Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Moment of Truth for War Academy

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2013 contender Revolutionary arrived at Churchill Downs on Friday, April 12. He will need a new rider for the Derby because regular pilot Javier Castellano decided to stick with Normandy Invasion.

Last weekend, Verrazano kept his perfect record intact with a solid if unspectacular victory by a bit less than a length in the slow early/fast late Wood Memorial (95 BSF).

Normandy Invasion finished well to nab the place late and punched his Derby ticket in the process. Vyjack crossed the line in 3rd, losing for the first time in his career.

Goldencents

Goldencents returns to the Top 10 after his sharp score in the SA Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Across the country at Santa Anita Park, Goldencents bounced back to smartly capture the Santa Anita Derby (105 BSF) by 1-1/4 lengths over Flashback, who came out of the race with an injury and is off the Triple Crown trail.

Kevin Krigger rode Goldencents to perfection and Doug O’Neill is firmly back in the Derby hunt after winning last year’s edition with I’ll Have Another.

Super Ninety Nine set the pace and faded to finish a well-beaten 3rd. He’s had a busy campaign and seemingly has distance limitations as well.

This week, my fifth ranked Derby contender War Academy steps up to face quality graded foes in the Arkansas Derby. Bob Baffert’s highly regarded colt gets one crack at qualifying for the Kentucky Derby and needs a 1-2 finish on Saturday to secure his spot. He has a ton of raw ability but is giving up valuable seasoning to the likes of Oxbow, Overanalyze, and his uncoupled stablemate Den’s Legacy.

Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes is also on tap for April 13 and Uncaptured is the tepid morning line favorite. We could be in for a wild finish in this always unpredictable Derby prep! Check out my Blue Grass video analysis below with special guest Joe DePaolo.

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 broke slow, raced wide, and smartly held off Mylute in the G2 LA Derby on March 30. He arrived at Churchill Downs on April 12. Derby Points (110).

2. Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his fourth straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G1 Florida Derby, and the strong finisher adapts to various pace scenarios. Joel Rosario has been named to ride on the first Saturday in May. Derby Points (150).

3. Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s colt ended 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 bounced back in the Wood Memorial to gain the place late and appears to be sitting on a career top in the Derby. Javier Castellano chose him over Orb. Derby Points (44).

4. Verrazano (More Than Ready) – Pletcher trainee cruised in his first three outings but was not nearly as brilliant winning the Wood Memorial. The unraced juvenile no longer looks like a dominant force and will probably take too much action under the Twin Spires. He will make his first appearance under the Twin Spires on April 14 and John Velazquez sticks with him. Derby Points (150).

5. War Academy (Giant’s Causeway) – Baffert’s highly regarded debut winner returned with an even 4th place finish in the San Vicente on Feb. 17. He bounced back with a stylish Optional Claiming route win (98 BSF) at Santa Anita on March 15 and is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Arkansas Derby on April 13. Worked 7f from the gate in 1:26.20 (1/3) at Santa Anita on 4-7. Mike Smith’s Derby mount?

6. Overanalyze (Dixie Union) – G2 Remsen hero finished a wide, flat 5th from post 11 in his needed Gotham return. He fires every other race so a big effort could be coming in the Arkansas Derby. Breezed 5f in 1:01.30 (4/18) at Palm Meadows on 4-7. Derby Points (10).

7. 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 bounced back with a big win in the Santa Anita Derby. Ten furlongs is his biggest Derby obstacle. Derby Points (129).

8. Uncaptured (Lion Heart) – Mark Casse’s Ontario-bred ran his record to 6-for-7 in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He finished a solid 2nd in the Spiral considering the time off due to foot problems. He breezed 5f in 1:01.40 (13/80) at Keeneland on 4-6 and the Blue Grass is his final Derby prep. Derby Points (30).

Black Onyx horse

Black Onyx breezed 5f at Churchill Downs on Saturday – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

9. Black Onyx (Rock Hard Ten) – He is 2-for-2 since Kelly Breen took over the training duties and he smartly won the G3 Spiral Stakes with a wide stalk and pounce trip under Joe Bravo. He was the first Derby contender to arrive at Churchill Downs and posted his first Louisville move on April 13, breezing 5f in 1:00.60 (3/26). Derby Points (50).

10. Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid) – Won G2 With Anticipation and G3 Bourbon on turf last year and just miss the place in the BC Juvenile Turf. He flopped in his Spiral Stakes return and gets one more chance on synthetic in the Blue Grass.

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order):

Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Still not sold on this one as a Derby contender because I am skeptical about distance and he might be a Florida specialist. G3 Holy Bull hero finished a solid 2nd in the Florida Derby, his first start in nine weeks. Breezed a 5f bullet in 1:01 (1/9) at Calder on 4-11. Derby Points (50).

Mylute (Midnight Lute) – His sire is on fire and the Amoss runner was 3rd in the Delta Jackpot, 7th in the Risen Star, and 2nd in the LA Derby.  He is on the grounds at Churchill Downs. Derby Points (42).

Oxbow (Awesome Again) – G3 Lecomte hero shows up for every dance and just missed in the G2 Rebel on March 16. Gary Stevens hops aboard for the Arkansas Derby and he drew yet another outer post. Lukas trainee can rate but he went all the way in both career wins. Derby Points (36).

Vyjack horse

Garrett Gomez will ride Vyjack in the Kentucky Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Vyjack (Into Mischief) – Tasted defeat for the first time in the Wood Memorial but was hardly disgraced with a solid show finish. Garrett Gomez has been named to ride in the Kentucky Derby. Derby Points (70).

Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner is training up to the Kentucky Derby, a rare move for Wayne Lukas. Breezed 8f in 1:40.80 (1/1) at Oaklawn Park on 4-12. Derby Points (60).

Former Top Ten Members

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

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

Frac Daddy (Scat Daddy) – Ky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up grabbed a quarter and finished 6th in the Holy Bull. He crossed the line 7th in the Florida Derby and is not ready for prime time. Breezed 5f bullet in 1:00.56 (1/13) at Gulfstream Park on 4-7 and McPeek surprisingly entered him in the Blue Grass Stakes. 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.

Know More (Lion Heart) – G1 FrontRunner place finisher was terribly mismanaged after that effort, most recently faded to last in an allowance dirt sprint at SA on 12-28. He worked 3f in :36.40 (11/28) at Santa Anita on 4-8. Derby Points (4).

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

Micromanage (Medaglia d’Oro) – Finished a distant last in the Remsen. That effort was too bad to believe but that’s back-to-back disappointments after a promising bow. Breezed 5f in 1:00.16 (3/10) at Palm Meadows (turf) on 4-8.

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 decided not to enter the Blue Grass and will point to the G2 American Turf (May 3) at Churchill instead. Breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (8/35) at Keeneland on 4-7.

Pataky Kid (Rockport Harbor) – G3 Arl-Wash Futurity hero finished 7th in the G2 Hutcheson in his first start of the year and 3rd to Noble Tune in a Tampa Bay turf allowance affair. He is 7-2 on the line in the third race (allowance turf route) at Keeneland on 4-14 and Gary Stevens will ride. Breezed 5f in 1:00.40 (6/80) at Keeneland on 4-6. 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 returned in the Santa Anita Derby and finished 5th in that needed effort. Derby Points (10).

Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit) – Facile G3 Southwest hero finished a flat 5th as the beaten favorite in the Rebel. Baffert trainee set the pace and weakened to 3rd in the SA Derby and appears to have distance limitations. Derby Points (30).

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.

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.

Flashback (Tapit) – Came out of his 2nd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby with a bone chip but is expected to make a full recovery. Derby Points (70).

Gulfport (Unbridled’s Song) – Promising Romans trainee is injured and off the Derby trail.

Hear the Ghost (Ghostzapper) – Injured his right front leg preparing for the SA Derby and if off the Triple Crown 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.

Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday) – BC Juvenile winner and 2yo champ tasted defeat for the first time in the Holy Bull and faded to 5th in the nine furlong Florida Derby. He came out of the Florida Derby with a pelvic stress fracture and will need at least three months rest. Derby Points (24).

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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