2013 Kentucky Derby: The Shakeup Sweet 16

2013 Kentucky Derby: The Shakeup Sweet 16
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

1. Verrazano (More Than Ready-Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway) Todd Pletcher – The first truly brilliant horse of this foal crop has been identified, and his name is Verrazano. Now comes the hard part. Much like Eskendereya of three years ago, having the most talent does not necessarily mean that you will win the Kentucky Derby, or even make it to the race for that matter. I'm hoping he is more like Curlin than Eskendereya in that regard, because I believe this horse is the real deal. But then again, Curlin did not win the Derby either, did he?  [0 points] 
2. Power Broker (Pulpit-Shop Again, by Wild Again) Bob Baffert – Tick, tick, tick. The hour is getting late and my preseason top selection has still not made it back to the worktab. The good news is it not too late to begin work and get in two solid preps, but that is only assuming he hits the track soon. Obviously, I still like the romping Frontrunner winner, but I can't keep him this high too much longer. [10 points] 
3. Flashback (Tapit-Rhumb Line, by Mr. Greeley) Bob Baffert – Zazu's little brother can run. I'm not crazy about having two such inexperienced colts so high on my list, but I guess that is a sign of the times. Juvenile races have become less important, and many of the real stars of the spring do not begin their careers until after the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. This one has been nothing but impressive in his two starts and certainly looks like the most likely Californian to be in the Kentucky Derby starting gate at this point. Continued improvement makes him a real threat in Louisville for Gary and Mary West.  [10 points]
4. Uncaptured (Lion Heart-Captivating, by Arch) Mark Casse - Another one getting a late start in 2013, but at least we know the plan with this one. And an intersting plan it is, as trainer, Mark Casse plans to keep him on synthetics up to the Derby, with likely runs in the Rushaway and the Blue Grass. The good news is that the five-time stakes winner is already 2-for-2 over the Churchill Downs main track, and has the proven class, of, well ... a five-time stakes winner. [10 points]
5. Revolutionary (War Pass-Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy) Todd Pletcher – Is he a horse with serious issues breaking from the gate, while running in the minor leagues? Or, is he one of the most exciting prospects of the crop who flashed his potential when winning the Withers against all odds. I lean more towards the latter, but I need to see more, as we all know breaking bad in the Derby is almost certain defeat. I also can't say enough about the class that he inherits from a fantastic female side of the pedigree. [10 points]
6. Violence (Medaglia d'Oro -Violent Beauty, by Gone West) Todd Pletcher – All of a sudden he is one of the more forgotten horses from the star-studded barn of Todd Pletcher. That could all change, though, in a few weeks with the running of the Fountain of Youth Stakes. As stated before, he did absolutely nothing wrong in his three starts as a juvenile and looks the part of a classy individual that will be able to carry over his class not only from two to three, but also as the distances increase. [10 points] 
7. Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid-Kreisleriana, by Seeking the Gold) Chad Brown – This is one horse I absolutely need to see on dirt. In each of his four races, all on turf, the Chad Brown trainee has finished with a big closing kick. He gives every indication of wanting longer, and his pedigree clearly supports that belief. He already has two graded stakes wins, and if the BC Juvenile Turf had been more than a flat mile, he may have had a third. The switch to dirt will be interesting, but again, his pedigree promises that he will be able to handle the brown stuff. I think it's time Chad Brown joins the Kentucky Derby party. [0 points] 
8. Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron-Viva La Slew, by Doneraile Court) Edward Plesa - A dark horse no more, Itsmyluckyday showed his ability with a strong run in the Holy Bull to defeat the previously unbeaten, Juvenile Champion, Shanghai Bobby. He continues to remind me of his sire, Lawyer Ron, who also got very good at this point in his career. I never thought that his best distance was ten furlongs, though, and I fear this one may run into the same stumbling block. [10 points]
9. Shanghai Bobby (Harlan's Holiday-Steelin', by Orientate) Todd Pletcher - The two-year-old champion finally tasted defeat in the Holy Bull. The good news is that he ran a very good race that should set him up well to progress for the Florida Derby in March. Unfortunately his performance did nothing to dispel my worry that ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May will be a little beyond his comfort zone. [24 points] 

10. Normandy Invasion (Tapit-Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor) Chad Brown – After a sustained rally that carried him from way back to on the verge of blowing the doors off his Grade 2 Remsen competition, something strange happened. Overanalyze dug in, and it became a head-bobbing thriller to the wire that this son of Tapit came out on the wrong end of the photo. Still it was a strong performance for this lightly raced Chad Brown charge, and I'm always on the lookout for a horse with a strong closing kick on the first Saturday in May. [4 points]

11. Fury Kapcori (Tiznow-Gin Running, by Go For Gin) Jerry Hollendorfer– A little setback this time of year is never a good thing, but hopefully that is all it will be. I really liked his runner-up in the CashCall Futurity. In that race, the winner got the better trip, and the jump on him coming up the rail, but I loved the way he dug back in for the stretch drive. He's in good hands with Hollendorfer, and with horses like Tiznow and Go For Gin in his immediate pedigree, it would be easy to see this one proving stubborn down the Kentucky Derby lane. [4 points] 
12. Proud Strike (Smart Strike-Colonella, by Pleasant Colony) Steve Asmussen - Has all the look a classic late developing colt that will flourish at a distance. The fact that he lost twice already to Bradester means next to nothing to me. In his recent maiden win at Fair Grounds he loooked the part of his superior breeding, his female family is class from top to bottom, and of a horse that is developing quickly into stakes quality. Asmussen came close a few years ago with Nehro, and there's no doubt in my mind that this one is farther along than Nehro was at the same point. [0 points]
13. Goldencents (Into Mischief-Golden Works, by Banker's Gold) Doug O'Neill – I like the fact that he demonstrated a new dimension by coming from slightly off the pace to run by the leader in the Sham, but on the other hand, he was not overly impressive in the win. Still the race was only a prep, and learning experience for the future. He has done absolutely nothing wrong in four solid races and remains the 2012 Kentucky Derby winning trainer's best hope to repeat. [24 points]
14. Overanalyze (Dixie Union-Unacloud, by Unaccounted For) Todd Pletcher – Demonstrated plenty of courage in winning the Futurity from the clouds and then on the battle back in the Remsen, but was no match for Uncaptured in his one trip over the Churchill Downs strip. As one of many in the Pletcher armada, look for him to avoid some of the others by taking the New York route of Gotham and Wood Memorial to see if he earns his ticket back to Louisville. [10 points] 
15. Frac Daddy   (Scat Daddy-Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away) Ken McPeek - I saw a picture of his hoof after the Holy Bull, and it was not pretty. Something like this can heal quickly, though, and it will need to if he is going to be a factor in Louisville. I still remember his strong outings in Louisville last fall, so I'm willing to give him a second chance, but he will have to come back with a strong rebound race in order for me to consider him a real player on Derby Day, let alone to even qualify for the field. [4 points]
16. Oxbow (Awesome Again-Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy) D. Wayne Lukas – What's going on here? D. Wayne Lukas is winning stakes races like they're going out of style. This speedy colt cracks the Sweet 16 after romping home in the Lecomte in New Orleans. He's bred to go the distance, has a win over the Churchill strip, and is improving at the right time. The Lecomte did not strike me as much on quality, though, so things will get much tougher from here on in. But I will never say never where Lukas is concerned. [11 points]

Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to HRN, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing webcast HorseCenter, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves on the Board of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars and is a Vox Populi committee member. He is a voter for racing's Hall of Fame, as well as a weekly NTRA poll voter. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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