Here is my Pre-Gotham Sweet 16!
1. Palace Malice (Todd Pletcher)- I know he might be less accomplished and less experienced than others, but his last outing impressed me a lot. He was forced to sit further than he is used to, in ninth. He got in some traffic around the turn, and was forced four wide or so around the turn. He lugged, got bumped, and drifted. He managed to still get third, despite trouble, facing much more experienced, and seasoned colts. This Curlin baby is not one to overlook.
2. Tiz The Truth (Bob Baffert)- In his first start, he finished second, gamely, only losing by a head. When Gary Stevens hopped on for the second start, this one just simply destroyed his opponents. He didn't break a sweat, the final quarter mile was a pretty good time, and he has the pedigree to get the distance. This maiden winner will be a major player in the Derby if he fulfills his potential.
3. Goldencents (Doug O'neill)- This one has some issues. In his Sham, he lugged his head to the right the entire stretch, he refused to change leads, the final quarter was pretty slow, he was freaking out when sitting in second, and he is small. Many of these issues can be fixed over time with experience and maturity. I loved the fact he was capable of rating right off the pace. I think the time is misleading, because it took him a while to respond in the stretch, but when he did, he drew away. If he struggles going nine, or if these issues seem to not evaporate by the time the derby comes, I'll be quick to jump off the bandwagon.
4. Uncaptured (Mark Casse)- This Casse baby is a five time stakes winner, two for two at Churchill and he is flexible. What's not to like? Not much, however, he has suffered some setbacks with injuries. He has recently been back to work, and he has been training well. Frac Daddy and Dewey Square, both colts he beat at Churchill, weren't in the rear-view mirror of Shanghai Bobby and Itsmyluckyday, but Frac Daddy came out with a grabbed quarter and Dewey Square might have disliked the surface or had a bad day. The next few preps will tell us a lot.
5. Itsmyluckyday (Edward Plesa Jr.)- Perhaps along with Super Ninety Nine, he is the best looking colt. The big colt from Lawyer Ron owns two track records at Gulfstream, for a mile and a mile sixteenth. Is he a Gulfstream lover? Or is he just that good? Unfortunately, we will only see him once more until the Derby, being in the Florida Derby, again at Gulfstream. I have no doubts in his ability at Gulfstream, but what about Churchill? If he adapts to the surface, WATCH OUT!
6. Flashback (Bob Baffert)- My favorite three year old in general. However, I'm not sure how he will handle bigger fields, better colts, and added distance. He was dominate in the Robert B. Lewis, but he was the only speed in the four horse field, with a closer forced to rate him. He had it easy, and just kicked away in the stretch. I have my doubts, however, this one might just be talented enough to overcome them.
7. Dynamic Sky (Mark Casse)- Another Casse colt with talent. I love his competitive style. Much like the New York Giants in 2011-2012, he is a beef as can be. He is used to top-notch competition. He has raced nothing but stakes, and his lone bad outing was the Breeder's Cup Juvenile, where he ran into a major speed bias. Watch out for this one, he ain't going down without a fight.
8. Verrazano (Todd Pletcher)- This far down? Yes. This "freak", while high on potential, is very unproven. He killed an allowance field, but against who? He is a good colt, but this cheap speed looking horse needs to prove me he is deserving for the top five. Fast and talented, but also unproven.
9. Power Broker (Bob Baffert)- This colt ran into a speed bias and went wide around both turns in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile. He only loss by five lengths despite all the trouble. He has a beautiful stalking style that should suit any pace scenario, especially the Derby. He has worked very solid lately, and not one to dismiss from your Derby picture.
10. Shanghai Bobby (Todd Pletcher)- He has done nothing wrong in six career starts. His last start was probably his best, in my honest opinion. While I am still a doubter of his ability going longer, I keep him in my top ten, just out of respect for his consistency.
11. Orb (Claude McGaughey)- His win in the Fountain of Youth was impressive. Everything was set up for him, though. He got a great pace to run at, and Johnny V gave him a beautiful ride. He is well suited to go longer and he probably already has a spot in the field. You can't win it if your not in it. Due to already having 50 points, I think Shug can use his final prep to work on things that Orb can improve. One to watch.
12. Park City (Todd Pletcher)- This Todd colt isn't tested, but he hasn't failed to impress me. I love his stride, and he has the looks to go long. His last race was great, and he is definitely a late bloomer knocking on the door for the top five, no joke.
13. I've Struck a Nerve (Keith Desormeaux)- His last race was nice. I honestly think that one was a fluke, and I think this horse needs to come back with a solid performance to prove to me he deserves a spot in my Sweet 16. In here basically for respect for his last outing, and his 51 points, which is basically a lock for a spot in the derby.
14. Super Ninety Nine (Bob Baffert)- Really beautiful colt. He has stacked a impressive race in an Optional Claiming, in which he won by over three. The next start he romped the Southwest by 11. I wouldn't make to much of the margin, considering it was over the slop. I'm not sure if ten furlongs is for him, for some reason. Nonetheless, good colt with good upside.
15. Normandy Invasion (Chad Brown)- Last out in the Risen Star, he broke slow. He was far back in the early stages. He came flying at the end to take fifth. His races indicate ten furlongs is what he wants. However, he must learn to break quicker out of the gate in order to stay on my list.
16. Bern Identity (Kelly Breen)- Don't know what has happened to this colt. He had a rough trip in the Holy Bull, and might have done a little better. He has gone missing, and I am left wondering. I was thrilled with his Jackpot, and I am eagerly awaiting any news. If he is healthy, I wouldn't count him out of the picture.
No Revolutionary. I know. I might be given some crud for that. But, I don't like that he is traffic prone, and he can't break well. He has yet to face the top colts. I don't wanna a colt for the derby who can't break well.
Other Notables off list- Balance The Books, Delhomme, Overanalyze, Vyjack, Den's Legacy, Falling Sky, Oxbow.
NOTE: Remember this list might be invalid after the Gotham.
-Ed (a.k.a Rafirox)