Posts Tagged ‘Sky Kingdom’

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Union Rags still on top

There were surprises galore on the Kentucky Derby 2012 trail last weekend with Take Charge Indy going all the way in the G1 Florida Derby and 109-1 bomb Hero of Order stunning his rivals in the G2 Louisiana Derby.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

I recapped the G1 Florida Derby here on Sunday and in the video below. I have always liked Union Rags and am not going to abandon ship after a less than ideal trip behind tepid splits in his final Derby prep. Julien Leparoux could not do much after he committed to taking back early, coupled with getting pinned down along the inside by El Padrino’s rider Javier Castellano.

Union Rags finished up nicely after finding room in the lane and almost caught Reveron for the place. He galloped out in front and horse/rider should move forward following that learning experience. In reality, he qualified for the Derby on graded earnings long ago, so Saturday’s race was meaningless from that standpoint. He remains a solid contender on the first Saturday in May as long as he trains well leading up to the big day.

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 remains #1 after a troubled show finish in the G1 Florida Derby. I will monitor him closely in the weeks leading up to the Derby to see how he training. Graded Earnings: $1,170,000

Alpha horse

Alpha runs in Saturday's G1 Wood Memorial - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet and Withers. Breezed 4f in :49.17 (6/21) at Palm Meadows on March 30. The G1 Wood Memorial on 4-7 is next. Graded Earnings: $180,000

3. Gemologist (Tiznow) – G2 Ky Jockey Club hero returned in the pink at the Gulf on March 16. The undefeated WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner fired a 5f bullet in 1:00.44 (1/9) at Palm Meadows on April 1. Saturday’s G1 Wood Memorial is next. Graded Earnings: $103,855

4. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Captured his second graded route in G2 San Felipe (102 BSF) at Santa Anita on 3-10. He breezed 4f in :48.40 (5/14) at Hollywood Park on 4-3 and goes next in Saturday’s G1 SA Derby. Graded Earnings: $686,000

5. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He breezed 5f in :59.80 (2/10) at Churchill (training track) on 3-31. The G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14 in next on the docket. Graded Earnings: $1,400,000

6. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Captured back-to-back graded routes at Oaklawn in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) and G2 Rebel (92 BSF). He drilled a 5f bullet in :58.40 (1/37) at Santa Anita on 3-29 and is expected to return to Hot Springs for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Graded Earnings: $470,000

7. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Stole the Florida Derby but could only muster a 95 BSF despite everything going his way. I have always been fond of this one but he could be a pace casualty on the first Saturday in May. Graded Earnings: $698,400

8. Daddy Nose Best (Scat Daddy) – Back-to-back nine furlong wins in G3 El Camino Real Derby (92 BSF) and G3 Sunland Derby (100 BSF). Late running Asmussen trainee can run on anything. Graded Earnings: $545,558

9. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Finished a flat 4th in a very disappointing Florida Derby performance. He is on the graded earnings bubble and seemingly moves up on wet footing. Graded Earnings: $250,000

10. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Fired 5f bullet in 1:00.60 (1/14) at Fair Grounds on 3-27. Sunday’s G2 Louisiana Derby is next. Graded Earnings: $260,000

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order)

Bodemeister

Bodemeister is likely for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – Followed up 101 BSF maiden romp with another 101 BSF in San Felipe runner-up effort on 3-10. He zipped 6f in 1:10.40 (1/9) at Santa Anita on 4-2 and looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Arkansas Derby on 4-14. Graded Earnings: $60,000

2. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero was clearly second best behind romping, undefeated colt Gemologist at the Gulf on 3-16. Breezed 5f in 1:00 (2/9) at Gulfstream on 3-27 and goes next in G3 Illinois Derby on 4-7. Graded Earnings: $150,000

3. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Ended up a respectable 3rd in his G2 San Felipe, his first start around two turns. He fired a 6f bullet at Santa Anita on March 30 and goes next in the G1 SA Derby on April 7.

4. 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 G1 Blue Grass. Breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (2/5) at Churchill Downs on 4-2.

5. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – Followed in Animal Kingdom’s footsteps with a win in the G3 Spiral Stakes (92 BSF) for Motion/Team Valor. He was green in the stretch and might run one more time before the Derby, with the G3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on 4-21 a logical target.

Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order)

1. Algorithms – 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 had him on the sidelines and he returned to the worktab on March 30, breezing 3f in :38.09 (16/22) at Belmont Park (training track).

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.”

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – 5 weeks and counting

Went The Day Well did his older stablemate Animal Kingdom proud by winning the G3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 24, and Daddy Nose Best solidified his Kentucky Derby 2012 contender status with a late running victory in the G3 Sunland Derby (March 25).

Daddy Nose Best

Daddy Nose Best captures Sunland Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

In other Derby prep news, Dullahan had his second setback but is still expected to make the G1 Blue Grass Stakes. He had a cough during the winter and recently missed several days of training with a splint injury No published works since 3-3 but he did gallop over the muddy main track at Gulfstream Park on 3-28. I am dropping him off my list again because he has only raced once this year with a pair of setbacks.

Castaway drops off the Exciting Prospects list after dueling and fading as the favorite in the Sunland Derby.

Discreet Dancer is not injured but is off the Derby trail. He will go to Ocala for some rest and is expected to resume his career later this year.

G2 San Vicente hero Drill, an original member of my Kentucky Derby Top 10 list from last September, will make his next start 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

Union Rags

Union Rags squares off against El Padrino in Saturday's Florida Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked Derby contender looked great in G2 Fountain of Youth. He breezed 4f in :49.10 (13/41) at Palm Meadows on March 24. 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 4f in :49.17 (6/21) at Palm Meadows on March 30. The G1 Wood Memorial on 4-7 is next. 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 4f in :49.11 (9/22) at Palm Meadows on March 25. 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 worked 6f in 1:12.80 (2/9) at Hollywood Park on 3-28 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 breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (6/6) at Churchill (training track) on 3-24. His new target is the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14. 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 drilled a 5f bullet in :58.40 (1/37) at Santa Anita on 3-29 and is expected to return to Hot Springs for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Graded Earnings: $470,000

8. 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 1:01.57 (6/20) at Palm Meadows on March 24. Graded Earnings: $98,400  

9. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Fired 5f bullet in 1:00.60 (1/14) at Fair Grounds on 3-27. Sunday’s G2 Louisiana Derby is next. Graded Earnings: $60,000 

10. Daddy Nose Best (Scat Daddy) – Back-to-back nine furlong wins in G3 El Camino Real Derby and G3 Sunland Derby (100 BSF). Late running Asmussen trainee can run on anything. Graded Earnings: $545,558

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 worked 4f in :46.80 (2/41) at Santa Anita on 3-23 and looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Arkansas Derby on 4-14. Graded Earnings: $60,000 

2. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero was clearly second best behind romping, undefeated colt Gemologist at the Gulf on 3-16. Worked 5f in 1:00 (2/9) at Gulfstream on 3-27 and could go next in G3 Illinois Derby on 4-7. Graded Earnings: $150,000  

Went The Day Well

Is Went The Day Well the next Animal Kingdom? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

3. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Ended up a respectable 3rd in his G2 San Felipe, his first start around two turns. He fired a 6f bullet at Santa Anita on March 30 and goes next in the G1 SA Derby on April 7.  Graded Earnings: $36,000

4. 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 or Blue Grass. Breezed 5f in 1:03 (3/4) at Churchill Downs on 3-27. Graded Earnings: $365,452

5. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – Followed in Animal Kingdom’s footsteps with a win in the G3 Spiral Stakes (92 BSF) for Motion/Team Valor. He was green in the stretch and might run one more time before the Derby, with the G3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on 4-21 a logical target. Graded Earnings: $282,000Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order)

1. Algorithms – 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.”

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Secret Circle, Gemologist score

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.

Secret Circle

Do you think Secret Circle can handle ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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.

Alpha horse

Alpha goes next in G2 Louisiana Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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  

Creative Cause

Creative Cause fires 5f bullet on March 20 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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.”

