Derby Dozen - March 17, 2014 - Presented by Shadwell Farm


California Chrome Art Sherman

Lucky Pulpit—Love the Chase, by Not For Love

He’s back in light training and just doing maintenance work, and Sherman is just going to play it by ear regarding his next start, saying there is “a chance” he’ll run in the Santa Anita Derby. This is an old school, blue-collar horse with nine starts and a strong foundation under him. With three monster efforts in a row, there is nothing wrong at all if he regresses a bit in the Santa Anita Derby. The ultimate goal with these preps is to get a horse to peak on the first Saturday in May. Since 1990, Mine That Bird, Street Sense, Monarchos, Real Quiet, Grindstone, Thunder Gulch, Lil E Tee, and Unbridled all took steps backwards in their final prep before winning the Derby, so he has a race to play around with and use a steppingstone. But if Sherman feels it’s best to go eight weeks into the Kentucky Derby with no 1 1/8-mile races in him, then that’s what he obviously feels is best for his horse. But history has shown that horses do not win the Derby who have never had at least one 1 1/8-mile race. The only two in memory who have come remotely close are Risen Star, who was third in 1988, and Eight Belles, who was second to Big Brown in 2008. But Risen Star had five two-turn races under his belt and was gifted enough to win the Preakness and Belmont, and Eight Belles had six two-turn races. Before that, you have to go back to the third-place finish of Tom Rolfe in 1965, who was making his 16th career start in the Derby. Needless to say, it is a very tall order and a lot to ask, but we’ll see what Sherman decides to do.


Cairo Prince Kiaran McLaughlin Click Here!

Pioneerof the Nile—Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull

No one deserves a Kentucky Derby victory more than McLaughlin, who has put as much of himself into the sport as anyone, while overcoming physical adversity. He and the Maktoums have traveled a long and prosperous road together and this year could be the big payoff, just as it was for him and Sheikh Hamdan with Invasor. McLaughlin made some brilliant points on HRTV discussing the lack of points for certain 2-year-old races, but having to give away weight at 3 based on those same races. You can just feel McLaughlin champing at the bit as he waits out the final weeks of Cairo Prince’s layoff since the Holy Bull. You can bet he and the horse are anxious to get back into the fray and take that final step toward Louisville. While others around him crumble, Cairo Prince still stands tall and remains as strong as ever. McLaughlin will have him sharp and fit for the Florida Derby, but even if he does come up a tad short or runs into a freaky performance the way Honor Code did, he has enough of a foundation to move forward and be at the top of his game on May 3. McLaughlin was looking for a 1:01 work from him this week and he went in 1:00 4/5, so all systems are go.


Hoppertunity Bob Baffert Click Here!

Any Given Saturday—Refugee, by Unaccounted For

I’ve been waiting to put this guy on here and prominently since his maiden win, and thought his Risen Star was much better than it appeared. Love the way he battled and prevailed in his first dogfight and against far more seasoned stakes horses. So, like California Chrome, I’m going all in. I was also impressed with the way he got roughed up by Tapiture, who was trying to muscle his way inside him turning for home, but kept right on motoring through several more bumping incidents. Despite the rough trip, he still came home in a quick :06 1/5 and earned an impressive triple digit Beyer speed figure. And I love the way this colt builds up momentum nearing the wire and just keeps going. He does have the Apollo curse to overcome, but amazingly will have five starts this year going into the Derby (If he has another prep), while making two round trip flights, from California to Louisiana and then to Arkansas. And he’s now been battle-tested and toughened in a four-horse street brawl. Part of the negative aspect of the Apollo curse is that a horse is not ready physically or mentally to run until his 3-year-old year, but he actually was entered on Nov. 22 and was a late scratch and then entered back on Jan. 4., so it’s a very thin line with him. As I wrote on Feb. 14, “This is the time to get in on a good thing, as the Risen Star should propel him into a huge effort next time out and show just how good a horse he is.” (More on him and his pedigree in Knocking at the Door )


Candy Boy John Sadler

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

He will attempt to retake sole possession of the No. 1 spot as California’s leading Derby contender when he squares off against rising star California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). He couldn’t be any sharper, drilling 5 furlongs in :59 2/5, second fastest of 40 works at the distance. The long-range guess is that we’re looking at a short field, which means strategy will play a major part in the outcome. He runs like a horse who wants more distance, but with Candy Ride and In Excess you can never be sure what you’re going to get. Both, however, are track record holders at 1 1/4 miles (at Del Mar and Belmont, respectively, and in grade I races)). They can sire horses who are best at one turn and others who can stretch out. With Candy Boy’s tail-female family tracing to Flying Paster and Nijinsky II, there should be enough stamina to carry him classic distances.


Intense Holiday Todd Pletcher Click Here!

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

It’s funny how an owner’s mindset can change drastically from year to year. Last year, Starlight Racing had a brilliant 2-year-old champ in the precocious Shanghai Bobby, whose ability to get 1 1/4 miles was in question. Now, a year later, they have a horse who started out slow at Monmouth and took seven races to blossom into a leading Derby contender. And it was this colt’s sire who was Starlight’s first good horse, actually going off as the 6-1 favorite in the 2002 Kentucky Derby. Intense Holiday’s broodmare sire also went off as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby. I mentioned last week how election into the Hall of Fame has coincided with winning the Kentucky Derby (Wayne Lukas, Gary Stevens, Neil Drysdale). Well, there is an excellent chance that the Starlight-owned Ashado will be elected this year, so keep that angle in mind for whatever it’s worth. Intense Holiday continued his string of sharp works, going a bullet half in :48 breezing in company with Anchor Down, fastest of 66 works at the distance.


Tapiture Steve Asmussen

Tapit—Free Spin, by Olympio

He lost nothing in defeat in the Rebel, especially considering his horrible trip from the start, throwing his head up wildly when yanked back after almost running up on Ride On Curlin’s heels, then having to bull his way through a roadblock and getting turned sideways in the stretch when the two inside horses came out and Strong Mandate shoved him hard into Hoppertunity. He still kept battling and gained a great deal from this race. It was an excellent prep that makes him more of a serious threat for the Derby than he was before the race. This is a game and consistent horse who keeps moving forward every race. Unlike the Southwest when he had a perfect trip, he faced adversity for the first time and proved what he’s made of. He showed he can play rough when a desperate Ricardo Santana, being hemmed in by Mike Smith, just stepped on the gas pedal and plowed his way through, shoving Hoppertunity out of his way. The first four came away with high marks and established themselves as serious Derby horses. And remember, he was giving five pounds to the others. All in all, it was an extremely encouraging effort.


Honor Code Shug McGaughey

A.P. Indy—Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat

Just as I had mixed feelings about him running in that allowance race, I have mixed feeling about his performance. Getting beat 10 lengths under the circumstances wasn’t a major step backwards, but was it enough to help get him ready for a peak effort on Derby Day? He now has only one race to get battle-tested and dead fit, something he couldn’t have been going into this race, considering he had only six works in 3 1/2 months, with three of them being at 3 furlongs, two at 4 furlongs, and one at 5 furlongs. And he missed some training after suffering a physical setback, delaying his originally scheduled 3-year-old debut. He most likely was fit and sharp enough to win under normal conditions, but Social Inclusion made sure there was nothing normal about that race, as he simply ran Honor Code off his feet in a spectacular record performance. The question now is, did Honor Code get enough out of this race, in which he got a bit warm and balked at the gate, to compete with some very fast horses in the Wood Memorial and put himself in a position to win the Derby? I would feel a lot better about his first race back if he had two more races before the Derby, but he doesn’t, so McGaughey will just have to make the best out of cards dealt him.


General a Rod Mike Maker

Roman Ruler—Dynamite Eyes, by Dynaformer

He has bounced out of the Fountain of Youth just the way you like to see, first with an easy :51 1/5 breeze and now a sharp :59 2/5 drill. The big news is getting Joel Rosario back for the Florida Derby. Rosario won his only start aboard the colt in the Gulfstream Park Derby. This is the race we should see a breakout performance from him if he can sit off the pace and settle this time. But we’ll see if Social Inclusion runs there or in the Wood Memorial. Both races should have a lively pace. If you like to see steady progression in speed figures, his Beyers have gone from a 65 to 81 to 92 to 101, and I don’t believe we’ve seen the best of him by any means. If you saw his explosive move in his career debut at Keeneland, you’d realize there is another side to him we haven’t seen since blinkers were added. This horse might be more talented than people think. He’s just been in situations where he’s had to do the dirty work and keep Wildcat Red from stealing off on an easy lead.


Samraat Rick Violette

Noble Causeway—Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie

Breezed an easy half in :50 1/5, as racing’s Frequent Flier prepares for yet another plane flight to New York and his third showdown with New York-bred rival Uncle Sigh in the Wood Memorial (gr. I). But Honor Code and others should make this one even more fascinating. It is important to keep remembering this colt is undefeated in five starts and has shown a lot of heart as well as brilliance. He can beat you in different ways. His owner, Barnes & Noble head Len Riggio, has invested a ton of money in building up a classy broodmare band out in the Hamptons and in Kentucky and it’s good to see it finally paying off for him. The only horse he’s ever run in the Derby was Samraat’s sire Noble Causeway, and it came in a year when his trainer, Nick Zito, entered five horses. Violette also has had only one starter in the Derby – Read the Footnotes in 2004, one year before Riggio’s Derby debut. Samraat might wind up being more effective in a bigger field with contentious speed, so he and Uncle Sigh don’t have to take it to each other from the start.


Uncle Sigh Gary Contessa

Indian Charlie—Cradlesong, by Pine Bluff

Breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01 4/5 at Belmont Park, his first work since the Gotham (gr. II). Contessa got him going his first three-eighths in :37 4/5 and coming home his final quarter in :24 flat, galloping out a strong 6 panels in 1:14 4/5. This was a perfect work for him. He had veteran jockey Nick Santagata aboard and he nailed it right on the nose. Contessa recalled back in 1975 when he was a hotwalker and Santagata was galloping horses for free. And now here they are nearly 40 years later teaming up on a leading Kentucky Derby contender having won over 6,200 races between them. Last year at this time, Contessa was on the Derby trail with a gifted colt named Rydilluc, but nothing worked out for the horse in the Blue Grass Stakes and he missed his big chance. Now Contessa has another shot a year later, and so far he is doing everything right with Uncle Sigh, who is one solid effort away from giving his trainer his first starter in the Derby.


Tamarando Jerry Hollendorfer

Bertrando—Tamarack Bay, by Dehere

Tuned up for the Spiral Stakes (gr. II) with a 7-furlong drill in 1:28 flat at Golden Gate. He has run well on the dirt at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track, Del Mar’s Polytrack, Golden Gate’s Tapeta track, and now tries Turfway’s Polytrack. This is the kind of horse that trainers love having in their barn; horses who go out race after race and give their all over any kind of surface at any distance. As mentioned last week, he’s been in the money at six different distances from 5 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. The Spiral looks like a fairly tough spot, with some talented horses trying to earn their way into the Derby over Polytrack, and as we all know, this was the last stop for Animal Kingdom, who was making his stakes debut and competing on his third different Polytrack surface. If you love this track, it’s a one-way ticket to Louisville, and so far, Tamarando hasn’t found a track he didn’t love.


Ride On Curlin William GowanClick Here!

Curlin—Magical Ride, by Storm Cat

Maybe I’m getting caught up in the moment when it comes to the Rebel, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by the first four finishers, who did finish 7 1/4 lengths clear of the fifth horse and all earned impressive enough Beyer numbers. Pressuring Strong Mandate on the lead from the inside is not his game, but he hung tough the whole way and kept battling, despite coming out a bit in the final sixteenth. This is a colt who rallied from eighth, 10 lengths back, to finish a close third in the Champagne Stakes. He had a terrible outside trip in the Southwest, in which he lost a ton of ground and was forced to make a premature move entering the backstretch, and now he had to break from the inside and sent up to eyeball a top-class horse in Strong Mandate every step of the way. He’s starting to remind me of Oxbow from last year’s Derby trail. I just want to see what this colt is capable of with a clear off-the-pace trip. One thing, though, he is 0-for-3 at Churchill Downs. He hasn’t run poorly; he just hasn’t shown much spark over that track, getting beat as the even-money and 2-1 favorite.

Knocking At The Door

In continuing HOPPERTUNITY’S performance in the Rebel, the way Mike Smith, who rode a brilliant race, was hitting him with steady right-handed whips down the stretch, it indicated that the colt was not drifting in and in fact was maintaining a straight course and actually was being shoved out by the chain reaction inside him.

Baffert will now have to decide whether to ship for a third time, most likely back to Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby or stay home and run against California Chrome and Candy Boy in the Santa Anita Derby. He does have undefeated BAYERN, who has recovered from a slight setback, as a possibility for the Santa Anita Derby as well. The other option he is contemplating is training up to the Derby, which seems logical because of the number of starts he’s had already this year and the traveling he’s done. But as mentioned earlier with California Chrome, history is against him. If anyone can pull it off, however, it is Baffert. The bottom line is, it would be very rare to see two leading Derby contenders attempt it in the same year. If California Chrome doesn’t run in the Santa Anita Derby, it would be difficult for Hoppertunity to pass it up.

Hoppertunity is a long-backed horse with the look of a stayer who blossomed quickly for Baffert in the month of January. His sire, Any Given Saturday, was a magnificent-looking son of Distorted Humor who annihilated Curlin and Hard Spun in the Haskell Invitational after suffering a bad foot bruise in the Kentucky Derby.

His dam, Refugee, is a daughter of Unaccounted For, best known for his victory in the Whitney and close second to Cigar in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and third to Cigar in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Refugee also produced multiple grade I winner Executiveprivilege, winner of the Chandelier Stakes and Del Mar Debutante and two other stakes, and was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Unaccounted For is a son of Private Account, by Damascus, out of stakes-winning Mrs. Jenney, whose dam, Mrs. Penny, won the French Oaks and Prix Vermeille and placed in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and English and Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Hoppertunity’s tail-female line traces to Calumet’s Tim Tam, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before breaking down in the Belmont Stakes and still finishing second.

Hoppertunity’s third dam is Calumet’s great Hall of Fame filly Davona Dale, who swept three different recognized filly Triple Crowns in 1979, and who produced the French-trained Le Voyageur, third in the Belmont Stakes behind Easy Goer and Sunday Silence.

The spectacular victory by SOCIAL INCLUSION in a Gulfstream allowance race was nothing compared to the post-race frenzy that had racing websites all across the country busting out with superlatives and lofty predictions. Not to mention the million-dollar-plus offers pouring in for the colt. Everyone had seen the second coming and could barely control their exuberance. The swift son of Pioneerof the Nile, coming off a brilliant maiden score going six furlongs, simply ran the favored Honor Code off his feet and coasted to a 10-length victory in a track record 1:40 4/5 for the 1 1/16 miles. I have no idea what the long-range future holds for this colt, but for now he is officially on the Derby trail, despite making only his second career start, joining other brilliant colts, such as Bayern, Constitution, and Anchor Down, as possible Derby-bound horses trying to take home the roses off only three career starts.

All the horses mentioned above made their career debut in a sprint this year, and to provide an unwanted jolt of reality, you have to go back to Regret in 1915 to find a Derby winner with three career starts who had as few as two two-turn races prior to the Derby. Big Brown captured the Derby with only three career starts, but they were all around two turns, and the first was at 2. And we all know by now that the last horse to win the Derby without starting at 2 was Apollo in 1882. So these colts, as gifted as they may be, will be attempting to do two things that haven’t been done in 99 years and 132 years. The way racing has changed, and with the number of never-been-done feats being done, nothing is impossible anymore. But no matter how you look at it, it’s still a lot to ask of a young, inexperienced horse, as exciting as he may be.

On the other hand, who knows, perhaps Social Inclusion or one of the others is the second coming. This colt does look freaky, but I’ll wait a little longer and try to get a better feel for him after majority interest is sold this week before putting him up there with horses far more experienced and accomplished. Let’s see where he winds up first. But the main reasons he’s not yet on the Top 12 are the following: Wildcat Red, In Trouble, Albano, and Constitution – fast, classy horses who have not yet proven they can lay off the pace going two turns, along with Uncle Sigh, Samraat, and General a Rod – fast, classy horses who are comfortable on or just off a fast pace. First, I need to see if Social Inclusion can lay off horses like these, because it’s going to be even more difficult for him trying to win the Kentucky Derby off three career starts if he has to be on the lead. It’s a far cry from having an uncontested lead in a five-horse allowance field over a speed-favoring track and bullring-length stretch to winning at 1 1/4 miles in a 20-horse field filled with speed horses. For rankings sake, let’s put him at No. 13 this week and see where we stand next week.

Also very close to making the Top 12 are RING WEEKEND and KID CRUZ, two horses with tremendous upside. Both are making great strides at the right time. The more I watch the Tampa Bay Derby the more impressed I am with Ring Weekend, who covers a lot of ground and drops his head and shoulder beautifully. My only issue with him right now is his difficulty in changing leads. Alan Garcia had to force him to switch in his maiden victory and he never did at Tampa. But it might have been a case of just not needing to, because of the momentum he had built up. And I did love the way he galloped out. But you really would like to see them switch leads. Expect to see him on the list in the near future. Kid Cruz also intrigues me a great deal, and more on him in the coming weeks.

On the heels of Declaration of War’s super effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, watch out for BC Juvenile Turf runner-up GIOVANNI BOLDINI in the UAE Derby. His pedigree (War Front, out of an Old Trieste mare) screams dirt, so, you never know. Aidan O’Brien could have another in the UAE Derby who bears watching if he can run huge, and that is MICHAELMAS, a son of Elusive Quality, out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, so, he, too, should eventually handle the dirt, but it depends on how far he wants to go and if he can handle the Tapeta first. So far, he’s only been sprinting.

Baffert worked Robert Lewis runner-up CHITU five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 and then seven panels in 1:24 4/5 in preparation for Sunday’s Sunland Park Derby. He may be joined by MIDNIGHT HAWK, who would be coming back in two weeks following his distant second to California Chrome in the San Felipe. He also was sharp, working 5 furlongs in 1:00 1/5.

WILDCAT RED indicated his sharpness for the Florida Derby, working a half in :47 4/5 at Gulfstream, his first work since the Fountain of Youth Stakes. Todd Pletcher worked his pair of undefeated Florida Derby possibilities at Palm Meadows, with CONSTITUTON going five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 and ANCHOR DOWN a bullet half in :48 flat in company with Intense Holiday. Also on the Florida Derby front, MEDAL COUNT, fifth in the Fountain of Youth at 43-1, drilled five furlongs in :59 flat for Dale Romans.

It looks as if Pletcher’s Tampa Bay Derby runner-up VINCEREMOS will follow in Palace Malice’s footsteps and try to pick up enough points to get in the Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes, despite never having run on Polytrack. However, he did work like a monster on Keeneland's Polytrack when he was sold as a 2-year-old, so he certainly has that in his favor.  Pletcher also will be represented in Sunland Park Derby by COMMISSIONER and GLOBAL STRIKE. The former breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01 2/5. Pletcher also breezed Spiral Stakes hopeful WE MISS ARTIE a half in :49 2/5.

An interesting horse heading to the Sunland Park Derby is impressive Santa Anita maiden winner GAREN, who is a half-brother to Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Invasor.

Getting back to the Rebel, STRONG MANDATE ran a gutsy race, under pressure on the lead the whole way and getting bounced around in the stretch. But I didn’t like seeing him on the lead. If he is to be taken seriously as a Derby contender he has one race left to show he can be effective coming from off the pace and closing down the lane. It appears as if this is a horse still searching for an identity.

Remember WICKED STRONG, the horse I was contemplating ranking No. 1 for the first Dozen? He did rebound off his dreadful performance in the Holy Bull to run a solid fourth in that high-class allowance race won by Constitution, and he did return to the work tab recently with a sharp half-mile breeze in :48 1/5 at Palm Meadows. I still can’t help but wonder if Gulfstream simply is not where he wants to compete and that a return to New York wouldn’t move him up considerably. But who knows?

Another horse who has been under the radar since his second-place finish to Constitution in an allowance race in TONALIST, who had an easy 5-furlong breeze in 1:03 for Chris Clement. It wouldn’t be wise to underestimate this horse, who could pop a big one at any time.

MEXIKOMA, who was laid up with a lung infection and fever, has improved and is back galloping. He is still on schedule to breeze March 22 and 29 and then run on April 5 or get in another work and wait until April 12 for his Derby prep. It’s going to be tight making the Derby, especially only running hard for about a quarter of a mile in his last start, but is still doable. He would have to do some serious sustained running, however, to be ready for the Derby and have a chance to pick up much-needed points. And he does have that in him.

Wood Memorial hopefuls on the work tab this week were IN TROUBLE, who breezed a half in :48 4/5 at Palm Meadows, and Jerome winner NOBLE MOON, who breezed a half in :51 over the Belmont training track.

LeComte winner VICAR’S IN TROUBLE, who shipped to Gulfstream from Fair Grounds after finishing third in the Risen Star Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 for the March 29 Louisiana Derby. Tom Amoss breezed RISE UP, who finished seventh at 4-1 in the Risen Star Stakes after breaking poorly, a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 flat at Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby, fastest of 18 works at the distance. Also at Fair Grounds, COMMANDING CURVE, sixth in the Risen Star, worked five furlongs in 1:01 for Dallas Stewart and West Point Thoroughbreds. Others looking to knock off Intense Holiday are ALBANO, LOUIES FLOWER, and GOLD HAWK. The last named has been a disappointment lately, but has ability and tuned up for the race with a sharp six-furlong breeze in 1:12. He’s one of those capable of busting out at any time if he gets his act together.

In the sneaky-good work department, COASTLINE fourth in the Southwest Stakes, breezed five furlongs in a bullet :59 1/5 at the Ocala Training Center.

The enigmatic CASAGUAPO tuned up for a possible start in the Florida Derby by working a bullet half-mile in :48 3/5 at Calder.


Leave a Comment:

Cathy in Washington

I am kind of liking Ride On Curlin. He is one tough competitor. He has gone eyeball to eyeball with 3 very tough colts and has held his own. He reminds me a bit of Palace Malice, having to put up with jockey changes and tough trips. As to his not running well at Churchill Downs, his first start was there and he broke slowly and still ran second. He then went to Ellis Park and set a track record. In the Street Sense Stakes where he ran 3rd, he came out of that with a lung infection, so was probably compromised in that race. At least he has shsown that he can handle the track there, as some horses don't.

17 Mar 2014 4:42 PM
Mister Frisky

The list  looks good Steve.The Baffert horse is for real.Also,glad to see Strong Mandate dropped.Like Oxbow the excuses are never ending about trip,etc.Oxbow was a blind squirrel that found a nut on Preakness Day.Strong Mandate will show up due to the Lukas factor and thats about it.

17 Mar 2014 4:49 PM

I have similar feelings towards the Rebel's top 4 as you, Steve.  I feel like Strong Mandate was sent out to the lead in an attempt to avoid the troubled trips he had in his previous starts, but was out of his element.  Gutsy performance, however.

The points you make about Tapiture bulling his way through the roadblock and finishing strong while carrying extra weight put him above Hoppertunity on my list.

