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Down and Derby – The Sweet 16

Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 39

The Sweet 16

1. Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie-Playa Maya, by Arch) Todd Pletcher – His lack of tests before the Derby are a little troublesome, but the fact remains that he was an absolute monster at two, and I have seen nothing to say that he will not continue his winning ways at three. The Wood Memorial should give us a little more to go on before the Triple Crown, but maybe only a little. Look for an easy win to send him to Louisville as the clear Derby choice. I believe he is the only horse I have ever seen who seems to be trained for the Triple Crown.

2. Premier Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus-Squall Linda, by Summer Squall) I warned my readers to watch out for this one when he gets to stretch out. Bang-Zoom! He got two-turns in the San Felipe, and he opened many eyes. I’m not sure why people still doubt him so much, yes I know the speed collapsed that day, but the fact remains that he positively destroyed a decent field. He ran the best race of any three-year-old so far, and actually reminds me of an old favorite of mine named Sunday Silence to this stage.

3. Dialed In (Mineshaft-Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat) Nick Zito – This one needs a solid pace to soften up the speed. In the Florida Derby, he may get that. In the Kentucky Derby, he will get that. His last race was but a mere prep, and even though Sunday is a huge race in its own right, it is only another stepping stone to have him ready for his best on May 7. Win, lose, or draw in a few days, I consider him the biggest threat coming from Gulfstream to Churchill Downs.

4. Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno-Ponche de Leona, by Ponche) Katherine Ritvo – The big kid is still learning. Disappointment of running 3rd in the Louisiana Derby was tempered by the fact that he lost a shoe early in the race, hampering his chances. His running still looked immature in a race that he only lost by ¾ of a length. The competition will get tougher in Louisville, but don’t be surprised to see six weeks do him a world of good.

5. To Honor and Serve (Bernardini-Pilfer, by Deputy Minister) Bill Mott- His performance in the Fountain of Youth left much to be desired, and I was a little surprised to see him stay at Gulfstream afterwards. Having said that, I believe he has as much upside as almost anyone on this list, and it would be no surprise to see him turn things completely around in the Florida Derby, with the benefit of the last race and a string of solid works.

6. The Factor (War Front-Geyciousness, by Miswaki) Bob baffert– Speed kills. Anyone that has raced against him the last three times will tell you that. But can he win the Derby? The answer is yes he can, but I do not like his chances. With the recent trend to have the Derby starting gate filled to the brim, it becomes tougher and tougher for a frontrunner to grab an uncontested lead, and in the Derby that is almost impossible to overcome.

7. Soldat (War Front-Le Relais, by Coronado's Quest) Kiaran McLaughlin – OK, I admit it … these War Front’s can flat out run. The Florida Derby will be tougher than the Fountain of Youth was, it just has to be. If Flashpoint is entered, I expect things to get too tough for this frontrunner to handle. He may be the favorite on Sunday, but I am not yet sold on dat. If he does win, I will move him on up.

8. Stay Thirsty (Bernardini-Marozia, by Storm Bird) Todd Pletcher – I liked this one since his initial race where he ran 2nd in a maiden at Belmont, but he has yet to get out of the rather large shadow cast by his more accomplished barn mate. He will get a chance to do just that against a solid Florida Derby group. An impressive win there by the Gotham winner may leave Repole with the two favorites for the roses.

9. Anthony's Cross (Indian Charlie-Screening, by Unbridled) Eoin Harty – Looms as the biggest threat to PrePeg in the Santa Anita Derby. He has gotten a long rest since his hard fought victory in the Lewis, but he already had a solid foundation before that. I love the way that Indian Charlie’s second son is working at Hollywood for his return to the races. I was happy to get a few sawbucks down on him at 50-1 for the Derby.

10. Santiva (Giant's Causeway-Slide, by Smarten) Eddie Kenneally – Has done little wrong, as he finished 2010 with a nice stakes win at Churchill, and began this year with a solid 2nd to Mucho Macho Man. The setback that cost him a spot in the Louisiana Derby is no positive, so he probably will need to get a whole lot out of the synthetic prep in the Blue Grass. I wonder if that will be enough to have him at his best for his return to the Twin Spires.

