Good Magic Chad Brown
Curlin—Glinda the Good, by Hard Spun
It’s not every day you see a horse ranked No. 1 who broke his maiden in November in his last start. But then again, that maiden win came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and he did it like a seasoned pro. With a close second in the Champagne, beaten only a half-length in his second career start, who can tell what we’re dealing with. With his breeding and trained by Chad Brown, he has a lot going for him. He has a very efficient way of moving, switches leads on cue, can turn it on with push-button acceleration, and you had to love the way he drew off in the Breeders’ Cup to win by 4 1/4 lengths and then galloped out some eight lengths ahead of the others. In the Champagne, coming off one 6 1/2-furlong maiden race, he was 5-wide turning for home and charged to the lead only to get nailed late by Sanford winner Firenze Fire. A $1 million yearling purchase, Brown has always been extremely high on him as evidenced by running him in the Champagne and Breeders’ Cup as a maiden. He has already turned in a pair of 109 late pace figures on Brisnet. He just had his first breeze this week, going 3 furlongs in :36 4/5, and is targeting the Fountain of Youth Stakes. We’ll get into his pedigree next week.
Bolt d’Oro Mick Ruis
Medaglia d'Oro—Globe Trot, by A.P. Indy
Because he was scheduled to debut in a sprint, the San Vicente Stakes, which has become a lost art in training for the Derby, he was a prime candidate to top the list. But a pulled muscle scrapped those plans and now we have to deal with a detour already. Keeping him at No. 2 because of his untapped talent, good looks, and super pedigree. I admit I know little about Mick Ruis as a horseman, but I was impressed with his decision to start off in a sprint, which is old school training. Bolt d'Oro was stiff for three days and when a nuclear scan came up clean he resumed galloping. Ruis still would love to get a race in before the San Felipe, but admits that likely will not happen, so he plans on working him in company a couple of times to sharpen him up. But when a horse is thrown off course on the Derby trail because of an injury, even a slight one, you never know if they will be able to get back on course. However, the way he demolished Solomini in the Frontrunner Stakes and managed to finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile despite having to go 7-wide on both turns and running 78 feet farther than Good Magic (which equates to 9-10 lengths), he still commands too much respect to drop any lower, at least for now until we see when and how he returns to the work tab and how he moves in the morning.
Catholic Boy Jonathan Thomas
More Than Ready—Song of Bernadette, by Bernardini
I have to admit I fell in love with this colt in the paddock before the Remsen; he had an elegant, chiseled look about him, very alert and intelligent, and just looked like a classic racehorse. And he ran like it, gliding over the ground and leaving a very classy horse in Avery Island nearly 5 lengths behind over a deep track. And galloping out, he looked like he was just getting started. He showed in the Remsen, his dirt debut, he, like many More Than Readys, can handle grass and dirt equally well. He seems very responsive, tossing his ears around, waiting for a command. His With Anticipation Stakes victory was something to see, the way he overcame severe traffic turning home and then just exploded under a right-hand whip to win in a sharp 1:40 4/5 for the 1 1/16 miles. Dropping back to one mile in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, he again got caught in a traffic jam, but rallied strongly to finish fourth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths. He has put on weight since the Remsen and started breezing at Bridlewood Farm, where he has done most of his training, breezing a sharp half in :48 1/5, out in 1:01, with jockey Manny Franco aboard. Some may point out his time of 1:52 2/5 in the Remsen, but be aware that the immensely talented Wonder Gadot won the Demoiselle the race before in 1:53 4/5 and Sharp Azteca won the Cigar Mile in 1:35, only the seventh time in 29 years the race was run in 1:35 or slower, and we know how fast Sharp Azteca is. He is being pointed to the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay and then the Florida Derby. He will ship to Tampa next week to get a work over the track, as the Tampa surface can be pretty quirky.