Social Inclusion (much like Constitution) is an exclusion until I can see more.

1) Cal. Chrome (still the one...)

2) Candy Boy

3) Tapiture

4) Samraat

5) General a Rod

6) Hoppertunity

7) Cairo Prince

8) Intense Holiday

9) Ride on Curlin

10) Uncle Sigh

11) Strong Mandate

12) Honor Code

17 Mar 2014 4:56 PM

looks to me at the moment like a coin flip between Chrome, Cairo, and the $5 million, 111 bsf Social Inclusion.

17 Mar 2014 4:59 PM

Steve, your column this week is brilliant.  I am in concurrence with all the points you make.

17 Mar 2014 5:02 PM

I don't think Baffert should make another round trip with Hoppertunity before the derby and prefer to see him run in the Santa Anita Derby. He has enough points that already secure his spot so the pressure is off of having him wound too tight for a must win effort.

If he ships back for the Ark Derby it would give him a extra week recovery time between the Rebel and that race but there is no way Baffert could conceive shipping him back to California before the derby.      

17 Mar 2014 5:07 PM

steve-nice job on this weeks column. I just noticed that social inclusion has not been inbred thru 5x. in your opinion is that good, bad or make no difference?

17 Mar 2014 5:26 PM

Subject to change, and will.

(1) California chrome... The most impressive Derby prep winner yet.

(2) General A Rod ... Will unseat Cairo Prince from his top ranking after the Fl. Derby. If he can beat the one below.

(3) Constitution... Beat an field about as good as the FOY field on the undercard at GP with a 98 beyer in his first race of the year. No 2 year old foundation.

(4) Tapiture ...Looked good winning the Southwest with a 98 in first start of the year. I think his jockey got schooling by an older and much wiser jock( Mike Smith) in the Rebel when he got pinned on the rail. Still a good race for Tapiture, and maybe gave him a taste of the banging around he'll see in the Derby.

(5) Intense Holiday ... Nice beyer jump in the Risen Star to a 97, and he needed it. Hopefully he can improve on it in the La. Derby, because he'll need it also.

(6) Hoppertunity ... I like how he battled while getting banged around, and I believe he will get better with another race under his belt. Still some concern he might not have enough foundation.

(7) Tamarando ... He gives it all every race, and hits the board most every race. I would for sure use him to fill out a tri-super, and depended on the Spirial, maybe move him up more. Dirt is the big question, as it was with Animal Kingdom.

(8) Strong Mandate .. Expected to see more from him in the Rebel. He is hanging by a thread on my list, need vast improvement in the Ar. Derby, and he needs points. I still like him though. Out of Tiznow.

Still Looking for Improvement from : Rise Up ( really like this horse, hope to see a big improvement from him in La. Derby )....In Trouble ( I thought the NY race was weak, very weak, except maybe improvement from In Trouble since it was 1'st. off layoff.). Social Inclusion, I really want to see this horse run again, and wow, if he can improve on his last!

Over Rated ... Cairo Prince, Honor Code ( Has lost too much critical time off, and I use to like him).. Candy Boy ( seems like a couple other " Candy " horses ran in recent Ky. Derby's and didn't pan out to be much.).

Steve Haskins, please tell us your going to pick one clear cut choice for the Ky Derby at trackside this year ? Thanks

17 Mar 2014 5:27 PM

What a shame for KOBE'S BACK to have the start he had.  He was geared up for the REBEL.  I will contend that STRONG MANDAGE was maintaining his lead over RIDE ON CURLIN until ROC veered him over into TAPITURE.  Immediately, SM lost his edge and then the lane closed on him.  That's what I saw in the head on.  Great finish by HOPPERTUNITY and TAPITURE with no backing down from either.  

1) CALIFORNIA CHROME - I think with his foundation, seeming intelligence, and great athleticism he's still the one to beat.

2) CAIRO PRINCE - All systems go after a terrific HOLY BULL.

3) HOPPERTUNITY - He's getting better and I love the way he closes.  If I'm reading between the lines, BAFFERT is very high on this horse.

4) TAPITURE - He's shown a lot of class and closes well also.  Seems like he's built for the distance of the DERBY.

5) SAMRAAT - Until someone knocks him off, I have to give him his due…undefeated, battle tested.

6) INTENSE HOLIDAY - It appears he may be on course to peak on DERBY DAY and is still improving.

7) IN TROUBLE - His next race will be very telling.

8) MEXIKOMA - As long as he's on the trail I believe in this horse like I do HOPPERTUNITY for basically the same reasons.

9) UNCLE SIGH - If SAMRAAT is around, UNCLE SIGH is right on his tail plus I'd like to see the tables turned as far as position in the race with UNCLE SIGH with some breathing room.

10) SOCIAL INCLUSION - Can't doubt the ability which is extraordinary and we'll see how he develops.

11) HONOR CODE - I hope to see him move forward in a big way and  his fitness much improved.

12) GENERAL A ROD - I like the DYNAFORMER in him meaning "don't mess with me just get out of the way!"

17 Mar 2014 5:43 PM

tune up to my derby triple box. 1) tapiture wanted to run early then strangled, bumped and pingponged to a nice 2nd place finish. 2)noble moon must win wood or finish no more than 2 lengths behind winner.3) candy boy replaces midnight hawk 4)ring weekend replaces honor code.

17 Mar 2014 5:44 PM
classic go go

Steve Why do you think Vicars in Trouble was shipped to gulf to work and then be shipped back to FG to run in the Louisiana Derby ?

Personally am a fan of this one and thought he made a Point Given kentucky derby style move in his last and we all know what PG did after that .

Perhaps with a reasonable post can win the Louisiana Derby and then wear the roses in may

17 Mar 2014 5:55 PM
Paul Revere

I agree Cathy in Washington. I think he is an improving race horse.

17 Mar 2014 5:56 PM

So where is Social Inclusion?  Why does he need more proof to be on the list when the horse whose legs were run off still is included?  I do love Shug, and really like Honor Code, but it is pretty late in the day to include horses based on works, and who were soundly beaten in allowance company 2 months before the big day.  

17 Mar 2014 6:01 PM
Sail On

Hi Steve, I have come to enjoy your blog, and all, and I mean all, the commentators that make for some interesting thought provoking moments. I am also learning a lot.

I will have my top prospects ready soon enough. (after gleaning all I can from other commentators)

Is there any way to find out which horses may have injury issues, such as Vicar's In Trouble?

I spent the weekend reviewing the tragic failure of US Horse Racing to improve the injury rate to these beautiful, gallant warriors, and I am pleased to see how many are outraged by the deliberate, dangerous move by "desperate Ricardo Santana: using Tapiturs as a battering ram in an attempt to push Hoppertunity off his pace. Shameful. he is only lucky that neither his horse not Hoppertunity fell, and that no Jockey was injured. I for one will not list Tapiture on my top Derby contenders until there is a change of riders.

17 Mar 2014 6:04 PM

I thought Tapiture was the best in the rebel. I feel though as Santana Jr rode a impatient race. It was obvious he had a ton of horse under him and the inside was wide open. If Tapiture does not get bounced around I feel he wins. May a Jock change help here?

This is taking nothing from Hoppertunity also a improving horse but I will bet against him in the Derby due to the Apollo curse. I need to look for reason to toss horses and thats as good as any.

After watching several replays of late,it has always been a golden rule of mine to toss any Pletcher horse in the Derby.

However I must say Intense Holiday is a improving horse with plenty of foundation under him,if he keeps improving he will be a hard toss come Derby Day..

I feel there is alot of speed in this years Derby and coming of the pace will win.

For that reason I like Candy Boy and Intense Holiday as of now..

I may change my mind.

Keep up the Great Work Steve and good luck everyone..

17 Mar 2014 6:05 PM


17 Mar 2014 6:18 PM

Just an observation, but I like what I see from HOPPERTUNITY versus TAPITURE regarding their ears at the wire.  Tells me one has more in the tank and the other is stressing a wee bit.

17 Mar 2014 6:20 PM
classic go go

Realize the qualifications on Social Inclusion and yes got away with an easy half yet certainly looked the part in the paddock and ran to it . Very athletic and balanced . I would say the Wood as those lined up to that race in my estimation would have a difficult time against this one

17 Mar 2014 6:29 PM
Mike from Michigan

I still hold 'Vicar's In Trouble' in high regard and I think he will run great in the LA Derby, even if runs second in the LA Derby, he will get to Louisville.  Adrian O'Brien also has another 3 year old that probably will run in the UAE Derby and he might be a sleeper, 'Sir John Hawkins' Bred in KY and has a sneaky-nice pedigree, could surprise March 29th in Dubai.

17 Mar 2014 6:41 PM


Don't blame you one bit for mentioning RING WEEKEND.  He's got 6 races under his belt:







He has a 5f work of 58 2/5ths

With AP INDY, UNBRIDLED, and FAPPIANO in his pedigree he has to be taken seriously!

He's developing nicely!

17 Mar 2014 6:51 PM

KID CRUZ finishes great in his races but race times are very slow.  What am I missing?

17 Mar 2014 6:52 PM
Old Old Cat

Information, information.  That's what we want to get to assist us in making our decisions.  I think you do a wonderful job of publishing your thoughts leading to your rankins, and how different factors (2yo races, training distances, number of races, pedigree...) all influence your final dozen.

Recently Roman's dosage has been a topic with no explanations by your bloggers except the final number.  While I agree with you that they do not seem always updated, I look at all factors in breeding.  I was impressed by last week a blogger printing the dosage numbers for RIBOT PRINCESS (0,6,14,4,10).  In all my years of looking at profiles for American sires, I have never seen anything close to this, typically you see something like (8,4,12,0,0), high on speed, low on endurance.  The article in Blood Horse, "Turf Sires", made mention of the trend for American dirt stallions to throw a horse with brilliant speed, early maturity, and quick burnout, like a meteor.  Do you think this plays into the defections of your early lists?  It seems like every year we lose the early star:  Uncle Moe, Shanghai Bobby, etc... I would be interested in your thoughts on the genetics of these spindly legged creatures, and the sages who train them.

17 Mar 2014 7:16 PM

Kobe's back had a troubled trip in Rebel. Broke horrid and was rank the whole time. Hope he tries one more derby prep before going back to sprints.

Tapiture ran SUPER impressive. He did start the bumping but he also got the worst of it. I was very impressed that he kept on going.

17 Mar 2014 7:39 PM


you left off 2 horses that deserve a look, gala award & commissioner.

17 Mar 2014 7:53 PM

My top 5:

1.  California Chrome

2.  Cairo Prince

3.  Samraat

4.  Hoppertunity

5.  Intense Holiday

Beyond that I have no idea where to rank them, but I'm on a roll, I picked Hopportunity last week on here to win the Rebel based on his composure during his bath video!  Not really, but I really like something in this colt.  He must have been "hopping" mad at Tapiture bumping him like a bull.  One thing we know is he will not, or should not, get flustered in all the Derby traffic, he's battle tested, as well as Samraat.  I'm going with Samraat for the Wood win.  Hopefully he's rested after his "Florida vacation."

One thing that is interesting, or refreshing, is that there are 12 different trainers of these top Dozen, giving more trainers a shot at the Derby.

It seems like it has been ages since the Holy Bull so I am a little concerned about Cairo Prince's layoff but we'll see what happens his next time out.

17 Mar 2014 8:04 PM
Steve Haskin

I love it when I write 300 words explaining why Social Inclusion isn't in the Top 12 and someone asks, why isnt Social Inlcusion in the Top 12? Oy :)

Iceman, if you go one more generation, he is inbred 6x6 to Dr. Fager. But as far as inbreeding, I would find that very attractive as a breeder, because you can probably nick with most anyone and you dont have to worry about over inbreeding. As far as performance, it doesnt matter.

Classic GoGo, good question. I'm thinking he just wanted to monitor his training personally. He didnt work for 3 weeks after the Risen Star, so he may have had an issue he wanted to keep an eye on. I wouldnt be surprised to see a much improved effort. sometimes when they put in two huge efforts like that, they will regress for one race and then pop another big one.

Sail on, he put in a pretty sharp 5f work in 1:00 2/5 on Saturday.

BigTex, I can tell you what youre missing two words -- The Track. Never knock a time until you've seen the other times that same day.

17 Mar 2014 8:06 PM
Your Only Friend

Disagree with Stewarts ruling....thought one horse should have been taken down.....but what do I know....

17 Mar 2014 8:10 PM

Steve...Hoppertunity got a 100 Beyer, not 105.

17 Mar 2014 8:13 PM

Social Inclusion!

Number of starts and foundation is understandably dominating the exchanges regarding this colt.

Foundation: Do the ultra-brilliant need it? History indicates that ultra-brilliant horses can overcome what is perceived to be lack of foundation.

Lammtarra a son of the 1970 British TC winner Nijinsky won his debut race over 7F as 2YO. His next race was 302 days later in the Epsom Derby. He won the Derby at 14-1 in NTR. His 3rd start was the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes against older horses.  After his victory he was pointed to Europe’s most prestigious race the Arc. His Arc opponents were no match as he scored his 4th victory.

It was reported that Lammtarra’ s initial trainer was convinced he had an ultra-brilliant horse. Such was his confidence that he placed a future wager of one thousand pounds on the colt at odds of 33-1 before it made its 1st start.

Are we focusing too much on foundation and too little on the brilliance of horses that have short résumés. Did a lack of foundation cost Curlin and Bodemeister Derby victories? Did the absence of a 2YO starts from their résumés likewise cost them Derby victories?

Curlin finished 3rd in the Derby and 2 weeks later defeated the two horses that finished ahead of him in the Derby. Was he short of 2 weeks foundation entering the Derby? Highly unlikely! Bodemeister was only beaten by one horse in both the Derby and Preakness. With his perceived lack of foundation he defeated all with exception I’ll Have Another.  The lack of foundation theory cannot apply if he lost Derby to one opponent.

Should Social Inclusion off two starts including a NTR be classified as ultra-brilliant?  His demolition of top rated Honor Code who possessed more foundation, suggests he has exhibited enough to be so classified. Lammtarra was very sick during the 302 days between races but recovered to train for grueling 12F Epsom Derby.

Most of a horse’s foundation is gained during the many months of training it under goes before it makes its first start. If Social Inclusion has been exposed to speed and endurance training over several months, he would not lack foundation. If opposite is true, then he would. Far too often racing experience is confused with foundation. I consider then separate issues.

17 Mar 2014 8:51 PM


This is Indiana Johnny, incognito, and don't be trying to jump on board my picks again this year, lol, and good luck!

I'm really looking forward to the big races, 3-29 Fl. Derby and La. Derby, then on 4-5 the Wood and SA Derby, and then on 4-12 Ar. Derby and Bluegrass. Going to be some great match ups, and either sort it out or shake it up. Its getting more exciting everyday!

17 Mar 2014 8:59 PM
Sail On

Falling In Love: No, not a horse nor a poster, but my biggest weakness when trying to analyze race horses.

The ones I like best right now, in no particular order,

Vicar's In trouble


Wildcat Red


Others I like,

Social Inclusion

General A Rod

Uncle Sigh

In Trouble

Horses with issues,


Strong Mandate


Intense Holiday

Honor Code

Horses that just do not seem on par with the above

Rise Up

Kobe's Back

Gold Hawk

The others seem average to me at this point. They need to show me more.

My Opinion on Dosing,

It is my understanding that this theory has been soundly disproven. Can't count on much beyond 2 generations back. No reason the dam's pedigree should be less important than the sire.

I was disappointed with the Rebel, can't wait for next weekend.

17 Mar 2014 9:11 PM

I like Tapiture. I wish that Joel Rosario was up on him. Cairo Prince is my second choice, but we still have a ways to go to get to THE DERBY!!!

17 Mar 2014 9:58 PM

I was really looking forward to this week's Derby Dozen and I was glad to see California Chrome was still ranked #1. I am very high on him and he's my pick right now. Hope he stays healthy. I still like Cairo Prince and Intense Holiday and was impressed with Hoppertunity. Looks like Baffert has another good one. Haven't heard much about Bayern lately.

I was not impressed by the ride Ricardo Santana Jr. gave Tapiture. I am glad no one got injured by all the bumping. This horse would benefit by a jock change IMO.

I still like Strong Mandate too. One of these days, he'll put it all together. I believe there is a lot of potential in him.

Too bad there aren't any fillies in this year"s Derby mix, or have I missed them?

17 Mar 2014 10:09 PM

Steve H : I'm curious why you switched General A Rod and Samraat from last week's dozen ?

Samraat :  Still the top and best contender out there right now in m opinion.  I feel he's way ahead of everyone right now mentally after having had multiple battles and came out on top.  He knows how to win and how to do it.  

Intense Holiday : I think he'll be one of the closers that actually closes on the leaders.  I feel he'll definitely hit the board, just not sure if he can get the top prize.

Vinceremos : Glad to read he's going to the Blue Grass, he needs to hit the board to get in.

California Chrome : I think he's much much more seasoned than Social Inclusion, head to head, I think CC would demolish SI's confidence.  He still needs to get battle tested though.

Cairo Prince : Hopefully Kiaran is focused on him now that the FD is getting closer.

In Trouble : I feel he's one that can topple Samraat as my number one come Derby Day

General A Rod : Had to find someone to replace Honor Code, and I think he's primed for a big race in the FD, is he good enough ?  I have him ranked higher than Commissioner who is my choice for the FD only because Commissioner still needs points.   I have a feeling they'll reverse spots after the FD.

Commissioner : My choice for the FD

Poker Player : Looks like he'll be running against Vinceremos in the Blue Grass, but unlike Vinceremos, he needs to win the race and I think he will.

Tapiture : Best in the Rebel, even though Hop beat him.  He'll be my single in the Arkansas, regardless of who is running.  I'm confident to say he's already won the Arkansas.  

Chitu : I'm moving him up over Spot as he's a probable for the Sunland Derby and I think Baffert will run him there.  I feel good with his chances to win easily.

Spot : Florida Derby ?

17 Mar 2014 10:15 PM
Bill Rinker

Steve, I really enjoyed this weeks evolving Dozen, and the racing was as always, very enjoyable, and at times provocative as well. I must concur with others that it is nice to read and glean the avalible information shared by so many. The broader the perspective the greater the knowledge base and reasoning potential. The 13th was a very interesting day for me, in that five highly regarded 3yr. old sales selections ran well in four different races, four wins and one second. Yes, I'm pretty sure just know I did reach around and pat myself on the back. I was also thinking you have probably been asked this question before, but have you or any of the other staffers ever given any thought to the possibility of an Oaks Eight? I realize that it would be a huge undertaking with everything else you already have on your plate. But with out a doubt I'm sure alot of us would really enjoy your additional insight. It could be very interesting to engage in comparable analysis on various levels. This last blog session really had quite a bit of participation. When it comes to Thoroughbreds and horse racing, it's hard to get to much of a good thing.

17 Mar 2014 10:22 PM

Still wondering why Samraat who has a sound 2 year old foundation and hasn't lost a race is still way down at #9.

17 Mar 2014 11:28 PM
Steel Dragon

I know this is crazy, but something about Social Inclusion reminded me of Ruffian...

17 Mar 2014 11:47 PM

Steve, until they start running 9f., with verve, I am not truly convinced that we have seen a 'real' Derby horse yet. Brilliantly fast milers yes, but can they carry the brilliance to 10f?

TP seems very confident with Constitution for the Florida Derby, he could be the one. The Sunland Park Derby seems to throw in more interest than expectation, who knows?

18 Mar 2014 12:47 AM
joseph alva

Random thoughts on some contenders:

HOPPERTUNITY:  Seems to be improving and well bred for the distance.  I think, however, that his quantity of races run this year works against him for the Derby.  May he have moved up in the Rebel thanks to the wet track he got to compliment his wet-track pedigree?

TAPITURE:  Although classy and talented, I just get the feeling that his pedigree, with Olympio on the bottom, may leave him empty beyond a mile and an eighth.  He can certainly handle a mile and a sixteenth very well.  I would like to see how he gallops out in a mile and an eighth race.  

STRONG MANDATE:  A talented and very well bred head case.  He has a lot of positives -- he is tactical, experienced, in expert hands and perfectly bred on paper for the Derby distance, but appears to be a basket case who loses composure easily.  He had the lead in the Rebel stretch until he got bumped.  Thereafter he began running hesitatingly and lost a top three placement because of that.  He has all the physical tools, but I cannot see him mentally handling the 20 horse field and its challenges well.  

RIDE ON CURLIN:  I am beginning to respect him more.  You bring up some great points about him, Steve.  He is experienced, tactical, and well bred for the distance.  Given all of that, what is all the more drawing my attention is that he seems to love a fight.  He is the antithesis of Strong Mandate and that suits the Derby well.  You need that toughness to run well in that race.  I don't know if he is good enough to win it, but I am not likely to leave him out of my combinations given what I am starting to see.  

CANDY BOY:  I am looking forward to seeing him in his next start.  His gallop out looked unbelievable in the Robert Lewis -- they had a hard time pulling him up halfway up the backstretch.  Although his bloodlines do not typically produce successful post-mile and a eighth runners, Candy Ride and In Excess, as you noted, Steve, hold track records at a mile and quarter.  However, I think it is important to note that they did that at a more advanced stage of their career.  I have my doubts about the Derby distance at this young stage of his career, but visually he looks to me like he can get there given what I saw after he crossed the wire in the Robert Lewis.

CALIFORNIA CHROME:  Hard to fault.  I don't like the enormous layoff if the connections opt to bypass the Santa Anita Derby.  I also did not like seeing him hesitating to split horses in mid-stretch in one of his two year-old races in which he finished off the board.  He has obviously improved since, but I wonder, however, how well he can handle being squeezed in a 20 horse field.

RING WEEKEND:  I'm with you there, Steve, as to the upside of this guy.  He is putting stuff together fast and his trainer is brilliant at picking the right preps, even if not the most glamorous, to prep for a big dance.  He did it with Animal Kingdom and he routinely does it with many of his other quality runners.  Dangerous and extremely smart horseman with a horse on the improve.    

HONOR CODE:  I'm scratching my head over the disillusionment of most in him after the allowance race.  Had Social Inclusion not run that race and he would have won by decisive lengths in the time he clocked been regarded as disappointing?  I have a feeling people's opinion would be different.  He did what he had to do and did it well that day given his layoff.  I also think that he physically got a lot more out of that race than meets the eye -- although there was a pronounced gap between him and the winner he never gave up the chase of a runner who set a track record.  However, I too question if he has enough time to be as ideally fit to win the Derby given his limited preps.  If he goes in the Derby (and I have a feeling that the Lane's End connections will pour the pressure on to run given that this is AP Indy's last chance at a Derby winner), I will wheel all my bets around him because he should at least be fit enough to hit the exotics. He has the perfect pedigree, experience, adaptability and grit to suit Derby success.

SOCIAL INCLUSION:  An obvious freak with a lot still to answer to.  A South Florida based trainer friend of mine told me that Todd Pletcher offered 4 million for him before being outdone by a 7 million offer from Arab connections.  My friend also mentioned to me that trainers of Florida Derby contenders are shaking in their boots if he opts to go in that race.  While that seems to be the case and he may be a rare specimen, the Kentucky Derby, thankfully not run at Gulfstream Park, with a lot more horses and a lot more speed is a different game altogether -- even for a rare specimen!

