Derby Dozen - February 24, 2014 - Presented by Shadwell Farm


Top Billing Shug McGaughey

Curlin—Parade Queen, by A.P. Indy

He had virtually no chance to win the Fountain of Youth on that speed-biased track and shortened stretch, but did everything you want to see in a Derby horse except pick up enough points to feel secure. And he was beaten by two very fast and talented horses. He can’t afford to have another bad set-up like this, especially if he gets another bad post or runs into serious traffic problems. This is why I’m not in favor of having only two Derby preps, especially for a stone closer. You better hope for at least one clean trip and a favorable pace scenario over a track with a normal stretch. To show what a near-impossible task he had, after dropping over 13 lengths out of it after the first quarter, he ran his next half in :45 3/5 and three-quarters in 1:09 4/5, then came home in :24 1/5 and :06 1/5 and still had no chance to catch two horses who had sprinted clear and gone eyeball to eyeball every step of the way. He looked best accelerating on the far turn, and wasn’t really gaining much on the leaders in the final yards. This is a true Derby horse with an explosive turn of foot. He just needs to be given a chance to win.


Cairo Prince Kiaran McLaughlin Click Here!

Pioneerof the Nile—Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull

Breezed a half in :49 4/5. So much for any news to report. Let’s turn to his pedigree, which is a mixture of everything, with speed and some stamina. He has far-removed inbreeding (4x7) to Aspidistra through Dr. Fager on top and Ta Wee on bottom. His sire, grandsire, and great-grandsire all finished first or second in the Kentucky Derby, and his broodmare sire sired a Kentucky Derby winner, so his pedigree has been successful on the first Saturday in May. I’m going to have to keep watching replays of the Holy Bull and Remsen to refresh my memory what he looks like in action. But in all seriousness, he’s no doubt a top-class horse and we’ll just have to wait to see how the fresh angle works out.


Honor Code Shug McGaughey

A.P. Indy—Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat

Now that he appears to be back in a steady work pattern, breezing a half in :49 3/5 at Gulfstream, he once again is looking like a serious Derby horse, and with three more works scheduled before the Rebel (gr. II) he should be right back on schedule. He and Top Billing make for one dynamic Derby duo, and it’ll be interesting to see where Shug goes next with Top Billing. Will he follow the Orb route and stay in Florida or get the colt off that track? As for Honor Code, if there is a Triple Crown-type horse this year, it’s him, taking into consideration his regal pedigree, his ability to come from the clouds or track the pace if slow, and a classy 2-year-old campaign under him, racing against the likes of Havana and Cairo Prince. And he has the physical prowess, all prerequisites of a Triple Crown horse.


Candy Boy John Sadler

Candy Ride—She’s an Eleven, by In Excess

As of Monday afternoon, still waiting for him to return to the work tab, as it’s been 16 days since the Robert Lewis. Sadler and CRK Stable have quite a 1-2 punch with Kobe’s Back. But at this point, Candy’s boy is the more proven of the two around two turns. The competition in California has not been as stiff nor as deep as the competition in Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas, so it is important for these horses to mix it up in a big field. He showed what we he can do in a big field in the CashCall Futurity, so that experience will help him, but the small 3-year-old fields are not going to help in preparing a horse for the Derby cavalry charge.


Bayern Bob Baffert

Offlee Wild—Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch

With the lack of an extraordinarily brilliant 3-year-old this year, like a Big Brown or a Smarty Jones, or a Bodemeister, he is intriguing despite his lack of stakes experience, because we don’t know how good he is and he has shown himself to be a fast, gifted horse, who Baffert referred to as push-button. Baffert said he will make his next start in the San Felipe, along with stablemate Midnight Hawk, who deserves another shot after one defeat. Bayern is one of several late developers who will be trying to overcome the Apollo curse this year. The way the Derby trail has changed over the years, it’s only a matter of time when one of these lightly raced dynamos gets it done. But for now the line has to be drawn at having at least four starts. He turned in a sharp 5-furlong work Monday in :59 4/5.


Intense Holiday Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Harlan’s Holiday—Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song

This has been a text book career on how to steadily advance toward the first Saturday in May, with every race better than the one before, without any sudden leaps forward. He has now become a man and has put himself in excellent shape to peak on Derby Day. What I love about him are his consistently fast middle and closing fractions. In the Remsen, he came home his final eighth in :11 4/5. In the Holy Bull, he ran his third quarter in :22 4/5 and a middle half in :46 1/5. In the Risen Star, he saved the best for last, coming home in :24 1/5, :24 1/5, and :06 1/5, while running down a very good horse who had controlled the pace and was pulling away from everyone else in the field, opening up by 5 ½ lengths over third-place finisher and favorite Vicar’s in Trouble. That is the kind of sustained move and closing fractions that wins Derbys. If you’re a Beyer pundit, his figs have gone from a 77 to 81 to 84 to 98, and there is still plenty of room for improvement.


Tapiture Steve Asmussen

Tapit—Free Spin, by Olympio

If you look at his pedigree and balance out the speed and stamina influences, you pretty much have a solid mile and an eighth horse. The question now is, can he stretch that out enough to get the 10 furlongs on May 3? He does seem to be able to relax and loves Churchill Downs, which will help. He has good tactical speed and has shown excellent progress from 2 to 3, easily defeating much tougher competition at Oaklawn than he did at Churchill. His sire is red-hot, he has a top trainer, and, as I mentioned last week, his birthday falls out on Derby Day. So, all in all, you have to consider him a major threat at this point, with some good karma attached to him.


Conquest Titan Mark Casse Click Here!

Birdstone—Miner’s Secret, by Mineshaft

He’s back in the Top 12 after a strong :48 1/5 breeze and Casse announcing he will make his next start in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II). And remember that Intense Holiday finished a fast-closing 3rd in the Holy Bull (gr. II) and this colt caught him for second. So, all in all, it was a good week for him, and I’m happy to hear he will be getting away from Gulfstream. Passing the Fountain of Youth proved to be a blessing, as the best he possibly could have finished was fourth. This colt has made a dramatic change in his running style, and although he’s now a closer, he does have that natural speed to explode at any point in a race, as he showed in his allowance score at Churchill last November. One of his foes in the Tampa Derby will be his stablemate Matador, who was a close fourth in the Sam F. Davis, giving him a solid race over the surface.


Mexikoma Rick Mettee

Birdstone—Toccet Over, by Toccet

There were no points to pick up in his third-place finish in an allowance race, so winning was not as important as looking like a Derby horse, and he certainly did that. Like Top Billing he had no shot to win on that track, but he was really rolling down the stretch and was just building up a head of steam on that short stretch when the race was over. What I found most impressive was the fact that every other horse in the race lost ground to Constitution in the final furlong, while he made up three lengths. He’s already shown he has tactical speed when he romped at Delaware Park, and has been working with the emphasis on a late closing kick, which did him little good on Saturday other than move him forward and on to bigger and better things, whether it be the Derby or the Belmont. That style will help in the long run, and I still believe this is a top-quality colt who will only get better as the distances stretch out. He actually might have shown a little too much speed coming out of the gate, as Rosario kept looking over trying to get in and wound up going at least 5-wide into the turn.


California Chrome Art Sherman

Lucky Pulpit—Love the Chase, by Not For Love

He certainly seems to have found a home at Los Alamitos, turning in another stellar work, this time going six furlongs in 1:11 4/5. I’ve said pretty much all there is to say about him, but will reiterate how much I love watching him run. He seems to be putting everything together the right way and at the right time, and while still unproven in open company, I can’t help but feel that he will continue his ascent against better horses. Using grade I winner Tamarando as a gauge, you have to believe his total dominance over such a talented horse establishes him as a legitimate Derby threat. But he still has to go out there and prove he can compete with horses like Candy Boy and perhaps even Bayern. I have little doubt he’ll be up to the task.


General a Rod Mike Maker

Roman Ruler—Dynamite Eyes, by Dynaformer

He may have narrowly lost the battle in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II), but he looks more like the one who altered his running style slightly to suit the track. He couldn’t let Wildcat Red get loose on the lead, so he deviated from what he does best, which is stalking, but came away looking like a legitimate Derby contender. One thing we do know about him, he is a tough competitor, consistent, and fast, and you’re going to have to reach deep down to beat him. He’s not one you want to eyeball at any point in the race. Maker knows a good horse and he is convinced this colt is the real deal, and that just solidifies it. I feel both colts, who earned a 101 Beyer, will continue to carry their speed successfully, but he has more overall stamina and that gives him the slight edge.


Constitution Todd Pletcher

Tapit—Baffled, by Distorted Humor

He looked good visually winning a top-class allowance race, but on that track I still have no idea how good he really is. Although he was able to get away with a :47 3/5 half, he did throw down the gauntlet with a :23 1/5 third quarter and was just too strong in the stretch. He has the look of a class horse and was striding out beautifully in the final furlong, with some very talented horses futilely chasing him home. Like Bayern, he has no stakes experience, and not having started at 2, he has to take on Apollo, who is undefeated in 132 years. His pedigree is fairly strong, but his tail-female family doesn’t knock you out. The bottom line is, to come off one seven-furlong maiden win and defeat proven distance horses like Tonalist, Mexikoma, and Wicked Strong is pretty impressive.

Knocking At The Door

The standings are getting tighter, with STRONG MANDATE, WILDCAT RED, VICAR’S IN TROUBLE, KOBE’S BACK, TONALIST, WICKED STRONG, SAMRAAT, UNCLE SIGH and others hovering right above the Top 12.

But the horse I am watching closest of all is HOPPERTUNITY, who I was expecting to hit the Top 12, but will have to wait following his unfortunate fourth, beaten seven lengths, in the Risen Star. I believe, however, that this is the time to get in on a good thing, as that race should propel him into a huge effort next time out, in which he’ll be able to show just how good a horse he is. First off, he broke a bit flat-footed and got squeezed slightly, and that was just enough to cost him valuable position, as he dropped back to 10th behind a :47 3/5 half. In his last start, he was a length off a :46 3/5 half, tracking in third.

In the Risen Star, he was being pushed a long way out to try to make up lost ground, and finally had to swing eight or nine wide turning for home. When Commanding Curve drifted out in to his path, he had to go inside him. Although he was well out of it at this point, back in seventh, I did like the way he finally leveled off and was striding out in the final sixteenth to finish fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind third-place finisher Vicar’s in Trouble. You have to remember, he had made only two career starts, this was his first stakes appearance, and the three horses in front him had made a total of 13 career starts, seven of them in stakes. So, don’t give up on this colt just yet.

I had been contemplating putting STRONG MANDATE back in the Top 12 if there was room for him, as it appeared on second glance he simply needed the Southwest after losing a lot of ground and getting tired, which may have been the reason he changed leads five times in the stretch. But watching the head-on shot several times, he appeared to be continuously trying to get out, and even when he ducked in from a right-handed whip and switched to his left lead, he quickly drifted abruptly back to the outside. This is an experienced grade I stakes performer, who shouldn’t be all over the track like that. With that said, I am still willing to chalk up the defeat and the meandering stretch run to getting tired, and would hope he puts it all back together in the Rebel, assuming that’s his next start. Talent-wise, he can beat anyone on his best day; he just needs to be more consistent and professional.

Although VICAR’S IN TROUBLE ran a good third from a bad post in the Risen Star, he actually had a pretty decent trip and was able to tuck in nicely going into the first turn, but just seemed to get tired in the stretch. Until we find out how far he wants to go, he’ll have to remain just out of the Top 12.

WICKED STRONG’s fourth-place finish in the Gulfstream allowance race was a pretty good rebound effort, but I’m very surprised they kept him at Gulfstream after he bombed there in the Holy Bull. His running style is not conducive to that track. But it was a step in the right direction and I haven’t given up on him by any means.

With New York-breds and Louisiana-bred asserting themselves on the Derby trail this year, why not a New Mexico-bed? PROCEED, a son of the Fappiano stallion Desert God, remained unbeaten with a two-length victory in the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park, covering the 1 1/16-miles in a sharp 1:42 2/5. He has now won all three of his starts by a combined 21 1/4 lengths. Over at Turf Paradise, LOTSA MISCHIEF made it four wins in eight starts, winning the Turf Paradise Derby by 2 1/2 lengths, his first race going two turns.

