Derby Rankings: Week 4

Although we had some movement this week, we now come to the make or break weekend when many of ranked horses compete in the Risen Star Stakes and Southwest Stakes, several of which were top 2-year-olds making their long-awaited debuts.  ~ Steve Haskin

Derby Rankings: Week 4, Feb. 8

By Steve Haskin

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

If you’re questioning the quality of his Holy Bull performance from a speed aspect, you could not ask for a better progression Thoro-Graph, going from 9 3/4 to a 7 3/4 to a 4 1/2 to a 1. The Holy Bull figure equals The Great One’s last start as the fastest figure this year by a 3-year-old. But unlike The Great One’s dramatic leap from a 10 to a 1, his pattern has been such a steady improvement race to race there is no concern about a “bounce” and he is already fast enough to win the Derby. As is often the case, there are some who feel he is a deserving No. 1 and others who feel his not there yet, defeating a less than stellar field in the Holy Bull Stakes. But you should take note that runner-up Tarantino showed marked improvement switching to dirt going from a 10 to a very respectable 4 1/2, the same figure Caddo River ran winning the Smarty Jones by 10 lengths. No one really knows how good these horses are yet, so you go by what you see, pointing out strengths and possible weaknesses. In the case of Greatest Honour, I see no weaknesses or flaws, whether it is his progression speed-wise, his mechanics, consistency, versatility, professionalism, or his pedigree. And the horses he’s been running with, whether in sprints or two-turn races, have come back and run huge. So he checks off all the boxes.

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

You normally don’t see the first, third, and fourth-place finishers of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile making their 3-year-old debut in the Southwest Stakes, to be run next Monday, February 15. What makes BC Juvenile Part 2 even more unusual is that Essential Quality and Jackie’s Warrior will be shipping over from Fair Grounds, even though the Risen Star is being run that same weekend and at a new 1 1/8-mile distance that would favor Essential Quality. But Cox has LeComte third-place finisher Manadaloun staying home for that race, as is Jackie’s Warrior’s trainer Steve Asmussen with LeComte winner Midnight Bourbon. And that also gives Cox the luxury of waiting for the Rebel Stakes with Smarty Jones winner Caddo River. To add to all the strategizing, Essential Quality going to Oakawn means that Godolphin doesn’t have to worry about him clashing with their other Derby prospect, LeComte runner-up Proxy, trained by Mike Stidham, in the Risen Star. So all the pieces of the puzzle seem to fit. Essential Quality had a sharp five-furlong work in 1:00 3/5 and if he runs big in the Southwest he could very well return to the No. 1 spot.

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

It is difficult keeping a horse as high as No. 3 when you have to wait this long between races and he hasn’t been doing much in the mornings, at least on the work tab. And that work tab is at Sam Houston Park, not exactly a proven base to launch a Kentucky Derby campaign. So we’re into February and still basing everything on two races at Remington Park. We will finally find out where he fits on the Derby scene in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes when he takes on far classier horses who have already proven their ability in stakes over this track. But he does get the added 1 1/8-mile distance, which he should appreciate. And I can’t get a good gauge on him in the mornings because he has been on an unusual work pattern. Since his explosive victory in the Springboard Mile he worked three furlongs 13 days later, then worked three furlongs again 10 days later, then three furlongs again 11 days later, and he finally went half 12 days later. Fincher has also been spacing his works, so we’ll see how that works when he faces proven stakes horses. And we’ll also have to see how he runs coming off Lasix. Fincher showed with Runaway Ghost that he knows how to develop a talented young horse so we’re not going to speculate what we’re about to see and instead focus on the two devastating moves we saw last year. He certainly doesn’t need to win the Risen Star, but with only two preps he is going to have to start earning points.

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

This horse has had enough of people thinking of him as a plodder with no speed. He tried to tell everyone they were dead wrong in his bullet work on January 22, but just in case they weren’t paying attention, he decided to give them one final preview of what just may be the new look Keepmeinmind. He worked five furlongs in a bullet :59 flat, going his opening quarter in a snappy :22 4/5 and then galloped out six furlongs in a Baffert-like 1:11 4/5, seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5, and pulled up a mile in 1:40 2/5 in what should not only hone whatever speed he has, but give him a great foundation for the arduous road ahead. This is the third straight sharp stamina-building work, and now Diodoro will have to decide whether to stay home for the Southwest or go for the longer Risen Star. As of now he is undecided, but has entered him in the Risen Star where he drew post 12 in the 13-horse field. Wherever he goes, I am sure Diodoro is looking down the road and just wants to see that familiar big stretch kick. He will give him an easy half-mile breeze on May and then a couple of stiff gallops during the week. Keepmeinmind is also going to have to erase the poor speed figures of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and the dismal performance of runner-up Smiley Sobotka in the Sam F. Davis Stakes.

5. Risk Taking (Chad Brown, Medaglia d’Oro – Run a Risk, by Distorted Humor)

Could this be the year we finally see a horse take the New York path to the Churchill Downs winner’s circle? This high ranking may seem like a knee-jerk reaction, but he looks to be a throwback horse, of which I am particularly partial. Blinkers seem to have really gotten this colt’s mind on racing, as he improved dramatically after two dismal efforts to score a workmanlike victory going a mile and eighth over a dead Aqueduct track in December. The big question going into the Withers was how much progress he had made in the past two months. This was a much more professional effort, as he ran straight in the stretch and never flinched from the whip. As he showed in his maiden win, he runs hard and keeps coming at you, and he doesn’t miss a beat when a horse (Capo Kane) drifts out into his path. There is a term that isn’t used anymore, but it can be said he is all hickory – a tough, sound, hard-running horse who has no quit in him. With back-to-back nine-furlong wins he has a strong foundation and his pedigree says he can’t wait to stretch out even farther. This horse is the embodiment of Phipps breeding and it doesn’t get much classier than that. Ogden Phipps bred his third, fourth and fifth dams, and from these families have come Buckpasser, Personal Ensign, Numbered Account, Seeking the Gold, Reviewer, Private Account, Dance Number, Rhythm, and Majestic Light. In the bottom half of his female family alone through sires, dams and siblings are 12 horses bred by Phipps. He is inbred to Buckpasser, and to deviate from the Phipps family, he is also inbred to Damascus. And Buckpasser and Damascus were two horses who epitomized the term “all hickory.”

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

Returned to the work tab with an easy half in :50 3/5, going off a slow quarter in :26 and coming home in :24 3/5 before galloping out a strong five furlongs in 1:03. That’s just what you’re looking for – to teach him to relax early and come home fast. We know he can beat Greatest Honour sprinting and he has since gone on to bigger and better things with a pair of electrifying victories stretching out. Now it’s basically a question of how far he can carry his speed. Let’s remember, however, that his Thoro-Graph figures in his last two starts don’t quite reflect the margins of victory, so he does still have room for improvement and is far from speed crazy. Having decimated his rivals twice now, his trainer has the luxury of shipping Fair Grounds-based stablemate Essential Quality to Oaklawn for the Southwest Stakes and waiting until the Rebel Stakes on March 13 for this colt. Trying to get a good grasp of his pedigree is not easy, because his female family is fairly nondescript. I mentioned last week about his sire Hard Spun’s ability to carry his high cruising speed a classic distance of ground. That can be attributed to his dam being by Marlboro Cup winner Turkoman, out of a half-sister to Preakness and Belmont winner Little Current, both being stone closers.

