Secretariat

Derby Rankings: Week 5

Rather than do another Sweet Sixteen when there are 17 horses that deserve to be on there, I felt it was best to go back to the standard Derby Dozen for now and see what transpires next Saturday in the loaded Southwest Stakes. After that race, we finally will have a good line on everyone and be able to put together a more definitive list. ~ Steve Haskin

Derby Rankings: Week 5, Feb. 15

By Steve Haskin

 

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

With Essential Quality’s debut postponed a week, he is able to maintain the No. 1 spot. Last week we noted his continuous progress on his Thoro-Graph numbers, especially his jump from a 4 1/2 to a 1, which already has him fast enough to win the Derby. His Brisnet numbers back that up as evidenced by his steady improvement (84 – 88 – 92 – 97 and 103 in the Holy Bull, with the 103 being the fastest figure by any member of this crop). He also is the fastest and most consistent closer, based on his late pace figures. For all those who still don’t grasp the intricacies of speed figures, all you have to know is that he not only is the fastest 3-year-old and the strongest closer, he is also on the best pattern and is Derby ready right now. With only one more start in the Florida Derby and then a five-week gap to the Kentucky Derby, there should be no concerns of him peaking too soon. If he just pairs up his last Thoro-Graph figure or shows slight improvement he will be ready for a peak performance on the first Saturday in May.

 

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

We’ll have to wait a week now to see what kind of transition he’s made from 2 to 3. His speed ratings at 2 are fast and show an excellent progression, and his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest Stakes will tell us in what direction he’s going. He doesn’t need to improve much to be right on course. With the postponement of the Southwest it raises a question. If he was planning on a three-race Oaklawn campaign he will now have only three weeks to the Rebel instead of four. If he were to skip the Rebel he would have to wait seven weeks to the Arkansas Derby. So if he is unable to match strides with the brilliant Jackie’s Warrior in the Southwest going 1 1/16 miles it’s not a big deal. He just needs to run his race and be competitive and it’s OK if he is unable to catch a horse with that kind of class and speed. You also want to see if he can outclose the late-running Keepmeinmind. You really don’t want him having a grueling race or run some outrageous speed figure trying to catch Jackie’s Warrior, especially with two possible more preps ahead of him.

 

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

The positive impressions I got watching his last two races were echoed by Barry Eisaman, who broke the colt  “He always acted like a high school student with a college student mentality,” he said. “Everything we asked him to do, he acted like he had done it a million times already.” As I said, he looks like a throwback to those sound, hard-knocking horses of the past who know exactly what they’re supposed to do. From a speed standpoint, Thoro-Graph, which takes trip and ground loss into consideration, had him running a very slow number in his maiden win, while Brisnet had him running a fast number and an equally fast late pace figure. Although Brisnet had him regressing from a 98 to a 92 speed figure in the Withers, Thoro-Graph had him making a big move forward from a 10 1/2 to a 3 1/4, which puts him right in line with most of the leading contenders. So, which one do you believe? Sometimes you have to go by the eye test, and I just liked what I saw in the Withers, and that is a professional horse who looks to be improving with every start. And I guess I’m a sucker for all that extraordinary Phipps breeding in his female family that reads like a “Who’s Who” and the 4 x 4 inbreeding to Damascus. Sure he needs to get a little faster, but he is relentless and just keeps coming at you. Now we have to see how he fares against better horses with the big points on the line.

 

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

He turned in his strongest work so far, going six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 flat and did it with the rider never moving his hands. He was striding out beautifully right from the start and was pure poetry down the stretch. This horse’s mechanics are flawless and this was as perfect a work as you are going to see. To show how strong he was after the wire, he cut the corner sharply going into the turn and was smack down on the rail, then continued to pour it on around the turn and into the backstretch before the rider had to step on the brakes to pull him up. I have always maintained that you want to see plenty of stamina in the female family when you have an Into Mischief, but Authentic threw that theory out the window last year. It just looks as if the Into Mischiefs are pure runners and if they have the look of a stayer then they’ll get a distance of ground, and Life if Good reminds me a great deal of Authentic in many ways – a long striding horse who is very light on his feet and just glides over the ground. But I still want to see him settle off the pace and close and that seems to be the way Baffert is training him. Right now it looks as if the San Felipe Stakes on March 6 is next.

 

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

He was entered in the Risen Star just in case, and although there was a just in case with the postponement of the Southwest, he will ignore that and wait the extra week, giving up a 50-point race at a mile and an eighth in a wide-open race with no standout for a 10-point race at a mile and a sixteenth against Essential Quality and Jackie’s Warrior. Now that is what I call having faith in your horse. Granted, he did draw an outside post at Fair Grounds, but with his running style I doubt that would have compromised his chances. Diodoro said he feels much better running him out of his own stall and that certainly makes sense. After all, it’s not that he needs to win this race, he just needs to show the same big stretch run he showed in his last three races. But despite his big finishes in two Grade 1 stakes and a Grade 2, he still needs to improve his speed figures. The one thing you have to like about him is his consistency; he is always closing. Because he has been aggressive in the mornings and working fast, Diodoro wisely slowed him down with a nice easy :49 3/5 breeze over a track labeled good.

 

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

After the LeComte I ranked him higher than the two horses who finished ahead of him, Midnight Bourbon and Proxy, because of his wide trip, stretching out to two turns for the first time, and being herded badly by Proxy in the stretch. For him to overcome the 10-post in the Risen Star Stakes, in which he raced three-wide the whole way going nine furlongs, and turn the tables on Midnight Bourbon and Proxy, that is proof enough that this is another Into Mischief who is for real and can handle a distance. With the addition of blinkers, he was able to stay close to the leaders and use his grinding style of running to power home by 1 1/4 lengths under a vigorous hand ride. This colt is not going to dazzle you with electrifying performances, but he is going to run hard race after race. After running a 4 on Thoro-Graph in the LeComte, it’s now only a question what kind of progression he made in the Risen Star. As we have mentioned, he has a ton of stamina in his female family and is inbred to classic/stayer influence His Majesty, so with a mile and an eighth victory already under his belt, I see no reason why the Derby should pose any problem. And his running style is geared for Churchill Downs. Could he provide a fitting farewell to Juddmonte founder Prince Khalid Abdullah, who recently passed away?

