Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Fortify returns in UAE 2000 Guineas

There were no stakes races on the Kentucky Derby 2013 trail last weekend but graded action heats back up this week with the El Camino Real Derby, San Vicente, and Southwest.

Before the aforementioned U.S. Derby preps commence, my former top ranked juvenile Fortify makes his much anticipated sophomore debut in the UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan (Dubai) on Thursday morning.

Fortify horse

Fortify makes his 3yo bow at Meydan on Thursday – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Fortify held down my top spot from last September until he finished a disappointing 4th in the BC Juvenile. Godolphin’s well bred colt is wintering in Dubai and could make some noise later this year if/when he returns to the U.S.

It’s Jerry Hollendorfer vs. Bob Baffert in Saturday’s G3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. The former conditions sharp local hope Zeewat and the latter will be represented by Real Quiet hero Carving.

Bob Baffert is back in action at Santa Anita on Sunday with Belvin in the G2 San Vicente. He squares off against highly regarded Ron Ellis trainee Treasury Bill.

Will Take Charge, Texas Bling, and Always in a Tiz, the 1-2-3 Smarty Jones finishers, meet Baffert shipper Super Ninety Nine in the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park on Monday, Feb 18.

I gave Little Distorted every chance to prove that his stellar debut win over Revolutionary was not a fluke. I was willing to forgive his Spectacular Bid show finish after a less than desirable break off the shelf but there is no excuse for his dull 7th vs. entry level sprinters at the Gulf on Feb 10. Maybe he is a one hit wonder and I hope his new connections did not pay too much for him. Speed is his main weapon and it was not utilized in his last pair.

Exciting sprinter Distinctiv Passion has a foot bruise and is out of the aforementioned G2 San Vicente on Feb 17.

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5 contenders) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders

Violence horse

Violence breezed 5f at Palm Meadows on Feb. 10 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Violence (Medaglia d’Oro) – Ran his record to 3-for-3 in a smart, professional stalk/pounce tally in the G1 CashCall Futurity (92 BSF). Two Derby preps are planned, beginning with the Fountain of Youth on Feb 23. Breezed 5f in 1:01.01 (4/26) at Palm Meadows on 2-10. Derby Points (10).

2. Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s $230k Keeneland sales grad owns a decent late kick and is definitely worth following. The Remsen runner-up drilled a 5f bullet in 1:00.04 (1/26) at Palm Meadows on 2-10 and will kick off his sophomore campaign in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on 2-23. Derby Points (4).

3. Overanalyze (Dixie Union) – Pletcher’s versatile colt won his second graded race in the Remsen (99 BSF). He is expected to contest the Gotham and Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Breezed 5f in 1:01.93 (11/26) at Palm Meadows on 2-10. Derby Points (10).

4. Revolutionary (War Pass) – Followed up a big fig maiden win with an adventurous journey in the G3 Withers. The Pletcher trainee has now won two straight and will spend the rest of the winter in Florida. Derby Points (10).

5. Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid) – Won G2 With Anticipation and G3 Bourbon on turf last year. He rallied nicely to just miss the place in the BC Juvenile Turf and the Chad Brown trainee will start his 3yo season in the G3 Palm Beach at the Gulf on 3-3. Breezed 4f in :49.44 (9/33) at Palm Meadows on 2-11.

6. Noble Tune (Unbridled’s Song) – G3 Pilgrim winner finished a fine 2nd in the BC Juvenile Turf and appears to have a bright future for Chad Brown. Breezed 4f in :49.44 (9/33) at Palm Meadows on 2-11.

Goldencents horse

Goldencents continues to fire bullets for Doug O’Neill – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

7. Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Champagne runner-up went all the way in the G3 Delta Jackpot and scored again in the G3 Sham Stakes. Not sure how far he wants to run but O’Neill is having fun with the speedy sort. Fired a 6f bullet in 1:13.20 (1/20) at Santa Anita on 2-13. Derby Points (24).

8. Verrazano (More Than Ready) – Pletcher trainee looks like any kind after back-to-back romping Gulfstream victories to kick off his career. We will learn more about El Padrino’s brother when he tackles stakes foes in G2 Tampa Bay Derby on 3-9.

9. Flashback (Tapit) – Baffert’s $260k purchase lived up to the hype with a professional 7f debut win under Leparoux at BHP Dec 8 and followed that up with an easy wire job vs. three rivals in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 2. Derby Points (10).

10. Fortify (Distorted Humor) – BC Juvenile 4th place finisher in wintering in Dubai. He has been nominated to the Triple Crown and is entered in the UAE 2000 Gunieas at Meydan on 2-14. Derby Points (3).

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order):

Delhomme (Dixie Union) – Set the pace and ended up a rock solid 3rd in a fast renewal of the Remsen. He breezed 5f in 1:01.28 (6/26) at Palm Meadows on 2-10. Derby Points (2).

