January 23, 2010

Down and Derby c14

Less than 100 days to go until Derby Delirium. The Derby trail officially began in earnest today with the LeComte at the Fair Grounds and the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, where no less than four of the participants appear in the top half of this week’s Down and Derby Top 20. Take Control, son of Azeri, is off the trail with sore shins. And away we go…

The Top 20

1 Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike - Private Feeling by Belong to Me)
The freshly crowned juvenile champ showed off his fitness with a sharp five furlong work last week. There is not much to dislike about this one and should maintain his top spot indefinitely. Breeding and connections should serve him well in May.

2 Buddy’s Saint (St. Liam - Tuzia by Blushing John)
The Fountain of Youth should be next for the dazzling winner of Aqueduct’s Nashua and Remsen. He will get his first major test for class in South Florida and I expect him to pass with flying colors. He has been working well for his return.

3 Super Saver (Maria’s Mon - Supercharger by A.P. Indy)
One of many for both WinStar and Todd Pletcher, he finished 2009 with a bang by waltzing home in Churchill Downs’ biggest race for juveniles. He has not yet returned to the worktab, so expect him to get no more than two preps leading to Louisville.

4 American Lion (Tiznow - Storm Tide by Storm Cat)
All reports from California say this one is looking better by the day. An excellent six furlong workout last week has him primed for a return. Look for that return to happen in the Robert B. Lewis, where he should be strictly the one to beat.

5 William’s Kitten (Kitten’s Joy - Blush by Menifee)
This confirmed stretch runner seems to be screaming out for more distance. He now has run several good races against quality competition and there is not a reason in the world to think he will not continue to improve and only get tougher as the races get longer.

6 Winslow Homer (Unbridled’s Song - Summer Raven by Summer Squall)
The long legged gray looked good as he got through on the rail to beat a solid field in the Holy Bull. He now has validated his form against cheaper and has shown he can run with the big boys. The future looks bright for the Anthony Dutrow trained colt.

7 Ron the Greek (Full Mandate - Flambé by Fortunate Prospect)
This year’s Silky Sullivan bursts on to this list with a very impressive near last to first run in the Fair Grounds’ stretch. Only having run at smaller tracks in his first three races left me wondering about his class, but no more. This powerfully built bay could love the longer races ahead.

8 Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil - Sexy Stockings by Tabasco Cat)
The Calder sensation proved his class with a fine effort in the Holy Bull stakes. He could not get by Winslow Homer late, but was not pushed too hard in his return to the races. He should be more fit for his next effort, although distance is still a question.

9 Dryfly (Jump Start - Creeksider by Topsider)
The Lynn Whiting trained gelding got his first class test in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on Monday. The win was very easy, as Borel never needed to ask him for his full effort. The races will get progressively tougher, but I expect him to do well in the Arkansas path to the Derby.

10 Uptowncharlybrown (Limehouse - La Ilimunada by Langfuhr)
Two wins at Tampa gets him in the Top 10? Yes, when you win the races as impressively as this colt has. This attractive chestnut could be the answer to his ownership team of Fantasy Lane Stables’ wildest Derby fantasies. Look for him to continue to dominate on Florida’s West Coast.

11 Tiz Chrome (Tiznow - Woodland Shadow by Woodman)
He has the breeding to go long, the talent to win a major stakes soon and the looks to dazzle. Purchased after his maiden win at Churchill, the Baffert colt can quickly climb this list as soon as he tries two turns. His series of workouts are impressive.

12 Connemara (Giant's Causeway - Satin Sunrise by Mr. Leader)
Call me stubborn, but I am not ready to give up on this well bred and super looking colt. Jockey Russell Baze felt the colt had a lot of untapped running in his disappointing second place finish in the California Derby. I hope that is true, because he will need major improvement to be a threat in Kentucky.

13 Awesome Act (Awesome Again - Houdini‘s Honey by Mr. Prospector)
I am taking a bit of a flyer here, as this horse has never run on dirt and is based in England, but I love the way he finished in the BC Juvenile Turf. I am also high on him because his breeding suggests dirt will be his surface.

14 Eightyfiveinafifty (Forest Camp - Lifeinthefastlane by Unbridled‘s Song)
The star of the Winter track has Aqueduct buzzing and his recent fast workout created more noise. So far the Gary Contessa colt has only had two 6 furlong races, but they were very impressive. If he can stretch his talent to routes, look out.