McKinzie Bob Baffert
Street Sense—Runway Model, by Petionville
He looked super breaking his maiden in his career debut and ran a gutsy race to win the Los Alamitos Futurity on the disqualification of his dual grade 1-placed stablemate Solomini. Baffert, feeling he was too keen, removed the blinkers in the Sham Stakes and McKinzie rated beautifully and drew off to an easy 3 1/2-length score. Granted, this was a weaker field than the Los Al Futurity, but he was in total control the entire race and won with a lot left. He also gets high ranking because Instilled Regard, who was moved up to second in the Los Al Futurity after running a game race between horses and beaten only three-quarters of a length, came back and looked terrific winning the LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds. It is obvious this colt knows how to win on his own, and not only does not need blinkers, he needs no encouraging at all. He showed how much he detested the whip in the Los Al Futurity, throwing his tail up every time Mike Smith hit him left-handed. In the Sham, he still threw his tail up just from Smith showing him the whip with his left hand. You like to see a horse tell his jockey, “Put the whip away, I’m giving 100 percent on my own.” It was interesting to see Baffert bring him back just four weeks after his tough race at Los Al, which is not normally his m.o. on the Derby trail. So we know this colt is all hickory, as the old timers used to call tough hard-knocking horses. Baffert, as usual, is unsure whether to run him at Santa Anita or ship out of town, but with the Sham under his belt he will be able to ease off a bit and find two more races for him. He breezed an easy half in :49 this week.
Instilled Regard Jerry Hollendorfer
Arch—Enhancing, by Forestry
Not exactly a Derby-like name, but what is important is that he can flat-out run. I loved the gameness he showed in the Los Alamitos Futurity, getting bumped around and hanging tough against two classy Baffert colts, and then winning the LeComte Stakes for fun, galloping out as if he wanted to go around again. This race took absolutely nothing out of him, and I also love the versatility he has shown, closing like a rocket in his career debut and breaking his maiden battling head and head for the lead when stretching out to two turns. He rates beautifully and has shown good acceleration on the far turn without the need of urging in his last two starts. In the LeComte, he switched leads perfectly, but then drifted in, jumping back to his left lead for a stride before switching immediately back to his right lead, so he still has a touch of greenness. Most impressive was the way he easily handled the highly regarded 6-5 favorite Principe Guilherme, who had romped in both his career starts. A $1,050,000 2-year-old purchase, Instilled Regard looks as if he will prove to be bargain at that price, as he should only keep improving.
Mask Chad Brown
Tapit—Hidden Expression, by Yonaguska
He gives Brown a powerful early one-two punch following his impressive victory in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, in which he won wrapped up, defeating two promising stakes winners, Bal Harbour and Dak Attack, trained by Todd Pletcher and Dale Romans, respectively. This was a very stylish victory by a beautiful moving colt, who was never touched with the whip. But with only two career starts we still have to take into consideration the number of speed influences in his female family, including broodmare sire Yonaguska. He does have Turkoman in his tail-female family and that should help. He certainly runs like he wants to go on, and this was as visually impressive a performance as we’ve seen this year. His next start will be the Risen Star Stakes, as Brown will keep him and Good Magic separated. Javier Castellano, who rides him and Instilled Regard, may have a tough decision if both colts continue to perform as they have.
Enticed Kiaran McLaughlin
Medaglia d'Oro—It's Tricky, by Mineshaft
McLaughlin is holding a strong hand for Godolphin with him and Avery Island, and there doesn’t seem to be much separating them. He ran a solid third in the Champagne Stakes, coming off one maiden sprint, then showed his gameness by out-dueling the top-class Tiz Mischief in the 14-horse Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He has a good blend of speed and stamina, and what I liked best is the way he sat chilly when passed by two horses nearing the half-mile pole. He was being pushed along on the far turn and didn’t show much acceleration, but he kept coming, taking the lead and then battling back gamely when Tiz Mischief charged up on his inside. He has been working steadily at Palm Meadows and is up to a half-mile in his breezes. He and Tiz Mischief could be on a collision course for a rematch, although the latter is far ahead in his works. He has all the tools and the pedigree, but I would like to see bit more turn of foot.
Solomini Bob Baffert
Curlin—Surf Song, by Storm Cat
I'm not sure where to rank him, as he hasn't worked since December 28, battling a bug, so we'll have to see how long it takes before he returns to the work tab, after which he likely will move up. He keeps running his heart out and keeps finding ways to lose, whether outrun by Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro or being taken down after finishing first in the Los Alamitos Futurity, a decision questioned by some. It looked as if he were hanging in the stretch, unable to catch McKinzie and Instilled Regard, but when Flavien Prat hit him right-handed he ducked in, bumping with Instilled Regard, and jumping over to his left lead. He finished on his left lead eventually wearing down both horses, only to be disqualified. The bottom line is that he’s placed in three grade 1 stakes, but still has to prove he can beat the top horses. He is still learning and should keep improving. He has classic breeding throughout his pedigree, but is he quick enough and explosive enough to catch up to the leading Derby contenders and finally win one of these big races?
