2023 Derby Rankings – Week 12

Of the 15 horses ranked last week, seven were entered on Saturday, so you knew there likely would be a major shakeup, either eliminating horses or seeing a drastic change in the order. Now that all the preps are finished with the exception of Saturday’s Lexington Stakes we at least have an idea what the Derby field is going to look like. Right now, however, there are several horses waiting to get in who may be better and more qualified than those already in. ~ Steve Haskin

Derby Rankings: April 10, 2023 – Week 12

By Steve Haskin

1—Forte (Todd Pletcher, Violence – Queen Caroline, by Blame)

For those of you who see Pletcher, Repole, and Viola and go ho hum, no story there, meet Amy Moore. A lawyer for 30 years, she wanted to get out in the country after retiring, so she returned to her roots with horses, having showed them for other people as a teenager, and bought a 126-acre farm in Millwood, Virginia. The first horse she bought was a Blame filly at the Keeneland September yearling sale for $170,000. Amy named her Queen Caroline, who won several stakes at Laurel and Indiana Grand. After retiring her, Amy bred her to Violence and got a floppy-eared colt, who she thought looked comical, like a newborn puppy with its ears bent forward, and with his flashy white markings she nicknamed him Gaudy. One of only two foals on the farm and the first one conceived, he was extremely shy and would always hide behind his mother when someone approached, but after being weaned he became very friendly and loved being around people. He also was inquisitive about everything and once tried to pull the hoodie off Amy’s niece’s head. Amy still cherishes the selfie of the colt with the hoodie in his mouth taken by her niece, who lived on the farm and taught him how to eat carrots. Amy sold both colts as weanlings, but was disappointed in the $80,000 she got for the Violence colt. The following year she watched him sell at the Keeneland yearling sale for $110,000. She was just happy knowing he would be going to such top connections. You know the rest of the story. Not bad for a retired lawyer with only two broodmares and two foals at the time. Oh, yes, Queen Caroline is in foal to Flightline. And so the story grows.


2—Tapit Trice (Todd Pletcher, Tapit – Danzatrice, by Dunkirk)

Although all three preps on Saturday were won in photos there were more good things to say about his victory. He beat a very good horse who ran a winning race after a perfect pace scenario sitting behind an 86-1 shot though moderate to slow factions; he had to adjust by making a big early move down the backstretch, where he made up six lengths quickly while racing five-wide and passing four horses in about two seconds to move into third. It was that move that put him in position to beat Verifying, who would have been near impossible to beat otherwise. They hooked up turning for home, battling head and head, and not only drew almost six lengths clear of the field at the finish, they pulled away from three closers with a final eighth in :12 2/5. He needed to improve his speed figures and jumped 11 points from the Tampa Derby with a 99 Beyer. A short while later, Lord Miles, who Tapit Trice had beaten by 5 3/4 lengths in the Tampa Bay Derby, won the Wood Memorial at odds of 59-1. From a visual standpoint, he once again demonstrated his ability to win from anywhere using those long fluid strides, and for the second time he came out ahead in a stretch-long battle with a good horse. So add all that up and you can see why he is right up there nip and tuck with Forte for the top spot.


3—Derma Sotogake (Hidetaki Otonashi, Mind Your Biscuits – Neo Universe, by Sunday Silence)

After seeing what Mandarin Hero did in the Santa Anita Derby and considering that Derma Sotogake is supposedly in a different class than his countrymate who raced on a smaller circuit, how can you not rank this colt way up near the top? We haven’t seen the Thoro-Graph numbers yet for this past weekend, but going into it he still was the fastest 3-year-old on Thoro-Graph, with his UAE Derby more than two points faster than Forte’s Florida Derby. There will be believers and non-believers regarding his winning the Kentucky Derby, with hard-core racing fans still unable to grasp the idea of a Japanese colt draped in roses. This would create a gigantic crack in the once impenetrable Derby dam, and who knows if the resulting flood can be stopped. Perhaps we should start by producing tougher, faster, and more experienced horses with some mileage under them. Yes, we are getting way ahead of ourselves, and Derma Sotogake still has a very tough assignment ahead of him, having traveled from Japan to Saudi Arabia, then to Dubai before flying to Chicago to be quarantined and finally vanning to Louisville. And this after running six times in Japan last year on dirt and grass and never shorter than 1 1/16 miles. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared so we are not in a state of shock and perhaps humiliation if it should happen. See our special bonus feature in Knocking on the Door.


4—Practical Move (Tim Yakteen, Practical Joke – Ack Naughty, by Afleet Alex)

Although I moved him out of his familiar No. 2 spot, I am still a big fan of this colt, but I have no idea what to make of the Santa Anita Derby, mainly not knowing if Mandarin Hero is that good or that the Japanese horses can do no wrong regardless of who they are and where they are running. As far as his performance the important thing is that he showed a lot of grit and refused to let two horses get by him in the final furlong. But with Geaux Rocket Ride scratched he had another ground-saving dream trip, this time sitting right behind a 54-1 shot and a 40-1 shot and able to take over whenever Ramon Vasquez wanted. I actually thought Vasquez waited too long and was still way up in the saddle when the late-closing Skinner came charging up alongside him approaching the quarter pole, with Mandarin Hero looking to get through right behind him. It wasn’t until he looked over and saw Skinner right there that he finally set his horse down. To Practical Move’s credit he did respond and opened up by a length at the eighth pole. But his two challengers kept coming at him. It looked like Mandarin Hero, stuck in the middle, was going to nail him, but Practical Move would not be denied, winning by a nose. The mile in 1:35 3/5 and final time of 1:48 3/5 were solid, with the :12 4/5 final eighth just OK. But he did run his second straight 100 Beyer speed figure. You just don’t like seeing a leading Derby contender be farther in front at the eighth pole than he is at the finish. I’m going to need a little more time to digest this race more thoroughly, but he remains right up there with the top ranked horses.


5—Angel of Empire (Brad Cox, Classic Empire – Armony’s Empire, by To Honor and Serve)

I have not heard anyone even attempt to pick apart any aspect of his Arkansas Derby victory. The only reason he’s not higher is the questionable ability of the horses behind him, who were pretty much spread out across the track and doing little running other than 58-1 shot King Russell who just got up for second. To show how much Angel of Empire has improved, when he finished second in the Smarty Jones Stakes he ran a career-high “9 1/2” on Thoro-Graph. He then leaped to a “2 1/2″ in his victory at 13-1 in the Risen Star Stakes. With a big jump like that you always have to be concerned with a “bounce,” but he came back and ran a “2” in the Arkansas Derby. By virtually pairing up (with a slight improvement) his career best number, there is no reason to believe he won’t take another jump forward in the Kentucky Derby. He totally dominated the race and was the only horse who did any serious running, while sustaining his big run with a powerful :36 3/5 final three-eighths and drawing off with ease. While his female family might not be inundated with big names, it traces to pillars of the Turf Darby Dan Farm, Rokeby Stable, C.V. Whitney, George Widener, Spendthrift Farm, and Lane’s End Farm. The Albaugh Family has had their share of disappointments trying to get to the Derby, but now they have a big shot with perhaps the steal of the year, snatching him out of the Keeneland September yearling sale for $70,000.


