March 28, 2010

The Day’s Key Prep and Down and Derby c5

With several rich Derby preps run yesterday, surely there was a key race pointing out one of the big contenders to wear the roses in five weeks. Was it the $2 million UAE Derby? No, the only good Northern Hemisphere three-year-old in the field, Mendip, could not handle his slightly older competition down the lane. No Derby winner there. Was it in the big race I attended, Turfway Park’s Lane’s End Stakes? No, while the winner Dean’s Kitten looked good running away from his competition, I believe he will find things much tougher Derby day both with competition and a traditional dirt surface. Then it must have come from the Louisiana Derby with its 13 horse field of Derby contenders. Sorry, While the Louisiana Derby had a bunch of good horses in the field, there were zero standouts nor Kentucky Derby winners in that field, including winner Mission Impazible. What then was yesterday’s key race? None other than the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park. Favored in the race was Positive Split, who had been very competitive against Ice Box and Pleasant Prince in his last two races. It was the winner Exhi, that told me the most about the Derby, however. Is Exhi a Derby horse? Absolutely not, but he is a $100,000 stakes winner after yesterday. In Exhi’s previous race he was absolutely obliterated by Odysseus. Running second that day, Exhi was left in the wake of Odysseus to the tune of a 15 length thrashing. Now that I know Exhi is of stakes quality, it makes me all the more impressed with Odysseus. By the way, the horse Odysseus beat in his maiden win in January, Forward Harch, also came back to win nicely yesterday. With this said, let’s see how it effects my latest Down and Derby…

The Top 20

1 Odysseus (Malibu Moon - Persimmon Hill by Conquistador Cielo)
The Tampa Bay Derby winner is developing fast. Now that we know horses he has beaten are coming back and running well, it is time for me to take the plunge. Odysseus is my top Kentucky Derby selection.

2 Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike - Private Feeling by Belong to Me)
He is the champ, and I see no reason to expect that he will not run well in five weeks. Back home in Southern California, look for him to be the horse to beat in the Santa Anita Derby and then be the Kentucky Derby favorite.

3 Eskendereya (Giant’s Causeway - Aldebaran Light by Seattle Slew)
Still waiting for the owner of the single best race run by this crop to reappear. The waiting will be over in six days with the Wood Memorial. He better be ready to fire another big shot, because that field is stacked.

4 Awesome Act (Awesome Again - Houdini‘s Honey by Mr. Prospector)
I still find the English Invader with the dirt breeding to be the most interesting prospect of the bunch, and of course his Gotham win did nothing to dispel that notion. The Wood should tell us a lot.

5 Super Saver (Maria’s Mon - Supercharger by A.P. Indy)
The forgotten horse. Do not forget this one has already run big at Churchill, and his return to the races was a game performance in the Tampa Bay Derby. Look for another solid effort in next week’s Wood Memorial.

6 Caracortado (Cat Dreams - Mons Venus by Maria’s Mon)
I still think he was the best of the San Felipe field despite his third place finish. The true test will happen in the Santa Anita Derby where he will face an even stiffer challenge.

7 Dublin (Afleet Alex - Classy Mirage by Storm Bird)
Is he a ten furlong horse? Lukas seems to think so. The Rebel was a small disappointment, let’s see if this big, strapping son of Afleet Alex can bounce back with a big performance in the Arkansas Derby.

8 Conveyance (Indian Charlie - Emptythetill by Holy Bull)
Beware the undefeated horse. I am not sure if he will be strong down the Churchill Downs stretch, but until beaten, I respect him. Flattered by Mission Implazible’s win, the Baffert winner is in New Mexico today.

9 Ice Box (Pulpit - Spice Island by Tabasco Cat)
I am thinking the Florida Derby will be the opposite of a key race in five weeks time, but this son of Pulpit is improving and clearly is in good hands with Nick Zito.

10 Schoolyard Dreams (Stephen Got Even - Hear This by Prospector‘s Music)
Interested to see what this year’s Musket Man (Both trained by Derek Ryan) can do in the Illinois Derby. I have a feeling it will be another case of flattering my number one horse.

11 Alphie’s Bet (Tribal Rule - Miss Alphie by Candi‘s Gold)
Stormed down the lane in the Sham Stakes like he may be any kind. We shall soon see with this Alexis Barba runner, because a loaded field in the Santa Anita Derby will be next.

12 Noble’s Promise (Cuvee - The Devil’s Trick by Clever Trick)
I know, I know, he is a really nice horse. I am not arguing that. What I am arguing is that a horse with this sprint breeding can ever be a major factor in the grueling Kentucky Derby.

13 Sidney’s Candy (Candy Ride- Fair Exchange by Storm Cat)
I am not convinced yet on this impressive winner of the San Felipe. With a tough test coming in the Santa Anita Derby and then a contested pace in the Kentucky Derby, I think it is only a matter of time until his bubble bursts.

14 Interactif (Broken Vow - Broad Pennant by Broad Brush)
I like this horses breeding and there is little to fault with his performances to date. Here are my two issues with him: He looks like he is best on the grass and his recent style of being close to the pace will make things tough.