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Key graded wins for Creative Cause, Prospective

There were a pair of graded routes on the Kentucky Derby 2012 trail last weekend and Creative Cause pleaded his case in Santa Anita’s G2 San Felipe Stakes.

Creative Cause Kentucky Derby 2012

Creative Cause won his third graded race on Saturday - photo by Eclipse sportswire

Creative Cause has been a Derby hopeful for quite some time and he took another step forward at the Great Race Place on Saturday. He wore down a stubborn Bodemeister and garnered a fine 102 BSF. The talented son of Giant’s Causeway was goofing off in the stretch and needs to keep his mind on business if he expects to make a serious dent under the Twin Spires.

Bodemeister was giving up valuable experience and seasoning to the winner but he almost made up for it on raw talent. He did all of the pace dirty work and did everything but win. The Bob Baffert trainee was unraced as a juvenile and probably won’t win the Derby but his early-pressing speed will always give him a chance to shine, especially over the speed conducive Santa Anita oval.

Midnight Transfer performed admirably to land the show in his first start around two turns. He clearly has talent but it remains to be seen how far he really wants to go.

Prospective won the second graded route of his career in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby. He showed improved positional speed with the addition of blinkers and earned an 88 BSF for his efforts. At this point, he is not fast enough to wear the roses on the first Saturday in May, but he seems like the type to spice up the exotics. He could make his final Derby prep in the Wood Memorial.

Ever So Lucky finished a distant 3rd in the G2 Swale Stakes and is not expected to make the Kentucky Derby. He drops off the exciting prospects list.

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

Union Rags Kentucky Derby 2012

Union Rags should get tested in G1 Florida Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked Derby contender remains at the top of the heap following impressive return tally in the G2 Fountain of Youth. He breezed 4f in :50.76 (48/51) at Palm Meadows on March 10. 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 and was finally on good behavior in the gate Feb 4. Breezed 5f in 1:01.21 (10/19) at Palm Meadows on March 10. Look for him in Florida Derby, Wood Memorial, or possibly the Louisiana Derby. 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 or Louisiana Derby. Breezed 4f in :48.08 (2/40) at Palm Meadows on March 12. Graded Earnings: $200,000

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Sharp G2 Ky Jockey Club (85 BSF) victory to end undefeated juvenile campaign for WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher. He breezed 4f in :49.77 (25/40) at Palm Meadows on March 12. Begins 3yo season in flat mile allowance affair at Gulfstream Park on March 16. 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 probably 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) – Bob Baffert’s fleet colt passed his second route test in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) at Oaklawn on Feb 20. Saturday’s G2 Rebel is next and he worked 6f in 1:11.60 (2/16) at Santa Anita on March 10. Graded Earnings: $170,000

8. Dullahan (Even the Score) – Returns to my top ten after rallying 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. Fired 4f bullet in :47.66 (1/36) at Palm Meadows on March 4. 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. 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 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 1:11.40 (2/16) at Santa Anita on 3-10. G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park is next. Graded Earnings – $150,000

3. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero has recovered from ankle surgery and worked 6f from the gate in 1:11.40 (1/3) at Gulfstream Park on 3-10. He will face Gemologist at the Gulf on March 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 (Wood Memorial?). Graded Earnings: $365,452

Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order):

1. Algorithms – 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.”

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Hansen is back; Out of Bounds injured

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 is full of ups and downs and we recently ran the gamut of emotions, beginning with juvenile champ Hansen’s triumphant New York return and ending with Out of Bounds going to the sidelines.

Hansen

Hansen goes next in G1 Wood Memorial on April 7 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

First the good news. Hansen overcame post 12 and relaxed beautifully (blinkers off) under Ramon Dominguez to easily capture Saturday’s G3 Gotham Stakes over My Adonis. The Mike Maker trainee took a giant leap in the right direction in regards to making a dent on the first Saturday in May. We will learn much more when he faces better company at nine furlongs in the Wood Memorial.

Jumping over to the West Coast, impressive G3 Sham Stakes hero Out of Bounds is off the Derby trail and out of my top ten after suffering a non-displaced condylar fracture to his left front ankle. The injury was discovered following his 5f bullet drill at Hollywood Park on March 5.

