Derby Rankings Week 1: Back on the Trail Again

Welcome to the 2021 Kentucky Derby trail and the start of our Derby Rankings. Unlike the Derby Dozen, the rankings will not be limited to 12 horses, but we will begin with a dozen in order to properly introduce each horse in detail. In future weeks, the comments will be shorter and we will provide more information in the Knocking on the Door section. All readers’ comments are welcome whether you agree or disagree. So please stop by every week, share your opinions, and hopefully we can create a much-needed diversion from these crazy and scary times. Let the fun begin. ~ Steve Haskin

Derby Rankings: Back on the Trail Again

By Steve Haskin


1. Essential Quality (Brad Cox, Tapit – Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality)

No need for any brilliant insight here, although I’m still not sure how good he is because of his great setups. He gets the No. 1 ranking because he’s an undefeated champion with two Grade 1 victories already, he hasn’t shown any noticeable weaknesses, and he has the right running style. He also showed the ability to adapt to any kind of pace, battling for the lead off slow fractions in the Breeders Futurity and coming from farther back off a fast pace in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, while showing good acceleration on the turn. And most of all, no one else has done enough to merit the top spot, although that may change after a couple of jaw-dropping first time out maiden winners step up in their next start. If you want to pick away at him a little, his pedigree is just OK with way too much inbreeding for my liking and his dam and third dam being pure sprinters. He had a perfect setup in the Breeders’ Juvenile when Keepmeinmind’s rabbit set a fast pace, hurting the chances of favored Jackie’s Warrior and everyone else near the lead. And finally he does paddle very slightly with his left leg. But at this point he is the most accomplished of this group, but I’m still waiting for someone to blow me away.


2. Keepmeinmind (Robertino Diodoro, Laoban – Inclination, by Victory Gallop)

If there is one thing you want to see in a deep closer, it is consistency and the ability to rally off any kind of pace and not have to depend on perfect setups. This colt has run four times, three going 1 1/16 miles and once going a mile, and in each race he came home fast and was right there at the finish off fast half-mile fractions of :45 1/5 and :45 4/5 and slow half-mile fractions of :48 4/5 and :48 1/5. The farthest he’s been beaten was 3 1/4 lengths in the Breeders’ Futurity behind Essential Quality, who was right up on the lead through a slow three-quarters in 1:13 2/5. With blinkers added and help from a rabbit, he came from 18 lengths back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to be beaten two lengths by Essential Quality. In the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, he was last, but only six lengths behind a very slow pace, and rallied six-wide to win by three-quarters of a length with a rapid final sixteenth in :06 1/5. He has proven to be a relentless closer regardless of the pace and now has a victory and a second at Churchill Downs. From a visual standpoint, he keeps a straight course down the stretch and holds his legs under him perfectly. He looks to be the ultimate pro and there is nothing to dislike about him.


3. Senor Buscador (Todd Fincher, Mineshaft – Rose’s Desert, by Desert God)

This ranking is from the heart as well as the visuals and will be explained next week. It is based on two eye-popping performances at Remington Park, yes, Remington Park. People frown on horses who come from the clouds, but this horse doesn’t just rally from far back to win, he inhales his opponents and leaves them for dead. In both his starts he was never hustled out of the gate and immediately fell five lengths behind the next-to-last horse. In his debut going 5 1/2 furlongs, he took off around the turn, fanned seven-wide and flew by the leaders with only 50 yards to go and still won off by 2 1/2 lengths in a sprightly 1:03 3/5, earning a solid “7” Thoro-Graph figure. Stretching out to a mile in the Springboard Mile, he was 15 lengths back down the backstretch, but again kicked into high gear on the turn, fanned eight-wide, and blew by the leaders at the eighth pole like they were moving in slow motion. In a flash, he was three in front and just kept pouring it on to win by almost six lengths, coming home his last eighth in :12 flat and final three-eighths in a rapid :36 flat, this time earning a sensational “2 3/4″ Thoro-Graph figure, the same as Life is Good in the Sham Stakes. You rarely see such explosions and big winning margins from a deep closer. We should get a better line on him when runner-up Cowan runs in the Smarty Jones Stakes on Friday, but not sure he can beat Caddo River.


