Violence Todd Pletcher
Medaglia d’Oro—Violent Beauty, by Gone West
His schedule is pretty well mapped out, with the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby on tap. He’s a horse who not only wins, but knows how to win, always leaving something in the tank. Workouts progressing with a solid 1:01 breeze. FutureWager odds climbed from 9-1 to 13-1. If there is anyone who can knock some of these Pletcher powrhouses down to earth it is Pletcher himself. He has so many, pretty soon it’s going to be brother vs. brother and only the strongest will survive.
Itsmyluckyday Eddie Plesa Jr.
Lawyer Ron—Viva la Slew, by Doneraile Court
Some think he may be a Gulfstream horse, but he has won just as impressively at Calder, on a fast and sloppy track, and broke his maiden by at Monmouth Park. He has won five of his last six starts on dirt at three different racetracks at four different distances from five furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, and he’s won with four different jockeys aboard. His only defeat came over Delta Downs’ bullring track in the Delta Jackpot (gr. III). Plesa looks like the lone covered wagon surrounded by all these hostile Pletchers.
Shanghai Bobby Todd Pletcher
Harlan's Holiday—Steelin', by Orientate
He’s actually pretty far down on many Derby lists, especially with the emergence of new Pletcher dynamos and the low opinion people have of the BC Juvenile. But his body of work has been as impressive as any 2-year-old champ. Still, his Future Wager odds went from 8-1- to 11-1 to 14-1. He hasn’t worked since the Holy Bull. Hard to believe he still has only 24 points and has only the Florida Derby to accumulate enough points to secure a spot in the Derby field. Heck, Itsmyluckyday, with two big stakes wins this year, needs a big effort even more than he does.
Normandy Invasion Chad Brown
Tapit—Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor
Breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 2/5 for much-anticipated debut, possibly in the Risen Star, where he would face runaway Lecomte winner Oxbow. Will we see that explosive move on the turn again? If he goes the full Fair Grounds route, we’ll get some indication whether or not he can sustain his run down a long stretch. He looked extremely enticing at 28-1 on Day 1 of the Future Wager, but closed at a more logical 15-1.
Revolutionary Todd Pletcher
War Pass—Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy
Another whose odds climbed in the first Future Wager from 8-1 to 13-1, but he’s still co-second choice among individual horses. He’s been sent to Palm Meadows and most likely will return to New York for the Wood Memorial, where we’ll see if he’s as effective on the main track. Alpha took this route last year and came back to run a huge race in the Wood.
Verrazano Todd Pletcher
More Than Ready—Enchanted Rock, by Giant’s Causeway
Half-interest has been sold to Coolmore. Few horses have started their career so brilliantly, which is why he is the 11-1 individual favorite in the Future Wager, based on only two career starts and no stakes appearances. Question is, can he move forward off that monster allowance score? Tampa Bay Derby would seem to be the most logical spot, giving him the most time to bounce back from that race. But so far, Pletcher hasn’t committed to any particular race.
Flashback Bob Baffert
Tapit—Rhumb Line, by Mr. Greeley
Four-horse field in the Robert Lewis is indicative of the lack of depth in the 3-year-old division in Southern California. Other than Goldencents and a slew of other Baffert horses, there doesn’t seem to be much out there as of now. Of course that could change in the San Felipe. But as of now it looks as if the Flashback—Goldencents clash in the San Felipe will determine the kingpin of the California 3-year-olds.
Oxbow D. Wayne Lukas
Awesome Again—Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy
The more Lukas is around him and watches him train the more he loves him. He should get a sterner test in the Risen Star, and if he can score another impressive victory or be right there with Normandy Invasion, he has to be considered a major contender, especially with his pedigree. He could be a good Future Wager bet at 26-1, but did plummet from 52-1.
Goldencents Doug O'Neill
Into Mischief—Golden Works, by Banker's Gold
O’Neill following a similar pattern to the one used with I’ll Have Another, which is long, fast works. His last four drills have been 6 furlongs in 1:11 4/5, 1:10 1/5, 1:10 1/5, and 1:12 2/5. Just like the Fountain of Youth showdown, his bout with Flashback in the San Felipe is greatly anticipated. And there won’t be anyone fitter for that race.
Overanalyze Todd Pletcher
Dixie Union—Unacloud, by Unaccounted For
He, along with Delhomme and Capo Bastone, are the quiet ones who have gotten lost in the Pletcher parade of stars. How strong is the Todd Squad? Here is a Remsen winner at 33-1, while the third-place finishers in the BC Juvenile (Capo Bastone) and Remsen (Delhomme) are 58-1 and 55-1. Remember, it is often the quiet ones that turn out to be the most dangerous. The Gotham, run in Repoleville, looks like the most likely spot for his debut.
Tiz the Truth Bob Baffert
Tiznow—Truly Blessed, by French Deputy
He’s the kind of horse you’d love to take a chance on in the Future Wager, but as part of the 9-5 mutuel field it’s a total waste of time. Problem with the Future Wager is there is no first floor from which to start; the elevator goes right to the penthouse, leaving a potential find like him unbettable. But he sure isn’t the only lesser-known horse on some people’s radar screen who is a non-entity in the Future Wager.
Dynamic Sky Mark Casse
Sky Mesa—Murani, by Distorted Humor
I could have put any one of a dozen horses in this spot, but the Pletcher cutoff is five and the others look no better or worse than he does. Many Tampa Bay Derby winners lose one of the first two preps, so he deserves another chance. But it is imperative he starts showing a bit more professionalism, even with the blinkers. Resisted the temptation once again to return Palace Malice to the list, based on the Pletcher rule. Can’t get rid of the nagging feeling he could be the diamond in the rough among all those shiny, bright gems.
Knocking At The Door
A sneaky horse with Derby credentials hidden under a blanket of grass is BALANCE THE BOOKS, who breezed a half in :49 2/5. If he goes grass race and Blue Grass Stakes, I’ll keep away until he proves he can handle dirt. Putting all your eggs in one Polytrack basket isn’t for me. I still don’t trust Keeneland’s Polytrack and no trainer should either, if his horse has never been over it and it’s going to decide whether he gets in the Derby or not. If he’s another Animal Kingdom, so be it. But Animal Kingdom, by running in the Spiral, left himself enough time to get another prep in if he didn’t handle the surface. Now, if this colt goes a different route, with his breeding and closing punch, then I’m all over him.
If you like Oxbow, he may have competition in his own barn from TITLETOWN FIVE, an absolutely brilliant colt who is back working after suffering a chip in his knee last year. The son of Tiznow was beaten a neck by Violence in a seven-furlong maiden race at Saratoga before romping by nine lengths at Churchill Downs, earning a 98 Beyer. The runner-up, Bradester, came back to win his next two starts and the third-place finisher, Proud Strike, recently destroyed a maiden field at Fair Grounds by 7 1/2 lengths. In the Violence race, he finished a head in front of Orb, who has come back to win his next two starts. Watch out for this guy if he makes it back in time.
Chad Brown might have another good one in SAINT VIGEUR, who scored a game wire-to-wire maiden victory going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream with first-time blinkers. By Smart Strike, out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, he definitely is not lacking in pedigree.
DYNAMIC STRIKE, another Smart Strike, made it four-for-four for Dickie Small with a workmanlike score in the one-mile Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel. Perhaps it’s time to try this colt outside Maryland.