Tiz Mischief Dale Romans
Into Mischief—Indivia, by Tiznow
There is always a question of how far the Into Mischiefs want to run, but this colt has a female family loaded with stamina influences, such as Tiznow and Jade Hunter, and tough, gritty horses like In Reality and Delta Judge. He also has strong Calumet ties through Tim the Tiger, Rose Court, and Bull Lea. I liked the way he rallied from far back to break his maiden stretching out to two turns and the way he sliced through the field in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, finding a gaping hole along the rail, only to have it close up on him, forcing him to alter course. Although he got nipped on the wire by Enticed, he was a a couple of lengths in front right after the wire. He has recorded five strong works at Gulfstream Park (:47 4/5, 1:00 3/5, 1:00, :59 4/5, and another :59 4/5) and should come out loaded for bear.
Mourinho Bob Baffert
Super Saver—Sandi's Ready, by More Than Ready
Reluctant to put a third Baffert horse in the Top 12, but this colt checked off too many boxes in his Smarty Jones victory to leave him off. This was one of the more impressive victories visually, as he merely cruised around there in his two-turn debut, in total control all the way. And you had to like his :12 1/5 final eighth under no urging at all. Baffert has known all along he had a rocket on his hands, especially with Mourinho having breezed a quarter mile in :20.20 at the Ocala March 2-year-old sale, which equaled the fastest time in the sale's history. To harness some of that speed, Baffert took the blinkers off in the seven-furlong Bob Hope Stakes after the colt had blown a three-length lead at the eighth pole in the six-furlong Speakeasy Stakes after blazing a half in :44 2/5. Although Mourinho ran a solid second to Greyvitos in the Bob Hope coming from off the pace, he wasn't as focused as Baffert would have liked, so on the suggestion of jockey Drayden Van Dyke he put the blinkers back on for the Smarty Jones, figuring the two turns would naturally slow him down. Mourinho, who sold for $675,000 after selling for a mere $30,000 as a yearling, relaxed every step of the way, cut the corner beautifully and showed great extension through the stretch. He beat a decent bunch, headed by runner-up Combatant, coming off an excellent second in the Springboard Mile. Not only did Mourinho win by a comfortable 3 1/4 lengths, Combatant was 8 lengths ahead of stakes-placed Tap Daddy in third. He does have a lot of speed in his female family, but his sire won the Derby, so we should know a lot more after his next start.
Free Drop Billy Dale Romans
Union Rags—Trensa, by Giant's Causeway
Yes, he ran horribly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with no apparent explanation, but I am not going to hold it against him for a poor effort on that Del Mar surface when so many top horses ran inexplicably bad races. And I’m not going to ignore his huge efforts in the Breeders’ Futurity and Hopeful Stakes. I do know that he was the only horse in the field who was down on the rail, as all the other riders kept off the inside and in the sunlight, while he was alone in the shadow of the rail and made a big early move to reach contention before shortening stride and floundering down the stretch. After seconds in the Sanford and Hopeful Stakes, he stretched out to two turns in the Breeders’ Futurity and blew his field away, drawing off to a four-length victory. The runner-up in that race, Bravazo, won his 3-year-old debut last week for Wayne Lukas. We know Free Drop Billy will run all day, so we’ll just draw a line through the Juvenile. He’s had several works and seems to be progressing nicely, breezing 5 furlongs in 1:01.
Marconi Todd Pletcher
Tapit—Ponche de Leona, by Ponche
I make it a point not to put horses in the Top 12 until they have beaten winners, but this is an exception, because I am intrigued by the fact that he’s had two lifetime starts, both at 1 1/8 miles. I have never seen that before on dirt. Remember last year when Always Dreaming won a 9-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream in a sluggish 1:53 2/5? Well, remember what he went on to do before knocking Marconi’s time at Aqueduct in 1:54 2/5, in which he put in a dramatic middle move before drawing off to a 5 1/2-length score. As I said, it is rare to have a maiden winner ranked this high, but you had to watch him get left cold at the gate, falling about eight or nine lengths back, then making what looked to be a suicidal move down the backstretch to reach contention, only to have to steady behind the leaders. It looked like he was totally empty after that, dropping back and going nowhere. But he found another gear and just blew the field away in the stretch. It is apparent that blinkers made a huge difference, as he always had a tendency to gawk at everything. Now, you ask, was he just beating slow horses in slow time or was he justifying his $2 million price tag as a yearling? The third-place finisher Roaming Union answered that question by coming back and breaking his maiden at 1 1/8 miles by 12 1/4 lengths, defeating Kiaran McLaughlin’s promising Holland Park Marconi is just back breezing and I can’t wait to see his next race. Pletcher just needs to sharpen him up and hone his speed. He’s a handsome colt and very efficient mechanically. A half-brother to BC Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, we know he can run all day. I have never seen a horse on the Derby trail with two career starts, both at 9 furlongs, so perhaps his ranking is based more on how much he intrigues me.
