February 21, 2010

Down and Derby c10

All of a sudden the Derby Trail just got a whole lot downer and derbier with several important preps being run yesterday. The theme of the day was Mr. Todd Pletcher, who scored with three Derby prep wins, topped by a scintillating score by Eskendereya. All of yesterday’s preps, and a non winner of one allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs, went a long way in rattling the cage of ZATT’s master list. I can’t wait for more days like yesterday.

The Top 20

1 Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike - Private Feeling by Belong to Me)
Still waiting…It looks like the juvenile champ will return March 13 for the San Felipe Stakes, and he better be ready, because a California bred gelding named Caracortado certainly will be. Let’s see, who is a good trainer to have his horses ready to roll? Yes, I am talking about that Silver-haired devil.

2 Eskendereya (Giant’s Causeway - Aldebaran Light by Seattle Slew)
Took things to a new and impressive level in yesterday’s Fountain of Youth. The race set up beautifully for him and he clearly appreciates the Gulfstream Park strip, but he now has run the best race by anyone on the Derby trail and pointed himself out as one of the major players.

3 Super Saver (Maria’s Mon - Supercharger by A.P. Indy)
Part of the Pletcher brigade, he finished his juvenile campaign in style by waltzing home in Churchill Downs’ biggest race for juveniles ridden by Calvin Borel. The distance bred colt is now working well in Florida and should be set for a return in early March, in either the Gotham or the Rebel.

4 Caracortado (Cat Dreams - Mons Venus by Maria’s Mon)
All he does is win. I do not care where this horse came from, after last week’s performance, I have no doubt that this undefeated Michael Machowsky is the real deal. I can’t wait to see what he does next, because we have a major story brewing here. A meeting with Lookin at Lucky will be very interesting.

5 Connemara (Giant's Causeway - Satin Sunrise by Mr. Leader)
Yesterday’s redemption in the El Camino Real Derby carries on my faith in this attractive colt. I expect continued improvement with development, as he still shows flashes of greenness. Distance should not be a problem and look for him to get a stern class test next in the Santa Anita Derby.

6 Dublin (Afleet Alex - Classy Mirage by Storm Bird)
Maybe D. Wayne was right about this powerful colt all along. The throat surgery certainly has seemed to turn him around towards the right direction. His rally for a strong second in the Southwest was even better than it looks on paper, considering the track condition. Distance will be a bit of a question, but he looks strong.

7 Rule (Roman Ruler - Rockcide by Personal Flag)
I admit it, I was slow to come around on this speedy son of Roman Ruler, but one thing has become evident for me…this horse has more gears to go to when the real running begins. I thought his performance last week in winning at the Sam F. Davis was plenty good enough to move up into my Top 10.

8 Odysseus (Malibu Moon - Persimmon Hill by Conquistador Cielo)
This horse has the breeding, looks, and stride of a future Kentucky Derby contender. His win in a Tampa Bay allowance was electrifying, but also against inferior horses. I think he is the real deal, but until he gets tested, you just don’t know. The Tampa Bay Derby will provide that test

9 Dave in Dixie (Dixie Union - Risk by Wavering Monarch)
Well regarded since his impressive debut win last August, the John Sadler trainee returned with a fast finishing second in last week’s Robert B. Lewis. Further improvement off only his third lifetime start, and this colt will become a big threat in ten weeks. Looks to take on Lucky and Caracortado next.

10 Buddy’s Saint (St. Liam - Tuzia by Blushing John)
Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong in his sophomore debut yesterday. The nightmare on the first turn left him with no chance to beat the winner, but Buddy showed little the rest of the way. A Derby winner needs to overcome some hardship. Let’s see if this talented colt can rebound next time.

11 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. He is headed to New York to make another assault on the U.S. beginning with the Gotham and remember, his breeding suggests dirt will be his surface.

12 Ron the Greek (Full Mandate - Flambé by Fortunate Prospect)
At first glance, his sixth place finish in yesterday’s Risen Star would seem to be a big disappointment, but when you consider that he was coming from last again in a paceless race it looks a whole lot better. He ran widest of all and was making up ground the entire stretch to be beaten just more than 4 lengths. He shouldn’t run into a pace like that again anytime soon.

13 Conveyance (Indian Charlie - Emptythetill by Holy Bull)
I have been taught to always respect the undefeated horse and he is a two-time stakes winner this year, but I can’t get past the feeling that he will start losing as the races become longer, and the final quarter time yesterday did nothing to convince me otherwise. Conveyance will get a chance to prove me right or wrong in the very near future.

14 Uptowncharlybrown (Limehouse - La Ilimunada by Langfuhr)
The Fantasy Lane Stable hope lost a bit of luster and his undefeated record by finishing third last week, but I liked the way he galloped out after Davis. The race, his first around two turns, should do him some good, and sets him up well for a return in the Tampa Bay Derby, which is setting up as a key race.

