Derby Rankings: Week 7

The Derby picture got a lot clearer, at least at the very top, when Greatest Honour and Essential Quality separated themselves from the others, at least until next weekend’s San Felipe Stakes, which will be accompanied by the Gotham and Tampa Bay Derby. Stay tuned for another busy weekend on the Derby trail. ~ Steve Haskin

Derby Rankings: Week 7, Mar. 1

By Steve Haskin

1. Greatest Honour (Shug McGaughey, Tapit – Tiffany’s Honour, by Street Cry)
At the half-mile pole of the Fountain of Youth Stakes, he had lost his No. 1 ranking to Essential Quality. Less than a minute later he had it back, as he somehow managed to make up a ton of ground, despite the shortened Gulfstream stretch to blow by the pace-setting Drain the Clock in the final yards to win going away by 1 1/2 lengths. The truth is, I was expecting him to take a slight step backward after his brilliant score in the Holy Bull, in which I thought he may have run too fast too soon, as reflected in his big jump to a “1” Thoro-Graph figure and a 103 Brisnet figure. I would have taken a fast-closing second, but he has emerged as a truly exceptional colt. He probably did regress just a bit on Saturday, but was good enough to pull this one out with a furious closing kick. I feel this performance sort of leveled him off after that monster effort and should be a perfect steppingstone to the Florida Derby. We’ll see if that is backed up by his Thoro-Graph number. But what is most important is that this colt continues to show new dimensions, a will to win, and he always fires. With three 1 1/16-mile races and a gut-wrenching stretch battle at 1 1/8 miles in less than four months, he will appreciate the five-weeks off after the Florida Derby.

2. Essential Quality (Brad Cox, Tapit – Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality)
Well, he still paddles that left leg, but who cares? He just keeps winning and I feel he and Greatest Honour are nose and nose for the top spot. He obviously is the more versatile of the two and can be placed anywhere on the track. And give him a load of credit for turning in this strong a performance after having the race postponed twice, shipping to Oaklawn, and running on a tiring sloppy track. So far, this colt has shown he can do it all, and as the 2-year-champ likely will be No. 1 on most Derby rankings and deservedly so. But of the two sons of Tapit, Greatest Honour gets our nod because he has a stronger mile and a quarter pedigree, although Essential Quality should have no problem with the 10 furlongs. To be honest neither horse beat the toughest field, with Greatest Honour running down a horse making his two-turn debut and Essential Quality beating Spielberg, who lost all chance at the start when he ducked sharply to the outside, dropped to the back of the pack, and then lost ground into the first turn. Essential Quality’s main threat, Jackie’s Warrior, had no excuse and was done by the quarter pole. But all in all you couldn’t have asked for a better result from both horses.

3. Life is Good (Bob Baffert, Into Mischief – Beach Walk, by Distorted Humor)
OK, no more comments about his consistently sensational works and his flawless mechanics and how we haven’t seen a more beautiful moving horse since American Pharoah. It is finally time for all the morning praise to be replaced by equally strong accolades for his actions in the afternoon. Oh, OK, one more. He turned in yet another strong work on Sunday, going six furlongs in 1:12 1/5. Perhaps Baffert is right when he calls him “a beast.” Now we wait for Saturday’s loaded San Felipe Stakes, which will determine Southern California’s leading Derby contender. It is still only a mile and a sixteenth, so there is a lot of ground to cover before these horses get to a mile and a quarter. The question with him, and many of the Into Mischiefs, is whether he will be as effective stretching out to 10 furlongs. Although Life is Good’s female ancestors were sprinters tracing back to the swift Woodward filly Court Circuit, there is plenty of stamina from the males, and Court Circuit was versatile enough as a broodmare to produce the top-class late-running sprinter Honorable Miss, winner of the Fall Highweight Handicap twice, and her full-brother Bailjumper, winner of the Dwyer and Saranac, who is the grandsire of Skip Away and broodmare sire of Medaglia d’Oro. It is just a question of whether the sires or dams in his female family will prove dominant.

