Derby Dozen - April 23, 2013 - Presented by Shadwell Farm


Revolutionary Todd Pletcher Click Here!

War Pass—Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy

Departing’s impressive score in the Illinois Derby flattered the Louisiana Derby form. When WinStar announced that the “Revolutionary” buttons were in, I have to admit I shuddered. Between the buttons and the jockey poll that wasn’t, I started feeling that marketing jinx kicking in. But that’s just in jest. I really liked his :48 4/5 work inside a workmate, especially his super gallop-out, going out another eighth in :12 2/5. Went in :24 4/5 and :24 flat, hugging the rail the whole way, with Borel barely moving his hands. He does keep his head a bit high and switched back on to his left lead, which he has a tendency to do, after apparently being distracted by the shadow of the sixteenth pole. He and Borel should be made for each other, as he will go through any sized hole Borel asks him to. Put a fearless rider on a fearless horse who can come from anywhere on the track and you’ve got a darn good team. His speed figs are nothing to rave about, but he hasn’t had a chance to show what he’s really capable of. The one time he did, he ran a huge Thoro-Graph number in his maiden victory and a 102 Beyer. This well might be deeper than we think.


Orb Shug McGaughey

Malibu Moon—Lady Liberty, by Unbridled

When McGaughey uses the word “excited” three times in one comment, you can start heading to the windows. That’s how many times he used it following Orb’s work at Payson Park, in which he went 5f in company in 1:02 2/5. All Shug wanted to see was a strong final quarter and Orb obliged with a :23 4/5, out another eighth in about :12 1/5. A bit surprised to see that he ran a career best Thoro-Graph figure in the Florida Derby, equaling Itsmyluckyday’s in the Holy Bull, which was only a quarter of a point off Verrazano’s top 2013 figure in his 16-length allowance romp. So, the five weeks should have him ready for another huge effort on Derby Day. Question is, was his speed figure based more on Dreaming of Julia’s mind-boggling, record-high Thoro-Graph number that same day?


Verrazano Todd Pletcher Click Here!

More Than Ready—Enchanted Rock, by Giant’s Causeway

Speaking of good works, you had to like several aspects of his 5f drill in 1:00 1/5, in which he relaxed outside a workmate through a slow quarter in :25 1/5, then poured it on with an eighth in :11 4/5 and a final quarter in :23 2/5 before galloping out 6f in 1:13, up 7f in 1:26 4/5 and a mile in 1:41 3/5. He was being asked down the stretch more than Revolutionary was, but it was a longer work and much longer gallop-out. His workmate actually was going the easier of the two. With the Wood behind him, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he pulled a Barbaro and won off. Remember, Barbaro also won his final prep by a hard-fought three-quarters of a length. With horses this brilliant, the prep often is the calm before the storm. There is no way he came close to giving his all in the Wood.


Overanalyze Todd Pletcher

Dixie Union—Unacloud, by Unaccounted For

Dare I put a horse who ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:51 4/5 this high? The last time a horse ran that slow in the Arkansas Derby, the springs in Hot Springs were barely lukewarm. But visually, that is what a Derby horse is supposed to look like, and I can’t get past that. He actually has a strong Thoro-Graph pattern and has already run a fig at 2 that is fast enough to win the Derby. That fig in the Remsen is as fast as Verrazano’s two stakes wins and he appears to be heading back to that number. True, he didn’t beat much, but when they run through the wire like he did and gallop out that strongly, you have to think there’s a lot more there. And remember, Pletcher’s best Derby finishes (a first, two seconds, a third, and two fourths) all came off three weeks rest. If you're looking for a proven commodity with speed and stamina who is coming up to the Derby the right way and should be a huge overlay at double-digit odds, this colt very well may be the best bet of the race.


Normandy Invasion Chad Brown Click Here!

Tapit—Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor

Worked a half-mile by himself at Churchill and did the opposite of what you would have expected, going the first half in :23 2/5 and second half in :25. He hit the pole in full flight after a sixteenth of a mile run-up and was rolling that opening furlong. Brown looks to be putting a bit more early speed in him. He is on a strong Thoro-Graph pattern and should be coming up to a career best effort. He just needs to make more headway from the quarter pole to the eighth pole and put in that explosive move on the turn that he showed in the Remsen, when he was right alongside the leaders at the eighth pole. Don’t want to see him doing what he did in the Risen Star and Wood. He has to be in contention turning for home. Remember, his female family is not exactly inundated with stamina.


Palace Malice Todd PletcherClick Here!