7. Life is Good (Bob Baffert, Into Mischief – Beach Walk, by Distorted Humor)

How many times have you been awestruck by a Baffert horse’s workout? You no doubt have lost count That is why you have to be impressed to see a fast colt like Life is Good working relatively slow half-miles, his most recent being a :48 4/5 breeze. Baffert knows how fast this horse is and he is content right now to just work him by himself and not ask for any speed. From strictly a visual standpoint these last two breezes were extremely impressive, as he was relaxed the whole way, but still striding out beautifully, his ears pricked and totally responsive to the rider. In short, he can catch the eye even breezing a slow half-mile. Now all he has to do is show that he can harness his speed enough to get him a mile and a quarter on the first Saturday in May. The only reason he is not ranked higher is I am waiting to see a little more versatility and for him to get a tough test and look a horse in the eye. He has all the physical tools and is a pleasure watch run, but he has had two easy strolls in the park and it almost cost him last time. He also will have only four career starts before the Derby, so he needs toughening.

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

If I had to put a future book bet on a horse at a big price he would be the one right now. I explained last week that he was ranked higher than Medina Spirit and Hot Rod Charlie in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes because of the ground loss, having to run 30 feet farther than the winner. After seeing the Thoro-Graph figures from that race I like him even more. Even though the figures for all three horses were extremely close, Medina Spirit and Hot Rod Charlie ran the same figures they did in their previous start, while he jumped from a 6 to 3 1/4. Also he was coming off a maiden score and they were coming off huge efforts in graded stakes company. So as of now I like the trajectory he is on and I don’t believe we have seen anything even close to his best. With his pedigree and his continued improvement I can see him peaking on Derby Day.

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

Unlike Life is Good, we know what he can do when he gets in a dogfight. He looked like a beaten horse in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, but he showed his grit and refused to let two talented horses get by him. We also saw his determination when he didn’t get discouraged trying futilely to chase down Life is Good, who was on cruise control and on his way to coasting to an easy victory. But he kept running hard and when Life is Good practically fell asleep in the final furlong he was in position to put quite a scare in him. So we have seen what he do running from off the pace and on the lead. He is not getting a lot of respect, in part to the number of hyped horses in the Baffert barn and his obscure pedigree, which happens to be inundated with class and stamina influences. I am sure he also will be a huge overlay in this week’s Future Wager and looks to be a very enticing bet. I also believe as those above him sort themselves out he will move up several spots in the coming weeks.

10. Proxy (Michael Stidham, Tapit – Panty Raid, by Include)

Although I still want to see him take a left-handed whip and not react so strongly or show what he can do without the whip, I did get several things cleared up that makes me look at him in a more positive light. Stidham explained that in the LeComte his new rider Mitchell Murrill hit him left-handed to put the pressure on Mandaloun, who he felt was his main danger on his outside. It was a case of race-riding, and while he did force Mandaloun out as intended and was able to outgame him to the wire, he drifted well clear of the pace-setting Midnight Bourbon, who was able to eke out a narrow victory on the rail after setting a slow pace. That explains why Proxy never passed Midnight Bourbon; he was too occupied with Mandaloun and too far away from the winner to look him in the eye. Stidham believes he is learning with every race and has really matured physically from a tall leggy horse to a wider more muscular individual. He was extremely happy with his latest work, in which he went a sharp five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 in company with Jim Dandy winner and Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up Mystic Guide and gave the older horse “all he can handle.” What convinced me we are going to see a more polished horse in the Risen Star, and no disrespect to Murrill, is that he now gets John Velazquez, and that alone merits his rise in the rankings. I still believe Johnny V gets more out of a horse than any rider in the country.

11. Mandaloun (Brad Cox, Into Mischief – Brooch, by Empire Maker)

Like Proxy, he bounced out of his hard race in the LeComte with a sharp five-furlong breeze in a bullet :59 4/5 over a track listed as good. It was the fastest of 34 works at the distance, and now comes his big test stretching out to a mile and eighth in the Risen Star Stakes. But with his running style he will have a lot to overcome drawing the 11 post. Cox could have sent him to Oaklawn to run at the shorter distance of the Southwest Stakes next weekend, but decided to send Essential Quality there and run this colt at the longer distance. With Mandaloun having already run in a 1 1/16-mile stakes this year, this will give him even more bottom running in back-to-back nine furlong races, which he will need with the six-week gap between the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby. It is just a question how much ground he will lose breaking that far outside. You never know how far an Into Mischief will run, but he looks to be a grinder who just keeps coming and can sustain his run a long way. And he has plenty of stamina in his female family, as well as being inbred to class/stamina influence His Majesty. What I liked most about his race in the LeComte was that he was making his first start around two turns, while Midnight Bourbon and Proxy were already proven two-turn horses, and he had a wide trip the whole way, earning a faster Thoro-Graph number. Good luck not having an even wider trip this time.

12. The Great One (Doug O’Neill, Nyquist – Little Ms. Protocol, by El Corredor)

Like with several other horses on the Derby trail this year, we are going to have to guess what will happen when he has to race without Lasix. In his case, he hadn’t run with Lasix until his last start, and even though he had run big in the Los Alamitos Futurity as a maiden he had never demonstrated the brilliance and explosiveness he showed in his devastating 14-length romp last time out. And we can’t remember such a dramatic leap in speed figures, going from a 10 to 1 on Thoro-Graph. Was it the Lasix or the addition of blinkers several races back or moving way down in class from a Grade 2 to a maiden race? Those questions won’t be answered until he runs again in the San Felipe Stakes. Because there is so much speculation regarding this colt I am going by what I saw in his last two races and will assume he is a horse who has finally matured physically and mentally and is just now figuring it all out. We’ll just have to wait until March 6 to find out what kind of horse we are dealing with.

13. Midnight Bourbon (Steve Asmussen, Tiznow – Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon)

He turned in a solid five-furlong work in 1:01 as he prepares for a rematch with Proxy and Mandaloun in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes. The question is, how will he be ridden this time? In the LeComte he took advantage of a paceless race and was able to be in complete control all the way. I believe his best race is off the pace, but we still don’t know what kind of closing punch he has. It is difficult separating the first three finishers of the LeComte and I think strategy will play an important role again with the threat this time coming from the rear of the pack in the form of Senor Buscador. Midnight Bourbon has the look of a distance horse and the pedigree to match, so the extra distance of the Risen Star should only help him. We’ll just have to wait and see if there is any speed in the race this time.