18 Mar 2014 1:53 AM

Steve; I think this is your best dozen yet in terms of analysis.  I agree with you on most points and rankings. I'll keep CC first until he shows me he doesn't belong there, but frankly, I will be disappointed if he doesn't show up in the SA Derby.  I want to see how he handles 9 furlongs and I don't like the idea of 8 weeks between his last prep and the Derby.

I also like the Rebel 4, and in the order they finished.  Hoppertunity looks like he'll run all day, and while Tapiture appears to have had plenty left in the tank, I'm just skeptical of a Tapit getting 10 furlongs.

Finally, I absolutely agree with keeping Honor Code on the list and not yet including SI.  2 races, no matter how brilliant, are not enough to anoint a colt as the second coming.  Let's see what he can do in a graded stakes race; after all, he still doesn't have any points to get in the field.

18 Mar 2014 2:24 AM
Steve Haskin

I had a 100 Beyer, but then Equibase tweeted it was a 105, which I thought sounded a bit high. Not knowing what's correct, I changed it to triple-digit Beyer.

18 Mar 2014 2:29 AM
Steve Haskin

The switching of Samraat and General a Rod was done mainly because General a Rod will run first and I love the way he bounced out of the Fountain of Youth by working twice already, including a very quick work this week, showing his recuperative powers, and Joel Rosario has been named to ride him in the Florida Derby, which I love. I probably should have left them where they were, but those factors and Samraat having to make his fourth plane flight from Florida to NY since December contributed to the switch. That obviously hasnt affected him yet, but seven flights back and forth still a lot of traveling. I could switch them back next week, I'll see. Maybe I was overthinking :)

18 Mar 2014 2:41 AM

Regarding Ride On Curlin - Posted on 03/15/2014:

Rusty Weisner & Plod Boy Phil,

I cannot counter your respective views on ROC. The cold facts are not in his favor and he certainly does not inspire confidence.

With rhat stated, if either Honor Code or Havana were in the Rebel, they would probably be 1st & 2nd in the MLs. ROC was only 1 3/4L behind Havana and Honor Code in the Champagne. Where has that colt gone? Will he pay us a visit today?

Rusty you are high on Strong Mandate. He recorded his worst performance in the Champagne where he was beaten 10L. Was he a better colt than that performance? Certainly! He finished 8 3/4L behind ROC and 10L behind Havana. He returned a month later to finish only 1 1/4L behind the said Havana in the BCJ.

The Southwest was the 2nd meeting between Strong Mandate and ROC. He defeated ROC by 5 3/4L. That represented a margin reversal of 14 1/2L between the two races. Has Strong Mandate improved 14 1/2L over ROC? Has ROC declined by a similar margin since their last meeting? Is ROC just inconsistent? I would conclude he is inconsistent.

Based on ROC’s PPs, the Southwest was by far his worst performance. Strong Mandate bounced back one month later from his worst performance. Why discount the possibilities of ROC bouncing back for his worst?

Is this the type of horse that Kent can use to continue his recent string of upset victories? I conclude yes. The colt has proven that he has more than average ability with his performance against the colts that finished 2nd and 3rd in the BCJ. Unless handicappers have concluded he has seriously regressed, he must be given a good shot to upset.

18 Mar 2014 7:51 AM


I am sometimes misunderstood when I pose certain questions about a particular horse. The questions are not posed to be either dismissive or ridicule those that support the particular animal but rather to get their perspective. I am well aware that there are pertinent things about a horse and its performance that some of us will miss and others will observe.

In the case of Opportunity, I saw nothing special about the colt. The only thing that captured my attention was his dam sire Unaccounted For who is a tail descendant of the great Damascus. I am always on the lookout for emerging horses whose pedigrees contain either dormant sire or broodmare sire lines. Opportunity is one such horse and Tamarando is another.

The great Damascus sired 71 stakes winners but was particularly successful with his daughters who produced champions. However, none of those champions recorded victories in TC races. In fact no male tail descendant of Damascus has sired a mare that has produced the winner of a TC race. Discreet Cat was the last brilliant horse produced by a mare sired by a tail descendant of Damascus. Before him, there was Johannesburg but neither turned out to be a Kentucky Derby winner.

Opportunity is now on the scene but he has not displayed their initial brilliance. With his workman like victory over the race favorite Tapiture who experienced a troubled trip, he will no doubt be seen as top a Derby prospect with 2 victories from 4 starts. He is a nice colt with long energy efficient strides and appears to have a lot of stamina. He had to be used throughout to keep in touch with the leaders and that might have prevented him from recording a commanding victory. If he has to be ridden in that fashion to be competitive over 10F at Churchill Downs, his chances of winning are remote at best.

I keep reviewing a spreadsheet that contains the sire and broodmare sire lines of the winner of TC races over the last 50 years. I am still convinced that an error is responsible for the absence of Damascus and his tail male descendants. Is Opportunity the one to make the initial breakthrough for Damascus? Which CA based horse that avoided the top competition on that coast by shipping out of town became the eventual Derby winner?

18 Mar 2014 8:02 AM

The last time I checked, Tapiture got out finished by Hoppertunity and despite the banging and bumping Tapiture had every chance of winning. And it wasn't just Tapiture who sustained the banging, Hoppertunity was banged out his path by Tapiture but refused to be bullied. Yes, Tapiture gave him 5 pounds but that's because Tapiture was a graded winner and a more seasoned horse.

Now, If Tapiture jockey, Richardo Santanta, didn't bull his way out from behind Ride On Curlin and Strong Mandate by moving Hoppertunity out of his path I don't think the finish would have been this close. Then Tapiture would have had a legitimate excuse of being boxed in. Richardo Sanata made an agressive move which in most cases would have paid off, if wasn't for the determination of Hoppertunity who dug in and out finished Tapiture. All in all, it was good race riding by both jockeys but somebody had to lose.        

18 Mar 2014 8:25 AM
Curlin 08

Steve, Great post like always. I like your top 10 list, its similar to mine. I like some horses that haven't yet run or they haven't show their breakout performance like General A Rod, Conquest Titan, Vicar's in Trouble, and Noble Moon. I think they are legit horses and think their connections are just taking their time specially with the last two mentioned. But I also know that it is not a lot time left and room for error to make it to the derby. I think in the next few weeks we are going to see some really impressive performances. Its really exciting this time of the year and on my opinion there a lot of very good horses heading to Churchill Downs this year, we might be seeing something real special on the first Saturday in May. I have the opportunity to be in three consecutive Derby and its an experience of a lifetime. I got to see Street Sense power stretch run, Big Brown dominating win and Mine that bird splashing home. I like reading your opinion and facts about the horses.

18 Mar 2014 8:29 AM
Don from PA/DE

All are worthy of DD status, was very happy to see you noted the extra weight Tapiture carried, with that and the bump, I feel resulted in not winning the race, so for now I would rate him above Hoppertunity, if Tapiture stays healthy, he may be the KD kid to beat.

18 Mar 2014 9:14 AM

Hi Steve, the dozen is really shaping up, but unlike prior years I am not sure which of these horses want 10f, hopefully the mile and an eight races will bring some clarity. So far I am sold on California Chrome, Candy Boy, and Tapiture, ( despite the assumption Tapits will never get 10f ) as the main contenders so far.

Looking forward to seeing Albano in the LD, I think this horse can a rate off the pace, and his sire Istan can produce distance runners. Needs a jockey upgrade if he makes it, I see Rosie winding up here.

I would be trilled if Giovanni Boldini and Michelmas run 1-2 in the UAE as I am sure 40 points will get you in the big race, wish I was as sure they will handle dirt.

Kid Cruz is another I cant wait to see in the Wood, like most I am not yet sold on Samratt and I like Linda Rice as a trainer.

Florida Derby will tell us a great deal those 3 or 4 will run each other into the ground, if CP imposes himself, he has to be considered the favorite. Exciting times.

18 Mar 2014 9:51 AM

Cold facts,

You had a mouthful to say about Hoppertunity before and after the Risen Star and even more so after his somewhat disappointing showing in that race. While Mr. Haskins and some of us never waiver and remained confident in the horse’s ability you were dumbfounded as to why. Well, the Rebel fulfilled what some of us saw and validated what we know about horses.

So how about some good sportsmanship and give credit where credit is due because after all, you didn’t hold back in dishing it out after the Risen Star.      

18 Mar 2014 10:08 AM
The Bid


I Call SHOTGUN on SOCIAL INCLUSION's Bandwagon!!!!! The term "Freak" is being banty'd about in regard to him and CALIFORNIA CHROME and I can see why! This years crop seems to be full of speed merchants and a few that seem to be able to sustain it, particularly in the last furlong or so of these preps. I completely disagree with the assessment some have made that SOCIAL INCLUSION is being "rushed" to The Derby, today's trainers let the horses take them where they need to be, and if by hook or by crook SOCIAL INCLUSION is Derby bound because he is letting his connections know that he is ready!!!

This year's Derby is shaping up to be SCINTILATING in the first 1/2 mile, which brings me to HONOR CODE! Shug needs to get him back to his old form of closing but not by giving the leaders a 1/4 mile head start! We are going to see one hell of a Derby from the leaders or, someone is going to come from out of the clouds and bring home The Roses! This race to me would be a perfect setup for TOP BILLING but that ship has already sailed. STRONG MANDATE needs an Off-track (IMO)to be taken as a legit contender other than an overlay as he has shown a propensity to be at 3yrs. old, regardless of  how legitimate the number of excuses Mr. Lukas has claimed in his regard. Maybe I'm missing something, but The La./Ark. crop don't WOW me! California, now Florida and The New Yorker's present some WOW criteria!!! Just not sold on ANYTHING southwest of Florida...OK, maybe TAPITURE or HOPPORTUNITY even they aren't screaming for attention yet! They both are professional and have some seasoning but not sure if they have what it takes to get up and stay with the likes of SOCIAL INCLUSION, CALIFORNIA CHROME, SAMRAAT ,UNCLE SIGH or IN TROUBLE, and be able to sustain the pressure those 4 have shown to provide on race day, not to mention The RAW speed they maintain. Let's not forget, SAMRAAT has not been asked YET in ANY RACE and remains THE ONLY UNDEFEATED 3yr. old to date with any seasoning! I mentioned in a prior submission regarding CAIRO PRINCE and CANDY BOY maybe having an advantage with a sizable layoff in prep season....Not so sure if with what we have seen to date if that is going to help or not! CALIFORNIA CHROME seems to have push-button, machine-like qualities and not even Gary Stevens will be able to figure it out! CAIRO PRINCE may have needed the rest with what he is NOW looking at in regard to pace scenario in the Fla. Derby! Not sure if he has sustaining speed that has been shown by GENERAL AROD, WILDCAT RED to some degree, but certainly not SOCIAL INCLUSION! I'll finish with this....




          4.HONOR CODE (STILL can be DANGEROUS)

          5.UNCLE SIGH

          6.IN TROUBLE



          9.CANDY BOY

         10.GENERAL AROD

         11.CAIRO PRINCE


18 Mar 2014 10:38 AM

It's pretty impressive to go 4X on HOPPERTUNITY…

Mr Prospector > Danzig > Seattle Slew > Spectacular Bid > Damascus…> Northern Dancer


Great comments on SOCIAL INCLUSION and thanks for the LAMMTARRA info putting everything in context.  I'm guilty sometimes of using "foundation" for race experience in my notes.

Bill Rinker

I agree you can't get enough of a good thing with these horses and racing.

18 Mar 2014 10:45 AM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

You said Strong Mandate is "in search of identity".  Because of his connections I can't help think of Oxbow  last year (must rebuke commenter above: a horse who found a nut in all three legs of the TC), who had a failed but instructive with Gary Stevens in last year's Arkansas Derby.  I bet Strong Mandate (along with Ride On Curlin) and am not really on his bandwagon any more (I don't like him losing the lead), but you are more patient with these young competitors.

I'm surprised to see Ride On Curlin here.  He had a big 8-wide excuse for fading in the stretch in the Southwest, but he didn't hold on here, either.

18 Mar 2014 10:53 AM

Oaks Eight would be great! I bet you have that list in your back pocket. For fans, more is more!

18 Mar 2014 11:05 AM
food fight

I agree with you Steve the Rebel will help all of the top 3 finishers. And the winner showed that he is ready to fight to get the job done. He will get the distance an came home along with Tapiture in A Fast 06.1/5 . That being said Hoppertunity comes out of the Risen Star stakes at the Fairgrounds in which Intense Holiday wins that stake by a nose with Hopper back around 6 lengths or more.Untapable runs the same day and out runs the colts comes home faster and was being geared down through the wirer. How big does her race in the RA stakes look now with Hopper coming back and winning off the Risen Star performance.Also there is no Apollo question mark with the filly she win a grade 2 stake at Churchill Downs, and has the pedigree to run a mile and a quarter. I have no doubt this filly is as good as the colts she destroyed a good group of fillies by 9 lengths in the RA stakes and came out of it with triple digit beyer number.I can't see Tapiture getting the distance. I think the best shot Assmussen has is with the filly. If they should run her in the derby that's where my money will be . There has not been so many wow factors from the colts division, with the exception of CC performance in the San Felipe stakes and the Rebel stakes over the weekend.  

18 Mar 2014 11:13 AM

My current top 10

1 - Cairo Prince – Staying under the radar by skipping Fountain of Youth. Until he runs a bad race, he's my top derby prospect.

2 – Candy Boy – Like his versatile running style; expect to see a big effort in Santa Anita Derby

3 – Tapiture – Rebel is the kind of race you want to see a horse have before the Derby – not a "come and catch me" merry-go-round performance that looks impressive, but does nothing to get you battle tested.

4 – Hoppertunity – See Tapiture

5 – Constitution – Lacks experience, but has looked sensational so far. Florida Derby should be a good one to gauge his ability.

6 – Honor Code – Didn't learn anything out of Allowance race. Need to see big progress in ext start.

7 – Tonalist – Conservatively spotted colt could run big in Wood Memorial.

8 – Bobby's Kitten – Not the type I normally support in the Derby, but this could be a special horse, even if it's just on Turf.

9 – Samraat – Must give him his due – but the waters suddenly get much deeper in Wood.

10 – Commissioner – Interested to see how he runs in Sunland Derby. Much easier spot than Wood, which was where he was originally pointed.

Social Inclusion is a special talent – but this crop is too deep for him to make an impact in the Derby. The year Big Brown won, there was nothing notable out of that group. He was a man amongst boys. Too much talent and too much speed (Midnight Hawk, General A Rod, Wildcat Red, Vicars in Trouble to name a few) for anyone to get away with easy fractions in this year's running. And I want to see more out of California Chrome (on a fair track outside of California) before I give him more credit as a Derby horse. He's another I think is talented, but probably better suited for shorter distances than and against small field in the California circuits. And nothing wrong with making a lot of money running out there in state bred and open company stakes.

18 Mar 2014 11:44 AM


Difficult to know what prompted your most recent post to me (I offered no comments on this latest blog), but I'll assume it related to my remarks, in the previous blog, about Hoppertunity. Also not sure if you're asking a question, excusing yourself, or merely using my remarks as a touch-off for voicing your ideas. But, I'll take it to be a question and, for starters, merely say that apparently Steve and I (and, perhaps, some others) saw something in Hoppertunity's maiden win to raise our brows. Added to this, he was a Baffert trainee, had a pedigree that, at least, didn't eliminate him (from my perspective), looked, and carried himself extremely well, and was a rather expensive yearling for one sired by Any Given Saturday, even granting his then well thought of 1/2 sister. He followed that maiden win with, what I felt, was a promising performance in the Risen Star (I stated then that I found it to be the most promising performance of a 3 yr. old on that date). So, his victory this past Saturday came as no surprise-I even touted him to my barber two days prior to the Rebel. The fact that you didn't and, perhaps still don't better appreciate this colt, comes as no surprise. We all have our differing perspectives, and as I've mentioned before, I find yours rather wanting-you tend to focus on the irrelevant, and likely don't possess the knowledge, experience or talent to see the forest for the trees. Yes, our initial assessments don't always pan out, but your approach has little more predictive chance of success than would that of the complete novice...On a somewhat separate note (since you also mention/extoll him); Yes, Damascus was a sensational racehorse but, as with many others, he was no more than a very good (at best) stallion. He was afforded great opportunity at Claiborne. As a broodmare sire he proved no better (actually, somewhat worse) than he was as a sire. One can never be sure, but like Dr. Fager, I think his siring, etc. performance was inhibited by the quality of his sire, Sword Dancer (in Dr. Fager's case, Rough 'N Tumble). Again, this (cause) can't be stated with certainty, but history seems to suggest it.        

18 Mar 2014 11:47 AM
It aint easy being good!

California Chrome is head and shoulders above anyone on this least. He is the new Big Brown. Rarely do I see gifted horses. I love East coast horses but this horse is special. Anytime you bust out of the gate run splits of 45 seconds and still have something left in the tank at the end. What else do you want? Don't sleep on Intense Holiday either he has a perfect running style for the derby and I love horses that like to grind out races. He might not win the derby but he should be able to hit the board. Also feel like Rafael Bejarano is due for a derby victory so I will bet on whoever he decides to ride!

18 Mar 2014 11:54 AM
Your Only Friend

LUKAS IS LUKAS....but where I see his horse "Mandate" not think he can get the distance 1 1/4 miles....there are many who can get mile 1/16 1/8 HIS HORSE has not won against top contenders at those distances.....Looking else where.......

18 Mar 2014 12:09 PM

As usual, I am confused and so I read and lurk and ponder.

I liked Samraat the first time I saw him -- so how can I not also like Uncle Sigh?  Still waiting to see what happens to everyone, though -- especially Conquest Titan and still Matador.  

I am also up with whoever asked you to do the Oaks 8 - I am really interested in where Aragorn Ami is going.

Doesn't matter.  I will make my snap decision just before and lose anyways.

18 Mar 2014 12:22 PM

Cold Facts,

In your assessment, Hoppertunity had to be ridden in order to keep pace with the leaders but often times when horses who find themselves in that position usually they flattened out. Hoppertunity did no such thing, the Rebel Stakes was 2/5ths faster than the G2 Azeri Stakes for older females and the G3 Razorback Stakes for older males though it was a 1/5th faster than the Rebel, Hoppertunity last 2 ½ furloughs was 3/5ths faster than the Razorback. Horses that are hard used early do not finished as strong the way Hoppertunity did. It goes against logic.

18 Mar 2014 12:58 PM

Strong Mandate is a good horse, but I agree with Mister Frisky, he is a Lukas horse. Only there to keep Lukas in the business.

Social Inclusion ran a good race, but the part that concerns me is he ran in allowance company. How is he going to handle the bigger leagues. Plus, the offers to buy him could change his status as a Derby horse. Joha changed hands before the Derby last year and his connections did not run him even though he had the points.

18 Mar 2014 1:07 PM


Kid Cruz got a 91 Beyer for his win in the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park. If you take a look at the charts for the entire race card you will find the track was playing extremely slow. Six Furlough races finishing times were between 1:13 & 1:15 depending on the class of horses. What was impressive, was that he closed from almost 20 lengths last to win by four under a hand ride. To close like that on a slow and tiring track should not go unnotice. He's been on my watch list for awhile and I am excited to see what he can do in the Wood Memorial. Personally, I think he is going to run big.    

18 Mar 2014 1:14 PM

RE EARS Bigtex what was the clue that tipped you off about Hopper-T and Tap?

18 Mar 2014 1:38 PM
Sail On


I agree with your comments re Social Inclusion. The issue of racing experience vs foundation is often confounded.

18 Mar 2014 1:41 PM

Striking similarities between Samraat's first five races and the first five of Smarty Jones.  At this point in the season, Smarty still didn't have a wow factor going.  Everyone was questioning distance and its important to remember that the preps at Oaklawn were not as competitive as they are now.  Neither the Southwest nor the Rebel were even graded when Smarty ran.  Samraat hasn't wowed me to this point but, he knows how to win and appears to want to win.  

18 Mar 2014 1:47 PM
Sail On

joseph alva,

Loved your post with insights on several contenders, especially your comments on the reaction of some trainers should he enter 'their' race. lol fun to read.

18 Mar 2014 1:57 PM

and we all saw what happened to the ill-prepared 8belles.

18 Mar 2014 2:04 PM
Sail On

Rusty Weisner, I too am not sold on Ride On Curlin, he seems to drift out from the rail, even into other horses. If only Tapiture's jockey had known that in the Rebel. None of the Derby Contenders have me excited, so I am still engaged in fickle infatuations with several of these colts.

18 Mar 2014 2:23 PM

SMARIE-I didn't like Santana's ride on tapiture either, but for a different reason. we would have learned more about that horse if he was allowed to run and not get strangled early on. if Santana was that ferocious in that race, just think what he's capable of in the derby. I like the chances of a horse and rider that both want to win. the smarter of the two (tapiture) needs to be allowed to take control next out. finally, rarely does a horses number get taken down in the derby and that much Santana knows.  

18 Mar 2014 2:49 PM
Rusty Weisner

To all those convinced that there will be so many "frontrunners" in the Derby:  they can't all run in front, and they won't all go to the front.

18 Mar 2014 2:57 PM
food fight

Here is my new top 6. 1st If she should run Untapable she's a big strong filly that has run faster than the boy's she has a triple digit beyer number already, and she is undefeated at Churchill including a grade 2 stake.Her pedigree says distance no problem and she has separation acceleration which is huge to win the derby.2nd Honor Code i am willing to give him one more shot, i think he was just to fresh for his last and got himself all wound up in the post parade. He has lots of class and a very good 2 year old foundation. Would like to see how he behaves next outing.3rd California Chrome his latest race was to good even though it was bias added.Looks like a colt that is very sound and they have not gotten to his bottom yet.4th Hoppertunity like the fight in this colt. He was pretty close to the pace and still finished strong in a very fast run Rebel stakes. 5th Tonalist loved the way he ran last outing when second to the highly regarded Constitution in which he was totally against a very strong speed bias.6TH Commissioner his last was much better than it seemed he was victimized by the same huge speed bias as Tonalist.I like the fact he is under the radar, should run a big one next out.    

18 Mar 2014 4:11 PM
Jeffrey Simes

Steve the next horse in the top ten will have to be Noble Moon who had a nice breeze today.Only three races but shows the ability to run up close or back. What he has which many of the others don't is the pedigree to run very long.Should do good in the Wood if he goes there.


18 Mar 2014 4:23 PM

What have you done for me lately, huh?  Honor Code runs a very credible 2nd in his come back race and now everyone's off the wagaon.  Look, Shug said he doesn't have to win but just get a good run in for the next one.  Honor Code was a victim of the track and a speed bias that is ridiculous right now at Gulfstream.  Speed is winning everyrace there and lone speed is golden.  Social Inclusion ran a great race but he was lone speed on a speed favoring track.  Honor Code was 2nd with the 3rd horse lengths back.  

I hope Shug ships him to Aqueduct for the Wood and not commit this horse to another speed fest.  Go to New York where the track will be fair and where he ran probably his best race.  Shug has set Honor Code up to peak on Derby Day, it would be his 3rd race off a layoff and the timing will hit him right between the eyes.  I'm not getting of this wagon just yet folks, those who do play against at your own risk.  He is the last of the AP Indy's and the Derby will be his destiny!

