Secretariat

Derby Rankings: Week 12

The big weekend of final preps that was supposed to clear up the Derby picture hardly accomplished that as we lost several of the old faces and added several new ones, including a megabomb that no one saw coming. So, now with only four weeks to the Derby here is the roster that has been assembled…with even more question marks. As you will see, I am not taking the conventional path when it comes to who reigns atop the Rankings. This is not the year to be boring. ~ Steve Haskin

Derby Rankings: Week 12, Apr. 5

By Steve Haskin

1. Rock Your World (John Sadler, Candy Ride – Charm the Maker, by Empire Maker)
In the 22 years I’ve been doing Derby Dozen and Derby Rankings I have never had a tougher time deciding who to put No. 1. It all comes down to this: Essential Quality is an undefeated champion who is the most logical No. 1. Known Agenda has already had the top spot and is a horse I have been high on from day one. But despite having only three career starts, Rock Your World is the one horse who possesses freakish qualities you rarely see. I am looking at him as a horse who has had more than three starts because I have never seen a horse gallop out after a race the way he does and comes back as if he wants to go around again. He possesses a remarkable engine with numerous gears. In the Santa Anita Derby he used one gear to run his opponents off their feet early, another to quickly separate himself from the stalking Medina Spirit and Parnelli on the turn, and several more in the stretch as he kept changing leads and surging forward each time. After setting a wicked pace, he seemed to get stronger the farther he went, running through the wire and opening up at least 15 lengths on the gallop-out. After returning, jockey Umberto Rispoli had to tug hard on the reins to get him to pull up. And he still is raw, as he demonstrated when he needed Rispoli to help him change leads, and then when the rider hit him right-handed and looked back over his shoulder, he jumped back to his left lead and surged again as he did in the Pasadena. It’s as if he uses lead changes to find another gear. This horse is just different, which is why I have had him ranked so high off two starts and never having run on dirt. Physically, he is a beast and he’s doing things ordinary horses just don’t do. As I concluded in last week’s comment, “He could be special and we very well may be seeing a huge breakout performance on Saturday.” That we did. And for those who follow it, he is now the only one among the Derby hopefuls to earn a 100 Beyer this year.

2. Known Agenda (Todd Pletcher, Curlin – Byrama, by Byron)
It was tough dropping him to No. 2, but it’s almost a dead-heat. When a horse has been running Thoro-Graph numbers of “11” and makes a giant leap to a “3 1/2″ there are several factors to consider. In this case, making such a dramatic improvement you have to ask, was it due to the addition of blinkers? Was it due to the addition of Lasix? Will he regress coming off Lasix in his first Grade 1 stakes? Will he simply “bounce” off a figure that he’s never come close to running before? Well, all those questions became moot when he not only didn’t regress he took another jump forward running a “1 1/2.” So now we know this horse is on a strong upward trend. As for his pedigree, in this day and age where speed rules, he is a rarity with points in both the stamina categories of his Dosage Profile. His granddam comes from one of the strongest European sires lines of modern times, from her sire Darshaan, who won the French Derby and was a champion sire and broodmare sire in three countries to Darshaan’s sire Shirley Heights, who the English and Irish Derby and sired a French Derby winner and English Derby winner in back-to-back years to Shirley Heights’ sire, the legendary Mill Reef, winner of the English Derby, King George, and Arc de Triomphe, whose record of six consecutive Group 1 victories stood for 30 years and who sired eight classic winners and a Breeders’ Cup Turf winner. Known Agenda also is inbred to the English Derby winner Sir Ivor, and his tail-female family traces to Nijinsky II, the last horse to sweep the English Triple Crown. With Curlin on top the mile and a quarter should be a piece of cake. Think of him as Antares, one of the four white Arabians in the movie Ben Hur. The sheikh who owns him acknowledges he’s not as fast as the other three, but “he will run all day without tiring.” It is time for a resurgence of stamina on the first Saturday in May and this is the guy to do it.

