Kentucky Derby Trail: Calder Corps Ready For Invaders
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 11/18/2003 9:26:41 PM
Last Updated: 2/13/2004 10:44:44 AM

Silver Wagon, winning the Hopeful.
Photo: Associated Press
This is the sixth in a series of early looks at next year's potential Derby horses. When the major stables ship south for the winter to embark on the Derby trail, they're going to find some strong resistence from the local forces.

Not only will they have to contend with runaway Hopeful (gr. I) winner, Silver Wagon, but there is Sir Oscar, who is six-for-six and already a five-time stakes winner; the previously unbeaten Wynn Dot Comma, who recently suffered his first loss at the hands of Sir Oscar in the Jack Price Juvenile; and the Foolish Pleasure winner Stolen Time, who was third behind Sir Oscar and Wynn Dot Comma.

We're not sure which of these, if any, will be able to handle 1 1/4 miles, but make no mistake, these are talented young horses, and Calder-based 3-year-olds are always to be feared at Gulfstream. Just ask those who chased Trust N Luck home in last year's Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I).

Silver Wagon -- So, how good is this horse? Not only did he run off and hide from Chapel Royal and other classy 2-year-olds in the Hopeful, he destroyed Eurosilver by 7 1/2 lengths in a maiden race. And no one has come close to Eurosilver since. A $55,000 yearling purchase, he was bought by Buckram Oak the following year for $120,000. Pedigree suggests he'll get the 1 1/4 miles, although nothing in there knocks your socks off. By upset Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Wagon Limit, out of a Darn That Alarm mare. DI of 2.50, thanks to number of Classic influences in fourth generation.

Sir Oscar -- While everyone is searching for a true champion in the division, this colt quietly has gone out there, winning one race after another. Any horse who can win all six of his starts, including five stakes, from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, has to be taken seriously. In the Jack Price, he wasn't even the favorite, dropping back to 7 furlongs off a 1 1/16-mile win. But he still knocked off the 3-5 Wynn Dot Comma, who had won all four of his starts, including two stakes. He's by Halo's Image, out of an Honor Grades mare, so there is middle-distance speed on top and some stamina on the bottom. Inbred 4x5 to In Reality, he has a 2.69 DI.

Neither Wynn Dot Comma nor Stolen Time have distance pedigrees, but either one can be effective at 1 1/16, maybe even 1 1/8 miles, so they could make their presence felt early on. Wynn Dot Comma, by the English-bred Struggler, out of a Two Punch mare, does have maternal great-grandsire Assert to add some stamina, but is basically bred to go shorter. He has a 4.60 DI. Stolen Time does have a 3.00 DI, but there is lot of speed in his tail-female family.

Todd Pletcher added another runner to his already long list of exciting 2-year-olds when he sent out Tales of Glory to win a mile allowance race at Aqueduct by 6 1/2 lengths. Prior to that, he broke his maiden by 7 1/4 lengths after racing greenly in his debut, finishing third to Smokume. Another successful pinhook, he went for $70,000 as a yearling and sold back at Keeneland 2-year-old sale for $320,000. His sire Honour and Glory was all speed, having won the 6-furlong San Miguel in 1:08 4/5, the 7-furlong King's Bishop in 1:21 3/5, and the Met Mile in a scorching 1:32 4/5. But this colt gets a bit of stamina from broodmare sire Dixieland Band, who also throws a number of fast horses, and a lot of stamina from maternal great-grandsire Tom Rolfe, who is basically responsible for his enticing DI of 1.67. Pletcher says he may show up next at Delta Downs.

OK, so can Lion Heart, by any stretch of the imagination, get 1 1/4 miles? If he's as talented as he's looked so far, and shows the ability to rate, and soon, then he does have a chance. Tale of the Cat is still a young sire, and we don't know what his limitations are at this point, but he could stretch his speed out to 1 1/8 miles. The question is, does Lion Heart have enough in his female family to push him that extra furlong? First off, you're not going to see a 2-year-old run 7 furlongs faster than Lion Heart's 1:20 3/5 in the Prevue. If you noticed how wide he went turning for home, it was simply because he was running too fast to cut the corner. That kind of speed certainly won't help him stretch out. His broodmare sire Mr. Leader was a sire of hard-knocking horses, and was on the Top 10 sire list year after year. His maternal great-grandsire Naskra also sired tough horses. But neither sire was known for an abundance of stamina, although it was there at times. He does have Travers and Hollywood Derby (both 1 1/4-mile races) winner Bold Reason in his fourth generation, and dam is inbred 2x4 to Hail to Reason. DI of 3.00 is about right. He could get the distance, but with his speed, it will be a stretch.

In our report on Bob Baffert's horses, we mistakenly said that Bornwithit was owned and bred by Live Oak Plantation, when in fact he was bred by Milton and Beth Hendry and purchased by Live Oak for $50,000 as a 2-year-old at Ocala.

Watching the tape of the Laurel Futurity, you're not likely to see a more impressive performance visually by a 2-year-old than the one turned in by Tapit, who we discussed in the last report. This was a different type of race than Ruler's Court's, who just ran his field into the ground on the far turn and spreadeagled them after that. After leaping at the start and having check repeatedly when rank behind horses, Tapit was boxed in for the next 3 to 4 furlongs. When he did find a seam turning for home, he burst to the lead and opened up in a flash under a virtual hold by Ramon Dominguez, who took a look back as soon he hit the front and just let him coast the rest of the way, while opening his lead with every stride.

Remember a Bobby Frankel grass horse turned dirt horse named Peace Rules? Well, Frankel sent out another grass horse, Greek Sun, to break his maiden first time out going 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood last week. The son of Danzig came from ninth with a late run to win by a length. This colt has a nice mixture of grass and dirt breeding, and has a DI of 3.24. You never know.

In the next report, we'll scatter around the country and point out two hot numbers (both with stamina pedigrees) from a couple of lesser known tracks – Sam Houston and Turf Paradise. They may not be spawning grounds for classic horses, but these two colts have people down there buzzing. We'll also take a look at some impressive winners from the barns of Kenny McPeek, Dallas Stewart, Tom Amoss, Jennifer Pederson, Elliott Walden and others. And we'll check in with Wayne Lukas, to see if he has anyone lurking about to keep an eye on.

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