18 Mar 2014 4:34 PM


Your posting ID was inadvertently cited. You have my sincere apology.

The submission should not have been directed to any  particular contributor. It represents a clarification of a previous submission.

18 Mar 2014 4:36 PM

Any news on Indianapolis?

18 Mar 2014 4:40 PM
steve from st louis

Steve, I just want to thank you for all the hard work you put in every week for the rest of us. We all have our favorites; I only like Intense Holiday because I have a big one on him at 69-1. History thus has him finishing second, then winning the Preakness.

18 Mar 2014 4:41 PM


From the ¼ pole and beyond TAPITURE had his ears pinned giving it everything he had to win.  I wouldn't say his tank was empty he just wanted that lead.  HOPPERTUNITY was ears up the whole way listening left, listening right, listening to SMITH, etc.  HOPPERTUNITY was going to run until MIKE SMITH decided to shut em down.  He's a cool cat!

18 Mar 2014 5:11 PM

Rusty Weisner with all the ground until the first turn there will probably only be ONE pacesetter.The speed duels are mostly imagined on paper(PPs)by the prognosticators.In the animals world unless encouraged by the jockey their will be one  leader and its not about how many frontrunners there are its about all the ones that pursue the leader and make him run faster.

BTW the offtrack helped in making Strong Mandate leg weary in deep stretch.I guess you will never understand that when you take the lead on a track like the Rebel was run on unless you get an EASY LEAD without close pursuers you will be more tired than the colts that settled and never expended the same type of energy to make the lead.Once you tire if you do not have a clear lead your pursuers will be less fatigued lifting their hooves out of that muck.

Thats the race either the jockey or the jockey and the other humans involved thought gave Strong Mandate a better shot especially when Rosario had just used the same tactics gate to wire for Close Hatches in the 8th race.It worked for Close Hatches because shes a 4yo and relaxed a lot better than Strong Mandate while on the lead, and she was ahead by 1 full length after 6 furlongs where on the chart Strong Mandate was only a head in front,in horseracing terms a length is a number of feet compared to the length of a head.

It dosent mean Strong Mandate should be given any points because of that, but that race still didnt prove any supremacy.All it proved to me was that Hoppertunity won and is now in the KD gate,Tapiture has run two very good races in a row and should earn more respect in the derby futures betting,and Ride On Curlin ran ok but not good enough to win after tracking the pacesetter and having every opportunity to win.

18 Mar 2014 5:12 PM


Congratulation is in order for all the contributors that had faith in Opportunity. All concerned deserve credit for their assessment of the colt’s ability. I was not impressed with him initially and his Risen Star effort did nothing to change my views.

What are my present views? I consider him a nice colt with long energy efficient strides that appears to have a lot of stamina. He lacks an explosive acceleration and appears to be a grinder. He could be another Giacomo.

Is he a legitimate #3 on a methodically compiled Derby Dozen? Not based on his achievements so far. He left CA where the competition was deemed too fierce for easier opportunities elsewhere. Both Opportunity and Intense Holiday left tracks at which they were no very competitive and scored short margin victories. These victories have been deemed to be so impressive, that both now occupy top five spot on most DD.

It’s difficult to determine how the wet/fast track impacted some in the field. I will therefore have to see Opportunity on a dry track against similar company to lend my support.

18 Mar 2014 5:16 PM

"Hopp" debuting on the first racing day of 2014 should be viewed with tremendous optimism for fans of this colt or really any racing fans.

why you ask?

Consider the ambitions nature of his Hall of Fame trainer and the answer will come to you..

18 Mar 2014 5:28 PM

California Chrome is like the Rodney Dangerfield of this group: "I tell ya, I get no respect!"

Or maybe Candy Boy deserves that tag more....

Not sure why so many are so down on West Coast runners, year-in and year-out.

18 Mar 2014 5:35 PM

The Bid: I agree with you top two except that I'd reverse the order: 1)Social Inclusion 2)California Chrome. The rest of my revised dozen are as follows: #3 Honor Code #4 Tapiture #5 General a Rod #6 Wildcat Red #7 Cairo Prince #8 Constitution(watch for a huge run from this one in the Florida Derby) #9Bobby's Kitten #10 Candy Boy #11 Intense Holiday #12 Albano & Hoppertunity

The top two are in a class by themselves for the Derby and Preakness but Honor Code should close the gap significantly for the Belmont Stakes. Todd Pletcher's colt Constitution is going to 'stir the pot' in the Florida derby IMO.

18 Mar 2014 5:48 PM

My top 10 in random order:

California Chrome

Honor Code


In Trouble

Cairo Prince

Candy Boy



Intense Holiday


Ones to watch:

SOCIAL INCLUSION - people drive me crazy. All this talk about it might take a 22 1/4 to tire him out at a 1 1/4. He ran a 24 and change 1/4, nothing spectacular. He did come home full of energy but that was on a speed favoring track. He will have to perform very well to make me a believer.

KOBE'S BACK - Had a very rough trip in the REBEL. I am willing to give him one more chance. If he doesn't run well, he will be off my list.

18 Mar 2014 6:20 PM

"Hopp" is a special colt.  Houshold name here since that freakish gallop out after maiden win.  You dont see things like that everyday.. and the erie silence from his connections inspires confidence.    Apollo and Affirmed are on watch

18 Mar 2014 6:29 PM
Matt Converse

1. Social Inclusion--spectacular win over Honor Code with 111 Beyer, and often lost with a front-runners victory is this horse had a strong closing kick. By Pioneer of the Nile out of a Saint Liam mare, the sky is the limit.

2. Candy Boy--may have the right running style with some very fast horses in this year's Derby.

3. California Chrome--he might be more versatile than Social Inclusion, which can't hurt his chances.

4. Bayern--I'm guessing Bob sends him to the Arkansas Derby to avoid #1 & #2.

5. Intense Holiday--He has the best closing splits of anyone, he's improved, could be the sleeper.

6. Hoppertunity--100 Beyer and distance looks like a plus for him, which it's hard to say with conviction about any of the other horses other than Intense Holiday.

7. Tapiture--game in bumpy defeat and galloped out as well as above.

8. Cairo Prince--his last out 96 Beyer showed improvement, but he'll need more as others have stepped it up.

9. Constitution--class test looms.

10. Honor Code--many have noted that Social Inclusion set a reasonable pace so he should have finished strong, so what does it say about a horse who ran even slower early but didn't really finish very strong?

11. General a Rod--Dynaformer blood should help for distance.

12. Samraat--gutsy horse has been in my dozen since December.

On sand by: Mexikoma, Tonalist, Ring Weekend

18 Mar 2014 6:31 PM
Sail On


Eight Bells, foundation or too much inbreeding? PETA actually tried to blame the jokey, but the blinders on mentality to win at any cost has resulted in 'sound' horses before the race down, breaking their legs and being euthanized, and as in Eight Bells case, RIGHT ON THE KENTUCKY DERBY RACETRACK.

When will we ever learn?

I for one hope some of these new breds to outsiders start to win, so we can widen the gene pool. When someone points out that a cold lacks 'inbreeding,' I cross my fingers!

18 Mar 2014 7:11 PM

I'm going to call an audible for the SUNLAND DERBY and if this horse runs big he'll go on my puny dozen.  I expect CHITU to be hard to beat on Sunday.  I love the way he eats up ground, love his stride, I think he's a good blend of speed and endurance inbred to BIG RED with AP INDY on his dam side.  Also think he's a heavy horse with only 3 races under his belt.  He was ½ length off of CANDY BOY in the LEWIS in 1:41 and change.  He was right off the lead in the LEWIS and still came on strong down the stretch.  I expect him to move forward with improved fitness, he's had no race since the LEWIS and BAFFERT is unusually quiet about this horse.

18 Mar 2014 8:51 PM


All you need is 1 Palace Malace or Sinister Minister and a 46 and change 1/2mile and the closers will becoming..

One front runner I believe that can rate is Samaraat..

He will sit at the back of the lead pack.He makes the first move..

18 Mar 2014 8:52 PM

Well, here is the "newbie's list for what it is make it to the Derby (no particular order): California Chrome, Wildcat Red, Intense Holiday, Tapiture, Ride on Curlin, Spot, Samaraat, Uncle Sigh, Strong Mandate. My hopefuls to make it are beautiful Honor Code (just not sure he will be ready) and Vicar's in Trouble. I really like Tamarando's pedigree  his trainer's description of him. Possible additions to my little list after I see them run are Candy Boy. Cairo Prince and Midnight Hawk (I really like the Midnight Lute colts). Hold out hope that Commissioner makes it. Still holding out hope a filly makes it in. (Coldfacts, please spare me a lecture on where I am wrong, just keep in mind please that this is the first year I have followed the prelims and I pick based on what I see when they race other than Honor Code, just flat out love this colt).

Steve, thank you for adding Ride on Curlin, I think he deserves a spot on the list. Love the Curlin/Secretariat crosses.

I so appreciate as well your fair analysis of the Rebel.

I will mention again the beautiful foals that are being born this year and mostly the boys need to look out three years from now. We might have another Rachel or Zenyatta. The foals this year are the most upright from birth I have seen in awhile and there seems to be movement away from the foals that are over at the knees. The Frankel babies are just stunning and Union Rags' babies...all I can say is WOW!!.

Who knows, this might be the year I bet...if one of my favorites is the long shot. Never count out the little guy, never know when one of them is going to sneak up on you and run you down, laughing as they pass you at the finish line!  

18 Mar 2014 9:01 PM

Social Inclusion Alw race a week ago at Gulfstream was definitely impressive but I went and did a little bit of research about the track at the distance. In a little bit over a year the track record at the distance have been broken four times either on the lead or close to it.

March 12th, 2014, Social Inclusion 1:40.97

Feb. 16th, 2014, Devil's Cave 1:41.00

Feb. 5th, 2014, Golden Lad 1:41.17

Feb. 8th, 2013, Itsmyluckyday 1:41.81

Think of it how you want but Social Inclusion might not be as freakish as some people think. Note, Devil's Cave is a 4yr. old mare and Golden Lad is a lightly raced 4yr. old horse. By the way, Golden Lad won the Razorback Stakes G3, on the Rebel stakes race card.  

18 Mar 2014 9:28 PM

Jeffery Simes,

   Totally agree with you on Noble Moon. He doesn't have to win the Wood, but he must come in at least third. With his Blue Blooded female line (Stop the Music and Stage Door Johnny), He should have no problem carrying 123 lbs. in this race.....or 126 lbs. in the next one!

18 Mar 2014 9:30 PM


You never disappoint; that is, you never fail to put egg on your face. This time it was your altogether transparently written insincere opening (see what followed), plus your clueless take on why Hoppertunity competed in the Rebel-rather than remain in California. Mr. Clueless, he didn't ship across country to avoid the California competition-instead, he shipped to find a timely and suitable stakes in which to compete. Take a look at the date of his prior start and then tell me what there was to avoid in California for a subsequent start. Baffert wasn't ducking anything by sending him to Oaklawn. It was the best and, perhaps, only reasonable race for him; was the appropriate distance, and offered the needed points. Even if Baffert felt he was the second coming of Man O War, where better to run him? Ever hear the phrase"...think before you speak"? How about, THINK BEFORE YOU WRITE?  

18 Mar 2014 9:48 PM

The track record at the 1 1/16th course at Gulfstream Park have been broken three times within 5 weeks.

March 12th, 2014, Social Inclusion 1:40.97

Feb. 16th, 2014, Devil's Cave 1:41.00

Feb. 5th, 2014, Golden Lad 1:41.17

The track records were broken on the lead or close to it.

18 Mar 2014 9:54 PM
Bill Rinker

I fell asleep in the recliner while watching HRTV and had a most freightening nightmare, so many confusing things were swirling around in my mind. It's not my normal practice to wager, but some how, someone, something,... was out there, and it was calling, calling to me. There were voices in the dark whispering, win, place, show, win, place, show. Steve, you were there sitting in the stands watching with your binoculars, and so was Cold Facts, Pedigree Ann, Spades, Sceptre, Bigtex, Johnny, Dr.Drunkinbum, Lmaris, Sail On and Mr. Frisky. I couldn't make out your faces clearly, but I was well aware of your presence, and comradery. Then suddenly I found myself on the inner track at Aqueduct, down on the rail, running as hard as I could go. But the track was deep and hard to get a hold of. I was slipping, and it was difficult to lift my legs, the approaching hoof beats were getting closer, and louder. All I could think of was how am I going to get to the wire, and then it suddenly came to me. Of course it must be the dreaded Apollo Curse, or merely a coincidence of the Hall of Fame inductee winning the Derby. Maybe if I cross my fingers or toes, and count to ten, damm what was I thinking. Why didn't I have on my lucky tie, hat, socks, shoes, and shirt. I certaintly should have at least turned my underwear inside out. I awoke ringing wet, with my mind and thoughts boggled. Completely caught up in a quandary, all the while thinking to myself that it's just a part of the game, isn't it, sure it is, it must be, it has to be. A couple of hours have since passed, but there's this eerie lingering essence of dejavu. So now in retrospect, here are a couple of very important things I'd like to share if you dare to read further. In those moments of uncertainy as you make you're way to the window to lay the smack down. First, don't spill beer on your racing program, second, and perhaps most importantly, always keep in mind that "It's bad luck to be superstitious". LOL, and have fun with your bets!!!  

18 Mar 2014 10:20 PM
Mike Relva


Are you serious? Really? Obviously your memory is short regarding Honor Code considering he hadn't run in awhile plus an injury.

18 Mar 2014 10:52 PM
Mike Relva


Are you serious? Really? Obviously your memory is short regarding Honor Code considering he hadn't run in awhile plus an injury.

18 Mar 2014 10:56 PM

Steve ~ Awaited with anticipation for your March 17th post of the "Dozen"....exciting and exhilerating to the stretch make it look so easy to re-establish and re-sort the "Dozen" with dense and defining details that support your choices as you address conflicts and comments be they pro or con, yea or nea, from your submitting and supporting contributors.......Thank you, happy to be part of the cast!

In your summary of the "Dozen " I could not agree with you more; i.e:Cairo Prince is very attractive ~ He has a quiet solid strength and McLaughlin is picking up the message of that energy and he knows Cairo Prince shows no sign of silence as he heads toward the Florida Derby.  This could be the "Pioneering" of the the track that makes a difference for him. I like this one quite a bit to carry on............


General A a little haunting and can be a very unexpected participant in his upcoming. Mike Maker has surprised quite often with overlooked candidates.

The upcoming races for all will be interesting and a test in power and peserverence as they meet the lengths to reach the Derby.

I think the "Dozen" list is a fine one on such a "Four Clover Day"!

YourOnlyFriend: I like your question ~  Can any one of these colts go the 1 1/4!  It is very appropriate. I am sure that Steve agrees (and he will tell us) that although the stats and facts are what they are - the answer is not easy to the question because stamina is a big part of it.  There are many components to consider and a definitive answer could be disappointing result - patience is a big part of the "Test of Champions" - Watch! Wait! Think like a Trainer......

Oh, Hirize: touched by your comment re Honor Code and the use of the word "Destiny"! It happens that way!


having no particular candidate of the Triple Crown makes it quite different than times past when the excitement was over the best known identifiable and popular star and his equals, expected and ever present. Yes, it is quite different - good but not the same......I do not remember wondering if they could do a 1 1/4 or a 1 1/8 or 1 1/2 - and in what fractions. I knew they could do it and they did! The term "wide open" was not the dominant term as is now. Thank you for filling that void - that is so much needed in the industry and by those that participate here - waiting, hoping.....

19 Mar 2014 12:15 AM

Okay, now that I am recovering from my disappointment about Shared Belief I have a new top five:  1-Tapiture, 2-Cairo Prince, 3-California Chrome, 4-Honor Code and 5-Midnight Hawk.  Still waiting to see Rise Up and Noble Moon as I really liked them earlier this year....  I also would love to see an Oaks list Steve if you're game....

19 Mar 2014 12:41 AM

Can they create history and win Derby 2014?

California Chrome:

No grandson of A P Indy has ever sired a Derby winner. One of his sons sired the 2013 Derby winner Orb. What are the chances of a grandson following up with a Derby winner in consecutive years? The sire line has produced 2 winners in 25 years. Derby history has an uncanning way of defeating the super talented.

Cairo Prince:

Mr. Prospector and his tail descendants have sired 27 horses that won 31 TC races. The 27 mares came from 6 broodmare lines. Four of those broodmare lines trace back to Phalaris and the other two to Man O’ War & St Simon.

Cairo Prince’s dam sire Holy Bull trace back to Questionnaire. The last horse of note to be associated with this dam line was Housebuster who was essentially a sprinter. This broodmare line has no Triple Crown history. A Cairo Prince victory would represent the first for the dam line. The dominant broodmare lines are well represented in 2014.


Flower Alley the son of Distorted Humor was the sire of 2011 Derby winner I’ll Have Another. What are the chances of Any Given Saturday another son of Distorted Humor being the sire of Derby winner 2014? Such an occurrence would be a first for the Mr. Prospector sire line. There are currently 8 horses from the Mr. P line with top 20 Derby points.

Refugee the dam of Hoppertunity was sires by Uncounted For is a tail descendants of Damascus. For reasons unknown, this is a broodmare line that has never produced the winner of a TC race. Is Hoppertunity talented enough to overcome this historic mystery against the very fast and talented Derby class of 2014?

19 Mar 2014 9:29 AM
Bill Rinker

fb0250,   I'm not sure you realize this. But IMO your post concerning eight belles, comes across very callous and indifferent to all those aware of this most unfortunate and tragic event. Her trainner is very capable and most likely will someday be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Your apparent perception of reality in these matters does seem void of anatomical understanding, and in this case is very misfortunate in regard to hallowed sentiment.

19 Mar 2014 9:37 AM

To all of you who ridicule Ricardo Santana Jr,he rode a brilliant race forcing his way out after being pinned in,which would be any good jock's decision,he saw no room at the rail turning for home ,i'll bet Mike Smith would not have done that as he won't risk his neck.

19 Mar 2014 9:45 AM


19 Mar 2014 10:04 AM

Thanks for including Honor Code's behavior prior to the race. I was there for his allowance race and I contacted the Blood-Horse. The local newspaper used to have terrific sports reporters who reported on horse racing; it looks like they no longer have reporters at the track. I am sure that Honor Code's time off effected his performance. However, he was also moved from the barn at Payson Park to the main track at Gulfstream Park, due to his rear ankle injuries. I wonder if Shug is considering moving him to Palm Meadows which is much more quiet and peaceful. And kudos to the gatekeepers who did a wonderful job of physically pushing the horse in the gate; they also did not allow him the possibility of backing out of the gate.

19 Mar 2014 10:51 AM
Rusty Weisner


Right on the money.  

2 track records were set Oaks day 2012 at CD.  

19 Mar 2014 11:02 AM
The Bid


Without taking offense....Instead of your constant lament and conjecture re: why certain colts WONT win a given TC race how bout throw EVERYONE a little changeup??? How bout a list of FACTS regarding why certain colts U feel Will/Can win a given TC race or even This years Derby??...Just Say'n!

Mike Relva

Been a while since a few of us were giving UNCLE MO the Triple Crown!!! Are u in agreement Shug needs to get back HONOR CODE's 2yr old form but not give a stretch of a head start?? Seems to me a closer could just be the pick this year! But there's 3-4 that seem to be able to sustain early speed!

I get the whole Speed-Bias thing...That being said, Horses by now NEED to overcome a ton of different aspects of racing, workouts and schooling...To be considered a CONTENDER these aspects and certainly others Have to be overcome most of ALL on Derby Day including the lead up to it! The fact that track records being broken every year or so at certain tracks to me IMO is poppycock! Horses NO NOTHING IN REGARD TO BIASES, THEY JUST RUN BABY! Which leads me to SOCIAL INCLUSION.....

 I was impressed and DO think HE and CALIFORNIA CHROME have set themselves apart from the others with SAMRAAT on the outside looking in! (Not far though) Numbers speak for themselves, visually these 2 are THE CLASS everyone else is going to have to catch up 2!!!

19 Mar 2014 11:04 AM
Rusty Weisner


I agree, it's the more frequent scenario, but some years it doesn't materialize -- Bodemeister didn't create that kind of race - IHA was in touch in the second flight.  But that track was something else that year.  Sooner or later someone's got to catch the bunch flat-footed and wire them like War Emblem.  Maybe it'll happen in a year following a Derby that set up for pure closers.

19 Mar 2014 11:06 AM
Rusty Weisner


I was at Laurel a couple of weeks ago for live racing (don't take much in any more).  It's always slow, timewise (even accounting for the class of horses), but that day horses were latching on to the rail and winning all day, even if the times were slow.

19 Mar 2014 11:13 AM

Bill Rinker

Priceless!  It's clear that you were bred for the turf!  However, I had you in the superfecta so I'm ticked off that you woke up!!!

19 Mar 2014 12:24 PM

Steve H : Thanks, fair enough.   On another note, have you ever heard of Calder Derby being used as a major prep ?  I read over at the Downey profile that it's Ring Weekend's next race ?  I'm guessing it's just to let him stretch his legs but I honestly have never heard of the Calder Derby prior to reading that artcle.

19 Mar 2014 12:45 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

It appears that the Florida Derby is going to be skimpy on entrants so the Wood, Arkansas Derby, and SA Derby are going to be the best races. I revised my Derby Dozen today while eating an extra donut so it's going to have to be a baker's dozen which is the way it should be anyway.

1. Hoppertunity

2. Social Inclusion

3. Intense Holiday

4. Bayern

5. Honor Code

6. California Chrome

7. Uncle Sigh

8. Cairo Prince

9. Samraat

10. Constitution

11. Candy Boy

12. Wildcat Red

13. Spot

Bill Rinker

   Glad I was there. You sure were blowing hard when you got back to your seat. The track was probably too deep. Try GP in your next dream and you might crack the Derby Dozen

19 Mar 2014 12:47 PM

Very imaginative Mr.Rinker.

No beer here, a nice single malt with a cigar.

Good Luck to you

19 Mar 2014 1:06 PM


Since I am the only one here who commented on his ride.

I will say, I watched the video again. Jock rode Tapiture right up to the leaders heels,that was half way away around the turn,Smith beat him to the opening on the outside.

Coming out of the turn the rail was wide open,unless the rail was dead and he purposly avoided the rail,he had all the room in the world to take the inside. With a ground saving trip he would of put himself right on the lead coming into the stretch.

I say he was a bit impatient due to the amount of horse he had under him.

I stick by my comments.

I also say if Borel was on him he wins by daylight.

Just my opinion of course.

Good luck

19 Mar 2014 1:16 PM

Spiral draw: 1-Big Bazinga, 2-Asserting Bear, 3-Poker Player, 4-Tamarando, 5-Coastline, 6-Smart Cover 7-All Tied Up, 8-Solitary Ranger, 9-Almost Famous, 10-Harry’s Holiday, 11-We Miss Artie, 12-Arctic Slope.

Trainer Nick Zito is mulling whether to run Spot in the March 29 Florida Derby or go to New York for the Wood Memorial a week later.

