Derby Dozen - April 21, 2014 - Presented by Shadwell Farm


California Chrome Art Sherman

Lucky Pulpit—Love the Chase, by Not For Love

Now that the preps are over, we can go over some of the questions pertaining to each horse and what they have to do and prove on May 3. With him, it’s whether he is as effective outside California, especially not having a work over the Churchill Downs track, and how he’ll take dirt in his face. Because of the track he’s been running over and the setup of his races, he is one horse who will need to break alertly and get a good position going into the first turn. Once he can establish his position and put himself in a comfortable spot and appears to be handling the track, it will be his race to lose. Despite what some think, he should have no problem getting the mile and a quarter. Cal-bred or no Cal-bred, his pedigree top and bottom is as strong as anyone’s and is inundated with 1 1/4-mile and 1 1/2-mile grade/group I influences from America and Europe. Once he turns on the afterburners at the five-sixteenths pole, we should know right away what we’re in store for. His last work, a half in :47 4/5, was once again flawless, as he did it all on his own with his ears pricked the entire length of the stretch. It seems as if everything is coming so easy to him now, as indicated by his four straight huge Thoro-Graph numbers. It seems as if this horse doesn't know what the word "bounce" means.


Hoppertunity Bob Baffert Click Here!

Any Given Saturday—Refugee, by Unaccounted For

He got caught up in the California Chrome jetstream in the Santa Anita Derby and was able to hang with him in the stretch and not lose any ground, while pulling away from the others under no urging in the slightest from Mike Smith, who threw a single cross and then just sat on him the rest of the way. Now he’s on his own after getting that free ride. That was the rehearsal and California Chrome and the others can expect to see a much more formidable opponent in the big show, stretching out in distance, which he should appreciate, and taking advantage of a much faster and more contentious pace. The question with him is simply is he fast enough? He’s out to break the Apollo curse and has crammed five races in this year, and will be making his third cross-country trip. So, for a horse who didn’t start at 2 (remember, he was entered on Nov. 22), he seems like a seasoned pro who has been battle-tested and tried on different types of tracks on both ends of the country. His gallop-outs have been sensational and he hopes to use that late momentum in the final furlong when the race is won or lost. He’s not going to dazzle you, but he’ll run all day and will keep coming at you. I’ve been touting him since his maiden score, when he found another gear late and galloped out like a powerhouse, and each step since then has brought him up to the Derby ready for a peak performance.


Danza Todd Pletcher Click Here!

Street Boss—Champagne Royale, by French Deputy

I decided to move him up for one reason. Unlike most of these horses, he has the potential to be something special if that last race, which defied all logic, was for real. Horses just don’t do what he did coming off one mediocre sprint effort in 8 1/2 months. Every time I watch the race the more impressive he looks. And what if it wasn’t a fluke? What if this is who he is? If it was a fluke or the Oaklawn 3-year-olds are not as good as we thought, then that means Will Take Charge is not very good either, considering they ran pretty much the identical time, and his :12 1/5 final eighth is motoring, regardless if he had an ideal ground-saving trip. His closing burst was confirmed by his powerful 106 late pace figure on Brisnet. His Thoro-Graph number was not as spectacular as one might think, but was still fast enough and big enough of a jump from his previous start without being too big where he might bounce in three weeks. This way he leaves himself with some room for continued improvement. The colt’s physical therapist, Carol Seaver, said she’s really been impressed with his development, both physically and mentally, in the last couple of months, especially the way he has muscled up and begun handling his training. He’s much more focused now and emerges from his breezes stronger, without appearing stressed or taxed by the effort. We’re well aware that some 3-year-olds really blossom this time of year, and it appears as if he could be one of those who is coming around at an extraordinarily quick pace and peaking at the right time. As for stamina, his half-brother won the 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City just a week before. If he can handle the three-week turnaround, who knows? Just remember, Pletcher’s best finishes in the Derby have been a win, two seconds, two thirds, and a fourth, and five of those six horses came into the Derby off three week’s rest. So, the big question is: do we really have any idea what we’re dealing with? Sure, he could regress big-time off that effort. We’ve seen one-hit wonders in the Arkansas Derby before. But then again, maybe he won’t, in which case everyone could be in for another surprise.


Wicked Strong Jimmy Jerkens Click Here!

Hard Spun—Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic

Well, we know he’s wicked strong at Aqueduct and Belmont and we know he was a bust at Gulfstream, so how does he do on neutral ground, such as Churchill Downs? It seems much more like a case of not liking Gulfstream than being a New York horse. But even if he does handle Churchill Downs the same way he handled Aqueduct, how is he going to behave in front 100,000-plus fans when he gets to the starting gate, where he was not exactly on his best behavior before the Holy Bull Stakes. If he is free of his gate issues, he looks to be the most serious deep closer in the race. But his stretch run in the Wood Memorial, as powerful as it was in the final sixteenth, was not without its flaws, as he seemed unfocused, gawking to the outside and continuously drifting out. He was also late changing his leads. Once he switched leads and got into some kind of rhythm late, he blew right on by Social Inclusion and Samraat and quickly opened up. He wasn’t much better in the Remsen, shying noticeably from a left-handed whip on a couple of occasions. The key for him is to get his act together down that long Churchill stretch and not save his best running for the final sixteenth, which is where he leveled off in the Wood and the Remsen. He has the closing punch you want to see in the Derby, but he has to utilize it without any of the theatrics.


General a Rod Mike Maker

Roman Ruler—Dynamite Eyes, by Dynaformer

Many feel this colt is a cut below the best and is kind of one-paced who will find the 1 1/4 miles beyond his scope. And in his present running style, there appears to be validity to that. But I have him ranked this high in the hope and belief we are going to see the original version of General a Rod; the one who came from far back and blew his field away in the blink of an eye at the three-sixteenths pole in his career debut, even if it was on Keeneland’s Polytrack. The key I feel are his blinkers. They were fine in order to hone his speed over the Gulfstream Highway, but does he really need them anymore? That is for Maker to decide. I’m merely wondering. Maker has been tinkering with them and likely will make more changes for the Derby. I normally do not like a major equipment change before the Derby, especially with blinkers, but if Maker decides to actually remove them, the colt could just revert back to the horse we saw at Keeneland. Blinkers off going 1 1/4 miles does not seem as drastic a change as blinkers on. Or he could revert back without a blinkers change, just by getting sucked back to midpack of a 20-horse field loaded with speed and be forced to come from off the pace. At his price, it’s at least an angle. And remember, this colt has plenty of stamina. His sire is by a Kentucky Derby winner. His broodmare sire is the sire of a Kentucky Derby winner and is a major source of stamina. His third dam is a half-sister to a French Derby winner. And his fourth dam is a half-sister to an undefeated Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. With so many horses having question marks, he at least has been battle-tested several times against one of the gutsiest colts in the country and gives you 100 percent every time. He remains sharp, breezing five furlongs in :59 4/5.


Intense Holiday Todd Pletcher Click Here!

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

There is one major question regarding this colt, but it’s an important one: can anything be done to stop him from crossfiring? It’s simple really. If he crossfires again in the Derby he’s not winning. If he doesn’t, he has a big chance. You cannot become discombobulated and have your back legs out of sync with your front legs in a 20-horse field and expect to win or even be around at the finish. The one good thing is that if there is a way to prevent him from doing it, Pletcher will find it between now and the Derby. Mike Smith tried in the Louisiana Derby and the colt shot to the rail like a car blowing its left front tire. He remained stuck on his left lead and had no action until he finally got himself back in gear, switched over to his right lead, and finished up nicely to be second and galloped out strongly. So all things considered, he still finished in front of a number of good horses, and now gets Johnny Velazquez, who you can bet will be aware of the situation. This colt has the talent, the closing punch, and the turn of foot to be a major factor on May 3. Here is why he is more than capable of winning the Derby on his best day and best behavior: His 111 Brisnet late pace figure in the Remsen is the highest of any horse in the field. Two races later, in the Risen Star, he ran a 108 late pace figure, third highest of any horse in the field. Thoro-Graph also shows a similar pattern, as he is the only horse in the Derby to have run a negative number on dirt (in the Risen Star) and still regressed to only a “2” in the Louisiana Derby even with his miscues. Based on both these patterns, he’s ready for another huge closing effort, as long as he keeps his wheels aligned properly.


Ride On Curlin William GowanClick Here!

Curlin—Magical Ride, by Storm Cat

This colt has an interesting distinction. In the first Derby Future Wager back in November, of the 23 individual betting interests, he is the only one remaining who currently is in the starting Derby field. The only other one with a chance of getting in is Pablo Del Monte. This colt definitely has earned his way in, scraping and clawing and picking up stray points wherever he could get them. The bottom line with him is that he’s run nine times (God bless him), has finished in the money in eight of them, and was a close fourth in his other start. This year especially, we need a good old-fashioned runnin’ hoss who gives his all every time. He’s finished in the money at 5 1/2 furlongs, six furlongs, one mile, 1 1/16 miles, and 1 1/8 miles. He’s hit the board in six stakes, and with Cairo Prince gone, is the only 2-year-old dirt horse of note still on the Derby trail. All winter, I’ve been waiting for him to return to his Champagne Stakes running style, making that one big run. He needed to get as far off the pace as possible, and he finally succeeded in the Arkansas Derby, going six wide at the head of the stretch and rallying out in the middle of the track for second. Although I would have loved to seen Jon Court stay on him, getting Calvin Borel certainly won’t hurt his chances, but it will hurt his price. Expect to see him even farther back than he was in the Arkansas Derby.


Samraat Rick Violette

Noble Causeway—Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie

Speaking of strides and lead changes, this guy needs to be more consistent in his lead changes. Some races he’s fine and others he’s not. He changes leads fine in the morning, but he has a tendency to lean on horses in the stretch and gets stuck on that left lead. Violette has impressed upon jockey Jose Ortiz the importance of changing leads, especially in the Kentucky Derby. This is no deep closer who gets rolling and stays on his left lead. As a pace presence who expends energy early, there is no way he can afford to remain on his left lead and hope to be right there at the finish. He gained valuable experience in the Wood Memorial and had to do a lot of the dirty work, first putting Kristo away and then chasing Social Inclusion, who got loose nearing the top of the stretch. He ran hard as usual trying to catch him, again leaning in on his opponent, and never saw Wicked Strong flying way out in the middle of the track. This is a horse who came out on top of the three-horse stretch battle in the Gotham Stakes without even being touched with the whip, and has twice gotten the better of Uncle Sigh in stretch battles, so we know he has a lot of fight in him. The Wood was his first career defeat, but an excellent learning experience, battling between horses for the first time.


Dance With Fate Peter Eurton

Two Step Salsa—Flirting With Fate, by Saint Ballado

So, his trainer said after the Blue Grass he doesn’t want to go to the Derby and that this isn’t a dirt horse, and he flies him back to California. So, of course, five days later he’s in the Derby. Welcome to Derby fever. I believe he should be in the Derby, but one does have to take into account and respect the trainer’s comments. If he says he’s not a dirt horse and the Blue Grass was the race they were point for, who is going to disagree with him. Let’s not forget, however, that he did finish second in last year’s grade I FrontRunner Stakes on dirt, and although that was not a very strong race in general, he was second and it was on dirt, so it’s not like he doesn’t handle it, even if he handles synthetic better. And we all know by now that the Churchill surface is conducive to synthetic horses. According to Trakus, in the Blue Grass Stakes, the runner-up, Medal Count, raced 31 feet farther than he did. But, although Medal Count got the jump on him on the far turn, he accelerated quickly right behind him and blew right on by him in the upper stretch before drawing clear to win impressively. He still is the only horse coming off consecutive triple-digit late pace figures on Brisnet. California Chrome did it in the state-bred King Glorious and Cal Cup Derby. So, even if Eurton is right about him being a synthetic horse, and he probably is, he still possesses a powerful closing punch and is another horse who appears to be peaking at the right time.


Candy Boy John Sadler

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

The big question he has to answer is can he make up almost nine lengths on California Chrome and 3 1/2 lengths on Hoppertunity. He’s only won two of his seven career starts, and the best horse he’s beaten has been Chitu, who is a talented colt, but not among the elite at this point. It’s obvious he needs to take a huge step forward. But all in all, he’s put together four straight solid efforts, assuming he was just short in his last race, and he has the ability to remain fairly close up and still put in a strong run at any point in the race. Being by Candy Ride, he should have plenty of room for improvement. Gary Stevens has now ridden him three times, so he should know everything about him he needs to know, and being a naturally aggressive rider, he will have him in a desirable spot, probably somewhere near midpack. He’s a powerfully built colt who likely needed his last race, and it will be interesting to see him train over the Churchill Downs surface.


Vicar’s in Trouble Mike Maker

Into Mischief —Vibrant, by Vicar

While on the subject of lead changes, he is another who is quite erratic. He usually has no trouble switching when he’s supposed to, but does have a habit of jumping back to his left lead in the final furlong. The other question, as mentioned earlier, is that :13 3/5 final eighth in the Louisiana Derby after being left alone on the lead through soft fractions and pretty much having his own way throughout. Give him credit for rebounding off the Risen Star Stakes and taking it to them right off the bat and rating nicely on the front end. Rating will be the key factor to his success. There is no questioning his brilliance and natural ability. It’s just a matter of how far he can carry it. He actually has proven his ability to rate off the pace and be effective, so he’s certainly not one who will be committed to the lead. His Thoro-Graph numbers are not quite what you would think. He’s run a “1/2” in three of his last four starts, making him the most consistently fast horse in the race. It actually was his romp in the LeComte coming off his runaway maiden score that was his regression race and not the Risen Star. So now that he’s paired two huge numbers, there is no reason why he shouldn’t run another big race on May 3 off a five-week layoff. If it wasn’t for his habit of switching leads and his slow final eighth in the Louisiana Derby, I would consider him a very live longshot. This colt could have a great deal more natural talent than most people think.


Medal Count Dale Romans Click Here!

Dynaformer—Brisquette, by Unbridled’s Song

Although he ran 31 feet farther than Dance With Fate in the Blue Grass, and although trainer Dale Romans seems as high on this horse as any 3-year-old he’s ever sent to the Derby, his last two starts on dirt, both in graded stakes company, were nothing to get excited about. He stopped abruptly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Top Billing blew by him on the far turn of the Fountain of Youth Stakes like he was moving in slow motion. But he did make an early move between horses on the backstretch through some swift fractions and galloped out with great energy, so there was something to take away from that race. So, frankly, I’m torn with this horse. When Romans gets excited over one of his horses, as he’s done with him, you have to pay attention. I just need more convincing he’s going to be effective on the dirt and can handle making three starts in 29 days. For now, I will remain open-minded and will watch him train, although with all the horses falling off the Derby trail, the race is beginning to look more and more like a crap shoot, with the exception of California Chrome. One thing he does have going for him is his negative Thoro-Graph number in the Blue Grass (because of the grround loss), and that was coming back off only eight days.

Knocking At The Door

With the depleted crop of 3-year-olds reduced to a mad scramble, there is very little separating the bottom five horses with those right on the bubble, such as WILDCAT RED, UNCLE SIGH, COMMANDING CURVE, TAPITURE, SOCIAL INCLUSION, BAYERN, PABLO DEL MONTE, CHITU, VINCEREMOS, and RING WEEKEND. I am concentrating on closers right now, and seven of these 10 want to be on or close to the lead.

Commanding Curve originally was headed for the Top 12, but no one seems to be dropping out willingly, so I will wait until he is officially in the body of the Derby field before using a spot on him. As crowded as the infirmary is getting, he may not have long to wait Last Year, Dallas Stewart was in a similar position with Golden Soul and look what he wound up doing in the Derby. First off, on a realistic note, don’t be deceived by his fast-closing third in the Louisiana Derby. Remember, they came home in :13 3/5 and he made up only 1 1/2 lengths, so it’s not like he was flying home, despite what it looked like visually. What he has going for him is his steady improvement. His sixth in the Risen Star actually was better than it looks on paper, as he lost ground fanning five-wide at the head of the stretch and switched back to his left lead at the sixteenth pole, so that was more of a learning experience in his first stakes appearance, coming off a maiden score, and making his first start in three months. For what it’s worth, he’s finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in his three starts at Churchill Downs. The names in his immediate family aren’t going to blow you away, but his sire is a son of A.P. Indy who won the Meadowlands Cup. His broodmare sire is out of a full-sister to Easy Goer. His tail-female great-grandsire is out of the hard-knocking distance mare Drumtop, a daughter of Round Table who set two course records at 1 1/2 miles and one at 1 1/4 miles and beat colts on several occasions in graded stakes, including the 1 5/8-mile Canadian International. And his tail-female family traces to Nodouble, one of the toughest horses I’ve ever seen, who has passed on that toughness to his offspring, and also to Tom Rolfe, another tough horse who carries on the Ribot line. He’s inbred 5x5 to Buckpasser and 4x5x5 to Secretariat, all through Big Red’s daughters. The key word with this colt’s family is ‘tough,’ and he’s definitely moving in the right direction.

I have tremendous respect for Wildcat Red and Uncle Sigh, both for their brilliance and courage. I just don’t know how they’re going to cope with an expected hot pace, especially with Uncle Sigh getting blinkers on and working a bit faster than Contessa was looking for. The Wood in my mind is a virtual toss because of his bad start and appearing lost down the backstretch, as if, “What am I doing back here? Why are all those horses in front of me?” It’s too early to give up on him.

As for Wildcat Red, even though 1 1/4 miles is a major question mark, you don’t want to take him on too early, because he’s not going anywhere and he’ll fight you every inch of the way. He could be the speed of the speed.

I’m not sure what to make of Tapiture. I hate to forget about a horse who was once highly regarded just because of one fourth-place finish, but I have no feelings about him one way or the other. I always thought his pedigree was more geared toward 1 1/8 miles, but he has shown a great deal of ability, and whether he is going to regain his form stretching out another quarter of a mile I have no idea.

Despite his disappointing effort in the Calder Derby at 1-5, I also still haven’t given up on Ring Weekend. I will give him a pass because of that surface, which was like running on the beach over deep sand. And after he bumped hard with the winner after turning for home, he pretty much called it a day. I believe he’s a much better horse than that, although the Tampa Bay form this year has not held up very well.

Bayern’s plans have not been solidified, but his Arkansas Derby was a much better performance than it looked, considering the setback and layoff and the early pressure he was under. He still was running hard and trying in the stretch and only started to tire late. He should move way forward off this race, but the big question with him is having only three career starts. He sure does look more like a Preakness horse to me, as does Social Inclusion, who actually moved way up in my book after his courageous performance in the Wood Memorial, a race he appeared to desperately need.

Vinceremos, who did very little running in the Blue Grass, looks to be a ‘go’ for the Derby, assuming he works well, which you know he will.

Of all the horses sitting just below No. 20, one who intrigues me is Pablo Del Monte, but he needs several more defections so I’ll hold off on getting into him.

WE MISS ARTIE is one horse we know prefers synthetic, and it looks as if the poor Blue Grass performance will have no bearing on HARRY’S HOLIDAY’S Derby status. Once you start getting close to that magical No. 20 spot, the more intense Derby fever becomes.


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04/07/73 Gotham G2 8F 1st

04/21/73 Wood Memorial G1, 9F - 2nd (14 days)

05/05/73 Kentucky Derby G1, 10F - 1st (14 day)

Medal Count:

04/04/14 Transylvania G3, 8.5F -1st

04/12/14 Bluegrass G1, 9F - 2nd (8 days)

05/03/14 Kentucky Derby G1, 10F - ? (21 day)

Secretariat’s contested two races in April 1973. He finished a tired looking 3rd in the Wood which was his second race in 14 days. He had a window of 14 days to recover and continue his preparation for the Derby. He went on to set the existing stakes record for the Derby.

Medal Count is one of my top 5 contenders. He has contested two races between 04/04/14 and 04/12//14. He finished a fighting 2nd in the Bluegrass which was his second race in 8 days. He was only beaten by one of 13 fresher horses. He now has a window of 21 days to recover and continue his preparation for the Derby. What will be his fate in Derby 2014?

I am of the opinion that he will be one of the fittest horses entering the starting gates off his quick back to back races? I am by no means comparing Medal Count to Secretariat. However, if two races in the month preceding the Derby worked for Secretariat one can only hope it will for Medal Count.

Many will not regard the time span between races as a negative. However, most will dismiss him due to his synthetic surface performances. I would hasten o request caution about such an assessment. His 5th place finish in the FOY was an encouraging performance and his 1st victory was on dirt. Derby winners Barbaro & Animal Kingdom were more proficient of Turf. Mine That Bird and Pioneerof The Nile finished 1st and 2nd in the Derby and all their previous victories were recorded on synthetic tracks.

Medal Count’s capacity to recover was severely tested in the Bluegrass and he passed the Lactic Acid test with flying colors. He will stay 10 furlongs puling bus. His sire Dynaformer did not have a many Derby starters but boast a record of one win and two 3rd place finishes. Very few if any of the sires of Medal Count’s opponents boast such a record.  I addition, Dynaformer has sired horses that have won the Melbourne Cup, Steven Foster, Prince Of Whales, British St. Ledger, 100 Guineas, Irish & Yorkshire Oaks, Man O'War S.

Dynaformer clearly injects a lot of stamina in his progenies and with so much early and tactical speed in the Derby class of 2014, a progeny of the stallion with the test and proven record in big races is likely to prevail.

21 Apr 2014 5:54 PM

I love that you have my top two as your top two!  I can't wait for Derby day!

21 Apr 2014 5:54 PM
Mister Frisky

As of today my bet is as follows.1$ super box with 6 horses,biggest pool of the year by far got to spend $ to make $.CC,Hopp,Wicked Strong,Samraat,Ride on Curlin,and General A Rod.Covers the probable top 2 favorites, with the other 4 somewhere between 7 and 18 to 1 or there abouts,cost $360.Dont have a emotional connection to any horse,so seeing CC not win is ok by me.Will be playing some tri savers straight throwing in a few bombers.Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.

21 Apr 2014 6:04 PM

A super horse with a super effort beats Wild Cat Red by a head and suddenly the Hutcheson and FOY winner is not as good as Medal Count or Candy Boy ? I will tell you there are not more than 3 horses better than Wild Cat Red and he will not let more than 3 pass him no matter how long they go.  Wildcat is more likely to win the Derby than CC for sure CC will never get by Wildcat.  I think Mr. Haskin brings up some very good points with General A Rod and no horse is better bred for the distance and he has run at Churchill and did it with SPEED.  A Rod for the win.

21 Apr 2014 6:09 PM
Ted from LA

I'm still deciding between the Hopper and Wicked Strong.  Dr. D, what should I do?

21 Apr 2014 6:14 PM
Sam Santschi

Often wrong, but assuming decent post, break and with the vibe I'm feeling about the continuing defections, planets "seem" to be aligning for a devasting dominant performance by CC.

21 Apr 2014 6:30 PM

i think that ride on curlin's trainer should keep jon court on him hes has done the best with him from comeing off the pace where borel wants to keep him closer on the lead he doesnt fit curlin and jon court does i hope he changes his mine

21 Apr 2014 6:31 PM

Steve thanks for putting together another great list with comments for each Derby horse. Now we just got to watch the workouts and listen for any " back track" talk on how the horses are doing on the track.

(1) California Chrome ... like everybody I will play on top in some tri/supers, but also play against in a few, in case he beats himself, or is unlucky, banged around, traffic, or bounces. But, as of now, way ahead of anybody else.

( I may go to Churchill on Tue. 4/29 and watch the workouts, hopefully get to see CC on the track )

(2) Hoppertunity ... will use in tri/supers, maybe on top in one.

(3) General A Rod ... I like his pedigree, but I'm no expert, will use heavy under, maybe up to 2'nd. spot.

(4) Wicked Strong ... coming on strong in the Wood at the wire. Will use heavy under in tri/supers.

(5) Ride on Curlin ... seems to hit the board, but can't get up for the win. Will use heavy under in tri/supers, but don't expect a good price, with Bo-Rail in him, he could be bet down to 2'nd. favorite.

(6)Vicars in Trouble.  Has ran upper 90's almost from the start, don't think we've seen his best. And it doesn't hurt to have Rosie aboard either.

Others I could use in some form or the other to mix in,

Medal Count : Trainer has snuck them in before, out of Dynaformer/unbridleds song, but 3 quick races?

Wildcat Red: I still think Fl. horses are a good bunch.

Tapiture : what happened at Ark.? He is better than that.

Commanding Curve : if he makes it in I will be using him.

Pablo Del Monte : if he makes it, on the bottom.

Danza : maybe will use a little, I really would like to see that again, but don't have the luxury.

 *** ODDS SET BY Sanita Anita Linemaker ***

Here are White's current Kentucky Derby odds: California Chrome (5-2), Hoppertunity (8-1), Wicked Strong (8-1), Danza (12-1), Vicar's in Trouble (12-1), Dance With Fate (15-1), General a Rod (15-1), Samraat (15-1), Tapiture (15-1), Wildcat Red (15-1), Candy Boy (20-1), Intense Holiday (20-1), Medal Count (20-1), Ride On Curlin (20-1), Uncle Sigh (20-1), Chitu (30-1), Harry's Holiday (30-1), Ring Weekend (30-1), Vinceramos (30-1), We Miss Artie (30-1).

Churchill Downs' Mike Battaglia will announce the official morning-line for the Derby after post positions are drawn on April 30 for the 1 1/4-mile classic.

21 Apr 2014 6:36 PM
The Deacon

Only horse on this list I do not agree with is Dance with Fate. Mostly for all the reasons you discussed on the ATO show with Lenny. Blue Grass stakes winners have not performed well in the Derby for a long time. Hard for me to think this year would be any different.

I still think California Chrome is the horse to beat. In fact I think he's as close to a lock as we've seen in many years. Of course kidding aside, in horse racing there is no such think as a lock.

That concept only holds true in death and taxes.

Thanks Steve for another well written blog.......

21 Apr 2014 6:37 PM

All I see from Art keeping CC at Los Al so long is PURE confidence that his horse will handle the track and will show the other 's his perfectly made butt on Derby day

21 Apr 2014 6:38 PM
John from Seattle

Steve, totally agree with your assessment of the Derby just two weeks away especially with California Chrome.  You are right on.

Here's the big difference between CC and the rest of the field...CONSISTENCY.

Whereas California Chrome now has won six races in his brief racing career which presently include a four race winning streak in major stakes the others have their win (Wood Memorial, Rebel, Arkansas Derby, Blue Grass, Robert Lewis, Gulfstream Park Derby, Risen Star, Gotham, Louisana Derby or Transylvania) then an assortment of 'also rans' in other major races.

I look for this excellence in consistency to stand out in the Derby and prevail.

21 Apr 2014 6:40 PM

The bottom of the points list is getting interesting with Social Inclusion, Bayern and Pablo Del Monte as well as Commanding Curve are now seeing some light. Predictions: Midnight Hawk skips, Ring Weekend withdraws, and sad as it may be a few more will drop out before entries are taken. Hopefully they all stay sound but this is a grind that has no second chances. Two year olds, four year olds and older can be given time if needed due to minor, normal thoroughbred racehorse maladies, but the Derby contenders have to be pushed to the very limit of fitness both physically and mentally and it is a testament to their toughness if they merely make the field.

All the talk about veterinary records being made public would be nice if only it could be trusted. Barring 24 hour high definition camera surveillance I would be very leery. What is reported and what actually happens are two different things. How many joints are going to be "tapped"? Which horses are being administered anti inflammatory medications on a daily basis? A few years ago during Derby lead up time several of the "talking heads" made mention of how bad a certain horse was traveling in his gallops, especially with his motion behind, They commented that he appeared to be getting worse each day or each time they saw him on the track, then in the horse's last workout before and subsequent gallops prior to the Derby the horse went beautifully. The "talking heads" were amazed. They couldn't say what they suspected, the horse was likely treated for some type of hind end issue, sore hocks, stifles, feet or some other related issue. Horses don't recover from nagging injuries overnight without some type of therapeutic medical assistance (is that way too politically correct or what), possibly a joint injection or joint injections. I cite this because I included this particular horse in my Derby wagers based on their information and the wager payed off handsomely. Wouldn't it have been nice for everyone to have known factually what I stumbled upon by conjecture.

21 Apr 2014 6:49 PM
Steve Haskin

Just so no one wastes any more of their time, please note that from this point on all debates regarding Zenyatta will not be posted. This is a Derby blog, and all posters should refrain from counter-punching with the two Zenyatta antagonists who don't know when to give it a rest.

21 Apr 2014 6:58 PM

Rusty Weisner I told you the consensus has been tabulated Coldfacts nor any other of breeding contributors has opposed the motion,CC Can get the distance by consensus.

21 Apr 2014 7:16 PM

Wildcat Red in Derby 140!!!!!!!!

21 Apr 2014 7:18 PM

Draynay,you are spot on!

21 Apr 2014 7:19 PM


I just want to thank you for doing this list year after year. I look forward to it every TC season and when have a terrible Monday, I can always find enjoyment in your Derby Dozen, and other articles. I've been following this since..., well since I can remember. Just want to let you know that here are readers whom never leave a comment that thoroughly enjoy your work.

CC is a very special horse, his morning workouts are a sight to behold. I see his stamina in his pedigree, given a good post and he'll be ultra tough to beat. My biggest worry isn't a horse, it would be a bad post or break.

21 Apr 2014 7:20 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Ted from LA

   Heaven's to murgatroid, you're asking me? Exit, stage left is my advice. I still say it's wide open. I don't know who they are yet but I'll be putting one or two on top in exotic wheels and they won't be California Chrome on top. I'm swinging for the fences. I'll strikeout, or hit a grand slam. I certainly can't fault anyone for putting Cal Chrome on top, and they could hit a home run also with s few long odds coming through underneath. It's still early in the game, we have Steve warming up in the bullpen and will be putting him in to close out the game. He usually comes up with a nasty curveball or two once he sees the horses training, and it could be a whole new ballgame. Get out there and start warming up kid, then show 'em whatcha got.

21 Apr 2014 7:21 PM
John from Seattle


Not to belabor a point but Secreatariat had a race just three weeks prior to his Gotham - the Bay Shore.  

And in the Wood Memorial Secretariat faced a Grade 1 winning racehorse that just tied the stakes for the SA Derby - and by the way, had a abcess found under the lip.

21 Apr 2014 7:25 PM

Midnight Hawk already had enough points before getting run over in the Ill. Derby.  I think Baffert may opt to skip the KD and maybe try the Preakness. I'm still holding out for the other CC horse to make the field.

21 Apr 2014 7:29 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you very much, Josh, I appreciate that.

21 Apr 2014 7:31 PM
Uncle Smiley


Am heartened to read your critique of Vicar's in Trouble, and the amount of time you spent indicates that there is something of possible value in this colt.