Curlin—Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem

I said last week the key is how he bounces out of the Blue Grass off two weeks rest and having to come back in three weeks in the Derby. Well, after watching him on HRTV bouncing all over the track and so full of himself that Pletcher couldn’t even grab hold of him, I got what I wanted to see. Dogwood president Cot Campbell said he almost dumped his rider one morning. He could very well have won the Blue Grass had he not spied the tractor tracks and lose focus, changing leads twice in the final furlong and shifting lanes. Next big test will be to see how he works with Mike Smith next weekend. If you go by speed figs, you probably won’t like him, but his La. Derby was a total toss and his last was his first time on Polytrack and he had to do the dirty work going after Rydilluc, which left him vulnerable to the deep closers. I don’t think we’ve seen anywhere near his best.


Itsmyluckyday Eddie Plesa Jr. Click Here!

Lawyer Ron—Viva la Slew, by Doneraile Court

The question with him is the distance. Can his raw talent get him that extra furlong? He had no response when Orb came up to him in the Florida Derby and took a while to finally get the better of a sprinter. Loved his 1:43 mile breeze at Calder, which should put a lot of bottom in him. He obviously wasn’t wound fully tight following a two-month layoff off back-to-back negative Thoro-Graph figs. There is no doubt he’s fast enough to win the Derby. He should have regressed off his negative fig in the Gulfstream Park Derby, but actually ran a faster number in the Holy Bull. So we know he’s an exceptional colt. He’s bred top and bottom for toughness and soundness and that also should help him in the Derby.


Goldencents Doug O'Neill

Into Mischief—Golden Works, by Banker's Gold

He’s another who is a question mark at a distance, but with him it’s a combination of pedigree and running style. He did relax better in the Santa Anita Derby, but still was a bit speed-minded the opening quarter before finally settling into a good rhythm. We know the brilliance and talent are there, but how will the Derby scenario play out? Can he look Verrazano in the eye at some point and still have enough left to be competitive in the final furlong? If no one wants the lead, he might be better off taking charge and trying to steal the whole thing rather than monkey around attempting to rate off a slow pace and then try to outclose the closers. The last thing you want is to get his blood boiling early on. One thing we do know, he’ll be right there at the head of the stretch and it’s just a matter of how much he has to push him home.


Vyjack Rudy Rodriguez

Into Mischief —Life Happened, by Stravinsky

His Thoro-Graph pattern is quite interesting. He closed out 2012 with a huge figure, then regressed in his stretch-out to two turns. But he rebounded with another big number in the Gotham and actually equaled that number in the Wood, despite exiting with a lung infection. Those two numbers make him competitive with anyone. The time spent in rehab at Fair Hill, using their hyperbaric chamber, looks to have done wonders for him and I can’t wait to see him work at Churchill and how he progresses leading up to the Derby. The question in the Wood is, did he fail to catch Verrazano because of the bleeding and lung infection or did suffer the bleeding and lung infection because of the strain of trying to catch Verrazano? If he’s going to get the 1 1/4 miles, good chance it’ll be mainly because of maternal great-grandsire Nureyev, who helps get that pump going, as he did for Big Brown.


Java's War Kenny McPeek

War Pass—Java, by Rainbow Quest

Although the Blue Grass was a big effort, if you’re going to make a good case for him it will have to be off his performance in the Tampa Bay Derby. Although he wasn’t catching Verrazano, he was running strongly and pulled well clear of the others. Just can’t glean much from Polytrack, especially when you have two deep closers flying from the back of the pack together. His one poor dirt effort was at Churchill Downs. He was sixth in the Kentucky Jockey Club, beaten 5 1/4 lengths, and didn’t put in much of a run after going wide, but he looks to be a much improved horse now. You always have to take Kenny McPeek’s horses seriously, especially on the big stage.


Oxbow D. Wayne Lukas Click Here!

Awesome Again—Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy

I really wanted to put him higher, but I can assure you right now that I will be betting him straight on Derby Day at a big price. He is another who has not been able to show what he can do, because of bad posts and a trip last time out that took him totally off his game. You can bet Stevens has gotten to know him better and will have him well-placed this time. He has excellent tactical speed, is push-button whenever you ask him, and has the pedigree to carry him 1 1/4 miles with no problem. I believe he could prove to be the big overlay of the field. As for his Thoro-Graph figs, he put together three straight huge efforts after making a significant leap from 2 to 3. He then regressed off those three races in the Arkansas Derby, but never seemed happy running at the back of the pack with all that dirt kicked in his face. Still, he was beaten a length for second and was just finding his best stride in the closing yards. Don’t underestimate this colt.


