January 9, 2010

Down and Derby c16

The Run for the Roses, Christmas, for any self respecting race fan, is only 16 weeks away!

By now you are all familiar with the plan, Zipse at the Track will fill out the Kentucky Derby starting gate with 20 horses, in three categories, to keep your Kentucky bound 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 be there, with one solid race. I will unveil the categories one at a time to begin, and after that, they will form a Top 20 list all the way to the Derby. This week, the…

Forget Me Nots

1 Bulls and Bears (Holy Bull - Cherokee Canyon by Cherokee Run)
No, I have not forgotten about this Richard Violette trained colt. His two races, a gutsy maiden win over Discreetly Mine at Belmont, and a fast finishing fifth in Saratoga’s Sanford Stakes, both demonstrated qualities I look forward to in a Derby horse. In his maiden win, he overcame the kind of adversity horses will be tested for in the Derby. In the Sanford, he dropped back to last, swung out for the drive, and despite running erratically while looking for space to run, he came home full of run, but just a little late in the blanket finish. The gray son of Holy Bull had some setbacks that kept him from the races since, but looks to have all the tools to make a big splash when he returns to the races.

2 Eskendereya (Giant’s Causeway - Aldebaran Light by Seattle Slew)
One of the Pletcher brigade, Eskendereya has excelled in his two dirt races after beginning his career on the turf. The Breeders Cup Juvenile appears to be a throw out race for the regally bred colt, as he was bothered significantly on a roughly run first turn. Back on dirt, he made most of a good ride on the pace, to easily handle a strong allowance field at Gulfstream Park. The win puts him on track to be a major player in the South Florida preps and further improvement could move the youngster, who is now two for two on dirt, even higher on my Derby chart.

3 Eightyfiveinafifty (Forest Camp - Lifeinthefastlane by Unbridled‘s Song)
The aptly named son of Forest Camp is speeding his way right into everyone’s must watch list. The Derby distance will be a big question mark, but this horse has oodles of ability. He has only two races so far, the first of which was in one of the key maiden races of 2009. He battled through fast fractions and tired late in a stakes quality field (Dublin won the Hopeful in his next start after winning this one) to finish 3rd. After time off from sore shins and a hock issue, he returned today and won a maiden at Aqueduct by 17 lengths. Now it is a question of stretching this talented horse out around two turns, but 2010 is off to a great start for the Gary Contessa trained colt.

4 Noble’s Promise (Cuvee - The Devil’s Trick by Clever Trick)
Why is this horse not much higher on my Derby list? Two reasons: breeding and dirt. He clearly was an excellent juvenile, arguably the second best in the country. He ran six races and each one was top-notch, and because of this obvious quality, he earned a place on my list. The problem is he is a colt who has never raced on dirt, and while some horses can make the transition to dirt seamlessly, he has the added negative of breeding that screams sprint. The day a son of Cuvee wins the Derby is the day I stop writing this column. I believe this one may continue to do well until the distance gets to nine or farther. He very well may make it to the Derby starting gate, but that is as far as he will go.

5 Thiskyhasnolimit (Sky Mesa - Lovely Regina by Deputy Minister)
There is much to like about this Steve Asmussen trained colt, but he went from major player to forgotten horse with one questionable performance. His last race saw him finish a well beaten sixth in the Kentucky Jockey Club, but being too far off of Super Saver’s pace and then running into heavy traffic left him with no chance. Before that, the beautifully bred son of Sky Mesa ran a big race to win the Iroquois Stakes, his second win over the Churchill strip. Once he learns how to put his talent towards consistent running, he will become a major player once again. The Asmussen stable still likes him and so do I.

6 Pulsion (Include - Spring by Stravinsky)
One of my longshot selections for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he limped across the finish line a well beaten 11th. After the race he came back a little worse for the wear from being banged around hard on the first turn. Fully recovered, the distance bred son of Include is now back on the work tab at Gulfstream Park, in preparation to test the waters on dirt for the first time. Before the rough BC, Pulsion had been a horse on the improve, culminating with a fast closing finish to nab 2nd in Lookin at Lucky’s Norfolk. This is a horse who may appreciate dirt and the added distances that are ahead of him.