Souper Speedy has not had a published work since Feb 14 and drops off the Exciting Prospects list.

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 remains at the top of the heap following a strong return tally in the G2 Fountain of Youth (95 BSF). The March 31 Florida Derby is next on the docket. Graded Earnings: $1,070,000

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet (85 BSF) and Withers (90 BSF) and was finally on good behavior in the gate Feb 4. Breezed 4f in :49.83 (31/49) at Palm Meadows on March 3. Look for him in Florida Derby. 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 or Louisiana Derby. Graded Earnings: $200,000

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Sharp G2 Ky Jockey Club (85 BSF) victory to end juvenile campaign for WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher. He fired another 5f bullet in 1:00.22 (1/10) at Palm Meadows on March 3. Begins 3yo season in Oaklawn’s G2 Rebel on March 17. Graded Earnings: $103,855

Creative Cause

Creative Cause returns to route game in San Felipe - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

5. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – BC Juvenile show finisher occupied that same spot in G2 San Vicente on Feb 19. He fired a 4f bullet in :46.40 (1/34) at Hollywood Park on March 6 and goes next in Saturday’s G2 San Felipe.  Graded Earnings: $506,000

6. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He will train at Turfway Park before returning to Aqueduct for the G1 Wood Memorial on April 7. Graded Earnings: $1,400,000

7. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Bob Baffert’s fleet colt passed his second route test in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) at Oaklawn on Feb 20. Not sure how much farther he wants to go but he is fast and deserves another route shot. Worked 5f in 1:00.40 (18/66) at Santa Anita on March 3. Graded Earnings: $170,000

8. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. Drilled a 4f bullet in :47.66 (1/36) at Palm Meadows on March 4. The March 10 Tampa Bay Derby is next. Graded Earnings: $98,400

9. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Look for Larry Jones trainee in Louisiana Derby on April 1. Graded Earnings: $60,000

10. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Back-to-back flat mile wins at Santa Anita. Worked 6f in 1:13.40 (3/12) at Santa Anita on Feb 29 but the Baffert trainee tied up recently and will not go in San Felipe as originally planned.

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order):

Bodemeister

Is Bodemeister Bob Baffert's next star? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire


1. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – Impressive dirt route maiden winner (101 BSF) at Santa Anita on Feb 11 replaces stablemate Fed Biz in Saturday’s San Felipe.

2. Castaway (Street Sense) – Baffert trainee won slower division of Southwest (92 BSF) in his first start against winners. Worked 5f in 1:01.20 (25/48) at Santa Anita on March 2. Graded Earnings – $150,000

3. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero has recovered from ankle surgery and breezed 5f in 1:03.80 (18/20) at Gulfstream Park on March 3. Graded Earnings: $150,000

4. Ever So Lucky (Indian Charlie) – Seems to be over recent foot bruise after firing a 5f bullet in :58.80 (1/20) at the Gulf on March 3. Sheppard entered him in Saturday’s G2 Swale at seven panels. Graded Earnings: $33,502

5. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Made it back-to-back sprint wins at Santa Anita in San Pedro. He worked 4f in :49 (41/61) at Santa Anita on March 4 and will try two turns in Saturday’s San Felipe.

Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order):

1. Algorithms – 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. 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.

5. Junebugred (Corinthian) – Smarty Jones Stakes hero is off the Derby trail with a bone chip in his ankle.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.”

Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders: Alpha Moves Forward in Withers

A trio of Kentucky Derby 2012 graded route preps were run across the nation last weekend and G3 Withers hero Alpha emerged as a potential threat on the first Saturday in May.

Alpha (90 BSF) owns an ascending numbers pattern and has now won back-to-back stakes races at Aqueduct. He is returning to Florida to train for the Wood Memorial in April.

I'll Have Another horse

I'll Have Another will wait for the Santa Anita Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I’ll Have Another (96) upset the applecart in a strange renewal of the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Feb 4. Doug O’Neill’s returnee tracked the pace wide and cruised home.

