Derby Dozen (video) - April 9, 2012 - Presented by Shadwell Farm

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Creative Cause Mike Harrington Click Here!

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

Boy, this is getting tough. Separating the top 6 horses is splitting hairs. They all deserve to be up there. His race in the SA Derby was just what he needed to set him up for a peak performance on the first Saturday in May. There’s certainly no reason to lower him after all this time on top. Blinkers off in the final Derby prep was a bit of a concern; never like equipment changes this close to the big race, but he handled it well and was very professional, and you had to love the way he battled back, much like Silver Charm in the ’97 SA Derby. He’s lost three of his last four starts, because of his inability to quicken. He doesn’t have a big turn of foot and just grinds it out, so he’ll need some help from the mile and a quarter, where the constant pressure he applies could wear his opponents out. He’s certainly not a solid No. 1, and I’ll have to give the top contenders a closer analysis once the final preps are run.


Union Rags Michael Matz

Dixie Union—Tempo, by Gone West

Some may drop him a notch or two after the big efforts by the Wood and SA Derby 1-2 finishers, but, traffic problems aside, I still believe that with only three slow breezes he was nowhere near fully cranked in the Florida Derby and that the real Union Rags will emerge on Derby Day. It’s only an opinion, but it looks to me as if Matz went into the race hoping the colt could win off those three breezes, but did not want to risk him peaking a race too soon, coming off that easy Fountain of Youth score. I would expect to see several serious works leading up to the Derby, unlike the Florida Derby. So far, this colt’s pattern is to have his races won by the eighth pole. The two times he hasn’t he failed to catch the leader inside the final sixteenth, and we all know the Derby is won before the eighth pole. Leparoux just has to be more aggressive with him and use his big turn of foot on the far turn. Some question his ability to get 10 furlongs, but he sure runs like a horse who will have no trouble stretching out that far.


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

Flower Alley – Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch

I had him at No. 4 before the SA Derby, and as good as Gemologist and Alpha looked in the Wood I see no reason why they should pass him after his gutsy and brilliant victory over my No. 1 rated horse. And he did it off a two-month layoff and coming home his final three-eighths in a sharp :36 1/5. From all appearances back at the barn and the following morning, the race didn’t take that much out of him. I’ve maintained all along that we don’t know how good this horse really is, but I think we’re starting to find out. There’s no reason why he can’t improve off this race. Some may question using an unknown jockey who recently arrived from Hastings Park without an agent, but Mario Gutierrez has ridden him perfectly and is as cool as the horse. He reminds me of Stewart Elliott on Smarty Jones and Jeremy Rose on Afleet Alex. They, like Gutierrez, had too much confidence in their horse and in themselves to give in to the pressure. And congrats to O’Neill, who gave this horse four long, stiff works; something most trainers would be afraid to do. It’s nice to see some old-fashioned training once in a while, and its benefits.


Gemologist Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Tiznow—Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector

One thing about him, he always finds a way to win, and you had to like the fact that he overcame getting bumped 5-wide on the first turn and steadying slightly when The Lumber Man cut in front of him, and then was 6-wide down the backstretch and 3-4 wide on the far turn. His Beyers have increased with every race (75, 81, 85, 95, and 98). There are several logical reasons to like his Wood Memorial win, but perhaps one that’s not quite as logical that I found impressive was the colt throwing his ears straight up right before the wire, despite being under pressure from Alpha, as if he knew he had it won. I just like a horse who knows where the wire is and what he has to do to get there first. When Castellano switched to a left-handed whip, Gemologist came out several paths and was able to engage Alpha just when it appeared as if the Godolphin colt was going to catch him. I saw a lot of Tiznow in him, and how about him out-battling a Godolphin colt to the wire, 11 years after his sire did the same thing to a Godolphin colt (Sakhee) in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I admit this colt probably should be ranked No. 1 or 2 or at the worst No. 3, but I need some time to ingest everything we’ve seen in the past two weeks.


Hansen Mike Maker

Tapit—Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat

With Alpha breathing down his neck for the No. 5 spot, he gets his chance to move up, stay where he is, or move down in the Blue Grass Stakes. It all depends, not only on whether he wins, but how he does it. If he’s going to pull a Union Rags or a Creative Cause and lose his final prep, he better look awfully good in the process. It’s always difficult getting a good line on a horse when he preps for the Derby on Polytrack. In short, he needs to settle off the pace, as he did in the Gotham, put away some very talented horses, and come home impressively. We’ll also see how he stretches out an extra sixteenth of a mile.


Alpha Kiaran McLaughlin

Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky

I was very tempted to put him No. 5, but decided to wait until Hansen runs in order to get a clearer picture. Coming off a two month layoff, he overcame a bad trip, having to check sharply on the first turn, and still closed fast, falling a neck short. But the key to his race may have come at the three-eighths pole when Ramon Dominguez went to a single left-handed whip to try to keep pace with Gemologist, then hit him again at the five-sixteenths pole. I never like to see a horse under the whip that early, as it usually means the jockey is not feeling the response he wants. But was it the horse or was it Dominguez, who was just returning from a collarbone injury and had only two losing mounts the day before in his return to the saddle? Was his strength at 100 percent or close to it in only his second mount on the card? Did Alpha hang a bit in the final yards after appearing as if he was going to catch Gemologist or was Dominguez starting to feel the effects of his three-week layoff and rushing to get back for this race? Or did Alpha need this race, run over a slow, tiring track after his two-month layoff? Or was it just a case of Gemologist simply out-gaming him? I have no answers; I’m just tossing around some questions to ponder. Whatever the answers are, the bottom line is that Alpha should get a lot out of this race and go into the Derby a fit and dangerous horse.


Take Charge Indy Pat Byrne Click Here!

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

The tendency is to chalk his Florida Derby win up to the slow pace and his ability to take advantage of it and pretty much steal the race. But let’s remember, he’s not a front-runner and his versatility should be commended that he was able to adapt to the scenario that was presented. Byrne and the owners decided to go with a two-prep schedule instead of their original three-prep schedule at the last minute, so they still have a pretty fresh horse. We’ll just have to wait and see how much he’s gotten out of his two starts. There is no doubting this colt’s talent, and he has the pedigree to go along with it. Whether he’s good enough to win the Derby is anyone’s guess, but there’s no reason to think he’s not right up there with the best of them.


El Padrino Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Pulpit—Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway

Pletcher and the owners decided to go by body of work rather than just one race in regard to running in the Derby. After all, he was only beaten 3 ½ lengths and according to Trakus, ran 63 feet farther than the winner. Also, in the past 20 years, four horses have won the Derby after finishing fourth in their final prep, and all were totally ignored at Churchill – Mine That Bird ($103.20), Giacomo ($102.60), Thunder Gulch ($51), and Sea Hero ($27.80). If you liked El Padrino before the Florida Derby and dumped him after that race, you’re not going to be too happy if he bounces back and takes home the roses. Don’t get me wrong, he was flat at Gulfstream and should have run better, even with the loss of ground, but his race was very reminiscent of Thunder Gulch’s in the Blue Grass when he came up flat in the stretch as the 6-5 favorite after winning the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth. Off days do happen. And for an off day this one really wasn’t that bad, and he did run hard enough to get something out of the race.


Bodemeister Bob Baffert Click Here!

Empire Maker—Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat

Giving him the nod over Dullahan only because he has the opportunity to break into the upper echelon with a big victory. But he needs that victory, while Dullahan’s connections can be happy with another good second, especially to Hansen. Bodemeister might very well have pulled off the SA Derby, considering his longshot stablemate put quite a scare in I’ll Have Another and Creative Cause and was beaten a mere half-length. Instead, he has to travel to Hot Springs and compete over a new track against what promises to be a large field. And he has to beat another of his stablemates, Secret Circle. If he runs back to his San Felipe, there is no reason why he can’t get the job done and head to Louisville as a hot commodity, despite having only four career starts.


Dullahan Dale Romans Click Here!

Even the Score—Mining My Own, by Smart Strike

Love him or hate him, he should have no excuses in the Blue Grass Stakes, having won the Breeders’ Futurity over this track and coming off a terrific 3-year-old debut, in which he was a strong second to Howe Great in the Palm Beach on grass. Regardless of what he does in the Blue Grass there still will be questions surrounding him, especially because he has only his fourth-place finish in the BC Juvenile to go by on the dirt. I feel he showed enough in the Juvenile to convince me that dirt and Churchill Downs will not be an issue. I can just picture him picking up horses with that big move and huge stride of his and motoring down the stretch. He’s still as intriguing a future book horse as there is, and looks to be a bargain in the final Future Wager pool.


Daddy Nose Best Steve Asmussen Click Here!

Scat Daddy—Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch

As the big guns run well in their major preps, he fades a bit in the minds of horseplayers. But I still like this colt, and his Derby odds are climbing steadily with every race the others run. I just love the way he’s progressing, and he showed a lot in his two stakes victories this year, even though it was against moderate competition. I like the way this horse looks and acts and his determination in the stretch. He’s certainly not going to back down from a fight. Like Dullahan, I would definitely play him in the future book and hope for a killing. There’s a lot to like about him.


Went the Day Well Graham MotionClick Here!

Proud Citizen—Tiz Maie’s Day, by Tiznow

He’s another who will be forgotten because his final Derby prep was six weeks out from the big race and people just don’t know much about him. This is a much stronger group than the one Animal Kingdom beat last year. But he’s a beautiful moving horse who is improving with every start; he has the pedigree to get the distance; and he has no problem shrugging off traffic, as he showed in the Spiral when he had horses all around him and it didn’t faze him in the slightest. He also has finished first or second on dirt, grass, and synthetic, so he’s pretty adaptable.


Leave a Comment:

Karen in Indiana

Hi Steve, Big Brown was a horse that I know you really liked a lot, but the last few years have had what looked like weak crops with almost every race having a new winner and few, if any, repeat winners. What do you think about this year's batch?

09 Apr 2012 6:49 PM

Daddy Nose Best is not in the top 10 ?  What more does the horse have to do to get some respect ?  No horse in the Derby is bred better for the distance.

09 Apr 2012 6:50 PM

Steve - I gotta tell you. They run that race again (or in the Derby) and Gemologist won't be in front of Alpha. Forget the wide and the steadied and everything else. They were clearly the best horses. (ps - My Adonis is a wet rack horse)Alpha was under some whip pressure, but was also a short horse on a not-so-speed favoring track. Don't let 5 for 5 cloud your good judgement. This horse SCREEEEEEEAMS 1 1/4mi.

09 Apr 2012 7:06 PM

My top ten turn into a dozen, adding Another and Gem.  Hoping to make it a baker's dozen next week with Bodemeister.

Instead, I decided to hand out my "After Easter Dark Chocolate Bunny With One Ear Bitten Off" awards.

1. Biggest Heart: little Jackson Bend.

2. Best Duel: I'll Have Another and Creative Cause

3. Smoothest and Most Dominating Performance: Lady of Shamrock

4. Best Impersonation of a Paddle Boat: Gemologist

5. Worst "I'm squished on the rail and how the hell do I get out of here?" Trip: Alpha

6. Most Anonymous Winner: Done Talking (I won't say a word about the time because I heard Done Talking has spent the last 2 months watching training films of Mine That Bird.)

7. Best Jockey: Mr.5,000 wins, Mike Smith. (now do it on Bodemeister, Mike!)

8. Best "Thank you for the Eclipse award." memory: Amazombie

9. Best (and fastest) legs on a Filly: Broadway's Alibi.

10. Best in Show and Biggest Show-off: LAVA MAN, the only lead pony who needed a lead pony of his own. Eleven years old and he's still a "wild and crazy guy". Luv ya, Baby!

09 Apr 2012 7:07 PM
Smarty Jones Jr.

Come on Steve?  Creative Cause #1? Your love of him only rivals your love of Astrology in last years derby dozen.

How can a horse who has "LOST" 2 out of his 3 preps be #1?!  Five out of your top 6 have been "whipped" like stepchildren (including Gemologist) in the stretch, only Union Rags has basically not been "asked" or "been all out", which presents a peak performance is coming for a improving 3yo May 5th.

Alpha got short end of the wood "stick", jammed up in turn one killed chances.  Gemologist ran hard, from "whipped" urging, but his ears flopping back and forth makes him seem focused challenged.