3. Essential Quality (Brad Cox, Tapit – Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality)
I am fully aware it is sacrilegious to have him ranked No. 3, especially considering he is an undefeated champion and his Blue Grass victory was exactly the prep he needed for the Kentucky Derby, where he no doubt will be favored unless Concert Tour does something exceptional in the Arkansas Derby. With only one easy victory in the slop in five months he needed to have a tough race, and what made this a perfect prep is that he fought hard to beat a very good horse by a neck and most important there was a 5 1/2-length gap back to the third horse. His closing fractions of :23 4/5, :23 4/5, and :12 2/5, with a final three-eighths in :36 1/5 were very strong. The bottom line is that he is the logical and deserving Derby favorite, but this just isn’t the year I want to put a favorite on top, so I am just looking to latch onto something special and stand by my early convictions regarding the merits of the Top 2 horses. Essential Quality is still the only 3-year-old to run a negative Thoro-Graph number and I would expect to see another fast number in the Blue Grass. And as I have been mentioning all year, he has proven to be a horse you can put anywhere depending on the pace, whether on the lead, stalking the pace, or six or seven lengths back. In short you cannot plan strategy against him. But it has to be mentioned that no Blue Grass winner has won the Derby in 30 years.

4. Concert Tour (Bob Baffert, Street Sense – Purse Strings, by Tapit)
Judging from the prospective field for the Arkansas Derby he should be another going into the Kentucky Derby undefeated. He does need to continue to move forward and improve his Thoro-Graph numbers, but I doubt there is anyone who believes that won’t happen. He definitely is still a work in progress. He turned in another strong work, going six furlongs in 1:12 4/5 in the fog and working alone. He had his ears up the entire length of the stretch with the rider way up in the saddle and really poured it on after the wire, putting his ears back and picking up the pace. Baffert has always been very high on this colt and we will see how he adapts if they change tactics with the speedy Caddo River and let him roll this time. This not a horse who needs the lead and I am looking forward to seeing how he runs sitting off the pace, just as I was when American Pharoah ran in the Arkansas Derby and showed he was capable of winning that way. This is not the Derby you want a one-dimensional horse with so many tactical speed horses in there. After next week everything will be sorted out and we should have a better idea where all these horses should be ranked.

5. Greatest Honour (Shug McGaughey, Tapit – Tiffany’s Honour, by Street Cry)
Yes, he’s down to No. 5 for now, but we’re talking five-horse photo and he is still the horse I will be betting, but now as an overlay instead of a favorite. I just can’t rank him above the top 4. What I don’t understand is all the panicking over one defeat. Horses have bad days for various reasons. I mentioned last week he had run at least one race in every month since September, including a mile and eighth race last fall over a deep tiring track, and this year ran too fast, too good, too early. There was no way he could keep moving forward every race after the Holy Bull. If you believe in blessings in disguise, consider this: if he had won the Florida Derby he would have gone into the Kentucky Derby off three consecutive two-turn graded stakes victories on dirt as a 3-year-old. The last time a horse did that and won the Derby was 42 years ago and his name was Spectacular Bid. Heck, four of the last five Triple Crown winners didn’t do it. Do you know how many horses have swept the Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth, and Florida Derby? That’s correct, none. I think we need to take a deep breath and give this horse a break. I am not saying he is going to win the Kentucky Derby and I’m not saying he isn’t regressing, but losing the Florida Derby with a poor ride is not a reason to dismiss him. Does anyone remember when Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby winner Thunder Gulch finished a dull fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes as the 6-5 favorite? He also was dismissed and the result was a $51 payoff at Churchill Downs on a horse who was the Derby favorite one race earlier. As Aaron Rodgers spelled out a few years ago after the Green Bay Packers lost several games: “R-E-L-A-X.” There is a reason he was ranked No. 1 for eight straight weeks and if you liked him before you’re going to feel awful foolish if he wins the Derby at a big price and you went off him.

6. Highly Motivated (Chad Brown, Into Mischief – Strong Incentive, by Warrior’s Reward)
I’m still not positive a mile and quarter will be his strength, but he ran a sensational race in the Blue Grass Stakes in his two-turn debut, setting all the pace and holding on doggedly to make Essential Quality work like he’s never had to work before. But this was a wacky race with the first three-quarters run in 1:12 and the deep closers Rombauer and Keepmeinmind running third and fourth only two lengths off the lead. But when the pace quickened, he and Essential Quality left the others far behind. It looked like only a question of how far Essential Quality would win by as they hit the top of the stretch. But Highly Motivated wouldn’t quit. He kept battling back and switched back to his left lead at the sixteenth pole, just falling a neck short. It might have been different if he didn’t drift out from left-handed whipping forcing Essential Quality out. Instead of being inches apart with Essential Quality unable to get by him, they were now several paths apart with Essential Quality no longer having to look him in the eye. With Highly Motivated now on his wrong lead he just failed to hold off the champ, who got his neck in front right before the wire. He is another horse who I believe doesn’t need the lead, but coming off one-turn races and with no pace at all it was the right move.