The My Meadowview Farm pair of SAMRAAT and NOBLE CORNERSTONE both had good works, with the former breezing a mile in 1:45 and Noble Cornerstone a solid five-eighths in 1:00 3/5 breezing. Also on the New York-bred front, UNCLE SIGH returned to the work tab with a bullet five-furlong breeze in :59 4/5 for Saturday’s Gotham Stakes. If he bounces back from that gut-wrencher in the Withers, he should very tough to beat.

Todd Pletcher worked Sam F. Davis winner VINCEREMOS five furlongs in 1:01 3/5, Swale Stakes hopeful HAVANA five-eighths in 1:00 4/5, and Gotham possibles HARPOON and SURFING USA a bullet half in :47 4/5, fastest of 58 works at the distance.

Bob Baffert worked two of his top 3-year-olds, sending out MIDNIGHT HAWK for a five-furlong drill in :59 3/5 and Robert Lewis runner-up CHITU five panels in 1:00 2/5.

El Camino Real Derby winner TAMARANDO stuck around up north, breezing a half in :49 4/5 at Golden Gate. Sham Stakes runner-up KRISTO turned in a sharp 6-furlong work in 1:10 4/5 for John Sadler.


Leave a Comment:

Mister Frisky

Great eye on Mexikoma Steve.He ran pretty similar to Top Billing against that ridiculous speed bias at Gulfstream.Now he needs to get some points to get in the gate in KY,he will be a must in the exotics if he makes it in.Wouldnt mind if Top Billing doesn't win next time either as long as he makes the dance.Gold Hawk disappointed again time to toss him.Shugs two,Strong Mandate,Cairo Prince and Mexikoma.

24 Feb 2014 4:34 PM

Some horses get bonus credit for a just a couple of very modest works, while others who have actually won as 3 year olds against stiff company drop for building bottom instead of doing sprint work.  

24 Feb 2014 4:47 PM

Texas Two Step.  Nice pedigree and terrific connections.  

24 Feb 2014 4:49 PM
El Kabong

Loyalty indeed! Why you even built a small shrine this week. Can't say I blame you though Steve. TB really is the only horse to come out of the FOY with anything to build on as far as May 3rd is concerned. He looks very comfortable in his skin, just not on that track. Where do you think McGaughey will point him next? Wood, FG, or Oaklawn?

Like your comments concerning Intense Holiday too. I think Mike Smith is a really good fit with this horse. I wonder if that was Todd's call or Starlights? Either way, I hope Smith stays with this mount.

Things are heating up! Can't wait for Saturdays, they are really starting to peel the layers off the onion.

24 Feb 2014 4:49 PM

With no mention, guess you are assuming Shared Belief's foot problem keeps him out of the Derby ? I would think if he runs,he could win.

24 Feb 2014 4:57 PM

1) Shared Belief

1) Honor Code

3) California Chrome

3) Top Billing

3) Mexikoma

3) Bayern

7) Cairo Prince

8) Strong Mandate

9) Intense Holiday

10) Hoppertunity

11) Conquest Titan

12) Constitution

24 Feb 2014 5:27 PM

Steve: I'd have to say that Wildcat Red earned a place in the dozen.  Although his stamina for the Derby distance is suspect, based on pedigree (mainly his sire's), he could still be any kind of horse because he's very fast, has some stamina on the dam side of the pedigree, stretches out around two turns and is as game as they come. He should be ranked ahead of the inexperienced Constitution and Bayern, being significantly more battle-tested and of proven class than those two. You might want to reconsider Wildcat Red's ranking.

Also, I see that you've completely tossed the 2YO champion Shared Belief without even a footnote. I know that you realize that this colt is quite possibly a cut above all, including your top three. Although the trainer is tight-lipped about his progress I think that you would serve your readership well including those that follow your opinion for futures wagering by at least making mention of Shared Belief's potential to become the top colt of this group. This colt deserves a lot of respect while he remains on the Derby trail.

There is another very good 3YO colt yet to be heard from or about, named Bobby's Kitten you have any information Steve? I'm eagerly awaiting his 3YO debut. It seems to me that the Ramsey's are happy to keep him under the radar and might point him to the Bluegrass Stakes, which I call the backdoor into the Kentucky Derby. Can you comment on this speculation?

24 Feb 2014 5:28 PM


Completely agree with your comments about Hoppertunity. I'd rate him as the #1 Derby prospect-from all that raced over the weekend. Unlike you, I don't like what I've seen out of Florida so far and, at the moment, consider the California trainees/shippers clearly the best.

24 Feb 2014 5:50 PM

I agree with you Steve, Top Billing ran a great race in a losing cause.  I think Shug got what he wanted out of the cold considering but I feel he should ship out.  Gulfstream is so tough to close on and win.  I see Top Billing and Honor Code as the top 2 right now.

24 Feb 2014 6:13 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

We both have Candy Boy in the 4th spot and have many of the same horses but not at the same rank. It seems as though some are really becoming solid Derby Dozen stayers. The biggest question of course is where Top Billing will go. I think he is a legit number one but I have him sixth simply because I think there is enough talent this year that it is more likely for a presser to win The Derby. I have Intense Holiday third but I think he will be closer to the pace and be able to explode past the early speed. It's also possible this year for someone to get an early lead and hang on for the win. I have Constitution ahead of Cairo Prince simply because I like his pedigree a little better. Despite the speed bias I still really liked what I saw from Constitution. Bayern potentially could be the top talent of all. I am still stubbornly sticking to Indianapolis as my number one because I have to.

1. Indianapolis

2. Bayern

3. Intense Holiday

4. Candy Boy

5. Honor Code

6. Top Billing

7. Constitution

8. Cairo Prince

9. Conquest Titan

10. Cousin Stephen

11. Havana

12. Smart Cover

24 Feb 2014 6:26 PM

Good list here Steve.  I am starting to like Top Billing.  I thought he made a monster move in the FOY, just came up a little short.  A little concerned about the late closing running style for the Derby but a lot remains to be seen yet.  I must say Wildcat Red and General A Rod both seem to know how to compete.  I'm impressed with Wildcat Red.  

We've got a lot of dark bays in here, a couple of chestnuts, and a roan (Cairo Prince).  

Get a kick out of the name Samraat, I think it's funny.  Every time I hear the name Candy Boy all I can think of is:

"Candy Boy, Candy Boy won't you be my Candy Boy.  Marry me, carry me, 'cross the Derby line, giddyup, giddyup, giddyup, giddyup, my Candy Boy!" (My dad used to bounce me on his knee and sing "Pony Boy" to me).

Ok we've come out of the frozen tundra in NJ for a few days but not to worry, we're looking at another "snowpportunity" tomorrow or Wednesday.

Can't wait for a star to emerge from this group.

24 Feb 2014 6:42 PM
Steve Haskin

Badsaddle, there are too many good horses worthy of the Top 12 that I can just sit on a horse that has had two physical setbacks already and hasnt even come close to a work, and there is nothing to say about him. His trainer has not provided any updates, so until I see him work and know he can get two starts in I'm not going to just go over the same no reports every week. I stated all this last week. He is by far the best 3-year-old in the country, even if he hasnt raced on dirt, but I'm not getting any encouraging news about him being ready for the Derby.

24 Feb 2014 6:43 PM

The list is pretty much the same with minor changes and Im not surprised.You have to have a strong opinion to be good at this game.I have my differences, I am pretty sure Top Billing is not as good as Orb was at this stage.It seems that Shugs colts need time and more races unless they are 2 and named Honor Code, by this time last year Orb had many more races to improve his use of oxygen in a race.If Orb had been in that FOY he would of run them down as he did Violence who was already a graded stakes winner.

Thanks for the info on Conquest Titan I dont have him in my virtual stable, and I believe if both he and TB run at 9 panels in the Florida Derby he would of finished ahead of Top Billing.I think Shugs best hope is Honor Code and I believe at equal weights at 9 furlongs Cairo Prince can beat him especially at Gulfstream with the one two finishers of the FOY to sit behind and get first run.

The Tampa Bay Derby is at 8.5 furlongs so I hope if Conquest Titan runs here and earns points that he run once more at 9 furlongs,because the jump from 8.5 to 10 IMO will not be good for him and the body of races he has already ran.

24 Feb 2014 6:45 PM

Although I have long been a Conquest Titan fan, I am glad you also mentioned Matador.  I am looking forward to both their next starts.

Also continuing to check Bayern (who isn't) and Mexikoma and Proceed.

Finally, still hoping they'll run Ria Antonia in the La Derby.  I thought she needed her last start.

(longshots all -- I love them!!)

24 Feb 2014 6:55 PM

HONOR CODE (API): Encased in Derby negatives. Aptitude’s 2nd in the 2000 Derby represents the best finish for an A P Indy progeny. Aptitude 2nd dam was sired by Buckpasser and his 3rd by Preakness winner and Derby runner up Hill Prince. If Aptitude with his regal pedigree was incapable of wining The Derby for A P Indy, it is unlikely that Honor Code will. However, he is so talented and honest, I have to ignore negative history until I see weakness.

BOND HOLDER (API): It has been reported he suffered some superficial wounds and should not be out for too long. He has more foundation than most and has competed against the best of his peers. Like Top Billing, both his sire and dam sire were HOY. He is a deep closer who needs a fair track to be seen at his best. He also needs points

HAVANA (Mr. P): Encased in Derby negatives & had a setback. Most of the horses that finished behind him in the BCJ recorded good efforts in subsequent races. Will two Derby preps be enough to win? Who is Big Brown? Most Derby preps have been won either on or close to the lead. Speed apparently is ruling and he has an abundance of same. I still thinks he is the best from the crop of 2011 and with the positive TC history of his dam line, I am forced to remain positive.

SHARED BELIEF (Mr. P): All are awaiting his 2014 dirt debut. It will be interesting to see how he travels on dirt with his paddling action. An explosive colt against lesser on the synthetic that has to prove he is the real deal despite his hype.

TOP BILLING (Mr. P): Encased in Derby negatives.  He ran a monster race in the FOY despite being compromised by his PP and an ultra-fast track. He was 4 1/2 lengths clear of 72-1, East Hall who was assigned a wider PP and who does not compare to his stable mate Honor Code. He might just be 2nd best in the barn.

EAST HALL (ND): Secured a few points and a promotion with his monster effort in the FOY from an unfavorable post. His toughness and consistency were certainly on display. Should enjoy the extra distance and kinder pace of the FL Derby and has a chance to increase points tally.

ALBANO (Mr. P): A game loser of the RS who was also sired by a grandson from the Mr. Prospector. His sire Istan bred only 22 mares in 2010. From a previous small book of mares, he produced Atigun the 3rd place finisher in the Belmont/Breeders' Cup Marathon. Albano’s dam sire Fortunate Prospect was broodmare sire of 3 millionaires that include Ron The Greek and 3rd place finisher in the Derby/Preakness, Musket Man. With Gallant Romeo, Hail to Reason and Mahmoud as his next three dam sires, the Derby distance should not be a challenge.

INTENSE HOLIDAY (ND): Liked this colt when I saw his MSW victory at Monmouth PK. Backed him in the Nashua and Remsen only for him to disappoint. I am of the opinion he will always be an also ran against the best of his peers. However, he showed a lot of energy in his FG victory and might just be improving at the right time.

WILDCAT RED (ND): Ignore his disqualification from 1st in his 3rd start and he has only been beaten to the winning post once in six starts and that was by a NS. He has speed of his sire and the tenacity of his Personal Ensign. Does not appear to be suited to the Derby distance. However, many Derby winners overcame greater challenges that stamina limitation.  

GENERAL A ROD (Mr. P): Game loser of the FOY from the Mr. Prospector sire line. Grand sire was a derby winner and dam sire was a Derby winning sire. Dynaformer was also the dam sire of Atigun who was beaten <2L in the 2012 Belmont. GAD clearly has the speed and stamina to win the Derby distance. He just needs the blinker off.    