6—Verifying (Brad Cox, Justify – Diva Delite, by Repent)

With lots of question marks surrounding the vast majority of the Blue Grass starters and with him looking like the one who would control the pace, either setting it or sitting just off it, it was no surprise to see him go off as the 2-1 second choice and no surprise to see him run such a strong race. If not for a bold but brilliant early move by Luis Saez on Tapit Trice down the backstretch, he very well could have won this race by open lengths after sitting off a slow pace set by an 86-1 shot. Looking way ahead to the Kentucky Derby, there doesn’t appear to be much speed, and this could set him up beautifully to get a similar type of trip or even setting the pace himself. Kingsbarns, the wire-to-wire winner of the Louisiana Derby, doesn’t have this colt’s natural speed, and I’m not sure if Derma Sotogake, who has a good closing kick, wants to go to the front again as he did in Dubai. In short, Verifying ran a winning race, and we know he has the ability and the pedigree to carry his speed a distance of ground. The first thing I did after the Rebel Stakes was put a line through his fourth-place finish after getting caught in heavy traffic at a crucial stage. The Blue Grass appeared perfectly suited for his tactical and high cruising speed and he nearly pulled it off.


7—Hit Show (Brad Cox, Candy Ride – Actress, by Tapit)

At first glance I didn’t like the fact that he was beaten by a huge longshot who had never run faster than a 79 Beyer figure and that he narrowly got the better of a maiden with two lifetime starts, but I am definitely giving him a pass, as I believe he was the best horse in the race. He was coming off a two-month layoff, he had to overcome a horrible post and was caught four-wide into the first turn, then was bounced around like a three-cushion billiard shot between horses the length of the stretch. I couldn’t help but think of a line from the musical Man of La Mancha that goes, “Whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher it’s going to be bad for the pitcher.” Hit Show was the pitcher, hitting and getting hit by stones from both sides, but he never cracked. I think this race did him a world of good and will bring him into the Derby tougher and more battle-tested than he’s ever been. As for the competition, the winner surely wasn’t disgraced against Tapit Trice in the Tampa Bay Derby in only his fourth career start, and Dreamlike has always been highly touted since selling for $975,000, had decent speed figures in his two starts, and was bet down to 3-1 second choice, so his future appears very bright. Hit Show’s pedigree says he will handle the mile and a quarter with no problem and I believe he is ready to make a big forward move.


8—Two Phil’s (Larry Rivelli, Hard Spun — Mia Torri, by General Quarters)

If you love him now you’re going to love him on Derby Day. If you’re skeptical now you’re going to be skeptical on Derby Day. If you have no idea what to make of him now you’re not going to have any idea what to make of him on Derby Day. It’s all about whether or not he moved up at least five lengths on the synthetic surface or he has improved dramatically into a dynamic type of horse. He was always an honest steady horse, but we had never seen this type of explosiveness. Not only did he blow his field away in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, he didn’t want to stop after the race. He still had his head down into the bit and seemed to resent it when his rider tried to pull him up. Finally, the outrider had to come up alongside and help slow him down. If this is the horse we’re going to see at Churchill Downs then he will be very tough to beat. Two of the most explosive stretch runs we’ve seen in the Derby were by horses, Animal Kingdom and Rich Strike, coming off the Turfway Park synthetic surface. You can’t ignore his 101 Beyer figure, his 107 Brisnet figure, and his interesting and improving Thoro-Graph pattern. After running a “7 3/4“ three races in a row, he improved to a “4” and then paired that up before running a “2” in the Jeff Ruby. If he takes another step forward it would put him in excellent position to win the Derby.


9—Skinner (John Shirreffs, Curlin – Winding Way, by Malibu Moon) 

Although I still would like to see him finish off his races I am anticipating him getting a career-high Thoro-Graph number for the Santa Anita Derby and I did like the acceleration he showed making a strong sweeping move on the far turn to pull on even terms with Practical Move at the head of the stretch. He also took a few solid bumps in deep stretch when Practical Move came out from a left-handed whip and pushed Mandarin Hero into him. This horse seems to be coming into the Kentucky Derby similar to Giacomo in that Shirreffs has moved him forward in baby steps with the intention of peaking on the first Saturday in May. You know he will love the mile and a quarter and just needs a contentious pace to be able to time is move just right. His :36 4/5 final three-eighths in the Santa Anita was certainly good enough to indicate he can sustain him move. He just has to find one more gear late to give him that final surge needed to win the Derby.


10—Kingsbarns (Todd Pletcher, Uncle Mo – Lady Tapit, by Tapit)

I believe he is more talented than several of those ranked ahead of him, but it is his lack of experience with only three career starts that is keeping him down here. As I keep saying, he will be trying to do something that has been done only two times in the last 107 years and those by two dominating horses in below average crops. It is highly unlikely he will be able to set the sluggish factions he did in the Louisiana Derby, but I also doubt they even want him on the lead again. He has shown a lot in his three races, all at a mile or longer, has overcome adversity, and will benefit from having a 1 3/16-mile race under his belt. This is the kind of year when any of the top 12 or so horses can win the Derby without it being a surprise, so all we can do is see how the race shapes up and who gets the best trip. He will surely make his presence felt; it’s just a question of whether he can overcome history. He also may lose Flavien Prat if he decides to ride his Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire.


11—Mage (Gustavo Delgado, Good Magic – Puca, by Big Brown)

Like Kingsbarns, he would be ranked higher if he had more experience or had at least raced as a 2-year-old. The last horse before Justify to win the Derby without having raced at 2 was Apollo in 1882. Add that to having only three career starts and you have to at least wonder if both Mage and Kingsbarns will be at a historical disadvantage .I’m not naïve enough to believe neither of these two brilliant colts can win the Derby, but I have to give precedence to others, especially with these 3-year-olds so evenly matched. I felt what Mage did in the Florida Derby, especially that explosive move on the far turn, was extraordinary and stamps him as a colt with a bright future, but for now I will cling to history until more horses prove it no longer has any bearing on the Kentucky Derby. That could be Kingsbarns or it could be Mage. Let’s first see how both colts work over the next few weeks and how they came out of their respective performances. His jockey Luis Saez won the Blue Grass on Tapit Trice, so he too could be looking for a new rider.


12—Mandarin Hero (Terunobu Fujita, Shanghai Bobby – Namura Nadeshiko, by Fuji Kaseki)

Based on his huge effort in the Santa Anita Derby and the courage he showed stuck in the middle of a furious three-horse stretch drive, he probably fits more as a top 5 or 6 horse, but the two questions that have him ranked here for the time being are, is he going to make the starting field on points and can he duplicate that remarkable effort in his second start in this country. Often, foreign horses run their best shipping in and then regress in their next start. No one is saying that is going to happen with this colt, but it is worth at least giving it some thought and wait to see how he looks and trains at Churchill Downs. As for the points, his 40 have him listed at No. 24. He should get in the top 20 as several are expected to pass the race or are on the fence. But there will be several in Saturday’s Lexington Stakes who are running strictly for points, and one of them could leapfrog him with a victory. So is he simply a very good horse regardless of the circuit in which he was competing in Japan or are we to use him more as a gauge as to what we should expect from Derma Sotogake and even Continuar? Three Japanese horses in the Kentucky Derby? That may soon become a reality.


13—Disarm (Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner – Easy Tap, by Tapit)

The Asmussen camp has always been very high on this colt and so they will chase those few extra points needed to get in the Kentucky Derby by running him in Saturday’s Lexington Stakes, which could turn out to be the most competitive Lexington in years. This is their last chance to crack the top 20, and it could turn out to be a plus for Disarm, as I have said I wish he had one more start under him. His excellent second in the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby put a good deal of bottom under him and now the 1 1/16-mile Lexington could sharpen him up and give him that one more start I was looking for. I have been high on this horse since last August when he broke his maiden so impressively going seven furlongs and I even ranked him No. 12 earlier in the year based on that race. With 40 points, even a second-place finish should get him in the Derby, and if he should win impressively he likely will move up in the Rankings. So far I have loved both his runner-up performances in which he ran into lone speed horses who had everything their own way on the lead. If he does get in the Derby and has a contentious pace to run at, watch out for him in the stretch.


