At the beginning of every year an evaluation starts, a
search begins. A search and evaluation for the next Kentucky Derby
There are facts and there are myths that many use in our search and our
evaluations, some are true and some are not. The notion that we have yet to see
our Derby winner even run is unfounded. In fact, we’ve probably seen them
perform or perhaps even win at the stakes level. The idea of a horse with only
two preps being your likely Derby winner has a lot of truth, and has held fast
Yes, trends can be broken, which is why the list of
potential Derby horses I am about to present to you has a few exceptions to my
rules. With that, I will present my Derby Top 12, as of 1-16-2013.
This one fits every possible standard I have for a potential Derby Contender.
One, the horse must have at least three starts as a two year old. Two, he has
run in and won at the stakes level at two years old. Third, and finally, it
looks like he will have only two preps going into the Kentucky Derby. His
efforts at two were fantastic. He seemed to improve every start and from what I
can tell still hasn’t figured it all out yet. Travel doesn’t hurt him, surface
doesn’t matter, he seems to relish two turns, he has the perfect running style,
and has a tremendous amount of upside.
2.) Shanghai Bobby
- If not for his breeding
and the cursed Juvenile Jinx he’d be my number one. He seems to be in a class
by himself. He has an excellent juvenile foundation and will also will probably
only get two preps. He has won at several distances, and I don’t see him being
vulnerable at even nine furlongs to this point. So far he’s taken everything
they have thrown at him, distance, travel, no race day meds…everything. Knowing
that I’m not going to put anything past an unbeaten champion.
- He ran several times at
two…which does concern me some as too if he can keep his spectacular form up,
but on the other hand his foundation cannot be questioned. One could not have
predicted such a dominating performance in the Gulfstream Park Derby, even
without Purple Egg. Even more unexpected was the time, an astonishing 1.34.39.
He has won beyond a mile before, and he isn’t lacking on stamina on his dam’s
side, not to mention his sire holds a track record at nine furlongs. Time will
tell if that brilliant win was a fluke or if he really is the real deal.
4.) Frac Daddy
- Scat Daddy, his sire is not
a stamina influence in the least, but with Seattle Slew, Buckpasser, and Skip
Away on his dam’s side we might just see the perfect blend of speed and
stamina. In the Kentucky Cup Juvenile he was far less experienced than
Uncaptured, but he still battled that foe gamely through the length of the
stretch. Three starts at two, with an impressive Stakes performance along with
his upside makes him one of the most intriguing prospects running.
- If not for a bad trip in
the Grey Stakes he might just come into the year unbeaten, however if you are
one who only goes by starts on dirt, he still is. Two starts on dirt, two starts
at Churchill and two wins. His first start on dirt was a tour de force, the
next he showed his heart and grit in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Like, Itsmyluckyday,
I wonder if he has been raced too much, especially after that hard fought win.
I also wonder if he wants much more than 8.5 furlongs.
- He is the first of my
exceptions, being that he never raced as a two year old. However, his debut was
just that impressive. He is a half-brother to El Padrino who was a top Derby
prospect last year. At this point, trainer Todd Pletcher, who trains both, has
said Verrazano has actually been even more impressive than his older brother.
What lies ahead for the impressive maiden winner is unclear. They could take it
slow and skip the Derby, if not, it will be very interesting to watch and see
how this one blossoms.
7.) Tiz the Truth
- I love the name, love
the sire, and I loved his maiden race. Rated off the pace, ran extremely well
in traffic, then proved tough as nails down the stretch. Yes, he was second to
Demonic, however, the professionalism he showed in only his second start was
amazing. I also am not sure he quite saw Demonic, as he was already engaged
with Del Mar Sunset.
- He may have won the maiden
race and he maybe more talented than the other two, but it looked to me like he
hung in the stretch. He could have been tired after a very wide run, but he had
all the momentum, looked like he’d go by and he didn’t until the final strides.
The talent looks to be there, if they wish to go the Derby route, but if they
do they will need to look into fixing that problem of hanging in the stretch.
9.) Del Mar Sunset-
If you couldn’t tell, I
found the fourth race at Santa Anita last Sunday very impressive. This one ran
wide the entire turn and I think that may have cost him. He was very game when
battling in the middle of Demonic and Tiz the Truth, but just didn’t seem to
have enough to carry him to the front. With Baffert as the trainer of both Tiz
the Truth and this one I see them being tested on the Derby trail at least
once. It should be interesting to see his next move with these two.
10.) Dewey Square-
He ran a good race in the
Kentucky Jockey Club, but was nowhere near the top two. He impressed in his
first two starts before that and has been working up a storm in Florida. He
looks to be prepping for the Holy Bull, which is coming up to be a very strong
race. If he can run well there it will move his stock up quite a bit.
This horse, right here, is one
of the reason’s Violence is number one. This one ran into quite the competitor
when he ran second to the more experienced Titletown Five, in his debut.
Titletown Five, won that race in a runaway, but only after being narrowly
beaten by Violence. Back to Bradester, after that maiden, he turned a lot of
heads when he came back impressively in his second try. Most recently he took
an allowance at Gulfstream. It was a workman-like, green win, but the upside is
still there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in either the loaded Holy Bull
or the Fountain of Youth next out.
12.) Proud Strike
- This unlucky horse ran
third to Titletown Five and Bradester first asking then was passed by Bradester
again in his second start. He had a hiccup in his next race, his first time at
the Fair Grounds, but rebounded with a huge win next out. His breeding screams
Classics and it looks like he’s finally figuring things out.
This concludes my list of Derby prospects for now. I look
forward to seeing how it may change over the next several months. The Road to
the Kentucky Derby has finally begun.