Archive for February, 2013

Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Orb joins top ten list

Orb threw his hat into the Kentucky Derby 2013 ring with a solid off the pace tally in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes (97 BSF) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 23.

Orb horse

My former Exciting Prospect Orb jumps into my Top 10 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I put Orb on my Exciting Prospects list when I posted my first Derby blog last September. He struggled a bit after a promising debut and has put it all together with three wins in a row for Shug McGaughey.

Orb took advantage of a fast early/slow late race shape at the Gulf on Saturday. He has plenty of promise and will probably make his next start in the Grade I Florida Derby on March 30.

Violence, a perfect 3-for-3 in 2012, did all of the pace dirty work and ran a winning race in his return. Unfortunately, my former number one ranked colt fractured a sesamoid and is off the Derby trail.

Ive Struck a Nerve

Ive Struck a Nerve shocks the world in the Risen Star – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Grade II Risen Star Stakes was also run on Feb. 23 and bomber Ive Struck a Nerve lit up the tote to the tune of $272.40. Keith Desormeaux’s overachiever garnered a 95 BSF and earned 50 precious Derby qualifying points.

Code West and Palace Malice finished 2-3 in the Risen Star and my former second ranked colt Normandy Invasion was a disappointing 5th in his sophomore bow.

The top eight Risen Star finishers were separated by less than four lengths and it is rarely a good sign when the field finishes bunched up at the wire.

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

Revolutionary

Revolutionary is my new top ranked Derby contender – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. 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 is wintering in Florida. He breezed 4f in :48.43 (13/60) at Palm Meadows on 2-25. Derby Points (10). 

2. Overanalyze (Dixie Union) – Pletcher’s versatile colt won his second graded race in the Remsen (99 BSF). He is entered in the G3 Gotham at the Big A on March 2. Breezed 4f in :48.75 (17/60) at Palm Meadows on 2-25. Derby Points (10).

3. 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 1:10.40 (1/19) at Santa Anita on 2-22. Derby Points (24). 

4. 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. Fired a 5f bullet in :59.21 (1/38) at Palm Meadows on 2-25.

5. 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. He drilled a 6f bullet in 1:11 (1/14) at Santa Anita on 2-25. The G2 San Felipe on 3-9 is next. Derby Points (10).   

6. Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit) – Baffert trainee has found his niche in main track routes. Facile G3 Southwest hero reminds me of Secret Circle. Derby Points (10).

7. Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s $230k Keeneland sales grad finished up his juvenile campaign with a runner-up effort in the G2 Remsen. He ended up a troubled 5th in his G2 Risen Star return and will try to rebound in the G1 Wood Memorial at the Big A on 4-6. Derby Points (4).

8. 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. Chad Brown trainee recently missed a couple of days due to a fever and will miss the G3 Palm Beach at the Gulf on 3-3. He could be rerouted to the G3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway on 3-23.

9. Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his third straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G2 Fountain of Youth. He has plenty of stamina and will go next in the G1 Florida Derby at the Gulf on March 30. Derby Points (50).

10. 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 5f in 1:02.55 (4/40) at Palm Meadows (turf) on 2-25.

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 1:00.09 (4/38) at Palm Meadows on 2-25. 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. He ended up a solid 3rd in the Risen Star on 2-23. Derby Points (10).

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Promising Lukas trainee is off the IR list after a bone chip as a juvenile. He breezed a 4f bullet in :48 (1/14) at Oaklawn Park on 2-26 and is entered in the 6f Gazebo Stakes at Oaklawn on 3-2.

Treasury Bill (Lemon Drop Kid) – Followed a visually impressive maiden tally at Santa Anita on 1-27 with a rallying place finish in the G2 San Vicente on 2-17. He worked 4f in :49.40 (10/13) at Betfair Hollywood Park on 2-26.

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 worked 4f in :48.20 (6/38) at Santa Anita on 2-26.

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. He only received a 69 BSF in his last and will be hard pressed to make a dent in upcoming stakes races. Derby Points (4).

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

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.