14—Raise Cain (Ben Colebrook, Violence – Lemon Belle, by Lemon Drop Kid)

They are heading to the Derby with him and I’m all for it. He was stuck back in 10th behind a relatively slow pace in the Blue Grass Stakes after breaking from post 10, having to rally five-wide, and closing well enough for fifth, getting beat only three-quarters of a length for third. I still can’t forget how good he looked crushing his field in the Gotham Stakes despite encountering trouble nearing the top of the stretch. I had him ranked fairly high for over a month and I feel now he could come to Churchill Downs flying well under the radar.


15—Lord Miles (Saffie Joseph Jr., Curlin – Lady Esme, by Majestic Warrior)

This ranking is pretty low for a Wood Memorial winner, but that performance at 59-1 came out of left field and caught everyone by surprise even on a day filled with longshot winners. But he won it fair and square and had to fight off two other horses, including the favored Hit Show. As mentioned earlier he was beaten only 5 3/4 lengths by Tapit Trice in the Tampa Bay Derby, finishing a decent fifth. He sat right behind the pace in the Wood, swung out and out-battled Hit Show and Dreamlike for the nose victory while taking his share of bumps in the stretch. While I respect what he did I still see him as a big longshot in the Kentucky Derby.



BLAZING SEVENS had been ranked pretty high earlier in the year before his bust in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. But he did rebound with a solid third in the Blue Grass Stakes, making a good run on the far turn to reach contention before flattening out a bit in the final three sixteenths. He is a Champagne Stakes winner and finished a respectable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile so he does have back class and looks to be back on track after that dismal performance in his 3-year-old debut.

KING RUSSELL, who had run five straight double-digit Thoro-Graph numbers, jumped to a “5” in his fast-closing second in the Arkansas Derby and looks like a horse who is improving at the right time. The only reason he isn’t ranked is because he is No. 25 on the points list, so he will need some help getting in the starting gate. The colt’s owner and breeder, Airdrie Stud, which has never owned a Kentucky Derby starter, hadn’t given the Derby trail a second thought following King Russell’s neck maiden victory, but trainer Ron Moquett asked Airdrie’s Bret Jones, “What do you think about entering in the Arkansas Derby?” Jones felt “if Ron is that happy with him we trust his judgment.” That good judgment just may get him into the Kentucky Derby with a little luck.

ROCKET CAN, who again was a bit too one-paced when fifth in the Arkansas Derby, arrived at Churchill Downs and is still under consideration for the Kentucky Derby, as is JACE’S ROAD, third in the Louisiana Derby, who breezed a half in :49 3/5 at Churchill Downs and is sitting with 45 points. Sunland Derby winner WILD ON ICE vanned to Southern California and was scheduled to fly to Louisville. CYCLONE MISCHIEF is No. 22 on the points list after his third to Forte in the Florida Derby. It’s just a question of how far he wants to go. Kenny McPeek said no decision has been made whether to point to the Derby with SUN THUNDER, fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes.

CONFIDENCE GAME, who has been listed as a possible starter for several stakes and not running in any of them, is now listed as a possible starter for the Lexington Stakes. We can’t recall a Derby horse taking longer to recover from a race than the Rebel Stakes winner, yet he keeps working well, with his latest move a five-furlong drill in 1:00 2/5 at Churchill Downs. Good luck trying to figure out what going on with this colt. Is he going to go straight into the Derby? One horse looking for enough points to get in the Derby is INSTANT COFFEE, who will give it one last try in the Lexington following his poor effort in the Louisiana Derby. The once highly regarded VICTORY FORMATION, impressive winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes before running terribly in the Risen Star Stakes, also is listed as possible for the Lexington, and also worked five furlongs on 1:00 2/5 at Churchill Downs.

If you want to know the evolution of Japanese racing and breeding, here is an extended bonus feature.

A long long time ago there was a great race in America called the Washington D.C. International, which attracted horses from all over the world. Although two of them, Speed Symboli and Takeshiba-O, boasted excellent records in their country no one paid much attention to them. That’s because they were from Japan, whose horses were light years away from those in North and South America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and even Russia, which boasted a top-class international campaigner named Aniline. The Japanese were in the infantile stages of building a breeding industry.

In the 1970s, the Japanese started buying stallions and mares from the United States, much as the U.S. did with Europe, importing horses like Nasrullah, Princequillo, Ribot, Mahmoud, Sir Gallahad, Turn-To, and Sea-Bird. From these stallions came Triple Crown winners Secretariat, Seattle, Slew, and Affirmed, as well as Spectacular Bid and Forego and many other great champions and sires.

They began to hit home runs with Brian’s Time and Sunday Silence, who both dominated the racing and breeding industry in Japan. Over the years, many U.S. classic winners and champions followed. In 1996, Japan sent a horse named Taiki Blizzard to Woodbine for the Breeders’ Cup Classic against the great Cigar. The colt got an enormous amount of publicity, including a daily “Blizzard Report,” in the Daily Racing Form, written by yours truly. But not much had changed in Japan, as Taiki Blizzard finished last.

Then in 2005 came the first horse to open our eyes to what was happening in Japan when they sent a powerhouse of a filly named Cesario, winner of the Japanese Oaks, to Hollywood Park for the American Oaks. Not only did she run off before the race she crushed the field in one of the most breathtaking performances of the year. Cesario was by a son of Sunday Silence, out of a mare by the U.S.-bred Sadler’s Wells. The tide was about to turn.

Three years later, the Japanese sent over a half-brother to the previous two Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches named Casino Drive, by Mineshaft, out of the Deputy Minister mare Better Than Honour to try to make it three straight Belmont victories for the mare. The Japanese were growing in confidence that their horses could compete with anyone and had no fear of the undefeated Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown. Casino Drive solidified the belief that these were no longer the Japanese horses of old when he won the Peter Pan Stakes by almost six lengths in a swift 1:47 4/5 for the mile and an eighth. Unfortunately, he suffered a minor injury Belmont week and had to be withdrawn.

What the Americans noticed about the Japanese, who were now ahead of us in technology, was that they kept their horses out of the barn for over an hour each morning, walking them long distances throughout the backstretch to and from the track. You never knew where you would run into them. The horses seemed to love it and thrive on it.

In 1981, the Japanese had inaugurated the rich Japan Cup, which drew top-class international fields, including the best from the U.S. and Europe, but starting with their big superstar Deep Impact in 1996, the Japanese became so invincible on their home turf, winning the last 17 runnings, the foreign horses stopped coming. Two magnificent fillies, Gentildonna and Almond Eye, each won two Japan Cups and went to Dubai and captured the Dubai Sheema Classic and Dubai Turf, respectively

In 2012, Orfevre, winner of Japan’s Triple Crown the year before, looked a sure winner of the Pix de l’Arc de Triomphe, opening a clear lead in deep stretch, only to suddenly veer in sharply and was beaten a neck in the final stride, while finishing seven lengths ahead of the third horse.

While three attempts at the Kentucky Derby failed, these were far from their best 3-year-olds. Meanwhile, Japan’s world dominance continued to grow, capped off with two Breeders’ Cup victories in 2021 and countless stakes wins on the last two Dubai World Cup and Saudi Cup cards, including both the Dubai World Cup and Saudi Cup in 2023 and the past two runnings of the UAE Derby and Dubai Sheema Classic, in which the winner Equinox broke the course record.

