Looking at the 2016 Kentucky Derby Radar

April 19, 2016

Those who know or follow me are well aware I rarely make my Kentucky Derby pick until race day. I prefer knowing the actual field, post positions, weather, pace, riders, and training factors. That’s not changing. As a student of the game, and enthusiast of the greatest two minutes in sports, I follow the Kentucky Derby horses with vigor, and pride myself on my observations. This year I’ve decided to share my early Derby radar views with Past the Wire readers. I’m doing it early, so check back from time to time for news and workout updates, especially after I completely read Thoro-Graph and Formulator.

We’ll touch base on just about all potential runners, in point system order. They say there are no guarantees in horse racing, nonsense, I guarantee the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner is on this list.

To clarify a few things, when I say contender, I mean a horse I think can win. When I say pretender, I mean a horse I think can’t win. Top contender is just that! A toss is a toss!  Remember we are talking about the win only. Yes, I’m aware of all “the rules” and “stats” about who can and who can’t win, and what’s required as a prerequisite or what can’t be overcome. You know, just like the Dosage Index, weeks between the last prep, where the horse was at the eighth pole in their prior start, and where and what time the barn foreman got his morning coffee.

They say if you can’t say something better yourself, use a great quote, so here it is:

IMG_2943

Gun Runner

Gun Runner working at Churchill Downs
Gun Runner working at Churchill Downs

This Candy Ride colt out of a Giant’s Causeway mare leads the point system with 151. He has over $800k in earnings to go with that. This Steve Asmussen trained colt should have no distance limitations breeding wise. He comes into The Derby off wins in The Risen Star and Louisiana Derby at The Fair Grounds. He also broke his maiden last year at Churchill Downs, a plus in my book. Hkentis jock is one of the hottest and most improved in the country right now, and that’s also a big plus. Florent Geroux is riding really well. He’s 4 for 5 lifetime, and an athletic sort which helps in a large field. The main knock is, The Fair Grounds has not exactly been the yellow brick road to the first Saturday in May, but that can change in about two minutes. Mo Tom has had some tough trips behind Gun Runner in his last two, and if he makes the field that has to be considered. I also like his steady progression. CONTENDER 

UPDATE 1 4/41/2016 I’ve reviewed the Thor0-Graph sheet on Gun Runner. I’ve also watched his replays a few more times. I can’t take him off the contender list as Florent Geroux is riding way too clutch and good. Furthermore he fits my profile of slow steady progress, with no regression. That signifies a peak effort can be coming. On the downside, he’ll need one. He’s a little slower than some in here, and a little slower at this point than I like to see on Thoro-Graph. He’s gone from a 7 to a 5, and I like that, especially with no regression, I just wish it was faster.  The relevant Formulator stats on Steve Asmussen are all good. He also seems to be right back at home over the Churchill Downs strip. 

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 This colt is training well and figures to most to sit a good trip. I respect him, and won’t talk anyone off him, but I think he’ll be closer than I’d like. I think he probably gets a piece if anything.

UPDATE 3 5/1/2016 The points leader, with an excellent record is not really getting a lot of respect. If you like him you should get good value. He looks like third or fourth choice at best. 

Nyquist

Nyquist in action
        Nyquist in action

The undefeated two-year old champ is second in the point standings with 130. He has a lofty $3.2 mil plus in earnings to go along with that. Winning The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile will have that effect on earnings, it hasn’t exactly been The Road to the Roses though has it? Only Street Sense has won the Juvenile and The Derby. Again, that can change in about two minutes. Nyquist has handled everything thrown at him. He’s handled different tracks and distances, he’s shipped well. He’s versatile. One track he hasn’t raced at yet is Churchill Downs.

He’s tough to knock but for an undefeated Breeders’ Cup winner, his bandwagon isn’t exactly tipping over. Doug O’Neill is an experienced Derby winning trainer, for these very same owners. By the white hot sire Uncle Mo, who did have distance questions, and was somewhat over rated on the racetrack in my opinion, Nyquist may have those same questions stretching out to a mile and a quarter. I don’t think he’ll get much help there from his dam’s side, Forestry, with an average winning distance of just over 6 furlongs, but there is no doubting his gameness, or his connections’ ability to win the big one.