14. Hot Rod Charlie (Doug O’Neill, Oxbow – Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie)

The main reason he is this far below Medina Spirit and Roman Centurian is that I know they will relish a mile and a quarter and I’m still not quite sure about him. Not that his pedigree suggests he’s a sprinter or miler, it’s just that it is somewhere in the middle of the road, possibly maxing out at a mile and an eighth. But that is pure speculation, especially in this day and age when horses with all kinds pedigrees are able to carry their speed. He did take all the worst of it the Robert. B. Lewis being the meat in the sandwich in a three-horse stretch battle and getting bounced around from both sides. As mentioned earlier he did pair up his Thoro-Graph figure from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, so we still don’t know if he has improved from 2 to 3, and he will need to move forward off this race

15. Jackie’s Warrior (Steve Asmussen, Maclean’s Music – Unicorn Girl, by A.P. Five Hundred)

Well, we know Jackie the Jet is ready to take off judging from his five-furlong work in a bullet :59 2/5, fastest of 18 works at the distance. He will make his debut in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest Stakes and should have a distance and tactical advantage over the debuting Essential Quality. The big questions with him are whether he can win coming from off the pace and around two turns and how far he can carry his speed. I actually felt he ran a pretty strong race in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile getting outrun by two horses, one of them a 41-1 rabbit for Keepmeinmind, and being shuffled back to fourth. He did look strong taking the lead nearing the top of the stretch and never quit, getting beat only three lengths despite chasing brutal fractions of :22 2/5 and :45 1/5. By comparison, the Juvenile Fillies went in :23 1/5 and :47. Despite all the speed in his pedigree he doesn’t have the physical appearance of a sprinter and has a very classy look about him. The word from the barn is that he is extremely intelligent and not speed crazy at all, so we’ll see how he runs in the Southwest before deciding whether he looks like a Derby horse.

16. Overtook (Todd Pletcher, Curlin – Got Lucky, by A.P. Indy)

If you’re going to rank Risk Taking high then you surely have to at least acknowledge this colt’s improvement since the removal of blinkers and becoming a rare Pletcher deep closer. A $1 million yearling purchase, he has the looks and the pedigree, with his dam earning over $950,000. But in the Withers he was under a strong ride early, leaving the half-mile pole, and couldn’t close any ground on Risk Taking, who still hadn’t been asked for his run. He didn’t show much acceleration at any point and just kept grinding away, eventually passing tired horses, although he did seem to be leveling off nicely at the end. I just don’t know if he’s fast enough at this point to be considered a major player, unless he can demonstrate a quicker turn of foot.


I am holding off a week or two before ranking CONCERT TOUR, mainly because he still hasn’t been two turns and he showed he is still a little green. And I want to see the results of next weekend’s big stakes. He was running beautifully after turning for home in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes, but then starting deviating off his course, drifting to the outside, possibly because he was under pressure for the first time trying to get by his speedy stablemate FREEDOM FIGHTER. If Concert Tour goes on to be a leading Derby contender, which I believe he will, he owes a good part of it to Freedom Fighter, who taught him some valuable lessons he probably would not have learned had he not been confronted with a horse this fast and game. But what you have to like about him the most is that, with the exception of his maternal great-grandsire Mt. Livemore, there is nothing in his pedigree to suggest he wants anything to do with sprinting. I like that Baffert is taking a gradual approach and not rushing him into two-turn stakes, and I believe we will see a much improved horse when he goes two turns in his next start.

For years, we’ve been talking about the quirkiness of the Tampa Bay surface. It is much faster than it used to be, but we still get head-scratching performances, such as those of KNOWN AGENDA and SMILEY SOBOTKA in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. I have no idea why Known Agenda, who had demonstrated good tactical speed, was running last and just couldn’t get going until it was way too late. He did get bumped around a little after the start, but it should not have affected him to that extent. He was able to make up a lot of ground in the stretch with horses tiring in front of him. I still feel he’s a very good horse, but we need to see what he does on a different surface and back to his usual running style. Smiley Sobotka was up there with pace, but quickly retreated to beaten nearly 23 lengths.

Right now I can’t get too excited about this race. Give the winner CANDY MAN ROCKET credit for stretching out from a 9 1/4-length romp going six furlongs to a mile and 40 yards and defeating his stablemate, Pasco Stakes winner NOVA RAGS, but these horses were tiring late and crawled home, so we’ll have to wait to see if they can improve off it. Third-place finisher HIDDEN STASH made up four lengths in the final furlong and just keeps improving, but he saved ground the whole way, was closing on tired horses, and never switched leads. We’ll see if he can take another step forward next out.

CAPO KANE, making his two-turn debut following a 6 1/2-length romp in the one-mile Jerome Stakes, looked like a winner turning for home after controlling the pace, but couldn’t keep a straight course and tired to finish third. He will now cut back to a mile in the March 6 Gotham Stakes.

Well, we saw the monster performance we expected from BEZOS, except it wasn’t from Bezos. It was the horse who flew by him at the head of the stretch and just spread-eagled his field from there with his ears pricked and jockey Joel Rosario looking back several times. That was DREAM SHAKE, who could be any kind for trainer Peter Eurton. As for Bezos, who finished up the track, the only bigger losers were all the people who bet on an unraced horse in the Derby future book and Future Wager. More on Dream Shake next week when we find out his plans.

Keep an eye on Tampa maiden winner UNBRIDLED HONOR, who showed a lot of professionalism after being trapped most of the way and staring at a wall of horses in front him after turning for home. But he waited patiently and when a hole finally opened on the inside he quickly altered course and shot through to win by a half-length for Pletcher. By Honor Code, his dam is a half-sister to two Grade 1 winners – Haskell winner Roman Ruler and Cigar Mile winner El Corredor.

Two very interesting first-out maiden winners entered in the Risen Star are both trained by Tom Amoss and both sons of Union Rags. CARILLO was extremely impressive breaking his maiden at a mile at Aqueduct for Chad Brown in his career debut. He then was sold for $875,000 at the Estate of Paul Pompa dispersal and turned over to Amoss. He worked five furlongs in a sharp 1:00 3/5 and could surprise a lot of people if he is as good as he looked in his debut and runs to his pedigree. The other maiden winner is DEFEATER, who drew off impressively going six furlongs at Fair Grounds, despite a rough trip.

Several horses are right on the outer edge of the Rankings. Because of this past weekend’s results and the big upcoming stakes, TARANTINO had to be dropped off the Sweet Sixteen, but I’m pretty sure it will only be temporary.

The late-closing ROMBAUER was scratched from the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and instead worked five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 and most recently another five furlongs in a bullet :59 2/5, fastest of 38 works at the distance. Trainer Mike McCarthy elected to wait for the mile and an eighth El Camino Real Derby run over the Tapeta surface. We have no idea how he will handle it, but this horse is much more suited to nine furlongs than the 1 1/16 miles of the Lewis with a small field.

Another borderline horse is FIRE AT WILL, who will return to the dirt in the February 27 Fountain of Youth Stakes. A big race there and he surely has to be regarded as a leading contender. He turned in another solid work, going five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 at Gulfstream Park.

Still another on the outside waiting to get in is the impressive Nyquist Stakes winner HIGHLY MOTIVATED, who breezed a half in :49 1/5 at Payson Park, as he prepares for his debut in the Gotham Stakes.

American Pharoah Stakes winner GET HER NUMBER is up to a half-mile in his works, turning in a :50 2/5 breeze at San Luis Rey Downs.


Please Note: Oaklawn has canceled their weekend card and the Southwest Stakes will now be run Saturday Feb. 20. The next Rankings will be on Monday as usual.

Leave a Reply

272 Responses to “Derby Rankings: Week 4”

  1. Faye Stevens says:

    Always love to read your take on each horse. Already picked a favorite and he is moving up on your list!!!!