11. Jaycito (Victory Gallop-Night Edition, by Ascot Knight) Bob Baffert – Still not sure what to make of this one. He flashes major talent, but then does just enough wrong to lose some faith. He’ll make the cross country trek to tangle with the big horse in the Wood. I honestly can’t see him scaring Mo in there, but if he can finish full of run it would at the very least send him on to Louisville on a positive note.

12. Nehro (Mineshaft-The Administrator, by Afleet) After two downright dull performances to start his career, this son of Mineshaft has turned it around in a big way. The way back early to first easily move in the maiden at Oaklawn was the tipoff, and then his strong rally in the Louisiana Derby proved it … this Asmussen trained colt is getting good at the right time. If he continues the improvement he has in his last two, he could prove a major threat in the Classics. (inside horse)

13. Sway Away (Afleet Alex-Seattle Shimmer, by Seattle Slew) Jeff Bonde – The Rebel was a big letdown for a colt I was pretty high on. The race set up for The Factor not him, and banging into the gate and losing a tooth did not help the effort. With those excuses, I am ready to throw out the Rebel, and look for him to come out running next time in the Arkansas Derby.

14. Elite Alex (Afleet Alex-Catch the Moment, by Unbridled) I expected more out of him in the Louisiana Derby, but wide and way back throughout is no way to prove your talent. I still think this one is talented, and with a ton of speed going 1 ¼ miles on the First Saturday in May, he may be in line to put it all together and pick up a whole lot of the pieces down the Derby lane.

15. Mr. Commons (Artie Schiller-Joustabout, by Apalachee) Impressive maiden winner on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita, came back to win an allowance in his first try on dirt. The John Shirreffs trained colt has always impressed in the mornings, but of late has absolutely dazzled onlookers. He may be sitting on a breakout performance just in time for the Santa Anita Derby.

16. Brethren (Distorted Humor-Supercharger, by A.P. Indy) Todd Pletcher - Following in the footsteps of his big brother, he will contest the Arkansas Derby after finishing 3rd in the Tampa Bay Derby. I did not like the ride that day, but he will still need to step things up big time after the lackluster performance. It will be interesting to see how hard he goes after The Factor early at Oaklawn.

[Have your own Sweet 16? Tell me about them, and don't forget to rank them on the Horse Racing Nation 2011 Kentucky Derby Contenders list!]



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Older Comments about Down and Derby – The Sweet 16...

