Derby Dozen (video) - April 23, 2012 - Presented by Shadwell Farm

[brightcove videoid="1579015629001"]


Creative Cause Mike Harrington Click Here!

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

His road to the Derby started off well enough, but it’s had an odd look to it recently. It’s like watching a marathon runner approaching the finish line in good shape and right on time, but he’s doing somersaults and pirouettes. He’s getting the job done, but not doing it in the conventional manner. We all know that he’s done a bit of meandering in the stretch since his Norfolk win, due in my opinion to the use of the whip. But I can do is trust Rosario, one of the best riders in the country, to give him a good ride in the Derby. He’s also had an unexpected late equipment change, getting blinkers off in his final prep, something you rarely or never see a Derby winner do. And he did it after a victory no less, which makes it even more unusual. Then he worked with cheater blinkers, and it started to look like an inspired move, with the idea being to prevent him from getting too sharp in the Santa Anita Derby and possibly peaking a race too early, and then returning to the blinkers for the Derby. He had earned a huge “0” Thoro-Graph figure in the San Felipe, then bounced to a “4” with the blinkers off. That’s a pretty significant bounce, but after running such a big number in the San Felipe, the SA Derby became more of a bridge to the Ky. Derby, and all you wanted him to do was get across it. As it turns out he’ll be racing without blinkers again in the Derby, which leads me to believe Harrington is now concentrating more on the 1 ¼ miles and possibly passing horses a little quicker. He was farther back last time than he’s ever been, made a quicker move than he’s ever made, and in general ran more like a Derby horse than he did in his previous races. So, although this isn’t your typical way of training up to the Derby, Harrington appears to have a master plan and isn’t afraid to step out of the box. Then again, it’s quite possible I have no idea what I’m talking about.


Dullahan Dale Romans Click Here!

Even the Score—Mining My Own, by Smart Strike

In a year like this, especially, who can pinpoint just why you have a horse ranked where he is? The only thing consistent about the decision-making is confusion. I understand the reasons to like this colt and understand the reasons not to like him. Yes, the dirt is still a question mark, in spite of how he trains over it. The fact is, he’s winless over it. You can look at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a “glass is half full” performance or a “glass is half empty” performance. I just happen to like everything about this horse, and have since last fall, and feel his BC Juvenile provided sufficient enough evidence to conclude that he likes the dirt just fine. His half-brother was a synthetic horse at 2, but won the Kentucky Derby, so I’m not going to concern myself with that. I think he’s the most explosive closer in the field and is athletic enough to overcome most traffic problems. I also can’t help but feel Dale Romans is sitting on a Derby victory. Yes, it would have been ideal to see him have another dirt race just to get a better gauge as to how well he handles it, but Churchill has been very kind to grass/synthetic horses, and it certainly didn’t prevent horses like Animal Kingdom and Paddy O’Prado from running big in the Derby.


Union Rags Michael Matz

Dixie Union—Tempo, by Gone West

I had an epiphany. If the Derby gods are going to be smiling down on anyone, it’s the Union Rags--Phyllis Wyeth story, which is movie script material and the subject of an outstanding online documentary that made the Derby result seem crystal clear. Any doubts were removed following Union Rags’ workout Friday. I’ve been saying all along that I believe Matz left gallons of fuel in the tank going into the Florida Derby and that the colt was not even close to being wound tight for the race, coming off only three very slow breezes following an easy score in the Fountain of Youth. Since then he’s had half-mile works in :48 2/5 and most recently :47 2/5, with a final eighth in :11 3/5, out another eighth in :12 3/5, pulling up 6f in 1:15. Between his strong gallop to the pole, the work itself, and the strong gallop-out, he was motoring at a fast clip for a mile and a quarter. I had hoped to see him turn in faster, more serious works after the Florida Derby and he’s doing just that. He’ll have a stronger work next week and that should have him peaking on Derby Day. His Beyers have been stuck in the mid-90s, but I believe that’s due to the fact that since the Champagne he’s had an extremely wide trip in the BC Juvenile, drifting out badly at a crucial point in the stretch; a ridiculously easy victory in the Fountain of Youth; and a troubled trip in the Florida Derby, in which he was stuck in traffic most of the way and only was able to run full out for the final three-sixteenths. So he really hasn’t had an opportunity to post a big speed figure. It sounds like I’m describing my No. 1 horse, and I was very tempted to move him up to the top, but couldn’t get my feet out of the quicksand. Maybe that will change in the next two weeks.


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

Flower Alley – Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch

He regressed almost 2 points on Thoro-Graph in the Santa Anita Derby, but with an 8-week layoff between races, it’s hard to call it a bounce. There’s no reason why he won’t improve and run another big number in the Derby, as he did in the Lewis. As I’ve been saying, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of this horse. If there is any question mark it’s whether or not he has enough of a foundation under him. Fortunately, his stretch duel with Creative Cause helped in that regard and got him battle-tested. As for his modest 94 Beyer figure, I don’t think anyone questions his and Creative Cause’s speed. And it is my opinion that California tends to get lower Beyers anyway. I’ll Have Another made a big jump to run a 96 in the Lewis in his first start in five months. It’s hard to believe he doesn’t have a faster number than that in him with the Santa Anita Derby under his belt. His main strength is his tactical speed and ability to carry it a long way. Following his pattern of long works, O’Neill breezed him 6 furlongs in 1:13 3/5 at Hollywood and will ship to Churchill on April 28 with Creative Cause, so both should have their final work at Churchill. This may sound insignificant, but the fact is that 18 of the last 20 Derby winners had at least one work over the track. That is not a coincidence.


Bodemeister Bob Baffert Click Here!

Empire Maker—Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat

Like the majority of Baffert’s Derby horses, he’ll have two works at Churchill Downs, and I wouldn’t expect we’ll be seeing any blazing drills, coming off that monster performance at Oaklawn Park. Despite his speed and the fact that he won the Arkansas Derby on the front end, he has the ability to settle on or just off the lead, and we could very well be seeing a cat and mouse game between him and Hansen, as they likely will be sitting behind the sprinter Trinniberg. His main strength is his ability to maintain a brisk pace early and still come home fast, which makes him all the more dangerous. He’s the only Derby horse to have earned a negative Thoro-Graph number, so you always have to be wary of the bounce if you use that tool, especially with him being so lightly raced. But unlike most lightly raced horses with no 2-year-old races, he had nearly 30 works before his first start, so it’s not like there’s no foundation at all. He is a lot fitter than one would think for a horse with only four career starts. Baffert said he was just immature and he didn’t want to run him at Del Mar, so he gave him time, and he’s really matured over the last three months. And remember, he has a pedigree that is geared toward stamina, so all in all, he’s quite an interesting and lively package.


Gemologist Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Tiznow—Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector

Drilled five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 in company at Palm Meadows, where Pletcher has the place almost all to himself. You can put him at No. 1 or No. 6, there is so little separating each horse. I just can’t displace the others I’ve already had ahead of him. His Thoro-Graph pattern is strong and he probably still has more improvement in him. If there is a question surrounding him it’s whether or not he got enough out of his two races this year. He had to dig in to defeat Alpha in the Wood Memorial, which he needed, but he did loaf a bit in the stretch, throwing his ears around. And his first start was pretty much a stroll in the park in a small field. Even though he’s 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs it still would have been nice to see him work over the track. But he doesn’t ship in until the Tuesday of Derby week.


Alpha Kiaran McLaughlin

Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky

As I said last week, he was my main overlay bet, and I was starting to get a good feeling about him. But his schedule has been altered a bit too much because of an infection to his leg to feel as confident as I did before. He was scheduled to van to Kentucky the Monday after the Wood and have two works at Churchill Downs – loved it. But because of the infection, he now will have only one work at Belmont and fly to Kentucky on Monday of Derby week. That is a major change in plans, with the bottom line being he’s going to have only one work in four weeks, and it’s not going to be at Churchill. Remember that stat I mentioned above. On top of that, McLaughlin was quoted as saying “He’s not out of the woods yet.” And at this time he still doesn’t have a jockey. Ramon Dominguez, who is winless since returning from injury, no doubt is waiting to see what happens with Alpha before committing to him or Hansen. Dr. Hansen believes he’s going to stick with his horse. Alpha supposedly is doing fine and is looking forward to getting back to serious training. If this colt can pull off the Derby, he most certainly will have earned it, with all the uncertainties, setbacks, and changes in plans over the past few months. I still think he can be a major factor if things start going right for him.


Hansen Mike Maker

Tapit—Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat

The addition of Trinniberg to the Derby field should actually help him, as it should force him to take back and try to settle off the pace. The Blue Grass, while an excellent effort, was not the kind of prep you want to see right before the Derby. It was fine for a race like the Haskell, but it is imperative that this colt settles in the Derby, preferably off the pace, as so few horses have won the Derby on the front end. And the ones who have, established a clear lead throughout the race, and in most cases there wasn’t a lot of other speed in there. If he establishes a clear lead with Trinniberg and Bodemeister and a few others in there, it means he’s going too fast. He still has to be regarded as a leading contender because of his exceptional brilliance and natural ability. I just wish the Blue Grass had provided a better learning experience for him and got him in the habit of taking back naturally. I feel he has the temperament to rate off the pace with no problem, but horses are creatures of habit, and the more times he goes to the front, the more he’s going to think that’s where he’s supposed to be.


