Steve Haskin's Derby Watch--Week 2: Analyzing 30 Contenders

Steve Haskin's rank/trainer; pedigree

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

Hofmans said he came out of the Santa Catalina in excellent shape. Got away lucky, as he could have easily grabbed a quarter. Not the strongest early Derby choice, but has shown a great deal in short career.

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

Took off trying to catch mate in work. Five-furlongs in 1:00 (McPeek got him a half in :47 4/5) not what McPeek was looking for. But cleaned up his feed afterward. Likely will head for the Risen Star.

3 -- Labamta Babe/Bobby Frankel; Skywalker-Bambina Linda, by Liloy

Speed figures show horse who is improving big-time with every start. Puzzling pedigree, with lofty 6.20 DI and abundance of Argentine blood in his female family. But physically looks like a stayer. Frankel is leaning toward running in the San Felipe, then shipping East for the Wood Memorial.

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

Breezed easy five furlongs in 1:02 1/5. McGaughey now ready to step up his works. So far, Remsen form hasn't held up, but he has so much scope for improvement, we likely haven't seen close to his best.

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

A race in Europe, then Wood Memorial is one possibility that has been mentioned. Has a good deal of mile to 1 1/8-mile blood in his pedigree, and will need his extraordinary talent to get the 1 1/4 miles.

6 -- Changeintheweather/Dave Bell; Gone West-Meteor Colony, by Pleasant Colony

Could be any kind. Bell took him out of January 26 allowance race, feeling he wasn't quite fit enough to tackle Gulf's deep, slow track. Will now go straight into Fountain of Youth or an allowance race.

7 -- Stephentown/Tony Reinstedler; Wild Again-Lochlin, by Screen King

Breezed a half in :52 3/5. Reinstedler has no desire to see any fast works; feels as if the colt still has "a lot of learning and growing to do.' If he's right there in Fountain of Youth, watch out.

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

McPeek feels he's right up there with Repent in ability, and is more push-button. Loves the way the colt relaxed in the Holy Bull and feels he's a calmer, more confident horse than he was last year.

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

Deserves another chance, despite poor effort in Holy Bull. If he had been right there, we would have had him No. 1 on the list. Pletcher said he simply got tired. Expect big improvement next time.

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

Lecomte was an excellent learning experience against some tough opponents. Patiently waited for a hole to open, then accelerated beautifully and was relentless in stretch, wearing down a stubborn foe right on the wire.

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

Near-black colt made a grand appearance before Jan. 26 allowance race and turned in a solid effort to draw off by 2 3/4 lengths. DI is 4.50, but has an abundance of Elmendorf staying blood in female family. And broodmare sire Polish Navy sired Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero.

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

With Iron Deputy sidelined, he's now the horse to beat in the Whirlaway Stakes. He has a powerful kick and can sustain his move. Gets stronger the farther he goes. Beautifully balanced dosage profile and 1.00 DI.

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

Missed miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel due to snowstorm, and will now go straight into Whirlaway Stakes. Dutrow is only looking for him to gain experience, and is looking forward to running him at longer distances.

14 -- Maybry's Boy/Shug McGaughey; Broad Brush-Aly's Conquest, by Alydar

Being trained like a late-closing sprinter, but he'll stretch out after the Hutcheson. McGaughey wants to do it slowly, so he doesn't take his big closing kick away from him. Two distance races will get him to the Derby the right way if he can duplicate his turn of foot going long.

15 -- Popular/Bob Baffert; Saint Ballado-Western Lady, by Gone West

Baffert training him more like Exploit and Straight Man than a Derby horse. Imagine he'll finally stretch him out after the San Vicente if he runs big. Worth noting he is from the family of English Oaks and Irish Derby winner Balanchine and Alabama winner It's in the Air; his maternal great grandsire is English and Irish Derby winner The Minstrel; and he does have an enticing 1.73 dosage index. But so far, he has been showing speed in his sprints, and will have to harness it if he is to be a factor going long.

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

It's been a bad week for the Ward barn, with the injury to Yvonne Azeff and the retirement of Monarchos. This consistent little colt could give them something to cheer about if continues his winning ways on the front end.

17 -- Flying Free/Carl Nafzger; Fly So Free-Sunblaze, by Alydar

Just a gut feeling after watching him finish third behind High Star in Gulfstream allowance race. With only two career sprints behind him and stretching out from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, he broke dead-last, then made a huge run from eighth while splitting horses to head High Star at the quarter pole. He understandably failed to sustain his run, but gained a great deal of experience. Had to be a good horse to do what he did.

18 -- Fonz's/David LaCroix; Out of Place-Seton's Encounter, by Spring Double

Had first work since Hollywood Futurity, breezing half in :49 3/5 on Saturday. No doubt the talent is there, but he has to show he wants to go long. He does have some solid names in his pedigree. It's just too early to tell. Couldn't match strides with Siphonic in Hollywood Futurity, but was best of the rest. Showed his gameness outdueling Popular in the Prevue.

19 -- Request for Parole/ Steve Margolis; Judge T C-Madison's Quest, by Deputy Minister

He's been right there with Repent and Harlan's Holiday. Only bad race was when he had to check in the Breeders' Futurity and finished fifth. Working sharply at Turfway for his debut in small stakes this weekend.

20 -- Grey Beard/Graham Motion; Unbridled's Song-Danzig Darling, by Danzig

Has improved with the addition of blinkers, scoring gusty victory over the classy Monthir, while running a tick faster than Stephentown. Will step up in Fountain of Youth against much tougher horses, but he has the pedigree, with some heavy hitters on both sides, and is trained by an excellent horseman in Motion.