His Florida Derby may not have been as impressive as people think, there were some over matched runners in the race, and the main competition Moyhamen, just didn’t show up after a wide trip over a funny type of wet track. Nyquist seemed to be drifting late while clear in the stretch and we won’t know until the first Saturday in May whether he was tired or just a little green. Although there is skepticism, especially at short odds, CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Nyquist seems to be doing fine in Kentucky. This is no surprise as he’s traveled well and adapted before. I watched his Florida Derby again, and have also reviewed his Thoro-Graph numbers and pattern. I tend to think he was more green than tired in Florida. He really shouldn’t have been as it was his 7th start over 4 different tracks. I still question what was behind him, now more than ever. In comparison to Gun Runner he’s faster at this point. While he doesn’t have the same steady as a rock progression I personally love, he’s running 2’s and 3’s, which he also did as a two-year old. I can’t knock him, but he won’t be getting a marriage proposal either.

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 I’m not wild about working at Keeneland as opposed to Churchill Downs. I’m not going to question Doug O’Neill, but I may not be betting on him either. I think he gets caught up in the pace and that and the distance creates some late problems. 

UPDATE 3 5/1/2016 The undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and two-year old Eclipse champion is the Rodney Dangerfield (RIP) of the race. He just doesn’t get the respect his resume calls for. If you believe he can get a mile and a quarter, and aren’t scared of his working at Keeneland as opposed to Churchill Downs, you’ll get a fair priced favorite.

Exaggerator

Exaggerator game face
Exaggerator game face

This colt is third in the point standings with 126. He has $1.6 mil plus in earnings to boast as well. He’s also coming off the most visually impressive of all The Kentucky Derby Preps. He’s by Curlin, out of a Vindication mare, Vindication was by Seattle Slew and a fine Bob Baffert prospect when retired due to an injury. I like this colt’s breeding even though Vindication mares haven’t been extremely productive at distances greater than 7 furlongs. The biggest question with this colt is, can he reproduce the huge move that carried him to victory in The Santa Anita Derby, on the first Saturday in May.

IMG_3526After looking at his Thoro-Graph sheet and pattern I think he can. I actually think he can go forward. It will also be wise to watch his training into the race. He has the credentials, and that move was impressive, but it did come into a fast pace and ideal set up. Furthermore, Joe Talamo commented in a race run close on the card to The Santa Anita Derby that track was kind to closers coming down the crown. Despite that, his pattern on Thoro-Graph screams quality to me. I like that this colt has handled trouble, rough trips, a bull ring track, shipping, and even ran well when sick and not 100%. He also doesn’t have to be as far back as he was in California last time. If he doesn’t come up a bounce candidate, and trains well, he’s legit. CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 The more I look the more I like. He’s already run faster than Nyquist on Thoro-Graph. Some will say, and I agree he ran into a perfect set up last time, but, that’s not the only time he’s run as fast as Nyquist, nor is it his only impressive race. The perfect set up may mean the race did not take that much out of him. If you think he needs a perfect set up than just watch his race at two-years old in The Grade 2 Saratoga Special. I respect any horse that can win at two-years old at Del Mar and Saratoga 3 weeks apart. Rain won’t hurt a bit either.  TOP CONTENDER

Outwork

Outwork winning the Wood Memorial
Outwork winning the Wood Memorial

This colt checks in fourth in the point standings with 120, and brings $660k in earnings with him to Louisville. While he is lightly raced and improving, qualities I look for, I’m not so sure the first Saturday in May will be his day to shine. He gets a slight upgrade with two races over the quirky Tampa Bay Downs strip which is a fine track to get “legged up” over, but I don’t think it will be enough. His victory in The Wood Memorial, while game, was over an 80-1 maiden who gave him all he could handle. Between that and The Wood Memorial’s drought on producing a Kentucky Derby winner, I have to downgrade his chances. He’s from the powerhouse stable of Todd Pletcher, but Todd does not exactly excel in The Derby, so I think this one is up against it. By Uncle Mo, we have distance questions on top, but those should be helped considerably being out of an Empire  Maker dam. He’s got speed, likes it wet, so watch for track conditions and the pace and post scenario, but overall I say PRETENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 After watching Outwork’s Wood Memorial again, and Looking at his Thoro-Graph number, which was a more than respectable 1, combined with The Formulator stats on Todd Pletcher in The Derby, I am looking to a bounce on the first Saturday in May. TOSS

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 I think he prompts the pace and insures it’s faster and more contested than many think it will be.