Take Charge Indy Pat Byrne Click Here!

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

Everyone seems to be lumping him in with the possible pace horses in the Derby, as if that has been his m.o. throughout his career. The Florida Derby was the first time he’s ever been anywhere near the lead except for his career debut. He set the pace at Gulfstream because it was handed to him on the proverbial silver platter, and he certainly made the most of it. This is a sneaky horse who is going to go off at much higher odds than he should. His speed figures are nothing to rave about, but like a few of the others, I don’t believe we’ve anything close to his best. We do know he has an explosive move on the turn, as evidenced by his first start of the year against El Padrino and his Arlington-Washington Futurity. He ran a sneaky-good race in the BC Juvenile, and with his pedigree, has developed into a much better horse. He is another I wish would have had his final work at Churchill, but he at least had a bullet work over the track before last year’s Breeders’ Cup. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make a big threatening move on the turn from at least a half-dozen lengths back. It’s just a question whether he’s good enough. But he will make his presence felt.


El Padrino Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Pulpit—Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway

I’m surprised at the number of people who simply don’t like this horse and never have, even when he was ranked in the top 3 by most of the experts. I believe the reason is that he’s not flashy and doesn’t blow you away with his brilliance. He is perceived as one of those unexciting, one-paced horses who just grinds his way to the finish, doing only what he has to to get the job done. But the truth is, he is one of only two horses, along with Bodemeister, to have run a triple-digit Beyer and followed it up with a figure of as high as 98. That alone makes him a legitimately fast horse. Whatever excuse or excuses you want to give him for his Florida Derby effort, he did run the exact same Thoro-Graph number he did in his first two starts; a number that despite his “dull” performance, was faster than Take Charge Indy’s and Union Rags.’ As for individual races, only Bodemeister, Creative Cause, Hansen, and I’ll Have Another have run faster, and the last three (Bodemeister’s was in his last start) all regressed off those efforts. He has run fast three times in a row and hasn’t regressed yet; not even a quarter of a point. And that’s with one of those races being the worst performance of his career. And if the track should come up sloppy, he broke his maiden by 12 ¾ lengths in a quagmire and blew right by Take Charge Indy on a “good” track at Gulfstream. Perhaps this horse has a better shot than people think. He’s another I’d love to have higher, and he just may start climbing as the race gets closer.


Daddy Nose Best Steve Asmussen Click Here!

Scat Daddy—Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch

I cannot recall any year when a horse like this was No. 11. You just don’t know what to do with these live price horses. If you’re not content with single-digit odds, then the bottom half of this list is the way to go. It’s like buying all of Book 2 at Keeneland and stacking them up two years later against Book 1. If this horse is a big price on Derby Day I will certainly be putting a few bucks on him. But there has been a buzz around him; at least there was before all the formful grade I preps. Now I’m not so sure he won’t be a good price. He has improved dramatically this year, but in lesser races, and he hasn’t beaten anything of note. And he’ll be coming into the Derby off a six-week layoff and only two starts this year. With that said, he’s been at Churchill for a while and is training brilliantly with three works already, and has more bottom than anyone in the race, with eight races at a mile or longer. And if you want to go back far enough he did finish four lengths ahead of Dullahan in a 5 ½-furlong maiden race on the dirt at Churchill Downs, for whatever that’s worth.


Went the Day Well Graham MotionClick Here!

Proud Citizen—Tiz Maie’s Day, by Tiznow

It’s so close for the final three spots, and it’s tough leaving Sabercat, one of my early picks, off the list. But I just feel Went the Day Well is a bit more win-ready, following a similar path as American Kingdom. He is on a good pattern, speed-wise, making a good jump forward in the Spiral Stakes and is going into the Derby off the same six weeks as Animal Kingdom. I don’t like that long a layoff, but you can’t argue with what worked for Team Valor last year. I also like the fact that this colt has a European training and racing foundation under him, running in 11- and 14-horse fields, carrying 126 and 129 pounds, and finishing close seconds at one-mile and a mile and 70-yards. And he has the pedigree to go long and a very smooth and efficient stride. So, all in all, he’s pretty solid for a longshot, and he has the potent John Velazquez – Graham Motion team going for him. Not bad for No. 12.


Leave a Comment:


Appreciate your analysis Steve, as always.

My "Dozen" is a little different:

Union Rags - Matz has a master plan for him.

Dullahan - Strong closing kick, should appreciate pace and distance.

Creative Cause - Here based on his consistency.

I'll Have Another - I think he is special horse, liked him for a long time.

Bodemeister - I think he peaked in Arkansas, but keeping him here just in case.

El Padrino - Trakus says he traveled the furthest in the Florida Derby.

Take Charge Indy - Should get a nice rise from Borel.

Gemologist - IMO he is over hyped, but talented none the less.

Daddy Nose Best - Giant strides, raced twice at 1 1/8 miles, seasoned.

Went the Day Well - Like that he has already raced on dirt and won.

Alpha - A steady colt, but IMO he is too slow, but he is bred for this race.

Hansen - IMO, he won't get the distance, he's too fast for his own good, and that's what will do him in.

23 Apr 2012 4:22 PM

I finally watched the UAE Derby on YouTube.


Daddy Long Legs was dominant throughout, taking the lead at will and never threatened. The best race any of the contenders have run, and yet not a stressful race.

Waiting for the post positions, but at the moment he's my number one.

The horse with the best genes has overcome "No class in the distaff" but I fear will founder on his other problem: "No class in the owner."

"We pretty well let him have his own way around the barn."

Yeah. It shows.

23 Apr 2012 4:29 PM

No knocks on picks very tough Derby. Weird as it seems, if Trinniberg had a distance race of note, I actually believe he has improved leaps and bounds from last year. I think this is the wrong move---he actually may be the up and coming horse and maybe if not rushed could show he is more than fast around 2 turns as well as one. Race plans all changed when he said he would go.

Union Rags I see everyone comparing his training to that of Barbaro-- they shouldn't-horses are not the same-he was a better horse in my opinion. Wish he had a another race in him, but he may win anyway, and who am I to challenge a top notch trainer? I would have just like to seen one more race.

Dullahan is my gut horse but not form horse--Kent just seems to find his way to good Derby horses---and do well---Yes, I know about Calvin but Kent is in a different league in the scheme of things racing. Got to use him.

Gemologist took off when looked in the eye--Alpha didn't pass which I find revealing--got to go with the horse that wants it more.

I really can't knock but don't like either. It's like the horses coming out of the Deserts -Middle East and US one at Sunland---impressive but can't buy.

I have no great confidence in either but I expect the SA Derby horses both to run in the top 4. I Have Another is my horse I hope wins the Derby because at the wickets he has been very very good to me. Two very nice scores and if CC had run 3rd rather than 2nd to him last time we would have been talking new car paid in full money. Both can win.

Bodi anyone thinking he is a fluke I believe wrong but don't like him to win although maybe the best horse for the future.

I am just going to stop---great betting race and someone will be happy after when cashing--You may be best to look for value plays and hope--tough good group--coming from different places which makes for hard comparing--no stand out ---good luck to all.

23 Apr 2012 4:37 PM
Don from PA/DE

Nice group, I have attempted to look objectively again, now await posts to make my final top 3, for now it is:

1. Gemologist

2. Creative Cause

3. Dullahan

I do feel "Gem" will do it besides his never being a loser in a race,

+ 2 CD wins, and not yet given his

all, in a 20 horse field a jockey

sure is important, but even more

important is "The Horse" what he or

she wants and can do regardless of

rider, thus, "INTELLIGENCE", and from what I have seen in "Gem" is a

very intelligent/smart/confident horse, and baring any unusual event

in the race he will finish first or

with CC and D, in that mix. Don

23 Apr 2012 4:38 PM

As we get down to the nitty-gritty I'd like to thank Steve for his insight and patience in producing the Derby Dozen.  I follow along each year.  In the RTTR challenge I usually end up in the top one thousand and am setting in the 800's this year.  Injuries and indecisive trainers really make it hard to manage a stable.  lol  As we come to the last two weeks we again have owners and trainers coming down with Derby fever.  As a past owner I must be an aberration as I always put the welfare of the horse first.  Maybe that's why I lost a lot of money, but I'm an animal lover.  I don't see Liaison, Prospective, Trinniberg, Done Talking, Mark Valeski, or Rousing Sermon having a chance in hell of winning the Derby.  Trinniberg going 3f farther than he's ever run is a case of putting ego ahead of the horse.  He will make the pace even faster than it would have been, which is very good for my Pool 1,2, and 3 future bets as I used horses who come from mid-pack or further back in exacta boxes and bet considerable win money on Dullahan, who is my selection to win it all.  I am leery of Creative Cause because of his erratic stretch runs.  If they don't iron out that problem I don't think he can win, but he is one of those I have boxed.  Bodemeister is being asked to do too much too soon and I think he, and Hansen, want to be close to the pace, which will likely compromise their chances.  Union Rags seems to love running up into trouble.  If he has to try to out kick Dullahan in the lane he'll come up short.  Same for Gemologist if he waits like he did in the Wood.  I also like Alpha and it is unfortunate that he came out of the wood with cuts on his forelegs.  The fact that he ran as well as he did after being choked back on the first turn and getting those cuts speaks volumes.  He is an improving horse.  I'll Have Another has a ton of upside but I wonder if he doesn't need a little more experience.  Daddy Long Legs and Went The Day Well have to carry synthetic form over to the Churchill Dirt and that makes them questionable.  My top five are Dullahan, Alpha, Gemologist, I'll Have Another and Union Rags.

