Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Super Ninety Nine headlines Rebel Stakes

Verrazano remained undefeated with another strong win in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and vaulted to top of many Kentucky Derby 2013 lists.

Verrazano is the right now Derby horse after another facile win in the Tampa Bay Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The waters will get a bit deeper for Verrazano in the G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 6. He figures to face better horses while attempting to navigate nine furlongs for the first time. So far so, good for El Padrino’s promising brother, and he remains my second ranked contender.

Java’s War made a big run from the back of the pack to finish a clear 2nd but he was never going to catch Verrazano. Falling Sky attended the pace and comfortably held the show over Dymanic Sky.

Hear the Ghost upset the applecart in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 9 and the quick early pace helped his cause. I am not a believer yet and want to see him do it again.

Flashback ran too good to lose in the San Felipe. He did all of the pace dirty work and fought hard until the bitter end. He ended up a fine 2nd and should have gotten plenty out of it. Not sure if he is a ten furlong horse but I like his fighting spirit and he could go better under new pilot Garrett Gomez in the Santa Anita Derby if he relaxes early.

Goldencents always seemed a bit suspect on stamina and he had nothing to offer late in the San Felipe after losing the pace battle. He is another that needs to relax but early speed is his best weapon. He has talent but does not look like a ten furlong horse.

Tiz a Minister was far back early and rallied past Goldencents to finish a surprising 3rd. The Blue Grass Stakes might be next.

My longtime Exciting Prospect War Academy is one to watch after a sharp victory on March 15 in his first start around two turns. The Baffert runner will get one shot to make the Derby gate and could be the late bloomer we have been waiting for.

The Derby prep race of the weekend is the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. A field of 11 has been drawn for the March 16 contest and Southwest hero Super Ninety Nine drew the outside post. The flashy Baffert trainee faces a pair of my Exciting Prospects, Remsen show finisher Delhomme and San Vicente runner-up Treasury Bill. See my Rebel video preview below with special guest Ryan Patterson.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders

1. Revolutionary (War Pass) – Followed up a big fig maiden score with a winning adventure in the G3 Withers. He breezed 5f in 1:01.48 (6/26) at Palm Meadows on 3-10 and the G2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 30 is next. Derby Points (10).

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

3. Flashback (Tapit) – Baffert’s $260k purchase was an easy wire job vs. three rivals in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 2. He got tested early and often in the G2 San Felipe and was nailed late by Hear the Ghost. He will try to turn the tables in the G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 6. Derby Points (30).

Super Ninety Nine is the solid choice in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

4. Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit) – Baffert trainee has found his niche in main track routes. Facile G3 Southwest hero does not seem to be getting the same respect as some of the other top tier Derby contenders. Worked 5f in :59.80 (2/52) at Santa Anita on 3-10 and drew post 11 in the upcoming G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on 3-16. Derby Points (10).

5. Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his third straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G2 Fountain of Youth. He seems to have plenty of stamina and John Velazquez will ride again in the G1 Florida Derby at the Gulf on March 30. Breezed 4f in :48.40 (2/16) at Payson Park on 3-11. Derby Points (50).

6. Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid) – Won G2 With Anticipation and G3 Bourbon on turf last year and just miss the place in the BC Juvenile Turf. He breezed 4f in :49.96 (20/39) at Palm Meadows on 3-10 and is expected to show up in the G3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway on 3-23.

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

8. Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s $230k Keeneland sales grad completed his juvenile campaign with a runner-up effort in the G2 Remsen and ended up a troubled 5th in his G2 Risen Star return. He breezed 4f in :48.01 (2/39) at Palm Meadows on 3-10 and will try to rebound in the Wood Memorial. Derby Points (4).

9. Overanalyze (Dixie Union) – G2 Remsen hero finished a flat 5th in his Gotham return. He probably needed the race but should have run better. It appears as though he will switch gears and go in the G3 Sunland Derby on March 24 instead of the Wood Memorial. Derby Points (10).

10. War Academy (Giant’s Causeway) – Baffert’s highly regarded debut winner returned with an even 4th place finish in the San Vicente on Feb. 17. He bounced back with a stylish Optional Claiming route win at Santa Anita on March 15 and could be ready to hit the big time.

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order):

Abstraction (Pulpit) – Exciting colt gave his rivals the slip in facile two turn graduation run at Fair Grounds on 3-13. The David Carroll trainee earned a 92 BSF and might end up being a good one.

Delhomme (Dixie Union) – Set the pace and ended up a rock solid 3rd in a fast renewal of the Remsen. He breezed 5f in 1:00.88 (3/26) at Palm Meadows on 3-10 and makes his sophomore bow in the Rebel Stakes. 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. Breezed 4f in :49.40 (13/39) at Palm Meadows on 3-10. Derby Points (10).

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Promising Lukas trainee set the pace and held the place in his needed Gazebo Stakes (6 furlongs) return at Oaklawn Park on 3-2. Breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (2/14) at Oaklawn Park on 3-12. The G3 Sunland Derby (March 24) is next on his dance card and Gary Stevens will ride.

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 drilled a 4f bullet in :48 (1/26) at Betfair Hollywood Park on 3-11 and will try two turns for the first time in the Rebel.

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 skipped the Rebel in favor of the Spiral a week later. Breezed 5f in 1:01.48 (6/26) at Palm Meadows on 3-10. Derby Points (4).

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

Frac Daddy (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 a 5f bullet in :58.47 (1/25) at Gulfstream Park on 3-8 and will try his luck in the G1 Florida Derby as opposed to the Spiral Stakes as originally intended. Derby Points (4).

Gabriel Charles (Street Boss) – He smartly won a downhill turf sprint (86 BSF) on the Saturday BC undercard at Santa Anita and was last seen landing the place in the Eddie Logan Stakes (off the turf) on 12-29. No published works since 1-31.

Goldencents is the latest Top 10 casualty after fading in the San Felipe – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Champagne runner-up went all the way in the G3 Delta Jackpot and scored again in the G3 Sham Stakes. He faded to 4th in the San Felipe and appears to have distance limitations. O’Neill trainee is targeting the Santa Anita Derby. Derby Points (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 and looks like a one hit wonder after three disappointing efforts since. He raced for his third trainer (Marty Wolfson) in last weekend’s G3 Swale Stakes (finished 6th).

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 4f in :50.20 (24/39) at Palm Meadows on 3-10.

Pataky Kid (Rockport Harbor) – G3 Arl-Wash Futurity hero finished a disappointing 7th in the G2 Hutcheson in his first start of the year. He finished 3rd to Noble Tune in a Tampa Bay turf allowance affair. 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 5f in 1:01 (25/82) at Santa Anita on 3-11. Derby Points (10).

Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday) – BC Juvenile winner and 2yo champ tasted defeat for the first time in the Holy Bull but was hardly disgraced in a clear place finish. I always had my doubts about his stamina and he did nothing to sway my opinion in the Holy Bull. Breezed 5f in 1:02.90 (18/26) at Palm Meadows on 3-10. Derby Points (24).

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

Uncaptured (Lion Heart) – Mark Casse’s Ontario-bred ran his record to 6-for-7 in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He probably goes next in Turfway’s Spiral. Breezed a flat mile in 1:40 (1/2) at Ocala Training Center on 3-12 and probably goes next in Turfway’s Spiral. 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.

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

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

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

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

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