Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Kentucky Derby Top 10

Derby Top 10 - April 7th

1. Colonel John (4)
2. Pyro (1)
3. Cool Coal Man (3)
4. Big Brown (5)
5. Smooth Air (6)
6. Eight Belles (10)
7. Atoned (new)
8. Visionaire (new)
9. Court Vision (8)
10. Tomcito (new)

In my original Derby Top 10 for 2008 I had Colonel John ranked second behind War Pass and had this to say about him "Colonel John has impressed me as the best of the rest (behind War Pass), the 2yo crop has not seemed to be very good but sometimes that happens when you have a real star. Colonel John has all the right tools to eventually be a #1 Derby horse. He’s quick, he’s got some handy speed, he’s bred to run long and he’s already handled two turns with ease." Colonel John has put it all together and has finally fulfilled that promise in my eyes at least. He is my new #1 Derby horse, War Pass and Pyro are the only other horses who have been given the top spot. I really loved the performance by Colonel John in the Santa Anita Derby. Not everything went smoothly for him but he showed his class and toughness to get the job done. I was also very impressed with him physically. He looked like a man among boys in the paddock, he has a very regal build and looks every inch a classic horse. In my opinion he is the most complete Derby contender out there at the moment. The one issue that is a slight concern is that he has never run on dirt but realistically he'll either like it or he won't. Having previously run on it is not an advantage from the horse's perspective. All it does is make his backers more nervous. Truth be told there will be plenty of horses on Derby day who won't care for the track. Colonel John seems as if he'll handle dirt well. Some are also nervous about the fact that his highest lifetime Beyer figure is 95. That would make him the "slowest" winner ever but I've always said that a horse only needs to be "fast enough" to beat the horses their facing and a 95 is definitely good enough to beat this group. I also suspect (as I have since the figures were made) that all the figures on All Weather surfaces are lower than the equivalents on dirt. Beyer should probably not even be making figures for Santa Anita because they have not had enough time to establish proper pars for this new surface. Pyro drops to second but has every chance to get back on top with a good race in the Bluegrass. He'll be facing Cool Coal Man and Visionaire in what promises to be one of the most important preps of the spring. Cool Coal Man is very much under the radar but I have him as the #3 Derby contender at this point. He has not done a thing wrong and has just as much chance as anyone of improving. Eight Belles moved up the ranking sharply and would likely be in the top 5 if not for the doubt over her participation. This filly is fast, quick and has the heart to gut it out if need be. She's a very good Derby candidate, I only hope she runs here. Atoned has to seem like an odd selection. He was not in my list last week and now after a 4th place finish he is in the top 10 and he's ranked over Visionaire. Basically I think Atoned is going to be sitting on a huge race, maybe not a winning performance but at this stage I don't think anyone is still realistically looking for 10 different winners. Many of the horses on the list simply have a good chance to hit the frame. I expected Atoned to either run second again in Illinois or regress, the former would not have been a great sign in terms of him breaking out of his losing slump but a bad race can be just the thing. He'll need some help to get in the Derby but he's very live if he runs. Court Vision had every chance to catch the front runners in the Wood and he couldn't. He isn't fast enough and while I do expect him to be coming in the final furlong I think he'll be too far back to matter. Third or Fourth in the Derby look to be his most realistic targets. I've added Tomcito because of the news that he's headed to the Lexington. I didn't think that his Florida Derby performance was good enough to set him up for the Derby but an improved effort in the Lexington might be just what he needs. Remember horses like Charismatic and Proud Citizen both were less than stellar in one of the big 5 preps then came to life in Lexington. I have dropped all the Wood Memorial horses aside from Court Vision because I intensely disliked the race. I think that was the best we can expect from War Pass and it's no where near good enough to win. Tale of Ekati and War Pass will both struggle to get the Derby distance. As will El Gato Malo as I've suspected all spring. He ran like a miler, is bred to be a miler and is built like a miler. It's no great surprise that he turned out to be one. Denis of Cork was left in shambles after the Illinois Derby and I don't expect to see him at Churchill. Recapturetheglory is a horse I'd strenuously oppose, he looks like cheap speed from top to bottom.

On the radar: Cowboy Cal, Big Truck, My Pal Charlie

Dropped: Denis Of Cork (2), El Gato Malo (7), War Pass (9)

1 comment:

peeptoad said...

1. Colonel John
2. Pyro
3. Big Brown
4. Cool Coal Man
5. Visionaire
6. Smooth Air
7. Eight Belles
8. Court Vision

radar: Bob Black Jack, Big Truck,Tomcito, somebody for the ARK Derby(haven't looked at the field yet).

dropped: El gato Malo, Denis of Cork, War Pass

First off: Colonel John moves ahead of Pyro, but they are basically tied in terms of being top contenders at this point. The only thing questionable about the Colonel is that he hasn't raced on dirt. I'm throwing out the "too slow" argument because the synthetic track at SA has been producing low beyers all meet, and a number of horses have made a good transition from that track to dirt, and Col. John really isn't "too slow" compared to rest of the horses he'll be facing anyhow. There are a couple of horses who have put up triple digit figs in preps (notably Recapturetheglory and Big Brown), but they both have more question marks than Col. John, imo. CJ has a good 2yo foundation, winning the Real Quiet S. and running a game 2nd in the Hol. Futurity. He's had only two preps this year, but both were at 9F and he raced late last year, so 2 really shouldn't be a detriment for him. He's got the pedigree to handle both dirt and the 10F. Plus he closed his last 3F in a good time in the SA Derby, and on top of all that he is capable of sitting closer to the pace if need be. Pyro has done nothing wrong and his last prep will be on a surface he has never raced on so I'm basically looking for him to finish well, not necessarily win. He'll likely retain the 2nd spot unless Cool Coal Man or someone in the ARK Derby puts up a freaky performance. Big Brown and CCM both mve up due to the drop of El Gato Malo, and Denis of Cork. My list this week is a top 8 because I can't find a horse worthy of the 9th and 10th spots: The Wood was a terrible race and the only horse I'd take out of there would be Court Vision to clunk up into the super. Visionaire and Smooth Air move up due to the drops, and Eight Belles gets in partly because she still looks good, and many of the colts do not. Likewise I don't consider the winner of the Ill Derby to be a viable Derby contender; more than likely he'll just get passed in the stretch by horse less tired than he is.
Overall, the top four are pretty solid, except for Big Brown who still has numerous questions surrounding him. If Cool Coal Man runs a decent race on Saturday, even if it's not a winning one, he'll move ahead of BB.