7. Hot Rod Charlie (Doug O’Neill, Oxbow – Ind1an Miss, by Indian Charlie)
He breezed a half in :49 2/5, staying busy before the serious training begins. Does anyone else feel as if the Louisiana Derby was a long time ago? It’s pretty amazing how many horses who really aren’t need-the-lead types have set the pace in Derby preps, including him, Rock Your World, Concert Tour, Highly Motivated, Medina Spirit, Soup and Sandwich, and Midnight Bourbon. Who knows who is going to set the pace in the Derby? Maybe UAE Derby runner-up Panadol. This colt has proven his versatility and was 94-1 when he came from seventh and put quite a scare in Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He has proven that was no fluke, and like Essential Quality he can beat you from anywhere on the track. And his trainer has proven on more than one occasion he knows how to win the Kentucky Derby. Whether he is a true mile and a quarter horse we won’t know until the first Saturday in May, something I guess you can say about a lot of them. But he gives 100 percent every time and you know you’re in a race when you go up against him.

8. Midnight Bourbon (Steve Asmussen, Tiznow – Catch to Moon, by Malibu Moon)
He had his first work over the Churchill Downs track, breezing five furlongs in a sharp 1:01 1/5. Of the possible Derby pacesetters mentioned above, who is the one most likely to be ignored and left alone on an easy lead? It would have to be him, as his wire-to-wire victory in the LeComte Stakes has been long forgotten by most people and in his last two starts racing just off the pace he didn’t have the closing kick to get the job done. So in my opinion there is little strategy to discuss. You have to go for the lead either at the start and lull them to sleep or get the lead fairly early in the race. I have seen so many horses who cannot catch anyone in the stretch, but are hard to pass once on the lead. He is maturing physically, and being by Tiznow, his most powerful weapon appears to be tenacity and the ability to not let horses get by him in the stretch. One thing is for sure, he will be forgotten at the windows and will be a huge price for a horse who knows how to battle and has never finished out of the money in seven starts, five of them in graded stakes. He’s just a good horse to keep in the back of your mind on Derby Day.

9. Dynamic One (Todd Pletcher, Unon Rags – Beat the Drums, by Smart Strike)
You can bet he’s going to get a faster Thoro-Graph number than the winner in the Wood Memorial, which he appeared to have won, but just got nipped on the wire after losing a lot of ground on the first turn and racing wide throughout. According to Trakus, he ran 43 feet farther than the winner, indicating that with a ground-saving trip he would have won by many lengths. He still showed a good turn of foot sweeping by horses on the far turn to reach contention. He kept on determinedly, but all that ground loss eventually took its toll. And it didn’t help that the track was so ridiculously slow. That takes a lot out of a horse, which is why I believe several of the favorites ran poorly. It is not an ideal way to prep for the Derby and can very well dull a horse. Aqueduct in early April often is slow, but not this slow. As for Dynamic One, I fell in love with him off a fourth in a maiden race, in which he had a horrendous trip but showed me all the signs of a top-class horse. I was just waiting for him to get that maiden win out of the way, which he did on a similar slow track, and I felt he had a big shot to move forward several lengths in the Wood. He has a tremendous pedigree, but it’s just a question of whether he is fast enough now to win the Derby. He surely has the bottom under him and is dead fit. He may be more of a Belmont horse, but I still feel with a good trip he can make his presence felt in the Derby.

10. Soup and Sandwich (Casse, Into Mischief – Souper Scoop, by Tapit)
He is yet another work in progress and another Into Mischief. His sons are running amok on the Derby trail and you just never know how far they want to go. Like several of the lightly raced horses this year he is doing things he shouldn’t be doing for a green horse who hasn’t figured it out yet. He showed that with his powerful runner-up effort in the Florida Derby coming off two races in which he made enough mistakes to last an entire career. But Casse got him to run much more professionally and he was able to carry his speed farther than one might have thought at that point in his career. The Derby might be a race or two too early for him, but he has to be respected. I believe once he becomes more polished we will see a very good horse who will win his share of stakes. His owner Charlotte Weber is old school and a true sportswoman and next year it will be 40 years since she finished second in the Derby with longshot Laser Light.