15 Schoolyard Dreams (Stephen Got Even - Hear This by Prospector‘s Music)
From the same trainer, Derek Ryan, that brought us Musket Man last year, this is a colt who appears to be developing each and every week. His Davis second was a solid effort, and he will return to the same strip to be one of the major players in the Tampa Bay Derby. I like his potential to handle 10 furlongs better than many of the others.

16 Drosselmeyer (Distorted Humor - Golden Ballet by Moscow Ballet)
Stuck on the rail with the same slow pace that Ron the Greek faced, Drosselmeyer is definitely a horse that deserves another shot. It was his first real test and the result was good enough to think that a little improvement in his next race will get him right back on the Derby radar.

17 Noble’s Promise (Cuvee - The Devil’s Trick by Clever Trick)
Full of class, last year’s excellent juvenile is working sharply for his return to the races. No races yet this year, a lack of dirt form, and breeding much more suited for sprinting keep him near the bottom of my Top 20. Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes should be his first race of 2010.

18 American Lion (Tiznow - Storm Tide by Storm Cat)
His third place finish in the Robert B. Lewis was a disappointment, and I am not really sure that he can improve enough off that effort to be a Derby winner. I will keep him on this list, because I still think there is potential, but he will need to show major improvement in his next race which may happen in New Mexico.

19 Nextdoorneighbor (Lido Palace - Fencelineneighbor by Wild Rush)
I loved his maiden win at Santa Anita when stretched out for the first time. He has been absolutely tearing up the track in his morning workouts and could be quickly moving up this list. Look for him in next week’s Sham Stakes where he should be the one to beat.

T-20 Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil - Sexy Stockings by Tabasco Cat)
A hard knocking and classy horse to be sure, but I believe his distance limitations were pointed out in spades yesterday. At this point, it is hard to imagine that he will be one of the horses appreciating the 1 ¼ test of the Kentucky Derby. I think he can make mucho money at nine furlongs or less.

T-20 Sidney’s Candy (Candy Ride - Fair Exchange by Storm Cat)
An impressive bounce back for the Jenny Craig colt in running away with the San Vicente Stakes. He has run four races to date and they all have been sprints so far, because of this, I am going to keep him low on my list with a wait and see attitude. He will get a chance to stretch out a bit with a trip east for the Gotham.


ja.raymond said...

I sure hope Dross can do another win; I'd like to see him further up on your list. 'Course, that's just me..I've always loved Mott :)

Brian Zipse said...

As far as we are from the Derby, and as young as these horses are it is a very fluid list...so Drosselmeyer is far from forgotten. I look for him to rebound nicely in his next start.

Jen W. said...

Brian, I LOVE the fact that you have Charly on here! LOL! You're the BEST! I want to see him up against Odysseus...that's going to be a race! By the way, Charly is LOVING his blinkers...HEHE!

I'm surprised that you did not add Discreetly Mine. I LIKE the way this horse moves. He held off the field, then looked like he had more in the tank at the end. I don't think this field would have caught him. I think he can go further as well. I'm not so sure about Ron the Greek. I wasn't too impressed with his run yesterday, but we'll see! ;-)

Poor Buddy's Saint! I was SO looking forward to seeing him run, too! He's still on my top ten as well! I LOVE Eskenderea...tough horse! ;-)

LDP said...

Overall I like your list, but, I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be rude, but I think at one point you contradicted yourself. You say, when talkin about Buddy's Saint that horses need to overcome hardship, which I find is true, but it is not the norm that a horse gets bounce around like a ping pong ball like that. Then you go to RtG and give him the benefit of the doubt because he had a slow pace and was wide. People said the same things about MTB, basiclly that he was always running into something after the Derby, which is true, he was, but closers are at the mercy of what happens in front of them. However it remains that he had the entire length of that stretch to run by his rivals, on a track that was playing to horses that came off the pace, and yet he didn't. I like the colt and would love him in the Derby, becuase of the stretch and the likely, hot pace, but I would not play him to win.

Also, you ignored me once when I said Discreetly Mine would win, and now you ignore me again. True he dissapointed at seven furlongs, but once extende he won. Yes he had an easy lead, but I will point out that he was the one horse I saw go wire to wire in a stakes yesterday. Jody Slew and Stonehouse came from off the pace. Not to mention his final sixteen was only .02 slower than what was recorded in the Mineshaft. He too is one of the improving Pletchers. It might be a mistake to let him go.

Sorry to ramble for so long, but as I said earlier this was not an attempt to be rude, just stating my opinion

Brian Zipse said...

Jen, I am really looking forward to the Tampa Bay Derby...Charly, Odysseus, and Schoolyard. It should be a lot of fun. Good luck!

