Ky. Derby Trail: Sneak Preview
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Old Fashioned looks to be the fastest and most talented 3-year-old at this point.
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The first Derby Dozen comes out next week, but we’ll get a jump on it with a more comprehensive look before this weekend’s stakes. Then we’ll make any adjustments based on the results. So, this is more of a speculative list, with a great deal riding on the Hutcheson and Holy Bull Stakes, as well as a couple of allowance races featuring one of our top prospects Checklist. We’ll also be keeping a close eye on under-the-radar horses Danger to Society, Idol Maker and Stately Character in the Holy Bull. Any of these four would move way up with a victory or even a top effort.

1--Hello Broadway/Barclay Tagg/Broken Vow  —Nightstorm, by Storm Cat

He doesn’t have to win the Hutcheson, but if he runs big and is coming at the end, it will be an excellent first step on the Derby trail. He has the look of a good horse; he has the pedigree, the speed, the running style, and the trainer. If he disappoints Friday we’ll adjust.

 

2--Giant Oak  /Chris Block/Giant's Causeway  —Crafty Oak, by Crafty Prospector

 

He caught the eye in his maiden victory on grass and has continued to improve with each start. Big, beautiful stride; decent enough pedigree. Trainer is a rookie on the Derby trail, but he hasn't done anything wrong so far. Gets Prado back for Risen Star.

 

3--Break Water Edison/John Kimmel/Lemon Drop Kid  —August Storm, by Storm Creek

 

Like Hello Broadway, the Hutcheson is a good start, but he has to overcome the inside post. Female family just OK as far as stamina, with Storm Creek and Salt Lake close up. Banking on the Nashua being a major gauge for him and Hello Broadway.

 

4--Old Fashioned  /Larry Jones/Unbridled's Song – Collect Call, by Meadowlake

 

Looks to be the fastest and most talented 3-year-old at this point, but his only true stamina influence is Alleged. The rest is all geared toward 8 and 9 furlongs tops, so he has to show he can rate off the pace. He has the potential to be something special. Breezed 5 furlongs in :58 4/5 Thursday; razor sharp.

 

5—Patena/Rick Dutrow/Seeking the Gold—Handpainted, by A.P. Indy

 

If you're looking for a live dark horse this is the one. Loved his race in the LeComte; first start on dirt and giving six pounds to Friesan Fire. Awesome pedigree, second dam full-sister to Touch Gold, and Dutrow’s got him now.

 

6--Square Eddie/Doug O’Neill/Smart Strike  —Forty Gran, by El Gran Senor

 

He’s already proven his class and demonstrated a big turn of foot, but is untested on dirt. Plenty of grass influence, but tail-female family is all dirt. Like the fact he’s leaving California to prove his worth on dirt. If he runs big in the Southwest, he’s the horse to beat on May 2.

 

7--Pioneerof the Nile  /Bob Baffert/Empire Maker—Star of Goshen, by Lord at War

 

Until we know if he’s going to try the dirt before Derby, this is as high as he can go. Spectacular works, even for Baffert, and on the improve. Baffert says he’s made tremendous improvement in the last month. When Baffert gets excited about a horse he’s not blowing smoke.

 

8--Friesan Fire  /Larry Jones/A.P. Indy—Bollinger, by Dehere

 

Larry Jones said in September this was as talented a 2-year-old as he's ever had, and that's good enough for now. He needed time to get some issues straightened out, and blinkers no doubt helped in the LeComte.

 

9—Terrain/Al Stall/Sky Mesa—Minery, by Forty Niner

 

Liked this colt before the Delta Jackpot, and am not going to give up on him after well-beaten fifth, in which he had no business being up near the leaders through a :46 1/5 half. Good closing kick; handles dirt and synthetic.