CAIRO PRINCE (Mr. P): I have a love/hate view of this colt. I have no confidence in his trainer ability to build his stamina to a Derby level. His dam sire Holy Bull via his dam has serious potential as broodmare sire. Classy colt that I am again forced to acknowledge.

VINCEREMOS (Mr. P): Will face a crowded Tampa Bay Derby field but is such a cool character that he will not be fazed. All his victories have been achieved against the rails which he is always tempted to touch. It is unknown how he will perform if he is forced to leave his love zone. His unwillingness to be beaten in his last two starts drives his appeal although his speed figures are modest  at best.  

24 Feb 2014 6:56 PM
food fight

Not to pile on but the speed bias at Gulf on Saturday was ridiculous.The top 2 finishers are fast horses with talent but in my opinion Top Billing would have run them over on a fair track. I also think Commissioner would have been right there as well,he had to make several early moves instead of grinding them down which is his style .So i think he has an excuse as well . But Top Billing got a ton of ability to finish 3rd after his draw and the bias .My top 5 are Honor Code 2nd Top Billing 3rd Commissioner 4th Mexicoma 5th Bayern on the fence Indianapolis Strong Mandate Conquest Titan Intense Holiday Hoppertunity Candy Boy and the filly Untapable. Steve any update on Indianapolis what's next for him ? is he training well ?I would put him near the top if he is training good and pointed to a stake routing. I think he has lots of talent.I have yet to see the WOW factor out of any of the 3 year old colts so far in stakes company.

24 Feb 2014 7:10 PM
food fight

Steve i also think it is worth mentioning that the filly Untapable ran faster than the colts in the Risen Star and is 2 for 2 at Churchill Downs if the connections should think Derby instead of Oaks with her . She may be the best of the Tapit 3 year olds. And her pedigree should get the distance being out of a Prized mare { Kriss S Roberto}

24 Feb 2014 7:27 PM
Dr Max

I always enjoy your observations and critiques of colts on the Road to the Roses. I understand that from a pedigree perspective everyone is opining that WILDCAT RED is probably better suited to races at a mile and a mile and a /16th. But he has repeatedly demonstrated that he has the heart of a champion in terms of determination, competitiveness, and tenacity. In fact, he seems to excel in these traits! I am wondering if conditioning by his trainer, Garafollo, with long gallops to build stamina might help him get the classic distance. I believe he has a dual running style (E/P or F/P) albeit in GP in the FOY on a track that has been highly speed-bias the strategy of using Early Speed (E) and a Front-Running (F)was the right strategy for winning the FOY at GP. With additional consideration of being hounded on his flank and eye-ball-to-eye ball by G-A-ROD and the best-riding and winning jockey at GP - Castellano, you should consider adding another characteristic of a prospective KDerby winner: "Heart of a Champion." On Saturday in the FOY WILDCAT RED definitely displayed the "Heart of a Champion." P.S. - I was there! I witnessed the race in person. While he was warming-up before the race at the top of the stretch I approached the rail and yelled, "WILDCAT RED, go fast and win!" I think he heard me! I SCREAMED and using my racing form as a jockey's whip to help him in his eye-ball-to-eye ball battle with GENERAL A ROD and Castellano! His victory was Oh, So Sweet - and the money was not so bad either!

24 Feb 2014 7:39 PM
Ted from LA

After hours and hours of research, I've arrived at my Derby Dozen.

1. Indianapolis

2. Bayern

3. Intense Holiday

4. Candy Boy

5. Honor Code

6. Top Billing

7. Constitution

8. Cairo Prince

9. Conquest Titan

10. Cousin Stephen

11. Havana

12. Smart Cover

24 Feb 2014 7:39 PM

I'm not at all surprised to see Top Billing still #1 despite having lost to 2 colts placed under him.  Everything; about Top Billing says he'll get the Derby distance; I'm not so sure about General A Rod and I think Wildcat Red's about reached his limit at 8.5 furlongs.  

Much as I like Top Billing, I think Shug has an even better chance with Honor Code, if this colt is healthy and fit.

Outside of these two, I'm intrigued by California Chrome.  This colt is just plain fast and I love the way he covers the ground.  I can't wait to see what he does against truly top-class colts.

24 Feb 2014 7:47 PM

Hey Steve, been watching all day for your post. While I certainly am a very green novice when it comes to all these "handicapping" conversation and do not bet, I love watching these races and seeing the talent and athletic ability of these beautiful creatures. I think Top Billing ran an awesome race. The way he came from the back and passed horses on the outside and charged down the track, he reminded me of Will Take Charge. From the pictures I have seen of Top Billing, he has an awesome chest. Secretariat came from the back like that and it just makes racing thrilling to watch. I also think that Wild Cat Red is a gamey little horse. He fought hard for that win and I so admire that...a horse to be winner he has to want to win and fight for every stride with all his heart. I have now added him and Intense Holiday to my list and of course keeping Honor Code and Tapiture. I have not given up on Commissioner yet.

24 Feb 2014 8:40 PM
Carlos in Cali

Seeing that you booted Commissioner off your list like a shirtless person at a fast food joint. Any post-race comments/thoughts regarding Commissioner by Pletcher/Velasquez or yourself?..

I'm throwing-out his FOY race as it seems he had no shot on that highway trying to keep pace with the frontrunners. He's a stalking-grinder who'll be better suited anywhere else except Gulfstream.

24 Feb 2014 8:46 PM
Pedigree Ann

Steve, I was surprised to find no mention of Albano, who gave Intense Holiday all he could handle. In his fifth lifetime and his second longer than 6f.

Food Fight, Prized was one of the best 3yos of 1989. He shockingly defeated Sunday Silence in the 10f G1 Swaps S, blazing down the stretch to tag the champion at the wire. And in his very first turf start, he won the BC Turf at 12f. At stud he sired the $2-million earner Brass Hat (Donn H, etc. SW at 12fT), Fun House (G2 winner and dam of Paddy O'Grado and Untapable), Mirkola Lass (G2 winner in NZ at 2400m), Prize Lady (twice winner of 3200m G1 Auckland Cup), and Premio Loco, who could compete from 7f to 10f in GB/Ger, with 7 group wins and 3rds in 2 group 1s behind star Canford Cliffs. Moreover, Brass Hat, despite several injuries, raced from 3 to 9 (stakes horse every year)

while Premio Loco started at 2 and ran 9 times last year, might be back again at 10 this year.

No need to look at his ancestors - Prized himself possessed stamina and was a sire of sturdy stock with stamina.

24 Feb 2014 9:14 PM

"But the horse I am watching closest of all is HOPPERTUNITY, who I was expecting to hit the Top 12”

I remain puzzled as to why a colt with only a MSW victory over 8F in 1:36.94 on the speed way at SA Park has caused such a buzz. I carefully reviewed the RS video and his issues were minor. He was simply outrun by the top two and the tiring Vicar’ In Trouble. If the issues highlighted were not in play, could he have beaten the top 3?  Not based on what the video displayed.

The Risen Star runner-up never got mentioned. Is HOPPERTUNITY the better of the two?  Both were contesting 1 1/16F for the first time. One got 7L beat and the other by a NS. Albano’s sire Istan, had a Belmont 3rd place finished in his 1st crop.  Any Given Saturday is still a WOP.  Mares sired by Albano’s dam sire Fortunate Prospect have produced three millionaires including a Derby and Preakness 3rd place finisher. Unaccounted For the dam sire of HOPPERTUNITY was a well-bred horse but does not have a comparable record.

I cannot see how this colt is on the bubble over others with significantly better résumés.

24 Feb 2014 9:22 PM
Plod Boy Phil

We too detected a speed favoring surface on the dirt Saturday at Gulfstream, but it was modest at best relative to the lifelong trends of this dirt course. All else being equal,  the track surface played only a modest factor in the outcome of the 6 races.  Talent and race shape were far more important factors.  From that perspective, I off these opinions:

- Top Billing is not Orb now, nor does he project to be by May. It's important to recall that last year's Derby winner became a new Lasix user just as he was coming into form.  Top Billing does not have that advantage.  He could get better,  but the excitement seems unwarranted from here.

Constitution's performance does not match up under Flow scrutiny to the efforts of Wildcat Red or Arod in the FOY. Simple pace analysis tells the tale of the two races. From Saturday's 6th, Tonalist and Mexicana could improve - in my book, each is more likely to be a Derby prospect in four weeks than Constitution.  Of course, in the grand scheme of Derby potential, that says little.

Good luck

24 Feb 2014 9:38 PM

I will be extremely surprised if a Tapit can win against this level of competition at 10 furlongs.  Wonder what has happened with the Bernardinis?  Two years ago he appeared to be the sire of the future.  Pioneer of the Nile seems to be the hot sire in this crop.

24 Feb 2014 10:32 PM
Curlin 1:53.46

I just love how some people are comparing Top Billing to Orb, assuming of course the trainer has something to do with that. I'm a fan of Top Billing but comparing what Top Billing is doing to Orb's races last year, race for race is a little over the top. I'm reading he's somehow not projected to be the KD winner like Orb was last year because he lost the FOY and Orb won it. Why people are comparing the two is beyond me.

24 Feb 2014 10:38 PM


This year you're going to need a Derby Baker's Dozen!  The video of Cal Chrome's workout was a thing of beauty, poetry in motion!  I don't know why MEXIKOMA was kept so far back but he looks like a serious threat to me.  He looks pretty well muscled for a horse who needs more distance.  Is there any word on his constitution?  I hope HONOR CODE goes to the REBEL!  I'll be there if he does.

24 Feb 2014 11:19 PM
Plod Boy Phil

I can't speak for other bloggers,  but the reason I've drawn the comparison is multi-faceted.

- The obvious, and least valued for me, is Shug.

- Each colt won their Alw1x races employing deep closing tactics. Each came away from victory with gathering momentum and a growing fan base.

- Each occupies(d) a high spot in Steve's Derby Dozen after the FOY.

While I'm off topic on the topic of comparing horses from different years, this case has nothing to do with the one winning a race in 2013, and the other running a distance third in it one year later,  but thanks for simplifying it all.

I do think it is important in the lifetime development of handicappers of 3 yos in the Spring to understand the differences in these two particular 3 yos.  

The most important difference is Top Billing has far less foundation than Orb did. Orb had shown improvement in form without a major forward jump prior to receiving Lasix. Top Billing made his 3 yo debut, and 2nd career start, with Lasix.  He's maintained or regressed from his newly established level in his three races with Lasix.  An improvement is unlikely.  As for the form flaw that allows him to fall far out of races, it should be flagged as critical, not rewarded,  no matter how exciting the non threatening rally may have looked or sounded.

Hope that clarifies it.

24 Feb 2014 11:48 PM

Looking forward to seeing Financial Mogul in the Gotham. He could be my new hope for a top prospect. He faces a few good ones, including the stretch battlers Uncle Sigh and Samraat. I was so depressed when New Years Day was retired, and kind of see alot of his style in Financial Mogul. Last year in the Nashua he ran second to Cairo Prince while winning a challenge in the stretch with Noble Moon and actually beginning to gain on Cairo Prince. Should be a good race, hopefully some good weather for a change.

25 Feb 2014 12:06 AM
Bill Rinker

Thanks again Steve, for yet another great Derby Dozen. Much like every one else I to really enjoyed this weeks preps, and as you noted there were some impressive showings. The Fountain of Youth was very exciting with the scrap that General a Rod and Wildcat Red put on, and Top Billing really looked incredible. Mexikoma showed alot of talent earlier on the card in his race as well. I'll be very interested in watching how well these colts come out of that race. The Risen Star was pretty sweet, with Intense Holiday looking very convincing. I heard the comments that Mike Smith made and thought he rode a first rate tactical race. Albano ran really strong, he came out of the LeCompt on the upswing and looked on the muscle with some nice works inbetween. Initally I was a little disappointed with Vicar's in Trouble's effort. I thought he did a nice job of getting out of the gate and Rosie had him in pretty good shape on the first turn. Down the back stretch he was traveling well and I thought maybe I was going to see something special. But when he flattened out at the head of the lane I thought damm what a bummer. Then, (no I didn't throw my drink into the fireplace) I noticed something as HRTV showed a close up of Intense Holiday's finish. It looked Like Vicar veered sharply towards the rail as Intense Holiday passed him. It struck me oddly as I didn't catch it during the actual race. So after watching several replays of the finish, it appears that Vicar might be shying from the whip. I noticed as Rosie through a couple crosses on him and followed with the left hand that he seemed to be bothered. I then checked his LeCompt run to see if anything looked unusual. I'ts very hard to tell on my computer as the image just isn't sharpe enough to really have a good look. But there seems to be a possibility that perhaps he was showing a dislike there as well. It would be really interesting to know what Rosie has to say on this, she has such a great touch and has been handling him very nicely. From what I've read he came out of the race just fine, anyway I'll be interested to hear additional thoughts on this. Looking forward to the Gotham, Steve you probably don't remember, but I ran into you there when our local horse Russell Roads made an appearance.    

