjoy her posts..........

16 Mar 2012 2:29 AM

Since Mr. Irwin has emphatically and repeatedly stated that Howe Great will not be pointed to the Derby, I see no purpose in including him in the "dozen".  Went The Day Well is Team Valor's stated Derby horse and is flying under the radar.

Those who diss Dullahan should reconsider their opinions before May 5th.  He may be an outsider, but his peformances are solid, and he is maturing well.

I, too, am disappointed with Empire Way.  But it seems the expectations that were placed upon him before ever setting foot on a track were simply unfair.  Rarely does a full sibling copy its older relative, and perhaps we all just wanted too much out of this colt.

IMO, Prospective was the most impressive performer last weekend, but I would not throw Trinniberg and his lesser known connections out of the mix yet.

Reckless Jerry should be interesting in the Rebel Saturday.

Rags, El Padrino & Hansen remain my top 3 at this stage.  But given the slew of injuries that have already taken place this year (and just this week), I would rather ANY horse win than see another one hurt in the attempt to get to get there.  Too many connections are pushing too many colts too early, and this is becoming a battle of attrition.

16 Mar 2012 10:42 AM
El Kabong

WOW, what a gem. Pletcher has another leading contender in this year's derby. That was a thing of beauty. Gemologist just came back to the winners circle and he's doing one hoof push ups and shouting at the crowd. I can't believe my eyes or ears. He calling out for someone named "Union Hag." This is very reminiscent of the great Ali.

16 Mar 2012 2:15 PM
Mike Monarchos

Gemologist looked great today at GP! He won by 7 under a hand ride in 1:35.95 over a good track. He seemed to gallop out really well. It was like a mile work, but I'm sure Pletcher won't have him run in the Florida Derby since it's the end of this month.

I didn't think the F.D. was that soon. So it looks like his next start will be the Ark. Derby or the Bluegrass. He is one big, good looking colt! LOOKOUT Union Rags!

16 Mar 2012 5:49 PM
El Kabong

Mike Monarchos, Dan from PA/DE

Gems running style would do well at Arkansas. Short run from the turn home. Competition may dictate direction more than anything but that's where I'd go with this guy. Illinois Derby is a good guess too. Very speed favoring.

16 Mar 2012 7:46 PM
Don from PA/DE

Steve, BINGO, "Gemologist" amazing, one mile about one second off track record and just about equaled Mucho Macho Man's recent stakes mile win!  He is the real deal, and deserves FAVOUR! Hope he stays healthy, and JC must be real relieved since giving up Union Rags mount to JL....think he will stick with this guy....Don

16 Mar 2012 7:58 PM

mr. deacon--no offense was meant. you read way too much into my post.

big red's weights and times weren't included to insult you, but to reinforce the point that followed that weight allowances and performance have declined precipitously since lasix became the norm in the 1990s.

to me, it seemed that deltalady wasn't attempting to recite facts but was just making an offhand general comment that horses no longer carry weight like they used to.  i just feel that there is a difference between being pedantic with people who are just posting off the tops of their heads to make general points, and with people who are posting factual assertions--i value facts too--which is why i can't stand it when people post things like, "it is a fact that secret circle has a sprinter's pedigree." secret circle may well be a sprinter, but it is not because he has a sprinter's pedigree; he doesn't. again, no offense was meant--i'm sorry that you took it that way.  

the only point i was trying to make was that the old canard that distance is the primary factor in the derby just isn't true anymore. and this blindspot is why no one seems to be able to pick the winner these days or to make sense of the results, or what has been happening in the fixed weight state derby preps over the last few years.  

i guarantee that many light-weight favorites, whose past performances and pedigrees all point toward easily getting 9 furlongs, will falter badly under weight the first time, and will leave everyone scratching their heads to explain why--it happens every year.  

but no one will say it was because horses like el padrino (should he falter) were carrying 4-6 lbs more than they ever have before, against horses that have proven they can carry weight.

when big red ran, the only new thing he had to deal with in the ky derby was an additional furlong; he had been carrying 126lbs for months--that was my point with including his weights, times, and distances--not to suggest that you did't know this, but to simply highlight the point.

look at mr. haskin's commentary and at almost every post in this thread--all they talk about is who can get the distance.  

these horses are judged solely on their times, their visual appeal, their distances, and their pedigrees--their weights are totally ignored. and in looking at their pedigree's their sire's ability to race well and carry weight on lasix is also totally ignored. i do not think it is a coincidence that young sires like tapit and hard spun, who raced on lasix, are doing so well.  my theory is that they have passed on an ability to cope better with lasix than some of the proven older sires who never ran on it.

my theory is also, and the data supports this, that a horse that lost at a given distance carrying less or equal weight to another horse, will not beat that horse on the same track, at a higher weight than he carried when he lost, at the same or longer distance--thus, bodemiester's best bet to beat creative cause came in the san felipe. if he couldn't do it at 1 1/16 while getting 5 lbs, he's not going to do it at 1 1/8 carrying an additional 5 lbs, unless creative cause is injured, ill, unfit, or they race on a softer track.

likewise, right now, there is no data supporting the conclusion that creative cause, dullahan, take charge indy, alpha, prospective, and my adonis, will be able to beat hansen at churchill carrying an additional 4 pounds (or 6 pounds as in my adonis's case) while also going an additional 3/16ths.

my adonis's best bet to beat hansen was at 120lbs going 8f after hansen cooked himself, but he couldn't do it--going longer, while carrying more weight, won't increase his chances, it only increases the likely margin of his defeat.

likewise, the others aren't likely to close the 1, 6, 15, 20 lengths they lost by last time to hansen, by adding more weight and by going longer.

with the three highweights--hansen, creative cause, and union rags, the question is, which one has already reached his weight limit and which one hasn't. whichever carries 126lbs better, has the advantage regardless of the distance limitations in their pedigrees. if they can all carry it equally well, then pedigree-stamina will take over (barring a crazy bad trip, illness, injury, etc.). but for now, all we know for sure is that at 1 1/16 and 122lbs at churchill, hansen beat both of them, one decisively, and should have earned the benefit of the doubt.