19 Mar 2014 2:38 PM

THEHOLZ, The only inbreeding I see in Social Inclusion's pedigree is to Native Dancer (Raise A Native's sire).  He has one Raise A Native (Pioneer of the Nile's sire line), one Northern Dancer (grandson of Native Dancer) through Empire Makers dam, and Star of Goshen's dam line goes back to Kanumera, a son of Native Dancer.  So on the sire's side his 3 crosses to Native Dancer are all through different lines.  There is no Raise A Native or any Native Dancer on his dam's side.  You can research pedigrees for free at that helps.

19 Mar 2014 2:44 PM

the times for 3/4 of a mile by the majority of these horses are soooo slow. especially at this crucial point in their 3yr old campaigns. you must show me you can run a sub 1:12 and then finish strongly to have any hope on Derby Day. Cairo Prince and Candy Boy are my top two. I just cant see California Chrome staying so sharp up until may. The horses on the inner track at the Big A must be the slowest of the bunch - no matter how gutsy. just my 2 cents. much repect goes out Mr. Haskin.

19 Mar 2014 2:54 PM
steve from st louis

I know Steve no longer has any use for dosage information regarding Derby horses, but I feel it's more important than ever given the lack of information and experience we have for horses on the Derby trail so for what it's worth, here are the dosage numbers for Steve's top dozen (higher the total, the more well-rounded the horse):

1.California Chrome 7-5-10-0-0     Total:22

2.Cairo Prince     2-4-2-0-0       Total:8

3.Hoppertunity     3-6-11-0-0      Total:20

4.Candy Boy        1-2-4-1-0       Total:8

5.Intense Holiday  3-4-5-0-0       Total:12

6.Tapiture         4-6-7-1-0       Total:18

7.Honor Code       10-12-20-0-0    Total:42

8.General a Rod    4-2-12-0-0      Total:18

9.Samraat          1-0-9-0-0       Total:10

10.Uncle Sigh      3-6-9-0-0       Total:18

11.Tamarando       3-3-4-0-0       Total:10

12.Ride On Curlin  6-5-9-0-0       Total:20

Honor Code thus has the best dosage numbers to get the 10 panels on the first Saturday in May if he runs to his pedigree with California Chrome a distant second. By the way, the three horses with the highest numbers last year-- Orb (40), Golden Soul(38) and Revolutionary(32) had the three highest numbers in that field. As Casey Stengel used to say, "You could look it up."

1. California Chrome  7-5-10-0-0     Total: 22

19 Mar 2014 3:11 PM

Rusty gotta tell you, in my opinion Bodiemiester ran the 2nd most impressive Derby since I have been following the Derby.

1st was Mind that Bird.

Bodie ran a 45 2/5 1/2 mile which is sick and to finish 2nd..

19 Mar 2014 4:11 PM

Bill Rinker:

I know this won't win me any "friends"-and who cares-, but I'm essentially in agreement with the "flavor" of fb0252's remark about Eight Belles. "Ill-prepared" may or may not be the most precise term for what was likely her mis-management, but from what I knew of the details, her entry in that Derby was ill-conceived, and I find it rather disgusting that her trainer continues to receive accolades and not criticism. Like I said, there were a lot of details to this case that many may not have read, or have conveniently forgotten. There's more -aside from the press reports (of which I won't discuss). What I will suggest is a review of her races leading up to the Derby, and will also add that the post-mortem proved nothing (due to the time factor), and didn't absolve Jones of anything.

19 Mar 2014 4:12 PM

Steve from St.Louis:

Great Fact not so "Cold" but great info TY.

Could you direct me on where to find the dosage's on past winners?

I would like to see if this is a 1 time thing or a good angle..


19 Mar 2014 4:14 PM

steve from st Louis;

What about

Animal Kingdom 2-0-6-0-0 Total 8 ?

19 Mar 2014 4:37 PM

The Bid,

It’s very difficult to evaluate these 3YO regarding their abilities to effectively get 10F in 2:02 plus. The top ones are very fast but do not give the impression they can carry their speed 10F. The 3YOs that seem cable of getting the distance effectively are running on either turf or synthetic.  

The speed in the Derby class of 2014 is crazy. The horses contesting races at SA Park and GP cannot record those times and win at CD. They know no other way to run and consequently there will be a charge heading into the first turn. The fists 6F will easily be 1:09 to 1:10. A mile in 1:35 will have all the leaders sucking wind with 2F to travel.

The horses below are on a list I have labeled closers. Some have tactical speed and can stay closer than others. Some do not even have points but they still have opportunities to secure enough to get in. I hope to narrow this list by the final prep to determine the horses capable of capitalizing when the leaders start to crack.




Conquest Titan


Candy Boy



Surfing U S A

Medal Count

Honor Code

Kid Kruz



All Tied Up

19 Mar 2014 5:14 PM
Your Only Friend

After reading the tells me nothing....its all talk......wait until the top 5 jocks commit then you will have a real educated guess on who will win the not think you can get mile quarter sitting on the bench with one or two races under your belt....that old belly will not be tight enough.

19 Mar 2014 5:19 PM

Wicked Strong with a strong 6 furlongs at PM. today. Will he run next in NY?

19 Mar 2014 5:25 PM

Well two more chances this weekend getting colts in some positions I have in Derby futures in the gate.Last Saturday Strong Mandate only earned 5 points towards the gate.

You might call it wishful thinking but I got a feeling that Tamarando,and yes Commissioner with first time lasix will both come in the money this weekend.One of them might even win.

19 Mar 2014 7:33 PM

steve from st. Louis-and if noble moon somehow makes it to the derby he has real nice numbers too=10-5-19-5-1 esp. the last two numbers for distance.

19 Mar 2014 8:29 PM


Steve explained quite well why Social Inclusion has not made his Derby Dozen.  He also explained why Honor Code is still on his list.  Steve doesn't need me to defend his list, but I happen to agree with him.


I don't understand your comment.  Eight Belles "ill prepared"?  What does that mean?  She had started 9 times before the Derby and had 5 wins on her resume.  I think this makes her better prepared than many colts in the Derby field.  Her strong 2nd place finish proved she belonged.  She looked absolutely fine crossing the line and suffered a very unfortunate accident in the gallop-out.


Nothing in the autopsy of Eight Belles condemned the trainer either.  I hated what happened to this wonderful filly, but to blame her trainer or jockey seems just wrong to me.


I'm happy to see Mike Smith isn't risking any other jockey's neck either.

19 Mar 2014 9:27 PM

derbygal : Thanks for posting the Spiral field.  I thought for sure Poker Player was going to the Blue Grass, I don't remember now where I read that information but I'm glad that he's going to the Spiral.  I think he'll be much closer to the pace and should turn the tables on his stablemate with the added distance.

I look forward to Chitu's race in the Sunland Derby, I liked him a lot in the Robert Lewis and I think he's much much better than Midnight Hawk.  Only concern about this weekend is that he might bounce but hopefully he's classy enough to still win.   I see Commissioner is entered in the same race, I guess I'll have two horses in this race hehe, I really like them both.  It makes sense to go to this race than the FD to try and get points facing an easier field but I'm not sure he'll have an easy time beating Chitu, if he does.  I'll just say it's a 2 horse race for me...adding my longshots Tanzanite Cat and Rebranded for the tri and super.

19 Mar 2014 10:31 PM

Will be keeping Bond Holder in my prayers for a speedy and complete recovery

19 Mar 2014 11:13 PM
steve from st louis

Derby Gal: Nothing is perfect. Dosage is just an old  tool that some breeders who spend a lot of money consider when matching pedigrees. Haskin doesn't like it anymore because he believes it hasn't "kept up with the times"; that a Funny Cide or Big Brown would never have shown up on a dosage scale and he's right about that. Dr. Steven Roman, PhD., developed the "chef-de-race" using the works of Franco Varola and Leon Rassmusen. Steve Haskin doesn't like that only Smart Strike has earned chef de race status in the past 20 years even though in his own enjoyable book on Dr. Fager, Haskin quotes John Nerud as saying a stud (like Dr. Fager) sometimes takes eight years to establish himself (and that's after a racing career) so it may indeed take 15-20 years before a stallion is considered one who passes his prepotentcy to his offspring. I would agree that Pulpit, or Tapit,even Distorted Humor may now be worthy of chef-de-race status but I guess the "wheels of justice grind slowly."

For more insight, play around on the website www.chef-de-race-com. And remember a great horse can come from anywhere, like Animal Kingdom or Big Brown.

19 Mar 2014 11:13 PM

I'm still perplexed at the accolades being given to Social Inclusion, I feel like I'm missing something lol.   When it comes to speed horses, California Chrome has a better foundation, ran and won (like it was a workout) a G2 race against better competition, geared down with a fast time.   Social Inclusion won by a mile against a5 horse allowance field with no one to pressure him against one legitimate competition who was coming off a layoff and had a minor injury.  He's had 2 lifetime starts.   What am I missing ??  Why is Social Inclusion being touted as the next triple crown winner ?  Is it the breeding ?  I guess I'll find out in the Florida Derby.  If I owned Social Inclusion, I would take the first offer to sell the colt because I don't know if he'll live up to the hype come Florida Derby day.  Not to mention the fact that the horse does not have any points...I hope he proves me wrong on March 29th.  I would love to see two speed horses be the heavily bet favorites in the Derby.

19 Mar 2014 11:42 PM
Sail On

Good night All, good night Bill Rinker, heading off to dream land where my favorites finish 1, 2, 3!

19 Mar 2014 11:42 PM
Bill Rinker

Upon reviewing the results of the 2008 Kentucky Derby, I can find no statistical information baring witness as to Eight Belles being ill-prepared or mismanaged for the race. An examination of the top ten horses by finishing order sheds some light on the relative number of races that each horse ran prior to the Derby. While attempting to understand this highly subjective study of conditioning, consideration must be given to the racing distance and the quality of effort. As we all know numbers are very beneficial but also tend to be subjective due to varibles in track conditions, as well as individual fitness and growth progression rates. I looked at the top ten horses in an attempt to understand and make a comparison in their relative form. All data was compiled per race results as listed by Equibase. This is what I found. It is of little surprise that years winner, Big Brown, was well advanced of the group in terms of raw talent early on. He ran once as a two year old, going 1,1/16m in 1:40:33. At 3yrs. once at 1,mile-1:35:66 and once at 1,1/8m in 1:48:16, making a total of 3 races prior to the Derby. This is really quite amazing, however his inherently weak hoof condition probably cost him the triple crown. After Big Brown the field was some what closer in talent. To keep this from getting to lengthy I will leave it up to anyone interested to visit the above web site for a more through review. Eight Belles came in second 4-3/4 lengths back, she had run 9 races prior to the derby, eight of them at a mile to 1,1/16th. Denis of Cork-3rd, 4 races prior, 2 at 1m, 1 at 1,1/8. Tale of Ekati-4th, 6 races prior, 2 at 1-1/16th, 1 at 1-1/8th. Recapturetheglory-5th, 6 races prior, 1 at 1m, 2 at 1-1/16th, 1 at 1-1/8th. Four of the next five ran 6 times prior to the derby, with one running 7. It was interesting to note that this group (6th thru 10th) had a deeper foundation than did the top 5 finishers. However it was what I would consider a modest difference, 4 of them ran twice at 1-1/8th, and the other one just once at 1-1/8th. Eight Belles ran 30 percent more races than 9 of the top 10 finishers prior to the derby. The one notable difference being an absence of a race of 1-1/8th miles. However the others in the top five only ran 1-1/8th miles one time prior to the derby. While going back to the quality of racing in regard to the effort achieved. I found Eight Belles to have raced at a level equal to or slightly above the majority of the colts she faced at the Derby. In regard to her tragic breakdown one would have to assume the results of her previous racing schedule should have left her well prepared for the Derby. When looking at her pedigree we find a potential genetic contribution for stamina through several ancestors, most notably being La Troienne in direct tail female sequence. Her phenotype profile was very much that of a classic router. As I remember, during that trying time surrounding her most unfortunate demise our sport was under extreme scrutiny from various media entities. Like many others, I found this to be a bitter pill to swallow. It is equally hard for me to fathom the idea that her trainner and owner are anything but responsible and highly knowledgeable. In my minds eye when I think back on Eight Belles I remember her as the personification of horse racing, a gifted filly that was built to run a route of ground with determined heart and the disquinguished class of a champion.      

20 Mar 2014 1:22 AM


Race 11 - Sunland Derby (Grade III)

1 Bourbonize (KY)   3/G L R A Vazquez 122 K Gorder

2 Garen (KY)   3/C L V Espinoza 122 P Miller

3 Commissioner (KY)   3/C L J R Velazquez 122 T A Pletcher

4 Global Strike (KY)   3/C L J Castellano 122 T A Pletcher

5 Tanzanite Cat (FL)   3/C L N Arroyo, Jr. 122 C Autrey

6 Lawly's Goal (AZ)   3/G L I J Rosendo 122 K Eikleberry

7 Midnight Hawk (KY)   3/C L M E Smith 122 B Baffert

8 Rebranded (KY)   3/C L R Eikleberry 122 J R Evans

9 Chitu (KY)   3/C L M Garcia 122 B Baffert

20 Mar 2014 4:25 AM
Paul Revere

Ride on Curlin, with a placing in the Arkansas Derby, will be this years "wise guy horse". Even though I think he will continue to improve, these "wise guy" type horse just don't hit the board on the first Saturday in May.  I took my shot with in 2000 when I used the Pat Day ridden wise guy horse Dollar Bill in all my plays and have stayed away since.  I think ROC will go on to win several graded stakes, but just not in the Triple Crown series.  

20 Mar 2014 7:07 AM

I believe Social Inclusion deserves the accolades being bestowed on him. I do not consider him overhyped like Verrazano. Both won their 1st & 2nd starts impressively. However, Verrazano did no defeat a graded stakes winner and a Derby top five by 10L in a NTR in his 2nd start.

The comments that Honor Code was returning from a lengthy respite and had a setback during same are valid. However, these factors did not prevent him from defeating the rest of the field by a city block.

The fractions for the first 4Fs of the race were reasonable i.e., 23.32 and 47.52. The 6F fractions were 1:10.70 followed by 8F in 1:34.68. The average time for each furlong was 11.84. Under no circumstance should a quality colt such as Honor Code have been beaten by 10L. Should Honor Code be still regarded as a quality colt after his demolition?

The Remsen that he won was contested in very slow fractions, resulting in an extremely slow final time. Is this race proving to be a very good measure of the ability of the top five finishers?  

Cairo Prince returned to win the 8.5F Holy Bull being fully extended in 1:42.16. Several lengths behind was Intense Holiday who subsequently won the Risen Star in 1:43.83. Wicked Strong finished 9th in the Holy Bull and then finished an none threatening 4th to Constitution in an allowance competed in 1:42.19

If the time recorded by Cairo Prince in the HB is compared to that recorded by Social Inclusion, he would have been beaten by 10L as well. Those recorded by Intense Holiday and Wicked Strong would see them being beaten by 15L or more.

If he could have defeated three graded stakes winners by 10L & 15L in only his 2nd start, it indicates just how exceptional a talent Social Inclusion is. His track record performance is not significantly different to that Lea’s in the Donn Handicap.

Socials Inclusion: 23.32,47.52,1:10.70,1:34.68,1:47.20

Leah: 23.40,47.21,1:10.90,1:34.74,1:46.86

The 9F time of 1:47.20 for Social Inclusion was extrapolated.  No 3YO dirt race contested at 9F at GP has broken 1:49. This  colt appears to be very good.

20 Mar 2014 10:49 AM


Street Cry By Vertigineux, Kris S, Roberto, Hail To Reason, Turn-To

Uncle Mo:

Indian Charlie by Playa Maya, Arch, Kris S, , Roberto, Hail To Reason, Turn-To

Social Inclusion:

Pioneerof The Nile by Saint Bernadette, Saint Ballado, Halo, Hail To Reason, Turn-To

Tail descendants of Turn-To have sired mares that have produced winners of each leg of the Triple Crown - I'll Have Another, Grindstone, Afleet Alex, Giacomo, Charismatic, Pine Bluff and Danzig Connection.

Social Inclusion’s pedigree on both sides is synonymous with champions.

20 Mar 2014 11:27 AM
Sail On

Sadly, it would appear that Tapiture not only needs a change of Jockey but a change of Trainer. many of us have tried to call attention to 'issues' in a tact ful way, pun intended, and I cringe to see PETA raise the issue in such a public and damaging way.

Please, let's all try to make sense of this, and take meaningful action for the good of all.

20 Mar 2014 11:54 AM
Sail On

Derbygal, thanks for posting entries in Southland, and perhaps Nick Zito does not want to run Spot against Social Inclusion and is awaiting to see if he is entered in Florida race.

20 Mar 2014 12:12 PM

Bill Rinker:

How interesting that you direct your focus (and cite) the number of starts, pre-Derby, for some of Eight Belles' competitors, all, by the way, colts. You seem to equate number of starts with "foundation", and the more starts there are (were), the better the foundation-as if this is a given positive. Funny, though, that after all your look back at charts, etc., you neglected to mention that Eight Belles did, indeed, have the MOST starts of ANY in that Derby field. You also cited pre-Derby competition, its relative quality (from your perspective), and the various distances at which they competed, but appear not be concerned (you state nothing about this) with trying to interpret the relative effort expended by those in their various races directly prior to the Derby.-Are you beginning to get the hint?- Take a closer look, and the timing, at/of Eight Belles' race directly preceding her Derby. Better yet, watch the video of that race. You seem to have the view: the greater the # of starts=the better the foundation=the better for the horse (in the subsequent start). What you don't seem to realize is that although lack of foundation can, at times, be causal in some breakdowns, it is far from the main cause(s) of breakdowns. And, guess what is the main (most common) cause?-mounting wear and tear. Perhaps, you should begin researching this topic as well. Long ago there was a Jimmy Stewart movie entitled-"No Highway In The Sky". Most of you here are too young to remember it. Well, in many ways, what did occur to that aircraft is analogous to the plight of the racehorse. Forget about Eight Belles' "phenotype profile" (I think you meant-Genotype profile) of which I doubt you're good enough to accurately discern. And, no, I don't at all condemn her connections for not being more wary of the perceived (by some) frailties of her sire's get. In one of Mr. Jones' post-tragedy published statements, he was quick to trumpet the fact that no veterinarian even entered her stall for the weeks preceding the Derby-it was obviously said to bolster his contention that the filly was absolutely sound. But, it said something else to me-how about you? I don't recall reading anywhere that Mr. Jones matriculated at a Veterinary School, nor that he had a veterinary license. Well, we had  but a 3 yr. old filly, in spring, due to race against all colts over a new to them 1/1/4 mile distance-and this filly had the longest campaign of any in the field, and endured, likely, the toughest race of her career in her last start-and had a trainer presumably well experienced enough to understand the concept of wear and tear; also had a well-healed owner able to afford some "let's try to help make sure she's sound" (particularly in view of her aforesaid campaign) diagnostic workups. But, instead, we hear that no vet even entered her stall. That's not all there is, but all I'll say. As far as the post-mortem, my point simply was that it did not (because it couldn't) answer the questions re- her pre-race soundness, despite what was written in some media sound bites.        

20 Mar 2014 12:49 PM
Linda in Texas

Thank You Bill Rinker for the fine article and explanation. And also for your respect for Eight Belles and her prep information. I was boldly fond of her and as most terribly affected by her tragic breakdown. I had made comment to perhaps she was not prepared, but your article proves me wrong. And i admit it when i am or was. She died giving her all and i think of her often, she was a gray you know. Rest in Peace Eight Belles, still. And as for a comment on The Kentucky Derby aspirants, i like SPOT AND ZITO, both grays you know. :)  Thank you Steve.

20 Mar 2014 12:53 PM
Mike Relva

Your only Friend

Then why do you read it?

20 Mar 2014 1:10 PM

Jay Jay: Your perplexities regarding the exceptional talent that is Social Inclusion will soon be over my slow learning friend ...just be patient.   Coldfacts' aanalysis posted 20 Mar 2014 10:49 AM is also quite instructive.  

20 Mar 2014 1:13 PM

I though I read where Shug is pointing Honor Code to the Wood.  This is a very smart move, Gulfstream is not forgiving to the stalkers and closers.  He should prove his metal in that race and once again stamp himself as the # 1 Derby contender.  

As far as the Florida Derby goes may the best speedster win!

20 Mar 2014 3:24 PM

I believe a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.Verrazano was 4-0, Social Inclusion is 2-0 any comparisons using this simple logic implies that he needs to win one or two more to be even comparable.

I hope we see Social Inclusion being included in the top 23 of derby futures, and you will have to back him blind off his first two races because the bet will close before either the Florida Derby or the Wood.

20 Mar 2014 3:40 PM

Perhaps you might think about adding Wildcat Red to your commentary. Johnny V will be riding him in the Florida Derby. This is according to an article by Jim Freer in the Blood-Horse. If only Johnny V had ridden Orb or Union Rags in all of their triple crown races we might have seen something special.

20 Mar 2014 4:16 PM

Coldfacts, I think you forgot Tonalist and Wicked Strong on your closers list. I also pay a great deal of attention to the closers, esp. on a KD wet track, if it's dry like 2012, I can't get past California Chrome.

I believe the Wood and Arkansas (maybe blue grass if they like Syn.) are the only shots these plodder guys have a chance to get points. Hoping Kid Cruz runs big.

Medal Count and Mexikoma are of the KD trail.

20 Mar 2014 4:20 PM
Rusty Weisner


In most other years Bodemeister wires them.  

20 Mar 2014 4:46 PM
Rusty Weisner

Paul Revere,

That's funny about ROC.  He was already my wiseguy horse in the Rebel.  I don't think he will be for me in the Derby.

20 Mar 2014 4:50 PM
Rusty Weisner

Paul Revere,

Dollar Bill also taught you not to bet a horse that goes looking for trouble.

20 Mar 2014 4:52 PM

I think it's obviously time to kill ALL thoroughbreds!...How inhumane, to let them do what they love to do.......running, with the wind in their face,frolicing with joy! This must stop!  It really IS cruel......letting them eat the best food in the world, bathing them, massaging them! Please stop this madness!.......we should let them just live out in those beautiful know the ones, 90 percent dirt and rocks, prickly bushes....weve all seen that......76 percent of horses out in these fields have skin disease......300% better chance of diseases such as laminitis, as well as other diseases....38% malnourishment..........a higher risk of injury(holes,rocks etc).....yea! thats obviously a better life.....horses are much happier doing this......see how calm they are out in that feild? look, he's just standing there! look how sleepy calm he looks! he looks sleepy!.......thats the life!   Who need frolicing around a racetrack? With bright eyes, shimmering coat.....SOMETIMES WHEN YOURE DYING, YOURE ACTUALLY LIVING!!!

20 Mar 2014 5:01 PM

To those with NO COMMON SENSE...........i'm sure almost everybody will take everything scott b said literally.......i know who that girl is....shes watch the video again, with this in mind...