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 NY bow Oct 28. He raced for new connections (Silverton Farm – Darrin Miller) in the Spectacular Bid at the Gulf on 1-1 and finished 3rd as the beaten favorite. Scratched from the Hutcheson S. and flopped as the favorite in a 6.5f optional claiming sprint at the Gulf on 2-9. Breezed 4f in :49.20 (6/19) at Calder on 2-25.

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 3f in :39.98 (15/15) at Palm Meadows on 2-26.

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 5f bullet in 1:00.80 (1/6) at Tampa Bay on 2-27. 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 4f in :47.80 (7/42) at Santa Anita on 2-25. 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 4f in :49.61 (32/60) at Palm Meadows on 2-25. 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 fired a 5f bullet on Feb. 26 – 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 5f bullet in :59.80 (1/4) at Ocala Training Center on 2-26. 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.

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 is off the Derby trail. Derby Points (10).

Fountain of Youth Stakes 2013 video + written analysis

The 2013 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park is worth 50 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. My special video guest this week is Molly Jo Rosen from RacingWithBruno.com. I have also included my written analysis (with wagering strategies) below.

Early-pressing types breaking from posts 1-3 dominate 8.5 furlong races at Gulfstream Park. The fractions figure to be honest with #4 Majestic Hussar (8-1), #5 Elmutahid (20-1), #6 Cerro (4-1), #8 Speak Logistics (12-1), and #10 Falling Sky (6-1) jostling for early position.

#3 VIOLENCE (9-5) fits the winning course profile as an early-pressing type breaking from an inner post. The undefeated Grade 1 winner is training well for this and is the best horse in the race.

#1 Orb (12-1) rallied to win a 9f entry level affair here despite a lack of pace last out. He finished 3rd to Violence in his bow and beat Revolutionary at the Big A in November. He gets pace to chase and will be finishing from the cozy rail under Johnny V.

THE PLAYS:

#3 to win

Exacta 3-1

Trifecta 3/ALL/1

Check out my Saturday (Feb 23) Gulfstream Park full card analysis (available now) and Bonus Free Pick (Fair Grounds 13th race, click view sample) at TodaysRacingDigest.com.

Risen Star Stakes 2013 video + written analysis

The 2013 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds is worth 50 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. My special video guest this week is Molly Jo Rosen from RacingWithBruno.com. I have also included my written analysis (with wagering strategies) below.

#1 PROUD STRIKE (8-1) has faced decent runners and exits a local key race graduation run at this trip (off the turf). Stevens hops aboard for Asmussen and the $240k purchase should get better with age.

#2 Code West (6-1) invades for Baffert and was flattered when stablemate Super Ninety Nine returned to romp in the G3 Southwest. The consistent stalking type removes the hood.

#9 Normandy Invasion (5-2) makes his first start of 2013 for Chad Brown and will be finishing. He earned a big fig in the Remsen.

#6 Palace Malice (8-1) is a highly regarded Pletcher runner trying two turns for the first time. Napravnik rides.

#4 Golden Soul (20-1) was my G3 Lecomte top and was a distant 2nd that day. He is training well for this and is my longshot underneath key in the Trifecta.

#10 Oxbow (5-1) ran away from his G3 Lecomte foes and will probably try similar front running tactics.

Check out my Saturday (Feb 23) Fair Grounds full card analysis (available now) and Bonus Free Pick (FG 13th race, click view sample) at TodaysRacingDigest.com.

#5 Mylute (6-1) exits a runaway local optional claiming route win but leading rider Napravnik abandons.

#13 Circle Unbroken (20-1) looks like a sprinter.

#3 Agent (30-1), #7 Hardrock Eleven (50-1), and #8 Ive Struck a Nerve (30-1) all appear overmatched.

#11 Bethel (50-1) is cross-entered in an optional claiming route earlier in the day (Fair Grounds race 4).

#15 Sunbean (12-1) is cross-entered in the Gentilly Stakes for LA-breds (Fair Grounds race 3).

#12 He’s Had Enough (10-1) will scratch from this spot in favor of the Fountain of Youth Stakes at the Gulf.