4. Life is Good (Bob Baffert, Into Mischief – Beachwalk, by Distorted Humor)

OK, put on the brakes if you were disappointed in seeing his four-length lead in the Sham Stakes evaporate into a frantic three-quarters of a length victory. You have to take into consideration that he had earned a “2 3/4″ Thoro-Graph number in his maiden romp, going four-wide on the first turn, and went into the Sham having worked a scorching six furlongs in 1:10 3/5 six days before the race. He was going two turns for the first time and Mike Smith had him geared down completely in the stretch. When he realized another (Baffert) horse was closing in quickly, he went from a pull to a drive in a matter of seconds, something the colt had never experienced before and he began to drift out. This will, in my opinion, help him, as you don’t want a young horse to think everything is easy and not know how to react when pressured for the first time. With all this, he still paired up his “2 3/4” Thoro-Graph number, which is just what you want to see. You don’t want him to regress too much off that first race, but more important, you don’t want a young inexperienced horse to run faster this early in the year. Also note that the second- and fourth-place finishers in his 9 1/2-length maiden victory both came back to win their next start impressively.


5. Greatest Honour (Shug McGaughey, Tapit – Tiffany’s Honour, by Street Cry)

He still needs to move up in class, but so far he looks like your quintessential Derby-type horse who is improving with every start, as indicated by his Thoro-Graph pattern, debuting with a “10” and three starts later running a “4 1/2.” In his first two starts sprinting he finished right behind a very fast and talented colt in Caddo River. Stretching out to 1 1/8 miles over a dead track at Aqueduct he hooked up in a gut-wrenching stretch duel with the highly regarded Pletcher horse Known Agenda after a long sustained run through dawdling fractions and was beaten a head with a gap of 21 lengths back to the third horse, another promising Pletcher horse. Then at Gulfstream going 1 1/16 miles, he dropped back to last early and was bothered by a horse who unseated his rider, but shrugged it off and moved up methodically going four-wide and ran down a $725,000 Pletcher horse under a hand ride to win by 1 1/2 lengths, coming home in a sharp :24 1/5 and :06 1/5. If you’re looking for a mouth-watering pedigree, his dam is a half-sister to Belmont winners Rags to Riches and Jazil, as well as Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Man of Iron and Peter Pan winner Casino Drive. His second dam Better Than Honour is a half-sister to the dam of Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks winner Peeping Fawn, and his third dam Blush With Pride won the Kentucky Oaks and Ashland Stakes and is a half-sister to Sex Appeal, the dam of Irish Derby and 2,000 Guineas winner El Gran Senor.


6. Medina Spirit (Bob Baffert, Protonico – Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed)

Baffert ran this colt in the Sham Stakes against Life is Good with the thought of sending him to Saudi Arabia for their rich Derby, but he ran such a strong race he decided to keep him home and leave him on the Kentucky Derby trail. He showed good speed in his debut going 5 1/2 furlongs, winning off by three lengths. Stretching out to a two-turn mile in the Sham he put a scare into Life is Good, closing strongly to be beaten three-quarters of a length. What made this such a powerful race by the top two, it was 12 3/4 lengths back to the highly regarded Parnelli, who I had ranked in my Top 10 before this race. Medina Spirit’s Thoro-Graph number jumped from a “9 1/2″ to a “3 1/4.” I love the way this horse runs with his front legs perfectly aligned, while keeping a straight course. His breeding is not typical for a Baffert-trained horse but before you ask, “who are those horses?” Protonico is a son of Giant’s Causeway and was a graded stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles and placed in the 1 1/2-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup. Brilliant Speed is by Dynaformer and his second dam is a full-sister to Belmont winner Touch Gold. In fact, of Medina Spirit’s four great-grandsires, one won the Belmont, one won the Kentucky Derby, one sired a Kentucky Derby winner, and one sired a Preakness and Belmont winner. Distance will not be a problem.


7. Smiley Sobotka (Dale Romans, Brody’s Cause – Dance Thewayyouare, by Mineshaft)

Not sure yet how he stacks up against stablemate Sittin’ On Go, who outworked him on Jan. 16, but he did beat him fairly soundly in his game second-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes coming off a maiden score and making his two-turn debut. I’m also not sure if he was in there to assure a good pace, but he did go to the lead for the first time and just kept going despite constant pressure from two horses on his outside. He actually was headed by both horses at the top of the stretch and battled back to take the lead again. I loved how gutsy he was turning back all challenges and I don’t believe he ever saw the victorious Keepmeinmind on his far outside. His maiden victory at Keeneland was very impressive, and I love his professionalism and the way he moves with his head low and neck extended. Despite a series of left-handed whips in his maiden win he never moved off his path the length of the stretch. And he ran just as straight down the lane in the Kentucky Jockey Club. I don’t believe he wants to be on the lead and I would imagine we’ll see him take back off the pace again. He has plenty of stamina top and bottom, and his fourth dam, Sabin, was a top-class grass filly who won 12 graded stakes and placed in the Alabama.


