1. Power Broker (Pulpit-Shop Again, by Wild Again) Bob Baffert – This was the colt that I truly believed was poised to develop into the best of his crop after a monster performance in the FrontRunner Stakes last fall. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile turned out to be a lesson in why not to get hung out seven wide on each turn, so my prediction will need to wait until this spring. In the great hands of Bob Baffert, Power Broker is getting some time off before coming back, but word out of the barn has been good. I have no reason to believe that Baffert won't have him in tip-top shape by the time we all arrive in Louisville.
[No workouts since November]
2. Dewey Square (Bernardini-Somethinaboutbetty, by Forestry) Dale Romans – Word is that trainer Dale Romans is on the verge of collecting his first Eclipse Award, and with this leggy son of Bernardini, he may be closing in on his first Kentucky Derby win after knocking on the door the past few years. Watching him striding out to the wire against the likes of Uncaptured and Frac Daddy, he has become my top dark horse. He gives me every impression of being a long-winded type, just the kind of horse you want on the first Saturday of May.
[1/12 - 6f - 1:13.80 GP]
3. Uncaptured (Lion Heart-Captivating, by Arch) Mark Casse - The Mark Casse stable continues to impress, and there is little doubt that this one is the cream of his crop. The five-time stakes winner is now 2-for-2 over the same course that he will see in next spring's run for the roses, giving me even more reason to believe he deserves to be on a short list of the winter book favorites. Like the top one he's getting a little bit of a rest before bringing it back in earnest this spring.
[No workouts since November]
4. Violence (Medaglia d'Oro -Violent Beauty, by Gone West) Todd Pletcher – This might be Pletcher's best chance to improve his less than stellar Derby record. Back on the Eastern side of the country after a professional and workmanlike victory in the CashCall Futuirty. There's plenty to like here including breeding, physicality, record, and running style. Look for him to come back in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
[No workouts since CashCall Futurity win]
5. Bern Identity (Bernstein-Stormy Sunday, by Good and Tough) Kelly Breen – In next week's Holy Bull, this one will get another shot at the two-year-old champion, Holy Bull. Last time he faced-off with him, he really was no match at Saratoga, but he continued to develop and improve to close out his juvenile season to the point where I believe he has a big shot to not only turn the tables, but to keep moving forward and head to Louisville as one of the favorites to be draped in roses. His trainer already developed a Belmont winner, so there is a good chance he'll know how to get ten out of this one.
[1/13 - 5f - 1:00.40 PMM]
6. Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid-Kreisleriana, by Seeking the Gold) Chad Brown – This is one horse I absolutely need to see on dirt. In each of his four races, all on turf, the Chad Brown trainee has finished with a big closing kick. He gives every indication of wanting longer, and his pedigree clearly supports that belief. He already has two graded stakes wins, and if the BC Juvenile Turf had been more than a flat mile, he may have had a third. The switch to dirt will be interesting, but again, his pedigree promises that he will be able to handle the brown stuff. I think it's time Chad Brown joins the Kentucky Derby party.
[1/14 - 3- :37.02 PMM]
7. Frac Daddy (Scat Daddy-Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away) Ken McPeek - Ken McPeek is as high as a kite on this one and judging from his first three races, especially the two at Churchill Downs, it is easy to see why. The one negative you could say is that he had every chance to get by Uncaptured in the last, and did not do so, but he has plenty of time to improve for a trainer who knows how to get a horse ready for a classic distance. Is said to be a strong possibility for the Holy Bull which is coming up extremely tough.
[1/12 - 5f- :59.89 GP]
8. Shanghai Bobby (Harlan's Holiday-Steelin', by Orientate) Todd Pletcher - The two-year-old champion will strictly be the one to beat in the Holy Bull, but look for this to be his biggest test yet, as this field may have even more depth of talent than he saw at the Breeders' Cup. Maturity happens suddenly for a lot of these colts this time of year, and it will be very interesting to see whether the champ can still demonstrate his superiority over such a deep field.