If I were connections of El Padrino, I would still be fuming at the pace not being pressed in Fl Derby, now it appears a very promising colt may miss the Kentucky Derby all together?!?

Wonder if Lexington or Jerome may be on there radar???

09 Apr 2012 7:14 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Barbara Parkins

   Here's my Derby Dozen list that you requested.

1. I'll Have Another- Holds down the number one spot for the Fifth week in a row after prevailing in a scintillating stretch duel, knockdown, dragout bar room brawl in the SA Derby. Pedigree is a sight to behold.

2. Hansen- The Champ is being underestimated.

3. Gemologist- Easily won the last battle with a diamond cutter.

4. Creative Cause- He will always give it his all.

5. Bodemeister- Possible monster.

6. Alpha- Had a little trouble and still almost won.

7. El Padrino- If he gets in he could redeem himself.

8. Secret Circle- If he wins at 9f he could really be something.

9. Daddy Nose Best- Was 2nd in his debut, on the CD dirt beating Dullahan. Most of his races have been on the turf but looks more like a dirt horse that can win on any surface.

10. Daddy Long Legs- Crawled all over his opponents in the desert as if he was a tarantula.

11. Optimizer- Puts in another like his last and he's on his way.

12. Take Charge Indy- Probably should be higher but there are too many good ones.

13. Union Rags- Trouble, trouble, trouble.

14. Ever So Lucky- Would love to see Sheppard in The Derby

15. Done Talking- The time was slow but I like his stride and pedigree.

09 Apr 2012 7:37 PM

My favorites are starting to come together thanks in part to your astute observations and expertise, Steve.

Gotta Love Gemologist and Take Charge Indy because of their performances and their relatives.  

I am drawn to Daddy Nose Best because of his heart and Secret Circle too.

Sure hope Hansen does well in the Bluegrass.  Wouldn't it be a thrill to see a white streak flying in the Kentucky Derby.

No expertise on this end just having fun.

09 Apr 2012 7:42 PM
Carlos in Cali

El Padrino is still on my short-list.After running big in his prior races this year he was kinda' flat in the FL.Derby like you mentioned.I think he gets back to his proper form and might even improve.

I'm just hoping the connections for Wrote,Sabercat,Liaison,Trinniberg,Drill and Rousing Sermon come to their senses and opt-out of a demanding race they can not win,IMO.. so that El Padrino could somehow make the Derby field as he's currently #22 on the earnings list.

09 Apr 2012 8:20 PM

Good list Steve. Here's my top 11. #1 C. Cause. #2 Gemologist #3 IHA #4 Take Charge Indy #5 Daddy Nose Best #6 Union Rags #7 Hansen #8 Went The Day Well #9 Alpha #10 Bodeimeister #11 Howe Great. I like your analysis of Creative Cause. He has never finished worse than 3rd and expect him to crack the top 3 in the Derby. With his tactical speed and grinding style, he should like you say, stay close enough and grind pass much of the elite horses as his 1 1/4 pedigree kicks in. He never runs a clunker. I also like Daddy Nose Best and Went the Day well at big odds as a possible Derby upset. 2 more big preps left steve, let the games begin.

09 Apr 2012 8:39 PM

  This list of 12 is commendable, the order of the 12 is however far from acceptable. Why you can’t see passed the fab overrated “BC 3”--in your case with continued loyalty to “Dullahan” being thusly the “BC Juv. 4”--and seemingly can’t seem to accept the fact that both “Creative Cause”, lost to a horse that he had previously passed and that not only looked him the eye but turned it around and beat him and you rank him lower ?, or that of your continued 2nd choice who lost by a relatively huge margin in the Fla. Derby, and that “Dullahan” having been defeated by a horse you refuse to even add to your list,--though in his case “HOWE GREAT”  hasn’t as of yet made the needed coveted earnings, and thusly might not even make a Kty. Derby appearance,--I don’t see why you refuse to concede to the fact that “BC 3-4” have been surpassed by other horses that have grown-up around them and that possibly only “Hansen” at this point still deserves to hold a place in your’s or anyone’s top 5 !!

   Right now, I am debating whether I will even play either “Creative Cause” or “Union Rags” for 2nd in the upcoming Kty. Derby at this point, forget winning. ((And actually, I am glad the likes of sports writers keep touting them so highly as that should only increase the odds over the rest of the field.)) Breeding wise, “Hansen”, “Bodemeister”, and “I’ll Have Another” all rank higher than “Creative Cause” and are way higher than “Union Rags” and although I personally am still in love with “Take Charge Indy” and his promising 5 weeks off before the Kty. Derby and breedingwise possibly rated below “Creative Cause”, he still ranks higher than “Union Rags” to me, and that besides breedingwise !!!.

   But, “Went the Day Well” also beat “Animal Kingdom’s” time in the Spiral; “Daddy Nose Best” ran near faster than all and all in much thinner air, except of course in the phenominally obvious SA Derby and personally, I am still awaiting for what “Howe Great” might yet bring to the dance. Yes, everyone deserves their own opinion, but having observed your continued loyalty to the “BC 3” for so long this season and seeing them still as number #1 and #2 ?, I think that you have lost some prospective on the bigger picture and I personally do not see a chance in *^(*%$ where those two finish 1-2 in the coming Kty. Derby.

09 Apr 2012 9:01 PM

Steve, agree its difficult to separate the top horses.  I'd move Alpha down as he hasn't run (well) outside of New York. Do you think I'll have another or Alpha will bounce off all their time off between races and how hard they worked?

09 Apr 2012 9:03 PM
Mike Monarchos


I agree totally with your assessment of Gemologist.

He was 5 wide in the first turn and very wide down the backstretch! He was wide until he took the lead and lugged in a little. He had to run at least 50-75 feet more than Alpha. I didn't notice his ears go up, but that's cool if he knows where the wire is. He dug in when Alpha got close like his dad Tiznow did in both of his Classic wins. He gets his smarts from Tiz. I have watched Tiznow's grooms at WinStar Farm throw a stick in his stall and he goes and gets it and brings it back like a dog. It's funny to watch. It would be great to have a Derby winner by Tiz. I painted a painting of Tiz beating Giant's Causeway in the 2000 B.C. Classic. The painting is signed by Tiz and Chris McCarren. Now I need to paint one of him winning the 2001 Classic over Sakhee and Albert the Great. I paint alot better than I handicap. One of these days I'll hit a big Derby tri or super though. Your Derby workout reports will help me do it. Thanks for doing those! We really appreciate them and your weekly Derby Dozen picks.

09 Apr 2012 9:18 PM


You are absolutely correct that Creative Cause is NOT a solid #1. A colt that is a grinder, losing so often and going done in a stretch duel in which he had every winning chance, does not deserve the top spot, seriously Steve. Creative Cause should be no higher than #5 right now and possiblly #6.

An objective look at all the Prep races run so far including where the colts have run against each other, plus the training-to-peak trajectory should point to the Union Rags as the undisputed #1 colt. Such a position would be much easier for you to defend with your credibility safely in tact. Anyway I hear you saying that the present rankings are still being pondered.

Gemologist looks like a clear #2. This colt has so many positives. He has good tactical speed, is versatile, is a fighter and most of all has the heart and will to win of a champion thoroughbred. As a son of Tiznow he is only going to get much better with each race and added distance. Also looking at the numbers pertaining to the Graded Earnings qualifiers, he may be Todd Pletcher's one and only silver bullet in this year's Kentucky Derby (sharp focus and undivided attention from the Top conditioner).

To my mind your position would be impregnable with these two comandeering the summit of your Derby Dozen.

09 Apr 2012 9:21 PM

I'll Have Another is my number 1. He has guts and his breeding says he can go 1 1/4 miles.

Thanks for your support of Mario. He learned up here at Hastings Racecourse, it's a bull ring and you need to be a quick thinker when riding here. We're all so proud and happy for him and the place will be going nuts on Kentucky Derby day.

09 Apr 2012 9:45 PM


   This crop is another one that doesn't wanna carry 126 lbs. The iron horse is gone.

   Gemologist, with his Northern Dancer breeding, should get a perfect stalking trip and should be able to pick up the pieces at 3-1 or 7-2. Alpha is also very good and I'll take a real shot at him at 6-1 or higher.

09 Apr 2012 9:49 PM

Carlos in Cali,

While I agree with you that El Padrino would stand a great shot in the Derby, his chances of getting in is looking quite remote unless the connections decide to run him again, which could work out: you never know.

Howe Great is coming to take down Hansen and once again repel Dullahan in the Blue Grass this weekend. This is the real grass-to-dirt danger horse this year (in the non-appearance of Exothermic).

I notice that you despise the ever looming presence of the fleetfooted Trinniberg. You may need to offer a prayer to stop Derby fever from putting in the line-up on May 5. That would be a thrill for me because I think that this colt can surprise many, including his connections by carrying that speed a looong way.  I can also see why you're worried about that: your "white Corvette" aka Hansen might be made to look like a jolopy when the Lambuorghini aka Trinniberg hits cruise control (LOL).

Dont get me wrong though, in the final analysis it will be the roaring of the Ferrari aka Union Rags that wins the day. Stay cool my friend.  

09 Apr 2012 9:51 PM
Smarty Jones Jr.

Wow, I can only hope that some of the mentioned "derby dozen" picks I see above are backed up on derby day with cash!!!  And, the opinions are forced upon their friends to do the same......

If that is the case, it should be a profitable May 5th, for the rest of us.

Here is basically the top 12 so far, no "pipe" dreams, no "trying to find next Giacomo" and"sentimental picks"

1.  Union Rags      monster colt peaking

                              has A+ trainer, a nose from

                              Churchill win, while green in

                              stretch. Works should b picking

                              up pace leading to Derby.

2.  Gemologist.     undefeated, Winstar colt ala

                              Super Saver.  Smart trainer

3.  Daddy Nose.    Proven stakes winner, will be

    Best.                 picking up pieces from the

                              "speed" at end.

4.  Dullahan.         Expecting good run Sat., raced

                              at Churchill, against the best and

                              was not embarrassed.

5.  CC.                    Proven at Churchill, no distance

                              issues, just not sure if he is case

                              "tail wagging dog", with this

                              blinker fiasco

6-12.                       Who cares?!?!?!?!

*as always Churchill works will "trump" all

09 Apr 2012 9:53 PM

Daddy Long Legs has shown the most stamina so far in my opinion on a track where some good horses failed on that day,Mr Tabor is very high on him as well.He's my pick for some good odds and i'm hoping we're not seeing an exceptional bunch but rather an evenly matched bunch.What you say Mr Haskin you don't even speak of him.Wrote and that french horse were'nt exactly shabby.

09 Apr 2012 9:55 PM

Steve, readers, I think I watched Creative Cause slam on the brakes when the whip was used, then re-rally because he is a good horse.  Am I imagining this?  I watched the race live and my connection is bad enough that I can't get a good replay but I swear that horse was moving steadily forward, the jock hit him, and he stopped moving forward, as if to say, "I'm moving already, am I supposed to be doing something else?"  That aside, all credit to I'll Have Another, excellent race and deserved win.  The question now, as another posed, is whether it was the type of effort that produces the feared bounce.

I was very pleased to see Done Talking win, and have the sense he runs as fast as is necessary, and that the long stretch at CD could be to his benefit.

I am liking Hansen more and more and look forward to the Blue Grass, even though I'm not sure it will tell us anything.  He is a beautiful horse and I love watching him run.

Right now if I had to pick a KD winner, it would be Went The Day Well, assuming he is in the gate. I think Hansen would be a close but tired second and Union Rags third if he avoids the troubled trip.  Then again, this is pure guess-ology :)

This year's competitors are talented and it is a fun spring stakes season.

09 Apr 2012 10:09 PM

I like Dr. Drunkinbum's list! I'll Have Another seems to be peaking at the right time.  I love his total come-from-behind-in-life story.  From an $11,000 yearling, to a $35,000 2 yo in training to near the top on everyone's list of Derby contenders. "Overlooked" because of some conformational flaw, now, he's "priceless"!  