If there is any rider who can give a "wandering mount" a solid ride it is Rosie Napravnik.

She exemplifies the hand ride, as did her esteemed colleague, Ramon Dominguez.


21 Apr 2014 7:43 PM

Altho the ML odds will make it look a little like Snow Chrome and the 19 dwarfs, at 12-1 Anza would be the value play w Wicked Strong a close second, assuming Social Inclusion does not get in. C.C. the most likely winner but underlay.

21 Apr 2014 7:48 PM

Here’s my problem with Medal Count:

A) He is by far at his best on turf and synthetics.  Sure, he broke his maiden on dirt, but it was at Ellis Park and in a race originally scheduled for turf, but taken off.  His time was just under 5 seconds over the mile track record on a track rated fast, and his final quarter (DRF time) was in 26.78.  Very slow.  In two subsequent races on dirt he was a fading 11th in the BC Juvenile and a fading 5th in the FOY.  Some might say that those were against top horses and I’ll say yes, and that’s what he’ll have to do in the Derby, race against top G1 dirt horses.

B) His best races by far have been on synthetics and turf as evidenced by his win in an OC on turf and three synthetic races: a 2 1/4L defeat in the Bourbon, a win in the Transylvania, and a defeat to another synthetic specialist, Dance With Fate, in the Blue Grass.  The oddity of it is that he works lights out on dirt and has going back to last fall.  He just doesn’t seem to be able to take to dirt in an actual races as evidenced by his record so far.

C) Someone actually put him in the same sentence as Secretariat and dismissed Secretariat’s effort in the Wood by saying he finished a tired looking third.  It should be acknowledged and understood that Secretariat ran in the race with a painful abscess that rubbed against the bit whenever Ron Turcotte pulled on the reins.  (Turcotte was not actually aware of this abscess until after the race).  His seemingly lethargic performance that day wasn’t because he was tired, it was because of the abscess.  I think that this is proven out when we consider the fact that two weeks before the Wood he set a track record in winning the Gotham in 1.33 2/5, and two weeks after the Wood he set another track record in winning the Derby in 1.59 2/5.  He did not need a so called window of recovery.  Racing and winning every two weeks was well within his abilities as evidenced by his string of five consecutive races beginning with the Gotham and ending with the Preakness, all two weeks apart…….Medal Count apparently will need to go thru a so-called window of recovery.  IMO, he will need to do more than that.  What he needs to do is show that he can win on dirt and also show that he can string good efforts together, which he finally did, though not wins in the Transylvania and Bluegrass, both races not on dirt and both lacking in quality.

21 Apr 2014 7:57 PM

General a Rod at #5 and Wildcat Red still does not even make the top 12......that I don't get. I personally like this horse even more now that Saez is back on. I just hope he leaves the gate at 15-1.

California Chrome has had small field walk in the park type races to date. How he in particular handles the heavy traffic of 19 other horses will probably be the biggest factor in this derby imho. It's all about the trip.

21 Apr 2014 8:06 PM
Uncle Smiley



Was there ever a thoroughbred what carried that moniker?

Exit, stage left!


21 Apr 2014 8:11 PM
Sail On

Steve, I so enjoy reading all the notes you include about the derby contenders, and your reasoning. Your work gives me something to think about.

I do believe it would be a shame for Social Inclusion to miss the derby. I know he had never been pointed for the derby, but his flashy speed will be missed.

I see you have moved Vicar's In Trouble up one from the basement. I believe is has been 'forgotten' and is undervalued.

I feel Hoppertunity, Intense Holiday, Ride On Curlin and Chitu are about the same. I expect them all to vie for the win, but to be well behind the winners.

I just cannot see Samraat, Wildcat Red and Vicar's In Trouble giving it up without a fight. Uncle Sigh and general A Rod should be right with them.

The question I have is where will California Chrome be in all this? Will Bayern and Ring Weekend wear him down?

Then there is Danza and Wicked Strong, who could come along.

A question I always ask myself is which of these horses will finish last?

With these horses so much will depend on PP and who draws next to them, not to mention what kind of trip they get.

Again, I enjoy reading and pondering all your comments.

21 Apr 2014 8:17 PM

Great list again Steve.  Mine is very similar except I have Samraat higher.  Thank you Steve for all the hard work you have done for this Derby in analyzing these runners for us.  It is not an easy task trying to determine which one of these colts could win the Derby, not easy by far.  We still have unanswered questions, will California Chrome transition beautifully to cuppy Churchill soil, will Samraat change leads better, will Wicked Strong mature enough in 2 weeks without gate issues, can Dance With Fate handle dirt?  Dance With Fate is a fine looking colt.  I can't wait until the workouts at Churchill and Steve is there on site.  That is so exciting, like we have our very own scout there for us!

A very sad day here for me in N.J.  Our lab mix dog, Betsy, had to be euthanized today.  She was almost 16 years old and was a 6 year survivor of tcc transitional cell carcinoma bladder cancer.  Her doctor was the first in the world to do laser surgery on this type of cancer and she had a great success rate.  She had the surgery done twice.  Today she finally lost her fight and had stopped eating and was going into kidney failure.  It is with a very heavy heart I write this.  My brother did a fine job in being her caregiver and her doctor is to be commended for his work also.  We originally got her for my dad, she was rescued from a shelter and given a great life.

One animal dies and another new one is born.  Congratulations to Zenyatta and War Front and connections on the birth of the new precious filly!  Zenyatta does everything to perfection, even giving birth.  What a wonderful gift she still is to us.  

21 Apr 2014 8:35 PM
Old J.D.

Steve, I think you have made an error with We Miss Artie. In the BC juv, WMA was right there and got tired after a 45 and 3 half and just behind the leaders. I don't think it was the surface but how the race set up. I think he will do just fine on the CD strip. Of the BC Juvenile, WMA is the top remaining finisher to make it to the Derby with DWF and Medal Count. Now its way to early to make any final picks but this one will need to be in the exotics.

21 Apr 2014 8:41 PM

I wait anxiously for Mr Haskin reports of the workouts over the Churchill Downs track. A lot of things could change in the days previous to the Derby.

21 Apr 2014 9:03 PM


I enjoy your articles but you make a case for every horse. Ring weekend?? Are you planning on playing the all button?

21 Apr 2014 9:10 PM
smarty jones 99

I've read many comments on this site & many others over the past few weeks... many people are bashing CC. Here is my question, if CC is just average, who is better???? Based on the 3 yo preps this year, who else has wow'd everyone??

21 Apr 2014 9:27 PM

I have narrowed the field down by eliminating questionable or no distance breeding or speed laden types who will begin to drop like flies with 3/16 of a mile left, unless someone freakishly out runs their bloodline I don't see many capable of handling the demands of a mile 1/4 and a 20 horse field.

1.General A Rod ( His pedigree includes 5 chef de race sires Mr.Prospector,Roberto,Danzig,Hail To Reason,Raise A Native and is out of a Dynaformer mare and his 4th dam is a sister to Majestic Prince.

2.Wicked Strong (is inbred 3x4 Mr. Prospector)

3.Ride On Curlin (son of Curlin)

4.Commanding Curve (is inbed 5x5 Buckpasser)

5.Hoppertunity (his dam won at 1 1/8 and ran a close 3rd in the 11/2 mile Orchid Hcp.)

6.Medal Count(Dynaformer already has one derby winning son)

My stamina picks have won 3 years in a row and a superfecta and tri winner in 2011 and 2013. Good Luck

21 Apr 2014 9:32 PM

A couple arbitrary thoughts.

1)  I dont know why Chitu is running in the Derby Trial.  I think he had a good chance in the Derby.  Of course trainer would know better.  Is it so that Bayern is more likely to get in?  

2)  I think more defections actually hurt Chromes ability.  Social Inclusion and Bayern in the Derby speeds up the race.  And although Chrome has rated so far, I think the faster the pace (Churchill not the SA Speedway) will hurt Chrome.  

3)  Wildcat Red reminds me of Shackelford.  At the top of the stretch, I see him with a 3 length lead, but feel he will succumb at the end.  

4)  Vicaar in Trouble (Rosie) and Ride on Curlin (Calvin) will be about 8-1. No value there.

5). Danza will either win or run up the track.  Other than Chrome, he's the only one I've seen with push button acceleration.  

6). My wife is going with Dance with Fate based on name/looks.    

21 Apr 2014 9:58 PM

I am a fan of Wildcat Red because he is a battler!  I am loving Draynay's comments.  I am a total newbie to TC Racing and handicapping and I am looking for a great race and bragging rights only not fancy betting strategies.

I am cheating by going with CC to win, Hoppertunity 2 and Wildcat Red 3 all in a strong finish!  My feeling is CC is the class of this Race and its his race to lose.  The speedsters like Wildcat Red are going to extend him and Hoppertunity and we will see who wants it more and can suck it up and keep on a'coming! This is a perfect opportunity for CC to show what he has got.  I see him in the lead or close to it and lets see if he can keep up the torrid pace! I am hoping that Wildcat Red sets an early strong pace and can dig deep and battle to a contested finish with CC and Hoppertunity and may the best horse win!  Like Draynay says Wildcat Red ain't gonna back down to any horse out there on the turf.  If he crashes and burns so be it...but I think not!

21 Apr 2014 9:58 PM

The Deacon,

              Actually in the last 14 years 9 horses that ran in the Bluegrass stakes have finished in the top 3 in the Ky. Derby, and Oaklawn park also produced 9 top 3 finishers. Not the winners of the Bluegrass, or the Arkansas derby, but horses that ran in them races have finished in the top 3 at the Ky. Derby. I believe Gulfstream/ Fla. produced 4 in that same 14 years to hit the board in the Ky. Derby. I posted this in the last Derby dozen. But, with that said, I'm not a big Dance with Fate fan, I like Medal count to hit the board, but I really like Gen A Rod also, and think Fla. races were toughest fields. Good luck.

21 Apr 2014 10:08 PM
Paula Higgins

My first 4 are your first 4 Steve:

California Chrome



Wicked Strong


Intense Holiday


I am hoping California Chrome gets a good post position because I am worried about his transition from synthetics to dirt as well. Big Brown was the only horse I did not worry about on the outside post because he was so dominant and a dirt horse. I am really hoping CC can pull it off. I believe he can barring a really bad post or break as Josh said. But this is a Derby that is wide open if CC doesn't come through. I agree with Dr Drunkinbum on that point.

21 Apr 2014 10:14 PM

This anti-Calbred sentiment is not equivalent to soccer fandom.

California breeders faced an impossible situation -- they simply could not syndicate a G1 winning, well made, well bred stallion. The way the property taxes were set up for a syndication they were well nigh confiscatory.

21 Apr 2014 10:36 PM

I second that Josh.I like to read the back and forth.Thanks Steve

21 Apr 2014 10:46 PM
El Kabong


Outstanding work this year. This has been a difficult year: horses not running at 2, tracks playing funny, injuries. But through it all, I have enjoyed every step with your column and your entourage. I usually like to narrow my betting field down to 8, and right now, you and I see eye to eye on the first 7, if #'s mean that  much. That's unprecedented since I've followed your work, I think 10 years now, so I hope we're on target:)  I was concerned for Intense Holiday losing Mike Smith but not any more. Johnny V will be a great fit for this horse. IH is going to be ready and well handled by a Jockey who knows how to win this race. I love Calvin on ROC and like you, I noticed that style change and loved it. He passed my test with that effort and earned a solid spot on my top list. Looking for more out of this guy and I'll bet we see it. I'm on board with CC handing a much deserved ending to an incredible story that seems scripted by Hollywood. It would be great for the sport and this special day. That said, I'd love to see that clumsy kid who stumbled, gawked, and lollygaged his way to capture the Wood show up with his lunch pale and big boy pants.  

Looking forward to your railbird comments. When do you plan on landing in Louisville?

21 Apr 2014 10:48 PM
lawrence vaccarelli

Intense Holiday is cross firing steve because his hocks are bothering sure the vet is going to "tap n lube"

21 Apr 2014 10:49 PM

Thanks for another interesting and informative analysis Steve!  I am lost this with many others I'm sure, a lot of my original choices are out now.  I think for now I am going with 1-California Chrome, 2-Tapiture, 3-Hoppertunity, 4-Wildcat Red, and 5-Intense Holiday.  Also, many thanks for putting a stop to the Zenyatta comments.  That got old several years ago....   :-)

21 Apr 2014 10:56 PM

I don't see anything to do but play for a pace meltdown. If that's not what happens, I'll finally find out how it feels to lose a bet.

I'm too old to fool with exotics; they feel to me like betting against yourself.

Actually, I don't bet TBs a lot as I tend to care who wins. Went to the harness track one night when it was the only game in town, and WOW was I amazed. Do you know they breeze them a mile or so right in front of and below you an hour before the race? If you ever bet a sore horse or a trotter thinking jump, shame on you.

So, pending post, a stayer, two stalkers and the pace horses who have shown the most heart:

Medal Count

Intense Holiday


Wildcat Red


A safe journey and a following wind to all.

21 Apr 2014 11:00 PM
Uncle Smiley

Per Facebook, now Mr. Baffert has Rosie Napravnik on Bayern,  a Derby hopeful colt.

Rosie is above hopeful status.  Hope all those great barns sort all this out.


21 Apr 2014 11:01 PM
Steve Haskin

Lawrence, hocks is one of the reasons a horse will crossfire. It could be his stifles or it could be something else that often is fixable.

JKGoose, The intention is to give the plusses and the negatives on each horse. You apparently focused only on all the positives. I provided negatives and question marks as well. The intent is not to pick a winner here, but provide you with as much information as possible and let you deduce things yourself. After I see all the horses in the flesh and watch them train, then I will make my selections and suggest possible betting angles. In the meantime, pick the positives you find most positive and try to get a feel for who you like.

21 Apr 2014 11:02 PM
Bloodline Bob

Steve, thank you for another year of The Derby Dozen. I'm going to exacta + trifecta box 5 of your 4-21-14 Derby Dozen. #2(HOPPERTUNITY), #6(INTENSE HOLIDAY), #7(RIDE ON CURLIN), #9(DANCE WITH FATE), #10(CANDY BOY). I wish all my fellow DERBY DOZEN analysts a prosperous 140th KENTUCKY DERBY on Saturday May 3, 2014.

21 Apr 2014 11:07 PM

Great column this week Steve, gotta start looking for reasons to toss horses now..

C.Chrome is my #1 then W.S and Danza..

Horse I am most interested in as my super bomber is Chitu.

What is the word with him?

Steve or anyone please correct me if I am wrong, but in the Sunland Derby did they not turn for home into 30 knot winds??

Steve any chance ol Baffert is sandbagging him a bit??

I read a intresting post over on thorograph regarding W.S.  Someone posted that Jerkins is worried the horse may run his race before he gets into the gate.

Good Luck

21 Apr 2014 11:12 PM

If you look at the most dominating performances in the prep races at 1 1/8 mile, it's CALIFORNIA CHROME (Santa Anita); DANZA (Arkansas Derby); WICKED STRONG (Wood Memorial) and possibly VICAR'S IN TROUBLE (Louisiana Derby).  At 1 1/16 mile, It's CALIFORNIA CHROME (San Felipe)and INTENSE HOLIDAY (Risen Star).  TAPITURE won the Southwest Stakes handily but the race was a slow one.

California Chrome deserves favorite status, and is the horse to beat. That said, the best advise I ever got was that if you think you've picked the winner, but you don't like his/her odds, then skip the race.  This is especially true for the Derby which is one of the worst bets in sports, but who can skip the Derby?  That's why people are betting ten horses in the race with all sorts of exotic wagering combinations. I still believe you are better served by narrowing your selection(s) down to the maximum extent possible, and then weighing the odds to determine whether they warrant the risk.                    

21 Apr 2014 11:16 PM
Ta Wee

Churchill Downs with its high clay content is a tighter and quirkier  dirt track than maybe any other. It seems the reason why such synthetic and turf types have had success there.  Dullahan, Went The Day Well,and Animal Kingdom all ran by far their best dirt races there. Even the turf loving Barbaro who was all out in the Fl. Derby, romped at Churchill.  The only European to ever win a Breeders Cup Sprint was Sheik Albadou who romped circling the field at Churchill. Another turf European- Arazi was dominant in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. This leads me to believe Medal Count will handle Churchills Dirt much better than he did  the other more conventional dirt surfaces. Whether he can handle a good breaking CC is another question.  Hoppertunity seems a nice horse but has a lineage with Damascus somewhat prevalent. This line has been a curse at Churchill-Mr. Frisky, Private Terms, and no less Skip Away who probably ran his 2 worst races at Churchill.  It was said the great Damascus was shaken by the crowd.  I think he started spinning his wheels with that lines daisy -cutting strides which did him in by a field he would've inhaled 10 times out of 10 anywhere else. This line though is also a great line  for mud and perhaps it allowed the  undefeated and great Personal Ensign to just get up against Winning Colors in the Breeders Cup Distaff. It also allowed Damascus to win the Travers by 22 in the slop and for Inside Information to freak in the slop in the Breeders Cup Distaff. Maybe the great Damascus is far enough down in Hoppertunity's Pedigree where it won't matter, then again it may.

21 Apr 2014 11:38 PM
El Kabong


My heart goes out to you. Those hounds have a way of becoming a key part of the family. You gave that hound the best life. Do what you need to do to say goodbye but don't wait. Another hound is out there that needs you. Go get her, or him. They will rescue you as much as you will rescue them.

Remembering my boy Cosmo, so thankful for my sweet little girl Suzy.

21 Apr 2014 11:44 PM
Steve Haskin

El Kabong, Friday is my first day on the backstretch and my first on site column. Plenty of works scheduled. Unfortunately three of the Derby horses trained by Mike Maker are over at the Trackside training center and their works could conflict with the ones at the track, but I'll definitely get over there a couple of times to see the horses.

21 Apr 2014 11:47 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve you are such a great teacher and as i read your blogger's posts i am impressed and I feel your integrity is measured by your great ability to lead people to think, compare, test and choose for themselves. I too thank you for your great horse sense, knowledge and thought provoking articles and i try to thank you every time i post. So thanks to Josh, SmartyJones99 and El Kabong too for remembering. And thanks Steve. I loved Smarty Jones and Mine That Bird.

And to Alex'sBigFan and her brother in New Jersey, condolences are sent your way for the loss of your sweet and faithful Betsy, for her to live for 6 years with cancer was a testament to her strong constitution and will to live. Rest in Peace Betsy. You have earned your wings and will be missed but not forgotten.    

22 Apr 2014 12:00 AM

The more I evaluate the moderator’s DD the more, intriguing angles emerge.

The progeny of the stallion with the best record locally and internationally is ranked at #12 and the progeny of the stallion with least appealing record is ranked #1. A Dynaformer colt versus a Lucky Pulpit colt in the Derby should be a no contest. Dynaformer sired one Derby winner and two 3rd place finishers. Medal Count‘s dam sire Unbridled’s Song was the sire of Derby runner up Eight Belles. From all indication Medal Count fit into a Derby winner chart whereas California Chrome does not. On pedigree Medal Count should be a better Derby horse but not on performance. Will CD prove to be the equalizer?

The Any Given Saturday sired Hopportunity is ranked ahead of Wicked Strong and Ride On Curlin sire by the more successful Hard Spun and Curlin. AGS was the lesser of the quartet of brilliant colts from the Derby class of 2007. Purely from a historic angle those colt should be ranked ahead of Hoppertunity. Curlin has already sired the winner of a TC race. Derby winners Lil E Tee and Riva Ridge were sired by 3rd place finishers in the Derby. ROC’s dam sire Storm Cat has sired Derby 2nd & 3rd place finishers Bluegrass Cat and Cat Thief. He was also dam sire to Derby 2nd place finishers Bodemiester. Wicked Strong sire Hard Spun finished 2nd in the 2007 Derby. His dam sire Derby winner Charismatic was sired by Derby 2nd place finisher Summer Squall.  Is Hopportunity that much better?

Candy Boy in and CHITU on the bubble! Certainly CHITU has just as much ability if not more than Candy Boy. Henny Hughes sired the classy and brilliantly fast Beholder who appears to have dispelled doubts about stamina limitations. When Chitu met Candy Boy in the Bob Lewis it was his 1st race beyond 6F. He has since won over 9F whereas Candy Boy struggled to hold 3rd over a significantly lesser opponent. Henny Hughes was effective up to 8.5F and being crossed with an A P Indy mare, there is an obvious mix of speed and stamina. I would love to see the head gear off for the Derby. He has to be a better Derby prospect than Candy Boy

22 Apr 2014 12:00 AM

Hi Steve,

I echo Josh's comment, you won't see me commenting very often at all but you're blog brightens any Monday :)

After boxing the exact for years and wishing I had boxed it as a tri instead often enough, I'm taking a stab this year.  I'm lucky enough to live 5 miles from Churchill so I'll be watching the works along with you starting this weekend (can't wait!)and will be there to cheer them on Derby Day.  As of right now, I've narrowed it down to 9 horses, yes its a crap shoot this year!  I'm playing a couple of boxes, one with Chrome on top and a variety of my other favorites under him as well as a couple of others that don't include him at all with (likely) Wicked Strong, General A Rod (pending the equipment change), Danza, and Intense Holiday on top.  I feel like Chrome is a go big or go home horse, kind of like Big Brown.  Either he is going to WOW us and win by 5 + or he won't be around at the finish.  I think the horse is brilliant but the best horse doesn't always win this race so who can blame us for trying to cash in if he doesn't hit :) My favorites are below:

California Chrome - DUH, if you are on here trying to bash him, get over it, the horse is good and if he runs his race, they are all running for 2nd.

Wicked Strong - I've been waiting FOREVER for this horse to run his race, can't wait to see him closing like a freight train.

Danza - He reminds me of Princess of Sylmar (apologize if I spelled her name wrong!) last year.  He hasn't done a thing wrong but he could end up a big price.  I drank the kool-aid and I'm taking a shot on him running another big race.

Intense Holiday - I've been high on him since late last year and he is still around.  Have to give the horse credit for that, and this means he has foundation, which is SO important in the Derby. I can't believe I have two Pletcher horses in my top few, I promise not to do it next year!

General A Rod - I, for one, have loved his races down South this spring.  I feel like he is a closer at heart who adjusted to the track and ran closer to the lead than he should have.  I think he will take a HUGE step forward at Churchill as long as they get the equipment right.  If you like Wicked Strong, you have to like this horse and I like them both :)  He will likely be my one win play thats not in an exotic.  

Hoppertunity - I'm so tempted to play him to win but I'm hoping I can stick to my guns and only use him in the 2nd/3rd spot.  I know, he looks the part and if anyone is going to break the curse, it might just be him.  His Risen Star was super impressive.  If any of my top horses don't look good next week, he will move up.

Candy Boy - I was having the hardest time picking between him and Cairo Prince and now I don't have to pick.  I am not sold on him as a winner but I can see him as an Ice Box sort.

Wildcat Red - only playing him on the bottom of my tri cause he has heart, don't think he is in it for the win but I think he could be around at the end.  He reminds me of Shackleford, ALWAYS shows up and runs his race.

Medal Count - also will be used in the bottom of the tri, don't see him as a legit win candidate but I can see him around at the end.

Happy Derby to everyone and good luck!  And thank you again Steve for all the great analysis!

22 Apr 2014 12:01 AM

Samraat  :  IMO, the horse to beat in the Derby.  He’s always been my number one and none of the major preps made me think anyone is better than him.  I didn’t expect him to win the Wood because it was his first try at 9Fs and only his 2nd time running on real dirt.  As many have commented, it was a great learning experience for him.  All things are pointing for him to peak in the Derby.  Rain or shine, he’s my bet to win the Derby.   I’m still deciding whether to single him or play WS and Hopp (or Chitu) on top with him.  In case someone (Ranag) is wondering why I wouldn’t single him…I’m well aware that the best horse does not always win the Derby, it takes a lot of luck to win the Derby.   The other negative is Jose Ortiz who in his very young career as a jockey will be in the Kentucky Derby.  I hope he gets through the butterflies and makes the right calls during the race.   I think Samraat is capable of going wide and still close from midpack, Jose just needs to get a good spot and get him clear.

Wicked Strong :   I picked him and liked his win in the Wood and I think he’s another one that will peak on May 3rd.

Hoppertunity :  I picked him in the Rebel after the switch to Mike Smith.  Mike has a way of getting more out of the horse (much like JV)

Intense Holiday :  He’s slower than Hopp but I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets up for 2nd or even beat Samraat :)   I’ve said before, he’s one of the closers that might actually close on this bunch.

Vinceremos : He’s one of the first ones to go to CD, haven’t seen a workout there though so I’m waiting to see if he takes to the track.  He will be a big play if he does and at a huge price…

General A Rod :  I think he’s sitting on a big one, I just don’t think he can win.  He might get 2nd though…

Rounding up my dozen : Chitu, California Chrome, Wildcat Red, Tapiture, Candy Boy and Commanding Curve.

I might end up switching Hopp and Chitu come derby day or use up my lunch money to bet another set of tickets with Chitu.

22 Apr 2014 12:17 AM
The Deacon

Giddyup: My only point on my post was that no Blue Grass Stakes winner has won the Derby in over 20 years. Dullahan finished a closing 3rd but he was mostly a synthetic runner. Street Sense finished 2nd in the BGS but he was pretty special. Palace Malice also finished 2nd last year.

Steve made mention to this on his show with Lenny, ATO.

If we are looking for parameters then this might be one.

I do know this good/great horses can run on any surface. I believe contrary to what what many bloggers believe California Chrome is a special horse. We will soon all see won't we. Its horse racing, everyone is a winner until the race is run.........

I don't a crystal ball but there are many more losers at the tote board then there are winners.....

Good luck to all.

22 Apr 2014 12:41 AM

Alex's Big Fan

Very sorry for your loss.  All animals are so precious and you showed how much of a lover you are by not giving up hope.  Sixteen years was still a long time.  I have a lab Weimaraner who is three and is with me all the time.  He really is my best friend and I would be lost without him.  Have a good one.

22 Apr 2014 1:12 AM

Thanks again, Steve, for more of your valuable insight.

Like you, I am focusing on stretch runners, which seems to be the advisable angle this year. Furthermore, I typically try to beat the California chalks, and intend on the same this year, though I will keep CC on the bottom of my exotic tickets. Ditto for Hoppertunity, who I think will offer poor value as potentially the 2nd choice.

A total toss for me is Ride on Curlin, a marginal player that might get bet way down with Borel aboard.

I can't make any final decisions until I have read all of the workout reports and we have seen the pp draw, but I am tending toward Intense Holiday and Dance With Fate on top, based on those Late Pace numbers that you referenced. Furthermore, I am not too worried about the latter's ability to handle the Churchill dirt, as it isn't one of those conveyor belt tracks like Gulfstream or Santa Anita. If Louisville sees its typical spring rain pattern in the coming two weeks, the track will especially be playing favorably to turf/synth type horses with a closing kick.

In recent years, we have seen Animal Kingdom win off of a synthetic prep (albeit not at Keeneland), and Paddy O Prado and Dullahan both hit the board following runs in the Bluegrass. As such, it would be unwise to categorically dismiss the Bluegrass runners in this one.

That crossfire by Intense Holiday in the LA Derby is certainly disconcerting, though I wonder if there was something about the Fairgrounds track condition that may have contributed to that? I know the wind had really picked up by the big race, which may have also played a role in the pedestrian final 1/8th.

Regarding Vicar's in Trouble: As a New Orleanian and Rosie fan, I want to be for the horse. What's more, I keep "zigging" when I should be "zagging" with him: I got talked off of him in the LeComte, then played him despite the bad post position in the Risen Star, and then jumped off when I figured on him being pace compromised in the LA Derby. So naturally if I leave him off my Derby tickets, Rosie will find a way . . . though, that really does seem unlikely. And she'll be getting her 2nd Oaks anyways, so we can wait another year on the first female rider in the Derby winner's circle. (but will Untapable go to the Preakness after romping in the Oaks? The Preakness may mean more to Rosie than even the Derby, as she got her start in Maryland)

Amongst all of the speed/early pace horses, I am most interested in the gutsy Wildcat Red, because it will take a resolute pacesetter to stay around in this Derby. If nothing else, he will do more than his part to wear down the California Chromes of the world, thus setting it up for our stretch-running bombers.

I look forward to your updates from Louisville.

Good luck to all!

22 Apr 2014 1:22 AM

I so look forward to your Derby Dozen every Monday.  I feel the excitement of Derby Day and its really shaping up to be an exciting race.  Love the Oaks on Friday too.  Thank you for your well written synopsis of all the contenders.  Hoping our California important will be wearing the roses on May 3rd.  I wish safe trips for all.

22 Apr 2014 2:16 AM
Tana Rae

Hi Steve.  Don't really care for last minute equipment changes on a few of these contenders.  Thinking of Palice Malice in last years Derby!  I look for consistency and, actually, not the best speed figures to date.  Your reports of how their doing on the track at Churchill plays a big part of my wagering strategy.  However, I do recall some "now" horses that didn't perform to their expectations  so will wait and see.   As always, many thanks for your invaluable contributions to this fun-fun blog.

22 Apr 2014 2:44 AM
New Racing Fan

Everyone is overwhelmed by Cal Chrome's large margin of victory in the Santa Anita. Go back and look at a replay. Dublin Up on the rail and running second fails to make the left turn coming into the stretch and runs straight into Hopp's path causing him to swerve and slow to avoid being hit. Candy Boy swerves out and loses all momentum to avoid being hit by Cal Chrome. As I see it that margin of victory is really meaningless.

22 Apr 2014 4:14 AM
Derby Dew


The stimulating trip along the Derby Trail always includes anticipation, exhilaration and disappointment.  Yet, to keep everything in perspective, your wonderfully written Derby Dozen gives us reason to cope with the highs and lows of this perilous journey to the Kentucky Derby.  I love how you evaluate the pros and cons of each contender giving your readers more in-depth info that would not be found elsewhere.

Speaking of which.... what's all this hullabaloo about lead changes this year?  It seems as though half the field has encountered this problem, needing a quick fix in order to have a realistic chance to win at a mile and a quarter.  Horses who have issue with this training lesson need some "one on one" with the teacher.  

BTW, I've always wondered.... will a horse change leads when involved in a bumping incident during a race?

I've watched thousands of races for over 50 years and still have difficulty detecting when a horse changes leads in the stretch.  I've talked to other horseplayers and most seem to miss the change of stride also.  Forgive my ignorance, but is there a tutorial on changing leads?

Thanks, Steve.  Looking forward to your on-site reports from Churchill.

