Derby Rankings – Aug. 14, 2020


Welcome once again to “Steve Haskin’s Derby Doz”…oops, I mean “Derby Rankings.” Whatever the name it is still the same quest as always — ferreting out that elusive Kentucky Derby winner. After 22 years, the one thing we have learned is that it is the journey that is often more fun and more stimulating than reaching your destination, because for most, the destination ends in disappointment and second-guessing. So, every year we search for that diamond in the rough and hope it ends, not only in financial gain, but bragging rights for an entire year.

This will be the next-to-last general overview of who is left on the Derby trail. In two weeks, we will post our final Derby Rankings installment, followed by a bonus column going over betting strategy and who is coming into the big race sitting on a peak performance. For these horses, it has been an arduous and seemingly interminable eight-month journey in which only the strong survive. Tiz the Law of the jungle…! ~ Steve Haskin


1—TIZ THE LAW (Barclay Tagg, Constitution – Tizfiz, by Tiznow)
Not only is “The Machine” still operating at full power, it looks as if the longer you run it the more power it generates. The reason he’s been ranked No. 1 for so long is that he has no flaws and has an amazingly high cruising speed, which made him even more deadly cruising through a :48 1/5 half in the Travers and then knocking off :24 quarters the rest of the way. You knew he was going to win at the five-eighths pole, he was so much in control of the race; that’s why he is so special . Everyone who has ever been around him from the day he was born has marveled at his intelligence and how quickly he learns things. He is all muscle and sinew, and if you want to know why he’s so tough and never takes a step backward, just look at his family tree. His broodmare sire, Tiznow, was as rugged and tenacious as they come and is having a resurgence as a sire and broodmare sire at age 23. His maternal great-grandsire, Go For Gin, is the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner at age 29. Go For Gin’s sire, Cormorant, lived until the age of 33. And Cormorant’s broodmare sire, Stage Door Johnny, was the oldest living Belmont Stakes winner until his death at age 31. Constitution’s broodmare sire, Distorted Humor, is still going strong at age 27 and his sire, Forty Niner, died recently at the remarkable age of 35. This is one tough, durable family. Watching Tiz the Law crush the Travers field by 5 1/2 lengths, becoming only the sixth horse in 156 years to break 2:01, while winning under wraps with his ears pricked, you just have to wonder who is going to beat this horse on Sept. 5. This no doubt is a horse on the verge of superstardom.

2—ART COLLECTOR (Tom Drury, Bernardini – Distorted Legacy, by Distorted Humor)
Well, it looks like we’ve got ourselves quite a Derby showdown. And it certainly isn’t your typical showdown. Barclay Tagg vs. Tom Drury and Manny Franco vs. Brian Hernandez Jr. You gotta love it. Like Tiz the Law, this horse does nothing wrong and knows how to take control of a race, but unlike Tiz the Law he has proven he can beat you on the lead, just off the pace, or coming from seven or eight lengths back, and he is more professional in the stretch, always keeping a perfectly straight course. Drury didn’t have him cranked for his best effort, and when he took Hernandez to the lead and set solid fractions like it was nothing, you knew no one was going to catch him, especially when you saw how he was on cruise control approaching the head of the stretch. And also like Tiz the Law, he was never really asked and won pretty much under wraps with his ears pricked. He has now finished first in five straight races and just keeps getting better. So it’s on to Churchill – the New York hero vs. the pride of Kentucky. It is hard to imagine at this point someone other than these two taking the roses. But they still have to run the race. Art Collector’s pedigree is so strong I will have to wait until the next Derby Rankings to do it justice. Let’s just say it is inundated with class and stamina everywhere you look. And we already know this horse has the class.

3 – HONOR A. P. (John Shirreffs, Honor Code – Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush)
Although I have my concerns following his defeat in the Shared Belief Stakes, he still probably is one of the few horses that can actually win the Derby if he is really as talented as previously advertised and John Shirreffs is able to work his magic on him, getting him ready to face up to 19 horses coming off only one 1 1/16-mile race in 13 weeks and stretching out three-sixteenths of a mile. Yes, the distance was short for him and he obviously wasn’t fully cranked, but I felt even an 80% Honor A. P. should have run over his three opponents, two of whom were totally overmatched. But he didn’t show any acceleration after switching leads. And let’s not forget he barely beat a 34-1 shot for second. But the biggest concern is whether he got enough out the race to propel him to the Derby off this one start. But there is one aspect of the race you can use to defend him. Racing in fourth going into the first turn, Mike Smith pulled the trigger early and sent him up to challenge Thousand Words for the lead with a bold early move entering the backstretch. Then he was put in neutral until the far turn, where he was pushed along to close in on the leaders. I believe this horse, with his big stride, is compromised when you have to make two moves with him, and while he looked like a sure winner turning for home, he was not able to sustain that second run. Although his speed ratings regressed, he did run a solid “1 1/2″ Thoro-Graph figure, which is something he can definitely build on, having already run a “zero” the race before.