I, along with many of Matz' fans would love for him to get his Barbaro II, and for that reason alone I hope Union Rags gets there. Comments I've read keep finding "excuses" whenever UR hasn't performed like they think he should: his "bad trips"..."he got crowded", "he got boxed in"....jeeeez!  I've got news for him, you ain't seen nuthin' like the bad trip you are likely to get in the Derby! Practically guaranteed!

I still don't think most people gave Hansen the credit he deserved in the Gotham, along with the amazing display of horsemanship by his trainer with those huge adjustments. Topping that off with Hansen showing the ability to rate and settle...maybe it's more common than I know, but I think it's pretty remarkable for a horse, a champion no less, to be able to make those kinds of adjustments and to grow and mature so much in 1 short month!  Gotta love Dr. Hansen, too.  In an interview recently, Dr. Hansen admitted it's all getting to him...his hands are trembling....hope he's not performing surgery!  

09 Apr 2012 10:20 PM

Steve, why do I get the feeling some attempt to get a rise out of you?

Did you notice the gallop out of CREATIVE CAUSE compared to I'LL HAVE ANOTHER?  Better yet, PAYNTER had a better gallop out than I'LL HAVE ANOTHER.  PAYNTER is a monster in the making, 2nd career race is the SA DERBY and places 4th???

I was so impressed with GEMOLOGIST stretching out when ALPHA pressed.  He's got some brains in my opinion, sort of a high IQ horse.  Could explain his multi-tasking during the race.



EL PADRINO (I'm loving the direction his odds are going!)










Reserve opinion for this weekend:





09 Apr 2012 10:41 PM
El Kabong

And then there were twelve.

Well Now, given that only 3 of the Dozen are even going to run between now and May 5th, and all but one are in win or lose, one might say this is it.  Yet there is one on the list that is riding the bubble boy. So while  one might say this is it if all were square and the mail was delivered rain or shine, this list would appear to be quite complete.

Not so fast,  Newwwwmann!

You've left out the son English Channel, the grand son of AP Indy who still has a closing chance to prove he is Derby Worthy. While much appears to BODE well for the son of Pulpit, I will place my hard earned Drachmas on yet another son of the influential  Mr. Prospector line to tip the fruit stand over and Kramer his way into the dirty dozen with a late run down the Laney, Yada yada yada, and Optimizer gets in.

Giddy Up!

09 Apr 2012 11:34 PM

I have real respect for I'll Have Another's last race and for all of Hansen's races. But what about the Irish horse, Daddy Long Legs? If he shows up on the first Saturday in May, there could be a European winner this year.

09 Apr 2012 11:46 PM
Steve Haskin

Oldie, you have uncovered my next comment and issue with Creative Cause, which I decided to wait until next week’s Dozen to write, so it doesn’t get lost. CC drifted out at a crucial point when Rosario hit him and cost him valuable momentum. Its obvious he cant keep away from the whip, which really irks me. As I said, I go into detail on that next week. Stay tuned.

Freetex -- “No expertise on this end just having fun.” That’s the most refreshing thing I’ve read in a while. Thank you

10 Apr 2012 12:08 AM
Steve Haskin

BigTex, “Steve, why do I get the feeling some attempt to get a rise out of you?” – What makes you think that? :)  First off, it takes a lot to get a rise out of me. I realize some people are not content to simply offer their opinion. They feel compelled to state emphatically that other people’s opinions are dead wrong and they have no credibility. You don’t have to travel far to see evidence of that. As long as there are no personal insults, I allow people to say what they want, even if they do come across as  obnoxious.

10 Apr 2012 12:18 AM

So tough to separate the top 12, I think, all having a legitimate shot to hit the board. Not too much variation from who has been on my list for the past two months which is encouraging. Took some time shuffling the list around, and the top 6 you have listed are definitely the biggest competition, but I tried to play it from a better betting standpoint:

1-Union Rags (hope Julien has him moving in time, and more people doubt him at the window)

2-I'll Have Another (hard to knock him, biggest chance to win..?)

3-Take Charge Indy (getting really good at right time, and will be dangerous/popular with Borel)

4-Daddy Nose Best (I like his pedigree; possibly peaking at the right time)

5-Alpha (big chance he will hit the board, also hard to fault- took really hard hit on the rail to check and still just missed)

6-Creative Cause (gutsy each race- wondering if he will bounce, but could certainly hit the board)

7-Gemologist (hasn't done much wrong- but will it be enough experience for Derby?)

8-Hansen (still not convinced yet; bitter about UR losing and silly but I don't like the name- all I think of is that terrible band)

9-Secret Circle (keep being impressed by him- is he another The Factor or can he go longer?)

10-El Pardino (I hope he has enough earnings to make it- he bounces after 2 huge efforts and his band wagon deflates?)

11-Mark Valeski (what happened to him on everyone's list? Not sure he can get the 1 1/4 but he should be close)

12-Optimizer (improving nicely; would also like to see Lucas back at the Derby)

13-Went the Day Well (don't think he's as good as AK, but Motion wouldn't have him here if he didn't have a good shot)

14-Prospective (tough horse with good chance hit the board at a nice price)

15-Dullahan (hope to see more continued improvement)

...and rounding out the field of 20 (+1 extra) are the last five with the biggest questions to answer (Howe Great, Sabrecat,  Liason, Reveron, Trinniberg, Done Talking)

10 Apr 2012 1:11 AM

Come home time of the Wood, 13.1 doesn't stand up well against Rags FD or CC and I'll Have Another SAD but I heard Aqueduct played slow that day.  However, I loved the way Gemologist did it and boy did he remind me of his dad!  He won't get in the Derby field, but I was impressed with Paynter's 4th in the SAD; he was really flying at the end and didn't have the best of trips.  I'm hoping Bodemeister gets the needed graded earnings to get in; he looks like the best chance for BB this year.  I'm sure Creative Cause will be in the mix, but I don't see him #1.  He's always right there but doesn't get to the wire 1st often enough for me.

I'm sticking with Union Rags for #1; he is a beautiful mover and I loved the way he was eating up the track the last 8th.  All indication are that Michael Matz will have him ready to peak on Derby Day.  I'm moving Gemologist way up to #2 because it looked like he was playing around a bit and there was more in the tank.  No question his pedigree says he can get the distance.  No disrespect to Zarvona, but my interpretation of Hansen's pedigree does NOT make that horse superior to Union Rags to get a distance of ground and while I can appreciate his speed and tenacity, I think Hansen's running style will compromise him after the 8th pole.  And while I'm looking forward to his next race, and despite Animal Kingdom's win last year, I don't like seeing his final prep on a synthetic track.

I just realized I left I'll Have Another out; I've gotta be impressed how tough he was after an 8-week layoff but am concerned about the "bounce" factor rearing it's ugly head in 4 weeks.  And regarding Daddy Long Legs; his UAE Derby win was impressive, but horses prepping in Dubai don't have a good record in the Derby.

10 Apr 2012 1:19 AM

I always appreciate your derby dozen lists, Steve.

Unfortunately, it looks like the preps here in Louisiana will not factor as much as last year, when Nehro and MMM completed the KD tri after doing the same in New Orleans. The cheap speed dominated this meet, as evidenced by a 109-1er winning the LA Derby. (Not to mention Nate's Mineshaft turning into a monster over this oval.) Meanwhile, Mark Valeski and El Padrino both took major step backs in their last preps, so I can't see them seriously contending.

I like the bottom 3 on your list, at least as solid plays to round out the KD exotics, though that might be my local bias: Louisiana native Kent Desormeaux on Dullahan and local trainer Steve Asmussen's Daddy Nose Best. Also, Went the Day Well looked better in this Spiral than AK last year, so why not run with it?

Altogether, it is looking like a wide-open derby.

10 Apr 2012 2:13 AM

I really like Gemologist, he really does resemble his sire Tiznow. The only thing about him that has me concerned is the paddling.

I hope Zenyatta gets a chance to go to Tiznow, but not this season, as I heard she is going to Tapit.

10 Apr 2012 2:20 AM
The Deacon

Excellent observations by you Steve on this post. It seems that you are really into this year. We have some very nice 3 year olds for a change.  Truth is for me any one of 14 horses could win the Kentucky Derby. All seem to be peaking at the right time. Let's see how hansen does this week in the Blue Grass Stakes.  

If all else we can defer to the horse who is a proven winner on the Churchill Downs racing surface, meaning we know Hansen and Union Rags love the footing. But racing on that surface in November may be different then

running on it in May......

This is turning into a very exciting Derby trail. Cross our fingers and hope all horses remain healthy and make it to the race......

10 Apr 2012 3:04 AM

Steve, CC #1?

He is a very nice Colt, well breed; seems he lacks "the heart of a champion"....

El Padrino was overrated in the his last win, it showed in the FD.

10 Apr 2012 4:38 AM

I agree for what it's worth with your top six picks, Steve, though it's so hard right now to choose from among them.  I'd love to know your call for the most recent KY Derby with comparably many top contenders only one month away.

10 Apr 2012 5:36 AM
Rusty Weisner

I’m most interested in playing the overlapping fifty-cent Pick 4 and Pick 5 sequences, both of which are anchored by the Derby.  Unfortunately, this year I don’t like the setup for it, even if I’ve enjoyed the quality of the prep races.  Ideally, on a multi-race ticket there’s an undeserving favorite to play a lot of horses against, like last year.  Barring that, I feel like the next best thing is when there’s a deserving favorite (e.g., Street Sense, Big Brown), when I can play two tickets off each other, one keying the favorite, one going wide against same favorite.  This year, however, we have a few deserving near co-favorites, and stabs at longshots are thus all the more likely wasted money.  We also have a key race in the Breeder’s Cup that will hold up to form.  So I’ll have to bite my knuckles and try to toss some horses, even categories of horses, even if I think they are plausible winners.

One of the first such horses I’ll probably toss, with some anxiety, is Take Charge Indy.  He looks like War Emblem, and I think Borel might try the same front-running “gambit” in this race (what better way to ride the rail unimpeded).  There’s a difference, though:  War Emblem had a 120 Beyer coming into the Derby.  With Borel, the odds won’t be good, either.  Above all, I feel I have to deprecate him because he benefited from a bias, as evidenced by Reveron.  You don’t always get a chance to play off a real bias, so I’m going to try to stick to my conviction about what I saw in the Florida Derby.

For the same reason, I’ll consider Union Rags one of the legitimate co-favorites.  More eye-catching than the bias was the ride, during which he was clearly uncomfortable, particularly on the turn when he started backing up.  It reminded me uncannily of a race a long time ago that taught me what a bias was, the Tesio Stakes my namesake lost as a result of both the track and the bad ride he got (and consequently went off at 46-1 in the Preakness, to go back again to a year I remember fondly).   I’ll watch UR’s workouts (thanks for the tip, Steve Haskin) and, presuming they’re promising, will knock on wood for a decent trip for him.  I hope Padrino doesn’t make the cut, as I really don’t want to put this horse on my tickets – he reminds me of too many horses from Derbies past I’ve forgotten the names of -- but would feel leery leaving him off in light of the fact that he beat TCI.

Unless I he has ML odds over 20-1 I’ll toss Daddy Nose Best, who beat a weak field as the beneficiary of a pace setup and will have six weeks between that and the Derby.  Going on the principle that lightning doesn’t strike twice, I’ll toss Went the Day Well, too.  I hate feeling I have to include the de rigueur no-dirt-form European invader, but in this case Daddy Long Legs has won at 1 3/16 mile and I’ll probably keep him.  Then again, maybe I’ll have the guts to toss him.  I won’t take Bodemeister.  Other, unmentioned horses are more obvious throwouts.  I don't think Done Talking can win, but I have a funny feeling, maybe sentimental, that he'll grind it out to make the superfecta.

Of course, the condition of the track will figure a lot.  Last year’s Derby is seared in my mind, more for the way the track played than for all the money I lost (not an extraordinary occurrence, after all).  I remember the day was still, humid and portentous with rain.  Maybe that explains why all the horses on the lead in dirt races died so badly in the stretch to be mowed down by horses on the outside:  Bind, Hilda’s Passion, Shackleford, all the way through Streakin’ Mohican in the last race (I got wise to the track halfway through the day, enough to include Animal Kingdom on my tickets, but was knocked out of my Pick 4 earlier); like I said, burned in my brain.  If the track is fair at all to speed this year I’ll have to include the possibility of a front-running winner in TCI or Hansen (I liked Ranagulzion’s bold touting of Trinniberg in this respect), and deprecate the turfy horses and/or the ones off the pace like Dullahan, Alpha, Went the Day Well.  Hansen’s odds are going to be nice, because he’s probably going to be coming off a loss in the Blue Grass on a synthetic track where the pattern every year is the turf-like charge at the end; he’ll also be sharp.  Pedigree schmedigree, I’ll pony up some money just for the possible thrill of watching the white flame try to wire the field.