22 Apr 2014 6:44 AM
Rusty Weisner


I saw you brought up the subject of weight on the last Derby Dozen thread.  It's another subject on which I'm out of my depth, but I'm sure there are folks here who have a carefully calibrated approach to it (where's papillon?).  Regardless, it seem to me to be of a piece with pedigree, another argument against those who dismiss the challenge the Derby presents.  Apart from the substantial increase in distance, a full furlong, wider paths, bumping and other stress, you also have weight.


I like your top twelve list, though surprised you don't seem enthusiastic on Hoppertunity's pedigree.  I like your sticking to your guns on Medal Count.  I'm giving him a chance because Romans has done the same, or at least a similar, thing twice.

22 Apr 2014 7:39 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Uncle Smiley

   Yes. Snagglepuss was born March 10th, 2008. He raced 16 times, winning three times, all claiming races. His sire was Holy Bull, and his dam was Bad Pussycat. He veered badly to the left if whipped on the right side. That was his achilles heal, otherwise he might have gone on to greatness in the racing world and not just have been a cartoon legend.


   I'm sorry for your loss. I know how painful it is. You rescued her and gave Betsy a great life. My pets are always rescue pets. We'd like to rescue them all but we can only do so much. You did your part and enhanced your life and her life to the best it can be.

22 Apr 2014 7:48 AM

Hello Steve-I keep up with your Derby Dozen each year and look forward to it. I am wondering if any of the horses that may be going post are from the Man 'O War bloodline? Thank you Steve!

22 Apr 2014 7:53 AM

It seems California Chrome can rate. I can see him 4-5 lengths back. Assuming he handles the track, gets a reasonable PP and a good break, I don't see the speed horses burning him out at all as he seems to be able to knock off :47 fractions with ease.

If Danza is real, he might be the sleeper, as well as General A-Rod.

22 Apr 2014 8:28 AM
Mike from Michigan

@ Alex's Big Fan......very sorry to hear of the passing of Betsy, she sounds like she was a great companion and a real fighter with a big heart.  

22 Apr 2014 8:32 AM
Mike from Michigan

If it is true, I'm very surprised that Rosie is off of Vicar's in Trouble.  I don't remember Rosie riding for Baffert very much, she must think that Bayern is a live one.

22 Apr 2014 8:38 AM
Tiz Herself

1) Ride on Curlin

2) Danza

3) General A Rod

4) California Chrome

5) Wicked Strong

6) Commanding Curve

7) Medal Count

8) Hoppertunity

9) Intense Holiday

10) Harry's Holiday - his dam is 1/2 to Into Mischief and champion Beholder. He is a 3/4 brother to Into Mischief, sire of Vicar's In Trouble. He's a longshot but on pedigree alone he should be fine. I believe he draws in with Midnight Hawk opting out and saw on FB Chitu may be out too.

11) Tapiture

12) Samraat / Uncle Sigh - these two never quit trying

Thanks Steve so much as always for providing your Derby dozen... it just would not be the same without it :)

Also thanks for reminding us on basic P's and Q's. We can choose to like a horse or not to like a horse (for myself, there is not one horse out there that I dislike, however there are some that I like more). The best part of racing is the competitive spirit and healthy debates when it is done respectfully. In a way, we fans are role models (right there with owners, breeders, trainers, and many other people who are part of this sport) and our actions can be just as much a deterrent for new fans as any bad PR written on this sport.

Go Ride on Curlin! I have him on my FB and he looks like he has quite the character.

22 Apr 2014 8:47 AM

"3 Coins in the fountain", 3 closers in my tri box. Love this, Wicked to Danza to Intense Holiday boxed. I have Wicked at 125-1 in a February Futures bet at Wynn's in Vegas... Go Ragiv!!

22 Apr 2014 9:11 AM

lawrence vaccarelli,

I once had a horse that had hocks problems. Whilst there might be many indicators that these problems exist, the issue displayed by Intense Holiday in the RS is not consistent with the issues my colt displayed. I content his action is assocaited with another issue.

"tap n lube"

If Intense Holiday’s hocks require a "tap n lube" procedure he will be the likely Derby. A horse with bad hocks that levels off and galloped out so strongly, has serious pain tolerance and a ton of ability. Hocks problems are amongst the worst condition for galloping as the horse finds it extremely difficult to propel itself forward because of the compromised lubrication in the area.

Tap n Lube is a procedure that will lead to an abbreviated racing career for the animal. Once the hocks are access and lubricated they will never return to their original state and the procedure has to be repeated leading to degeneration. Is Derby victory worth that much?

22 Apr 2014 9:12 AM

As always, there are so many "ifs" when evaluating these colts.  The preps give us strong indications of what they are capable of, but the Derby is unique with the 20 horse field and the relatively short run into the first turn.

I think the biggest question this year is if California Chrome can transfer his CA form to Louisville and can he handle the large field.  Personally, I believe that with a decent pp and a reasonably good break, everyone else is running for second.  I don't think he will be breathing down the front-runners necks early.  If Victor is smart, and I believe he is, he'll let the colt run his own race.  If that means he is 3 lengths off the lead, or 6, no matter.  When given his cue coming out of the final turn I fully expect him to engulf the leaders as he has in each of his recent races.  Then we'll just have to wait and see if any of the closers are good enough to catch him.

Some of the horses I like underneath are Hoppertunity, General A Rod and Samraat.  Wildcat Red is a hard-trying colt, but I think the distance is beyond him.  Based on heart alone, I think he'll stick around for the minors.  On looks, Dance With Fate, but I tend to think that if the trainer says he's a grass/synthetic horse, we shouldn't expect too much in Louisville.  I haven't seen Commanding Curve run; great pedigree, though.  If he gets in, he'll be worth watching.

I'm looking forward to Steve's comments trackside.  Too bad we won't hear anything about Chrome.  If I heard correctly, he'll only school at Churchill.  Does that mean not even a gallop over the track?  I guess when it comes down to it, he'll either take to the track or he won't, and if he doesn't, a work or even a gallop over the track wouldn't change that.

22 Apr 2014 9:31 AM
Saratoga AJ


Secretariat hung and finished a well beaten third in the 1973 Wood, but his bettors didn't lose. The race was won by Sec's entry mate Angle Light, with Sham second.

22 Apr 2014 9:46 AM
Saratoga AJ

If I had to wager right now, I'm looking at a repeat of the Wood exacta. Has as good of a chance as any with a 20 horse field and so much depending on post positions and racing luck.

If Chrome does repeat his last few performances, he could be another Swaps. And as you pointed out Steve, Danza could be anything after what he did in Arkansas. Looks like there's loads of early speed in this years Derby.

22 Apr 2014 9:58 AM


Your question was directed to Mr. Haskin for the 2nd. He is obviously a very busy moderator so kindly take no offense at my attempt to provide some info.

The sole remaining line for Man O’ War appears to be via In Reality. Therefore Tiznow appears to be the major existing representative of the Man O’ War line.  

Strong Mandate was the most prominent horse from the Man O’ War line and sadly he did not secure the requisite point to make the cut.

22 Apr 2014 9:58 AM
food fight

Steve fabulous job with your insight on the 3 year old's leading up to the Derby.I was wrong about Commissioner he didn't fire in the Ark Derby the way i thought he would perhaps a bad day or he might have got hurt don't know what happened but he did not fire.You have been in CC corner for a long time and boy you are right on the money, this is a very talented colt with a sharp mind to are my top 4 finishers for the Derby. 1st California Chrome if he draws well and gets away clean his intelligence should allow him to gear down and wait for the opportune moment to pounce and separate from the field, unless his rider panics and moves to fast to soon.2nd Hoppertunity this colts gallop outs have been off the charts he will be running at whomever is on the lead down the stretch. I am a big fan of Bafferts when Bob says he was looking for Hopper to stay close to CC in the Santa Anita Derby and after the race he could not be happier everybody running in the derby should pay attention.3rd Samraat this colt was undefeated until his last start and his last race was better than it seamed.His last race the Wood Memorial was run over a track that played to deep closers rallying outside all day and Samraat was stalking in the 3 path, he fought hard down the lane but was run over by a wide circling foe in Wicked Strong. Once he was passed and caught site of Wicked Strong he did switch leads and re rallied.4th Candy Boy i am not sure what to make of his last race but if he came up short and can improve off that effort he has one of the most dangerous riders when the money is down in Gary Stevens and i respect his opinion immensely. His comment about this colts ability caught my attention and he reminds me of a horse Stevens thought had a big chance to win the Derby in Thunder Gulch and we all know what happened with him.      

22 Apr 2014 10:06 AM

Alex's Big Fan, my heartfelt sympathies for your loss. A week ago Sunday I lost my Meggie. She was an Aussie/Border Collie cross that I adopted 13 years ago. It is never easy to say good-bye to our beloved pets.

22 Apr 2014 10:18 AM

Derby Dew; in regard to lead changes. Perhaps making a comparison to the only human equivalent gait, will help make it easier. Think of skipping. When a person skips they can lead with either foot and while in the motion of skipping they can change leads, same thing with horses. If possible try the skipping lead change yourself and you will get a feel for it and probably be able to see it easier when watching races. The easiest place to see a horse change leads is when they are straightening out for the run down the stretch. If your internet connection is such that you can watch videos go to youtube, search for California Chrome workout 4-19-14 posted by Gomam go. California Chrome can be seen changing leads when coming into the stretch at exactly the 59 second timer on the video. Hope that helps.

22 Apr 2014 10:42 AM

Only quibble, made by some others too, is the omission of Wildcat.

It was maybe ominous, with the FDby and Dubai running the same day, in studying Dubai I came across a prep, the jebel Hatta, where the rider on the front runner left the rail turning for home, allowing a stablemate a clear run to the wire. The stewards later gave him a 6 month suspension!!!

I have watched JRV's moves in the FDby, and the only explanation for not closing that rail hole, is he kept to the 3 path all the way around. But Wildcat may have won had JRV closed the hole. His shortfall at the wire? Neck. And I am somewhat confident, since no other major prep winner was omitted, then Wildcat would be in SH's top 10. And he beat GenARod TWICE, in FOY and Fdby?

I do agree Wildcat's stamina maybe a question. But he has heart and consistency, and speed, and I believe ratable speed.

Can't see him beating CC, but wouldn't be surprised to see him second or third.

My record on picking Derby winners is ok, my record on predicting the race flow has been awful. Instinct suggests the pace this year maybe "less than expected", and the speed may hang around longer than it otherwise might.

22 Apr 2014 10:48 AM


Thank you, again, for another great DD season.  Can't wait to hear from you trackside.  If you ever need an assistant to clean/shine your various track surface covered shoes or bring you coffee, I can be reached at BR549 (if you remember that old reference!)

At this point, no clue, but I also can't see Cal Chrome, Danza, Hoppertunity, Ride on Curlin out of the top 4 finish.  I'm counting on Wicked Strong to pull a Dialed In performance this year.

22 Apr 2014 10:50 AM

Alex's Big Fan,

My heart goes out to you at the loss of Betsy.  Dogs are one of the greatest gifts God gave us as far as I am concerned.  They are so loyal and loving and such a joy.  They just seem to make a bad day into a good day no matter what.

I had to put down my little yorkie mix, Derek, 3 years ago.  I was with him when he died and I was the last thing he saw.  His kidneys were failing and he was so sick and they couldn't do anything to help him so I had no choice but to end his suffering.  He was the sweetest little dog and never met anyone he didn't just love.  For me, it was like losing a child as I never had any children.  I did rescue another dog who looks a great deal like Derek.  His name is Dexter and he doesn't like anyone but me!  Two totally different dogs but both precious in their own way.

You will always miss Betsy but she will forever live in your heart.

Now, I have seen all the opinions on here about who will win.  The Derby is so different from any other race because of the size of the field.  It's a crap shoot with that many horses and if it rains it changes everything.  It rained last year and there was a sloppy track as I recall.  Seems to rain a lot in recent years.  I remember Smarty Jones was the favorite and it poured that day and he still won.  Everyone one has their opinion but rain changes everything.  I know the surface is a concern for CC but I don't think it will be a factor for him.  I don't know, I just think he will win no matter what.  I just hope they all come home sound and no more injuries before or afer the Derby.

Steve's observations at Churchill are my favorite part of TC time.  Can't wait.

22 Apr 2014 10:55 AM

Cross firing AKA cross centering is a potentially dangerous fault. It can be caused by poor training but more likely the result of a confirmation issue or misaligned hips or stifle issue. I have friends in the eventing world who do not ride or train horses with this issue. They consider this to be an soundness issue that could result in an accident that could be fatal to horse and rider. Once a physical condition has been ruled out it is possible to retrain the horse but that takes time. Usually the horse will cross canter on a curve is the moment that puts the most stress on the hips or stifle and results in pain. I am sure that Mr Pletcher has properly trained the colt but it just bears mentioning that horses entering too  young can also

cause the problem. Hope they get it resolved.

22 Apr 2014 10:57 AM
Linda in Texas

Having worked early in my 20's for the U S Weather Bureau in San Antonio and knowing the havoc precip can reap on how the track is i checked the weather predicts for the week of the Kentucky Derby and it shows there 'might be' a wet track early in the week if the pattern materializes as stated. Checking the weather i see beginning Monday, April 28 and Tuesday the 29th 60% precip each day, Wednesday the 30th 30%, Thursday May 1 70% with Friday May 2 and Saturday May 3 no mention of precip. So training may be a bit sloppy and Steve best you might consider packing your 'galoshes' (does anyone know what those are, 60 years ago that is what they were called), if you are going to be trudging around the barns interviewing like you mentioned to El Kabong. Hopefully the rain will stay away on the day before and the big day. Orb won on a really sloppy track, was that just last year?? My how time flies.

22 Apr 2014 11:03 AM
Fran Loszynski

I think this Kentucky Derby is going to be a surprise run for the roses, I hope Tapiture does it, he has been flying under the radar but this son of Tapit just might find his day is the DAy of the Roses! Danza was remarkable. Here are my Derby picks :

Tapiture, Danza, Hoppertunity. Good Luck everyone and next year a Triple Crown winner from Afleet Alex's son. As always, love you Afleet Alex

22 Apr 2014 11:08 AM

Good Morning Everyone,

I'm a neophyte handicapper and come here to learn from the author AND the comment contributors.  Often the technical terminology is way over my head, but I am making progress.  

On that note, could some of you more erudite observers look at the current field plus the next 4 and define the style of each horse?  I see references to speed, closers, tactical speed, stalkers, etc. but I don't understand many of the nuances.  Any help from this wonderful community, including explanations and/or examples of each type, would be appreciated.

22 Apr 2014 11:14 AM

Medal Count: The overview is loaded with cold facts and pertinent points.

His MSW victory was indeed and off the turf race. He experience a lot of traffic problems and was trapped in the stretch. When his rider eventually extricated him he exploded to the line. With a problem free trip the final time would have been faster. He ran reasonably well at Keenland in his 2n start to finish 5th by 21/4L in another off the turf race.

The BCJ was his 2nd start on dirt and first on a conveyor belt. The only horse that closed any significant ground was Mexikoma. Conquest Titan who was up with the leaders for 4F weekend badly and finish last. He previously won the Swynford Stakes on synthetic. He left CA to score a breath taking last to first victory at CD over General A Rod. Surfaces matters!

Medal Count 3rd start on dirt was on another speedway. He was the 1st to separate from the pack to chase of General A Rod and Wildcat Red. He was subsequently passed by two horses i.e., Top Billing and East Hall. Despite his 5th place finish, he showed a lot of energy in the gallop out suggesting he was not tired but rather did not relished the fast surface. Surfaces matters!

One race can transform a horse from modest to magnificent. California Chrome finished 3rd in the Golden State Juvenile over 8F. His next start was the King Glorious where he annihilated the field. Medal Count appeared to be different horse in the Transylvania another off the turf race. He came to the top of the stretch in hand just waiting for room. When it became available he was gone. His 8 day return is significant as the 8.5F race earlier did not deplete his energy level. Despite his 2ns place finish he was still full of energy to the line and in the gallop out. Medal Count is not the same horse that race in FL and his transition has come at an ideal time.

“Someone actually put him in the same sentence as Secretariat”

These are the types of statement that are annoying. Do you remotely believe that I am unaware of the Secretariat’s Wood issues? Did either Onion or Prove Out belong in the same sentence with Secretariat? I specified that I was in no way comparing the two horses but rather the closeness of their two races in the month preceding the Derby and the window for recovery and preparation that existed.

Secretariat did not finish the Wood with a lot of energy and that’s a fact. What caused his lackluster performance in irrelevant and after the fact. He had a widow i.e. a period of 14 day to address what impacted his performance; to recover from two quick races and to continue preparation for the Derby. The same scenario exists for Medal Count.  

“Medal Count apparently will need to go thru a so-called window of recovery. What he needs to do is show that he can win on dirt “

Sir, if you are unfamiliar with the context in which the word ‘window’ was used, I strongly suggest that you research same and post a retraction. The second part of your statement was clearly not well thought out as the there is no opportunity for Medal Count to do what you are recommending. It would require him contesting the Derby Trial? Four races in 29 days!

“Transylvania and Bluegrass, both races not on dirt and both lacking in quality.”

The 2009 SA Derby had a lot of quality and it was contested on synthetic. Pioneerof The Nile scored a commanding victory and was subsequently beaten in the Derby by a horse that finished 4th in an ungraded race lacking in quality.

Sir, it’s the Kentucky Derby. It has a very bizarre history that continues to baffle its most knowledgeable followers. You are advice to acknowledge its history.

22 Apr 2014 11:34 AM
John from Seattle

Alex's Big Fan,

I'm sorry for your loss.  And thank you for your story.

I was a huge dog lover and many years ago was talked into giving a 'forever home' to a couple of old abused and neglected cats from a non-profit agency by my wife and kids.  I gave in.

Years and years later one of them passed away from old age.  

He was the greatest pet I've ever had.

And he is still missed.  Alot.

22 Apr 2014 11:41 AM

Yes, I am amazed that Ride On Curlin is still around after nine races. He has such a wicked turn of foot, but still hasn't won a graded race yet. I would not be surprised to see him as the next one that doesn't make the starting gate, based on his leg action, he looks like all four legs are working out of synch with each other, he paddles his right front to the point where I keep waiting for that unavoidable problem. Am I wrong on this observation? Let me know what you think.

22 Apr 2014 12:03 PM
Rusty Weisner


I'm sure you've just released an avalanche of friendly suggestions.

Mine would be to read Andrew Beyer's "Picking Winners".  It's a primer on the principles of handicapping, but is also very funny, and perfectly captures the childlike wonderment of the person who stumbles on this game, the world's best kept secret.

This blog and its commenters also sets a very high bar and has been a big help to this permanent neophyte.

22 Apr 2014 12:10 PM
Ted from LA

Derby Dew, Here is another way to think of lead changes.  Picture yourself hopping on one foot.  When you get tired, you switch to the other foot.  Watch carefully for which front hoof hits the ground first, keep watching that until you see the other hoof hit the ground first. I switch leads about every two minutes in my typical day.

22 Apr 2014 12:11 PM

Johnny; I keep hearing and reading about the 30 mph headwind at Sunland but after watching the replay there is one point where the Stars&Stripes can be seen and isn't straight out like a 30mph wind would have it. Additionally, at the end of the video Chitu is being walked around in front of the winner's circle and his tail isn't being blown. Sunland is a windy place in the spring, some days 40mph steady gusting to 60-65, so it isn't hard to imagine that someone assumed the wind was blowing and that particular someone's assumption got "blown" out of proportion.

I'm also following Chitu closely wondering if indeed the Derby Trial is where we see him next. Will he be wheeled back in 7 days, in the Derby? Chitu is a bit bulkier type and might take two races in a week better than most, that along with the comments after his workout yesterday with Bayern lead me to believe he is a "laid back" kind of horse and recovers quickly from racing. Is Midnight Hawk going to skip the Derby? Rosie works Bayern? Hoppertunity not asked in Santa Anita derby? What is Baffert up to?

22 Apr 2014 12:13 PM
Mike from Michigan

@Windolin...sorry for your loss of Meggie, It's never easy when a beloved pet passes.  RIP Meggie.

22 Apr 2014 12:17 PM
Old Timer

Well Steve, the Derby points are now all set and it occurred to me that they at least gave the Derby Trial a few points in past years, but it is no longer a prep race with points. When greats like Citation won it prior to their Derby wins, it is sad, but I understand that no trainer or owner will race their horse twice in one week; heck we're lucky to see them once a month! Don't you think that Churchill Downs ought to rename this race? It is no how; no way a "Derby Trial" any more.

22 Apr 2014 12:34 PM

I see a big ole speed collapse in this Derby with closers picking up the tired pieces.  With being said, Wicked Strong and General a Rod probably fits this angle.  Wicked Strong is coming into this race on peak form and looks to be a major threat.  The entire year everyone was talking about Honor Code and Cairo's Prince but forgets Wicked Strong was a fast closing third against them in last year's Remsen.  1 1/4 hits him right between the eye balls.  Also, I agree with Steve that General a Rod will take back in the Derby with a possible equipment change.  This will serve him well and Rosario can make that same run as he did last year with Orb.  I will these 2 colts and throw other underneath in Tri's and Supers.

22 Apr 2014 12:34 PM

There are too many horses to talk about that really are not as good as the top 5.  PP's and track condition will play a huge roll in the race but these are the top 5 based on performance. 1.) Wildcat Red has done nothing wrong but win.  His performance in the Florida Derby was fantastic and ran strong to the wire.  He simply got beat by a freak of a horse but getting past this horse is no easy task and he will finish in the top 4. 2.) Ride On Curlin has the perfect jockey for the perfect race.  Borel has won 3 times and knows how to get the max out of a horse on the most difficult of race a 3 year old will ever see. 3.) Danza is coming into the Derby 3rd off a layoff and 2nd attempt at 2 turns should have him improving for sure.  Leave him off your tickets and you will not be cashing anything. 4.)  Wicked Strong was not good enough in Florida but even the B team becomes the A team when the A team goes down. He will be picking up pieces late and should love the longer distance. 5.) Is my pick General A Rod. The horse has been right near the pace and fought hard at Gulf Stream but his best running comes from off the pace and he will be in the 2nd tier of horses coming into the final turn when his breeding for going long will kick in.  He has raced at Churchill and ran with very good speed so having raced and done well at the track is a huge advantage.  General A Rod for the win.

22 Apr 2014 1:01 PM

Welcome contributor SteamboatWillie its simple to start piggyback on Steve Haskin and Weisner DONT play what Draynay and Coldfacts advise this material is for advanced gamblers like KY Vet BTW DONT LISTEN TO KYvet you might have to take out a 2nd mortgage and this is not a good time for that unless you are one of the people who has positive equity in your home.

22 Apr 2014 1:09 PM

BTW Willie I think KY Vet is homeless he sleeps somewhere near the track on the couch at one of his gamblin buddies house.

22 Apr 2014 1:16 PM
Rusty Weisner


Meant two workouts for Intense Holiday.

22 Apr 2014 1:24 PM

Would anyone still be as confident if California Chrome were to end up in Post #1?

22 Apr 2014 1:27 PM

Regarding the concern of CC's liking or not liking Churchill's surface, I remeber a Colt who was speedy and running aways with races and raced on SA's surface and took the Churchill slop that Easy Goer did not like.  Sunday Silence didn't seem to have a problem with any surface.  Maybe Belmont but I don't think he was a 1 1/2 mile horse but Easy Goer was and it was his home track.  That loss really broke my heart.

22 Apr 2014 1:34 PM
Linda in Texas

SteamboatWillie - you have to start someplace, asking is the best way, though i am not as astute as most because i don't bet I just love the sport. Allow me to suggest you go to: It will give you a full list of definitions. A closer is one of my favorites, they come from well behind and get the win! Now that is my definition. And another term i just learned, Router - does well in longer distance races like a mile and an eighth so he would not be running in Sprint races because those are usually about 6 1/2 furlongs, in other words shorter. Some horses styles would mimic your blog name and could be a closer or a stalker!

Dr. Drunkinbum - i hope you will answer SteamboatWillie with your special style and humor.

Thanks Steve.  

22 Apr 2014 1:39 PM
English Pete

Hi, I'm in England and a big fan of high class US racing.  I stumbled upon this rather wonderful blog while looking for help in building some ideas for exotics on the Kentucky Derby, as I love those big pools and we can bet directly into them from over here.

First let me say Mr Haskin's blog is absolutely brilliant. Second, I love the knowledge and mutual respect shown by posters on here (impressed!)

Third, having viewed all the replays I can find, I like California Chrome, Hoppertunity and Intense Holiday for the Derby and they will be on the top of my tris/supas. CC is trading at 5/2 with UK bookmakers so I probably won't play him in the win market, but he has looked unbelievable in his victories and Steve Haskins' reports of CC's work just reinforce that the horse must be included on top of exotics.

Two questions for anyone who has an informed opinion: 1) should CC's lack of a planned work at Churchill put me off? It seems an unusual approach to a Derby.

2) I know a fair bit on European breeding but not enough on US breeding - is there anything that, just going on breeding, is likely to improve significantly for the 10f distance? I'm kind of looking for a couple of big priced closers to hit the board. I like the look of Candy Boy and Ride on Curlin from their running styles, but I'd love to add a breeding angle to my Derby bets if there's anything out there.

22 Apr 2014 1:55 PM

I love California Chrome, but I am surprised by Sherman's not shipping in earlier. Wish I knew why he is choosing to wait. I remember Stute choosing to do the same thing with Snow Chief, and consequently, Whittingham's Ferdinand taking the Derby. And then Whittingham saying that Stute made a big mistake. If California Chrome is vulnerable, it could very possibly be because of this decision. But, Sherman is a very experienced horseman, with Derby experience, so I will trust his decision to wait, and won't be surprised if it was the right plan. Then again, you never know.

22 Apr 2014 1:57 PM
Paula Higgins

Alex'sBigFan and Windolin, I am very sorry for the loss of your beloved dogs/pets. It is heartbreaking because they are literally part of the family. But take comfort in knowing you did everything you could to help them. Some people tell you to wait a year to get another pet. I have found that waiting a couple of months works best for us. Another dog out there needs a good home. Just a thought. They work their way into your heart pretty quickly.

I am beginning to think that maybe we are overlooking Wildcat Red. I think he could be second or third. I still think this is the kind of race where the best horse doesn't necessarily win, so much depends on the trip in a large field and liking the surface at Churchill. But I think California Chrome is dominant enough to overcome these potential problems, like Big Brown and Smarty Jones. CC will be kept one, two or three back (no more than that) and then the jockey will push the button and hopefully, leave them 3-5 back. If a closer comes, his speed and stamina will keep him ahead. This is what I am hoping happens if he gets a good break and likes the surface.

22 Apr 2014 1:59 PM

Wicked Strong: His sire Hard Spun was the last outstanding son of Danzig. His explosive acceleration in the Wood was not smooth but gave every indication that longer is better. He is one of 2 contenders in field that contested a 9F race as 2YO. In the Remsen he was full on run at the end as well. He has a classic pedigree up and down and is from a barn that knows how to win the big ones.

Medal Count: Derby will be his 3rd race in 29 days. He has been slow to show his true potential but is now ready. Has the sire with the best Derby record and an affinity to inject stamina in his progenies. I liked him in the BCJ and was disappointed but he could be my next Mine That Bird. He will say the trip and will certainly relish the turf/synthetic friendly surface of Churchill Downs

General A Rod: Talented colt sired by a tail descendent of Mr. Prospector out of a Turn-To line broodmare. I’ll Have Another was produced from a similar cross. This colt has speed and stamina and is yet to run a bad race but something seems to be impeding a break out performance. Can he run by horses late is a big question? His connections need to do something different to affect a different result.

California Chrome: Talented colt that has been ultra-impressive in last 4 starts against lesser. Modest pedigree that historically rarely survives the demands of Churchill Downs.  Regarded by his trainer the people’s horse! I rather strong declaration seeing that he has not yet defeated the best of his peers. Those quick to accuse others of bashing should equally be oppose to over glorification. If he transfer his CA form to CD must be in the mix.

Danza: I cannot recall such a big upset winner of a prep returning to win the Derby. His impressive victory against more experience and seasoned rival cannot be dismissed. Despite his victory he does not fit the profile of a likely Todd Pletcher Derby winner. His sire Street Boss is another from that great 3YO crop of 2007. His dam sire Silver Deputy was also broodmare sire of Roman Ruler sire of GAR.

Vinceremos: Mr. Pletcher’s sole Derby winner Super Saver finished 2nd in the TB Derby and 2nd in the subsequent AK Derby. His 2nd Place finisher Bluegrass Cat finished 3rd in the TB Derby and 4th in the subsequent Bluegrass. Vinceremos  has a little of both as neither won their final Derby prep. He finished 2nd in the TB Derby but did not relish the synthetic surface at Keenland. He has the ideal profile of a likely Pletcher Derby winner. He has the ideal running style for the Derby and is from the dominant Mr. Prospector sire line and out of the successful Turn-To dam line. His victory could ease the pain of the Constitution's absence.

22 Apr 2014 2:01 PM

Alex'sBigFan, my condolences to you on the loss of your Betsy, as others have commented we give and get so much from our pets... I recently lost my nearly 12-year-old Saluki to liver cancer. We do for them the best we can... and wish all of them could be as lucky as ours are.

Re: Derby choices, every year I find a horse I really like, for reasons of past performance, pedigree, or just "because." And it seems like recently every single one of them has gotten a bad start, hung up in traffic, did not like the surface, whatever. So I generally pick three or four I'd like to see win, one or two I think are most likely to win, and let it go at that. This year I see a half dozen who have good prospects, but if I put them in print I'll probably jinx myself. Let's just say I'm a Californian and love chestnuts... but again, a good horse is a good color.

Re: the cross-firing question... it really isn't the job of the jockey during the race to teach the horse how and when to change leads. That's the job of the TRAINer. And by extension, the exercise rider. A couple of thoughts here toward solving this? First, is the horse in discomfort because something is out of alignment? I've used chiropractic vets for my horses and running hounds and it can make a huge difference. Acupuncture works too. Also, it might take extra time and talent, but why can't some of these cross-firers benefit from a few sessions in a round pen with someone knowledgeable in dressage, who can teach them how to get their backs and hind ends coordinated? It sometimes looks like these horses are just trained in a one-dimensional pattern, FORWARD, FAST with little direction or control... in England one sees strings of racehorses being ridden through villages on their way to the gallops... they are fairly well-broken and have a better set of gears and "turn signals" than most US track-trained stock. And coincidentally have a better shot at second careers when racing is done, if they're not off to the stud farm.      

22 Apr 2014 2:15 PM

Ride on Curlin: His connection refused $1M for him after his NTR at Ellis Park. He has not been exactly performing like a $1M horse but has done enough to get into the Derby field. Can you imagine the connections’ post Derby statement should he win? “Our decision not sell this colt has been vindicated” If this colt is able to reproduce his Champagne effort he should be there at the end.