Post time favorite Liaison clipped heels and fell but was going nowhere fast. He just joined my top ten last time and is dropped in the blink of an eye. He can rejoin the chase with an improved effort next time.

Sky Kingdom flopped in the Robert Lewis and drops off the Exciting Prospects list.

Battle Hardened (81 BSF) won a slow renewal of the G3 Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay and needs to run much faster to be serious considered as a Derby contender.

Dullahan is battling a cough and that is why he has been absent from the worktab since Jan 14. Dale Romans still hopes to make the grassy Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park on March 11.

Click on the names of each horse below to view their HorseRacingNation.com profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – G1 Champagne hero failed to run a straight course in unlucky BC Juvenile place finish. He breezed a 4f bullet in :48.67 (1/27) at Palm Meadows on Feb 6 and is gearing up for the Feb 26 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Alpha horse

Alpha goes next in the Wood Memorial - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet (85 BSF) and Withers (90 BSF) and was on good behavior in the gate Feb 4. His is back in Florida and will return for Aqueduct’s G1 Wood Memorial on April 7.

3. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Todd Pletcher’s promising colt returned with a vengeance in wet track Optional Claiming win (100 BSF) at Gulfstream on Jan 29. He could resurface in G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb 25.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Sharp G2 Ky Jockey Club (85 BSF) victory for WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher. Undefeated colt owns fine early-pressing speed and plenty of upside. He is back on the worktab, breezing an easy 3f in :39.88 (10/10) at Palm Meadows on Feb 5.

5. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – G1 Norfolk hero finished a respectable 3rd in BC Juvenile. He worked 6f in 1:13.80 (6/17) at Hollywood Park on Feb 4 and could return in Santa Anita’s G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb 19.

6. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – Handled two turns just fine in G3 Sham Stakes (99 BSF). The G2 San Felipe at SA on March 10 is next. Breezed 5f in 1:03 (17/20) at Hollywood Park on Feb 6.

7. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – BC Juvenile 5th place finisher was clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. He owns a strong route pedigree and should continue to improve this year.

8. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Bob Baffert’s fleet colt finished a solid 2nd in the G3 Sham. Not sure how much farther he wants to go but he deserves another route shot. Went 7f in 1:24.40 (2/3) at Santa Anita on Feb 6.

9. Algorithms (Bernardini) – A trio of sharp one-turn wins to begin career for Pletcher including G3 Holy Bull tally on Jan 29. We will learn more about his Derby prospects when he travels a route of ground.

10. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero/juvenile champ set the pace and held the place in Holy Bull return. He needs to relax on the lead if he expects to make a dent if future Derby graded route preps.

Exciting Prospects

Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful moves off the injured reserve list. He has recovered from ankle surgery and breezed 4f in :51 (39/41) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 4.

Cyber Secret (Broken Vow) – Now under the care of Whiting/Cella at Oaklawn Park and exits a highly rated optional claiming route win (96 BSF) in Arkansas. The G3 Southwest on Feb 20 is next.

Discreet Dancer horse

Discreet Dancer spiked a temperature on Feb 6 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Discreet Dancer (Discreet Cat) – A pair of strong one turn wins at Gulfstream to kick off his promising career. Earned a 96 BSF at 8f on Jan 7. Spiked a fever and missed a scheduled breeze on Feb 6.

Ever So Lucky (Indian Charlie) – Hardly a secret in good looking Churchill sprint bow and set the pace and held the place in G2 Ky Jockey Club Stakes. Breezed 5f in 1:01.75 (4/8) at Gulfstream on Feb 6. He is entered in Saturday’s G2 Hutcheson.

Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Update: The promising Bob Baffert trainee just captured a flat mile allowance event at Santa Anita on Feb 9 and should be headed to the stakes ranks in the near future.

Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Made it back-to-back sprint wins at Santa Anita in San Pedro. He worked 4f in :49.60 (37/47) at Santa Anita and might try two turns in the G2 San Felipe.

Souper Speedy (Indian Charlie) – Set the pace and held the place in G2 Remsen. Debuted a 7f winner in the mud prior to that and is a ½ to Brilliant Speed. Breezed 4f in :52.22 (36/38) at Palm Meadows on Feb 3.