 

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

So, just how fast is this horse and how far can he carry his speed? His speed figures say he’s far from the fastest horse on the Derby trail, and there was little improvement in his last two races on Brisnet and no improvement on Thoro-Graph. Brisnet gives him strong middle pace figures, but he slows down late. In two of his four races, at seven furlongs and a mile, he went his first half in a blazing :44 and change. Although he doesn’t close fast from a speed ratings standpoint all he does is run off from his opponents, winning by huge margins. So, what do we make of this horse who no doubt is extremely talented and can decimate his opposition despite running fast early factions? And he has already hung two defeats on Greatest Honour sprinting. We won’t know any more until the Rebel Stakes, but for now he passes all the visual tests and he is by a sire who was known for carrying his speed classic distances.

 

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

We mentioned last week his dramatic move on Thoro-Graph from a 10 to a 1, making him the fastest 3-year-old we’d seen so far (now the co-fastest). He also became the first horse to run back-to-back triple-digit Brisnet figures (101 and 101), so it looks like his speed figures are legitimate, and combined with his 14-length maiden romp last out, we better start taking this horse seriously. O’Neill calls him a rock star. He will have to come off Lasix in his next start, the San Felipe Stakes, but he did run well without it when beaten the slimmest of noses in the Los Alamitos Futurity. I’m not going to pay much attention to the slow time of 1:15 4/5 in his latest six-furlong work. He sat off another horse with the rider never moving his hands and finished up strong. What interests me more is that he worked six furlongs coming off three one mile races and a mile and a sixteenth race, so O’Neill certainly isn’t babying him, just like he never babied I’ll Have Another and Nyquist.

 

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

He returned to the work tab with a half-mile drill in :48 4/5 with the rider way up over his neck and never asking him to run. Looking at the Brisnet figures for the Robert B. Lewis for the first time, they came up a little on the slow side, but like with the Thoro-Graph figures he was the only horse to move forward. What was most disappointing on Brisnet were the slow late pace figures for the first three finishers. So once again we are left with the question, how good are these horses? I still like the progression he is on, jumping from a 13 to a 6 to a 3 on Thoro-Graph. And he has one of the more powerful pedigrees top and bottom, so all indications point to a horse who is making great strides with every race. Yes, he has to come home faster, but I am not going to judge him based on mile and a sixteenth races over a dead Santa Anita racetrack. I believe we won’t see the best of this horse until he goes a mile and an eighth and even more so a mile and a quarter.

 

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

With Life is Good heading for the San Felipe at this point, there is a decent shot we could see him in the Rebel, but as we all know, Baffert can change his mind at any time. If there is one thing we know about him it is that he can run big on the lead or from five lengths back, and he doesn’t back away from a fight. As mentioned earlier, his Brisnet speed figure regressed a couple of points off his runner-up finish behind Life is Good in the Sham Stakes, but he paired up his number on Thoro-Graph. He has been tested in different ways in his last two races and stood up to the test each time. Baffert refers to him as his Real Quiet in that it was the more brilliant Indian Charlie who was his big horse, defeating Real Quiet in the Santa Anita Derby. But when they stretched out to a mile and a quarter at Churchill Downs it was all Real Quiet, who went on to be beaten the slimmest of noses for the Triple Crown.

 

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

The more I watch the Robert B. Lewis Stakes the more impressed I am with his performance, which proved that his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile effort at 94-1 was no fluke. In the Lewis, I loved the way he rated and then accelerated on the turn when Joel Rosario moved his hands. In the stretch, he took all the worst of it, not only being in extremely tight quarters between Medina Spirit and Roman Centurian, but getting bounced around from both sides. While O’Neill was giving The Great One a six-furlong work in company, he breezed him an easy half alone in :51 1/5 with the rider sitting motionless throughout and then letting him run approaching the wire. As of now, The Great One will stay home for the San Felipe and he will head to Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby.

 

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

This colt still has a lot to learn and I’m not sure when we will see the best of him, but for now his race in the Withers and his Thoro-Graph jumps from a 20 to a 9 to a 5 1/4 suggest that he is improving enough to at least make his presence felt, especially with his powerful pedigree top and bottom. We know he can close and can sustain his run a long way and that could get him a piece of the Derby, but he is going to need to show more quickness and a turn of foot if he is going to have any chance of winning. And he is going to need to pick up points, whether it’s in the Wood Memorial or wherever he shows up. I know Pletcher is the last trainer to shorten a horse like this up to one turn and give him two more starts when he can give him one, but the one-mile Gotham might be a good place to sharpen him up a little and, win or lose, set him up for his big final prep. He also might pick up enough points the lessen the all-or-nothing pressure he would face in the Wood or wherever he shows up. But trainers today just don’t do that so I wouldn’t count on it.

 

KNOCKING ON THE DOOR

SENOR BUSCADOR – You just can’t get away with being that far back when you face better horses no matter how spectacular you looked before, especially on a track where every winner was first or second turning for home.  I really wanted this colt to work out because of the great story behind him, and I haven’t given up on him. I was just hoping he would at least be in position to give himself a chance to win or be in the money, but you can’t be a dozen lengths back nearing the top of the stretch and expect to be competitive. He seemed to be close enough down the backstretch, but just when he started his run going into the turn the field became strung out with everyone making their moves and he found himself with way too much ground to make up. I still thought he might come charging home to pick up a piece of it, but that monster kick just wasn’t there, even though he did come home in :24 flat and :06 3/5. Remember, he hadn’t run in two months, had only two career starts, and only three three-furlong blowouts and a half-mile-breeze in between. Because he only runs the last part of it, I wasn’t crazy about him having only two preps off a layoff, so perhaps it would serve him better to go to Oaklawn for the Rebel and Arkansas Derby over a track that is more conducive to late closers. Otherwise he will have only one race to pick up a ton of points, and with his running style you sure don’t want to see him flying late and finish fourth in a four-horse photo.

