Derby Dozen (video) - March 19, 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, Union Rags is the sexy No. 1 pick and the most logical, but this guy right now is more battle-tested with two tough races, including an excellent sharpener sprinting, and has a bit more upside when it comes to getting the 1 ¼ miles. Both colts are trained by veteran conditioners who can read a horse with the best of them. Important thing with him is for the rider to stay away from the whip. He gives everything he has on his own and doesn’t need encouragement. That’s the only way he’s going to stay on a straight course.


Union Rags Michael Matz

Dixie Union—Tempo, by Gone West

Had an easy five-furlong breeze in 1:04 1/5. He will get a much-needed test from El Padrino in the Florida Derby, with the winner establishing himself as the solid Derby favorite. He has exhibited every trait you want in a Derby horse and his main asset is his superstar potential. Other quality opponents in the Florida Derby should make this the race of the year. Let’s see if Matz gives him a sharp work next week.


El Padrino Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Pulpit—Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway

Breezed five furlongs in 1:01 1/5. He has two hard-knocking performances going two turns this year, in addition to a tough race in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen last year, so there is plenty of foundation under him and he’s been tested by good horses three times already. Like Creative Cause, he’s a hard-running horse who will not back down from a fight and should only get stronger the farther he goes.


Hansen Mike Maker

Tapit—Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat

Turned in an easy half-mile breeze in :50 2/5 for the Wood Memorial, where he likely will face Alpha, Gemologist, and My Adonis among others. Although he rated beautifully in the Gotham, it couldn’t hurt to see him do it again just to show that it’s become natural for him and he can do it on a consistent basis.


Dullahan Dale Romans Click Here!

Even the Score—Mining My Own, by Smart Strike

This horse intrigues me more each week and I kind of like the fact that he’s going dirtless this year into the Derby, adding to the intrigue and boosting his price on Derby Day. His Palm Beach is what a perfect losing prep is supposed to look like. He can even afford another one in the Blue Grass, as long as it’s not a plodding second or third, only running the last quarter mile. I’ll repeat his closing fractions of :22 4/5 and :11 2/5 (:34 1/5 final three-eighths) in the Palm Beach.


Gemologist Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Tiznow—Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector

You couldn’t ask for a more visually impressive debut, but you have to wonder how much he got out of the race. He only has one more start to get battle-tested and build enough of a foundation to handle the rigors of the Derby. He does have a tendency to angle in slightly when he runs and paddles his left leg. But the bottom line is he’s undefeated in four starts and has two wins at Churchill Downs. He ran his field into the ground with a :22 3/5 second quarter and then came home his final half in a sharp :48 1/5. If you want to know how easily he won just look at his ears in the final sixteenth. His next start against much deeper competition will tell us how he stacks up. Looks like Castellano has yet another tough decision to make between him and El Padrino.


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

Flower Alley – Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch

Liked his mile work in 1:42 3/5 and the fact that O’Neill hasn’t been afraid to turn the screws during this layoff. It may mean nothing, but it should be noted that the horses who finished 2, 3, 4 in the Lewis all ran poorly in the San Felipe. So, do we really know how good he is? Look at the Santa Anita Derby as a pool shot. He not only needs to knock in his ball, he has to make sure he leaves the cue ball in a good position for his next shot, because that follow-up shot is the one that matters. Despite the lack of success of his vanquished foes and the risk of running another lights out performance in the Santa Anita Derby and possibly regressing off it, I can’t help but feel this is a better horse than people think, and I do like the way O’Neill is bringing him up to the Santa Anita Derby by putting air in his lungs and taking some of the edge off him.


Alpha Kiaran McLaughlin

Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky

With a name like Alpha, he’s supposed to be the top dog, the dominant male, the boss. But his schedule has become a study in indecision. Does he duck Union Rags? Does he duck Hansen? Does he scurry off to Louisiana for easier pickins? After two months off basking in the Florida sun he needs to get his game face back on. There are no soft spots in April. Let’s see if he’s really the alpha dog or not, because he’s going to have to be on May 5. It isn’t easy trying to make the correct call. Take the easier route and try to take home the $1 million purse at Fair Grounds or let him get a taste of Rags and El Padrino or Hansen and Gemologist now to see where he fits with the best, and then move forward off it. Returning home and facing Hansen and Gemologist, win or lose, appears to be the most logical way to go and the best way to set him up for the Derby. One thing about McLaughlin, he has a way of making the right decision.


Mark Valeski Larry Jones Click Here!

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

He’ll work by himself on Tuesday (March 20) and that will determine whether he goes in company in his final drill for the Louisiana Derby. Jones says he’s been galloping very strongly and is doing better now than for the Risen Star, and that he’s finally getting into a flow. One thing we’ve learned about Jones’ horses, they get awfully fit lugging their 180-pound trainer around the track every morning. He likely will inherit the role of favorite with El Padrino staying in Florida.


Liaison Bob Baffert Click Here!

Indian Charlie—Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop

Can’t wait to see how he runs in his next start. Although he made little impact on the San Felipe, he was taken out of his game at the start and seemed to take a while to get used to racing without blinkers. The moderate pace didn’t help him, nor did being stuck down on the inside behind traffic again, and if he can kick it up a notch he could pull a Coil (in last year’s Haskell) and show a whole new dimension. He also has to show he can handle better horses than he was beating at Hollywood Park last fall.


Bodemeister Bob Baffert Click Here!

Empire Maker—Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat

There is no doubting his brilliance and raw talent. But not starting at 2 and having only four career starts give him a bit of a hill to climb. If anyone can overcome it is Baffert, who is in a class by himself getting a horse fit and tough for the Derby. He also can’t afford to drift out as badly as he did in the San Felipe. If anything can make up for lack of experience it is professionalism. We’ll chalk up the San Felipe to a learning experience and see if he can put his natural ability to better use in the Santa Anita Derby.


Optimizer D. Wayne Lukas

English Channel—Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy

Last fall, we wrote after the Breeders’ Futurity that this colt had tremendous potential, was actually bred for the dirt, and would be a force to reckon with on the Derby trail. He just needed to grow up and figure out what he was supposed to do. Well, he never lived up to the promise, due in part to several unfortunate trips and appearing clueless at times. Although he’s still pretty much clueless and still doesn’t know how to change leads, he did run an almost identical race to the Breeders’ Futurity, right down to rallying in the middle of the track and then cutting to the inside while still on his left lead. His pedigree is a Who’s Who of Phipps breeding and we’ll repeat it in detail next week. Right now, he has one objective, and that’s to run two good races in a row. He has the ability, but only consistency and maturity will get him to Churchill Downs as a legitimate contender.


Secret Circle Bob Baffert Click Here!

Eddington—Ragtime Hope, by Dixieland Band

Putting him in the Top 12 strictly off his record and his desire to win, even though he’s not pretty doing it. Do I think he can win the Derby? Not really, but he’s making a lot of noise getting there and knows where the finish line is. From a visual standpoint, he really doesn’t look like he’s tiring at the end, even though Optimizer was running up his behind at the wire. But the closing fractions of the Rebel were a sluggish :26 1/5 and :06 4/5 and his 92 Beyer was the lowest of his career, so the numbers say he was. Or maybe those fractions can be attributed to the fact that he can’t seem to run in a straight line and continuously drifts out every race. I don’t think anyone, including Baffert, has a clue what to make of him, so he’ll just keep taking those baby steps toward Louisville.

