1. Matt King Coal
Never has ran a bad race in four starts, and made his 3 year old debut in an allowance just one day after the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Even though the allowance race and the Gotham Stakes were ran on different days, its important to note that Matt King Coal ran nearly a second faster than Shagaf did when he won the Gotham. Now Matt King Coal is pointed toward the Wood Memorial, and is flying under the radar in a race where he should have a big shot to win. He’s a little late onto the scene, but with a little improvement he is talented enough to become a Kentucky Derby prospect.
It took six tries for Creator to break his maiden, but now he seems to have things figured out. In his sixth start he dominated maidens at Oaklawn Park by over seven lengths, and then proved his worth in the Rebel Stakes by finishing a fast closing third. This horse certainly looks the part, and has the pedigree to be a champion. Trainer Steve Asmussen suggested he lay a little closer to the pace next time out which is certainly something that needs to happen considering his lack of early speed. If he can get into a better position early and still finishes with that strong closing kick he can be very dangerous. His running line reminds me a little bit of Nehro who ended up finishing second in the Kentucky Derby.
3. American Pioneer
Very lightly raced, but very high on talent! After his recent maiden romp at Oaklawn Park he’s now nominated to the Triple Crown races. His debut race came during opening weekend at Oaklawn where he was a close and tough luck second to Dazzling Gem. Dazzling Gem came back to win an allowance, and recently finished third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. After that maiden loss American Pioneer destroyed maidens at Oaklawn earning a solid speed figure, and should now be pointing towards the Arkansas Derby. The most exciting aspect of his maiden romp is he did is under wraps which signals there could be more left in the tank.
He was America’s favorite “tough luck maiden” before finally barely getting a win last time out by a nose. Judging by that opening sentence you wouldn’t think much of this horse, but I do think the ceiling is fairly high for him. He’s ran against some tough horses, and he beat the same horses as Cupid did in his maiden race which is a good sign since Cupid won the Rebel Stakes last time out. Baffert has always thought highly of Hoffenheim, and if he can get over his gate troubles he can become a player. The longer distances should also benefit this horse as he looks to be one that will stay on when others might be stopping.
5. Unbridled Outlaw
Never been much of a fan of this horse, but his debut race as a three year old did catch my eye enough to give him a look. He was spotted in an allowance race against older horses (a tall task for a 3 year old at this stage in the game) at Oaklawn Park and was able to make the lead and hold on for second. Considering I suggested before the race he’d finish off the board I would say I was pleasantly surprised, and believe maybe we’ll finally see his talents blossom. The Arkansas Derby is where he’s pointing, and while the race will be tough it’s certainly has been a place where upsets have happened over the years.