Injured Reserve

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.

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.

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.

Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He will go under the knife on Jan 25 and is expected to miss two months.

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.”

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Robert Lewis, Sam Davis

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 made stops in Florida and Southern California on Feb 4 and the G3 Sam Davis and G2 Robert Lewis Stakes both produced surprising results.

G3 Sam F. Davis (2-4-12): 81 BSF (Battle Hardened)

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

Saturday’s Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs did not look strong on paper and eventual winner Battle Hardened was a maiden coming in and got the job done in slow time.  He is out of strong route sire Giant’s Causeway and trainer Eddie Kenneally is back on the Triple Crown trail after catching Derby fever with Santiva in 2011.

Three noses were on the wire for runner-up honors with Prospective edging out Reveron and Ravelo’s Boy. Prospective won the G3 Grey at Woodbine as a juvenile and Reveron was last seen capturing the Gulfstream Park Derby.

State of Play set the pace and faded to 7th for Team Valor and Graham Motion. Look for him to return to the sod in the near future.

Sam Davis Stakes Grade: D

I'll Have Another

I'll Have Another goes next in SA Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I’ll Have Another made the most of his first start in five months at Santa Anita on Saturday, posting a surprising $88.60 upset in a strange renewal of the Lewis.

G2 Robert Lewis Stakes (2-4-12): 96 BSF (I’ll Have Another)

Sprinter Isn’t He Clever set the pace with I’ll Have Another tracking him intently. The early leader faded after six panels and the eventual winner inherited the lead and was never seriously threatened in a relatively easy 2-3/4 length tally.

Liaison was the solid favorite for Bob Baffert but was never traveling comfortably and fell in the stretch after clipping heels with Groovin’ Solo, who crossed the line in 3rd but was place last via disqualification.

Royal Delta’s brother Empire Way was up to finish a clear 2nd and Rousing Sermon was elevated to 3rd.

It was double disappointment for Baffert as Sky Kingdom failed to get involved. Chips All In failed to lift a hoof.

The number from the Lewis came back solid enough but the race was dominated by longshots and did not look strong from a visual standpoint. I’ll Have Another is expected to go next in the G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

Robert Lewis Stakes Grade: C

Robert Lewis Stakes 2012 Preview: Four-bagger for Liaison?

The Kentucky Derby 2012 trail heats up in Southern California on Saturday with the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park and morning line favorite Liaison seeks his fourth straight win for Bob Baffert.

Liaison

Is Liaison beatable on Saturday? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#2 Liaison (9-5) landed the show in his flat mile bow and Del Mar and it has been all smiles ever since. He graduated in a seven panel event at Santa Anita Park, and proceeded to win back-t0-back stakes races in the Real Quiet and G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park. The hard knocking Baffert trainee owns fine tactical speed and is training well for this. This is a starting point to his sophomore campaign and he is already sitting pretty on the graded earnings list so he does not have to win this at low odds.

Liaison’s stablemate #5 Sky Kingdom (6-1) was my top choice in the aforementioned CashCall Futurity and he was hardly disgraced in a 4th place finish. He exits a facile allowance route win at the Great Race Place and appears poised to make a splash in the graded ranks.

#6 Rousing Sermon (5-2) finished 2nd to Liaison in the Real Quiet and CashCall in his last pair. He won the CalCup Juvenile at Santa Anita and will be finishing under Talamo. He needs a fair racetrack and some pace help.

#8 Chips All In (6-1) has a nose for the wire and should sit a decent outer tactical trip if he can avoid getting hung out to dry. The Mullins runner gets tested for class.

#7 Empire Way (6-1) is slowly improving for Mike Harrington. Royal Delta’s brother tries conventional dirt for the first time and will try to get involved late under Rosario.

#3 Groovin’ Solo (12-1) took to the local oval like a duck to water in his recent flat mile graduation run Dec 30. He sports two local bullets for this and is getting better but class is a cloud.

#1 Isn’t He Clever (6-1) is a New Mexico shipper with a hint of ability. The gelded son of Smarty Jones will probably flash speed from the rail under Nakatani. He will get a distance and class challenge.