Knocking At The Door

Castaway Bob Baffert Click Here!

Street Sense – Priceless Storm, by Storm Cat

OK, bring on the Sunland Derby, America’s new favorite gateway to the classics, producing the Kentucky Derby winner, the Belmont winner, and the Preakness third-place finisher in the last three years. Yes, that’s the Sunland Derby, and this colt has a chance to complete Baffert’s Fab Four with another big performance this weekend. He is improving dramatically with every start and an improving Street Sense is always dangerous. He definitely is Baffert’s best shot at the mile and a quarter and needs one more top effort to crack the Top 12.

News Pending Dale Romans Click Here!

Harlan’s Holiday—Motivated Sreva, by Lear Fan

Breezed five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 for the Florida Derby. He is one of those who is right on the edge of busting out in a big way. He just has to figure out what his best running style is and stick to it, instead of making a move at every and any point on the racetrack. His extremely early move in the Fountain of Youth was one of the little talked about gems of the year and showed just how versatile this colt really is.

Prospective Mark Casse

Malibu Moon—Spirited Away, by Awesome Again

This year’s quiet warrior, he just goes about his business race after race and does his thing, which for the most part lands him in the winner’s circle. The Breeders’ Cup 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, although he needs to boost his speed numbers and fast.

Take Charge Indy Pat Byrne Click Here!

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

Breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 for his all-important engagement in the Florida Derby, where he’ll have to face Union rags and El Padrino off a layoff in an effort to pick up enough graded earnings to move up from the 28th slot. Only time will tell if scratching out of the Tampa Derby at the last minute due to the post position was a good decision. This is a good horse with a terrific pedigree, and if the timing and unorthodox schedule change manage to work to his advantage, he will be a force in the Triple Crown.

My Adonis Kelly Breen

Pleasantly Perfect—Silent Justice, by Elusive Quality

It’s been over two weeks since the Gotham, so he should be showing up on the work tab any day now. He’s gone pretty much unnoticed chasing Hansen and Algorithms this winter, but he is getting better and does his best running in the final furlong. Also, if you’re looking for foundation in a horse he’s made seven starts at a mile or longer.

Sabercat Steve Asmussen Click Here!

Bluegrass Cat—Miner's Blessing, by Forty Niner

He may have fallen from the Top 12, but don’t be surprised to see him rebound with a much-improved effort in the Arkansas Derby or wherever he shows up next. He was up against it from the start dropping way too far out of it, some 15 lengths off a fairly moderate pace. He was moving with good energy turning for home, but was way too far back and in traffic the whole stretch run and never really got a clear run. Nakatani wisely didn’t push him too hard, yet he still was beaten only 2 ½ lengths for fourth and 6 ¼ lengths for all the money. The feeling here is that he can make up most or all of those 6 ¼ lengths with a cleaner trip next time.

Howe Great Graham Motion

Hat Trick—Ginger Sea, by Western Warrior

He doesn’t have the late-running style that Animal Kingdom showed last year, so we really don’t know what to make of him other than he’s a beautiful-moving horse who is dangerous on or just off the pace. As of now he’s pretty much of a guess, and let’s remember that his owner has stated all along he’s a much better horse on the grass.

Najjaar Dan Peitz

Jazil—Hasheema, by Darshaan

This colt is always going to be dependent on a fast, or at least honest, pace and he didn’t get either one in the Rebel, yet still managed to close from almost 21 lengths back to be beaten 4 ¾ lengths. Despite finishing sixth you still have to consider him a threat in the Arkansas Derby, especially if the pace is quicker and with the extra sixteenth of a mile.

Our Entourage Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Street Cry – Sand Springs, by Dynaformer

Worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 as he prepares for either the Wood Memorial, which is getting tougher by the day, or the Illinois Derby, which will be a grab bag of horses trying to get into the Derby. If Hansen, Gemologist, and Alpha all show up in the Wood, he might be better off taking a shot over the quirky Hawthorne surface against much lesser competition.

Went the Day Well Graham MotionClick Here!

Proud Citizen—Tiz Maie’s Day, by Tiznow

It’s graded earnings crunch time, and he’s in the same boat as dozens of other latecomers trying to snatch up a big purse. And what better race in which to attempt it than the Spiral Stakes, which launched Animal Kingdom’s assault on Churchill Downs last year. He has a great deal of potential. We’ll just have to wait and see if he waited too long to show it.

Zackn'mat Marty Jones

Northern Afleet – Pic Me for Fun, by Piccolino

Returned to the work tab with an easy half in :53 4/5. If this colt is flying again at the end of the Sunland Park Derby, you have to start taking him seriously. He runs hard all the time, and is always coming at the end, regardless of the distance. And there is a lot of class in his pedigree.

Street Life Chad Brown Click Here!

Street Sense—Stone Hope, by Grindstone

This is one of the more intriguing horses on the Derby trail, based mainly on his electrifying stretch runs, despite his immaturity and inability to change leads. Not many horses can overcome a 1:15 1/5 three-quarters, but he exploded in the stretch once again in the Broad Brush Stakes, coming home in :24 2/5 and :06 flat. He’s probably not mature enough yet to tackle the Kentucky Derby, but we should find out in the Wood Memorial just where he stands against quality competition.

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.

Discreet Dancer Todd Pletcher

Discreet Cat—West Side Dancer, by Gone West

He dropped way off everyone’s radar after his punchless third in the Fountain of Youth, but with so many horses deserving of a second chance he should be one of them based on his two previous performances. Perhaps he’s only as good as he showed in the Fountain of Youth, but perhaps he’s much better and just happened to have an off day. We’ll find out one way or the other in the Louisiana Derby.

Heavy Breathing Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Giant’s Causeway —Takemybreathaway, by Gone West

He’s only had two career starts, none as a 2-year-old, and is playing major catch-up, but he was dominant in both starts and has as strong a pedigree as anyone on the Derby trail. He’ll run this weekend in the Spiral Stakes and then would need to come back with another prep to have any chance of being a factor in the Derby.

Rounding out the Top 40 are Z Dager, a solid enough third in the Risen Star; El Camino Real Derby winner Daddy Nose Best and runner-up Lucky Chappy; Ender Knievel, an impressive allowance winner who is headed for the Sunland Derby; spectacular maiden winner Cigar Street; Private Terms winner Raconteur, a regally bred son of A.P. Indy; Windsurfer, a real sleeper who ran a super race breaking his maiden after going wide every step of the way and worked brilliantly last week; Jake Mo, a consistent closer who finished a solid fourth in the Rebel; stakes-placed maiden Brother Francis, who was a close third in a maiden race on the grass, but turned in another strong effort; Borderland Derby winner Isn’t He Clever; 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; Battaglia winner State of Play, who likely will run next in the Spiral or return to the grass; Battle Hardened, who gets another chance in the Wood Memorial after dull Tampa Bay effort; Mr. Prankster, who deserves another shot in the Spiral Stakes; the four-time stakes-placed Senor Rain, who beat a strong field in a seven-furlong allowance/optional claimer at Santa Anita; Stat, another Pletcher latecomer who was brilliant winning a one-mile allowance/optional claimer; and Union Rags’ stablemate Teeth of the Dog.


Leave a Comment:


I'm glad I'm not a complete dummy.  I saw SABERCAT'S race pretty much as you did, Steve.  Does the strategy of Assmusen to bring him along progressively do anything to the horses confidence when he has a race like that?  Otherwise, on Derby Day, I see SABERCAT, OPTIMIZER, and DULLAHAN eating up the ground trying to chase down the leaders in the stretch.