11. Bourbonic (Todd Pletcher, Bernardini – Dancing Afleet, by Afleet Alex)
So he was coming off of Lasix, and coming off a $50,000 claiming race and a starter allowance optional claimer for horses who had run in a claiming race and he wins the Wood Memorial at 72-1 coming from far back with an powerful stretch run after trailing the field until inside the three-sixteenths pole. Does that sound like a Todd Pletcher-trained horse to you? I believe part of it is that many of the leading contenders were spinning their wheels on that deep track and never fired, resulting in a :39 1/5 final three-eighths, the slowest mile and an eighth stakes on the card, which earned him a slow 89 Beyer speed figure. But to his credit he did come home his final three-eighths in a respectable :37 1/5. Don’t ask me what to make of this horse or this race, but one thing is certain and that is he has an amazing pedigree with a ton of class and stamina, and his sire and broodmare sire are remembered for scoring two of the most impressive Preakness victories we’ve seen in a long time. He also has improved dramatically with blinkers. Who knows, maybe he was just treading water until he was able to stretch out to a mile and an eighth. If that is the case, what is going to happen when he stretches out to a mile and a quarter? We can just envision the list of Derby winners that bore the name of Calumet Farm: Citation, Whirlaway, Iron Liege, Tim Tam, Bourbonic.

12. Medina Spirit (Bob Baffert, Protonico – Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed)
He is certainly consistent and he has been running in top company all year, but he has yet to show he has enough weapons to win the Kentucky Derby. He has excellent tactical speed but not much of a closing punch, so I’m not sure what tactics he would use. But he has earned his way into the big race and deserves a shot at it, especially considering he has never finished out of the money and has proven he is a fighter on the lead. He was always in perfect position in the Santa Anita Derby, stalking a fast pace set by Rock Your World, but when the winner accelerated on the far turn he could not match strides with him, and like in the San Felipe he got the best of Dream Shake in the final furlong for second. Look, there is nothing wrong with running hard in big stakes and picking up a check each time. His victories will come; it just doesn’t have to be in the Kentucky Derby.

KNOCKING ON THE DOOR

Getting back to ROCK YOUR WORLD, it has to be mentioned that his was bred by Ron and Debbie McAnally. Here is a Hall of Fame trainer who had the legendary John Henry 40 years ago and is approaching his 90th birthday with a leading Kentucky Derby contender that he bred thanks to his breeding right to the brilliant Candy Ride, who he saddled to a track record-breaking performance in the Pacific Classic. “This is so incredible to be able to breed a horse like this,” Debbie said. “But all the credit goes to my man. He picks out all the matings.” They knew this colt could be special before they sold him because he was such an imposing individual whose measurements revealed an outstanding physical specimen, as we saw on Saturday. “Even at age 89, Ron is out at the track every morning unless I’m able to lasso him in,” Debbie continued. “But it’s in his blood and keeps him young. This is all about hopes and dreams and we certainly have both.”

One other statistic regarding the Santa Anita Derby: Rock Your World set fractions of :22 3/5, :46, 1:10 3/5, and 1:36 1/5. By comparison the fractions of the Santa Anita Oaks run earlier were :24 1/5, :49 1:13, and 1:38. That those fractions took nothing out of him and he galloped out in another area code tells you all you need to know about this colt.

HELIUM – Can we call him 13A as part of the Derby Baker’s Dozen? He belongs with the others mentioned in the last five spots, but I have been saying for a while he has so much history to overcome with the eight-week layoff, having only one start at 3, and never having run farther than 1 1/16 miles He will be attempting something that has not been accomplished in over 100 years. But I do have to say I love his works, especially his most recent five-furlong drill in 1:01 2/5 at Palm Meadows in which he was strong from the beginning. He runs hard and always seems very determined, which no doubt helped him battle back in the stretch to win the Tampa Bay Derby going away. We’ll keep monitoring his works closely and leave it up to Mark Casse to figure out a way to pull this off.

MANDALOUN – Despite his dull effort in the Louisiana Derby, he is at Churchill Downs and worked a half in :49 4/5 for the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Brad Cox could offer no excuse at Fair Grounds saying he simply ran out of gas. After talking it over with the Juddmonte brass they are going to throw the race out and if he continues to train well he will run in the Derby. They have always been very high on this colt, which makes his performance even more puzzling. Might as well give him another shot with six weeks to regroup.

CADDO RIVER – While on the subject of throwing a race out, Brad Cox will also be doing it for Caddo River after his disappointing effort in the Rebel Stakes when he wasn’t asked to challenge Concert Tour for the early lead and fought his rider, eventually fading out of contention. He will get another chance in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby and certainly is still sharp, working five furlongs in company in 1:00 1/5, galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 2/5. Expect different tactics this time.