UPDATE 3 5/1/2016 There is a lot of positive talk regarding his last work, that’s good if you are a believer in him. It wasn’t enough to change my opinion. 

Brody’s Cause

October 03, 2015: Brody's Cause and jockey Corey Lanerie win the 102nd running of the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (Grade 1) $500,000 "Win and You're In Juvenile Division" for trainer Dale Romans, and owner Albaugh Family Stable. Candice Chavez/ESW/CSM
                    Brody’s Cause in action

This Giant’s Causeway colt comes in fifth in the point standings with 114. He’s earned $1.1 mil and comes in off a win in The Blue Grass at Keeneland. Now that The Blue Grass is back on conventional dirt, it seeks to become the relevant Kentucky Derby prep it once was. I believe it will. I don’t believe it has to be this year with Brody’s Cause. I think there were horses in The Blue Grass with more upside than him. Although this horse has the benefit of Dale Romans, as good a trainer as any at getting a horse ready for a big race, and a win over the track in his maiden breaker, he just looks a little on the slow side to me. I reserve the right to look at Thoro-Graph once it comes out before finalizing my opinion on whether he’s fast enough or can improve enough to win, but as of now I call him a PRETENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 As promised I reviewed the Thoro-Graph sheet on Brody’s Cause. I also watched his Blue Grass win a few more times. He’ll need some pace help, but he’s not as slow as I thought, and looks like he’ll get stronger as they go longer. Dale Romans is too good, and he’s already run 3’s on Thoro-Graph. I also like Luis Saez being one for one on him. He’s a strong finishing rider. Change of heart. CONTENDER

Creator

Ricardo Santana Jr and Creator after the Arkansas Derby
Ricardo Santana Jr and Creator after the Arkansas Derby

Our sixth place horse in the point standings comes in with 110. He backs that up with $690k in earnings fresh off a come from Central Avenue victory in The Arkansas Derby. The one thing this horse lacks is early speed. That usually makes them pace dependent, and at a disadvantage, but also makes them dangerous when things go right.

This Tapit colt has no distance limitations breeding wise. Tapits, while precocious and sometimes questionable at longer distances, as they tend to be headstrong and difficult to rate, this colt has already shown he doesn’t have that problem and should run all day. He gets plenty of help on his dam’s side. His dam’s sire’s average winning distance is eight and one half furlongs. Not bad, and Steve Asmussen debuted this colt at a mile and a sixteenth on grass as a two-year old, I suspect because he wanted to run him long. He was wide, closed fast, and gave every indication even back then he wants a distance of ground.

He’ll get it in The Run for the Roses. He brings it every time, and he may have gained some needed confidence in Arkansas. He’s run well over the Churchill dirt and the Arkansas dirt, so liking the track is not an issue. Ricardo Santana Jr. is a tough, aggressive and hungry young rider. He’s got that slow steady improvement I love and just needs to overcome the lack of early speed. This colt gives Steve Asmussen lots to be excited about come Derby Day. DANGEROUS CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Another the more I look the more I like. While pace dependent coming from far back and devoid of early speed, this colt is by no means slow and will run all day. He’s hit a 2 on Thoro-Graph, and has slowly and steadily improved in his last three starts. He took a while to come around, but he’s peaking at the right time. TOP CONTENDER

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 I loved this colt’s last work. Although it was just a maintenance move, he looked great, was moving well on the outside, and really filled his lungs and galloped out strong towards the end. He wasn’t asked for speed, and that’s fine. he really had a nice stride and screamed I’ll be loaded in the stretch if you were listening. Contrary to most I think the pace scenario favors him. 

Lani

Lani winning the UAE Derby
               Lani winning the UAE Derby

Our seventh place point holder with 100 is an interesting horse. He brings $1.3 mil in earnings with him to Kentucky. This UAE Derby winner has not taken the conventional road to The Run for the Roses, but he’s here just the same, and in a wide open competitive year, deserves consideration despite the path he’s chosen to go down.

