Dead Heat Debates' Kentucky Derby Top 12

Dead Heat Debates' Kentucky Derby Top 12
Photo: Arron Haggart/Eclipse Sportswire
From East to West we saw stars put on show after show. They came in stakes and came even in maiden races. After a weekend, like last weekend, I was forced to do some major remodeling to my Derby Top 12, and here is where I arrived.  
1.) Itsmyluckyday- He is still the fastest colt out there, who can carry his speed two turns. Some may question if he is a Gulfstream freak, I do not. He has wins at Monmouth and Calder, so I think he is the real deal. There is also the fact that while others have been impressive, no other has strung together two, back to back performances as dominant, as fast, or as brilliant as this one.
2.) Violence- Two more weeks. Two more weeks until he gets the chance to reclaim his top spot. Should he win the Fountain of Youth, he will take it back and one will be hard pressed to take it from him. He’s been working well at Palm Meadows, most recently recording an easy five eights. He is the most versatile of his crop, along with one of the fastest and classiest. We just need to see if he’s made the transition from two to three.
3.) Shanghai Bobby- Before Itsmyluckyday came along he was the unbeaten, undisputed champion. He was easily the fastest of his crop, and up to 8.5f nobody could touch him. Still, even now, most can’t even come close. I think his Holy Bull showed he has taken a step forward, I think it showed he can handle two turns, and most likely nine furlongs. His pedigree says no to 10 furlongs, however, his ability to relax off the lead might be enough to help him get the distance.
4.) Revolutionary- When asked the question of who ran the most impressive race last weekend, the answer was this colt. Slow start, near the back of the pack with a slower pace, trapped on the inside, had to wait and wait and wait for an opening, when one opened he threaded his way through horses and exploded like a keg of dynamite. I would like to see what he could do with a clean trip against better, because while the performance was impressive, he cannot have that type of trip and hope to catch the ones ranked above him.
5.) Flashback- Baffert is back with Flashback. The horse won like he should in a field with only three others, with little pace pressure. The time was decent enough, the win was visually impressive, which is why he is in the top 5. I still have reservations about what he could do at a longer distance, against the best. Tapit’s typically are brilliant up to 8.5f, and then they falter. However, there is no denying this one’s talent.
6.) Verrazano- For me, this one ran the most impressive race last weekend. He was right up on some hot fractions and still won in hand, in a quick time earning the fastest Beyer of his crop. My only reservation is time. Does he have enough time to get points for the Derby? Yes, but he would likely need two more starts, giving him four starts before the Derby. The last horse to win the Derby with four starts the same season was Smarty Jones.
[See where the fans rate them all on HRN's Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders
7.) Will Take Charge- I am still highly impressed with his Smarty Jones win. I do not think the 8.5 furlongs of the Southwest will be an issue for him. The reason why is because he was good enough to get pushed wide on both turns in the Smarty Jones and still have enough to nail the pacesetter and hold of Always In a Tiz.
8.) Always in a Tiz- Like Will Take Charge, I think this one will have no problem with the distance of the Southwest, in fact it may favor him. He will have more ground in the stretch in that race, giving him more time to run down those in front of him. Hopefully his rider learned last time to not get him trapped on the inside. Not everyone can ride the rail as well as Calvin Borel.
9.) Overanalyze- Revolutionary may have the spotlight now, but he may have to yield it soon to Overanalyze. Other than a fourth in the Hopeful, against much more experience foes, while also being stretched a quarter mile longer than his maiden, he has never lost in New York. His Remsen was the fastest race around two turns for any Juvenile, and at 9 furlongs to boot. He showed grit in that race, and if he takes that important step forward this year, he’ll be hard to deal with in the New York preps.
10.) Palace Malice- After a solid, but tough loss in his first start back in several months, Todd Pletcher seems to have chosen the Fair Grounds route for this one. Typically that is an easier route for a horse to take, but with Oxbow, Proud Strike, and possibly Delhomme aiming towards the Risen Star, Palace Malice will have to really step up to win.
11.) Tiz the Truth- Some may question his dominant win, against nothing but maidens, won on an easy lead. That is understandable. I myself wonder. However, it was still very impressive and the fact that Hall of Famer Gary Stevens is his pilot, while Hall of Fame Baffert is he trainer and Hall of Fame Tiznow is his sire makes him all the more interesting of a prospect.
12.) Bradester- He has never finished worse than second, and that was in his debut, against Titletown Five, who last out was beaten a neck to Violence. His next race back, Bradester won handily, then came back to take an allowance at Gulfstream. Since those starts he has been flattered by Proud Strike and Cerro, both came back to win their next starts after being beaten by him. He will face a major class test in the Fountain of Youth, but considering who he’s faced he might just be up to it.

Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college, she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at Virginia Intermont College and then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010, Laura began writing for Horse Racing Nation and has also contributed to Lady and the Track, TwinSpires and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter.

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