PROXY – Mike Stidham said he’s been a puzzle and he had to make a positive visual move forward to continue on to Kentucky, which he didn’t. So his inclination was to not run in the Derby. Although his Ragozin and Thoro-Graph numbers were career bests and he is progressing in his overall development, Stidham doesn’t want to force him into the Derby. He did turn in a swift half-mile work in a bullet :46 4/5, fastest of 64 works at the distance. He probably will need points if they do want to give him a shot, so watch for him to show up in Saturday’s Lexington Stakes, which would also give him one last shot to get his act together and stop lugging out in the stretch every race.

O BESOS – He looks to have little chance of getting in with 25 points. Although there is still the Lexington Stakes with enough points to possibly get him in the Derby, they have decided to sit pat, with the worst case scenario being a start in the Pat Day Mile on Derby Day as one of the favorites. Greg Foley and his son and assistant Travis were thrilled with his performance in the Louisiana Derby, where he got the fastest Thoro-Graph number in the race, a “2 3/4.” They realize he is still immature physically and growing and improving every day. He certainly belongs in the Derby off that performance, which came up a head short of putting him in the starting gate. But it’s a long year and he has a bright future.

Four horses definitely in the Derby if their connections wish to go are REBEL’S ROMANCE and PANADOL, one-two in the UAE Derby, and LIKE THE KING and SAINTHOOD, one-two in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. Panadol, who was a late Triple Crown nominee, would be the natural pacesetter.

HIDDEN STASH with 32 points continues to run well, but not quite well enough, and the same can be said of ROMBAUER with 34 points, although it was a surprise to see him so close to the lead in the Blue Grass. It was no surprise to see a brilliant but lightly raced and untested PREVALENCE struggle on that deep track in the Wood. He will move on to bigger and better things. But there seemed to be no excuse for RISK TAKING, who was never in the race. CROWDED TRADE and WEYBURN ran OK, but below expectations. Crowded Trade had every chance in the stretch, but couldn’t sustain his run. In California, DREAM SHAKE picked up another piece of the purse, but doesn’t seem quite ready to move forward in the Derby.

In addition to Concert Tour and Caddo River, the Arkansas Derby will have Rebel runner-up HOZIER along with other California invaders GET HER NUMBER and possibly ROMAN CENTURIAN, who scratched from the Santa Anita Derby. Also expected are SUPER STOCK and the Dallas Stewart-trained LAST SAMURAI, who is taking a wild shot to try to get a small piece of it.

Leave a Reply

660 Responses to “Derby Rankings: Week 12”

  1. Jeff says:

    Big big choice by Rosario and who he picked for the KD. CT should be in everyone’s considerations. Bob did say he didn’t want a blow out race 3 weeks prior to the big dance.

  2. RJessie says:

    Rosario
    I. Ortiz Jr
    Prat
    Saez
    Got a feeling there’s going to be 4 or 5 favorites under 4/1. This year I think I’m going to box these 4 jockeys no matter their mounts. But, if I had to pick 1 horse, that would be Concert Tour.

  3. JC says:

    My prediction top top 6 Only :

    1) RYW
    2) Known Agenda
    3) Essential Quality
    4) Hot Rod Charlie
    5) Highly Motivated
    6) Medina Spirit

  4. Bill Dawson says:

    My prediction on Steve’s Derby Rankings: Week 13

    1) RYW
    2) Known Agenda
    3) Essential Quality
    4) Highly Motivated
    5) Hot Rod Charlie
    6) Medina Spirit
    7) Midnight Bourbon
    8) Super Stock
    9) Caddo River
    10) Dynamic One
    11) Concert Tour
    12) Soup and Sandwich

    • EddieF says:

      OK. Top 5 spots, no disagreement. But Medina Spirit at #6? Why would Steve move him up that much? I think he’ll be at #10 or #11. Caddo River may not even be entered, so I don’t think that Steve would take a chance on giving him a spot in the Top 12. But for that matter, Concert Tour isn’t a cinch to run either. I also see no reason he’d drop Bourbonic from the list. Because Steve described Helium as his 13A, I’ll predict he gets in at 12.

      • Bill Dawson says:

        One of the 12 had to go to make room for Super Stock, winner of the Arkansas Derby.