Again no UAE Derby winner has ever won the Roses, but we know it takes just about two minutes to change that. This horse is interesting. He’s won in Dubai at a mile and three sixteenths, he’s won in Japan against Group 2 company. He’s a Tapit, bred in Kentucky out of a Japanese Sunday Silence mare. Sunday Silence bred distance winners with an average of almost 9 furlongs, so this interesting addition to the 2016 Kentucky Derby should have no distance questions. Is he good enough? He beat Polar River in Dubai, and looked good in the process. Despite the obstacles, this is a funny year in my book, so I have to call this mystery horse a CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 While I continue to think this is an unorthodox year, and this is a very close crop in terms of talent and ability, I don’t think I can sink my teeth into Lani. I’m intrigued with the dam’s side of the family, and I am sure he can run all day, but not sure he’s this caliber, or this fast. I watched The UAE Derby again, and it wasn’t enough for me. He received a 5 on Thoro-Graph in The UAE Derby and that won’t cut it. Lasix on race day would be a positive, and might even prompt me to put him back on the contender list. He’s looked good at Churchill Downs thus far, not great. Mystery horse in a funny year but TOSS

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 He’s pretty, but this is The Kentucky Derby not a beauty pageant. I wasn’t wild about his work either.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit in action
                     Mor Spirit in action

Taking any Bob Baffert horse lightly on The Triple Crown trail can easily turn out to be a mistake, and that could very well be the case if you dismiss the eighth place point holder with 84 from your list of contenders. This horse has also earned just over $616k. This colt is by Eskendereya, a highly regarded Kentucky Derby favorite from Todd Pletcher and Zayat Stables, who was injured and retired before the race.

There are many who believe that Wood Memorial winner would have changed the Wood Memorial drought had he not missed the race. That we will never know but it looks like we will know if his son Mor Spirit can pull it off. Mor Spirit is coming off two strange looking races to me. In both The San Felipe, and The Santa Anita Derby, he looked finished on the turn. I didn’t expect him to hit the board in either race after about three quarters of a mile. In both races he seemed to re gather himself and close nicely for second without threatening either winner, Danzing Candy and Exaggerator respectively, both of whom he’ll likely face in The Derby. Given his connections, and the heady nature of Gary Stevens, I have to at least think it’s possible they were pointing this colt for his best come the first Saturday in May. He’s out of a Dixie Union mare, and that does not scream distance, but I’ve got to call him a CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 I am convinced more than ever Bob Baffert and Gary Stevens are priming this colt for a peak effort in The Run for the Roses. They are both adept at that, points have not been a concern, and I’ve watched his last two races more than any other horse in the race and remain convinced they are setting him up for the attempted kill. He’s already gone from an 8 to a 1 on Thoro-Graph in a second off the layoff situation so he can improve significantly race to race. He’s coming off a 4, and has two back 1’s, so he is definitely fast enough. Baffert is always dangerous, Gary is a master and this horse is a MAJOR CONTENDER

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 I still like everything I am seeing from this one. I’m pretty sure he’ll run a much improved race the first Saturday in May. I’ve watched the last two replays yet again, and I still see something the last sixteenth of both I really like. The only concern is the sprint tendency on the dam’s side of the family. He can also be placed just about anywhere Gary wants him, that is a huge plus. 

Moyhamen

Mohaymen in his Churchill Downs stall
Mohaymen in his Churchill Downs stall

This horse is ninth in the point standings with 80. He has just over $807k in earnings. Had he won The Florida Derby, he likely would have been a short priced favorite heading into The Run for the Roses. We all know how often these 2.2 mil purchases fail to live up to their price. I thought this one may, but after seeing him come up flat out empty against Nyquist in The Florida Derby, I have my doubts. Excuses? Maybe. It was a funny type of wet track he hadn’t seen before. He was wide the entire way, except in deep stretch when Nyquist actually drifted wider than he was. The trouble is this expensive Tapit colt just had no fight in the stretch. Although his mare doesn’t scream distance, I liked her a lot. She was tough. It wouldn’t surprise me at this point if Moyhamen is best at middle distances on turf. I know it’s been a while since Kiaran McLaughlin won a stake at Churchill Downs, but that’s not my cause for pause. Nor is the ability to bounce back off a subpar effort. I just would have liked to see more fight. Unless this horse trains super at Churchill Downs, I probably won’t be using, so check back periodically, I’m going to say iffy CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Moyhamen’s latest work has caused a lot of buzz at Churchill Downs. Why wouldn’t it? It was fast but this horse has been working fast and creating a buzz since he was a two-year old at Saratoga. He’s fast no doubt, but I can’t get past the way he had no fight in The Florida Derby. After watching it again, he was wide for sure, but the trip wasn’t that bad and if he hated the track I doubt he would have ranged up into contention. Other than Nyquist I’m not overly impressed with what he was facing either. You need fight for The Derby, and he didn’t show it when he needed to. This one goes from iffy contender to PRETENDER