Anyway, come Derby week I’ll look forward to everyone’s tips and analysis of the undercard to try to find a key.

Please don’t rain.

10 Apr 2012 7:05 AM


You have the leader right.

The issue they will all have to deal with is post position.

The only two horses who have run fast enough to win when carrying top weight are Creative Cause and I’ll Have Another.

Those who think Gemologist and Union Rags are that great, should ask themselves whether they would pick  Teeth of the Dog and Neck ‘n Neck to hit the board in the Kentucky Derby, if by some miracle they got in. They were only 3 lengths behind Gemologist and Union Rags.

10 Apr 2012 7:06 AM

I'm surprised, based on both this list and the one prior, that you're not more interested in Daddy Long Legs, Steve.  He seems like the kind of a horse you'd be intrigued by, especially at his likely price.

10 Apr 2012 7:18 AM

1. Creative Cause

2. Gemologist

3. Alpha

4. Daddy Nose Best

5. Bodemeister

6. Union Rags

7. I'll Have Another

8. Take Charge Indy

9. El Padrino

10. Hansen

Take Charge Indy

10 Apr 2012 7:39 AM
Steve Haskin

Snake, who said I'm not intrigued by Daddy Long Legs? I'm just not using up one of the precious top 12 spots for him. He still has to prove his horrible performance in the BC Juvenile was not a true indicator how he handles dirt and Churchill Downs. I think Ballydoyle deserves to make an impact on the Derby, as they do the BC Classic, considering how long they have supported both.

10 Apr 2012 7:40 AM
Steve Haskin

Jersey Boy, unfortunately, I think you've open yourself up for rebuttal by the UR and Gemologist supporters, who could bring up the same point regarding Blueskiesnrainbows, who was a lot closer than 3 lengths.

10 Apr 2012 7:44 AM

Great handicapping and another terrific article Mr. Haskin.

What about  some other angles to the Derby? What about the most winning jockey in the Derby and his mount, Take Charge Indy? He certainly looked like he wanted to take charge in the Florida when he was in the show ring.

And another factor is that I'll Have Another has a second trainer and pony: Lava Man. Doug O'Neil says that having Lava Man as his pony is like having "Arnold Palmer as a caddy". I'll bet Lava Man has taught him a thing or two.

10 Apr 2012 7:45 AM

I'm glad that none of my chosen few have been given the poison chalice of "Derby Favourite" and that's a blessing. This crop appears to be of rare vintage but only further maturing will settle this assumption.

Not sure what to make of the Blue Grass Stakes these days. It was once THE prep race to win but now it's just another race with 'big graded stakes earnings' writ large.

With all the excitement leading up to the Derby with these exceptional runners I do hope the barrier draw does not detract from what could a truly 'Derby to be remembered.' Racing deserves some 'luck.'

10 Apr 2012 7:51 AM

Sorry but have to agree on a few you have too high up. I'll have another will not get a free front running trip in a field of 20. Someone is going to press him harder along the way. He'll get pushed again down the stretch. A lot of front runners fold and there is usually 2 or 3 running them down without mercy. Also will be interesting to see if anyone runs at Hanson this week. Rags was all over him in the BCJ and Gemologist looked like he was toying with Alpha at the wire. I think if either of those 2 gets a decent trip, not to mention Creative Cause, there is our winner.

10 Apr 2012 7:53 AM
Steve Haskin

Golden Broom, what do mean by free front-running trip? Which of his two races this year were front-running? Wasn't Blueskiesnrainbows on a clear lead in the SA Derby? And didnt he have a 2-3 length lead on the far turn? Also, how do you know for sure what kind of trip he or anyone is going to get in the Derby?

10 Apr 2012 8:04 AM

I think Alpha got a great prep for a race like the Derby minus a large field.Being inside checked, running between horses and I can see he was running well within himself for another furlong.If he stays sound I think he will run in at least two if not three races of the triple crown.I think Gemologist showed he likes to win,but he started in post 6 in an 8 horse field so other than when the speed cut in front his race was mostly in the clear.In the last Derby futures Gemologist was bet down to 12-1 which is an underlay considering Alpha closed at 21-1.

10 Apr 2012 8:27 AM

Anyone notice how everyone has Bodemeister somewhere in there list even though he has only 3 lifetime starts and a maiden win... just goes to show you that handicappers have adjusted to those "old rules" that use to say you have to do this or do that to win the KY Derby. I mean 10 years ago people wouldn't give this horse a shot to win the roses. It also shows that this is a horse that looks totally full of talent. If he runs big under Mike Smith at Oaklawn this coming weekend and wins the Ark Derby in a solid time including come home fractions there are going to be a whole lot of "wiseguys" picking this horse to win the Ky Derby. He is without a doubt the best chance Baffert has at winning the roses this year. I admire the will to win of Secret Circle but no way that horse gets a 1 1/4 unless the race is run at about 2:05 and change. I am looking forward to seeing how Mike Smith rides him with all his patience and HOF experience he may fit a fast talented horse like a glove and do something that has not been able to be done in a long long time and that is win the Ky Derby with no 2 year experience. I mean lets be honest they way trainers prep horses and run them so sparely would it really surprise anyone out there? Maybe 10 years ago but not today... Good luck at the windows everyone.

10 Apr 2012 8:46 AM

Why is anyone still talking about El Padrino ?

10 Apr 2012 8:53 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

You're right Steve. I just watched the SA replay. I didn't even think about it when I watched it live but the whip very well could have cost Creative Cause the race. There was no reason for it either other than jockey panic. It looked like Creative Cause was just about to take off on his own then veered right because of the left handed whip and even lost a little focus. Creative Cause is a fighter and is sending a clear message that he doesn't want or need the whip. It's really a case of a jockey not knowing his horse. I just watched the San Felipe and the same thing happened. I wonder if Rosario and Harrington didn't learn from that one since Creative Cause won the race anyway. I had already started liking Creative Cause even more prior to the SA Derby after seeing once again that he always has the demeanor of a champion ready to run his heart out. Jockey instructions- "Do not take the whip to Creative Cause under any circumstances, he will give it his all on his own, and win on his own, following a straight path. If you whip him all you're going to do is make him veer." I understand why you have him number one, Steve. I don't think we've seen the best of him yet, and won't until the whip isn't used. I also think we haven't seen the best of I'll Have Another. I think he's just getting started. I just watched the San Vicente. Creative Cause veered everytime he got whipped !!! Wake up Rosario. In the Norfolk, 10-1-11, it looked like Rosario whipped him once with the left hand and Creative Cause veered right but won anyway. McFly !!!!! Anybody home?

10 Apr 2012 8:56 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Even in the BC Juv it looks like the same thing. Who's to say CC wouldn't have won that too without the whip. He veered at least twice because of the whip. Once right and once left that I saw.

10 Apr 2012 9:09 AM

I really think the Breeders Cup Juvenile should be ignored. Yes, I know the runners have come back to win all over the world.

However, the chances of seeing those track conditions on derby day are impossible.

The surface was not good Breeders Cup day and I think there is no reason to handicap any advantage for running on that surface in November.

I think Union Rags will finally be cranked on Derby Day. He may not win but I can't see him finishing up the track.

10 Apr 2012 9:17 AM

First, Steve, I always look forward to reading your articles.  Thank you so much for your interesting inside look at this sport.  My question is, why did Castellano put so much effort into "race riding" Union Rags in the Florida Derby.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel that tactic jeopardized El Padrino's chances of getting to the Derby.  It didn't matter what Union Rags did.  He is in with no problem.  Even if El Padrino had got up for 2nd or 3rd he would be in a better position than he is now.  I just can't wrap my head around that race.

10 Apr 2012 9:36 AM
Pedigree Ann

I agree that the Louisiana preps were less than sterling this year. El Padrino ran the same race in Florida and was beaten.  

Oh, and do you folks remember that in the Remsen last year that Done Talking was closing rapidly to finish only a head behind El Padrino? His comeback race in the Gotham was uncharacteristically dull, but the real Done Talking showed up in Chicago. Not a Derby win candidate, but when the miler-breds are stopping in the stretch, he will be running by them - definitely tri and super material.

Daddy Nose Best hasn't had a class test yet; been running in the second tier preps.

Daddy Long Legs didn't handle real dirt very well in the BC Juvie last year. Handle with care.

Can't see how anybody can prefer Hansen over Creative Cause on pedigree. Tapit needs lots of stamina in the dam (like the turfer Owlsley) to get a distance horse; Giant's Causeway got 10f and has sired many more distance horses. Hansen's female side had not produced a SW in 5 generations; CC's dam was a G1 winner around 2 turns, from a line of SWs. Hansen's damsire was a G2 turf miler who sired nothing much in North America; CC's damsire was a dirt G1 winner at 10f who has sired a dirt G1 winner at 10f. Want to go second damsire? Hansen's was a hot 2yo/early 3yo who didn't stretch out or sire much; CC's won the BC Classic and sired 10f G1 winners.

10 Apr 2012 10:19 AM

As I've said before, the best horse doesn't always win the race. Just take the Wood, Yes, Gemologist does have the heart like his sire but the best was Alpha. I cringe everytime the Gem takes a step, but who knows how the end of the story will be. He may be another John Henry with legs coming out of every hole except the right ones. Alpha deserves accolades for his run but he didn't deserve the lashing he got. They never do. It was run in a very slow time on a track labeled as fast but really should have been good

The SA was an exciting race as usual with the Ca. tracks. Lightning fast, with fast horses unlike the seeming plodders from the East coast. Two evenly matched horses with a lot of try.

Your list, always entertaining and superbly written, is what I wait for every week. The comments are equally entertaining, although increasinly subjective and borderline testy.

Although, I adore that white horse without reserve, the one horse who could take it all in May is Optimizer. If he can get his kinks worked out and gets a clear run at the end he will win. A lot of "ifs" but right now that's all there is with any of them.

10 Apr 2012 10:20 AM

@SLEW - Couldn't agree more with your comments about Jackson Bend and Lava Man. Love both of them. The Kentucky Derby is always just a little bit better when you have D.Wayne Lucas involved so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping Optimizer gets the graded earnings he needs to make the cut.

10 Apr 2012 10:38 AM

Steve, do you think any of the bubble horses will take a shot in the Lexington or Jerome in a last ditch effort to make the KD?  El Padrino, Mark Valeski, Went the Day Well and others seem to be in the left out category?  I was ridiculed by a few a couple of weeks back for posting it may take 300k to make the gate this year, but it looks like that'll be the magic number if not a bit higher.  I'm still looking for a confirmed closer for this year after Street Life flopped in the Wood.  Hoping Najjaar can come from the clouds this week and get in the derby picture.

10 Apr 2012 10:46 AM

Someone explain to me how El Padrino and Bodemeister can be in this top 12 list but on the verge of not making the Derby due to graded earnings...

10 Apr 2012 10:58 AM


Thanks for not giving up on Prospective...can't wait until Blue Grass. I saw this colt race in Sam D and TB Derby and was impressed...not fastest but didn't do anything wrong.I would rather have a horse in the Ky Derby with his style than a hype horse. How often those have disappointed in Derby. If all goes well this weekend I will love his odds

10 Apr 2012 11:58 AM

Steve, you are right...I'll Have Another was near the front (2nd) but not on the lead. But they were walking for Santa Anita...he had an easy trip and barely won. Not very impressive to me. I know it's a good story for his trainer and owner but he'll have to move quicker or he'll get some dirt in his face with all the speed on track for the derby.I just don't think he was very impressive. Too much upside to Gemologist and Union Rags who don't seem to be showing us their full potential yet. And the white wonder Hanson may go the distance? Doubt it but will be glued to the set this weekend...

