Kentucky Derby 2010 Preps

Derby Preps News and Notes: Updated April 18, 2010

April 17, 2010 Recaps

Coolmore Lexington– 1-1/16 miles –

Solid early and middle, moderate finish.

Exhi led the field from wire to wire, running respectably strong fractions of 23 3/5, 47, 1:113/5 and finishing in 1:44 2/5. The Pletcher trainee ridden by Robby Albarado paid a hefty 41.80 to win. Krypton stalked the pace for three quarters but faded. California invader Bushwhacked ran mid pack and came up the rail to take place money and complete a $296 exacta. Uptowncharlybrown was a game third following a length behind Bushwhacked. Lukewarm post time favorite Connemara ran at the back of the large field and didn’t factor in the outcome. It looks like this year’s Lexington will have little bearing on the field for the Kentucky Derby. All three top finishers are on the outside of the graded stakes earning bubble. We expect to see several of these horses come back for the Preakness in four weeks time.

April 10, 2010 Recaps

The Bluegrass – 1-1/8 miles –

Slow early, solid middle, strong finish.

Compared with the Arkansas Derby, the Bluegrass started out at a much slower pace with Odyseus and Paddy O Prado setting the early pace. Fractions were 23.89, 47.96, 1:12.33. However after the 3/4 poll the pace picked up. Paddy O Prado took the lead and seemed to be pulling away. At this point Stately Victor launched a bid from toward the back of the pack. He flew by Paddy O Prado winning easily by 4-1/2 Lengths. First Dude, who had sat behind the early pace, held on for 3rd. Not sure what to make of Stately Victor. He hadn’t shown much in his last starts though his trainer says he was always high on the horse and that there always seemed to be an excuse for his previous lackluster finishes. He did finish with a strong closing kick. However, will he be able to do that at Churchill on a dirt track? Questions remain. Paddy O Prado put in a strong effort but he was tiring and almost didn’t hold on for 2nd.

The Arkansas Derby – 1-1/8 miles –

Strong early and middle, slow finish.

Line of David got off to a fast start shooting out to the lead from the 8th hole. Super Saver followed in 2nd by 2-3 lengths and the two horses led the field through fast fractions 22.65, 46.2, 1:10.75, 1:36.52. Super Saver and Dublin threatened with a furlong to go and looked like they would shoot by Line fo David, but he did find another gear when asked by Jon Court and came back to win by a neck over Super Saver with Dublin 3rd by about a neck. Final time was 1:49.37 over the fast track. Line of David wearing blinkers for the 3rd time and for his 3rd straight win seemed to love the dirt after running on synthetics and turf over in Santa Anita.

Super Saver who has been called unrateable by Todd Pletcher did seem to hold back a little but when it came for the final drive he just didn’t have enough left. Dublin, once again, mounted a bid but just didn’t have enough left in the tank. Still thinking that Dublin doesn’t have enough to get the 1-1/4 in the Derby. Perhaps if he could be held back a little later to make that one big move he might be able to get closer. Though Line of David ran a very good race, he won’t be able to get away with that kind of pace in the Derby and expect not be over taken by a strong closer. Noble’s Promise got squeezed a bit at the start and wasn’t able to stay closer to the early pace. It looked like he would move into contention in the final furlong but just had nothing left. Could be a bounce after his strong performance last time out. Still seems like a contender.

April 3, 2010 Recaps

The Wood Memorial – 1-1/8 miles –

Slow early, solid middle, strong finish.

Eskendereya was able to coast off a very slow early lead in third position, moved to contention at the ¾’s point and then just put the field away turning for home as he won very easily. It’s hard to say how well he will finish going longer if he has to face a stronger early pace. However he certainly is a patient horse where it seems that he can be taken further back off the early pace which would make his late move even stronger. He is headed to Kentucky as the favorite to win it all and deservedly so. I can’t see him taking a step backwards off this effort. This was his 3rd start as a 3-year-old so he should have a lot of “bottom” added to his level of conditioning. In fact he should move forward off this effort and it also seems we still haven’t seen him go all out – so his best is still to come.

Awesome Act seemed full of run on the back stretch as his rider was almost choking him back as he was positioned just off of Eskendereya. Why did his rider wait? Why couldn’t he let Awesome go and give him his head? He might have gotten on even terms with Esk or perhaps gotten by Esk? However he waited and after Esky made his move, Awesome was just too late and later ran out of gas. A senseless ride in all honesty.