4—CARACARO (Gustavo Delgado, Uncle Mo – Peace Time, by War Front)
I have to admit, as I have written before, I have a personal attachment to this horse going back to January, having recommended him to a prominent owner who was looking to purchase a potential Derby horse outright. Unfortunately, nothing ever materialized and he disappeared off the radar screen for six months. Now he has come back in full force with two huge runner-up performances in the Peter Pan and Travers, and we are only seeing the tip of iceberg with this colt, who is still lightly raced and is only going to get better as he gains experience with each race. To run the race he did in the Peter Pan off such a long layoff was a testament to his class and raw ability and the training skills of Delgado. Then to come back only three weeks later and finish a clear-cut second to the Derby favorite, while stalking the pace the whole way, bodes well for his ability to bounce back quickly after a hard race. What was most impressive was that it looked turning for home like the late-running Max Player was in perfect position to go right on by him, but he just kept going and finished two lengths ahead of him. Now, to come back in four weeks with another mile and a quarter race in a huge field, his third distance following a long layoff, is asking a lot of him. I don’t think he’s quite ready to beat Tiz the Law and Art Collector, but I do expect him to run another big race and certainly make his presence felt.

5—ATTACHMENT RATE (Dale Romans, Hard Spun – Aristra, by Afleet Alex)
Boy, have I been waiting for this all year. This colt has already been in my Top 12 several times this year, but he kept underachieving, mainly because he refused to change leads. I wrote four months ago: I know the talent is there. If he can accomplish what he’s done in his last three starts without changing leads then there definitely is something to work with.” But then he had rough trips in the Matt Winn and Blue Grass Stakes. He still ran decent enough races, but basically faded from the Derby picture…until now. His second-place finish to Art Collector in the Ellis Park Derby put him right back into contention for a number of reasons. Breaking from post 10, he got hung five-wide into the first turn, raced wide throughout, and when Joe Talamo asked him passing the three-eighths pole his rapid-fire acceleration was something I hadn’t seen before. In a flash he was right up there with the leaders and looked like a serious threat. Although he was no match for Art Collector, losing by 3 1/4 lengths, he finally changed leads smoothly and drew clear from the others, finishing 5 1/4 lengths ahead of the third horse, and then galloped out very strongly, passing the winner going into the clubhouse turn. This was a big step forward, as indicated by his huge Thoro-Graph jump from a “5” to a “1/2,” and with his classy pedigree, this new and improved version of Attachment Rate looks ready take on all comers over his home track on Sept. 5.

6—SOLE VOLANTE (Patrick Biancone, Karakontie – Light Blow, by Kingmambo)
I am well aware I am being extremely stubborn ranking this horse so high, coming off a dismal effort in the Belmont Stakes and training up to the Derby off an 11-week layoff. But I have been on his bandwagon since early February and have had him ranked as high as No. 2 on several occasions. First off, the Belmont was a throw out race, as he came back too soon (nine days) after his previous start and exited the race with a back problem. This is the year to throw out conventional handicapping when it comes to the Derby, and no one has been more successful doing the unconventional than Patrick Biancone. I have always loved this horse’s European-like turn of foot and his stamina-laden European pedigree, and I just love the way he moves, more like a greyhound than the typical American horse. After watching Tiz the Law’s bravura performance in the Travers, Biancone was having thoughts about passing the Derby. But when he watched Art Collector’s huge effort in the Ellis Park Derby, he became more confident, feeling both these extraordinary colts, with their similar running styles, could eyeball each other and force a half in :46, especially with Authentic right up there, and that is all Biancone is looking for. This horse gets fit fast with all his rapid two-minute licks, and I loved his mile workout on the grass this week, finishing with his ears up and galloping out strong. Biancone said he wasn’t blowing at all afterward. I know this is a good horse, so let’s see how he continues to train.

7—NY TRAFFIC (Saffie Joseph Jr., Cross Traffic – Mamie Reilly, by Graeme Hall)
This horse doesn’t win very often and has never won a stakes, but he has placed in four straight graded stakes, and he just doesn’t know the word quit. He is one-paced and is always up around the leaders, but he never backs up and is always running strongly at the end. You may beat him, but he’s not going to make it easy for you. He came within one stride of nailing Authentic in the Haskell Invitational and earned a rare negative Thoro-Graph figure (negative 3/4), which was a significant jump from his pair of “2 3/4″ figures. I don’t know if he can win the Derby, but count on him being right there at the eighth pole.

