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Dueling Down The Stretch

The Dead Heat Kentucky Derby 2013 Top 12

At the beginning of every year an evaluation starts, a search begins. A search and evaluation for the next Kentucky Derby winner. There are facts and there are myths that many use in our search and our evaluations, some are true and some are not. The notion that we have yet to see our Derby winner even run is unfounded. In fact, we’ve probably seen them perform or perhaps even win at the stakes level. The idea of a horse with only two preps being your likely Derby winner has a lot of truth, and has held fast since 2006.
Yes, trends can be broken, which is why the list of potential Derby horses I am about to present to you has a few exceptions to my rules. With that, I will present my Derby Top 12, as of 1-16-2013.

1.)    Violence- This one fits every possible standard I have for a potential Derby Contender. One, the horse must have at least three starts as a two year old. Two, he has run in and won at the stakes level at two years old. Third, and finally, it looks like he will have only two preps going into the Kentucky Derby. His efforts at two were fantastic. He seemed to improve every start and from what I can tell still hasn’t figured it all out yet. Travel doesn’t hurt him, surface doesn’t matter, he seems to relish two turns, he has the perfect running style, and has a tremendous amount of upside.
2.)    Shanghai Bobby- If not for his breeding and the cursed Juvenile Jinx he’d be my number one. He seems to be in a class by himself. He has an excellent juvenile foundation and will also will probably only get two preps. He has won at several distances, and I don’t see him being vulnerable at even nine furlongs to this point. So far he’s taken everything they have thrown at him, distance, travel, no race day meds…everything. Knowing that I’m not going to put anything past an unbeaten champion.
3.)    Itsmyluckyday- He ran several times at two…which does concern me some as too if he can keep his spectacular form up, but on the other hand his foundation cannot be questioned. One could not have predicted such a dominating performance in the Gulfstream Park Derby, even without Purple Egg. Even more unexpected was the time, an astonishing 1.34.39. He has won beyond a mile before, and he isn’t lacking on stamina on his dam’s side, not to mention his sire holds a track record at nine furlongs. Time will tell if that brilliant win was a fluke or if he really is the real deal.
4.)    Frac Daddy- Scat Daddy, his sire is not a stamina influence in the least, but with Seattle Slew, Buckpasser, and Skip Away on his dam’s side we might just see the perfect blend of speed and stamina. In the Kentucky Cup Juvenile he was far less experienced than Uncaptured, but he still battled that foe gamely through the length of the stretch. Three starts at two, with an impressive Stakes performance along with his upside makes him one of the most intriguing prospects running.
5.)    Uncaptured- If not for a bad trip in the Grey Stakes he might just come into the year unbeaten, however if you are one who only goes by starts on dirt, he still is. Two starts on dirt, two starts at Churchill and two wins. His first start on dirt was a tour de force, the next he showed his heart and grit in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Like, Itsmyluckyday, I wonder if he has been raced too much, especially after that hard fought win. I also wonder if he wants much more than 8.5 furlongs.
6.)    Verrazano- He is the first of my exceptions, being that he never raced as a two year old. However, his debut was just that impressive. He is a half-brother to El Padrino who was a top Derby prospect last year. At this point, trainer Todd Pletcher, who trains both, has said Verrazano has actually been even more impressive than his older brother. What lies ahead for the impressive maiden winner is unclear. They could take it slow and skip the Derby, if not, it will be very interesting to watch and see how this one blossoms.
7.)    Tiz the Truth- I love the name, love the sire, and I loved his maiden race. Rated off the pace, ran extremely well in traffic, then proved tough as nails down the stretch. Yes, he was second to Demonic, however, the professionalism he showed in only his second start was amazing. I also am not sure he quite saw Demonic, as he was already engaged with Del Mar Sunset.
8.)    Demonic- He may have won the maiden race and he maybe more talented than the other two, but it looked to me like he hung in the stretch. He could have been tired after a very wide run, but he had all the momentum, looked like he’d go by and he didn’t until the final strides. The talent looks to be there, if they wish to go the Derby route, but if they do they will need to look into fixing that problem of hanging in the stretch.
9.)    Del Mar Sunset- If you couldn’t tell, I found the fourth race at Santa Anita last Sunday very impressive. This one ran wide the entire turn and I think that may have cost him. He was very game when battling in the middle of Demonic and Tiz the Truth, but just didn’t seem to have enough to carry him to the front. With Baffert as the trainer of both Tiz the Truth and this one I see them being tested on the Derby trail at least once. It should be interesting to see his next move with these two.
10.) Dewey Square- He ran a good race in the Kentucky Jockey Club, but was nowhere near the top two. He impressed in his first two starts before that and has been working up a storm in Florida. He looks to be prepping for the Holy Bull, which is coming up to be a very strong race. If he can run well there it will move his stock up quite a bit.
11.) Bradester- This horse, right here, is one of the reason’s Violence is number one. This one ran into quite the competitor when he ran second to the more experienced Titletown Five, in his debut. Titletown Five, won that race in a runaway, but only after being narrowly beaten by Violence. Back to Bradester, after that maiden, he turned a lot of heads when he came back impressively in his second try. Most recently he took an allowance at Gulfstream. It was a workman-like, green win, but the upside is still there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in either the loaded Holy Bull or the Fountain of Youth next out.
12.) Proud Strike- This unlucky horse ran third to Titletown Five and Bradester first asking then was passed by Bradester again in his second start. He had a hiccup in his next race, his first time at the Fair Grounds, but rebounded with a huge win next out. His breeding screams Classics and it looks like he’s finally figuring things out.
This concludes my list of Derby prospects for now. I look forward to seeing how it may change over the next several months. The Road to the Kentucky Derby has finally begun.