 

10--Capt. Candyman Can/Ian Wilkes/Candy Ride—Stormy Way, by Storm Creek

 

He looked great winning the Iroquois and ran a gutsy race in the Kentucky Jockey Club, battling to the wire after looking as if he were done at the quarter pole. Only true stamina on bottom is fourth generation sire Unconscious. He will be tough in the Hutcheson; in good hands with patient Wilkes.

 

11--Imperial Council/Shug McGaughey/Empire Maker—Jaramar Rain, by Thunder Gulch

 

This is an incredibly high ranking for a maiden sprint winner, and it seems most everyone has latched on to him. He has all the tools, is bred to run all day, and has been running against top-quality horses. Liked him from day one, and Shug’s long overdue.

 

12--Shafted/Mark Casse/Mineshaft  —Twist Afleet, by Afleet

 

He’ll get tested in the Robert Lewis, but if he should step up and run huge against Pioneerof the Nile and I Want Revenge, he will emerge as a major contender. Looked super in his last start; big turn of foot, and could be something special, but dirt still a question mark.

 

13--I Want Revenge  /Jeff Mullins/Stephen Got Even  —Meguial, by Roy

 

He's made great strides, especially in his leap from maiden win to getting beaten a nose in a grade I and there should be more improvement to come. Terrific pedigree; right running style, super works. If he handles the dirt, watch out.

 

14--Vineyard Haven  /Saeed bin Suroor/Lido Palace—Princess Aloha, by Aloha Prospector

 

Still believe he was the best 2-year-old last year. Pedigree is geared toward nine furlongs, and he runs very wide up front. Although he showed good speed in the Hopeful and Champagne, he should rate with no problem. His placings on here will depend on what we hear from Dubai and how he runs.

 

15--Midshipman  /Saeed bin Suroor/Unbridled’s Song—Fleet Lady, by Avenue of Flags

 

Haven’t heard a word on his progress or plans from Godolphin. Tons of stamina in tail-female family to go along with the brilliance of his sire. Being in Dubai and never having run on dirt, there are major questions to be answered.

 

16--Theregoesjojo/Kenny McPeek/Brahms—Slewie Blues, by Seattle Slew

 

His sire was a top miler who was effective at 1 1/8 miles, and female family is loaded with stamina. He’s brilliant, has a huge closing kick, and his last was one of the best performances seen this year; came home in :36 2/5.

 

17—Checklist/Todd Pletcher/Gone West—Yearly Report, by General Meeting

 

His maiden victory at Gulfstream was as good it gets. John Velazquez rode him with great confidence and never once asked him to run. Not crazy about him coming back in another 6-furlong race. Gone Wests normally need a stamina-oriented female family and he has one.

 

18--Chocolate Candy/Jerry Hollendorfer/Candy Ride—Crownette, by Seattle Slew

 

Another Californian who has excelled on synthetics. Second dam is a half-sister to Affirmed, by Alydar. Steady closer who has now turned in four straight big efforts since being stretched out. Will run all day.

 

19--Danger to Society/Ken McPeek/Harlan’s Holiday—Elrose, by Deputy Minister

 

He’s won both his starts like a good one. Good closing kick and plenty of stamina. Dam is a half-sister to Silver Charm. So far, it’s hard to find any flaws in him, but he still has to be tested for class.

 

20--Free Country/Ken McPeek/Big Country—Smyrna, by Wild Again

 

Showed what he’s made of when he stretched out from 6 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles and out-battled Remsen runner-up Atomic Rain to win by a neck. Good-looking colt with a long, smooth stride. One-third interest sold recently.

 

21—Beethoven/John Ward/Sky Mesa—Moonlight Sonata, by Carson City

 

He’s gutsy and a grade II winner, but distance is a question mark. Drew the outside post in the Holy Bull, which could hurt him with his style of running. But he should be tough with a decent trip.

 

22--Silver City  /Bret Calhoun/Unbridled’s Song—Proposal, by Mt. Livermore

 

Looks like 10 furlongs probably is beyond his scope, but he looked sensational in the Dixieland at 5 1/2 furlongs and won like he wants to keep going. But how far is the big question. Long way from 5 1/2 panels to 1 1/4 miles. He’ll be tough in the Southwest.