As good as he was, did anyone else think GEMOLOGIST looked a little heavy?  Scary considering he'll be getting more streamlined.

I still think if SECRET CIRCLE learns to relax and rate better than he did in the Rebel, he didn't look all that relaxed to me, he's going to be right there fighting for the wire in the Derby.  Poor SCATMAN just needs another gear or he'd be 2 - 0 at Oaklawn instead of SC.

19 Mar 2012 5:01 PM

I sure can't argue with the top 2, though I would switch the order and put Union Rags on top.  I haven't warmed up to El Padrino and feel that Mark Valeski at #9 actually has more of an upside than Steve's #3.  At any rate, I would have Hansen #3 even though I question his ability to get the Derby distance more than I do Rags or CC.  I haven't seen Dullahan run, so can't comment on Steve's #5, same with I'll Have Another #7.  Based on a very impressive allowance race, I would probably put Gemologist #4.   Alpha needs a test before I can rank him in the TT, and I agree with Steve, he needs to face the big boys in his next start before I will consider him a "big dog". The one place I really question Steve is placing Liaison ahead of Bodemeister.  I know he had some excuses but his San Felipe was unimpressive. I personally would have Midnight Transfer on the TT before Liaison.  Clearly Optimizer and Secret Circle need to be on the list, but I don't care for either of them.  Yes, Secret Circle wins but as the distances get longer, he gets slower and he's just not winning in an impressive fashion.  Optimizer was moving like a bullet but hanging on the left lead which is going to catch him up if he can't learn to switch.

19 Mar 2012 5:02 PM
Mike Monarchos


    What causes Gemologist to paddle with his left front leg? Has he always done it? Can paddling result in an injury? Doesn't seem to keep him from winning. It should help him on a wet track though.

Just kidding!

19 Mar 2012 5:19 PM

Creative Cause more battle tested?  So its Union Rags' fault he's that much better than the opposition?   Rags isn't "sexier", just better.

19 Mar 2012 5:29 PM

Steve, I'm with you on Dullahan.  I've had my eye on this horse since the BC juvenile last year and I liked his prep in the Palm Beach and wouldn't be surprised if he wins the Bluegrass. I think there will be plenty of speed in the Derby and it will set up for him. Yes, I did bet him in the future book.  My Adonis can win the Wood but not if he's as close to the pace as he was in the Gotham.  I think he has already shown that he prefers running late.  I think Castaway has a lot of up side for Baffert and though his half of the Southwest was slower he won very easily with a lot left.  Najjaar needs a new rider.  The jocks have gotten wise to Borail and aren't leaving that opening.  He rode the horse into trouble looking for the free trip up the rail that never materialized.  If he had gone outside he would have finished better in the Rebel.  I'm waiting to see how Alpha performs in his next outing.  A lot has been made of his past two performances being on the inner track at AQ but I also noticed that he was on 1st and 2nd lasix for those two races.  I look for the Derby winner to come from off the pace again this year, likely mid-pack or farther back but we shall see.      

19 Mar 2012 5:36 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

1. I'll Have Another- Can he make it a double?

2. El Padrino- Is busy cramming for the big exam.

3. Hansen- The Galloping Ghost learned how to say boo !!!

4. Union Rags- Not bad.

5. Creative Cause- He probably is number one. I don't know why I don't have him there. Some nagging doubt of some kind.

6. Street Life- Zenyatta-like

7. Optimizer- Has it all.

8. Secret Circle- What a tough cookie and the best numbers.

9. Gemologist- Tiznow's stride.

10.Bodemeister- We'll see how he liked dueling and being wornout.

11. Castaway- The Skipper

12. Daddy Nose Best- He nose how to win.

19 Mar 2012 6:26 PM

What do you think of Scatman? The commentary I've heard seems to conclude that he can't get a distance of ground. I think he's a cute little mover and a fighter. Reminds me a bit of Casual Lies back in the days.

19 Mar 2012 6:28 PM

     “97-97-95-98-102-92”… Is there any other horse that has turned in all 90 + Beyer figures in every race in at least 4 starts as a 2 and 3 year old that’s is in the top 50 this year? Some of us have been toting “Secret Circle” for a long time in our top dozens. I am surprised Steve that it took Baffert and the hoss so long to convince you to get on the ‘band wagon’. I agree, he nor “Optimizer” look like top 5 material, but they surely look like they could finish higher that “Liaison” (“Indian Charlie”?? 1 ¼  really??? come on…) or “Alpha”… (or most of your other top 40 potatoes at this point !! (that’s in my opinion anyway), and then of course there is no telling how many “Storm Cat” breds either might pass going 1 ¼ !!! whether they win the Derby or not !!!). And whatever it is you saw about “Optimizer” that you didn’t like, both of these lil’ horses to me are like “Midnight Transfer”. You don’t really expect them to win the Derby, they don’t seem to come close to measuring up with the top 5 or so, they look so small and so slow in comparison, but they are sooo  like the little engine that could that both have to put fear in any exotic bet. Neither so far looks like he’d cherish 1 ¼, but then again, aren’t those the same types that always are the scariest kind? Just like lil’ “Giacomo” or up “bo rail Bird” . Anyway, both have my attention.  

    And, I personally now have 0 faith in “Sabercat” hitting near the top 5 finishers in the Derby no matter what he does in the Arkansas Derby. Forget the terms ‘bounce’ or ‘off the layoff’, he was bad… IF slow training him was the plan, they need to go back and train him the way “Secretariat” was trained for the Belmont!! He was worse than half the Allowance horses that have tried to qualify and didn’t on the trail so far this year. In 2 words, He Stunk!!! That’s the same kind of a run a horse makes and Downey tosses down a level or off the trail all together!!. Unfortunately, as a 2 year old, when the likes of say a horse like “Heavy Breathing” was still wondering why horses were out running around in circles, some committee somewhere made the “Delta Jackpot” a free ticket to ride (or steal !  a gate spot with) and in my opinion, that needs to be changed !!! Anyway, way to go finally adding “The Secret” to the dozen even if he’s your 13th choice ??!! I see “Optimizer is 225-1” or something still in Vegas too!!  YOU WON’T GET THOSE ODDS IN POOL #3 and $181K in earnings means he may not have to run again before the Derby and he could likely still get in a gate!!!  Just thinking out loud, sorry to anyone I have offended!.  

19 Mar 2012 6:50 PM
It aint easy being good!

I also think that this years winner will be off the pace or close to it. I think this years pace will be hot the faster the fractions the better. I think Hansen will pull a shackelford having a brief glimpse of victory only to fade to fourth. Did anyone see street life this weekend......WOW! A street sense colt with an explosive turn of foot...YES PLEASE!

19 Mar 2012 6:53 PM
El Kabong


Glad to see Optimizer on the list. He has raced well against Dullahan and Gemologist, thrown in a couple of clunkers in the Risen and Smarty but he is a game runner who just needs a little more time hopefully with the same Jockey. 4 different Jocks in last 4 starts. No wonder there's been a disconnect. Alvarado should beg to get this one back but I don't mind the idea of Court sticking with him.

So looking forward to seeing Dullahan repeat his last effort. You nailed it with him getting into the race earlier and not leaving so much to do in the stretch. That becomes all to important in the field of 20. Really like his progress in every category since we saw him run at 2. He's top of my list and if he improves again between now and the Bluegrass, it's not even going to be a race after the 1/8th pole.