4. Known Agenda (Todd Pletcher, Curlin – Byrama, by Byron)
There is a reason I had him ranked No. 8 in the first Derby Rankings and kept him ranked until his baffling race in the Sam F. Davis Stakes when he pretty much fell asleep and didn’t wake up until the eighth pole when it was way too late. So a frustrated Pletcher added blinkers and Lasix for a mile and eighth last gasp allowance race Friday, and he certainly ran back to that initial high ranking with a powerful 11-length romp in a solid 1:50 2/5. Despite his being shoved four-wide into the first turn, you could tell down the backstretch this was a different horse, as he was striding out beautifully with great extension and was just biding his time. When it was time to go he quickly pounced on the leaders after a testing third quarter in :23 2/5, put the talented Top Gun Tommy, winner of his last two starts, away and bounded clear, winning in hand with his ears pricked and running perfectly straight down the stretch. One of the reasons I loved this horse from the start, in addition to his gutsy victory over Greatest Honour going nine furlongs, is the great European sire line on the dam side, which you can read about in Week 1’s rankings. I am going to assume it was the blinkers that woke him up and not the Lasix, and based on what I know he’s capable of, I am banking on this being the real Known Agenda and that we’re going to see a heckuva rematch between him and Greatest Honour in the Florida Derby. For now, welcome back to the Top 12.

5. Risk Taking (Chad Brown, Medaglia d’Oro – Run a Risk, by Distorted Humor)
He has run back-to-back mile and an eighth races, and you have to go back to the days of the Everglades, Flamingo, and Florida Derby to find a horse who went into the Kentucky Derby off three straight mile and an eighth races. That is another reason why I call this colt a throwback. He has that “hickory” look to him in that he is tough, sound, and runs hard. With all the speedy lightly raced horses pointing for the Derby we need horses like him. With Medaglia d’Oro and Forty Niner in his pedigree and being inbred to both Damascus and Buckpasser, you’re not going to find bloodlines with tougher, sounder horses. We really don’t know yet how talented he is, but he did defeat two pretty good horses in Overtook and Capo Kane in the Withers Stakes and did it the right way. And he’s only going to improve off that. Bad weather and poor track conditions in New York made a workout too risky, but there is plenty of time to the Wood and he is dead fit, so Brown has no concerns at all putting the work off.

6. Mandaloun (Brad Cox, Into Mischief – Brooch, by Empire Maker)
He had his first work since his Risen Star victory, breezing an easy half in :50. Nothing to do now but wait for the Louisiana Derby where he will be stretching out to a mile and three-sixteenths. Let’s do something different this week and look at the Derby gods angle. Of course, this is a far cry from Mrs. Genter or the Sunshine Boys, Paul Mellon and Mack Miller, but what better time for one of racing’s great institutions, Juddmonte Farms, to get their first Derby winner after second-place finishes by Aptitude and Empire Maker. This would be the perfect year to celebrate the racing life of owner Khalid Abdullah, who passed away in January. Juddmonte bred Mandaloun’s dam, second dam, and third dam; bred his second dam’s sire Dansili; and bred Mandaloun’s broodmare sire, Empire Maker, and his dam Toussaud. The Derby is one of the few classics Juddmonte has not won. They have captured 13 classics in England, six in Ireland, and eight in France, plus five Arc de Triomphes. In America, they won the Belmont Stakes with Empire Maker, six Breeders’ Cup races, and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup, Travers, and Pegasus World Cup with Arrogate, who died at the age 7 last June. We’ll see if the Derby gods are watching.

7. The Great One (Doug O’Neill, Nyquist – Little Ms. Protocol, by El Corredor)
He turned in a strong six-furlong work in 1:12 2/5 in company for Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes. It is time to find out once and for all if he is worthy of his name and the person after whom he is named. Wayne Gretzky played several years as a King and a victory would make his namesake the king of California and among the top three early favorites for the Kentucky Derby. This is a big step up from a maiden victory, even if he did win by 14 lengths. But let’s remember he did get beat a nose in a Grade 2 stakes before that and has been a different horse since the addition of blinkers. Spielberg, who beat him in a near dead-heat in the Los Alamitos Futurity, ran a huge race to be second to Essential Quality in Saturday’s Southwest Stakes despite a horrendous trip and on his best day is a classy formidable opponent. As we’ve mentioned, The Great One’s last-out Thoro-Graph figure makes him the co-fastest 3-year-old in the country and Brisnet backs that up with his back-to-back triple-digit numbers, so he does have the credentials to suggest a possible star in the making. He will back that up if he can knock off Life is Good, Medina Spirit, and Roman Centurian on Saturday. If Life is Good is as special as he’s looked, then a solid second-place finish will still propel him into the ranks of leading Derby contenders.

8. Keepmeinmind (Robertino Diodoro, Laoban – Inclination, by Victory Gallop)
It’s difficult to put this any other way, but his schedule is totally messed up. There is nothing wrong with giving a horse two preps for the Derby, such as the Rebel and Arkansas Derby, but this horse was working lights out and was fit and sharp and ready for his debut in the Southwest Stakes. Then it was postponed a week and then another week, during which time he was unable to train; that’s three weeks with no works and two weeks with no training. Rather than run in the Southwest as planned off no training, he is now forced to wait another four weeks for the Rebel on top of the two weeks with no training. Can he still win the Kentucky Derby? Of course he can, but Diodoro is going to have to take a finely tuned athlete primed and ready for a race and start all over again. Even his first work back wasn’t ideal, as it came up sloppy for his five-furlong breeze in 1:03 1/5. So all we can do now is wait and see how he continues to train and how he looks going into the Rebel.