8—AUTHENTIC (Bob Baffert, Into Mischief – Flawless, by Mr. Greeley)
There is no doubting his brilliance and raw ability, but carrying his speed a mile and a quarter with his pedigree and his need-the-lead style is another matter. He likes to be in control on an uncontested lead, and even then he nearly gave away the Haskell after opening a clear lead at the eighth pole. His only defeat was the only time he faced adversity and had to fight with two other horses for the lead. His speed figures are excellent, but he will need a lot more than that if he’s going to have any shot to win the Derby with Tiz the Law and Art Collector breathing down his neck the whole way.

9—KING GUILLERMO (Juan Avila, Uncle Mo – Slow Sand, by Dixieland Band)
This is the biggest enigma of them all. I loved his last two races and everything about him. He has a beautiful head and a long smooth stride, is extremely professional, and most important, he has a world of ability. I can overlook an eight or even 11-week layoff in this crazy year, but a four-month layoff is something so far from the realm of the Kentucky Derby, I can’t even begin to compute it. I will never use the word never in 2020, and it must be noted he is working lights out in Florida, but can we bet on a horse with any confidence coming off that long a layoff? Talent-wise, he is right up there in with the top three. But I still need to see if this can be done. And if he shows it can, then kudos to him and especially to Avila..

10—THOUSAND WORDS (Bob Baffert, Pioneerof the Nile – Pomeroy’s Pistol, by Pomeroy)
I have to admit I have no idea who this horse is or how good he is. Is he Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? He certainly has shown both sides to him. I do not see him winning the Derby. Then again, I thought he was done nearing the top of the stretch in the Shared Belief Stakes when he had to be whipped on the turn. But he kept pounding away and went on to score one of his narrow, ho hum victories, beating Honor A. P. And to make things even more complicated, he earned a lofty 104 Beyer figure, which I will never understand, but earned only a mediocre “3 1/4” Thoro-Graph figure, far slower than the runner-up. In short, I am ranking the horse with three victories and a second in stakes and not the horse with two awful performances in the San Felipe and Oaklawn Stakes.

11—DR POST (Todd Pletcher, Quality Road – Mary Delaney, by Hennessy)
I’m not sure if he wants to go a mile and a quarter, but he does have enough credentials to be taken seriously, most notably his solid second to Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes, even though that race was run around one turn. He was never a threat to Authentic and Ny Traffic in the Haskell, but his third-place finish was probably better than it looked, as that race did not suit him at all, with the first two running 1-2 the whole way around on a speed-favoring track and he couldn’t get any closer than 4 1/2 lengths. But he did pair up his “2” Thoro-Graph figure from the Belmont and that still puts him in the hunt with a move forward.

12—MAX PLAYER (Steve Asmussen, Honor Code – Fools in Love, by Not for Love)
He ran okay in the Travers, but I was expecting him to take a bigger move forward from the Belmont Stakes, in which he was coming off a long layoff. Although he was widest of all turning for home, I thought he was moving well enough to get second, but he really had no kick in the stretch, finding his best stride in the final yards when it was way too late. The :48 1/5 half was too slow him, but Caracaro, racing two lengths in front of him, left him five lengths behind in a flash on the turn, and it just took him too long to finally kick in. He could move forward in the Derby, but he has a lot of ground to make up. It was odd, however, that he would be taken away from Linda Rice after finishing third in the Belmont and Travers to the big Derby favorite.

13—ENFORCEABLE (Mark Casse, Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)
I leave you with these names to ponder – Country House, 2nd at 65-1 (placed first); Lookin at Lee, 2nd at 33-1; Commanding Curve, 2nd at 37-1; Golden Soul, 2nd at 34-1; Bluegrass Cat, 2nd at 30-1; Closing Argument, 2nd at 71-1; and Invisible Ink, 2nd at 55-1. If you haven’t guessed where I’m coming from, this horse fits that bill. Yes, he’s coming into the Derby off an eight-week layoff, but he has so much foundation, having run in eight two-turn races, six of them graded stakes, he could benefit from coming into the race fresh. One thing you can count on, he will be closing in the stretch, and if he gets the pace he needs he could add his name to those above.

14—MAJOR FED (Greg Foley, Ghostzapper – Bobby’s Babe, by Smart Strike)
This is another horse I’ve been touting since his maiden victory in January and have had him in the Top 12 on numerous occasions. His second-place finishes in the Risen Star Stakes and Indiana Derby and his fast-closing fourth in the Louisiana Derby were all top efforts. I thought the Ellis Park Derby would be a good spot to prep for the Kentucky Derby, as he needed to improve on his Thoro-Graph numbers, and it would have been interesting to see how close he could have gotten to Art Collector. But it was decided to train him up to the Derby off an eight-week layoff. That may work out or it may not, I just don’t know. He doesn’t have the foundation of Enforceable, but I know he has the talent. And we also know he’s sharp judging by his half-mile work in :46 4/5.