 

23--The Pamplemousse  /Julio Canani/Kafwain  —Comfort Zone, by Rubiano

 

Big long-striding colt who is improving rapidly; defeated Square Eddie coming off maiden score, controlling the pace throughout in San Rafael. Distance is a big question, and several potential deals have fallen through.

 

24--Poltergeist/Donnie Von Hamel/Tapit  —I’m Relaunchable, by Relaunch

 

Couldn’t wait to stretch out, as demonstrated by his explosive victory in one-mile Oaklawn allowance. Blew away a solid field to win by 6 lengths and galloped out like a powerhouse. Terrific pedigree; very intriguing colt.

 

25--Big Drama/David Fawkes/Montbrook—Riveting Drama, by Notebook

 

Not ideally bred for 1 1/4 miles, but any horse who can win five in a row, four of them stakes, has to be taken seriously. Missing the Holy Bull was a setback, but he has plenty of foundation to fall back on, sweeping the Florida Stallion Series and winning Delta Jackpot.

 

26—West Side Bernie | BloodHorse.com Horse Profile">West Side Bernie/Kelly Breen/Bernstein—Time Honored, by Gilded Time

 

Similar to Beethoven in that he’s shown his class in graded company, but doesn’t have a 10-furlong pedigree and drew poorly (just inside Beethoven) in the Holy Bull.

 

27—Idol Maker/Todd Pletcher/Empire Maker—Costume Party, by Storm Cat

 

Last two have been disappointing, but giving him one more chance. Don’t be surprised to see him jump up and run a huge race in the Holy Bull. The ability is there, but he’s had major maturity issues. Despises the whip, and if he’s ridden correctly this time (gets Johnny V), he could surprise a lot of people.

 

28—Stately Character/Gerald Procino/Pleasant TapLondon Valley, by Fast Play

 

His races at Calder left a big impression, especially the way he closed so strongly without changing leads. He did change in his last at Gulfstream, finishing a solid third after getting creamed between horses going into the first turn and then having to circle the field. This could be a real live one, and with his pedigree, a fascinating future book gamble before the race.

 

29-- Flat Out  /Scooter Dickey/Flatter  —Cresta Lil, by Cresta Rider

 

Victory in the Smarty Jones, drawing off from a decent of field, showed he’s on the improve. Circled his field and mowed them down in a flash. Big, long-striding colt should keep improving..

 

30--Captain Cherokee/Steve Asmussen/Sir Cherokee—Candytuft, by Dehere

 

Half-brother to Midnight Lute  , but he’s far from a sprinter. Plenty of stamina on bottom. Looked good breaking his maiden at Fair Grounds going a mile

 

31--Dumar/Steve Asmussen/Maria’s Mon—Mispillion, by Deputy Minister

 

Hasn’t run a bad race in four starts. Scored a workmanlike victory in a mile and 40-yard allowance at Fair Grounds. Inbred to Majestic Light and his sire Majestic Prince. Distance no doubt will help.

 

32—Well Positioned/Patrick Reynolds/Awesome Again  —Taxible, by Holy Bull

 

Everyone wanted him after his spectacular 14 1/4-length maiden victory at Aqueduct, but no deal was ever made. So, owner Paul Pompa and Reynolds get a shot at it in Pompa’s silks, unlike last year with Big Brown  . They’ll have a better idea what they have after Saturday’s one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream.

 

33-- Quality Road/Jimmy Jerkens/Elusive Quality  —Kobla, by Strawberry Road

 

Big tout horse and bet way down in last against Obligingly and Theregoesjojo. Tons of talent and ran a gutsy race to hold off Obligingly for second, but needs to go two turns and start rating off the pace.