9.  Caddo River (Brad Cox, Hard Spun – Pangburn, by Congrats)
He remains sharp, working five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 at his new home base at Fair Grounds, where he has been stabled since Oaklawn Park closed down for racing and training due to prolonged horrible weather conditions. What looked like a possible thin field for the Rebel Stakes now appears to be a very competitive race with Baffert sending the undefeated Concert Tour; the addition of Keepmemind, who had to finally give up his attempt at the Southwest Stakes; and the 3-year-old debut of American Pharoah winner Get Her Number. This will be the test we need to see for this colt, who has been outdistancing lesser competition, but looking very good doing it. He has had an interesting Thoro-Graph pattern, pairing up a 9 1/2 in his first two starts, and then pairing up a 4 1/4 in his next two starts. So he should move up several points in the Rebel. His Brisnet figures show a steady progression of 87, 89, 94, and 96, and another move forward will make him very formidable, regardless of who he is running against. His strength is his mid-race speed, which has run his opponents off their feet allowing him to open up and cruise home from there. All we need to see now is for him to use more of his speed in the last part of the race when better horses will be testing him.

10.  Roman Centurian (Simon Callaghan, Empire Maker – Spare Change, by Bernardini)
OK, if you bet this colt in the last Future Wager at 41-1, this is your opportunity to put that ticket in a safe place and guard it with your life, because it is going to be a valued commodity if he runs big in the San Felipe, considering he is only going to get better going a mile and an eighth and a mile and a quarter. And with two Baffert beasts in there as well as the vastly improving The Great One, he doesn’t have to win this race going a mile and a sixteenth, just like he didn’t have to win the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, in which he came out of his blanket third-place finish smelling like roses, while earning a faster Thoro-Graph number than the winner. If he is closing again and is right there against theses horses then you can expect bigger and better things to come. He tuned up for the race with a sharp half-mile work in :48 1/5. Look for him to take the outside route again and come charging late. He did have every chance in the Robert Lewis, but considering the wider trip and coming off a maiden race, there is no reason to think he won’t improve off that effort.

11. Medina Spirit (Bob Baffert, Protonico – Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed)
Baffert has been in a dilemma trying to figure out where to run him. He already has horses confirmed for the San Felipe, Gotham, and Rebel Stakes. With no Sunland Derby this year there simply is no place to run him without doubling up. So after a so-so work last week, Baffert wanted to see how he worked on Saturday before confirming him for the San Felipe. As it turned out he worked “great” according to Baffert after his sharp six-furlong drill in a bullet 1:11 1/5, so we now have a rematch to look forward to, but this time you can bet Life is Good and Mike Smith are not going to fall asleep at the wheel and will have their foot on the gas all the way to the wire. Medina Spirit also will be ridden by john Velazquez, replacing Abel Cedillo who rode the colt in his first three starts. Medina Spirit has a sneaky good pedigree despite his little known sire and broodmare sire. There are plenty of class and stamina influences and his dam traces back to the Rokeby Stable owned and bred Leap Lively, who placed in the Epsom and Yorkshire Oaks and produced the dam of Blue Grass Stakes winner High Yield.

12. Proxy (Mike Stidham, Tapit – Panty Raid, by Include)
Although there have been small pockets of gold so far, you can’t help but feel it’s only a few more feet down before Stidham strikes the mother lode. He keeps digging but he may have finally found the right vein when he put blinkers on the colt for his last work and he sizzled a half in a bullet :47, fastest of 40 works at the distance. If ever a horse looked like he needed blinkers it’s this guy, who just has to learn to keep a straight course to go from being a good solid horse to a leading Derby contender. It is for that reason that he returns to the Top 12. After back-to-back “5” Thoro-Graph numbers, which is just OK, I fully expect him to improve several points with the blinkers and stretching out to a mile and three-sixteenths in the Louisiana Derby. With names like Broad Brush, Damascus, and Ack Ack in his female family, we know where he gets his toughness. Now we’ll see if he can use his five doses of Raise A Native and Mr. Prospector, along with the blinkers, to bring out his speed. We have seen how he manages to dig in and get up for second in his races. Now he has to take it one step further and get up for the win. That’s where we feel the blinkers will help.