PROXY – He is another I thought would take a big step forward with John Velazquez up. This time, he wasn’t hit left-handed, but whether it was habit or something else, he started bearing out on his own, and then continued to do so despite Velazquez hitting him continuously right-handed. To his credit he again battled to the wire to get second, but until he shows he can keep a straight course and not continue to bear out I can’t rank him in the Top 12. He has the talent and the pedigree, and I believe there so much more to this horse that he hasn’t shown. But he can’t keep compromising his chances every race. If he stays at Fair Grounds he will have only more prep to work out his issues.

MIDNIGHT BOURBON – It is so difficult separating him, Proxy, and Mandaloun, as they have now finished pretty much on the wire together twice. He had his own way on the front end in the LeComte and was able to hold off the other two who were way out in the middle of the track. This time he was put in a stalking position with Mandaloun sitting right behind him. He ran hard down the stretch, but couldn’t match strides with Mandaloun and failed to hold on to second, despite having a perfect trip. He is another who will have to step up in his next race. He is by Tiznow, so he likely is still a work in progress. I’m just not sure if he has the weapons needed to win the Derby.

JACKIE’S WARRIOR – I’m putting him here for now even though I think he has a big shot to win the Southwest Stakes on Saturday at a distance that should favor him. But he still has to prove he is as effective around two turns as he was around one turn, and whether he can rate off the pace if he has to, something he was unable to do successfully in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He did, however, run a bang-up race chasing a brutal pace, so we’ll see what kind of progress he’s made since last fall.

ROMBAUER – I try not to fall into any synthetic traps and get too excited when a horse looks good over the Tapeta surface in the El Camino Real Derby, especially when they just get up to defeat a filly. But this horse has run big on dirt, grass, and synthetic and you can depend on him to be closing every race. It was a good move sending him up there to get a mile and an eighth race in him and now it’s on to bigger and better things. If this were a Sweet Sixteen ranking like the last two weeks he definitely would be on it. I just want to see him get into the fray earlier and not leave himself with so much to do.

Catching up from last week, while the eyes of the racing world were glued to BEZOS in his much-anticipated career debut going 6 1/2 furlongs, they might have missed that blur that blew right past him at the top of the stretch. Suddenly, all eyes became fixed on DREAM SHAKE, as he opened up on his field with every stride and looked like he was just getting started as he crossed the finish line 4 3/4 lengths in front. Even though he received a solid 90 Brisnet figure for a maiden race and a strong 95 late pace figure, it was his Thoro-Graph figure that was astonishing, as he received a “1,” which you rarely see for a first-time starter. That equals the number Greatest Honour ran in the Holy Bull Stakes. The big concern with that is, where does he go from there? If you’re a follower of Thoro-Graph, that is way too fast for a horse making his career debut. He is yet another horse who would have only three career starts before the Derby, so, like Prevalence, we really have no idea how to rank him. We saw what happened to another spectacular maiden winner, Prime Factor, when they rushed him into the Holy Bull off one sprint.

Speaking of PRIME FACTOR, he worked a solid half in :48 3/5 and should show improvement with that last race under his belt and more bottom under him. He just didn’t seem ready to tackle those horses in a graded stakes jumping from six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth.

One horse who made a big impression in a maiden race at Fair Grounds Saturday was the Bret Calhoun-trained Runhappy colt RUN CLASSIC, who was stretching out to a mile and a sixteenth off a rough trip going six furlongs. Rating nicely in third, he took over at the head of the stretch, changed leads on cue, and drew off impressively. He kept building up momentum with long fluid strides and galloped out very strong, still hugging the rail. His time of 1:44 1/5 was a full second faster than Sainthood ran in the other division, three-fifths of a second faster than a strong allowance race on the same card, and a full second faster than the Rachel Alexandra Stakes. And you had to be impressed with his closing fractions of :24 and :06 1/5, which were significantly faster than the closing times of the other maiden race and allowance race. In addition, his time was only three-fifths slower than the Mineshaft Stakes won by the 4-year-old Maxfield, who many believe to be the best horse in the country. And to take it one step further his time compared favorably to the time of the nine-furlong Risen Star Stakes, run a tick under 1:50 2/5. His pedigree is a good mixture of speed and stamina and he definitely bears watching.

In the aforementioned mile and a sixteenth allowance race at Fair Grounds, the flashy American Pharoah colt BIG LAKE held off the late closing charge of DEFEATER to win by a diminishing half-length after opening a six-length lead at the eighth pole. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Big Lake has improved since stretching out to two turns and did well breaking from post 10, going three-wide on the first turn. His second dam is a full-sister to four-time Grade 1 winner Lakeway, who placed in the Alabama, Kentucky Oaks, and Breeders’ Cup Distaff. His third dam is a full-sister to Grade 1 winner Saratoga Six, and his fourth dam is a full-sister to Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Bold Forbes. You had to be very impressed with Defeater, who was making only his second career start and first around two turns, and he was gobbling up ground in the stretch and blew by the winner on the gallop-out. Trainer Tom Amoss thought so highly of the son of Union Rags he entered him in the Risen Star Stakes, but elected to run in this spot instead. He is another to keep an eye on down the road.