Jackson Bend had Calvin Borel added to ride which made me figure that Borel will take Jackson further back off the early lead, trying to get him to finish stronger. This wasn’t the case at all as Jackson was very close to the early lead. Fortunately the early pace was slow enabling Jackson to stay in contention throughout. I don’t think Jackson Bend is a horse ready for 1 ¼ miles at this time. .

The Illinois Derby – 1-1/8 miles –

Slow early, slow middle and late.

American Lion looked good as he was able to gat away to a soft early lead and he never looked back. This was his best effort at a route to date however I am not sure he moves forward off this effort especially considering he will have to go longer. He might be best strategized for the Preakness. Yawanna Twist pressed a soft early lead, battled for the lead but just couldn’t get by the winner. Seems he will be better going a shorter distance at this point.

The Santa Anita Derby – 1-1/8 miles –

Slow early, strong middle and finish.

Sidney’s Candy was able to establish the lead under soft early splits up to the half before each quarter got faster through the mile call of time. Afterwards, Sidney was able to open up by 4-lengths and finished out in nice easy strides and in solid fractional splits. Sidney is not your average early speed type that seems to have gotten away with slow early fractions as the reason he has been winning. Note that in his last 2 route victories, Sidney is able to burst away from the field under a very quick third or fourth quarter. So he does have another gear. He should be formidable in Kentucky and will certainly make the Derby pace very, very hot.

Setsuko ran a good race in finishing second. He had traffic problems at several points during the running and was able to overcome this and finish well. If you think the early pace of the Derby is going to be fast then you have to consider that he has a shot.

Lookin at Lucky had a rough trip. But perhaps the roughest part was caused by his own rider. It seemed he tried to go through a hole that either closed too fast or didn’t exist on the inside to the rail on the final turn. He was checked very severely which dropped him back to be about 7th but as usual he has that great heart and determination so he started to pick it up again and finished 3rd. Does he move forward off this race? I would say yes because once again he endured a rough trip and showed enough class and heart to fight through it. This is just his 2nd race this year so he is fresh and this should add even more “bottom” to his level of conditioning especially over the Synthetic surface. A fact about Lucky is that you know he will be coming, finishing hard in Kentucky. Does he get the trip to get to the top in Kentucky? I don’t know. But he will be finishing fast.

March 28, 2010 Recaps

The Sunland Derby – 1-1/8 miles –

Slow early, quick middle and finish.

Conveyance was allowed a soft early lead for the first half-mile but was engaged shortly after as the race got faster. Conveyance battled further on the lead to the top of the stretch before losing the lead. He dug in and still battled further however to no avail as Endorsement just kept firing back.

In fact the finish was only 1/5th of a second off the track record for the distance and the interior mile was the fastest run of any derby prep race this season as was the final time. So it took quite a bit of beating and burning to run by Conveyance in the stretch as Endorsement ran a terrific race. He was able to settle early as he just stalked the lead. He engaged when his rider felt the early pace was too soft and the rest of the race was a fight to the finish in which he overtook Conveyance at the top of the lane.

Considering that Endorsement broke his Maiden last time out in February and having to this point just 3 races under his belt, today’s accomplishment was a huge achievement to say the least. Does he move forward off this effort – who knows? Can a horse move forward off such a great effort with only a prior Maiden win under his belt? Is it possible off just 3 prior races? Clearly he is bred to run till tomorrow but can he recover from this effort and step up again to an even higher level on Derby day? This certainly was the best 3-year-old prep this season.

Getting back to Conveyance, he certainly turned in a very big effort. He battled and just didn’t have what was needed in last 1/8th of a mile. Did not having a longer race last time out cause him to be short in the late stages today? Oddly he ran 2 one-mile races prior to today’s effort. Should he have run longer last time out as most trainers try to progress and stretch their horses eventually building to their 1 1/8th mile effort? Could the days between his last 2 starts be the reason he was short? He was certainly trained like he needed work as judged through the longer distances of his works. So perhaps the combination of both just having 1 race in the last 65 days plus not being stretched longer last time out did him in?

March 27, 2010 Recaps

The Louisiana Derby – 1-1/8 miles –

Soft pace throughout.

Mission Impazible is a nice horse and he is improving but he is kind of a grinder right now. And by him winning this race it could mean that this field was a weak bunch. I feel that the outcome of Mission winning was more a result of the two early leaders softening each other up – under soft early fractions – which doesn’t mean this was a quality race.

