Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Revolutionary tries to stay on top in LA Derby

Lightly raced Baffert trainee Govenor Charlie stamped his Kentucky Derby 2013 ticket with a strong victory in the Grade III Sunland Derby on Sunday, March 24.

The son of Midnight Lute, owned by Mike Pegram, did not begin his career until January 19th of this year and does not have the seasoning to be a major Derby threat.

Black Onyx Kentucky Derby

Black Onyx is the first Derby horse to arrive at Churchill Downs – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I talked about Spiral hero Black Onyx in a blog post here earlier this week. I like his running style versatility and he is getting good at the right time but he needs to leap forward again if he expects to make an impact on the first Saturday in May.

Uncaptured ran well to finish 2nd in the Spiral considering his foot issues. He was making his first start since November of his juvenile season as well and could move forward in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 13.

Crop Report looked good in the Rushaway Stakes on the Spiral undercard but will not be pointing to the Derby. The Team Valor/Graham Motion colt is a late May foal and is one to watch in the coming months. The Belmont Stakes is possible and I wrote a bog about him here earlier this week as well.

Balance the Books was a big disappointment at Turfway Park. Chad Brown’s highly regarded colt failed to lift a hoof in the Spiral and might not have handled the synthetic footing. He is a talented late runner on turf and might return to that surface. He clings to the bottom of my list and likely drops off after the LA Derby and Florida Derby.

My top ranked Derby contender Revolutionary attempts to qualify for his spot on the first Saturday in May in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on Saturday.

At Gulfstream Park on Saturday, juvenile champ Shanghai Bobby hopes to turn the tables on Holy Bull hero Itsmyluckyday with Fountain of Youth winner Orb running on late.

I posted video analysis of the Louisiana Derby and Florida Derby below. A shout out to my special guest Ryan Patterson. Great job, Ryan!

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

1. Revolutionary (War Pass) – Followed up a big fig maiden score with a winning adventure in the G3 Withers. He breezed 4f in :48.20 (4/43) at Palm Meadows on 3-24 and the G2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 30 is next. Derby Points (10).

2. Verrazano (More Than Ready) – Pletcher trainee looks like any kind after three straight facile wins to kick off his career including a 3-length victory in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby on 3-9. The G1 Wood Memorial at the Big A on April 6 is next. Breezed 4f in :49.79 (20/43) at Palm Meadows on 3-24. Derby Points (50).

Orb finishes his Derby prep season in Saturday’s Florida Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

3. Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his third straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G2 Fountain of Youth. He seems to have plenty of stamina and John Velazquez will ride again in the G1 Florida Derby at the Gulf on March 30. Breezed 4f in :48.30 (3/7) at Payson Park on 3-25. Derby Points (50).

4. Flashback (Tapit) – Baffert’s $260k purchase was an easy wire job vs. three rivals in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 2. He got tested early and often in the G2 San Felipe and was nailed late by Hear the Ghost. Garrett Gomez has been named to ride in the G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 6. Drilled a 6f bullet in 1:11.80 (1/15) at Santa Anita on 3-25. Derby Points (30).

5. War Academy (Giant’s Causeway) – Baffert’s highly regarded debut winner returned with an even 4th place finish in the San Vicente on Feb. 17. He bounced back with a stylish Optional Claiming route win (98 BSF) at Santa Anita on March 15 and goes next in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 13. Worked 4f in :47.60 (2/20) at Santa Anita on 3-26.

6. Noble Tune (Unbridled’s Song) – G3 Pilgrim winner finished a fine 2nd in the BC Juvenile Turf and flew home to capture a turf allowance event (84 BSF) at Tampa Bay to begin his 3yo season. Chad Brown and company will give him a shot to make the Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 13. Breezed 4f in :49.93 (35/56) at Palm Meadows on 3-23.

7. Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s $230k Keeneland sales grad completed his juvenile campaign with a runner-up effort in the G2 Remsen and ended up a troubled 5th in his G2 Risen Star return. He fired another 5f bullet in 1:00.22 (1/34) at Palm Meadows on 3-24 and will try to bounce back in the Wood Memorial. Derby Points (4). 

8. Overanalyze (Dixie Union) – G2 Remsen hero finished a flat 5th in his Gotham return. He probably needed the race but should have run better. He was supposed to go in the Wood Memorial, and then it was the Sunland Derby, and they have finally settled on the Arkansas Derby as his next start. Breezed 4f in :48.20 (4/43) at Palm Meadows on 3-24. Derby Points (10).

9. Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit) – Facile G3 Southwest hero finished a flat 5th as the beaten favorite in the Rebel. Baffert trainee will get one more chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the SA Derby on April 6. Worked 4f in :47.20 (2/26) at Santa Anita on 3-28. Derby Points (10).

10. Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid) – Won G2 With Anticipation and G3 Bourbon on turf last year and just miss the place in the BC Juvenile Turf. He flopped in his Spiral Stakes return and will likely get back on the green in the near future.

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order):

Black Onyx (Rock Hard Ten) – He is 2-for-2 since Kelly Breen took over the training duties and he smartly won the G3 Spiral Stakes with a wide stalk and pounce trip under Joe Bravo. Derby Points (50).

Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Not sold on this one as a Derby horse because I am skeptical about distance and he might be a Florida specialist. G3 Holy Bull hero worked a 5f bullet in 1:01 (1/12) at Calder on 3-16 and will try to qualify for his spot on the first Saturday in May in the G1 Florida Derby on March 30. Derby Points (10).

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. He ended up a solid 3rd in the Risen Star on 2-23. Breezed 5f in 1:00.82 (6/34) at Palm Meadows on 3-24 and is entered in the Louisiana Derby. Derby Points (10).

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Promising Lukas trainee set the pace and held the place in his needed Gazebo Stakes (6 furlongs) return at Oaklawn Park on 3-2. Breezed 4f in :48.80 (9/53) at Oaklawn Park on 3-27. He has been rerouted from Sunland Derby to Louisiana Derby and looks like the one to catch at Fair Grounds.

Zaikov (Distorted Humor) – Earned a 99 BSF in his sensation 6f bow at the Gulf on 3-15. Pletcher won’t point for the Derby but this exciting colt is one to keep an eye on.

Former Top Ten Members

Capo Bastone (Street Boss) – G1 FrontRunner and G1 BC Juvenile show finisher won an optional claiming route at Gulfstream on 2-16 for his new trainer Todd Pletcher and ended up 9th from the outside post in the Spiral Stakes. Derby Points (4).

Fortify (Distorted Humor) – BC Juvenile 4th place finisher finished 6th in the UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan on 2-14. He scratched out of the Al Bastayika at Meydan on 3-9. Derby Points (3).

Frac Daddy horse

Will Frac Daddy bounce back in the Florida Derby? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Frac Daddy (Scat Daddy) – Ky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up grabbed a quarter and finished 6th in the Holy Bull. He went 5f in 1:00.24 (2/16) at Gulfstream Park on 3-22 and McPeek changed his goal from the Spiral Stakes to the Florida Derby. 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. No published works since 1-31.

Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Champagne runner-up went all the way in the G3 Delta Jackpot and scored again in the G3 Sham Stakes. He faded to 4th in the San Felipe and appears to have distance limitations. O’Neill trainee worked a 6f bullet in 1:14 (1/9) at Santa Anita on 3-29 and is targeting the Santa Anita Derby. Derby Points (29).

Know More (Lion Heart) – G1 FrontRunner place finisher was terribly mismanaged after that effort, most recently faded to last in an allowance dirt sprint at SA on 12-28. He worked 3f in :39.20 (20/22) at Santa Anita on 3-30. Derby Points (4). 

Little Distorted (Distorted Humor) – Earned a 101 BSF in his NY bow Oct 28 and looks like a one hit wonder after three disappointing efforts since. He raced for his third trainer (Marty Wolfson) in the G3 Swale Stakes (finished 6th) on 3-2. They should probably regroup and give this one a breather.

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. Breezed 5f in 1:02.90 (27/31) at Palm Meadows on 3-23.

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 finished 3rd to Noble Tune in a Tampa Bay turf allowance affair. Breezed 4f in :49.80 (9/16) at Tampa Bay on 3-21. 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 trainee worked 6f in from the gate in 1:12 (2/15) at Santa Anita on 3-25 and is expected to enter the SA Derby. 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. Breezed 5f in 1:00.82 (6/34) at Palm Meadows on 3-24 and will break from the rail in the Florida Derby. 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 (Lion Heart) – Mark Casse’s Ontario-bred ran his record to 6-for-7 in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He finished a solid 2nd in the Spiral considering the time off due to foot problems. The Blue Grass will likely be his final Derby prep. Derby Points (30).

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.

Ive Struck a Nerve (Yankee Gentleman) – Surprising G2 Risen Star winner had ankle surgery on 3-12 and is off the Derby trail.

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

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

Violence (Medaglia d’Oro) – Was diagnosed with a fractured sesamoid following his game runner-up effort in the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on 2-23. He has been retired. Derby Points (10).

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