23 Apr 2012 4:42 PM

I took copious notes Steve.  It sure seems like if ever there was a year for works, post position, trip, and weather, this is it.  

Like others have stated previously I will most likely avoid post one and maybe two.  

Also have to say after reading your weekly Derby Dozen and other articles; it seems race preps and foundation matter along with consistent works.  So much to think about with so little time.  Oh well, it will be most interesting to read your observations next week, that's for sure!

23 Apr 2012 4:49 PM
Your Only Friend

Its a guessing game....all the racing material available does little too help breakout top 3 places.....its too close to call....that is what makes this derby so trainers / top riders may offer some insight.....they see horses everyday.

23 Apr 2012 5:11 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

1. Bodemeister- Definitely the one to beat.

2. I'll Have Another- Should close strong.

3. Creative Cause- Never count him out. He'll run his heart out for sure.

4. Gemologist- Needs another jump forward.

5. Daddy Nose Best- Have a feeling he's a talented dirt horse and will move forward again.

6. Take Charge Indy- His last two are far better than given credit for and has Borel.

7. Union Rags- Has a chance if he has a nice trip and misses rush hour traffic but how is he going to miss rush hour traffic in The Derby?

8. El Padrino- Best shot might be off track.

9. Alpha- I don't like the infection setback.

10. Hansen- Is he going to hook up with Trinniberg, rate or get the early lead?

11. Mark Valeski- Lost a shoe in his last, and battled El Pad all the way prior to that. Four strong races in a row.

12. Sabercat- He can get a piece. Maybe.

13. Dullahan- Quick pullup.

23 Apr 2012 5:18 PM

Nice work by Mark V at Churchill.  Seems like one fine, tough horse who is to be considered at long odds.  Love having Rosie on him too.

Steve, love your comments on El P.  He was my early pick and I admit, I had one foot off his bandwagon after the FD.  

IHA is my lukewarm pick right now.  Anxious to see how he works at Churchill.

23 Apr 2012 6:23 PM

I'm gonna wait for Draynays comment. I'm totally in the dark without him!

23 Apr 2012 6:48 PM

This is the best derby since Big Brown and I am going to be there, there is a god in the sky, looks like to me it will be between Creative Cause,love Bodemeister, Baffert is the best, Dullahan, love his jockey real money guy, But I feel Union Rags is the best Matz has been hiding him all spring all jockey has to do is feed him race track, loed him since first time a saw him, but Mr Haskin yr right it is a riders race

23 Apr 2012 6:54 PM

Mr. Haskin,

I like to play the Oaks-Derby Double. Do you have any thoughts about the horse(s) to play in Oaks.

23 Apr 2012 6:57 PM
Indiana Johnny

Steve, Who would be your top 3 picks based on their pedigree?

        Thanks, Johnny

23 Apr 2012 7:09 PM

Not much has changed; I can't narrow it down below 8.  Still stand by my statement 3 weeks back that Daddy Nose Best will be the wise guy horse.  

23 Apr 2012 7:42 PM

Great dozen Steve, thanks for your thoughts. For those interested youtube 2012/04/20 On Fire Baby breeze,  the publisher StephDarrinRogers must be a local and has some backside clout cus last yr he posted daily track activity as well as some backside interviews. I hope you all enjoy and maybe see something that will help us get to the windows and cash......

23 Apr 2012 7:57 PM

I truly can't make up my mind.  The draw will have some eliminations maybe.  I kind of jumped off the band wagon of UR but your comments about not being tuned up for peak effort are looking spot on.  I just don't think Matz can do it twice.  

My top 5 if someone put a gun to my head but no where close to being ready.  

Great job Steve, love your post.  Thanks for your insight.  Let's hope no defections of top horse's this year.  

Steve 1 question for you.  What is your best bet of choice on The Derby? I am sure the pic 4 and pic 6 are your best on Derby Day.  I still have nightmares on my buddy and my pic 4 bet with Super Saver that we ended up not playing.  

Union Rags

Creative Cause



Daddy Know Best

23 Apr 2012 8:20 PM

don't think its going to be the great odds and wild payouts everyone is predicting. my guess BODE and UR both go off less than 5-1, gemologist, CC, and maybe hansen all around 6-1. BODE still my #1 with UR #2. not worried about the rest.

23 Apr 2012 8:55 PM
Mike Monarchos


Where do ya get these Thoro-graph speed figures?

Are they more accurate than Beyer? You said that the Thoro-graph figures for El Padrino are consistantly good. What are they?

I saw that Mark Valeski had a good work. Does Larry Jones ride him during works? If so Mark Valeski is carrying at least 180 lbs!  have always thought that the weight of the rider should be listed along with the time, distance, and track conditions. Maybe it's just me, but is makes sense.

Anyway, Mark Valeski should have no trouble carrying 126 lbs in the Derby.


23 Apr 2012 9:52 PM
Eric Rickard

What a year! I still can't get use to the "new training" methods. Love that creative Cause started out with a 7 Furlong race; now that's old school. The meandering in the stretch scares me. If he trains well at Churchill and draws well; he will be in the top two. I want another, awesome baby. But only two races? Him and Creative Cause have the Tactical speed to get a good trip if the draw allows. Waiting to see how he trains over Churchill , Also. My top two

Bodiemeister, very talented. There was no way he was going to beat Creative Cause in the San Felipe. Took a step forward, but reminds me of a Congaree or Indian Charlie.

Union Rags, love the trainer and the story. Very good horse. If you pay attention to speed figs, doesn't fit. Always has an excuse. Too wide, stuck in traffic, too easy of a race. It is like everyone is rooting for him, I am included in that. Maybe Matz is a genius. If top two draw bad , than I move him up.

Gemologist. Undefeated and in my opinion untested. I like how he shrugged of Alpha in the wood. But, whom has he beat? Likes Churchill, exacta , try and super horse.

Hansen is consistent and brilliant. Wanted to bet him big in the Juvenile, let my brain tell me that he beat know one.  Fooled me once. I believe he can rate. Coasted on the lead once he put his stable mate away. I do not believe that he was asked when they saw Dullahan pass them. No reason too. In the exotics. Top four.

Dullahan is a closer. How many real closers have one the Derby? Needs the perfect trip and the ones above all to falter. No tactical speed. Third or fourth at best.

Mark Valeski and El padrino. To close to seperate.  Good honest horses. If the others draw bad and they draw good. Watch out.

Daddy knows best is a good horse also. Reminds me of an Awesome Gem. Not a Derby horse. Doesn't make him a bad horse; just not a Derby horse.

Obrien's horse will have to prove it too me.

Take Charge Indy wou;ld be my sentimental favorite. But I believe is a step below the top two.

That is it for now. Good luck to all. See you in Kentucky.


23 Apr 2012 10:05 PM

"Then again, it’s quite possible I have no idea what I’m talking about."

Great out-loud-laugh line, Steve :)

This is a closely matched group and once Out Of Bounds left I have had a hard time remaining true to a single favorite.  Each has the upside and downside.  Personally, I would love to see Creative Cause win if only because you have remained faithful to him for such a long time, and I do not doubt his ability, only that of his rider.  Never have doubted the rider to this extent before, yet this year I have the same question about Dullahan, who I also greatly admire.  If I throw those two out for that reason alone, I am left with Done Talking, Went The Day Well, Bodemeister, Union Rags, and Daddy Nose Best.  I adore Hansen but have returned to doubting his ability to get the distance.  Union Rags is enormously talented but I still suspect he has traffic issues, where DT and WTDW have shown (me at least) they have no such problems.

What is funny is Trinniberg could run away with it all and leave me scratching my head wondering why I didn't see it :)

This may be the most fun Derby to pick in many many years, and I confess, I am loving it!

23 Apr 2012 10:06 PM

People think way too much, its obvious now.

1 - Union Rags

2 - Creative Cause

3 - Take Charge Indy

4 - Dullahan

This is the group that is ready to roll and fills up the Super. Best of luck to you all.    

23 Apr 2012 10:12 PM

Union Rags, Take Charge Indy, and Mark Valeski.  I'm betting on these three lovely horses, but also betting on their jockeys. Hopefully, crazy Castellano will just give Gemologist a good trip instead of messing with my boy Union Rags.  Obviously, I'm not a fan of Castellano, dangerous jockey.  I love Mark Valeski also; he should have won the Risen Star, but Castellano bumped him so many times down the stretch, hard to believe he got away with that aboard El Padrino. Good luck Rosie aboard Mark Valeski.

Of course, Union Rags is my man.

23 Apr 2012 10:29 PM

It is so difficult to figure this  field out, but it seems that a lot of the top rankings each week are the "hot horse" who just blew away the field, and the usual 2 big names (Rags and Hansen) shuffling around. Dullahan and Bodemeister for example, are ones who are being pegged as superstars a day after there were some big question marks. Such a deep field that a horse who is undefeated in 5 starts is halfway down on most everyone's lists. Steve mentioned all the talk assuming Take Charge Indy is a speed horse, and not how he is very versatile horse who can be placed anywhere. Just observations as food for thought, and what influenced my list. And every year Kent D always says his Derby horse is the best thing he's ridden.