KNOCKING AT THE DOOR
They're not knocking on the door, they're pounding on it, ready to stampede their way onto the Top 12. Sitting right on the cusp are a number of proven stakes horses who look to be potential Derby contenders. It was tough leaving off three top-class 2-year-olds coming back from injuries -- Hopeful winner SPORTING CHANCE, who breezed a sharp half in :47 3/5 and five-eighths in 1:00 2/5 at Oaklawn for Wayne Lukas, Saratoga Special winner COPPER BULLET, who is back working for Steve Asmussen, and Nashua winner and Remsen runner-up AVERY ISLAND, who breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00 3/5.
But the toughest to leave off was FIRENZE FIRE. I have to admit I have no idea what to make of him. He’s still green in a way and I don’t know how far he wants to go. But when he’s not compromised by health issues he’s been a machine, making the same wide sweeping move and mowing down his opponents in three graded stakes, the Sanford at Saratoga, Champagne at Belmont, and Jerome at Aqueduct. And he’s beaten Good Magic and Enticed fair and square. He has had problems changing leads at times and keeping a straight course at times, but in his own way he’s performed like a seasoned pro, especially when it comes to his will to win. That he knows how to do. His sire, Poseidon’s Warrior, a son of the speedy Speightstown, won or placed in 11 stakes, none of them longer than 6 furlongs. But he does have plenty of stamina in his female family. Although he is a closer, he usually breaks on top and takes himself back. In the Jerome, he overcame a crazy slow pace (1:16 3/5) and still got up to win, and in the Champagne, he outran Good Magic with a final quarter in :24 3/5. Whether or not you think he’s a Derby horse, to win three of the most historic stakes in the country, inaugurated in 1913, 1867, and 1866, and doing it with big stretch runs, makes him a major contender. Forgetting about his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, I just want to see how he does going two turns before putting him in the Top 12.
In addition to having three horses in the Top 12, Baffert also has three very fast horses in AX MAN, a 9 1/2-length maiden winner, and NERO and CURLY’S ROCKET, one-two in a maiden sprint, as well as RESTORING HOPE, who should improve with experience. Another horse with good speed is ZULFIKHAR, who won impressively way back in July going 5 furlongs and has been training steadily. He has the pedigree to go long, but he has catching up to do. Although I was expecting more from him in his last start after a terrific career debut, I did like his :47 4/5 work on January 13 and his 6-furlong drill 1:13 this week. He just needs to break his maiden and get on that Derby trail. His huge effort in his career debut is still is what I remember most about him. An impressive maiden win next out and he’s off and running. Baffert looked to have another runner in the Orb colt VISION, who broke his maiden first time out, but he hasn’t worked since December 10. And his promising maiden DESTINY AWAITS hasn’t worked since December 9. Another promising colt, REGULATE, disappointed in his last start.
When talking about early Derby horses, you can’t avoid going over Todd Pletcher’s annual arsenal. In addition to Marconi, there are recent winners, IMPACT PLAYER, NOBLE INDY, MAGNUM MOON and undefeated VINO ROSSO, an allowance winner at Tampa, whose pedigree I’m crazy about, as well as NAVISTAR, ROAD TO DAMASCUS, BIBLICAL, BAL HARBOUR, COLTANDMISSISSIPPI, REGAL QUALITY, and LIFE’S A PARLAY. Watch for these in the coming weeks. With the exception of Bal Harbour, winner of the Sapling and Smooth Air Stakes and second in the Mucho Macho Man, and Coltandmississippi, third in the Jerome, all are unproven in stakes competition, but several should emerge as major stakes horses. Based on pedigree and style, I have taken a liking to Vino Rosso, who was a little green in his first start, but much more professional at Tampa. He doesn’t blow you away, but he rates beautifully, does everything under hand riding, and seems to do just what he has to. But any of the above recent winners could develop into a top-class Derby contender. There is still a great deal of room for improvement. Then there is the exciting MONTAUK, an 11 1/4-length winner at Belmont in October, but he’s just been shipped to Pletcher now and would really be playing catch-up to try to make the Derby. It may seem odd to put another Pletcher maiden winner, Marconi, in the Top 12, but we’re going with this one gut instinct horse and the intrigue factor that surrounds him.
