Okay, so I have some major adjusting to do from my last Top 10 on March 14. Odysseus (previously No. 1) was injured in a disappointing Blue Grass, Noble's Promise (No. 4) was banged up after a disappointing Arkansas Derby, Interactif (No. 6) might not even be entered in the Derby after a disappointing Blue Grass, Drosselmeyer (No. 7) does not have enough earnings and won't go in the Coolmore Lexington, which is also disappointing, D' Funnybone (No. 9) is going to wait for the Preakness, and Caracortado (No. 10) and Schoolyard Dreams (No. 10a) aren't as good as I thought-both disappointing.
Anyone notice a "disappointing" theme here?
While only five from my last Top 10 list remain--Eskendereya, Lookin At Lucky, Awesome Act, Super Saver, and an iffy Noble's Promise--the good news for me is that they haven't run the Derby yet. Making Top 10 lists two and three months from the race is fun, but in reality it means little. The only thing all of us are judged on is who we settle on for our final picks.
While this will be my last Top 10 list, the order in which I have them listed is by no means final. There is still a lot of handicapping to do, including seeing the horses on the track at Churchill and the Derby draw.
One thing is very clear to me, however, and it is that Eskendereya and Lookin At Lucky have separated themselves from the rest of the pack considerably. The upsets over the weekend did more to eliminate some of the top 3-year-olds than it did move the winners up the ladder. Every horse will have questions to answer as we count down to May 1, but the top 2 have a lot fewer than all the rest.
1. Eskendereya - With each passing prep he looks better. Major issues with him are the small, suspect field he has beaten and slow paces he has run into. But visually he certainly looks like the best of this crop.
2. Lookin At Lucky - If consistency and class are your parameters, he's the one to beat. Santa Anita Derby is a complete toss.
3. Awesome Act - He lost a shoe and was running into a slow pace in the Wood. Throw in the fact that he was expected to bounce anyway and it was a solid effort. Watch the race again. Leparoux was strangling him for eight furlongs and he wasn't far off Eskendereya. It appears he has a lot left in the tank.
4. Paddy O'Prado - Failed in his only start on dirt, but that was in the slop at Churchill. He's an improving horse coming into the race the right way.
5. Super Saver - I like that he rated and ran a winning type race in Arkansas Derby. What I didn't like is that he had the entire stretch to get by a horse who set a fast pace, but couldn't.
6. Noble's Promise - Arkansas Derby was a disaster in every way. We'll find out soon if he is still going on to Churchill. If he does, he has major question marks with ability to handle distance, but he is still as classy as any this year and has tactical speed to get a good trip.
7. Sidney's Candy - No doubt his Santa Anita Derby was impressive and he must be respected because of that. But the horse has been on the lead in both two-turn races and each time was able to dictate a slow pace. What will he do when he faces other speed and has to run faster early on? Can he rate? Will he improve on dirt? All legitimate questions.
8. Rule - Still skeptical, but suddenly he looks like the most intriguing of all the speed horses.
9. Dublin - Still hasn't shown the ability to win, but he is always right there at the end and is battle tested. I hear his trainer has won the Derby a few times.
10. Endorsement - Who knows what kind of horse he is? Has some major negatives going against him, but of all the Johnny-come-lately 3-year-olds we've seen over the past month, he is the most intriguing to me.
Best of the Rest
Line of David - Very impressive that he set those blazing factions and still hung on gamely. I'm betting he won't be able to repeat the performance, especially for an extra quarter-mile.
Stately Victor - I'm not biting. Look at his last two starts on dirt.
Ice Box - Eskendereya beat him by 12 with no real excuses. Now he enters off six weeks. If you like a closer, I guess he can be considered.
Conveyance - Sunland Derby effort wasn't that bad. He is more intriguing to me than some of the other speedsters. Trainer plays a big part in that.
Mission Impazible - Had the perfect trip in a suspect Louisiana Derby field. Conveyance and Dublin beat him soundly two back.
American Lion - They were crawling in the Illinois Derby.
Dean's Kitten - Has a lot going against him. His one failed start on dirt is just the beginning.
Discreetly Mine - His one stakes win was against a very suspect group.
Interactif - I really hope Pletcher gives him a shot. What does he have to lose?