Kentucky Derby Trail: Baffert Brigade Still Raw Recruits

This is the fourth in a series of early looks at next year's potential Derby horses. Although we're nearing December, Bob Baffert still has no idea what kind of hand he's been dealt. In fact, he has already drawn a new card from the deck.

We should have a better idea regarding Baffert's strength after Consecrate and Cooperation run in Saturday's Prevue Stakes at 7 furlongs. But right now, his main hopefuls are trying to bounce back from shin problems, and several are big horses who need a little extra time to get going full speed.

Odds On -- From a pedigree and talent standpoint, this colt may be his most complete package. Sent off at 4-5 in his career debut, he was run down in the stretch by eventual Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Del Mar Futurity runner-up Minister Eric. Came back to romp by 6 lengths in his next start, covering the 6 furlongs in 1:10 flat. He was made the 2-1 favorite in the Norfolk Stakes, stretching out to 1 1/16 miles, but was eased after making a brief bid on the far turn. Came out of the race with shin problems, but is back in training now. He's by Silver Charm and has plenty of stamina in his female family. Broodmare sire Pine Bluff won the Preakness and was a close third to A.P. Indy in the Belmont Stakes. Great-grandsire Little Current won the Preakness and Belmont by 7 lengths, and is showing up in the female family of several top-class horses, including Funny Cide. Dosage profile of 2-3-11-4-0 and a 1.11 DI.

Coldntight -- If you like Action This Day, this colt whipped him by 7 lengths in a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar in his third career start. Like Odds On, he was hampered by shin problems in the Norfolk, finishing a distant eighth. Prepped for the race by working 5 furlongs in :58 2/5. He's by the hot young sire Touch Gold, who deprived Baffert and Silver Charm of a Triple Crown sweep in the Belmont Stakes. Dam is by Capote and second dam is by Devil's Bag, so there are speed influences in his female family. He should be able to stretch, but not sure how far, despite solid DI of 2.27.

Consecrate -- We should know more about him after Saturday, although he will be dropping back to a sprint after a decent 5th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Was Baffert's third horse to run badly in the Norfolk, getting beaten 18 lengths, coupled with Odds On, also owned by Jim McIngvale. Broke his maiden by 6 lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar. He's been inconsistent so far. Baffert called him a bonehead who is just now learning what it's all about. But he believes the talent is there. Another son of Silver Charm, he's out of a Saratoga Six mare and traces to Swaps and Helioscope. Strong DI of 1.13.

Cooperation -- Like Consecrate, Saturday will show how much progress he's made following three straight defeats. His seventh in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity can be excused after he got sick traveling to New York for the Champagne and remained in Kentucky to run there instead. Came back to run a well-beaten fourth in the 6-furlong Sunny Slope Stakes as the 3-5 favorite. Started career off with great promise, finishing a close second to eventual Del Mar Futurity winner Siphonizer in his debut, then romped by 7 lengths, going 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar in 1:03 3/5. Too early to tell how far he wants to go. By Halo's Image, he looks to be more of a 1 1/8-mile type of horse, but wouldn't come as a big surprise if he stretched out farther. Only real stamina influence appears to be maternal great-grandsire Proud Clarion. Dam was a stakes winner of over $200,000. Love 3x4 inbreeding to Hail to Reason, and has a solid 2.67 DI.

Bornwithit -- A fascinating story if he makes the Derby Trail. Bred by Milton and Beth Hendry, Bornwithit was sold to Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation. He was gelded, then turned over to Nick Zito. Sent off as the 6-5 favorite in a Saratoga maiden race, he finished 9th, beaten 32 lengths. Zito then dropped him in a $30,000 claiming race at Keeneland, which he won by 24 1/2 lengths. He was claimed out of the race by local horseman Glenn Montgomery, who put in the only claim. The horse was then purchased privately from Montgomery by one of Baffert's owners, Jim Helzer, who felt he was willing to take a shot with a gelding. Zito, himself, had tried several times in vain to buy the horse back for Mrs. Weber, at a substantial profit. Bornwithit just recently arrived at Baffert's barn, but came down with shipping fever. By Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, out of a Jolie's Halo mare, his tail-female family is all Fred Hooper blood – Copelan, Tri Jet, Susan's Girl, and Crozier. Has a DI of 3.00.

Wimbledon -- For a horse who has started only once, finishing 5th, beaten 9 1/4 lengths as the 4-5 favorite, this colt has received some rave reviews. He did break slowly, then made a brief move into contention. Also came down with shins, but he's been back working and recently turned in a monster 6-furlong work in 1:11 flat, which was four-fifths faster than Congaree worked the same day. Yet another McIngvale-owned colt. $425,000 2-year-old purchase at Calder. Although he has a rather lofty DI of 5.00, that may be misleading. He's by Wild Again's son Wild Rush, and while his female family is not a strong one, it's not not as bad as one might think. Should have no trouble getting 1 1/8 miles, but we'll have to see about that extra furlong.

Courageous Act -- Owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, he's run five times and has improved with each race. Finally broke his maiden last out via disqualification. Hasn't run a bad race yet, and has been knocking heads with horses like Action This Day, Coldntight, and Capitano. $500,000 yearling purchase at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky. He's by Exploit, out of an Eastern Echo mare, so distance is a question mark. However, maternal great-grandsire, Fred Astaire, was a stakes-winning son of Nijinsky II out of champion Late Bloomer. That's Greentree grass breeding, but also Greentree distance breeding. Inbred three times to Northern Dancer, and has a 2.11 DI.

Diamond Fury -- Finished a well-beaten third behind Consecrate in only start. Back in good form and is scheduled to run at Hollywood on Sunday. Coming off several sharp works, including 6-furlong drill in 1:12 2/5. Talk about huge pinhooks, bought for $30,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale, then sold at Barretts this year for $2.7 million to Charles Fipke. By Storm Cat's son Sea of Secrets, out of a Tasso mare. Main stamina source is fourth generation tail-female stallion Vaguely Noble. Also classic-winning filly Carnauba. DI of 3.00.

Work -- Normally wouldn't include an unraced horse, but Baffert is high on this 17-hands son of Menifee, who was a $42,000 yearling purchase, then pinhooked at the Keeneland April 2-year-old sale for $950,000. He's turned in some sharp works, and is inching closer to the Derby trail. Female family borderline 1 1/4 miles, but inbred 5x5 to the great producer Cosmah. Sire ran a huge race to finish a fast-closing second in the Kentucky Derby.

Novel Idea -- Another unraced horse, the son of Pulpit was a $230,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase. He is out of the Spectacular Bid mare, Spectacular Bev, and is inbred to Raise a Native, Bold Ruler, and Nijinsky II. Has a DI of 2.50.

The next report will focus on Team Valor's intriguing group of 2-year-olds, as well as a number of other exciting prospects across the country.