25 Feb 2014 12:06 AM


I am still sticking with Hoppertunity. There is no question that he is super talented but need a bit more experience. He seem to run better with horses to his outside and would quite well with a inside trip. Well, at least till he he gets more seasoning.

Another horse I am watching is Vinceremos, he keeps pulling up when goes in front but I really believe he is sneaky good.

25 Feb 2014 5:12 AM
Sail On

Wildcat Red and General A Rod have engaged in two battles to the wire. Wildcat Red won the longer and most recent, no? I like his attitude.

25 Feb 2014 7:17 AM
Senator L

Still no love for Wildcat Red?

You'll believe after the Florida Derby

25 Feb 2014 7:44 AM
Pedigree Ann

I messed up in the Showdown contest for Twinspires because I forgot what I have learned already this season - the established stakes horses are showing the best form going forward. Cairo Prince, Candy Boy, etc. Of the ones I thought looked best in the Risen Star, I took the one WITHOUT previous stakes credentials and paid the price. This is not looking like a year when a horse can jump up from MSW or n1x wins to G2 or G1 wins in the space of a month; maybe they can do it their second stakes try, we shall see. And if trainers hold to their abbreviated pre-Derby schedules, it may be very difficult for even quite talented up-and-comers catch up in the two months' time left.

25 Feb 2014 8:53 AM
Don from PA/DE

Brilliant, nearly flawless overview Steve, in my opinion, only addition may be Rise Up, he should still be worthy of SHDD mention/favor? Thanks so much for another top level knowledge-based KD crash course, Don

25 Feb 2014 9:02 AM

The quest for the derby trifecta box continues.1)honor code-gets hard road test for fitness next out. 2)noble moon-nice dosage distance profile with 10-5-19-5-1.3)midnight hawk-no excuse in last race, better next time.4)replaced strong mandate with tapiture.

25 Feb 2014 9:21 AM


You are the second contributor to yet again endorse Mr. Haskin’s view on Hopportunity. You classified him as super talented. Mr. Haskin was dead set on including him in his latest dozen. What exactly am I missing?

The colt finished 5th on debut. He returned to win an 8F, MSW race against 9 weak opponents none of which have won a race since. He finished a non-threatening 4th in the Risen Star and this makes him super talented and worthy of inclusion in a Derby Dozen. His performances to date do not support a super talented status.

Are you confusing super talented with super expectations?

25 Feb 2014 10:54 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thank you for a great Derby Dozen and Knocking at the Door.  I read each word with great interest.  I like it that you stuck your neck out with Bayern, a very exciting colt.  And I was very interested to read that Honor Code may go in the Rebel.  That should be a very good prep.  And including the Sunland runners put a smile on my face.  You just never know.  And with 50-1 debuting in March, there's the "blast from the past."  Love this time of year.  Thanks.

25 Feb 2014 11:00 AM

Bill Rinker, I'll have to go back and watch the Risen Star to see what was going on with Vicar's In Trouble.

Plod Boy Phil, out of the 6 races at Gulfstream on Saturday, 5 were won by front running speed.  On that day, it was impossible for a deep closer to win.

Shug may want to think about sending Top Billing to the Louisiana Derby. The long stretch may benefit him.    

25 Feb 2014 11:12 AM

Hoping Samraat/Uncle Sigh earn some respect after the Gotham...

25 Feb 2014 12:29 PM


You wait and see, Steve is right about Hoppertunity. This horse is still trying to figure things out and when he does that switch is going to flip. The ability is there.

As for Vinceremos, I am with you on this horse. I think if he didn't have this tendency of pulling himself up after hitting the lead his two wins would I have been impressive. Edgar Prado said that he have to be real mindful of when to move with Vinceremos.      

25 Feb 2014 12:44 PM

Man if the Derby was run this weekend it would be a dart board pick for me.

Right now I give the slight #1 to Cairo Prince..

25 Feb 2014 12:45 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Mary - True. Two were odds on ($3.20, $2.80), one paid $4.20, and one was the 2-1 post time favorite.

There is so much more to accurately recording bias than looking to see how many '1s' the winner had in it's running line.

25 Feb 2014 12:53 PM
The Bid

Shug's savyness regarding The Best for his horses is really gonna play a significant role in where he plans to run TOP BILLING next! IMO The most logical place would be in The Wood! REASON.....POINTS!!! He needs to get his colt in the Derby gate and not deal with the very real possibility of getting SHUTOUT, staying at GP and it's speed favoring bias not to mention the likelihood of another big field and getting another bad draw, would definitely be to The Horse's detriment in accumulating enough!!!

Which brings me to a flying-under-the-radar colt still hovering and UNDEFEATED...SAMRAAT!!! After watching his previous races he definitely is not shy being forwardly placed or just off the pace. His pension for the lead could ultimately be his downfall for not having experience dealing with kick back if he were to get a bad outside draw forcing him wide then having to save ground behind a 20 horse field! Pedigree could be an underlying issue but there is some stamina so that shouldn't be a problem or is there something with that regard Iam missing???

Lastly, HONOR CODE...slowly but shortly getting in some much needed works in run up to The Rebel!! Having no setbacks should have no problem getting his requirements of points getting to The Derby Gate!! TAPITURE and STRONG MANDATE are probably the others realistically getting any points out of that race! Once again, Shug made the right decision in traveling a little west than heading back into the weather in NY and not having anymore DELAYS! Just doing what is right by HIS COLTS....As he always does!

25 Feb 2014 12:57 PM
food fight

DOE'S anybody have any news on Indianapolis?

25 Feb 2014 3:59 PM

I'm betting Strong Mandate turns the tables on Tapiture in the Rebel with Honor Code trying to run em both down.  

I've seen great arguments for Gulfstream's bias but what brings it home for me is my bewilderment of Normandy Invasion's adjusted time.  I can't believe his effort was a track record performance.  

25 Feb 2014 4:28 PM
Steve Haskin

Big Tex, neither do I. The DRF is looking into it. The original fractions on the TV I'll bet were correct. No way he ran 1:33 flat eased up and 7f in 1:20 3/5.

25 Feb 2014 4:33 PM

I'll shuffle them around quite often right up until Derby day:

(1) Honor Code : I think after his recent workout wasn't quite as fast as Shug wanted, he plans on another workout this weekend, and will have him back on schedule for the Rebel on March 15'th. He's in good hands, out of A.P.Indy

(2) Strong Mandate: I think his sire is a awesome horse, Tiznow. And, Lucas is on a comeback. I would like to see Lucas win another Derby. Strong Mandate just had a bullit workout in prep for the Rebel

(3) California Chrome: This horse has some serious acceleration speed, he takes off like a rocket! Very versatile.

(4)Constitution : might end up being Pletchers best shot.

(5) Indianapolis: Medaglia d'Oro a great distance sire? Baffert is good at getting a horse ready without much foundation.

(6) Tapiture: I thought ran a much improved race at Oaklawn.

(7) Top Billing : Maybe he ran against a track bias, or maybe he just got beat, either way, I can't rank him # 1 right now. I really like his sire though, so he's still on the list.

(8) Shared Belief: I had him at the top, but he has missed too much training, its been too long since a race, and I still don't know where he's being pointed, besides the Derby?

(9) Rise Up: I hope he can rebound and make a better effort in his next race. I like him, think there is potential.

(10) General A Rod: may prove that he is no fluke, and not just a sprinter that he is being written off as. I like him.

Also watching: Bond Holder, Schoolofhardrocks, Kristo, Vicars in Trouble.

Over Rated : Cairo Prince and Candy Boy

25 Feb 2014 5:37 PM

I am so very happy you have taken Shared Belief from your list! That is in stark contrast to Me. Battaglia who has kept him on his early wager list #3 for the Kentucky Derby and at 12-1 no less.... Other than that I apprecite your belief in Top Billing who I am dropping out till he runs in the final prep.. no matter an interesting list you got here for me Tapiture remains #1 and contrary to my habit I am adding Mexikoma for #2 the others can be any number...for now! Hoppertunity : an interesting analysis and going with that makes sense to add him; he has the breeding potential for sure....getting intriguing and Sherlock Holmes is on the job .

25 Feb 2014 6:08 PM

The reason I compared Top Billing to Orb is obvious to me a person who piggybacks on top trainers year round, to wager on high percentage outcomes proven over years and hundreds or thousands of samples(races)

This is common sense but sometimes people get caught up with whats on paper (PPs)and forget that these equine athletes are not machines, and that their are human coaches(trainers) behind them.If you were to analyze any human we all have tendencies.Horsetrainers are NO DIFFERENT especially someone like Shug whos been around for ages and has perfected his training methods over years of trial and error.

Orb took four races to break his maiden as a 2yo,then he had a two month break until his next race at Gulfstream which he won.It was an allowance race at 9 furlongs.Less than four weeks later he won the FOY.

It is my opinion that Shugs training tendency with 2yos is to be patient, and let his young trainees develop slowly by racing.This fact is reinforced in my mind because I look at a lot of MSW races in NY and if you look at his stats for first time starters it is very poor.

Then he gets Honor Code who breaks his maiden first time out.Shug knows that this colt is already good enough so he puts him in grade 1 stakes competition in his next race and he losses by a neck to pacesetter Havana.Allmost two months later he runs him in a grade 2 at 9 furlongs which he wins.I dont know about you but going by memory Shug dosent get such precocious types at least on dirt.He does get these early developers on turf, and thats the way I always bet him in MSWs.Dangerous in maiden races on turf,make sure his dirt runners have had a few races before betting them.

He seems to always get animals that settle or close from far back,unlike trainers like Pletcher who gets horses that gun to the lead from the getgo(their first race)That without A DOUBT has to do with the training methods that each employ,and these ways of training are drastically different.It also has to do with the type of horses Shug gets to train and it has to do with the colts Pletcher gets, and also the owners.You dont need to complicate yourself with the owners,because the trainer is the operations manager CEO,or whatever title you want to give him in his BUSINESS.

IMO Top Billing is not as ready as Orb was in this stage of their racing careers and most importantly in the way Shug trains.

He got Honor Code a colt so precocious on dirt, that he dosent usually get from his owners.Honor Code is no doubt Shugs best hope to win back to back KDs.Top Billing is getting a lot of added hype when ALL he has accomplished thus far is come in 3rd in a graded stakes race.Honor Code is a graded stakes winner and he placed in the ONLY other graded event he entered his racing record is 3-2-1-0.Top Billings record is 4-2-1-1 and one of his 2nds was to Commissioner who was booted off of Mr Haskins Derby Dozen.Do I have to write any more, I dont think so,but this is all about opinions and I have stated mine now those of you that are inclined can copy parts of this text and pick it apart.It dosent matter to me, this is what I think until I see results on the track from Top Billing.

25 Feb 2014 7:07 PM
KY VET guys sure go on that bias thing huh? really love top billing .....does anyone know that top billing's beyer went up?  #overreaction

25 Feb 2014 7:19 PM
Scott's Rail

Hoppertunity--Raise a Native on Top. Here is where you separate the Men from the boys--Bottom side turf influences with N.Dancer x 2.  Buckpasser, anywhere, anytime...And the golden gem, Turn-To.  He screams distance and C. Downs track.  This year reminds me of 2 years ago where the west coast horses were the "ones".  Only this year much deeper.  Keep an eye out for Midnight Hawk, even Baffert admitted MH was so-so ready for his last prep.  Schoolofhardrocks ????