8. Known Agenda (Todd Pletcher, Curlin – Byrama, by Byron)

This colt may have the best stamina breeding of any 3-year-old and he has already been a mile and an eighth twice. In his debut, he ran a strong second to the highly promising Highly Motivated going 6 1/2 furlongs and then stretched out to nine furlongs and outgamed Greatest Honour in a furious stretch dual, in which they finished 21 lengths ahead of the third horse. In the Remsen, although he was third, beaten nine lengths, he gets a pass, as it looked as if he detested the slop, having to be whipped three times down the backstretch. He still was trying in the stretch and never quit. He has one of the great European stamina lines. His maternal great-grandsire Darshaan won the French Derby and was a champion sire and broodmare sire in three countries: Darshaan’s sire Shirley Heights won the English Derby and Irish Derby and was a top-class stallion, siring a French Derby winner and English Derby winner in back-to-back years; and Shirley Heights’ sire Mill Reef was one of the greatest racehorses and sires of all time, winning the English Derby, Arc de Triomphe, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and numerous other Group 1 races, and siring eight classic winners and a Breeders’ Cup Turf winner.


9. Prime Factor (Todd Pletcher, Quality Road – Haylie Brae, by Bernardini)

I normally would never rank a maiden winner with one career start, but I’m getting bolder in my old age and this colt not only was super impressive in his debut, he did everything like a seasoned pro. He broke perfectly straight and rated kindly off the leader while just flicking his ears back and forth through testing fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 1/5 like it was nothing. At no point was he put to pressure, just coasting to the lead nearing the head of the stretch, still flicking his ears around. After switching leads on cue, Irad Ortiz gave him a couple of short crosses and he was gone, running straight as a proverbial arrow down the stretch, his legs perfectly aligned. And he was eased the last sixteenth, winning by nearly nine lengths with his ears pricked. This was as perfect a debut as you could ask for. His sire was brilliant and could carry his speed and his dam is by Bernardini, out of a full-sister to Canadian Triple Crown winner and Hall of Famer Dance Smartly and a half-sister to Smart Strike, sire of classic winners Curlin and Lookin At Lucky. He is coming off a pair of sharp five-furlong works and his next start against winners will tell us if he’s just a flashy maiden winner or a leading Derby contender.


10. Capo Kane (Harold Wyner, Street Sense – Twirl Me, by Hard Spun)

For every Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher there has to be a Todd Fincher and a Harold Wyner to assure some semblance of balance and give hope to the “little guy.” Wyner, who showed he knows how to develop a good young horse with his early work last year with Ny Traffic, now has a chance to take one all the way. Capo Kane has been in the auction ring four times, selling for $35,000 and then $75,000 as a yearling. He RNA’d for $87,000 as a 2-year-old before taking a major nosedive at the Timonium sale, selling for a paltry $26,000. Training at Parx, he was sent off at odds of nearly 7-1 in the one-mile Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, despite coming off an impressive romp in a mile and 70-yard maiden race. In the Jerome he went right to the lead from the rail and just kept pouring it on, winning by 6 1/2 lengths. What I love about this horse is his ability to repulse challenges while still on cruise control and then bound away from his rivals despite being green with a tendency to wander in the stretch. He is a very efficient mover with an effortless stride and is light on his feet. By a Kentucky Derby winner, his female family is loaded with European stamina with two English Derby winners and an Arc de Triomphe winner, and his third dam, French-bred Tuzla, earned $1.3 million, most of it in the United States.


11. Roman Centurian (Simon Callaghan, Empire Maker – Spare Change, by Bernardini)

Because a precedent has been set regarding first-out maiden winners and to keep things lively on here rather than list only the obvious horses, I am including another maiden winner who really caught the eye. After chasing Life is Good in his debut he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles facing two more promising Baffert colts. He settled near the back of the pack, but always in sight of the leaders. When asked for his run on the turn he demonstrated an excellent turn of foot and quickly reached contention nearing the top of the stretch while going five-wide. He charged to the lead leaving the eighth pole and quickly drew off with a final sixteenth in :06 1/5 to win by almost four lengths, running perfectly straight down the stretch, and was a dozen lengths clear on the gallop-out. His Thoro-Graph number jumped from a “13” to a “6.” If you’re looking for a pedigree loaded with class, The Phippses bred his first four dams, his second and third dams were Grade 1 winners, his fourth dam was a Grade 2 winner and the dam of three Grade 1 winners, and his fifth dam, Lady Pitt, won the CCA Oaks, Mother Goose, and Delaware Handicap.