Top 4 are pretty set. Want to see how everyone looks/trains. Top 15:

--Union Rags

--Daddy Nose Best  (big mistake to count him out)

--Take Charge Indy  (versatile & very dangerous w Borel)

--I'll Have Another

--Alpha  (would've had Gemologist if he wasnt checked/stepped on- but training big ??)


--Sabrecat (hoping hes peaking at right time to hit board at huge odds)

--Bodemeister  (Just HOW good is he... w so little experience)

--Dullahan  (better on turf/synthetic?)

--Went the Day Well

--Creative Cause (overrated in my book)

--Hansen (even less convinced after last week)

--El Padrino  (yep he made it)

--Mark Valeski  (distance biggg ??)

--Daddy Long Legs (don't think the euros will get their Derby win unless it's someone like Frankel)

the rest of the field is major ?? for even starting let alone not coming in last: Liason (not convinced of his SA excuses), Prospective (they were doubtful he'd run), Trinniberg, and Rousing Sermon.

23 Apr 2012 11:26 PM

If ALPHA wins this thing I'm going to be a big loser!  Although, he could come in handy in my super.  

EL PADRINO will have to get a dream trip & few lengths head start on UNION RAGS.  

SABERCAT'S gonna have a full tank of gas but will there be holes?

I'LL HAVE ANOTHER is one that's going to stay out of trouble & be in good position.  Where will he post???


HANSEN will be fightingbtobthe wire.  Will he make the top four?

DULLAHAN with his great kick will be too little too late...gut feeling.  If he has no distance limitations then DESORMEAUX better have him front of mid pack & out of trouble.  

WENT THE DAY WELL is JV'S attempt at same book, next page.  Could very well work.

If BOREL pulls a MINE THAT BIRD with TAKE CHARGE INDY, "turn out the lights, the party's over", UNLESS, UNION RAGS gets the perfect trip, THEN, it's DON MEREDITH at the microphone for UR!


I Just want to see posts & hear what's being said on shed row, most notably, the professor himself, STEVE HASKIN!

23 Apr 2012 11:45 PM

josh, bohemiastable, and readandblacksilks, I can say I agree with a lot of the things mentioned in their comments. Just some quick thoughts after reading some of the first comments... anyone wanting to say Daddy Long Legs' Dubai form speaks for itself gets thrown out the window when I saw the top American dirt horses ran/injuries that day on that "surface". I'll bet he will run like he did last year at Churchill first.

*Biggest advice to give to handicappers: take note of how a horse looks physically- pay attention to what Steve and others say about their coat and how their appearance is on the track-

As a horseman that is a factor in how I normally bet (with good success the handful of times I go each year). Last year, after being shocked that Mine that Bird slipped under my nose, I doubly made sure to read every article I could find each week, analyzing the preps and the derby dozens and the photos.. but overall I went with horses who looked to be peaking at the right time and looked the best physically- something that was mentioned at least twice about Mine that Bird the week before his win. Last year that was Animal Kingdom (I bet him to win and had him in all my boxes) and Shackleford. I liked Mucho to hit the board but not Nehro who messed up what could have been an amazing trifecta with with my nice AK win bet. However I hit the Trifecta in the Preakness by sticking with my Derby picks..

...just some advice from all the racing I've seen that I hope helps people have some derby luck.

Other than my top 4, I keep looking at the top 10, top 13 even and thinking that it's really just a toss up of luck combined with horse and jockey talent. Even Liason or Trinniberg could pull a major upset, having major wins at graded stakes level regardless of all the form and distance questions.

24 Apr 2012 12:03 AM

Steve, I love this year's run up to the Derby and your work on providing the top twelve has been superb. I love your comment on Daddy Nose Best,"I cannot recall any year when a horse like this was No. 11". This sums up just how good this group of horses is this year and how difficult it is to separate them and rank them. I can't help but love Daddy Nose Best's chances this year. I was wondering if you have thorographs numbers on him; if I'm not mistaken his Dam sire's numbers made him( Thunder Gulch) the Thorograph pick to win the 1995 Derby at 25-1! That pick really help put thorograph in the limelight as a handicapping tool. I can't help but think that this years Derby could have a pace scenario very similar to that of the 1995 Derby when Serena's Song set a fairly fast pace of 22 and change, 45 and change, 1:10 and change, while Thunder Gulch tracked in the first level and then charged down the stretch, much the best that day. I could see Trinniberg this year setting a similar type pace, setting it up for a horse just like Daddy Nose Best to show his class and heritage, a horse who is undefeated this year, who has shown his stamina in winning the Sunland Derby in that sky high atmosphere,simply amazing.

could he be 25-1 this year!

24 Apr 2012 12:43 AM
Steve Haskin

Josh, Dr. D, BigTex, good comments

Redandblacksilks, thank you

Indian Johnny,  Most of these horses have excellent pedigrees. I like I’ll Have Another, Creative Cause, Alpha, and Bodemeister, and El Padrino. Of course, Dullahan is a brother to Mine That Bird.

Antman, I’m not a pick 6 or 4 player. I don’t get involved in the other races, just the Derby. I still like the trifectas and you can get some great prices in the exacta.

Mike Monarchos, someone sends them to me. They and Beyers are just tools. T-Graph needs more interpretation. They don’t give you the winner, you have to figure it out yourself. Neither are fully accurate. The Beyers are more cut and dry. Larry only gallops his horses, he never works them.

24 Apr 2012 1:32 AM

"Despite his (Bodemeister's)speed and the fact that he won the Arkansas Derby on the front end, he has the ability to settle on or just off the lead, and we could very well be seeing a cat and mouse game between him and Hansen, as they likely will be sitting behind the sprinter Trinniberg. His main strength is his ability to maintain a brisk pace early and still come home fast, which makes him all the more dangerous."

Yes Steve, I agree. But Bode won his two races wire to wire on the lead. The two races where he used his "ability to sit just off the pace" Bode LOST!

Of the two, only Hansen has won a race sitting just off the pace and holding off the stalkers in the stretch (the Gotham). Bode has been passed twice in the stretch when rating and taking over the lead...and his Bris pace figures are much lower than Hansen's for E1 and E2 in any of his races, especially when you compare then Ark Derby with the BGS.

I am very cautious of a horse being asked to do so much. He is no Big Brown...who dominated every race prior to the Derby. So, I do not know what to do with him. But I do know Hansen has rated and won and Bode has NOT.

So, in order to win Bode is going to have to do something Bode has NEVER done in 4 races--Rate and Win. Even Big Brown and Hard Spun had accomplished a rating win at 1 mile or over prior to the Derby....even Hansen has done this.

Why is this no big deal for Bodemeister?

24 Apr 2012 7:32 AM

My list is different. All I have are simple comments, so enjoy and laugh at it. These picks are pending the post position draw. However, I will make a stand with my top pick - no matter what.

My Top Pick

WENT THE DAY WELL: I've stated in the previous "Dozens" why I like this horse and I am taking a stand with this one in the belief that stamina will trump speed at this distance.

My Second Pick

CREATIVE CAUSE: as I've stated before, this horse has won all his gallop-outs (sans one, legit excuse) and may be screaming for more distance

The Others

DADDY NOSE BEST: the only one in the field with two wins at 9F.

EL PADRINO: as Steve stated "The Forgotten Horse"; has the proper running style for the Derby and I'm willing to give him a mulligan for the Prep; however, it does worry me a bit that he has done worse the longer he goes; wet track moves him up

GEMOLOGIST: undefeated but the question remains "Who has he run against?" Ask yourself if that was his decision. Otherwise, he's done everything asked of him.

HANSEN: he is the class of the speedsters and I expect him to outlast BODEMEISTER and definitely TRINNIBERG.

Last year I had SHACKLEFORD as my Top Pick for the Derby. It looked like he was home free when he cut the corner - and cut it nicely he did! But it was not meant to be. I can live with that. Shorter odds in the Preakness and not hitting the board in the Belmont - 33% ain't bad at the odds I got with him.

And you might as well bet on the long odds because you will never see the same kinds of odds on these horses ever again once this series is done.

@predict: I don't think DNB will go that high for the reasons you have just stated. GEM is also undefeated this year and he's done it on or close to the front end.

24 Apr 2012 8:22 AM
The Legend

Steve do you think that Alpha will be scratched out of the Derby? He has had only one work and it is well documented that he came our of the Wodd all banged up. And now Dominguez announces he will ride Hansen. What are your thoughts?

24 Apr 2012 9:58 AM

To auburnbob:  I like Summer Applause in the Oaks and will put her with some closers/stalkers in the KD for some double plays.  She seems to have a pretty good stretch kick and should be around at the end.  As for the KD, they seem fairly evenly matched this year and the favorite may go off at 5 or 6-1.  As others have posted a lot depends on the PP draw where a pace horse on the inside will be forced to expend energay early so as not to get shuffled back.

24 Apr 2012 10:03 AM

Union Rags is a man playing with boys and if you Don't Have ALPHA on your ticket you're nuts !  He was born to run 1 1/4.

24 Apr 2012 10:12 AM
Saratoga AJ

This may be one of the best crops of 3 yr olds in a while.