15 Rule (Roman Ruler - Rockcide by Personal Flag)
A classy horse to be sure, and a horse that I expect to have a very nice career. A horse that runs one-two-three in the Kentucky Derby? I just can’t see it happening.

16 Pleasant Prince (Indy King - Archduchess by Pleasant Tap)
This horse is improving and is bred to run long, so why do I not have him higher on my list? He has run three straight times against Ice Box, and I thought Ice Box was better each time…and I am not gung ho over Ice Box.

17 Mission Impazible (Unbridled’s Song - La Paz by Hold Your Peace)
I did not think too much of his chances in the Louisiana Derby, shame on me. I do not think too much of his chances in the Kentucky Derby, luckily I do not think he will make me look silly again.

18 Backtalk (Smarty Jones - Apasionata Sonata by Affirmed)
This is one interesting horse. He was an excellent juvenile and his return to the races at Delta Downs was deceptively good. I am eager to see what his blazing work means Illinois Derby Day. Beware the Affirmed broodmares.

19 Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil - Sexy Stockings by Tabasco Cat)
Holding on to a spot in the Top 20 is this classy Zito runner. The Wood Memorial should be a great barometer to see if he can compete against the big boys over a route of ground.

20 Nacho Friend (Friends Lake - You’renotlistening by Kennedy Road)
I like his distance breeding and his potential for improvement. The Sunland Derby run later today should tell us if he is a real candidate to make some noise in Louisville.


LDP said...

Isn't Turfway synthetic? I thought Odysseus beat Exhi over dirt, if he beat him in his allowence. Personally, Exhi's win would not move up Odysseus, because it was over a synthetic, that is probably one of the quirkiest in the country. Dean's Kitten, a turf horse won over that same surface yesterday, but he will probably not be a derby horse. Not as often as it happens with horses going from synthetic from dirt, but dirt horses going to synthetic, who are only average on dirt may excell on synthetics. I may be off, but I believe Go Between was that way too, excpet he had ran average races on dirt and turf before his synthetic win.

On your top twenty them only real thing I have a problem with is placing Odysseus over LaL based on one horse winning a stakes over synthetic, when last beaten by 15 lengths over dirt. LaL is a proven comodity, and IMO keeps getting the short end of the stick to horses that run impressive races like Dublin or Eskendereya. Or he will run second to a horse who's competition ran back well in their next out. His only loss was by a head, he can run his race over any type of synthetic, and looks even better when on dirt. He has beaten many quality horses that have were already or have gone on to be grade stakes winner, even grade one winners. One good race from Exhi should not allow Odysseus to steal his number one status.

Brian Zipse said...

I think you are missing the main point here, LDP. What Odysseus did to Exhi in his last race looked nothing short of a grade 1 horse against a claimer. The beating was that comprehensive in what boiled down to a two horse race. Now that I know that Exhi is not a cheap horse, nor is Forward Harch, I like Odysseus all the more. I already liked him a great deal. Now is the time to take a stand for my top Derby pick, and while I have great respect for the favorite, I am going with Odysseus.

Abitaamber said...

I think you leave Drosselmeyer off the Top 20 at your own peril. I thought he ran strong yesterday, got in some major traffic problems, and with a clean trip, would have been much the best.

That said, he's going to have an issue with drawing in, although it looks like the connections will consider a start in the Lexington.

LDP said...

I know what you are saying Brian, he did make Exhi look like a claimer, but he did it over dirt. Had Exhi won his race over dirt I would easily see why you would have Odysseus on top, would I agree, no, but I would most certainly understand. I can still see how Exhi's race would flatter Odysseus, but I don't understand how a his win on synthetics can really costitute that he would run the same kind of race over dirt. The synthetics could've very well moved him up. Could he be stakes caliber even on dirt, heck yes he could, but we won't know that until he runs a stakes on dirt. So, I agree that Odysseus was flatter, but I disagree with the amount that flattery moved him up.

william said...

im taking the plunge with you....thought it was funny yesterday when after maragh won the louisiana derby, the outrider interviewing him said isnt it nice to know you have a derby horse now??? i guess she doesnt know about odysseus...ans im sure he will select him to ride...nice listing brian, but it seems there are more haves than have nots

Brian Zipse said...

Abitaamber, Drosselmeyer was literally #21. There was some trouble, but I thought he had a chance the final eighth yesterday and did not finish fast enough.

TurfChatter said...

Every Week everyone says the winner didn't race this week. Most year's nobody wins the Derby, horses "survive" the Derby. Mine That Bird, Giacomo, Sea Hero, Street Sense. Lil E Tee, Thunder Gulch et al. They all won or lost their preps by 1/2 length. Barbaro maybe "won" the derby. Most these horses are better than people think. Next week at most Lookin at Lucky will win by 1 length, because nobody dominates on Synthetics. There is a 90% chance that schoolyard dreams loses in the Illini Derby. That means a new shooter will emerge there. the Bluegrass will have a narrow winner. It's wide open so just pick a horse like you have in Odysseus and stick with him.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think Rule had the best race(Sam Davis)of the Tampa Bay 3yo's. I also have a feeling that there wasn't much at TB this year.

Brian Zipse said...

I hope you are wrong RG, as you know I have liked Odysseus since his maiden win, and I consider the Tampa Bay Derby a key prep this year.