LDP, The Derby is almost always a roughly run race (like Buddy encountered today), and it is NEVER a race with a 1:13 and change 6 furlong time. Also, four dirt races were wired yesterday at the Fair Grounds, so your statement makes almost no sense. Jody Slew rallied when the fillies ran 2 seconds faster for six furlongs and still their final time was a full second slower than the Risen Star. For Ron to make up seven lengths off that kind of pace while running widest was a solid effort. I know a lot of people will be off Ron, which is just fine with me. This is a list of horses who have the best chance to win the Derby, and I give Ron the Greek a much better chance to do that than Discreetly Mine.

LDP said...

RtG may get the pace he needs in the Derby, which is why I would take him in the top five, maybe even top three, but he will get an even rougher trip than he got yesterday. Also, remember I said, from the races I veiwed yesterday, none were wired. I saw Stonehouse come off the pace and Jody Slew. As I also stated you seem, at least this is the impression I got from your writing, I could be mistaken, but it seems that you are willing to give Ron more slack than you are Buddy, who had not just a bad trip but a horrible trip. RtG had the LeComte already, Buddy's Saint was making his debut. My point is it doesn't seem fair to give one horse an excuse an not the other. Again, that is just how I read your post, this is not written in an attempt to create an friction.

Brian Zipse said...

LDP, Clearly I gave Buddy a benefit of the doubt for yesterday, as he finished 9th in the Fountain of the Youth and I still had a place for him in the top ten. Is there any horse who has near as big an excuse yesterday that Buddy's Saint had, absolutely not. As for Ron, if he gets a 1:13 in the Derby, he will not have a chance. I do not think that will happen though.

Jennifer Cook said...

I know next to nothing (proven by my lack of winnings at Oaklawn on Saturday!) but I thought Conveyance looked really great in the Southwest. It's tough to win leading wire-to-wire, as far as I understand. Now I know, the objective right now is to guess which of these horses can peak in May - so everyone's trying to examine these races to figure how they'll do moving forward. Dublin's blastoff was no doubt impressive, but I thought Conveyance was showing promise too. I wasn't surprised Dryfly "just didn't fire" as Calvin said in the paper this morning. Pleasant Storm, who I thought looked to be improving in the Smarty Jones? Well, he finished ahead of Dryfly! lol. I'm about to read my Handicapping for Dummies book again.

LDP said...

I'm not saying you didn't give Buddy the benefit of the doubt, but it seemed like you gave him a harsh critism than you did Ron. Your clip for Buddy, to me sounded like the only reason he was still there was because of his two previous races, and that he should've been able to bounce back, even after all that went wrong. In Ron's clip you sounded brighter and more hopeful.

Normally a horse with a bad trip doesn't win the Derby. BB was wide in 08, but other than that nothing went wrong. Last year MTB had a dream trip. In 07 SS had that same rail trip. So from the trend I'm seeing it is the horses who stay out of trouble who win, not the horses who try and overcome it.

I don't know where your getting that I'm thinking the Derby in 1.13, I don't, just to be clear. I think Ron will get that pace but an even worse trip than he saw in the Risen Star, which probably means he gets up for fifth or sixth. I have no doubt the pace in the Derby will be a very good one, especially with horses like Conveyance, Dryfly, Jackson Bend, Tempted to Tapit (I hate that name), and many other pace horses.

Brian Zipse said...

Pace makes the race my dear LDP.

LDP said...

Oh, if there is one thing that irks me to no end it is calling me dear. I am so not that in personality, dear makes me feel like a polite opinionless person who always does what they are told. Soooo not me by any means, lol. But yes pace does make a race.

wickedstyle said...

Enjoyed the read - I was somewhat surprised to see you put Eskendereya at #2, not that I disagree after the FOY, but it still surprised me. No Vale of York? Just a Cali fluke? And also no love for Discreetly Mine?

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you Wickedstyle. If I had made a list of the Top 20 three-year-olds, you most likely would have seen Vale of York and Discreetly Mine included, but right now I just do not consider them to be among the 20 most likely to be draped in roses on May 1.

Anonymous said...


Brian Zipse said...

Well 6 out of 20 is not bad! LOL I look forward to Connemara on dirt and turf...should be a horse for all courses. Most importantly, I look for him to mature.

LDP said...

Brian, just to avoid any confusion the Anon that signed off as "Horsin Around" is not me. Just wanted to avoid any confusion, since that happens to be the name of my blog and some people use the name of their blog to identify themselves.

Anonymous said...


Brian Zipse said...

So Fla!!!

C T Coleman said...

jackson bend nees to shorten up but im not sure he can sprint with D'Funnybone Dutrow called him minny benny the bull JB is prob a good 2 turn mile 9 fl specialist got a feeling he will run in the contental mile at mommouth.