  2. pro vet says:

    I dont really care about lists…A list should be what they have none…..different than picks…..

    I would put EQ, Mand, keepmeinmind , caddo top 4…… of what they have done….everyone else in a pile of not bad……it is way early….
    I still like keepmeinmind as my top

  3. pro vet says:

    What is up with everyone knocking greatest honour?…..what is going around, is the time of the race, was 2 seconds off……people actually think he ran in the 70s…..people drive me crazy……..i dont think he is fast enough yet, but 70s?…..this horse looks good……
    Senor ran bad……period……..again i have to hear excuses…..”he needs lasix”……track never helps closers…..people drive me nuts……

  4. EddieF says:

    What will Steve do tomorrow with his Sweet Sixteen? I’ll make a few guesses. He will not forgive Senor Buscador’s 7.5-length loss; he’ll clench his teeth and boot the deep deep closer completely off the mountain. Who will replace el senor? The narrow winner of the AW El Camino Real, Rombauer, who earned a whopping BSF of 84? Concert Tour, who still hasn’t gone two turns? I’m guessing Concert Tour at #16 because there’s no other colt ready to join the proven ones.

    But then there’s the question of what to do with Midnight Bourbon, who may have finally shown that he can win only when he gets an easy lead. Three stakes races where he doesn’t get the lead, he loses ground in the stretch. Does Midnight Bourbon go from #13 to #101 Wild Turkey? If Steve tosses the bourbon bottle, Rombauer gets in based on potential–he still hasn’t raced on natural dirt. How far will Mandaloun climb? Will he only pass Proxy, or will he find himself among the elite in the top 6? I say the latter. After all, he just won the first 84-point Derby prep at 9f with a BSF of 98.

    Stay tuned…

    • Nelson Maan says:

      Since I am watching a conspiracy theory documental right now I would intrigue Senor Buscador just needs Lasix to demolish rivals in the stretch … not sure if he will be dropped out of the 16 though … but it depends on Steve’s assessment of his performance in the Risen Star.

      Mandaloun climbs above Proxy unless Steve deems Proxy was better horse given all his behavior hitches. Midnigth Bourbon should go down in favor of Rombauer.

      Impressive new faces like Defeater or any other that caught his fancy this week with Run Classic (Calhoun) and Big Lake (Asmussen) should at least enter the KOTD…

  5. Davids says:

    After watching the Risen Star Stakes a few times I’m still miffed on why Proxy fell asleep during the race. A valiant effort by John Velasquez in getting Proxy going again, another furlong and it’s bye bye Mandaloun.

    Overall view, Greatest Honour looks even better, with high anticipation on Essential Quality’s return.

  6. Mary Ellen says:

    Really looking forward to your analysis tomorrow Steve, especially any insights you glean from Thorograph or Ragazin numbers. I know you don’t like Beyer figures, but I find it interesting that Maxfield, Mandaloun, and Captivating Moon — three very different types of horses — ended up with Beyers within one point of each other. If nothing else, that makes it clear to me that the numbers don’t mean one horse is better than another, although I find them useful when comparing relatively untested 3YO colts.

    I’m curious whether the figs you follow tell a different story.

  7. Matthew W says:

    Looks like Juddmonte and Godolfin have Kentucky Derby players this year….Mandaloun can make his own way now that he has points, and I just love Prevalence, what a looker, and what a head on that horse! If you haven’t seen him take a look!

    • Davids says:

      Through years of great disappointment, I’ve come to the conclusion that you never get too hot on a Kentucky Derby prospect until they have at least won a Graded Stakes race. Good luck, though.

      Please don’t quote Justify back at me, that colt should never have been able to run in the Triple Crown races in the first place. Thankfully, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act will clean up the sport in the US.

  8. Mike Loyd says:

    Steve Haskins is a real treasure this time of year, but the insights and comments that you posters make are really interesting. Regardless if your right or wrong in your opiniond, it contributes to making this one of my favorite sites. Keep it up!

  9. Bill Dawson says:

    Mandaloun didn’t let me down. With his speed, he got good early positioning going into the first turn, and rated off the pace setters during the backstretch run. Turning for home he showed his class, to finish in a good time of 1:50.39.
    Hopefully, Brad Cox will point Mandaloun to the Rebel Stakes for his next outing. Could we see back to back colts, sired by Into Mischief, winning the Derby? Not likely, but possible.

  10. EddieF says:

    Mandaloun’s final furlong in 13s. Proxy finished in 12 3/5s.

  11. Porgy Kowalski says:

    It will be a real shocker if O Besos doesn’t win.

    • Porgy Kowalski says:

      I’m shocked. But he was the only longshot in the top 4, and he did whup Senor Buscador. Lost my wps bet but happy with his run. I still really like him. He needed this race. Now we know he can route.

  12. Porter says:

    Point of note:
    A Risen Star Stakes winner has never won the Kentucky Derby.

    • EddieF says:

      Word at the track is that the trainers of the 10 TC-nominated runners have instructed their riders to allow Sermononthemount to win the race. Sermononthemount is the only runner not nominated to the TC. 😉

      I think that Senor Buscador could be the favorite. I see Mandaloun as the likeliest winner. I’m making a small bet to win on Santa Cruiser (15-1 ML) and will box him with Mandaloun.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Speed seems to be holding … 6 on top with 2-3-5-10-11 for a $20 Trifecta

        and wish me luck !

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Eddie Good one on Mandaloun… the blinkers definitely work… With 52 points the son of Into Mischief is in the Derby already.

        If a son of Into Mischief out of a Mr. Greeley mare could win the Derby what could we expect from the one from an Empire Maker mare!

        Proxy will be much better when he learns how to run straight in the homestretch.

        Let’s see how the Louisiana Derby turns up.

        • EddieF says:

          Thanks, Nelson. Can hardly believe I bet two colts in the last FW at big odds and both of them have won next out (Mandy and GH). Proxy looked much better, but this time he seemed to drift out a bit with the RIGHThanded whip. 😮 Midnight Bourbon may be a colt that needs the lead. El senor is too much of a deep closer to win the big ones, I think. Tough to make a big rally against a moderate or slow pace.

        • Davids says:

          Nelson, perhaps a better sentence would have been:

          “If a son of Into Mischief out of a Mr. Greeley mare could win the Derby [in September] what could we expect from the one from an Empire Maker mare [when the Derby is in May again?]

          Suggestion, go seek out the Oracle of Delphi that answer may have more credibility than most.

          • Nelson Maan says:

            That is a good point. Being Authentic a May 5 foal September Derby was a blessing for him.

            Mandaloun was foaled March 18 so he is growing into a nice athlete towards the Roses.

            If Nostradamus could not see the years of the masks what can you expect from the Oracle.

            “I think my wife is a weather forecaster…
            A guy called up asking if the coast was clear.”

    • Davids says:

      Yes, and since ‘Adam was a boy,’ you’ve been told how much the Fair Grounds resembles Churchill Downs in track formation. Which means…

  13. EddieF says:

    Your notes on unraced and lightly raced prospects have had me constantly referring to the PPs that are available for Triple Crown nominees. The number of well-bred colts in top barns can make your head spin.

