Violence Todd Pletcher
Medaglia d’Oro—Violent Beauty, by Gone West
Have to stick with him for the time being. Cannot find any flaws in his record, running style, attitude, and pedigree. He’s got it all, and until they beat him he has to be considered top dog. And he is a grand-looking colt. Fountain of Youth likely debut. Needs late start after going cross-country and winning CashCall Futurity on Dec. 15. Handles dirt and synthetic.
Itsmyluckyday Eddie Plesa Jr.
Lawyer Ron—Viva la Slew, by Doneraile Court
It’s is hard to escape the fact that he is, at this point, the fastest 3-year-old over a distance of ground after back-to-back monster efforts and speed figs in graded stakes. Track-record score in Holy Bull, with 11 1/2-length gap to third was brilliant. Good mixture of speed and stamina. Plesa one of the best-kept secrets in America; in good hands.
Shanghai Bobby Todd Pletcher
Harlan's Holiday—Steelin', by Orientate
He had everything against him in Holy Bull – forced to go to the lead from rail, pace pressure, fast fractions, first start of the year vs. seasoned colt coming off spectacular win in fast time, and he still broke the track record in defeat, finishing 11 1/2 lengths clear of third horse. Important thing is he proved he has moved forward at 3 after sensational 2-year-old campaign. Florida Derby will be his only start in 13 weeks leading up to Derby, but Barbaro and I’ll have Another have pulled that off.
Normandy Invasion Chad Brown
Tapit—Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor
A bit apprehensive about the Boston Harbor-Capote line on dam side and tail-female family tracing to British sprint champ, but he did display the most explosive burst of speed on the turn seen last year and showed the ability to sustain it. Beautiful moving colt, he did seem to hang a bit in the Remsen, but had every right to after that big move. He’s had four half-mile breezes and is right on schedule.
Revolutionary Todd Pletcher
War Pass—Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy
This poor horse started his career with three of the most horrendous starts imaginable, as he was clobbered hard each time, dropping well back, yet still ran big. In his last, he finally had a clean break and demolished his foes by 8 1/2 lengths going a mile. Still goofs off with his lead changes in deep stretch, but has a world of ability. Of the three horses who beat him, one came back to win at Gulfstream and two placed in stakes. He’ll get all the stamina he needs from female family, which traces to major stamina influences Herbager and Tom Rolfe. Also, his dam won the Alabama. Saturday’s Withers likely next start.
Oxbow D. Wayne Lukas
Awesome Again—Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy
So, you’ve got a hot Hall of Fame trainer who has won four Derbys; a colt who won the Lecomte Stakes by 11 1/2 lengths and who has almost the identical breeding as Paynter (same sire, and dams are full sisters). Dam also is a full-sister to Tiznow and Budroyale. So, what’s not to like? He seems to be improving with each race and will run all day.
Goldencents Doug O'Neill
Into Mischief—Golden Works, by Banker's Gold
His sire is hot right now, although not one of the more well-known stallions, and his female family is loaded with sprinting influences. But this colt could have the talent to outrun his pedigree. Although his win in the Sham was more workmanlike, can’t help but marvel at his second in the Champagne when he came off only one 5 1/2-furlong maiden race, traveled cross-country, and finished second to undefeated Shanghai Bobby after setting all the pace, while being dogged all the way by the champ. Did like the way he rated for the first time in the Sham and he looked super in his :45 3/5 half-mile work between races Saturday, galloping out in 1:10 1/5.
Flashback Bob Baffert
Tapit—Rhumb Line, by Mr. Greeley
Yes, he looked very impressive breaking his maiden, but he did have a minor setback after that win and needs to squeeze three stakes in before the Derby. Also, he hasn’t been on dirt, but Baffert says this colt is “scary good,” and that’s reason enough to rank him this high. Appealing Tale, who he beat by 4 1/2 lengths, came back to win by 6 1/4 lengths. He runs Saturday in Robert Lewis, and could make huge strides with a victory or an impressive second. Not going to get a lot of stamina from broodmare sire, but tail-female family is dynamite.