A Little Warm showed some guts battling on the lead and lasting to almost the finish. However I don’t think he’s ready for 1 ¼ miles right now. Discreetly Mine showed courage but once again didn’t show that fire he showed sprinting last year. They got him to learn to rate so perhaps turning him back to a sprinter that can sit the trip will be a real good thing for his future? Drosselmeyer came in with excuses for his last start being on short rest but had no excuses in here. Perhaps he will be better on grass?

The Lane’s End – 3/27/10 – 1-1/8 miles

Soft early, fair afterwards.

Dean’s Kitten, a proven strong finisher, was able to get to the lead at the top of the stretch and was clear to the wire. Although he ran a big race, I am not sure he has the goods to pull it off in Kentucky. I feel his best might still be on grass and, thinking ahead, it doesn’t say much about the horses that were running in front of him in here early since he was able to grab the lead as early as the stretch call. Northern Giant made his run right behind the winner’s rally but couldn’t match him turning for home. This being his 4th effort as a 3-year-old Giant should have a lot of “bottom” for his trip to Kentucky if he chooses to go since he still is improving and is still finding himself right now. However I am not sure he will move forward off this effort. Connemara had to go about 7-wide to get out and make a late run but ran out of gas halfway home. This was his 3rd prep as a 3-year-old so he too will have a lot of “bottom” for his effort in Kentucky if he chooses to go. However I am not sure he steps forward off this effort.

March 20, 2010 Recaps

Florida Derby – 1-1/8 miles

Slow early, soft middle, solid finish.

Rule battled for the early lead under strong early fractions. He battled to the ¾’s point before resting a 2-length lead into the stretch. The battle took its toll as Rule weakened midstretch to finish 3rd. Rule just showed us he can’t get a longer distance under the same set of interior fractions. Therefore I am taking him off my list of derby contenders because the derby is a little further and the early pace is usually a lot faster. Two things Rule doesn’t figure to be able to handle right now.

Lentenor had some trouble within his trip however he just didn’t show the fire power to earn a shot in Kentucky. Back to grass with blinks added?

Ice Box came flying down the stretch to just get up by a nose for the victory. He showed some heart and guts however the final 1/8th was done in a soft :13 seconds so it’s a little hard to determine just how good this effort was. It will be very interesting to see if he moves forward off this effort. I have my doubts.

Pleasant Prince rallied 4-wide on the far turn and was able to get the lead over Rule at the 1/16th pole however he continued to battle through the stretch to just miss by a nose. I liked the fact that when the pace of the race tailed off to the mile point of the race, Prince gained lengths and eventually took a short lead. However this is the 2nd time he has rallied from off the pace, got to the lead inside the stretch and got beat late at the wire. Oddly enough it was Ice Box that nailed him both times. Not sure Prince moves forward off this effort.

March 13, 2010 Recaps

The San Felipe – 1-1/6 miles

Slow early, soft middle, solid finish.

Sidney’s Candy broke on top and was allowed to cruise on the lead under very soft early fractions. Turning for home he opened up 2 ½ lengths on the field and was good enough to win comfortably as the pace quickened getting the quarter to the mile call  in :22 4/5 seconds and finishing out in :6 seconds. No doubt that Candy ran a good race however with the early fractions being slow it remains to be seen if he can go longer with an honest pace under him and still last for the win. Perhaps we’ll see this answered next time out.

Interactif answered some questions today. His grass ability does transfer to Synthetics as he turned in a solid effort. Settled just off the lead early, stalked and then made a strong move turning for home however he just couldn’t get close enough to the leader/winner in the stretch. We are going to have to see more improvement next time out if he is going to challenge in Kentucky.

Caracortado settled in 4 th early, moved from a wide position on the final turn and rallied but just couldn’t get close to the winner in the stretch. He too will have to show more improvement next time out if he is going to be a challenger in Kentucky.

American Lion was the other clear speed type in this field however his rider/connections decided to rate and take back . This allowed for Sidney’ s C andy getting a soft early lead. Not sure American can get much more distance so I would think he is off the derby trail at this point.

The Tampa Bay Derby – 1-1/16 miles

Solid early, soft middle, soft final time but a very hard- fought finish.