25 Feb 2014 8:17 PM
Mike from Michigan

Did some of you watch a different FOY than I did?  I could have sworn 'Wildcat Red' won.  

25 Feb 2014 8:27 PM
Curlin 1:53.46

Like I've stated before, I'm a fan of Top Billing. I think he can be very competitive against any horse he runs against. I also think if he would just position himself mid pack instead of next to last or last every race, he can and will win more races. As it stands now, he won't be able to keep running from last and win any races against big fields of top horses, bias or no bias, good post or bad, long stretch or short, it doesn't matter, no excuses.

25 Feb 2014 9:05 PM

Will be Down on the rail at tbd Mar. 8 Steve, liked Titans 1/2 mile work and although Casse has not fared well in recent derby ventures, I think he has a colt that not only can explode witmade a h a turn of foot, but is bred to run all day. food fight made a good point about Untapable, really nice filly!

25 Feb 2014 9:33 PM
Bloodline Bob

I see that INTENSE HOLIDAY moved from #12 to #6. Next time I get a tip from the owner of a horse + post it on here...take a double look at that horse.

25 Feb 2014 9:56 PM

I was surprised that no mention of Wildcat Red was made in your list of Triple Crown prospects. Although his sire's family is rich in sprinters, his dam's family has the stamina. His maternal grandsire, Miner's Mark,he was the first foal produced by the undefeated blue hen, Personal Ensign and Mr.Prospector. Miner's Mark was a grade one winner and won the 1 1/4 mile Jockey Club Gold Cup.

25 Feb 2014 10:01 PM

Really great article. I also am interested in what Vinceremos can do if he grows up a little (maybe more than a little but he seems to have great heart) and what Harpoon will do this weekend. Man. I love this time of year.

25 Feb 2014 10:09 PM

Bond Holder scratched from the Risen Star due to injuries suffered while on flight to Louisiana. Plane experienced severe turbulence. Does anyone know if Hopportunity was on that flight too? Think Uncle Sigh improves to win Gotham.

25 Feb 2014 10:58 PM

Honor Code's work today was abyssmal: 4f at Gulfstream, 52.06, 24th of 24.  Since he's been back to the track, his works each week are taking steps backwards.  Wondering if there is something wrong with this colt.  Maybe just a growth spurt, but seems a race not on the horizon.

25 Feb 2014 11:28 PM


There is no absolute wrong or right about a young developing horse. Based purely on Hoppertunity résumé and what I have seen of him on the track, I do not consider him to be a future star. Obviously I could be wrong and Mr. Haskin could be absolutely right.

The talent in the Derby class of 2014 is wide spread and there are others with far more appealing résumés and performances that Mr. Haskin has omitted to mention.

Who am I to challenge his wealth of knowledge?

26 Feb 2014 9:08 AM

Great list Steve,

Still don't see Top Billing as number #1, Cairo Prince's Holy Bull looks better by the week. The good thing about Wildcat Red's FOY win is that he ensures a hot pace on Derby day, setting it up nicely for the closers, Conquest Titian, Mexikoma, Top Billing et al.

Hopportunity reminds me of WTC, big awkward colt slowly learning, I think he will be top notch later in the year, maybe not in time for May. Hope the owners don’t keep him in Cal, not much competition or quality races there, besides BC.

No news on Mosler ?, I fear it is too late for him .

I am going to stick with Strong Mandate as my number one, like the foundation, he looks a true 10F horse.

I think Harpoon upsets this week, like the outside draw.

26 Feb 2014 9:29 AM

Mike from Michigan,

A rather provocative statement regarding the result of the FOY! To the vanquished goes the classification of a true Derby horse and to the victor goes a pooled mentioned with others knocking at the door.

If the victor in the FOY with his two graded stakes wins is knocking at the door, how is it conceivable that the 3rd place finisher has passed through the door to occupy the top spot?

None of these horses will ever contest a 10F race before the Derby. It therefore does not mean that a gate to wire winner in an 8.5F stakes cannot hold his speed for another 1.5F at CD. Who can accurately determine that Wildcat Red is not a Derby horse?

Curlin 1:53.46

Your observation and conclusion regarding Top Billing is spot on. I do not expect him to be the 2014 Derby winner for different reasons of a historic nature. That stated, a number of the members of the Derby class of 2014 have excellent speed and stamina. That spells trouble for deep closers like TB. He will have to be able to get into races earlier or he will have no chance of winning the Derby. The horse with cheap speed will not be present.


I had a small wager on Financial Mogul in the HB. He was returning from a long respite and might have needed the race. Normally the very good ones perform despite adversities and he might not be as good as assessed. Snow Chief mares are rarely seen in the pedigrees of horses and one only hope FM has inherited some of his class.  


“I don't know why MEXIKOMA was kept so far back?”

Did you see the Breeder Cup Juvenile? He was last for a very long way and was finishing best of all. He is devoid of tactical speed and requires a strong pace upfront to have any chance of winning against the best of his peers.

Top Billing, Conquest Titan, Mexikoma and Honor Code can be pooled together as deep closers. Who is the best of the quartet? They all can’t win the Derby. If one of the high cruisers like Candy Boy, Shared Belief, Havana, Strong Mandate, General A Rod, Wildcat Red etc., turn up in Derby winning shape, I content no deep closer will win the 2014 Derby.

26 Feb 2014 10:01 AM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, I have addressed one of your comments on the other blog. If you havent seen it yet, be prepared for some brutal honesty, as you have opened yourself up to it.

26 Feb 2014 10:45 AM
The Bid

The old addages "hope springs eternal" or ""patience brings virtue" certainly STILL applies to 2 of the Top 3yr.olds in the country, and maybe a Blanket of Roses! The Colts I am referring to are SHARED BELIEF and HONOR CODE. We love referring to Derby History in deducting handicapping angles for THE GREAT RACE, so I have some recent history to share that STILL put these two very special Colts on The Trail!

Due to injuries well documented and loss of time it seems these two Colts most notably SHARED BELIEF are losing some of their LUSTER because of late starts and possibility not acquiring enough points to make The Derby. These two Colts won't make their debuts till early to mid March of their 3yr. old campaigns. Well, recent history takes us back to ANIMAL KINGDOM, who debuted March 3, SUPER SAVER-March 13, BIG BROWN-March 5 and last but not least STREET SENSE-March 17. With the latter then becoming the 1st BC Juvenile Winner to win The Derby! I guess we can make of this what we want, but it must be noted that HONOR CODE and SHARED BELIEF are not treading in new territory and that these late starts could possibly and very likely make these 2 THE MOST DANGEROUS 3yr olds on The Trail because of there layoffs!!! This is exactly what Sadler and McLaughlin are doing with respect to CANDY BOY and CAIRO PRINCE even though they have raced at 3, getting time in the middle of prep season in order to be as fresh as possible for the GRUELING trail of The Triple-Crown! I know, doesn't make sense we coddle race horses like this compared to 25 or so yrs. ago, but the fact remains, WINNING THE DERBY is paramount to an owner, breeder, trainer and jockey, this race makes average horseman into SUPERSTARS and being fresh going into a mile and a 1/4 race begins to make A LOTTA SENSE!!!!

26 Feb 2014 11:03 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Many thanks for the alert. I have not yet viewed your summation of brutal honesty but I have a fair idea of your views on the subject and those of many others.

Let me take this opportunity to just state that whatever positions I take on certain issues, I always try to provide what I consider to be pertinent facts to support said positions. This is to give all an opportunity to engage in meaningful exchanges. It is what you have classified as my leaving myself open for brutal honesty. I am a grown man and not averse to brutal honesty however it is perceived.

It is indeed sad that many view me as stupidly arrogant and by virtue of this barriers are built instead of bridges that can facilitate crossover for common ground.

Contrary to popular believe, I am not a dumb as I portray myself to be. I constantly undertake self-evaluation as I am cognizant of my imperfections. I am well aware of my limited capacity to accept what I assess to be irrational and unmeasured positions.

My approach has obviously been disturbing and provocative to the extent where vulgar slangs are permitted to describe factual submissions. Even more disturbing is the fact that you endorse the usage.

I have many deficiencies and chief amongst them is my inability to let the issues that I disagree with go without injecting my views.

Clearly that time has come!

26 Feb 2014 12:21 PM
Fan of Damascus


This is my first posting.  Steve, I live in Calgary, Alberta and while the arrival of your Derby Dozen doesn't raise the outdoor temperatures, it raises hope that Spring can't be far off.

Well, here is my single derby pick:  Mr. Speaker.

I pick him to win this Saturday's Palm Beach S. by four lengths.  After the win, Shug will re-think his poor Holy Bull outing and will put Top Billing in the Wood, Honor Code in Arkansas and Mr. Speaker in the FD.  Mr. Speaker will lose the FD by half-length to Cairo Prince, will have enough KD points, and will win at CD the first Saturday in May be 1 1/2 lengths.

At least, I hope so.

26 Feb 2014 12:34 PM
Mister Frisky

Steve,Really like your pedigree breakdown on Cairo Prince.He seems to have 11/4 covered top and bottom.Would like to give a nod to Birdstone,precocious two year old that could run all day at three.As a stallion very early he had a Derby and Belmont winner.In my opinion the most underrated stallion in the register.That little horse was what you want on the track and in the shed.Look forward to next weeks list leaving us two months out till the big one.

26 Feb 2014 1:39 PM

Did anybody see Monarcos, Animal Kingdom, Orb......come from off the pace in a VERY large field and win the Derby?

Do horses like I'll Have Another, Big Brown......have a better chance to win?  Probably, however, a horse that's going to go out & run 1:01 3/5 or better can come from anywhere & win.


I appreciate the clarification that "they all can't win the Derby".  I'm not too worked up over the deep closers in a 1 1/16th and needing a hot pace.  How they finish, however, matters and they WILL get a hot pace in Louisville.  Will they get the trip is the "quarstion"?  Having said that, HOPPERTUNITY has the goods in my criteria & so does MEXIKOMA.  

26 Feb 2014 1:49 PM
The Deacon

Coldfacts:  It is not position to correct you or anyone else but I will say this, sometimes it is not "what you say" its how you say it. You sometimes can be condescending and dissmissive with other bloggers. Your knowledge on bloodlines and pedigree amazes me and its obvious that you either have an incredible memory or do many hours of constant research. My wife always tells me to pick my battles. She also says it is better to appear stupid then to open my mouth and remove all doubt. She is as smart as she is funny....

In no way do I think you are stupid, quite the opposite.

I believe that in all of sports horse racing is the most unpredictable. It has the highest highs and the lowest lows. The thrill of victory or the agony of defeat but we keep coming back..........

It is also very obvious that you are a very intelligent person, your command of the english language is remarkable.

Your blogs are always interesting and I suppose you get folks stirred up a little. But its with provacative thought.

Good luck...........

26 Feb 2014 4:22 PM
Jersey Girl

I've been following the conversations here for some time, and decided to jump in. Steve, I love the way you capture the nuances of this sport and its worthy competitors. Always look forward to your articles and your Derby Dozen lists.

Going into the Fountain of Youth I was curious about Wildcat Red. Feisty horse, tough jockey, trainer with a great story to tell if it comes to disputing the fact that Wildcat was helped by the speed bias, but the fight in him was something else again. I think Garoffalo has brought him along carefully with respect to distance, and he's responded. Can't wait for the Florida Derby - bunch of big boys going at it. Can anyone confirm the jockey situation? Luis Saez back on Cairo Prince? Paco Lopez on Wildcat Red?

26 Feb 2014 4:43 PM

Coldfacts, I appreciate your hard work, but you tend to contradict your thoughts all the time. What message you send can be said in ten words.....not 250 words! How about these three words.......NO NAY NEVER!

26 Feb 2014 7:55 PM
Tiz Herself

Waiting to see where Shared Belief is in terms of recovering from his ailments before adding him in there.

1) Conquest Titan

2) Top Billing

3) Honor Code

4) California Chrome

5) Candy Boy

6) Cairo Prince

7) Indianapolis

8) Mexikoma

9) Constitution

10) Comissioner

11) Gold Hawk

12) Intense Holiday


Monopolize - why not? Son of Bernardini out of the Thunder Gulch mare Jaramir Rain. A direct grandson of Risen Star.