We have no idea how the three Japanese horses will do in the Kentucky Derby, but we do know that one of them, Derma Sotogake, looks to be the most talented one they’ve sent and should be taken very seriously. It’s been a long road, but the Japanese have arrived and we better be prepared, even in the Kentucky Derby.


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384 Responses to “2023 Derby Rankings – Week 12”

  1. Matthew W says:

    I heard Disarm is going with Rosario….all out to qualify not for me..

  2. Matthew W says:

    Steve & co….check out Saudi Crown, winning his debut in the Keeneland seventh today…..when he got a left hand prompt he took off, after chasing solid fractions, by Always Dreaming out of a Tapit mare, taking after his dam side he’s a big grey….I was very impressed..

    • Davids says:

      Just watched the reply, yes, impressive win.

    • Roberta Greevey says:

      Very nice debut. Always Dreaming hasn’t done particularly well so far with his first crop, but this one looks promising. SIXTH race at Keeneland.

      • Davids says:

        I was looking out for the Tapit colt who didn’t do much then Saudi Crown exploded down the track.

        • Roberta Greevey says:

          That one is a full brother to a two-time G1 winner (filly American Story, at 7f). Watch out next time!

        • Roberta Greevey says:

          That one being the Tapit colt.

          • Davids says:

            They’re close Roberta, both have the same dam – American Story, but Magic Tap (colt) is by Tapit while American Gal (filly and is the two-time Grade 1 winner) is by Concord Point (son of Tapit) and out of American Story.

  3. Roberta Greevey says:

    I’m thinking that Steve could manage a Derby Dozen and not leave off any horse that has a reasonable chance of winning (assuming he omits Skinner and Mandarin Hero due to current ineligibility). I don’t see any serious knocks against four colts: Angel of Empire, Hit Show, Practical Move, and Tapit Trice. I left Forte out of the top rung because he’ll be the overbet favorite (no fun in that!) and because he was too far back for my taste at the top of the stretch in the Fl Derby. Verifying is close to the top. Also in consideration will be Lord Miles, Rocket Can, Two Phil’s, and Kingsbarns. That’s 10 contenders right there. Skinner and Mandarin Hero would make it an even dozen.

    I have a serious question about how Continuar earned an invitation from the Japan Road to the Derby, but will leave it for another time.

    • Terri Z says:

      Roberta Greevey:
      Wishing you the best of luck in the Derby.
      Regarding Forte, Gulfstream is a very quirky track at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt. The horses come up to the first turn very quickly and it is very difficult to win from an outside post position.
      Some of the 3 year old horses who have won from outside posts in the Florida Derby include: Barbaro, Big Brown, and Forte. And Gun Runner won in the handicap division from an outside post in the Pegasus World Cup.
      To win at 1 1/8 miles from an outside post on the dirt in a grade one at Gulfstream, the horse has to be a FREAK.

      • Lynda King says:

        Terri, I borrowed this information from someone who does their homework preparing stats.

        Since 2003 (2020 not included):

        Horses that won the Derby ran their last race came from Gulfstream and Santa Anita with 5 each and Oaklawn 4.
        Horses that prepped at these tracks and won the Derby came from Oaklawn 8, Gulfstream and Santa Anita 7 each and Keeneland 5.

        My thoughts are that if this trend continues this year, we can anticipate that the most probable winner will be Forte, Practical Move, Angel in Empire or Triple Trice.

        This probability list however does not include Derma Sotogake and Mandarin Hero (should he manage to get

        I totally agree with your statement about Forte.

        • Terri Z says:

          Thanks Lynda King for the stats on the winners from the Kentucky Derby coming from Santa Anita, Gulfstream, and Oaklawn.
          It should be a very interesting year for the Triple Crown races. There are too many coincidences between 1973 and 2023 ignored. The top horse is a Virginia bred. Forte has the stamina influence from his dam’s family much like Big Red. He’s related to Princequillo through his dam’s family. And Blame was bred at Claiborne Farm. The only horse that isn’t represented is Sham.

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        Thank you, Terri Z. Yes, there are definite quirks in Gulfstream dirt racing. I’ve enjoyed the races there for decades. But there really aren’t many 9f dirt races carded at GP. In the more common 8.5f races, horses in the middle posts seem to have the advantage. However, all of the Ky Derby winners from the Fl Derby (since it became a final prep) have been on the lead at the stretch call or very close to the leader (no more than 1.5 lengths behind) in the FD. If I were betting, I wouldn’t like to have doubts at odds of 5-2 in the Kentucky Derby. That said, I would love to see Forte win the Derby.

        • Discopartner says:

          Those Derby winners were all front runners or just off the pace, in the Florida Derby. Forte, as a mid pack horse, would never have been as close as they were at the 3/4 mile mark, therefore wasn’t as close at the stretch call. It’s commonly accepted that he had a bad post and frankly, the jockey compensated by dropping back, which may have been the wrong decision. If he drops back much in the KD, he’ll probably lose.

          • Roberta Greevey says:

            Okay. But name a Ky Derby winner that wasn’t first or second or within 2.5 lengths at the stretch call of its final prep. Take your time because you’ll need to go far back in derby history. I’ll give you a hint: Gavrilo Princip. Ha ha!

            • Discopartner says:

              There’s still 1/8 mi. left at the stretch call, you can be be 4 l. back and still win a race.

              Who set the within 2 1/2 l., or 1st or 2nd parameter? Is that some official measuring stick? He was 2 3/4 l. back, close, and had a tougher than average trip. He didn’t hang on the turn but took some time to get going, then poured it on and had a final fraction of roughly 12.5, which is better than average. The problem started at the first turn and didn’t get ironed out until 50 yards before the finish.

              I know you mentioned all this before, but I can’t remember where these parameters came from. Forte was too far back at the first turn last time. I was concerned to hear Ortiz say he thought he would clear the other horses but he didn’t, why didn’t he? I’m inclined to blame Ortiz for the horse’s crazy trip, where he could have moved him up on the back stretch and didn’t. But Forte is stuck with him, he’s overcome horses and humans all along and I hope he does it again. I’ve been a fan since just before the Hopeful Stakes.

          • Roberta Greevey says:

            Oh…also, Orb had a running style similar to Forte and he was 3rd by 1 at the stretch call of the Florida Derby.

            • Terri Z says:

              Thanks Roberta Greevey, I am glad that you added Orb. By the way, the undercard at the Pegasus is a great day for horses running at longer distances. I am so glad for the influence that the late H. Allen Jerkens had and has continued to have to have races for stayers in New York and especially in Florida.
              And isn’t it unusual for Forte to have the same sort of breeding that Secretariat had. His dam’s family, from his dam’s sire Blame and his descendants from Roberto have the stamina. And Violence the sire of Forte, has the speed.
              And what a coincidence that Forte is a Virginia bred. And even more unusual is that Claiborne Farm bred Blame, considering that is where Secretariat stood.

    • Lynda King says:

      Continuar won the Road to Japan Cattleya race and received 10 points. (Steve explained this earlier).
      He placed 3rd in the UAE Derby and received 30 points.
      The winners of the Road to Europe, Road to Japan and UAE Derby are invited to race in the Kentucky Derby.
      The connections for both Derma Sotogake and Continuor accepted the invitation, others who had points on both European and Japan Roads and the UAE did not accept the invitation.
      Basically, as I understand it, three gates are set aside for contenders from the European Road and Japan Road and UAE Derby.
      The Japanese horses swept the UAE Derby this year, one, two, three and four.