Odysseus pressed early, took back on the turn, came again as he was steered to the inside midstretch and fought it out to the finish winning by a nostril. The time of the race wasn’t anything sensational especially since the track was deep and still drying out,  h owever the winning effort was incredible. At one point it seemed 4 horses pas sed him turning for home leaving him in the dust and he then gets taken inside and is flying late! Before the race he looked more like an early speed type. However after this effort he looks like a tiger! We’ll have to see how he comes out of this race and how well he does going 1 1/8 th miles next time out. If he steps forward off this race which he should, being bred to run long, he has to be considered a real threat for all the marbles.

Schoolyard Dreams stepped up in a big way with today’s effort. Was rated early, moved to contention on the far turn, got to the lead prior to the stretch and fought gamely to miss by a hair.  We’ll have to wait and see if he steps forward off this effort stretching out to 1 1/8 th miles next time out. Right now he is a top contender.

Super Saver showed solid early speed and did show some stick but didn’t have enough fire to answer his later challengers. Not sure he can go much further than today’s failed distance.

The Rebel – 1-1/6 miles

Soft early, solid middle, very good- hard fought finish.

Lookin at Lucky answered a lot of questions today. He can run on a dirt surface, he can win off a layoff and he has improved in Blinkers! Lucky settled off the pace early, moved to contention on the far turn and edged closer turning for home as he battled the entire stretch to gain the lead at the wire. With the amount of races he ran last year as a 2-year-old and not having turned in a poor effort he certainly figured to have a lot of bottom under him for today’s effort. He was also working incredibly well. At this point it will be interesting to see if he moves forward off this tough effort. If he does we might have a superhorse among us. If he doesn’t move forward off this tough effort he can still win in Kentucky however it won’t be as convincing heading into that race. Either way he looks like he will be tough to beat in Kentucky.

Noble’s Promise turned in a monster race off his layoff and also has to be considered a real player in Kentucky. Noble stalked early, made his move to the top nearing the top of the stretch only getting clear by one-length and fought gamely the entire stretch but just missed at the wire. Once again, If Noble steps forward after such a hard fought effort he will be very hard to beat in Kentucky. I state this because he has the ability to stay closer to the early pace. Therefore he gets first jump on the stronger finishers such as Lucky and Awesome Act and Alphie and Eskendereya by naturally being in front of them headed into the stretch. If he doesn’t step forward off this effort then we’ll have to measure or gauge how heavy his step backwards weighs.

Dublin was set to run his best race. He had a race off the layoff which was a quality effort, he was working well and he got within a length of the lead turning for home but just didn’t have the firepower to keep it going. I guess you can give him one more chance because he is talented and is well bred however he’s off my derby list of contenders.

March 6, 2010 Recaps

The Gotham, Aqueduct 1-1/16 –

Quick early, softer middle, solid finish

Awesome Act settled early, moved to contention bravely between horses on the final turn, found a lane 4-wide and opened up looking full of run finishing well for the victory. This being his first effort off the layoff and as a 3-year old it figures he will keep improving and get better off this effort as he is bred to run all day. This was also his first effort over a regular dirt surface while having one prior effort over Synthetics besides his grass efforts. Act seems to have a lot of upside right now and it will be interesting to see how big a step forward he takes with this effort under his belt. If he leaps forward then he is a real player. However, if he only steps forward than he is a contender and will need another following race to either take that jump forward or perhaps backwards which will then show his limitations.

Yawanna Twist is a game NY-bred that ran a big race off just 2 prior sprints. It might not be saying much for the horses that finished behind him in this heat.

Nacho Friend turned in a big effort coming in off his winter break and especially with only having had 2 sprint efforts to his career. He raced well up throughout and made a move to contention turning for home but lacked the needed late energy. He figures to get better off this effort, however, the amount of improvement needed to be considered a top derby contender right now might take him a lot longer than the actual time he has remaining till May.

Wow Wow Wow pushed the early pace with a fairly quick opening quarter and half but weakened after ¾’s of a mile. It just doesn’t look like he can get the derby distance at this point.

The Sham, Santa Anita – 3/6/10 – 1-1/8

Fairly slow early, stronger middle & finish

Alphie’s Bet settled early while about 3-wide, moved to contention on the far turn, went about 4 or 5-wide turning for home and finished full of run to the wire. He seemed to have ability and is bred to run all day however the Blinker addition last time out might have been the key into tapping into his real ability. It will be very interesting to see how well he finishes going 1 1/8th miles once again next time out with this race under his belt. If he steps forward, ok, he’s a contender. However, if he leaps forward off this effort then we have a real player.