A few weeks ago I mentioned DYNAMIC ONE as my megabomb sleeper, despite still being a maiden. He has always been highly regarded, and Todd Pletcher still has time to get another race in him in early March and have him ready for a huge leap to one of the big 100-point preps. He had a number of excuses in his last start, which I believe he would have won by several lengths. Despite tiring a bit in the stretch, it was still one of the more visually impressive races I’ve seen this year, and I just want to see what he can do when he’s healthy, doesn’t lose a shoe, and can get a decent trip. It was good to see him return to the work tab for the first time, as he breezed a half-mile in :49 in company with Amount.

Pletcher also has another maiden who bears watching. BRACKEN has never had a race that was suited for him. In his debut he chased his brilliant stablemate Prime Factor home in second in what I felt was a promising effort. In his next race he wound up going head and head for the lead and tired to finish third. Pletcher put him on the grass Saturday and he drew post 11, got hung four-wide on both turns racing back in seventh, but showed a brilliant turn of foot to reach contention. He ran on strongly, but was outrun by the even-money favorite Floriform, who slipped through on the inside. Watch out for this horse if Pletcher puts him back on the dirt. He is ready for a bust out performance.

In other Pletcher news, KNOWN AGENDA, who I have always been high on but can’t figure out, likely will try blinkers in his next start after his bizarre race in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. He is still very slow on his speed figures and they can only hope the blinkers will wake him up and put some speed in him. We know the talent and the speed are there; we have seen it, but lately he’s been all over the place. Pletcher sent out two gutsy maiden winners this week. ATLANTIC ROAD, a son of Quality Road, battled to the wire and prevailed by a half-length going seven furlongs at Aqueduct. Then on Saturday his Mshawish colt SAINTHOOD battled back after appearing beaten to eke out a nose victory at Fair Grounds. It was a good week for photos for Pletcher, as he also scored a narrow victory with the Constitution gelding HYPERFOCUS, who got up by a neck in a four-horse blanket finish going a mile on the grass.

PREVALENCE, who had more than a few jaws dropping watching his sensational maiden victory, will be looking for a two-turn allowance race in the next few weeks. If there is nothing in the book for him or it doesn’t fill he probably would make a huge leap into the Fountain of Youth Stakes. But again we’re talking about a horse will have only three lifetime starts going into the Derby; a tall task. He did turn in a solid five-furlong work this week in 1:01.

HIGHLY MOTIVATED moved a step closer to his debut in the Gotham Stakes, breezing five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 at Payson Park. American Pharoah winner GET HER NUMBER continued on his road back with a half-mile breeze in :49 2/5 at San Luis Rey Downs. Also getting closer to his 3-year-old debut and a return to the dirt is Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner FIRE AT WILL, who breezed six furlongs in 1:15 2/5 for the Fountain of Youth Stakes. His only dirt race was a narrow victory in the off-the-turf With Anticipation Stakes run on a sloppy track. Holy Bull Stakes runner-up TARANTINO had his first work since that race, breezing a half in :49 2/5. He, too, could show up in the Fountain of Youth Stakes

If you are looking for an update on last year’s mile and an eighth Remsen winner BROOKLYN STRONG, he hasn’t worked since that race, but should be on the work tab in the near future. He needs to start working, as he doesn’t have much wiggle room if he expects to be ready for a debut by early March, possibly in the Gotham Stakes.

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135 Responses to “Derby Rankings: Week 5”

  1. Jerry Murphy says:

    Interesting update. Myself I’m always looking for future stars. At this point three outside the 12 look most promising Prevalence, Dream Shake and Run Classic. Many of the 12 look ordinary with Caddo River an obvious throw out. Look forward to things after this weekend’s action. Although I thought Prevalence’s maiden win was nothing more than the most facile public workout I was still surprised at how low the Vegas odds were. Guess I wasn’t the only one who saw a potential star in the making.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Why is Caddo Ricer an obvious throwout? Two of your horses have never faced winners and never been two turns and will have to go into the Derby off only 3 lifetime starts. If they are as good as they looked in their debuts then who knows? But promising? Most definitely. I held up on Run Classic until this weekend but with no race again he could very well be ranked. I couldnt have praised him more than I did in knocking on the door

      • EddieF says:

        FWIW…Warrant, who was third in Run Classic’s debut race, came back at Fair Grounds today and won a photo finish.

      • Jerry Murphy says:

        Agreed the three I mentioned are not accomplished yet, particularly around two turns, but their initial efforts stand out to me suggesting bigger and better things are ahead. Wouldn’t be surprised if one of the three is in the 3 year old of the year discussion post Travers. Wasn’t impressed with Caddo’s big win over very little and have trouble seeing him as a mile and a quarter horse especially by the first Saturday in May.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          We dont know how far Caddo can carry his speed. But no one has jumped out at me so far, so who knows who the really good ones are. Was hoping to find out Saturday but thats not happening again.

          • Jerry Murphy says:

            I place a lot of emphasis on the internal fraction between the half mile and the three quarter mark when assessing routers. At this level I’m looking for a 24 second time. Caddo River’s 25.2 in the Smarty Jones doesn’t cut it for me especially while cruising as lone speed in a moderate 47.2 half. An 8 year old starter allowance winner was only a tick slower in the race after the Smarty Jones. I’d have to see dramatic improvement from Caddo to consider him a Derby horse – Pat Day mile more like it.

            • Matthew W says:

              A horse can go fast early, and if the jockey can get him back–and slow things down, after getting the lead–he can win easy, and you see that in the fractions….one of the very best at getting a horse back–and that takes strength–is a 48 year old guy named Victor Espinoza

              • Jerry Murphy says:

                Under normal circumstances I would agree with you. However in the Derby any front running horse will have to deal with Baffert California speed – game over. I’ll be looking for another I’llHave Another to run down Baffert speed – Caddo isn’t that horse.

