Badge of Silver, ranks third on Steve Haskin's list of leading Derby contenders.

Badge of Silver, ranks third on Steve Haskin's list of leading Derby contenders.

Lou Hodges Jr.

Steve Haskin's Derby Watch--Week 7 (March 4)

1--Kafwain/Bob Baffert; Cherokee Run-Swazi's Moment, by Moment of Hope

Worked 6 furlongs in 1:11 2/5. Will defend his lofty position against Badge of Silver in the Louisiana Derby. Has a big edge in experience and seasoning, but will be facing a brilliant, undefeated colt on his home court. Might not be as sharp coming off dazzling return in San Vicente. Should be a great race.

2--Domestic Dispute/Bob Baffert; Unbridled's Song-Majestical Moment, by Magesterial

Still cranking out the big works; drilled 7 furlongs in 1:24 1/5 for San Felipe. Jerry Bailey will replace David Flores. Our Bobby V. didn't flatter his score in the Santa Catalina, but he is a colt who should keep improving.

3--Badge of Silver/Ronny Werner; Silver Deputy-Silveroo, by Silver Hawk

Turned in a strong 1:12 3/5 breeze. All he needs in Louisiana Derby is to be tested by Kafwain and stand up to the challenge. If he should beat Kafwain the way he's won his other races, then he's obviously a freak and needs to be careful in Illinois Derby, using it more as a prep. If he's going to peak too early, better now than in the next one.

4--Empire Maker/Bobby Frankel; Unbridled-Toussaud, by El Gran Senor

Yes, we're getting caught up in the hype again. But he's worked like a demon in blinkers and eyeballed Medaglia d'Oro every step of the way in their 1:12 work. Florida Derby will be make or break race. As long as he keeps moving forward he should be primed for a peak performance on Derby Day.

5--Man Among Men/Gary Mandella; Gentlemen-La Favorita, by Nikos

Worked a sharp 7 furlongs in 1:25 4/5 for San Felipe. He has every right to keep improving and has all the physical and mental tools needed to be a serious Derby contender. Excellent tactical speed and a powerful closing kick.

6--Trust N Luck/Ralph Ziadie; Montbrook-Bold Burst, by Dahar

Breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01 1/5 at Calder. Could very easily turn in a repeat performance in the Florida Derby if no one challenges him. This is a very tough horse to crack once he gets in a rhythm. But would love to see what he can do rating off the pace. Ziadie says he'll go straight to the Ky. Derby after Florida Derby, and the last horse to win doing that was Needles in 1956.

7--Composure/Bob Baffert; Touch Gold-Party Cited, by Alleged

Keeps rattling off one big work after another; drilled 6 furlongs in 1:11 3/5. Filly or no filly, she has the ability, foundation, toughness, and pedigree to be a Derby contender. Schedule after Santa Anita Oaks will be key. Right now, Baffert says he's made no plans where to run her as a final Derby prep.

8--Atswhatimtalknbout/Ron Ellis; A.P. Indy-Lucinda K., by Red Ransom

Drilled sharp half in :46 2/5 for San Felipe. Strong, grand-looking colt is progressing the right way, but still has to show what he can do in stakes company. His last race was nothing brilliant, but it was a step in the right direction and that's all you're looking for now. His career debut was one of the most remarkable stretch runs we've seen in a while.

9--Senor Swinger /Mickey Goldfine; El Prado-Smooth Swinger, by Kris S.

Working brilliantly for Florida Derby; drilled 6-furlongs in a bullet 1:11 4/5. Imagine, Frankel, Baffert, Tabor, and Zito all tried to buy him, in that order. Big speed figure in his career debut. Magnificent-looking colt with a long, smooth stride. But he'll have only 4 starts prior to Kentucky Derby, so he's bucking history.

10-- Sky Mesa/John Ward; Pulpit-Caress, by Storm Cat

Ward is painting a bleak picture regarding his chances of making the Derby. He says the colt should not be a separate betting interest in the Derby Future Wager and should be placed in the mutuel field. Needs to get two starts in him and that is "marginal" at this point. Even if he does, no horse has won the Derby off only two starts since Sunny's Halo in 1983, but Ward feels that would be enough. We'll give it one more week and see where he stands.

11--Lion Tamer/Todd Pletcher; Will's Way-Tippecanoe Creek, by Olympio

Still not much more to say about him until he goes two turns. That likely will happen in the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway, then it's straight to the Kentucky Derby, giving him only one two-turn race six weeks before the Derby. Tough task, but has the credentials to develop into a star.

12--Ministers Wild Cat/Neil Drysdale; Deputy Minister-Hollywood Wildcat, by Kris S.

Worked 6 furlongs in 1:14 2/5 for El Camino Real Derby. Still not sure what to make of him. He was a mess in the stretch of the Golden State Mile, but still won. It all depends if he uses that race as a learning experience and improves. He can't do those things against top stakes horses.

13--Region of Merit/Chris Clement; Touch Gold-Innocently Astray, by Gone West

Riding a three-race winning streak, this well-bred colt has an unlimited future. Showed a lot in his first victory around two turns, combining brilliance with professionalism. Like the way Clement has given him nothing but half-mile breezes in about :51, which is from the John Nerud-Ben Jones school of training.

14--Supah Blitz/Emanuel Tortora; Mecke-Boots 'n Jackie, by Major Moran

Solid, consistent colt who has run big at distances ranging from three furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, ridden by six different jockeys. Already has a victory over Trust N Luck going 7 furlongs. Steady closer who should pick up his share of big purses.

15--Ten Cents a Shine/D. Wayne Lukas; Devil His Due-Aunt Mottz, by Honey Jay

Curious to see how he does for Lukas and where he'll show up. Owner Ken Ramsey said colt definitely was coughing after the Fountain of Youth. Deserves another chance after his sharp 3-year-old debut against Senor Swinger and his big effort in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He's obviously a much better horse than he showed in his last start.