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 This colt is the rave of the workouts, and is indeed working fast. That is no surprise though, he’s always been a fast eye catching worker. At a mile and a quarter, off these works, I think he will be closer to the pace than in his previous efforts. I don’t necessarily think that is a good thing. It will heat up the pace battle however.

Danzing Candy

Danzing Candy
                      Danzing Candy

Our tenth place point standings horse has 60 to go with his $290k in earnings. This colt is by Twirling Candy who I personally think is going to make a good sire. Twirling Candy was capable of a very big race at times and I suspect he will pass that down to some of his offspring. The mile and a quarter is questionable however and he’ll get no help there from his dam’s side with her by Songandaprayer. This colt has speed, and the crafty and always dangerous Mike Smith, especially on the biggest stages in The Sport of Kings, but he’ll need some horse under him. He handled The San Felipe but couldn’t match that effort in The Santa Anita Derby when setting a fast early pace over a track he reportedly didn’t like. Mike is one of the best, and if anyone can get a horse to get a distance beyond their scope it’s him, but I have to call PRETENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 This colt is fast enough at his best to win the race. He’s  run a 1 on Thoro-Graph, and that could get the job done. There aren’t any better than Mike Smith when the money is on the line. Can he steal this race, maybe, but the last three sixteenths of a mile may get dicey for him considering how fast he’ll have to run early to try and wire these. Speed’s always dangerous, especially with Mike guiding it, but he’s still a PRETENDER

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 Insures a fast pace. He has to try and clear and has really only run that way. 

Destin

Destin at Tampa Bay
                     Destin at Tampa Bay

In eleventh place, we have Destin with 51 points. He also brings $338k in earnings to the table. What’s that old saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Well whatever it is, Todd Pletcher is taking a somewhat new road to the 2016 Kentucky Derby. He’s coming fresh off a layoff since March 12th, when he took The Tampa Bay Derby. You know I like “legging up” at Tampa, and this horse has two wins over the tiring Tampa strip. By Giant’s Causeway he gets enough pedigree power in my book to overcome the dam’s side sprint tendencies and I like the new approach from Pletcher. Gone are the old rules and dosage indexes. It’s a new game and not only do bettors have to adjust, so do trainers. This horse lays close and rallies, not a bad plan come May 7th. CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 This colt has run faster than anyone in the race thus far with with a 0- on Thoro-Graph. He did it at Tampa Bay Downs, usually a tiring track, and was coming off a 7 so it was a big forward move. A little too big for me even with the extra time off. While I like Todd Pletcher trying something new, I see a bounce, TOSS

Suddenbreakingnews

Suddenbreakingnews
                    Suddenbreakingnews

This colt is in twelfth place with 50 points and $637k in earnings. This deep closer closer by Mineshaft out of an Afleet Alex mare leaves himself a lot to do, but is bred to run all day. He needs pace help up  front and despite big runs in The Southwest to win, and The Arkansas Derby to get second, I’m not a believer and think we’ve seen his best. Maybe a piece but PRETENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Interestingly enough, I like the horse who finished in front of him in The Arkansas Derby, and behind him in The Arkansas Derby better. A lot of people like him, and he may be somewhat of a “wiseguy” horse come race day but I’m not sold. He’s got a 1 on Thoro-Graph, so I can’t toss, nut looks more likely to get a piece if anything. PRETENDER

Cupid

Our second guarantee of the article. Thirteenth place point holder Cupid will not win the 2016 Kentucky Derby. He has defected after his poor performance in The Arkansas Derby.