#4 I’ll Have Another (12-1) would appreciate a speed favoring oval. He ran well in a pair of synthetic sprints last summer and has not been seen since struggling in the Saratoga slop last September.

The Plays:

$20 to win #5
$8 to win #8
$1 Trifecta 5-8/2-5-6-8/2-5-6-8 ($12)

Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders: Algorithms, El Padrino Shine in Florida

A pair of Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders emerged at Gulfstream Park on Sunday and Todd Pletcher conditions both. Algorithms rolled past juvenile champ Hansen in the G3 Holy Bull and El Padrino scored a sharp allowance victory over Take Charge Indy.

Algorithms

Algorithms beats Hansen in Holy Bull - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Algorithms (98 BSF) is getting the bulk of the press because he secured graded earnings against the 2-year-old champion but El Padrino (100 BSF) won around two turns and earned a better number.

Both colts still have some questions to answer but I have always been fond of El Padrino and he is the stronger Derby prospect at this stage.

El Padrino has a very nice route pedigree and should continue to move forward but it should be noted that both of his wins were accomplished on wet tracks.

Algorithms gets stamina from sire Bernardini but dam Ava Knowsthecode is best known for throwing quality sprinter Justin Phillip and turf sprinter/miler Successful Mission. She also tossed 2006 Kentucky Derby starter Keyed Entry, but he finished 20th and last on the first Saturday in May.

Hansen

Is Hansen a legit Derby threat? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Hansen drops to the bottom of my list after setting the pace and holding the place in his Holy Bull return. He needs to learn how to distribute his energy more efficiently.

Consortium flopped in the Holy Bull and drops off the Exciting Prospects list.

Dullahan has not had a published work since Jan 14 and exits the top ten for now. I could easily replace him with Algorithms but sharp two turn form takes precedence at this stage so Liaison joins the ranks.

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

Union Rags

Union Rags breezed 5f on Jan 31 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – G1 Champagne hero failed to run a straight course in unlucky BC Juvenile place finish. He breezed 5f in 1:02.74 (5/11) at Palm Meadows on Jan 31. He is gearing up for the Feb 26 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

2. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – G1 Norfolk hero finished a respectable 3rd in BC Juvenile. He fired a 6f in 1:11.60 (1/20) at Hollywood Park on Jan 28 and could return in Santa Anita’s G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb 19.

3. Alpha (Bernardini) – BC Juvenile also-ran bounced back in Count Fleet but was unruly in the gate again. He has been schooling at the gate and goes next in G3 Withers on Feb 4. He breezed a 5f bullet in 1:01.02 (1/14) at Belmont Park (training track) on Jan 30.

4. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – Handled two turns just fine in G3 Sham Stakes (99 BSF). The G2 San Felipe at SA on March 10 is next. Worked 5f in 1:00.60 (6/19) at Hollywood Park on Jan 30.

5. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Todd Pletcher’s promising colt returned with a vengeance in wet track Optional Claiming win at the Gulf on Jan 29. He earned a 100 BSF in his first start as a sophomore but must prove he is just as good on fast ground.

6. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Sharp G2 Ky Jockey Club (85 BSF) victory for WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher. Undefeated colt owns fine early-pressing speed and plenty of upside. He is currently at Palm Meadows but has yet to show up on worktab.

7. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Bob Baffert’s fleet colt finished a solid 2nd in the G3 Sham. Not sure how much farther he wants to go but he deserves another route shot. Drilled a 5f bullet in :58.60 (1/61) at Santa Anita on Jan 28.

8. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – BC Juvenile 5th place finisher was clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. He owns a strong route pedigree and should continue to improve this year.

Liaison

Liaison goes next in Saturday's Robert Lewis Stakes - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

9. Liaison (Indian Charlie) – G1 CashCall Futurity (91 BSF) winner has now won three straight and is 2-for-2 in synthetic routes. Worked 4f in :48 (2/7) at Santa Anita on Jan 31 and is expected to be entered in Saturday’s G2 Robert Lewis Stakes.

10. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero and 2YO champ set the pace and held the place in Holy Bull return. He needs to relax on the lead if he expects to make a dent if future Derby graded route preps.

Exciting Prospects

Algorithms (Bernardini) – A trio of sharp one-turn wins to begin career for Pletcher including G3 Holy Bull tally on Jan 29. We will learn more about his Derby prospects when he travels a route of ground.

Currency Swap – G1 Hopeful moves off the injured reserve list. He has recovered from ankle surgery and breezed 3f in :36.60 (5/14) at Gulfstream Park on Jan 28.

Discreet Dancer

Discreet Dancer worked 5f at Palm Meadows on Jan 30 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Discreet Dancer (Discreet Cat) – A pair of strong one turn wins at Gulfstream to kick off his promising career. Earned a 96 BSF at 8f on Jan 7. Breezed 5f in 1:02.55 (6/16) at Palm Meadows on Jan 30.

Ever So Lucky (Indian Charlie) – Hardly a secret in good looking Churchill sprint bow. Sheppard trainee set the pace and just held the place in G2 Ky Jockey Club Stakes. Could return in Feb 11 Hutcheson. Worked 5f in :59.20 (1/4) at Gulfstream on Jan 30.

Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Made it back-to-back sprint wins at Santa Anita in Sunday’s San Pedro. He might try two turns in the G2 San Felipe.

Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) – My CashCall Futurity value top finished a respectable 4th that day but returned to impress in Jan 12 allowance route at Santa Anita. He joins stablemate Liaison in Saturday’s G2 Robert Lewis Stakes.

Souper Speedy (Indian Charlie) – Set the pace and held the place in G2 Remsen. Debuted a 7f winner in the mud prior to that and is a ½ to Brilliant Speed. Breezed 3f in :37.23 (3/6) at Palm Meadows on Jan 26.

Injured Reserve

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.

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.

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.

Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He will go under the knife on Jan 25 and is expected to miss two months.

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.”

Grading the 2012 Kentucky Derby Preps: CashCall Futurity

The G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec 17 was the last major  Kentucky Derby 2012 prep of the current racing season and at this point I would say that it was not a strong renewal.

CashCall Futurity (12-17-11) – 91 BSF (Liaison)

I wrote a CashCall recap in my latest Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders blog and below is what I said about the players. The top seven finishers were separated by three lengths so the overall strength of the race is a bit suspect, especially with a CA-bred finishing 2nd and a maiden landing the show. The top two (Liaison, Rousing Sermon) also finished 1-2 in the Real Quiet Stakes (C- grade). Maybe the Real Quiet should have been rated higher, or we have a mediocre West Coast group on our hands. I have a feeling it is the latter. Grade: C

The road to the 2012 Kentucky Derby made a pit stop at Hollywood Park last weekend and Liaison got the job done in a professional manner for trainer Bob Baffert.

The son of recently deceased sire Indian Charlie owns fine tactical speed and has a nose for the wire. He once again got the best of Rousing Sermon and the top two validated the strength of the Real Quiet Stakes.

Maidens always seem to make some noise on the Derby Trail. In 2009, Make Music For Me placed behind Lookin At Lucky in a pair of graded events and graduated in a grass stakes event the following year. Santiva landed the place in the 2010 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland before earning his diploma in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. At this point in 2011, the talented maiden award goes to Brother Francis.

The son of Lion Heart, trained by James Cassidy, followed up a rallying place finish in the G3 Hollywood Prevue with a solid show finish in the CashCall Futurity. Will he return to the maiden ranks or continue to compete against stakes foes?

Sky Kingdom was bumped at the start and missed the CashCall show by a ½ length. The Baffert trainee was hardly disgraced in his first start against winners and remains a decent long range prospect.

Empire Way was 5th in the CashCall and should continue to improve with added ground and experience. Blingo was a nose behind him in 6th for John Shirreffs, followed by Handsome Mike (pressured throughout), Cozzetti, and a badly tailing off Drill.

Majestic City attended the pace before faltering to finish 10th. He is clearly best sprinting. Basmati checked in behind him and solidified the weakness of the Delta Jackpot.

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