12. Caddo River (Brad Cox, Hard Spun – Pangburn, by Congrats)

I don’t know how far this colt can carry his speed, but he is extremely fast and we know he can carry it a flat mile. There is no reason why he shouldn’t win Friday’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn, so we’ll keep him ranked for now and see how he fares. He has shown he can rattle off :44 and change and :45 and change half-miles and keep going, but can he rate when he goes two turns? His breeding says he should, so Friday’s race could be a good spot to teach him to harness some of that speed if he is to be considered a Derby horse. What I liked most about his nine-length maiden romp last time out was the way he hugged the rail every step of the way, cut the corner sharply, and was never touched with the whip. That to me showed how athletic he is. And his jump from a pair of “9 1/2″ Thoro-Graph numbers to a “4 1/4″ was a good step forward. If he shows all the right signs in the Smarty Jones he likely will move up several places.



It’s tough separating the first three finishers of the Lecomte, as MIDNIGHT BOURBON, PROXY, and MANDALOUN ran 1-2-3 the whole way around, so we’re going give that race a week to sink in and go more in depth next week. All three at this point look to be legitimate Derby contenders, but still are knocking on the door. Two other visually impressive maiden winners we’re watching closely are AMOUNT, who looks to have all the tools and certainly the pedigree, but needs to improve off his “9 1/2″ Thoro-Graph number, and PRATE, another Into Mischief who looked great visually but has some distance questions. The horse he beat handily, BLAMEWORTHY, came back and broke his maiden in game fashion Saturday. First-out winner WOLFIE’S DYNAGHOST, a beautifully bred half-brother to Sadler’s Joy, hasn’t worked since Nov. 14. Also WIPE THE SLATE was an impressive winner coming off his second to Life is Good, but with his questionable female family I need to see him go two turns. The same goes for first-out winner DEFEATER. Finally, the improving WEYBURN is working lights out at Belmont and bears watching when he stretches out to two turns.

Some of the more accomplished horses right on the edge of the Rankings who will be discussed in detail in the next couple of weeks are the immensely talented JACKIE’S WARRIOR, who has to show he wasn’t exposed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a need-the-lead type of horse; BC Juvenile runner-up HOT ROD CHARLIE, who is a half-brother to a Sprint champion and the great-grandson of a Sprint champion; SPIELBERG, who no doubt is a talented horse and worked a strong six furlongs Saturday, but not sure where he ranks in the Baffert barn; MUTASAABEQ, who beat a questionable field in workmanlike fashion in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes and may be a better grass horse; the John Shirreffs-trained RED FLAG and PARNELLI, both of whom I was very high on before their most recent disappointing performances; SITTIN ON GO, who has regressed speed-wise since his impressive Iroquois Stakes score, but deserves one more shot, especially with the way he’s been working; BROOKLYN STRONG, who hasn’t worked since his Remsen Stakes victory; ROMBAUER, who is classy and has a good closing kick, but needs to show a quicker turn of foot in the stretch; Nyquist Stakes winner HIGHLY MOTIVATED, who had his first work back on Saturday and if he can handle two turns, watch out; and we’re still waiting for major stakes horses REINVESTMENT RISK, DR. SCHIVEL, and GET HER NUMBER to return to the work tab, as well as the highly promising maiden winner SPEAKER’S CORNER.

Shug McGaughey has stopped on Remsen and Nashua runner-up TEN FOR TEN, and the horse who beat him in the Nashua, PICKIN TIME, ran poorly in his two subsequent starts. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner FIRE AT WILL is bred for turf but has begun breezing on dirt at Gulfstream and is expected to try the Derby trail.

So far, the claim of the year goes to RIGHTANDJUST, who was claimed for $50,000 in a race he won wire to wire by 5 1/2 lengths and then came back Saturday to wire his field again in a competitive 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Fair Grounds at 22-1. And how about this: his sire Awesome Again and broodmare sire Tiznow have three Breeders’ Cup Classic wins between them. One horse who has me stumped is Saturday’s Pasco Stakes winner NOVA RAGS. There is a lot about him I love, but I still haven’t decided if he’s better sprinting. More on him next week.