    Of the five O’Neill/Asmussen horses in KDFW3, Jackie’s Warrior is the surprise live one at 21-1 — despite his last race being over 3 months ago when pooping out in the BCJ. I would understand why Risen Star runners aren’t bet heavily before the race has been run. But Mandaloun is at a crazy 69-1. I thought I got a great price on him in FW2 at 42-1. However, Midnight Bourbon is currently 27-1, while Senor Buscador is 20-1. The value plays may be Risk Taking (34-1) and Roman Centurian (46-1).

  14. Nelson Maan says:

    Continuing with my recount of the Big Trainers and their Derby Hopefuls let’s talk about the assets of Doug O’Neil and Steve Asmussen. Both boast two horses each in Steve’s ranking.

    Doug O’Neil, a two-time Derby winner, got two early prospects in Hot Rod Charlie, The Great One and the tailing Wipe the Slate. The first two are fully characterized by Steve as his current numbers 12 and 14 respectively. Wipe the Slate tired badly in the Robert Lewis Stakes and hasn’t worked out since… seems to me like he is not a factor anymore.

    I don’t see O’Neil pitting his top prospects against one another, but I am not sure who will remain in California and who will be shipped. Nevertheless, The Great One and Hot Rod Charlie can get enough Derby qualifying points.

    Steve Asmussen best cards are Jackie’s Warrior and Midnight Bourbon but waiting on deck are interesting runners like Cowan, Saffa’s Day, Scarred, Swiftsure and, the son of Street Sense a G3 winner as a 2-year-old, Cazadero. Super Stock is one with good Stakes experience who just started training for a come back. Worth mentioning also are productive maidens named Tiwanaku and Alejandro, a Curlin colt and grandson of Rachel Alexandra.

    The trainer of Curlin and Gun Runner is loaded with nice horses this year. Again, Steve has commented abundantly about Midnight Bourbon and Jackie’s Warrior merits. The only thing I can add is my own bias.

    On Midnight Bourbon I see as an encouraging sign that a son of Tiznow and maternal grandson of Malibu Moon, who sired a Derby winner, owns that kind of speed. How far his speed takes him remains to be seen…

    But my strongest bias is around the Champagne being a factory of Champions… one of my very first memories as a fan was reading about Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Foolish Pleasure, Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid winning the Champagne and going from there to confirming their greatness.

    Tiz the Law brought a flashback of the Golden Era and shook the perception that the Champagne is won by just solid milers or horses with explosive speed.

    My preconception about the Champagne Stakes made me imagine that Asmussen winning it for the first time with Jackie’s Warrior was a presage he will win the Derby for the first time as well.

    Anyways, it takes only one race to adjust from preconceptions to pure reality.

  15. 7.5 Furlongs says:

    Steve Haskin-

    At Fair Grounds February 6, I like #6 Senor Buscador in the Risen Star Stakes because of his off track pedigree potential.
    At FG Race 8, I will bet #4 Defeater, assuming he scratches out of the Risen Star, also for the same reason, for his off track
    pedigree potential.

    Coincidentally, Defeater’s older five-year-old full brother, #5 Dinar, is running in Race 10, the Mineshaft Stakes. Will be
    interesting to see if full siblings handle the anticipated wet track conditions.

    Thanks for week #4 of the Derby Rankings. Always enjoy reading your KD horse racing comments.

  16. Who Dr Who says:

    First and foremost thank you Mr. Haskin for continuing your quest. Much obliged. Hopefully, some people can figure it out and just enjoy it. Those are just COLDFACTs, it’s -20 below where I live. That is the type of person who shows you the winning $20 ticket on Derby Day they have, but put $20 on every horse and didn’t show the other 19 losers in his pocket.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thanks very much. Hopefully these columns can keep you warm when snuggle up next to the fire to read it with a cup of hot cocoa

  17. Nelson Maan says:

    Bob “Derby King” Baffert is earnestly attempting to become the winningest Derby winner armed by a good brand of horses this year as per usual.

    Life is Good, Medina Spirit and Concert Tour are a formidable assembly. Life is Good is the one with the greatest raw talent possessing a devastating speed. Medina Spirit is the only one “battle-proof” and Concert Tour is destined to excel at the Classic distance.

    In the second tier are Freedom Fighter who looks like a mighty sprinter and Spielberg who is always animating but reminds me of a “win-phobic” horse named Solomonic. The family horse Du Jour is primed to break his maiden next out and looks to be another good one.

    Baffert also has six horses getting ready to debut who might not be Derby bound but are still worth to watch.
    Triple Tap (Tapit- Littleprincessemma by Yankee Gentleman) half to American Pharoah looks good at Santa Anita. His last two workouts read 4 F in 46.80 and 5F in 1:01.00. The last breeze was in company of another new horse named Wildcat Nation (Runhappy-Tarty to the Party by Speightstown) who was even better in previous drills.

    Training at Los Alamitos is Boby Bo (Speightster- Auspicious by Indian Charlie) a Million Dollar horse who must be an Adonis given that his sire is not precisely elite after only one crop.

    Following Sea (Runhappy-Quick Flip by Speightstown), Money Mike (Into Mischief-Ahh Chocolate by Candy Ride(ARG)) and Myopic (Candy Ride (ARG)-Spokeswoman by Unbridled’s Song) also look to have talent. Notably the last two being more impressive.

    Any of these horses could be “the talk of the town” after debuting … a familiar reaction with Baffert youngsters but they are not Derby horses especially due to their very tardy starts. When a trainer has this kind of quality in reserve it is expected his success to be sustained throughout the whole year. The Trainer is one face of success…

    I always remember when long ago in one of the spontaneous gathering of neighbors I commented how people who learn and work more than anyone else are subject to attacks and disparage (unlike Eddie F I had profound thoughts in my teens). The reply came not from a priest, a professor or a philosopher but it was a humble plumber who said: “people throw stones only at trees bearing great fruits”… then he parsimoniously drinks his beer as to give me time to assimilate a handyman’s wisdom…

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Lol, love the quote. Have you noticed how many promising horses are making their career debut later and later?

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Thanks for the reply Steve… yes… it could be that the pandemic has delayed things.

        Chad Brown had a lot of newbies in his barn. He debuted Stage Raider half to Justify and I am watching Bennyfromthebronx half to Charlatan by Tapit who is steadily training since November.

        I am waiting for Harvard (Pioneerof the Nile – Sambuca Classica by Cat Thief) half to Champion Classic Empire trained by Brisset. Brad Cox got Primary Endpoint half to California Chrome also by Pioneerof the Nile with only three breezes this year.

        Also expecting to see good first showings by Naismith (Medaglia d’Oro) for Mandella and Royal Realm (Empire Maker) James Jerkens .

    • EddieF says:

      I will have you know that as a teen I thought profoundly about baseball and girls, but not necessarily in that order. I could write textbooks about both subjects, because — as the saying goes — “Those who can’t, teach.” With regard to the yet-to-race Baffert colts (or any other unraced prospects), I am conducting research on the subject of Derby runners with only 3 starts. Findings will be presented at an appropriate time.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        Well Justify and Big Brown and both came along in bad crops. Curlin did OK but was well beaten. I believe Dunkirk tried it and wound up running huge in the Belmont after a bad start in the slop in the Derby. I still dont like to see it.