Palace Malice (Curlin) – The Saratoga maiden breaker returned from an injury to finish a clear 2nd at 7f in the GP slop vs. Optional Claiming company on 1-19. Breezed 5f in 1:01.01 (4/26) at Palm Meadows on 2-10.

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Promising Lukas trainee is off the IR list after a bone chip as a juvenile. He breezed 4f in :48.20 (2/61) at Oaklawn Park on 2-9.

Treasure Bill (Lemon Drop Kid) – Ron Ellis runner is bound for the G2 San Vicente following a visually impressive maiden tally at Santa Anita on 1-27. He owns a promising two turn pedigree and worked 4f in :49.20 (10/20) at Betfair Hollywood Park on 2-13.

War Academy (Giant’s Causeway) – Was bet down to even money and did not disappoint in his BHP sprint debut on 11-9. Baffert trainee is bred to handle a route of ground and should be heard from this year. Worked 4f in :47.80 (4/34) at Santa Anita on 2-12.

Former Top Ten Members

Capo Bastone (Street Boss) – Closed into the teeth of a speed bias to snatch 3rd in the FrontRunner, and he pulled the same trick in the BC Juvenile. He is now trained by Todd Pletcher and breezed 5f in 1:01.93 (11/26) at Palm Meadows on 2-10. Derby Points (4).

Frac Daddy (Scat Daddy) – Ky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up grabbed a quarter and finished 6th in the Holy Bull. I’ll draw a line through his last and give him another chance. He breezed 4f in  :49.28 (23/35) at Palm Meadows on 2-9. Derby Points (4).

Gabriel Charles (Street Boss) – He smartly won a downhill turf sprint (86 BSF) on the Saturday BC undercard at Santa Anita and was last seen landing the place in the Eddie Logan Stakes (off the turf) on 12-29. Worked 5f in 1:02.80 (5/6) at Santa Anita (turf) on 1-31.

Know More (Lion Heart) – G1 FrontRunner place finisher has been terribly mismanaged since that effort. He most recently faded to last in an allowance dirt sprint at SA on 12-28 and is currently on vacation. Derby Points (4).

Little Distorted (Distorted Humor) – Earned a 101 BSF in his winning Belmont bow Oct 28. He raced for new connections (Silverton Farm – Darrin Miller) in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at the Gulf on Jan 1 and finished 3rd as the beaten favorite. Scratched from the Hutcheson Stakes and flopped as the favorite in a 6.5f optional claiming sprint at the Gulf on 2-9.

Pataky Kid (Rockport Harbor) – G3 Arl-Wash Futurity hero finished a disappointing 7th in the G2 Hutcheson in his first start of the year. He seems to prefer synthetic. Breezed 4f in :47.89 (6/26) at Gulfstream on 2-13. Derby Points (1).

Power Broker (Pulpit) – $360k purchase graduated in style vs. graded foes in FrontRunner. He raced wide and never got a chance to run his race in BC Juvenile. Baffert said he needs time to grow and will probably return next March. Derby Points (10).

Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday) – BC Juvenile winner and 2yo champ tasted defeat for the first time in the Holy Bull but was hardly disgraced in a clear place finish. I always had my doubts about his stamina and he did nothing to sway my opinion in the Holy Bull. Derby Points (24).

Tizracer (Tiznow) – Improved smartly second time out to romp in flat mile graduation run (92 BSF) at Belmont Park on 9-8. Todd Pletcher trainee attended the pace before weakening to finish 12th in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity. He might not have care for synthetic and deserves a chance to rebound on conventional dirt.

Uncaptured horse

Uncaptured finally returned to the worktab on Feb. 13 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Uncaptured (Lion Heart) – Mark Casse’s Ontario-bred ran his record to 6-for-7 in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. His plans have been altered following a foot bruise and popped abscess, and he is now pointing to the Rushaway, Spiral, or Blue Grass. Breezed a 3f bullet in :35.60 (1/7) at Ocala Training Center on 2-13. Derby Points (10).

Injured Reserve

Archwarrior (Arch) – Pletcher’s highly regarded $375k colt was a professional debut winner at Saratoga on 8-30. He finished 4th in the Champagne and was most likely done in by his lack of seasoning. He has not worked since 12-24 and is reportedly getting a break after an undisclosed physical problem. Derby Points (1).

Darwin (Big Brown) – Former exciting prospect and 4th place Nashua finisher is on holiday and could return this summer.

Gulfport (Unbridled’s Song) – Promising Romans trainee is injured and off the Derby trail.

Hightail (Mineshaft) – BC Juvenile Sprint winner was injured following a recent workout at Oaklawn Park and has been retired.

Joha (Johar) – He was pulled from the Keeneland January sale because of a minor injury. He is expected to resume racing later this year.

Micromanage (Medaglia d’Oro) – Finished a distant last in the Remsen. That effort was too bad to believe but that’s back-to-back disappointments after a promising bow. He was reportedly sent to Ocala recently and could return in April if everything goes well.

Rolling Fog (Posse) – Baffert’s G1 Del Mar Futurity hero is sidelined with bucked shins.

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