        • EddieF says:

          Okay, but Greatest Honour was an obvious throw-out to make room for Super Stock. So to put Caddo in, you took out the Wood winner. Do you think that Steve values the one-dimensional loser of two straight races, Caddo River (who may not even be pointed to the Derby), over his current #11 Bourbonic?

      • Bill Dawson says:

        Hey EddieF

        How about stepping up to the plate, and post your prediction as to how Steve’s Derby Rankings: Week 13, will look like on Monday, April 12.

        • EddieF says:

          LOL. I kinda just did. But here goes:

          STEVE’S WEEK 13 RANKINGS

          1) Rock Your World
          2) Known Agenda
          3) Essential Quality
          4) Highly Motivated
          5) Hot Rod Charlie
          6) Midnight Bourbon
          7) Super Stock
          8) Dynamic One
          9) Soup and Sandwich
          10 Concert Tour
          11) Bourbonic
          12) Helium

          • EddieF says:

            Oh no! I left out Medina Spirit! He’s #12. Helium doesn’t get in.

          • Nelson Maan says:

            Perhaps Steve is giving Concert Tour a mulligan until full disclosure of his condition after the Arkansas Derby.

            1) Rock Your World
            2) Known Agenda
            3) Essential Quality
            4) Concert Tour
            5) Higly Motivated
            6) Hot Rod Charlie
            7) Super Stock
            8) Midnight Bourbon
            9) Dynamic One
            10) Soup and Sandwich
            11) Bourbonic
            12) Medina Spirit

            • EddieF says:

              Gentlemen’s bet on whose CT prediction is closest to Steve’s ranking this morning?

              • Porgy Kowalski says:

                In no particular order at this still early stage since I don’t have the past performances and know how the horses are thriving or not, the top four are clearly in no particular order. RYW, KA, EQ, HM, which makes the Blue Grass the key race. Two of top four battled to the wire in the Blue Grass. Could HM pull a Street Sense?(2nd in the Blue Grass) Or is he a Sharp Humor( battled with Barbaro in the FL Derby, losing by a head I think but was next to last I believe in the 2006 Derby.

          • Mary says:

            You moved Dynamic One way up there; I concur. While the other horses were spinning their wheels on that deep track, he was having fun; I just hope it didn’t take too much out of him. I do think his connections will think twice before sending him to Kentucky.

    • Mary says:

      Medina Spirit will be at the bottom and also Caddo River. I don’t think Mr. Haskin will move Dynamic One down from 9 to 10. He will probably move up to No. 8.

    • Mike Relva says:

      My selections for Derby- EQ, RYW, CR. By May 1, CR for the win. Why? He handles anything thrown at him to date and is versatile.

  5. JC says:

    It will interesting to see how aggressive Sadler will be with Rock these next two works (and he does have one “scenario” where he would work him three times.) But was quoted saying he probably won’t use three. I’m guessing he works Rock hard (not a joke EddieF) both times and long ? He has shown to work Rock as hard as needed. There are always concerns of injuries prior to the Derby and many horses in general are injured during their works. But I don’t believe Sadler will ease up. Steve your thoughts ?

    Man… reading back through this …lol

    • EddieF says:

      Ha! Don’t count on Steve answering. He’s probably locked himself in a soundproof room all day pouring over past performances, figures, replays, and workouts, all the while texting the dozens of contacts he has among Derby-bound trainers and owners for inside information. Just a couple of feet away is a 62-cup Hamilton Beach coffee urn plus three dozen Krispy Kreme donuts for sustenance.

      • JC says:

        Yes after I sent that last night, I was thinking the same thing about Steve… locked in a room working on his weekly pics ..

    • pro vet says:

      all horses are fit……forget works…….

      • EddieF says:

        We sitting here — and we talking about workouts. I mean, listen: We talking about workouts. Not a race. Not a race. We talking about workouts. Not a race. We talking about workouts, man.

  6. Matthew K W says:

    I remember Sunday Silence stepping way up and winning the SA Derby by 10 lengths…that primed him for his big Derby win….he was already good but his SA Derby run was a huge step up—no bounce in Kentucky—he won in SA by 10…wasn’t his limit, he won Derby/Preakness vs a great horse…..I’m not certain Rock Your World’s SA Derby win means he’s going to bounce, he has run three races, three wins, three big gallop outs—

  7. Nelson Maan says:

    My high five horses for the Derby:

    Rock Your World
    Essential Quality
    Known Agenda
    Rod Hot Charlie
    Medina Spirit

    Hey Eddie F I see that you are not even trying to divine Steve’s ranking tomorrow… Where you put Concert Tour, Caddo River and Super Stock now?… it is a conundrum … isn’t it?