Oscar Nominated

Oscar Nominated gets up
         Oscar Nominated gets up

In fourteenth place, we have the only supplement to the race with 50 points . He also has earnings of $321k to go with that. This horse was claimed from Bill Mott for 75k last October. He’s bred to run all day but primarily on turf. Although the Churchill Downs dirt is said to be turf horse friendly, I can’t see The Derby winner being claimed off Bill Mott and I know how good Linda Rice did with Kid Cruz. This horse has never raced on dirt, and I don’t see him winning the race. Maybe if he passes Bruno in a work and the wind rips off his shirt I’ll reconsider. Barring that PRETENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 The more I look the less I like. Too much to overcome for me. TOSS

Shagaf

Shagaf
                                 Shagaf

In fifteenth place in the points we have this Shadwell colt with 50. He has $270k in earnings to go with it. While I almost abandoned one Shadwell colt, Moyhamen off a bad race in The Florida Derby, I’m not abandoning Shagaf off a bad race in The Wood Memorial. Forget that the Wood hasn’t produced a Derby winner in forever, we’re rule breakers and trend setters, leaders, not followers so those things don’t scare us. This is a very lightly raced horse, he overcame a strong speed bias to take The Gotham, and maybe didn’t care for the mud last time. I’m going to give this son of Bernardini out of an Unbridled’s Song mare a pass in that last one. This colt still has room for development and improvement and it will take some to get the Roses, but it’s not hopeless. Being trained by Chad Brown doesn’t hurt the cause. CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 This colt loses Irad Ortiz Jr. to My Man Sam, the other Chad Brown runner. Irad is riding a lot for Chad. He picks up Joel Rosario, and Joel is coming back from a broken wrist which required a metal plate put in. I don’t view this as a positive for Shagaf who while still lightly raced and eligible to improve, hasn’t really impressed in his last two. He’s eligible, but doubtful, Joel may take him way back like he likes to do and make a run, so we’ll leave him a questionable CONTENDER

Whitmore

Whitmore heading to the gate
Whitmore heading to the gate

In sixteenth place in the points, we have this Pleasantly Perfect colt with 44. He also has $400k in earnings. He’s accomplished all this without winning a major prep and finding trouble in his last 4 starts, most recently The Rebel and Arkansas Derby. He’ll likely lose Irad Ortiz Jr. to Chad Brown’s Shagaf, and losing Irad can’t be good as you’d have to bet there are Kentucky Derbys with his name on them, but this horse is going to get his trip at some point and make some noise. Out of a Scat Daddy mare, I’m not too concerned he can handle the distance and Ron Moquett can get one to jump up and run a big one, at times when least expected. I’m curious who gets this mount (is Jose open?), but I say CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 This colt picks up Victor Espinoza, the hottest Kentucky Derby jockey the past few years. That can’t hurt and he remains a player. It figured Irad Ortiz Jr. would stick with one of the Chad Brown horses, as Chad is a regular client he rides regularly for. I wouldn’t read too much into it. He’s paired 2’s on Thoro-Graph, and could improve again and be right in it, especially with a good trip. CONTENDER

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 This colt looks good, and will get his trip some day. 

Tom’s Ready

Tom's Ready
                               Tom’s Ready

This colt comes in seventeenth with 44 points and $270k plus in earnings. One has to commend trainer Dallas Stewart on his fine classic preparation, winning The Kentucky Oaks with the biggest long shot to ever win the race, Lemons Forever. Barbaro won the Derby that year and I hit The Oaks-Derby Double for a very nice score. If memory serves correctly, it paid $800 and change for $2. Dallas has also hit the board at big prices in The Kentucky Derby so he demands respect. I just don’t think he has a horse good enough this year to win it. Tom’s Ready is bred to go the distance, but seems one paced and leveled off as opposed to on the improve. PRETENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Nothing has really changed my feelings towards this one yet. I still think the best thing going for him is Dallas Stewart. Not enough TOSS

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 If Dallas Stewart was running I’d use him, he isn’t though, so this horse I can’t see for the win.