Leave a Reply

205 Responses to “Derby Rankings Week 1: Back on the Trail Again”

  1. Jbumi says:

    Hey, welcome back to the Web! Just heard about you setting up here & continuing the Derby Rankings!

    “…I’m still not sure how good he is because of his great setups.” Andy Serling said something similar last weekend on tv. I feel for EQ – has everyone forgotten his MSW win by 4 lengths after all the trouble he had in the stretch?! It got my attention! Not saying he’s a lock for the Derby – it’s only Jan.; nobody, imo, is yet.

    Glad to see you back! Hope you’re enjoying retirement!

    Wishing all runners good luck & safe trips!!

  2. Where do you seek Senor Buscador going forward? Do you envision him getting bought on the trail and shifted to a new barn a la War Emblem?

  3. 1GCFAN says:

    The good Senor Buscador was indeed impressive. Anxious to see if he keeps moving forward or is another Sol Volente.

    I bet the wrong horse (Full Court Press) yesterday as that Prevalence monster mowed them down. Prevalence, Essential Quality and the good Senior for me.

  4. EddieF says:

    I just made small KDFW bets on Steve’s #2 Keepmeinmind (25-1) and Mandaloun (42-1). You all would do well to scratch those two off your lists because I don’t recall ever cashing a January KDFW ticket. But both have already shown toughness and a flexible running style.

    • EddieF says:

      Canceled bet on Keepmeinmind, as he dropped to 19-1. Replaced with Steve’s #5, Greatest Honour, currently at 43-1. Anybody else have FW action?

      • Steve Haskin says:

        Well, Keepmeinmind is no longer No. 2 and Greatest Honour has a new ranking as well

      • Matthew W says:

        How do you cancel? I thought they didn’t let you cancel on the futures wagers….

        • EddieF says:

          Matthew, as long as the race or in this case the FW hasn’t closed, you can delete a bet. I use TwinSpires, but I would guess the option is available no matter which online betting site that you use.

          • Matthew W says:

            Not for me they didn’t–not on TVG, and they tell you that…also not at the track–I bet at the track when it’s open, and as soon as the ticket pops out–you cannot cancel it–they just pop it back to you…

      • Matthew W says:

        I put a fiver on Wipe the Slate (90-1 when I bet him)

        • Matthew W says:

          Ended up 80-1…gosh, 9/5 on all others is a great price—and the exacta all others/Wipe the Slate is big, too….

          • EddieF says:

            Actually ended up at 87-1, easily the longest shot on the board. I don’t think I’d survive watching my 87-1 shot crossing the finish line first. Good luck!

            • Matthew W says:

              Nyquist—which is good…but Zensational underneath–a sprinter, and a knowledgeable person told me he has a sprinter’s stride—but it’s only five bucks!

  5. Nelson Maan says:

    The upcoming Holy Bull Stakes marks the start of Gulftream’s road to the Derby and will likely pit horses that Steve has ranked high (Known Agenda, Prime Factor, Smiley Sobotka, Greatest Honour). Also nominated are some “KNOCKING ON THE DOOR” horses (Mutasaabeq, Sittin on Go, Amount)… Pletcher has also nominated Donegal Bay but he may instead send someone to Tampa’s Sam F. Davis as usual.

    Dale Romans may wait on Smiley Sobotka and rely on a big rebound from Sittin on Go.

    I don’t know why I had this sneaky feeling about the Holy Bull not being one credible avenue to the Derby. After reviewing its history I found that in 22 of the last 24 years at least one horse who ran in the Holy Bull reached the Derby starting gate.

    Among notable names who competed in that early Stakes are Harlan’s Holiday, FUNNY CIDE, Closing Argument, BARBARO (his first dirt race), Scat Daddy, Nobiz Like Showbiz, Dialed In, Upstart, Frosted, Mucho Macho Man, Mohaymen, Gunnevera, Classic Empire, Audible and no other than Tiz the Law last year.
    This time Prime Factor looks ready to deliver a nice spectacle given the way he is training. As Steve noted, his resounding debut makes him a leading prospect in Pletcher’s band. Prime Factor worked 5F in 59.85 and the Mucho Macho Man winner Mutasaabeq worked 4F in 47.37 yesterday at Palm Beach Downs. Both horses are primed to get Derby qualifying points rather early.