19 Mar 2012 6:55 PM
El Kabong


I have a future exacta on Dullahan with El Padrino, Alpha, and Gemologist. Had Fed Biz in their too but that went sour. Good luck with your Dullahan play. The Bluegrass is going to be a great race. Let's hope he runs that same race again with a little push this time to see how serious he can be about winning. He doesn't have a lot of W's but as Steve repeats, were looking for improvement, and it's the W on May 5th that matters most.  

19 Mar 2012 7:06 PM

Great list again Steve.  Gemologist looks good.  But Steve, what is your theory about what is wrong at Aqueduct?  Now I don't want Hansen, Alpha, or Gemologist going anywhere near Aqueduct in the Wood until they figure out what caused these 15, count 'em, 15 fatal breakdowns since Nov. 30 there.  That's 3 months, so we are talking an average of 5 breakdowns a month.  Gov. Cuomo wants an investigator hired as they (NYRA) have funding to do it.  I wonder if it is surface related like the dirt combination at Santa Anita?  Did they change the dirt contents or something? It's frightening at best, I hope they figure it out.  And Street Life in the Wood too is very intriguing.  If he can mature we could have another Street Sense on our hands.  Nice to see a little Hard Spun (Midnight Transfer) out there.  Can we keep Calvin away from Street Life!!!!!!!!  Safe trips to all.

19 Mar 2012 7:17 PM
El Kabong

Big Tex, Mike Monarchos

Tex, I didn't notice the weight but I did see the left fron oar in the water that Mike mentioned and I've seen it before. I don't think it's his conformation, or we would have seen it before. Could just be his last trim/Shoeing that is causing it. Better call Nordstrom and get a better fit on that fella.

19 Mar 2012 7:20 PM

First, to address Mr. Monarchos' questions about the paddling left front leg. It's caused by a conformational fault that cannot be corrected. It causes career ending injuries such as bowed tendons, ligament problems and bone problems. It's an accident waiting to happen and it will.

Second, Mr. Haskin, you just wrote the most entertaining piece I've read all year. I mean laugh out loud entertaining! Optimizer. clueless? Secret Circle a conundrum to everyone including Baffert Keep em coming. Priceless!

Sorry, Mr. Haskin, I disagree about being bred for dirt or grass. That, in my mind, would be like saying that those marvelous little horses that race 100 miles in 24 hours should be bred to run across rocks instead of sand. You know the ones. They started it all didn't they? I mean this never ending quest of the Thoroughbred.

19 Mar 2012 7:31 PM
Steve Haskin

Alex's Big Fan, the problem at Aqueduct isnt about the surface, it's about the excess in purse money at the bottom claiming ranks. As a result, you have too many cheap horses who arent ready to run going to pick up the purse money when they shouldnt be running. Blame the trainers who run these cheap horses just for the money with disregard for their welfare.

19 Mar 2012 7:56 PM

Oh of course MM will give Union Rags a sharp workout next week.  Michael Matz said Union Rags is very fit right now, on this day.  The horse is far and away the best horse in this field.  I guess we can all talk about the second and third choice, but come on, Union Rags is in a league of his own right now, hopefully he will stay there.  I can't believe the discussion about Gemologist and all of these other horses; they are just not ready to run the biggest of their lives; I love them all though, but Union Rags is the man right now, racing against boys.

19 Mar 2012 8:58 PM

Thanks Steve.  Excellent clarification of the Aqueduct situation.  Such a shame this is happening.  A prime example of horse safety not being paramount and greed ruling once again.  Ok, at least Hansen et al will be safe now on that dirt, I'm not as worried but feel badly for the cheaper, not as well trained, claiming horses who may meet their eventual doom.  Apparently there are still those within the industry that need to rethink and revisit a "horse first" mentality.

19 Mar 2012 8:59 PM


 Your right, blame the trainer for running for the money, with disregard for the horse. Does the name "Todd Pletcher" ring a bell?

Remember Life At Ten?

19 Mar 2012 9:04 PM


I think your remarks about the cause of the Aqueduct breakdowns is right on mark. Too many trainers are trying to get the big money before the quality runners return from the south. Since it's your (and my own) belief that the trainers are culpable, one can infer that the pre-race state examining vets don't have the tools or time to adequately oversee the entrants. This is what must be changed-everywhere. We simply can't rely on the trainers, or the absent owners.

19 Mar 2012 9:18 PM
Paula Higgins

I am going to place Union Rags 1st and I would move Gemologist up. But pretty much agree with this weel thought out list. Pretty darn sad that this is happening at Aqueduct. I realize people have to make a living but the welfare of the horse should be the #1 priority.

19 Mar 2012 9:18 PM
The Deacon

Good list, certainly no arguements with it. I suppose many folks might change the order in which they are rated but that's mostly perference.

I mentioned Street Life several weeks ago that he was on my radar. Still like him but your assessment of him certainly is valid. If the Wood Memorial is to his liking and he performs well then "who knows", stranger things have happened.

Secret Circle looked good, all he does is win, where have we heard that before. The next couple weeks will tell us a lot. Don't see Union Rags losing the Florida Derby

something unusual would have to happen for that to happen. If Hansen blows away in the Wood Memorial, he and Creative cause will be my first two. That is of course Creative Cause stands out in the Santa Anita Derby.

I'm with Dr. D. would like to see a west coast finally shine in Kentucky on the 1st Saturday in May. I hope Dr. D. proves me wrong, I will owe him a glass of nice red Zinfandal if it happens :)

19 Mar 2012 9:18 PM

Spot on Steve.  It's the inflated purses for bottom-level horses that are contributing most to this horrible situation.  NYRA announced late last week that purses for $15K or lower claiming horses would be lowered starting April 5, so that's a start anyway.

One other note to Alex's Big Fan....the Wood Memorial is run on the main track at Aqueduct, while the injury problems this winter have involved the winterized Inner track.  Two quite different surfaces.  While I do not believe that the surface is the problem, I thought that deserved clarification.

19 Mar 2012 10:39 PM

What do y'all think about On Fire Baby's chances were she to enter the Derby.  Her Honeybee was the most impressive win I've seen at oaklawn so far this meet and yes I was there for the rebel and southwest.  I think she would have won the Rebel by open lengths.

19 Mar 2012 10:43 PM
Tiz Herself

Hey Steve, what was your opinion on Raconteur's Private Terms? He is looking like a late developer, however since his maiden win is now four for five lifetime. He certainly did not quit when asked to get by that other horse.

19 Mar 2012 10:51 PM
Tiz Herself

Anyone know where Gold Megillah is at?

19 Mar 2012 10:52 PM

On Fire Baby deserves a spot somewhere on that list.  I don't know how high, but the race she ran in the Honeybee would have won the Rebel. in my opinion.  Most impressive horse I've seen at oaklawn this meet.

19 Mar 2012 11:02 PM

Just a comment on the Aqueduct situation.  Breakdowns seem to be cyclic most everywhere, but it's a fact that there are a lot of horses running that shouldn't be, on big and small tracks alike. There is a very small track in my town that holds a short meet, weekends only from Memorial Day through the 4th of July.  Purses are very small and only the very lowest level of horses compete here.  I love horse racing and used to go for the pure joy of seeing horses run.  They weren't very talented, but even at that level, the thoroughbred being the noble breed it is, they tried hard to win.  However, after witnessing at least 1 breakdown on every card, I stopped going and haven't been to the local track in years.  It's sad that this happens at the big tracks too.  It's sad that it happens anywhere.  Accidents will happen and a sound horse can take a bad step and break down.  But many of the lower level claiming horses are simply accidents waiting to happen.  Better care should be taken to try to prevent unsound horses from running.