We Miss Artie: I touted him to win the FOY easily off his BCJ performance. What was I thinking when he was contesting another race on a conveyor belt. He is obviously better on turf and synthetic and is unbeaten in 2 starts on the latter. He is one of 4 horse that won 9F Derby preps from The Northern Dancer sire line. He will say the trip and will certainly relish the turf/synthetic friendly surface of Churchill Downs. His owner is a very lucky man but the Derby continues to elude him. Could the oddly name We Miss Artie win it for him?

Hoppertunity: His sire Any Given Saturday was produced from an A P Indy mare. He destroyed Curlin and Hard Spun in the Haskell and was very mediocre thereafter. Can this colt produce a Derby performance similar to the one produced by his sire in the Haskell? He appears to have the ability but is it developed enough to catch his much faster opponents at this time? His dam is from the rarely seen Damascus line and must have the capacity to stay forever.

Intense Holiday: One of 2 contenders in field that contested a 9F race as 2YO. He has been mix of encouragement and disappointment. It is very difficult to forecast which IH will show up on any given day. He has ability but also has the tendency to flatten out in deep stretch. This not the ideal running style for 10F.

Tapiture: Was disappointing in the AK Derby. He has more experience of CD than most having raced there 3 times with one impressive victory there against lesser. I see no reason why he cannot rebound and win the Derby. He has the pedigree and tactical speed suited for a Derby that will be dominated by speed. His trainer has the anti-post favorite for the Oaks. A Derby and Oaks double would certainly lift the spirit of a barn in turmoil.

Uncle Sigh: He has been a beating stick for Samaart and it was not different in the Wood where finished even further behind his rival. In my opinion his Wood performance was a lot better than his final placing indicates. He was very strong down the lane from a disastrous start from which he never recovered. Physicall he has more appeal than Samaart. I happen to also think he has a better stride pattern. He looked much strong than his old rival and with a good break he could be one of the L/S to get into the mix.

22 Apr 2014 2:16 PM

Steve, your Top 3 are my Top 3, although I still tread with trepidition with Danza.  My eyeballs tell me he has a strong, smooth action and he looked fresh finishing the Arkansas Derby.  But I see his sparse racing resume and I pause.  

I was really warming up to Intense Holiday until I read Windolin's post explaining the "cross-firing".  Yikes.

Robinm's post reflects my thinking almost to a T (or is that "to a tee"?).  Thus, my list is as follows:

1) California Chrome

2) Hoppertunity

3) Danza

4) Samraat

5) Intense Holiday

6) General a Rod

7) Ride on Curlin

8) Wildcat Red

9) Wicked Strong (yes, he won the Wood dramatically, but he is just to inconsistent for my liking)

10) Uncle Sigh

11) Vicar's in Trouble (the little horses sometimes surprise you)

12) Commanding Curve (if he gets in, he moves up as high as 4th or 5th)

22 Apr 2014 2:19 PM
Rusty Weisner

Re: those Sunland winds...

A couple people were mentioning the winds and the elevation last year, too in touting Govenor Charlie.  And what do you know? -- Baffert didn't run him in the Derby because he wasn't good enough; he tried him in the Preakness.  Isn't it obvious yet that their trainer has taken the sensible decision to not run them in the Derby, that they're not good enough?  Has Baffert ever run a horse back after a week in the Derby?

Incidentally, I'll be betting against these two in the Preakness, too, because they won't be good enough then, either, but looking forward to see them take money because of Baffert's name.

Don't out-think yourselves, guys.  Remember Govenor Charlie, Isn't He Clever, Daddy Knows Best, Mine that, scratch that last one.


I'm trying to help you out: remind them that Dale Romans has hit the board with two turf horses out of the Bluegrass in the past five years, as well as with Shackleford.

22 Apr 2014 2:23 PM


What odds would you give that all five of your top picks run off the board? I'd say it's about even money; and short odds-on that none win. Could merely throw darts and easily come up with five better (from those remaining).

22 Apr 2014 2:26 PM

AlexsBigFan and Windolin:  they break your heart when they go but your heart also always expands for the next rescue/feral/stray.

Choicies: still Samraat but I also like Wicked Strong (I would like him to win one for daddy), Uncle Sigh (how can you say "Samraat" and not his shadow) and I'm also still plugging for Vicars In Trouble.  Who knows, though: by start time, I might have changed my mind.

English Pete: just keep staying up late and watching the racing and you will start to figure out the breeding and stuff.  That's what Jayjay and I have been doing about Australian racing ... though, considering how the New Zealanders did at The Championships, maybe I should start calling it the Aussie/Balckallblack racing!

Ted: I still have that picture of me with my "I heart Ted from LA" poster and my hat at Animal Kingdom's Derby.  I smile every time I see it.  

22 Apr 2014 2:26 PM
Rusty Weisner


I would be confident of him hitting the board but not winning out of post #1.

22 Apr 2014 2:27 PM
Saratoga AJ

I have a question for you, Steve. How have you fared over the years in picking the Derby winner? Or let's say one of your top 3 choices wear the roses? I've had a few of my pics win over the years going back to the 60's. But overall I've lost a heck of a lot than I could ever win. Such a extraordinarily tough race to handicap. 20 horse fields will do that! :)

22 Apr 2014 2:32 PM
Jersey Girl

Total respect goes out to all of these Derby thoroughbreds who have excelled at different times in different spots and made it! While some may be coming in as the door is closing, they're here, and it's always intriguing to try and find the "least likely" who will up and surprise us.

I guess there's no such thing as "no chance" in this the most unusual of races. But...gotta start somewhere, and ultimately finish up once the posts have been settled, and one unfortunate soul has been assigned to #1.

For me each day will whittle it eliminations start with We Miss Artie, since from all accounts he just doesn't like dirt. Samraat & Uncle Sigh are next. They've spent a fair amount of time fighting each other in NY, but I don't see that translating to a 20-horse field at Churchill.

I would like to keep Tapiture on my list since he's run well at Churchill, but the Derby birthday boy looks tired. He doesn't look like he's conserving energy, but rather that he doesn't have it for this distance. The Louisiana Derby seemed to lack battle-testing so Vicar's In Trouble is also off my list.

Five down for me. I'll keep searching for a mix of stalkers & closers that make the most sense, or that don't make any sense at all but will pay a hell of alot. I'm a California Chrome believer and a Ride On Curlin fan, so they'll be in. As much as I don't like the chances for front runners here, I can't seem to let go of Wildcat Red. Expecting him to leave everything out there on the track.

Good luck to all of you in your Derby Deliberations.

Windolin, I hope you had a great birthday.

Steve, I join the many who offer you their appreciation. I've had a love of horse racing for a long time, and it really opened up for me when, many years ago, I came upon your writing and began absorbing the sport in a whole new way. Absolutely love the forum you provide through your "Derby Dozen." Thank you for the time and expertise you devote to it.

22 Apr 2014 2:32 PM
Rusty Weisner

English Pete,

First, make sure to come back for the Breeder's Cup to tell us who and who not to bet.

As for pedigree, besides the takes of Steve Haskin and others on his blog there are pedigree analyses up right now on adjacent blogs here at bloodhorse.  Bloodhorse also spotlights the pedigrees of individual horses from time to time.  I also like the churchilldowns website, which has nice pages on all the contenders.

22 Apr 2014 2:32 PM

First off I have to say I really enjoyed the latest installment of "And They're Off" and Steve was dead right that thoroughbreds such as Pablo Del Monte love to make us humans look bad when we dismiss their chances. If Monte gets in I will definitely be rooting for him although I still think CC and the General will finish on top.

22 Apr 2014 2:37 PM
It aint easy being good!

I love how everyone bashes draynay and coldfacts but am I the only one that knows they make sense. Everyone has their opinions but they have excellent insights! I am on the Dray/coldfacts bandwagon. Seems like we see eye to eye!

Danza-Not getting that much love on here. Look at the race again the final time was fast for an oaklawn prep. 3rd off a layoff. Freaked first time around 2 turns. What will he do for an encore.....LET ME TELL YOU HE WILL TURN INTO THE SUPERFREAK!

General A rod......Finally getting some love on here. He is a straight grinder and has ran on churchill and is already training at Churchill a huge plus!!!

Medal Count.... Just betting him on coldfacts comments. I am not a big fan but I like a fit horse and the hopefully the derby gods will smile on this horse after the death of my boy Dulluhan!

Intense Holiday.....I just like the way this horse runs. I have rewatched the film and he has a ton of heart. You have to love horses with heart.. I just dont like front runners with heart!

Wicked Strong......The horse crushed a good wood field and wasnt even running straight! If he runs straight in 2 weeks its over!

Give me Joel Rasario, ablarado, JV throw in calvin borel and call it a day!

22 Apr 2014 2:46 PM
Rusty Weisner

Paula Higgins, Kevin --

I'm beginning to think Wildcat Red is the anti-wiseguy horse.  A tough horse who will want and probably get the lead and therefore avoids trip pitfalls.  Shackleford didn't have the "pedigree" but hit the board (fourth) and it was not a friendly track for horses on the lead that day, I don't care what the splits were.  Where is all the supposed other speed?  Uncle Sigh?  I could see CC running away with it like War Emblem (who also had Victor Espinoza), but I think him more likely to stalk Wildcat Red.

On the other hand, this line of thinking made me foul up my tickets last year:  I figured at least one of the speediest would hold on to hit the board along with my top picks.

22 Apr 2014 2:54 PM

Commanding Curve will make the derby field.  Secondly he will be on a track that he likes and even more importantly will be ridden by a hometown hungry jockey that was totally snubbed last year by Amoss.  If Bridgmohan would have been riding Mylute, there would have been much better results.  Bridgmohan will have this horse flying late eating up the last 1/4 mile sitting side saddle drinking a martini as he goes by them all!!  Just my conservative opinion.

22 Apr 2014 2:57 PM

English Pete;

Welcome aboard! Personally, I always like to see a horse record a workout at Churchill Downs prior to the Kentucky Derby, but it's not critical. I'll Have Another won the Derby in 2012 without a workout at Churchill, so it shouldn't prove to be much of an issue.

As for pedigree, I don't have any strong opinions on which horses might improve considerably going ten furlongs, but I do have an opinion on a different aspect of Ride On Curlin's pedigree. As a son of Curlin out of a Storm Cat mare, he is bred to relish wet tracks, and he demonstrated an affinity for such conditions when finishing a close third in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) two starts back. Thus, if it rains on Kentucky Derby day, he could show some definite improvement.

In addition, when the track is wet at Churchill Downs, the conditions tend to favor horses racing along the inside. This could also prove favorable to Ride On Curlin, who will have three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel in the saddle. Borel is legendary for his rail-skimming victories in the Derby, and is bound to have Ride On Curlin as close to the rail as reasonably possible throughout the race. As a result, I consider Ride On Curlin to be a very live longshot to win the Derby if the track is wet.

I hope that helps! And I hope you make a big score in the Derby exotics!

22 Apr 2014 3:08 PM

Quinbitt thank you for the feed back and I will take a look at the race and flags again..Either way he did receive a 102 buyer. Seems Chitu is coming into this race a little to quite for a Baffert horse if he does indeed run.

Also was following a tweet from the Downey Profile in a confrence call from Jerkins. Jerkins stated that W.S has gate issues and and can be difficult.

I am a W.S backer as he is my #2 horse right now.

I will be watching him closely in the post parade to make sure he does not run his race to early..

Good Luck

P.S. Is ten times a day to much to check the Derby Dozen??

22 Apr 2014 3:13 PM

Winning the SA Derby has been important once in the last 20 years of the Kentucky Derby.  If you wait another 20 I am sure it will be again.

22 Apr 2014 3:34 PM

Interesting that MEDAL COUNT's dam is BRISQUETTE, who was one of two fillies featured in the movie "On the Muscle" --the other was TAKE CHARGE LADY who became an important broodmare.

Rosie Napravnik has ridden for the BAYERN connections (Baffert/Shah) in the past, when she rode TAKE CONTROL in the Awesome Again Stakes.  And, she won a graded stakes with the Baffert-trained filly SECRET COMPASS.

22 Apr 2014 3:40 PM

Alex'sBigFan : I too am sorry for your loss, I recently got a pomeranian, he was a stray and when we found him, he didn't look like he was cared for, he's happier now and very demanding when it comes to scratching...  I can't imagine not being around him or vice versa so I feel for you.   Stay strong, sounds like Betsy had the best family a dog can have and I'm sure she appreciated you and your family's effort...

Derby Dew :   I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one, it’s annoying when watching the races and everyone's yelling for their horse to change leads and then they go "there you go..." and I see their horse accelerating.  I would watch the replay up close and still can't spot when the lead change happened.

MonicaV : Glad to see you back here, I was bored last night and was reading through the old Derby dozen blogs and saw your comment that I had missed regarding me being a new poster on the Bloodhorse blogs back in 2009.  I couldn't remember the first time I started coming here lol...thanks for reminding me :)

Rusty : Yeah, I’m interested in anyone’s thoughts on the weight…

Just read that Vinceremos is NOT at CD yet, I swear I read an article quoting Pletcher after the Bluegrass that he was going to go to CD the next day (Sunday), looks like he’ll arrive there tomorrow.   I guess Baffert is putting all his eggs in the Hopp basket…with Chitu going to the Derby Trial, he’s likely being pointed to the Preakness.  I guess that kind of makes sense as all the other speedsters will be in the Derby, Chitu might have a better chance winning the Preakness.  If Chitu and Ring Weekend doesn’t run, Commanding Curve and Bayern are in.  I read somewhere that Pablo Del Monte (ahead of Bayern) is being pointed to the Preakness.  If another horse drops out, then Social Inclusion is in.  It’s still about 2 weeks, lots of things can happen…I just hope and pray it’s not anything related to injuries.

SteamboatWillie :   Few terminologies from ( :  

ALSO RAN - A horse who finishes out of the money.  (Also see KY Vet)

BAD ACTOR - Fractious horse. (Also see KY Vet)

CENTER OF DISTRIBUTION - The balance point of speed and stamina influences in a horse's pedigree (influence to humans, definitely Steve Haskin)

HUNG - Horse tiring, but holding position. (NOT KY Vet)

JUVENILE - Two-year-old horse. (Also see Ky Vet)

FLATTEN OUT - When a horse drops his head almost on straight line with body. May indicate exhaustion.  (That’s me after a bad day at the track)

ROUTER - Horse who performs well at distance races. (Like Keelerman, Pedigree Ann)

SCHOOLING - Accustoming a horse to starting from the gate and to teach him racing practices. (What everyone on this blog does for Draynay)

STAYER - Stout-hearted horse who can race long distances. (Like Coldfacts)

SAVAGE - To bite another horse or a person.  (Also known as Mike Tyson)

VALET - Person who attends riders and keeps their wardrobe and equipment in order.  (Might just be me after May 3rd if Samraat doesn’t win.)

22 Apr 2014 3:45 PM
Carlos in Cali

My elimination process has begun: First up-

Wildcat Red was allowed to walk the dog in the Fla. Derby and still couldn't hold on. He will be hustled to make the lead as it is his customary running style, therefore I expect him to throw in the towel turning for home. Toss!

22 Apr 2014 4:22 PM

Boy! Alot of you list about 6 to 10 horses....why not just play the lotto? This is handicapping? betting tri's with 6 to 10 horses? hundreds of combinations......."I knew it!!!!"

22 Apr 2014 4:28 PM
Curlin 1:53.46

Predict - You really think that Ride on Curlin may not make the starting gate of the KD based on his leg action? You really think the owners are going to back away with the horse after he's come all this way because he doesn't look good when he runs? Just a guess, but I'd say that isn't going to happen. If for some reason he doesn't make it to the gate, it won't be from his leg action.

22 Apr 2014 5:15 PM

Welcome to the newest over the pond contributor English Pete,btw Pete whatever happened to that english bloke that used to be on the Breeders Cup telecast every year he of the mutton chops, and a haircut similar to Mike WaTchmaker of DRF.

22 Apr 2014 5:22 PM

Paula Higgins if Sherman gets a top five choice for post positions which post position would you choose for CC?

22 Apr 2014 5:25 PM

English Pete,

   Welcome to the "Darby Dozen"! There are no horses named "Warning" or "Dancing Brave" or "Tryptich" , but I wish there were! This is a subpar crop of three-year-olds, and I'm not gonna place my wager until at least 30 min. to post time. Seek out the best horse at the best price. Good Luck.

22 Apr 2014 5:42 PM


Yep, your right about Medal Count in his maiden win.  When his rider finally, as you say, extricated him, he exploded to the line to win.  He really did explode didn’t he with a final quarter in 26.78 and a final 8th in 13.29, this when clear.  It looks visually impressive only because the other horses were slowing up.  And whatever happened to the other horses in that race?

The fourth quarter in the BC Juvenile was run in a pedestrian 26.96 seconds, a full 2.64 seconds slower than the previous quarter.  At this point medal Count was fading badly and actually lost a full 5L or .85 seconds making his 4th quarter 27.81.  The final 16th was in 6.86, which with a simple extrapolation reads out to an additional quarter in 27.44.  Your horse lost an additional 2 1/2L, or .43 seconds, which makes his corresponding times 7.29 and 29.16.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not impressed.

The fourth quarter in the FOY was in 25.11, which was 1.23 seconds slower than the previous quarter.  Your horse was once again losing ground, from the third quarter to the fourth, 2 ¼ lengths or .38 seconds, which means he ran that quarter in 25.49.  The final 16th was in another pedestrian time, 6.61 seconds, which with a simple extrapolation works out to a 26.44 final quarter.  Medal Count lost an additional 3 ¼ lengths in that 16th or .55 seconds, which gives him a final 16th of 7.16 seconds and an extrapolated additional quarter time of 28.64 seconds.

In both the BCJ and the FOY Medal Count was close up to the pace, not a long way off it.  Those tracks favored speed and for the most part had speed biases.  And yet he couldn’t keep up.  In the BCJ, New Year’s Day came from 8th place.  In the FOY, Top Billing came from 13 lengths out and finished 3rd by a dwindling 2 lengths, not bad for an 8.5F race.  In the Meantime, Medal Count floundered and ran like a horse that didn’t really belong.

Which brings us to the question……does Medal Count seem like a dirt horse to you?  He sure doesn’t to me.  As for his potential, he probably has an upside, but do you not think it will be on something other than dirt?  I do.  Your statement about the second start on dirt in the Juvenile is not very impressive.  The winner, New Year’s Day, was making his first start on dirt.  The majority of the field didn’t have much dirt experience either.

You state that one race can transfer a horse from modest to magnificent and such was the case with California Chrome.  Actually though your statement seems noble, I disagree, at least where CC is concerned.  He was actually pretty good last year before he got a whole lot better.  He was a stakes winner last July when he won the Graduation.  It took a few more races before he rose to the top of his game, but in every one of those races he showed improvement.  In the G1 Futurity he finished 6th, but improved in the race and lost by 2 lengths.  In the Golden Juvenile he again finished 6th, but was only 3 lengths back and in both of those races he improved at the end by closing on the lead, not backing up.  It wasn’t just one race that put him where he is, it was a well thought out career with proper foundation, natural improvement and maturity.

For someone who finds a statement annoying and who knows the facts, then why not fully state them?  When someone makes what seems like a dumb statement to me, that’s annoying.  What’s also annoying is that horses aren’t necessarily alike when it comes to recovery and what’s really annoying is when someone makes a comparison (in this case about recovery) between horses forty years apart.  Secretariat ran four tough races two weeks apart and bookended those four races with races three weeks before and three weeks after.  No horse this day and age runs that kind of schedule so why make a comparison?

As for history, here’s a historical fact.  Instead of betting your two year old champion to win the Derby, which would give you about a 3% chance of winning based on the past 35 Derbies, why not bet the 17th favorite to win?  At least in the past 15 Derbies you would have had two winners, 13%, with a huge ROI.  History is fine, but for a single race it means squat before the fact, only when looking back.

22 Apr 2014 5:47 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

Once it not enough when reading and thinking about the Derby Dozen.  I know my husband and Mom just love it when I read it aloud to them!  Anyway, I enjoy it so much.  Thank you, Steve Haskin.  And lucky you, being on track for the Derby workouts and all the great conversations.  As for my Derby pick, I'll wait until I see the post positions.  Thanks for all bloggers for their comments.  I enjoy.

22 Apr 2014 6:05 PM

Go back and look at Wicked's 21 Sept. 2013 2nd race at Belmont. Sloppy surface, which he again rallied on the inside to get place and $16.K in earnings. Will it be wet on 5/3?

22 Apr 2014 6:17 PM
Steve Haskin

Saratoga AJ, in my Friday selections, based on works, gallops and appearance, I had Monarchos, Smarty Jones, Fusaichi Pegaus, Barbaro, and Street Sense as having the best work at Churchill Downs, and I had Super Saver as having the most under-the-radar work. Some of my selections I was very happy with, despite getting beat, were Dullahan and AtwhaImtalkinbout. I was also very proud of hitting $1,000-plus trifectas in the 2001 Derby and last year's Preakness.

22 Apr 2014 7:04 PM
Uncle Smiley

Dr Drunkenbum,

Thanks for keeping us up to date on Snagglepus!  Guess if he saw the stick in the right hand, he "Exited, stage left"

Holy Bull, an enviable sire... Yet Bad Pussycat, what ever happened to her?

She had Native Dancer and Nashua in her hormones.

As always, thanks for your expertise.


22 Apr 2014 7:12 PM
Age of Reason

Don't be a fool, Draynay. You say that "Winning the SA Derby has been important once in the last 20 years of the Kentucky Derby", so why don't you at least be consistent with your own logic and ask of Wildcat Red (the latest recipient of being saddled with your Derby curse, err, favoritism), how many times has running 2nd in the Florida Derby been important in the history of the Kentucky Derby? How about Wondertross, Blue Burner, Value Plus, Notional, Smooth Air, Trust N Luck, Outofthebox, Pleasant Prince, Reveron, and a whole bunch of also-rans the last 18 years (as far back as I could go from a quick Google search), not a single one of whom won or placed at Churchill Downs? Does your "logic" of causatively meaningless, non sequitur "facts" (none of which have anything to do with California Chrome) only apply to California horses, but not Florida ones?

22 Apr 2014 7:24 PM

Just wondering why California Chrome's connections wouldn't take him to Churchill early and get him used to the surface. Rather than saying, "I wish I had", better to "be safe than sorry"?  I sure hope he's the super horse we have all been waiting for.  Oh, my, watching him in his last 4 performances it just nearly takes your breath thinking about what he might be capable of.  If he's gonna win it, I hope it's easy and he just blows the others away.  He seems to be in another zone anyway. Ah, dreaming he goes all the way.

22 Apr 2014 7:40 PM

KY Vet : How many horses are you betting ?  Let people bet what they want to bet, it adds to the pool.  How's your Nov future wager going ?

22 Apr 2014 7:43 PM
John from Seattle

Quick Derby thoughts...

If California Chrome wins the 'Run For The Roses' will he then become the "Toast of California"?

If Danza wins the Derby will people then say "Whose The Boss? Danza,of course".

If Hoppertunity loses will people then say he had his opportunity?

Will racegoers confuse General A Rod with A Rod of Yankees?  Generally speaking, that is.

Will the track announcer start calling Ride The Curlin ripcurl instead?

22 Apr 2014 7:52 PM

Cali Chrome is still my pick to win. He is the candy apple red 5 speed manual Corvette of the group (Corvettes as they were made back in the late 60's and early 70's when I drove one that a friend owned that the speedometer went down in the casing when I was driving)

Ride On Curlin, Samraat and Vicar's in Trouble are in my group to hit the board. Wildcat Red is my wildcard. If Commanding Curve makes the Derby, he will be added to my little list.

Jersey Girl, I agree with you, all of these colts deserve our respect for having made it this far out of the roughly 30k foals born each year. There is something good that can be said about each of them and their pedigrees and their performances so far.

I am so beyond reading the negative posts by some on here. I just blow on by them.

You guys are now into your heavy handicapping mode and are way out of my lowly league as I know zip about handicapping. I will leave all that to the experts on here.

Steve, I so look forward to your reports from Kentucky. They are always so informative and I love seeing the pictures of the contenders.

I totally disagree that this is a sub-par field. There is a lot of talent in the group, the only thing it needs is a filly.

As always, I will make my final selection of who I think will win on Derby Day.

Steve, thank you letting me express my viewpoint on your site.

22 Apr 2014 8:17 PM

As these drug-weakened, brittle Derby contenders keep dropping like flies, Steve's job gets ever more difficult as he is forced to make constant adjustments to his Derby Dozen. Would that the authorities in racing would clean up the drug use so that sound breeding could resume in American thoroughbred horse racing, and then Steve wouldn't have to stay up so late at night to readjust his list of top Derby contenders. These continual and seemingly endless re-analyses and re-arrangements of his Derby Dozen have got to be aging him.

22 Apr 2014 8:32 PM
Monarchos Matt

Lots of talk about pedigree, and rightfully so, as we try to determine which horses will relish running a distance they have never attempted before, and which ones will flounder in the stretch.

A tool I always like to look at are the Tomlinson Distance Ratings for 10f. Here is a brief rundown of this year's contenders:

Top 3 Tomlinson Figures:

1) Hoppertunity 373

2) Medal Count 332

3) Wicked Strong 330

Worst 3 Tomlinson Figures:

1) We Miss Artie 235

2) Uncle Sigh 239

3) Danza 241

This is of course, just a numerical formula. I only started keeping data on this four years ago and it is nearly impossible to find these figures for previous runnings of the race considering they are updated quarterly  for years before 2010 when I wasn't keeping track of them.

However, it bears mention that in the last four years, three times the winner of the race was one of the Top 2 Tomlinson Distance Figures at 10f, and never in the last four years has a horse in the bottom three made the exacta. Orb is the lone exception and still showed a strong number of 293. The closest finishers to the exacta in the bottom 3 over that timespan were Mucho Macho Man (3rd, 188) and Normandy Invasion (4th, 228). The former is a good example as to why these numbers are updated quarterly, haha. Still, the fact remains that he did not make the Derby exacta.

The combination of this information makes me feel even stronger about my top two picks, Hoppertunity and Wicked Strong. It also makes me feel a bit better, although not great, about trying to keep Danza out of the exacta.


I agree with you generally speaking about this year's pace. I do not anticipate it to be as hot as it was last year, although with Uncle Sigh adding blinkers you never know. It's obviously difficult to predict much in terms of race shape until we see the draw, but I'd expect Wildcat Red to set opening fractions around :23.2 and :46.5 with California Chrome right there with him. Uncle Sigh, Ring Weekend, Vicar's In Trouble and Chitu if he runs should be about a length off of that pace, but none of these horses have shown the desire to consistently open in blazing fractions like we saw with a Goldencents, Trinniberg or even Shackleford. It will be a faster pace than a normal race just as it always simply because of the size of the field, but I expect it to be a controlled pace.

The difference to me is that horses like Hoppertunity and Wicked Strong might be classified as "closers", but they really aren't in the true sense of the word. These aren't horses like Monarchos, Street Sense or even Orb, who prefer to drop way back and hope for a pace meltdown. They have tactical speed and are more of stalking types who won't let the leaders get too far ahead of them. They have tactical speed, turn of foot and the pedigree to get the distance. As of now my main play might just be to hammer that two horse exacta box.

Oh, while on the topics of pace and Tomlinsons, here are the figures for the horses that I've classified as "pace", and should indicate which stand the best chance to hold the lead in the stretch if I'm wrong and the stalkers/ closers have too much ground to make up:

Chitu 311

California Chrome 288

Wildcat Red 261

Ring Weekend 260

Vicar's In Trouble 258

Uncle Sigh 239

22 Apr 2014 8:43 PM

Steamboat Willie; here is my humble classification of this years top point earners and their style of running, I say humble because we all see things differently and I sure there would be some disagreement among the other bloggers. In addition the horse's jockey might be forced into a position that isn't historically the horses style. Once post positions are drawn (Wednesday, April 30, 2014 5-6 PM ET) then the handicappers can get down to business. I will be checking this forum regularly after the "draw" to see the bloggers picks. An retired jockey named Frankie Lovato has a you tube video series that covers racing vernacular.  

California Chrome  speed/stalk

Vicar's in Trouble  speed/stalk

Dance With Fate  stalker/pace presser

Wicked Strong  closer

Samraat  speed/stalk

Danza  stalker

Hoppertunity  stalker

Intense Holiday closer

Wildcat Red  speed

We Miss Artie   stalker

Ride on Curlin  closer

Chitu  speed/stalker

Tapiture  speed/pace presser

Ring Weekend  speed

General a Rod  closer  

Medal Count   closer

Candy Boy closer

Uncle Sigh   stalker

Vinceremos   stalker/pace presser

Harry's Holiday  speed/pace presser  

Commanding Curve   closer

Pablo Del Monte speed

Bayern  speed

Social Inclusion  speed

22 Apr 2014 8:48 PM

The Family Tree

Gen. A Rod:

Fusaichi Pegasus, 1'st. in the san felipe, 1'st. in the wood, 1'st. in Ky Derby, 2'nd. in Preakness, 6'th. in BC Classic.

Roman Ruler: 1'st. in Haskell, 3'rd. in Travers, 1'st. in Norfolk, 5'th. in BC Juvy

Dynaformer: leading turf sire in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010.

Wicked Strong:

Hard Spun: 2'nd. in BC Classic ( Curlin), 1'st. in Ky. Cup, 1'st. in King Bishop, 2'nd. in Haskell, 4'th. in Belmont, 3'rd. in Preakness, 3'nd. in Ky. Derby

Charismatic: 3'rd. in Belmont, 1'st. in Preakness, 1'st. in Ky. Derby, 4'th. in S.A. Derby, 2'nd. in El Camino Derby.

Ride on Curlin:

Curlin: 2 time horse of the year, 3'rd. in Ky. Derby, 1'st. in Preakness, 2'nd. in Belmont, 1'st. Jockey Gold Cup, 1'st. in BC Classic, 1'st. Dibai World Cup, also Stephen Foster, Woodward, repeated the Jockey GoldCup, and sired Palice Malice with Mr. Prospector in blood.

Intense Holiday:

Harlans Holiday: 2'nd. in Hollywood Gold Cup 1 1/4, 3'rd. in Jockey Gold cup, 1'st. in Donn Handicap, 1'st. in Penn. Derby, 1'st. in Bluegrass, 1'st. in Fl. Derby, 7'th. in Ky. Derby.

Unbridled's Song: 2'nd. in Peter Pan, 5'th. in Ky. Derby, 1'st. in Wood, 1'st. in Fl. Derby, 2'nd. in F.O.Y., 1'st. in BC Juvy, 4'th. in Champagne.