HOT ROD CHARLIE – Because he won’t be running for another three weeks, he has, for now, slipped just under the Top 12 until we can sort out the 3-year-old picture following next weekend’s three big stakes. We also need to sort out Doug O’Neill’s contenders, two of which will be running next Saturday. He is keeping busy, working five furlongs in 1:01 1/5. He’s still a very live contender and has proven to be a classy hard-knocking horse, so let’s see where he stands after next week.

OVERTOOK – He also has slipped from the No. 12 spot and we will know more once it is decided where he goes next. It was initially assumed he would remain in training New York and point for the Wood Memorial. He still may target that race, but has been shipped to Florida to train in better weather. He breezed a half in :50 at Palm Beach Downs in company with Dynamic One, and we’ll see where they decide to go with him.

CONCERT TOUR – He is sitting just below the Top 12 waiting to jump aboard with a victory in the Rebel Stakes, but we’ll have to wait two weeks to see if Bob Baffert’s praise for him is warranted. If he can beat the likes of Caddo River and Keepmeinmind in his two-turn debut after only a pair of sprints then we will know for sure he is the real deal and he will catapult up the rankings.

SENOR BUSCADOR – This year’s Cinderella story is over, at least as the Derby is concerned. The colt suffered a strained ligament and if off the Derby trail, just as his brother was three years ago. Hopefully there will other chapters to write for this talented horse.

To show just how dominant Greatest Honour and Essential Quality were in their own way on Saturday, there is not another horse coming out of the Fountain of Youth and Southwest Stakes that can be considered a serious Derby horse. That either says a lot about the two winners or more about the quality of horses they were beating. DRAIN THE CLOCK ran his heart out on the front end in his two-turn debut, but going longer distances certainly is a major question mark. He had every chance to win this race, controlling the pace and opening a clear lead at the eighth pole. SPIELBERG on his best day is a formidable opponent, but still is ranked No. 4 in the Baffert barn, although he did run big considering his horrible start. PAPETU, who actually had some decent Thoro-Graph numbers going into the Fountain of Youth, showed enough promise coming from far back to finish third to suggest that he could move forward in his next race and put himself into the mix. The obvious big disappoints were PRIME FACTOR, who surprisingly was farther back than expected and never fired, and FIRE AT WILL, who it is assumed will return to the grass. As for JACKIE’S WARRIOR, it looks like one turn will be his game unless the sloppy track simply was too tiring for him.

As much as I don’t like horses going into the Kentucky Derby off only three career starts (only freakishly talented horses like Justify and Big Brown have been successful in less than stellar fields), there are several horses apparently heading in that direction that have left a very strong impression and are worth following closely despite the task they will be undertaking. I am now resigned to the act that yesterday’s rules and trends no longer apply in these abbreviated career times. We really don’t know any of these horses going into the Derby anymore, so we’re all guessing.

The first horse who caught my eye was the New York-bred NICKY THE VEST, who like Tiz the Law is a New York-bred in name only. In his first start going a mile, he broke last and then made a dramatic move to take the lead on his own. He eased clear and won for fun by 3 1/4 lengths. In the one-mile Gander Stakes, he broke sharply and contested the early lead before again opening up on his own nearing the quarter pole and extending his lead through the stretch, winning by nearly 12 lengths, with Todd Pletcher’s undefeated Rego Park Stakes winner Perfect Munnings finishing third. What impressed me about this colt was his professionalism, especially for a May 11 foal; his smooth action, and how perfectly balanced he was, never deviating off his path in the stretch.

His paternal grandsire is a Kentucky Derby winner and his maternal grandsire is a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and he is inbred three times to the great Nijinsky. By Runhappy, he has a strong Paul Mellon (Rokeby Stable) influence in his female family and you don’t get much classier than that. In the just the bottom half of his female family are four Travers winners – Java Gold, Key to the Mint, Damascus, and Sword Dancer. And his fifth dam, Quill, was champion 3-year-old filly and the dam of top-class stayers One For All and Caucasus and the granddam of champion grass horse Run the Gantlet, winner of the Washington D.C. International, Man o’ War, and United Nations. Instead of running in the Gotham at one mile again, he will wait for the Wood Memorial. Expect to hear from this colt come April.

And then we come to SOUP AND SANDWICH, one of the most intriguing and fun horses we’ve seen all year. This striking gray son of Into Mischief has toyed with his opponents in his two starts despite not having a clue what he’s supposed to be doing. He breaks to the inside, gawks at everything, loses focus, and has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to his lead changes. We don’t know what he was beating in his maiden win at Gulfstream and allowance score at Tampa Bay going two turns, but he’s just out there having fun and goofing around. In his first start going 6 1/2 furlongs he just cruised to the lead on his own and drew off with ease to win by 7 1/4 lengths in a sharp 1:16 4/5 without changing leads until 30 yards from the wire and constantly looking at the grandstand. After returning he stood for a while just staring into the infield and had to be coaxed into turning around to head to the winner’s circle.