My Man Sam:

My Man Sam
                          My Man Sam

This lightly raced, improving colt comes in eigthteenth with 40 points and $251k plus in earnings. While sire Trappe Shot was a sprinter, he was by Tapit and this colt is out of an Arch mare, so I’m not distance concerned. This colt is in the capable hands of Chad Brown, and we have yet to see close to his best. He’s had three wide trips, the most recent being The Blue Grass where he dropped farther back than normal and made up a ton of ground. He seems to be coming to a new peak or top effort and if that is good enough he can get the job done. CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 This lightly raced improving runner picks up Irad Ortiz Jr., who could have likely stuck with Whitmore or Shagaf. That’s a nice tell in my book, and you have to think the connections, very respectable connections to say the least, like this ones chances. He’s got that great slow steady improving pattern I love, but will likely be a tad over bet for what he has actually accomplished. He was all in and ran hard in The Blue Grass, and will have to avoid a possible regression, but he’s a player if he does CONTENDER

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 Not only did Irad chose this colt over Shagaf and Whitmore, he flew to Churchill Downs last Sunday, worked him, and flew back to Aqueduct to ride the Sunday card. I’ll call that a big positive in my book. 

Majesto

Our nineteenth place point holder has 40 along with $190k in earnings. While he’s run some fast races, this horse will have to improve again to get the Roses. He went from his maiden breaker to The Florida Derby and was far from disgraced, finishing second. With Moyhamen not firing, I’m just not sure all that was behind him and I don’t think he is up to this task. He’s bred for it no doubt by Tiznow out of an Unaccounted For mare, but not yet at this level in my book. PRETENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Too slow for me TOSS

Trojan Nation

Trojan Nation battles inside Outwork
   Trojan Nation battles inside Outwork

This colt is twentieth with 40 points and $213k in earnings. He’s also a maiden. While we spoke about not adhering to rules, and how they all get broken at some point, and how we give each horse their fair due, does anyone think a maiden takes it this year? As wide open as I think it is, a maiden has to be a tough take. Granted this horse was buried on the rail against Outwork in The Wood Memorial, and lost by a scant head, he’s still a maiden and is hard to use here. He’s bred, and that’s a plus, but not nearly enough. PRETENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Nothing new to report here yet PRETENDER

Mo Tom

Mo Tom
                                      Mo Tom

This interesting player comes in tweny-first with 32 points and $268k in earnings. If not for the early defection of Cupid, he would have been on the outside looking in. Now he’s in and he comes off two well chronicled troubled trips. Those will likely make him a “wise guy’ horse and he’ll take money. He is in the crafty hands of Tom Amoss, and that helps. He’s an Uncle Mo, so he’ll have to stretch some distance limitations, and being out of a Rubiano mare, he may not get the help he needs those final few furlongs. His three last races and the trouble encountered make him bear watching but with fair skepticism. Many times, closers stretching out further than their preference just don’t have that same kick. Iffy CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 A lot of people like this runner, and I originally had him a contender, iffy, but a contender. Change of heart, looks too slow. I’m going to call him a PRETENDER

Fellowship

This colt in twenty-second has 32 points and $206k in earnings. He’s a steady sort who is bred more for shorter distances if not sprints and seems a cut below here. He’d be a surprise if he goes and wins. While steady, and a nice horse, he just doesn’t look like he can find a way to be best here. PRETENDER

Adventist

Treadway Stables Owners of Adventist
Treadway Stables Owners of Adventist

In twenty-third, this colt has 32 points and $155k in earnings. He is in the capable well-schooled hands of Leah Gyarmati, who knows her share about nice horses, and he is also lightly raced and improving. Frankly, I would not be shocked if he’s this good down the line, but not come the first Saturday in May. He hasn’t regressed yet, and Leah did learn from The Chief himself, may he RIP, and we know they didn’t call him The Giant Killer for nothing. CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Too slow Toss

Laoban

Laoban
                   Laoban

This one is twenty-fourth with 32 points and $142k in earnings. He’s also a maiden, an Uncle Mo out of a Speightstown mare, and would be really up against it here. While I never underestimate Speightstown, this is just too much to ask. PRETENDER

Dazzling Gem

Dazzling Gem at Oaklawn
            Dazzling Gem at Oaklawn

This one is twenty-fifth with 30 points and $150k in earnings. He’s really yet to run a bad race, and would have to break the Apollo curse of winning The Kentucky Derby without running as a two-year old. That doesn’t scare me but he’s probably not going to get the chance at twenty-fourth in the standings, but with a few maidens, who knows who can defect. He’s bred just borderline good enough but I’ll take a flyer respecting Brad Cox an awful lot and say he has a chance if he gets to run. CONTENDER