$1.00 super Gen. A Rod with Wicked, Curlin with Wicked, Curlin, Hop., Danza with Hop., Danza, C.C., Intense, Wildcat, V.I.T., Tapiture

(1x2x4x7 = $38)

play one with CC on top, and another with Wicked Strong on top, and mix in the above family tree. And, play a few tri's. Good luck all.

22 Apr 2014 8:50 PM

Fellow bloggers El Kabong, Linda In Texas, Dr. D., Laz, Paula H., JayJay, Paula H., Longtimeracingfan, Mike in Michigan, Monica V., John From Seattle, etc.:

Thank you all so much for your kind words and sympathy.  It helps to be surrounded by such animal lovers as yourselves at a time like this.  Betsy was one smart, loyal dog with an immense will to live.  Thanks for all your thoughts and sharing stories about all your animals.

Now back to the horses, we've got a Derby to win here!

22 Apr 2014 9:16 PM
Tiz Herself

Steve, who do you feel will have the best chance with the track coming up wet?

22 Apr 2014 9:21 PM
Paula Higgins

Brontexx, I would like California Chrome in the 5, 6, or 7 slots. Not way on the outside or on the rail in 1. The reality is that we will not know how special this horse is until he runs in the Derby. When Big Brown got the outside post, I wasn't worried one bit. I knew he could do it even though it had not been done before. Because of the differences in surface, I would like to see CC in the 5,6, or 7 spots and hopefully with a good break, it will set him up perfectly. I think with the number of races under his belt, he has the experience and should be able to pull it off. Nothing seems to phase him. But the difference in surfaces and especially at Churchill, worry me a little since he is not going to have more time at Churchill ahead of the race.

Rusty Weisner, I am thinking Wildcat Red could be a factor because he doesn't give up. Same with Samraat who I have liked for a while.

22 Apr 2014 9:53 PM
Pedigree Ann

FYI - Went to see my Milly and her son on Sunday and things are looking much better. The weather was nice and they were out in a small paddock. The little guy was tearing around like nobody's business, kick-bucking, having a good time. Mom was less active and her ribs were showing, but Janeen says she is so much better than she was just a few days ago. Vet will do an ultra sound this week to see if her uterus is damaged or not.

Oh, and there was another one named Snaggle Puss, a 1987 model by Distinctive Pro out of Once Would Be Nice, by King Pellinore. He won 8 of 70 races, a sprinter, already.

IMHO, Wildcat Red's jock was to blame for his loss in the Florida Derby. He won the Fountain of Youth by laying down real racehorse fractions, making the other runners work to keep up. In the Fla Derby, his jock backed up the pace and let the others easily keep in touch. A true speed horse like Red needs to run them off their feet early and coast late, like Bold Forbes did; get the chasers out of their comfort zone, so they have little left when he runs out of gas, too, 3 or so lengths ahead of them.

22 Apr 2014 10:04 PM

A lot of people, especially in discussing the derby, place a lot of emphasis on final with closing split. Personally, I think the derby is one of the hardest races in the world to win and can't be simplified simply to looking at final eighths and quarter fractions. At very least, if you are going to use those, they absolutely have to be evaluated in context to both the racing surface and the early pace in the particular race in question. We all know it's foolish to look at raw times and make judgements to how fast a race is without adjusting for the nature of the track. The same holds for any fraction run in that race. In addition, regarding the La Derby, contrary to what Mr. Haskins says about the "soft fractions", the pace figures for that race were extremely fast.

22 Apr 2014 10:20 PM

Derby Dew - lead changes are important in a race - especially one as long as the Derby, because a horse gets tired staying on the same lead.  Sometimes a change will bring on a new "burst of speed" as the "not tired" leg takes over....

22 Apr 2014 10:20 PM

Thank you! With your money iv'e bought 5 horses in the last year....and now, with 4 of the claimed......down to 1.......funny, of the 6 claimed from me, none have won, i'm focusing on a big website that i've been working a professional handicapper, i laugh at alot of the posts on foundation, this is important why? Because someone said it? Or needing a workout derby week.....what's a workout gonna do? A lot of things you guys go on, simply isn't true........Foundation? Look every year.....see all the great 2yr olds.......they never get to the derby.....almost none! Was it really that none were good? really got that one wrong.......people think cairo prince and candy boy were out of really believe that! Why not run every week? You really would be in tip top shape then huh?  You just dont get it........every year, it happens......but you just dont get it..........there hasnt been a triple crown winner since '78! Is it because there hasnt been great horses? No! In the last 25 many favorites have won?.....what, there hasnt been any great performances/horses those years? why have almost all of them lost?.........every year...."oh, the distance was too much" anyone else tired of the "distance" excuse?   Now, after cali chrome loses, we gotta hear that again.....people like draynay....."i told you cali sucks!" It happens almost every year! You keep making the same mistake......YOU GO ON THE WRONG THINGS!

22 Apr 2014 10:25 PM

Hello to you Steve

 "Questions" prompted me to make these notes of the Derby Dozen beginning with California Chrome who has earned the prominent #1 spot over the course of past weeks on the  ever changing and challenging Derby trail (congrats to him ~ well deserved it is).  What more can we expect of this California bred?  It seemed an unusual decision to not let him work Churchill but "once he gets comfortable" seems to support the Art Sherman "California Dreaming" theme and there is a feel here that this colt may just like surprises like the "dirt in his face" which could work in his favor if we look at it in a positive way and "The Chrome" could prevail.

In suit, Hopportunity does remain a ?  The "powerhouse" is in the "House of Baffert" and

it still remains to be seen if he can make the next class on time.  Certainly, Professor Baffert thinks so and that makes him interesting and the credits are there for him to excell but this is a big test to take and competiton is tough in making the grade.

Danza! Steve, you already gave the answer to the question. No, we do not have any idea what we are dealing with and neither does Pletcher. The moves were perfect for this spirited, sharp and successful team showing but this is the Derby Dance Studio and the question is ~ could Danza dance across the finish line at the Derby? He will need some major leaps in this try out.

The "Bad Boy" colt, Wicked Strong no doubt, shows his excitement as he goes to the gate; hard to handle is this colt and mind strong as well as "wicked" requiring serious direction and control and a magic wand when it comes to lead.

General A Rod: I love the "original version"  of this colt and the "blew away" factor, polytrack or not.  I love the "stamina" term.  No question.

With his behavioral problem, Intense Holiday needs the touch of his Derby therapist being John Velazquez

in order to retain his composure and if he abides by the laws of gravity I will say he had a great conductor and performance...if?

Nine times!  or is it Nine Lives? Ride On Curlin. Steve, 8 of 9, Calvin Borel, solo 2yo on the "old-fashioned runnin' hoss"..coming from behind - good, good ?

Is it possible that Violette can request a change in post-time since Samraat changes leads without faulter in the morning?

Dance with Fate needs to have "Dance Fever" and determination in this Derby ~ Do you want to go or don't you; do you want to run and do you want a win or I'll go my way, by way and you go your way? Yes, this is definitely "Derby Fever".

BIG ? for Candy Boy but the Gary Stevens sugar boost could be very likely and the fact of the "needed last race" is a sweet attraction off the past performances.

As for

Vicars in Trouble....he could very well be ~ as the term "erratic" could not be more appropriate.  It is probable that the "5-week layoff" causes him to be overlooked but if he gets close enough to boast his hidden ability unsuspected "trouble" could very well be.

Dale Romans deserves the "attention".  Of course, everyone is "excited" about getting in to the Derby and everyone thinks they have a very good shot ~ but Dale Romans need not worry about "convincing" as he seems exceptionally confident in "The Count" and leaves a ? for all of us.


Those "Knocking at the Door" are a reflection of ourselves

Yes, Steve there is plenty of question and analysis in this Derby.  It seems so much more than in any other.  We have gone through the trials, tribulations, trauma and terror of breakdowns and hopes of coming up with an answer to the questions. We have all become therapist in the thoroughbred world.  We also have become educated through the "Derby Dozen" and acknowledge the fact that we will get the answer on May 3rd as the pounding of hooves rush towards us in a "fraction" leaving us another ? ~ Who got it?

This summary brought so much closure and relief to a rough ride and it sure is nice to hear "No More Bets" at the table.  The "questions" of the quest of the "Dozen" and the Derby is a remarkable way of initiating thought and deserves compliment.

Thank you and Thank you again.

22 Apr 2014 10:31 PM

Danza, will the real race horse please stand-up. Nothing like throwing a monkey wrench into the Derby handicapping machine that is this blog. His Arkansas Derby sure looks like the real thing when you compare his race time to that of Will Take Charge's Oaklawn Handicap race time. Perhaps even more impressive when you look at the way he came home faster than even will Take Charge did in his race. And this was Will Take Charge's third race of the year, so he certainly wasn't a short horse or anything like that. Of course Will Take Charge ran 8th in the Kentucky Derby, but he is arguably a better race horse now than when he ran in the Derby. If you look back at what Will Take Charge did last year at Oaklawn when he was a 3 year old in the Smarty Jones, it just makes Danza look all that more impressive as WTC's winning time for the mile was a full second and a fifth more that Danza's split for the mile in the Arkansas Derby. What are we to make of this guy? Make him the pick in the Derby? I think you could, and you could very possibly be right.

22 Apr 2014 10:33 PM
Saratoga AJ

Thanks Steve. Now all I need is for you to give me one of those $1000 triples in one of this year's Triple Crown series! Heck, even half that. :)  

22 Apr 2014 10:37 PM


I'm still trying to learn things and I've been enjoying horse racing as a fan/bettor for about 47 years. Trust me when I say you can't find a better or more knowledgeable expert on the sport of horse racing than Steve Haskin. Wait till he starts talking about the horses at Churchill this year, and he will probably use the term "dappled" to describe some of them. I'm still not sure what affect that has on the horse, but when I hear it now, I pay attention to that horse. Anyway, welcome aboard the blog and enjoy the ride.

22 Apr 2014 10:47 PM

Medal Count and Hoppertunity looked great on the CD track this morning.

Ride on Curlin looked like he played in an all night poker game.

22 Apr 2014 11:05 PM

Mr. Haskins,

Thanks again for VOLPONI.

I have a stupid question. In California 6 gen. pedigree

I see two Ramussen factors :

  Numbered Account/Northern Dancer

  Numbered Account/Danzig

and Somethingroyal/Bold Ruler


is that CC's performance ?

Numbered Account also has two Ramussen factors in SELENE

and LA TROIENNE. Could that help CC's stamina ?

22 Apr 2014 11:50 PM


Your pen name would be a cute name for one of Hoppertunity's future progeny!  I would assume Hard Spun had a high Tomlinson # due to the Danzig pedigree background.  Soldat had it too and he was regarded as doing well in the slop.  So I would imagine Wicked Strong may do well in slop being a Hard Spun baby.

Speaking of my Hard Spun, time to come home my boy.  He is standing in Japan.  He and Smarty win the "Shuttlebutt" Award of the year.  

23 Apr 2014 12:25 AM
Bob from Boston

mz, I have the exact same, "I heart Ted from LA" poster. Good to read you.  I went for a run today and came upon a baby foal and his mother.  Beautiful. The colt winked at me and wrote a "5" in the ground.  It was odd. I'm thinking 5 in the Derby.

23 Apr 2014 12:42 AM

Steve Haskin : Will you be posting who you'll be playing, curious who you'll have on top besides CC or if you'll single him.  

Rinzler : That post 1 question pretty much applies to every horse I think.

Laz :  Great post and glad you like Samraat as well!

23 Apr 2014 1:38 AM
English Pete


thanks for the insight re ROC and the inside rail. I hope it's not wet as last year's race fell apart somewhat with the combination of rain and pace meltdown. Plus I'd like CC to have every chance to prove himself a champ, or at least fail in a fair fight.


"Mutton Chops" John McCririck was fired after a new production company took over the broadcasting of Channel 4 Racing here. He still gets some work on other stations.


I wouldn't be too hard on this year's crop yet - it's a long old season and something may come out of the pack starting May 3rd.

I'm looking forward to Steve's trackside reports which sound like they'll be informative.  Especially interested in "could be anything" Danza's work.

23 Apr 2014 2:21 AM

I read where Carlos in Cali said that he is tossing Wildcat Red because he basically walked the dog in the Florida Derby and was beaten by a head. I would watch handicapping on that angle with a speed horse like WR. He reminds me of Shackleford. Shack was allowed to walk the dog in the K. Derby and finished 4th. Then in the Preakness he was up on very strong fractions and repelled Animal Kingdom in the stretch. A legit speed horse (a Shack, a Hard Spun, etc.) can set a strong pace and keep on going. SPEED is their best weapon. So what if he could not win the FL Derby, he had his best weapon taken from him--the ability to run the field off their feet and get separation.

If you think WR can't get 10f I might understand that...however, horses get a good deal of stamina underneath. WR is very stout on his female side. He is bred Spriter/Miler over classic distance stamina. His damsire won at 10f and his dam did as well.

23 Apr 2014 4:02 AM

Ricardo Santana gets the call back on Tapiture and gets along good with the horse,I guess Rosario didn't do any better,this horse is a live outsider,he's in my top 5.

23 Apr 2014 4:06 AM

Vicar's In Trouble to win

23 Apr 2014 5:05 AM
Derby Dew


Thanks for the feedback on lead changes.  Your heads up on California Chrome's 4/19 workout proved to be educational.  I had to re-run the video a few times around the 59 second mark to finally detect the CC's lead change.  I'll have to be more focused in observing the run into the stretch.  

I'm in synch with the concept of lead changes for a horse being able to get a second wind for the stretch drive.  Yet, for some reason, I have trouble picking it up with the naked eye.  I'll see if I can improve on that.  Thanks again, for the reference to CC's work.  That handsome colt would look good wearing the roses.

Thanks also to Ted from LA and JayJay for their feedback.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get hopping and see how many times I change leads, ha! ha!

23 Apr 2014 5:34 AM

Just an observation from the Wood, I had only one horse closing the final 1/8th just as fast as Wicked Strong (12 2/5) and that was Uncle Sigh.

I don't know how much further Uncle Sigh traveled in the race than Wicked Strong but it was substantial.  Wicked Strong had the perfect trip. I'll leave it to the experts on their pedigrees but when it comes to grit, guts, and constitution, I'll take Uncle Sigh.  Don't count him out!

23 Apr 2014 6:20 AM

With a 1:50.77 and drifting in and out in the stretch of the LA Derby, I'm not left with much confidence in Vicar's in Trouble.  A toss for me which could come back and bite me if he relaxes and decides to run in 2nd tier of the Derby field.  If he's within himself at the quarter pole, he has the turn of foot to capture 3rd or 4th.  I don't see him midpack, however.

If Wildcat Red doesn't rate in the Derby but blasts to the lead…a toss for me.

I had Danza in 11 & 4 and / or 12 flat in his last 1/8th at an Oaklawn Park that runs slower than Gulfstream and SA plus he was just getting started approaching the wire in the AR Derby.  If Chrome's  going to win in Kentucky he's going to have to hold off Danza to do it.

Intense Holiday is more explosive than Hoppertunity but I think Hopp has learned to keep himself in better position now with plenty of juice in his tank to finish strong.  These two horses and how they finish in relation to each other will come down to who has the better trip.  

I'm going to keep Uncle Sigh in the mix and toss Wicked Strong.  I'm not confident in WS to overcome obstacles that could set him back.  If Commanding Curve gets in, he will definitely be in the mix.

Don't know what to do, yet, with Dance with Fate, We Miss Artie, Candy Boy, Tapiture, Vinceremos but Medal Count is a toss.  Dance with Fate is the grad student to Medal Count's senior prom in my book.

Generalisimo A Rod had no excuses in the FL Derby but if he gets the equip change, I can't ignore him.  If Samraat puts it all together in Louisville, he's 3rd or 4th at best.  If not, he could be a Soldat.

If Chitu runs, he's my Shackleford.  If he peaks on May 3, he could win but best guess is he's 3rd or 4th at best.

If Graham Motion runs Ring Weekend then he must be close to TB Derby form and I won't ignore him if this is the case.  

Will Ride on Curlin be the Palace Malice that rates this year and have a full tank at the quarter pole???  Would love to see Bayern and Pablo Del Monte get in!

All of this complete and utter speculation on my part is pending the last two weeks' reports, post draws, weather, NBC's PETA coverage, Bill Rinker's dream reports, Ted & Bob's report prior to the Juleps gaining traction.  

I'm with Dr D, I'll swing for the fences and won't put CC on top but my heart is all in for him to win.  I may just have "All" on top with CC, Danza, Hopp to box for 2, 3, 4.

I have bettor's block right now!  

Lord, may they all come to the wire safely!!!

23 Apr 2014 8:00 AM

Thank you Cold Facts for that information

23 Apr 2014 8:13 AM

If post time odds were similar to what GiddyUpBoy… posted, I'd be thinking…

1) Danza 12-1

2) CC        5-2

3) Hopp   8-1

4) ROC    20-1

If Commanding Curve were in, he'd be #3 and ROC & Hopp in the #4 slot.

23 Apr 2014 8:21 AM

English Pete,

California Chrome is regarded as a super horse that needs only to show up at Churchill Downs and the Derby victory is assured. If he loses the reasons will be plentiful and the decision to forgo workouts at CD will probably be the primary.

“I know a fair bit on European breeding but not enough on US breeding”

There are two horses that I think will excel at 10F  and might be at good prices.

We Miss Artie:

In Derby 2013, Golden Soul finished 2nd @50-1 with only a maiden victory to his credit. He was sired by a son of none other than the great Sadler’s Wells who dominated European racing for years as a sire. Golden Soul was produced from a Mr. Prospector mare. You might know Mr. Prospector through his son Miswaki who sire the great mare and broodmare Urban Sea who was one of many top horses sired by him. Interestingly, Golden Soul backed into the Derby field with only 10 points due to defections.

We Miss Artie was sired by Artie Schiller a grandson of Sadler’s Wells and out of a mare sire by Mr. Prospector’s Derby winning son Fusaichi Pegasus. We Miss Artie and Golden Soul were bred along a similar cross but the former is far more accomplished heading into the Derby. There are question surrounding We Miss Artie capacity to perform effective on dirt. However, the surface at CD is very turf/synthetic friendly. He has the ability and class to win and will definitely stay 10F. In addition, the colt has an owner that has been on a roll and is overdue to with the Derby.

Medal count:

He was sired by Dynaformer who might still be in your short term memory as a major stamina influence with his siring of Blue Bunting that upset the 2011 1000 Guineas field. She also won the Yorkshire & Irish Oaks contested over 12F. Dynaformer also sired British St. Ledger winner Lucarno. Medal Count’s dam was sired by Unbridled’s Song who sired over 100 Stakes winners including Derby runner up Eights Belles.

Medal Count best performance have been on turf/synthetic but won his career start on dirt. He seems to have come to hand at the ideal time. He has the ability and class to win and will definitely stay 10F. He should also relish the turf/synthetic friendly strip at CD.

23 Apr 2014 8:55 AM
Sail On

For some reason my recent comments have not posted. I am sure Steve is not blocking me. I have no idea wgat the problem is.

Alex'sBigFan, and Windolen, always so sad to see one's beloved companion suffer. I am so sorry for your loss. Betsy and Meggie will be waiting for you on the Rainbow Bridge.

Coldfacts, I do like your comparison of some of the colts that have made the DD list with those who have not. It adds food for thought.

Steve,I so enjoy reading your posts and your insight into the colts you write about. My week would be much less rich without your Derby Dozen, it's a bright spot on the web :)

Here are my current favorites...

Vicar's In Trouble


Wicked Strong


Social Inclusion

(as I write this, the Cardinals outside my window are scolding the rain)

23 Apr 2014 9:08 AM


Watch some of the videos featuring Revolutionary with victories at Saratoga and Aqueduct. Focus on the closing part of the race and you will get an example of when a horse changes leads.

Revisit the 2014 LA Derby and focus on Intense Holiday when he darted to the rails and appeared to be spinning his wheels. He then leveled out beautifully shortly thereafter.  If you pay attention to his legs you will identify when he switched and regained a smoother action.

23 Apr 2014 9:16 AM

I have never been a fan of Victor Espinoza and my colleagues constantly stated that I am too hard on the top notch jockey. Well, I usually disagree. I see Victor Espinoza as a rider that wins races when his mount is either the best on the day or best in the field. He is not a rider that can take a horse with a marginal chance and use his riding skills to manufacture a winner.

In the 2001 Breeder Cup Juvenile Victor Espinoza was aboard the 1-5 favorite Officer. He was an unbeaten and untested colt that had demolished opponents in 5 starts. He just had to turn up and the BCJ victory was assured.

He was either SOB or SIS and was rushed to join the leaders. He travelled powerfully on the bridle while under pressure from one of his opponents. When Officer was asked at the top of the stretch for his final effort to repel the closers, he did not accelerate and his rider looks hopelessly lost with his only option, excessive whipping. One by one the closers ran by him. When a need to lead type breaks badly what’s its rider’s plan B? It depends on the rider.

Victor Espinoza won the Derby and Preakness on War Emblem. The colt was the fastest in the field and was from the high octane barn of Speedy Bob. In the Belmont War Emblem broke badly and was hustled to join the leading pack in a 12F race. He was strangled behind horses along the rails and found very little when asked and finished a disappointing 8th.

He was a permanent fixture on Office and War Emblem. On both occasions when things didn’t go as planned at the gates for them, Victor Espinoza's limitations were exposed.

California Chrome has tendency to breaks awkwardly and has been able to recover due to small field and opponents devoid of early speed. If he breaks badly in the Derby and finds himself in a vulnerable position, Victor Espinoza is not the man you want in the irons.

23 Apr 2014 10:08 AM
Gary D.

Food for thought,for those who like to play "angles" and/or long shots... Go For Gin, Barbaro*, Monarchos, Thunder Gulch and Giacomo* all had TWO 1 1/8 mile prep races before winning the KY Derby.

Two horses this year, meet that criteria.

Dance with Fate and Harry's Holiday.

*The Sham was a 1 1/8 mile race in 2005 as was the Holy Bull in 2006.

23 Apr 2014 10:11 AM


You've come a long way since 2009!  I'm impressed with all the knowledge you've picked up along the way!  I've been absent for a few years as my job has taken up all my time including weekends.  I haven't followed racing as much as I used to but I did go to the Breeder's Cup the last couple of years and was so disappointed that IHA

was injured and I didn't get to see him.  I'll be there this year too since it's in my backyard once again at SA.


You never change.  Same comments, different horses.  I love to read them all over again.  You're such an Eastern snob!  Do you still think CA horses use western saddles?  Believe it or not, there is very good racing out here.  I wish you luck with your picks though.


Nice to see you again as well.  You seem to have a banter going on with Coldfacts.  He's an interesting guy and he makes me wonder if this is all off the top of his head or he has books and graphs next to his computer.  He makes good points but some facts and study can make a case but the individual animal is what makes the difference.


You have always been a Lady on the blogs with lots of class.  Great to read your posts.


I'm so anxious for you to get to Churchill so you can tell us how the horses look and work.  It's my favorite part of the year.  Lucky you!  I'm awaiting CC's arrival and your thoughts on his overall appearance.  I just love that horse and I really like ROC too.

23 Apr 2014 10:26 AM
Diego Conde

Can we talk about foundation? In my opinion a horse needs a solid foundation to be able to handle the 1 1/4 mile battle. This is not just 1 1/4 mile. It's a rushed, frantic first half of a race with young, mostly green (to light brown) horses fighting for position and sometimes fighting the bid as jockeys try to nurse speed. Horses need to have a strong set of races and works to go back to when it is time to dig deep.

Yes, I will once again point to Cali Chrome as my favorite. He has that Lukas-type foundation. Constitution did not have it and he succumed to the Derby trail.

I disagree with Mr. Haskins on Danza for the same reason: no foundation to go to in the stretch. He may be a great one and perhaps a serious threat in the summer classics, but I believe the Derby is too much too soon.

Other horses with strong foundation that I am following closely are Samraat, Uncle Sigh and General A Rod who keeps showing his face every time I analyze this race for no aparent reason. These horses, and others that I may be forgeting now, have a well of experience and sweat-built stamina (not just pedigree) to go to in the final furlong... a great thing to have when tired legs start begging the spires' shadows for the wire.

23 Apr 2014 10:41 AM

General A Rods report work was not to good today.

Coldfacts check your FACTS at what Golden soul went of at.

23 Apr 2014 10:59 AM
Rusty Weisner


Didn't they just do a lottery assignment of post positions last year, with no choosing by trainers, i.e., the pills were numbered and you got what you got?

By the way, I appreciate the endorsement, but I don't want you to give newcomers a bum steer.  Point them to a winner ;-)

23 Apr 2014 11:23 AM

Steve - out of curiosity can you remember a derby favorite that had their final prep against a lesser group of animals than what CC had in the SA derby?  

without going back to the past performances I think it was 8 horses he went against 5 or 6 of which had nothing but a maiden win.  Hoppurtunity with 2 wins and Candy Boy with I think 2 or 3 wins to his name.  

CC looked great winning but who did he beat?  

23 Apr 2014 11:28 AM

First off, my deepest sympathy to Alex'sbigfan and Windolin on the recent loss of your dear companions.  From the many comments, it seems that there are quite a few of us who understand how difficult a loss it is.  I still mourn the loss of my Golden, Beau, who was my guardian angel for 16 1/2 years.

Second, congratulations to Zenyatta and all her connections on the lovely Easter filly.  She looks so much like her mom.  I hope she runs like her too.

Third, I am so upset that Cairo Prince will not run in the derby.  He has been the top of my list forever.  I hate that so many have dropped out.

Even though I am very concerned about California Chrome not having a chance to get the feel of Churchill (still can't figure out that decision), I believe he is still the top contender.  After him, Hopportunity, Wicked Strong, Tapiture and Wildcat Red.  I love the fighters!  Will have to put something on Ride on Curling with Calvin.  A mistake to ignore that huge possibility.

Thanks so much, Steve.  You have done a super job this year with a very tough group of ever changing colts.

23 Apr 2014 11:33 AM
Rusty Weisner


Instead of the cryptic, ellipsis-infused insults, how about something we can use?  Last year you had a respectable Derby pick, Normandy Invasion. I think you made some money in the Preakness on Itsmyluckyday hitting the board.  In the Belmont you whiffed with Revolutionary.  When Orb ran dull races in the Preakness and Belmont you said he was overraced and tired, but he didn't improve that summer.  Who do you like this year, and who don't you like?

23 Apr 2014 11:38 AM

GiddyUpBoyWhoa (1x2x4x7 = $38) sounds like a bargain and according to math it comes out to $56 if you can get it for 38 I want 3.

Monarchos Matt TY for the Tomlinson Figures.

Do you have the last 3 sheet figs for all the contenders?

23 Apr 2014 11:42 AM


If it's any consolation to you, Easy Goer was a great horse, one of the most underated of all time.  He had the second fastest Belmont Stakes ever after Secretariat. His victory there was one of the greatest comebacks in racing history because he had just dropped the Preakness (by a nose) and the Derby (by 2 1/2 lengths) in the mud to Sunday Silence.  He silenced him that Saturday (sorry).  Easy Goer also ran the fastest mile on dirt than any 3 yr. old in history. A great horse trained by the same guy who trained Orb.  For all the praise heaped upon Orb last year, much of it well deserved because of his Derby victory, he would have had absolutely, positively no chance versus Easy Goer.        

23 Apr 2014 11:51 AM
John from Seattle

Just read from an English paper that Mr. Sherman "wants to keep California Chrome fresh for the Derby and thereby not will work him at Churchill Downs - and just to school him (CC) in the gates".

According to the article everyone involved with this horse from the trainer to the owners seem very, very confident.

Speaking of starting gates today the NFL releases there schedule - Go Seahawks!

23 Apr 2014 11:56 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

As far as pace, I forgot VIT.  I think with Napravnik and the negative experience in the Risen Star this horse has to try for the lead.  So that makes three, with WR and US.  But the performance of the two Into Mischief horses last year makes him a toss for me.  I envision him up near Wildcat Red, like Napravnik had the overmatched Pants on Fire up (with the jockey and the lucky 7 saddlecloth bet down to 8-1) up stalking Shackleford.

In the ongoing process of elimination, I've said many times I don't like Chitu, and not liking that one, I'm throwing out Candy Boy, too.

23 Apr 2014 11:57 AM

Wow - thanks everyone for the helpful responses.  

Rusty - I recently ordered the Beyer book, but unfortunately many of the examples using past DRF sheets don't translate very legibly into my Kindle (kind of funny and embarrassing for me at the same time), so I need to find the hard copy.

Quinnbit - I really appreciate the thorough analysis, and I especially liked that almost all of your style designations matched the ones that I had gleaned from other sources.

JayJay and Linda - I'll check both of those sites for more information.

I've really got the bug now, spurred on by starting off last Saturday hitting my ATB wager on Hot Hot Heat (40-1) at Keeneland and then closing the day the same way with an ATB on Imperative (26-1) in the Charlestown Classic.

My various Future Pool wagers are a graveyard right now, with only Pool 4 having a viable contender:

I boxed CC (9-1), Chitu (31-1), Samraat (17-1) and Social Inclusion (11-1) in an Exacta, and I might be down to only two horses left in that Box by this weekend.  But hey, as long as I have a simmering glow of a chance, I'm holding out hope.

23 Apr 2014 12:02 PM

predict I hate to downgrade his performance but Danza got a great inside tracking trip in the Arkansas Derby thats how horses can make big figures and fast times improving overnight running on the inside of the track,the shortest distance around.Remember Social Inclusion his fig was head and shoulders above the Wood field how did that turn out?

23 Apr 2014 12:03 PM

Just letting people know.......if/when Cali Chrome loses derby, he will NOT run in the preakness and belmont..................

23 Apr 2014 12:14 PM
Diego Conde

So Here I am thinking my foundation comment is so smart and original when I turn to yesterday's article where Sherman says the same thing.

In short, I completely agree with him. Foundation is underrated and key to this race.

I must address the East vs West debate; it is pure bologna. The pedigrees are the same: mostly KY bloodlines. The dietary supplements are the same. Even the great KY Bluegrass can be easily produced in Cal with the right irrigation system. Trainers are the same quality with Mandella, Baffert, Ellis, Miller, Hollendorfer and others. Tracks, purses, etc.... All on par with the East.

Undoubtedly, the East has a longer tradition, of course. But if it is tradition you are hanging your hat on, then England should have the best animals and Japanese racing should really suck. Neither is the case.

Globalization is the breaking of geographical barriers. Horse racing has not been immune to it... And that's a good thing.