It should be a blistering pace, especially now with Trinniberg in the mix. Add Hansen, Take Charge Indy, Bodemeister...maybe a couple more in what should be a burn out type pace.

Bodemeister may go off the fave  BUT did not run a race as a 2 yr. old. And that's a no-no for a Derby prospect. Even an undefeated at the time, future 2 time HOTY couldn't pull it off.....I mean Curlin of course. (and his Arkansas Derby win was even more impressive than Bode,  coincidentally). Only happened once....130 years ago in 1882. Bet against that history at your own risk.

Front runners folding is a deep closer's delight.

Dullahan is a closer, but his PP's indicate he can't run at his best on dirt. And is 0-2 at CD.

I don't care to bet the California duo of Creative Cause and I'll Have Another. If they beat me so be it.

So, if I were to bet the Derby today, I would use 3 entries... Gemologist (I believe he will lay off the pace like he did in the Wood...and loved how he came back  Alpha hooked him). And  the two deep closer's that I know like dirt....Rags and Alpha. Also, Gemoologist and Rags love Churchill...another important angle

since Churchill is a VERY bias surface. Some really good horses could not win there.

I may use a couple of overlays with those 3. And rest assured there will be a few of those in this talented field. The odds on many of these entrants may be higher than you'll ever see again.

24 Apr 2012 10:43 AM


24 Apr 2012 10:45 AM

i researched this years derby hopefuls to see which ones had both the lineage of bull lea and bold ruler. the following horses met both criteria. alpha, bodemeister,creative cause,el padrino,hansen,saber cat,union rags and went the day well. i will make my exacta and triple boxes using these horses once i narrow down the field by post position(1,5,10 and 20 best), jockey(by standing) and works at churchill. since this is too logical i will use my gut and use my derby favorite i"ll have another in all my wagers. good luck to all!

24 Apr 2012 10:54 AM
Saratoga AJ

This may be one of the best crops of 3 yr olds in a while.

It should be a blistering pace, especially now with Trinniberg in the mix. Add Hansen, Take Charge Indy, Bodemeister...maybe a couple more in what should be a burn out type pace.

Bodemeister may go off the fave  BUT did not run a race as a 2 yr. old. And that's a no-no for a Derby prospect. Even an undefeated at the time, future 2 time HOTY couldn't pull it off.....I mean Curlin of course. (and his Arkansas Derby win was even more impressive than Bode,  coincidentally). Only happened once....130 years ago in 1882. Bet against that history at your own risk.

Front runners folding is a deep closer's delight.

Dullahan is a closer, but his PP's indicate he can't run at his best on dirt. And is 0-2 at CD.

I don't care to bet the California duo of Creative Cause and I'll Have Another. If they beat me so be it.

So, if I were to bet the Derby today, I would use 3 entries... Gemologist (I believe he will lay off the pace like he did in the Wood...and loved how he came back  Alpha hooked him). And  the two deep closer's that I know like dirt....Rags and Alpha. Also, Gemoologist and Rags love Churchill...another important angle

since Churchill is a VERY bias surface. Some really good horses could not win there.

I may use a couple of overlays with those 3. And rest assured there will be a few of those in this talented field. The odds on many of these entrants may be higher than you'll ever see again.

24 Apr 2012 10:56 AM
The Legend

Steve is it true that I'll Have Another has been placed on the Vet's list at Santa Anita? Can you please confirm this?

24 Apr 2012 11:14 AM
Pedigree Ann

Take Charge Indy has never been able to 'sit off the pace' and win yet; he has had to be either on the lead or be lapped on the leader. Check what happened when he sat back going 2 turns in the Breeders' Futurity and BCJuvie; never hit the lead and backed up late. All of a sudden he's going to be able to do something he's never been able to do before? It is not like they haven't tried it already.

24 Apr 2012 11:58 AM

This is one of the best 3yo's in a few years. I would think since Street Sense, Hard Spun and Curlin. Don't forget, there were some other nice horses in that group also any given Sat., Trufelsburg and so forth. Saying that, I don't think we have a 2yo champion that can go a mile and a quarter. Bodemeister, Dullahan and Rags have the best chance of winning. The way I play, I am looking for the horse that can finish 3 or 4th. The only problem with that is I think the best one is not going to make the field!!

24 Apr 2012 1:13 PM

I LOVE El Padrino! I think he ran hard down the stretch in the Risen Star that it took a little more than usual out of him. I believe he will be ready come May 5! He needs to wake up and stay a little more focused though.. Major plus, hope that track is muddy! :D

24 Apr 2012 1:57 PM

Saatoga AJ:  I don't think CD's surface is biased during the course of a meet.  Granted, there are horses for courses and some do wonderful at certain tracks and fail miserably on others.  As far as turf to dirt or polycrap to dirt it's just like rolling the dice and hoping for a positive outcome.  It seems, to me at least, that most tracks have joined the trend of souping up their surfaces for major races in an attempt at faster times and the winner seemingly giving the race a sorta prestige shot in the arm while doing it.  It seems that most of the derby preps are more conducive to pace types than deep closers in recent years. I think Optimizer, Street Life and Najjaar all had their chances compromised in their recent preps due to surface being changed for a specific day.  Other than the Illinois Derby this year I think all of the prep winners have been on or near the lead.  (Poly doesn't count)As a result what we're likely facing this year of possibly half the field out on the pace.  Trinniberg may have 9 at his heels until the final turn when he'll likely spit the bit.  The split between 6f and 1m may be very fast and could possibly set up Rousing Sermon may be the only two that have shown consistent closing capabilities.  

24 Apr 2012 2:17 PM
Mister Frisky

Don't get Dullahan,Ok so he is a half to a Ky Derby winner,but that winner was a fluke and never won a race again.If Lukas tells the owner of a four year old gelding to put him out to pasture that says it all.By Even The Score by Unbridled Song doesn't want the trip.But I'm ecstatic he will by getting play.Rags over Alpha,Gemologist,CC, and IHA.Believe it.

24 Apr 2012 2:23 PM

Mike Monarchos-

Email me at and I will forward you over those thoro-graph numbers on ElPadrino... I have the entire fields numbers through Thoro-graph...

24 Apr 2012 2:27 PM

It is the Derby!  Three-year-olds, huge field, too much excitement...anything can happen unless you have a real,Seattle Slew-style monster in the race.  Since it seems there are several good horses but no actual stand-outs thus far, I am going with Take Charge Indy (love his sire, love his dam and, well, he's got Calvin Borel).  I love Hansen but they'll have to keep his owner in the stands somehow (no dye jobs please) and I do like Union Rags.  Okay, this is mostly based on sentiment but heck, that is a good as anything else in this field!

24 Apr 2012 2:31 PM

"If you don't have APLHA on your tickets, you are nuts." Which on eof your 5 is it? And pleeeeeeeease get off my horse, Jinx.

24 Apr 2012 2:35 PM
Lise from Maine


My picks are:

Take Charge Indy



Lise from Maine

24 Apr 2012 2:38 PM
marilyn braudrick

Steve, here's a piece of news that just might fit the dream i had about Paynter/  Zayat stables emailed me today on facebook when i asked about Paynter

Zayat Stables LLC commented on their Wall post.

Zayat Stables LLC wrote:"Hi Marilyn . . . "he's doing awesome! He just arrived at Churchill downs today. He is running friday in the Derby Trial G3 at churchill. Get ready! He's training big"

so . . .

that dream of him winning the "Derby" might not have been the "Kentucky Derby" but the Derby Trial " on Friday and it's a grade 3.  You just never know about these dreams. They are very literal.and the dream did say "The Derby"--- I assumed it was the Kentucky Derby--I am certainly going to bet on him this Friday in the Derby Trial.

24 Apr 2012 4:11 PM
marilyn braudrick

it appears that the Derby Trial at churchill downs is on sat. night, not Friday as the zayat people stated in their messaget

24 Apr 2012 5:47 PM
Scott's Cause

I have heard/read that 90-95% of the Derby winners are either 1st or 2nd at the (I want to say 1/4 pole) 1/8 pole.  Any one else knows about this?  That leaves out many deep closers. (Dullahan)  Listening to Steve Byk who had Doug O'Neill on last week.  Doug said "My last derby I just wanted my horse not to get hurt, so I kinda babied him.  This time I am going to work I'll Have Another to make sure he's super fit"  I liked this horse before, I like him better now.  Steve Byk always preaches the horses that can do 24-48-etc. usually win the Derby.  El Padrino looks like a fit.  I am going to really try to stay aware of the workouts and hidden innuendos of the trainers, jockeys as they come along.  One thing I am confident of, "This race is wide open."  And this is from a guy who lucked into last years exacta.  Being a little bit good and a whole lot lucky might be the way to approach this one....

24 Apr 2012 6:45 PM
El Kabong

Scott's Cause,

It's the 1/8 pole, meaning the 9 Furlong mark of a 10F race= 1/8 of a mile to go to the finish.  I'm not sure about 90-95%, but it is high, although it would not leave out deep closers. Look where the 1/8 pole is located on a churchill configuration. It's almost half way down the stretch. That leaves closers plenty of time to make their initial move in the far turn, Keep moving in the turn for home, be about 6th or 8th at the top of the lane and hit a hole for home. Look at Derby Charts for 122, 123, 127, 133rd running for good examples of how that happens. Animal Kingdom (137) was only a 1/2 length off that mark in 3rd and Giacomo (131) was 2 1/2 lengths in 6th but it's possible. Animal Kingdom and Street Sense did it without a hot pace. The others needed a low 1:10 or a 109+  6 furlong  time=hot pace.  

