Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kentucky Derby Top 10

Derby Top 10 - March 18th

1. Pyro (2)
2. Denis Of Cork (5)
3. Cool Coal Man (4)
4. Colonel John (6)
5. Elysium Fields (7)
6. Sierra Sunset (new)
7. Georgie Boy (10)
8. El Gato Malo (8)
9. Court Vision (9)
10. War Pass (1)

Ever since this Derby list began I've been removing horses from the Top 10 and Radar every week. I removed some for injury but the vast majority of my cuts were due to under performance. This past weekend was almost enough to make me rethink my policy however because I have been operating under the assumption that some of the horses from this crop were genuinely good and that in order to win all the others would have to measure up. It is becoming more and more apparent to me that any horse from this group should be able to win the Derby even the lamentably slow Big Truck. The Tampa Bay Derby was quite a shocking race, War Pass was soundly defeated and his only saving grace was that his performance was so bad it simply cannot be an accurate reflection of what he is capable of. In terms of ability I think he is just as capable of wiring the Wood and Derby as he ever was but the reason I dropped him to 10th place on my list is that I now have serious doubts about his fitness and even mental toughness. Horses can run a terrible prep this close to the Derby and still recover but the fact is most don't. There is usually a reason why they run so badly and with time as short as it is that reason may not be cleared up in time to matter. Big Truck and Atoned are both on the radar, neither makes it into the top 10. Despite the fact that I'm trying to embrace the notion that any horse can win this Derby I'm still put off by the fact that the Tampa Bay Derby represents the best career effort by both of these horses and it is still well short of what horses like Pyro, Colonel John and Denis Of Cork seem capable of. I like Atoned far better than Big Truck because I think he has more upside. The one downside to him though is that he seems to be a loser. There is really no excuse for being second 4 times in a row, especially when 3 of the races were photo finishes. That indicates a mental problem, I wish Atoned had more time between now and the Derby to work it out. Part of me secretly wants to see him run a bad one next time out. That is often how these habitual losers break out of their funk. Then they become a great candidate at better odds next time out. Sierra Sunset makes a very high debut on the Top 10 list, checking in at #6. I thought his performance in the Rebel was just about as good as any two turn performance by a 3yo this year aside from possibly the Southwest where he ran a similar race but was easily beaten by Denis Of Cork who moved to second on the list despite not having run. Sierra Sunset, Liberty Bull and Isabull all came out of that race to run very well and it leads one to believe that Denis Of Cork may just be the big horse on the trail. He'll still be terribly short on seasoning but that be overcome if he is good enough and the competition is bad enough. Z Fortune gets dropped from the list entirely. I still like him as a horse but he ran well below expectations and I don't think he'll be rebounding in a big way next time out. Prior to the San Felipe I compared Georgie Boy to Came Home and the comparison looks more than apt at this stage. I think Georgie Boy has a definite ceiling distance wise and he won't get 10f. The San Felipe only further confirmed that notion. Why is he on my top 10? Because I think class will count for something in a crop that is this slow and Georgie Boy definitely has class. Is he likely to win the Derby? No, but there certainly aren't 10 more likely candidates out there. Personally I could only find 6. The top 10 list is unofficially starting to split between horses that I think are likely winners and horses that I consider as more in the money shots. Realistically after the final preps are run I'm not still going to believe that a full 10 horses are likely Derby winners so an unofficial line gets drawn. Right now I'd put the line under Sierra Sunset, all the horses below him are not as likely to win but are more than capable to hit the frame. Eight Belles has moved to the top of the radar list with the news that Rick Porter is considering nominating her to the Triple Crown. Given the quality of this years group of fillies relative to the colts I think she would have a decent shot but I'll wait until she is officially nominated before I decide to put her in the Top 10.

On the radar: Eight Belles, Visionaire, Big Brown, Atoned, Cowboy Cal, Tomcito, Big Truck

Dropped: Z Fortune (3), Shediak

1 comment:

peeptoad said...

This is a rather tentative top 10 from me, and is liable to change as I rethink the overall preps to date. The fact that the former heavy favorite finished dead last in a race that he really should have won (or at least placed in), coupled with the lack of any sort of breakout performance from any contender has left this Derby completely wide open.
For now here is my list:

2.Colonel John
3.Denis of Cork
4.Georgie Boy
5.El Gato Malo
6.Sierra Sunset
7.War Pass
8.Elysium Fields
9.Cool Coal Man
10.Court Vision

radar: Eight Belles, Visionaire, Atoned, Big Truck

Pyro gains the top spot by default, and most of those below him have simply moved up as a result. I'm not thrilled with Col. John in the 2nd spot, but he's there for now. I've moved Denis of Cork up because the form from the Southwest is looking stronger and stronger due to the victories of Sierra Sunset (enters at #6) and Liberty Bull (shipped across and won the stakes at Sunland). War Pass drops to the lower half, but has a chance to move back up if he returns to form in the Wood. I'm of the opinion that his performance on Saturday was due to multiple factors and not just one element. I feel that he didn't handle the track all that well, and that he may very well be one of those horses that, when headed, is at a significant disadvantage. This was the first time in his career that he'd been denied the lead, and that can cause some horses to spit the bit. I've seen it happen before. That is not a good sign for the Derby though. I also don't believe that he is suffering from some undetected illness or injury (although I could very well be proven wrong). His prior races were so much better than his last that I have to throw it out and, therefore he's not dropped completely.
I can't remember a year when so many Derby preps had the slow early fractions that these have. Even Eight Belles (who is the most exciting prospect to me currently) just won a race where they ran 1:13 & change for the 6F split. Claimers at SA generally run faster than that. Georgie Boy too got stuck behind a slow early pace. I was impressed with the way he finished though and, while 10F may not be ideal, he's definitely a horse with the class to run with everybody else. That may not be saying much though...