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        Hi, Lynda. Here’s the thing about the invitation to Continuar. The main point repeated time and again over the years was that the Japan (and European) Road is distinctly separate from the regular Road to the Derby. To the best of my knowledge, it has only been in the past 2 years that points on the “American” Road could be credited to a horse’s total in the Japan road. So the 30 points for Continuar from the UAE Derby would transfer to his Japan total, which was 10 points following his win in the first Japan race.

        With that in mind, the top points horse for the Japan Road according to CD was Derma Sotogake, whose 120-pt total included a win in the second Japan race and a win in the UAE Derby. Why then did the invitation not go to Derma as the Japan points leader? Were the connections given a choice? If so, why? The second highest point total in the Japan Road was Perriere with 56 points, based on 3rd-place in the second Japan race, a win in the third Japan race, and a 4th-place finish in the UAE Derby. Perriere’s owner decided against a trip to the Derby. If just Japan’s Road races were considered, Continuar’s 10 points would not have been enough to be in the top 4. The points leaders for just the Japan races were Mitono O (40, not nominated), Perriere (36, nominated), Derma Sotogake (20, nominated), and Hero Call (16, not nominated).

        Derma Sotogake and Mandarin Hero have shown than Japanese horses can ship to races on the regular Road to the Derby and earn points leading to Derby entry. It makes little sense for regular Road points to be included in Japan Road totals. How does the Japan Road increase interest among Japanese fans and bettors more than having Japan-based horses going to the Santa Anita Derby or the UAE Derby? How about just ending the Japan road while doing everything possible to bring horses from Japan to the “”American” Road?

        • Dewey Hebert says:

          I’m in 100% agreement with you, Roberta. Get rid of the Japan and European Roads to the Derby. Let foreign connections race their horses in the Kentucky Derby preps here in the USA, in addition to the UAE and Dubai Derbys, if they’re interested in participating. I mean, I find it difficult to follow the point standings of the Japan and European qualifiers. The foreign point earnings are not even published as the US (CD) points are. I also agree with you regarding Continuar getting the Japan Road bid over Derma Sotogake. I’m under the impression that only one horse each from Europe and Japan is allowed to enter the Derby through these venues. If so, then Derma Sotogake should get the Japan Road invite over Continuar. My head is starting to spin just trying to sort this out.

          Finally, although it doesn’t look good, I hope that Mandarin Hero somehow makes it into the starting lineup for the Derby. He deserves it.

          • Roberta Greevey says:

            I hope MH gets in, too. But he’ll need FIVE defections. Yikes!

          • BrudderA says:

            The UAE Derby is a qualification event in the main “Road to the Kentucky Derby”. The winner gets 100 points. hmmm
            100 points is enough to qualify. This leaves the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Perriere who was second passed on accepting into the race. This left the connections of Continuar to accept. A good decision since he had performed well in Japan, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

            Mandarin Hero is stuck in outside of left field.

            Connections need to start thinking about The Preakness – which would be a really nice race for him.

            • Lynda King says:

              BrudderA, I so appreciate your bringing clarity to these outside “Roads” as a way of qualifying for the Derby.
              I did some additional reading last night and learned that the connections for Continuar decided to take advantage of transferring the 30 points earned in the UAE Derby to the Road To Japan.
              That explains why initially the the other full leaderboard points (Bloodhorse for one) showed 40 points for Continuar, reference to Japan Road Cattleya race and the subsequent invitation.
              It was the other lists that I looked at.
              The official Kentucky Derby Points list (Kentucky Derby dot com) did not show the points, only “invitation”.
              Had the Kentucky Derby not changed the point distribution from the top 4 fibshers to the top 5 in the prep races, Mandarin Hero would have won 50 points from the Santa Anita and would be in the Derby.
              Somewhere in this thread someone pointed out that if KD wanted to give points to the 5th place they could have shaved the points off 1st place (change to 90 fromm 100) and the winner would still be guaranteed a gate with 90 and 2nd place with 50.
              I think this was a poor decision by KD to add points for a 5th place finish and wonder why they did.
              Just not optimistic at this point that there will enough defections or scratches for Mandarin Hero to get in.
              I watched an interview with someone who is connected to Mandarin Hero a couple of days ago. He said that a run in the Preakness was in the works if the Derby did not work out.
              In the meantime Mandarin Hero (he was being hand walked in the quarantine barn paddock at Santa Anita) was following the regular training protocols that Japan has.

        • Lynda King says:

          Roberta, granted the point calculations for these “roads” or routes to the Derby are complicated.
          As Steve mentioned either on this post or the one before, Continuar earned his invitation to the Kentucky Derby based on the Cattleya when the question was asked of him.

          If you read the history of the Road to Japan, you will learn that the reason for it being added was because of the interest in Lani (by Tapit) who finished 9th I think in the Derby and 3rd in the Belmont. Lani won the UAE Derby, that was his ticket to the KD.
          Another reason for the Japan Road is the handle generated by the Japanese bettors. They love horse racing. The stands are filled for almost race and they bet more money than Americans do.
          Right they are thrilled to have 3 horses qualify for the Derby. Winning the Kentucky Derby, the BC Classic and the Arc are at the top of their list to win.
          I think that after Mandarin Hero who came out of the NAR, lost the SAD by a nostril that more NAR horses will travel to America and run in the SAD. The JRA is primarily turf and races are held at the ten major tracks whereas the NAR is primarily dirt and races are held at multiple race tracks around the country. The JRA is self supporting and the NAR is government funded (that is what a representative of NAR said during an interview a couple of days ago).
          I actually find spreading points out to the top five finishers this year in our prep races is more troubling than the the Japan Road.

          • Roberta Greevey says:

            Lynda, Continuar didn’t earn the invitation based on his Cattelya win. He got in for his total of 40 points (10 in the Cattelya, 30 in the non-Japan Road UAE Derby). I agree with you that Mandarin Hero’s accomplishment will create greater interest in bringing runners to America. I also agree that the points distribution is troubling, but so is how the Japan Road is administered.

            • BrudderA says:

              Churchill Downs wanted to be very inclusive of Japanese entries! They succeeded.
              They will no doubt review their decision of how they allocated the points for qualification and they may tweek it again.
              However, since its inception the Road to the Kentucky has been strategically successful. Both for horse trainers, owners, and above all those who follow the sport!

    • Ms Blacktype says:

      Very interesting thread you started, Roberta. As I was dropping off to sleep last night, I was counting potential Derby winners in my head — and came up with FIVE, all standouts that would not surprise me or anyone else with a victory. They’ve all run similar Beyer/Brisnet figures and all won or were within a neck of winning a grade 1 race.

      They are: Tapit Trice, Forte, Practical Move, Two Phil’s and Verifying. I also put Derma Sotogake right up there with the American performers, as well as Mandarin Hero if he gets in. Given that Angel of Empire has two major stakes wins at two different tracks, that’s a total of EIGHT who wouldn’t surprise me.

      Even my list of toss-outs isn’t long. I count only six of those: Lord Miles, Disarm, Confidence Game, Rocket Can, Continuar, and Wild on Ice. Any of the above could end up in the superfecta, of course.

      A lot can happen in the next three weeks, but right now I’m zeroing in on the one-two finishers in the Blue Grass, Tapit Trice and Verifying.