  2. grady griswell says:

    Mr Haskin,

    I Have enjoyed your selections for a long time, even from the other site you were on. I just wanted to let you know that a fan of yours passed away. Her name is Michele Minoc. She passed on 12/10/20.

    She enjoyed when you responded to her comments.

    Thank you Sir

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Oh, no I am so sorry to hear that. I havent heard from her in a long time. If she has family please pass on my condolences.

  3. Linda Mann says:

    Steve, I love that in addition to the analytical tools you use (most of which go over my head) for your predictions, you also include things like attitude (as much as you can tell) and mental maturity, plus your intuition based on the contender’s “presence”.

    I wanted to get out and ‘push’ Senor Buscador trying to cover so much ground. Hope he does better going forward.

  4. Steve Haskin says:

    Concert Tour pointing for the Rebel.

    • EddieF says:

      Weather permitting! 🙂

      So…
      Concert Tour to the Rebel,
      Life Is Good to the San Felipe,
      Freedom Fighter to the Gotham, and
      Medina Spirit to _____?

    • Nelson Maan says:

      And Freedom Fighter will be in the Gotham with Manny Franco… 50 points for a mile race not a bad deal!

    • Bill Dawson says:

      It appears Baffert will use the same path with Concert Tour, as he did with Nadal, (San Vicente, Rebel, Ark. Derby). Based on past history, Baffert usually ships the best colt in his barn to Oaklawn for the Rebel. Baffert has won 7 out of the 12 Rebels, so I would think this bodes well for Concert Tours chances in the race.

  5. EddieF says:

    Until the 2yo sensations make their debuts, my top three are Greatest Honour, Mandaloun, and Roman Centurian — and not just because those are my three KDFW bets (40+-1 for all three). 🙂

  6. Matthew W says:

    I don’t mind Bob saying Medina Spirit is his real Quiet—after all, Real Quiet won the Derby—as you stated, he came within a whisker of winning the triple Crown, but the racing gods kept him out of that revered group–and any horse nicknamed “Fish” probably doesn’t belong with the likes of Secretariat, Affirmed, Seattle Slew—and even if Fish had won the Belmont, the stewards afterwards said he would have been disqualified–for his late interference with Victory Gallop.

  7. Jerry Lillard says:

    Visually Mandaloun looked good in the Risen Star but being old school that Dosage Index of 11.00 is off the charts for me to consider he’ll have to beat me to show me….

    • Matthew W says:

      Agreed…that horse is big and beautiful, he reeks of class but I do not think he is going to be a Kentucky Derby winner.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Dosage has become totally antiquated. No one has really kept it up to date. So I wouldnt say a horse cant win the Derby based on that. He actually has a ton of stamina in his female family and is inbred top and bottom to major class and stamina influence His Majesty, a full brother to major class and stamina influence Graustark, both sons of Ribot. He may not get the 10f but I wouldnt let pedigree alone determine that

      • EddieF says:

        And, of course, the dosage formula doesn’t take into account ANY female in the pedigree.

        • Jerry Lillard says:

          Well it’s still been benificial to me in my handicapping Future wagers in the recent years. I had Authentic last year at 50-1 1st Pool & in Vegas @ 65-1. Even tho everyone said he was a Into Mischief probably a Miler he showed them to be wrong his Dosage fit. Nyquist I will admit cost me many $$$$$$

      • Matthew W says:

        I saw His Majesty in person, Winter of ’72…What a looker, I didn’t know he was such a blue-blood at the time, but him and Triple Bend were two beautiful animals….you know the saying, if there’s a blanket finish it probably was a weak heat—-that’s usually true–exception for the 1972 San Fernando Stakes—Autobiography and Triple Bend deat-heat….Unconscious nose deat heated with Good Councel…His Majesty head back—a neck separated five—all Grade 1 winners…..later that month in the Santa Margarita—five fillies/mares—Turkish Trousers, Typecast, Convenience, Manta, Street Dancer–all multiple Gr 1 winners—finished within 1 1/2 lengths…..that was my introduction to the Sport of Kings, 1972…Shoemaker…Pincay…Baeza….all those good horses, running good races….and a medium sized bay who couldn’t run straight named Cougar II, who in his last 33 races placed in graded stakes….

        • Matthew W says:

          One more thing about His Majesty—in 22 starts he was first or second in half of his races, 5 wins and 6 places—earned $99,000—-so when you see horses like Royal Glint and Ancient Title, who both earned over a million—know that they were pretty good race horses, they didn’t hand out huge pots back then, and a hundred grander–was a Grade 1 horse race….

    • Nelson Maan says:

      That is a good observation Jerry… however, as we have discussed extensively among the Haskinian community in the past, Dosage itself is beginning to disappear from modern pedigrees.

      The system is based on the presence of Chief de Races who are no being updated to include modern sires

      For instance, how can we explain that Authentic with a broodmare sire like Mr. Greeley got a DI of 3 and Mandaloun with Empire Maker as his damsire is showing 11.

      The reason is that the allocation of Chief de Races is outdated. If you ask me Empire Maker would be a Classic Chief de Race which would drastically the DI.

      Anyways, I try to avoid controversial or divisive topics but a similar discussion was triggered by Nyquist having a DI of 7 and the consensus here was that DI is not decisive factor …

  8. EddieF says:

    Mandaloun’s Brisnet figure for the Risen Star was 100 — by comparison, 4 points faster than Maxfield on the same card.

  9. Nelson Maan says:

    The Risen Star (RS) has not been as relevant as the Florida, Arkansas and Santa Anita Derbies producing Derby winners but it has nonetheless provided a growing platform for many memorable horses.

    Yes… no winner of the RS has won the Derby but a fair question would be how horses who competed in the Risen Star have performed in the run for the Roses. Since the RS is held early in the year another good indicator of its quality is how its participants did in other prep races.