THIS IS A GUY TRYING TO IMPRESS, IE TALK BIG...TO A CUTE GIRL....he would never have talked like that if it was a guy......just because a guy says something to a cute girl, doesnt mean its how he really believes it.....its talking big.......he was giving her an exageration of what she wanted to here.....listen to how he says what he says..........he's talking like a big man.......guys do this......she goes"oh really?" "wow..they really do this?"   oh yea! one time we just sawed off one of their legs, and still ran you get what i'm saying?......what do you think he was gonna say when the horse got claimed? He's gonna talk trash........know who, and what is actually going on, before you judge someone.....know human behavior, have common sense......know what youre talking in the game, an owner, a trainer,......running horribly lame horses is bad for business....its cheaper to get rid of em........asmussen is a great horseman......98% of football players take pain meds......all performance athletes do.........

20 Mar 2014 5:29 PM
Age of Reason

JayJay, of course you’re “perplexed at the accolades being given to Social Inclusion”, any level-headed person should be. Don’t let that bother you. Some of my dear friends on this and other sites are such hopelessly gullible creatures that one can only sigh in pity and silently repeat Einstein’s maxim that the definition of insanity is trying to predict the winner of the same Triple Crown over and over again, while expecting different results—or something like that. It’s a fool’s errand. Remember Bellamy Road, Bob Black Jack, Uncle Mo, Verrazano, Sinister Minister? If you look in the rearview mirror, can you still see Shared Belief fading over the horizon? My gods, it’s astounding at the number of hypothetically intelligent adults who are using less of their intelligent faculties than teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert, all because of a colt who’s never been in the starting gate of a stakes race. Taking a “wait and see” approach to jump on the Social Inclusion bandwagon doesn’t mean you’re a cynic, it means you have freaking common sense. He’ll be sticking around at Gulfstream (that chunk of asphalt calling itself a horse track) for the Florida Derby if he knows what’s good for him. Alright, I’m getting off my soapbox…

Sceptre, though you and I are both infrequent posters on Steve’s blog, I really can’t think of a single comment of yours that I haven’t enjoyed reading. You challenge my preconceived ideas sometimes but I usually end up agreeing with you. I’m learning a lot from reading your take on the whole Eight Belles tragedy, sad as it is and it’s fascinating to read your take on it. Keep commenting!

20 Mar 2014 6:10 PM
Scott's Rail

Last blog I read finally shouted a voice of clarity and sound reasoning.  I did a quick pedigree glance at dam side contributors to the last 15 KD winners.  As I have felt for a few years, Turn-To on the bottom is a little nugget that usually adds that winning ingredient to a KD winner.   My quick summation shows T-T in 8/9 of the past 15 winners.  Plus, T-T is right there on the top side with Barbaro.   Then I scroll back up and find the author's name.  Coldfacts.........NEWMAN !!!    Hope you take it as a complement...CF,  I know better than to take a cap gun to the OK Corral

20 Mar 2014 6:33 PM

Steve from St. Louis

Ring Weekend has total (24)

20 Mar 2014 7:10 PM

Jay Jay

I await in eager anticipation for the FL Derby, if Social Inclusion runs, to see if he joins the fray with Gen A Rod & Wildcat Red.  Will his will be broken?  Will he tell them there's a new sheriff in town?  Does he have the class / intelligence to rate, stalk & pounce?  Should be telling!  

20 Mar 2014 7:42 PM

I'm really pleased to hear that California Chrome will run in the SA Derby.  I would have been hesitant to back the horse at the KY Derby if he had gone into the big race off of works alone.  In my mind, he doesn't need to win at Santa Anita.  A lot of Derby winners have regressed a bit in their last prep.  I just want to see that he can have a good showing against tougher competition and get the 9-furlong distance.

20 Mar 2014 8:06 PM

Bill Rinker - Upon reviewing the results of the 2008 Kentucky Derby, I can find no statistical information baring witness as to Eight Belles being ill-prepared or mismanaged for the race.

How about first time against colts, going 1 1/4 in a full field on the first Saturday in May.

Smartest thing Churchill did was disqualifying earnings from restricted filly races.

20 Mar 2014 8:36 PM

Cairo Prince > Social Inclusion

Sorry folks, I just can't get into Social Inclusions bloodlines.

20 Mar 2014 8:52 PM

California Chrome, trainer Art Sherman quoted that the colt was "exhausted" after his speedy and conquering win (I am not surprised) but still holds great expectation for his Calfornian as he goes into the Santa Anita Derby. This race will be a determining factor for him to hold up in a tough competition and whether he wins or loses lets hope he prevails without being overwhelmed.

Hirize, your comment on Shug McGaughey's choice to pass on the Florida Derby with Honor Code and bring him to The Wood is in my thought as well and a wise one it is for this colt and his team.  I also would like to say that your post on the past Santana (Rebel)ride was a nice note to read on behalf of Santana. Yes, he did give a fine performance and you cannot ignore the fact that he is a good jockey.  But, the race was a close call and happy that the defeat did not cause a tragic end to recall instead of inquiry that held. Credit goes to all here and congrats hold for Mike Smith.

Thank you

and enjoy your choices! Good luck to you all!

20 Mar 2014 9:49 PM

KY Vet:

What kind of person would assume that the best way to impress a girl (one that has chosen to be around horses) is trash talk, foul language, and most of all, expressed callousness toward the well-being of the horses in his charge. Try that one in court, and see how far you'd get...And, oh yes, horses just love being confined 23 hrs/day in a stuffy 12X12 at best stall, rather than roaming freely in a field with their buddies (it's a given that they are "social" animals)...And, oh yes, they're fed well, and trained "well" to the point of UNNATURAL overfittness, the result of which often makes "head-cases" out those that would otherwise manifest no such behavioral trait. And, where do you get the notion that horses in a field founder more often than horses at the track? And, how about the old adage that two wrongs don't make a right. The fact that some/many turnouts may not receive the best care does not excuse abuse in the racetrack setting-albeit a different brand of lousy care. No horse ever told you that they enjoy the racetrack life, or RACING- rather, many are conditioned to "accept" it, and some may even initially regress somewhat once retired (if they're that fortunate) because horses tend to resist change. I've been around horses all my life (60 + yrs) and been exposed to them in all conditions- racetrack, training facilities, breeding farms (hours and hours with them in the fields), show barns, you name it. The least acceptable life for them is the racetrack, facility-wise, and human contact-wise (more evidenced by this latest expose). I could go on and on.    

20 Mar 2014 10:06 PM

Steve, with arguably the worst day for racing's already tarnished image, what happens to Tapiture?

20 Mar 2014 10:49 PM
Ta Wee

Mr. Haskin,

I'm glad to read the comment about Social Inclusion being inbred to the immortal Dr. Fager in his 6th generation.  I also like the fact he has some turf greats in his pedigree such as Assagai and the truly great Brigadier Gerrard.  It seems that Churchill with its high clay content making it a tighter track than other conventional dirt tracks have been much kinder to turf types--Barbaro, Animal Kingdom, even Dullahan whose only real decent effort on dirt was in the Derby.  Let us not forget Sheik Albodouh, the only European to ever win the Bredders Cup Sprint.  Hoppertunity though impressive, has some of the Damascus Curse in his breeding. Many of his descendants including the great Damascus himself had a tough time handling the Churchill Surface--Skip Away, Mr. Frisky,and Proud Terms among others.

Social Inclusion's next start is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated races in a long time.  So far he kind of reminds me of Dr. Fager which is saying a lot.

20 Mar 2014 10:53 PM
Jeffrey Simes

My question with Honor Code is will he get the distance?

I look at the dam side maybe to much, his 1st and 2nd dams were sprinters that did not win past 6.5 furlongs and many were less then that.His hope in my opinion will have to be the 3rd dam Serena's Song who was a great race mare.


21 Mar 2014 12:00 AM

age of reason

What is it about SPECULATING on these horses that ISNT a "wait and see approach"???

The only people betting right now are those betting Derby Futures, huh?  Beyond that, we'll all be waiting for Derby week to see who's moving across the track like ANIMAL KINGDOM or ORB or trying to glean what scuttlebutt we can from those at the track like Steve, trainers, etc.  

Pull back from the canvas a little and maybe you'll see the picture!

21 Mar 2014 12:08 AM
Bill Rinker

Bantering in conjecture will rarely lead us toward the pathway of veracity, and generally inhibits our ability to see the forest for the trees. The varibles associated with potential system failures of philosophy and physiology are increasingly diffcult to comprehend and validate considering how far one is from the actual event. And more often than not, very little good will result by placing blame at the doorstep of perceived reality. We are all unique in our progressional capabilities of learning, and likewise bound by the peripheral comforts and limitations of the enviroment we inhabit. In regard to questioning the evidence of standards in self diplomacy acceptable to media revelations, it would seem wise to temper and defer from self imposed advocacy. Undoubtedly, we are much better served by innate strength and harmony directed towards achieving a more complete understanding.

21 Mar 2014 2:46 AM

Coldfacts :  You are comparing the times and the winning margins between races that were ran in different tracks, different levels and different competitions and I'm really not sure why.  Did you read my whole post or did you stop at the first sentence?   Don't you think CC was the closest one to compare to him ?  Speed horses and GP and SA are both speed tracks and they ran the same type of race, on the lead.  And then Honor Code, the ONE legitimate derby horse in that allowance race, how is SI exceptional if … in your own words, Honor Code is not a quality colt ??    Ever heard of the term "pace makes the race" ?    Let me ask you, do you agree that SI is the next triple crown winner ?

Ranagulzion : Again, just like everytime, you didn't offer anything to "teach" me.  I asked what it is about SI that suddenly makes him the next triple crown winner and you respond with "exceptional abilities"  .... what are those exceptional abilities and PLEASE, don't use Coldfacts' posts, I want to know what YOU saw.  Instead of responding with your "expert analysis", you resort to insulting me and that tells me you have no idea what you're talking about and you're just purely guessing that he will be the next TC winner, and you do that because you don't (and have never) manned up to being wrong, your failure to predict triple crown winners is currently at 100%…and I'm the slow learning one lol.

BigTex :  Thanks for you comments.  I understand people can get excited about horses but understanding the race and the field and other variables of the race are important in putting things in perspective.   I too am looking forward to the Florida Derby to see how he does.  If he wins and demolishes the FD field, I will take a look  at how he ran and who he beat and how those horses ran.   I wasn't a believer of CC before the San Felipe but I saw how he ran and how he won and that's why I was so impressed, but I still have a question of how he would react when 19 other horses roars out of the gate, trying to bully their way into a good spot because he's always won so easy, he's never had to feel the whip or aggressive action from his jockey.   When Victor starts pushing on him or when he feels the whip multiple times, he might react differently.

Age Of Reason : Thank You!  I'm glad I'm not the only one.  I really don't understand the fascination (more like obsession) of predicting triple crown winners like Ranagulzion has.    Ignoring the question and just basing it on one race is just perplexing.   All I'm asking is show me how to do it, what they see, what they look at…someday I might want to become an expert at predicting triple crown winners too lol.   I love BH blogs because I learn things and I love learning from other people but there are some people that makes me feel like I'm a genius lol.

Anyone else besides me wondering what KY VET is talking about ?  I'm thinking he meant to post that on his Facebook, looks like drama or something…but I'm afraid to ask directly.

21 Mar 2014 3:52 AM
Pedigree Ann

Mr. Steve Haskin, Have you banned me for some reason without a warning? None of my posts here have shown up this week.

21 Mar 2014 9:42 AM

Just got done watching Lenny's and Steve's March Madness video. Guess I was not the only one critical of the ride Tapiture got.

21 Mar 2014 9:50 AM

I'm looking to bankroll my Derby Day wagering with tomorrow's Sunland Derby.  Global Strike & Garen with all (and the flip-cover Garen/GS/all).

If lightning doesn't happen to strike, oh well...just another day of lost wages.

On another note, it seems like the NYT is doing its annual trashing of the sport a little early this year (usually they wait until 2-3 weeks before the Derby).

KY Vet, you pretty much summarized my thoughts on the whole thing.

21 Mar 2014 10:09 AM
Steve Haskin

Ann, this is the first comment I've seen from you, other than the one you just sent on the other blog, which has been posted. I would never just ban anyone on here, especially without telling them, unless theyre new posters whose comments are in bad taste.

21 Mar 2014 10:13 AM


Churchill didn't disqualify earnings from restricted filly races.  The entire Derby qualifying system was changed from graded earnings to the points system.  There are designated races that offer  Derby points and there are  sex-restricted races that offer Oaks points. A filly can qualify into the Derby field by running (and placing) in Derby points qualifying races.

21 Mar 2014 10:25 AM


Is there a way that you could own/raise horses in a "wild horse" kind of way and still be competitive in the racing world?  Are the investments/investors such that, logistically, the operations have to be run this way, i.e. Barns, sheds, stalls, shoes, blankets, etc.?  Could an "outsider" run an operation that's unorthodox and flourish in the industry?  If so, what would the logistics look like or what would the operation look like?

21 Mar 2014 10:26 AM

It is quite valid to reference the smashing performances delivered by Bellamy Road, Bob Black Jack, Uncle Mo, Verrazano and Sinister Minister in relation to that of Social Inclusion. I would have added Officer to the list. Far too often there are either flash in the pan performances or one hit wonders. In light of this, caution cannot be thrown to the wind  

With that stated, no one is inferring that Social Inclusion is either the next coming or the next Secretariat. He could flop in his next start and prove all the positive assessments inaccurate. He could do the opposite and deliver another scintillating performance and silence his doubters. He is still an unknown quantity. We have been exposed to snippet of his ability that has been used to evaluate him. Who knows if he can deliver when he meets the best of his peers? There is no doubt that the establishment of a NTR without the application of the whip is rarely seen.

He is big athletic colt who covers ground effortlessly. His sire Pioneerof The Nile was runner up in the Kentucky Derby. PTN was sired by a regally bred Belmont winner. SI’s dam sire Saint Ballado, sired 2005 HOY Saint Liam and champion Ashado. Social Inclusion has a pedigree that is loaded with stamina that he has not been required to use as yet. If he has inherited 10F stamina to compliment his incredible pace, he will be a very dangerous customer.

Big Brown won his debut on turf over 8.5F in 1:40 and a bit. His next start after a lengthy layoff was on dirt where he recorded a time of 1:35 and a bit for 8F pulling a bus. He immediately became the KD favorite off two races. He made another start in the FL Derby and went on to win the KD by almost 5L from a PP that it rarely associated with winners. Many were in awe of him after first two starts. Would the classification of hypothetically intelligent adults who were using less of their intelligent faculties than teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert, apply to them?

One is advised to be careful of the caricature used in the description of others with differing views irrespective of how premature they may appear. One must be mindful that some see a glass as half full whilst others see it as half empty. Could the correct conclusion be that a glass is never empty.

21 Mar 2014 10:29 AM

The PETA video is shocking and disturbing even to a lifelong owner of horses such as myself. I am no advocate of PETA and know that they have an agenda that is hidden behind the guise of working for animal rights. Their methods, endeavors and sensationalism makes it difficult for individuals and true advocates for humane treatment of all animals to get our foot in the door in our efforts. Anytime we approach our representatives at both the state and federal level or the governor of a state, we are immediately written off as being "one of those crazy animal rights kooks".

However, this video will go viral and once it does there will be demands from the public for federal government regulation of racing and such demands will spread for other horse sports.

Having owned horses all my life since the age of 4 when I go my first pony, I have had ample opportunity to see first hand the cruelty and mistreatment that many horses have endured in order to score a "win" for the owners. This is not limited to just thoroughbreds, but is seen across all breeds and riding disciplines and even among backyard horse owners.

Horses have in some respects become a commodity that can hauled off to slaughter if they fail to perform or they have outlived their usefulness as a broodmare. This is not limited to just the racing industry, but across other breed associations as well.

The racing industry seems to have chosen to ignore the caution lights that have been flashing for many years.

Do not take me wrong, I love horse racing and have enjoyed being on the Derby trail for the first time this year. I am not saying in any way that every owner, every trainer or every breeder falls into this category, but they are out there.

PETA is a powerful lobbying group, they are supported and funded by very high profile "elites" and by individuals that are very, very wealthy and that have connections in high places. It would not surprise me that they are not already working on corporate sponsors of racing for them to pull sponsorship and advertising.

I so hope that the racing associations in every state and at every track and at the national level responds to these allegations not only by investigating whether they are true or not, but also by being proactive to put policies and standards in place that protect horses from what appears to have happened to poor Nehro.

PETA will not stop, but we can stop PETA by not having a cracked door that is open just enough for them to get in.

21 Mar 2014 10:36 AM


“You are comparing the times and the winning margins between races that were ran in different tracks, different levels and different competitions and I'm really not sure why”

I might have specified the Remsen and Risen Star but my margins were calculated on Gulfstream Park races. The top four finishers from the Remsen ran at Gulfstream Park.

Cairo Prince, Intense Holiday and Wicked Strong contested the Holy Bull. Cairo Prince won by 5 3/4L in 1:42.16. Intense Holiday finished 3rd beaten 6 3/4L. Wicked Strong finished 9th beaten 10L or more. Using the aforementioned margins for Intense Holiday and Wicked Strong and the principle of 1 second for 5L, their approximate times would have been 1:43 & bit and 1:44 & a bit.

Using the same principle of 1 second for 5L, Social Inclusion’s final time of 1:40.86 would place him approximately 10L, 15L & 20L ahead of Cairo Prince, Intense Holiday and Wicked Strong. It should also be noted that those horses were under strong drives during the running of the HB. Social Inclusion was merely kept up to his work..

Honor Code was beaten 10L. Using the principle of 1 second for 5L, Honor Code’s approximate time would be in the region of 1:42 and a bit. Cairo Prince’s time in the HB was 1:42.16 fully extended. .

“How is SI exceptional if … in your own words, Honor Code is not a quality colt”

Honor Code was badly beaten. I consider my question legitimate regarding his status as a quality colt. He is still considered a quality colt but probably not exceptional. I am aware that pace makes the race.  Are you aware that the fractions for the first 6F of the Holy Bull were faster than those in SI’s race?  

“Let me ask you, do you agree that SI is the next Triple Crown winner?”

I have never classified a horse as the next TC winner as same is beyond my capabilities. I do not recall any TC winner that was projected to be same before the series began. No one is inferring that Social Inclusion is either the next coming or the next Secretariat. He could flop in his next start and prove all the positive assessments inaccurate. He could do the opposite and deliver another scintillating performance and silence his doubters. He is obviously a very talented colt but we have seen many talented ones before that did not make the grade.

21 Mar 2014 12:21 PM
Age of Reason

COLDFACTS, I haven't given you enough credit. You've obviously done your research with the Triple Crown capabilities of Turn-To's line and I want to be the first to commend you. Well done. Just out of curiosity, have you noticed that Honor Code also descends from Turn-To: Honor Code-A.P. Indy-Seattle Slew-Bold Reasoning, out of Reason to Earn by Hail to Reason by Turn-To? Also, (and I'm only asking because I haven't had time to look it up myself) but as I'm sure we've all read in Steve's blog, the Fappiano line seems to have a remarkable affinity for Churchill Downs. Are there any prominent contenders so far with both Fappiano and Turn-To blood that you can think of? Thanks!

BIGTEX, I enjoy reading your comments so thanks for asking me to explain what I meant. Of course you're right, they are all unproven (some more or less) at this point! What I meant though, when I said "wait and see" about Social Inclusion is that he is far *more* unproven than any other contender I can think of. Maybe I'm just a Doubting Thomas ("Blessed are they who have not seen, yet believe" etc.) but I just won't jump on any horse's bandwagon at this stage until they have shown me something--usually, competitiveness at the stakes level--to show me something more than just raw and completely unknown potential. Or lack thereof, most of the time. Makes sense to be cautious, don't you think?

21 Mar 2014 12:54 PM
Jersey Girl


Johnny V on Wildcat Red in the Florida Derby? Hope it's the case. I'll be lovin' it.


Believe it or not we've known for a long time that guys talk big to impress girls. If you really want to apply COMMON SENSE, you'll wait for all of the facts to come out before you decide for everyone else, what the real deal is.

21 Mar 2014 1:10 PM


My simple answer to your question would be, no. This answer, however, should not be construed as a permission to disregard the well-being of the racehorse. In my opinion, racehorses are trained to a physiologic level of overfittness-, i.e. it is "unnatural" for them to be in that state, but the problem is that they are capable of reaching that state; just as they are physiologically capable of reaching the speeds they do in a horse race-but to do so places them at far greater risk of injury and/or death. It is very rare that in the natural setting the horse, even the thoroughbred, would attain such speeds given non-man-made fitness. I assume you see where this is heading.  

21 Mar 2014 2:07 PM

Bill Rinker:

Perhaps you should have heeded some of your own advice before weighing in on fb0252 (which prompted my initial remarks).  

21 Mar 2014 2:18 PM

Hey Jersey Girl...I am with you, Johnny V on Wildcat Red! Per the article on Blood Horse today in which his trainer says he is on his toes and itching to run. I really like this little horse!

21 Mar 2014 2:22 PM

Coldfacts : Ok, same track, still... different race, different fields.  I don't understand how you can use that 1 second to 5 Lengths rule without taking into account how the horses ran in the race.  I watch the actual races, I don't use such rules and I don't believe in them.  Watching the races, CC is the closest one I can compare him to, but obviously you see things differently.

I don't think anyone is doubting SI, his race looked good but the folks that has not anointed him the Triple Crown winner are just waiting for him to show he can actually race another horse.

You must've missed Ranagulzion's anointing of SI as the next Triple Crown winner.  

21 Mar 2014 2:55 PM

Listen.....they picked blasi for a reason....he is a loudmouth....i understand most people will take everything said literally.....i'm saying, be smart enough to know the dynamics involved.....septre can't see it......but i can........blasi was being a big man, not unlike icognito in football.....guys act in ways that are not always truly reflective of whats inside.....if you listen to him, nehro could barely stand up.......that simply wasnt true......i know people that are in the know.......common sense should tell anyone with a brain that..........

21 Mar 2014 4:12 PM

sceptre and Windolin, I wish to echo your sentiments and applaud your writing. Has racing left it too long to clean up it's act and prevent federal intervention, obviously many prominent owners/breeders, racing fans, animal rights groups believe so.

After viewing the incriminating evidence of the PETA video, I was appalled, dismayed, and infuriated. I work in a profession which has ethics as it's guiding framework - it's tragic that all trainers do not follow a similar framework.

21 Mar 2014 4:18 PM

Jay Jay 21 Mar 2014 3:52 AM:

I haven't given up on teaching you my friend but you do learn a bit slowly ...sorry for hurting your feelings. I tend to make a quick evaluation of things with foresight while most folks prefer to wait until everthing is abundantly clear before making up their minds ...I'm not always right but so what? its a lot of fun.

Coldfacts is well known for his caution in acknowledging a horse as super talented so I thought that you'd pay attention to his comments showing that Social Inclusion is in all likeliness a very special talent. I took for granted that you'd already dismissed my assessment of the validity of the colts 10 lengths humbling of Honor Code as well as my pedigree analysis pointing out that the pattern of inbreeding closely resembles yesteryear superstars, Sunday Silence and Holy Bull. What more do you want bro?

Age of Reason: How ya doin my level-headed, common sense buddy? Would you be honest enough to call those of us who are excited over Social Inclusion geniuses after he romps in his next start ...or are you going to say it was common knowledge after denigrating our intelligence?