Another trainer who is holding a live hand is Dale Romans. In addition to Tiz Mizchief and Free Drop Billy, Romans has a number of proven runners, including DAK ATTACK, winner of the Ellis Park Juvenile and third in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, and HOLLYWOOD STAR, second in the Saratoga Special and Iroquois Stakes who breezed a sharp 5 furlongs in 1:00 1/5. If the latter has matured from 2 to 3, keep a close eye on him. He had a good deal of learning to do last year, but has a ton of ability and definitely is one to watch. I consider him a very live Future Book play. And I love that last work. Then there is SEVEN TRUMPETS, who was beaten a half-length by Firenze Fire in the Jerome Stakes, just getting nailed late after setting all the pace. Romans also has recent 7-furlong maiden winner COVE BLUE, who blazed a half in :46 4/5 this past weekend.
Continuing with the larger stables, Steve Asmussen is another who is loaded with what has to be his deepest group of 3-year-olds ever. Heading his brigade is PRINCIPE GUILHERME, who romped in his first two starts before finishing second to Instilled Regard in the LeComte Stakes. Asmussen, in fact, finished second, third, and fourth in the LeComte, with SNAPPER SINCLAIR running gamely to just miss second by a neck, and the late-closing ZING ZANG, who just got up for fourth following an impressive maiden score. Asmussen also saw action in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn, finishing second with Springboard Mile runner-up COMBATANT and third with TAP DADDY, who was beaten two noses in last year’s off-the-turf Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland. So although he didn’t win a stakes, to finish on the board with five horses in two stakes is quite a major step. Asmussen also has an exciting prospect in RETIREMENT FUND, who wired an allowance field at Fair Grounds January 20, winning by two lengths. The son of Eskendereya is now two for two, both races at a mile and 70 yards, with a 7 1/4-length romp in his career debut. He has a powerful pedigree top and bottom and definitely is one to watch. Of course, there is the talented COPPER BULLET, who we mentioned earlier is back breezing. All eyes were on the brilliant maiden winner NEW YORK CENTRAL in an Oaklawn allowance race and the son of Tapit, a $750,000 yearling purchase making his two-turn debut, made what looked like a winning move after racing wide the whole way and showing good acceleration on the far turn only to be nailed late by Higher Power as the 1-2 favorite. Stretching out from an impressive maiden score at 6 furlongs, having to break from the outside post, and going 6 wide on the first turn, watch for big improvement with this race under his belt. Another nice colt in Asmussen’s barn is DREAM BABY DREAM, an impressive maiden winner who was third recently to Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Bravazo in a classy allowance race. Another horse who’s been working well is TITLE READY, who broke his maiden at Keeneland before finishing third in an allowance race won by the promising Ebben.
Speaking of HIGHER POWER, the son of Medaglia d’Oro, out of a Seattle Slew mare, owned by Pin Oak Stud and trained by Donnie Von Hemel, had to overcome severe traffic problems early, in which he was forced to steady sharply behind horses along the rail, then had to be pushed along on the far turn, while between horses. He fanned wide turning for home, switched leads on cue, and wore down New York Central to win by three-quarters of a length. He was coming off a mile maiden score at Remington, so he had a bit more foundation under him than the runner-up. He has the look of a classic-type horse, and Pin Oak has been breeding tough, sound horses for many years and is one of the classiest operations in the country.
With all the top-class stakes horses heading the Derby Dozen, if I were looking for longshot Future Book bargains right now I would definitely put my money on Higher Power, New York Central, and Retirement Fund, all of whom look to have bright futures, will run all day, and are ready for big efforts in stakes competition. And Hollywood Star is a horse I’ve liked from day one. Put a line through his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he broke from post 12, and Dale Romans did some experimenting with blinkers before for the race that didn’t work out. I love the way he carries himself and am looking for big things from him this winter and spring, and can see him in the Top 12 very soon.
And when mentioning beaten horses this past week, keep an eye on DARK TEMPLAR, who finished a good second to Retirement Fund. Trained by Brendan Walsh, the son of Tapit raced a bit greenly and jumped over to left lead in deep stretch, possibly shying from tire tracks, but has a good deal of scope for improvement. In his previous start, he finished a distant third to Principe Guilherme, so he’s seen just about enough of Steve Asmussen horses.
If ROAMING UNION, mentioned earlier, is as good as he looked in his 12 1/4-length romp at Aqueduct, then that really boosts the credentials of Marconi, who dusted him the race prior. Trained by Kelly Breen, the son of Union Rags has already run seven times, finishing on the board in six of them, and looks as if he might finally be coming into his own.