    • EddieF says:

      I’m working on it. 🙂 #4 Concert Tour has to drop to the lower third of the Dozen. Of course, #5 Greatest Honour is out. That leaves room for Super Stock. But who know where without benefit of the T-G or Brisnet ratings on Monday? As for the top of the dozen, I expect it stays the same, even with conflicting numbers for Rock the World.

      I like your top 5. I would very tentatively have the green Soup and Sandwich instead of the experienced Hot Rod Charlie in my own group. 😮 Super Stock could replace Medina Spirit depending on his Brisnet pace and speed figs.

    • EddieF says:

      Oh, I forgot to mention Caddo River. In a post-race interview, Brad Cox did not sound like he was likely to send his colt to the Derby.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        this is the final Standing:

        1 Essential Quality 140
        2 Hot Rod Charlie 110
        3 Super Stock 109
        4 Like the King 104
        5 Known Agenda 102
        6 Rock Your World 100
        7 Bourbonic 100
        8 Medina Spirit 74
        9 Concert Tour 70
        10 Midnight Bourbon 66
        11 Mandaloun 52
        12 Caddo River 50
        13 Highly Motivated 50
        14 Helium 50
        15 Panadol 40
        16 Soup and Sandwich 40
        17 Dynamic One 40
        18 Crowded Trade 40
        19 Sainthood 40
        20 Proxy 36
        21 Rombauer 34
        22 Hidden Stash 32
        23 Dream Shake 30
        24 O Besos 25
        25 Get Her Number 20
        26 Hozier 20
        27 King Fury 20

        If CADDO RIVER, Crowded Trade, Proxy and Dream Shake are not going and Panadol is not confirmed then
        Rombauer, Hidden Stash, O Besos and even Get Her Number could sneak into the Derby… King Fury would be AE

        • EddieF says:

          The trainers of Rombauer and Hidden Stash were noncommittal … at least a few days ago. I’d be surprised if Panadol isn’t entered.

        • Laura Lanham says:

          Thank you for the point list. So now we have to see which ones are going to commit. Would think they have to make that call by the end of the week. Everybody would love a nice sunny day and fast track for the Derby, but they can’t promise it. So we wait and see what goes on this week with the works and who may ship to Churchill to work on the track now.

          Side note here. The Irish kicked butt in the Grand National at Aintree. Now that is a race, 4 miles and 514 feet up and down hill. They got the 1&2 spots plus the first woman jockey to win. One horse did break down but not jumping. Happened on a flat spot between the hurdles. Possible wrong step, who knows? They made a lot of changes over the years to improve horse safety on what is a dangerous course. Just in case you don’t know 40 horses started that race. They don’t use outriders if a jockey falls off and several horses finished without a rider.

          • Nelson Maan says:

            My pleasure Laura.

            Yes … high expectation this week to know the definitive Derby Entry. Can’t wait to start picturing the possible pace scenario.

            Wow… 40 horses what a Cavalry. I just watched the replay; there were two race callers. Minella Times won with Rachael Blackmore up and only 15 finished the race.

            Humongous payouts:
            Exacta: £2,053.30
            Trifecta: £35,431.20

            it is like hitting the lottery !

            • Laura Lanham says:

              Will be checking later here to see what Steve comes up with.

              As for the Grand National understand they pay out for some bets all the way to 8th place. Not sure they will ever wipe the smile off that young Rachael. She has quite the career ahead.

              We also had the white wonder filly, Sodashi win in Japan. Got curious so checked the pedigree. I thought it was pretty darn good. Not just heavy on the US but links to IRE and CAN as well. Not surprised she can run. So far undefeated. Maybe, just maybe might end up in the Breeder Cup races. If I had a ton of money would snatch her up or at least take a top sire to breed her with. Keep the foal for sure.

        • Matthew K W says:

          What about the horse that won the Dubai Derby?

          • Nelson Maan says:

            Rebel’s Romance is not coming to the Derby… he will likely run in the Belmont Stakes according to a report 4 days ago.

        • Mary says:

          I hope Todd Pletcher decides not to send Dynamic One; I really like the horse and his outstanding pedigree. I think he could be something special, so save him for the Preakness and if runs his race, on to the Belmont.

      • Mike Relva says:

        Cox stated he would see within the next couple of days regarding CR.

    • Matthew K W says:

      the five favorites!