    Greatest Honour worked 50.80 at Payson Park today. The son of Tapit is progressing steadily but surely in form and will be a strong contender in the Holy Bull. One has to be impressed by his win at Gulfstream Park after being awfully bothered by falling horse. Despite those hiccups Greatest Honor registered a tremendous speed figure.

    It is curious that Olympiad and Speaker’s Corner both graduated by defeating Caddo River and Greatest Honour who came 2nd and 3rd in those two Maiden races in New York.

    Both Caddo River and Greatest Honour have evolved to be very capable runners which makes us wonder what could be happening with Olympiad and Speaker’s Corner if they return in good order… but there is no linearity in horse racing and every horse is subjected to its own circumstances.

    The next SHDR will be very interesting…

    Exciting times ahead indeed!

    • EddieF says:

      Nevertheless, the HB pales in comparison to the FOY and the Fla Derby as a significant Derby prep. But Florida-raced horses have had an advantage over the past 20 years of the Ky Derby. Greatest Honour will be tough to beat in the HB.

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Nelson, the Holy Bull has always been one of my must-watch races. As the long skein of winners you list atests, this is a break-out race for promising young 3YOs (and future sires). Looking forward to seeing some real racing in February!

    • Coldfacts says:

      I am of the opinion the #5 ranking assigned to Greatest Honour is extremely generous.

      A grinder usually has long strides with a slow turn over rate. Such horses have to be put to a full drive a long way from the finish line. Such a strategy results in early demands on the energy systems of a horse. Early demands results in early depletion of said energy systems. This usually results with a compromised stretch run that is usually lacking in the acceleration sufficient to overhaul classy opponents.

      Greatest Honour has the running profile of a grinder. Even if he doesn’t accurately fix into this category he isn’t outside same. The fractions recorded in his maiden breaker were modest at best. He was under a full drive a long way from home. At the end of the race he appeared an extremely tired running that had very little gallop out.

      It is unlikely Greatest Honour will do well against classy high cruisers that can accelerate out of cruising speed and sustain gallops to the line. Only a pace meltdown or stamina deficient opponents will provide a planform for a victory by Greatest Honour against the upper echelon of the division..

      I could be doing a disservice to this colt and if I am proven wrong, I will be happy to man up and declare I was wrong.

  6. perimeister says:

    Tourist’s Cristiano’s Dream and Wentru made very good, though different, first impressions last weekend.
    (To counterbalance Traveller’s disappointing run yesterday.)

    (Repeated because I intended this to start a new topic.)

  7. Matthew Wohlken says:

    The Lewis next week—-Roman Centurian, Speilberg, Wipe the Slate and another good one whose name escapes me—I only want to see Roman Centurian finishing, is all…I think he’s going to be a ten furlong type…..Speilberg was flattered by yesterday’s The Great One’s 14 length win….Wipe the Slate has trained well….game on! the 2018 crop might be something special….we can use that.

  8. Coldfacts says:

    Of the horses in the last 10 years that contested the Kentucky Derby after making their debuts as 3YOs. Three recorded top 3 finishes:


    02/03/2007 – MSW- 7F
    03/17/2007 – Rebel Stakes 8 1/2F
    04/14/2007 – AK Derby 9F
    05/05/2007 – Kentucky Derby 10F (Finished 3rd; 2 week later won the Preakness)


    01/01/2012 – MSWt – 5 1/2F
    02/11/2012 – MSW 8F
    03/10/2012 – San Felipe 81/2F
    04/14/2012 – AK Derby 9F
    05/05/2007 – Kentucky Derby 10F (Finished 2nd; 2 week later again 2nd in the Preakness)


    02/18/2018 – Debut – 7f MSW
    03/13/2018 – Allowance 8 1/2F
    04/07/2018 – SA Derby 9F
    05/05/2018 – Kentucky Derby 10F (Won TC)

    If the connections of the impressive MSW winner Prevalence are targeting the KD. The colt is likely to make either 2 or 3 additional starts ahead of the big race. Both Curlin and Justify made 3 starts before their KD effort. Bodemeister made 4 starts ahead of his.

    The big question regarding Prevalence has to be. Should the connections of the colt target the KD given that Essential Quality and the improving Proxy belong to the same ownership? I contend Godolphin should if colt is providing indications he is they type of a horse.

