Haskin's Road to the Derby (Cont.)

A Triple Shot of Shug
Trainer Shug McGaughey is holding a hot hand with Remsen winner Saarland; Maybry's Boy, winner of the Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III); and D' Coach, second in the Count Fleet Stakes. The regally bred Saarland, a magnificent specimen who is being pointed for the Wood Memorial (gr. I), could be any kind if his mind catches up to his body. But Nokoma's thrashing in the Holy Bull and the slow time of the Remsen brings that race under question. McGaughey still seems to need convincing that the stretch-running Maybry's Boy wants a distance of ground. "My gut feeling is to keep him sprinting for now," McGaughey said. "If I ran him long now it might take a little of the kick out of him. After the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II), we'll start looking at longer distances."

The sleeper of this trio is D' Coach. The son of Dehere has a devastating turn of foot and we love the way he levels off, dropping his head and shoulders. He'll ship to Florida after the Whirlaway.

Other stables with multiple Derby contenders include the Godolphin gang, who has a slew of 3-year-olds, such as Norfolk (gr. II) winner Essence of Dubai, Ibn Al Haitham, King's Consul, Janadel, Dubai Tiger, Sunray Spirit, and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Tempera.

One trainer who has been sending out exciting colts recently is Elliott Walden. In addition to Speed Hunter, he has Axis, a son of Saint Ballado who has won his last two in brilliant fashion. Both colts, however, still have to stretch out to two turns before we really know what's there. Another Walden colt to watch is Quest Star, a Broad Brush colt who showed good acceleration breaking his maiden going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream.

Steve Asmussen always seems to send out live horses. In the Jan. 26 LeComte at Fair Grounds he will saddle a hot prospect in Easyfromthegitgo, a son of Dehere, out of an Easy Goer mare, who is coming off two brilliant victories, the last a 5 1/2-length drubbing of Claiborne's promising colt Robe. Asmussen also thinks highly of Private Emblem, winner of the Black Gold Handicap on the grass. The son of Our Emblem will skip the LeComte and point for the Risen Star or the Southwest at Oaklawn. The Asmussens sold their maiden winner Stormy Forever, who was beaten a head by Hawk's Top Gun in a Santa Anita allowance race for his new owner.

Bill Mott could have a say in this year's Derby picture with the undefeated Blue Burner, a two-turn allowance winner at Gulfstream, and Nashua (gr. III) winner Listen Here, who points for the Swale Stakes (gr. II) after a disappointing effort in the Remsen. Dallas Stewart has two promising colts at Fair Grounds in Yoga and recent allowance winner Bob's Image.

The Next Wave
This is the time of year when you're always looking for live late bloomers and horses who have not yet reached the public's consciousness. This year, we're loaded with them. One monster from Canada looking to make his mark in the U.S. is Changeintheweather, and Canadian or no Canadian, there is a lot we like about this colt. He has demolished his opponents--from on the lead and off the pace--in his last two starts, including a romp in the Grey Breeders' Cup (Can-I). But it is his pedigree we find most appealing. A son of Gone West (sire of Belmont winner Commendable), his maternal great-grandsires are His Majesty and Stage Door Johnny, who in our mind are the two most important classic/stamina influences in America.

"We've always liked this colt," trainer Dave Bell said. "He's put on weight, filled out, and really grown up over the winter. We hope to find an allowance race for him, then the Fountain of Youth."

No horse or performance has inspired more superlatives than Stephentown's 1 1/16-mile allowance victory at Gulfstream Jan. 9, in which he exploded between horses to defeat a classy field by five lengths. "This has always been a special horse from the first day I saw him in Ocala," trainer Tony Reinstedler said. "He has all the traits you look for in a classic horse. He has a ton of ability and has dazzled me time and time again in the morning. He has so much raw talent and absolutely no bad habits. He's certainly as talented a horse as I've ever had."

Jimmy Jerkens has a versatile and talented colt in Count Fleet winner Iron Deputy, who looks to have a bright future. Another colt who has made a big impression is Saratoga Blues, a son of Twining who is undefeated in his two career starts. Coming off an 11 3/4-length maiden score at Laurel for trainer Tony Dutrow, he journeyed to Aqueduct and drew off to an impressive victory over Robins Beauty, who was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Remsen.

We've only scratched the surface. There still are many more promising colts (and fillies) to mention, and we'll discuss them in the upcoming weeks at http://www.bloodhorse.com.