Pedigree Ann,

Super Saver had not rated either, but it is possible and with Calvin, it is very possible. He is very good in this situation and he can make it happen. This horse is a tough read, but he is raw talent. Calvin does well with these. Remember, Street Sense was not a deep closer in his two preps, but in the Derby, Calvin made him one.

24 Apr 2012 9:40 PM

The importance of surface is greatly over-rated by people creating a new cottage industry from pontificating on it.

I thought so last year too. Good horses were scratched off everybody's list because they had no dirt form. I bet Animal Kingdom, Brilliant Speed and Master of Hounds straight up. Worked out pretty well.

Few of these horses have demonstrated a marked inability to handle any surface. I think most trainers keeping their young stock off the dirt are doing so because the amount of wear and tear and the risk of injury is significantly lower on grass and artificial surfaces.

24 Apr 2012 10:13 PM

Saratoga AJ:

You said "Front runners folding is a deep closer's delight."

Ummm, not if five horses back off the pace into your face, checking your momentum and forcing you seven-wide.

24 Apr 2012 10:15 PM
El Kabong


If Mine That Bird was a fluke, how did he hit the board in the Preakness(3rd) and Belmont 2nd(and not by much). In light of that achievement, no one should call him a fluke. The he never won again is a mute point when you consider his TC achievements on dry fast or sloppy surfaces. Winning isn't everything. Besides the point is that the breeding gets the distance. Dullahan's breeding is superb, very disappointed you can't see that. Look again, and this time check out the dam, that's where the stamina comes from most of the time.  But consider this, he ran the fastest 9F prep on a track(Keeneland) that usually produces the slowest time of all the major preps. Look at past BG times in comparison to all the major preps since the change to synthetic. The Bluegrass has never been the best 9F prep race time.  I can't believe that is not a flare for most folks.  He closed on a fast pace in that race and finished his last 3F's in 34 and change. He did the same thing in the Palm chasing a slow pace on grass. He gets stronger as the race goes on, no matter what the surface. He will mop up going 10F's no matter what the pace, but a hot one will seal the deal. I am still at a loss for those who think dirt is the issue. IF it was, he would never have run 4th in the BCJ. 8th, 9th yes but he ran 4th in a shorter race where he got off to a slow start. Those dirt efforts at 2 going 6F's are foolish measures of his dirt ability. They were too short for his pedigree and He is not the same horse. He is much better, and as Steve has mentioned and I completely agree with, he is the most improved in all this class. Churchill Downs is his home track. IF he needed a race to convince his connections, they would have run him on dirt, but they know better. I hope he doesn't blow out a fast work to turn on the lights out there but it wouldn't surprise me if he did. IF you still don't get Dullahan, you can't say I didn't try :) Good luck with your wagers, it is very wide open race.

24 Apr 2012 10:19 PM
Steve Haskin

The Legend, thats true abut 'll Have Another. He had some shock treatment done just for the sake of doing it. Nothing wrong phyically. Just stimulate the blood flow

24 Apr 2012 10:31 PM

A thought on post position: the first six finishers in last year's Derby had post positions in double digits.

24 Apr 2012 11:02 PM

If there's any justice in the racing universe, Rags will win for Matz and, yes I'll say it, Barbaro. But look out for Daddy Long Legs. He was dominant when I saw him win the UAE Derby on Tapeta - he might fly on dirt. O'Brien (Cape Blanco) knows which horse to put on a plane.

24 Apr 2012 11:44 PM

Anybody want to lobby for Hansen, The Lumber Guy and Frankel on the Rowley Mile at European fall scale weights?

25 Apr 2012 12:15 AM

"If Mine That Bird was a fluke, how did he hit the board in the Preakness(3rd) and Belmont 2nd(and not by much). In light of that achievement, no one should call him a fluke."

Just to clarify: Musket Man was third in the Preakness (and third in the Derby). MTB was second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont despite Borel moving on the turn like it was 10f at CD.

25 Apr 2012 12:41 AM
Baby Jane Towser

Starting to like I'll Have Another - He has the talent, he can go the distance and he has the pedigree. I love the 4x4 Danzig especially when his sire is 3x3 to Mr. P. You gotta inbreed to something else when you have an inbred sire and the breeder shrewdly went 4x4 Danzig.  Even more, both I'll Have Another's bms Arch and Distorted Humor's dam Danzig's Beauty are each bred on a Hail to Reason/Danzig cross. HTR & Danzig IMHO are an extremely potent combo. I love em together!!!

25 Apr 2012 1:13 AM

After Swale's win in the Derby someone, I forget who, was quoted as saying something like: "It was one of those years when you had a handful of good 3-yr-olds going into the race, and coming out, you had one."

(For you youngsters, Swale (Seattle Slew ex Tuerta/Forli/Double Jay) had two very fast works after the Derby, was dull in the Preakness, and won the Belmont. He dropped dead the next week being led through the barn to his stall. Unless he had a congenital heart ailment, which his robust race record would cast doubt on, we surely lost a sterling sire there, considering how well his bloodlines cross with Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector.)

25 Apr 2012 2:37 AM

Steve, I like your top 10 but I'd rather have 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 to your 1, 2, 3, 4, 6. I give Rousing Sermon and Perspective very outside chances of hitting the board as well. Moreover, I believe El Padrino's chances have greatly improved with Rafael Bejarano picking up the ride.

What about a poor little Alpha, he must be getting a complex from all that 'jockey' rejection. Who knows, when the 'kiss of death' barrier draw comes up the racing gods might just shine favourably on him. Racing tends be a real leveller in so many ways.  

25 Apr 2012 3:20 AM

Waaay too long of a paragraph explaining Creative Cause being on top. I think a testimony to how deep this crop is but also that he's not the true number one. Animal Kingdom was a little bit of a sleeper but he was the best horse in the derby last year and won it. 2 questions I have are Bode and Gem...are they for real? Because Rags and Hanson are and if either gets the trip they need they should run 1 & 2 in reverse order of the BCJ.

25 Apr 2012 8:44 AM

Steve, follow your derby dozens every week, anxious to see how they turn out. Have a question hopefully someone can answer. The Oaks, why isnt reneesgotzip going to be in Oaks ? Terrific filly, what happened ?

25 Apr 2012 9:26 AM
Scott's Cause

El K--Thanx for the info...Now just have to figure out which horse is gonna be where...No problem..............

25 Apr 2012 9:28 AM
Mister Frisky

El Kabong,Great points.I would be a little more excited about Dullahan if he was say,Cahill Road.A full bro to Unbridled who won the Wood but got hurt before the Derby.I agree that you could probably make a case for 12 horses on May 5th.That's why I always set aside an extra hundred to play as many random supers to cover for the unexpected.

25 Apr 2012 10:28 AM
Mister Frisky

Maybe fluke was the wrong word for Mine That Bird.To all that i offended my apologies to you.When you win the Derby there is a heavy crown that goes with it.Ask Giacamo,and Lil E. Tee.How does history judge these three.

25 Apr 2012 10:38 AM
Carlos in Cali

El Kabong,

We all know you love you some Dullahan but it's pretty plain to see that he's "Dull" when he runs on a dirt surface,pun intended.He absolutely excells @ Keeneland and on turf.I might use him underneath the exotics though.

For what it's worth; since Keeneland switched to synthetics the BG Stakes winners are 0-19 on dirt... remember this.

25 Apr 2012 11:38 AM
El Kabong


You are correct. I flipped his finish in the Preakness and Belmont. Still, I don't understand how a horse can run so well in a grueling series and to this day has to wear the moniker of derby fluke. If he was, then he was a Preakness Place Fluke to HOY Rachel Alexander and a Belmont Show Fluke as well. And both those races were exciting. He should have been given far more rest than he was given after the TC. The  August 1st WVD was a really bad idea.  

25 Apr 2012 1:01 PM
Age of Reason

Have had problems getting my comment submitted earlier in the week. Oh well, we'll see if it works this time! :)

I'm finally starting to get over my mental block caused by the information deluge that hits Derby fans this time of year, and have finally started to narrow down my personal field. These aren't necessarily in any particular order, just listed in the same order in which Steve listed them for comparison.