15—PNEUMATIC (Steve Asmussen, Uncle Mo – Teardrop, by Tapit)
He was ranked No. 1 on my early list of new faces back in April, and he’s run well enough since, finishing third in the Matt Winn and fourth in the Belmont Stakes. I still believe he has a bright future, but I can’t rank him any higher until he runs in the August 15 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth to pick up enough to assure he gets into the Derby field. Check back in the final Derby rankings after we see how he runs at Monmouth.


Well, there aren’t many others around to knock. There is still RUSHIE, third in the Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, who skipped the Shared Belief Stakes. I’m not totally sure what his Derby status is at this time, as he is still not nominated, but, like so many others, he would have to train up to the race off an eight-week layoff. He was beaten more than eight lengths in the Blue Grass, so he also might have benefited from another race. His future might be a bit more down the road, but we’ll see how he works in the upcoming weeks and whether he’s headed to Louisville before making a final evaluation.

One fascinating horse is 2-year-old champion STORM THE COURT, who has not really moved forward at 3, but I did like his effort in the 1 1/16-mile La Jolla on grass. Although he was no threat to the winner, I did think he was running strongly in the stretch. No decision has been made yet, but the grass to dirt angle is always interesting, and he does want more distance. I was actually surprised when he earned an excellent “1” on Thoro-Graph in the Ohio Derby, his last start on dirt, although the winner and runner-up did not run well in their next starts.

As a historian, I can only relay historical trends with a bit of skepticism, because the First Saturday in May bears no resemblance to the first Saturday in September, as Derby horses are more advanced physically and mentally and have more foundation and racing experience. So, we are all venturing into unknown territory.

Please note: For newcomers reading the Derby Rankings, you will often see references to the Thoro-Graph figures, which are the figures I follow, as well as an occasional reference to the Beyer, Equibase, and Brisnet figures, which are based purely on speed. The Thoro-Graph figures, which are more difficult to obtain unless you are a subscriber, are based not only on speed, but other factors, especially ground loss, which is extremely important in determining just how fast a horse really runs. Trainers, owners, and bloodstock agents swear by the Thoro-Graph figures, as well as the Ragozin figures, which are fairly similar. To make it as simple as possible, the lower the figure the faster the performance, but it is analyzing the trends of these figures that is most important. Any figure close to zero indicates a very fast and top-class horse. Any figure below zero, referred to as a negative figure, is exceptional. If you read the term “bounce,” it refers to a horse that ran so much faster than he had previously run, there is a good chance he will regress (or bounce) off that effort if he comes back too quickly. Ideally, you want to see a horse make steady progress so that he will run his peak figure on Derby Day. If anyone has any questions about speed figures, feel free to email me at

262 Responses to “Derby Rankings – Aug. 14, 2020”

  1. Kazuko says:

    Así os ahorráis un poquillo de dinero con las pilas.

  2. Betsy says:

    Sigh, not sure why my other post didn’t go through, but…

    HAP looked fantastic in his work today; he’s thriving coming up to the Derby.

    From DRF:

    Smith had worked Honor A. P. on the two prior Saturdays as well, which both Smith and Shirreffs thought was essential for Honor A. P.’s progress towards the Derby.

    “It gives Mike more confidence, and us more confidence,” Shirreffs said. “The horse responds.”

    Both the previous works were shorter and faster.

    “Those two works put some air in him,” said Smith, who was wearing the silks of owners Lee and Susan Searing. “This was just a maintenance work. He’s fresh and happy. He did this all on his own. I adjusted a little on him and he took off, all on his own. I’m really happy. He did that all within himself. A happy seven-eighths.

    “He gave me goosebumps all over my body. He’s going in a happy and fit horse. That was above and beyond what I was hoping for.”

  3. Betsy says:

    I just saw the work – he looked fantastic. Both Mike and John seemed pleased, lol. You can hear John say “Nice!”…

    Honor A.P. has his final #KyDerby work going 7f in 1:27 1/5 @DelMarRacing.
    “I’ve got goosebumps down my legs.” – @mikeesmith10

    Actual work:

  4. Matthew W says:

    I think there’s going to be early backstretch moves in this year’s Derby–unlike last year’s weirdly run race–where nobody ever made a move….you don’t get many like that one, War Emblem also had no challengers—I’m getting closer vibes this year, Honor A P…Thousand Words…Sole Volante….and Tiz the Law—a four horse trifecta box—-11 days out, a lot depends on the track but I’m expecting fast.

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  6. Betsy says:

    Max looked really good in his workout today….I think he’s going to run very well in the Derby.
    Looking forward to it, Steve ! The history of the man it’s named for is also fascinating…and tragic

  7. Steve Haskin says:

    Just let everyone know my next blog will be tomorrow (Tuesday) about NYRA changing the distance of the Woodward back to a mile and a quarter and a look back to the race’s origins when the mile and a quarter Woodward usually crowned the Horse of the Year and was the main path to the Hall of Fame. Some great memories

  8. Matthew W says:

    Hey Steve I just heard a guy say it’s the first time a horse has won at ten furlongs BEFORE the kentucky Derby—-did not Canonero II win at ten furlongs in Venezuela? I know he ran the distance down there….