17 Mar 2012 2:55 PM
El Kabong

Optimizer will be very tough in the Ark Derby. Loved his finish. Another second place prep race that will bare fruit. He looked very good today. That is a tough track to close at 1 1/16th and he damned near stole it. Won't get 20+ next out.

17 Mar 2012 8:08 PM

Bloggers we have another new shooter on the trail Street Life barring unforseen circumstances will try the Wood next.Depending on perspective he might make it onto the bottom of this list next time.He won an ungraded stake race carded as the 2nd at Aqueduct  but I watched it live and still cant believe he got up in Time.

17 Mar 2012 8:34 PM

Oh Oh here comes Optimizer to spoil the party.Ran green but boy did he finish 2 for 1.More earnings needed but he is a spoiler if i ever seen one.

18 Mar 2012 9:02 AM
Don from PA/DE

Steve, "Gemologist" going up?

18 Mar 2012 11:23 AM
Mike Monarchos

El Kabong & Don from PA/DE,

I just read that Pletcher is seriously thinking of the Wood Memorial for Gemologist. He'll have to be first or second to make the Derby. Hansen and Alpha will probably both be there. Advantage to both of them since they've both won at the track this year. Should make for a great race though. Hansen has the money and doesn't have to win.

18 Mar 2012 10:43 PM

      Could one or more of these ‘bubble babies’ yet qualify and actually have any impact in the Kentucky Derby ?:


       “My Adonis”;

       “Stat”; “Take Charge Indy”;


       “Lucky Chappy” (Ire.):

       “Longview Drive”;

       “Midnight Transfer”:


       “Big Screen”; “Cigar Street”;

       “Ender Knievil”; “Golden Ticket”:

       “Heavy Breathing”; “Holy Candy”;

       “Morgan’s Guerilla”;

       “My Perfect Light” (T);  

       “Our Entourage”;

       “Paytner”; “Politicallycorrect”;

       “Senor Rain”; “Shared Property”;

       “Stirred Up”; “Street Life”;

       “Teeth of the Dog”: “Welter Weight”;

       “Went the Day Well”;

       “Zachn’mat”; or  “Z Dager”; ????

19 Mar 2012 3:12 AM

    Wow, I don’t see why with $181K in earnings that ya’ll are acting like “D. Wayne” doesn’t already now have enough earnings to be a qualified runner ??? $180K has been a pretty normal cut figure in past years. And that so, especially where not all with over $200K run for medical issues, or different roads, or go into the “Oaks”, and etc., such a “Drill” and possibly “Take Charge Indy” etc., who seem to have had other paths planned for them all along anyway.

    And, if I were Steve Asmussen, I would start looking somewhere else for a Derby horse instead of ‘babying’ this “Delta Jackpot’ winner who beat nobody. Moreover, “Sabercat” now looks like even if he shows up in 7 weeks, he isn’t going to improve enough to have any impact what so ever on the 2012 Kentucky Derby. And, my prediction, “Optimizer”, who was off the radar for many last week, will far exceed “Sabercat” if both are eventually entered into ‘the race’anyway.

    And layoff or no layoff, “Sabercat” would have to turn into the equivalent of Superman in 7 weeks to make any impact now. So the way I see it, drop him for consideration and start training for “the Preakness”, as he’ll just be taking some other more deserving horses gate spot.    

    Why did the ever make the “Delta Jackpot” to be a “win and your in race” in the first place? They have made it on par to the B.C. Juvenile, which it isn’t and shouldn’t be. I agree, they need to seriously reconsider 2 year old earnings as counting and how they count, and where they count… and how much they count if they are going to continue to allow them to count!!!  And, the same ‘graded’ rated events that pay different amounts ???  of graded earnings ??? Why not just say this, “x” amount counts toward graded earnings for a Gr. III , this “x” amount for a grade II , and , this “x” amount for a grade I event, and etc., and if  the tracks want to thereafter add on and raise the purse amounts beyond certain limits to attract runners, then fine so be it, yet with those add ons not counted toward “graded earnings”. But some revision is needed. The way it is now, it stinks!!  More and bigger pursues in California, or N.Y., and, or in Fla. versus Kty., or Ark., and etc., should not dictate where trainers are forced to have to travel. There also needs to be some better plan at a National balance.  You want to do that on the basis of population? NE SE W , etc., that might be ok, but some better uniformity in the plan.

    Aside, OK Chuck, “Indy” better not pull the same bomb as Haskin’s thus far toted and just got ‘sabred’ “cat” horse. Although, it is looking like the competition is getting tougher every day down there in Florida, and a quick scan tells me that in 2 weeks you are going to have to beat horses that you haven’t beaten yet and that you are still going to have to finish 1st or 2nd, or start plotting a new course, or just go back to concentrating on the Belmont,--which does appear as a bit odd to us “Crown followers”--Maybe if you were going to skip the Tampa Bay Derby you should have at least found another prep somewhere else ???  Whatever, Good Luck!!!

19 Mar 2012 3:25 AM

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