Steve Haskin's Derby Watch-Week 5 (2/20/2002)

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 -- Repent/Kenny McPeek; Louis Quatorze-Baby Grace, by Cipayo

Ran huge race in Risen Star after going 9-wide. He's beaten Siphonic; won at Churchill Downs; won on fast, dead, and sloppy racetracks; and already encountered and overcome bad trips on two occasions.

2 -- Siphonic/David Hofmans; Siphon-Cherokee Crossing, by Cherokee Colony

Hofmans said he's doing great and will work 5 furlongs Friday or Saturday. He's had his problems, but if they're not serious, Hofmans has plenty of time to get him back on right track for San Felipe. Interesting East vs. West rivalry brewing with Repent.

3 -- Saarland/Shug McGaughey; Unbridled-Versailles Treaty, by Danzig

Breezed a half in :48 4/5. Likely will make 3-year-old debut in 7-furlong allowance race Feb. 23. Sprint will be a good opener for him to sharpen him up, as he has not shown any type of speed nor run fast times.

4 -- Johannesburg/Aidan O'Brien; Hennessy -- Myth, by Ogygian

Getting very close to crunch time and not much doing. Colt is still only cantering, and O'Brien told the Racing Post that a decision regarding the Derby is "still a long way off." Two-race scenario not too encouraging. Owner quoted as saying only start before Derby will be in 7-furlong Gladness Stakes. Once verified by O'Brien, you'll have to look a lot farther down the list next week to find him.

5 -- Harlan's Holiday/Kenny McPeek; Harlan-Christmas in Aiken, by Affirmed

Tough, honest colt keeps looking a little better with each race. Can't fault him for not beating Booklet, who had things his own way. Good acceleration on far turn, and finished well clear of the others.

6 -- Saratoga Blues/Tony Dutrow; Twining-Time for a Wedding, by Manila

Some big offers have come in for the colt, but owners have opted for the glory. Dutrow has decided to run in the Gotham to find out just what he has. Prefers two-turn race, but wants to stay close to home.

7 -- D' Coach/Shug McGaughey; Dehere-Catatonic, by Big Spruce

Now that he's at Gulfstream and away from the Aqueduct inner track, he should be able to show off that huge stretch kick to more advantage. If he's right there in Florida Derby, he's a serious Derby contender.

8 -- Blue Burner/Bill Mott; French Deputy-Haiati, by Alydar

Took a huge step forward with solid third in Fountain of Youth in fourth career start and only second start in past 7 1/2 months. More of a steady, grinding run than a quick burst of speed. No doubt a classy colt.

9 -- Nokoma /Todd Pletcher; Pulpit-Eliza Blue, by Icecapade

Came out of :59 3/5 work with some mucus in trachea, but bounced back with another sharp 5-furlong work in a bullet 1:00 2/5. We should find out if the Holy Bull was an aberration when he runs in a mile and 70-yard allowance race at Gulfstream on Feb. 23.

10 -- Booklet/John Ward; Notebook-Crafty Bobbie, by Bob's Dusty

Pedigree and running style not an ideal combination for the Kentucky Derby, but he's a talented, tenacious little colt who's going to win a lot of big races this year, especially when he takes control of the pace.

11 -- Came Home/Paco Gonzalez; Gone West-Nice Assay, by Clever Trick

His pedigree is even less suited to the Kentucky Derby, with presence of several confirmed sprinters and milers. But has as much raw talent as anyone out there, so we'll keep him here until he says not to.

12 -- High Star/Nick Zito; Private Terms-Polember, by Polish Navy

Feb. 16 allowance race was a farce, but did like his style. Was running strongly in the stretch, and his stride was as smooth and efficient as any 3-year-old we've seen so far. We'll know more in Florida Derby.

13 -- Danthebluegrassman/Bob Baffert; Pioneering-Stay With Bruce, by Grey Dawn II

Not many Baffert horses left to choose from. There's Puerto Banus and the filly Habibti and this guy. It might be time Baffert decides to keep him home and compete against better horses to see what he has.

14 -- USS Tinosa/Jerry Hollendorfer; Foxhound-Angel Puss, by Wolf Power

Certainly made Danthebluegrassman look good by easily winning the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita after getting beaten twice by Baffert's horse up at Golden Gate. Honest colt who runs well everywhere.

15 -- Bob's Image/ Dallas Stewart; Halo's Image-Gray Flannel, by Darn That Alarm

Ran a huge race to finish second to Repent in Risen Star Stakes after turning back several challenges. Made Repent work for it and finished 3 lengths clear of third horse. Good-looking gray should keep improving.

16 -- Pelirrojo/John Sadler; Flying Continental-La Fresa, by Cozzene

The form of his allowance victory will either be substantiated or questioned when Raven Power and Azillion, who finished right with him, run in a tough allowance race Friday against Hot Contest and Sunday Break. If substantiated, this attractive gray could be the real thing.

17 -- American Style/Nick Zito; Quiet American-Style Setter, by Manila

We really liked what we saw in his rousing allowance victory last Saturday, in which he overcame traffic and accelerated along the rail to quickly draw off from the field. He has a nice long stride and good reach. This was his first start for Zito.

18 -- Sunday Break/Neil Drysdale; Forty Niner-Catequill, by Storm Cat

Extremely high ranking for a maiden winner, but he's been training very well and is entered for a 1 1/6-mile allowance race on Friday. If he should beat horses like Raven Power, Hot Contest, and Azillion, then he catapults way up the list of contenders.

19 -- Hot Contest/Tom Bell; Tabasco Cat-Secretly, by Secretariat

Speaking of Hot Contest, he's coming off a solid third in the Sham Stakes, in which he bobbled at the start, then rallied with a wide move, There's no reason to think he won't show big improvement off that effort.

20 -- Easyfromthegitgo/Steve Asmussen; Dehere-Montera, by Easy Goer

Although he never threatened the top two, his race in the Risen Star was solid enough to keep him a legitimate Derby contender. He closed well from between horses and was running on well in the final furlong.

Contenders 21-30, Knocking on the Door