Steve Haskin's Derby Watch (Cont.)

13--Ministers Wild Cat/Neil Drysdale; Deputy Minister-Hollywood Wildcat, by Kris S.
He hasn't received much attention, and was abandoned by Desormeaux for the Santa Anita Derby, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. A little more professionalism and he could be ready to put it all together. He not only has to run big in the Santa Anita Derby, he has to show he can keep a straight course and not compromise his chances. Loved his 1:13 2/5 work last week. It was the first time Drysdale has really turned the screws on him. Victor Espinoza takes over the reins.

14--Funny Cide/Barclay Tagg; Distorted Humor-Belle's Good Cide, by Slewacide
If he moves forward off the Louisiana Derby, he could give Empire Maker a run for his money in the Wood Memorial. But if he's going to be a Derby contender he really needs to learn to come from off the pace. Just too many frontrunners and stalkers this year to feel comfortable having a horse with that running style.

15--Aristocat/Todd Pletcher; Tale of the Cat-Mended Fences, by Miswaki
The more we watch the Tampa Bay Derby the more we can see this colt improving big-time with blinkers, just as Empire Maker did in the Florida Derby. As awful as he looked on the far turn, that's how good he looked once he leveled off and found his best stride. He was covering a lot of ground and his stride was long and effortless. We're expecting a huge effort in the Arkansas Derby. Looks like the kind of horse to take a shot with in the future book at big odds.

16--Region of Merit/Chris Clement; Touch Gold-Innocently Astray, by Gone West
The Tampa Bay Derby did not get big speed figures, and he had to run hard to beat a 34-1 shot who was stretching out for the first time. But the bottom line is that he has won four in a row, and when a horse likes to win, he wins – whether it's fast or slow or by large or small margins.

17--Indy Dancer/Todd Pletcher; A.P. Indy-Dance With Grace, by Mr. Prospector
We've had him higher, but really have no idea where he fits. Sometimes, horses who come from as far back as he does don't show that much more speed with blinkers. If he does and still turns in a big closing kick in the Wood Memorial, then we'll have a much better idea what we're dealing with. Remember, although he made up a ton of ground in the Florida Derby, he actually lost two lengths to Empire Maker in the final furlong. So, let's see how much he improves before assessing his chances at Churchill Downs.

18--Ten Most Wanted/Wally Dollase; Deputy Commander-Wanted Again, by Criminal Type
Turned in a sharp 6-furlong work in 1:12 2/5 at Hollywood Park. This is another late-developing Deputy Commander, and after his game effort in the El Camino Real Derby, there's no reason to think he can't keep moving forward. His competition in the Illinois Derby shouldn't be too tough compared to the other preps, which gives him a big chance to make it to Churchill Downs.

19--Trust N Luck/Ralph Ziadie; Montbrook-Bold Burst, by Dahar
Although he'll be at a disadvantage coming off a seven-week layoff, he has enough speed and ability to be respected, and is inducement enough for trainers of frontrunners to get their horses to sit back a little. This colt is fast and is going to be extremely fresh going into the Derby. We normally hate the idea of training up to the Derby with so much time in between, but it may be this colt's only chance to make an impact on the race, as another race could sour him after getting blown away by Empire Maker.

20--Man Among Men/Gary Mandella; Gentlemen-La Favorita, by Nikos
Had his first work since bleeding in the San Felipe, breezing 3 furlongs in :37 4/5. If he shows all the right signs he may run in the Arkansas Derby, and any semblance of the horse who beat Empire Maker in the Sham will have this good-looking colt back on track for the Derby. Still has to rebound from a race in which he did little running. There's no doubt the talent is there. We just have to know for sure he's heading in the right direction before putting him back near the top of the list.

21 -- Senor Swinger/Bob Baffert; El Prado-Smooth Swinger, by Kris S.
So, he's now a member of the Baffert brigade. Baffert had mentioned pointing him for the Wood Memorial, but now says he hasn't made up his mind where he's going to run next. This is a very talented horse, and the last thing you want to do at this point in his career is rush him to make the Derby if he's not ready mentally and seasoning-wise. He did make a brief move on the turn in the Florida Derby, but this race did not move him forward at all. A lot of questions surrounding him right now.

22--Inamorato/Saeed bin Suroor; Tale of the Cat-Be My Sweetheart, by No Robbery
It'll be interesting to see if he can run his field into the ground in the UAE Derby in much the same manner he did in the prep. He'll be up against some tougher rivals, including a 4-year-old South American horse trained by Kenny McPeek. Regardless of how impressively he wins he still will go into the Kentucky Derby off only three career starts. He shouldn't be able to do that, but the Derby picture has been changing so dramatically over the past several years, pretty soon it's inevitable that we'll have to throw the book away. But winning the Derby off three starts is asking an awful lot of a young horse.

23--Lion Tamer/Todd Pletcher; Will's Way-Tippecanoe Creek, by Olympio
While his race in the Lane's End was encouraging in many ways, it may be asking a lot of this small, slightly made colt to come back at 1 1/8 miles in three weeks, then go 1 1/4 miles in a large field three weeks after that, especially with his history of slow starts. He had everything against him right from the start and ran well enough to keep him at two turns, but Pletcher's option of running in the Lexington, then the Preakness might be the logical way to go.

24--Alysweep/Patrick Reynolds; End Sweep-Chronicler, by Alysheba
Another speed horse who has enough class that you don't want to let him have an easy time of it on the lead. He ran a powerful race in the Gotham, but the inner track at Aqueduct normally favors speed, and no one put any pressure on him. He has enough stamina in his pedigree to suggest he won't be backing up on his own if left alone.

25--Spite the Devil/Allen Jerkens; Devil His Due-Samantha D, by Cryptoclearance
He does have a good closing kick and his third in the Gotham gives him some credentials to move on to the Wood Memorial. He'll need a stronger kick than the one he's shown to compete with top-class horses. But he does have a strong pedigree and should improve as the distances stretch out.