Am unsure of where he is going off his runner up in the Sham Stakes, but I like Kristo too. He is a son of Distorted Humor and out of a mare sired by a son of Seattle Slew (Capote)... Distorted Humor over a mare by a son of Seattle Slew has resulted in a Derby winner previously in Funny Cide (his dam by Slewacide) - should see him in the San Felipe...

Wired Bryan - have not forgotten about him although haven't seen much updates on him as of late. Winner of the G2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga. His broodmare sire Runaway Groom was one of my favorites of his generation (who can forget the 1982 Travers? I wasn't born yet but I have seen the replays)

Beach Hut - Juddmonte colt son of First Defence out of Chanceisalady (American Chance) am interested where he's going next, have him in my virtual watch.

Global View - Although his pedigree is more turf being a son of Galileo, am interested to see where he ends up in the next little bit. Owned by Glen Hill Farm and bred in Kentucky, Global View won the G3 Generous Stakes as a two year old and am following him. He's out of the Storm Cat mare Egyptian Queen.

Glen Hill Farm has another colt named Chelios - a son of Distorted Humor by the A.P. Indy mare Grat. Hasn't been in stakes yet, but am watching to see where he goes next. He broke his maiden on January 26 at Santa Anita.

Roman Unbridled - a son of Roman Ruler by KY Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus out of Unbridled's Song mare Ambition Unbridled. No word that I can find where he'll show up but will keep following him.

Kobe's Back - really like this gray son of Flatter out of Well Decorated mare Well. Liked his San Vicente win.

Will see how Master Lightning does in the Gotham if that's where he's headed

And the Pletcher duo of Vinceremos and Harpoon... there's Uncle Sigh too...

26 Feb 2014 8:28 PM
Darryl Beckett

Steve, Havana and NoNeyNever in the swale. They do have a 2 year old foundation and one would like to see them going a bit further but I have a feeling that this could rearrange things in terms of the "dozen".


26 Feb 2014 9:58 PM

Social Inclusion, very nice MSW last Saturday. If he stays healthy (not sure why they waited so long for debut, he is really talented), he could be an Empire Maker type. Appollo buster?

27 Feb 2014 12:33 AM

Cold Facts, love your pedigree info - you have a vast knowledge and I tend to agree with you on many points.  What do you think of Rise Up?  I was really liking him but am not sure now after his last race.

27 Feb 2014 7:21 AM
Mike from Michigan

Steve, I have always enjoyed reading your blogs and columns and I have learned many things about horses and thoroughbred racing by doing so.  I think if my life depended on betting and winning a horse race, I would seek you out and ask your advice which one you liked.  Coldfacts, I enjoy reading your comments as well and you seem very knowledgeable and honestly, I don't think these blogs would be the same without you.  This sport is very competitive and think we all get very passionate about it for whatever reasons we have, kinda like politics I guess.  So, really, we are all kind of like family here, yup, the DDF (Derby Dozen Family).  The main thing I always try to keep in mind when I make comments, is respect for our gracious host and for other bloggers.  As long as we do that, our family will remain strong.

27 Feb 2014 8:55 AM

So, Steve, here I am again with my No Nay Never "whereisheultimatelygoing" question.  I presume that starting in the Swale is an attempt to see how he does from the point of view of being Kentucky bound as opposed to Euro bound.  Considering how much of a standout he was last year over the shorter distances and especially on turf, would the Swale only be a first time run to tighten him up for Ascot / summer in Britain?

27 Feb 2014 11:44 AM

Sorry Steve, one more question: are you thinking of doing anything for the Oaks?  I have my eye on Aragorn Ami, who is only 50-1 on the early list.  

27 Feb 2014 11:50 AM
Ted from LA

Besides my future wife mz and my drinkin' buddy Dr. D, Coldfacts is one of my favorite posters.  If everyone was exactly the same, this would be a boring blog and world.  Ted from LA has spoken.  Bob from Boston agrees with me too.  As do most of the voices in my head.

27 Feb 2014 12:14 PM

Steve, I believe the Gotham this week-end should be a fascinating race more on how horses are progressing/maturing than winning. However, the winner is in the Derby, hope it's the right horse. Are the points too high for this race?

27 Feb 2014 3:36 PM
Criminal Type

Still to to pick Derby horses if you asked me, but I really like Rise Up and Cairo Prince.

Trebloc !! Been a while but I watched your SS filly go through the ring...woo hoo Nice job !

27 Feb 2014 6:55 PM

I enjoy all blogger comments on here, including Coldfacts, who did list his top 12 on here on the 24th. It is good to hear arguments on both sides re:all the horses. Steve is the master, however.  It is too early still for me to make any predictions but I will sure use the information provided to help me do so but races from here on out, will be the most telling.

27 Feb 2014 7:58 PM


Let me offer you some data on a factor on which you have been misinformed: the number of matings engaged in by a sire.

With the exception of I'll Have Another (95) and Oxbow (67), all the Triple Crown race winners in the past five years have been sired by horses who serviced 100 or more mares in the year the winner was conceived, topped by Rachel Alexandra's sire with 184 and Super Saver's with 165.

Over the past 10 years, 17 of 30 TC races have been won by sires with three-figure books.

These sires represent 1% to 4% of stallions at stud.

Lesson to be learned: some people who claim to have done exhaustive research are faking it.

28 Feb 2014 12:35 AM
Pedigree Ann

Steve, I can't agree with you that Cairo Prince's pedigree is more likely than most to produce a 10f horse. His sire is not proven to be a sire of distance horses, or not to be - up in the air at this point. That he finished a (distant) second in the Derby doesn't mean he can sire 10f horses. Damascus, a true stayer on the track, didn't sire distance horses on his own - he needed mares who produced stamina. Accipiter in the Prince's pedigree is an example - he was a one-turn miler who finished 18th in the centennial KY Derby.

But we do know about his dam's side. Dam one-turn SW, foal by Pioneer's sire Empire Maker a one-turn horse, siblings predominantly one-turn horses, including one by Belmont winner Summing.

Not every daughter of Holy Bull inherited his 10f ability, just as not all of his sons did. 10f+ stamina in a racing situation is a rare attribute in all horses, even TBs, and even horses who show in on the track may be unable to transmit it. Even a horse who is bred for the Belmont - by Travers winner Java Gold out of a mare by JC Gold Cup winner (at 12f) Slew o' Gold - can end up being a Kona Gold (champion sprinter, BC Sprinter winner in 2000, for you youngsters).

28 Feb 2014 11:06 AM


Not wishing, by any means, to defend the blogger of whom you refer, but if my recollection is correct (I didn't waste more time in re-reading them), you are miss-stating his position. As I recall, he was only referring to sires of KY Derby winners, not all Triple Crown winners. In my opinion his stats, while perhaps accurate, were causatively meaningless-as are all of his others-but it does nothing but to fuel (his) fire to refer to them inaccurately. As Steve put it, words go in one ear and out the other with him-he takes in very little/won't allow himself to reflect on possible errors of thought-and is bent on merely spewing out his ideas. But this could be said of your post(s) as well-more intent on voicing your ideas and critiques/taking things out of context, and less motivated to comprehend what others have said.

28 Feb 2014 12:05 PM

Hey Steve

As always, thanks for the time and thought you put into generating your weekly Dozen.

I'm always eager to see your impressions in the week leading up to the Derby as the horses arrive at Churchill.  Your "eyeball test" has been very accurate in the past.

With the understanding that we are a long way off from that last week in April, and discounting performance results to-date, which horse or horses have stood out to your keen eye the most with regards to build, stride, temperment, etc?  

28 Feb 2014 1:03 PM

BTW, you can find all those data at, but not always neatly compiled for you. I counted the number of 3-figure books in a couple of lists of all stallions to see the trend and order of magnitude but no guarantees my count is not off by one or two, and no way am I compulsive enough to count 15 lists of thousands of stallions.

In the past few years, the number of big-book sires has been pretty stably in the high 80s. Ten to 15 years ago, it was only a couple of dozen, and some of those quite obscure. It looks as though it was a practice adopted by owners of regional sires who sired one or two horses who were competitive in open, even graded, company, to cash in on their success by holding the stud fee and profiting on the greatly increased interest in their horse at his old fee.

The number of stallions has been dropping from 2,500 to 2,000 in the past few years, and was 5,000 early in the century. This includes horses bred to only a couple of mares, who are possibly intended for some other horse sport than racing. But even if we knock off a couple of hundred presumed backyard hunter or show horse sires, the 88/1800 optimal-use stallions are vastly out-performing their numbers, siring a majority of the classic winners in the past decade.

28 Feb 2014 1:40 PM

As winter storms Nika and Titan move across the country, be careful fellow Haskinites.  I fell on ice in the driveway last week fracturing my wrist and shoulder.  Will have surgery on the wrist this Tuesday.  Fat chance for me having a Paczki on Phat Tuesday.  I'm down to one hand typing which for me means two fingers to one. lol!  But I am NOT OFF THE DERBY TRAIL!

My top five remain the same.  The bias toward speed in the FOY moves Top Billing right up behind my top five with Strong Mandate. Wildcat Red and General a Rod took advantage of the bias, congrats to their connections.  IMO if either or both make the starting gate at CD they will add to and ensure some blazing fractions for those who actually can get the 10F.  

1. Honor Code: Shug waiting for the Rebel, while patiently cranking him into form.

2. Cairo Prince: With Darley buying a majority interest, Kiaran has a colt in form, saying "I wish the Kentucky Derby was in two weeks."

3. Candy Boy:  Best from the West at this point.

4. Tapiture:  Like his breeding, running style, CD experience and his looks.  

5. Intense Holiday:  Excellent Risen Star win.  Continues to look like his best will be the last 1/8th. at CD at 10F.  His stock is rising.

Look for Harpoon to upset a very competitive Gotham.

Thanks Steve for your hard work and good luck to all.

28 Feb 2014 1:53 PM
Steve Haskin

Ann, I merely said his pedigree has had succes on the first Saturday in May. I never said he could go a mile and a quarter. I dropped him from No. 1 to No. 2 after one week, comparing his layoff to I'll Have Another's, and said, and I quote, "I'll Have Another had much more of a stamina pedigree."

28 Feb 2014 2:13 PM
Bloodline Bob

***The winner of the Gr. 2 SWALE Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 1, 2014 in the 9th race(5 p.m. post) will be...NO NAY NEVER. You ask me why + I'll tell you my reason...NO NAY NEVER was born on MARCH 1, 2011. It's his 3rd BIRTHDAY, LoL!!!***

28 Feb 2014 6:11 PM


You have the heart of a Champion!!!

28 Feb 2014 8:52 PM

What happened to Baratti ?  Last I read he was headed to the Gotham but he wasn't entered.  He was deleted from the DowneyProfile site 5 days ago but I can't find any article about what happened to him.

Anyone know ?

Swale Stakes :

Havana with Can't Stop the Kid, Spot, No Nay Never

Havana wins on class, I think he might not be 100% for this race but I think he'll hold on against this field.

Gotham Stakes :

In Trouble, Samraat with In Trouble, Samraat, Classic Giacnroll, Master Lightning

In Trouble is my pick for this race, it's his first race after a long layoff, after a minor injury and against a very tough field.  This is probably the toughest field on any prep races so far.  I'm taking a chance on the fact that Dutrow really believes on this horse to enter him in this race.  I think Samraat will have a big target on his back.  I believe this will be another speed race, and the closers will be hard pressed to keep up.  I really don't like the inner track at Aqueduct because I think it makes winners look better than they are.

John Battaglia :

Poker Player with Laddie Boy, Red River Rising, Solitary Ranger

PP is a horse I've been waiting to see run.  I'm excited about him, I just hope he makes the points.  I really don't care how he runs in any of the preps, just need him to score enough points to make it to the dance.

01 Mar 2014 1:36 AM
Steve Haskin

Baratti is fine, he's just now starting back in serious training.