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        Thanks, Ms Blacktype. That’s a nice exacta. The only worries I have about Verifying are that he may bounce from the big improvement in the Blue Grass (he went from an 89 Brisnet figure in the Rebel to a 102 in the BGS), and that he lost the lead in the BGS (ever so grudgingly!).

    • Davids says:

      Roberta, we’re in a liminal period at the moment. You’re not really sure of the makeup nor what post positions each colt will be allotted. Watching the Kentucky Derby Morning Works Show can give you confidence, or concern, on horses you like but it’s always fun to watch.

      Hopefully, Skinner gets in to the field as he appears to have a much better chance than quite a few but everyone dreams to have a runner in the Kentucky Derby. Stay cool under pressure. Ha ha There’s a long way to go yet.

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        Davids, you got me off my duff to find my dusty book of words by Messrs. Merriam and Webster. A liminal period indeed!

        • Davids says:

          Ha ha In Anthropology, the ‘passage into manhood/womanhood ’ is the liminal (or threshold) phase, often the central experience of the rite, is always performed in a secluded area, away from the encroachments of other societal members but liminal relates to any in-between period.

  4. Lynda King says:

    Admittedly I need to check facts rather than relying on my memory especially on races from 20 years ago.
    It was not the SA Derby for Candy Ride, it was the Pacific Classic and a track record was set in the race by Candy Ride that I believe stands to this day.
    I appreciate the correction.

    • Matthew W says:

      Candy Ride came up from South America unbeaten, and he won all seven of his starts….won a turf mile in fast time, before winning the Pacific Classic, neatly going down to his nose, at the break…recovering then taking it to Madaglia d’Oro, who was the heavy favorite….at the quarter pole Julie Krone engaged Jerry Bailey and it was a big victory for MacAnally’s horse, one of the best performances of my lifetime—he came away from a very good horse…

  5. Lynda King says:

    Totally off topic I know but this morning I watched a replay of the Japanese equivalent race to the 2000 Guineas, the Satsuki Sho.
    The race was won by Sol Oriens. He debuted in November as a two year old and this was his third race, now 3 for 3.

    Sol Oriens is by Kitsian Black who also sired Equinox who wowed everyone at the recent Dubai World Cup Sheema Classic and set a new record in the process.
    Kitsian Black’s grandsire was Sunday Silence.
    Sol Oriens dam, Skia is by Motivator whose dam Out West was by Gone West.

    Sol Orien broke somewhat slowly and was at the back of the 17 horse field. When he made his move and could not get through the pack his jockey took him 12 wide amd won the race easily.

    • Matthew W says:

      I bet on the freaky pace horse ..race set up for a closer and the winner just blew past them! Not a big animal probably more of a turf horses, a good turf horse!..

  6. Mike Relva says:

    Hope Skinner backs in.

    • Lynda King says:

      Hi Mike, been awhile I think since you posted.
      I hope Skinner gets in as well.

      Been reading mixed reviews on Disarm’s race today.
      Wondering what Steve will have to say on Monday.
      Personally not sure what to make of it.
      Was the goal to get third and save something for the Derby or was he tiring or sluggish or off form.

      Must be a tough spot to be in, the waiting to see if your horse is in or not.

      • BrudderA says:

        I reckon Steve will have to seriously adjusted his list for those that are situated on the bubble – Skinner, Mandarin Hero.

        Also I’m not sure about Disarm. Looking for his assessment after his Lexington run.

        Another list adjustment might be necessary after the field is draw and who is the “Also Eligible”.

        • Todd Vaughn says:

          I’m not sure I understand the general fascination with Disarm over the last several months. A fast maiden win, which is a common thing in racing, followed by several average efforts with minor excuses. Of course, i’ve been wrong once or twice.

          • Roberta Greevey says:

            I agree with you, Todd Vaughn. This is now three straight races in which Disarm couldn’t get closer than 4 lengths to the lead at the stretch call. With a solid win yesterday, he would have been a Derby contender. Now’s he’s just a “coulda been a contender.”

            • Greg says:

              I think he’s just saving ground for when it counts. I’m thinking of loading up on him at a price. I’m usually on the wrong horse fwiw, lol.

              • Roberta Greevey says:

                Ha ha! We all are usually on the wrong horse, Greg.

                A gain of 3/4 length by 22-1 Dennington would have denied Disarm the 6 points for 3rd place. Crikey!

      • Matthew W says:

        He was all out, to qualify they should shrug off the Derby fever and aim for Pimlico….

  7. Lynda King says:

    Well that’s it folks.

    Disarm gets in with ten points. He will be evaluated after the race and a decision will be made for Derby per Mr Winchel

    Jace’s Road now an AE.

    Skinner, Cyclone Mischief, Major Dude all ahead of Mandarin Hero.

    Mandarin Hero still in California. Not shipping until the final field determined (after defections). Preakness is still possible if he is shut out of Derby. Still being walked. Serious works will come closer to race day. That is the way Japan trains.

    Feel kind of bad for the Albaughs. They have a good reputation as a fine racing family.

    Angel of Empire put in a really good work today (saw video). Looks fast and strong.

    In Italian by Dubawi wins Jenny Wiley. I had picked With The Moonlight by Frankel to win.

    Hear a murmur of a rumor that Arabian Lion might be entered in a Derby under card.

    Have a great Sunday everyone. Sunny and warm here today. More rain snd possible thunderstorms on Sunday (ugh).

    • John Goggin says:

      Thanks Lynda. Yep, now here comes the defections….what will the over/under be? What has been the average been the last few years? If I rember correctly wasn’t five horses defected from the KD early? So much drama.

      • John Goggin says:

        Excuse me, from the 2021 Derby….

        • Lynda King says:

          John, for years I kept a spreadsheet on the points including scratches and defections.
          My laptop crashed right before the 2022 Derby and I lost the sheet.
          I can tell you that when King Fury scratched, and because of Covid the Road to Japan and European Road did not attend. That along with King Fury opened 3 slots.
          Maybe someone else has the answer.
          Sorry I cannot give you more information.

          • BrudderA says:

            All the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification since inception is well documented in Wikipedia.

            • Lynda King says:

              BrudderA, thank you.
              I have spent a fair amount of time learning about the Roads on days here when the torrential rain storms have kept me from being outside.
              Your suggestions have certainly been most helpful.

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        From the DRF: “In 2022, eight qualified horses weren’t entered in the Derby, and in 2021 the number was a whopping 28. The last horse in, Brooklyn Strong, appeared to have no chance of running three weeks before the race. The only comparable year to this one was 2019, when every qualified horses was entered in the race.”

        28!!!! That’s insane. As for the last sentence, it’s much to early to compare this year to 2019 or any other year.

        • Lynda King says:

          Somewhat misleading.
          Two horses who qualified for the 2019 Kentucky Derby were scratched.
          Omaha Beach with 137.5 points was diagnosed with a trapped epiglottis that required surgery.
          Haikal with 70 points was scratched due to a hoof abscess.

          • Roberta Greevey says:

            True. But they were entered in the Derby, then scratched. The DRF story was about horses that dropped out prior to entries.

    • Matthew W says:

      Bob is personna non grata at Churchill….

  8. Dewey Hebert says:

    First Mission ran a good race in the Lexington today despite being crowded along the rail by Arabian Lion, riden by none other than Irad (the Intimidator) Ortiz Jr. Arabian Lion set the pace and First Mission came along on the inside at the 8th pole to challenge. When Irad looked over and saw Luis Saez moving up on his inside, he moved Arabian Lion in toward First Mission to crowd him on the rail. I know this is regarded by some as clever riding, but why can’t Irad just ride his horse straight in an attempt to win instead of always trying to interfere with another horse? I’m sick of his bullying tactics.

