February 13, 2010

Down and Derby c11

The real running has begun and accordingly there have been some major moves up and down the big list. Especially impressive was a Cal bred gelding who began his career in a maiden claimer at Fairplex Park. It just goes to show, an excellent horse can come from anywhere. Without further adieu, ZATT gets Down and Derby…

The Top 20

1 Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike - Private Feeling by Belong to Me)
Eagerly awaiting the return of the juvenile champion, and with a brief hole in his training, we will continue to wait. He is back on track and still should have two solid preps before the big one. I will say it again…a dirt race would be nice, but nonetheless he retains the top spot.

2 Buddy’s Saint (St. Liam - Tuzia by Blushing John)
The Fountain of Youth is on deck for the dazzling winner of Aqueduct’s Nashua and Remsen. There is not much I don’t like about the Bruce Levine trained runner and he retains the top spot in the East at this point. Reports from Miami are sparkling.

3 Super Saver (Maria’s Mon - Supercharger by A.P. Indy)
One of many for both WinStar Farm and Todd Pletcher, he finished 2009 with a bang by waltzing home in Churchill Downs’ biggest race for juveniles. The distance bred colt is now working well in Florida and should be set for a return in early March.

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 today’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.

5 William’s Kitten (Kitten’s Joy - Blush by Menifee)
I can’t help thinking that of all the horses on this list, he might be the most likely to be passing horses in the Kentucky Derby stretch. Whether that is for seventh place or perhaps much better, remains to be seen, but I will be watching his preps with great interest.

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

7 Ron the Greek (Full Mandate - Flambé by Fortunate Prospect)
The Unheralded winner of the LeComte closed like an absolute freight train that day, and I do not expect a regression from him in next week’s Risen Star Stakes. He remains one of the more interesting horses on this list for owner Jack Hammer.

8 Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil - Sexy Stockings by Tabasco Cat)
It is hard to knock this tough Florida sophomore, he runs well every time, and any improvement off his solid performance in the Holy Bull will make him tough to beat in the Fountain of Youth. Will he get ten furlongs? I don’t know, but having Nick Zito in his corner can’t hurt.

9 Drosselmeyer (Distorted Humor - Golden Ballet by Moscow Ballet)
It’s nice to see Bill Mott with a real Derby threat. He has yet to test the stakes waters, but this big, strong, well bred looker will be hard to handle as soon as he does. Word is he is headed to the Big Easy next to test himself at the Fair Grounds.

10 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 today’s Robert B. Lewis. Further improvement off only his third lifetime start, and this colt will become a big threat in eleven weeks.

11 Dryfly (Jump Start - Creeksider by Topsider)
I have liked this son of Jump Start since his first race at Philadelphia Park and he has looked solid in his last two victories. His owner Charles Cella is the man behind the Rachel and Zenyatta showdown, so that good karma should be worth something. Dryfly will be tested Monday in the Southwest.

12 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.

13 Connemara (Giant's Causeway - Satin Sunrise by Mr. Leader)
The half brother of 2004 Derby runner-up, Lion Heart, gets one more chance in my book after a disappointing second in Golden Gate’s California Derby. Only strong improvement will get him back squarely on the Kentucky Derby trail.

14 Dublin (Afleet Alex - Classy Mirage by Storm Bird)
Will we see the big horse who looked so very impressive at Saratoga, or the horse that disappointed at Belmont and Churchill Downs. A throat procedure and a string of solid works in Arkansas, give much hope for the former. We will find out much on Monday.

15 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. Not currently my favorite of the Pletcher stable, the well bred colt has every right to improve into a top horse, and will get a good test in the Fountain of Youth.

16 Uptowncharlybrown (Limehouse - La Ilimunada by Langfuhr)
The Fantasy Lane Stable hope lost a bit of luster and his undefeated record by finishing third in the Sam F. Davis today. The race, his first around two turns, should do him some good, and sets him up well for another try in the Tampa Bay Derby.

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.