On a sad note, I would like to pass on my condolences to the connections of Clutch Player. One of my Hidden Dragons, Clutch Player, owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert, died on Monday after a short battle with a form of pneumonia. Clutch Player was a horse with limitless potential, and I can not imagine the sorrow felt by the people closest to him. He was sadly replaced on my Hidden Dragon list by Hawaiian Springs.

Next week the First Top 20

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

bulls and bears also pulsion are two live candidates with any kind of forward movement in their next respective races,i am in agreement with your observation that dirt will only serve pulsion for the better and bulls and bears is a very good racehorse who will materialize sooner than later....love these two very much zipster maybe they should be in your top ten......

LDP said...

Lovely list Brian. I do happen to like Noble's Promise, and even if a son of Cuvee does win the Derby, please don't stop writing, it would be such a huge waste of talent! I remember Bulls and Bears, and have wondered why he never returned after his Sanford run. Many of these are really good horses that could pop up at any given time. This year is looking like a good one for the three year olds.

Also, what was your take on Discreetly Mine's flop yesterday? was it the sprinting, the mud, what? Also, what did you think of Cuvee Uncorked's performance? I had done some research and she had only one work in a month leading up to the race, that was on 12/30. Another negative was that I never saw any recorded works over Laurel, when many in the field, including both top two finishers had experience over the track. I think she needed the race to get her back in the swing of running and as a tester over the track. I thought she hung on well after pressing the pace the way she did. She tried to fight, just ran out of gas at the end, I think. What was your take?

Brian Zipse said...

It was a tough return race for Disceetly Mine to be sure. He could rebound next out, but in my opinion they need to stretch him out. Enough of the one turn races for a horse with that breeding.

As far as your favorite, Cuvee Uncorked, I thought it was the worst race of her life...she had been so consistent up until yesterday. Possibly the track, or the drop back down in distance, or the ride, but I was disappointed. Hopefully that was not the real Cuvee Uncorked, and she will run much better in the future. By the way, I have nothing against Cuvee as a sire...just don't like him as a distance sire.

Jennifer Cook said...

Novice alert, slightly off topic: I keep meaning to ask you about your thoughts about Lookin' at Lucky's potential if he doesn't try dirt before the derby.

Brian Zipse said...

Jennifer, you are quickly becoming a non-novice! Lookin at Lucky has much to suggest he will be ready for the Derby dirt, including breeding, running style, and an experienced Derby winning trainer. I believe this will be a year where Baffert sends his top prospect out of town for at least one prep on the dirt, meaning that Lookin at Lucky will be even more prepared for the Derby assignment. He deserves to be the early favorite.

LDP said...

I never thought you were against Cuvee as a sire, I wasn't intending to imply that at all. I do think she ran like that for a reason Brian. As I said, she had only one official work at DE park since 11/21, which was on 12/30 at DE park going 4 furlongs. It puzzled me as to why a trainer would not prep his horse with a work over the surface they would be running over, and only give one work to his horse before a Stakes. I think she will rebound if she gets some more works over the track.

Alex said...

Agree big time on Thiskyhasnolimit who had the toughest trips in the KJC, and form validated by the bang up secound ran by Uh Oh Bango in the Delta Jackpot. And, although I agree with your take on the Cuvee distance scenario I believe that Noble's Promise should handle dirt, and has shown more stalking ability which should help him in the usually hot pace scenarios from the Derby preps. Tiz Chrome could very well be as the next Baffert star, 2 very impressive races. What are your thoughts on him stretching out? he does have Tiznow on top.

trackman said...

A comment on THISSKYHASNOLIMIT.....he came out of the Kentucky Jockey Club with a bone chip(might explain the poor showing), therefore he isnt a Kentucky Derby contender any longer. Upon his return he should be added to any "horse to watch list"....trackman...

Brian Zipse said...

Thank your Trackman, this news had gotten by me. I will alter my Derby list accordingly.

SaratogaSpa said...

I caught eightyfiveinafifty's romp yesterday at the Big A. I immediately wondered if this horse would be pointed to the Derby. Your comments give me hope that this is indeed a strong possibility.