10 Apr 2012 12:14 PM
Age of Reason

Freetex and Mr. Haskin, bravo and amen! Seems like I'm hearing 'way too much vitriol on this Derby Dozen; come on y'all, sure the Derby picture right now can be confusing to try and make sense of, but don't take out your misplaced frustration on others. If you can't enjoy the process, why are you here?

Other observations...whatever running style Hansen's jock tries to use in the Blue Grass, he'd better be prepared for a cavalry charge the last 100 yds. The rider might have his feet "on the dash" if he tries to restrain him off the pace, as they typically crawl early. Given that I'm still not a full believer in his distance ability anyway, I'm expecting Hansen to get nailed on the line by one or more of the turf horses coming with a typical last-minute rush. We shall see!

10 Apr 2012 12:20 PM

Thanks, everyone, for the great horse racing education available here.  Mr. Haskins, my only regret is that I have come so late to the horse industry, and am only now just following your astute judgments, reasonings, and conclusions.  I was at the SA Derby.  When Creative Cause entered the saddling barn, there was a gasp from the crowd and people had to restrain themselves from shouting and clapping.  I was right at the finish line at the rail for that exciting race.  I love Doug O'Neil (he's one of our go-to trainers) and am celebrating with him in spirit.  HOWEVER, Creative Cause cannot be underestimated.  I felt CC won - crazy as that sounds.  Conclusion:  it's gonna be another great KY Derby!!

10 Apr 2012 12:32 PM
The Deacon

Draynay:  Why do you always have to be so negative and pick on a horse on these blogs. What in the world did El Padrino ever do to you to spew such venom. He tries hard every race and I for one enjoy watching him. If he doesn't make it to the Derby based on earnings then that is the tactical fault of the connections, but not the horse. Rise above yourself and show some civility and class.  These blogs are supposed to be fun, not a forum for antagonizing....

10 Apr 2012 12:36 PM
Criminal Type

Some of you guys need to check the updated earnings list. ElPadrino is not going to Churchill if he doesn't race again before the Derby. He is 22nd on the list now and the Bluegrass and Arkansas Derby still have to be run. He is not getting in. Some of the other's won't be getting in if both Daddy Long Leg's and Wrote both come and I think they will.

Here is the list of the top 20:





Graded Stakes Earnings






Kendall E. Hansen and Skychai Racing (Harvey Diamond)

Mike Maker


Daddy Long Legs


Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith

Aidan O’Brien


Union Rags


Chadds Ford Stable (Phyllis Wyeth)

Michael Matz


Creative Cause


Heinz Steinmann

Mike Harrington




Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith

Aidan O’Brien




WinStar Farm, LLC (Kenny Troutt)

Todd Pletcher


Take Charge Indy


Chuck and Mari Beth Sandford, LLC

Pat Byrne




Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC (Ron Winchell)

Steve Asmussen


I’ll Have Another


J. Paul Reddam

Doug O’Neill


Daddy Nose Best


Bob and Cathy Zollars

Steve Asmussen


Secret Circle


Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman

Bob Baffert




Donegal Racing (Jerry Crawford)

Dale Romans




Arnold Zetcher, LLC

Bob Baffert




Godolphin (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum)

Kiaran McLaughlin




John C. Oxley

Mark Casse




Shivananda Parbhoo

Bisnath Parboo



Done Talking


Skeedattle Stable

Hamilton Smith




Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman

Bob Baffert


Went the Day Well


Team Valor International (Barry Irwin) and Mark Ford

Graham Motion


Rousing Sermon


Tree Top Ranches (Mr. & Mrs. Larry D. Williams)

Jerry Hollendorfer

Outside looking in:


Mark Valeski


Brereton C. Jones

Larry Jones


El Padrino


Let’s Go Stable (Kevin Scatuorchio and Brian Sullivan)

Todd Pletcher




Stipa Racing Stable, Inc.

Agustin Bezara


+Isn’t He Clever (g)


J. Kirk and Judy Robison

Henry Dominguez




Bluegrass Hall, LLC (Brad Kelley)

D. Wayne Lukas




Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith

Bob Baffert


Currency Swap


Klaravich Stables, Inc. (Seth Klarman) and William H. Lawrence

Teresa Pompay


My Adonis


George and Lori Hall

Kelly Breen


Brother Francis


Norman Cheng

Jim Cassidy



Longview Drive


Steve Beneto

Jerry Hollendorfer

10 Apr 2012 12:39 PM
Your Only Friend

Alpha and Optimizer will show up and make some expert people in the so called know.... shake their heads  throw tickets up in the air saying I do not understand ....but that's horse racing.

10 Apr 2012 12:45 PM


10 Apr 2012 12:48 PM
Blind Luck

I still love Union Rags but have slowed my enthusiasm.  Seems he has lost because of excuses just too many times.  Gemologist was so impressive to me, I love his sire also.  Since I am from west coast I'm going to back Gemoligist.  It will be interesting to see what Hansen can do running longer.  If he can handle the longer races, he will be the one to beat. You can make a case of each one of them.  What a crop, it will make for a fun interesting Derby.

10 Apr 2012 12:56 PM
Steve Haskin

I don’t know why so many people are that concerned over El Padrino being #22 on the earnings list. Yes, some horses may get into the top 20 with a win or a second on Saturday, but horses already in the top 20 like Sabercat, Dullahan, Prospective. Secret Circle, and Drill all have to run well to stay on the Derby trail, and theyre not all going to run well, especially if someone outside the top 20 wins or if Bodemeister should romp. And we still don’t know if Liaison #13 is going to run. We know he probably shouldn’t after three out of the money performances. And the chances of #16 Trinniberg running are slim to none. And do we know for sure Aidan O’Brien is going to send both Daddy Long Legs and Wrote? Let’s wait before we state so emphatically that El Padrino is not going to get in. I’m sure not going to drop him from the top 12 now on the slim chance he wont get in. If he doesn’t he doesn’t, but no use pretending we know something we don’t.

10 Apr 2012 1:03 PM

Steve, I completely agree with your's & the other comments re: Rosario's inability to refrain from going to the stick on CC.  @ this pt. I am beyond disgusted & wish Harrington would dump him for someone else.  The Derby is difficult enough without a horse's jockey working against him.

10 Apr 2012 1:10 PM
Linda in Texas

Sunday morning i woke up and the first thing i thought of, after i said Happy Easter glad i can get up and off my K??ster. I thought about Jackson Bend. I had written a post after the race but thought i best not send it since Jackson Bend wasn't going to the KD.

But i will tell you all now that of all the races i watched and the copious notes i took on them. My little 15 hands high fella owned by Mr. La Penta and trained by my favorite and most appreciated for his own heart, Nicholas Zito's own, JACKSON BEND WAS AWESOME. No one told him he wasn't in training for The Kentucky Derby. I love it that they are allowing him to run. Thatsa' Nice!

So Slew thanks for mentioning him Number One on your list. My thoughts exactly. Now i will read the rest of the posts.

Steve, also agree totally about Creative Cause. I noticed the 3 of them running neck and neck even though so close together that CC was doing great without blinkers. He was able to see where he needed to go and what was on either side. Almost, just almost. Very exciting race. Do love CC's  determination and i saw it in his eyes and in his digging in. And re: I'll Have Another, love his trainer's sense of humor.

Thanks Steve. It's getting excited time and hope all competitors stay healthy and sound.

10 Apr 2012 1:15 PM
Linda in Texas

Forgot to say thanks also to Slew for mentioning Mr. Super Man, LAVA MAN. They need to let him out a little more often. He just loves it. And i just love him.

He needs his own show.


10 Apr 2012 1:21 PM

I am really hoping Draynay stays off the Gemologist bandwagon!

I will be interested in seeing the full field and morning line odds of the horses entered.  Horses like I'll Have Another, El Padrino and possibly Alpha will likely crawl into the teens and will be passed over for Union Rags, Hansen, and Secret Circle (if Hansen and SC win this weekend).  

I will likely take 5 horses and box them in an exacta for the derby, and I reserve the right to make my selections after the preps have finished and the post positions are drawn.  However my top 10 are as follows:

1. Gemologist

2. Union Rags

3. Creative Cause

4. Alpha

5. Went the Day Well

6. Hansen

7. I'll Have Another

8. Take Charge Indy

9. El Padrino

10. Trinniberg (If he runs he could be the lone speed... would not count this horse out!)

Happy Handicapping to all!

10 Apr 2012 1:22 PM

wow i was wrong i guess you might get those long odds on UR come derby day. 5-1 right now at most spots. IMO you take a decent sized future before this saturday on BODEMEISTER and back it up with a derby day bet on UR and you will be sitting pretty.

10 Apr 2012 1:44 PM

Let's see how Prospective does in the Bluegrass.

Still, Prospective, Optimizer and Union Rags (tho I also like Dullahan at this point),

Good luck to all.

10 Apr 2012 1:51 PM
Karen in Texas

Steve (or anyone who knows)----Hansen has been working on the training track at Churchill. Is that a dirt surface like the main track? Or is it a synthetic surface?

10 Apr 2012 2:27 PM

Pedigree Ann what did Mind that Bird and Animal Kingdom run against?

We should all know by now that the only rule is their is no rule any more they have all been broken.

With that said;

Gem really moved up on my list and reminds me alot of TIZNOW!!

I am not a Pletcher fan but I get a gut feeling he is sand bagging Gem. I wish he was getting to Kentucky earlier.

Fresh horse coming in is ol Daddy Nose Best.. Any idea who may ride him Derby day??

Top 4 are no order


Daddy Nose Best


Ill have another..

All subject to change.

10 Apr 2012 2:39 PM
Smarty Jones Jr.

Ok, everyone likes to pile on Union Rags and say "excuses/excuses", but that is basically all I here when it comes to Creative Cause, who is being proclaimed as best in the west, who has lost 3 of last 4 starts, and is listed #1 on both Haskin and Watchmaker's 3yo rankings.

Forget Beyer's that get "adjusted" to trip figs(check Bodemeister)  What 3yr has best Ragozin speed fig this year?  

Also, any word on status of Bernster, the last Storm Cat colt (trained by Baffert), he finished 2nd to Midnight Transfer in his debut, then vanished?  

10 Apr 2012 2:42 PM

Off topic for this blog, but I too was thrilled to see Jackson Bend lay it down in the Carter.  Little horse, big heart and still undefeated at 7 furlongs.

I thought I heard that Lava Man was going to one of the big "retirement" homes so that his adoring fans could feed him carrots, peppermints or whatever his preference?  Along with some others on this blog, I loved seeing him on the track.  Fabulous horse.

10 Apr 2012 2:52 PM

With respect to earnings, that doesn't mean that those colts will automatically race, so Padrino and others are not shut out.  I don't believe that tabor/ magnier will shipp either colt to the states after enduring the trip to dubai.  if drill's connections run him in te derby, they should have their heads examined. and all of these animals have to stay sound.  I won't lock down a choice until after entries are closed and posts drawn, but i hope that went the day well, dullahan padrino, rags & hansen all show up.

to all who keep pacing howe great in the derby list, mr. irwin has made it clear that howe great will not go to the race- saver your futures bets.

10 Apr 2012 3:01 PM
It aint easy being good!

Top 6 horses Box them and then send me a check!

1) union Rags why because he is a beast have you seen him up close give him more room to run and he should be there. Also Julien L is one of the best jockeys at churchill.

2) Optimizer why becuase he has an all star trainer who is gearing up for his final curtian call. Arkansas derbys top 2 finishes usually are right there in the derby aka nehro last year.

3) Creative Cause look at the last two races and tell me he is not built for stamina his dosage suggest he is built for stamina and speed.

4) Daddy nose best: He has the best time at 1 1/8th the clock doesnt lie so dont toss him due to his name!

5) Prospective just a hunch dont have a reason but those hunch horses will drive you crazy regardless of outcome so he goes in.

6) Gemologist: dont really like him that much but you never toss a undafeated horse NEVER! I think he has peaked personally and dont trust Todd P to get it done!

Toss: alpha why because whens the last time a bernadini colt has run well at churchhill.

Toss bodemeister to much too soon.

Toss any horse coming from halfway around the world

Toss El Padrino he is not that good.

Toss I will have another he is an awesome horse but churchill is a differnt beast then SA or Louisana.

PS your welcome!