#14 Departing (12-1) is expected to scratch out of this event in favor of a stakes spot at Sam Houston next weekend.

THE PLAYS:

#1 to win

Trifecta 1-2-6-9/ALL/4

 

Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Violence returns in Fountain of Youth

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2013 contender Violence makes his much anticipated sophomore debut in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, February 23.

Violence, a perfect 3-for-3 in 2012, is training forwardly for trainer Todd Pletcher. He is drawn comfortably in post position three and his tactical speed should serve him well on Saturday.

The Grade II Risen Star Stakes will also be run on Feb. 23 and my second ranked Derby contender Normandy Invasion is the 5-2 morning line favorite for trainer Chad Brown. He will need racing luck in a full field and the track condition could be on the wet side.

Last Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby had a pace meltdown and sustained runner Dice Flavor took full advantage, giving sire Scat Daddy back-to-back winners in this event. The winning BSF was 88 and he looks like a late running synthetic/turf horse.

Capo Bastone made his first start for Todd Pletcher at the Gulf on Feb. 16 and he raced wide and fought hard to win the 8.5f optional claiming affair by a head. He earned a 69 BSF and is not close to being a legit Derby contender.

Sunday’s G2 San Vicente featured a competitive six pack including a trio of Baffert runners. Belvin was hustled from the rail to set the pace with Caballo Del Cielo chasing.

Baffert’s Shakin It Up got the first run and held off exciting prospect Treasury Bill. The BSF came back 86.

Super Ninety Nine

Super Ninety Nine relishes wet footing in G3 Southwest – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Super Ninety Nine capped off a successful holiday weekend for trainer Bob Baffert. The Oaklawn Park oval came up wet and Baffert’s exciting colt skipped home by the length of the stretch in Monday’s G3 Southwest Stakes. He earned a 101 BSF and takes over the 10th spot my my list. He was my BC Juvenile Sprint top but was scratched after getting cast in his stall.

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. Violence (Medaglia d’Oro) – Ran his record to 3-for-3 in 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 a 5f bullet in 1:00.36 (1/40) at Palm Meadows on 2-17. 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 breezed 4f in :47.88 (2/74) at Palm Meadows on 2-17 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 1:00.51 (8/40) at Palm Meadows on 2-17. 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 :50.90 (46/54) at Palm Meadows on 2-18.

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 :50.90 (46/54) at Palm Meadows on 2-18.

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. Breezed 4f in :48.05 (6/74) at Palm Meadows on 2-17.

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. He worked 4f in :48.80 (15/48) at Santa Anita on 2-18. Derby Points (10).

10. Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit) – Baffert trainee has found his niche in main track routes. Facile G3 Southwest hero reminds me of Secret Circle. Derby Points (10).

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 1:00.51 (8/40) at Palm Meadows on 2-17. 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 a 5f bullet in 1:00.36 (1/40) at Palm Meadows on 2-17 and is entered in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Promising Lukas trainee is off the IR list after a bone chip as a juvenile. He breezed a 5f bullet in 1:01.40 (1/20) at Oaklawn Park on 2-15.

Treasury Bill (Lemon Drop Kid) – Followed a visually impressive maiden tally at Santa Anita on 1-27 with a rallying place finish in the G2 San Vicente on 2-17. He owns a promising two turn pedigree.

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 is bred to handle a route of ground and should make some noise late this year.

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. He only received a 69 BSF in his last and will be hard pressed to make a dent in upcoming stakes races. Derby Points (4).

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

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. Breezed 4f in :49 (3/15) at Calder on 2-20.

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 5f in 1:02.20 (4/9) at Tampa Bay on 2-21. 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 4f in :50 (30/40) at Santa Anita on 2-19. 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 4f in :49.73 (42/74) at Palm Meadows on 2-17. 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. 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 4f bullet in :47.80 (1/4) at Ocala Training Center on 2-19. 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.

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.

Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Revolutionary ousts Big A rivals

Revolutionary made a surprise late attack to overthrow his foes in the G3 Withers at Aqueduct and is the latest Kentucky Derby 2013 flavor of the week for Todd Pletcher.