18 Conveyance (Indian Charlie - Emptythetill by Holy Bull)
Three easy wins in fields that included no world beaters, have me wondering how good this horse really is. Distance capabilities are also a bit of a question mark. He will get his first real test in Monday’s Southwest Stakes as the likely favorite.

19 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 on this list, because I still think there is still potential, but…

20 Pleasant Storm (Pleasant Tap - Burning Fever by Stormin Fever)
An Oklahoma bred (remember Lady’s Secret?) who has done nothing wrong in his first three races. He still is a long way from Louisville, but another solid effort at Oaklawn on Monday puts him on the right track. The Southwest pace may set up well for his chances.


LDP said...

The Tizes could have some very valid exuses for today's loss Brian. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Prevue was at Hollywood Park, a track that plays very close to dirt, which American Lion is bred to like and Tiz Chrome has shown an affinity for. This time however they were on Pro-Ride, which plays like turf, which can't really help a horse bred for dirt win. Another thing about Pro-Ride is that it strongly favors closers, while it seemingly foils any halfway decent horses' chance who is on or close to the pace. Both Chrome and AL were setting a solid pace and six furlongs in 1.11and change is not what a pair of frontrunners need to have a chance on that track. Added on top of this was the fact that both were coming off layoff. Something tells me that once these two are move onto dirt and get some fitness back they will become pretty prominant in the Derby picture.

Brian Zipse said...

Both American Lion and Tiz Chrome took a step backwards today at a time when you need to be building momentum. While both are still on the radar, they will need to turn it around soon to be considered real Derby threats.

Sarah Grice said...

thanks for the updated list! my husband picked American Lion as his favorite a couple of months ago, but i have to admit it's because he thinks it's a cool name.

tencentcielo said...

I was on track at Santa Anita, and i can personally say that Tiz Chrome looked off. Something just wasn't right about him. He looked nothing like he did before his previous start at Hollywood Park. Someone who i trust on judging horseflesh agreed with me. (I admittedly am not a great judge) I think he might have an issue that will manifest itself in the coming week.

LDP said...

I'm not disagreeing with you moving AL down right now, but I would not consider his performance a disappointment, just because there are so many factors that could've affected their performance in a negative way. You look at races like the Las V. and Santa Maria and both were won by horses coming from off the pace. BL closed from dead last, which points to the bias of the track. I do agree with you that you need to build momentum, but it's still Feb and we still have plenty of time to go. Hartey is a patient guy, who will probably build AL up slowly, cumulating to a big Derby performance.

On the bright side Rule looked fantastic, that talented TP colt proved me right this weekend.

railrunner said...

I'm eager to see Super Saver make his 3-year-old debut. Untill he does something to change my mind I'm not going to put him in my top five...now watch him come back and crush everyone by open lenghts! (:
Eskendereya is one of my favorites, I'm a sucker for flashy chestnuts and I like how he has shown ability to rate off the pace.
I pegged Caracortado as the "wild-card" in the Rober B. Lewis last week before it was rescheduled so I was very pleased that he won. Looks like thre real deal. I hear he's heading for a possible showdown with Lookin at Lucky in the San Felipe. Would love to see that!
The Southwest Stakes could change a lot of things with the Derby picture if Dublin wins in good order. I think he will, D. Wayne Lukas is the "master of the Derby" after all.
And of course Rule was incredible yet again. I'm in the same boat as you, I wasn't sold on him, but I did respect that he had strung together a nice set of races. Now he's certainly done enought to merit great respect.

Horse Racing Nation said...

Nobody has made much of it, but Lookin at Lucky seems to be clearly behind schedule. He didn't work from Jan. 16 until Feb. 9, and that was a slow 3f move. Baffert then worked him 4f today in 48 1/5 (five days later, Feb. 14), which sort of seems like they are trying to make up for lost time. While not good to be playing catch up, that isn't inherently a huge problem, unless there is a recurring issue which caused the delays.

Brian Zipse said...

HRN, I did make a small reference to the recent gap in Lookin at Lucky's schedule. My feeling at the moment, is he still should be fine for the original plan of two Derby preps, but if anything else holds him back it will be very problematic.