        • EddieF says:

          Would you be surprised to know that only 9 horses have reached the Derby in that 3-race category during this century? The first occurrence was in 2006. So my research doesn’t have a significant sample size from which to draw conclusions. 🙂 Nevertheless, I would not be inclined to rule out such a starter. For example, 5 were undefeated; 2 of them won the Derby. Two were post-time favorites; both won. It should also be noted that Summer Bird went on to be the 3yo Eclipse winner. Hard data will follow. I apologize for its length. I don’t think it’s possible to create multiple columns.

        • EddieF says:


          Justify 2018 (undefeated)
          Trainer, Derby finish: Baffert, WON
          Debut: Feb. 18
          Final prep: Santa Anita Derby, WON
          Derby odds: $2.90-1 (favorite)

          Hofburg 2018 (1 win)
          Trainer, Derby finish: Mott, 7th
          Debut: Sept. 2 (2yo)
          Final prep: Florida Derby, 2nd
          Derby odds: $27-1

          Patch 2017 (1 win)
          Trainer, Derby finish: Pletcher, 14th
          Debut: Jan. 15
          Final prep: Louisiana Derby, 2nd
          Derby odds: $14-1

          Materiality 2015 (undefeated)
          Trainer, Derby finish: Pletcher, 6th
          Debut: Jan. 11
          Final prep: Florida Derby, WON
          Derby odds: $11.50-1

          Summer Bird 2009 (1 win)
          Trainer, Derby finish: Tim Ice, 6th
          Debut: Mar. 1
          Final prep: Arkansas Derby, 3rd
          Derby odds: $43-1

          Dunkirk 2009 (2 wins)
          Trainer, Derby finish: Pletcher, 11th
          Debut: Jan. 24
          Final prep: Florida Derby, 2nd
          Derby odds: $5.20-1 (2nd favorite)

          Big Brown 2008 (undefeated)
          Trainer, Derby finish: R Dutrow, WON
          Debut: Sept. 3 (2yo)
          Final prep: Florida Derby, WON
          Derby odds: $2.40-1 (favorite)

          Curlin 2007 (undefeated)
          Trainer, Derby finish: Asmussen, 3rd
          Debut: Feb. 3
          Final prep: Arkansas Derby, WON
          Derby odds: $5.00-1 (2nd favorite)

          Showing Up 2006 (undefeated)
          Trainer, Derby finish: Tagg, 6th
          Debut: Feb. 11
          Final prep: Lexington Stakes, WON
          Derby odds: $26-1

          • Steve Haskin says:

            Great research. What I gather from that is three starts is not desirable. Justify was a great horse and TC winner in a bad crop. Big Brown had a two-turn race at 2 and was a superstar in a bad crop. Neither horse made it past August of their 3yo old campaign. Justify was gone by June. The only horses who had longevity were Curlin and Summer Bird . There was a reason for Curlin which I wont get into and Summer Bird was gone at 3. So if you want to win the Derby you better be a superstar. If you want longevity you are at a big disadvantage.

            • EddieF says:

              Thanks, Steve. I see what you’re saying about the horses that Justify and Big Brown faced in the ’08 and ’18 Derbies. But did you think they were bad crops before those Derbies? In 2018, Good Magic and Audible were considered to be quality runners. Heck, we’re still almost three months from the Derby and many of those we like now may not be so hot (or healthy) down the trail. As for longevity, that’s a consideration for after the Derby.

              I would at least consider a 3-race Derby runner, particularly if he had an early debut like Big Brown and checked all other boxes.

              • Steve Haskin says:

                I dont like to judge a crop that early, and its rare a crop looks bad before the Derby, but looking at it as a whole it turned out to be a poor crop and other than Good Magic there really werent any stars in the the TC races.

              • Davids says:

                Magnum Moon, Vino Rosso, Mendelssohn, McKinzie, Firenze Fire, Catholic Boy, Bolt d’Oro, Instilled Regard, Quip were also in the supposed ‘bad’ crop of 2018.

              • Steve Haskin says:

                Bad crop meaning bad 3 year old crop. Other than Catholic Boy how many of those were top 3 year olds?

              • Davids says:

                Magnum Moon won the Arkansas Derby, Rebel Stakes and was undefeated going into the Kentucky Derby; Vino Rosso had won the Wood Memorial Stakes and Steve Haskin’s No.1 in the Derby Dozen on May1, 2018; Mendelssohn won the UAE Derby by almost 20 lengths, 2nd in the Travers Stakes, 3rd Jockey Club Gold Cup; McKinzie won the Pennsylvania Derby, Malibu Stakes, Sham Stakes; Firenze Fire won Gallant Bob Stakes, Jerome Stakes, and 3rd in H. Allen Jerkens Stakes; Bolt d’Oro won San Felipe Stakes and 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby, and Steve Haskin’s No. 4 in the Derby Dozen on May 1; Instilled Regard won the LeComte Stakes; 3rd in the Hollywood Derby; and 4th in Kentucky Derby; Quip won the Tampa Bay Derby and 2nd in the Arkansas Derby.

                Looks as though they all have fairly good credentials as 3 year olds.

              • Davids says:

                …and Bravazo who won Risen Star Stakes, 2nd in the Preakness, Haskell Stakes, and Clark H. 3rd in the Travers Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

              • Steve Haskin says:

                somebody wins the Arkansas Derby and Risen Star etc every year. That doesnt make it a good crop. If youre basing the quality of the crop on Magnum Moon and Bravazo I dont know if there is much of a case there. By October or November you can judge a crop, certainly not before the Derby. Some crops look good before the Derby and arent and sosme crops dont look good before Derby and are.

              • Davids says:

                No Steve, every 3 year old wins every 3 year old race, that’s a given. However, Magnum Moon had no chance to make a statement after the Derby, Vino Rosso did win the Eclipse Award for older Dirt horse the following year, McKinzie was a very good horse, Mendelssohn would have had a better record with a better preparation, the same with Bolt d’Oro but for totally other reasons.

                Sometimes the universal of ‘poor crop’ is unfairly given without full consideration. I wouldn’t say they were a great crop but with all things considered there were some very good horses within the crop besides the Triple Crown winner.

          • Nelson Maan says:

            Thanks Eddie for this compilation. It seems like being undefeated and winning a G1 translates into winning the Derby.

            Keep up your energy…!

            • Nelson Maan says:

              Materiality had very bad luck… but passed 10 horses in the stretch… in fact the son of Afleet Alex never showed his initial speed but was closing faster than everyone except perhaps for American Pharoah.

          • Matthew W says:

            That’s 22% win rate–not bad, considering 20 horse fields!

  18. Fave n Foil says:

    Nice colt that DREAM SHAKE as he showed up ready to finished the right way stalking from the edge in that first out extended sprint. He’s still the bit immature, but has developed well in the physical since his appearance early last year in the sale. Interesting he was off the sheet during most his freshman year with works to finally appear in November. He moved fast enough for his tack show appearance and sale just before his handlers gave him that nice long break. He seems to act a bit which reminds me of his daddy and I consider that a plus. Which further telegraphs there’s more to him than the winner’s market will credit him for. That Argentina influence down his distaff tail may portend some distance ability as it reunites with the same Southern Cross influence’s contributed by CANDY RIDE up top. Some men don’t know their own imitations… DREAM SHAKE strikes me the same as a horse. And all from knowing my own in this game.