[1/13 - 5f - 1:01.42 PMM]
9. Normandy Invasion (Tapit-Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor) Chad Brown – After a sustained rally that carried him from way back to on the verge of blowing the doors off his Grade 2 Remsen competition, something strange happened. Overanalyze dug in, and it became a head-bobbing thriller to the wire that this son of Tapit came out on the wrong end of the photo. Still it was a strong performance for this lightly raced Chad Brown charge, and I'm always on the lookout for a horse with a strong closing kick on the first Saturday in May.
[1/13 - 4f - :49.33 PMM]
10. Goldencents (Into Mischief-Golden Works, by Banker's Gold) Doug O'Neill – I like the fact that he demonstrated a new dimension by coming from slightly off the pace to run by the leader in the Sham, but on the other hand, he was not overly impressive in the win. Still the race was only a prep, and learning experience for the future. He has done absolutely nothing wrong in four solid races and remains the 2012 Kentucky Derby winning trainer's best hope to repeat.
[No workouts since Sham Stakes win]
11. Fury Kapcori (Tiznow-Gin Running, by Go For Gin) Jerry Hollendorfer– Violence may have won the CashCall Futurity, but this colt impressed me every bit as much. Part of a four-pronged pace battle, he showed plenty of fight without ever getting a real real breather. The winner got the better trip, and the jump on him, coming up the rail, but I loved the way he dug back in for the stretch drive. He's in good hands with Hollendorfer, and with horses like Tiznow and Go For Gin in his immediate pedigree, it would be easy to see this one proving stubborn down the Kentucky Derby lane.
[1/12 - 6f - 1:13.80 HOL]
12. Overanalyze (Dixie Union-Unacloud, by Unaccounted For) Todd Pletcher – Demonstrated plenty of courage in winning the Futurity from the clouds and then on the battle back in the Remsen, but was no match for Uncaptured in his one trip over the Churchill Downs strip. As one of many in the Pletcher armada, look for him to avoid some of the others by taking the New York route of Gotham and Wood Memorial to see if he earns his ticket back to Louisville.
[1/13 - 3f- :36.94 PMM]
13. Proud Strike (Smart Strike-Colonella, by Pleasant Colony) Steve Asmussen - Has all the look a classic late developing colt that will flourish at a distance. The fact that he lost twice already to Bradester means next to nothing to me. In his recent maiden win at Fair Grounds he loooked the part of his superior breeding, his female family is class from top to bottom, and of a horse that is developing quickly into stakes quality. Asmussen came close a few years ago with Nehro, and there's no doubt in my mind that this one is farther along than Nehro was at the same point.
[No workouts since Maiden win]
14. Capo Bastone (Street Boss-Fight to Love, by Fit to Fight) Todd Pletcher – Yet another from the Todd Pletcher barn beginning his sophomore season in Florida. I think the talent is there but a distance of ground might be the question with this formerly California based runner. An indicator on whether or not he can handle the distance in May, might come dependent on where his new trainer brings him out ... sprinting or routing.
[1/14 - 4f- :50.04 PMM]
15. Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron-Viva La Slew, by Doneraile Court) Edward Plesa - After solid progress last fall at Calder, this son of Lawyer Ron failed twice, once around the bull ring, and once on turf. The memory of those races were erased, though, with a huge performance in the Gulfstream Park Derby. He reminds me a little bit of his sire with all those races as a juvenile before his breakout performance. It will be interesting to see if he can pair up his biggie next time out.
[1/12 - 5f - 1:01.00 CRC]
16. Dynamic Sky (Sky Meas-Murani, by Marju) Mark Casse– Jumped over the dirt hurdle with flying colors with an impressive seven furlong win at Tampa Bay Downs. His only previous dirt try included a tough trip in the BC Juvenile. Things will only get tougher from here, but considering the way he completely dominated his competition in the Pasco, 2013 has begun the right way. Look for him to steer clear of stablemate Uncaptured and stay in Tampa to see if he can earn a trip to Louisville.
[No workouts since Pasco win]