To help sort out the contenders from the pretenders for the 2002 Kentucky Derby, The Blood-Horse's senior correspondent Steve Haskin has listed the horses to look for in coming weeks.
1 -- Siphonic/David Hofmans; Siphon-Cherokee Crossing, by Cherokee Colony
Came out of Santa Catalina with a "stiff neck" for a few days, but he's back in top shape and breezed an easy half in :50 3/5. Still the only one of the leading contenders to have proven his class, speed, and versatility.
2 -- Repent/Kenny McPeek; Louis Quatorze-Baby Grace, by Cipayo
Threw in a scorcher of a work last week, blazing his 5 furlongs in :58 in company with Take Charge Lady. Not what McPeek was looking for, but he came out of it in good shape. "He's just that good," McPeek said.
3 -- Saarland/Shug McGaughey; Unbridled-Versailles Treaty, by Danzig
McGaughey liked what he saw in 5-furlong work in 1:02 from the gate and is now considering running in the Fountain of Youth. Would not have to win that race, just be coming on at end, to earn high marks.
4 -- Changeintheweather/Dave Bell; Gone West-Meteor Colony, by Pleasant Colony
Super 6-furlong work in 1:11 flat shows he's ready for whatever race Bell puts him in. If he runs in Fountain of Youth, he just has to show he's competitive with these horses. Sky's the limit from there.
5 -- Johannesburg/Aidan O'Brien; Hennessy -- Myth, by Ogygian
Just cantering at Ballydoyle. Weather has been bad in Ireland, and O'Brien said no decisions would be made until the spring, when they have a chance to evaluate where he is and where he would fit best. Only two starts likely before Derby. Unless training schedule picks up soon, 2,000 Guineas may start looking more enticing.
6 -- Harlan's Holiday/Kenny McPeek; Harlan-Christmas in Aiken, by Affirmed
Turned in a sharp 6f breeze in 1:00 3/5 for Fountain of Youth. Will have a big experience advantage over many of the newcomers in field, so this may be his race to win or lose, unless a superstar is lurking about.
7 -- Stephentown/Tony Reinstedler; Wild Again-Lochlin, by Screen King
Reinstedler doesn't seem to be concerned with incredibly slow 5-furlong breeze in 1:06 4/5, and with Pat Day up no less. We'll know a lot more about this colt soon enough. Big test coming up in Fountain of Youth.
8 -- Saratoga Blues/Tony Dutrow; Twining-Time for a Wedding, by Manila
He showed he was a horse to reckon with when he beat Remsen fourth-place finisher in only second start. Came back with a terrific effort in Whirlaway. Tactical speed, professionalism, and bred to run all day. Big offers starting to come in.
9 -- Easyfromthegitgo/Steve Asmussen; Dehere-Montera, by Easy Goer
Risen Star will be a lot tougher going against new foes like Repent and French Assault, as well as Sky Terrace, but we see no reason why he shouldn't continue to improve. LeComte showed what he's made of.
10 -- High Star/Nick Zito; Private Terms-Polember, by Polish Navy
Had an easy 5-furlong breeze in 1:04 3/5. Being pointed for another allowance race, then the Florida Derby. Zito red-hot right now, especially sending out several 3-year-old winners. But this one's The Man.
11 -- Nokoma /Todd Pletcher; Pulpit-Eliza Blue, by Icecapade
Which was the aberration, his last start or his second in the Remsen? Although the Remsen form hasn't been flattered so far, it's still too early to dismiss him. Has all the makings of a top-class horse.
12 -- Came Home/Paco Gonzalez; Gone West-Nice Assay, by Clever Trick
Don't really consider him a Derby horse, but, like his connections, we'll take it one race at a time. No one has really accomplished anything of note so far, and until they do, we'll keep him here on talent alone.
13 -- USS Tinosa/Jerry Hollendorfer; Foxhound-Angel Puss, by Wolf Power
Left Sham field for dead with explosive stretch move. How can you not like a horse who has already won or placed in seven stakes at six different tracks? El Camino Real Derby still a possibility, but most likely will point for San Felipe.
14 -- Metatron/Jerry Hollendorfer; Silver Ghost-Dancing Ovation, by Northern Jove
Another Hollendorfer colt, he showed great promise at 2, competing against the best; returned from a layoff with brilliant 7-length victory in 6-furlong allowance race. Hollendorfer leaning toward one-mile San Rafael.
15 -- Danthebluegrassman/Bob Baffert; Pioneering-Stay With Bruce, by Grey Dawn II
His stock keeps moving up with every victory by a Hollendorfer colt whom he defeated in the Golden Gate Derby. Drilled a smart 7 furlongs in 1:24 1/5; will head back up north for the El Camino Real Derby. Looking bigger and bigger in Baffert barn.
16 -- D' Coach/Shug McGaughey; Dehere-Catatonic, by Big Spruce
Not going to give up on him just yet. He still has a lot of maturing to do. Made his typical strong move on the far turn in Whirlaway, but fell apart after turning for home; ran with his cocked to the side, switched back to his left lead and ducked in. Still finished well clear of third horse and was running strongly at the end. Needs to get off the inner track.
17 -- Maybry's Boy/Shug McGaughey; Broad Brush-Aly's Conquest, by Alydar
Fountain of Youth will decide whether he can uncork his powerful late run going two turns. We'll toss his effort in the Hutcheson, as he could never get untracked over a quagmire-like surface. If he's coming at the end on Saturday, then he's definitely a live prospect for the Derby.
18 -- Pelirrojo/John Sadler; Flying Continental-La Fresa, by Cozzene
Don't know just what he beat in mile allowance race, but runner-up Raven Power looks like a talented colt. He has a big closing kick, and in a year like this, that's all you need at this point. He'll get tested for class next time out, possibly in San Felipe.
19 -- Sky Terrace/Vickie Foley; Skywalker-I Aim High, by I Enclose
The key to this colt is his ability to rate. He did in his first two races, but has been intent on getting the lead after stretching out. Last effort was remarkable and shows he has the ability to compete with anyone down there. Will no doubt take some heavy action in Risen Star. Dosage says no, but his pedigree looks to have enough stamina influences to carry him pretty far.
20 -- Hot Contest/Tom Bell; Tabasco Cat-Secretly, by Secretariat
Should improve big-time off his third in the Sham Stakes; bobbled at the start, raced wide most of the way, circled horses 4-wide turning into stretch, and came home well enough under the circumstances to suggest better things are ahead of him.See Contenders 21-30, Knocking on the Door