Cherry Wine

Cherry Wine looking sharp
             Cherry Wine looking sharp

In twenty-sixth place with 25 points and $145k in earnings is this talented colt from Dale Romans. This Paddy O’ Prado colt out of an Unbridled’s Song mare should probably not be on the outside looking in. He just missed second in The Blue Grass, and also caught some traffic in The Rebel where he was fourth. With a little luck, he could have done better in both and been in the gate come The Run for the Roses. Now this horse needs some help. He was training great in Florida over the winter. He put together back to back nice wins in a Maiden Special Weight at Churchill Downs, and after getting down to Gulfstream Park, won a nice allowance race putting him on a lot of people’s lists of horses to watch. Two rough trips and no progression leaves him on the outside looking in, but with a good trip and forward move he can deliver on that promise. Of course he has to get in the race first. CONTENDER

UPDATE 1 4/21/2016 Paired 5’s on Thoro-Graph, will need to improve, but just may CONTENDER

UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 I’m hoping somehow he gets to run

****UPDATE 2 4/28/2016 PACE SCENARIO: Most of what I’ve read seems to favor a moderate or slower pace in this year’s Derby. I disagree, I see a fast pace or decent pace at worst. Danzing Candy will go, and do you expect a quality horse like Nyquist to let him get away? I don’t. Nyquist is too competitive. Do you think Outwork will be far behind and not at least be prompting? The riders of the horses in the second flight may also be convinced, as are many handicappers (present company excluded) the pace will be on the slow side which may prompt at least a few early moves. Between that, the crowd noise and the sound of all those hooves pounding behind them, I’m looking for a fast or at least contested pace. I see a come from behind winner at this point. Of course we still have some training to watch, fine tuning to do, and most importantly the draw to factor in. The draw impacts the pace. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it doesn’t. The work is by no means finished.****

****UPDATE 3 5/1/2016 We have a wide open Kentucky Derby and great race to wager on this year. There will be value to be had regardless of which wagers you decide to go after. This year I am planning to go after and nail the pick 4 into The Kentucky Oaks, where I like a horse an awful lot, and The pick 4 into The Kentucky Derby. I also like the Oaks, Woodford, Derby pick 3 over both days as, if I am right in The Kentucky Oaks, I can wind up in a strong position. That wager became a lot more attractive when Songbird withdrew to fight another day, and with word leaking out Tepin may not go in The Woodford. When it comes to the big one, this is certainly a year you can spread a bit as opposed to locking in on one horse, especially if you can’t separate a few of them. I’m still in the minority it seems expecting a decent pace and likely a contested one but that’s fine, it’s OK to be in the minority in horse racing. Best of luck over both days, and I hope you enjoyed Derby Radar and found it helpful. I hope most of you can join in our webinar, we’ll be going into detail, and taking questions.  ****

****Past the Wire Live Interactive Webinar: Early discounted registration for  our live interactive webinar, including questions and answers, with analysis and selections and wagering strategies from Jonathan Stettin, The Pick 6 King, and guest host Mark DiLorenzo Jr is now available. They will be covering the pick 4’s ending with The Kentucky Oaks and The Kentucky Derby. The webinar will include a sheet with both analysis and selections, and for those who can’t make the webinar, the sheet will be available separately. We plan on taking down both pick 4’s and this looks like a year where there will be plenty of value. We hope you can join us. Register now at pastthewire.com****

High Five

It’s Derby Fever time for real, High Five to all Past the Wire readers and fans. Thank you all for your support and encouraging comments. From a little guest column on Danonymous Racing, Past the Wire has grown to have thousands of readers. A special high five to Dan Tordjman, who believed in the concept, and encouraged me to run with it.

Low Five

It’s only fair, Larry Collmus took it on the chin for blowing The Wood Memorial call, so Peter Aiello has to take it for blowing The Arkansas Derby call. All in fun guys, race calling is tough and you are both great at it. Remember “it can happen to anybody.”

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Jon Stettin

Jonathan’s always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. Growing up around the game, he came about as close as anyone...

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