    • JanBer says:

      I think you’re right. Good point.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        Yes, Canonero won at a mile and a quarter, but Tiz would be the first horse to win at a mile and a quarter the race before the Derby. Canonero actually had three 6 1/2 furlong races and another race after his mile and a quarter win.

  9. Betsy says:

    This interview with Mike is fantastic; I was especially interested in the comments about the SB

  10. Betsy says:

    Lots of good info in Jay Privman’s article.

    ***“Another good workout,” Smith said after dismounting. “He galloped out really good past the wire. He had a lot of energy. I had a hard time pulling him up.”

    By the time he brought Honor A. P. to a stop, “He went a good mile and an eighth,” Smith said.

    Honor A. P. last Saturday polished off five furlongs in 59.40 seconds. He then proceeded to gallop out an extra furlong in 12 flat for a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:11.40. The work this time was more for stamina than speed. ***

  11. Betsy says:

    Here’s the link…….

    HAP looked fantastic… god, those strides, lol; he’s going to devour CD and every bit of that 1 1/4. What I love is how he didn’t want to pull up.

  12. Betsy says:

    Unfortunately, TVG didn’t air the work, but it seems like HAP looked good again:

    Per Jay Privman

    Honor A.P. with @mikeesmith10 goes 5f in 1:00.20, gallop out 6f in 1:12.20, 7f in 1:25.40.

    Early splits 12, 24, 36.20, 47.60

    One more work here at @DelMarRacing next weekend before departing for Ky

  13. Melissa Pappas says:

    I’m having such a hard time deciding whose bandwagon to be on. It would be hard enough straddling two, but there are THREE (and they are your top 3) who my heart and mind tell me to back. First of all, who can honestly dispute Tiz the Law? On top of his amazing performances, he has the whole Sackatoga story riding with him. I’ve been a fan of Honor A.P. (and, notably, his name) ever since first seeing him. I am hoping that the Shared Belief was an anomaly. Now, Art Collector is a favorite for a completely different reason. He was bred by the same individual as Golden Missile who is the sire of my horse, Runaway Wildcat. Mr. Lunsford was (and probably still is) a big supporter of Georgia racing. He was a huge help to us in the Georgia TOBA. I guess I’m just going to hope for a cleanly run race and that one of my favorites crosses the line first.

    • Crossfire says:

      Art Collector is a serious colt. The unknown quantity is Shirl’s Speight.He has won his only 2 starts by wide margins without feeling the whip. A time of 1:19.97 for 7F an any surface is exceptionally fast.

    • pro vet says:

      Go with the best horse……HAP……

  14. Betsy says:

    Hey Steve

    If you are still on texting terms with John Shirreffs, do you think you could find out the status of Thunder Code and Rampion? Thank you!!!

  15. Judith Lowe says:

    Nice to see you back Steve. The Derby wouldn’t be the same without your input. As you will know there are others ranking the possible twenty starters – ideas differ – but your knowledge of thoroughbreds is indispensable. Am not happy to read here that Ny Traffic is a one-runner. Hope his jockey will know when to give the go signal. As you will note I am a fan!!

  16. Betsy says:

    Ricardo Santana, Jr. will be riding Max Player

  17. pro vet says:

    Why am i the only one that has talked about how TIZ THE LAW tries to lug in every race?……

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Because he doesnt? In the Travers he drifted out, then Franco brought him in and he ran straight to the wire. Where do you see lugging in?

    • perimeister says:

      I’m pretty new to this, so I am not sure I know what you mean by “lugging in.”
      Could you tell me at what times you see him luggin in a couple of his races, so I can go see what you mean?

      • Davids says:

        Horses can have a propensity to lugging in or out due soundness, pain, mental etc. Search for ‘horses that lug out’ and in “Doc’s Products, Inc. Presents How To Fix: Horses That Lug Out” there is a good explanation there.

      • Betsy says:

        Peri! Yay, I’m so glad you made it here!

        FYI, HAP will be working again tomorrow at 12:45 PST, right before the races….. and like last week, Mike will be aboard. I’m guessing this work won’t be as fast, but neither do I think it will be a long, slow work – Mike wouldn’t be needed for that.

        I’m sure it will be on TVG……

      • Matthew W says:

        Horses lead with their left legs around the far turn, when they turn into the home stretch, horses that are full of run sometimes don’t change to their right leads in timely manner—and they lug inside on their left leads…a famous lugger was Cougar II, and it cost him a big win in the 1971 Woodward Stakes… can see the riders “throwing a cross” at the top of the stretch, in attempt to change the horse over to the right lead, a quick turn of the horse’s head to prompt them—a horse’s ability to shift leads is often the difference maker in a winning race or not.

