Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
PREPPING FOR THE DERBY — 2014
Volume V…Number 15
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
With Major Preps Completed…2014 Derby Roster Begins To Take Shape
Kentucky Derby Qualifying Points
Note — Below are listed the Top 25 Point Qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby. While only the Top 20 that are entered will get to go we are listing the Top 25 because a few will defect and in recent years the Derby Officials have allowed for “Also Entered” runners in case there is a late defection on either Wednesday (after post positions are drawn) or on Thursday. No AE runners can be added once betting opens on Friday.
Below is the list with a brief introductory comment as now the real handicapping begins!
(1) California Chrome — 150…Has done nothing wrong, travels at high cruising speed rate and aggressively fires when asked. Hard to fault a colt that has push button acceleration and opens up at will. Whether he follows through or not, he is the legitimate ML Derby favorite at this point.
(2) Vicar’s In Trouble — 120…Despite two solid and one good while compromised effort in the Fair Grounds preps, he gets less than deferrable attention. Last year three Louisiana Derby imports ran 2nd, 3rd and 5th in Louisville.
(3) Dance With Fate — 108…In winning the Blue Grass he showed the potential many insiders believed he had ever since his bang-up, troubled trip second in the Cash Call Futurity as a juvenile. Has yet to win on traditional dirt.
(4) Wicked Strong — 102…Big effort in the Wood Memorial in beating well-regarded trio of Samraat, Social Inclusion and Uncle Sigh moved him way up. Question still remains as to level of the New York contingent. In recent memory Wood graduates have had no impact on Derby.
(5) Samraat — 100…Held form when he dug in and secured the place spot in Wood Memorial. Running style says he’d be close to the pace in Derby, but breeding suggests distance could be an issue. Nonetheless he has plenty of heart.
(6) Danza — 100…Emerged from out of nowhere to upset the Arkansas Derby in career start number four and while still eligible for NW2L company. Race was such a huge improvement that “bounce” questions are legitimate. But Pletcher often keeps them good once they emerge.
(7) Constitution — 100…[Editor’s Note: Due to injury, Constitution is now OFF the Derby Trail]
(8) Hopportunity — 95…After winning the Rebel Baffert returned him to Santa Anita home base and ran second in Santa Anita Derby. The colt waited on runners and moved up to get the place behind California Chrome while not really asked. Could have more left for the Derby.
(9) Intense Holiday — 93…The Pletcher barn seems endless and this son of Harlan’s Holiday might not be the most glamorous of the stable but his Risen Star win and Louisiana Derby second revealed the same thing we’ve seen in a career facing the best of the time. He is a grinder who keeps coming.
(10) Wildcat Red — 90…The D’Wildcat colt wasn’t supposed to win at two turns no less drop a hard fought neck decision in the Florida Derby. He has never ducked a fight so perhaps…
(11) We Miss Artie — 60…Did we mention Pletcher has a few in here? Give him credit for good the Spiral Stakes win, but with others in the barn having established credentials vs tougher and this guy having been 2nd by 6 ½ lengths, 7th by 4 lengths and 8th by 17 lengths in his three career races on traditional dirt one has to wonder of Pletcher will even send him.
(12) Ride On Curlin — 55…Knee-jerk reaction will be to consider this guy a useful, hard trying runner who settles for minor awards. But his switch from pace pressuring runner to closer (rallied for second) in Arkansas Derby seems more in keeping with his strong rally in Champagne as juvenile and more indicative of sire Curlin’s style in winning the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Preakness.
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(13) Chitu — 54…Bob Baffert speedster is lightly raced and would run in Derby following 6 week break from winning Sunland Derby. His four races have all been competitive but he’ll have to answer distance and experience questions in Derby. Nonetheless, he has been competitive in top tier of California contingent that is considered best overall.
(14) Tapiture — 52…There is no question the Tapit colt is battle tested with a prep win in mid-February in the Southwest, a troubled trip second in the Rebel in mid-March and then another try in the Arkansas Derby. Question now is whether his no effort 4th in the Arkansas Derby was an indication that he has already peaked.
(15) Midnight Hawk — 52…Another California runner that is flattered by the company he’s kept but one has to wonder if he is at best a settler for minor awards. Has contending see but has given up ground in stretch in last three preps so might be more of a pace influence than a late stage contender.
(16) Ring Weekend — 50…Tampa Bay Derby win was most impressive, but one has to wonder what the Graham Motion trainee got out of lat when a rank, steadied and 9 lengths beaten second in the Calder Derby on April 5.
(17) General A Rod — 40…Sneaky good Mike Maker colt has useful sustainable speed and has never been off the board in 5 career starts. While breeding is a 10 furlong question mark the son of Roman Ruler was a good second in the Fountain Of Youth and third in the Florida Derby.
(18) Medal Count — 40…He showed brief flashes as a juvenile and then was impressive in winning a turf allowance in his 3-year old debut before faltering badly at 43-1 in the Fountain Of Youth and forgotten. He then reappears to win the Transylvania on opening day at Keeneland and 8 days later runs a bang up second in the Blue Grass. His best races have been on synthetic and if he goes in Derby it is three races in 4 weeks. It would be a great story.
(19) Candy Boy — 30…Robert B. Lewis Stakes win in 2014 debut moved him foreword in the California pecking order but so-so third in the Santa Anita Derby following a series of brilliant works throughout March was a head scratcher.
(20) Cairo Prince — 24…After the Holy Bull he was on everyone’s Top 5 list if not right at the top. But disappointingly flat effort in the Florida Derby following a 9 week beak after the Holy Bull has raised a number of concerns. He did work April 13 but more needs to be seen.
(21) Uncle Sigh — 24…He should probably be given a pass after a bad start in the Wood caused him to be at the rear of the pack early and out of the realm of his front running preference. He did show grit in battles with Samraat in the Withers and Gotham but perceived weakness of the New York contingent and his need to be on the pace early likely work against him.
(22) Vinceremos — 20…He appeared to be moving forward with a win in the Sam F Davis and place in the Tampa bay Derby but wanted no part of the action in the Blue Grass. If trainer Pletcher moves forward with him then his horror show at Keeneland might be a dislike for the synthetic, but he’ll need to show vast improvement.
(23) Harry’s Holiday — 20…Michael Maker trained colt began to show promise in three tries at Turfway that culminated in nose beaten second in the Spiral stakes before disappearing from view in the Blue Grass. Despite hitting the board in all three stakes races at Turfway, his final times were pedestrian and his class test at Keeneland was a failure. Might need a break rather than another race.
(24) Commanding Curve — 20…It took him four tries to break his maiden, which he did in his juvenile finale. But he did show flashed with rallies in the Risen Star (picked up ground in 6th) and the Louisiana Derby (improved his effort to get third) so if he gets in might appear on the radar of bettors who look to improving longshots on the back end of exotics.
(25) Pablo Del Monte — 20…Another lightly raced colt who made it exciting for all but the final sixteenth of a mile as he tried to wire the Blue Grass. His three best career tries were all at Keeneland and his two traditional dirt tries left him faltering in one turn tries in the GP Derby and Hutcheson Stakes. Bred for the distance but probably needs seasoning.
With only a little over two weeks left until the Run For the Roses make certain you check back to these pages every day for updated PREPPING FOR THE DERBY NEWS AND NOTES.