Revolutionary horse

Revolutionary overcomes troubled trip in G3 Withers – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The winning BSF in the G3 Withers was 86 and there was not much behind Revolutionary but he overcame traffic woes and a slow pace to make the grade in his first start vs. winners. He still has some growing up to do but clearly has talent and is bred to run all day.

Flashback (92 BSF) made it 2-for-2 with a facile wire job against stablemate Den’s Legacy and BC Juvenile runner-up He’s Had Enough in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. Baffert’s promising winner has plenty of upside but still has to prove himself in a legitimately run graded route.

Falling Sky (92 BSF) made the pace and stole Dynamic Sky’s thunder in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay. Those two solid colts, along with rallying show finisher My Name Is Michael, could meet again in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Verrazano (105 BSF) jumps into the top ten after his second facile tally in as many starts at the Gulf. El Padrino’s talented brother is conditioned by Todd Pletcher and will likely show up in a stakes race next.

Bob Baffert’s Super Ninety Nine (101) got the best of stablemate Code West in a flat mile allowance affair at the Great Race Place. Both colts are former members of my Exciting Prospects list.

No major shakeups in my top ten with the magnificent seven remaining intact. The bottom of the list took a hit with Verrazano and Flashback replacing Frac Daddy and Uncaptured.

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. Violence (Medaglia d’Oro) – Ran his record to 3-for-3 in 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 1:02.29 (15/24) at Palm Meadows on 2-3. Derby Points (10).

Violence horse

Violence breezed 5f at Palm Meadows on Feb 3 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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 breezed 5f in 1:01.23 (5/24) at Palm Meadows on 2-3 and might 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 1:02.29 (5/24) at Palm Meadows on 2-3. 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 :50.22 (32/51) at Palm Meadows on 2-4.

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 :50.22 (32/51) at Palm Meadows on 2-4.

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 1:12.40 (1/17) at Santa Anita on 2-4. Derby Points (24).

8. Verrazano (More Than Ready) – Pletcher trainee looks like any kind after a pair of romping Gulfstream victories to kick off his career. We will learn more about El Pardino’s brother when he tackles stakes foes in the near future.

Flashback

Flashback has Baffert smelling the roses again – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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. Little Distorted (Distorted Humor) – Beat Revolutionary in his Belmont bow Oct 28 (101 BSF). 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 breezed 4f in :50.10 (11/14) at Payson Park on 2-3. He is entered in a 6.5f optional claimer at the Gulf on 2-9.

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 4f in :49.09 (17/28) at Palm Meadows on 2-3. Derby Points (2).

Distinctiv Passion (With Distinction) – Wired an allowance sprint field at Santa Anita on 12-28 and pulled the same trick in the San Pedro Stakes on 1-21. Not sure how far he wants to run but he sure is fast. Next up is the G2 San Vicente on Feb 17.

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 4f in :48.19 (6/28) at Palm Meadows on 2-3.

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Promising Lukas trainee is off the IR list following a 3f breeze in :37.20 (5/9) at Oaklawn Park on 2-3.

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 6f from the gate in 1:12.90 (2/17) at Santa Anita on 2-4.

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 1:02.90 (22/24) at Palm Meadows on 2-3. Derby Points (4).

Fortify (Distorted Humor) – BC Juvenile 4th place finisher in wintering in Dubai. He has been nominated to the Triple Crown and is expected to begin his 3yo campaign in the UAE 2000 Gunieas at Meydan on 2-7. Derby Points (3).

Frac Daddy (Scat Daddy) – Ky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up grabbed a quarter and finished 5th in the Holy Bull. I’ll draw a line through the Holy Bull and give him another chance. “I don’t know when he did it, whether he did it coming out or the gate or pulling up,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “He’ll probably miss 4 or 5 days, but it could be as long as two weeks, depending on how sore it is.” 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 desperately needs a freshening. Derby Points (4).

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 prefers synthetic. 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

Uncaptured loses his top ten spot after a pair of foot ailments – 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. 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.

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.