23 Apr 2014 12:17 PM

Derby Dew

I'm still laughing. I have this image of you skipping along changing leads and accelerating with every lead change, down the street at unimaginable speed, neighbors watching in amazement, wondering who your father skipped against, how many times have you skipped that fast, and most of all are you going to enter in next weeks Skip-they want to get their bet down, Derby Dew with all! I urge caution as you might "crossfire" and be sent to the round pen for dressage lessons, perhaps some acupuncture, and you'll definitely need some realignment by a chiropractor.

23 Apr 2014 12:33 PM
English Pete


Thanks a lot for your two outsiders to look at. That's exactly the kind of thing I was interested in, namely an overlooked horse that would need to improve for the extra trip but just might do that and hit the board. I do like Dynaformer as a stamina influence (and followed Blue Bunting through her Classic season), and notice Medal Count's last two dirt runs were at Santa Anita and Gulfstream. Those speed tracks wouldn't be any good to him so I'll take a closer look at this one. I think I've seen that Dynaformer sired Barbaro, so maybe MC can act on the Churchill track.

By the way, both Medal Count and We Miss Artie are currently 40/1 with UK bookmakers.

Thanks again for your ideas. I do pretty well at the Breeders Cup now, but never tried to crack the Derby exotics. I expect, as with the Breeders, I may have to undertake an expensive few years of education lol.

23 Apr 2014 12:33 PM
Rusty Weisner


I'll Have Another's Santa Anita was comparable.  Creative Cause was the main contender, Liaison had some wins, Baffert had two maiden winners, Blueskiesandrainbows & Paynter, and the rest were nothing.  

23 Apr 2014 1:30 PM
Rusty Weisner


I had the same observation about the math there.  With the further observation:  the horses don't get boxed underneath?  There's something specifically fourth-place about seven of the horses, specifically third-place about another four, etc.?  That's crazy.  I won't even take that ticket for $38.

Keying the top horse in a superfecta with those others boxed underneath would be $336.  Way too much.

23 Apr 2014 1:46 PM

Huh ?  There was nothing wrong with General A Rod's work at all.  He just worked out a few days ago and he will work again on Monday.  Today was just a nice stretch of the legs between works. He looks great !

23 Apr 2014 1:49 PM

KY Vet .... that does not surprise me a bit.  CC will never win a race outside of California.  When you see him in the Derby you will see why he will not race in any other Triple Crown race.

23 Apr 2014 1:52 PM

MonicaV : Thanks!  and still a lot to learn.  Glad to see you coming back in the mix :)

Coldfacts  :   Thanks, I'll definitely look up those videos and let you know if I'm able to spot it.

KY VET  :   Why wouldn't he ?   Did you get a call from Art ?

English Pete : Can you bet US races there ?  Even online if there's no "night racing" ?

23 Apr 2014 2:18 PM

Brontexx(is that handle for the medication of similar name?)

Since you asked, I think Social Inclusion's Wood didn't turn out all that bad. He was racing for only his third start lifetime, after shipping  for the first time to Aqueduct, and he still had enough natural ability to give the local horse, Samraat(who some bloggers here like to win the Derby), who was making his sixth lifetime start and fifth at Aqueduct, and was undefeated entering the Wood, all he could handle in the stretch. I would say that was a pretty impressive turn-out. OK, so Social Inclusion wasn't the super horse some(myself included) thought he might be, but he is still a very, very good horse. If he runs in the Derby, off that Wood race, I would give him a chance to be there at the end.

As for Danza, I could not feel comfortable leaving him out of the mix for the Derby win, because he might just get that good trip again. I know one race doesn't define a horse's ability, we have all seen what you might call one-hit wonders, but listening to what his handlers have been saying about him I am liking his chances.

Saying becomes swaying, with a W for the win.  

23 Apr 2014 2:33 PM

As of today, the Kentucky weather forecast for next week looks very wet, stormy, and perhaps downright chilly.  I hope we get a fast track but who moves up/down in the mud?

23 Apr 2014 2:42 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  That was a real nice analysis you did 4-23-14, 8am but bettor's block right now is a real good thing, you don't want make up your mind too early, and also remember that a penny saved is a penny earned, don't cross the street without looking both ways, and don't eat candy before dinner- it will spoil your apetite. (more words of handicapping and betting wisdom).

23 Apr 2014 2:42 PM
It aint easy being good!

KT Vet your so funny. I have 6 horses because by post time I will be down to 3 or 4. I agree people that like 10 horses have zero handicapping skills that's half the field. 50% of this blog will be nonsense if CC draws the #1 and or #20 hole. Post position matters if you dont think so ask SI 3 weeks ago. Yeah I know big brown won in the 20 hole but he was juicing more then the ultimate warrior! Too soon?

Also all horse trainers are confident in their horse until the race is over. Its like my buddies when they leave the fantasy football draft thinking they have a championship team and then they go 2-12 for the season!

23 Apr 2014 2:50 PM
Carlos in Cali


With California Chrome,Vicar's In Trouble and Ring Weekend in the line-up along with Uncle Sigh getting blinkers,I don't think Wildcat Red will be allowed to set soft splits like he did in the Fl Derby,no way.And,IMO, he also will not be able to run them off their feet and get separation as you stated,because he might not even be the quickest of the bunch. But,I do think he'll be hustled out of the gate to make the lead at all cost. And yes,I do think the extra furlong will be too much for him(D'Wildcat?) along with the expected pace pressure.

BTW: While Shackleford was lone speed in the Derby he still folded because his pedigree said so. Pimlico's tight turns is a lot kinder to speed and he also got away with a 1:12 3/4m split. He never won another route race until his last race,the Clark.

23 Apr 2014 3:06 PM

Coldfacts : I tried watching those videos but they're not that close to the horses so I wasn't able to pick up the change.  I did watch CC's Los Alamitos workout from Derby Dew's (and Quinnbit) post and was able to use youtube's slow motion feature to see the lead change.   I also found a training video for "flying lead change".   Now that I know how the horses do it, I can try and pick up the change in action with the horse overall, they do it very smoothly but I think they do a little bit of a "hop" when they switch leads.

Also, what is the normal stride ?  Do they start running with the right lead (from the gate), then change to left lead on the stretch ?   Does it have to do with the turns of the track ?   or is it normal to start with the right slowly, then switch to left when in full stride on the stretch ?

23 Apr 2014 3:20 PM


I'm well aware that Easy Goer was a great horse.  I got to see him run as a juvenile at the 1988 BC and he didn't like the track.  I knew the Derby would end up either Easy Goer or Sunday Silence but knew that if it was muddy, Sunday would win. Yes, the Preakness was won by a nose.  Easy goer swept the Belmont because he  was home and he was a distance horse and yes, he was a great horse and all the more so because he ran on bad ankles.

I am from California so I backed our hometown boy, Sunday Silence who was also a great horse as far as I am concerned.  He won the Classic that year as well.  I still remember the day I found out that Easy Goer died.  That broke my heart as he was only six.  I cried for him as I did for Sunday when he died.  They both gave us a thrilling year of racing in 1989.  Probably one of the best.

23 Apr 2014 3:43 PM

I keep seeing people questioning the horses that CC beat.  Not very good horses according to some but who did the other horses beat that are so stellar?  I don't get that line of thought.  I mean how many horses out there are considered as good as Easy Goer or Sunday Silence?  None that I can tell.  Who did the other Derby entrants beat?  Yet Hoppertunity is second favority and he was beaten by CC in the SA derby.  I guess it doesn't count.

23 Apr 2014 3:50 PM

I'm not insulting anyone.....i'm saying most people on here dont go on the correct things.....they talk about things that matter the least.......blinkers? When did people think this changes anything any amount to matter? A workout before the derby? People think it's really important.......who taught you this stuff?  "he's a throw out if he gets the #1 hole"....why is that?  The #1 hole is only bad if you have trouble.....just like #2-20........There's so many of you that think it's a walk over for cali chrome.....some use stupid reasons to knock cali chrome(draynay)....he actually believes he didnt run like a monster? Helen Keller could see that.......If cali chrome runs the same race in kentucky, as he did in the santa anita derby, he will win.........duh! I happen to believe he wont........unlike the ignorant people that are picking against him, because he is not good enough, I know he IS good that I mean, the excuses after he loses, will be "he cant go a mile and a quarter" or "they suck in cali".......So.....if he's good enough, why do i know he will get beat?  Because i'm a pro...........who do i like? well my horse was constitution......and my nov fun bets futures both got hurt ive narrowed it down to 3 or 4.....think i know, but i'll let ya know next week......

23 Apr 2014 4:04 PM
Forbidden Apple

How is Wildcat Red not even in a top 12 KY Derby contenders list? Someone on the 4/14 D.D. list asked who he has beaten. Without any research I can recall that he's beaten General A Rod twice, Top Billing, Cairo Prince, and Pablo Del Monte. And yet General A Rod is in the top 5, this makes little sense at all. Before the S.A. Derby the best horse that Cali Chrome defeated was Midnight Hawk in the San Felipe. And it's now crystal clear that Midnight Hawk is a miler at best. I'd prefer taking 15-1 on W. Red and Candy Boy instead of standing single file in line to bet on C. Chrome at 9/5! I also agree with others here who posted that Candy Boy and Hoppertunity are far better than their S.A. Derby efforts.

1)Wildcat Red 2)Candy Boy 3)California Chrome 4)Hoppertunity 5)Dance With Fate 6)Wicked Strong 7)Social Inclusion 8)General A Rod 9)Danza 10)Vicars In Trouble

I can't even come up with a dozen list this week, so a top ten list is it for me.

A direct quote from Jose Garoffalo, "The more he's doing the better he feels." I'm happy to hear that Luis Saez is back on board the Rodney Dangerfield horse in the 2014 KY Derby. Toss him at your own risk, this tough little horse was taken out of his speed game in the FL Derby and still ran on strong to the wire.

23 Apr 2014 4:36 PM

Wow, Coldfacts, your comment about Victor Espinoza was most interesting.  I don't know anything about his skills but do remember the tough War Emblem.  I recall that in an interview following the Belmont, Baffert said something to the effect that when War Emblem broke badly he knew it was all over.  I took that to mean that w/o the lead the almost black horse could not win.  But perhaps it also meant that because of Espinoza having no back-up plan War Emblem had no chance.  

This makes me more concerned for California Chrome's upcoming Derby in which he will need every possible chance to bring his best.  A good horse deserves a fine jockey and I really want to see California Chrome's best on May 3.  Thank you for this info.

23 Apr 2014 4:50 PM
Mister Frisky

Since I'm using CC in my super box I for one hope he gets the 1 hole,and the track is sloppy.His price will float up for what it should be in a 20 horse filed.His pedigree has Slew and Mr.P in it whose offspring loved the off going.And most importantly, CC has a full bandwagon because lots of people think he is '"THE ONE",including our esteemed moderator Mr.Haskin.If he is special he will overcome any post or track condition and beat this weak crop under a hand ride.If he is just very good than variables will come into play and he just might not get up.

23 Apr 2014 5:25 PM
Peggy in California

Here is a link to a nice feature article about California Chrome and his connections written by one of our local turf writers for the Sacramento Bee.  His breeders/owners are local folks and his is the best racing story to come from this area in a long time (if ever).

23 Apr 2014 5:30 PM
English Pete

Hi JayJay,

yes I can bet US races from England. Win and each way (that's win and show for you) at bookmaker prices, or directly into your pools for W/P/S and exotics. It's great because for graded races your exotics pools are huge compared with British/Irish racing. I've only played Breeders Cup for exotics as I don't know enough about your regular racing, but it's such fantastic value that I've started looking at your graded racing more generally. I've been betting for a few years on the win markets in your higher class races as I think the horses are generally consistent, the information available is brilliant and you have sectional timing that makes sense. I do all of that online, and the races get streamed live as well.

23 Apr 2014 5:45 PM

How do i know? that cc wont run in the preakness or belmont? Because i know the sport.....from all angles....why would he? Listen, art doesnt have to tell me anything......he will give him a rest because he ran all winter..........sorry, but if you want a triple crown winner, dont run him in the winter! If you wanna win the derby, dont run him all and learn.............

23 Apr 2014 5:48 PM

predict very good I made up Brontexx if their is a med with the same name I never knew about it.

KY Vet I dont fall into the trap of calling myself a handicapper I am a horseplayer.One difference between the two is that I am trying to play the right bets its plural to make more money back than I bet. Handicappers are trying to narrow the field down to I dunno how many.That works well in the regular small field less than ten entries but in 20 horse fields If I was a handicapper I would play across the board.I am a horseplayer and an exotic player so to start with less than half the field to win a trifecta where in the ENTIRE FIELD their are 20*19*18=6840 combinations for the one dollar bet is not very smart.BTW I think most pros consider themselves horseplayers because to win money you gotta know how to bet.The handicapper notion is the people that play in tournaments and have angles that help them pick longshots are you one of those?

23 Apr 2014 5:54 PM

BTW KY Vet all the companies that sell PPs want you to continue to think of yourself as a handicapper and continue to buy their programs with the idea that you have discovered a cure for cancer by picking out the single factor out of dozens that helped you pick the winner for the last race try the same factor for the next race or the one after that it dosent work every race is different and you gotta have your own original edge because the PPs read the same on paper its the PLAYER that makes the difference.

23 Apr 2014 5:59 PM

Rusty Weisner if you use the same seven numbers underneath the winner in 2nd,3rd and 4th it cost $30 not $38 for instance 1 with 23with 2345 with 2345678 he wrote 1*2*4*7 cost 38 dollars which is a mistake if you or anyone else want to download a FREE exotic wager calculator I can provide the link.

23 Apr 2014 6:15 PM

KY Vet ... I happen to have many reasons to believe CC will not win the Derby and some are better than others but when you place them all together I have no problem keeping him off my Tri ticket.  1.) California bred horse... they don't win the Kentucky Derby 2.) He hasn't faced and real speed horses this year.... Dublin Up ? 3.) He is not bred for the distance. 4.) He has been running in very small fields 5.) The competition he has faced is below average.  I could go on but you get the point.  I don't dislike the horse I just find from handicapping standpoint people liking this horse seems crazy to me. I have studied the races and he has had it easy in all 3 races with small fields... how is he going to react in a small space with horse all around him ?  Like most he will get shaken up and will soften and have little left when the real running begins.  Am I right ? We will see but I will be betting I am and many of you will be betting him for the win.... I will be back here Saturday Night and you let me know how that worked out for you.

23 Apr 2014 6:18 PM
It aint easy being good!

Wow Kt vet do your homework before you just start ranting. Name a horse that has done well in the 1 hole?? Waiting waiting waiting? oh yeah they don't do well! Why is every trainer/owner worried about the 1 hole during the draw? Have you every watched a derby draw? People moan in sorrow when they get the one hole. One hole =no chance. Guess what KTVET the horse last year scratched after the draw.. Do your homework buddy!

23 Apr 2014 6:28 PM

Chitu will run in the Derby.

I don't know why but I just have a gut that Baffert is being coy with this horse..

23 Apr 2014 6:39 PM

Wow, Coldfacts, your comment about Victor Espinoza was most interesting.  I don't know anything about his skills but do remember the tough War Emblem.  I recall that in an interview following the Belmont, Baffert said something to the effect that when War Emblem broke badly he knew it was all over.  I took that to mean that w/o the lead the almost black horse could not win.  But perhaps it also meant that because of Espinoza having no back-up plan War Emblem had no chance.  

This makes me more concerned for California Chrome's upcoming Derby in which he will need every possible chance to bring his best.  A good horse deserves a fine jockey and I really want to see California Chrome's best on May 3.  Thank you for this info.

23 Apr 2014 7:01 PM


         The super I was referring to, 1x2x4x7 for $38 was also dropping some of the horses down, which makes the cost less. I listed the horses in the other post. But, after Gen. A Rod's workout, I may be skeptical of him now.

23 Apr 2014 7:26 PM

Pedigree Ann, I am so glad to hear that Millie and baby are doing better. I will continue to keep you and Millie and the foal in my thoughts and prayers.  

23 Apr 2014 7:29 PM
Steve Haskin

Cheryl, my condolences. I hope you're doing well.

23 Apr 2014 7:51 PM

Rusty Weisner,

You don't think the super I referred to ( 1x2x4x6), is a good play. How would you play it keying one horse on top ( although I was going to do more than one, with various keys) in order to keep cost down? you think I should have had the same horses in 3'rd and 4'th slots?

23 Apr 2014 8:12 PM

Like i said......the 1 hole is only bad "IF" you have, for some reason think its not the same for any post? Dranay again says "cal bred" and 1 1/4 distance will be a problem.....this is my point! didnt beat anybody? yet horse he beat is rated #2....he cant see with his eyes? cali wouldve won at 2 miles!....This is my point people......plain and was good enough to win the kentucky derby that day......saying he hasnt proved anything, or beat anyone is ignorant............but that race was then......not in wont be that he cant go 1 1/4 that beats will be a different and learn..........

23 Apr 2014 8:27 PM
Little Bill

Black Onyx scratched because he was injured, not because of the post position. He has yet to race but is in training.

23 Apr 2014 8:28 PM

KY VET :  You're full of it, you can never answer a question with a straight answer.  For someone who claims to know the sport, you have offered nothing but garbage lol.    All this "because I know" garbage doesn't fly in this blog, post the reason instead of just saying you know.  Let me ask you, what do you think of people who bet $200 on a future wager on 2 yr old horses with the actual race 6 months away ?

So to me, Baffert is using the Trial as a serious workout for Chitu, letting him run a true race to work out whatever it is he doesn't like about his regular workouts.  I can see Chitu running midpack from start to finish with a little bit of urging in the stretch to see if he closes.   If Chitu's workout is not to his satisfaction, why not save him for the Preakness ?  I guess that's the Derby fever...

Speaking of the Trial, Spot will have good value in this race with the two Baffert horses taking the money.   I also like the switch to JV so I'll play him and Bayern on top with Chitu, the maiden winner Embellishing Bob and Matador for the .50 trifecta and cheap super.

23 Apr 2014 8:42 PM
Paula Higgins

Monica V so glad to see you back and thank you for your kind words. I am really looking forward to this year's Derby. I think there is quite a bit of talent in the race and some seem to be coming into their own just about now. Still love California Chrome. Count me in as an east coast girl who loves California horses.

23 Apr 2014 9:07 PM


 I would agree with your assessment of Victor Espinosa's riding skills. Victor rode for years in Northern California, at Golden Gate Fields and Baymeadows( when there was still good racing). He was well known to be the go to rider for horses with speed. He excelled at getting a front runner to relax and at  coaxing every bit of stamina out of them. He really was a one trick pony, so to speak. Once that style of riding was interupted for any reason, you probably wouldn't see him in the winners circle. Can't tell you how many times a rider like Russell Baze would catch him at the wire, because he knew exactly what to expect from him, and could plan his ride accordingly, or so it seemed. With that said, I also think he was nothing but a class act, and always gave you his best. He has tons of experience and with the right horse and trip he is someone that can get the job done. I am sure he and Sherman know each other well from his years of racing in California. I think with a horse like California Chrome, there is no reason to think that he can't get the job done.

23 Apr 2014 9:29 PM

Carlos in Cali,

OK, those points make more sense then just handicapping around the slow pace analysis. However, the Preakness is not as kind to speed as you might think. The only horse in the last 15 years to go wire to wire was Rachel Alexandra. Before her it was Louis Q. was back when...even War Emblem, Smarty Jones and Big Brown were 2,2, and 4 at the first call. The Preakness, like the Derby, is for stalkers.

Don't forget Chitu in that mix. He is staying in the Derby. Baffert just wants to get a strong work in him. He once ran 20.6 for a quarter mile as a 2 year old. His sire is a sprinter who has been throwing some 2 turn horses in his young career (including Beholder) and Chitu's damsire is AP Indy and his dam won at 10f. Baffert may be sending that one...

23 Apr 2014 9:37 PM
Monarchos Matt


No problem on the Tomlinsons, I'm somewhat of a quantatative person so I like having things quantified even when they aren't really all that quantifiable, like pedigree. But, these numbers have had historical significance in this race and it's one of many angles, and can at least provide some separation, in my opinion, regarding which horses should benefit from the extra distance of the Derby.

I'm a bit confused what you are asking me for- the sheet figs for the last three races for each contender? Do you mean the Beyer figs? Yes I have that information as well...or did you want me to post the Tomlinsons from the last three Kentucky Derbys? No problem either way.

23 Apr 2014 10:07 PM

GiddyUpBoyWhoa 38 dollars can you list the numbers to that 1*2*4*7 bet

23 Apr 2014 10:22 PM
Monarchos Matt


I'd be careful elevating Dance With Fate too far above Medal Count based on the outcome of a single race over a synthetic surface where both horses were coming home fast. Medal Count covered more ground in that race and was running on only eight days rest, remember. And, in terms of pedigree, there really is no comparison. Neither is proven on dirt but you can't look at those two pedigrees and tell me that Dance With Fate stands the better chance to get the distance, or that he should move up further on dirt relatively speaking. Maybe Medal Count won't either, but he is more deserving of a look for exotics just based on pedigree and running style, in my opinion.

23 Apr 2014 10:22 PM

johnny agree with you on Chitu.  On this day I like Chitu, Uncle Sigh, California Chrome, Vicar's In Trouble, and Ride On Curlin.  Many may not agree with me; but I like their pedigrees.  I think Chitu is the most underrated horse in the field. I bet on Danza in his last race, but I'm not sure he can repeat that performance in the Kentucky Derby.  

23 Apr 2014 10:55 PM

Art Sherman's reluctance to ship to Churchhill and work California Chrome before the Derby may be due to what happened to the two big favorites of 1961 and'62. He's old enough to remember, as I am.

In '61, Hail To Reason broke down in his last blowout. When his owner/trainer, Hirsh Jacobs, the father of Patrice Wolfson, walked the track afterwards with the president of Churchill, they picked up no less than a dozen horseshoes. It was suspected that he may have struck one of them. It was unlikely that they had all been lost during that morning's workouts.

Hail was the only horse other than Kelso I would travel to an out of town track merely to root for, as I did when I went to Monmouth to root him home in the Sapling. As a three, he had triple crown written all over him.

In '62, the same fate befell Sir Gaylord. He too breaking down in his final blowout. They were both sons of Turn-To. His son, First Landing, gained prominance as the sire of a Derby winner, Riva Ridge. It's a shame Turn-To didn't gain the same distinction.  

24 Apr 2014 12:27 AM

Carlos in Cali,

I meant to say before Oxbow last year, no horse had wired the Preakness except for Rachel A in 2009 and you would have to go back to Louis Q before then.

Oxbow pretty much took the lead before the first turn and never looked back. Stevens did slow the pace, but only so much can be contributed to that, because the colt was 1-1/2 lengths ahead at the 3/4 mark and walking the dog with no pressure whatsoever even though people were saying there was speed in that Preakness.

24 Apr 2014 12:53 AM
Derby Dew


Taking a page from the movies, Black Stallion and Seabiscuit, I do my hopping and skipping pre-dawn, in the dark, so as not to alarm the neighbors.  Of course, I'm running the risk of stepping in a pot hole and being rushed to Roon & Riddle for treatment.  :)

Now, is it any wonder who I will be betting in the Derby?  HOPPERTUNITY, of course!  Enough honest speed for him to rally and catch the leaders.  Baffert has done a great job getting him ready and I'm sure Hoppertunity will have no problem changing leads at the top of the lane.

24 Apr 2014 5:18 AM
Mike from Michigan

@ Peggy In California....thanks for sharing the link on the story about CC, wow, what a neat story.  How could anybody not root for those owners of CC not to win?  I guess that groom has become famous/infamous with that one-liner!  This is another thing about the KD that makes it such an event....all the stories you read about the horses/owners lives reaching the derby.  Peggy, if you haven't already read the story that our own Steve Haskin did on Intense Holiday entitled 'Intense Holiday Lived To Be A Rising Star', I recommend that story too, it's a great story also.

I saw an interview with Calvin Borel the other day and he was talking about Ride On Curlin, that was a great interview and Calvin said ROC is an 'all business' type of horse, he's not one to mess around with and he will bite you.  Sounds like ROC is a tough guy which might be the perfect type of attitude a horse needs when he is running with 19 other horses and they all bust out of the gate going into the first turn at Churchill.  So many horses, so many stories, so much at stake....what a huge event the derby really is.

24 Apr 2014 5:30 AM

KY Vet, many of us list 6-12 horses because this is a Derby "dozen" blog, and we are following suit by listing our dozen or so.  I doubt that many (if any) of us will use our entire lists in our wagers.  

By listing a dozen, one is able to separate the horses we feel have a legitimate shot, followed by those that could put it all together and surprise.

Personally, my list of "legitimate shot" horses is smaller this year than in many of the years past.  My wagers will be keyed around 3, or possibly 4 horses.  I throw in some "if all hell breaks loose" wagers with bombs and a couple of sentimental wagers (using Uncle Sigh, Candy Boy and/or VIT).

I truly believe CC is the best horse, but since I have him in futures wagers, I'll use a significant portion of my wagering budget on covering my butt in the event things don't go his way.

I base my wagers on what my eyes have seen first, followed by what the PP's tell me about how a horse performs past 1 1/16 mi, their recent form and finally what their pedigree may hint at.

Steve's final observations help sort all of those factors out before I finalize my bets.

You and your cryptic, insulting comments have no factor in my thought process.

24 Apr 2014 6:41 AM
Rusty Weisner


Blinkers can be very predictive of whether a horse will try for the lead, and guessing that correctly can be a handicapping plus or minus.  Last year this equipment change featured twice:  Palace Malice had blinkers for the first time in the Derby, the worst place possible to get them, where being on the lead is usually a negative, and WTC got them removed for his summer campaign.  You see them on Uncle Sigh after his win came on the lead and his last was a bad, wide, trailing trip, and you might say: this horse is going to be on the lead.  It actually is an insult to everyone else to say it doesn't matter, when it's a normal handicapping factor.

I agree with you about CC:  he is the best horse now, though that doesn't necessarily mean you want to bet him.  

I'm surprised you didn't see that coming with Constitution, when you make claims about knowing when horses will go "off", and he fits the pattern of Pletcher horses who have not made the starting gate, or whose Derby was their last race.

24 Apr 2014 7:52 AM
Rusty Weisner


Here's another thing I don't like about Chitu, besides the win at a second-rate 50-point race agains zero Derby starters.  Six weeks.

I would like someone to suss out Baffert's thinking on this one and Bayern, too, though.  I don't like either of them, but I want to know which one he prefers.  Does he want Chitu to heat up the pace?

24 Apr 2014 7:58 AM
Rusty Weisner


So what if everyone else sees the same numbers on a sheet?  The betting crowd is not infallibile in assigning odds.  There are still overlays in every race, and amazingly enough in the TC races.  I put most of my money on the TC races and the three biggest overlays I can remember are Shackleford at 12-1, Oxbow at 15-1 and Palace Malice at 14-1.  

24 Apr 2014 8:11 AM


Why do most horses race without them? Why do European trainers rarely use them? Will Take Charge was murdered in all 3 TC races. As soon his huge pair of white blinkers were removed he was a changed animal.

Palace Malice was fitted with blinkers for the Derby and set a crazy fractions 7f and weaken badly weakened. They were promptly removed.

Speedy Bod fitted Lookin At Lucky with blinker and remove them for his next start as they had no effect.

Horses tend to be less ranked without blinkers. They are grossly overused and if a horse wins with then they become permanent attire.

The impeded filly that was correctly awarded the 2012 BCJ contested the race with blinkers off. It prompted me to include her in my wager. The blinkers were returned and with her recent transfer to Speedy Bob he removed them.

Blinkers can significantly impact the way a horse performs and consequently should be used judiciously.

24 Apr 2014 8:48 AM

“England should have the best animals."

Both England conduct racing primarily on turf. How many of America’s top turf horses are shipped there to match strides with their top turf horses?

The standard of racing in Japan is now on par with the other major racing jurisdictions. Why do connections from Japan rarely send their top horses to the Breeder Cup? Could it be that they do not want to contest races against drugged up horses.

America has better horses than England but allows the usage race day medications against their inferior English counterparts in the Breeder Cup. Wow!


24 Apr 2014 9:15 AM
Jeffrey Simes

Steve what an interesting year we have here. My horse is still General A Rod but it looks like Bob Baffert could have a surprise runner in Chitu. He has never been worse then second and his Sunland Derby was nice. His was a sprinter but his bottom has a ton of class and distance. He also looks to like Churchill with his recent breeze.


24 Apr 2014 9:48 AM
Rusty Weisner


Another thing you deprecate the importance of is workouts, and along with equipment changes you're tactless about it.  Our host attaches a lot of importance to them and a lot of the contributors do, as well, and expect fine-grained assessments from him.  Do they matter?  I don't know, but Haskin actually strongly endorsed Animal Kingdom a couple back based on his Derby-week workout.  


The fact that everyone is looking at the same numbers also gives you the underlays, particularly in the Derby.  Dialed In was a favorite (almost everyone here hated him); the year Barbaro won Sweetnorthernsaint was the favorite, Friesan Fire was a favorite because of supposed wet track form.  That's where odds get really skewed up, because everyone starts betting the same dubious wet-track angle (Itsmyluckyday was bet down to almost 9-1 last year because he had romped in the slop, as if any fast horse wouldn't romp in the slop).

It looks like an immovable system of cold, wet weather is descending on Louisville next week.  Hoppertunity will be a near-favorite on a wet track.

24 Apr 2014 10:20 AM

Peggy in California,

Thanks so much for the link to that article on CC.  That was wonderful!  This game is sooooo expensive that most people can only dream about owning a racehorse.  The fact that his owners are staying in Frankfort because of the expense of Louisville is something you don't ever read about a Derby entrant's owner.  I'm so very happy for them for having this "chance of a lifetime" and not being a multi-millionaire.

Some horses have been bred with the most magnificent blood lines possible yet never do anything then comes a long a horse of blue-collar breeding and a heart as big as the the out-doors.  It's a wonderful story.  This horse runs amazingly and there are many who won't give him credit for anything and we know the main one here.  Who has he beat?  As I stated before, who have the other horses beat?  In my opinion, this is a very average crop of 3 year-olds.  I don't think any stand out as much as this horse does.  Of course, I'm a Californian and I want to see this horse succeed for California but if he succeeds, it will also be good for racing because this is a marvelous "Cinderfella" story and will be good for racing.  Once in a great while a horse comes along that defies all odds and this horse is one of them.  These owners are "everyday" people surviving in a difficult time in this nation but their dreams are still alive.  Many of us have given up dreams because of the times but I'm so unbelievably happy for these people.  I'm hoping with every fiber of my being that this horse goes all the way and gives us all thrill we haven't experienced in 36 years but I would be happy with just a derby win.