10 Apr 2012 3:04 PM

With the way the derby picture gets shaken up 2, 3 weeks before... heck even a few days out, there is a chance that several horses on the graded earnings list will drop off and El Pardino gets a spot in the gate. It will definitely depend on how the rest of the races play out but it's not a lost cause yet. No one is guaranteed to get into the race until the draw, and even then no one is guaranteed to make it to the starting gate. I think El Padrino deserves a shot, and that's why I added him to my list until after the races this weekend. I based my picks off the graded earings list, who has enough of a chance and which 21 horses I liked best, is why I added some who aren't on the graded earnings list at the moment.

10 Apr 2012 3:13 PM

Mr. Haskin, I am concerned about El Padrino because of what I saw when he was in the show ring at the Florida Derby. I was wondering if the previous race took a lot out of him. And was curious if it was a comblination of that and possible dehydration from the lasix.I think lasix takes too much out of some horses and I surely will cellibrate when it is eliminated from graded stakes races.

10 Apr 2012 3:50 PM

Americans are such 'Lemmings' -- they cannot escape their own 'media hype'.  Any truly expert observer would recognize the special quality of HOWE GREAT.  This horse is untested, being carefully prepped by experienced connections, and will have the earnings to make the Derby field.  Just take the time to watch his race videos if you have not seen him perform.  As to 'dirt' surface -- Oh,Yeah, I seem to recognize a horse named SUNDAY SILENCE in his immediate sire line.....

10 Apr 2012 4:28 PM

Karen in Texas, the training track at Churchill is dirt.  

I watched the two races that mattered this past Saturday, the Wood and the SA Derby.  Then watched them several more times on replay.  If the Wood was a sixteenth farther Alpha would have won.  Gemologist did dig in to hold him to the wire but he was hard-pressed and I don't think he could have sustained that effort.  Alpha was checked so hard in the first turn that his head was turned sideways. Yes, Gemolotist was wide but he was also CLEAR.  At 1 1/4 miles I'll take Alpha over Gemolotist.

In the SA Derby Creative Cause WAS coming back at I'll Have Another.  He did sulk when hit with the whip or he wins.  At the KY Derby distance I suspect I'll Have Another will be a short horse due to his lack of seasoning.  But, I don't think Creative Cause will win the KY Derby.

Bode in the Arkansas Derby???  I don't think he'll win.  I think the pace will be hot with him being added which should compromise the speed and give one of the closers the win.  Could be Optimizer.  Could be Najjaar.  

The KY Derby is going to be full of horses who want the lead or are early pressers.  The pace should be very hot and I think the horses with these running styles are going to be very tired and backing up in the lane even though the track crew will, as always, be told to make sure the track is lightening fast.  I expect the winner to come from mid-pack or farther back, take the lead inside the eighth pole and pay very well.

Someone mentioned that Alpha has never run well outside of New York.  If you look at his past performances you will see that he has never run on lasix in his races outside New York.  Lasix was added three races back and he has two wins and a second since then.  His pedigree suggests that he should relish a mile and a quarter.  I think he will hit the board in the KY Derby.  

Dullahan had a tremendous workout this week and is primed for the Bluegrass.  I don't know that Romans will want to press him hard in this race, because he doesn't need the money to get into the Derby, but I expect him to run a good race.  He is my selection to win the KY Derby.  His race in the BC Juvenile at Churchill was a good effort, indicating that he will handle the track very well and his running style, with all of the speed burning up the track, sets him up for the win.  Of course, in the KY Derby, the 20 horse field can compromise the best of horses with all of the possible traffic problems, so racing luck always plays a huge role.

10 Apr 2012 5:04 PM


I believe EL PADRINO is best at mile and 1/8 - ¼ and we haven't seen his best yet.

EL PADRINO ran a faster final furlong in the FL Derby than TAKE CHARGE INDY, BARBARO, and BIG BROWN even though people say he was flat, and he probably was.

I've seen EL PADRINO run right by TAKE CHARGE INDY in a previous race.

I've seen EL PADRINO out duel your beloved MARK VALESKI in New Orleans where the bumping was normal and both had equal opportunity to win that race.

Those are a few, and not limited to, reasons why I still think highly of EL PADRINO.

10 Apr 2012 5:24 PM


I happen to like Mark Valeski, too, to be fair.

10 Apr 2012 5:29 PM


I wouldn't say HOWE GREAT is untested.  He has wins against LUCKY CHAPPY, COZETTI, and DULLAHAN in 2012.  His races have been mile and 1/16th and mile and 1/8th so he looks good for mile and ¼.

I love the horse but can he run on dirt and he'll have to run on poly this week if he wants to earn his way in.

10 Apr 2012 5:41 PM

Great article Steve, could not wait for it to come out!  Good eye Steve picking out I'll Have Another, you liked him a lot prior to the win and you were right.  Also great observation on the reaction of CC to the whip.  They need to curtail it.  

I was wondering why the heck is I'll Have Another chestnut when his sire Flower Alley is a bay and Arch is a bay on the dam's side?  It seems it stems from Distorted Humor on the sire's side who is chestnut.  Didn't Flower Alley win the Travers?

This is a great top 6, it is hard to separate them.  I think I'm for Hansen!  I just love him!  Dr. Hansen has got to call Dr. Drunkinbum and take some aspirin and calm down.  He can't color Hansen!  Your article was great but Dr. Hansen still thinks Hansen is "an open palette."  I wouldn't touch a hair on Hansen, I love him just as he is.

Top 6 now:



Union Rags

Went The Day Well

I'll Have Another


10 Apr 2012 6:03 PM

Lava Man has a second career as a lead pony.  He was magnificent when he led I'll Have Another out for that one training run, but for the Santa Anita Derby he was so full of himself, I don't know how they kept him restrained.  He'll be a lead pony at the Kentucky Derby, so I can't wait to see how they manage to keep him out of a gate.

O'Brien said Daddy Long Legs is coming to the big dance, especially since he's American bred. (Thank you Scat Daddy).  To me, Wrote may be the better of the 2, so I hope he comes too.

Lady of Shamrock simply enhanced the legacy being offered by Scat Daddy.

I don't think there's a horse in the top 30 that I haven't admired and respected.  I think the Derby is wide open, but I'm sticking with White Lightning no matter what he does in the Blue Grass.  I simply see too much of Slew in him to ignore his ability.

10 Apr 2012 6:12 PM

I want to give a huge hoooray!! for Jackson Bend also.  He is just a joy to watch when he runs like that.  It was great to see, what did the announcer say? "the 3 millionaires" Jackson Bend, Shackleford and Calebs Posse all lined up and flying toward that finish line. Many thanks to their connections for running them again this year.

On another note: I'm really sad not to see Havre de Grace in the Apple Blossom.

10 Apr 2012 6:13 PM

Now about the Derby hopefuls...I don't understand why Hansen doesn't get the respect he deserves.  Not only is he just drop dead gorgeous and striking to watch, he is learning and growing with every race.  And I think that's what they're suppose to be doing.  I can't wait to see him Sat.

10 Apr 2012 6:15 PM
El Kabong


Howe Great is a fine thoroughbred. Very talented but proven to be at his best on turf. Those dirt efforts, while a mdn win and a second, weren't overly impressive. He'll get his chance this weekend to show how he handles Hansen and Dullahan on a neutral surface. Last out, he defeated Dullahan but that was Dullahan's first back. Look for Dullahan to take it up a notch. Should be a very good race. I'm expecting Hansen and Howe Great to be on the lead or flanking the lead. I don't think HG would  appreciate the kickback of poly non too much. But this time, the fiddles of Donegal will be calling home a faster, fitter Dullahan.

10 Apr 2012 6:36 PM

Well done Steve! It is certainly shaping up as a wide open Derby as I agree that at least six horses could be co-favs but I have felt since last year's Juv. that Creative Cause has the most upside as people need to consider that your rankings are based upon the mile and a quarter distance and this horse is one of the few that you can logically expect, based on pedigree (fantastic racemare dam), build and running style to still be grinding away at the end. Rosario...please put away the whip! Union Rags would not be a surprise either after seeing him rebrake in the stretch of the FL Derby which helps reinforce for me his ability to get the distance. Would love to see his late sire Dixie Union honored with a Derby winner and this fella has by far the most brilliance. The key is who gets a good enough trip in the Derby and I feel that these two horses have the ability to find the right spots in a big field and will both be super tough May 5th. Cannot discount Hansen with his proven form over the track which is always dangerous (are we in for another Street Sense type repeat?) and it would not surprise me in the least to see the same three horses from the Juv. at the end, perhaps in a different order. Either way, going to be a fun four more weeks and workouts over the CD surface will be a key indicator for me, especially with all the other contenders. No horse looked better working out at CD prior to last year's race than Animal Kingdom which prompted me, for the first time, to consider a former turf horse tranferring to dirt.

10 Apr 2012 6:39 PM

I rarely comment more than once but since reading some criticsm of various jockey performances, I have a story for you and anybody else who might have interest.

One fine morning at a training track, a jock looking for potential mounts was galloping a lovely filly with little success. He whipped and yelled all around the track. The filly dug in and fought back. When he rode up to the trainer he was exhausted and so was she. The difference was, she still had a light in her eyes, he did not. The trainer said "Son, you really don't have to fight with her, just out think her". The jock replied "Uh, what do you mean?" Needless to say, the jock was not invited back. They don't call them "pinheads" for nothing.

I, also, would like to clarify my previous statements about Optimizer. I believe he belongs on the grass and would probably be unbeatable in Europe where they appreciate horses like him. I also, believe he has a real shot at the Derby if everything goes his way. It won't.

10 Apr 2012 6:55 PM
Steve Haskin

Column on Rosario and CC, and the other top jockeys is now posted.

10 Apr 2012 7:03 PM


Ouch!!! That "obnoxious" bullet you fired re: your "endangered credibility in the ranking of the Dozen" hit yours truly ...almost in the head (LOL).

Most of us on here can get away with weak support of our sentimental choices but not you Steve. The rationale for the rankings should be defensible not only to the Derby watching neophyte but also to the hard core veterans who will not pull any punches in challenging the views, with all due respect, of the Original Derby Dozen, Turf-writing Doyen.

We will never all agree but the opinion leader's position should be somewhat impregnable IMO. the rationale for Creative Cause as #1 appears quite porous. Peace.  

10 Apr 2012 7:23 PM
Uncle Smiley

How about Mark Valeski?  Rosie Napravnik in the irons.

12th best rider, best distaff jockey bar none.  Nice to envision a Triple Crown with a first on top!


10 Apr 2012 7:34 PM
Karen in Texas

redandblacksilks---Thanks for your answer!

10 Apr 2012 8:29 PM
Scott's Cause

Some random thoughts:  Matz is right where he wants to be, can Union Rags pedigree get him where he wants to be....Gemologist loves CDowns... I'll have Another training schedule is refreshing, but 3 in a row....Shame on making Creative Cause the super-low favorite in his 7 furlong comeback race, then putting the hammer down again in the SA derby.  Harrington will have this horse in PERFECT shape for the Derby, but can he put pass the sobriety test down the stretch?  As far as pedigree, will someone look back at Giant's Causeways Euro races.  I don't know who he ran against, I don't know who he beat, he was the Man.  Then he travels across the Pond, tries dirt, has an indifferent trip and I can't believe he didn't win. Gemologist might have that "Not this time" attitude of Tiznow, I just hope CC has that "Just another notch" That Giant's Causeway had.  Just a thought...that Hansen horse might be a good one.  Also, this won't happen: Mike Smith on Creative Cause?

10 Apr 2012 8:39 PM

hope hansen wins bluegrass(take $ and run). if he closes fast and comes in at least third he will be my derby pick.

10 Apr 2012 8:46 PM

I'm with you on Creative Cause.  I also like I'll Have Another, Gemologist, Prospective and Hansen but not necessarily in that order.  Boy this is an exciting time of year!   On another note, Steve have you been able to see Zenyatta's colt?  As one who read her diary every day I am having withdrawals at not hearing much news and not seeing any pictures since he was 1 day old.... :-(

10 Apr 2012 8:54 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


 I've ordered Chill Pills for Dr. Hansen. Aspirin isn't enough for this extreme case of Derby Fever. It's one of the tougher cases I've come across. "Chill Pills, 750mg TID x 28d." I've also ordered massages BID as a precaution and a double Scotch for Saturday evening.