  8. Nelson Maan says:

    Watching the Arkansas Derby it is clear that Concert Tour did not show the same spirited disposition we saw in the Rebel. It was discouraging to see how the son of Street Sense was passed by Caddo River after edging that rival in mid-stretch… his late punch was not there!

    While trying to grasp Concert Tour’s subpar run yesterday one can have an optimistic view or a pessimistic opinion.

    The positive angle is that every horse is entitled to a bad day and that it is better to flop before the Derby so as to give him enough time to rebound. Tuning down his training would do the trick.

    The problem with this scenario is that It is not typical for Baffert’s horses to rebound in the Derby as they are normally seen in an upswing trend leading to the big day.

    Within the pessimistic rationalization we might have the extreme feeling that, as it happened with Greatest Honour, there is something amiss with Concert Tour; a minor issue bothering him that may or may not be detected but nonetheless will cause his energy level to be unsatisfactory for the Derby. This case will remove him from Derby aspirations.

    Another pessimistic view is that Concert Tour is just not good enough to win when he tries to rate. He did a great job to defeat Freedom Fighter in the 7F-San Vicente Stakes coming from behind.

    The fact that the other Baffert horse, Hozier, finished last may reveal that both horses could not endure the rigorously ambitious training weathered by the greatest ones from the past….

    I do not know what scenario is the closest to the real reasons for Concert Tour’s not being the same but it is certain that Baffert’s team is deliberating about the way forward with the one once considered their best card for the Derby.

    Meanwhile, we will be eagerly waiting for any pertinent report in the coming days.

    • EddieF says:

      Nelson, that’s an excellent analysis of CT’s disappointing effort. Steve wrote about CT that “This is not the Derby you want a one-dimensional horse with so many tactical speed horses in there.” It looks like CT will be gunned for the lead in the Derby and challenge the others to try outrunning him. As you said, his lack of stretch punch yesterday does not bode well for lasting to the wire. None of Baffert’s Derby winners had a running line like CT in the final prep. His last 4 winners had all won their last prep. Before those, Silver Charm lost the SA Derby by a head to Free House in a thrilling finish, and Real Quiet ran a final furlong in 12 2/5 in the SA Derby to finish second to Indian Charlie. And Baffert’s three 2nd-place Derby horses all won their last prep.

      I don’t see BB breaking the Derby win record this year.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Yes Eddie … I do agree about Baffert having to wait for his new record.

        His horses with the worst last race before the Derby were:

        Semoran (6th in the BG), Lookin at Lucky and Captain Steve (3rd in the SA Derby), Liason (6th SA Derby) and Solomini (3rd in the Ark Derby)

        None did well in the Derby.

    • Mary says:

      Take the optimistic view; remember Secretariat lost the Wood two weeks before winning the Kentucky Derby in record time. Secretariat had an abscess in his mouth, which prevented him from running his race. For whatever reason, Concert Tour had a bad day, he’ll be back.

  9. Matthew W says:

    Hey Steve…I was looking at the BH pictures of Citation, and read where in 1948 there was FOUR weeks between that year’s Preakness and Belmont, not the three weeks it has been all my life…of course Ciration didn’t take the four weeks off, he won the Jersey Derby two weeks between the Preakness and Belmont! 19 for 20 as a three year old!

  10. Matthew W says:

    That half to Justify and The Lieutenant really trucked down the stretch…changing leads and ducking in several paths, notwithstanding, the horse was fairly flying…..

  11. Mary Ellen says:

    Steve, what are the chances that Panadol will actually come to the Derby? Or are you planning to address that in tomorrow’s post (should be a good one!)

    Thought Concert Tour was exposed yesterday. Not every Baffert horse can be the second coming of American Pharoah. Pleased that Super Stock ran so well. Steve Asmussen may be sneaking up on every one else.

  12. Discopartner says:

    I think King Fury would be a top 5 contender if he got in the Derby. Currently he’s at 27th. The only question is whether the sealed track helped him along in the final stretch. But that’s why it’s called betting, you have to take a chance that it was only coincidental to that fast finish.

    In the interests of seeing him entered, the following would have to drop out, some already have: Weyburn, Panadol, Crowded Trade, Proxy, Rombauer, Hidden Stash, Dream Shake, Get Her Number, O Besos. That would put him at 19th, so if Panadol entered, he’d still get in at 20th. I think he’s way better than all of these, although they earned their place in line. He won his final prep. The lesser distance and points aren’t as significant as the performance he gave and its timing.