He's Had Enough Doug O'Neill
Tapit—Amelia, by Dixieland Band
Until he runs again you have to throw out his three out-of-the-money finishes on synthetic and grass and just go by his remarkable second, beaten a head, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he overcame a horrendous trip to just miss catching the 2-year-old champ. His pedigree is strong on both ends. Third dam, Courtly Dee, is a granddaughter of War Admiral and produced major stakes winners Althea, Native Courier, Twining, and this colt’s second dam, Aquilegia.
Dynamic Sky Mark Casse
Sky Mesa—Murani, by Distorted Humor
Originally had him ranked #15 on preliminary Top 25, despite finishing sixth in the BC Juvenile in his dirt debut. But he had a nightmare trip and did very well to be beaten only 5 1/4 lengths. Dropped back to 7f and had blinkers added in Pasco Stakes and overcame trouble to win by 3/4. He’s been highly regarded from the time he was a baby and he should only keep getting better. In five starts, he’s never run in anything but stakes.
Overanalyze Todd Pletcher
Dixie Union—Unacloud, by Unaccounted For
Have no feeling for him one way or the other, because he’s always followed up a win with a disappointing effort. But he was impressive coming off a dull third in the Iroquois, scoring a gutsy victory in the Remsen. Been burned many times latching on to a Remsen winner, only to have them get hurt or lose their form at 3. At 1 1/8 miles, it just seems to dull a horse. Encouraged to see him turn in a sharp half in :47 4/5 on Sunday, second fastest work of 43.
Palace Malice Todd Pletcher
Curlin—Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem
Yes, he is Todd Pletcher’s fifth horse in the Top 12, but Pletcher is just loaded with runners, including brilliant maiden winner Verrazano. This colt looked very impressive breaking his maiden last year, then came off a 5 1/2-month layoff to finish a strong second to the swift Majestic Hussar in a 7-furlong allowance. Love the way he leveled off late and the way he galloped out. Really believe we’re going to see something when he stretches out to two turns. Plenty of stamina top and bottom. What a farewell present he would be for Cot Campbell.
Knocking At The Door
One undefeated horse getting little respect is grade II Jerome winner Vyjack, another son of Into Mischielf, who, in his first two starts, easily handled top-class colts Clawback, Always in a Tiz, and Orb, all of whom came back with big efforts. Although there is a lot of speed in his pedigree, he shows all the signs of a horse who wants to go on. He's already run a 96 Beyer, so he's certainly fast enough to compete with anyone. If you’re looking for a well-bred colt making rapid improvement, look no farther than Darley’s Bernardini colt Transparent, who overcame a total wipeout on the backstretch and still drew off to a 5 3/4-length score at Aqueduct. One horse who really captured our attention was Santa Anita maiden winner Treasury Bill, who rallied from the clouds, was fanned 6-wide, and came barreling down the stretch like the proverbial freight train to win going away, while under wraps the whole way. Bred for stamina and can’t wait to see him stretch out to two turns. Definitely one to keep a close eye on. A pair of 1 1/8-mile allowance races at Gulfstream Saturday were won by Italian import Cerro, for the Team Valor-Graham Motion team, and the Shug McGaughey-trained Orb, who has now won two in a row and is on the improve. Verrazano was as impressive as any maiden winner I saw this year, but he missed escaping the wrath of Apollo by one day, debuting on Jan. 1, and he is by More Than Ready, so stamina might be a question. But his half-brother, El Padrino, was a class horse on the Derby trail last year. If you’re wondering where Uncaptured is after being ranked #7 in Top 25, the Kentucky Jockey Club form took a major beating in the Holy Bull, with runner-up Frac Daddy and fast-closing third Dewey Square getting beat a combined 45 lengths. But more important, Uncaptured still hasn’t worked this year. And how about #2-ranked Power Broker? Baffert said he’s a lightly built colt who is just now getting back in light training, so he has a long way to go.