  19. Lynda King says:

    Totally off topic I know but just watched a video of the American horses arriving in Meydan. They all look amazing but have to say Knicks Go is one gorgeous, gorgeous horse. Best of luck and safe racing for all (PS, Tacitus and Knicks Go are my favorites in the World Cup).

  20. Nelson Maan says:

    Todd Pletcher this year …
    When a Trainer debuts in the Derby with not one but four horses it is only natural for people to construe that he is your reliable bridge to the Roses. Todd Pletcher’s operation has indeed been a gateway to the Derby with only 2003 the year without participation.

    However, training to run in the Derby is not the same as training to win the Derby.

    Coaxing your horse to win the big races and get big points in April implies the risk of just peaking in April.

    That dynamic might answer some questions around less than expected performances at the Derby.

    Assuming that any horse debuting the second half of February is out of the picture I see Pletcher’s once relevant band reduced due to the following:

    Amount pulled up in the Holy Bull
    Bourbonic is winning but in claiming ranks
    Donegal Bay did not pass the Withers test
    Dynamic One: highlighted by Steve in the KOTD segment the second week. Still a maiden but his second to Greatest Honour still reverberates in my head.
    Ghazaaly: looks like a good one but might be too late for the party
    Inspiration Point a 725K California Chrome colt is improving in New York but is still a Maiden
    Likeable needs a lot of improvement out of his distant 4th in the Swale
    Millean did not show anything in the Sam Davis
    Prime Factor was not disgraced with his 3rd in the Holy Bull but he needs to develop a lot to be a contender
    Known Agenda ran like a plodder going backwards in the first stage of the Sam Davis but came alive in the stretch to finish 5th four lengths behind. He deserves a mulligan specially when we know that Tampa has been a question mark to many horses in the past.

    It is not very frequent to see Pletcher without winners in the Florida and New York early preps. At this point it appears that the Marathoner Overtook is the only one clearly carrying the Pletcher banner in route to the Roses.

    Todd Pletcher got Turf runners that look very promising as well; just taking a look at the past performances of Avenue, Aviano, Fighting Force, Mubtadaa and Never Surprised one might thing that there could be a “hidden gem” there.

    I am not sure if these turf horses are “cards up his sleeves” but one thing I know is that the Champion Trainer got 95% probabilities of having a horse in the Kentucky Derby.

    • EddieF says:

      “…but one thing I know is that the Champion Trainer got 95% probabilities of having a horse in the Kentucky Derby.”

      Your probability estimation is accurate! What happened in 2003? I wonder if Lion Tamer was Pletcher’s best Derby prospect that year. LT won the Hutcheson, but was 4th in the Lane’s End and a well-beaten 6th in the Blue Grass. He didn’t race again until January, so perhaps he was injured.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        LOL … I knew you were in a fact finding mode…!

        As we have discussed in the past, that year was the only pimple in an otherwise immaculate Derby participation.

        You are right about Lion Tamer and the best 3-year old for Pletcher’s Derby aspirations was supposed to be Strong Hope but he debuted in March … the son of Grand Slam accomplished a great campaign nonetheless.

        Boston Bull was very good as a two-year old winning the Cowdin Stakes but got injured after a 3rd in the Nashua… the Boston Harbor never regained form after that.

        • EddieF says:

          I can’t remember what team won Sunday’s Super Bowl, but you remember a Pletcher discussion lord knows how long ago! I must eat more fatty fish.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Great stuff, Nelson. Todd was fortunate to win his first Derby, as Super Saver relished the slop and got a typical Calvin Borel ride, and Ice Box was tons the best in that race but had the trip from hell.

      Dynamic One is back on the work tab and I write about him next week.
      Known Agenda gets blinkers next race.
      Theyre still pretty high on Prime Factor
      Overtook on a good Thoro-Graph pattern

      • EddieF says:

        Ice Box — Was steadied three times but still made up 20+ lengths to finish second. Should have been one more Florida Derby winner to be successful on the first Saturday in May. Steve, in your estimation, which other contemporary Derby losers “shoulda” been winners?

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Most grateful for your thorough information. We are greatly benefitting here from your exclusive updates and access to reliable inside information.

        What a difference to other sites where you see an Uruguayan FOUR YEAR OLD (4Y-OLD) named El Patriota making the list of Derby Contenders… I have pointed out to them the Southern Hemisphere horse should be removed but no one cares over there…!

        I do not know what is worse, Bezos offering 20 to 1 in a Future or this blooper. Go figure …!

    • pro vet says:

      This is just a popular trend. Putting down the popular trainer, athlete, coach. This is a tough game. Contrarians love these posts…….your point?……Todd forgot?

      • EddieF says:

        Do you just scroll through the comments looking to rag on an innocent victim? I found Nelson’s post interesting. I’m quite sure others did, too. (And Steve did, in fact.) It’s your problem if you misinterpreted it.

    • Davids says:

      The Pletcher trained 3 year old Golden Whim, a 1.5 million Medaglia d’Oro yearling purchase, just ran last of 10 on debut at Gulfstream Park. In racing, luck can be very fickle.

  21. Nelson Maan says:

    The following active Trainers are commanding the stats of most starters in the Derby:
    Todd Pletcher, D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen, Mike Maker, Dale Romans, Bill Mott, Shug McGaughey III, Barclay Tagg, Mark Casse and Doug O’Neill.

    There are other active trainers with Derby experience like John Shirreffs, Graham Motion, Jerry Hollendorfer, John Saddler, Kenneth McPeek, Keith Desormeaux, Thomas Amoss and who can come up with a Derby horse at any time.
    Any Godolphin Trainer could be the “on-deck batter” when it comes to the Derby. A very good horse can also land in any barn in any given year.

    Chad Brown will be most likely joining the big 10 in the short term.

    The success of dirt runners like Normandy Invasion, Practical Joke, Good Magic and Cloud Computing has long proven Chad Brown is more than a great turf trainer. He has actually decent stats in the Derby since 2013 with a second, a fourth and a fifth out of only five entrants.

    This year Chad Brown can count on Risk Taking as his best Derby card.

    Of course, we all know that there is a rising star vying for a place in that exclusive Derby club; Brad Cox has good chances of having as many as three horses reaching the Derby. Essential Quality, Caddo River and Mandaloun have shown above average talent and it is difficult not to see them progressing enough so as to get the needed qualifying points.
    From there he could be the modern version of Todd Pletcher…

    One thing I do in every trail is tracking hopefuls managed by these pivotal trainers.

    If I may I will be sharing Trainers and their hopefuls in segmented posts.

    • Nelson Maan says:

      *and Richard Mandella

      • Matthew W says:

        Simon Callaghan……took Firing Line to Sunland Park, then to Louisville, where he ran well enough to win most Derbies….Callaghan and Cox, you get the feeling it’s a matter of time…..but also–‘The Kentucky Derby is a race that is won by trainers who don’t get many chances….John Servis….John Shirreffs….Barklay Tagg…..Art Sherman…Chip Wooley…….Charlie Whittingham…..Diodoro and Fincher are such players this year.

