There are many who follow the sport, people who dedicate every free second they have trying to piece together race results by reading past performances, studying breed and dosage points, following trainers, workout times, and understanding the condition of the track that the horses are running on. They take into consideration the jockey, the post position, the weather, the potential of weather, and if the horse just plain looks hot that day. It's a ritual and a way of life. No one can fully understand the passion of those who love the track.
Unfortunately, there are those who have never been exposed to the track. Never cared to take the opportunity to sit with their Grandfather in the stands and take in all the action. They never hung on the rail near the finish line and looked down the stretch as those magnificent animals came charging toward them. They never smelled the race track or heard the cheers and groans from the crowds above. They never gazed upon the cast of characters roaming the grounds of discarded loosing tickets as they smoked their cigars and whipped their programs against their legs.
It is never too late to jump on board and follow this years Trail to the Kentucky Derby. Once on board, you will wonder why you waited so long.
The twenty Kentucky Derby contenders for 2013 will not be chosen by the size of their wallets this year. They will be entered by hitting the top 4 positions in specific Graded Stakes races leading up to the big day. In the first leg, the winner receives 10 points, second gets 4 points, third takes 2 points and fourth gets one. The points will get higher as we progress closer and the races get tougher.
With only 9 of the 34 races complete, (36 races total which include 2 wild cards at the end) this years crop of two year olds already show champion standouts so early in the game. Of course, things change and you must take it race by race, but as of December 1st, the following six young horses should be followed in their pursuit of the Triple Crown starting at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
With the highest amount of points to date, 20, Shanghai Bobby tops the list. If the Derby were being run this weekend, Bobby would be the favorite and he would most likely be found in the Winners Circle draped in roses with his jockey, Rosie Napravnik, and trainer Todd Pletcher by his side. Shanghai Bobby loves to win at any distance his connections send him to. With 5 starts and 5 wins under his saddle, this horse refuses to lose. He gained his 20 points by winning both the Champagne Stakes and the Breeders Cup Juvenile. He impressively beat Goldencents by 5 lengths in the Champagne but this favorite was almost upset by a longshot named He's Had Enough in the Juvenile at Santa Anita.
He's Had Enough
The son of Tapit, He's Had Enough is a gorgeous grey out of Kentucky. Trained by Doug O'Neill, he's had four starts and only posted one win and one second. He has just 4 points to date, coming in second to Shanghai Bobby in the Juvenile but those points were well deserved. He's Had Enough was the first horse to give Bobby a scare and for this reason, along with room for improvement, he is destined for a May race at Churchill Downs. With Derby-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez aboard, this is one grey that should be respected.
With the exception of the Grey Stakes, this is another two year old that does not seem to care what distance he runs. Uncaptured loves to win. Sired by Lionheart and trained by Mark Casse, this majestic horse has posted 6 wins in 7 starts to date. Only one of those wins were part of the Derby Trail point system, but it was huge. The Kentucky Jockey Club is run at Churchill Downs at 1 1/16 which gives us a small charm to hold onto. This horse can win on Churchill dirt. Can he go the 1 1/4 that is the Kentucky Derby? Most likely yes. But then again, there is always the possibility that his opponent in that same race, Frac Daddy, has what it takes to go the extra lengths.
Trained by Kenny McPeek, Frac Daddy has only one win posted to date and that win came at Churchill Downs. His second place effort also came from there and it was quite a thrilling run. This horse has nowhere to go but up. He's fast, he has stamina and with just 4 points to date, Frac Daddy will have many more points posted next to his name before the trail has ended. He is one to watch.
Winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot and second behind Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne Stakes, Goldencents has delivered fantastic performances. With just 3 starts to date in his young career, he has 14 points on his resume for the Kentucky Derby so far. Another trained by Doug O'Neill, he quietly showed that he could beat the popular Bern Identity. Goldencents hits the board, he sets the pace and he is capable of a wire to wire win. Could he be the next Bodemiester?
The most expensive yearling sold at auction last year is one of the most beautiful bay colts ever seen. Powerful is the son of A.P. Indy and Malka and was purchased for 1.4 million dollars for a reason. With a family that consists of names like A.P Indy, Seattle Slew, Weekend Surprise, Deputy Minister, Bold Reasoning and the great Secretariat, this horse should have what it takes to win Graded Stakes races. That is, if he ever gets a shot at the gate. Powerful is unraced. This 3/4 brother to Giralomo has no points and no past performances. Recently just a few workouts were posted. At this moment, Powerful seems to be a big name with a big price.
No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without being raced as a two year old. However, things like this are meant to be broken. No thoroughbred had ever won the Kentucky Derby leaving gate #19 either. But 2012 gave us a great winner in #19 I'll Have Another who also went on to win the Preakness. Perhaps 2013 will be a year when another pattern is broken. I'm game!