20 Mar 2012 4:50 AM

I'm sticking with the same top ten I listed last week.  My opinions have been re-inforced rather than changed.

Still think Scatman has something special.

Now we really have to keep an eye on the's getting really close to crunch time.

20 Mar 2012 6:53 AM

Excellent list Steve.

I hope Creative Cause does the job. My money rides on him.

On the matter of injuries at the Aqueduct, it is unfortunate that this is occurring. I am more concerned about the injuries to the jockeys than I am about the injuries to the horses.

It is also unfortunate that some will exploit this tragedy for their own agenda. Someone even mentioned Pletcher and Life At Ten. As far as I recall, Life At Ten was not injured and Pletcher was not found culpable. Yet his name is dragged into this.

The State of NY has ordered an investigation and I will reserve my judgment until the findings are released, especially in light of the Jockey Club statistics shown below.


20 Mar 2012 7:51 AM

I know Gemologist is in most of the top 10 lists I've seen, but unless he wins the Wood he's not guaranteed a spot in the gate @ CD.  The Wood looks to be shaping up as the top prep race this year with Hansen (doesn't need the $), Prospective ($ ditto), Alpha, Gemologist, Battle Hardened, My Adonis and Street Life all of which will need a win to get in. Several big money races remain and seem ripe for upsets except the Fla Derby.  I'm expecting a few off the radar types to win and leapfrog their way into the graded earnings picture.  I'm hoping Najjaar and Street Life win for my RTTR stable which I'm on the verge of being mathematically eliminated.

20 Mar 2012 8:09 AM


Great  analysis as usual. I couldn't  agree more on every horse. Hansen will have  a hard time finishing 1 1/4 mile race  and I think Bodemeister may surprise. He's kinda like Shackleford last year. Hopefully better. Liaison , I  am not empressed with.Other than that, you're the best.

20 Mar 2012 9:40 AM

Here are my ratings for three of the Top 4 on Steve’s list.

For each horse, I have added the DRF Speed Figure to the Track Variant for the last two races run at a mile or longer on a track rated fast or good. The weight carried is always 122 or 123 lbs:

Creative Cause:



Union Rags:






20 Mar 2012 9:46 AM

Deacon, how'd The Deaconator do?  I forgot to check.  

Steve, regarding Aqueduct, I wish you'd write that article.  Anyone not not putting the horses first means I must be standing by a waist-high burns my A#%!!!

20 Mar 2012 10:54 AM

Biggest complament a horse[trainer] can receive is other horses[trainers] not wanting to run running against him until the derby.

We all know anything can happen that first Sat of May,Martz knows he is sitting on something special.

20 Mar 2012 11:40 AM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, glad to see where you put Creative Cause. I've jumped on Union Rags bandwagon this year, but it's o.k. to like more than one horse. CC is one I could see winning, not just the KD, but he has the bloodlines for the Triple Crown. It gets frustrating to hear horses built up with the statement 'They might can make 1 1/4 miles' because that tells me they aren't even thinking TC anymore. I want a horse who has the training, the foundation and the bloodlines to win all 3 dances.

20 Mar 2012 12:57 PM
Steve Haskin

Lenny Shulman and I discuss the Aqueduct fatalities in more detail on tomorrow's "And They're Off"

20 Mar 2012 1:09 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon

  Make that ZENfandel. We've got a shot but I'm a really big fan of a few East Coast horses too. Tough year to narrow it down just as a fan, let alone a Derby bettor. The breakdowns are the bad part of the sport and we don't need to be running horses that shouldn't be running. Steve and others are correct. The majority of the breakdowns at AQU on the inner are lower claiming horses that most likely should have been retired or on vacation. It's even more dangerous if they're on pain meds, muscle relaxers or anything else that dulls the pain, allowing them to run. Trainers and owners need to wise up. The horse should always come first, and the integrity of the game second, which is also hurt by breakdowns. Jockey injuries are a concern also but usually if the horse is safe then the jockey is safe.

20 Mar 2012 1:29 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thanks for this week's Derby Dozen.  I attended the Rebel and enjoyed being at Oaklawn.  No shock and awe at the outcome.  Secret Circle did a good job.  Optimizer's closing was good too.  Scatman seemed to run out of gas.  I'm just not sure there are any Derby implications coming out of that race.

20 Mar 2012 2:23 PM
The Deacon

Bigtex:  Don't know how The Deaconator did, forgot to watch.....

The last time  the Wood Memorial winner won the Kentucky Derby was 2000, Fusaichi Pegasus. Before that you have to go back to 1977.

In fact 1975 Foolish Pleasure, 1976 Bold Forbes and 1977 Seattle Slew won the Wood Memorial and then the Kentucky Derby.

Three pretty darn good horses especially "The Slew" one of the top 10 greatest of all time.

Point being here that other then Fusaichi Pegasus, you have to go back 35 years the last time a horse won both the Wood Memorial and the Kentucky Derby. Almost about the same amount of time we had our last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed 1978.

Something is wrong, Steve is the expect, maybe he knows. Is Aqueduct that much of a burden with regards to running and winning both races. History doesn't lie, I say this all the time. If Hansen wins the Wood Memorial then because of history, his chances of winning the Kentucky Derby diminish drastically. Other then Fusaichi Pegasus, the last horse to do it was a Triple Crown winner....  

20 Mar 2012 2:25 PM
Age of Reason

(1) Creative Cause

(2) Union Rags

(3) Gemologist

(4) Castaway

(5) Alpha

(6) Hansen

(7) I'll Have Another

(8) Dullahan

(9) El Padrino

(10) My Adonis

(11) Take Charge Indy

(12) Street Life

20 Mar 2012 4:33 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon

  What if Street Life or Gemologist wins The Wood? Do their chances of winning the Derby diminish drastically? What if the 2010's mirror the 1970's with 3 that win both? I think Eskendereya would have done it if not injured, and maybe I Want Revenge also. Do you think that America is ready for a white winner of the Derby if Hansen does it? There are not too many historical perspectives that I trust anymore wth regards to the Derby. I do have one handicapping pet peeve that I will stick with until it's proven wrong though.

20 Mar 2012 6:02 PM

Last year, I was easily able to widdle down the contenders to Arch Arch Arch, Dialed In, Shackelford, and Nehro.  Albeit wrong, making the cuts seemed easy.  This year, I can't get below 12 different contenders.  I "think" Union Rags is a stand out, but there are so many that could easily win.  Is it me or is this a stronger crop of 3 year olds?  

20 Mar 2012 6:19 PM
Pedigree Ann

Don't worry about the breakdowns recently in NY in regard to the Wood; all of those took place on the inner track (which is 'winterized', meaning it has some non-dirt elements in it) while the Wood is on the all-dirt Main Track (9f circuit). Unless, of course, the trend continues after the switch to the main this week...,

Still don't see the love for Take Charge Indy and El Padrino. TCI has gone backwards in the stretch in every 8f+ race he has ever run. El Padrino and Mark Valeski took advantage of a slow pace on a souped up track; and as to El Padrino's allowance win, did I mention that running past TCI in the stretch is not the most difficult task in the world?