 

34--Atomic Rain/Kelly Breen/Smart Strike—Paradise Pond, by Cox’s Ridge

 

There’s a lot of potential here, judging by the way he stretched out from six furlongs to run second to Old Fashioned in the Remsen. Was outrun through the stretch by Free Country in his last, but has been working well with blinkers.

 

35--Active Duty/Mark Casse/Deputy Commander—Punchbowl, by Two Punch

 

Broke his maiden in Coronation Futurity in last start. He’s made all his starts at Woodbine, but training well at Santa Anita. Casse is expecting big things from him

 

36--American Dance/Todd Pletcher/A.P. Indy—Quiet Dance, by Quiet American

 

Ran a decent third in Remsen Stakes coming off maiden score at Aqueduct. Starting to shows signs of maturity and could be good, solid stakes performer.

 

37--Alma d’Oro/Rick Dutrow/Medaglia d'Oro  —Brenda D S, by Fortunate Prospect

 

Impressive breaking his maiden in first start for Dutrow. Inbred to Northern Dancer’s dam Natalma top and bottom. One to keep an eye on.

 

38--Desert Party  /Saeed bin Suroor/Street Cry—Sage Cat, by Tabasco Cat

 

First start in Dubai is always important and he passed his test, beating stablemate Regal Ransom by a half-length going 7 furlongs. Time to step up against his more illustrious stablemates.

 

39--Indygo Mountain  /Bret Calhoun/A.P. Indy—Mountain Girl, by Mountain Cat

 

Definitely the hard-luck horse so far this year. Missed allowance when race was canceled by freak snowstorm in New Orleans, then missed it again with a hoof bruise. Last was a disaster from the start, breaking horribly and hitting the gate from a bad post. Maiden score at Churchill was sensational; deserves another chance.

 

40—Notonthesamepage/Wesley Ward/Catienus  —Blue Holiday, by Cure the Blues

 

Certainly looks to be as fast as any 3-year-old, based on his Spectacular Bid romp in 1:08 2/5, but a 115 Beyer on Jan. 3 leaves him nowhere to go, and he’s given no sign of being a distance horse.

 

41--Brother Keith/Bobby Frankel/Johar  —Hawa Mahal, by Hennessy

 

Lots of grass and mile breeding, and who knows what happened in the San Rafael to make him lose it on the first turn? Frankel still high on him, but he now has a lot of catching up and learning to do.

 

42--Professor Z/Steve Asmussen/Grand Slam—Her Halo, by Saint Ballado

 

He was on a roll until dreadful performance in last. He was given a bad ride, but real reason for dud was shedding a frog in the race. Too early to give up on him; just don’t know how much that will set him back.

 

43—Uno Mas/Steve Asmussen/Macho Uno  —Queen Majesty, by Regal Classic

 

Didn’t seem to have an excuse in fourth-place finish in LeComte, but he did beat the winner, Friesan Fire, handily in his previous start, so he definitely deserves another chance to prove the LeComte was an aberration.

 

44--Perfect Song/Mike Trombetta/PleasantlyPerfect—Prospector’s Song, by Prospector’s Music

 

As freaky a maiden winner as we’ve seen so far, shades of Smarty Jones  , winning debut at Philly Park by 6 1/4 lengths in blistering 1:09 flat. Sire doesn’t look like he should have precocious horses. Awesome tail-female family. Next start should be interesting.

 

45—Take the Points/Todd Pletcher/Even the Score  —Ginger Ginger, by Fred Astaire

 

He could make significant progress with a victory in a one-mile allowance race Saturday. He’s improved with every start and has a good deal of potential.

 

46--Flying Pegasus/Ralph Nicks/Fusaichi Pegasus  —Lilly Capote, by Capote

 

Second in the Futurity behind Charitable Man was a gutsy effort following wins in his first two starts. Forced to miss his debut, which is never good. Looking forward to seeing how he’s progressed from 2 to 3.

