Steve Haskin's Derby Watch: Week 1
Photo:
Siphonic remains Steve Haskin's top pick for this year's Kentucky Derby.
Now that last Saturday's deadline to nominate to the Visa Triple Crown has passed, the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" has officially opened. To help sort out the contenders from the pretenders, The Blood-Horse's senior correspondent Steve Haskin has listed the horses to look for in coming weeks.

Steve Haskin's rank/trainer; pedigree

1 -- Siphonic/David Hofmans; Siphon-Cherokee Crossing, by Cherokee Colony

Throw out Santa Catalina defeat. Lost all chance at the start and turned potential disaster into good, solid effort, conceding eight pounds to winner. Has all the tools and the pedigree. San Felipe March 17 next.

2 -- Repent/Kenny McPeek; Louis Quatorze-Baby Grace, by Cipayo

Strong, consistent closer, he showed what he's made of when he burst through a narrow opening in the slop in Kentucky Jockey Club. Will train at Gulfstream, but may head to Fair Grounds with its long stretch.

3 -- Johannesburg/Aidan O'Brien; Hennessy -- Myth, by Ogygian

Has a good deal of mile to 1 1/8 mile blood in his pedigree, but no one has any idea just how special this colt may be. Big question is will he get to Churchill with enough sharpness and racing foundation.

4 -- Labamta Babe/Bobby Frankel; Skywalker-Bambina Linda, by Liloy

As long as Frankel remains blessed by the gods, we have to take this colt seriously. Was more comfortable coming off pace and blew 'em away late with a :24 2/5 quarter and :06 1/5 final sixteenth.

5 -- Saarland/Shug McGaughey; Unbridled-Versailles Treaty, by Danzig

Regally bred and a magnificent specimen. The talent is there, but he still has some maturing to do mentally. Remsen score was not flattered by Nokoma's poor effort in Holy Bull. Aiming for Wood Memorial.

6 -- Changeintheweather/Dave Bell; Gone West-Meteor Colony, by Pleasant Colony

Like to see Canadian horses prove themselves in U.S. before getting too high on them, but this colt has destroyed his opponents in his last two starts, and our mouth waters just looking at his female family.

7 -- Stephentown/Tony Reinstedler; Wild Again-Lochlin, by Screen King

Sure, we'll jump on the bandwagon off that last performance in Gulf allowance win. We have a lot of respect for Reinstedler, and his gushing praise of this colt leads us to believe he just may be something special.

8 -- Harlan's Holiday/Kenny McPeek; Harlan-Christmas in Aiken, by Affirmed

This honest colt fires every time and has been first or second in all seven of his starts. Made a strong run at Booklet in Holy Bull, but winner had his own way; finished 11 lengths ahead of third horse.

9 -- D' Coach/Shug McGaughey; Dehere-Catatonic, by Big Spruce

Could be McGaughey's sleeper. He has a powerful kick and really levels off in the stretch. Lost ground on first turn in Count Fleet and was closing strongly in the stretch. Awesome female family.

10 -- Easyfromthegitgo/Steve Asmussen; Dehere-Montera, by Easy Goer

Asmussen ready to break out with the big horse, and he could be the one. Was very impressive breaking his maiden at Churchill, then destroyed good horses Robe and Yoga in Fair Grounds allowance.

11 -- Fonz's/David LaCroix; Out of Place-Seton's Encounter, by Spring Double

Not quite sure he wants 1 1/4 miles, but he's a tough, hard-knocking colt who outgamed a tenacious foe in Popular in Hollywood Prevue, then was a solid second behind Siphonic in Hollywood Futurity.

12 -- Saratoga Blues/Tony Dutrow; Twining-Time for a Wedding, by Manila

After destroying a maiden field by 11 3/4 lengths at Laurel, he went up to Aqueduct and drew off from Robins Beauty, who was coming off a fourth in the Remsen Stakes. Definitely one to watch.

13 -- Popular/Bob Baffert; Saint Ballado-Western Lady, by Gone West

Baffert doesn't seem to be talking him up at all as a Derby horse, and has kept him sprinting, but he has plenty of stamina on top, and tail-female is all stamina. Tough as nails and should improve.

14 -- High Star/Nick Zito; Private Terms-Polember, by Polish Navy

If you like Repent off his Kentucky Jockey Club, you have to think this a promising colt, running a solid third off a seven-furlong maiden victory. You already know he likes the slop and Churchill Downs.

15 -- Booklet/John Ward; Notebook-Crafty Bobbie, by Bob's Dusty

Looks like a good buy for the Oxleys. Tough, consistent colt has won five of six and was game in Holy Bull, holding off Harlan's Holiday despite drifting out. Main question is whether he wants 1 1/4 miles.

16 -- Maybry's Boy/Shug McGaughey; Broad Brush-Aly's Conquest, by Alydar

McGaughey says his gut instinct is to keep him sprinting, at least for now, then stretch him out after the Hutcheson Stakes. Powerful stretch kick, and pedigree says he should handle a distance.

17 -- Request for Parole/ Steve Margolis; Judge T C-Madison's Quest, by Deputy Minister

He's been right there with Repent and Harlan's Holiday. Only bad race was when he had to check in the Breeders' Futurity and finished fifth. Working steadily at Turfway and should rule the roost there.

18 -- Grey Beard/Graham Motion; Unbridled's Song-Danzig Darling, by Danzig

His gusty victory over the classy Monthir went virtually overlooked, coming on the same card as Stephentown's brilliant win. But this colt turned in a super effort and his time was a fifth faster.

19 -- Axis/Elliott Walden; Saint Ballado-Moscow Tap, by Moscow Ballet

His last two races were brilliant. Although he hasn't been farther than six furlongs, and Walden says he doesn't have a stayer's physique, he certainly does have the pedigree to go long. Granddam in tail-female family is half-sister to Go for Gin.


Continued...

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