We can't all be the same buddy ...some people are scared to stick their necks out, others are brilliant at hindsight assessment while those that have excellent foresight and are bold enough to make the call (while being ridiculed by the timid) are usually numbered among geniuses. Well, time will tell.

KY Vet: You're a riot on here ...good posts and great laughs your style.

21 Mar 2014 5:51 PM

Bill Rinker:

Your "excerpt" (from who knows where) is deserving of a bit more response:

"Bantering in conjecture" or, shall we say, suspicions, has its place so long as there is evidence (in the broadest sense) reasonable to support such suspicions. It can also serve as a first step on the path to truth-and is often the appropriate approach in matters important which have been essentially ignored, or have failed to receive adequate investigation.

21 Mar 2014 6:16 PM

Vinceremos and Ring Weekend have been the longshots that have won Derby preps so far. The Spiral is tailor made for an upset. With that stated, I am focused on longshot Arctic Slope.

I am probably going down a very slippery slope with this one as he has not made a start since last November. However, his trainer landed a coup with 70-1 Sarava in the 2002 Belmont and has a record of bringing horse in peak condition to contest the big races. Does Artic Slope have what it takes to win? I think yes!

Arctic Slope finished 2nd by 1/2L to Bashart on debut over 1 1/16m on turf at Saratoga. Bashart subsequently won the G2 With Anticipation, finished 2nd in the G3 Bourbon and finished a respectable 6th in the Breeder Cup Juvenile Turf.

Arctic Slope's 2nd start was on dirt over 8F at CD where he defeated a very weak field in a very poor time. His 3rd start was the G1 Breeder Futurity at Keeneland. He broke in the air and was last before closing resolutely to finished 3rd to We Miss Artie who subsequently finished 7th in the BCJ by 3 3/4L. Arctic Slope last 2 start as a 2YO were on dirt at CD and he did not show up and was beaten 12 and 16 lengths respectively.

His 3YO debut will on a surface on which he recorded his best performance. The son of the $6.2M Van Nistelrooy was a big leggy colt as a 2YO and one can only hope that he has grown into his big frame. He displays tactical speed when he leaves the gates without incident and he will need to so to have a chance in the Spiral. He must be bigger and stronger now and his final work of 59 4/5 suggests he is ready to spring another upset for Kenny Mac.

21 Mar 2014 6:59 PM

"a Funny Cide or Big Brown would never have shown up on a dosage scale"

Steve from St Louis,

I am no apologist for the Dosage system as a Derby handicapping tool.  Contrary to popular belief, that was never its purpose anyway.  But I have to take issue with your statement as quoted above.  The sires of Funny Cide and Big Brown were not then, respectively, nor are they now chefs-de-race, but that in no way means that they are or would have been "off the radar" on the dosage scale.

FUNNY CIDE: 7-2-11-3-1 (24) DI: 1.53 CD: 0.46

He doesn't have any chefs-de-race in his first two generations, but in his third & fourth, he carries the likes of Mr Prospector, Danzig, Seattle Slew, Raise A Native, Tom Rolfe, Northern Dancer, Buckpasser, Sea Bird, and Graustark.

BIG BROWN: 4-7-22-3-0 (36) DI: 1.67 CD: 0.36

From his second through fourth generations back, Big Brown carries Danzig, Nureyev, Northern Dancer, Damascus, and Round Table.

I didn't see where Steve said that Smart Strike is the only CDR to have been designated in 20 years, so I can't hold him to that, but whether he said it or not, it's simply not true.  From Dr. Roman's website, I counted 23 new "chefs" designated since the turn of the century.  Granted, that encompasses a 14 year span of time, but it represents a whole lot less that 20 years and a whole lot more than 1 CDR.  The latest addition is the great German stallion Monsun, who was designated as a Classic/Solid Chef-de-Race as recently as 2011.

The point is that both Funny Cide and Big Brown did in fact more than qualify on dosage to win a race, any race, run at 10 furlongs.


21 Mar 2014 7:44 PM
Age of Reason

Ranagulzion, it’s always a pleasure, my antithetical ally. The logical conclusion of your fandom re: Social Inclusion is that I must be timid and slow to see the light, while the logical conclusion of my cynicism re: Social Inclusion is that you’re being foolhardy and rushing in where angels fear to tread. It’s all good! Time will have the final say, and it will do so with no regard as to what side little ol’ me takes in the debate. The bottom line is, and you already said it, “So what if I’m not always right? It’s a lot of fun.” You’re probably going to have a lot more fun on the Derby trail because you can get excited about a horse very quickly; I don’t. But by the same token, you’ve also had to deal with the disappointment, maybe even heartbreak in every year when none of your hoped-for Triple Crown winners panned out. At least so far, I’ll grant you that. Can you at least see where I’m coming from, though? Social Inclusion was running against an entire field full of would-be Silky Sullivans who never had a prayer over that God-awful, asphalt conveyor belt masquerading as a horse race track. Zenyatta would’ve had a better chance on Keeneland’s old dirt track. That’s why you’re seeing not only Honor Code, but practically every other quality 3 year old who isn’t a front-runner, getting the hell out of Dodge rather than run in the Florida Derby; they’d rather face much stiffer competition anywhere else than waste their time on a surface so ridiculously biased the race is practically rigged in favor of whomever has the lead at second call. I keep comparing Social Inclusion to Sinister Minister, but I can’t help it. The comparisons are uncanny. Sinister Minister won the Blue Grass by a furlong, not because he was the next Triple Crown winner but because he had the perfect running style on a biased track perfectly suited to that style, he got the perfect race shape on an uncontested lead and looked like a world-beater. Was he able to ever duplicate it in any other race on any other track? Nope. But Bluegrass Cat, a closer who was embarrassed by over twenty lengths in the race because of all that, later went on to be a Grade 1 winner, Kentucky Derby and Travers runner-up. The track and the race shape can make any horse look alternately look like a dog or else the equine Second Advent, and so I remain cynical. If you turn out to be right, I sincerely hope you’ll forgive me and save room for one very penitent sinner on your bandwagon.

p.s. Your bet is on. If S.I. romps (let's say 5 lengths or better) in his next start, I will literally post on Steve's blog and say that you are a genius. If Honor Code wins his next start, you do the same for my benefit. Deal or no deal? ;)

21 Mar 2014 8:09 PM

I love horses.  I love racing. The PETA video was horrifying, disturbing and disgusting.  They had Rachel and Curlin.  I love horse racing and I am angry, what will this do.  Are they all like this?  I had so admired Gary Stevens. How can anyone laugh at horses being hurt.  This is really bad.

21 Mar 2014 8:15 PM

I still like Tapiture but I'd prefer to see Joel Rosario up or Calvin Borel. These two jocks excel on pace speed-closers.  Cairo Prince is going to be tough. Although they weren't going to catch Social Inclusion the race would have been much closer if Honor Code wasn't carried wide entering the backstretch...  

21 Mar 2014 9:19 PM

KY Vet:

So after all your earlier verbiage, and the comments refuting same, you merely come back to Blasi. Take another look at that video. There was the blacksmith, and he essentially concurred with Blasi's remarks about Nehro. So I suppose that he, too, was posturing for the girl? It's fairly obvious that Nehro was abused, and very likely that his discomfort and/or the medications administered for his hoof issue (an issue exacerbated by training) led to his colic and death...Stop harping on the small stuff/trying to look smart and instead, see the big picture.  

21 Mar 2014 9:26 PM

Ranagulzion : There's nothing you can do to hurt my feelings lol. I would consider it to be really pathetic if someone like you can hurt my feelings.  How many triple crown winners have you picked again ?  That's right...none, I don't know how you can say "I'm not always right..."  it should be "I'm never right.."    You make bold calls about horses who are flavors of the month, it has not pan out for you.  I don't know where you get that you have excellent foresight.

Do you know that predicting triple crown winners means that you're not only predicting about the horse's ability.   You're predicting so many variables that is impossible to predict.   You're predicting the jockey will make the right moves during the race, you're predicting the horse will not get into trouble, you're predicting the horse will like the track that day, all of that times 3 at different tracks.   There's NO science or angles in predicting a triple crown winner, it's just pure guess.  Anyone can make a guess, even a young bieber fan can make a guess and probably make a better guess than you lol.   In fact, I'll show her the list of potential derby contenders and ask her to pick one and see if she does any better than you lol.   I'll post it here on Sunday night.  :)   Consider that lesson 1 on "How not to make a fool of yourself picking triple crown winners"

The video is a little disturbing, and I'm talking about the raw undercover footage.  I don't care who you know or what you know, the raw footage tells the whole story.   I don't know why anyone would even try to spin that into something else.   You have to be dumb to think "oh, it's not what it seems"...

I was a fan of Blasi because I thought he was the one that was actually taking care of Rachel Alexandra, I thought he was the real horseman but listening to how he talks...I wonder how he really treated Rachel when the cameras were off...

21 Mar 2014 9:48 PM
Your Only Friend

Finished reading NY paper on "Peta" investigation....from what I have read looks like some people in racing have some problems if all is true.....worth your while,  read article ,make your own conclusions.

21 Mar 2014 9:54 PM

For the's the M.O. of a couple of the posters in here........ranagulzion: every year, pronounces a horse "triple crown winner" or "best of his generation" that runs a great race.....the horses usually go off form, and by then, jumps on another "great".......the mistake he keeps making, is that the ship has already gotta pick them before they run that great race...............COLDCUTS: this guy is easy....he is a contrarian.....ANY horse on top, he tears down........he's the guy that NEVER liked ZENYATTA!  she wins 19 in a row, then actually ran her best race ever,losing by a head.......and says"see? i told you so!.............this year, like EVERY year, he puts down the horses on top, saying how this and that.....not bred to be good......blah doesnt occur to the guy, that these horses have ALREADY ran great!......all the examples he uses ALL were the best horses in the country..........yet almost never, do the horses he names every week do anything.

21 Mar 2014 10:13 PM

Dear Steve,

   Thanks for keeping things "under control". From Ky. vet's sarcasm to coldfacts 2,000 adjectives!

   It's time to start picking horses people! I'll start with Noble Moon........GO!

21 Mar 2014 10:26 PM
Bloodline Bob

***My pick to win the 2014 DUBAI WORLD CUP on March 29th: HUNTER'S LIGHT.***

21 Mar 2014 10:31 PM
Steve Haskin

I'm getting tired of having to edit some people's comments. I'm doing so because some of your points are well taken. But if you insist on name calling and personal attacks I will have no choice but to delete your comments altogether. This is a Derby blog. Let's stick to the subject.

21 Mar 2014 11:16 PM
Mike Relva


Good points! Regarding Zenyatta, Shandler among others had egg on their faces after her award after her last race. lmao What horse has attracted more fans to racing in the past several years? Certainly not Blame.

21 Mar 2014 11:54 PM

Based on the ironic nature of horse racing, Tapiture will win the Derby.

22 Mar 2014 12:09 AM
Bill Rinker

I just finished watching the PETA video,... very disturbing, I can only hope and pray that our industry will not be indelibly tarnished. And that we may somehow move forward with out being further maligned by this most heinous imagery.

22 Mar 2014 12:20 AM


in re of the hurting news "Asmussen Hall of Fame Nomination Tabled (3/22 12:57pm - you can read my comment there - its the first time I did that - it was difficult not to, I think you'll like it) leaves a question for Tapiture in the Dozen and even bigger question for the Asmussen/Blasi team and future..quite disturbing this incident is and certainly can be a blow to those that cannot conceive the results in the long run.  Windolin has stated a very clear picture of PETA (thank you)and is very accurate and worth reading.  If the facts here are what they are then they should be deemed unacceptable by all.  I believe the Racing Association needs to take a look at the industry,its members, its affiliates, its policies and procedures,trainers, assistants, etc. and how it has faultered in a once thriving industry and why this should NOT have happened.  It has put a mark on our "Dozen" and the after affect questionable. Although, standards have improved from years past not all know what goes on behind the scenes. As shocking as this is from someone so many admired and looked up to - it is a reality and a condition..a disease......As participants (partners, owners,trainers, editors, players. etc.) in the "Sport of Kings" we must recognize its failures and make attempt to correct a once thriving and stand-on-its-own industry that has become lessened and weakened. This is not a game-board animated industry ~ it's live with blood running through it and hearts pumping.......

Disturbing, Disappointing, Unacceptable

~ Thank you Steve ~

for allowing me to post my opinion ( and thank you all!)

22 Mar 2014 12:21 AM


I have taken the liberty of capitalizing the first letter in your posting ID. I considered it appropriate.

I am not opposed to criticism as I view constructive criticism as helping to correct deficiencies. However, I must request an example of my usage of 2,000 adjectives in any of my submissions. While the figure quoted might have been a gross exaggeration, you have cited an observation that you are now required to substantiate. You will note That I used a comma after the numeral two, which is the correct way to display figures denoted in thousands.

If my submissions have been either annoying or deemed over bearing, you are at liberty to bypass them and spear yourself the annoyance.

There are numerous contributors that support this Blog and you have an abundance of choices. Your personal annoyance with one contributor does not allow you to dictate he number of adjectives allowable to the moderator.

22 Mar 2014 12:50 AM

mz :  I'm going to try and beat your horse Fiorente in the Ranvet Stakes, going back to Cassidy who I had in the Coolmore Classic (but didn't have Sweet Idea).  I'll play 4 / 1,2 / 1,2,7 for the cheap tri.

22 Mar 2014 1:25 AM

Windolin and Sceptre I like your PETA posts.  Both were well stated and appreciated.

22 Mar 2014 3:01 AM

Steve, you are right, this is a site for Derby discussion and I wish to apologize for taking it off topic yesterday with my comments about the scandal.

In the Sunland today my favorite is Commissioner with Johnny V. Just gotta keep hope that both AP Indy colts make it to the Derby for sentimental reasons, plus I would like to see this colt prove himself that he is Derby material. I also like Midnight Hawk with Mike Smith aboard. (I really like the Midnight Lute colts) Tanzanite Cat and Global Strike round out my top 4 in this race (in that order).  

22 Mar 2014 7:38 AM

In the Spiral, Tamarando, We Miss Artie, Almost Famous and Harry's Holiday. In no order than Tamarando is my pick to win. Just gotta go with Rosie for the girls!

22 Mar 2014 7:45 AM

Shame on me for not being more up to speed on the fillies, but here goes for the Sunland Oaks: Living in the Peach State, gotta go with George's Peach and being a native Virginian, D'ya KnowWhatIMean. How's that for methodology to pick a horse...LOL!

22 Mar 2014 8:00 AM

One more quick comment, good luck to all this weekend, may the best horse win and hooves crossed for safe trips back to the barn for all horses and jockeys! Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

22 Mar 2014 8:39 AM
Sail On

Coldfacts, thanks to your post I will put my attention on Arctic Slope.

22 Mar 2014 11:15 AM

Just heard that Social Inclusion and Honor Code are headed to the Wood Memorial Stakes.

22 Mar 2014 12:28 PM

It's hard for me to get interested in the Spiral as I don't put much weight in the synthetic track preps. Yes, I know Animal Kingdom came to the Derby via that prep, but I think he was an exception.  Tamarando may also be at least capable on dirt, but he is looking more like a synthetic specialist to me.

Since Mine That Bird came to the Derby via the Sunland Park route, and Sunland is dirt, I'll give the results of that race some credence, depending on how the horses finish.  I mean the time of the final quarter, not the order of finish.  I don't see Midnight Hawk finishing well; I think he is one of the Lute sons more like his daddy, by that, not a stayer.  I'm interested in Commissioner.  Like Windolin, I am hoping to see a couple of AP Indy sons make the Derby field.

22 Mar 2014 12:28 PM
Sail On

On Sunday/ we have some big mane horses looking for points is a 'softer' race. I like Chitu, Garen and Rebranded. Look for a tie for 4th for Midnight Hawk and Commissionaire. Hard for me to see this as a KD prep.

22 Mar 2014 12:39 PM

The last four FL Derby winners were sired by A P Indy and his tail descendants. Orb/Malibu Moon; Take Charge Indy/A P Indy; Dialed In/Mineshaft and Ice Box/Pulpit.

The 2014 renewal of the FL Derby will feature two colt sired by son of A P Indy i.e., Spot and Matador. They will not be fancied despite the news that Social Inclusion and Honor Core are heading to the Wood. Can either upset the favorites?

History indicates that the A P Indy line colts are renown for upsets in the FL Derby. The upset trend started with the regally bred Friends Lake in 2004. After finishing badly beaten in the Holy Bull and returned to shock in the FL Derby at 38-1. Ice Box was demolished by Eskendereya in the FOY and returned to shock in the FL Derby at 20-1. Will Take Charge was humbled in an allowance race and returned to upset in the FL Derby at 8-1.

Matador will be fitted with blinker for the FL Derby and I think he is the one of the most likely to upset the apple cart. His TB Derby was sneakily good and it appears 9F will suit him.

22 Mar 2014 12:44 PM
Sail On

Not sure who I like in the Spiral. Lots of good colts to pick from, but none are great. All look ready to grab some Derby points, but half don't like dirt or have never ever seen it!

No surprise at Poker Players odds, name alone begs a play, and the favorites look to be challenged by unknowns. That being said, ill tale outside the box horses, with Solitary Ranger, Coastline, Arctic Slope, with a tie for 4th, Tamarindo and We Miss Artie.


22 Mar 2014 1:16 PM
Drinks from a glass !!

love the comments re general a rod .. definite on my watch list ...

still love the horses on the lead wildcat red   uncle sigh    cali chrome and my # 1 SAMRAAT...

good luck to all ...

god bless to dominic galluscio

22 Mar 2014 1:22 PM

In light of recent events, what happens to Tapiture?  Does he need a new trainer?

22 Mar 2014 3:18 PM
Sail On

Derbeygal, looks like they need points and and not competition from the speed rats?

22 Mar 2014 3:30 PM

Spiral :   Poker Player to win going longer.  I think he has the advantage over Tamarando as he's already had ran on this track.  For my .20 super ( $7.20) :  3 with 4, 9, 7, with 4, 9, 7, 8, 2 with 4, 9, 7, 8, 2

22 Mar 2014 3:43 PM

No love for Asserting Bear as a longshot in the Spiral?  Dam'sSire AWD of 9.3 and he has the best speed figure at this distance.  Second race off a mini-layoff and will probably go off at 15-1 or longer.  Sign me up!

22 Mar 2014 3:56 PM

Based solely on pedigree, Tamarando, California Chrome, Candy Boy, Chitu, and Uncle Sigh, are my top 5.  All 5 have the pedigree to get the distance, but more importantly, they all should have no problem galloping 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont Stakes.

22 Mar 2014 4:24 PM
Sail On

@Sharon, if I were Tapiture's owner I would be upset that the trainer did not name a new jockey after the last race where Tapiture was ill used as a bettering ram after the jockey made a bad decision to take Tapiture off the rail. Then, after the breaking scandal where PETA has accused the trainers of abuse, and provided more than enough documentation to make anyone sick just to read about it, I cannot believe the owner has not replaced the trainer. Even if Tapiture is clean, unless he gets a new trainer, he will always be tainted by this nasty mess.

22 Mar 2014 5:08 PM
Your Only Friend

PETA IS CAUSING racing too take another look at themselves.....Maybe this will make racing better if all states have same medication rules....also not let off track vets come in for animal health ... only vets that are employed by track allowed too prescribe....never will get perfect system...but would help get rid of cheaters...

22 Mar 2014 6:59 PM

We Miss Artie won the Spiral and Rosie on Harry's Holiday got 2nd. YAY for the Ramseys, I know they are elated and go girlfriend! I got two out of 4...not in right order,,,but were in my four picks! I am going to high 5 myself!

22 Mar 2014 7:17 PM
Sail On

We Miss Artie showed determination to catch Harry's Holiday and Coastline, neither of which showed and desire to give up. I thing We Miss Artie should ship early to Churchill to get used to the track there.

22 Mar 2014 8:41 PM

That's it, just keep focusing on the medications and avoiding the real issues; a sure path to further destruction.

22 Mar 2014 8:41 PM

As I suspected, as a Derby prep, the Spiral tells us nothing.  We Miss Artie has been abysmal in his dirt starts.  Tamarando didn't show up today and I'm still not sure if he is Derby material.  I'm hoping the Sunland race tomorrow will be more enlightening.

22 Mar 2014 9:17 PM
Machmer Hall

Looks like the Wood is shaping up to be an epic Derby prep!! I cannot wait to watch all these prep races. I think that points system has been fantastic to get the top horses to face each other instead of avoid each other like in past. This is such an exciting season.... All the more for us as fans/ breeders and owners to do our best to strengthen the positive and wonderful things about racing. We had a brand new Harlan's Holiday colt out of an Un Song mare two days ago.... Hey! I just realized same cross as Intense Holiday! That our farm manager stopped me today and told me he is just as special as the above mentioned. Already looking forward to his future!!! What a dream I live

22 Mar 2014 9:36 PM
Fan of Damascus


Great call on Asserting Bear.  Though he fell short of placing in the Spiral he looked by far the best.  It's a shame you didn't make any $$ on such a insightful pick.

Now he needs points.  Is that the Blue Grass I hear calling?  Unfortunately, you won't get the same odds if he runs in Lexington.  You will if he only places in the BGS and runs in the Derby.

Again, great pick.

22 Mar 2014 11:49 PM

Poker Player is just wayyyy too slow.  I'm sure as soon as I drop him, he'll show up somewhere and beat me lol.  That was a nice win by We Miss Artie, didn't have him anywhere in my tickets, wasn't worried about him at all and he showed me...not sure how much it impacts the Derby Dozen.  Congrats to all who has We Miss Artie!

I hope to do much much better in the Sunland Derby.

23 Mar 2014 2:17 AM
Mister Frisky

Good Sunday Morning Steve.Looking forward to seeing Commissioner at Sunland today,his last chance to make the dance.I know it's a lot of work and research compiling the dozen every week.I know I'm not alone,hope we get an extensive article or commentary from you this week on this Asmussen situation.Blasi is a bad guy and Asmussen who is very unlikeable to begin with is his boss,the buck stops with him.See you tomorrow.

23 Mar 2014 10:47 AM
Linda in Texas

Machmer Hall - Thanks so much for the uplifting post, it came at the right time, i dare say for all of us. Been a bummer of a week with all the bad news. And Congratulations on your Harlan's Holiday foal/colt! Please tune us in when you have the name so we can follow along. The point system is a good thing, no doubt. Hope your enthusiasm touches those who read Steve's Blogs. And thanks Steve. And rest in peace Vagabond Shoes, gallant effort displayed trying so hard to get to the front.

23 Mar 2014 11:01 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Good luck today. My pick in the Sunland Derby is Global Strike.

23 Mar 2014 11:52 AM

In Trouble's trainer looking at Louisiana Derby or Wood Memorial for In Trouble's next race.

23 Mar 2014 12:15 PM

Thanks Fan.  He made a nice late run but alas, it was not enough.

I didn't have the top 2; played Tamarando, Coastline and Asserting Bear in a variety of exotics.

Based on We Miss Artie's last attempt on dirt, I'll once again be taking a pass on him on Derby Day.