    Not all horses that make their debut as a 3YO should de directed to the KD. Only the exceptional ones should. Prevalence’s debut win was just as impressive as those recorded by Curlin and Justify. Bodemiester was ultra impressive when breaking his maiden in his 2nd start..

    The ease with which the 3 horses above won their races heading into the Derby, suggested they were capable of more. None of the above three were truly fully extended ahead of the KD. Assuming Prevalence in like Ciurlin and not like Hidden Scroll. The ease with which he covered 7F in 1:23 whilst eased a long way from the finish line. Suggests he has a lot more to offer. Further, has a pedigree that features a serious combination of speed and stamina..

    When Maxfield won the Keeneland Breeders Futurity with a breathtaking last to first explosion. His trainer Brendon Walsh, in a post race interview, stated that “some horse breath a different type of air” If Prevalence is not flattering to deceive. He might be just one of these horses.

    • EddieF says:

      Hey, Coldfacts. Between 1937 and 2019, only one of 63 starters won the Derby after debuting at 3 years of age. Only nine were in the money. That’s enough for me to be highly skeptical of this type unless the colt’s numbers were astounding. Regarding your facts, Coldfacts, Curlin was a 3yo twelve years ago, he doesn’t qualify under your “last 10 years” calculation. You also left out Battle of Midway, who finished second in the 2017 Derby. So, yes, three horses finished in the money in the last 10 years. 🙂 Keep ’em coming!

      • Matthew W says:

        Well…you really cannot go by that because it’s a different era…..Horses ran a lot at two back then, and horses carried 130 back then….and you could watch two movies and have a cheeseburger and a Nesbitts soda for a quarter back then (my dad used to tell me) and if you were lucky they threw in a Three Stooges short in between movies—the ones with Curly!

        • Matthew says:

          (nyuk nyuk!)

        • EddieF says:

          Soitenly, Matthew! Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck! But regardless of the era, we’re still talking about very young and very inexperienced horses running 10 furlongs in May against top company. Can you guess what decade saw the most Derby runners that were unraced at 2? Answer: the 1970s, which had 16 Derby runners that debuted as 3yos.

          • perimeister says:

            That’s a surprising fact. Where do you find them?
            That decade also saw Affirmed run 9 times as a two year old, winning 7 and placing twice.
            Slew “only” went 3 for 3 as a two year old.

            • EddieF says:

              Yup, Derby hopefuls raced much more frequently in the old days. I find the Derby facts in the dumpster behind my neighborhood’s Waffle House. I don’t know why someone is always throwing out Derby Media Guides. Only problem is that they’re sticky with syrup and attract ants.

          • Nelson Maan says:

            I would guess it was the 1971 or 1974 Derby with that many “rookies”… I am looking at all the dumpsters behind the Casinos here to let you know my final answer…

            • Nelson Maan says:

              I am finding a lot of disposed face masks only so far…

            • EddieF says:

              Actually they were spread out over the decade. Only 1973 had more than 2 of them (there were 3 that year). Bit of advice: Use a step ladder for the dumpsters.

              • perimeister says:

                I find that throwing my cap into the dumpster is sufficient to get me over the side and into the dumpster. Once I am in, throwing the cap over the side usually works to get me out.

                A few times, I didn’t keep the number of dives equal to the number of exits. P.U.

              • Matthew W says:

                I think maybe Forego was unraced at two–but not certain…I do remember Forego worked :57 flat the week before the (1973) Derby…

              • EddieF says:

                Yes, Forego’s debut was January 17, and he had 6 more races before the Derby. Can’t remember who won the Derby that year. 🙂 🙂 🙂

                That must be a valuable cap.

    • EddieF says:

      Correction for both of us: Curlin was almost 14 years ago!

    • Davids says:

      Well, Godolphin has had numerous runners in the Epsom Derby on numerous occasions. If Prevalence has enough points, he’ll make the field. You may want to check on how many Medaglia d’Oro colts have actually made it to the Derby and how ‘he’ faired in the race. I wouldn’t be getting too excited on Prevalence’s chances.

  9. Davids says:

    Well Steve, The Great One might just be aptly named and, moreover, the best 3 year old colt in California might not be trained by Bob Baffert after all. How quickly things can change in the blink of an eye on the Derby Trail?

    • Coldfacts says:

      How do you reconcile your comment with the fact that the BB trained Spielberg has defeated The Great One twice. Isn’t it a case of when the cats away the mice will play.