 

47--Obligingly/Todd Pletcher/Officer—Arctic Affair, by Black Tie Affair

 

Distance is a question mark, but he ran a game race in last, battling with Quality Road and hanging tough for third behind Theregoesjojo. His 11 1/2-length maiden romp was visually impressive. Look for big improvement.

 

48—Nowhere to Hide/Nick Zito/Vindication—Stirring, by Seeking the Gold

 

Another who gets a big test this weekend, as he makes jump from maiden victory to Holy Bull Stakes. Just lasted last time at Calder, but got good bottom winning over that track first time over it.

 

49—This Ones For Phil/Rick Dutrow/Untuttable—Heaven’s Gate, by Septieme Ciel

 

He actually has some good stamina influences and has won at a mile and run second going a mile and 40 yards against Stately Character. He probably deserves a higher ranking, but we’ll wait and see.

 

50--Rocketing Returns/Nick Zito/Gone West—Spring Meadow, by Meadowlake

 

Gets a chance to show what he’s got when he faces a tough field of stakes horses in the Hutcheson. He’s not bred to go 1 1/4 miles, but if he shows he wants to stretch out, Zito will give him every chance.

 

51—A.P. Cardinal/Kiaran McLaughlin/A.P. Indy—Smoke n Frolic, by Smoke Glacken

 

Had been running against Old Fashioned and Vineyard Haven, and showed big improvement for McLaughlin, finishing a good second to Danger to Society.

 

52--Hi Flyin Indy/Eoin Harty/A.P. Indy—Go For it Lady, by Mr. Prospector

 

Broke his maiden in workmanlike style with blinkers on going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita following a pair of decent thirds.

 

53--Saratoga Sinner | BloodHorse.com Horse Profile">Saratoga Sinner/Eddie Kenneally/Harlan’s Holiday—NaughtyLinda, by Slew City Slew

 

Right now he looks a bit slow, but he’s improving steadily, and with his pedigree he could be heard from as he keeps stretching out. Big test in the Holy Bull.

 

54--Soul Warrior/Steve Asmussen/Lion Heart—Urmia, by Meadowlake

 

Not sure how far he wants to go; not a lot of stamina, but looked good stretching out to two turns and breaking his maiden at Fair Grounds by almost 4 lengths.

 

55--Rockland/Michael Matz/Smarty Jones  —Wiscasset, by Kris S.

 

No question about his courage, as he’s come out on top of two straight stretch battles, on dirt and grass. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him run well in the Holy Bull. Lots of stamina in female family.

 

56--Tranquil Manner/Kiaran McLaughlin/A.P. Indy—Composure, by Touch Gold

 

Turned in huge closing kick to break his maiden and will now head to Whirlaway Stakes. Phenomenal pedigree, dam a grade I winner.

 

57—Mayor Marv/Bob Baffert/Distorted Humor  —Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power

 

Finally found the winner’s circle after three second-place finishes, wiring his field and beating highly regarded Millennium Lakes. Baffert says he’s shown lots of improvement.

 

58—Musket Man/Yonaguska—Fortuesque, by Fortunate Prospect

 

Remained undefeated with victory in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Not bred for distance, so we’ll have to see how far he’ll go. Watch out for runner-up General Quarters.

 

59—Bear’s Rocket/Reade Baker/Lion Heart—Aim for the Moon, by Deputy Minister

 

Hard knocker from Canada gets his first test on dirt in the Holy Bull. Don’t know how far he wants to go, but you always have to respect Baker.

 

60--Masala/Todd Pletcher/Lion Heart--Countess Marq, by Marquetry
 
His off-the-turf maiden victory at Aqueduct in November might have opened a new door for him, as he drew off to a 2 3/4-length victory in the mud and looked good doing it. He gets a chance to take it another step in Saturday's one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream.
 