I sure hope you are right about Dialed In! Every horse I have rooted for (so far) has lost! They did good early on, until I got on their bandwagon, and then they have lost! I'm hoping that eventually my luck has to change .... even a blind hog can find an acorn once in a while! What worries me about hanging onto your coattail is you blew it in the G'Stream Oaks, so I hope my bad luck doesn't rub off on you! BTW, I think I actually undertand what you meant in your explanation aboout Mo being trained for the TC more than just the first Sat in May. I'm certainly not advanced enough to know if you are being bold or not! But I will be around to help you celebrate if it turns out to be true! If Mo is the horse to give us a TC, I can root for that outcome. Short term and at least in the FL Derby, I'm sticking with D.I.!
Can't wait for Sunday to see where Stay Thirsty stands against that tough field!
The only BC Juvenile winner to be favored in the Kentucky Derby in the last 15 years, was ... Street Sense, who won the Kentucky Derby, and did you say Street Sense never won again? Check your facts.
The media still continues to be the strongest reason why the BC Juvenile Champ keeps being the Derby favorite even though they dont run strong races during the actual Derby year. Uncle Mo has yet to prove himself against any real 3yos. The Timely Writer was a race written for Uncle Mo with horses that could not beat some allowance horses. It was just a work for him and there is no similarity between him and Secretariat, Bid, Smarty Jones or Afleet Alex. His sire was highly touted for the 98 Derby but unfortunately Indian Charlie did not have the ability to go the distance. Its hard to make a comment on what Uncle Mo has done because since becoming a 3yo he has done nothing. Unfortunately since BC Juvy champ is 1-26, since there is no evidence to prove greatness, I prefer not to compare him to horses that have proven mettle. Remember, Street Sense won the Derby to break the jinx but the track was soup and the real HOY Curlin went 9 wide in the final turn while Street Sense went up the rail...Street Sense never won again. When Uncle Mo runs in NY just be leary that most of the big competition is not considering running in that race...The media circus continues..Good Luck.
Mo has done nothing wrong to this point and I don't see anyone so far that seems to have progressed to his level. Unless he does something wrong in the Wood, he stays my number 1...followed by Soldat,Dialed In. The rest could all alternate after that for me.
I saw the Rebel, yes ... Mike, as far as on the list, I suppose the Florida Derby will have the most impact on who will be considered the top challengers to the top few. As you can see I like Dialed In best of that bunch right now. I think Sway Away may run much better in Arkansas which could send him up the list ... Anthony's Cross and Mr. Commons could also move way up with a big performance in the SA Derby ... As far as off the list, I am intrigued by the Team Valor pair of Animal Kingdom and Crimson China, but they would need to make huge strides in the next 6 weeks to make any noise.
Brian, on this list who do you feel are the top three horses that you have a feeling will move up on this list after all the final major preps are run? Who are your top "dark horses" not currently on the Sweet 16 list that you are keeping a careful eye on?
The factor at #6???? did you watch the Rebel??? This horse is freak and is peaking at the right time, This is the worst field ive seen at the Wood in years..Uncle Mo needs to be tested before the Derby
Ann, I have watched the Triple Crown intently since Secretariat ... what I meant is that horses in the past have been trained harder with the goal to be peaking on the First Saturday in May, obviously with the hope of maintaining that through the Belmont. With Uncle Mo on the other hand, I get the strong impression that they are trying to have him peak later, obviously with the hope that he can still win the Derby even though he may not have reached his ultimate fitness level. Pretty bold, wouldn't you say?
Hate to pin you down (not really!!), but, your statement about Mo, "I believe he is the only horse I have ever seen who seems to be trained for the Triple Crown," makes me wonder about a couple of TC near misses. Since you limit your perspective somewhat with those "I have ever seen", it may exclude some you didn't see that obviously were also trained for the TC (Secretariat, etc). So, what about some that were more recent "near TC", like Big Brown, Smarty Jones, et al? How did their training compare with Mo's?
The Florida Derby winner's Beyers speed will be "the bar" Uncle Mo must climb over in his Wood Memorial effort. Todd has his work cut-out after that last start. I know MO crushed them at CD in th BC Juvenile, but except for Street Sense, that's NOT the race that will predict his success in The KY Derby.
The problem with training and keeping Uncle Mo fresh for the Triple Crown is he may not be race ready for the Derby.
Flashpoint may be something special, but ... with sprint breeding on both sides of his pedigree, I will take a pass when it comes to Louisville.
florida derby will change all your minds when flashpoint romps by at least 5.He has to run in the florida derby ,not enough earnings yet
Good catch gentleman, I like to throw in a bug every so often to keep my readers on their toes ... either that or I accidently transferred the specifics for Alternate over onto The Factor's paragraph ;-)
Solid list , but you've got Donnie Von Hemmel as the trainer for The Factor. I doubt Baffert's going to part with him that easily.
Brian, I wish the Factor was by Distorted humor-Alternate by Seattle Slew then, we don't have to be concerned about him getting the 1/14m dierby distance. Unfortunately he is by War Fron-Greciousness by Miswak.He has a dosage of 2.73 which, hopefully, his sheer brilliance can overcome.
Race is Sunday not Saturday
For sure, with 4 of my top 8 running in the Florida Derby, things will shake out a bit Saturday evening.
Can't really argue with that list...just the order after the top three. We'll definitely know more after Fla Derby I'm sure.

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