01 Mar 2014 9:36 AM
El Kabong


As I mentioned on the other blog, I went over the film and race comments of the Risen Star, and I was really impressed with both of the efforts of Intense Holiday and Albano, especially if you look how far Albano has come since the Lecomte. Obviously we agree on Intense Holiday's talent but Albano too in my opinion, has made a big move forward. Larry Jones just has a real talent for finding and training horses with good speed and teaching them to rate. If Albano improves next out to half the degree he did from the Lecomte to the Risen Star, it will take a freight train to catch him in the stretch.

01 Mar 2014 9:58 AM

Steve : Thanks!   Hopefully he makes it to a prep race, just to see if he's a contender.

01 Mar 2014 11:15 AM

No Nay Never just popped up on my radar. What an absolutely gorgeous colt. Any chance he will make it to the Derby?

01 Mar 2014 1:10 PM
Sail On

Hey there Bill Rinker, I enjoyed your post and I also was let down by Vicar's In trouble. IMO he needs blinkers. Suggestion, it would be so much easier to reat your posts if you used paragraphs. :)

01 Mar 2014 1:50 PM

hello,to all, X-Factor-2014 Kentucky Derby Winner will B , California Chrome C-U-in-The WINNERS-Circle, Artie Shermans, is a part of the X-Factor- Cali-Chrome-Victor Espinoz all of K.-D.2014-X-Factor.Thxs

01 Mar 2014 2:19 PM

Havana out of Swale with quarter crack.  It sounds minor, but any setback 2 months out, not good.  Can you believe it's March?

Does anyone know what's next for California Chrome?  I am really interested to see what this colt can do as the races get longer and the company gets tougher.

01 Mar 2014 2:36 PM
Sail On

Havana scratched from Swale. IMO that will cause him to miss out on a Derby run. Horses that are injured, and miss significant training time are at a serious disadvantage against the dozens of Derby hopefuls this year.

I still do not see a strong stand out among the colts this year. Although Abano ran second in the Risen Star, that may have been due to his jockey not seeing the winner sprinting to the finish line. Even so, the slow pace of the Risen Star fails to inform me as to which of the finishers are genuine Derby contenders. The field was very large, but they will face a crowd in the Derby, so from my vantage point the Risen Star was a point awarding training event.

Much faster was the contest in Florida, where two horses fought for the winners purse all the way from the gate to the wire.

Interesting that the winner of the FOY fails to make your Derby Dozen, Steve, while the winner in the much slower RS is your @11. I realize that many factors must be considered, and we must not just list race winners on out top 12 lists, but there is something to be said for the will to win, and a horse that will pass another easily when asked.

More races this weekend, then I will devise another list for the Derby. Stats are great fodder, but in the end we must run the race. Pedigree is a great study, but dosing has already been disproved. As for weight, we have a race today where a couple of horses will carry 23 lbs to their rivals 16 lbs. I have no problem with this if the extra weight is part of the jockey's weight. Dead weight is a drag.

01 Mar 2014 2:59 PM

Guess I asked a stupid question earlier about No Nay Never, but nevertheless I plan to follow this colt's career. He just takes my breath away, he is so beautiful. He is just my kind of horse and of course love his pedigree. I know this is off topic, but just had to express my opinion about him. Good luck and safe trips back to the barn for all the horses and jockeys running today, that is always at the top of my list for every race.

01 Mar 2014 3:19 PM

In Trouble's pedigree is loaded with stamina.  Stamina is basically built up from many multiples of the same horse or close relatives between the 6th and 10th generation.  The background strength of In Trouble is the overriding influence of Princequillo, on the top and bottom of his pedigree.  There is a Count Fleet/Princequillo cross in his broodmare sire's pedigree, and many Nasrullah and War Admiral crosses with Princequillo, which you love to see in a pedigree.

In Trouble may not win the Gotham, but he will hit the board.  If ever a horse was bred for the Belmont, it is he.  

01 Mar 2014 4:40 PM

A lot of bumping in the stretch among Uncle Sigh, Samraat, and In Trouble.  In Trouble showed his class on the rail; he's a really nice foal.  All 3 of them deserve a spot in Steve's top 12.  

01 Mar 2014 5:00 PM

After the Gotham, you would presume that Harpoon is a grass horse, it appears that the kick-back is too much. The result itself - who can say but the 10f Kentucky Derby may be too ambitious a target.

On a brighter note, Peter Island looks like the Belmont Stakes winner already. Dreams are what makes racing so compelling.

01 Mar 2014 5:05 PM
Mister Frisky

I agree with Fan of Damascus,give Mr.Speaker one more shot on the main track.With that pedigree it would be a shame to stay on the turf.

01 Mar 2014 9:32 PM
cuba&quot;s classic chef de race

Steve,Cairo Prince has 2 points in the classic win, what do you think about that?. i did my future bet today but this is like fishing you'll never know if you are going to catch a wale or a sardine but i like to see horses that don't belong in this race gain points because only 20 can run,form in my opinion will be important in this derby for example you know and many bloggers know that Top Billed is talented and probably has the best overall pedigree in this year derby but he has all ready run 32 furlongs and one more prep will be 41 in consecutive fashion since his debut in December at 2 may be i'm wrong but Fusaichi Pegasus had a rest after his 2d start is there a reason for this? okey i have time to think about that. the horse who did finish 2d in last year derby never won a stake before and there are others with hidden class that has been facing the best horses and 10 furlongs had the answer.some horses may have bleed in last year B.Cup due to rules and you can notice the improvement when they got the medication back for me $7.00 dollars to win in the 3rd pool for the field was nice but not thanks,there are Questions in the pedigree for horses like Cairo Prince,General A ROD,Candy Boy,Shared Bilief,Intense Holiday,Honor Code And the Aqueduct dreamers that will need an answer soon,i'm sorry for been so cocky but this race for me is like i did my home work.  

01 Mar 2014 11:14 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

Every time i do a comment i can't go through if you don't like my opinion then i will change my blogs to other site and life is going to be the same. thanks

02 Mar 2014 12:48 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

For me Tapiture is better then Cairo Prince wait and see,olimpio wa s stronger then Boston Harbor do you remenber the scare That Normandy invasion put last year with that move but Boston Harbor Did show up this horse is very dangerous his broodmare sire Olimpio by Naskra won the Arkansas Derby in 1,47 3/5.  

02 Mar 2014 1:52 AM
Linda in Texas

trackjack - hope your operation is successful. You said you fractured your shoulder also, that will come back to haunt you in your later years, mine does even after an operation and 2 broken wrists same arm, i always know when the unfair winds are blowing, best to you. And your typing is great, no typos with one hand yet.

02 Mar 2014 9:57 AM
Pedigree Ann

See Spot run.

See Spot run fast.

Run, Spot, run.

See Spot win.

See Spot pay $21.

Good, Spot, good.

A little something for the baby-boomers among us. And I cribbed the idea from somebody over at DRF.

And Mary, thank you very much for knowing that when a situation involves is more than two, 'among' is proper and 'between' is wrong. My Great-aunt Sadie, the high-school English teacher, salutes you.

02 Mar 2014 10:14 AM

The Gotham was a great horse race; 3 determined colts fighting to the line, but did we see a true Derby contender?  I don't think so.  The final 16th was slow (nearly 7 seconds) and none of the internal fractions were fast enough to account for that.  On a positive note, Into Trouble may have needed the race and Samraat looked like he may have had something left.  All 3 colts have plenty of heart.  Can it get them another 3/16ths of a mile?

02 Mar 2014 10:36 AM

Forgot to mention the Swale.  At 7 furlongs, it's hard to see this as a Derby prep., but like others on this blog, I was looking forward to seeing No Nay Never.  He is indeed a beautiful colt and his pedigree says he should be more than a sprinter and should have no problem with dirt.  Could be he was simply too close to a hot pace and with more realistic fractions will carry his speed.  Could be he needed the race.

The Pulpit colt who collared him and opened a clear lead, has a nice pedigree for distance, a super dosage, if that means anything anymore, but a horrible name (who names a thoroughbred "Spot")and a not very pretty way of going.  Nice to see Nick Zito with a potential Derby colt, though.

02 Mar 2014 10:50 AM
Tiz Herself

really nice race between Samraat, Uncle Sigh and In Trouble... especially Samraat and Uncle Sigh... am anticipating when they meet up again! Almost reminds me of Havre de Grace and Blind Luck when they met in battle!

Swale stakes winner Spot looks like a nice horse - a son of Pulpit over Quiet American mare is a nice cross imo. A.P. Indy over Quiet American mare of course was Bernardini among others.

Solitary Ranger is one I have been watching for a while as I liked U S Ranger when I met him in Kentucky in 2010... interesting to see where he goes from his score in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.

And Gala Award may be dirt bound, 1/2 brother to Stormello... maybe the Animal Kingdom this year?

02 Mar 2014 11:27 AM
Tiz Herself

The Oaks is also shaping to have solid fillies... I have my own dozen of them too...

1) Awesome Baby

2) Untapable

3) Dame Dorothy

4) Cast in Silver

5) Onlyforyou

6) Unbridled Forever

7) Arethusa

8) My Conquestadory

9) She's A Tiger

10) Got Lucky

11) Sloane Square

12) Fashion Plate

02 Mar 2014 11:41 AM

 LOL  Annie, but in my book, “SPOT” was a dog ????  {{you best check that picture again, huh}} lol

However, it is amazing how a horse can finish 8 lengths back in the Hutcheson and then come back and win the Swale all after a simple trainer switch ???

 Finally, horses bred to go longer and a show of real SPEED !!! Where has the speed been anyway? Gone with the old drug regimes ? …

Good crop this year, but I really feel we have been evaluating and comparing some sub rated animals thus far regarding searching for the Derby winner. Just my opinion.

Now, not a bad showing for “In Trouble” off the layoff and his 1st two turn event…a little surprised that he tried to wire the field though ???

 AND all I can say is WOW.    1  1/8  in  1:46.19 really ????  yeah over the turf in Florida, but … {{Now, didn’t I once hear… “that a GOOD horse can run over any Surface and perform anytime?” “Again, that being… a GOOD HORSE !!!”. Well, I don’t really see “Gala Award” handling much more distance,--although great showing,--but what about “Mr. Speaker” and “Stormin Inti” ??? huh ? … there are 3 horses above from my previous earlier 40 list. And, “Conquest Titan” has been in all ? future pools to date. Now you know why my early lists differ far from Steve’s ???. yes or no ?? {{Although it is tough to bet on the likes of a “Talent Show” if he ain’ta ever gonna show up on a race track, huh?… The ‘Cadillac in the garage theory” is one thing, but if you’re gonna try for a Derby win, you have to take it on the road sometime. One has to ask, ‘why spend so much money on a breeding pet’ if you ain’ta gonna race him??? Can we get an update Steve ??}}

 Baby, it ain’t all about last weeks winners or performances or some first two-turn run winners in February and March. Just go back and ask “Super Saver” and “Prince Sylmar”. {{Did either ever win a prep race??? I don’t think so.}} And I can’t wait for the runnings of this year’s Illinois Derby ? !!! the ARKANSAS DERBY !!! The  *$$^(*_*%$%$^&* WOOD Memorial !! … and whatever that race was on that artificial surface that “Animal Kingdom” ran over.  lol

And of course the major events that are THE Santa Anita DERBY !! and THE Florida DERBY !!!  

Oh Boy, from N.Y.?? from Fla. ??? from the left Coast ??? from the heartland ??? where is our Derby winner to come from ???

OH Baby !! … “the fever” is really getting hotter ain’t it ???….

GO Baby GO baby GO !!!!

02 Mar 2014 11:47 AM

Not sure why Samraat has not been in the top 12 yet - hopefully now he will be.

02 Mar 2014 1:12 PM

Very impressive race by Samraat, I was very glad to see him rate behind In Trouble and Uncle Sigh and was 3 wide all the way.  The real deal.   I was equally impressed with In Trouble, first race after a long layoff and held on for 3rd.  I think he'll benefit a lot from this race and will be very tough in the Wood Memorial.  I'm not sure if Contessa will go to the Wood or avoid Samraat and In Trouble and find the points somewhere else.   I think if they go to the FD instead, they might have a better shot.  I think he's a much better horse than General A Rod.  I mentioned before, I don't like the inner track at Aqueduct because it makes horses look better when they win but most often than not, they don't do as well when switched to the main track.  Samraat did win at Belmont so I think he can do the same switching to the main track for the Wood.  Having had two tough races, I would actually prefer if Samraat skips the Wood and go directly to the Derby.  I think 60 points is enough to stay in.   He's currently my number one after Rise Up failed to rise up in the Risen Star.