In his next start against only two opponents, he threw his head in the air as if intimidated when a horse started drifting in towards him. Then he managed to get himself boxed in down the backstretch in a three-horse field. But when the rail opened up he just burst to the lead while still under a hold. This time he changed leads inside the eighth pole, but ducked sharply to the inside for no apparent reason, jumped back to his left lead, then immediately back to his right lead. I mention this horse in depth because I don’t believe we have seen anything even close to his best, and who knows what’s in store once he figures it all out? Even trainer Mark Casse says he is clueless, but extremely talented. Casse said he didn’t even take a deep breath after this last race. He and owner Charlotte Weber, who surely does not wear rose-colored glasses, think so highly of him they are going to throw him right into the Florida Derby. When this horse figures it all out we could see something special. I just don’t know when that will be.

And to add one more, we had yet another freakish Into Mischief pop up and run off the screen when Three Chimneys Farm homebred COLLABORATE demolished his field in a one-mile maiden race at Gulfstream, winning wire to wire under wraps by 12 1/2 lengths for Saffie Joseph in his second career start. His breeder Three Chimneys Farm sold him as a yearling for $600,000 to Bob Edwards and stayed in for part ownership. He had a few niggling physical problems that delayed his debut, but he showed enough promise for his owners to be patient with him. But that patience might be over, as Joseph is so high on him he is considering a jump into a major stakes race in order to possibly pick up enough points to get in the Derby. We’ll have to see if he becomes another late starter to try to get in the Derby off three career starts.

No, we’re not done quite yet. This past weekend we also saw a huge performance in the Pasadena Stakes by ROCK YOUR WORLD, who is now undefeated in two starts on the grass. The son of Candy Ride has mainly dirt influences in his pedigree and he showed he can rate off the pace and rocket home in the final furlong. But when I saw how strong he galloped out and how far he went at such a rapid clip it was time to find out if there was a major Derby prep in his immediate future. Sure enough, the plan is to run in one of the preps to get Derby points but it will be up to trainer John Sadler to decide which prep to use. And so we have another one to start following.

CAPO KANE, who will be cutting back to a mile in the Gotham, turned in a sharp five-furlong drill in 1:00 1/5 at Parx. The one-mile race looks to be the proverbial barn burner with the Baffert-trained FREEDOM FIGHTER, who just worked a bullet five furlongs in :59 1/5, fastest of 53 works at the distance; the brilliant HIGHLY MOTIVATED, who will be making his 3-year-old debut; and another California shipper, WIPE THE SLATE, who worked six furlongs in 1:11 3/5 and will race without blinkers after getting too speed crazy early in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Previously he had run second to Life is Good before breaking his maiden impressively.

The exciting maiden winner PREVALENCE, who was forced to miss the Fountain of Youth after spiking a fever, returned to the work tab, breezing a half in :48 2/5 in company and on the inside with the rider’s hands motionless throughout. CANDY MAN ROCKET worked a sharp half-mile in :48 2/5 at Payson Park, which is fast time over that track. He will try for a stakes double in the Tampa Bay Derby. HIDDEN STASH, who still needs to learn how to change leads, tuned up for the Tampa Bay Derby with a five-furlong breeze in 1:02 at Payson Park.

American Pharoah winner GET HER NUMBER is starting to get serious, working six furlongs in 1:13 at San Luis Rey Downs. Trainer Peter Miller says he’s not ready for the San Felipe, so they will wait for the Rebel Stakes for his 3-year-old debut. El Camino Real Derby winner ROMBAUER, whose next start is still to be decided, stayed sharp with a half-mile work in :48 flat.

My super duper Derby maiden longshot DYNAMIC ONE is scheduled to try one more time to get back that “W” he should have gotten in his last start when he goes in a mile and a eighth maiden race next Sunday. He worked a half in :50 in company with the newly arrived Overtook. This obviously is his last chance to catapult himself into the Derby picture and one of the major final preps. Remsen winner BROOKLYN STRONG finally made it back to the work tab after a series of setbacks, blowing out three furlongs in :36 4/5. With the Wood Memorial or Arkansas Derby mentioned as possible first starts back, that would be the ultimate in Derby fever.

In the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park, HUSH OF A STORM made it three-for-three on Polytrack with an impressive come from behind victory, in which he rallied from eighth to win going away by 1 1/2 lengths despite trying to lug in. Unfortunately, his only start on dirt in his career debut was a dismal effort.