And PLEASE! let Heavy Breathing progress as he needs to. He is potentially a nice horse and to ruin him by pushing to make the Derby is unconscionable. Horses who do not debut until February cannot be ready for the Derby, and we all know it. Think of the horse, not your ego, for once, Mr./Ms. Owner.

20 Mar 2012 7:36 PM

This certainly is a stronger crop of three year olds than last year. If Rags had been in last years crop I don't think too many would lessen his chances of winning, but this year he's not even Steve's number one. What a great group of horses, this will be a tough call this year.

I like the following right now:

1a) Creative Cause- have liked him from the beginning and haven't seen anything yet to change that.

1b)Insn't he Clever- Can't wait for his next at Sunland; he's a gelding which probably makes breeders cringe that he could win the Derby, but I love his development and think that sky high altititude is going to have him physically ready for a big effort in the Derby, he could win it.

1c)Dullahan- gut feeling here telling me he's the one.

1d)Gemologist- I know he's not there yet, and yes he "paddles" his leg, but I prefer to describe his running style so far as scampering down the track, his competition hasn't required him to run yet. I do remember the Pampelmouse and his egg beater leg action, and yes he didn't race too long because of it, but Gemologist might just win the Derby.

1e)Optimizer- I had him keyed in my picks with Secret Circle in his last at 47-1 which made for a nice day, would love to do the same come Derby day- never under estimate Lucas.

1f)Exothermic- Him and Dullahan in the Blue Grass/ I can't wait to see it.

1g)Currency Swap- I am expecting too much to imagine him still on the Derby trail, but can't help liking this horse, hope he runs in the Florida Derby.

1h)The Lumber Guy- he might just win the Wood.

1i)Union Rags- something tells me he isn't even going to make the Derby, hope I'm wrong.

1j)Hansen- Can't overlook his improvement, but just have a feeling he'll be like sixth or so come Derby day.

1k)El Padrino- still love this guys "try" and could see him run big, but I just don't feel it.

1l)Prospective- the Wood will be a tough race this year, he might just be the biggest surprise.

I don't know if I will be suprised this year at who wins the Derby, but I know I will lose alot of sleep trying to figure it out, this is crazy!

20 Mar 2012 7:39 PM

Secret Circle might not be a Kentucky Derby horse, but I would love to own him.  

The Kentucky Derby is just 1 race.  Once it's all over with in 2 months, these horses will hopefully be running in many other races; most of their careers will span beyond the first Saturday in May.  And for just about all of those that do continue to run, the ability to go 10 furlongs in a 20 horse field will be completely irrelevant.

While Secret Circle probably shouldn't be in anyone's Top 10 Derby list, he most certainly has proven himself among the top 10 runners of this crop so far.  Actually, if I were to compile a top 10 list for 3 year old males(not a Derby list, but a ranking of the top 3 year olds at any distance), I would have to put Secret Circle #4 behind only Hansen, Union Rags, and Creative Cause.

Only the above three horses have accomplished anything close to what Secret Circle has accomplished.  Secret Circle is only Out of Bound's long neck away from being a perfect 6 for 6.  He was won two graded stakes races, and 2 $500k races(the BC Juvy Sprint ungraded).  He has shown amazing speed and brilliance winning sprint stakes, including a phenomenal first quarter in that Juvy Sprint, yet has enough patience to be rated and win graded stakes around 2 turns.

So much of the time, our initial reaction to a prep race is to judge it based on what it tells us about a horse's chances in the Derby.  I didn't do that with the Rebel.  I watched Secret Circle win the Rebel and simply appreciated it for what it was, a victory in a $500k Grade 2 race by a horse that loves to win races.    

20 Mar 2012 8:08 PM
Uncle Smiley

Yo, Jersey Boy,

Can you run your numbers for I'll Have Another?

Thanks from South East PA. Near DelPark.

Curious to learn what bargains there are on in the middle of the field.


20 Mar 2012 9:19 PM
The Deacon

Dr. D:  Your assessment is right on as was Steve's. I also thought Esky was a possible Triple Crown winner. I Want Revenge was never the same after his injury.  I liked him a lot but I don't think he was as good as Esky. I would love to see Creative Cause win the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby. This year there are more many good horses. Best crop we have had in many a year. It will be very hard to win the Triple crown this season but who knows. I like Street Life a lot but if he does win the Wood Memorial I think his chances diminish winning the Derby just based on history. I am looking at this from a bettors standpoint. I haven't picked a Derby winner in a long time so I am no expert. The past few years have been a crap shoot. Hansen is an interesting horse, if he the best then he will win the Wood Memorial and the Kentucky Derby, it can be done, I'm just saying it hasn't been done but once in 35 years. Like you I also love ZENfindal, wish she could have kept racing forever. She is a real gem, never been too many like her thats for sure.........good luck with your picks.

20 Mar 2012 9:33 PM

The Deacon:

You did overlook just one.  Pleasant Colony won both the Wood and the Derby in 1981.  I understand your point, and even just 2 Wood/Derby winners in 35 years is still pretty shocking.  I just wanted to be sure that Pleasant Colony got his due.

20 Mar 2012 9:55 PM

The Deaconator placed 8th.  Sired by Tale of the Cat, out of Wendy's on to Me by Avenue of Flags.

1) EL PADRINO - He's still getting better.

2) UNION RAGS - Top dog if he stays healthy.  Leparoux was the best thing to happen to him in 2012.

3) CREATIVE CAUSE - He's one of the big dogs on this trail.

4) HANSEN - If he rates like the Gotham and gets first jump on GEMOLOGIST, he'll win the Wood.  If GEMOLOGIST runs him down, we'll have a clash of titans in May.

5) GEMOLOGIST - That's about the easiest 1:35 and 4 mile I've seen and the Wood should put some much needed heat on him.

6) BODEMEISTER - Hopefully, he's not a Sidney's Candy chasing Conveyance just to get cooked before the stretch.

7) CASTAWAY - He looks great.  He reared up and fell backwards in the infield before the Southwest, got back up and won.

8) MARK VALESKIE - Jones says he's ahead of HARD SPUN and EIGHT BELLES, numbers wise.

9) SABERCAT - No faith lost here from the Rebel.  

10) HOWE GREAT - DULLAHAN did get the stick good going into the stretch in Palm Beach.  He wasn't going to catch HG.  Will he take to dirt?

11) DULLAHAN - He'll be coming at the end but does he know how to win?

12A) SECRET CIRCLE - He gets out of the gate. Enormous talent.  He's tactical but doesn't know it yet.  If he'll ever relax while rating, he's at the least, in my superfecta in May especially if he wins the AR Derby.

12B) NEWS PENDING - Like EL PADRINO, he has plenty of upside IMO.  Good looking hoss!

21 Mar 2012 1:04 AM

Uncle Smiley:

Recap. For each horse, I have added the DRF Speed Figure to the Track Variant for the last two races run at a mile or longer on a track rated fast or good.

The weight carried is in brackets.

I’ll Have Another has run the distance only once.


97+3=100 (118lbs)


102+0=102 (116lbs)

83+11=94 (116lbs)


92+11=103 (120lbs)

89+17=106 (116lbs)

21 Mar 2012 7:35 AM

This is my first top ten of the season, practically just before the beginning of the big races on the triple crown trail:











Is it going to change the next week? Of course, as will change Mr Haskin list  and others ratings for the 2012 triple crown.