    The RS acquired a G3 status in 2002 and has been a G2 Stakes since 2010.

    From 2002 to 2012 (before the adoption of the point system) a total of 20 horses from the Risen Star entered the Derby and 27 former RS participants earned their place in the Derby since 2013.

    It is easily forgotten that the horse who finished 6th in the 2002 Risen Star was no other than War Emblem. After that glitch … well… you all know why he became a celebrity.

    Buzzard’s Bay was 10th in the Risen Star but won the Santa Anita Derby afterwards and was 5th in the Derby.

    Other recognized horses emerging from a win in the Risen Star were Lawyer Ron who went on to also win the Southwest, the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby; Circular Quay and Friesan Fire both won the Louisiana Derby with the latter ending up being the Derby favorite.

    Another important RS winner, MUCHO MACHO MAN was 3rd in the 2011 Derby. In 2013 five Risen Star horses made it to the Derby; Oxbow (Preakness winner), Golden Soul (2nd in the Derby), Normandy Invasion (4th in the Derby) and My Lute (5th) and Palace Malice (Belmont winner) attested that the Fair Ground marquee race should not be overlooked.

    Commanding Curve was 6th in the RS and was a surprising second in the 2014 Derby.

    In 2016 GUN RUNNER won the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby as springboards for his 3rd in the Derby.

    Other Risen Star graduates worth mentioning are War of Will and Country House, winner and runner up in the 2019 edition. The latter was adjudicated the Derby trophy and War of Will won the Preakness.

    Last year as many as 4 horses who competed in the RS made it to the Derby with long shot Mr. Big New finishing 3rd .

    This year the feeling around the Risen Star is a bit more optimistic as the strings that are empowering Mandaloun and Proxy to move forward are pretty distinctive. You have a Midas of American trainers and a powerful ownership supporting Mandaloun… and the weather is conspiring against his chief opponents…!

    • EddieF says:

      Keep in mind that the Risen Star was run at 8.5f before last year. So it’s really a different race when considering performance vis-à-vis the Derby. By the time they get to the final prep, nearly all the best horses are in the three races you mentioned at the top of your post. Before then, they’re stretched out all over the country. The FOY, in late February, has produced only one winner in the last 25 years. I wouldn’t be concerned about the specific race that a horse enters this early along the Trail. It’s all about looking for improved performance at this stage.

    • Matthew W says:

      You mentioned two of my Derby plays—Mucho Macho Man, whom Mandaloun reminds me of a bit…..he fired a big shot in the derby–wasn’t good enough buy got the Classic–or did he get beat a nose I can’t remember–he was a go0od horse…and I’ll never forget my big across the board wager on Normandy Invasion…where at the head of the stretch I thought I was a winner–at the 1/8 pole at least I had 2nd ….1/16 pole my show wager would cash—and in the shadow of the wire my ticket became worthless!

      • arlingtonfan says:

        Mucho Macho Man won the 2013 Classic by a nose in a thriller! One of my favorite races of all time.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          Mucho Macho Man’s BC Classic win was my favorite recap to write of any race I have covered. I thought I told the story behind the story in depth.

          • Nelson Maan says:

            I remember your observation of Mucho Macho Man needing the lead coming to the homestretch (or something of that sort) and Gary Stevens doing exactly what you said … who said that turf writers can not be jockey coaches as well…

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Mucho Macho Man was second in his first BC Classic attempt half length behind Fort Larned and won in his second attempt as a 5-year-old by a nose over Will Take Charge.

        I remember that 2013 Derby… I also had Normandy Invasion in my Trifecta but it was derailed by the late charge of Golden Soul…It was a great day for deep closers.

  10. Linda Mann says:

    I’m behind on reading the Derby Rankings column, but love reading the tidbits as we go along towards the Derby, even tho I don’t understand a lot of it. As for Greatest Honour? What’s not to like – Street Cry ancestry and a closer. What fun. Glad to see he’s still right up there. Fingers crossed for good health.

  11. Steve Haskin says:

    Well, Oaklawn canceled next weekend too. Thay obviously have a lot of faith in the forecasters. That leaves Essential Quality in a real bind as well as Jackie;s Warior. I wonder if Diodoro wishes he hadnt scratched Keepmeinmind out of the Risen Star. No place else to run now. Too long to wait until the Rebel I would think. How about a plane load headed for Florida and the FOY.

    • EddieF says:

      Southwest will be run the same weekend as the FOY. Whatever the three stables decide, it’s bad news for all of them.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        No way they can run back in the Rebel now. Miight be better to go the FOY and Florida Derby route rather than wait for the Arkansas Derby but we;ll see. Not good for those horse who were ready to run last week.

        • EddieF says:

          If the initial plans for these three horses were to have two more preps after the Southwest, they can forget that now.

          • Steve Haskin says:

            If all these horses run in the Southwest, you can give the Rebel to Baffert because there wont be anyone to run against him. There horses were ready to run a week ago and now they would have to wait 6 weeks to the Arkansas Derby.

          • Steve Haskin says:

            If all these horses run in the Southwest, you can give the Rebel to Baffert because there wont be anyone to run against him. These horses were ready to run a week ago and now they would have to wait 6 weeks after the Southwest to the Arkansas Derby.

    • Nelson Maan says:

      Two divisions of the Fountain of Youth could be a good solution…

    • Bill Dawson says:

      Hey Steve, just for clarification, you mentioned that Greatest Honour will have one more start, that being the Florida Derby. He’s listed as a possible for the FOY, so has Shug McGaughey made a definitive decision to skip the FOY and point him directly to the Fla. Derby?
      Thanks

      • Steve Haskin says:

        No, to tell you the truth I dont know why I said that. Brain got a little scrambled. I guess I was thinking he mightt be afraid of a bounce in the FOY after jumping to a 1 T-Graph number, but Shug doesnt kmow from bounces. As Emily Litella would say “never mind.”

