In this analysis, we're going to add Thoro-Graph speed figure patterns on occasion to see, from that perspective, just who is likely to come into the Derby sitting on a peak performance. Thoro-Graph's Jerry Brown stated emphatically that this is "by far the best 3-year-old crop in history." Brown added, "The numbers so far have been insane, and it's probably going to take around a 2 1/2 to win the Derby," which is the same number Fusaichi Pegasus ran last year. Brown said the numbers indicate that the 3-year-old crops have continued to improve each year. In the past 10-12 years, it usually took between a 3 1/2 and a 4 to win the Derby, with a few running a 5 and a 6. Remember, the lower the Thoro-Graph the number, the better.
The negative aspect of having so many monster numbers already is that several of the top horses may be unable to recover from them. By running a zero in the Florida Derby, Monarchos is one horse who speed figure gurus feel is cooked. It was pointed out that Easy Goer ran a zero in the 1989 Gotham, then regressed to a 2 in the Wood Memorial and an 8 in the Kentucky Derby, which received the slowest number in the past dozen years. Of the two other horses who ran with a Thoro-Graph number of around a zero this year, D'Wildcat is already gone, having suffered a muscle strain during a gallop. The other is Balto Star.
1 -- A P Valentine,
10-1. We've stuck with him from the beginning through thick and thin, and still feel, if all goes well, he's going to be right there. His numbers show an excellent pattern, having run a 7 in his first start, followed by a 5. He's already run a strong number at 2 in the Champagne, and if he moves forward a point or two in the Blue Grass (he doesn't have to win), he'll be sitting on a big race come Derby Day. In our opinion, he's as talented a 3-year-old as there is, but it is imperative he move forward at Keeneland.
2 -- Balto Star,
20-1. With his monster effort in the Spiral, and with a pedigree leaning toward speed, it's going to be difficult for him to maintain that form going 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May. His odds are about right. You are getting a fast, powerful, talented horse, but if you're going to try to win the Derby on or right off the pace, you've got to have a strong pedigree and room for improvement.
3 -- Congaree,
12-1. Incredibly low odds for a horse with only three career starts and no stakes experience. He has a lot to overcome, but he is another colt who could be something very special. His last two were awesome, and with Thoro-Graph numbers of 5 3/4 and 3 3/4, he's coming into the Wood Memorial with a great pattern. He needs to maintain or slightly improve on those efforts to go into the Derby a hot horse. From a visual standpoint, his last race was as impressive as it gets. He merely toyed with his opponents, blowing by them while on cruise control, and still ran a fifth slower than Point Given did later in the day. He has the looks, the stride, the mental attitude, and the pedigree. But you could have had him at 35-1 last month.
4 -- Crafty C.T.,
15-1. Why would you want to take 15-1 on a horse who, even if he wins the Santa Anita Derby, probably won't run at Churchill Downs. At least that's what his trainer has been saying. You're basically gambling on the colt beating Point Given and also convincing his adamant trainer to change his mind and run a front-running horse with only four career starts in the Derby. Just wait until the Santa Anita Derby and see what happens.
5 -- Dollar Bill,
8-1. Not a great price, but one of the real solid picks. He has a strong closing kick and delivers it consistently. Still a mystery what happened to him in the Breeders' Cup. A victory in the Blue Grass, combined with his own Website, will have him one of the favorites on Derby Day, so get down now at 8-1 if you like him. He also endeared himself to many with his recovery from near disaster in the Louisiana Derby, and the way he rallied again on his own. Dependable and honest, and will get the 1 1/4 miles. Shorter Keeneland stretch won't help him, but he'll run well enough to look strong on Derby Day.
6 -- Dream Run,
50-1. Getting better with each start, but doesn't have a real strong 1 1/4-mile pedigree. He'll no doubt be tough in the Illinois Derby, and he's in good hands with Paul McGee, one of the sharpest young trainers in the country. But he should be 50-1.
7 -- Early Flyer,
50-1. Another who should be 50-1, and probably higher. Bred to be a miler, and he'll likely scratch out of the Santa Anita Derby to run in the much easier California Derby. He's a fast, talented colt, but really does not look like a Kentucky Derby horse.
8 -- Express Tour,
12-1. Former trainer believes he's a freak, and he'll have to be to overcome pedigree and only start prior to Derby. He could show up in the Lexington Stakes if Godolphin decides they want to get a race in him. To do what he did in his first start in 5 1/2 months was extraordinary. We believe he fought back to win UAE Derby, rather than Street Cry handing it to him. And he ran a monster 2 on the Thoro-Graph sheets. If he had run another eighth in :13 2/5, he would have equaled Captain Steve's time in the World Cup. Considering that he's over 17 hands and has an enormous stride, he's extremely quick on his feet. He can blow you away, as he did in the Affirmed, or he can slug it out and beat you, as he did in the In Reality and UAE Derby. Who knows, maybe he is
9 -- Fifty Stars,
30-1. Not much respect for a Louisiana Derby winner, and a strong closer at that. If he wins Saturday's Lone Star Derby, he'll be eligible for two $1 million bonuses. Doesn't make any sense betting him before the race. Even if he wins Saturday, he'll still be a decent price. This isn't a big enough race to change people's opinion that he lucked out in the Louisiana Derby. He is a consistent closer, but comes from way out of it and needs a fast pace.
10 -- Hero's Tribute,
30-1. Can't fathom these odds, considering he was 11-1 in the second pool...before he ran a big race in the Louisiana Derby, in which he had a nightmarish trip. He's been highly regarded all winter, and figures to show improvement in the Blue Grass. He'll have to after posting Thoro-Graph numbers ranging from a 4 to a 7. He just wasn't quick enough to beat horses to the punch and, as a result, was trapped when the real running began. But we feel it was a good learning experience. He has the ability and certainly the pedigree. He just needs to get his mind on business a bit more. But even with his mind on Pluto, we'll take him at 30-1.
11 -- Hoovergetthekeys,
30-1. He won't be 30-1 if he wins the Lone Star Derby, so just sit tight. This little guy could be a real sleeper. He's risen from the claiming ranks to turn in a pair on huge performances, on two totally different kinds of surfaces. What impressed us the most was his acceleration on the far turn and his smooth, fluid strides down the stretch. Really like the way he extends himself. Could be the Cinderella story if he can knock off Fifty Stars and the others in the Lone Star Derby.
12 -- I Love Silver,
30-1. Question you have to ask is: Did he finish second in the San Felipe only because there was no one else to finish second, or is he only 2 lengths behind Point Given and ready to take it to the next level? He was coming off sprints and making his stakes debut, yet he really kicked in passing the three-eighths pole and, despite lugging in, was able to hold his own with Point Given in the final furlong. At 30-1, we'd sure be willing to take the chance that he's a good horse and will continue to progress.Continued. . . .