10 Apr 2012 9:16 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

Really enjoyed this edition of the Derby Dozen.  Very substantial.  Thanks.  I'm here at Oaklawn looking forward to the Arkansas Derby.  As my handicapping friend, Sam the Nigerian says, "serious horses here."

10 Apr 2012 10:01 PM
Don from PA/DE

Well Steve, "and the KD beat goes on"....just don't agree at all bout

EL me he had his day at the distance...if they cut him back

to Mile...may be better with this

group....his stable mate is tops.

10 Apr 2012 10:19 PM

Dr. D.,

Very good and very funny indeed!!! Chill Pills!!!  Dr. Hansen has got to chill out.  I'm behind him but I hope he does not paint or color Hansen in this surprise he is coming up with in the Blue Grass paddock.  I hope your remedies work!  Thanks!  Yep, most extreme case of Derby fever yet.

10 Apr 2012 11:00 PM

Ummm, just exactly what are you saying, all you excusing losses with comments like "wasn't really asked" or "wasn't full out"?

It sounds as though you think the horse was not ridden to win.

11 Apr 2012 8:37 AM

Dr. Hansen please don't do anything to change the appearance of your absolutely perfectly gorgeous colt. He doesn't need anything to improve his looks.  He draws all eyes without any make-up!

11 Apr 2012 9:02 AM

The Arkansas Derby will probably only add to the confusion as will the polytrack race.

I think Paynter is a live longshot.

Hard to believe the Wood, being run so slow, could produce the winner. Any Wood winning horse worth talking about from the last 15 year ran way faster. How do you account for the fact that the pace was slow and yet the horses finished even slower? Several races had faster fractions and blew away the split between 6f-8f. This was a 9f race so horse should have been driving home the last 3f so why did these horses run slower than Broadway Alibi who ran faster splits to get to 6f? What about the 77k Allowance horses at a mile? I am not tossing them but it wasn't a good race.

Take Charge Indy looks good. Controlling the pace or being right on it is a very strong KD strategy. The pace was slow but not weak especially since the horse that ran it(lots of races have a fast pace but not really, since the horse on front has no shot, and everyone else is back 3-4 lengths, see the Wood), took off and couldn't be caught by the closers.

I thought I'll have another has ran the best prep. I also thought his previous race was better than CC race at the same 8.5f.

11 Apr 2012 9:06 AM

Dr D: I'm shocked.  You have the unmitigated GALL to prescribe Scoth in Bourbon country?  And only once in the week to boot?  You can be banned from the Kentucky Derby for that kind of blasphemy.  You just may lose your medical license for that!

MINT JULEP, Doc...get with the program. Hansen is so disappointed in you!

11 Apr 2012 11:19 AM

Disagree with winnahPickah to throw out the BC Juvenile results.  His point is the CD track conditions will be totally different 1st weekend in May than they were last fall, which is true.  But you can't ignore the fact so many of the colts that competed in the BC Juvenile have come back and won at so many different tracks. The BC Juvenile has proved to be a very formful race.

11 Apr 2012 11:50 AM
Criminal Type

Slew, Be still my heart...Lava Man as a lead pony in the Derby for I'll Have Another. How freakin cool is that, huh ! He will be the biggest money winner on the track before and after the race.

11 Apr 2012 12:10 PM
Aaron McC

Slew - agreed!  Dr. Drunkinbum needs to go back to med school. Dr. Hansen would need a sweet bourbon to celebrate a sweet victory: the cinnomon cakey qualities of Four Roses would do the job.  But if he needs something dry (more scotch-like) to mop up the tears, I think a nice Kentucky rye would be the ticket - something a little briny, like Willett's 4 year.  

11 Apr 2012 3:59 PM
Criminal Type

I'm wondering what Mary Lou Whitney  think's of Dr Hansen coloring his horse. I doubt much. The horse is gorgeous and has class, leave him alone and quit trying to turn him into a circus side show. I recommend an induced coma for the good doctor until a week before the Derby. It's for his own good. I do not recommend alcohol, it might intensify his tremors.

11 Apr 2012 4:10 PM
Karen in Texas

Alex'sBigFan & TerriV.----I've followed the 'colorization of Hansen' saga since well before the Gotham. To me, anything they might do to him would only detract from his own natural, unusual beauty. I'm hoping the 'surprise' we see in the paddock at Keeneland will be some sort of demonstration for the New Vocations racehorse program that Dr. Hansen supports. Perhaps Hansen will be draped with a banner or something that can be removed before the race. As I said, I'm hoping....

11 Apr 2012 4:29 PM

Uncle Stosh, Paynter just ran last Saturday...he's not in the Arkansas Derby, and doesn't have the cash to be in the Ky Derby.  Bodemeister is the morning line favorite in the Arkansas Derby.

As to the Wood...the colts faced a strong headwind down the backstretch, came in gusts, and slowed a lot of runners.

And at Santa Anita, fastest 9f on turf was Lady of Shamrock, who outshined the colts in the SA Derby.

I did forget one category in my "After Easter...." awards:

11. Longest floppiest tongue (and why was it gray?): Creative Cause.

11 Apr 2012 5:13 PM

(1) Creative Cause- just wish they would dump Rosario

(2) Hansen- hard to separate him from number 1

(3) Sabercat- think he will impress this weekend

(4) Daddy Nose Best- he might just be the best

(5) Optimizer- will love the distance, could win it all

(6) Gemologist- the scampering gem that toys with his opponents.

(7) Alpha- think he will unleash a big effort in the Derby

(8) El Padrino- still like this one alot

(9) Dullahan- could be our Derby winner

(10) Union Rags- if he even gets in the gate on Derby day, he'll probably run sixth

It's still very hard to separate this group, and no matter what number I rank a horse at, I don't feel strongly that anyone is that much better than someone else.

11 Apr 2012 6:52 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Extreme cases need extreme measures and it's really just a matter of trial and error. No other drink has worked. It's the last one on the list. I've ordered a different drink for him every night since the BC Juv and nothing has settled his Derby Fever.(including every brand of bourbon) After this one it's on to different milkshakes and malts. We even tried Boones Farm Apple Wine on the theory that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again until you do is what they taught us in school when it comes to prescriptions. If Hansen the human colors up Hansen the horse then I'm prescribing polka dot hair for a year for Hansen the human.

11 Apr 2012 6:53 PM
Forbidden Apple

1)Alpha 2)Union Rags 3)Creative Cause 4)Gemologist 5)I'll Have Another 6)Dullahan 7)Hansen 8)Done Talking 9)Went The Day Well 10)Daddy Nose Best 11)Take Charge Indy 12)Bodemeister 13)Arm Force


Can you please call Kiaran McLaughlin and ask him to get in touch with the agent for Garrett Gomez? Maybe Ramon was not at 100% and I know that Alpha was not at 100%, but Alpha needs a new jockey. Gomez knows how to relax a horse and then get an explosive kick at the end of races. His hand rides are intense and I think he would make a perfect fit for Alpha. Besides, Ramon already has Hansen.

Cassandra Says,

Exactly, Alpha and Union Rags were not ridden to win their prep races. Alpha was coming in with a 9 week freshening and looked like he was running at 80%. It was not about winning the purse(Godolphin has immense oil money), it was about getting him fit for the ultimate goal. At 1 1/4 miles I am siding with Alpha over Gemologist. People are forgetting that Gemologist had only 3 weeks between his allowance jog and the Wood Memorial. I am not so sure that he will be up to the task of the KY Derby. With Union Rags, it was so obvious that they were not letting him run until the final 1/8 mile. The upcoming workouts for Union Rags will spell out his fitness level.

Creative Cause might just need a new jockey too, Rosario needs to watch some replays asap. It was nice to see Creative Cause look the other horse in the eye and fight back hard. His best race is ahead of him, just not sure it will be on May 5.

I'll Have Another is a solid horse, i'm afraid his effort might have taken something out of him.

Dullahan will move up on my list if he wins or runs a fast closing second. His 57 and 2/5 workout suggests that he is razor sharp!

Done Talking deserves a long look in the exotics even though his race was slow. He can improve and I like his closing kick at 1 1/4 miles.

Arm Force scratched out of the LA Derby and missed getting in the IL Derby. Does he have a chance to run in a stakes before the KY Derby or will he be a Preakness horse?

11 Apr 2012 6:55 PM

Just to clarify, UNION RAGS had a terrible trip in the CHAMPAIGNE, and, if memory serves me semi-right, he won the race!

He is capable of overcoming bad trips and a mile & ¼ would be most forgiving for this specimen.

Just a thought…but, again, 2 margaritas…

11 Apr 2012 11:46 PM
Criminal Type

Predict, What makes you think Union Rag's won't make it to the starting gate in the Derby ? He has enough money, and he has never had any injury issues. The trainer says he is going, the owner says he is going. Is this prediction of yours based on some knowledge unknown to the rest of us, the fact that recent derby favorites have scratched and have set a precedent for that sort of thing to continue to happen or just wishful thinking ?

Forbidden Apple, Union Rag's had his first post Florida Derby workout this am. He went 4F in 48:40 at Palm Meadows. Not earth shattering but not too shabby. I would like to see him pick it up a little bit more over the next few weeks. He was second fastest at the distance. (Grace Hall was 3rd) Looking back on his pre Florida Derby works, it's a bit faster. In fact he hasn't had a work as fast since 2/06. I am sticking with this horse, In fact, im pretty certain my top three in Louisville will be the same top three from the BC juvenile. I wont be making confident choices until I see the actual entrees, riders and post positions and that wont be until May 2nd. The only thing I can guarentee is Union Rag's will be my favorite.

12 Apr 2012 10:16 AM

Dr. D:  There's only one drink to calm the Doc..."Churchill Downs served thousand-dollar Mint Juleps in Tiffany cups with silver straws. The ingredients used were of such fine quality, it’s absurd: Woodford Reserve bourbon, mint imported from Ireland, ice from the Bavarian Alps, and sugar from Australia."  I believed they've also used ice from an Arctic glacier.  I'm certain the doc can afford this...but if not...I say buddy up with Jose'll cure anything.  The white lighning Hansen says this is so potent, it turned his coat white overnight. (or was that the moonshine?)

I'm really looking forward to this Derby...I've got the fever...and there is no cure.

12 Apr 2012 11:18 AM
Johnny D

Steve, have you given up on Sabercat?  Don't you want to see his Ark Derby first?

12 Apr 2012 12:37 PM
Steve Haskin

Johnny D, why would you assume I've given up on him? I was just on Steve Byk's show and picked to win the Arkansas Derby.

12 Apr 2012 1:46 PM

   You want to say it’s about SPEED or BREEDING ???  Sure it’s all actually about WINNING no matter what the breeding or the speed, …but … SPEED and BREEDING are how many of us judge our picks.

    Here is some references to speed re the posting pre sent….

    “I’ll Have Another” ran 1 second faster than “Creative Cause” over the same track at 1 1/16 and beat him on the same track at 1 1/8 and forget ‘bounce’ or he might ‘bounce’ ! MIGHT doesn’t say he WILL , and many expected his ‘bounce’ to have been in the SA Derby already!!! Some bounce !! And, "Creative Cause" went passed "I'll Have Another" on the turn in the SA Derby if I am not mistaken !! and all where I keep hearing over and over about how “Gemologist” turned it up a notch on “Alpha”. Well, “I’ll Have Another” showed me a 5th gear in the SA stretch run that rivals only “Curlin”, who I might add got a terrible trip in his K. Derby and came flying back to grab 4th !?!! ((Additionally, “I’ll Have Another” has no ‘Storm Cat Breeding’ !! where again “NO Storm Cat breds have ever finished #1 in the Kty. Derby. YET !!! No matter whether regarding that argument that I am aware of where some [[“Lemon Drop Kid”, etc. ?]] went on to actually win the ‘Belmont’ ??… OK Slew??? See !! I do pay attention !… lol…]] ))

    Although off the TURF, “Howe Great” has also ran the faster,--(fastest ?),--1 1/16 and 1 1/8 races so far, yet he isn’t ranked either. Yes, “Creative Cause” ranks in the top 5 performers at those distances, but there will be 19 other young grown-ups facing him come the first week of May, and, not as some just budding still growing teenagers including now a late budding “Tiznow” hoss. And now, where it also looks like only a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the field will be "Storm Cat" breds and not 1/2 as earlier once anticipated. And being where we have a much more competitive field this year than in the past several years even with the relative near same numbers of injuries as compared over the last 2-3 years.                        

