1. Palace Malice (Todd Pletcher)- I know, I know. He only has a maiden win to his credit. Only a non-winner of two lifetime horse. Yet, his third place finish in the Risen Star Stakes quite impressed me. He got caught between horses and fell behind a wall of horses shortly after. Being further back than he probably would of liked, he put a very green rally on the outside in the stretch. He lugged his head, he drifted and got bumped. What impressed me was how much potential he has and how much he got out of the race. He learned to drop further back, he faced a stiff test, and he just got more experience. He's over the talented Verrazano on my list.... He's the real deal. Look out Kentucky!
2. Verrazano (Todd Pletcher)- Originally, he was going to be my new number one after his Tampa Bay Derby win. However, I'm not quite sure. His pace parameters at 8.5 furlongs wasn't as good as it was at eight furlongs. He's a front runner, which I don't like in the derby. Only will run four times before the derby. Yet, he's number two based on his pure talent. He hasn't been tested at all. He has speed and he can even sit in second. He's a big, leggy colt and it will be interesting how this pure talent moves ahead.
3. Code West (Bob Baffert)- This one I completely over looked after his Risen Star Stakes. First of all, this one has beautiful breeding. My new extra tool, thanks to Lisa111, is dosage. He has 34 dosage points, a 1.34 DI, and a 0.41 CDI. Talk about pedigree, he's no slouch. His pace parameters are very intriguing. He's got a great stalking style. He can travel too! Watch out for this one. He ain't going down without a fight and he has a very promising future.
4. Uncaptured (Mark Casse)- This one came off a four month layoff visually impressively. He ran a solid second in the Spiral Stakes. What I really like about this colt is his foundation and his two graded wins over the Churchill track. He has a seven race two year old campaign, and he will have two nine furlong preps for the derby. Talk about foundation and conditioning! This Casse colt is full of upside, and he's been on my list the entire time.
5. Departing (Al Stall)- Really, Ed? A Sam Houston listed stakes winner? More craziness. But, I only see upside from this one. Let me introduce you to dark horse #2. This guy last out closed into very slow fractions. His pace parameters were very impressive! 53.96, 54.02 and a 53.99 AP! Then, a 53.94 1FR, a 54.00 2FR, and finally a 54.07 3FR!!! He almost ran upside-down internal fractions! Performance over pedigree. This War Pass colt has all the signs of a ten furlong horse.
6. Hear The Ghost (Jerry Hollendorfer)- This colt got set up very nicely in the San Felipe. Two dueling front runners set it up for him and he took advantage. He didn't close as fast as fellow closer Tiz a Minister, but once they matched up he out closed him. This colt has a perfect mix of speed and stamina. He has the looks of a ten furlong horse. Only positive things await the future for this one.
7. Itsmyluckyday (Eddie Plesa Jr.)- This one's sustained press style is to die for. Beautiful tactical speed. He runs tough and competitive. What's not to like? Only the fact that I'm skeptical how his form at Gulfstream will translate to Churchill. To me, he is borderline for the ten furlong distance, but he sure runs like he wants more. I love this colt, but I have my doubts. I am not questioning his talent, for sure.
8. Tiz The Truth (Bob Baffert)- Previously #2 on my list, I was forced to drop him lower. Reasoning behind it? He'll only have three starts before the derby, if he gets in. To get in, he'll need to beat much more seasoned colts. There is no question this one has all the talent in the world though. He has the looks to go far.
9. Orb (Shug McGaughy)- Believe it or not, this one has speed to spare. I checked out his pace parameters, and his early speed is surprisingly high. His last race, according to statistics, was not as fast a close as it appeared. I think Johnny V loves him, and I am sure he has upside. He has a good style. Watch out for him, he might wear the roses on the first Saturday in May.
10. Shanghai Bobby (Todd Pletcher)- I refuse to keep this horse out of my top ten. He has done nothing wrong. He ran a very nice race in the Holy Bull and he has a solid foundation. He has a sustained press style, that if he can master, will be a huge tool in competing in the Derby. I've had doubts on him since the beginning and his pedigree is screaming at me, but I have to stick to what I believe in. He's a solid colt who fires every time. Thanks to doubters, he might be a huge overlay come post time on the first Saturday in May.
11. Flashback (Bob Baffert)- This one had a questionable ride in the San Felipe. He ran a strong second to Hear The Ghost. He, despite being from Tapit, really hasn't shown any distance limitations. His next nine furlong prep will say a lot. He got a great learning experience. Expect him to move ahead after a strong performance in the San Felipe.
12. Vyjack (Rudy Rodriguez)- I have doubts. Yes, he closed like a freight train into pedestrian like fractions in the Gotham. But, I don't like the fact he hasn't ran outside of Aqueduct. I have no doubts of his ability in New York, but Churchill? Very different from New York. I'm also doubting the field he faced in the Gotham. Was his close into a slow pace against quality speed? Or was it a close into slow pace, but he was facing zero quality speed and just outclassed the field? The second option, to me, is more likely. I have my doubts, but this colt has upside.
13. Oxbow (Wayne Lukas)- Don't know what else to say but: SOLID. Everything. Solid pedigree, solid performance, solid pace parameters. The whole deal. SOLID. It took him a bit to figure things out, but once he did, his potential is shining through.
14. Goldencents (Doug O'Neill)- He couldn't keep the fast pace in the San Felipe. I don't blame him. He only got beat two lengths and got passed by quality late speed. He got a stiff test and he is learning with every race. The drop in ranking is not from disappointment, rather I'm not sure he can get ten furlongs in the Derby, where there will be a hot pace. Good horse, eager to see him improve.
15. Black Onyx (Kelly Breen)- This one just ran a solid Spiral Stakes and beat Uncaptured. I have doubts though, many. First of all, he's not a proven horse on dirt. Second, in his last race, he didn't face much quality closing speed, and he will in the Derby, I'll assure you that. I have trouble thinking he can do it. But, I'll put him on my list out of pure respect of his win over Uncaptured.
16. Power Broker (Bob Baffert)- He completes my Baffert quartet! He's a solid horse, but I must drop him down due to the lack of conditioning. He'll have one prep, do or die. Out of respect for his juvenile runnings and showing of potential, I'll keep him on the tail end of my list.
*NOTE: This might be invalid following the Sunland Derby
*NOTE: Tiz a Minister is not on the list because he is not nominated, but he would be if he was nominated.
Yes, that's right, no Revolutionary. Bag me all you want, I ain't on his bandwagon. Breaking slow and traffic prone are not positive things in the Derby. I question the field he faced in the Withers.
Other Notables: Java's War, Falling Sky, War Academy, Super Ninety Nine, Dynamic Sky, Noble Tune, Rydilluc, Revolutionary.
By Ed S (a.k.a Rafirox)