      On a more serious note. Are you of the opinion that The great One has supersede Life Is Goo? Spielberg struggled to get by TGO in Los Al Futurity. It is therefore likely he has surpassed Spielberg. But Life Is Good is a totally different animal.

      Any horse that covers ground so effortlessly is an energy saving machine. What it lacks in stamina is compensated for by energy efficiency.

      • Matthew W says:

        Horses get better….92 Beyer….still, it was a very fast pace, and he drew away from 3 horses….I like Prevalence better…good race coming up, The Lewis….I don’t need to see Roman Centurian win, just want to see him finish….I like many three year olds, this year inspires, there’s nothing in sports that can get my blood going quite like Spring in Thoroughbred racing….and no better blog than Steve Haskin’s….and no more interesting poster than Coldfacts!

      • Davids says:

        It was more a humorous comment than being a ‘true believer.’ Often, you see quite a few remarkable performances in January that are never replicated come April/May. Stakes races are when it counts, wait and see.

    • Coldfacts says:

      How do you reconcile your comment with the fact that the BB trained Spielberg has defeated The Great One twice. Is it not a case of when the cats away the mice will play.

      On a more serious note. Are you of the opinion that The great One has superseded Life Is Goo? Spielberg struggled to get by TGO in Los Al Futurity. It is therefore likely that he has surpassed Spielberg. But Life Is Good is a totally different animal.

      Any horse that covers ground so effortlessly as LIG, is an energy saving machine. What he might lacks in stamina is compensated for by energy efficiency.

  10. 1JoeP says:

    Steve – a wow performance from Prevalence today at GP in a MSW. Prevalence is a Godolphin colt by Medaglio’Doro. What do you think of Prevalence moving forward as a KY Derby horse?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      It was an amazing performance, but I cant see how he can have more than 3 career starts before the Derby unless they cram. They have Essential Quality and Proxy so I wouldnt push him

  11. Nelson Maan says:

    Prevalence (Medaglia D’Oro – Enrichment by Ghostzapper) an eye catching (debut) winner for Godolphin at Gulfstream (6th)… he won with mind-blowing ease logging 22.66 46.09 70″ 45 and finished in a very telling 83 flat for the 7F.

    Toyed with the highly regarded debutante Stage Rider (Pioneerof the Nile – Stage Magic by Ghostzapper) half to Justify and by the sire of American Pharoah … no less!

    Prevalence is another exciting prospect to keep an eye on…

    • Coldfacts says:

      Great minds think a like.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        LOL … I was about to change eye catching by dazzling … but it is eye catching for both of us who are keeping track of the Royal Blue talents… keep it up!

        • Davids says:

          …and then you watched The Great One win at Santa Anita.

          • Nelson Maan says:

            And here comes Nyquist !

            • Davids says:

              Perhaps, this crop of three year olds are above average.

              • Matthew says:

                It’s early but I think you may be right….everything about Prevalence impresses me, right down to his beautiful head, coming up the inside like that, and he did it so easily….I wouldn’t be playing him in KD futures, however, but Godolfin has always targeted The Kentucky Derby, they even created a “duplicate” track, trying to get a better Derby horse, so they will point him …..I hope they take care of that guy, I saw his string of 5 furlong works in December, each one faster and that is a sign of a horse that does what his trainer wants….I bet him yesterday but had no idea he was that good. …a debut race you don’t forget, one of the best I have seen. Time was good but it was how he did it…..

        • Davids says:

          Nelson, did you notice at Gulfstream Park on Sunday that the 3 year old Malibu Moon filly, Slumber Party, ran an almost identical time as Prevalence and looked even better doing it. Slumber Party literally walked over line it was so easy.

      • perimeister says:

        Tourist’s Cristiano’s Dream and Wentru made very good, though different, first impressions last weekend.
        (To counterbalance Traveller’s disappointing run yesterday.)

    • Davids says:

      Let’s hope that you are not haunted by past misgivings…Hidden Scroll. Same time of the year, same racetrack but 14 lengths a winner on debut.

      George Santayana – “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” ha ha good luck!!

  12. Coldfacts says:

    I suspect Prevalence will be the flavor of the weekend and rightfully so. I hope trainer Walsh has better luck with this colt than Maxfield.. That was an eye catching debut. Ease a furlong out and still recorded 1:23+ for 7F.

    Mr. H,

    Is he a top 12 candidate?

  13. Coldfacts says:

    He took as Romans horse over a Shug horse. A serious error was made.