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Chaos reigned on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail last weekend, with upsets in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), the Southwest Stakes (G3), and the Withers Stakes (G3). Where do those winners rank among the other Kentucky Derby contenders? Aaron explains in the latest news & updates.
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Pros: Back to back solid stakes wins at Fair Grounds; getting better with each race
Cons: Numbers are still a tad slow
Outlook: This one looks to be developing well for Steve Asmussen, who is still looking for his first Kentucky Derby victory. If he can continue to improve, then he is going to be in the mix on the first Saturday in May. He’s now a perfect 2 for 2 at Fair Grounds in the Kentucky Derby Prep Series.
Pros: Impressive maiden score at Fair Grounds; solid trainer
Cons: A bit behind from a timing standpoint
Outlook: This colt was impressive breaking his maiden on the Lecomte Stakes undercard & earned a 94 Beyer, which is 4 points higher than what Track Phantom earned that same day. He’s a little behind from a timing standpoint, but he definitely has talent.
Pros: Getting better with each race; solid foundation
Cons: Seems to be a bit green and needs to figure things out
Outlook: It’s hard to get a read on the Remsen Stakes (G2) winner, but there is no doubt that he is getting better with each race while also stretching out in distance. He is a bit immature, which is a problem, but maybe they can get that worked out.
Pros: Solid turn of foot; great pedigree for going longer
Cons: Couldn’t finish the job in the Remsen Stakes (G2); numbers are a litte low
Outlook: This horse showed a lot of promise in his first stakes attempt, running second to Dornoch in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. He should only get better with more experience for a solid trainer in Chad Brown.
Pros: 101 Beyer for winning the Southwest Stakes (G3)
Cons: Inconsistent; best race was in the slop
Outlook: His Southwest Stakes win was the most impressive thing we’ve seen yet from Kentucky Derby-eligible horses. However, it was in the slop at Oaklawn Park – how much did that move him up? He had never run a race even close to that before, which also has me skeptical. Still, he deserves to be ranked fairly highly until he proves otherwise.
Pros: 105 Beyer is top amongst this group
Cons: Incredibly inconsistent; can’t pass horses
Outlook: He put up another head-scratcher in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), finishing a well-beaten third. At this point, he looks like a horse that needs the lead to win, which is obviously a problem. This horse just doesn’t want to pass horses.
Pros: Nice Smarty Jones Stakes victory; solid pedigree
Cons: Still fairly green; numbers need to improve
Outlook: Once he got his mind on business in the Smarty Jones Stakes, he cruised by the front-runners with ease. He still has some things to figure out; however, he should only get better under Brad Cox.
Pros: Grade 1 winner; great distance pedigree
Cons: Come-from-behind running style; third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Outlook: He is one to watch as he should get better as the distances get longer this year. Pletcher is a master at spotting his horse on the Kentucky Derby Trail; however, a minor set back already had him missing races.
Pros: Already a graded stakes winner; solid distance pedigree
Cons: Will likely take on tougher horses at Fair Grounds
Outlook: He burst onto the scene with a solid win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. The Fair Grounds circuit will be tough; however, this horse has shown that he can compete at a high level.
Pros: Ultra-impressive debut win
Cons: Late to the game; still has plenty of proving to do
Outlook: He was very impressive on debut when crushing a maiden special weight group on Pegasus World Cup day. Last year, Mage debuted in that race before eventually winning the Kentucky Derby. Can this horse do the same?
Pros: Impressive debut win at Churchill Downs; solid pedigree
Cons: Lightly raced
Outlook: His debut effort at Churchill Downs was impressive and he should improve with more racing for Bill Mott. However, there are currently no plans for when he might start next, which is a little concerning.
Pros: Should get better with longer distances; solid trainer
Cons: Numbers are low; only a maiden special weight winner
Outlook: Despite a horrible trip, he was still able to get the job done at Gulfstream Park in what looked to be a tough maiden special weight. He should get better when they stretch out in distance. There is NO WAY that he gets a worse trip than he did in his last start… right?
Pros: Solid trainer, showed solid improvement
Cons: Only a maiden winner; win came over the slop
Outlook: This horse looked like a monster in his maiden special weight romp at Fair Grounds and could be Brad Cox’s latest good horse. We might seem him in a stakes race next.
Pros: Getting better with each start; back to back wins
Cons: Took 4 starts to break his maiden
Outlook: He seems to be on the improve for a solid trainer after winning his second in a row, this time against allowance horses at Gulfstream Park. It was a bit underwhelming, though, so he still has some improving to do.
Pros: Consistent; will get several chance with Lukas
Cons: Speed figures our low; lacks finishing kick
Outlook: It seems like he might be this year’s horse that is always around at the end but can’t quite finish the deal in a Derby prep race. He has back to back runner-up efforts at Oaklawn Park, though he was not close to winning either race.
Pros: Solid debut win; good pedigree, great trainer
Cons: Just one race so far and it came at Aqueduct
Outlook: We’ll see if this horse can progress after a solid debut win at Aqueduct. The horse immediately went to South Florida after his victory, which is a good sign that Pletcher likes this horse.
Pros: Solid trainer; good pedigree
Cons: Back to back poor efforts with no excuses
Outlook: This horse has been a major disappointment, but I still think he is better than what he’s showing. He has to come around quickly, though, or he’s not going to be able to make the Derby.
Pros: Undefeated; solid early speed
Cons: Low speed figures
Outlook: He was able to fend off the challenge from Fierceness to win the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), but it was the slowest running of the Holy Bull ever at the 1 1/16-mile distance. He still needs to take a step forward.
Pros: Won the Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct
Cons: Speed figures are lacking
Outlook: This horse showed determination to catch El Grande O in the Withers, which puts him on the board when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. We’ll see if he can continue to progress.
Pros: Tremendous pedigree; showed talent in debut
Cons: Still a maiden; way behind from a timing standpoint
Outlook: This is probably a long shot to make the race, but I loved this horse’s debut. He missed the break, got way too far behind, but rallied nicely to finish fourth behind Speak Easy. You might just keep an eye out for when this horse starts next.
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