He's special and if you can't see that then you are biased and being too analytical.  Look beyond the stats, beyond the breeding and look at the improbability of what he has accomplished so far.  He doesn't know he's not Secretariat he only knows that he will fight with all he has to win against all comers.  He could be beaten as all horses are but he won't go down without digging down deep and giving it all he has and this is what makes a great horse and this is what makes a champion.  I know this is slopppily sentimental but to me, this is what is exciting about this sport a horse that exceeds and runs beyond his breeding.  All of the naysayers will have tons of arguments against him but there are horses who defy the odds and I hope and think this is one of them.  This is the romance of the sport and I'm a hopeless romantic.  God bless this horse and his owners and God bless everyone on this blog.  Good luck to you all on your bets.  

24 Apr 2014 10:40 AM

Oh and by the way, the news that CC won't run the Peakness and Belmont if he loses the might consider that the owners wouldn't be able to afford to enter him and go to the races unless he wins the Derby.

24 Apr 2014 10:46 AM

Diego Conde,

Listed below is the total number of starts, aggregate furlongs covered and average furlongs per start for the current top 20.

California Chrome: 10 starts covering 68F for an average of 6.8F per start

Intense Holiday: 8 starts covering 64.5F for an average of 8F per start.

We Miss Artie:  8 starts covering 61F for an average of 7.625F per start.

Vinceremos: 5 starts covering 40F for an average of 8F per start.

Harry’s Holiday: 7 starts covering 52.5F for an average of 7.5F per start.

Uncle Sigh: 5 starts covering 40.5F for an average of 8F per start.

Dance With Fate: 8 starts covering 61.5F for an average of 7.687F per start

Medal Count: 8 starts covering 66F for an average of 8.25F per start

Danza: 4 starts covering 28F for an average of 7F per start

Ride On Curlin: 9 starts covering 67.5F for an average of 7.5F per start

Chitu: 4 starts covering 29.5F for an average of 7.375F per start

Vicar’s In Trouble: 5 starts covering 38F for an average of 7.6F per start.

Wicked  Strong: 6 starts covering 49F for an average of 8 per start.

Ring Weekend: 7 starts covering 57.5F for an average of 8.2F per start.

Hopportunity: 5 starts covering 41F for an average of 8.2F per start.

Wildcat Red: 7 starts covering 51.5F for an average of 7.3F per start.

General A Rod: 5 starts covering 40.5F for an average of 8.1F per start.

Candy Boy: 7 starts covering 56F for an average of 8F per start.

Samraat: 6 starts covering 48F for an average of 8 per start.

Tapiture: 7 starts covering 57.5F for an average of 8.2F per start

California Chrome leads in the category of number of starts but trails all in the category of average furlongs per start. While it will be highlighted that his average furlongs per start is low because of his 10 starts, this would not fully support the inference by his trainer that he somehow has advantage in the foundation category.

Medal Count made 2 less starts and covered 2F less but has an average of 8.25F per start. Ride On Curlin made 1 less start and covered 0.5F less but has an average od 7.5F per start.

There are many in the top 20 that have made less starts but have a higher average furlongs covered than CC. Many of the horses in the top 20 did not run two 4.5F and two 5.5F races in their first four starts. Many covered in 3 starts the aggregate furlongs covered by CC in 4 starts.

It appears racing experience is being confused with foundation. If foundation is based on furlongs covered, CC does not have a significant advantage over many in the field. If it is based on average furlong covered per race he is last in this category. Even if racing experience is the issue, how much of an advantage does CC have with an average of 2.5 additional starts?

Could this be another bit of misinformation to further promote CC? Fastest colt, flawless action, and most foundation, What’s next?

24 Apr 2014 11:31 AM

I am going to the track in the mornings starting tomorrow. I'll add some comments.

Top 5 today


Wicked strong

Intense holiday


Medal count

I've heard medal count is looking good in mornings and so has intense holiday.

Have a nice afternoon.

I'll be at night racing for the unveiling of the new video board. It is stupid big

24 Apr 2014 12:41 PM
Fran Loszynski

So sorry for your loss Alex's Big Fan. Just remember memories never die and God wanted a few more pets for his lovely park. Enjoy the Derby with all the zest you can and bet a certain horse for your pet, in the Derby you never know who will win! I take it your title Alex's Big Fan means you love Afleet Alex ?  Well there you go! your "racing" heart will keep your pet alive always.  Be strong

24 Apr 2014 12:46 PM
Peggy in California

Steve, I started reading your blog and your books in 2009 when I discovered horse racing because of Rachel Alexandra.  You have made me laugh and cry, but never made me angry.  That is your talent.  The horses can't talk so it takes someone like you to tell their stories to the rest of us.  Thank you so much.  I hope that you will allow me to get off topic a little to tell some of my journey from when I first started reading your works.

I first posted on a Secretariat blog you wrote in 2010.  It was winding down and people were making off topic comments.  One of them was about the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  I surprised myself by saying that the portrayal of the Japanese-American man by Mickey Rooney offended me because I thought it was racist.  I am Japanese-American and my parents had been interned at Manzanar during WWII.  I made several friends from the blog after that initial post.  We corresponded and arranged to go to see Zenyatta race in the Ladies Secret at Hollywood Park.  With your help we were able to arrange to meet Zenyatta, and went as the Steve Haskins Bloggers Group to see the race.  

After 4 years some of us are still emailing each other and we decided to see Eblouissante, Zenyatta's half sister, race this past weekend.  Unfortunately, she scratched.  But the upside was that I got a chance to see Beholder in person and to take a tour of the Santa Anita backside including the stables.  I have stayed away from Santa Anita all these years because I couldn't face going to the place where my parents ended up spending several months living in the stables after they were initially rounded up until the camp at Manzanar was built. This closed a circle for me and allows me to put that part of my past behind me and see Santa Anita in a positive light going forward.  Thanks to Aluminaut (one of my original friends from this blog) who showed me around Santa Anita and hi to all of my other friends from the blog of whom I have fond memories.  

But while I'm remembering the pleasant things, I also feel compelled to mention to Draynay (if you've read this far down) that even though you are a fellow Rachel Alexandra fan, I don't agree with you about your consistent bad mouthing of Zenyatta.  I feel that we have been blessed to have lived to see both of them.  I hope you believe, as I do, that Rachel's 2009 campaign was the most courageous one of any 3 year old filly in history.  I believe that she deserved to be Horse of the Year based on it even though Zenyatta won the Breeder's Cup Classic that year.  I also believe that Zenyatta had the most impressive over all career of any female horse in my memory.  I think that she ran her best race in her one defeat and that she deserved to be Horse of the Year in 2010 even though she lost the BCC to Blame.  You can believe otherwise with either horse, but by defaming either one you say more about yourself than anything.  Thanks for listening.--Peggy

24 Apr 2014 1:39 PM
Gary D.

To It ain't Easy being Good and Ky Vet.

Since 1970 only two horses have won from the #1 post position. Ferdinand in 1986 and Winning Colors in 1988.

Big Brown in 2008 is the only one in that time span to win from the #20 post position. Only 3 winners from those post positions means (historically) the odds of horses in those post positions winning are less than 1%.

24 Apr 2014 2:10 PM


50 years ago the favourite for the Derby was a California-bred Santa Anita Derby winning colt.

The winner was a little regional bred*.  In track record time, that stood until The Secretariat.

Just saying.

*the greatest Canadian of the 20th Century

24 Apr 2014 2:25 PM

Hi guys - got a hunch that javier castellano will run a tremendous race with we miss artie at about 30-1. he is a tremendous jockey that is so hot and very hungry to win his first derby. got a hunch that his mount constitution was hurt and that left him with we miss artie. his dosage numbers are 2nd best to medal count. he will get the 10 furlongs. have a feeling a bomb will win this derby. there is too much speed in this race where stalkers and closers will be closing in the stretch. cali chrome will be off the board with his pulpit breeding. sorry all you cali chrome backers. no pulpit horses have come close to winning the derby. i also dont like danza, does not have 10 furlong foundation with so few starts. hoppertunity same with the apollo jinx. cant fight history. ride on curlin will develop later on just like his old man winning the preakness. had the exacta that year . thank you very much. the post positions will eliminate a number of horses from winning. wildcat red cannot win with a dosage of 5.67. i do also like wicked strong with his foundation. he will run big. just dont trust maragh at all against some intelligent and experienced jockeys. post positions with the correct jockey will determine this race. just remember a bomb will win this race. there is no orb in this race. good luck to all. by the way the most intelligent blogger on this site by far is COLDFACTS. also dont hate draynay- he is correct about cali chrome. and the cali horses in general. they rarely win.

24 Apr 2014 2:41 PM
Sail On

The way I see it there are 4 colts with enough points to qualify to run in the Derby that should not run in the Derby. i sure hope those colts are not entered so Commanding Curve and Social Inclusion can run. I really would like to see the best horses in this race.

24 Apr 2014 3:41 PM

Quinnbit, your image of 'derby dozen' bloggers switching leads as they 'skip' along the streets had me giggling for ages. Can you imagine the 'speed driven' Londoners taking advantage of 'lead changes' as they skip across Tower Bridge, umbrellas aloft, in the pouring rain to reach the other side during the Winter months.

Now, back to the serious part, what are the odds on Commanding Curve getting a run?

24 Apr 2014 6:33 PM
Monarchos Matt

Looks like I may have missed some sarcasm directed my way from Brontexx regarding the Tomlinson Figures? True, everyone sees the same numbers, although since they were just recently released I thought it might be a useful angle for those still trying to determine whose pedigree stacks up for 10f. And, while everyone sees them, not everyone is aware of their recent historical significance. But, handicap your way, and I'll handicap mine, I suppose. Take em or leave em, makes no difference to me. Good luck.

24 Apr 2014 8:40 PM
John from Seattle

The latest betting odds have been posted at Oddsshark/Bovada and California Chrome has been lowered to 7-4.  The rest of the field is open with Danza and Wicked Strong second choice at 8-1 each, Vicars In Trouble at 10-1, Hoppertunity at 14-1, both Dance With Fate and Wildcat Red at 16-1 and the remaining possible horses at 20-1 or higher.

24 Apr 2014 8:46 PM

I give myself an "a" for my 2 early derby bets.....they got happens......."in the last 30 years, only 2 have won from the #1 hole" God you really are smart huh? Question....if there are 20 horses.....what are the odds a number wins in 20 years? avg? answer: about 15 horses 30 years......answer: 2...........again....people overblow the 1 can get in trouble from any hole in the derby.......blinkers? a horse wins with blinkers, and he "needs" blinkers......a horse wins on synthetic, "oh, he's a synthetic horse"....a horse wins where they are, "oh, he can only win in cali...or ny.....or florida"........or a horse wins on thursday..............alot of you go on the wrong things.......#1 how about the athlete? isn't this the most important thing? How good the HORSE IS?   #2 how he is coming into the will he likely run TODAY?! we get the dumb things like blinkers, grinders, stalkers, bottom, ...............

24 Apr 2014 9:20 PM

As of now my plan is to wheel C.Chrome in tris with 5 with all.

So it will look like this

1x5x18=$85 ticket..times 3 equals $255..

I feel this race is wide open after C.C.

Still working on my super tix the 2 bombers im watching and want to somehow insert in the super are Chitu and Medal Count..

I think as of now none of the front runners are going to last. It will be C.Chrome and another stalker possibly Hopp or Danza followed by a couple of closers..

Still figuring things out.

Good Luck and I may change my mind..

24 Apr 2014 9:50 PM

One "statistic" I review is "What is the average percentage of the field a horse has beat in his races". I haven't done my homework yet this year....but I always do....and I will....before I bet the Derby!

24 Apr 2014 10:06 PM

Who is the "forgotten" horse?

Who is the "now" horse?

Who is the "wise guy" horse?

Which horse is way off the radar?

Which horse is the "slop" horse?

...and the #1 burning question.....who is this years triple crown winner?

..........Right now, I think Hoppertunity is primed to run 3 big could be him, but I'm probably dreaming!

24 Apr 2014 10:18 PM

English Pete : That's great that you also get to watch the races live.  I started watching (not betting) some of the races in UK, I saw a steeplechase race one night and I felt really tired just watching how long the darn race was...and have like a dozen obstacles.

What's your thoughts on the US turf horses ?

Of course, after I post my last comment, Baffert decides he was going to keep Chitu in the Derby.   I really don't get what is up with Chitu, why is Baffert making all this hoopla about this horse ??  What was the point of entering him in the Trial then pulling him out ?  Is he trying to sell his spot to the owners of Commanding Curve and didn't make a deal ??   It just seems very iffy...and really annoying.

Looking forward to the workouts, not sure where Steve will post them, whether it's here or on another blog.   I'm just anxious to see Samraat get there and get a feel of the track, still a week away for the post draw...then have to have a backup bet just in case it's wet.

24 Apr 2014 10:46 PM
Paula Higgins

First, Peggy in California, I would like to say how sorry  I am as your fellow American that you and your family were interned in Manzanar during WW II. It was a tragedy from any perspective and should never have happened. My father was a WW II vet and he felt exactly the same way.

Monica V, I loved your comments about California Chrome at the bottom of the blog. Well said. I understand why there are people here who say he doesn't have the pedigree etc. I mean we all get it. But we have all seen horses with pedigrees out the whazoo who do very little on the track. Horses do outrun their pedigree's. Reading some of these posts almost have me believing California Chrome is going to run backwards for goodness sakes. So, seeing your post and a few others in support of California Chrome was a nice change. At a minimum, I would be very surprised to see him finish off the board.

24 Apr 2014 11:29 PM


Thanks for the shout out to Hill Rise and the great Northern Dancer!

25 Apr 2014 2:50 AM
Gary D.

KY Vet...I said in the last 43 years (1970-2013). NOT the last 30 years. Time for you to redo your math example. To help you, here are the wins, for each post position.

PP #10 (7wins)

PP #2-3-5-8-16 (4wins)

PP #15 (3wins)

PP #1-4-7 (2wins)

PP #6-9-12-13-18-19-20 (1 win)

PP #11-14-17 (ZERO wins)

Historically and statistically, some post positions are better than others.  

25 Apr 2014 6:48 AM
Gary D.

KY stated: I give myself an "a" for my 2 early derby bets.....they got happens.......

I have 4 future bets, made in Las Vegas, that are probable starters in the KY Derby.

Dance with Fate 100-1, Medal Count 125-1,General A Rod 125-1 and Wicked Strong at 12-1.

Using your logic, should I give myself a A++++ for making those bets,since as of now they are starters in the Derby and your future bets are not ???

25 Apr 2014 7:04 AM
English Pete

Hi JayJay

you asked 'What's your thoughts on the US turf horses ?'

This is a KY Derby blog so I'll be try to be brief;

1) with Turf being secondary in the USA, your best horses tend not to pursue a Turf career so there's no strength in depth. European journeymen like Tazeez, Wigmore Hall, Trade Storm finishing high in N American G1's makes me wince.

2) your best turf horses are a match for ours. If we take BC turf races in the past 5 years, Europe is 14 for 30. If we exclude the Turf Sprint it's 14 for 25, so either way not much in it between EU and USA. Recently you've had some really good turf horses e.g. Point of Entry and Gio Ponti. Excluding Southern Hemisphere-bred sprinters so we compare apples with apples, Wise Dan is in the world's top 6 turf horses.

Back to the KY Derby, I also don't get what's going on with Chitu but if he runs for the Roses I'm ignoring him. Watching replays of the Sunbird and Robert Lewis he was running on the spot at the end of both races.

25 Apr 2014 7:18 AM

Watch Spot run in the the Derby Trial.

25 Apr 2014 7:44 AM
Rusty Weisner


Your definition of "wire-to-wire" is too narrow.  Oxbow and Shackleford won on or contesting the lead.  

It is the easiest race in racing to handicap because it is usually worth going against the horse that closed strong/benefited from pace in the Derby and worth taking the horse that was fast but couldn't quite hold on.

25 Apr 2014 7:52 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

As is so often the case, we're of the same opinion about a horse.  I give Medal Count my lowest positive endorsement: eligible to hit the board, sheerly based on the Romans factor.  I should have a soft spot for Dance With Fate, but, no, I'm tossing him; the owner's overexuberance isn't a positive for me.

25 Apr 2014 7:58 AM
Rusty Weisner

Sail On,

Which four horses?

25 Apr 2014 8:11 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

I could have sworn that the Derby Dozen just started and here it is Derby time already. Good luck to everyone, and especially the horses and jockeys in having safe trips, and safe trips to everyone else also including your trips to CD and back, to ATM's and back and ADW's and back. One or two of you might find my dream interesting that I had last night. Don't ask me what it means since the top two aren't in the race. Patrick Valenzuela was the jockey on the lead horse going into the stretch and he had a huge lead then we hear the announcer- "It's all Valenzuela now, he has no horse left" Valenzuela jumped off of the horse and was running while leading the horse by the reins, then he jumped back on the horse to lead it across the finish line but was passed for the win by a horse from Japan.

25 Apr 2014 9:00 AM
Ta Wee

To Jermon,

Some great historical and interesting stuff.


25 Apr 2014 9:30 AM

"How about the athlete? isn't this the most important thing?”

The process we engage in is focused on evaluating the athletes. The evaluation process involves many variables. Some may discount as unimportant certain part of the evaluation but it does not mean those portions are irrelevant. I hope this is not too complicated for even the most challenged amongst us to understand.

“We get the dumb things like blinkers, grinders, stalkers, bottom,”

Dumb things: It takes someone seriously challenged to classify the things that are important to others as stupid. No one has a monopoly on knowledge. If one is devoid of social graces, it does not mean that said individual should feel obliged to expose same in a forum where mutual respect is a requirement for participation. He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is classified a as fool to be shunned.

Blinkers: A horse that erases a 9L deficit and wins by 2 1/2L without blinkers and when they are added and it becomes a need to lead animal, that is not good. He is being defeated by opponents without blinkers and despite his most decisive victory being scored with them they have not been removed. The question is not why should they be removed but rather why not remove them?

Grinders: Commissioner was labeled a grinder from very early by many including the moderator. He is devoid of tactical speed and was basically one pace without much  acceleration in the latter stages of his races. He obviously could not grind his way into the Derby field? The classification was therefore correct. Those who are slow to comprehension will be slow to fully understand what grinding represents which is understandable .

Stalkers: Horses with sufficient tactical speed to say close to either the leader or leading pack. Horses fitting this description are more ideally position to challenge the leading pack. They normally have an advantage over deep closers.  The slow amongst who regard description as only applicable to predators need to get a dictionary.

Bottom: I suspect this represents foundation. The capability to effectively minimize the effects of Lactic Acid hinges on conditioning and fitness. More foundation allows horses to extend muscle energy and delay the onset of Lactic Acid i.e., fatigue. Foundation is gained through proper training.  Obviously a race is better than any exercise spin and therefore also contributes to a horse's foundation. Many horses are not capable of recording a time over 10F completive enough to win the Derby despite proper foundation. Its importance cannot be overstated but it should not be confused with racing experience.

25 Apr 2014 9:50 AM
Smoking Baby

English Pete.  

Welcome.  Racing at Newmarket & Royal Ascot is on my bucket list.  I'll get there one of these days.  Who is your Two Thousand Guineas horse?

There's a horse named Maverick Wave (Elusive Quality) I had my eye on last year.  Gosden had him.  He broke his maiden at Liecester then seemed to disappear into thin air.  He's no Guineas horse but I'd like to find out about him.  If you can help I'll be forever in your debt.  In the U.S. we are able to track workouts and get a feel for where horses are and how close they are to getting back to the races.  I'm a big reader of the Racing Post but aside from that, I haven't been able to track some of my favorites over there as closely as I'd like.  

25 Apr 2014 10:00 AM

Just a hop, skip and a jump until the 140th edition of this years "Run for the Roses", what do we do between now and then? Several activities offer up ways to keep the fever under control until race day. Make sure the liquor cabinet is stocked with some fine Kentucky whiskey, search out somewhere close to home that has shaved ice(cubed, crushed don't work)available, water the mint plants, don't forget the turbinado sugar and get ready to celebrate the longstanding tradition of mint juleps on Derby day (one is all that I need, thank you), those tasks might keep Derby fever under control for at least a day. Derby fever can also be lowered by assembling the necessary ingredients for Derby pie. An offshoot is Pegasus pie-favored among true hippophiles-NO it does not have horse in it, but is surely the best. This recipe or any other similar to it are not for weight watchers but are to be enjoyed on the day the heavy weights go to battle. Most importantly keep analyzing pedigrees, assessing ability, and enjoying the ride, all the while remembering it is the ride these most amazing creatures carry us on and not necessarily the finish line that is exhilarating, unless of course you hit a $864,253.50 superfecta!


25 Apr 2014 11:19 AM
Rusty Weisner


For a self-professed horse whisperer you're awfully noisy ;-)

That said, your comment about post statistics was a  good jab.  You're still wrong, though, about the 1.  There's a reason trainers shun it when they have the choice (by the way, no one's answered my question about how the draw works this year). The outside posts definitely seem to me to be the safest:  Big Brown 20, IHA 19, Orb & AK 16.  

25 Apr 2014 11:42 AM

Visually and numbers-wise, California Chrome looks as dominant as his early morning-line odds state. I think he would finish no worse than 2nd in he Derby. Wildcat Red, if you look at him and his style of running, yes, he does remind us a bit of Shackleford. Wildcat Red would be the class of the early speedsters. Bred as a sprinter on top, he may be one of those exceptions that come along once in a while. How long he can sustain that speed if rationed properly is yet to be seen. Also reminds me a bit of Bodemeister, one who really doesn't like to get passed and will fight tooth and nail to retain that nose in front.

One contender that seems to be flying under the radar is Tapiture. He was well-regarded earlier in his career, but seems to have fallen out of favor with the majority, maybe due to his last couple of races. I believe he deserves a closer inspection before he is tossed from hitting the board completely.

25 Apr 2014 11:48 AM
Fan of Damascus

Okay, with eight days until the Derby I want to refloat my idea of a Derby Dozen Championship.

Based on feedback I received on this site, this seems to be the rules.  (these can still be tweaked - provide me your thoughts)

a) Everyone picks 12 horses in order.

b) To win, you must pick correctly the Derby winner.

c) Points are given out in based on finish.  i.e. 12

  points for the first place horse, 11 for the

  second, 10 for the third, etc. down to 1 point for

  the 12th place horse.

d) You get half of the horse's points if it finishes

  one place (in either direction) away from your

  pick.  (e.g. you pick CC to come in third and he

  finishes second you get 5.5 points (half of the 11

  second place points)

e) No tie-breakers.  If two bloggers get the same

  number of points, we have co-champions.

f) Entries must be submitted to Steve by 1 p.m. EDT on

  Derby Day.

Let me know your thoughts.  Good luck all of you.

Wishing a great time to those of you who are going to CD.

25 Apr 2014 12:47 PM
Mike from Michigan

@Fan Of Damascus......I'm all-in on that DDC if it's ok with Steve.

25 Apr 2014 1:38 PM
Rusty Weisner


I love mint juleps, too.  Here's a shortcut (I still haven't found the razor that gives my ice a good shave): pour some bourbon in a glass and crush a mint leaf in the fingers of your drinking hand.

And here's another (temporary) cure for Derby fever: Oaks day.

25 Apr 2014 1:39 PM

Hello Mr. Haskin,

Just wanted to clarify something on General a Rod.  I am the owner of Buckeye Search and you had marked that Gen a Rod's third dam is a half-sister but Betty Loraine is in fact THE dam of French Champion Caracolero, not the third-sister and the 4th dam Gay Hostess IS the dam of Majestic Prince.  Thanks so much!

25 Apr 2014 2:15 PM
Peggy in California

Couldn't let this blog close out without thanking Paula Higgins and others.  Paula, you are a lady of principle and can always be counted on to take a stand when you think something is wrong.  My post was a meant to let you know that you are not alone.

Monica V.  Thanks to you too.  It's nice to have you on the blog. I'm glad that you enjoyed the California Chrome story.  Listen for the people at the rail calling, "Come on Junior!!" and you will know that they are his connections.

Mike in Michigan.  I have enjoyed reading your posts. You are a very reasoned voice. Please keep it up. Thanks for the story about Calvin and Ride on Curlin and for the referral to Steve's comments about Intense Holiday.  I usually pick Calvin's mount as one of my favorites for the Kentucky Derby.

Fingers and toes crossed, I may be able to go to see the Belmont this year (if there is a triple crown at stake).  Aluminaut and I have talked about the possibility.  Would love to meet others from the blog if we go.  I have never been to Belmont, or any of the other tracks east of Santa Anita.  --Peggy

25 Apr 2014 2:37 PM

Well....given the fact that almost all horses from pool 1 didnt make it.....i still would make the same picks today....thats why i give myself an "a"........and about the post position thing.......the ignorant poster makes my his example, #1 post is same or higher than 12 other a group of 13 that dont have more than do you argue with someone who doesnt understand odds, probabilities, and statistics? Like i said.....people have it in their minds, that you only get in trouble in the #1's simply not fact, its more likely to get in trouble on turns.....when horses have trouble, they go wide....and take others out further......

25 Apr 2014 2:50 PM

Fan of Damascus - is this actually a contest or just an idea for one?  Either way, I'm in.  

25 Apr 2014 3:11 PM
Pedigree Ann

Smoking Baby - well, I have been to Newmarket several times, the first time to the Rowley course on Cambridgeshire Day in 1987, with my nursing baby in tow. Backed the second finisher in the big handicap each way with a bookie (my first bookie bet), so I collected something. Went to the July course for an evening session during our sabbatical 7 years ago - no lights, because Britain is far enough north that with DST, it stays light enough to race until 10. Have not been to Ascot, during the Royal meeting or otherwise. If you want to go during the Royal Meeting in June, you can get in general admission just by buying a ticket, but don't count on anywhere to sit or any elevation to watch the races from. Oh, and no access to the walking ring. Entrance fees are EXPENSIVE in Britain if you want access to the grandstand seats plus better food and drink, especially on big racing days.

25 Apr 2014 3:16 PM

To whomever asked, I do not know why but they eliminated the choosing of post positions a couple years back (personally I liked it that way) and they went back to a standard draw.

25 Apr 2014 3:28 PM
Mike from Michigan

personal story: back in the late 1970's, things were going pretty good for me while living in Pittsburgh and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend 2 Super Bowls to watch the Steelers play, one in Miami and one in Los Angeles for a week each and those were pretty fun times.  I've since retired and now I gotta watch my pennies, but, I think the most fun I have ever had, was 3 years ago at Derby 137.  I left northern Michigan with a friend and we had a total of $600 between the 2 of us.  This $600 had to cover gas, food, a 2 night hotel stay, Derby admission and betting money.  I'm not kidding.  We stayed in Indiana at a Motel 6 for pretty cheap and ate 1 meal each day at Waffle House.  I had enough for a mint julep at the Derby and a $25 bet on 'Comma To The Top'....duh. My friend didn't drink, but did have one of those smoked turkey legs in the infield and a $25 bet on Nehro.  We made it home on fumes, but a trip I will never forget.

25 Apr 2014 3:29 PM
Carlos in Cali

I'm not impressed by the FL/NY/La. based horses this year. WR has been eliminated from my tickets already,for various reason. IMO, GAR will also not be in the mix if he runs like he did @ GP. If they take him back off of the pace will his chances improve?... maybe. But I think it's too late in trying to "teach" him something he hasn't done in a long,long time.The Derby is not the time and place to experiment w/a different running style,I can see him getting rank when he finds himself behind a wall of horses taking dirt.Toss!

Samraat and Uncle Sigh were exposed when In Trouble was soundly beaten in the Louisiana Derby and the La. horses aren't that good anyways.Toss them too.


I think WR will have a better chance at hitting the board in the Preakness rather than the Derby.

Ky Vet,

Don't kid yourself,I've seen your picks/posts on these blogs.

25 Apr 2014 3:36 PM
Carlos in Cali

What is Pletcher's record going 10f @ Churchill Downs?... 1-50+!!! Horrible! Though,I might play Danza underneath just in case.

I'll go out on a limb and say his recorded wins @10f on dirt is pretty abysmal.But,then again how many 10f races do they card back East?.. 2 maybe 3?

25 Apr 2014 4:14 PM
Jean in Chicago


I still think that 'little Canadian' had one of the 2 best pedigrees of the 20th Century (Man O' War being the other).  In my opinion, his grandsire Nearco was the best horse Frederico Tesio ever bred (although I'm sure some would argue for Ribot) and his damsire was Native Dancer.  

25 Apr 2014 4:26 PM
Fan of Damascus

Hi Steve

I owe you a big apology.  I have been presumptuous and unfair to you by floating the idea about a Derby Dozen Championship without running it past you first.

No slight was intended.  Still, after I got caught up in the idea I lost sight of your thoughts and views on this.  

Thank you for being gracious enough not to call me out on the error of my ways.

Regardless of whether or not you support my idea for the championship contest, please accept my sincere apology.

Greg (Fan of Damascus)

25 Apr 2014 7:08 PM
John from Seattle

Mike From Michigan,

Thank you for your story.  Keep making those trips if you can and share your experiences with us.

PS - most people may not know but Motel 6 meant staying the night for $6.

25 Apr 2014 8:04 PM

Fan of Damascus--I'm in for the DDC.

Mike from mmm...that state up north--Your adventure in Derby 137 land sounded great.  I've spent many Derbies on the infield but Derby 137 for us was on Churchill Downs as the prize for winning in 2010. That was a dream come true.

25 Apr 2014 10:01 PM
Sid Gustafson DVM

Excellent horseracing journalism, My Haskin, as usual. Thank you for your diverse and in-depth assessments.

On the subject of lead changes being delayed or unreliable, Mr Haskin notes four of the Derby horses; Wicked Strong, Samraat, Intense Holiday, and Vicar's in Trouble as having lead change issues. We do not often see 4 of 12 horses of this caliber entering a Derby with past performance lead-change problems. Jockeys are always suspect of a horse who does not change leads automatically and with fluidity, as for healthy horses, lead changes come quite naturally, especially with horses who are allowed to express intense locomotion with cohorts during their development. Running with the herd from a young age is essential for lead changes to become an inherent and natural athletic maneuver. While improper development and training can hinder lead-change abilities, it is musculoskeletal inflammation that is the usual cause.

Smooth and timely lead changes without cues from the jockey are the gold standard for overall soundness. Troubles with lead changes can be reflective of active leg problems. While horsemanship and previous training are a factor, they are less likely to be the cause of lead change problems than developing or existing lameness.

A sore horse takes or keeps the lead that is most comfortable. A variety of lamenesses in wide variety of locations affect lead changes, which come natural to most racehorses. Nobody likes to see lead change issues, as they are reflective of soundness issues more often than not. As well, appropriate lead changes through the race allow a horse to rest one side and then the other, affecting endurance in a profound fashion.

