Was the Rebel Stakes a strong Kentucky Derby 2012 prep? Secret Circle won the race as the favorite for Bob Baffert but the final time was moderate (92 BSF) and the talented son of Eddington looked tired in the lane.
I have always been fond of Secret Circle. He has been part of my Derby Top 10 list since last September but he always seemed suspect in the stamina department and a mile and a sixteenth appears to be his limit at this stage.
Optimizer is getting some Derby buzz for Wayne Lukas after finishing well for the place in the Rebel but I do not consider him a viable threat on the first Saturday in May. He has lost seven straight and is winless in five conventional dirt starts. He is better on turf/synthetic but won’t see preferred footing for quite some time.
Scatman made all the running and settled for the show in a solid effort. Sabercat, winner of the slow G3 Delta Jackpot last year, was never a threat in his sophomore debut.
Gemologist was originally scheduled to begin his 3yo campaign in the Rebel but Pletcher and company opted for a flat mile allowance prep at Gulfstream Park against four rivals on March 16.
The undefeated WinStar colorbearer ran his record to 4-for-4 with a facile wire job over returnee Currency Swap. Based on that performance (95 BSF), Gemologist would have won the Rebel. I wish Pletcher would have given him a tough, two turn graded test, but you can’t always get what you want and he needs graded earnings in the Wood Memorial to make the gate on the first Saturday in May.
In other Derby prep news, Alpha will likely make his next start in the G2 Louisiana Derby on April 1. Secret Circle is expected to return to Oaklawn Park for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14, and Bob Baffert is also considering Bodemeister for that spot. Howe Great and Dullahan, the 1-2 finishers in the grassy G3 Palm Beach on March 11, are expected to meet again in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14.
Click on the names of each horse below to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.
Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders
1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked Derby contender looked great in G2 Fountain of Youth. He breezed 5f in 1:04.21 (22/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. The Florida Derby on 3-31 is next on the docket. Graded Earnings: $1,070,000
2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet and Withers. Breezed 5f in 1:01.01 (5/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. The G2 Louisiana Derby on 4-1 is next and Leparoux will ride. Graded Earnings: $180,000
3. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Gamely captured G2 Risen Star (98 BSF) at Fair Grounds on Feb 25. He handles any footing and goes next in Florida Derby. Breezed 5f in 1:01.22 (3/13) at Palm Meadows on March 18. Graded Earnings: $200,000
4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – G2 Ky Jockey Club hero returned in the pink at the Gulf on March 16. The undefeated WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7. Graded Earnings: $103,855
5. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Captured his second graded route in G2 San Felipe (102 BSF) at Santa Anita on 3-10. He fired a 5f bullet in :59.80 (1/29) at Hollywood Park on 3-20 and goes next in G1 SA Derby on April 7. Graded Earnings: $686,000
6. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He will train in Kentucky before returning to Aqueduct for the G1 Wood Memorial on April 7. Graded Earnings: $1,400,000
7. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Captured back-to-back graded routes at Oaklawn in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) and G2 Rebel (92 BSF). He is expected to return to Hot Springs for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Graded Earnings: $470,000
8. Dullahan (Even the Score) – Rallied for the place in grassy, nine furlong G3 Palm Beach Stakes at the Gulf on 3-11, his first start since BC Juvenile. The April 14 Blue Grass is expected to be his final Derby prep. Graded Earnings: $375,000
9. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. Scratched out of Tampa Bay Derby in favor of Florida Derby. Worked 5f in 1:01.88 (10/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. Graded Earnings: $98,400
10. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Look for Larry Jones trainee in Louisiana Derby. Fired 5f bullet in :59.40 (1/11) at Fair Grounds on 3-20. Graded Earnings: $60,000
Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order)
1. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – Followed up 101 BSF maiden romp with another 101 BSF in San Felipe runner-up effort on 3-10. He looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Arkansas Derby or Santa Anita Derby. Graded Earnings – $60,000
2. Castaway (Street Sense) – Baffert trainee won slower division of Southwest (92 BSF) in his first start against winners. Worked 6f in 1:12.40 (4/17) at Santa Anita on 3-16. G3 Sunland Derby on March 25 is next. Graded Earnings: $150,000
3. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero was clearly second best behind romping, undefeated colt Gemologist at the Gulf on 3-16. Graded Earnings: $150,000
4. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Ended up a respectable 3rd in his G2 San Felipe, his first start around two turns. He deserves a shot in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. Graded Earnings: $36,000
5. Prospective (Malibu Moon) – Professional winner of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby (88 BSF) for Mark Casse. Blinkers helped him get involved earlier and he will face better next time in Wood Memorial. Graded Earnings: $365,452
Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order)
1. Algorithms (Bernardini) – Missed scheduled Fountain of Youth appearance with bone split injury and is off the Triple Crown trail.
2. B Shanny (Street Cry) – Ran twice in NY last summer including good looking maiden win over El Padrino at Saratoga Aug 20. Bone chip has him on the sidelines.
3. Consortium (Bernardini) – Ankle chip knocked him out of the Gotham and off the Derby trail. He is expected to return later this year.
4. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Hind-end issue has knocked him off the Derby trail, according to trainer Bob Baffert.
5. Fire On Ice (Unbridled’s Song) – Suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg. He is expected to return later this year.
6. Junebugred (Corinthian) – Smarty Jones Stakes hero is off the Derby trail with a bone chip in his ankle.
7. O’Prado Again (El Prado) – G2 Remsen hero suffered a condylar fracture of his right front leg on Jan 9 and is off the Triple Crown trail. He is expected to return later this year.
8. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – G3 Sham hero goes to the sidelines after suffering a non-displaced condylar fracture to his left front ankle. He is off the Triple Crown trail.
9. Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) – According to Bob Baffert via Twitter, Sky Kingdom needs 60 days off and is no longer on the Triple Crown trail.
10. Spring Hill Farm (Smart Strike) – 4th place Tampa Bay Derby finisher goes to the sidelines with a right knee fracture. He will have surgery and his racing future is unknown at this time.
11. Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He is expected to miss at least two months and could return this summer.
12. Timely Tally (Mr. Greeley) – From Ian Wilkes in a recent DRF article – “Timely Tally, on the other hand, will be done for a while. He has a tendon issue. It’s not career-threatening, but I’m trying to work out now how much time I’ll have to give him.”