(1)Creative Cause--best thing for him would be if Harrington declared "no whip" before the race. If you're someone who has disliked the recent trend of 2-prep colts and horses with as much experience as I had at 3, here's your horse.   (2)Dullahan--History definitely against one mare producing two Derby winners, and the oft-repeated stats of polytrack Blue Grass winners and their scant success after that race aren't encouraging. Don't dislike him (or he wouldn't be on my short list), but prefer others.   (3)Union Rags--Really looked alive in that last work, but Keeneland's poly seems to be fast this spring and his Churchill work will be the meaningful one. Fears of his pedigree's distance limitations are legitimate, but Smarty Jones and Giacomo laugh whenever they hear that brought up!   (4)I'll Have Another--Turns out he will have his final work before leaving for Churchill, and as Steve pointed out that is another historical trend he will have to work against. The reports of his making the Vet's list for electromagnetic therapy seem to have been greatly over-sensationalized; Mine That Bird was using an Equissage machine the week of the Derby and no one thought anything of it (they didn't give him much thought period, but that's beside the point).   (5)Gemologist--I learned my lesson with Smarty Jones, Street Sense, Big Brown and Super Saver not to ignore the undefeated or the horse-for-the-course. Perfection (5-0) speaks for itself, and though some have expressed concern over no Churchill works leading up, if anybody doesn't need one it's the guy who already has two wins over the track. And as someone else recently pointed out, three of his wins were accomplished at tracks where he'd barely set foot on the track before the race itself. The real question for me is simply whether he's fast enough.   (6)Take Charge Indy--We already know his capability to surprise us with a big one. Expecting him to again be sharp off the layoff, but the question is how sharp--will he become rank with a hot early pace almost certain?   (7)Daddy Nose Best--Bred for it, good race last out and like the commitment to Churchill for several weeks leading up the the race, but the Sunland Derby was scriptwritten for his running style, and the horse he beat (Isn't He Clever) has bombed in both his starts outside New Mexico. He reminds me of Awesome Act or Cowtown Cat: talented and easily likeable, but for me it's just hard to get a precise feel for how good.    I would love to also be able to put Alpha on here with good faith and conscience, but right now I'm looking to scratch contenders off for small reasons and he certainly has issues. After the Wood I was thinking he would probably be my Derby pick. Turns out this poor guy has worse karma than anybody since (ironically) Lookin at Lucky. Would love to put him back on, but he'll have to really come around fast to convince me again. All for now!...

25 Apr 2012 4:29 PM

Is Trinniberg really anything to worry about?  In the BCJ, he finished up the track - perhaps doesn't care for CD?  Am more concerned for the horse.  How good could it be for him to run his lights out, only to be left up the track at the end of the day?  

Still hanging with Hansen.  Am hoping for an outside post and a repeat of the Gotham - showed he could and did rate.  If Trinniberg and Bodemeister hook up, but I'm wondering if Bodemeister is the real deal too?  Everytime he's rated, he doesn't seem to be able to pull it off in the stretch.

Still think Hansen's the real deal - jockey and trainer seem to have him figured out - so long as the horse isn't distracted by his owner's shenanigans.  I admire Dr. Hansen's enthusiasm, but one has to wonder if how much this might have interfered with Hansen's performance in the Blue Grass.

25 Apr 2012 4:42 PM

Steve, I'm curious.  If you were to rank the horses solely on their stride/movement....who would be your top 3?

25 Apr 2012 5:31 PM

Wow...10 days to go.  One week to the post position draw.  My top 10 remain basically the same...but..of the 20 colts entering the gate, I'd say 19 of them probably have a shot because it all comes down to luck.  (I don't believe Trinniberg can get the distance).  Next Wednesday, the post positions will be drawn, and that's the day the odds will be set.  I've checked pedigrees and watched past performances, and the colts show a ton of class, and an eagerness to win.  I've really tossed out Louisiana and Illinois form.  Neither was impressive.  I've seen graceful strides and awkward runs, and some horses who just can't seem to stay out of trouble.  I worry about Alpha because I feel he's the real deal, but will his infection subside enough for him to do well?  As impressive as Bodemeister looked in Arkansas, the Bluegrass was faster, and Hansen was the pace setter in that.  The duels between Creative Cause and I'll Have Another have been breathtaking.

And to think...I'm so wound up about this Derby...but it's Lava Man I most want to see.

PS.  And how did Bourbon Bay pull off that flared nostril win after falling asleep on the backstretch?

What a horse!  He just doesn't miss at Santa Anita.

25 Apr 2012 6:19 PM

Derby Dozen is never easy and think this year particularly tough, hats off Steve, don't envy you any. Just a few thoughts to throw out. Could A.P. Indy pull a Mr. P? Both got Preakness and Belmont winners prior to siring a Derby winner. Mr. P got Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000 after he passed in 1999. With Indy's pensioning in 2011, his chances of a Derby winner are coming to an end but he has a strong candidate in Take Charge Indy, though as pointed out not crazy about his lead up to the Derby. Would love to have the Derby gods finally smile on an Indy, way past due.

Second, a few tidbits to ponder, as if the Derby field isn't tough enough this year. Dual qualifiers: Hansen, Union Rags, Creative Cause, Liaison, Rousing Sermon, Gemologist, Sabercat and ......Trinniberg. In trying to narrow down the field a little and digging through the pedigrees of just the DQ's looking for the all important La Troiene, several have peaked my interest because of the placements on both sides of the pedigree. Steve has pointed out previously both Sabercat and Castaway are both tail female to her. Sabercat, CC and Hansen (who appears to have the most crosses) have her on both sides of the pedigree. I honestly think that this year a dual qualifier will win the KD, and as I was digging also looked at AWD of sire lines, which puts CC on top (GC AWD 8.64) Gem (Tiz AWD 7.60) Hansen (Tap AWD 7.24) Sabercat (BC AWD 6.97) UR (DU AWD 6.90) Liaison (IC AWD 6.60)  RSermon (LP AWD 6.09) and because Steve likes him so much even though he doesn't have DI or w/in 10lbs of EFH.. Dullahan (ETS AWD 6.75). Out of these, and like many here, hard to single anyone one horse yet, still like CC, Hansen, Gem (gotta stick w/ Tiz), on the fence about UR (still not have warm fuzzy on Dixie Mo last year, but love Matz), Sabercat and TC Indy (Indy overdue...and Calvin factor) as all three not IMO best 3YO campaign. Boedie is super nice but no 2YO races, yeah he had lots of W/O but not the same as racing and if he comes out of the KD okay will be one to watch. Think racing an important part of bone remodeling, as is carrying weight at racing speed, which goes to soundness, endurance and stamina. Dullahan think will hit the board... too many negatives but last race hard to ignore. As many of these deservedly on derby dozen and sure I'm overlooking someone, definitely will have to pay particular attention to Steve's observations next week.

25 Apr 2012 6:23 PM
El Kabong

Carlos in Cali,

Your grim statistic for Blue Grass winners reminds me of a cold fact. So powerful if you stand back and look at it from only one direction. But for a nose loss to Dominican, Street Sense would have destroyed your entire premise that every Blue Grass winner since first synthetic in 2007 is doomed on dirt. A nose.

Too bad Mr. Romans didn't consider your lack of imagination as he planned out Dullahans road to the Roses.  For some reason, he who trains this horse, and happens to be based out of Churchill Downs, must know something about his ability to perform on the surface or he surely would have included a dirt challenge if there was any question at all. He didn't need earnings. It would seem prudent and very helpful to handicappers in May.

I, like Mr. Haskins, do not think his BCJ was that bad of a race. He did dig himself a ditch in that race by falling too far off the pace, as he did at Keeneland in October (he just wasn't up against the same talent). But he has since drastically improved his attention to the first 1/4. But more importantly, he is just a far better horse altogether than the 2  year old who ran that race and that is why he nailed Hansen this time, who ran a very good race. I will say this about the BCJ, he was not as talented then as the others but he has improved more than any of them. His immature running style and the shorter distance of the BCJ did him in last November more than the soil. All your dirt races that you have so carefully examined to come to your conclusion about his dirt abilities happened along time ago in terms of development with a very different horse. You can tell yourself what you want about those races, but they will tell you only what he was capable of doing at two, and not what he is capable of at 3. That's it. Use your imagination and give Mr. Romans a little more credit, and you may see things more clearly.

25 Apr 2012 8:58 PM
Steve Haskin

Stones, I would have to say Union Rags, Went the Day Well, and Daddy Nose Best and Dullahan.

25 Apr 2012 11:49 PM

Steve, can you do me a favor?

I was reviewing the Remsen, which is a race that really impressed me about EL PADRINO, however, look at how DONE TALKING & EL PADRINO finish.  I can't really tell if DONE TALKING was going to overtake EP or not but his finish was pretty impressive.

Can you offer your two cents on that?

26 Apr 2012 1:52 AM
Mac Macus

1. Rags

2. Bode

3. Dullahan


I haven't cashed a derby ticket since Smarty Jones.

(Am I the only person in the world that thinks 20 horses is too many...seems like such a lottery draw with a field like that....wouldn't it be better for racing if the field were limited to 14?)

26 Apr 2012 4:43 AM

Thanks Steve.  Interesting reply, in the order that you placed them.  Rags listed first makes sense, as the eyes have been on him since last year.  Seeing WTDW listed second tells me that you really like what you see in him.  Although Derbies rarely repeat themselves in consecutive years, you can't discount a horse for that.  Maybe we will have another AK this year, and Johnny V. seems to be getting overlooked this year (dangerous thing to do).

Thanks again and I eagerly look forward to your reports from the workouts at Churchill.

26 Apr 2012 7:21 AM

Hey theholz stop with the insanity of trying to pick a triple crown winner. You can't be taken seriously when you make stupid insane statements like that. And STOP with the capital letters as that will make it happen. No triple crown as he will not even win the Derby.

26 Apr 2012 11:55 AM
El Kabong


Great question for Steve.


Your eye is always appreciated.

26 Apr 2012 3:20 PM
El Kabong


I'll follow up Stones question with my own. Runners who display an athleticism and explosive turn of foot often avoid trouble and get the jump on the rest. Who in this group excels with this talent?