Did anyone see the Battaglia Memorial Stakes??   Poker Player is slowwwwwww but he keeps coming, he was dead last, about 4,319 lengths behind, he wasn't going to catch Solitary Ranger but he was striding along effortlessly (maybe a little green).  I think they should take the blinkers off and let him run his race in the Spiral.  It's his first race of the year, he should improve a lot from this race.  It was also good to see a Zito horse win a prep race, looking forward to seeing him show up in the Florida Derby, I like the Pulpits.

I just hope there are no more injuries…this might be a year where the top 2 yr old colts will be no-shows in the Derby.  If Honor Code doesn't make the Rebel, I'm pretty sure Shug will probably give up trying instead of rushing him to get the points.  TP did that with Palace Malice last year where he kept putting him in different races to get the points.

02 Mar 2014 1:15 PM

Pedigree Ann: Dick and Jane are so proud.  But Puff is on the sidelines, planning revenge.

Thx for the memories, LOL

02 Mar 2014 1:30 PM

Pedigree Ann, thank you so much for the compliment.  I look forward to and enjoy reading your comments.  You have great knowledge of the sport, so keep on writing.

Zarvona, I also was surprised by In Trouble's attempt to wire the field.  In his first two races, he stalked the pace, so I don't know what to think about him now.  He did swerve a bit running along the rail, so maybe blinkers is the answer.

02 Mar 2014 3:52 PM

Steve, it's Honor Code, with his 59 & change workout on the 2nd; says he's ready to go.

After he wins the Rebel, he will be the Derby Futures 4 favorite.

02 Mar 2014 5:41 PM
Bill Rinker

Sail On, Thank you for suggesting a format change to my post, and it has not fallen on deaf ears. Pedigree Ann made the same suggestion and I tried, but unfortunately with little improvement. As of this posting I have not been able to reach a workable agreement with my computer. When I try using paragraphs the computer and I under go a margin crisis, making the text even harder to decipher. On top of this I am possessed of the spelling skills equal to that of Farmer Brown. And in this day of modern technology, what would take the average person a mere ten minutes to complete, takes me approximately one hour. I am really, really, really sorry about this as I would like to make any improvements that I can to help those who would care to read it. I suspect my service provider should be quarantined due to a severe case of the coody's as it continues to display symptoms of ataxia with this site in general. Unfortunately when trying to access video features I often encounter trouble with laggatosis, and speechaslurria.    Getting back to Vicar's in Trouble and the Risen Star. I thought he did a lot of really good things in the race, and hopefully it should help to move him forward. I'm not inclined to insinuate anything detracting or circumstantial regarding Intense Holiday or Albano's race. Both of these colts ran very impressivly, and I have an even greater endearment towards Intense Holiday knowing of his near death misfortune as a foal. However, I am concerned about Vicar's stretch run and as previously stated it would be nice to know what Rosie's feelings are. It is very hard to accurately interpert issues like this being so far from the event. I don't want to come across like a broken record but if perhaps Vicar is shying, then it may be challenging to move him past his fear or dislike in a timely manner. He seems to be really on the bit when he races, and has shown a endless source of energy. There is little doubt that the race was taxing. But it didn't appear to me that as he was tiring so much as it looked more like he disengaged from his effort.     Lately we have been kicking the can around with respect to stamina and pedigree. When I recognize a noted stamina influence in a pedigree I regard it with optmistic caution. It's a real good thing see and start with, but it doesn't mean I'll run out side and shovel snow in my flip flops. Even with a high likely hood of ancestral genetic disposition, stamina may sometimes take an altered and or lenghty corse of development. Quite often a horse may change directions due to circumstances that can be easily over looked. The events that unfold during a race can greatly increase or diminish their confidence and perception of how to race, and how to continue racing successfully and happily. The relationship between Jockey and Thoroughbred is just as important if not more so than many of the elements of their physical being. It's a constant learning process that we can only hope will continue to move in the right direction. The better they become most often times results in more challenges they and their caretakers will have to overcome. Often times with improved fitness the energy levels increase exponentially. Which requires a keen sense of understanding to safely manage the unforseen fragility of this prowess. All systems need to work in harmony while avoiding distraction and over confidence. I have been both impressed and puzzeled by the published stories that surround these events. As we continue to watch and anticipate the results of each week's races we can only hope that things work out in a positive manner.            

02 Mar 2014 6:35 PM

Well, with the Gotham the New York party has ended on a high note ...great show by both Samraat and Uncle Sigh. The truth about Derby quality will be seen in the Wood Memorial when sundry shippers arrive for the crucial points and Grade 1 status. Samraat's place in the Kentucky Derby is safe and I think that his presence would be significant in the pace scenario at Churchill Downs but ...will he see out the distance? This is a good colt that should rather be pointed to the Preakness IMO.

Mary: Vicar's in Trouble and In Trouble are both in deep waters on the Triple Crown trail. The latter ran well off the lay-off but I don't think that he has the class to be a major player in the Derby. The Wood Memorial will answer the questions.

At present my dozen are:

1)Honor Code 2)Shared Belief 3) Top Billing 4) Tapiture 5) California Chrome 6)General a Rod 7)Wildcat Red 8)Cairo Prince 9) Constitution 10) Koby's Back 11)Bobby's Kitten 12)Conquest Titan

02 Mar 2014 6:59 PM

Hoping Samraat can keep it up!

02 Mar 2014 7:57 PM
Uncle Smiley


Your equine erudition is now out matched by your class, given your last communique with Mr. Haskins.

Dr. Drunkenbum

Looking forward to you continued prognostications.

Vicar's in Trouble, very strong and eager with connections equally avid.

What do you think?


02 Mar 2014 8:20 PM

Ranagulzion, you may be right.  In Trouble and Vicar's In Trouble are nice horses, but obviously there is a big question mark as to whether either one will make it to the derby.  

I'm just wondering why In Trouble didn't rate a bit off the pace like he did in his last two performances.

Vicar's In Trouble normally rates closer to the pace but in the Risen Star he was further back.  

From a pedigree standpoint, Top Billing and Honor Code are at the top. I will give the edge to Top Billing.  California Chrome and Candy Boy are also on my list.

02 Mar 2014 8:46 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Uncle Smiley

  I always like seeing you here and reading your comments. We still have a long way to go for Derby predictions and there is a lot of talent out there so we can't fit everyone on to a Derby Dozen. It has to be a matter of personal preferences.

   Vicar's in Trouble is very talented and a win at any distance will never surprise me even if he isn't my top pick in the race. A Derby win will surprise me a little but not too much and he certainly deserves to be in the field. I personally just think that 10f won't be his optimal distance. He's talented enough to go for a Derby run however. I would be excited also if I had him. He has a strong move. I'm not sure he can sustain it in a 10f race but I certainly have an open mind with him and will be looking forward to his next race. The next two weeks are huge for getting a better understanding of who some of the top horses are.

   I did a reevaluation of my list before the weekend races and made some changes. After Havana was scratched I went back to my list to take him off but then discovered that I had already taken him off, determining him not to be a Derby horse. Eventhough Vicar's in Trouble isn't on my list yet he could be. He still is a possible Derby horse and very talented for sure. If I owned him I would take the Derby path to see what he could do but would be most excited about the BC Mile on dirt in his future. But that is an early assessment and I could very easily change my mind. I sometimes think with some Derby horses on the trail that there is no way they should be on it and should be a sprinter or miler. Vicar's is definitely not just a sprinter although he possibly could sprint and be successful. My top four before and after this past weekend's races are in order- Intense Holiday, Top Billing, Conquest Titan, and Bayern.

03 Mar 2014 8:43 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Uncle Smiley

   One more thing- I believe that Rosie will win the Derby someday, and I'd like to see that happen so maybe this is her year. At least she is on a talented colt.

03 Mar 2014 8:47 AM

The Deacon,

I am not sure this submission will be posted but for what is worth, I have noted your comments and will act on them accordingly. It's sometimes difficult to understand the basis of some conclusions when the facts make others more appropriate. I guess to each his own.

One Love!

03 Mar 2014 8:50 AM
Jeffrey Simes

Steve still sticking with Top Billing but that track is not a friend of his the way it plays right now, much like I-95 and Santa Anita.


03 Mar 2014 10:00 AM

Coldfacts, the right thing to do is simply state your case in a respectful manner and move on.  

Top Billing comes to us with impeccable credentials; he has the pedigree to get the distance and a very quick turn of foot.  Most people would agree that he is a derby horse.  

Wildcat Red IMO is a sprinter.  His dosage index is 5.67.  No horse has ever won the derby with such a  high dosage.

General a Rod has a pretty nice pedigree, and is worth keeping an eye on.

03 Mar 2014 11:16 AM

Zarvona, you mean the Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park?

03 Mar 2014 11:46 AM

Fellow bloggers I realize that some of you have been coming to this blog long before I knew it existed, and participate yearly in this ritual of posting your Derby Dozen.

While this helps you keep up to date with the happenings of many colts you have your eye on, I seriously doubt many of you play all of your selections on the day of the race.

There is a way to have an exacta box with half the field or more prior to the derby.You have to begin with 2 or three of your favorites and ad more as the races happen and your opinions change, or remain the same.

Its called Derby futures and I know its a risky bet because you are betting on colts that might not even make it in the gate,but the exacta odds are much much better than you will get on the day of the race.Just one suggestion dont try to make a killing by sticking with one or two throughout the future wagers,thats when the ODDS ARE AGAINST YOU,if you can navigate progressively through each wagering period with intelligence you could find yourself holding a lot more than half of the exacta combinations.Thats when THE ODDS ARE IN YOUR FAVOR.

The day of the race you could use your derby futures to hedge or to swing for the fences keeping in mind WHAT YOU HAVE ALREADY WAGERED as a guideline to how much will you spend to make a score.

03 Mar 2014 3:01 PM


I have no option but to respond to your no doubt thoughtful advice. It has never been my policy to make disrespectful submission. We all have writing styles that we use to communicate our position and opinions. I have been very careful that the phrasing of my views coincides with the terms and conditions for participation, that have been repeatedly outlined by Mr. Haskin.

Some views are best expressed in simple sentences while others are best expressed with complexly phased sentences for greater impact. The decision rest with the writer as to which approach would best communicates said views. I now realize that a more subtle writing style is more appropriate for this forum.

You gave an overview of Top Billing in your post. Several horses come to us with impeccable credentials. I consider Commissioner an appropriate example of one such horse. A son of A P Indy out of a Tough Gold with an imposing physique! He defeated TB in their previous meeting. After that victory he was highly regarded as a true Derby horse. He was an also ran in the FOY and it was unlikely that if the distance of the race was another 1.5F, he would have caught the leaders. Has he lost his status of a true Derby horse? Did the winner of the FOY secure the status of a true Derby horse?

Excellent pedigree and an electrifying turn of foot are excellent credentials to possess. However, the horse possessing those credentials is no more a true Derby horse than the one with lesser credentials that has defeated him. They will bring different strengths to contest the grueling 10F of the Kentucky Derby. One will be required carry his speed and the other will be required to capitalize on the other’s perceived stamina deficiency. The 10F of the Derby will prove to be the equalizer.

05 Mar 2014 12:04 PM
Uncle Smiley

Dr. Drunkenbum,

One month later, and statistics now display Vicar's in Trouble ranked second, after California Chrome, among North American Starters.

Where did Cairo Prince go? And where did Candy Boy come from last week?

You are correct!  It is always too early to pick the crown entries.

But I like your thinking of Vicar's in the BC.  Somehow if they survive all this spring time broo ha ha, there is always a second shot in theFall.

Still am convinced that Rosie N can and will try her utmost best to take the Derby.  As you noted last month she has a good colt in Vicar's inTrouble to pursue that goal.



07 Apr 2014 9:57 PM

Recent Posts

More Blogs