December 19, 2009

Down and Derby c19

19 weeks until the Kentucky Derby, let the countdown begin!

Zipse at the Track will fill out the Kentucky Derby starting gate with 20 horses, in three categories, to keep your anticipatory eyes on. The Big 8 will include the eight horses I feel the most likely to win come the first Saturday in May. The Hidden Dragons will include the horses laying in wait and ready to breathe fire in the near future, and the Forget Me Nots category will feature those horses that may not be currently on the forefront of anyone’s mind, but are eligible to move there, with one solid race. I will unveil the categories in the coming weeks, and after that, they will form a Top 20 list all the way to the Derby. This week, the…

Big 8

1 Connemara (Giant's Causeway - Satin Sunrise by Mr. Leader)
The half brother of 2004 Derby runner-up, Lion Heart, has yet to test the deep water, but he has all the look and tools of a future superstar. Connemara was left hopelessly at the gate in his debut at Turfway Park and still easily recovered to roll over a field that included a Pletcher stablemate who won his next out at Keeneland. Connemara showed determination in his second race, an allowance win at Santa Anita, while coming off the rail to outfinish a solid field. You could tell he was full of run after the wire of that win, and there appears to be a lot more under the tank of this one. I see big things for him as he moves into stakes company in the near future.

2 Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike - Private Feeling by Belong to Me)
The soon to be two-year-old champion is hard to knock and even harder to keep out of the number one spot. Physically he looks the part and all he does his win stake after stake. All six of his races have been over synthetic surfaces, so the question of how he will handle dirt is still out there and there is a touch of sprint breeding in his pedigree, but being a son of the excellent sire Smart Strike causes me not to worry too much on either account. Lookin at Lucky is the horse all others will compare themselves on the early road to Louisville.

3 Buddy’s Saint (St. Liam - Tuzia by Blushing John)
The ill-fated champion, St. Liam, only sired one crop before his untimely death. How fitting that he has a top-notch horse to make a run at the Derby trail. Buddy’s Saint absolutely whistled in his two stakes wins at Aqueduct, where he will return, in the Spring for the Wood Memorial. In winning the Nashua and Remsen, he dominated with complete authority despite being under wraps. He is a fluid mover and has the look of a horse that will have no trouble getting the Derby distance for conditioner Bruce Levine.

4 Super Saver (Maria’s Mon - Supercharger by A.P. Indy)
WinStar’s first horse on the list, Super Saver is a big strong colt with quality distance breeding throughout his lineage. He has improved with each of his four starts and has quickly trended to near the top of everyone’s juvenile list. The ability to harness his early speed may be his only question mark. Super Saver also has one large advantage over any other potential Derby horse on the list, as he clearly ran the best race by any two-year-old this year at Churchill Downs, in his impressive win in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

5 Piscitelli (Victory Gallop - Rayelle by Relaunch)
With only one win in five starts, you would not expect to see this horse so highly rated, but to me, this is the most likely horse of all to relish the demanding distance of the Derby. In his last race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he finished 4th and beaten less than one length, Piscitelli fought back from the rail and was running great at the end, despite being the early pace setter. His breeding tells me he will appreciate the return to dirt, will handle an off track, and only get better as he develops.

6 Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil - Sexy Stockings by Tabasco Cat)
The King of the Calder juveniles, Jackson Bend showed courage and the ability to overcome, in winning five straight races at the South Florida oval. He has since been turned over to experienced Kentucky Derby winning trainer, Nick Zito, in preparation for a raid on Louisville. His freshman sire was a sprinter, so distance limitations are the one major concern for the very likeable horse. He has experience on the dirt and has already handled good horses, so if he can get 10 furlongs, look out.

7 American Lion (Tiznow - Storm Tide by Storm Cat)
I had a hard time keeping American Lion this far down on the list, with his royal breeding and his regal good looks. Another WinStar runner with a big upside, American Lion transferred his Keeneland form nicely in his first stakes appearance in Southern California. I have no doubt that Tiznow will someday sire a Derby winner and this colt has the potential to be the one, but right now potential is the key word, as he has yet to race farther than a 7 furlong sprint.

8 Winslow Homer (Unbridled’s Song - Summer Raven by Summer Squall)
A win in an allowance race at Philadelphia Park gets him a spot in the Big 8? Yes, when you win the race like Winslow Homer did. The double digit score was as easy as it was impressive, and it came on the heels of a smart score in a maiden race at Saratoga. He has all the looks of many of the recent brilliant Unbridled’s Song runners, such as Eight Belles and Old Fashioned. Obviously we all pray that he will prove more durable. Look for the Tony Dutrow trained gray to move with ease into stakes company in his next start.


The_Knight_Sky said...

Each of the Big 8 horses have the potential. I was surprised to see Connemara at the top because if the objective is The Kentucky Derby then you'd want to see at least one win on a dirt track.

Lookin at Lucky just won The Cashcall Futurity two hours ago with a perfect trip and against a very soft field. He's the leader pro-tempore but when he his show east of the Mississippi it's going to be a whole new ballgame for him.
Caveat emptor.

Happy Holidays to ZATT and his followers at this blog. :-)

Celeste said...

Pretty much agree on the names of the horses, Brian, but I think I might shift the order around a bit. In all honestly, mainly because I did not see Connemara, but I have been impressed with American Lion, Buddy's Saint and Lookin At Lucky at this early stage of the game.

Anonymous said...

ok zipster,your #1 will be a BETTER grasshorse guaranteed or your moneyback the plus factor is the longer the better......your #5will love an off,muddy,sloppy,wet anything with moisture with relaunch on the dam side and should run all day........and do not doubt jacksons ability to get a mile and a matter of fact,hear no evil offsprings will surprise a lot of people when they start performing outstanding around 2turns,remind meto tell you why down the road.......btw did lucky win and how far....need to see this horse on an east coast racetrack sooner than heard me baffert,ie if u want to win the ky derby....good looking 8 brian,i personally like 4 of those

Brian Zipse said...

The lines between dirt/synthetic/turf are becoming grayed like never before gentleman...let us not forget that two of the last four Derby winners were turf horses as 2-year-olds.

Thank you TKS! Happy Holidays to you as well.

Celeste, always a pleasure. Your list of three is a solid bunch.

LDP said...

Who told you about that beautiful allowence winner by Unbridled Song? lol. I don't recognize the first horse on you list, but I'm sure you wouldn't put up a horse that didn't deserve it. LAL just reaffirmed his status again and keeps looking better. He wins like POTN, like he pleases, never going all out. I think he'll take to dirt, synthetic horse going to dirt seem to do better than dirt to synthetics.

Brian Zipse said...


I have followed Winslow Homer since I saw him easily win a maiden at Saratoga over next out winner Stately Victor back in August ;-)

LDP said...

No disrespcet intended Brian, sorry if my last post sounded condecending, that was not how it was meant. Hopefully WH can prove more durable than they other Unbridled Songs have been.