15 Rule (Roman Ruler - Rockcide by Personal Flag)
A lot to like here for the good looking, well bred, Pletcher trainee. His wins at Delta Downs give him the black type and the earnings to proceed with high hopes, but he will need to pass bigger tests to move up on my list.

16 Hawaiian Springs (Stephen Got Even - Sarasota by Luhuk)
This one was a hard charging second in a tough recent allowance at Santa Anita and has the look and breeding of a horse who should develop. His strong stretch run should suit him well as the races get longer.

17 Eskendereya (Giant’s Causeway - Aldebaran Light by Seattle Slew)
He got off to a quick start to 2010 with a sharp win in an allowance at Gulfstream Park last week. Not currently my favorite of the Pletcher stable, the well bred colt has every right to improve into a top horse.

18 Bulls and Bears (Holy Bull - Cherokee Canyon by Cherokee Run)
My favorite juvenile of the 2009 Saratoga meet, has just returned to the work tab and will have to hustle to be ready for the Derby. I have little doubt of this one’s talent and hopefully Rick Violette can get him there.

19 Noble’s Promise (Cuvee - The Devil’s Trick by Clever Trick)
This colt is likeable, consistent, and classy and therefore has cracked my top 20, but he is one whom I can’t see relishing the Derby distance. He has not returned to the track for workouts yet, so it will be a little while before his sophomore debut.

20 Conveyance (Indian Charlie - Emptythetill by Holy Bull)
Another of the Baffert contingent, this colt did what he had to do to win the San Rafael without too much trouble. Improvement will be needed though if he is to have a chance against better horses at longer distances.

In addition to the now world famous Down and Derby, I would like to direct you to another Derby list with plenty of merit. Steve Munday from WirePlayers.com has assembled ten experts, including yours truly, to collaborate on a Derby Dozen. Steve will have our consensus up and running every other Tuesday evening. Check out the first ever Derby Dozen now: http://wireplayers.com/blog/1450-derby-dozen-poll-volume-1.html


Anonymous said...

ok zipster i hpe you are recording dialogue for accuracy and for posterity.....100days out ambitious top 20....connemarra will be an awesome turf horse....lucky looking best yet...winslow has so much scope for improvement its scary he has not learned to run yet,80lbs of muscle by april could man triple crowning....connections know they have something very special,just keeping a low profile and let the colt do the talking is thir game plan........and AWESOME ACT......has some shades of cigar could be anything.......could be a champion dirt horse...so i like # 1.....# 6......# 13

mvlach77 said...

The big thing for Lucky will be the shift to dirt tracks. He seems the class horse so far but I need to see him on dirt to get really excited.

CJ said...

Nice race by Winslow Homer today, and I used to pick grays for the pure romance of it, but I won't be pinning my heart on another Unbridled any time soon.

I'm sorry that Take Control is out. Loved his maiden win. I was reminded of the zigzag running of Nobiz Like Showbiz early in his 3yo year. You start mentally straightening out their erratic trip down the stretch and imagining great things if only they could get their noses pointed the right way.

Lentenor looked good this week, too, and they've been convinced all along that he likes a distance. If he's not ready in May, perhaps we'll hear from him in the Belmont?

What do you make of the Christine Daae buzz, btw? Of course it's too early to think Derby with her, but...

Brian Zipse said...

Careful CJ, there is a big difference between Unbridled and Unbridled's Song.

Christine Daae looked fabulous last week, but I can not imagine the Derby is where she will end up...she is definitely on my Oaks watch though.

LDP said...

I am not in favor of RtG. I think he took advantage of the fast pace. I also noticed he came up in the middle of the track, where the gritty runner-up could not see him until he was already by. No horse that MR could see, meaning they tried to eye ball him, got past. Twice in the stretch two horses tried that and it didn't happen. I think by the RtG came on MR was alreay a bit weary from setting the pace and fighting off two challengers. Winslow and JB looked fantastic. I was very impressed with those two.

arazi said...

Great list! Ron the Greek was huge today and foiled my choice, Maximus Ruler.

I think you're right on with Uptowncharlybrown. Two good races and merits respect!

cigar said...

Not sure about the overall quality of the crop, so that should make for an exciting spring of 'who beats who?' Great list!

Brian Zipse said...

Too early to tell Cigar, you may be right, this crop may not be overly strong, but let's give it some time. The good news is the older horses this year look great.

CJ said...

And... Winslow Homer is sidelined. Sadly not surprised.