of Ryan Patterson, Graded Stakes blog
The First Saturday in May is quickly approaching. I can't wait for the day
to come, and I hope that I am able to handicap the winner! There are several
good horses out there now, but I have a feeling the Kentucky Derby winner might
not be on the radar quite yet. Even so, here is my take on who the top 10
contenders are at this point in time.
#1 Old Fashioned - I wasn't overly impressed with his
performance in the Southwest, but he did have the layoff to contend with. I
think he should have won by a wider margin. The son of Unbridled's Song has
done nothing wrong thus far, so I can't fault him. His next performance
(Rebel?) will tell us a lot more about him. He couldn't be in better hands in
terms of trainer/jockey. Larry Jones has finished second in the Kentucky Derby
for two consecutive years, and Ramon Dominguez got Bluegrass Cat up for place
money at a price in 2006. As will be the case with many on this list, time will
#2 Dunkirk - Another son of Unbridled's Song. He was a
massive auction purchase, and things have worked out for him so far. He beat
some very nice horses in his maiden, and while I didn't see his allowance
score, the way he did it was impressive. Asking him to go from 7 to 9 furlongs
was a lot, and he responded. Dunkirk looked a bit green in that 9 furlong win,
so if he can settle down a bit he will be even better. Todd Pletcher is
arguable the best trainer of our time, but has had little Kentucky Derby success.
It is only a matter of time. Its not clear who will be sitting on top of
Dunkirk if he makes it to the Kentucky Derby, but my guess would that Garrett
Gomez will retain the mount. He would be one of my first choices. Gomez has ice
water in his veins and has won more big races than I can remember. The
potential is astronomical, but he will have to live up to the hype. His next
start will most likely come in the Florida Derby
#3 The Pamplemousse - Everyone believes that Pioneerof The
Nile is the one to beat on the west coast, but I am going to disagree. Julio
Canani's The Pamplemousse is more appealing. This horse is improving, and put
away a nice one when he beat Square Eddie. I didn't like his chances of beating
of Square Eddie that day, but he has won me over. I'm not overly familiar with
his sire, Kafwain, but I do believe distance might be a slight concern. His
early running style is always an advantage. Look for this guy in the Santa
#4 Desert Party - He won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special before
departing to Dubai. His sire, Street Cry, is among the best in the country and
he is about as well bred as they come. The connections believed he wasn't as
good as stablemate Vineyard Haven but he proved them wrong when beating him in
Dubai. He would be bucking a tough trend of Dubai failures if he comes through,
but I wouldn't be shocked or surprised.
#5 Friesan Fire - Larry Jones also trains this colt. I was
skeptical at first, but he has won me over with impressive victories in the
Lecomte and Risen Star. That path didn't work too well for Pyro last year, but
perhaps it will for this son of A.P. Indy.
#6 Pioneerof The Nile - I really thought this one was a
pretender until his win in the Lewis. Bob Baffert is THE BEST trainer in the
country when it comes to three-year-old Kentucky Derby contenders. His
performance in the Santa Anita Derby will tell us all that we need to know.
#7 Patena - When the boys at IEAH privately purchase a
Kentucky Derby contender, you had better pay attention. This colt won the Display
Stakes at Woodbine and most recently ran second in the Lecomte Stakes behind
#8 Square Eddie - I bet this colt when he won the Lanes End
Breeders Futurity at odds of 10-1, and the Kentucky Derby may be the next time
he goes off at a price higher than that. He was a game second in the Breeders
Cup Juvenile, but just couldn't get by The Pamplemousse in the San Rafeal. The
rumors say that he has been a bit troubled by an injury of some sort, but if he
comes back 100% I'll be looking for him.
#9 West Side Bernie - This colt won the Kentucky Cup
Juvenile, but has since been plagued with poor post positions. He has ran as
good as you could expect with those wide draws. We will know a lot more about
him when he gets a post position that is not a huge disadvantage.
#10 Haynesfield - New York Bred speedster has been
untouchable in the Empire State. His most recent outing was his first win in
open company when he took the Whirlaway Stakes. He is on the outside looking
in, but with a bit of improvement this could be your Wood Memorial winner.
Who do you think is in the best position to win the Run for the Roses? Leave
a comment and let me know!