ALL OUT BLITZ was no match for McKinzie in the Sham Stakes, but has improved with every race for trainer Simon Callaghan. The son of Concord Point (a son of Tapit), has the distinction of being inbred to an American Triple Crown winner (Seattle Slew) and an English Triple Crown winner (Nijinsky).
One Hall of Fame trainer you don’t usually see on the Derby trail is Richard Mandella, but this year he has a promising colt in PEACE, who was second to Mourinho in his debut, and in his last start, stretching out to 1 1/16 miles, he was impressive running down a pair of Baffert horses, Regulate and Restoring Hope. By Violence, out of a Cure the Blues mare, he should run all day. He worked a sharp 5 furlongs in 1:00 4/5 this week. Mandella has always joked, when they gave out lessons on how to win the Derby, he must have been out sick that day. Well, he just may have the right tutor this year.
Another trainer not seen too often on the trail is Mark Hennig, but he looks to have a runner in STRIKE POWER, who broke his maiden at Gulfstream December by 8 lengths, but that was at 5 1/2 furlongs, and being a son of Speightstown, we don’t know how far he wants to go, although he is out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare. He’s been working well at Gulfstream Park and it will be interesting to see how he does stretching out. He will be playing catch-up.
We saw what Catholic Boy could do going from grass to dirt, so also keep your eye on UNTAMED DOMAIN, who was third behind Catholic Boy in the With Anticipation Stakes, then won the Summer Stakes at Woodbine and finished a fast-closing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. The son of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom has been working steadily on dirt at Palm Meadows for Graham Motion and is scheduled to make his dirt debut in either the Holy Bull Stakes or Sam F. Davis Stakes. The latter would provide an intriguing rematch between two of last year’s top 2-year-old grass horses, as Catholic Boy is scheduled to run there. Because Untamed Domain has always worked on dirt, Motion has had it in the back of his mind for some time to try a switch in surfaces. His work this weekend will help determine where Motion decides to go with him. This is a very talented horse, and don’t be surprised to see him in the Top 12 very soon.
The same can be said for the gutsy Eddie Logan Stakes winner PUBILIUS SYRUS, who actually has a strong dirt pedigree, so we’ll see if trainer Vladimir Cerin starts looking in that direction after the son of Candy Ride, out of a Pulpit mare, covered the mile in 1:34 2/5. We were curious to see if Chad Brown had any dirt plans for the undefeated ANALYZE IT, who beat Pubilius Syrus by 4 1/4 lengths in the Cecille B. DeMille Stakes in November and has a very strong dirt pedigree on the bottom, but the son of Point of Entry hasn’t worked since that race.
There is nothing in his pedigree or appearance to suggest WORLD OF TROUBLE wants any part of a classic distance, but you had to pay attention to his stunning 13 3/4-length victory in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, in which he covered the seven furlongs in a near-track record 1:21 2/5 after fractions of :44 4/5 and 1:09. His pedigree is loaded with speed influences top and bottom, so we’ll just have to see how far he can carry that speed.
Two promising colts who are working well at Santa Anita are the Peter Eurton-trained DARK VADER, a game nose maiden winner in December, who drilled 5 furlongs in 1:00 2/5 and 6 panels in 1:13 4/5, and impressive maiden winner KRIS’ ROCKET KAT, who beat the highly regarded CONCUR by 3 1/2 lengths in November and recently worked 5 furlongs in 1:00 3/5 for trainer Richard Baltas.
Progressing nicely at Fair Grounds is the Brad Cox-trained HIGH NORTH, a fast-closing fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, and at Palm Meadows, MASTER MANIPULATOR, who broke his maiden at Gulfstream on January 3, has turned in a pair of solid 5-furlong breezes for trainer Eric Guillot.
The first top-class colt to fall off the Derby trail is the talented GREYVITOS, winner of the Springboard Mile and Bob Hope Stakes, who recently had surgery to remove a bone chip. It would be a huge longshot for him to be able to get back in time for the Derby.
Finally, for all the California Chrome fans, Chrome’s full brother FAVERSHAM showed promise in his career debut January 15, breaking slowly and then flying down the stretch to finish second in a six-furlong maiden race. Art Sherman realizes he is way behind, but still is looking to follow in Chrome’s footsteps by pointing him for the Cal Cup Derby February 19.
There obviously are others worth mentioning, but we’ll save some of those, and also go more into pedigrees next week.