2013 Kentucky Derby: The Wild, Wild West

2013 Kentucky Derby: The Wild, Wild West
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

1. Verrazano (More Than Ready-Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway) Todd Pletcher – He still hasn't even run in a stakes race, so how could I have him in the top spot? Simple, I think he is the most talented three-year-old I have seen so far this year. Pletcher announced that his road to Louisville will go through Tampa Bay, where he will likely get tested by a decent bunch, but nothing he can't handle. It's a test I expect him to pass impressively. A win there will guarantee him a spot in the Derby starting gate, but one additional prep will be needed to make sure he is ready for the rigors of the run for the roses.  [0 points] 
2. Power Broker (Pulpit-Shop Again, by Wild Again) Bob Baffert – Finally, he is back on the worktab. The juvenile I identified as the most likely to win on the First Saturday in May has now had three workouts in the last two weeks, and his :47 and change from yesterday, shows me that he is starting to get serious. Look for him to get the two preps he needs in March and April on his way to demonstrating why I have so much faith in him. Oh yeah, and I think his trainer likes him just a little bit as well. [10 points] 
3. Flashback (Tapit-Rhumb Line, by Mr. Greeley) Bob Baffert – Another with only two lifetime starts, and another for owners Gary and Mary West. His first two starts have been terrific, and unlike the top one, he already has a graded stakes win on his resume. Things should get much tougher though, than the four-horse race he encountered last time. Having said that, he will certainly be the horse to beat in the March 9 San Felipe, and this gray's talent may just carry him all the way to the promised land.  [10 points] 
4. Orb (Malibu Moon -Lady Liberty, by Unbridled) Shug McGaughey – He was my pick to win the Fountain of Youth, but in all honesty, I was not overly confident in his ability to defeat Violence. Aided by a fast pace, he was able to get the job done, in a race in which I was impressed with both of the top two. With his spot secure, continued improvement under the expert tutelage of Shug McGaughey should make this stretch runner a serious threat on Derby Day, another race in which he should see plenty of pace to run at. [50 points]  

5. Uncaptured (Lion Heart-Captivating, by Arch) Mark Casse - Another one getting a late start in 2013, Uncaptured has as solid a juvenile foundation as any horse on this list. A five-time stakes winner, he is already 2-for-2 over the Churchill Downs main track. It appears that he will not make his seasonal debut until the Spiral Stakes on March 23, but with his foundation already in place, two starts should be plenty to get him prepared to try to run his record under the twin spires to 3-for-3. [10 points]

6. 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]

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 - His two wins this year were very, very good. The fact that he will have a light schedule leading up to the Derby may prove to be a good thing, as too many fast races at the beginning of the year may not be in his best interest. On the other hand, with only the Florida Derby between now and May, any slip up could find him on the outside looking in. The only horse to beat Shanghai Bobby is still a question mark to get ten furlongs in my book, but then again, I guess most of them are.  [10 points]
9. Treasury Bill (Lemon Drop Kid-Wow Me Free, by Menifee) Ron Ellis – This horse has the breeding to go ten furlongs, but he has yet to run beyond seven, and that is one of the reasons I like him so much. I figure if he's shown this much talent in three sprints, think how well he will do when he gets to do what he really craves ... two turns. Ron Ellis will ship him out of town to avoid the other contenders owned by Gary and Mary West, where he should face a tough field in Oaklawn Park's Rebel Stakes. If he does as well in his two-turn debut as I suspect he might, look for him to be moving up the Derby lists with a rush.  [0 points] 
10. Shanghai Bobby (Harlan's Holiday-Steelin', by Orientate) Todd Pletcher - Ok, so now we know that the juvenile champion is not invincible, not that anyone ever thought he was. He's a horse that I've both admired and questioned from the very beginning. A most deserving champion at two, he will need to prove that he can stay above the late-developers, while also prove himself at classic distances. That task may seem daunting, but his first race of 2013 was actually a step in the right direction. Much will be answered in the Florida Derby. [24 points]  

11. Normandy Invasion (Tapit-Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor) Chad Brown – It seems like people either loved him or came away less than impressed after last fall's Remsen Stakes. I fell closer to the former, but unlike many, I am not ready to abandon the bandwagon after his 5th place finish in the Risen Star. He ran a good race, and had the look of a horse that should get a lot out of it and improve next time. Keep in mind, just a few lengths of improvement could well see him in the winner's circle next time. [4 points]  
12. Palace Malice   (Curlin-Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem) Todd Pletcher - I really felt like the colt I saw in person in both his maiden win and then his return loss in an allowance race at Gulfstream, had plenty more to give. I feel so even more strongly after a very solid performance in his first try around two-turns. He may have finished 3rd in the Risen Star, but I came away quite impressed with his sustained run. He may have been just a tad short late, but he figures to only get stronger next time. I also can't help but to root for Cot Campbell. [10 points] 



13. Super Ninety Nine  (Pulpit-Exogenetic, by Unbridled's Song) Bob Baffert – No juvenile impressed me more as far as physical appearance last fall at the Breeders' Cup than this one. Ironically, he ended up being scratched from the BC Sprint, but has looked great since switching to two-turns. He won the Southwest in absolute runaway, and then was flattered by the strong performance of Code West in New Orleans. Obviously a talent, I caution people not to get overly excited about the winning margin in the slop last time, but still there is a lot to like.  [4 points]  

14. Oxbow (Awesome Again-Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy) D. Wayne Lukas He ran his eyeballs out in the Risen Star, coming from an outside post, and chasing the pace all the way around. In my mind it was a performance that validates his big win the time before, and further improvement for his 13-time Triple Crown race conditioner, combined with a little more racing luck, and this one is right back in the mix. [16 points] 
15. 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]  
16. 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] 

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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