21 Mar 2012 10:11 AM

    LOL… Gee “Big Brown” was pretty good on the grass too,--where he started,--(his 2nd run was taken off the turf if memory serves)--“Paddy O’Prado” wasn’t bad if I remember. “Optimizer” started on the grass. Yet “Howe Great” (5-   4-1-0)--who Downey only has on his B list??,--who beat “Dullahan”--(your 5th ranked)--who was beaten by a length,--thusly did not finish at + 1 ¼ in front ???,--and yet “Howe Great” gets less respect and doesn’t make your dozen? Boggles the mind.

     And Re: “Optimizer”;--who Downey at least moved from his “C” list to his “A” list, yet--who I might add Watchmaker couldn’t find room for in his top 20 ??? yet,--although he does have “Howe Great”,--and which you tacked on to the bottom of your current string of 12 and not 40!!!,--(TY God, we have been waiting to hear again from “D. Wayne” now for years now it seems),--you stated, “His pedigree is a Who’s Who of Phipps breeding” …?????  Not sure what you’re referring to there,--(you might explain that)--but this horse looks bred just fine for a 1 ¼  --(to me anyway)--and that’s without looking heavily into or breaking down every dam’s line influences, other than their direct sire’s lines, yet. And, gee, no breeding lines to “Indian Charlie” or “Storm Cat” or “Trippi” or “War Front” here !!!!.

    Thusly, is it about breeding ??? or just racing results when younger ? and seemingly of distances only between  a 1 Mi.  1 1/16  and  

1  1/8   and only dirt runs ??-- (Don’t remember now exactly, but seems “Animal Kingdom” ran on synthetic surfaces only and in not so fast times as I recall, in fact so slow over synthetics that I never had him on top last year!!!, my bad)--or are we looking for a horse that can truly  compete at 1 ½ ??, trained to be able to get that distance and still have some stamina and is thusly bred for 1 ¼ ??? or are we just looking to appease some connections, current owners, and, or connections with positive press ?? via certain selections ??? Yes, there have been some under-bred horses that have won the Kentucky Derby and quite a few who seemed to have never won a race after in recent years. But, if we are ever going to see another “Secretariat” in our life times, it’s going to come from some fine breeding that isn’t geared to being a great miler who ran for 2-4 years and can get 1 1/16 !!! and that may or may not be able to get a  1  1/8 or a  1  3/16.

     GROUP 2 TURF: "Optimizer":                                                                      

Pool #1 field -9/5; -3/2;                

Pool #2 field  3-1 ;  3-1 ;

Pool #3

WM ‘s 20: -n/l’d..;

Haskin’s -n/l’d..; c. #26-#12;

Downey’s C-A List;

Wynn’s 225-1 ; 175-1 ;

 (T)  Optimizer: (Kty.);

    8-  1-2-1

 Tr. D.W. Lucas;

D.I. 3.24; foal date: -3/8/09;

 Pvt. Bluegrass Hall LLC;

  No auction history;

Tomlinson Distance rating .000;

triple bred to: Bold Ruler,

dbl. bred to: Mr. Prospector-

  Raise a Native;

  Turn To ; & Nashua; &


quad bred to: Nasrullah  (G.B.)

 & at least 8 times inbred to

  Nearco (Ity.);  &

5 Xs bred to the ‘BHXFG’ via

 2 Xs @ to Blossom Time &

 Cosquilla (G,B.);

 & 1 X  to Brushup ;

21 Mar 2012 10:23 AM

 Oh to measuring that final 1/16th ... yeah I know different tracks, different surfaces, different temperatures, different competion, different opening fractions, differnt variant ... blah blah blah...

"Speed still kills!!!!"

home in:

El Padrino:     6.04;

Creative Cause: 6.34;

Union Rags:     6.40;

Prospective:    6.56;

Hansen:         6.84;

Secret Circle:  6.88;

 Now someone want to go back and tell me what "Optimizer's" final 1/16 was run in ???  Bet it was better than some of those listed above!!  

 So who is it that your going to bet on now? when 6 horses make the final turn on the lead or just a half off or a length back from that front pack on Derby Day ????

  Yes I know, we are only half way through prep season with a few 1 1/16 graded tests under our belts and the Gr. I  1 1/8  runs ahead ...

(Gets the blood up though doesn't it? Makes life worth living!!)

 "Go Baby, Go Baby, Go Baby Go"!!...  

 "...take your passion,... and make it happen..."

21 Mar 2012 11:27 AM
The Deacon

Paseana:  You are correct, I did overlook Pleasant Colony. My apologies........thanking for pointing that out. My memory isn't as sharp as it once was.

Pleasant Colony had brilliant breeding. Was by His Majesty whose sire was the legendary Ribot. Flower Bowl was his dam and in her breeding line was Misty Morn and Princequillo. He sired PLeasant Tap & Pleasantly Perfect.

21 Mar 2012 1:00 PM

Loved the way Optimizer closed. His failure to change leads... not so much. I hope its just him being green because its always more fun when DWL has a live Derby horse.

21 Mar 2012 1:57 PM

I think everyone realizes that all the preparation and racing that these colts have done leading to the Derby could be compromised greatly by the post position draw and resulting strategies and of course by the track condition at Churchill on the day of the race.

21 Mar 2012 5:00 PM

Nobody knows for sure if this crop is better than last year there were a lot of colts that were not even in the race last year,including Arch Arch Arch who was injured during the race,in otherwords AK beat a depleted field last year.

21 Mar 2012 5:05 PM

Dr D are you Implying that the white horse has to overcome a historical trend as to the color of the winner,being or not being white?

21 Mar 2012 5:16 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  It's just a comment about the hoopla Obama reelection committee made over DeNiro's joke which was just a funny joke and nothing else. Pretty soon we won't even be able to call a horse race a race. We'll have to call it a horsey event.

21 Mar 2012 6:41 PM
Pedigree Ann


You seemed to have confused the placement of names in Pleasant Colony's pedigree.

Sire His Majesty's dam Flower Bowl was by Alibhai out of Flower Bed by Beau Pere - pure J.B. Mayer bloodline.

Pleasant Colony's SW dam Sun Colony was by Sunrise Flight (Double Jay-Misty Morn) out of an Uruguayan-bred mare - Invasor was not the first good thing to come out of Uruguay.

21 Mar 2012 8:17 PM

Overlooked datum:

In the Bloodhorse (print) coverage of Hansen's Kentucky Cup victory last fall, Tom LaMarra quotes then rider Victor Lebron as saying "He's a push-button horse. I could put him anywhere if I wanted to. Hopefully, he's my Kentucky Derby (gr. I) horse."

(Don't blame me. I'm sure he didn't say the gr. I part, but it's within the quote marks.)

22 Mar 2012 2:28 AM

White horses:

For decade after decade no grey had won the Derby. When Native Dancer was beaten by Dark Star, what more proof could you ask for? It was a curse!

Then, after 78 years came Determine. Then his son Decidedly, Winning Colors, Spectacular Bid, Giacomo, Monarchos, Silver Charm.

Past is not prologue.

22 Mar 2012 2:37 AM

Has STREET LIFE changed leads yet???

