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 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).

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