    Nevertheless, it was an exciting finish by two game horses with First Mission prevailing by 3/4 length. It looks like the Preakness might be the next stop for First Mission?

    • Davids says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Dewey. I thought Arabian Lion would have actually had a better chance of winning if the intimidation wasn’t implied. Arabian Lion wouldn’t have won anyway. I’d be interested to know what the stewards would have done had there’d been more crowding and First Mission was beaten. It’s ugly to watch.

      • Dewey Hebert says:

        Stewards probably would not have taken any action if Arabian Lion had won. Irad gets away with a lot on the track.

        On the other hand, Luis Saez has turned into a very good rider. He will give his horse every chance to show what he/she has and will use the whip sparingly letting the horses run on their courage. He’ll tap them a few times, but in deep stretch, he’ll mostly wave the whip and hand ride. And, talk about never giving up, did you see his ride on Tarabi in the last race at Keeneland today? Luis practically carried Tarabi over the finish line, ha.

        I’m feeling a little more confident in Tapit Trice’s chances in the Derby because he will have his buddy, Luis, in the irons. A good fit for both horse and rider. Fingers crossed for a good post position.

        • Davids says:

          He does, Dewey, and most commentators/fans wonder where the stewards are? The French stewards would straighten him out quick smart along with the owners for that matter. Dirty pool impresses no one. Why he does it is beyond me, he’s an excellent jockey in most other respects.

          Agree with you about Luis Saez, he keeps getting better and better. He’s perfect for Tapit Trice and yes, fingers crossed for Tapit Trice to get a good post position. Imagine Tapit Tice launching himself down the Churchill Downs home straight in full flight, extending and extending, as he mows them down.

  9. Matthew W says:

    Having reviewed the Lexington past performances … it’s far stronger than I had envisioned! I thought Disarm would get bet way down but I do not think so….if Frankie wins on Empirestrikesfast he will have a Preakness mount, and he may….Frankie put up a terrific ride from the 12 post today, for Shug….got over and saved ground, came from 10th over a turf course that seems to favor speed–and survived a hard bump to get up—the man is still the man..

    • Roberta Greevey says:

      Agreed. It’s better than what I first thought, too! But Disarm is still the class of the field. I’ll pick the longshot Prairie Hawk, who I mentioned yesterday…and you replied, I think, in the affirmative. Ha ha!

      • Davids says:

        Don’t like the post but Arabian Lion intrigues me in the Lexington Stakes. Baffert’s Preakness Stakes horse?

        • Roberta Greevey says:

          Very few non-stakes winners win the Preakness. AL needs this one. I don’t see it happening, but I’m wrong in the vast majority of races. Ha ha!

          • Davids says:

            Roberta, Arabian Lion almost was. Ha ha Unlucky not to win all things considered. Fun race. Will Disarm really attempt the Kentucky Derby on that performance?

            • Matthew W says:

              Well Davids, they rushed him into the Lexington, so they’ll probably rush him into the Kentucky Derby— he’s not a large framed animal, and if they are not careful they can ruin a nice horse….I thought Irad put up a good ride by getting out and over without spending much horse, they went wide and I could tell Irad was letting him stay in stride—agree with you about the jerking him down to the rail, he probably hurt his horse’s momentum some, but it also may have worked some, as Saez’s mount didn’t exactly spurt clear by much….its not a good look—Churchill does not want any mishaps, no “riding other’s horses”….it’s the wrong race to risk bad things….

              • Davids says:

                Yes, Matthew, Irad Ortiz Jr did an excellent job by getting across while being extremely watchful not to interfere with others behind him. I wish he had just let American Lion fight the battle and ride, he’s an excellent jockey and doesn’t need to use those type of antics. As you say, jerking American Lion to the rail stopped the horse’s natural momentum going forward gained nothing but derision.

                I think American Lion is Preakness bound, as is First Mission no doubt, agree with you about giving them extra time but these are the races the connotations buy the colts for.

            • Roberta Greevey says:

              Yeah…wow! I thought Arabian Lion would have some company up front. Barring injury, Disarm will be entered in the Derby. I’m as sure of that as I was of Prairie Hawk winning the Lexington.

    • Davids says:

      The Lexington Stakes looks a tough race to me, half a dozen chances. Good luck to Frankie Dettori, racing in Europe will lose a lot when he retires, very sad day.

      Did you catch Scylla’s win at Keeneland, Race 6, full sister to Tacitus looks stardom bound written all over her. A better pedigree you won’t find. Good to see Barber Road win in Race 7 at Keeneland as well.

  10. Lynda King says:

    Matthew W, you would not get away with Bbquing burgers here in the South. LOL
    We call that grilling…hamburgers, hot dogs, steak etc.
    BBQ here is cooked pulled pork. Where I am from in Virginia the real apple cider vinegar, tomato based sauce is cooked with the cooked pulled pork. A side of coleslaw is a must with the sandwich. I even put a spoon full of slaw on my sandwich.

    • Matthew W says:

      Haha I stand corrected! Speaking of real BBQ …in little Orange, CA—we have a treasure, of a BBQ place! Called “Hickory and Spice”, cooked by a father/son team named Brandt….the father traveled cross country and won many of the national contests, and he makes the best brisket….I told the son yesterday that it’s nice to have a treasure like that….knife not needed…

      • Lynda King says:

        MatthewW, there different styles of BBQ depending on what region of the country you live in.
        In Virginia and North Carolina the sauce recipes go back to the Colonial era.

        “Hickory and Spice” sounds really good.

        Sure you know that the type of wood that is used to cook the pork has a lot to do with the flavor.
        Little hole in the wall restaurant about 12 miles from me cooks the pork on an outside grill with pecan wood.

        Here in Georgia you put the sauce on after the pork is cooked. The sauce is sweeter here but then most every food is sweeter here, even cornbread. Georgians put so much sugar in ice tea it will make your teeth hurt, HA HA. They also boil peanuts instead of roasting (yuck). Also fry turkey in deep fryers rather than roasting in the oven (again, yuck). I strongly dislike fried foods. I also use herbs and spices when I cook, very little if any salt.

        If you ever come east to Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Chesapeake Bay area (called the Delmarva Peninsula), you have to try softshell crab cooked in beer and Old Bay seasoning.

        • Ms Blacktype says:

          Funny this barbecue topic should come up today. I’m going in the kitchen in a minute to make Eastern NC-style BBQ sauce for a leftover pork roast (cooked on the bone, so it should work well). I plan to add the meat in some of the sauce and let it simmer awhile before devouring with a side of cole slaw and more on the sandwich.

          And about those peanuts — I have a Canadian friend who always called them “biled” after encountering them on a trip down the Blue Ridge. Biled peanuts!

          With salt, of course. Salty is how I would describe this afternoon’s Lexington Stakes. Should be a good betting race for those who indulge.

          • Lynda King says:

            I had to laugh when I read your comment.
            Being from NC you are probably familiar with Dukes.
            They came out with a line of BBQ sauces recently.
            I purchased a bottle of the Carolina Style. Have a pork roast in the freezer that I am going to try it on.

            When I was a growing up my cousin who was like a brother to me and I planted a few peanuts most every year. We roasted them in the oven in my Aunt’s wood cookstove. Only time we were allowed to have soft drinks was on the weekends. We would put our peanuts in our Coca-Colas. Back then of course soft drinks were in glass bottles.

            “Biled”, that’s funny.