25 Apr 2014 10:25 PM

Hey ya'll, I just read that Awesome Baby is out of the Oaks.  Anyone know what happened?  Bummer!  Steve, I really like the fact that Samraat is still being trained with long works which I feel is necessary to have a chance at the triple crown.  Do you feel like that moves him up?  I am considering putting him in my top 5 now with that information.....

25 Apr 2014 10:57 PM

Rusty W.

If you read my follow up post you will notice I added in Oxbow. He went wire to wire and walked the dog up front.

You also wrote:

"It is the easiest race in racing to handicap because it is usually worth going against the horse that closed strong/benefited from pace in the Derby and worth taking the horse that was fast but couldn't quite hold on."

Yeah, like Hard Spun in 2007, right? Or Bodemeister in the 2012 Preakness? They were supposed to win the Preakness since it was a half a furlong shorter and with "tight turns." Same result: IHA ran Bode down. In 2007, Street Sense benefited from a fast Derby pace an and open rail and almost run again if another closer that benefited from a fast Derby pace benefited from an even faster Preakness pace of 1:09 and change (Curlin). Sometimes the Preakness has a pace meltdown as well...

Often times the Derby winner who won off of fast fractions will falter in the Preakness due to even faster Preakness fractions: Riva Ridge (wire to wire in Derby and later the Belmont), Bold Forbes (wired Derby field and later the Belmont)...

I agree generally with your point. The Preakness can be kind to the off the pace types that could not handle the Derby pace as well (Point Given, Afleet Alex).

26 Apr 2014 12:13 AM

Rusty W,

I am with you on DWF. Between the over-excited connections with Derby fever and the trainer who after the BGS said no thanks to the Derby, I am wondering what all the buzz is about...

I mean, the trainer came out after the BGS and said the horse is not the same horse on dirt and the 3 week turnaround was too soon. Then, he had to temper those remarks once the owners overruled him and said lets back up and go to Louisville!

Add to that, they are working him on turf instead of the surface they are running him on for his final prep. He has not breezed or run on dirt in some time, and when he finished 2nd on dirt, he was actually passed by Bond Holder in the stretch. And the BC Juvenile was race where he took some dirt and resented it...

Simply not the same horse on dirt. Maybe for 3rd, but no higher...Jon White likes him to win for fun, however. I do not see it.

26 Apr 2014 12:25 AM

Monarchos Matt,

Your Tomlinson Figures and historic results are interesting. I am very high on Wicked Strong and Medal Count and it’s interesting that they are rated as #2 & #3. I have them listed as #1 & #2 in my most recent DD.

26 Apr 2014 9:55 AM

Wicked Strong:

“He looks to be the most serious deep closer in the race.”

Is the above assessment correct? Wicked Strong has won 2 races and has been only 4L away from the leader in both. It is a fact that his worst races have been in FL where it remains a mystery as to why he performed so badly.

He contested the HB off a 7 weeks respite and with the leading rider at the meet, stopped like he was shot by a sniper. He was beaten whapping 15 3/4L by Cairo Prince. That performance must have raised Red Flags as he was only 1/2L behind Cairo Prince in the Remsen. Did CP improve 15 1/2L or did WS regress by the same margin?

Intense Holiday finished about 1 1/2L behind WS in the Remsen. In the HB he finished 8 1/4L ahead of WS. Did Intense Holiday improve 10 1/2L or did WS regress by the same margin?

It is clear something was amiss with the colt in FL. I do not believe it was the GP surface as he was only beaten 6 1/2L in his 2nd start there in a time similar to that recorded in the HB. That race signaled he was returning to his best from.

In both his winning efforts he was no farther than 4L off the pace while fractions of 23, 47 & 1:11 were being recorded. The pace in the Remsen was very slow so the field was bunched. WS has never lagged behind the field when he is competitive. Unless the Derby pace is suicidal, WS should be mid pack and not far off the leaders.

He is my firm choice to win Derby 2014 barring any unforeseen development.

26 Apr 2014 10:32 AM

The 2014 KD field has a larger than usual number of possible starters who sire or dam sire contested the Derby:

Wicked Strong: Sire finished 2nd K/Derby; dam sire won the K/Derby.1

Vinceremos: Sire finished 2nd in K/Derby; dam sire finished 4th in K/Derby.2

Harry’s Holiday: Sire finished 7th in K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby.

Uncle Sigh: Sire finished 4th in K/Derby; dam sire finished 5th in K/Derby.3

Medal Count: Sire did not start in K/Derby; dam sire finished 5th in K/Derby.

Ride n Curlin: Sire finished 3rd in K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby.

We Miss Artie: Sire did not start in K/Derby; dam sire won K/Derby.

Vicar’s In Trouble: Sire did not start in K/Derby; dam sire finished 18th in K/Derby

Ring Weekend: Sire finished 9th in K/Derby; dam sire finished 4th in K/Derby.4

Intense Holiday: Sire finished 7th in K/Derby; dam sire finished 5th in K/Derby.5

Samraat: Sire finished 14th in K/Derby; dam sire finished 4th in K/Derby.6

Tapiture: Sire finished 9th in K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby

Past KD winner in the last 20yrs whose sires or dam sires contested the Derby:

2013-Orb: Sire did not start in K/Derby; dam sire won K/Derby

2012-I’ll Have Another: Sire finished 9th in K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby

2009-MineThat Bird: Sire finished 9th in K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby

2005-Giacomo: Sire finished 12th in K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby

1999-Charismatic: Sire finished 2nd in K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby

1998-Real Quiet: Sire did not start in K/Derby; dam sire finished 3th in K/Derby.

1996-Grindstorn: Sire won the K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby.

1995-Thunder Gulch: Sire finished 6th in K/Derby; dam sire did not start in K/Derby

In the last 20 renewals of the KD 8 winners had either a sire or a dam sire that contested the Derby. Interestingly, none of these 8 winners were a combination of sire and dam sire that contested the Derby.  

Of the 12 in the 2014 KD field that fall into this category 6 fit the profile of  the past 8 Derby winner above. Harry’s Holiday, Medal Count, We Miss Artie, Vicar’s In Trouble, Tapiture and Ride On Curlin.

The sire and dam sire Wicked Strong, Vinceremos, Uncle Sigh, Intense Holiday, Ring Weekend and Samraat contested the Derby. Wicked Strong appears to be the one form the 2014 field that has the strongest Derby connection. His sire finished 2nd and his dam sire won. Vinceremos is 2nd with his sire finishing 2nd and his dam sire 4th. Medal Count & Ride On Curlin appears to be the best from the successful category.

Horses whose sires and dam sires that did not contest the Derby have won 12 of the last 20 Derbies.

26 Apr 2014 1:19 PM

I am a long time lurker and love this site particularly the pedigree discussions. The current issue of "Pedlines" from Ellen Parker, a noted pedigree analyst, headlines California Chrome's breeding. Very interesting read but a $30 subscription is required. Otherwise I would quote.

26 Apr 2014 5:21 PM
Jersey Girl

Fan of Damascus,

I love the idea. Will submit my order of finish once the post positions are confirmed.

Mike From Michigan,

Great Derby 137 story. Those kind of journeys often prove to be the best, right?


I don't remember anyone on this blog indicating that the turns in this race weren't a challenge. The issue, and it's been properly addressed by many, is the head-on danger with the fence, coming out of Post #1. Trainers don't get upset for nuthin', when they draw #1.

26 Apr 2014 6:16 PM
Mike from Michigan

@, that's pretty awesome you won the Road To The Roses contest, that is quite an accomplishment, many congrats on that.  I played that for a few years, but I didn't doing very well.  

26 Apr 2014 8:12 PM
Mike from Michigan

I keep looking at the late pace figures of all the Derby horses and these 4 horses are a stand-out to me.....Dance With Fate, Danza, ROC and Intense Holiday.  It seems to me that if all 4 get good trips and don't encounter too much trouble, they should be in strong contention nearing the wire.  Kinda simplistic, but makes sense to me.

26 Apr 2014 8:32 PM
Matthew W

The day I got Zenyatta at 5-2, I put her on top of six horses---and lost my exacta bet! This time, when I get 5-2 on Chromey, I'm not gonna go fishing for an exacta partner---I'll take the 5-2, maybe hit the nail on the head, Steve--he keeps not-bouncing--cuz he's that good--we could be in for something special!

26 Apr 2014 9:36 PM
Matthew W

Hmmm...a horse who thrives on racing....keeps posting big numbers....keeps switching gears and drawing off for fun, making nice horses look it!

26 Apr 2014 9:40 PM
Matthew W

The #1 post is only bad if there are twenty entries---twenty! Makes the pace too fast/bad for stalkers/good for closers/one-race wonders! 15 horses would be best--Heck, I can remember in 1976 there were six--SIX HORSES!

26 Apr 2014 9:44 PM
Sail On

Coldfacts, great list of current Derby contenders and their sires, dam sires past Derby [performances. I especially like your analysis of what that means:) I still like Vicar's In Trouble and Wicked Strong in the Derby.

Bayern did not win the Derby Trial. Not sure if second place money will get him qualified for the Derby. If it does, then the race was a good 'work' for him.

26 Apr 2014 10:55 PM

I will say it's only a bad post if you get in trouble.........again, the point is, people just believe things because some people say pimlico has tight turns..........not true!  Worry more about the horse people!

26 Apr 2014 11:01 PM

Just another example of the inconsistant nature of Coldcuts........sometimes he will talk about strides.....except, his #1 horse wicked strong ran sideways in the stretch on the wrong lead......until he changed leads.........what does that mean chief?.....And he obviously wont bet wicked, as he will be second favorite..................

26 Apr 2014 11:07 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

the derby is there for the wise people make easy money but the derby is also there for the people who spent time living inside the horses, I hope Apollo is resting in peace do not confuse oppertunity with cal. chrome they are very good but oppertunity sire lost at the derby and at the b.c.classic at 10 fur. when history was waiting for him and oppertunity having Damascus as his 3rd dam sire can be another orb when Damascus was the 2d dam sire? go figure and you will learn what breeding is all about,it is very clear to me that having la troienne twice so close in his female family has been the key for this horse to be great and if can handle the surface at c.d board your plain and go to paris,the derby trial was the clue that I needed second and 3rd form and class, well do you thing ch aboutitu,and wild cat red can be like revolutionary? and what about the one race wonder charismatic and Copeland? is it the blue grass important? be care full, storm cat has some holes but like swell he was storm cat.

27 Apr 2014 12:53 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

the difference between a winner and a loser is that the loser is always sleeping and the winner is at school.

27 Apr 2014 3:49 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

I will not tell you who is going to win in case c.d turn in a nightmare a blogger offend me but next week will be like one in a million?.

27 Apr 2014 4:03 AM
Mike from Michigan

I saw a quote by Clavin Borel which was actually amazing to me.  Calvin said in his long career as a jockey, he was only bitten twice by horses (breaking skin and bleeding), once by Street Sense and once by Ride On Curlin.......a good omen maybe? LOL

27 Apr 2014 5:57 AM

There are scores of Derby trends. Most regard them as insignificant but I think some are worth the attention of those with open minds.

In the last 20 renewals of the Derby the winners have been divided into 9 that won their final Derby prep and 11 that did not. Is there a trend with the two groups? I guess a trend can be whatever one wants it to be. With that stated, there is something that captured my attention while reviewing this historic bit of information.

The winners of the last 3 Derbies all won their final Derby preps. This represented the first time in the last 20 renewals that this occurred. Interestingly, 2nd place finishers in two of the last 3 Derby renewals lost their final derby preps. Bodemeister also finished 2nd but he won the AK Derby.

The 2012 renewal of the Derby is likely to be remembered for Bodemeister's failed attempt at overcoming the so called Apollo Curse. However, many failed to recognize a different type of history that was either created or repeated. The top four finishers all won their final Derby preps and all were sired by tail descendants of Mr. Prospector.

Derby winners in the last 20yrs that did not win their final Derby preps have a 2 win advantage over those that did. It took three consecutive victories by Derby prep winner between 2011 and 2013 to narrow the advantage to two. Can final Derby prep winners sustain their rally?

California Chrome, Wicked Strong, Dance With Fate, Danza, Vicar’s In Trouble, Chitu and We Miss Artie are the winners of final Derby preps in the field. The 2014 Derby winner is expected to emerge from this group. Afleet Alex, Empire Maker and Bellamy Road were all impressive final Derby prep winners who were expected win the Derby but lost.

The Derby field will contain 13 horses that lost their final Derby prep. These horses comprise a group that still has the advantage but has been shut out for the last three years. This group is certainly due for a victory.

Medal Count, General A Rod, Ride On Curlin, Opportunity, Intense Holiday, Wildcat Red, Samaart are the best representatives from this group and are all capable of wearing the roses.

The historic information above is likely to be proven insignificant to the outcome of Derby 2014. However, if there are contributors who are not high on any of the final Derby prep winners and intend to take a shot with some other horse, the above information suggests you might just secure a return on investment.

27 Apr 2014 9:39 AM

For a month now.... I have listened to California people tell me how good Bayern is.  If only he could get in the Derby "look out".  Ok where are you now ? Where are all the Bayern fans now ?  Let me tell you where they are.... they are reserving a seat for all the CC fans after the Derby.  Win a race East of the Mississippi and then get excited until then you have a California winner BIG DEAL.

27 Apr 2014 10:05 AM
Drinks from a glass !!

good morning     derby bloggers    

GARY D   like your angles the best with dance with fate and harrys holidays ..

I am firm believers in the longshots out of the public comment ....

charts pp s all a part of it ..........look at the horse on the track .. understand the betting public ...

I always like a good horse with no name trainer ....America doesn't bet that horse enough .. chip wooley ever heard of him before ?    samraat  

27 Apr 2014 10:22 AM
Pedigree Ann

Geronimo - Riva Ridge (and 'most everyone else) had trouble in the Preakness because it was run on a sloppy, greasy mess of a surface. Bee Bee Bee just floated over it while the rest spun their wheels.

27 Apr 2014 10:30 AM

The New York breds Uncle Sigh and Samaart never really appealed to me during their two race battles. It was difficult to gage how good they were because of the slowness of the inner track at the Big A. I was of the opinion that they would have been outclassed by the better horses in the Wood but I was pleasantly surprised that both ran so well.

Of the two New Yorkers I like the Wood 5th finisher Uncle Sigh a lot more. It might appear crazy seeing that Samaart has defeated Uncle Sigh on the three occasions they met. Well, two of Uncle Sigh loss to Samaart were very close and the 3rd, he lost every chance at the start.

Many might be of the opinion that as progeny of Indian Charlie, Uncle Sigh might be challenged by the Derby distance. Indian Charlie finished 4th in the Derby and being sired by a great grandson of Caro a 4th place finisher in the Arc and out of a mare sire by a grandson of Northern Dancer, he should be able to sire a Derby horse. Uncle Sigh's dam sire Pine Bluff contested each leg of the TC with a victory in the Preakness and a 3rd place finish in the Belmont. His 2nd dam was sired by stamina influence A P Indy. Interestingly, both his 1st and 2nd dams were unraced.

Uncle Sigh is an physically imposing colt with energy efficient strides. He broke badly in the Wood and found himself in a n unusual position of having to close from behind all his opponents. He did his best to adapt to his new role and was motoring in the latter part of the race to secure 5th. I believe the Wood laid the foundation for a breakout performance that could come in the Derby.

The blinkers were added for his recent works and it appears they have helped with his focus. Blinkers can improve a horse’s performance significantly if they are effective. Most of the top ten contenders have all produced breakout races. Uncle Sigh is yet to produce one. The colt I viewed excising in the blinkers looked awesome. He has only a MSW victory in the win column. However, that will not  deter me from using him as Golden Soul had a similar resume when he finished 2nd in Derby 2013.

Uncle Sigh is a live longshot!

27 Apr 2014 12:59 PM

Hi to everyone, thanks for all the knowledge, this blog is something I look forward to every year , and every week leading up to the derby, I was introduced to this lovely game my father and have been addicted ever since ,is it coincidental that ring weekend was scrathed from the derby , and ccommanding curve gets in , and both are owned by west point thorogh

27 Apr 2014 2:02 PM
Mike from Michigan

after watching the Breeder's Cup Juvenile last November, who would have imagined that Strong Mandate wouldn't even make the field for the 2014 Derby.

27 Apr 2014 2:45 PM

Coldfacts are you moving him up your list ?  Last time you posted your dozen, he's your 12th horse.   How far up does Uncle Sigh move from your list ?   Are you going to play him to win ?  Seems like you're really excited about him now.  

I posted in Haskin's "workouts" blogs that he's starting to interest me and awhile back I said that he could be the sleeper, but I'm waiting for the post draw and his workout at CD before I jump on his ship.  He recently had a nice workout at Belmont going 1:27 for 7Fs.  

What made you suddenly look at this horse ?  Your post didn't really say what got your attention...

27 Apr 2014 4:58 PM

Draynay; I've heard some positive talk about Bayern, but not from me.  Too inexperienced.  I've heard far more about California Chrome and I think you are the only poster truly negative about him.  It won't be long til we see who is right.  Good luck to your choice, and may the best horse win.

27 Apr 2014 5:21 PM

I was certain I posted last Monday, and if I did..I apologize if I'm repetitive. Or it was lost in here we go again.

I have to hand it to you, Steve. I can't come up with a top dozen. I'm upset because Cairo Prince is out.

I just didn't think Constitution could do 10f and win.

Colts I found too inconsistent to consider are Vicar's in Trouble, Wicked Strong, and Danza. Of course, any one of them could pull off another freak performance, but I'm doubting their credentials.

So I go with #1...California Chrome. His performance was spectacular in the Santa Anita Derby.  I understand his other races were just as impressive. But yes, I have questions: a.) will he be in the mood to win? (I haven't forgotten that other sure bet, Point Given.) b. Can he do it outside of California? (He's bred well enough to do it anywhere...but then, so was one of my favorites, Lava Man.) He's #1 simply because he's the horse whose credentials I question the least.

#2. Samraat. I've enjoyed watching this colt develop since last year, and I've always liked him. He has a great stride, he has speed, and he has grit. The Wood was a testimonial to how gutsy he can be. If not for Chrome, he would be my favorite.

#3. Social Inclusion. Speed, ability, agility, and good breeding.

#4. Intense Holiday. More than capable, loved his run in La....until he made that sudden left turn. If he stays with it, he could prove to be a fierce rival.

#5.Wildcat Red. Well-bred, he's a fighter, and he may have been saving his best race for May. He has speed, and he has tenacity.

#6. Dance with Fate. I thought he'd be in the mix, but if his trainer says he can't run on dirt...maybe he can't. But he's so pretty, and if I can't have the handsome Cairo Prince on my list, Fate looks just as good. (It seems to me I've seen trainers bandage their horses' legs, just to make the horse seem less of a threat in competition. Could be the same strategy??)

I'd love to see Kid Cruz in here, but I understand he's headed to the Preakness.

#7. Dynamic Impact and Midnight Hawk. While some may not consider the Illinois Derby as having an impact, these 2 boys ran a great race, out-distanced the competition, and fought a duel to the wire. I liked them both.

8. Bayern. Even if only for the breeding. I'm seeing Seattle Slew, Mr. P, and Alydar. I like that.

That's the limit of my picks. Now it's time for me to catch up on every one else's thoughts. Good luck to you all.

Oh and Congratulations to the Zen on such a beautiful look-alike filly. I'd say she strongly takes after her Mom.

27 Apr 2014 5:31 PM


See Spot run.  Yesterday we saw Bayern run.  The California horse outran the Florida horse, don't ya think?  

27 Apr 2014 6:47 PM
Uncle Smiley

Dr. Drunkenbum:

Understand those dreams this time of year.  I just had one in which Bob Baffert takes over the lead of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and sings, "Somebody Stole My Gal."


27 Apr 2014 7:44 PM

There can be many reasons associated with a horse’s refusal to change leads. If a horse has an efficient stride pattern and on rare occasions does something erratic, it does not mean his strides are any less energy efficient. I specified that Wicked Strong was not smooth in the last furlong of the Wood but as soon as he regained his rhythm he exploded past his rivals.

In the latter parts of the 9F races most horses will be either decelerating rapidly or holding their form. Rarely is the explosive acceleration displayed by Wicked Strong in evidence that late in a 9f races with strong internal fractions.

The video clip I saw of Wicked Strong on arrival at CD reflected a colt bursting at the seams. California Chrome better be as good a promoted as WS will be dropping on him like a ton of bricks.

It appears Wicked Strong will be heavily backed in the Derby and that will not deter me from using both him and Medal Count as my top two.

28 Apr 2014 7:32 AM

Of the last 4 Triple Crown winners, the largest field was 15 in 1977. You know who won that one. Affirmed faced 10 in 1978; Secretariat faced 12 in 1973. The classic work horse, Citation, bested 5 in 1948.

I still believe the 20 horse field is a demolition Derby, and I have to wonder if it's a factor in NOT having a TC winner, especially since the track is not wide enough to support more than 18.

Isn't Calif Chrome one cool dude? He seems to be just taking it all in. I'd bet his connections are happy that he enjoyed his flight.

28 Apr 2014 7:46 PM

Once again, considering the 50 Year Anniversary, I forgot to add another longshot in my group of choices: the Ontario-bred We Miss Artie.

(Together with Samraat, Uncle Sigh, Vicars in Trouble and the wise guy pick, Wicked Strong)

29 Apr 2014 11:20 AM

I wholeheartedly agree with Steve (and I congratulate him on his powers of observation) that California Chrome's best asset may be his unusually good mind. The more I see of this colt, the more impressed I am with his demeanor. He is always alert and curious but never rattled. The last horse I saw with a similar attitude turned out pretty well. His name: Animal Kingdom. I don't know if CC will win this year's Derby, but he will certainly be a pleasure to watch.

One thing I haven't seen anyone mention about Intense Holiday is that he is a Shawklit (see third dam). I have a great fondness for the Shawklit's -- all of them. They tend to be very tough competitors, and most of them are fully capable of outrunning their odds on any given occasion. I would be pleased to see Intense Holiday do further honor to this family.

I'd also be pleased to see We Miss Artie perform well. For one thing, I am weary of the naysayers who claim that the Artie Schiller's can't act on dirt. Also, I happened to see his dam go through the sales ring at Keeneland in November, and I fell head over heels in love with Athena's Gift. There's an old song which goes something like "do what you do do well." That mare's specialty appeared to be the high kick, and I swear she could knock the hat off a tall cowboy perched on the top rail. Other than her athletic prowess, I thought she was absolutely gorgeous, and I hope her son does her proud.

To the Hanna-Barbera fans I see posting here, one of my biggest disappointments in this Derby season was the injury to the highly promising Exit Stage Left. If anyone knows how he's doing now, I'd love to hear about it.

30 Apr 2014 3:10 AM
Bloodline Bob

OK, since they would not print my negative comments about Steve Haskin's #1 Derby Dozen pick. I'll repeat it here on April 30, 2014: CALIFORNIA CHROME will not be better than 3rd or 4th place. There has not been a sire of a Kentucky Derby winner that had a stud fee as low as that of LUCKY PULPIT's fee of $2,500 in the last 25 years! CALIFORNIA CHROME is the 2014 version of the 1986 SNOW CHIEF!!!!! I'm not using him until the 2014 Preakness.

30 Apr 2014 6:06 AM

Like Steve, but just too much detail, a thumbnail scetch

is all ya need before the draw, then a little more comment, would CC be on top if drew # 1 ? Think it will be a blanket finish, call it Hop,CC,ex-bx, tapiture, vic'trble & wicked strg tri & sup bxs to 1st two  bueno

30 Apr 2014 3:46 PM

   Food for thought Rusty… {{maybe there is the thinking in some circles that Baffert is gonna play run “the rabbit game”, sending “Chitu” out to run ridiculous opening fractions hoping near all will try to stay with this rapid pace and thusly eventually near all will burn out by the time they reach the stretch allowing the youngest horse in the field,  “Hoppertunity”, to come along late in a stamina closing run and steal the show, … BUT, … the fly in that ointment is, what if “Chitu” outruns his sire’s supposed deficiency to be able to handle a mile-and-a-quarter,--if you’re a Haskin’s believer,--and actually outruns the field WIRE TO WIRE with his 10 links to the ‘BHXFG’ strains and his 4 links to “Cosquilla” ???!!!… as he does possess such speed.}}

… then again, maybe “Chitu” has grown up over the last 6 weeks and is even stronger and in all this time off besides continuing with the gate training regimen, Baffert has.--over this supposedly long 6 week--??--layoff period,--actually TAUGHT the hoss to RATE off the pace himself where “Chitu” is willing to try to stay near to “Chrome boy” and is willing to try to duel with him down the stretch ?? !!!

… just some food for thought …  

  Then again, if you put all your faith in Steve, toss the horse as a potential top 3 finisher and save the $$$$ and just carry a handkerchief with you to collect your tears when you throw all of your tickets on the ground after the race ...IF the horse wins places or shows …

01 May 2014 4:51 AM

I decided to see the three Triple Crown races won by Secretariat before I can write this lines. Product analysis consider a sincere yes CC runs hard and win the Roses be very unlikely not be opposite the next triple crown of USA. without passion of any kind, looks out a copy of their careers made ​​series, and I think to the extent that advance the other gems of the triple crown CC was consolidated as one of the best examples of U.S. history as exemplary three years. long as the injury bug does not take possession therein. The rest of the field could be a big surprise on sunday, because they are so even and maturing. So, good luck for the rest of the field on the first race of the TC.....

01 May 2014 7:58 PM

I still say that California Chrome needs too much to go his way come Derby Day.  His bests have been good but his worsts have been awful.  If he can manage something like the California Cup Derby, with that kind of patient ride, he may have a good shot.  That may have been his best race. But most of the time I see him getting rushed to the front and if he tries to go gate to wire I say he gets cooked.  Take a look at the Del Mar Futurity, the 16th pole on where he has company, he's bouncing around like a pin ball down inside like what are these horses doing here in my path.  The Will and Proctor he goes 46 and backs up.  Then there is the Golden State Juvenile where he breaks like a royal Lipezon front hooves 4 feet off the ground. No the formula is pretty simple for the Derby.  Break well, stay out of trouble, make one long sustained run.  I don't see this.  He needs to be placed too far forward, won't get to relax, and hope he has gas the last 1/4 when the race starts.  

02 May 2014 1:07 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

if cal. chrome bounce in my opinion ride on curlin even with post 19 has the best breeding, dirt class, jokey, and is a fast pace demon that can turn Saturday in a nightmare for the favorite clan, medal count did work good as a 2 year old and at 3 at c.downs by dynaformer? beware dirt speed lovers no more preps to measure, danza one too turn race and suspect breeding is for you not for me,candy boy lost by 8 now I hope for 14,chitu has the best broodmare and the worst sire combination in the derby revolutionary? wicked strong has a horrible female family and post 20 oh my god the only lousiana derby superfecta hope only on pedigree is c.curve,general a rod can handle a fast pace and likes the track but roman ruler? may be can be in the exotics and the final hope tapiture has a suspect botton line and a don't think a fast pace is what he wants check his first race at 2 but he is a dual qualifier ,won a fast time race a c.downs in the at 2 and had the points to ran before last prep what danza did in Arkansas with a 7 fur. sprint race? 5 to secure your bet,19 for for been real,14 for the atomic bomb,8 to be cautious,15 for steve roman and 17 for a grand slam I have couple more to include just in case but this race is unpredictable like a shark.

02 May 2014 11:59 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

brother do not waist your time when California chrome takes the lead he thinks the police is pursuing him ride on curlin can be the police?

03 May 2014 12:39 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

when California chrome takes the lead he thinks the police is pursuing him.

03 May 2014 12:42 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

this favorite will be the biggest overlay I have seen ever 5x2 on this horse is like turning $640.00 dollars in $1,600.00 that is what I call value on probabilities.

03 May 2014 1:04 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

my last comment has to do with post position historical value and result, post 20 win big brown a superior horse, post 19 I will have another did beat a horse at santa anita derby that did beat a horse who won the ark. derby by 9 lengths before, that is class who in this derby can beat a solid favorite from post 5 with tactical speed? ride on curlin #19 wicked strong #20 are better then big brown and I will have another? if ride on curlin wins at 15 to 1 he pays $32.00 for $2.00 investment but the post position has a one percent chance for me to make a profit is not better to invest more if the percentage are extremely higher for you to win on post position probabilities? danza was a probability not a big risk.

03 May 2014 1:39 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

form will not be cal.crhome failure,this race is devoid of form for many inferior horses then him on class and breeding but the big crowd and attention that he has not face before but I think this horse has not nerves and he will show that he is even better then what he has shown so far he has a great hidden pedigree.

03 May 2014 1:55 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

this is the moment for the fluke to wake up, there is not help from your friends let me see what I see from you and tomorrow I will unmask your dreams.

03 May 2014 2:13 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

for me this race is confusing, the favorite looks like big brown to be fare and have better post oh my god are this people so kind, well if this horse lose I will be in shock I will probably need some therapy sessions but I hope it has a happy ending.

03 May 2014 2:51 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

my hope to win, cal.crhome ,ride on curlin, medal  count, general a rod, c.curve ,tapiture,good luck.

03 May 2014 3:17 AM
cuba"s classic chef de race

this derby has 2 names California chrome or ride on curling the rest will be closing to destroy your wallet,medall count,tapiture,gen.a.road,c.curve,chitu,w.strong they were espouse yesterday and will get espouse tomorrow for the win.

03 May 2014 3:50 AM


Didn't look as if Wicked Strong was anywhere near California Chrome at the end of the race.  I guess CC is exactly what he was promoted to be and he is a Cal Bred on top of that.  Shows that some horses don't follow all the highly regarded facts.

04 May 2014 4:23 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

I told you before what horses were not to be included in the first 2 positions so you had the best chance to win it all I swear I did won with the trifecta and I did miss with the super nobody is perfect but is better to win then to loose, well the first round is history the second is like a wait and see, California  chrome derby win was not so impressive as you think he did beat a plodder with 2 preps and a horse with a 2 turn race life time he may have won the derby bouncing but you can't win the Belmont with that pattern like smarty jones, so the Preakness has two faces the spring 3 year old pattern 2 good races fallow by a bounce like thunder gulch or the strike the gold pattern going to the Preakness the word is out California chrome is a great loving animal and I hope Mr Sherman love him and don't allow the money be the final breach this horse has to jump to be great.

09 May 2014 11:56 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

ssthe Belmont is like i did it in new York the grave yard of the future legends, and it is very sad because the horse is noble he made you rich but you love him so much that $ 3,100.00 dollars is not the amount that can make you happy can i be you? i will said this i love my dog and he never won a race but when c.crhome won today he did not kiss the pony mare like a fresh stallion i was sad it was like i am sorry because i did my best.

18 May 2014 12:57 AM

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