Mylute Tom Amoss

Midnight Lute—Stage Stop, by Valid Expectations

When you have a big, strapping horse who has always been kind of lazy by nature working a half in :47 4/5, second fastest of 81 works at the distance, and the trainer says he’s usually not that into it when he works alone, you know you’ve got something positive going on. You’re always looking for that eager horse who wants to go out there and train, and when he’s also on an upward spiral, as this colt is, and just coming into his own, you again have a recipe for a good longshot play. Only problem with him is the thud that was heard when it was announced Rosie Napravnik will be riding him. That thud was the sound of his odds hitting the floor. Whatever odds you were hoping for, just expect a lot less. But the positive is that you get Rosie. WinStar and Pletcher just have to hope the fans didn’t get it right.

Knocking At The Door

Once again, the temptation was great to return LINES OF BATTLE to the Top 12, even if just for the unknown factor. Unlike many of O’Brien’s previous Derby starters, this colt has mostly dirt breeding and a strong classic lineage, with the best Darby Dan Farm throughout his tail-female line. And you can bet the UAE Derby will have him dead-fit. This will be O’Brien’s most potent Derby entry and he says the colt has been training great since the UAE Derby. He is at least a must-use saver bet, just in case.

Wayne Lukas is pulling out all stops in an attempt to get WILL TAKE CHARGE fit and ready to go 1 1/4 miles off a seven-week layoff. This 17-hands colt worked a mile in 1:41 3/5, picking it up nicely at the end, with a final two eighths in :12 3/5 and :12 1/5. That’s a good solid come-home time going a mile. He’s bucking history big-time with such a long layoff, but for Thoro-Graph followers, note his fig jumped nine points in the Rebel and was four points faster than his previous high, so perhaps he’ll appreciate the layoff. It’s just something that hasn’t been accomplished since the early part of the 20th century. Only Needles in 1956 came close with a six-week layoff.

It looks as if Bob Baffert’s only chance to avoid a shutout is to get GOVENOR CHARLIE to the race sound and healthy. You can’t be happy with the foot issue that sent him to Rood & Riddle, but he seems to be over that, and Baffert still has plenty of time to monitor his progress. Even if he does make the race, he has a ton of history going against him, mainly with only three career starts and none at 2.

BLACK ONYX’S Thoro-Graph figs are making significant leaps forward, and he’s sort of sitting there as an unknown factor. He did break his maiden impressively on dirt going a mile, and the Rock Hard Tens are only going to get better with time. Kelly Breen is sneaky-good and has already pulled off a Belmont Stakes shocker. There will be absolutely no issues when it comes to getting the 1 1/4 miles.

Of the others, FRAC DADDY made a huge leap forward in the Arkansas Derby after battling a couple of setbacks early in the year, and the best race of his life came in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill. GOLDEN SOUL has upside to him after a solid fourth in the Louisiana Derby, in which he was parked out in the middle of the track, but he needs to make big improvement in his Thoro-Graph figs. Distance would be no problem for him. FALLING SKY has good speed and would be better suited in the Preakness, as he has not made any improvement in his speed figures since last year. CHARMING KITTEN is a pure guess, as he has no dirt starts in seven career races. But he does pack a strong closing punch.

Handicapping the old-fashioned way

Remember, before Beyer, BrisNet, Ragozin, and Thoro-Graph, there was the good old-fashioned simple speed rating and track variant in the DRF? The former has been tweaked a bit over the years, but I thought in such a confusing year, it might be interesting to use them to see who the fastest horses are. In simpler times, many people would just add the speed rating to the track variant, and the latter still is a useful tool to see just how fast or slow the track is.

So, by adding up both figures for the horses’ last three races, here is what we came up with:

Verrazano 327
Vyjack 318
Normandy Invasion 313
Govenor Charlie 313
Goldencents 311
Mylute 307
Itsmyluckyday 306
Overanalyze 304
Oxbow 304
Charming Kitten 304
Revolutionary 303
Falling Sky 303
Java’s War 296
Will Take Charge 291
Orb 290
Palace Malice 290
Super Ninety Nine 289
Golden Soul 286
Black Onyx 285
Frac Daddy 269

The highest numbers for a single race are:

Verrazano 111
Vyjack 111
Mylute 111
Itsmyluckyday 110
Black Onyx 110
Govenor Charlie 109
Verrazano 108
Verrazano 108
Charming Kitten 108
Normandy Invasion 107
Black Onyx 107
Govenor Charlie 107
Normandy Invasion 106
Overanalyze 106
Oxbow 106
Will Take Charge 106

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