Steve Haskin

Steve Haskin

Anne M. Eberhardt

Haskin's Derby Top 20 (April 2): A P Valentine Still on Top

Steve Haskin, the award-winning turf writer and senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse, updates his top Kentucky Derby contenders weekly. During his 29 years with the Daily Racing Form, Haskin became known for his insightful coverage of the Triple Crown races. Haskin won the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby writing in 1997, 1999, and 2000.and received the David Woods Award for best Preakness story in 1997. In 1999, he co-authored "Baffert: Dirt Road to the Derby" with trainer Bob Baffert and wrote the book, "Dr. Fager" for Eclipse Press' "Thoroughbred Legends" series in 2000.

Ranked in preference order, with horse/ trainer/breeding

Click on horse's name to access Contender Page

1 -- A P Valentine/ Nick Zito/A.P. Indy-Twenty Eight Carat, by Alydar

Breezed easy 5 furlongs in 1:02 2/5 at Hialeah Monday, then shipped to Keeneland. It wasn't the fast time of his victory as much as the ease with which he did it that was impressive. This is not a late-developing newcomer that has to prove his class. He just needs to move forward in Blue Grass.

2 -- Monarchos/John Ward/Maria's Mon-Regal Band, by Dixieland Band

Breezed easy 5 furlongs in 1:02 2/5, and galloped out very strong. When a horse runs as huge as he did in his stakes debut, it's difficult to predict what he'll do next time out. You don't want him peaking too soon, but we don't know what his peak is. Could be something special.

3---Point Given/Bob Baffert/Thunder Gulch-Turko's Turn, by Turkoman

Bounced back from San Felipe with sharp half-mile breeze in :47 1/5. Will be odds-on in Santa Anita Derby and deserves it. Massive frame and huge stride combined with quick turn of foot makes him a standout.

4 -- Street Cry/Saeed bin Suroor/Machiavellian-Helen Street, by Troy

He may have appeared to hang in previous races, but the Derby is a different ballgame. Always expect the unexpected. The boy is ready to turn into a man, and with his talent and consistency, he'll be tough.

5 -- Hero's Tribute/John Ward/Sea Hero -- Eastern Dawn, by Damascus

Turned in a bullet 5-furlong breeze in 1:01 1/5 in the mud. If he can add professionalism to his brilliance and classic pedigree in Blue Grass Stakes, then he'll have all the tools needed to win the Derby.

6 -- Dollar Bill/Dallas Stewart/Peaks and Valleys-Saratoga Game, by Saratoga Six

With his new Website, and his uncanny writing ability, he'll be one of the most popular horses in Derby. Most important thing now is to have clear sailing in Blue Grass. Breezed 6f in 1:15 3/5 in mud.

7 -- Ommadon/Tom Walsh/Grindstone-Missymooiloveyou, by Turkoman

We've been waiting to see if he could get a race in before Wood and whether he'd settle behind horses. Now that he's accomplished both, he must be considered a major player. Powerhouse with a long, fluid stride.

8 -- Invisible Ink/Todd Pletcher/Thunder Gulch-Conquistress, by Conquistador Cielo

Breezed a solid 5 furlongs in 1:01 at Hialeah. Will be a good price in Blue Grass and only needs to hit the board to be ready to move on to the big one. Good tactical speed, and showed he can handle heavy traffic.

9 -- Congaree/Bob Baffert/Arazi-Mari's Sheba, by Mari's Book

Turned in eye-catching 5-furlong breeze in :59. Easy to get suckered into liking these phenom-types with little experience, but this colt looked so impressive in his last start, he could be something extraordinary. Has star quality written all over him. Wood will tell.

10 -- Millennium Wind/Dave Hofmans/Cryptoclearance-Bali Babe, by Drone

Super 7-furlong work in 1:24 3/5 at Hollywood. He's the one real dilemma. Has the looks and the talent, not to mention pedigree. But what to make of fungal infection and losing McCarron, who seemed committed to him, but is riding Bienamado in San Juan Capistrano instead. Also making his second cross-country trip in just over a month.

Continued. . . .