26 Apr 2012 3:54 PM

Too early, but thoughts for 4/26 not exactly what I might be thinking on Cinco De Mayo.

Alpha—Nice horse but –scrapes on hind or not he had every chance to pass in the Wood and didn’t

Bodemeister—No knocks, I bet Curlin a few years ago –same type of idea--contender for it all.

Creative Cause—again hard to find knocks against as he always shows up has bottom and ran OK on track----definitely expect in top 4 finish but I just don’t like him to win

Daddy Long Legs---personally loved his win on TV from the Middle East—just seen too many like him not show up

Daddy Nose Best—well managed, will get the distance, but I just don’t think he is good enough

Done Talking----Not all these will be walking to the finish like in Chicago so I can’t see it

Dullahan---My gut tells me this is the winner but of course looking at the form it is harder to explain my gut feeling and I don’t know how the track will be playing or if muddy. Just strikes me that Kent lucked into another Derby horse. I really don’t like him on form because of the dirt---will be using on top but not exclusively.—AGAIN DEPENDING ON FINAL WORKS AND TRACK CONDITION.

El Padrino---Possible, but never have liked this horse and that won’t change before Derby

Gemologist---ABSOLUTELY no knocks and loved the way he picked it up when he saw Alpha and could have gone around again and wouldn’t have let him go by---again this is just a gut feeling—I don’t think he will win but I have no good reasons logically to say why I  think he won’t. Definitely couldn’t knock those thinking he will.

Hansen----Think he will rate in Derby—but don’t think that will be enough to get him there first

I'll Have Another---This horse has put a LOT of money in my pocket—caught $5 tri in SA Derby when stuck over a G note plus $75 to win to refresh my bankroll and lead to a good winning day. (Much more if CC ran 3rd instead of 2nd) Had him in previous race for a token bet. Would love to go to the well again---but no muddy conditions necessary. Vet list people? Seriously can’t you read why?---He will be fine. Loved him at SA not so sure on the 5th.

Liaison---Jock and most have bailed---I will too

Mark Valeski---can’t see it—my pick for last which if I could bet it I get long odds. On paper he looks better than some but I don’t like period!—Aaron V. likes him on HRTV---he’s more of a death nell than Dray

Prospective----Mark Casse will win a Derby someday—not this one

Rousing Sermon---Too slow I’m picking Mark Valeski for last so how could I like this one?

Sabercat----Here is my weird longshot to hit the ticket although form says no—--bottom on supers and tri

Take Charge Indy---Interesting, as I think he can win and won’t be shocked if he does, but won’t be in my tickets. Won't knock those who like him. (Note, I really trust his trainer as he is one of the best --not mentioned enough-- to have him peaked--still can't bet)

Trinniberg---Sad, I really believe this was going to be the summer horse if brought along---as mentioned before I actually thought-- he of the horses I’d seen for 2 to 3 had improved the most---not impossible if that much improved, but can’t really see it happening. Too much too soon. Hope this doesn’t break his will (heart) to win.

Union Rags----Certainly a top horse—definitely can win—might do better than most in off track conditions---but comparing him to Barbaro is not wise—the latter was a better horse.  A must use but in all positions but I don’t think he is a bargain at 6-1 and you will get less.

Went the Day Well---Not as impressed by win at Turfway as some—again not impossible but not on my list.

26 Apr 2012 6:30 PM

Paraphrasing the old Irish fox's comments on sending Daddy Long Legs to the Derby:

"Oh, just a whim, really. Hasn't a hope of course. Not up to American form."

The stable's betting!

27 Apr 2012 2:31 AM
Carlos in Cali

El Kabong,

As I cut through all the visions of grandeur- what you're saying is you don't really know for sure if Dullahan can duplicate his Keeneland form to dirt.I get,we all get it.He still has to prove it.

27 Apr 2012 3:31 PM

With the major works completed, I can hardly wait to see Steve's new Derby Dozen.  To my mind, the works, especially if on the Churchill track, are as important as a colt's last prep race.  The owner of Went the Day Well is thrilled with his colt's work with blinkers on.  Bode worked well too, but I heard he wasn't all that smooth early in the work.  It seems the standout on the Churchill strip so far is Rags; very speedy 1/2 mile work but the gallop out was so strong clocker recorded it officially as a 5/8 work; the only under 1 min. work I saw posted for the Derby starters today.  

Any way you look at it, I think we are going to have a very exciting race.  Let's hope they are all healthy and sound when they enter the gate May 5.

28 Apr 2012 2:04 PM
Mike Monarchos


When do your reports on Derby workouts start? That's very helpful information when trying to handicap the Derby.

29 Apr 2012 7:29 PM

Does anyone know if UNION RAGS and/or CREATIVE CAUSE are X CHROMOSOME LARGE HEART Horses as they both have dam-female lineage going back to Secretariat and Northern Dancer?  Note that UNION RAGS grandmother was SECRETTAME (daughter to Secretariat).

30 Apr 2012 1:24 AM

   Ok  I guess Steve is sticking with last weeks selections as his final ‘dozen’. Its been a fun year, with a competitive crowd, but I guess its now time to state my case. In my opinion, there are several challengers that to me have out grown the fab “BC 4” …--“Hansen”-“Union Rags”-“Creative Cause”-& “Dullahan”… and only 2 of those do I consider have a shot at ‘win’ or ‘place’, “Union Rags”-& “Dullahan”…& less considering “Union Rags” who apparently doesn’t handle traffic well and that is exactly what the Kentucky Derby is, ‘a traffic jam’!!!, plus his odds will likely be low due to sport writers constant toting of him.… Those that have come along in my opinion that have outgrown these promising 2 yr. olds are: “I’ll Have Another”;-“Bodemeister”;-“Take Charge Indy”;--BC Juv 5th ?-- “Daddy Nose Best”; & “Went the Day Well”. … RE “Gemologist” who is the scariest of the rest, we all know that “Tiznow” ponies mature later than other breeds who usually start becoming more competitive as 4 yr. olds and late 3 yr. olds, but this one seems to have matured much faster than his relatives, which makes him both a threat and very scary. And, of course, then there is “Alpha” who is bred for the Belmont, but has questionable late tactical speed. Unfortunately for all future prospective bettors, this is thusly one Derby not to spend the ranch on. So, my advice is be selective and be careful. There is way too much good competition to find a sure thing. And, you can’t box 11 horses and show a profit !!… My thought, find the horse you like the best and again bet him ‘pyramid’ style… --example $5 to win; $15 to place; $30 to show and HOPE your pick gets in the top three ! Looking even for “exactas” in this crowd will be tough !! So spend a little and don’t be surprised if you do not to cash ! Triples and Supers should be off the table unless you can afford to throw money away !! The good news is there should be some value on the tote board !!! Pay attention to i.e. 38-1 shots you thought had a chance !! A few dollars on such shots may pay off handsomely !! And remember, the WINNER will eat up a good portion of the SHOW pool even making just betting to ‘place’ or ‘show’ worthy  $$ spent !! Not just betting to WIN ! Yes there also are some other horses in the Derby !!! “Sabrecat”-“Mark Valeski”--maybe?--& “El Padrino”, all appear as worthy Allowance type runners with distance issues, then there is “Prospective”, “Liaison” , “Rousing Sermon” & maybe even possibly “Optimizer” whom all look bred for the distance, but appear to have serious speed issues. And of course, there is the unknown factors in the speedy “Trinniberg” and  the potential late flying “Done Talking”. No way you can bet them all and show a profit !! although the “ALL” buttton might be handy in exacta plays for 1st and / or second surrounding  YOUR PICK with hopes that he runs along side some LONG SHOT !!! not a low odds bet down horse such as “Union Rags” that the ‘public’ will likely be throwing too much money at !!!. Yes you can box say 4 or 5 horses and be done with it, likely that is what I will do !! LOL, and won’t be surprised after when I throw the ticket away !! Anyway, by now followers of this blog mostly have their favorite choices and are awaiting the POST DRAW and the weather report--80’s low possibility of rain ???--we shall see. Anyway, to all GOOD LUCK… And if your PICK draws dreaded post #1 against the rail or post #20 and isn’t a stone cold closer, look seriously at YOUR 2nd choice and his post position. Seemingly 5-17 are much more ideal than say 1-2-3 or 19-20 !!! That’s about all I can say , accept remember this, 7 or 20 entries will be “Storm Cat” breds, roughly then 1/3 of the field and many of the present top 10 selections are in that group. And yet, NO STORM CAT BRED has yet won the Kentucky Derby !!! not to say one can’t, just “Blue Grass Cat” who ran 2nd is the only “Storm Cat” Bred that has ever run so well in ‘the Derby’. Don’t let that throw you off of “Bodemeister” or “Creative Cause” if that is your pick, but keep the thought in the back of your mind. It iss a thought that has scared me ever since I once sent it all in on “Blue Grass Cat” to win !!! Anyhoo love da blog folkes and GOOD LUCK to all on DERBY DAY… “Go baby, Go baby, GO” !!!… Soon…   “Theeeyyyy ‘rrrr  OFF” for “the greatest 2 minutes in sports”!! May the winner run 1:59 & change… GOOD LUCK !! AND again , TY STEVE for all you do, this blog and the rest! MAY your ‘dozen’s’ column live foreva !! KEEP US INFORMED !

30 Apr 2012 7:06 PM

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