      • Bruce says:

        Matthew, how funny, we live just up the street from you in Brea! Small world as they say! Love the Old Town area of Orange, it’s a really nice little place. Thanks for the tip on Hickory and Spice, we’ll give it a try.
        And I agree with you, they should NOT give out points for 5th! (unless it’s my future wager horse of course!! LOL) Hopefully they’ll go back to the previous points system?!

        • Matthew W says:

          If you ever see a tall old guy with a white beard walking a grey Great Dane in the circle….yell “Hi”… sure to ask for BBQ sauce cuz they don’t give any—and they don’t use vinegar—best brisket you ever had….

  11. Roberta Greevey says:

    Mandarin Hero finishes 2nd by a nose in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, earning 40 points in the regular road to the Derby; he may yet move up in the standings. Derma Sotogake wins the G2 UAE Derby, earning 100 points in the regular road to the Derby. That is how Japan-based horses should qualify for the Kentucky Derby. As much as I still believe that a 2nd-place finish in an established and productive Derby prep is worth more than a win in an unproductive Derby prep, I strongly hold to the belief that the separate Japan and Europe roads to the Derby have been failures and should be eliminated.

    • Matthew W says:

      They changed the points distribution from top four to top five, and they screwed it up! Used to be a SA Derby 2nd got you 50 points, instead of shaving 10 points from 2nd place they could have shaved 10 points from the winner, 90 points gets you in for certain, so they give the fifth place horse points now but it pushes Mandarin Hero out….

      • Matthew W says:

        No last prep race should reward 5th place….

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        Yes, Matthew. I hadn’t even thought about the 100 points for a win. DOH! That’s an unnecessarily high number, now that you mention it. I don’t remember a 2nd-place finish getting a horse 50 points, but the system has been changed a few times over the years. I may have forgotten.

      • BrudderA says:

        Prior to 2023, that in Championship series events – Second Leg (which includes the Santa Anita Derby) has only provided 40 points – NOT 50 points!

        The change really has been that the third placed horse in all events has been increased – and if a horse has been competing in the earlier events then that will help to the point total.

        I think 5th place is a welcome addition. But what might be worth reviewing is that 2nd placed in those Championship series events – Second Leg also have an increase to those 50 points.

        I would also like to add some events, especially some 7 furlong sprint races which previously to the installment of the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification process provided excellent preparation to the Big Dance.

    • El Kabong says:

      Roberta I totally agree about MH getting shafted by the new point distribution system. Maybe they will change it back after seeing how this year left out the second place runner of the SA Derby. That should never be the case.

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        El Kabong, I agree. A 2nd in a G1 finale should always be enough. And usually 30 is enough, sometimes more than enough. Let’s hope for some connections coming to their senses and withdrawing their currently eligible horses. I never like to see horses taken off the list because of illness or injury. And let’s hope they DO make a sensible adjustment to the system.

        • Davids says:

          Agree as well, a 2nd in a Grade 1 prep race should be an automatic entry into the Derby. Hopefully, CDI will amend their point system next year there are so many anomalies that need readjusting.

      • Davids says:

        It always seemed an obvious error to me that 40 points for second in the major preps was too low. You miss out on going to the Derby by a head bob is ridiculous.

  12. Lynda King says:

    Edited post.
    Confidence Game worked this morning at CHD. Watched video. He was moving very nice and very effortless.
    Mile in 1.38.20.
    Good article on Thursday’s edition on Blood Horse with Kent.
    Guess I have to give kudos to a trainer who thinks outside of the box when it comes to training rather than the cookie cutter approach.
    Good luck to all the colts in the Lexington and safe trips for all. Good luck on everyone’s bets.
    Looking forward to the return of Modern Games this weekend in the Makers Mile.
    Good luck also to both Clairiere and Secret Oath in the Apple Blossom. Hard for me to decide between these two, like them both.
    Good luck to the Frankel filly, With The Moonlight, in the Jenny Wiley.
    Congratulations to Equinox on being number one on the Longines Worlds Best Racehorse. Simply put, one of the most beautiful racehorses I have seen in a long time. He simply takes my breath away.
    Have a great weekend everyone!
    Thank you again Bruce for the correction.

    • Predict says:

      If anyone can surprise with a horse it is certainly Keith D. I have always felt that Candy Ride would someday have a Derby winner, but so far it hasn’t happened. I was hoping for Shared Belief to be that horse, but it was not to be. Confidence Game will certainly be a good price if he is entered and also probably mostly forgotten in the betting, which seems to be when Desormeaux can surprise. Tough to tell if this horse will be fully ready off ten weeks off, but should the track come up sloppy that day I will certainly use him. Anything can and does happen in the Kentucky Derby.

      • Lynda King says:

        I am guessing that the record that Candy Ride set in the Santa Anita Derby still stands?
        Was a big fan of Shared Belief and it was heartbreaking when he died.

    • Lynda King says:

      One more edit, Keith not Kent.

  13. Sally says:

    I am glad Disarm only needs a first, second or third to leapfrog a few to get into the CD starting gate on Derby Day. So far I like Two Phil’s, Forte, Derma and Disarm on Derby Day. Some leaning toward Hit Show too. Tough year, so many good horses with a real chance.

  14. Lynda King says:

    Confidence Game worked this morning at CHD. Watched video. He was moving very nice and very effortless.
    Mile in 1.38.20.
    Good article on Thursday’s edition on Blood Horse with Kent.
    Guess I have to give kudos to a trainer who thinks outside of the box when it comes to training rather than the cookie cutter approach.
    This might sound like I am casting shade on Mr Baffert but I have to ask the question.
    Why is it OK that Arabian Knight is entered in the Lexington with only two career starts, last raced January 28 when he won the Southwest Stakes and has had no works since March 09 (per Equibase) but Kent’s approach is not?
    Good luck to all the colts in the Lexington and safe trips for all. Good luck on everyone’s bets.
    Looking forward to the return of Modern Games this weekend in the Makers Mile.
    Good luck also to both Clairiere and Secret Oath in the Apple Blossom. Hard for me to decide between these two, like them both.
    Good luck to the Frankel filly, With The Moonlight, in the Jenny Wiley.
    Congratulations to Equinox on being number one on the Longines Workds Best Racehorse. Simply put, one of the most beautiful racehorses I have seen in a long time. He simply takes my breath away.
    Have a great weekend everyone!

    • Bruce says:

      Hi Lynda, just to clarify, it’s not Arabian Knight who is entered in the Lexington, it’s Arabian Lion…..also Mr. Baffert.
      I know, too many Arabian names out there! LOL

  15. Roberta Greevey says:

    Ooh! Tampa Bay Derby is a key race, with three runners having returned and all three winning: Tapit Trice in the Blue Grass, Lord Miles in the Wood, and Zydeceaux in the OBS Sophomore Stakes. In the Lexington, Prairie Hawk is 15-1 in the morning line. He finished 4th from post 12 in the TBD, just ahead of stablemate Lord Miles. Hmmm

    • Matthew W says:

      Praire Hawk was wide the entire trip….

    • Davids says:

      Remember when we were being told that the Tampa Bay Derby was one of the weakest preps, how quickly things can change in racing.

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        Yes. The horse has no control over the races in which he’s entered. There’s a decent chance the TB race could produce a Derby winner for the third time in 17 years. The Fountain of Youth has produced only one Derby winner in that period.

  16. Sherri Lytle says:

    I love all your input on the Derby horses. I have not made up my mind 100% yet.
    Eva is for sure all in with Practical Move!