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Older Comments about The Dead Heat Kentucky Derby 2013 Top 12...

still early and must tell you this list looks about right so far, excellent insight and very informative, now lets see how everything unfolds from this point until the first Sat. in May.
Good analysis Ms Pugh. Enjoyed it and will keep it handy for the future! Thanks
FRACTIONS ALWAYS SLOW, the longer the distance.......
Fury might actually be a better Belmont horse, as the pace is usually a lot more sane in that race, and he is more likely to get a chance to relax on a lead there than in the Derby.
dfward, Bobby actually doesn't have that style. He does lay closer, but he relaxes. He has only led one race wire to wire and that was the Track Barron. In the Hopefully he was 3 lengths off the pace at the quarter. By the half, with 3/8ths left to go he was near the lead, half a length off. He didn't take the lead till shortly after that. Champagne, he sat a length off of Goldencents, the chart actually reads "rated kindly in the two path while attending the pace setter." He took over at the quarter pole and drew away. His race in the Juvenile was almost identical, rate a length off, take over after 6f, only this time the move was slightly too early. Bobby also has that win beyond a mile, he has shown he doesn't need to be right there. Fury seems to run best when he is leading or right in the thick of it. Only once did he rate and win and that was the race at Fresno. In his next two races he was right there early.
No question that Fury Kapcori will have to relax the first part of the race if he's gonna run 1 1/4 Miles, and that is a good point, but Shaghai Bobby has the same running style and a weaker pedigree for the classic distance.
@Rafi, I just had to throw Bert out there. I know he's a mile high long shot, but other than Revolutionary, I'll take Bert on a muddy surface. That being he is an honest closer. I do have a Russdiculous Top 12 if you care to see that lol
Unless injoured, that is.
@PP: haha. Fury Kapcori should be on this list, no doubt. Fury Kapcori will make noise on the derby trail, guarenteed.
dfwardjr, I do like Tiznow as a sire and Fury does have upside. I just don't like that running style of his and think if he doesn't learn to take back off the pace, instead of getting into a heated duel every time there is other speed, that he will always end up getting caught in the stretch.
dfwardjr, I always root for the Tiznows. He was all heart and determination on the track and has brought back one of the US's most important sire lines into the mainstream. Lots of room for improvement in a Tiznow colt this early in the three year old year.
I do realize you're entitled to your opinion and I respect that, for the sake of discussion I believe that a very large immature colt by Tiznow certainly should improve as he gets older, leading me to think that he still has much upside. We'll find out more on February 2nd
It would be difficult to find a classier female family than that of Violence. You have to give him attention just for that, as well as his running style. The next couple of years we have to keep a close watch on MDO offspring, too. In 2009 Rachel won the Preakness and an eye opening KY Oaks. It was probably too late for a lot of top mares to be bred to him that year (they would have already been bred), but a lot of top mares started going to him in 2010. Those babies will be hitting the track as three year oldk this year for the 2009 breedings and next year for the 2010 breedings. This sire is going to be shooting to the moon in terms of quality of mares covered and offspring. It's going to be fun to watch.
Daniel, you do realize that Fury Kapcori had previous exeperience over synthetic while Violence did not. You do realize, that Violenc has now won on both coasts? While Fury has been limited to one state? You do realize that of the two, Violence was the least experienced? You realize in his two attempts beyond a mile he has gained the lead only to be caught in the stretch? Yes, I think these have more upside, because he has not demonstrated that he can go beyond a mile and win. He has potential, but that running style will not help him in the Kentucky Derby. Others have better styles and have shown more willingness to wait.
Lookout..he's slick...he's sly...he's a playa...he's Smooth Bert
No mention of the Bern man? He's easily top 12. I guess you put it together, this is your list, I shouldn't butt in. Just thought I'd add a little of my opinion.
Where did the 3 other horses that pressed Fury Kapcori early in the CashCall Futurity finish? I know one of them was beaten by 48 lengths, another by 24, and you don't think your top horse got a dream trip? We'll see February 2nd if maybe some of these people will be jumping on the bandwagon
More upside than a Grade I placed newly turned 3YO by Tiznow?
Overanaylze did impress me. Nearly made my top 12. I just want to see him put two wins together and show he's not a Stay Thirsty. Vyjack, ran well enough coming preps will tell more as the competition gets tougher. Normandy....Tapit only has two grade one winners at 10f, only one of them was a 3yr old. Normandy either hung or he didn't have more to give. I will let him prove me wrong. All three can move up if they can keep their form, but I would take Vyjack and Overanalyze over Normandy right now.
New York horses have gotten my attention. Overanalyze won at 9f, and wants more. So does Normandy invasion, who was right behind him. Vyjack looked great as well winning the Jerome. Keep an ey on those 3.

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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 2001. After 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 the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track,, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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