      • pro vet says:

        The horse wants to go in……this why you see his head go out…..this is the jockey steering him…..funny…..people below are saying it can mean bad things………but they are not concerned about TIZ………you saw it in their explaination right?…….that was why i posted “why am i the only one that has brought this up”

  18. Eddie F says:

    My top 12 at this point are

    1. Tiz the Law
    2. Tiz the Law
    3. Tiz the Law
    4. Tiz the Law
    5. Tiz the Law
    6. Tiz the Law
    7. Art Collector
    8. Honor A.P.
    9. Caracaro
    10. Ny Traffic
    11. Authentic
    12. Major Fed

  19. Eddie F says:

    The last horse to win the Derby after not being 1st or 2nd at the stretch call in the last prep OR within 2.5 lengths of the leader at the stretch call in the last prep was….Ferdinand in 1986. Which Derby “possibles” have that trend to buck?: Max Player, South Bend, Necker Island, Dr Post, Enforceable, Finnick the Fierce, Rushie, and Sole Volante. There is some hope, though, because this is obviously not a typical Derby. On the other hand, the horses that were up close at the stretch call in their final preps have another obstacle in their path to a Derby win: Tiz the Law.

  20. Crossfire says:

    Major Fed is my dark horse. Hoping for a strong pace and a Mine That Bird finish and price.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Just wish he had run in the Ellis Derby. Thats a long layoff into the Derby. I have always been high on this horse.

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  22. Crossfire says:


  23. 1JoeP says:

    Great to have you back Steve! IMO Art Collector will give a big challenge to the big FAV Tiz The Law. I am glad that I locked in at 20-1 on Art Collector in KDFW5. I agree on your high ranking of Attatchment Rate. I can see him running big and finishing 3rd or 4th at a bomb price. Sole Volante and Major Fed IMO could be bombs to spice up the big exotics. HAP has been working well and is certainly a major contender. King G is training lights out at CD and is still a threat even with the 4 month layoff.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Hey JoeP, great to see to see again. Thank you very much. Cant argue with annything you said. King G really has me baffled

  24. Betsy Tarr says:

    Max had his first workout over the CD strip today…..he looked good, I think.

    5F 1:01.80. Splits: 13.80, 26.20, 37.80, 50. Out 6F 1:14.60.

  25. Steve Haskin says:

    Hopefully, Mike will learn something about the horse. He has been making these early moves with horses the last few years. He has to make one run with horse.

    • Betsy says:

      Well to be honest, I didn’t have much of an issue with the ride as HAP got clobbered at the start. That put him behind the eight ball, and he had to (a) rush you to not lose position and (b) make an early move to get to where he wanted to be in the first place. I won’t worry until it’s much closer to the race, but..this does make me a little nervous.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        In that field, being two lengths behind, I never thought he was behind the eight ball. Just sit on him, let him get into a good strde and make one rin with him. No need to make that big early move with a horse liek that

        • Betsy says:

          That’s a good point, Steve.. Hopefully he and John spoke about that because odds are that things won’t go smoothly in the Derby either. At least we know that that HAP won’t give up…for a race with a tiny field, he had quite a bit of adversity.

  26. Dwane says:

    Steve, so glad that your dozen or so back. I have enjoyed reading and following you for years now. Look forward for all of your valuable insight in your upcoming articles.

  27. Betsy says:

    My friend has noticed that Mike Smith has been in a bad slump at DM. She says he’s making premature moves most of the time, as he did on HAP in the Shared Belief (I think there was a reason for that). It’s funny – tend to worry about everything, but I’m not here. I’ve always believed that great athletes will always find their way out of slumps…and, in this case, there’s still a couple of weeks before the Derby.

    • Matthew W says:

      Well, I have seen a few bad rides–he took a shot at the lead in the La Jolla, trying to test a real nice colt Smooth as Strait down the back side, ended up finishing last—horse never went for the early lead before…he does that more often than most riders, I just think he’s not going to do it in the Kentucky Derby, he’ll settle behind horses—he’s Big Money Mike!-

    • perimeister says:

      Over the past year I’ve also read people in comments on articles on other sites complaining that Mike only knows how to ride like he’s riding Zenyatta and come from the clouds at the end of the race. They can’t all be right about Mike’s riding strategy, when they are making contradictory statements of fact.

  28. Betsy Tarr says:

    Steve, did you catch HAP’s work? If so, what did you think?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I loved his work. It was just what he needed. He was in rhythm the whole way with great extension, and while Mike was pushing on him in the stretch he needed that coming off that last dull effort. I think this work really woke him up and gave him much needed fitness, specially with the strong gallop out.

