January Derby Thoughts

95 days! Just 95 days left before the Kentucky Derby! 19 preps still to go, 1938 points still up for grabs. So basically we have no idea what the Derby picture is gonna look like. But if the race were run this Saturday, here’s the field.

  1. Nyquist, 30
  2. Mohaymen, 20
  3. Sunny Ridge, 18
  4. Exaggerator, 16
  5. Flexibility, 15
  6. Brody’s Cause, 14
  7. Greenpointcrusader, 14
  8. Mor Spirit, 14
  9. Swipe, 12
  10. Mo Tom, 12
  11. Airoforce, 10
  12. Cocked and Loaded, 10
  13. Discreetness, 10
  14. Riker, 10
  15. Collected, 10
  16. Vorticity, 8
  17. Rated R Superstar, 6
  18. Toews On ice, 4
  19. Tom’s Ready, 4
  20. Gordy Florida, 4
  21. AE Kasseopia, 4
  22. AE Lets Meet In Rio, 4

It is impossible to not be impressed with Mohaymen. Nothing to fault about this horse at all, and its awesome to see Kiaran McLaughlin have a legit contender again. Horse hasn’t missed a beat, but the parallels to Cairo Prince to me are really hard to ignore. Both broke their maiden in their first race at Belmont, both went on to win the Nashua, Cairo was second in the Remsen (to Honor Code!!) whereas Mohaymen won it, and they both had a clear easy win in the Holy Bull. Both Dubai owned, Kiaran trained them both. End of the day I am cautiously excited about Mohaymen, but man that Holy Bull win was just so good.

Something that’s pretty funny is how little the current leader Nyquist is brought up. Undefeated, he’s won three Grade Ones in a row winning the Breeders’ Cup and the Eclipse along the way, but he is hardly ever in the conversation. Horses who excel at two rarely continue the success on at three, if they do they are very talented individuals (American Pharoah, Shared Belief, Lookin at Lucky to name a few). One worrying thing about Nyquist is, while he is winning, his lead dwindles late in the stretch. Is he slowing down or are closers like Swipe gaining? Hard to say, but its still its not a promising trend.

Speaking of, there’s a lot to like in Swipe. He’s been second to Nyquist four times in a row, gaining in every single race. Here’s the problem: he had surgery to remove a knee chip about three months ago. He is back in training at Santa Anita, but who knows if he will be fit enough to run in any prep let alone the Derby itself. Belmont, perhaps?

I love Exaggerator. Slight bias since he’s the only dude in the field who I have actually seen with my own eyeballs in the Saratoga Special. A big thing against him is the fact that his only other success was the Delta Jackpot. Being a talented horse in a bullring isn’t always promising, as past Jackpot winners have shown. While he was fourth in the Juvenile, he had a solid kick and finished strong considering the rough trip he got. Very excited to see him progress.

Brody’s Cause is the horse everyone will have as number one to seem smart. Had an awesome race in the Breeders’ Futurity, and had an awesome kick in the Juvenile under Corey Lanerie mowing ’em down. Along with Exaggerator he’s progression throughout the trail will be exciting.

At the end of the day, I do not think Flexibility or Sunny Ridge will do anything major. They may do well in the Aqueduct preps but will prove to be irrelevant Derby wise.

Mo Tom and Mor Spirit have stupid names and I will get them confused all the time. Mor Spirit had the advantage of the huge stretch at the Paperclip but it really was not that great of a race. Mo Tom is going to be just another Louisiana horse who will show well but wont be able to win in the end. Classic Louisiana.

Airoforce is the other “I wanna seem smart” horse. Next race is slated as the Sam Davis down in Tampa. He started out on the turf then Oxley YOLO’d and put him on the dirt and he won and looked very good at Churchill Downs, which is always a plus, unfortunately it was in the slop. Regardless, being a graded stakes winner on both surfaces as a two year old is just awesome. Even if he doesn’t do well in the Derby his whole career should be a lot of fun.

If any horse here will never win another race my money is on Greenpointcrusader.

At this point the best case scenario is a Derby exacta of Cocked and Loaded and Rated R Super Star just for funsies.

The Arkansas route will be pretty fun, who doesn’t love seeing Jinks Fires have another good one in Discreetness?! Plus with Whitmore entering the picture in the Southwest in a couple weeks it should be really solid. Collected should be showing up as well, Baffert loves sending a horse out there. And well, it’s worked out pretty well, eh?.

Right now people are going ham over both Zulu and Awesome Banner. See, Awesome Banner I get since he’s doing the patented Haskin-Sprint-To-Route to get into the gate but Zulu absolutely needs to win both at stakes level and around two turns for me to be hyped for him.

Smokey Image has won all six races, his last win was a ezpz romp in the California Derby, very similar to Chrome. Hard to know how he stacks up against better competition but man he would be a lot of fun if he steps up, undefeated horses are the best.

These are my thoughts at this point. Still 95 days to go and lots to happen and its going to be awesome, Derby prep season rocks.


 

Last 10 Derby winners at this point (Feb 1) in the year:

American Pharoah: He is still on the mend and wont race again until March 14.

California Chrome: Dominantly won the California Derby on January 25, but his only graded stakes performance was a well beaten sixth in the Del Mar Futurity.

Orb: One race on the year, and allowance win.

I’ll Have Another: Stakes-placed at two, but wouldn’t make his presence really known until the Robert Lewis on Feb 4.

Animal Kingdom: Only a maiden winner with two races, wouldn’t race until an allowance on March 3.

Super Saver: Won the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, wont race again until March 13 in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Mine That Bird: Had a fantastic juvenile season at Woodbine winning the Grey Stakes along the way, but absolutely sucked in the Breeders’ Cup. Three year old debut wont come until February 28.

Big Brown: Only raced once at two, first race wont come until a March 5 Gulfstream allowance.

Street Sense: Solid performances most of the year at 2, but had a sensational win in the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs which proved to be a foreshadowing to how his Derby would go. Wont race until March 17.

Barbaro: Won the Tropical Park Derby on the turf on New Year’s Day and took home a win in the Holy Bull.

Pretty interesting that, as of February 1, only three had actually raced at this point right?

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