Although trainer Steve Asmussen has promising 3-year-olds in his barn, his current list of top Kentucky Derby 2023 hopefuls looks shaky at best right now.
At least Red Route One starts this week in the Grade 3, $750,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. But two of the runners listed below continue to work toward their 2023 debut, and one popular maiden winner has not even hit the work tab since his fast win last October.
Here is one writer’s opinion of the top 3-year-olds trained by Asmussen, along with the Caesar’s Palace and Circa odds.
With some reluctance, Disarm takes up the top spot because of his impressive win at Saratoga on Aug. 6 last summer. In a seven-furlong maiden race, Disarm broke his maiden by an impressive 6 1/4 lengths after stalking the pace.
Disarm completed the seven furlongs in 1:24.51 while earning an 86 Beyer Speed Figure, according to Daily Racing Form, and 102 TimeformUS Speed Figure.
Disarm went on the shelf afterward, but he is likely faster by now and earns this No. 1 spot by default with the lack of other Asmussen-trained options to place up here. With that said, bettors might want to watch Disarm return before unloading.
At the moment, Disarm shows two workouts in January. Expect this promising son of Gun Runner to return in late February or March.
2. Red Route One
From a seasoning standpoint, Red Route One looks a step ahead of the other Asmussen 3-year-olds thanks to his experience in graded-stakes races. Red Route One closed for third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last October and fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs.
In the Kentucky Jockey Club, Red Route One encountered significant traffic problems on the far turn and into the stretch run. For that reason, forget about any figures Red Route One earned in that race, no matter the brand.
The Breeders' Futurity winner Forte took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over Cave Rock in his next start. In addition, the fourth-place Instant Coffee won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and the more recent Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds, while the seventh-place Two Phil’s captured the Street Sense Stakes (G3) over the slop at Churchill Downs before finishing second to Instant Coffee in the Lecomte.
Red Route One does not own the most natural talent of the 3-year-olds in Asmussen’s barn, but he seems likely to make the Kentucky Derby as a reliable closer who can keep hitting the board in points races. A win bet at over 100-1 is value.
For this week’s Southwest (G3), Asmussen put four January works into him. If he closes well and hits the board or wins, keep tabs on this colt down the road.
3. Shopper’s Revenge
Here is another runner with both talent and limited racing experience.
After securing an uncontested lead, Shopper’s Revenge broke his maiden by 5 1/4 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile Oaklawn maiden race Jan. 14. For the winning effort, Shopper’s Revenge earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure and 103 TimeformUS Speed Figure after completing the distance in 1:45.70.
Last November, Shopper’s Revenge also finished a well-beaten second to Determinedly in a maiden race at Churchill Downs. Determinedly later faded to third in the Gun Runner Stakes and won an optional claiming race last weekend at Oaklawn over Tapit’s Conquest.
Right now, the sky is the limit for Shopper’s Revenge.
Does anyone remember Gulfport? He started to lose often last season with runner-up finishes in the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) and Hopeful Stakes (G1) at the end of the Saratoga meet. On Oct. 1, Gulfport tried the Champagne Stakes (G1), where he finished third over slop.
Perhaps the time off after the Champagne loss helped. Gulfport shows three January workouts on his tab and should return to the races soon.
5. Extra Anejo
Out of respect for his raw talent, Extra Anejo finds a spot on this list. But time is running out for this son of Into Mischief to make a points race.
Extra Anejo exploded onto the scene with a 9 1/2-length win at Keeneland on Oct. 13 to break his maiden at first asking. He earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure and 119 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the eye-catching romp.
But Extra Anejo underwent surgery for a bone chip, and Asmussen has not given any news on his status. Keep in mind that most horses need at least four to six workouts to prepare for a race, and currently he shows zero since the October maiden win.
He needs to prepare now to make one of the final points races. For that reason, future bettors probably should avoid this colt and wait for news.