New to the Top 20: Chitu
Dropped Out: Havana
1. Top Billing – I’ll probably get burned with this…but its been awhile since I’ve been this confident about a Kentucky Derby prospect. Everything about him I really like. He’s shown he will run through horses, he does everything with ease, and his running style has proven to be successful on the first Saturday in May. His last race was just a freakish performance as he beat a nice allowance group in hand. Fingers crossed this one stays healthy!
2. Strong Mandate – The time has come…2014 debut coming Monday in the Southwest Stakes.
3. Candy Boy – Had to like his race in the Robert Lewis, and like I suspected it looks like he’s going to like the extra distance that is sure to come next time out. I didn’t think he could beat Midnight Hawk at the Lewis distance, but he did.
4. Commissioner – I’ve already expressed how much I like Top Billing, and this horse actually beat him when they went head to head. He already has two wins going a mile and one eighth, and considering his breeding distance is not going to be a problem. So why do I not have him number one? I’ve been burned by Pletcher too many times…he’ll have to continue to prove it to me before I move him up any higher than this spot.
5. Cairo Prince – The Holy Bull was an eye-opening race! The field looked somewhat evenly matched, but Cairo Prince blew away the competition. He might be the most talented horse in the entire crop. All systems are go for him except one little issue that keeps creeping up in my mind…will he be completely effective at a mile and a quarter?
6. Shared Belief – There is no question he was the best two-year old of his crop, but the foot issues have me seriously worried. This is not the time of year you want to have injuries. Time is critical now…any minor set back will cost him. Hollendorfer will not rush this horse just to make the Derby, which is the right thing to do. Also, there is still the lingering question of whether the horse will run on the dirt as well as he ran on synthetics.
7. Honor Code – Put him in the same category as Shared Belief. If not for the injury problems I’d have both horses ranked higher, but I can’t do it right now. Just like Shared Belief, any minor set back and the Triple Crown could be done for him.
8. Tapiture – Just like Strong Mandate…it’s time to see what he’s made of in the Southwest Stakes this Monday.
9. Gold Hawk – Call me crazy but that last clunker doesn’t have me scared off just yet. There is no escaping the fact the Lecomte Stakes was a disaster, but it was a learning experience for a still young and developing horse. I expect him to come back strong in his next race.
10. Samraat – After that performance in the Withers, this one is now a player. I can’t remember being so surprised by a race, but it’s always nice when that happens! They are talking like one more prep race is in order before a trip to Kentucky.
11. Mexicoma – I could see this one going either way. He’s doing everything the right way right now, but I do believe the Fountain of Youth will be a big time class test for him.
12. Indianapolis – Recent illness has me very skeptical. I’ll leave him on the list for now, but would not be surprised if I have to leave him off next time.
13. Louies Flower – He is quietly working out extremely well at Oaklawn Park. Strong Mandate is getting the majority of attention, but you better not forget about this one. He’ll get a chance to prove his worth in the Southwest Stakes on President’s Day.
14. Bobby’s Kitten – Loads of talent…but can he run on the dirt? The plan is to try the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland, and then move on to Churchill if he runs well in that race. He’s as classy as they come, and if they can get him qualified he might have a say in things. In the past turf horses have actually ran well over the Churchill Downs dirt track.
15. Vicar’s In Trouble – Make no mistake that Lecomte Stakes performance was HUGE, but he’s another that just might not like the Derby distance. At a mile or mile and one sixteenth this one will be extremely hard to beat, but I could see him getting a little short if he goes much longer than that.
16. Uncle Sigh – I’ll be honest in saying I wasn’t totally sold on him going into the Withers, but he showed a ton of heart and more importantly talent in that race. The distance of the Derby could be questionable, but he’s worth a solid mention at this point.
17. Constitution – He’s only ran once, but that maiden breaking win was impressive. He broke terribly out of the gate, rushed up on the inside rail, and still was able to win the race. Haven’t heard where he might run next, but he looks like a nice one to keep an eye on.
18. Midnight Hawk – I’m not ready to jump completely off his bandwagon, but as I said last week I don’t think this is a distance horse. He stays on the list because I still think he’ll make some noise on the Derby Trail in California.
19. Chitu – Pretty impressive race by him in his first Stakes action, and to be honest I think him and Midnight Hawk about pretty much the same sort of horse. With California looking a little thin right now with the question mark of Shared Belief, Chitu can make some noise.
20. Bond Holder – He’s a Grade 1 winner who really has never ran an awful race so that has to count for something. He reminds me a little bit of Den’s Legacy from last year, which is both good and bad. The Risen Star is next for him.
Free Brisnet past performances from Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager available at http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/14KDFW2PPs.pdf.
More information on the KDFW is available at www.KentuckyDerby.com.