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288 Responses to “Derby Rankings: Week 7”

  1. King Barbaro says:

    I really think Medina Spirit is going to surprise in the derby. I’m going to say best price/payout of the top 3 finishers. Up close on that early fast pace in the Anita, widest on both turns, and finished very respectable. Steve always gives clues in his past posts. And I love to hear “tough” and “sneaky good pedigree”.

  2. EddieF says:

    Sneak peak: Steve’s rankings for March 8

    1. Greatest Honour
    2. Essential Quality
    3. Life Is Good

    4. Known Agenda
    5. Risk Taking
    6. Mandaloun
    7. Keepmeinmind
    8. Caddo River
    9. Proxy
    10. Hot Rod Charlie
    11. Weyburn
    12. Concert Tour

    • Jeff says:

      When is the last time a three year old ran a 107 Beyer and 130 timeform by the first week of March? You must have very high standards. Btw LIG ran faster than older horses including Maxfield…

      • EddieF says:

        You must have missed where I wrote “Steve’s rankings for March 8.”

      • Pine Island says:

        Just another Baffert horse carrying sprinter speed 8.5 furlongs, nothing to see here. Guy is an absolute joke, known juicer, and the CA board protects him to no end, as does the industry as a whole. Lidocaine Bob

  3. sceptre says:

    Life Is Good truly impresses me. Love his look, the manner in which he carries himself, as he appears to be the epitome of the athletic thoroughbred. Win or lose from here on in, I’m basically convinced that he’s superior to any of Baffert’s 2020 3 yr. olds. At this point in his career he reminds me most of No Robbery after his Wood Memorial win. No Robbery bucked shins in his Derby, but probably couldn’t stay the trip. As far as the “staying”, also a concern for LIG owing mostly to pedigree concerns. Not in love with LIG’s distaff side, quality-wise, and it’s is the lone negative thing I can say about this horse.

    • Davids says:

      Hi sceptre, you are right about the resemblance between No Robbery and Life is Good. I went through some photographs and watched the 1963 Wood Memorial on YouTube.

      At this stage, Greatest Honour impresses me the most but in a 20 horse field he’ll need a lgreat deal of racing luck.

  4. Bruce says:

    LIG is now 3/2 in the KDFW!! Somebody just loaded up on him. I don’t care how great you think he is, or how convinced you are that he’ll win the KD, betting ANY horse at that price is just not smart!! As long as GH, CR, EQ and CT stay healthy and get in the gate, you’ll get at least 5-2 on him when he leaves the gate ON derby day!! So unless somebody is predicting injuries to every other quality horse, this was just an insane wager. But… did give us some value on the others!

  5. EddieF says:

    LIG BSF 107

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Yeah, EddieF, that’s scary high. Before I second-guess his ability to do it over a mile and quarter, I remember American Pharoah and Justify.

      • EddieF says:

        Justify was more lightly raced (one fewer start) but didn’t earn his top BSF of 107 until the SA Derby. Has LIG run too fast, too soon? But as I mentioned earlier, which of the Derby hopefuls can keep up with LIG in the early stages? The only possibility at this point is Caddo River. Unless an owner of a current prospect has a speedster that can qualify for a spot in the gate, there’s no other possibility. Eager to see the BRIS number, and also the Thoro-Graph fig.

        • Nelson Maan says:

          Equibase is giving LiG 110 Speed Figure for the San Felipe which is the same as that of the Sham.

          Does not sound logical to me … it should be at least 3 or points higher. The split times and the final 102 seconds merit much higher evaluation than the Sham’s.

          Go figure !

          • Jeff says:

            I don’t follow or use equibase, so I’m not familiar with their ratings. What’s a typical Grade 1 figure? What’s considered good, great, excellent?

            • Nelson Maan says:

              For the Breeder’s Cup Classic the typical Equibase Figures are ranging from 119 to 122. The best one was Skip Away with 136, Gun Runner was given 130 and the lowest one was for Bayern with 113.

              The current table for 3-year-old prospects shows Life is Good with 110, Medina Spirit 109, Concert Tour 106, Essential Quality 105, Weyburn 105 and Greatest Honour with 103.

              I would say that 85 to 90 is good, 91 to 105 is excellent, 106 to 114 is superior and greater than 115 would be reserved for great horses.

              Having said that, it is best practice to contrast all the Speed Figures available in order to draw more accurate conclusions… also the distance are the interpretation of track bias are important differentiators.

            • Nelson Maan says:

              Perhaps, more importantly is that, according to that Company, your horse should be able to run around 112 to win the Derby …

        • Mary Ellen says:

          I can only imagine the Thoro-Graph will be way, way below zero. Have to rely on Steve for those!