Setsuko was in between horses, went inside, went outside and finished well but it was too late. This effort certainly adds conditioning and “bottom” and he did show his strong late kick once again which he certainly seems to be a much better finisher with the Blinker addition 2 back. Seysuko figures to move forward off this effort and at this point has to be considered a top contender for all the marbles. I state this because he has proven, even in losing, that he will be finishing strongly, he is bred to run all day and he has encountered a couple of tough trips to his credit.

Nextdoorneighbor showed some grit as he pushed the early lead into the stretch before weakening. Can’t see him getting 1 ¼ miles any time soon.

February 27, 2010 Recaps

Turfway Park – The J Battaglia: 1-1/16

Slow, hard fought, rough

Vow to Wager showed good energy throughout the effort and was placed first through DQ after being bumped around several times during the race. Jumping up in distance and class off his Maiden win last time out, Vow showed much improvement. Vow, however, will have to show even more improvement next time out against better rivals going 1 1/8th miles if we are to consider him a serious player for the Derby.

Codoy ran an expected big race first time back since his 2-year-old campaign however got DQ’d for bumping and drifting. This being only his 2nd career Synthetic start where he has 5 prior grass efforts made him an interesting contender because he figured to have a lot of “bottom” coming from his grass campaign as a 2-year-old. It will be interesting to see if he moves forward off this initial 3-year-old effort.

Sunland Park – The Borderland: 1-1/16

Slow, hard fought

Raise the Bridle making only his 2nd career start was very game and battled the entire stretch finishing 1st but was disqualified and placed 2nd. Was still a very game and gutty effort and right now seems to have a lot of upside to him. We’ll have to see where and how he races next time out against hopefully better rivals and at 1 1/8th miles. But to consider him a serious player at this point is kind of a dream.

Storming Saint ran a very game race and rallied into the stretch looking like he was going to just blow by Raising the Bridle. However, when he got up to that rival he just couldn’t get by. I realize there was a lot of bumping back and forth which might have made the biggest difference but somehow I felt Storming was never going to get by Bridle. Going forward I am going to have to see much more improvement if we are going to deem Storming Saint a serious player.

February 20, 2010 Recaps

The Hutcheson 2/20/10 – 7 Furlongs Grade II – Gulstream

Very quick and hard fought.

D’Funnybone was able to sit just off a quick early pace, engaged on the turn and finished very well for the victory. He looks like he can become a top notch sprinter and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The Southwest – 1 mile Grade III – Oaklawn

Solid early, soft middle and late.

Conveyance used good energy to get to the front from a wide post. The early fractions were fairly quick however he was able to slow down the pace after the opening half enabling him to last on the lead for the victory. Conveyance is bred to go longer however he will have to prove his mettle while trying to go longer while on the early lead.

Dublin turned in a big effort first off the bench and should keep improving at this point of his career. I would expect a bigger finish next time out with this race under his belt.

The Risen Star 1-1/16 - Grade II – Fairgrounds

Fairly slow race.

Discreetly Mine was a tiger sprinting as a 2-year-old and seems to now be learning to rate on the early lead. Was able to establish the early lead in here and had to run a :24 second quarter as he was being pressured. However afterwards was able to slow it down a few notches and held well for the victory. Discreetly is bred to get a longer distance however it seems he will have to improve if he is to get a longer distance while on the early lead.

Tempted to Tap It ran a very big race as he was stepping up off his Maiden victory last time out. Bred to love distance and could be a player if he keeps improving.

Drosselmeyer made a strong move on the inside turning for home but weakened late. He was stepping up in this spot for the first time and he was also running off just 3-weeks from his last effort. Therefore I would not discount him just yet.

The Fountain of Youth 2/20/10 – 1-1/8 – Grade II – Gulstream

Moderate early with a solid finish.

Eskendereya was able to press a moderate early pace, challenged on the turn and drew away with ease in the stretch. This was a great “coming out” race and he seems to be getting better as judged through his interior mile which was faster than his winning mile time last time out. He figures to keep moving forward at this point.

Jackson Bend ran a good race but just wasn’t good enough. Not sure he gets better off this effort.

Aikenite didn’t show much firepower however he was bumped around early so we have to give him one more chance.

Buddy’s Saint was off a step slow, came up the inside and then got bumped around pretty good between a horse’s rump and the rail on the first turn which made his rider put him in a strangle hold and this is where his race was lost. Buddy tried to get it going afterwards and looked like he was going to make a run but just didn’t have much left. Have to give Buddy another chance because the bumping, restraining and checking had to cost him big in here.