      • Betsy says:

        Exactly ! He needed to work up a good sweat – that work did him a world of good, physically and mentally. It’s funny, but you’ve always said it’s hard to tell how fast HAP is going because of his four white stockings, but there was a point that you could really see him motoring…TVG mentioned that Mike waved the stick at him, which I’m not used to seeing (even just hitting him with it in the SB was a surprise, I think because HAP had, always before, given everything he had when asked), but which definitely encouraged him. How fun would that have been with fans in the stand? Maybe when they come back, there can be more workouts before the races start

  29. Junior R WONG says:

    Hello Steve:

    Very glad to see you landed on your two feet at
    There is only ONE Steve Haskin when it comes to Thoroughbred horse racing.
    You may remember me from our OXBOW Derby Dozen days.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Great to hear from you again, James. Good old Oxbow. One of my biggest scores ever in the Preakness boxing the trifecta

  30. webpage says:

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  31. Davids says:

    Thanks Nelson, and good deciphering. Lol

  32. Nelson Maan says:

    The following are the 19 horses most likely making the field for the Derby providing the filly Swiss Skydiver and Rushie (not nominated) are not entered and there is no horse coming from Europe or Japan:

    Tiz the Law
    Art Collector
    Honor A. P.
    Ny Traffic
    King Guillermo
    Thousand Words
    Dr. Post
    Max Player
    Major Fed
    Storm the Court
    Attachment Rate
    Sole Volante
    Finnick the Fierce
    Winning Impression
    Necker Island

    Necker Island with only 14 points is in (19th place) and even Three Technique with nine (9) points could have made the 20th spot.

    I am not sure if the imposing presence of Tiz the Law and the obdurate pandemic will lead to a 14-horse Derby … what is your take on this?

  33. Davids says:

    Steve, you must be commended on ranking the 12 prospects behind the big three. From my perspective, the lesser 12 have more negatives than positives in winning the Kentucky Derby with good post positions and flukey dream trips their only chances of toppling the big three. Enforceable, appears to me in having the best chance of usurping the big boys place in the sun. Good luck to them all though, it’s a horse race so anything can happen.

    Thanks Steve, for creating the Derby Rankings, the Kentucky Derby build up needed the boost. Onwards and upward.

    • Paula Higgins says:

      So good to be back!

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thank you, David. This is such a bizarre year, we really dont what we’re dealing with regarding ssome of these horses, especially coming of long layoffs. The favorites look like standouts, but its going to be fun finding bombs to use under them

      • Davids says:

        Yes, Steve, that’s the fun of it really. Although the big three appear insurmountable, racing results are seldom governed on pure logic.

  34. Michael Driscoll says:

    Hi Steve, glad to see you back. Will you be publishing a weekly newsletter to flag new postings? Apologies if this is addressed in a comment already.

  35. JanBer says:

    This is a little off topic but I was thinking a good article would be the influence of Secretariat’s daughters on the breed. When we looked at all the horses in the Derby Dozen one week, we found that every single one had at least one instance of Weekend Surprise, Terlingua or Secrettame in their pedigree.

  36. Betsy says:

    Eddie, I couldn’t reply to you in the thread about HAP’s work, but I thought that was really cool, also. I saw several tweets about it, wondering why Mike was wearing the silks. Possibly it’s because HAP’s owners were there………

    • Eddie F says:

      I suppose that’s possible. But I don’t recall ever seeing silks worn in a workout — and, of course, owners are often present for the morning works.

      • Betsy says:

        They haven’t been allowed in track for least until recently. Mike probably just thought it would be a nice thing to do…

        • Eddie F says:

          I said “ever”. That precedes the pandemic. LOL

          • Cynthia Holt says:

            Working big horses which are prepping for a race mid-day or during the races is something that Santa Anita has done over the years. The fans love it, The jockeys frequently wear the owner’s silks when doing so.

      • perimeister says:

        I recall reading of how trainers would trick horses into thinking they were racing by sending them to a workout with a rider wearing silks, thus getting a better workout than they might otherwise get. Think Tom Smith with Seabiscuit, for example.

        Mike has not worn silks in his morning works with Honor AP in the past, but maybe they were pulling out all the stops to try to ensure a faster work?

        • Betsy says:

          I don’t know, I just doubt that horses would know the difference. I imagine it would make a difference that the jockey rides the horse differently – like in a race- than an exercise rider would. I said this on HRN, but it’s like when Alec in the Black Stallion felt – in the big race- that the Black wasn’t into it, so he threw off his goggles and helmet and rode him like he did back on the island!

          Steve, what did you think of the work?

        • JanBer says:

          That’s exactly what I was thinking! A strategy to get him to do a serious work by giving him the feeling it was a race.