  6. 1JoeP says:

    Hello Steve, I am now on the Helium bandwagon. Coming off of a 4 month layoff he put a strong effort in to win the TB Derby. He dug in the stretch to repel Hidden Stash and remain undefeated. Like you said , we don’t know how good Helium could be, he may be exceptional. This horse has a good pedigree and is trained by Mark Casse. IMO he now becomes a live longshot contender for the KY Derby. He will likely be overlooked in KDFW5 and should be around 40-1. Good to see veteran jockey Jose Ferrer have the mount, he was all smiles after the TB Derby. Helium is now in with 50 points and Casse said he is considering training up to the Derby. Considering he ran well after the 4 month layoff, maybe the 8 week layoff would work for this horse.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I loved his race, actually was amazed by it. I had a long talk with Mark Casse this morning. More on that in my comments on Monday. He is getting the 8 weeks. Not sure how I feel about that, but e did run a mile and an eighth so I am ignoring the low Beyer number

      • Davids says:

        Steve, your Derby Rankings will be fascinating this week. Life is Good was overwhelmingly the best in the San Felipe but looked horrible in so doing while there were so many no shows in the same race. Time to cast aside quite a few.

      • Betsy says:

        Steve, what are your thoughts on Unbridled Honor? I was really encouraged by how well he closed..I feel like he still has growing up to do; I think once he does, he’ll settle into being a mid-pack runner. So far in his career, he’s been all over the map. I don’t even care if he points for the Derby – he just strikes me as one to watch for as the season progresses

      • Pine Island says:

        He ran about a mile and 3/8. Horse was 4 or 5 wide entire way. Thoro number will be very good I’d think

  7. pro vet says:

    Life is good?……who said his mechanics were good?……they are NOT……they are BAD……..i dislike this horse………
    Everyone has lost their minds……Triple crown?…….freak?…….lol……i don’t like him……

    I actually think Bob should think about skipping SA derby……train him up to Ky……….which will make you think i’m insane……but remember who i am…….the guy that told you Trainers are changing…fewer preps…..more time off……REMEMBER?…….everyone was attacking me back then……NOW….. 5 weeks? thats not long enough……?……i was right……the game changed…….

    Regardless……..i think he will get spanked in the derby,,,,,

    • Jeff says:

      Funny post: he will have a 10-20 Beyer point better advantage over the next two top choices in GH And EQ. Be specific about his bad mechanics? Skipping the SA derby is a dumb nonsensical idea. Bob will utilize the race as a training lesson in his mastery. LIG will get more and more mentally intelligent over time.

      • pro vet says:

        He runs with his head up…..he crossfires….watch out of gate…..he tries to get out….he drifts…..his stride shortens….he is HORRIBLE…………IS THAT ENOUGH FOR YOU? WATCH WHAT HAPPENS……

    • Porgy Kowalski says:

      I must be crazy too. I don’t like him either, and I sure am not seeing American Pharoah in him. Nobody I’ve ever seen was or is as smooth as Pharoah. Baffert doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Life is BAD, I agree. Scrub. No Derby for Baffert this year.

    • Blake says:

      Sarcasm….I love it!

    • Nelson Maan says:

      Well ….. at this very moment ….. you got exactly 95% probability of being right …. on the other hand …. if you tell us who is your single favorite to win the Derby …. you will be equally 95% wrong….

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I said his mechanics were good in his works. I didnt say they were good yesteday. I wasnt crazy with what I saw. I have already expressed that in the comments I’ve written for tomorrow. Therre is no doubt he is very fast. And yes lets have your early Derby horse.

    • EddieF says:

      Choose one reply:

      1) Do you know how idiotic your post sounds to a sane person?

      2) Remember who I am? The guy who said that all but one 3yo will win the Derby. REMEMBER?

      3) I hope you haven’t lost Baffert’s phone number. He needs your advice now more than ever.

      4) You love BSFs. Here’s one for you: 107

      • EddieF says:

        No…#2 was another guy. I was the guy who said that only one 3yo will win the Derby, and that all others will lose. LOL

      • Nelson Maan says:

        You may add the answer I gave someone criticizing Authentic’s antics in the Sham Stakes:
        I don’t care if he runs like Bambi as long as he is the fastest of all. Sheer superiority relegates mechanics to academic discussions …

        Of course, two months and an extra furlong might change things a lot … our pastime here right now is to just track how these young horses drive progress toward the main goal.