61--Copper Cascade/Mark Hennig/Grand Slam--Topicount, by Private Account
 
He's in the same allowance race as Masala and is coming off a big victory at Gulfstream, in which he mowed down his field late to win going away at 27-1. He doesnt appear to be as fast as some of the others in the race, but he has the right style and a classy pedigree.

 

62--Au Moon/David Carroll/Malibu Moon  --She's Mahogany, by Woodman
 
Ran an decent third in the LeComte after setting the pace through slow fractions. Needs to run back to his impressive maiden score, in which he sat off the pace and drew off. Third dam is a full-sister to Strike the Gold.
 
63--Brave Victory/Nick Zito/Lion Heart-I'm in Celebration, by Copelan
 
He looked like he could be any kind after first three starts, including huge maiden score at Belmont. Ran poorly in Champagne and Iroquois, but if he can return to his early form he looks to be the only horse who can threaten Checklist in Friday's allowance race, with the possible exception of Jimmymacbear. Distance a big question mark and he could be best sprinting.
 
64—More Than Willing/Kenny McPeek/More Than Ready  --Greeley's Click, by Mr. Greeley

 

Came off a second to Checklist going 6 furlongs to break his maiden at 1 1/8 miles. Slowly run race and won by only three-quarters as 1-2 favorite after bumping on first turn. Good horse, but needs to improve off this.

 

65--Bruce N Autumn/Dale Romans/Lemon Drop Kid—Loose Park, by Stop the Music

 

We’ll give him another chance to pick up a piece of it in the Holy Bull, but didn’t show much in his last against Danger to Society

 

66—El Crespo/Rusty Arnold/A.P. Indy—Commodities, by Private Account

 

Second to Bruce N Autum on grass, but looked good breaking maiden in his next start. Looks overmatched in the Holy Bull, but if he handles the dirt in Holy Bull he could be interesting.

 

67—Salo Jak/Gilberto Zerpa/Graeme Hall—Fafnir, by Inspired Prospect

 

Looked good winning the Jack Price Juvenile at Calder and followed that up with another score. Tries to make a name for himself in Hutcheson.

 

68—Mr. Fantasy | BloodHorse.com Horse Profile">Mr. Fantasy/McLaughlin/E Dubai  --Twice Forbidden, by Spectacular Bid

 

Who knows how good this New York-bred is? Looked terrific winning his career debut by 10 1/4 lengths at 6 furlongs. A 6-furlong allowance was canceled due to weather, and he's back on Sunday going 1 1/16 miles, but goes from post 5 to post 10. Switches from Garcia to Migliore.


69Dunkirk/Todd Pletcher/Unbridled's Song--Secret Status, by A.P. Indy

 

Actually, he should be much higher up, but I forgot about him. The $3.7 million yearling didnt get a high Beyer in his debut, but he sure looked good and showed a good deal of maturity, getting himself out of a traffic jam and flying by horses on the far outside.

 

70--Haynesfield/Steve Asmussen/Speightstown--Nothing Special, by Tejabo

 

Another we forgot to include and who should be much higher.. He's won three in a row, including the Count Fleet Stakes, although that was more workmanlike than his brilliant scores against New York-breds. Don;t know how much farther he wants to go.

** We're putting an asterisk next to Stardom Bound, because she is supposedly pointing for the Kentucky Oaks. But if she runs huge against the boys in the Santa Anita she would make the list and fairly high, even though she will be an unknown factor on dirt.

 To round things out, keep a close eye on the following maidens, who shouldn’t be maidens much longer

 

Millennium LakesTremendous potential

 

Dubinsky – Getting good right now and has chance to break his maiden on Saturday

 

Massone Hard-knocking maiden who has been running against some of the best in California.

 

Nicanor – Barbaro’s brother has had more publicity than any maiden other than perhaps The Green Monkey. Makes his debut in same maiden race as Dubinsky.

There no doubt are horses who should be on here but were overlooked, so we’ll try to ferret them out next time.

 Comment on this Column on Steve Haskin's Blog: Hangin' With Haskin.

 

 

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