  37. Paula Higgins says:

    So good to be back to the Derby Rankings! I totally agree with spots 1-4. I would move King Guillermo up into #5 though. Tiz the Latin the Travers dominated and did it easily. He was geared down at the end and needed no encouraging. I believe Barclay Tagg, Robin, and the Sackatoga group have a great horse in TTL. All they have to do is keep him in good shape and uninsured and the year is their’s for the taking until the BCC and then it gets interesting with the older horses. I still think he is the best horse in the country right now even when including the older horses. Art Collector is a step below Tiz the Law to me. I only see him winning if TTL has a bad ride or bad trip. Honor A.P. Is going to be tuned up to the max by John Shirreffs. He has the ability to make this a run for TTL’s money but I don’t know if there is enough time left to get him to that point based on his last race. I do believe Mike Smith not being on him before his last race was a detriment and cost him. I think you made a great point, Steve, about Mike having to make 2 moves rather than one big one. As for Thousand Words, I do not think he is in the TTL or Art Collector’s zip code. He would have to get lucky to win. NY. Traffic is also very good and could hit the board. I am so excited to have Steve back and be able to read his Derby Rankings. At least that is one good thing in a not so wonderful year. Thank you to Leonard Lusky and

    • Betsy says:

      Hi Paula!!!!!

      I think if HAP is back to himself, and he should be with a normal workout routine – not like before the SB – he’s absolutely formidable. I think Tiz is awesome, but I have enormous faith in my beautiful, long-striding colt.

      Mike worked HAP beyond the 5 furlongs, and I imagine at least one of these next two works will be 7 furlongs. HAP got a good sweat going today -I think that’s important. I had real concerns about his foundation going into today – I have less so now, but still have some. However, John is no fool.

      • Paula Higgins says:

        Hi Betsey!
        I saw that about HAP! What a work. The race is going to be a
        humdinger. So glad Mike is back on him for his training. Yes,
        it would be better if they had more time but I understand that
        he will have 2 more works before shipping. He is going to be
        very competitive. I knew John would do everything to get him
        primed and he is doing just that.

        • Betsy says:

          That was so much fun……..It would have been amazing if fans could have been in the stands. When the track opens for fans, they should do that periodically – if a trainer would be willing; I think it was loads of fun.

          I hope so. As good as Tiz is and as awesome as he looked last week, I think this crop is top heavy with real talent. HAP is going to be a juicy price. I don’t usually bet unless I’m at the track, and if my favorite horses are short prices, I don’t bother – I just enjoy rooting them on. In this case, if HAP continues to thrive, I think I’m going to place a nice bet. Since I can’t seem to get any of my unemployment payments, I might need to win this bet to bring some money in, lol

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thank you very much, Paula, Great to see you here.

    • Paula Higgins says:

      LOL, I meant UNINJURED not UNINSURED. Sorry.

  38. Matthew W says:

    Art Collector would be Derby favorite a lot of years, but this year a horse has won at 10 furlongs, and easily at that, making Art a risky 7/2 shot…I still like Honor A P and wish Mike does NOT try one of his patented early move rides—-let Franco sweat Art Collector’s speed, and take off the pace for one big late run with “Longstockings” (Honor A P)…. facing two unbeaten in 2020 three year olds. Maybe a $20 winner. Maybe a new Shirreffs on town!

    • Betsy says:

      In all of HAP’s previous races, Mike had ridden him perfectly. The SB was just a mess – the colt was slammed at the start, so he had to move in order not to lose position. I had said before the race that I thought Mike needed to be aggressive – I think had the colt gotten off to a good start, he wouldn’t have had to have moved early – he would already have been in position.

      • Carlos Aberin says:

        I agree with Steve that MS’s early move on HAP lost them the race. Making a move early and using up some gas while the others are on cruise control puts the horse at a disadvantage at the end of the race. That move by MS took the sting out of HAP’s finishing kick, and HAP was not able to sustain his rally.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          Hopefully, Mike will learn something about the horse. He has been making these early moves with horses the last few years. He has to make one run with horse.

      • Matthew W says:

        I don’t think they wanted the early lead, they wanted to finish–they also wanted to win but I thought mike made too early of a move, and they were stalling around the far turn—-they got 2nd on class—I thought it was a poor ride. I remain on board, but Mike should let the Derby favorite worry about the pace of Art Collector, is what I’m saying—I thought Longstockings ran a sneaky good race—the winner Thousand Words ran very well, too.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          My only question is did he get enough out of the race for horse who is going 1 1/4 miles off one 1 1/16 race in 13 weeks?

          • Matthew W says:

            Steve I think he did get enough—track that day was playing so tiring! When it is that deep…..I see horses making the east coast trips and winning races–not saying he can beat that NY bred, who is reminding me of a certain Cal bred from a few years ago—peaking in his prep race under wraps then a big Derby win—but I do think Honor A P can make a race out of it!

        • perimeister says:

          Nice to see Kiss Today Goodbye prove that his last race was an outlier, best forgotten, and beating the notable Cezanne. Do you think KTG has much undeveloped potential remaining?

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