  12. Matthew W says:

    The more I look at Medina Spirit the more I like what I see—working at Los Al but was closing well against Life is Good at Santa Anita….moved to Santa Anita, and did the wet work in the Lewis–and got the money, I was surprised both times…..took a bite out of the 25-1 futures price…

  13. Nelson Maan says:

    Happy President’s Day and happy Family Day to everyone here in Canada.

    Great ranking … I like the magic twelve better than the sweet 16.

    The information about Dream Shaker’s Thoro-Graph index is really interesting. Thoro-Graph is used to register patterns in the evolution of form/shape. Usually, every young horse starts with high numbers and they go down as the prospect grows and runs faster over time.

    Thoro-Graph of 1 for Dream Shaker’s debut means that he will likely log negative values in his progression… and this seems to be as startling as uncommon.

    I imagine that horses like Dennis’ Moment and Hidden Scroll got low Thoro-Graph numbers early on to only regress from those top ratings. I am not familiar with the Thoro-Graph stats so as to confirm that there have been horses showing such low steady figures for their first three or four races… and then see what the TG figures were from there on…!

    Equibase assigned Dream Shake 88 of Speed Figure and, as mentioned by Steve Brisnet SF, was 90. Both figures are less surprising than the TG of 1.

    Prevalence got 94 Brisnet and 99 Equibase SFs… I wonder what his Thoro-Graph rating was for his impressive debut…

    At any rate, Peter Eurton, who trained one of the shakiest 2-year-old champions in Storm the Court , appears to have a very solid prospect now.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I asked Jerry Brown about that 1 and he said horses are getting faster. But I agree the other two figs seem more in line, but we’ll see, Prevalence got a 3 1/4 T-Graph which is still pretty fast for a first timer

      • Matthew W says:

        Dream Shake got a 96 Beyer….as impressive as he and prevalence were, I wouldn’t take anything under 50-1 for a futures wager, just because there has only been one horse to win the Derby like that–even Curlin couldn’t come within 10 lengths of the Derby, it’s a big ask for a lightly seasoned racehorse….

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Thanks for your reply Steve… I know that Thoro-Graph takes into account factors like the time along with the lengths, weight abd distance traveled in accordance to the position w.r.t. the rail.

        One differentiator is that the effect of the wind and the track variant are key factors to adjust the final figure.

        I suspect that the track variant for the very heavy conditions of SA track needs more careful consideration.

  14. Deacon says:

    Great list as always Steve. I really appreciate the hard work you put into this each week.
    For me, and until I see more races it is still
    Caddo River
    Life is Good and
    Jackie’s Warrior. I certainly would like to see him get on the track and run.

    The Great One I find interesting and I will put him on the list.

    This is my list currently, best wishes to everyone.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thank you, Deacon . Watched Life is Good work again today. This horse is special. Cant wait to see Jackie on Saturday and how he handles 2 turns

      • Smash says:

        I bet you see a different Jackie’s Warrior in the Southwest than you saw last year, less head strong, better able to handle 2 turns.

  15. Bill Dawson says:

    Hi Steve
    I’ve been on the Mandaloun bandwagon for several months, and was glad to see you moved him up 5 spots to #6.
    I noticed in one of your comments, you stated; “Still waiting for someone to blow me away”. Drain the Clock just might do that when he blows away the field in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on 2-27. This colt has impressive speed that he probably inherited from his sire, Maclean’s Music, and with Arch on his dam’s side, the stamina influence should be there as well, IMO.
    I’ve seen several posts stating DTC will not be competitive around two turns, and he’s strictly a sprinter. Time will tell.
    I’m hoping Prevalence runs in the FOY as well, just to see if he can live up to all the hype he’s been getting.
    Thanks for another great analysis on “Derby Rankings”, week #5.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thanks, Bill. Theres just no way of knowing what DTC will do stretching out. The same can be said of many others who have only sprinted. But you have to wonder if hes going to fool Saffie Joseph, who ran him 5 times in sprints. Normally when a trainer does that he believes the horse is a sprinter. He had to do something to convince Joseph he was a sprinter. Hes only stretching him out now just to see how far he’ll lgo. I pretty sure that was never in his plans or he would have done it by now. He’s taking a shot to get on the Derby trail and we’ll find out soon enough.

      • Bill Dawson says:

        Thanks for the reply Steve.
        In the 7 furlong Swale Stakes, he was geared down the last 70 yards, which leads me to believe he had a lot left in the tank to be competitive over a distance of ground. The FOY will be an excellent test class and distance.

  16. Mary Ellen says:

    Steve, I posted a longer version of this comment yesterday, so you probably didn’t see it. I noticed that Maxfield and Mandaloun were 1 point apart on Beyer figures on their respective Saturday races at Fair Grounds. I know you don’t use Beyer figures, but I’m curious as to how the two horses compared on Thoro-Graph numbers. (Maxfield being a superstar, and Mandaloun a ways down on your Derby Dozen!)

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Yes, sorry, Mary Ellen. Come Saturday I’m all in on the weekend races and then finishing up the new Rankings on Sunday so I usually stop reading the comments. I like to go into the weekend with a fresh mind and not read other people;s opinions of the races. Just make my own assessments.

      The Thoro-Graph figures dont come out until sometime on Wednesday. It is a bit surprising they were that close on Beyer. Usually the older horses have a big advantage on speed figures. What Beyer did Mandaloun get? Read my comments about the times of the Mineshaft and Risen Star compared to that maiden race. I’d like to see what that horse got.

  17. Zanytactics says:

    Steve, no mention of Candy Man Rocket. This horse is bred for speed and stamina (12F optimum distance). He ran 3-4 wide almost the entire race in the Sam F. Davis.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I wrote about him last week. There really wasnt much I coud add this week. I know the speed figures of that race came back very slow. We can only wait to see what he does with a two-turn race under him.