22 Mar 2012 8:29 AM
It aint easy being good!

zarvona if your interested in final times and closing you will find none faster than street life if you are looking for a mid pack closer they are none faster than street life he looks like a bullet coming down the stretch its a thing of beaty. He might not win the wood but believe me he will be right there!

22 Mar 2012 11:39 AM
The Deacon

Pedigree Ann:  This is a simple case of the brain and the hands are coordinating their efforts. I knew what I meant to write but obviously my hands had other ideas. You're right His Majesty by Ribot and Flower Bowl. Flower Bowl by Alibhai. Pleasant Colony's dam was Sun Colony, by Sunrise Flight who was by Double Jay and Misty Morn. Misty Morn by Princequillo. This is what I meant to say. Thanks for correcting me, I need all the help I can get.........

22 Mar 2012 12:54 PM

Whose hoopla?

The Obama reelection committee did not make a hoopla about DiNiro’s joke. Others made a hoopla about the joke that was made in the presence of Michelle Obama. Her press secretary said the joke was inappropriate. The facts are on the web.

22 Mar 2012 12:56 PM

I thought it odd that Hansen was training at Churchill for the Wood, makes sense now with the change of plans for the Blue Grass instead.  Will Dominguez just "push the buttons" and come riding in like the white knight in shining armour on his white steed in May?  Who knows, but Calvin was last seen in KY, happily singing, "I'm takin' it to the Street!"  Hope Churchill is not stickly come May, imagine Hansen covered in peanut butter?!  Just some frivolity to lighten up the day.........

22 Mar 2012 7:07 PM
The Deacon

Hansen to the Blue Grass Stakes now, good news............

22 Mar 2012 7:41 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   That's where I read it, on the web.

Chief P

   Post number one should be

eliminated for The Derby.


   It's not just you.


   I like the move to The Bluegrass but not sure about the three weeks. I hope it's long enough.

The Deacon

   I Want Revenge's stride is not the same since the injury. He's not the same horse. I'd retire him and send him to stud. He has his 3yo status. He doesn't need anymore. Esky was a monster and Triple Crown material.

22 Mar 2012 9:00 PM
cuban chef de race

My friend Haskin,


23 Mar 2012 12:24 AM
cuban chef de race

el padrino has a similar breeding to ice box who did finish 2nd in the derby two year’s ago and feel  he is more talented overall and  tabasco cat had a more stamina oriented pedigree been out of a mare by sauce boat by key to the mint  by graustark by ribot and because giant causeway do not have a good record as a sire in the kentucky derby  i feel he is going to be a great broodmare sire when i see maria’s storm by Rahy by blushing groom out of a roberto mare and then i figure pay attention to class.

23 Mar 2012 1:42 AM
cuban chef de race

when you see horses like optimizer,golden ticket,take charge indy etc you think la troienne but you forget that history do not win the derby. what animal kingdom has to do with that?. i hope that this family of bloggers including the great steve haskin help us to see the truth and do not check on the turn.the players who love this race are special to me,i do feel like bobby fisher right now,the talent is in your hart not in the books.

23 Mar 2012 2:38 AM
cuban chef de race

class in the dam do not mean class in the distance.that is a mistake that players tend to confuse with races like the belmont stakes like last year a son of A.P Indy out of eliza by M T livermoore,she had the class but when you see his sire M T livermoore you just can remenber housebuster then let my see what is the best bet for us my brother.

23 Mar 2012 3:02 AM
cuban chef de race

my opinion as a player is very simple.the california horses are good some of them but the santa anita track expressway has not change,so  i will be looking for excuses at churchill downs and try to figure he did not like the track,or he did bleed or another animal kingdom is there for me,only god knows what i am thinking about.

23 Mar 2012 3:19 AM
cuban chef de race

one day my friend haskin got angree with me and he told me hey cuban chef the race put the brakes on yourself and i did say no problem haskin,you know when you like races like the derby as i do and you know  the beauty of it that is when my heart emerge and want to talk horses.the derby for me is like going to visit the paradise ,i will tell you soon who has not shot and that is important to win.

23 Mar 2012 3:51 AM
Uncle Smiley


Thanks for running the numbers.  So, in that first  cavalry charge, the order expected is Alpha, El Padrino and then I'll Have Another.

Hard to know how that plays out with the other 17 or so contenders who will  space them out.

Now I will take a harder look at Alpha.  Takes one's mind off of Hansen, though.


23 Mar 2012 7:18 PM
Criminal Type

I don't get all this mess about DeNiro's supposedly racist comments about Michelle Obama. Did the media happen to mention just once while they were turning him into a racist, that Mr DeNiro is married to an African American woman ?

23 Mar 2012 7:41 PM
cuban chef de race

secret circle has gone farther then i was expecting but i have no problem with that.and  when i did see that he was about to be beaten by a horse that do not know how to change leads  then i did confirm my  early thinking about him {good but not good to bet} at the derby distance. that is why baffert took him to the BC sprint and not the juvenile.he knows horses more then me and i do understand that.

24 Mar 2012 8:00 PM
cuban chef de race

pace make the race.and this is very important factor if you can see distant limitation and class advantage in one particular pay attention at the competition and try to figure who he is facing lately because it can be a horse that will show more then you think even when his figures do not compare to the favorites but the pace and his breeding can take him to the other level.pace,class and a little breeding can take you to the winner”s circle.

24 Mar 2012 11:06 PM

I enjoy your articles very much, but feel a few on your derby dozen will come up on the short end of graded money and won't make the gate.  I think 120k got the 20th into the gate last year and this year #20 has 150k with a whole lot of bucks yet to pay out making 200k a good possibility to go to the dance.

26 Mar 2012 11:56 AM
Pedigree Ann

Cuban Chef de race:

You don't like Creative Cause's female side but you like Hansen's? Have you researched them? CC is out of a G1 winner by a G1 winner at 10f and sire of a G1 winner at 10f. Hansen is out of a sprint winner by a G2 winning turf miler who sired nothing better than a G2 turf miler before being exiled to Chile. There is no black type in the family until you get back to the fifth dam!

28 Mar 2012 10:06 AM
cuban chef de race

pedigree ann . i do not like creative cause and i do not like hansen when you did mention the 2d one you was not ready  for the derby because i did never mention him as a treat .but if  you want to talk with me as a player forget the books.if you are so smart why do not show this family of bloggers more then 2 horses ? creative cause will find his sire is not ready because his dam is not derby bound,but no problem it seems to me that you tend to confuse older horses with 3 year”s old but we need more women in racing and that will be good for the game.

31 Mar 2012 9:36 PM
cuban chef de race

i will be here at the and when the race is over and then i will say i told you no body is perfect but if you did not pay attention to your dreams life is going to be the same for .you need a pedigree adviser ann.

31 Mar 2012 9:56 PM
cuban chef de race

pedigree ann,why  you think i call myself cuban chef de race? this is because i am.

31 Mar 2012 10:38 PM

Changing leads is part of a horse's natural repertoire. Going around a turn on the wrong lead is like going in a circle to the right while leaning to the left.

Lead changes back and forth from the bends to the straightaways give a slight rest to the leading legs, so the horse is ready to find another gear after the change.

The horse changes leads within hours of birth to maintain balance and ease tiring muscles. Why not in a race?

Probably something is hurting.

My problem with leads is the timing. Most horses seem to change too early, immediately before they reach the final bend, meaning they are off balance hooking into the stretch, which bring thems off the rail and has been the making of Calvin Borel.

02 Apr 2012 12:30 AM

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