23 Mar 2014 12:55 PM
Sail On

Machmer Hall

Congratulations! How very wonderful for you! Ruff his mane for me!


I want to apoligize to all of you for my abysmal spelling. I dont see very well, and if the word looks like a real work spell check does not alert me. I meant to say that neither place nor show horses wanted to give up, so the win by We Miss Artie was hard won!

Steve, if you see glaring errors due to misspelling you have my permission to edit it. :)

23 Mar 2014 1:20 PM

Dr. D : Interesting pick, I was looking at him, maiden winner but he did look good winning.   The Sunland derby is pretty much the "untested" bunch except of course Midnight Hawk.  It'd be interesting to see whether Chitu actually sets the pace or sit back with Commissioner, I think Tanzanite Cat might be loose on the lead in this race.   Good luck!  May you hit the big one today.

23 Mar 2014 1:42 PM

Honor Code of the Derby trail:

Per Downey Profile and Mike Walsh:

He never was in my top 5 and would of been a total bet against for me..

Hope he heals though..

23 Mar 2014 3:22 PM

In the Sunland Derby, I like Chitu, Rebranded, and Midnight Hawk, not necessarily in that order.  

23 Mar 2014 4:25 PM

Thank God that Shug keeps such a good eye on his horses. This is heartbreaking, but so thankful it is not life threatening. Look forward to him being back in the fall. He is still without a doubt the most gorgeous colt out there this year. Sometimes things happen for a purpose and we just have to go with the flow. Get well soon Honor Code!

23 Mar 2014 5:08 PM


There are reasons why I don't get too excited about horses when they are 2 year olds, here are some names of some 2 year olds that off the Derby trail. Honor Code, Mexikoma, Bond Holder, Havana (racing, but off the trail), Shared Belief, New Years Day. These are just a few that who's name's were known as 2 Y.O. I know there are more than what are mentioned here.

23 Mar 2014 5:18 PM
El Kabong

Dr. D,

I'm with you on Global Strike. I posted my picks over on Keelerman's blog but I agree this guy could come right back and improve.


We Miss Artie has not been abysmal on dirt. His first race out was a 79bris at belmont, he ran second in a Mdn 70K. He was only 4 lengths off the winner of the BCJ after a terrible start. His GP race was abysmal, but one race on a very biased track means nothing. While he's not #1 on my list, I think he has a chance to hit the board in the Derby. Plus, a lot of horses, and ironically, the very one you mentioned, Mine That Bird, have done very well in the Derby having raced successfully on synthetic. Mine That Bird spent most of his life running on synthetic, review his record prior to Sunland. Mine That Bird finished 2nd and then 4th on dirt, and came into the derby looking like a synthetic specialist(all 4 wins on synthetic), hence his 50-1. Hard Spun, Pioneer of the Nile, Dullahan, Make Music For Me, Animal Kingdom(who you conveniently exclude as an anomaly), and Went The Day Well all did well with synthetic preps. With just a little more racing luck, I think Went The Day Well would have won the 2012 Derby. His trip was abysmal and he was flying at the wire, passed them all just after the wire. But it was a very impressive effort from the Turfway Spiral winner. Keep an open mind. Just trying to help you and anyone else who thinks these synthetic preps are not worth anything, they are. Trainers use them because horses rebound better than the dirt races. It's less stressful and you get the same points. Put your litmus test to the Wood as a Derby Prep lately and see what you find, it would make synthetic preps look terrific. Point is, there's just no trashing the results trainers get using synthetic preps, and don't toss Artie from the Louisville Party just yet:)

23 Mar 2014 5:43 PM

Hey Mary, I looked up Rebranded and he is a very good looking colt and I really like his pedigree!

23 Mar 2014 6:07 PM
Your Only Friend

Cannot Wait too hear discussion On 'PETA' Case with "Lenny/Steve" should be very interesting.

23 Mar 2014 7:41 PM

Aw, the lovely Mine That Bird on the track.  I placed a bet on him to win the Kentucky Derby.  I must say that my bet was on the jockey, Calvin Borel, but I love the horse just the same.

23 Mar 2014 7:42 PM

Windolin, yes Rebranded has a fine pedigree.  I really like him, particularly with blinkers on.

23 Mar 2014 7:45 PM
Sail On

WOW! Chitu showed what he is made of, and when Midnight Hawk drew alongside, Chitu kicked into overdrive to run away with the win. Commissioner, once again, couldn't get up, Rebranded had a long trip on the outside. Yes!

23 Mar 2014 8:04 PM

Well 2 out of 3 isn't bad for me.  Chitu has a beautiful pedigree.  He is my man horse.  I still like Rebranded.  I didn't win the trifecta, but close.

23 Mar 2014 8:06 PM

Honor Code off the trail with an injury; so disappointing. That leaves Commissioner to carry the AP Indy flag and he only managed 3rd in the Sunland Derby today, though he was really motoring at the end.

Chitu and Midnight Hawk looked like they were really struggling down the stretch, but the final time, not too bad.  Being a Henny Hughes, even if out of an AP Indy mare, makes me thing Chitu is suspect at 10 furlongs, but the colt has heart.  I think Midnight Hawk should stick to 8 furlongs or less; even 8.5 seems to be beyond his scope, considering how far behind CC he was in the San Felipe.

Since nothing "wowed" me this weekend; I'll stick with California Chrome #1.  The Florida Derby is coming up a little weak, I think, but the Wood may tell me something, even though it's lost some luster with the defection of Honor Code.

23 Mar 2014 8:07 PM

El Kabong;  my prejudices are definitely showing.  I am a confirmed "dirt" handicapper and can't pick them worth a darn on synthetics.

23 Mar 2014 8:12 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

El Kabong

   I thought they might take Global Strike back like they did Commissioner and make a strong run at it but I don't think he was ready for this kind of race yet, and might not be good enough anyway. I just wasn't sure how Commissioner would do but they have found his style now and I like it. I think he is a deep closer and a good one. I don't like either of the top two in the race for 10f. Thanks for your post. Here's my new Derby Dozen, with the extra apple fritter. It's going to really get exciting now.

1. Hoppertunity

2. Intense Holiday

3. Social Inclusion

4. Bayern

5. Samraat

6. Spot

7. Commissioner

8. We Miss Artie

9. Cairo Prince

10. Candy Boy

11. California Chrome

12. Uncle Sigh

13. Wildcat Red

23 Mar 2014 8:18 PM

Age of Reason: I look forward to your post after the Wood Memorial and will gladly welcome you onto the bandwagon of Social Inclusion seeing that he's going to romps that Grade 1 prep, giving a reality check to all the NY pretenders.

Its sad to see Honor Code off the Derby trail with an injury but I'm glad that its not career-ending. He's gone the way of many AP Indys i.e. injured trying to make the Derby but should develop to be a powerful 4YO if they give him adequate time off. I like this colt a lot.

KY Vet: You're a comical poster on here but please try to avoid propogandizing my contribution because before you became a newbie on these blogs I've been calling out star performers prior to their break-out performances on the Triple Crown trail. For example, I trumpeted out California Chrome's come-out party in the San Felipe before he ascended to the #1 spot on Steve's Derby Dozen, quite similar to what I did with Eskendereya in 2010 before his awe-inspiring disappearing acts in the FOY and Wood Memorial that year (check Steve's Derby Dozen archives February 16, 2010 -my post Feby 19, 2010 12:53 AM).

In recent years I've only called 3 horses Triple Crown winners: Eskendereya in 2010, Union Rags in 2012 and Social Inclusion this year of our Lord 2014 (36 years since Affirmed swept the 1978 series) I do not apologize for the previous two calls as they were quite reasonable against all the variables that we're playing with...and as you should know, sometimes the third attempt hits bulls eye.

Jay Jay: Picking horses in any race is guess work according to your perspective, since even when we know the jockey and the competiion there are many variables still unknown, for example, whether the horse will enter the starting gates or leave the starting gates, miss the break, fall to his knees or be knocked about like a pin-ball, suffer interference, suffer adversely from jockey's tactics etc. Its banking sufficiently on the superiority of the horses talent and the astuteness of the connections to have the horse ready to succeed amidst the variables that makes the game so exhilarating my firend. Spoting talent, evaluating that talent against the compettion in terms of known performance, form and scope for improvement based upon pedigree and distance, assuming soundness, is not guess work is called handicapping. I shouldn't have to convince you, unless you are really slow to grasp, that some of us can make great calls with less information about many of the variables as well as evaluate scenarios quicker than others ...what do you call such people? Ah well ...ask Age of Reason after the Wood Memorial. BTW who's your early fancy for the Florida Derby? Right now I like Wildcat Red but I have great regard for Constition and of course General a Rod. Nick Zito's horse Spot is also going to make things very interesting at Gulfstream guessing now buddy:)

23 Mar 2014 8:40 PM

Well, that was an interesting race. I think someone on here mentioned to not overlook Chitu. Wish Commissioner had placed higher, but he did come from the back to take third. Midnight Hawk just did not have enough left to hold off Chitu, but I think he made a valiant effort. Per his pedigree he is an AP Indy grandson and is Storm Cat on top. Thankful a safe trip for all.

Steve, we are all waiting breathlessly to hear your thoughts and see you list. Good night all.

23 Mar 2014 8:41 PM
Jersey Girl

Congrats to Chitu, Garcia and Baffert in the Sunland.


So glad there's plenty of Johnny V and Rosie ahead for all of us to enjoy -  Looking forward to some "Wildcatting"!

Any idea who Rosie might be on for the Derby?

23 Mar 2014 9:39 PM

robinm, Chitu out of an AP Indy mare suspect to get 10 furlongs, pardon my grammar, "you gotta be kiddin me".  

23 Mar 2014 10:18 PM
El Kabong


your candor was a breath of fresh air. Synthetics are a tough racket, especially the underneath, let alone the winner. The winners are still winners, that's what I keep in mind and that means something. When a horse puts it together, that says something. Good luck with your picks, I happen to like two dirt horses best so far, Intense Holiday and Cairo Prince, but we have a long  way to go before the ink is dry. Just don't toss the good efforts on synthetic, but I'm an exotic player, tri and super. Thanks for the laugh and keeping it in perspective.

23 Mar 2014 10:24 PM

Good Evening Steve,

I hope you agree, after a week of Derby dismal it is certainly a relief reading everyones comments.  It is unfortunate for Honor Code and Shug to be off the trail but my compliments go out to him for his quickness in recognition (of a some time overlooked injury)and decision in favor of Honor Code.  It is exactly what many needed to note in defense of the talented, caring, trustworthy trainers and teams that should not be discredited as a result of anothers failures in the treatment and poor decision making at the expense of our horses.  Honor Code will have a future and we will be looking forward to it.


Looking forward to your upcoming "Derby Dozen" review and input ~

  As the Spiral really took a spin here for Tamarando and the top of the wire seem to be tight but good effort and fine achievement for the three finishers here. CD is quite a different track and surprises surge, so not so secure on this being representative of another success story for We Miss Artie, Harry's Holiday and Coastline.

Cairo Prince is so impressive and his recent 1m (+) work was notable w/o stress; and Samraat (what can I say)fine and very fit.  There seems to be no turbulence surrounding these (and a few others) and I like that sound of silence as we move along and through the finals before the Derby, always unexpecting and exciting along the trail.

Your thoughts make us think ~ Thanks Steve

23 Mar 2014 10:27 PM
El Kabong


your candor was a breath of fresh air. Synthetics are a tough racket, especially the underneath, let alone the winner. The winners are still winners, that's what I keep in mind and that means something. When a horse puts it together, that says something. Good luck with your picks, I happen to like two dirt horses best so far, Intense Holiday and Cairo Prince, but we have a long  way to go before the ink is dry. Just don't toss the good efforts on synthetic, but I'm an exotic player, tri and super. Thanks for the laugh and keeping it in perspective.

23 Mar 2014 10:29 PM

Well my original "derby dozen" has now lost 4 horses..  :-(  Getting bummed we have lost some that looked really super but thankfully nothing serious so that they cannot return (if they don't get retired to  Honor Code was my favorite on "looks" - wow I think he has a beautiful look about him.  Cant wait til he returns.  My Winstar Derby contest has now lost 5 of my 12 picks so I guess I won't be winning that contest - LOL.  Guess I probably have to give up on Midnight Hawk now after his third consecutive second place...  bummer.  

23 Mar 2014 11:06 PM

I knew Chitu is a better horse than Midnight Hawk after seeing him in the San Felipe.  I'm glad that he got the points, been waiting for him a long time and now I can move him up in place of Poker Player.  Looking forward to the FD next week.

Ranagulzion :  Dude, you're truly delusional lol.  You can try and spin it as much as you want, the proof is in your record.  Your record for failure in picking triple crown winners is still at 100%.   I guess if you keep telling yourself you're good at this, you'll start believing yourself but most if not all of the readers here knows the score.  I've asked you what proof do you have that you have this skill?   You can't answer the question because you have none.    You're so lost in your triple crown picking world that you forgot to tell KY that you also picked Honor Code to win the Triple Crown.  I think there were two other horses you picked from the older blogs to win the Triple Crown, it's not surprising…like I said, flavors of the month.  It's really sad if you ask me…

I like General A Rod in the Florida Derby now that Commissioner isn't in the race.  I said before that Wildcat Red will not be a factor going longer because of D'Wildcat and I still don't believe so, but I did read an article here ( titled " Wildcar Red "Full of Himself," Trainer says " ) on BH and his trainer said he has Miner's Mark somewhere in his pedigree.  And before you claim knowing this, I don't remember seeing you post anything about Miner's Mark in his pedigree.  Just like everytime, you picked Wildcat Red because he won his last race...I also don't recall you picking him for the FOY.   I think going longer, General A Rod will turn the tables on him specially with Rosario on him.  I wish you luck in your blog bets on Wildcat Red, I don't believe you actually bet money, just betting on blogs.

24 Mar 2014 2:05 AM
Pedigree Ann

Just a tidbit in reference to the PETA video: I have had electro-stimulation therapy for tension in a scarred muscle, with electrodes hanging all over me. It does not "hurt like hell"; in fact I generally fell asleep during it because I was worn out from the tension in that injured muscle. If the treatment "hurt like hell", I do not see how a TB would not respond with anger, thrashing, trying to rid itself of the painful electrodes (which is not that hard - I did it accidentally while lying still; they are only held in place by a gel). And it would certainly not allow a second treatment; horses have hooves and teeth and remember painful situations well, almost too well sometimes. They are not senseless lumps of muscle and bone.

24 Mar 2014 7:47 AM

Gotta love Samraats one mile works.

This will be a hard horse to toss come Derby Day.

Especially if he wins the Wood..

Neither horse that won this weekend will be on my Derby tix's

24 Mar 2014 10:02 AM

Ranagulzion :  Also, I didn't miss that you picked 4 horses for the Florida Derby, if that's not guessing, I don't know what is.   You really should stop this act of desperation.  Respect for knowledge is not gained by putting garbage out there just to look knowledgeable.  Posting really good information and reasons for picking a horse is what gains respect, even if the horse loses.

Looking forward to the new dozen...

24 Mar 2014 10:12 AM

robinm, I respectfully and strongly disagree with you relative to Chitu's pedigree and perhaps his inability to get the 10 furlongs.  His dam's pedigree is inundated with stamina top and bottom.  By the way, Chitu's tremendous effort in the Sunland Derby was not that far off the track record.

24 Mar 2014 10:58 AM


I would add to what you said re Chitu, big difference in his gallop out versus Midnight Hawk.  MH was ready to shut it down with Chitu going right on with Commissioner who's supposed to run all day.  

24 Mar 2014 12:43 PM

Jay Jay: Regarding Wildcat Red, I've posted much about his credentials. For instance, in Steve's Derby Dozen of March 3, 2014 I posted the following in response to a comment by Derbygal "derbygal 03 Mar 2014 4:04 PM : Good post. Wildcat Red, notwithstanding his high dosage index, can be any type of horse and has already qualified on points to make the Derby field. His omission from the Derby Dozen could leave Steve Haskin with egg all over his face when all is said and done. He's had some tough races (winning all but one) to put foundation into him and he's got stretch-out speed, gameness and the heart of a budding champion. His sire, D'Wildcat, although a crack sprinter is inbred to Northern Dancer and Secretariat within the first five generations which means that he could potentially throw an offspring with superstar qualities. On the dam side, the presence of staying horses like Miner's Mark, Flying Paster, Grey Dawn II and Herbager, all in the five cross pedigree matrix is cause to rethink this colts Derby-winning potential.

Wildcat Red has a propensity to win his races and I don't think that we've seen his best yet. The trainer can now comfortably plan his training strategy leading up to the first Saturday in May. This colt deserves to be in any top twelve IMO."

Sorry buddy but you've left me with no choice but to expose either your lack of comprehension of what you read or selective memory of my posts in a lame attempt at one-up-manship. Its a very good thing that all that I've posted on the blogs are retrievable.

Perhaps its time for me to give up on teaching you stuff because it appears that you now have an agenda to deliberately ignore or misrepresent my postings.  Whenever I refer you to the instructive views of other respected posters, instead of valuing our shared knowledge of the game you denigrate my posts for not saying what they said (even though I've already posted similar ideas which you appear to ignore).

Regarding anointing a Triple Crown winner this year, I've done so with Social Inclusion. If and when he sweeps the series I don't expect to hear from you buddy. Before the Social Incluion humbling of Honor Code, I've tried to identify colts in the crop capable of sweeping the series and identified three, namely, Honor Code, Top Billing and Sared Belief. All I did was identify possibilties for discussion ...I did not anoint Honor Code. Do you remember reading such or did you not comprehend what you read? At this point I dot expect an honest answer from you but careful now ...the archives can be a damning witness agaist defamatory postings (LOL).

Try to be honest when you choose to rumble with Ranagulzion or your folly will be exposed. Peace.

24 Mar 2014 2:16 PM

Pedigree Ann:

Your point about the shock wave therapy is accurate. Yes, it was included in the PETA video, but not "editorialized" by them, rather its mention and related "opinion" was uttered only by Blasi. So, what does this say about the "experienced" ?? assistant trainer (and sometimes trainer, when Asmussen is suspended) of such a major training outfit? What does this say about their knowledge or, rather, lack thereof? That's been one of my major gripes with most trainers. They present themselves as "experts" in the care of horses-no degree, many with less education than the average citizen, and they tend to receive their "experience" (education) on all things related to horses/horsemanship through others that were often as clueless as are they. These are the people caring for a thoroughbred racehorse-one that is exposed to hazards well beyond your normal, everyday horse. Due to the nature of thoroughbred training and racing, the horse requires a type of expertise far greater than what a typical trainer is equipped to offer...By the way; I alluded to this is my statements concerning Eight Belles-made prior to this most recent expose...As far as PETA, HSUS, etc.- I think their overall agenda is correct and righteous, but their spokespeople lack some expertise in matters of the racehorse/horseracing. Because of this they sometimes place too much emphasis on trivialities. These errors, however, should not blind us from their overall message-which is a correct one. Some may choose to ignore their opinions, but to ignore the hard evidence they also provide is simply foolish.

24 Mar 2014 3:24 PM
Rusty Weisner

El Kabong,

Again, great comments on the Spiral and the turf preps, and good pick.  But this analysis didn't do you any favors last year with Java's War (I hated him as a synthetic Silky Sullivan).  Still, I will keep your words in mind:  I took Dullahan and WtDW as "underneath" possibilities but refused to consider them winners.  In retrospect, given the track that year, you are right; they really did fire.

Age of Reason,

Thanks for the insightful comments about Gulfstream.  I am on board with you there:  I hope as many of the runners there get into the Derby so I can deprecate them, if not toss them.  

24 Mar 2014 4:31 PM

Ranagulzion : You're right, I missed that.  And you're right again, I tend to ignore much of your posts due to a lot of it are self glorification rather than horse related.  So, can you tell me which one will win the Florida Derby ?  So you guarantee a triple crown winner but for the Florida Derby, you picked 4 horses ?  Pick one horse please, don't post your "way out" in case Wildcat Red doesn't win.  Is Wildcat Red a sure win ??  Are you betting the farm on him ?   Please post your answer BEFORE the Florida Derby...

24 Mar 2014 9:50 PM

Jay Jay: I'll indulge you here because you've come clean, albeit under the 'gun' of archival evidence. Truth is, I really don't care about the ignoring of my posts ...what I do care about is comments from posters purporting to have read my posts while misrepresenting my ideas/remarks ...get it?

The banter is great fun and ...yes a little egotism is part of it too but lets be honest and differentiate differences of opinions from facts/factual statements/remarks.

Now to the Florida Derby: My firm selection is Wildcat Red ...I thought that was pretty clear ...however that colt has already qualified for the Kentucky Derby and has had two gut-wrenching battles with General a Rod, therefore depending on the primary objective of the connection i.e. whether they want to go all out for the Grade 1 status or allow the colt to regress with the Kentucky Derby as the main prize, could affect the outcome of the race. The same argument applies to General a Rod although he has less qualifying points. If both colts were to duke it out again I prefer Wildcat Red at the distance.

Constitution is coming into the race on the rise and desperate for qualifying points. In such a case he's the most dangerous horse since Todd Pletcher rarely loses two Derby preps in a row when he has good horses entered. I'd say Constitution is an exactor factor in here ...he'll either win the race or finish second. Does this mean that I'm selecting three horses to win? I can't help you if that's how your logic works buddy but that's my view of the race.

BTW Cairo Prince is in a SPOT of bother (pardon the pun ...Nick Zito) due to your beloved points system LOL.  This renewal of the Florida Derby is a tough spot to be coming into off a break and if they scratch and go to the Wood Memorial he's going to run into the same 'collision'(or should I say 'Inclusion') that  befell Honor Code. I hope he makes it into the Derby. Peace.

25 Mar 2014 3:57 PM

Ranagulzion : You don't need to preach to me about honesty, and don't pretend that you've never done the same.

I sure would appreciate that if we're going to banter, that you stop refusing to answer my questions and ignore it because you can't find the answers to support your claims.    I've asked you about Hyperion, Dreaming of Julia and all you do is ignore it because you really have no answer.

I also find it interesting that you end up picking my picks for the preps.   First, with Hoppertunity, then Chitu, and now Spot.   I haven't posted him because I'm not sure if he's actually entered in the Florida Derby.  I was going to check this morning but didn't get a chance to.

26 Mar 2014 12:44 AM

Jay Jay: I gave you handicapping lesson 101 regarding the Florida Derby ...hoping that you learned something ...go easy when tangling with yours truly :)

29 Mar 2014 10:12 PM

Ranagulzion:  What did you teach me about the Florida Derby ?   I asked who your pick is, I'm not sure how I was taught something lol.   Good pick on Constitution btw.  I think where you're getting confused is that you think I'm like you, that I care and obsessed about being right all the time (on a blog even)...unlike you, I don't need blogs to validate my handicapping angles.  I post and read blogs to learn from knowledgeable commenters, and there's quite a few that I read but I can't honestly say you're one of them.  I think my record on the preps this year speaks for itself :)

31 Mar 2014 3:20 AM

Jay Jay: You're a hard "nut" to crack but I don't give up easily ...still believe that you're learning but too proud to admit it on here ...see, your paying attention (LOL)

31 Mar 2014 12:31 PM

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