        • EddieF says:

          We could all probably handicap the Derby just as well by looking only at the final prep. But it wouldn’t be as much fun! Look at me…I’ve completely OD’ed on the future wager. Bet two more 40+ to 1 shots a few minutes ago: Proxy and Risk Taking. I need Vincent Vega to come at me with a hypodermic needle.

      • pro vet says:

        no…..i’m am not a numbers player… just are ignorant to what i do,…….maybe steve remembers……i was the one telling everyone a decade ago……training is changing….to “be ready” horses were going to have less preps…..more time off……people were attacking these views back then……NOW….. it has gone to “why is Knicks go running off only 4 weeks off”……it’s amazing…..
        People said the same thing about Arrogate before classic… can think its crazy…you dont understand.

  8. Matthew W says:

    You are right, there is a big three….Life is Good will get a massive Beyer for that 1:42 1/5….faster than everyone, and trainer knows he has a special animal….I guess he will be a front running winner of his last prep, and so this fast horse….with his head high …..will try to wire the Kentucky Derby field….not easy, especially when everybody knows that’s the plan…..

  9. 1JoeP says:

    Hello Steve, I was really impressed with Hidden Stash’s 2nd place performance in the TB Derby. He was far back and swung wide and was rolling in the stretch. He seems like distance will be his friend. He already has 22 derby points so he only needs a strong 3rd in his next race to get in. He has a win at Keeneland so I wonder if his connections will go for the Bluegrass next. He will likely be 50-1 in KDFW5 and to me he seems like a live longshot. What’s your take on Hidden Stash Steve? I wonder if he will crack into your dozen. I was disappointed that Roman Centurian could only get 4th in the SA Derby. They need to send him to ARK Derby or Wood Memorial IMO to get him more points. RC was running late but finished way behind LIG and never threatened.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Well, he did change leads finally. But I thought he had that race won and let a horse with two Polytrack races in his life come back to beat him. I still think he has improvement in him and should run beter next time. But he let this one slip away. One thing in his favor. the horse that beat him is undefeated and we have no idea how good he is. He might be exceptional. With that said I am going to give Hidden Stash a pass on this one because for some reason he was a run off before the race, throwing his head all over the place and was so out of control the outrider had to chase him down and grab him. That had to to take a lot out of him..

      • Matthew W says:

        I mean…..maybe thats it, Steve, maybe that winner is all that, cuz Hidden Stash looked like a winner, and it surprised me that he was outfinished….still, they were well clear….

    • pro vet says:

      kentucky derby?…….stash?…….how?

  10. Bill S says:

    Life is good is a very fast horse but agree with Steve’s analysis that he still has to show he can go to 1 1/4. He may be leading into the stretch at Churchill but there will be some quality horses coming at him down the stretch. Not sure he can go the distance but boy is he fast.

    • Davids says:

      That’s right, it’s the 6th March and there hasn’t even been one prep at 9f yet. How good was/is the opposition in the San Filipe? Prior to the San Felipe, you wondered whether the Californian colts were all very good or, alternatively, just average.

      Considering Freedom Fighter’s performance against average Eastern colts in the Gotham and Life is Good’s overpowering performance in the San Felipe then the answer is one good colt.

      • Jerry Murphy says:

        Yes Life is Good is Authentically good. No surprise Baffert has the horse to beat again. Nobody behind LIG nor anybody coming out of either the Gotham or TB Derby can be considered to be anything other than fillers for the gate at Churchill.

        • Jeff says:

          If the San Felipe was full of KD fillers, the FOY and SW had fillers for allowance and future claiming races?

          • Matthew W says:

            That was what happens when Life is Good is on a lonely lead, he is fast—but the two/three in that race are real nice three year olds, Dream Shake first two turns Life is Good has a turn of foot, alright—I wouldn’t say he is a cinch and i wouldn’t say the others are filler–Life is Good–when he gets things his way—will do that to you…

            • Matthew W says:

              Dream Shake…ran third…needs a 2nd in some big race but he’s a good horse….if he gets in…he’s paying huge in the futures, at least he got his two turn race in, and it was pretty good—lets say–as a Kentucky Derby dark horse—-Dream Shake has my attention….

        • Discopartner says:

          Don’t lump the losers of the San Felipe with Weyburn and Helium, they have enough points to enter the Kentucky Derby, not too many of the former are going. Weyburn is a front runner who may contest the lead, one if a few so far.

        • pro vet says:

          good luck with that…..

          • Discopartner says:

            I’m not saying Weyburn will win or hit the board, but he’s one of the few so far who might contest the lead or try to stay close, needed in the Derby.

            • Matthew W says:

              I mean, he qualified….maybe owners can pony up (pun intended) and pay for Weyburn to push the early Derby pace, they can use some pace help!