    And, if no one yet understands “Mine that Birds” odd  BOOOOrail run to victory, who what ?,  finished 4th at Sunland ?? “Daddy Nose Best” ran his 1  1/8  time in at Sunland thusly in THIN AIR, less oxygen!! and in a shocking time considering, no matter if one wants to add the 'supped up' track theory or not!! And he had also already run one of the fastest 1 1/16 times of the year prior to that and not at Sunland. “Take Charge Indy” also off a long trainer-owner induced BREAK beat your highly praised still #2 ranked having never before been ranked higher nor ever since.  And, the fact that “Union Rags” couldn’t even catch the like of “Reveron” ??  says even more !

   I recall a saying that once went something like… “to be the man , you have to beat the man !!!”…when Ali knocked out Frazier , Frazier wasn’t still #1 !!! well, “Creative Cause” didn’t beat his challengers nor did “Union Rags” beat his, your coveted 1-2 !!  Some say they didn’t have to, but I say, those that ‘beat the man are the men’ !!! Is it not about “the BEST Athlete” ? these RANKING’S lists anymore ??? or do we rank only according to graded $$ won …? or expectations ??? or loyalty to connections ?? or the high and mighty odds makers ??? THE BETTORS should set the odds !! All 20-1 on Derby Day and see where the $$ falls, not Mr. Battaglia who saw Done Talking at 20-1 ? and Morgan’s Guerilla at 10-1 ? and etc. and whatever 30-1 ? he had “Hero of Dreams” at !!!  

   Also, rest and time to grow in this modern training era does not necessary lead to some ‘AUTOMATIC BOUNCES’ no matter what the current sports writers continue to use as excuses to rank now proven winners LOWER in their chartings, not just you Steve. Sure, anyone may get a “bad trip” come Church Hill traffic-jam-day, and then use that as a later excuse, but the BEST, or the best of the best, and the better horses right now to me anyway are NOT your coveted  ‘BC 3’, in MY OPINION.  ((That of course barring some “Bellamy Road” run #2    by “Hansen” come Saturday, where we’ll all be re-evaluating !!! )).

   And Steve, I am not attacking you personally, and never would, know that. And I do highly respect your opinions and all you do including supporting this blob, which I have mentioned in the past. My point was, that I just think--MY OPINION--that you’ve been over loyal to YOUR opinion thus far this year and that you appear blinded to some of the other horses that have--IN MY OPINION--grown ABOVE not just around the fab “BC 3”. I have often noted where you have also said “it’s close” these ‘top six”, etc., and I stated, I pretty near agree with your “dozens” ((as we have whittled down our “sacks of potatoes” over the past c. 3 months journey thus far))…and yet was  “just not in agreement with the order of your current ranking” … And yet stated,  “that each has a right to his own opinion”. Surely, that’s why we have winners and loses at “the window” every day also, and many bloggers with differing opinions, etc.

   Furthermore, I do also love reading and getting insights from and enjoying the humor of, and etc., from the many bloggers and many that have added in their opinions since I myself was once but a Haskin's novice blogger also. In fact, it would be real boring if we were all in agreement and of the same opinion each and every new ranking week, now wouldn’t it?.

    But again, I will probably have a heart attack in disbelief if your currently ranked 1-2 actually finish 1-2 !!!.[[[ THUSLY, you needn't keep the ambulance at my door because I for one don't see it your way !! But, if you’re right, you best get me the police escort also because likely the heart attack will be massive !!  ]]]

    “I got the fever, fever in the morning, fever in the night… I got the fever …” GO BABY !!!  

12 Apr 2012 3:44 PM

Prelim Prep TIMES:

        1   1/16: (T):


“Howe Great”:  1:40.42; (T) GP;


        1  1/16 :      


“I’ll Have Another”: 1:40.84;

SA; 96 Beyer; Gr. II  1 1/16  R.B.Lewis                          


“Castaway”:  1:41.83;

SA; winner  1  1/16  Msw.;  


“Creative Cause”:  1:41.84;

SA.; 102 Beyer Gr. II  1  1/16


“Creative Cause”:  1:42.66;  

Gr. I  1 1/16  at 2 ; SA;


“Union Rags”:  1:42.68;

GP; 95 Beyer;  Fountain of Youth;


 “El Padrino”:  1:42.68;

GP; 100 Beyer;  Alw.

      1    1/8: (T) :


“Howe Great”:  1:46.46;

GP winner 1 1/8 (T) Palm Beach S.;


 “Dullahan”:  1:46.46;

GP +1 ; 2nd  1 1/8 (T) Palm Beach S.;


 “Exothermic”:  1:48.25;

GP winner  1  1/8   (T)  Msw.;



           1  1/8:      


“I’ll Have Another”:  1:47.88;

SA; Gr. I   SA Derby; + a nose


  “Creative Cause”:  1:48.88;

SA; Gr.  SA Derby ;  


“Daddy Nose Best”:   1:48.59;  

Sun.; Gr. III  Sunland Derby;

 100 Beyer;


“Take Charge Indy”:  1:48.79;

GP;  Gr. I  Fla. Derby


“Hero of Order”:  1:50.13;

FG; Gr. II  La. Derby;


“Daddy Nose Best”:  1:50.46;  

GG; Gr. III El Camino Real;


 “Gemologist”:  1:50.96;  

Aqu.; Gr. I Wood Mem;  

12 Apr 2012 3:57 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  He'll be drunk as a skunk without drinking a thing if Hansen wins The Derby. Winning is the best cure. When we were kids we mixed everything we could find in the kitchen and fridge to make a "dare you to drink it" drink and we always drank some. Milk, tabasco, choclolate syrup, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard etc etc. We didn't do it very often but had a blast doing it when we did, cracking up with every ingredient we added to make it as nasty as possible. I'm not sure why your Mint Julep reminded me of it. Go Hansen !!!!!!!!!!

12 Apr 2012 4:55 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Thanks. Can't wait to see Hansen this weekend, and Bodemeister and Secret Circle and others. The last big weekend before The Derby. Still, I won't even have a list I'm happy with until the final pps come out after the post positions are drawn. Visually I've been very impressed with I'll Have Another and love his pedigree. I hope he gets to CD early and has a bullet workout. If everyone makes it to the starting gate I'm going to have more than one to root for.

12 Apr 2012 5:05 PM

Zarvona:  And what are you drinking?  Seems a bit too potent for you.  

12 Apr 2012 7:17 PM


You go baby!!!

go baby go baby go baby go LOL!!!

It doesn't look like the connections of Howe Great are pointing him to the Derby (unless he blows their mind in the Bluegrass) therefore I'm jumping ship in the Bluegrass to support Ever so Lucky's backdoor entrance into the Derby. He'll be a pace factor for sure. I think that Hansen on synthetics is quite a beast and might freak in the Bluegrass.  The kentucky derby is a different kettle of fish though and already Union Rags (Beauty & the Beast rolled into one) has begun to sound a warning. You may think that others have developed pass him but I'm sure you'll re-evaluate as a concientious Derby watcher in the coming days.

I just love your "signature" go baby, go baby, go baby, go!!!

12 Apr 2012 8:10 PM
Don from PA/DE

Steve, have you ever heard of or know what a "Streaming Horse" is?

One of the DRF folk, who has "Gemologist" as #3 make a brief

note "Gem will probably be a streaming horse in KD"? Have yet to

get an articulation of this term if there is one? Thanks, Don

13 Apr 2012 5:46 AM
Johnny D

Steve, how do I access your comments from Steve Byk's show.  I am really looking forward to seeing progression from Sabercat.  The added ground and the pedigree.  I agree with your comments from your other blog, he doesn't need to win but a closing effort in the money would be very encouraging for his Derby hopes!  

13 Apr 2012 2:01 PM

Criminal Type,

I don't know of any issues with Union Rags, it is just a gut feeling, probably brought about by all those favorites that we have seen drop off the trail in recent years. Make no mistake, nothing would please me more than to see him in the gate and then win this race like I think he is capable of doing.

13 Apr 2012 5:49 PM


The Kentucky Derby may last only two minutes, but the party beforehand lasts 2 weeks. On April 21, the opening day of Louisville's Kentucky Derby Festival, you can pick up "local goodies" from vendors along the city's riverfront and watch an afternoon air show. On the night of the 27th , see "some of the most beautiful hot-air balloons in the country" glowing in the dark after their burners are lit to warm up the following morning's race. You also won't want to miss the famous steamboat race on May 2nd,when you can ride on a competing steamboat for a fee or root for your favorite from the riverbank for free. the festival concludes with a May 3rd evening parade featuring"marching bands, equestrian units, floats, and giant character balloons." When the last brass section passes by, you'll still have more than a full day to rest up for the biggest horse race of the year.

And, remember when crossing into Kentucky, turn your watch back, 20 years.

13 Apr 2012 6:12 PM
Mister Frisky

Made the mistake keying Optimizer.Looks like D.Wayne is finally done.0 for his last 110 or something in graded stakes.Now let's get down to business.This derby looks very chalky.Barring defections I'm still about Union Rags in a super key over 8 others.

14 Apr 2012 9:03 PM
Marc M.

Steve, good call on Dullahan.  I came this close to going to Vegas just to try to get him at 30-1.  I suspect 8-1 on race day.

And with Dullahan becoming the betting public's closer of favor, Daddy Nose Best looks like he might end up 20-1 on race day.  Strikes me as an overlay.

I'm following Bodemeister closely as he was my big futures bet this year.  I was at SA for the San Felipe and heard Bob B. tell Bejarano in the paddock to take the horse back for a while, then hit the throttle. Yet Bodemeister was involved in the race in the first quarter mile.  I'm wondering if he's simply a free-running horse who can try to run them off their heels (War Emblem) yet has a difficult time with pressure, or if his San Felipe was characteristic of that first time a good horse gets thrown into an elite class challenge (they often don't win).  Bob B. was definitely trying to teach Bodemeister to take dirt in that group workout.  But he obviously likes to go early.  

...Very curious to see what Bodemeister and Hansen do up front on Derby day.

15 Apr 2012 2:23 PM

Steve,  I'm going to copy and past this for your 4/16/12 Dozen, but I wanted to write it before I forgot my thoughts…

First of all, cudos to you for your forethought, knowledge, expertise, and experience to have faith from the very beginning in DULLAHAN.  DESORMEAUX needed almost a mile and 1/16 to get him to wake up and once he did, boy did he put the hammer down!  What a dominant performance.  No loss of respect for HANSEN either.  I'm sure they expected to NOT be on the lead like that.

I have questions swirling around in my head now!

To you STEVE, you historians of the sport, and to those of you smarter than me (most of you):

1) Aside from SABERCAT not knowing which way SECRET CIRCLE was going to go, his closing fraction(s) seemed to be not that far off from BODEMEISTER.  Does anyone know SABERCAT'S final 1/8th or quarter fraction?

2) SPEEDWISE, did any of you have a thought about BODEMEISTER looking like the second coming of WHIRLAWAY, aside from WHIRLAWAY'S love of the outside rail???  

I'm a big believer in bible prophecy and the prophetic influence of names.  I can tell you I am taking seriously the parent's names of BODEMEISTER (EMPIRE MAKER, out of UNTOUCHED TALENT) not to mention the naming of BAFFERT'S son. Reminds me of some other sire and dam whose names were worthy of producing a fine horse, they were BOLD RULER and SOMETHINGROYAL.  

I love how BAFFERT got a little emotional in his interview with HRTV on PURSUIT OF THE CROWN.  I am becoming a big believer in BODEMEISTER.  

Great job, STEVE!  You da man!!!

15 Apr 2012 9:45 PM

knew he would romp and friday morning it was confirmed when the entire chat here was devoted to trashing BODE. sure seemed like some genuine hate coming from jason shandler aimed at both the horse and anyone who touted him during the chate.

16 Apr 2012 4:25 AM

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