  18. Eric Rickard says:

    Nice list, Steve.
    Any news on Speakers Corner?
    I too, was disappointed in Senor Buscador this weekend.
    So excited for Life is Good’s next race.
    Roman Centurian is on my list and I believe he will get better with racing.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Still no works and no responses to my texts so I wouldnt hold my brath waiting for him. The more I watch Life is Good work the more I think he is something really special. Maybe the best moving horse I’ve seen since American Pharoah. Got to keep moving him up

      • Jeff says:

        If life is good romps in San Felipe, will he be the new number one? For me, it’s down to your #1, #4,#8,#9, and Concert Tour god willing all stay healthy….

  19. Blake says:

    I know it’s early but I’m not wowed by anyone yet. There’s no single digit odds horse in this field……yet!

  20. Ronberto says:

    Curious as to my you dropped Concert Tour off of the list?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      He was never on the list. I have mentioned him in Knocking on the Door but havent ranked him yet. After the Southwest this weekend I wil have a better idea of who’s who and where they are ranked. Once I extend the rankings to 16 again he will be on there, possibly next week depending on what happens. I’m also not sure where Baffert is going with him. I am rying to find that out and that will also determine where he is ranked. I did say that I liked his race in the San Vicente and he will improve going two turns. remember, this is still the sorting out period.

  21. Dewey Hebert says:

    Hi Steve,
    Glad that you offered an update on Prevalence. Like many fans, I was impressed with the classy manner in which he won his debut. I was elated to see him in the Futures Pool #3, although I had hoped to get a better price than 14-1. I’m hoping to see him next in the FOY on the 27th as it’s all about the points (nothing gained running in an allowance). I know 3 prep races are not an ideal setup for the Derby, but we saw Justify do it (and I wasn’t as high on him as I am with Prevalence).

    There is one thing I’d like to ask you Steve…. could you tell me a little something about trainer Brendan Walsh? I’m not familiar with him except that I’ve heard he trained for one of the sheiks in Dubai.

    Thanks for all the work you put into the Derby Rankings. Your insights are the best and help to brighten up these dreary days that we find ourselves in. I look forward to catching up with the latest updates every week.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thank you very much, Dewey. Brendan Walsh is an excellent trainer who does right by his horses. That’s why Godolphin uses him and sends him good horses. We saw what he can do internationally with Plus Que Parfait in the UAE Derby.

      • Dewey Hebert says:

        Thanks Steve,
        Indeed, Brendan Walsh seems to do right by his horses (must be the Irish factor…. old school). You know, I should have made the connection with Plus Que Parfait as I used to bet him on the Derby trail. Senior moment. lol

        Godophin seems to have their best chance for the Derby this year. Must avoid bad luck they had with Maxfield last year.

  22. 1JoeP says:

    Hello Steve, good to see Roman Centurian in your top 10 at #9. I was thrilled to get him at 41-1 in KDFW3. I bet him to win and boxed him with the Field, Greatest Honour, Fire at Will. He’s back on the work tab and should Fire a big shot in the San Felipe vs. Life is good. If he can continue to run well and get those derby points, he should be ready for a big effort in the KY Derby. Very intrigued by Fire at Will running in the FOY, hoping he takes to the dirt and get some derby points along the way.

  23. EddieF says:

    I was expecting a curveball, Steve, but you threw a changeup with the return to a Top 12. I predicted you’d have Mandaloun in the top 6. He definitely deserves to be there. Run Classic, who you wrote about in KOTD, is one to watch for in the races after the Derby. It’s too soon, I think, to have him ready for 10f on May 1. A couple of questions:

    1) What kind of an effort would you need to see from Essential Quality in the Southwest to put him back in the top spot?

    2) You mentioned again the long-running discussion point about a Derby runner having only three starts, as with Prevalence and Dream Shake. There could be several horses in the Derby with just four starts. Do you believe that having four starts is significantly better than three, considering the record of the past 20 years in the Derby?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I probably would put him back at No. 1 if he wins and does it fairly impressively; doesnt have to win big or fast time, just look like he did last year. I might put him back if he runs a bang-up second to Jackies Warrior if he winds up stealing the race.

      I’m not that crazy about four starts either, but time has apparently passed me by and I have to comes to terms with these lightly raced horses running in the Derby. Remember, I never had Justify No. 1 or even 2 or 3 I believe. They have to show me they can do it. Times are changing and we really dont know these Derby horses anymore. We’r all just guessing.

      • EddieF says:

        No, time hasn’t passed you by. The record in the past 20 years of runners with 4 career starts is not good. But the 2019 Derby had a record number of them (5). So the more 4-race horses that are entered, the more likely it is that one of them will win. The Southwest is looking to have a very small field. The racing sec may need to find a few fillers.

  24. John Fradkin says:

    Hi Steve. This crop of three year old colts seems to be very deep. I count 18 horses that have run dirt route Beyer figures of 90 or higher already and this is just mid February. Is this the deepest crop we’ve seen in 20 years ?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I’m not sure how good a crop it is just yet, but you are right, it is very deep. Hard to separate these horses. Waiting for some horse to blow me away and I dont mean in maiden races

  25. Sally Anne Eastman says:

    I cannot imagine a better come-from-behind pair this year than Keepmeinmind and Rombauer. Victory Gallop, Cryptoclearance and Candy Ride have always been on my all-time favorites list (yes, I am that old) so with these two closers as the generational offspring we may have a wild KYDerby if they both end up in the gate.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I assume you mean deep closers as opposed to a horse like Greatest Honour. Keepmeinmind has shown more against top-class horses, but Rombauer is very versatile. He just needs to make his move sooner and be competitive against better horses than he faced on Saturday