Take Control is by 1992 Horse of the Year A. P. Indy, out of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri.

Take Control is by 1992 Horse of the Year A. P. Indy, out of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Kentucky Derby Trail: Opening Act

A Top 25 list made up solely of horses who have not yet run in a stakes.

The first Derby Dozen will be published Jan. 25, with an expanded Top 25 in that week’s Kentucky Derby Trail column on Bloodhorse.com. But as a prelude, we are publishing a Top 25 list made up solely of horses who have not yet run in a stakes.


Most everyone is aware of the big names on the Derby trail, but here are several who might still be overlooked in the future book. For some of these horses, stardom could be a race or two away . Others will be exposed as nothing more than impressive maiden and/or allowance winners or one-turn horses.


1--Connemara -- Can’t fault him in any way. Two starts, two wins (at a mile and 1 1/16 miles) for Pletcher, unleashing explosive runs each time. He’s by Giant’s Causeway, and love his broodmare sire Mr. Leader, as well as being inbred 3 times to Hail to Reason.


2--Tiz Chrome -- Tiznow colt still needs to stretch out, but pedigree says no problem at all. He’s also won on both surfaces, with impressive scores at Churchill and Hollywood. Not counting the Stuka as a stakes. Looks like a great private purchase for Baffert and Lanni, Schiappa, Mercedes group.


3--Take Control -- This son of A.P. Indy, out of Azeri (both Horses of the Year) will have a huge following after his big victory in a mile maiden race for Baffert. Still very green, yet still demonstrated a powerful turn of foot after finding a clear path.


4--Brake Lights -- Saint Liam colt’s 9 1/2-length maiden victory at Aqueduct was a second and two-fifths faster than the Count Fleet Stakes run the same day. McLaughlin will keep him in New York.


5--Stay Put  -- Son of Broken Vow has a huge closing kick and defeated a classy allowance field at Fair Grounds going a mile and 40 yards for Steve Margolis, outclosing graded stakes-placed Worldly. He’s had five starts and has been extremely consistent; improving with every race.


6--Maximus Ruler -- Roman Ruler colt broke his maiden with style at Churchill Downs going a mile, and coming home his final quarter in a sharp :24 3/5. Pedigree much stronger than dosage number indicates.


7--Launch N Relaunch -- Gate scratch Jan. 7 will be a setback, timing-wise; had to lower him a few notches. Turned in a powerful stretch run going a mile in debut at Aqueduct for Rick Dutrow. By Harlan’s Holiday, out of female family loaded with tough, hard-knocking racehorses and stallions, most notably Nodouble, Verbatim, Relaunch, and In Reality.


8--Winslow Homer -- Unbridled’s Song colt has won his last two impressively for Tony Dutrow, including impressive maiden score at Saratoga; then romped by 12 1/2 in the mud at Philly Park.


9--Drosselmeyer -- Bill Mott looks to have a runner in this Distorted Humor colt, who romped by six in his maiden victory at Churchill Downs going a mile. Distance will be no problem, with a ton of stamina in female family.


10--Hawaiian Springs -- Kathy Walsh-trained son of Stephen Got Even ran a bang-up second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Santa Anita, closing fast after having to alter course in the stretch, while stretching out from a 6 1/2-furlong maiden score.


11--Kettle River -- Won aforementioned allowance race against Hawaiian Springs, finding a perfect seam nearing the quarter pole. Son of Congaree has won on grass and Pro-Ride for Eoin Harty, but flopped on a sloppy track at Saratoga in career debut.


12--Bulldogger -- Son of Dixie Union won career debut by 6 1/2 lengths for Baffert going six furlongs  If he shows he can stretch out effectively, he should be heard from.


13--Tahitian Warrior  -- Maria’s Mon colt is bred to run all day, but had no trouble winning at six furlongs first time out in 1:09 4/5 at Gulfstream for Danny Miller.


14-- Fly Down -- Mineshaft colt showed a good burst of speed on the far turn when breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 miles for Zito.


15--Middle of the Nite -- Chased Eskendereya in mile allowance at Gulfstream and hung on gamely to finish third, beaten only two lengths. By champion freshman sire Offlee Wild, from a strong female family, he is an intriguing prospect for Tom Albertrani.


16--Concord Point -- Tapit colt looked good winning career debut going 6 1/2 furlongs in fast time for Baffert. Needs to settle a little better early on, but did have good stalking trip.


17--Sidney’s Candy -- Highly touted after record-breaking maiden win at 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar. Disappointed when fourth, beaten seven lengths, in recent allowance, but they went the six panels in 1:08 4/5, and he was coming off a four-month layoff and was running against fast stakes horses from the Baffert barn.


18--Afleet Express -- Afleet Alex colt turned in a big stretch run to win career debut in the mud at Aqueduct going six furlongs for Jimmy Jerkens, but has a ton of speed in his female family. First two-turn race will tell a lot.


19--Conveyance -- Not sure how far he wants to go, but his two sprint victories in 1:09 and 1:09 3/5 were impressive. He’s been turning in bullet works for Baffert, who has been working him long. He likely will stretch out in mile stakes next.


20--Moojab -- Smarty Jones colt blew away his field with a monster stretch run in career debut at Aqueduct going six furlongs for Dan Peitz.


21--Quay Lime Guy -- Limehouse colt broke his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths in the slop at Aqueduct going 6 1/2 furlongs for McLaughlin. Back working at Palm Meadows.


22--Dryfly -- Jump Start gelding has wire-to-wire sprint wins at Churchill Downs and Philly Park, showing a lot of grit battling back in last start at Churchill going seven panels. Finished 7th at Delaware Park, but clipped heels and had to check. At Oaklawn with Lyn Whiting.


23--Thank U Phillippe -- Closed well late to get second in Eskendereya allowance win. Didn’t make much headway from quarter pole to eighth pole, but picked it up in final sixteenth. Marty Wolfson-trained colt by Proud Accolade.


24--Bravo Whiskey -- Smart Strike colt came from off the pace with a strong move to romp by six lengths in a six-furlong maiden race in the slop at Fair Grounds for Neil Howard.


25--Ricky Tick -- After tiring badly as pacesetter at Churchill Downs, he came from seventh to break his maiden at Fair Grounds going a mile and 40 yards at 28-1 under Pat Valenzuela. Son of Macho Uno is trained by Richard Jackson.


25--Best Actor -- Won mile Gulfstream maiden race by four lengths, but needs to run faster and come home quicker. By Rock Hard Ten, out of Unaccounted For mare, his best races should be ahead of him.


Another horse to watch if and when he shows up on the work tab is Twirling Candy, who broke his maiden in 1:22 flat at Hollywood Park for John Sadler, but hasn't worked since Dec. 5. What’s New, a stablemate of Stay Put, by Dixie Union, broke his maiden in career debut going six furlongs wire to wire at Fair Grounds.