        • Nelson Maan says:

          You are more than right Matthew … I was intending to write about the “one-shot one-hit” trainers or trainers with less than 3 starts with wins… but I wanted to make the post as succinct as possible …

          I don’t want to be accused of “kidnapping” the forum … LOL

      • EddieF says:

        Nelson, I’m looking forward to your posts on trainers and their Derby prospects. I always look for requisite training experience in evaluating Derby hopefuls. If a trainer has not previously had a Derby runner, I check the record to see if he or she has trained multiple graded stakes winners (not including his or her current prospect). That qualification has helped to keep me from selecting/betting more than a few well-regarded Derby runners, Mine That Bird not withstanding.

        This year we have quite a range of first-time Derby trainers — from the incredibly accomplished Brad Cox to Todd Fincher, who has had just one graded stakes win (Runaway Ghost in the 2018 G3 Sunland Derby). What a great story it would be if Senor Buscador won the roses this year, even if I don’t pick him. 🙂

  22. EddieF says:

    Defeater has been scratched from the Risen Star in favor of an 8.5f allowance race on Saturday. Mandaloun moves to Post 10 for now.

    Greatest Honour’s pace numbers (Brisnet) in the Holy Bull were unusually impressive for a 2-turn graded stakes for 3yos in January: E1 94, E2 103, LP 99, along with a speed rating of 103.

  23. Steve Haskin says:

    To Coldfacts, in case you didnt see my post below I am repeating it

    First off, thank you for the information about yourself. Second, do not ever come on here and suggest I or anyone on this blog gives a damn what your race is . I know that is you being you with your self deprecating manner, but dont ever bring up the issue of race on here again. It doesnt matter if you are black, red, Lartino, mixed or whatever. This is about racing among racing fans, period. Race is one thing I will nt tolerate on here, and for you to say your race is “likely to fuel negative critique” makes you sound like the racist.

    • Coldfacts says:

      I suspected my comment about my being black would have angered you immensely. .

      But first, let me apologize to you for a possible inappropriate post. You fury is understandable. Consequently, context is warranted.

      Over the years I have aked myself the following question. Why am I so disliked?

      I try not to offend but offence seems to be taken where none is intended. At times I feel like one man against the world in these forums. My views on any issue is always viewed as controversial. I feel targeted. Such a feeling can lead to the development of negative thoughts.

      After a process of elimination, I have concluded that it’s likely due to my genetic make up. I have been attacked by regulars supporters and by some folks, whose ID I am seeing for the first time. These attack are at time so vicious. They cannot be viewed as anything other than extreme hate..

      I was once told that my very existence offended a particular individual. I knew category in which the individual belonged. The extreme nature of some the attacks directed towards me over the years on your blogs, has led me believe that some of the attackers, fall into a category of folks who harbor extreme views. But I have neve before infer or specified same.

      That was until the attack below by someone whose ID I am not familiar with. I guess I just had enough of folks who know absolutely nothing about me. Bu have the audacity to characterize me in any way they see fit. I could never direct such a post to anyone, either known or unknown.

      The poster drew first blood. I am at liberty to response in similarly extreme manner. My reply should be viewed in the proper context and not generalized.

      NB: I have long felt that the attacks directed toward me are from extreme individuals. But I have never mentioned same due to the sensitive nature of the issue. You have never been in my shoes.

      • EddieF says:

        “Why am I so disliked?”

        You are not disliked. I doubt that anyone here know YOU in the personal sense.

        Quite a few, but probably not all, Haskin readers don’t like many of YOUR POSTS…for various reasons. If you look at the issue in that light, you may feel better.

        • pro vet says:

          I know him…..17 years……
          He gets off on this……to not know this … not my fault……a lady can post LOVE for a horse…….he will try to badger that person…….any comment of a horse being great, running great?……He will rain on the parade…… am not lying…..there is not one great horse……that he has liked……THINK of the great horses we have seen……..NOT ONE…… this someone that is here for horses?……….

      • perimeister says:

        To reiterate what I wrote earlier in response to another of your posts, I read them and respond as constructively as I am able at the time, or not. No hard feelings. I don’t care what you look like, or how you live outside of these pages, except to say that I wish you as well as I would any other fellow human being, and even more so because there is a connection by Steve’s grace. I would miss you if you stopped participating. So I hope you will continue.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        Steve Haskin says:
        February 11, 2021 at 8:14 pm (Edit)
        No I have never in your shoes, but think of this blog as a Japanese restaurant where you take off your shoes and just enjoy the food. What is inside your shoes, whatever prejudices you have endured, are left at the door here. You are just another poster who has come here to enjoy the Derby trail. I have never met anyone on here, but in this realm we are all family. If there are people who dislike you, welcome to the world. Everyone is disliked by someone. There are some who may feel you are antagonistic and a contrarian in a passive aggressive manner. I was one of them, but have accepted your critiques and come to appreciate the work you put into your posts. You can critique all you want as long as you actually read the comments and not just look at the order of the rankings. I dont think we need to discuss this any further. You are welcome here, and if people dislike you that is their problem.

      • pro vet says:

        Why did i post how you are the passive aggressive poster boy?……because you are. I have seen this for 17 years….You are here to irritate him……i didnt even read the post in question……it is you.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          I believe he has a persecution complex. I dont mind his critiques, I just dont like him throwing his race into the picture.

  24. Bill Dawson says:

    Mr. Diodoro’s excuse to enter Keepmeinmind in the Southwest instead of the Risen Star doesn’t pass the smell test, IMO.
    The prospect of facing 5 or 6 major contenders in the Risen Star, and drawing p/p #12, versus facing 2 major players in the Southwest (Essential Quality and Jackie’s Warrior) probably convinced him to opt for the Southwest. However, the real head scratcher here, is the points. Why go after 10 points instead of 50?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      He entered in the Risen Star just in case, as he said. Well, a week delay looks llike a just in case. Then he mentioned Covid restrictions, but they were there when he entered. I would think its the post, but with his running stlyle it shouldnt matter that much. I really dont know the reason, perhaps he decided its too much of a hassle to travel. Who knows?

      • Bill Dawson says:

        Thanks for the reply Steve
        You’re probably right, Keepmeinmind lacks early speed, and drawing p/p 12 was probably the determining factor to opt for the Southwest. However, Keepmeinmind has shown a considerable amount of class in three graded races, which in my view, could have kicked in, during the late stretch run, to have him right there or thereabouts, at the wire. The points angle still bothers me, but it’s certainly Diodoro’s choice to enter his colt when and where he chooses.
        Mandaloun is still my choice to take down the Risen Star.
        Safe trips to all.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          My only concern with him right now are is slow speed ratings on all the speed figures. But he sems to be very sharp going into his debut.

          • Bill Dawson says:

            Thanks again for the reply Steve
            One other thing. I noticed you mentioned Rombauer in your KOTD segment who’s pointed to this weekend’s El Camino Real Derby (10 points). We all know not a lot of past winners coming out of that race had much impact on the Derby trail. If in fact Rombauer were to win the El Camino, would you find a place for him in your top 16 Derby Rankings?
            Just wondering.
            Thanks Steve

          • Bill Dawson says:

            The odds have just been posted on Equibase, Mandaloun is the M/L favorite at 9/2.

    • pro vet says:

      We keep horses home when we can……..not a mystery