Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kentucky Derby Top 10

Derby Top 10 - April 15th

1. Colonel John (1)
2. Big Brown (4)
3. Smooth Air (5)
4. Eight Belles (6)
5. Z Fortune (new)
6. Atoned (7)
7. Court Vision (9)
8. Tomcito (10)
9. Pyro (2)
10. Monba (new)

The last weekend of major prep races sure threw a wrench in the mix. I, like most people, figured that Pyro would run well run even if he didn't win, that this was just a formality to get him in shape for the Derby. It was anything but and now his connections are even admitting that he likely didn't get much out of the race. The same has to go for Cool Coal Man and Big Truck, none of them ran a step. I am completely at peace with the notion that they didn't handle the track but what worries me is the blown chance to build fitness and endurance. All three of those horses should bounce back to form once they get back on real dirt but we need them to improve their old form not simply run back to their previous 3yo top. Cool Coal Man and Big Truck have been dropped because of this. Pyro stays on the list only because a return to his best form would put him right in the hunt and I think he has more class than the others. It will be interesting to see how these horses work given that they likely got nothing out of the Blue Grass. Perhaps Asmussen should ring up Bernie Stutts and ask to work Pyro with Smooth Air. The trusty little Smooth Air worked another quick mile at Calder. Make no mistake, this will be one of the fittest horses in the Derby. He moves up to third nearly by default and while he does not exactly have a classic winners profile he is quickly becoming one of the most solid contenders and may well be the best value on Derby day. Smooth Air reminds me of a Funny Cide type of horse, I fully expect him to run a huge race at Churchill. Visionaire ran the best race of the established horses in the Blue Grass but I'm dropping him as well. He didn't seem to handle the track too badly he just didn't have enough kick to get near the leaders. His breeding is already slightly suspect and I this in my opinion was a pivotal race for him, he failed and so I don't think of him as one of the top 10 Derby prospects. Monba returns to the list for the first time since the Fountain Of Youth. I had great faith in him at one point and the Blue Grass was encouraging but I suspect that despite his win he has not gotten as much of this spring as he should have. The Arkansas Derby was a very good race but it didn't sell me on Gayego. He is a nice and classy horse but much like Came Home I think he will struggle to get the distance on Derby day. Z Fortune ran a big race and improved, which is key. I don't like the way he hung. He's done it in both his races at Oaklawn. He looked to be mounting a serious challenge but then just levelled off. I suspect he had more to give and I hope they work out that issue in the mornings maybe with some works in company. Hopefully we'll see him give it all on Derby day. Cowboy Cal is on the radar in case Tomcito or Atoned bomb in the Lexington or if one of these other top 8 pull out for whatever reason. He is the only other horse aside from these top 10 that I'd put money on. Because of the repeatedly wacky results and the host of uninspiring performances I am open to the notion that on any given day nearly any horse could beat all the others. But I'm still going to stick on the side of the averages. I'll hope that if we do get a bomb it will be one of those under appreciated but still partly logical horses. Next week will be the last for the Derby top 10, by then all the significant preps will have been run. Tomcito and Atoned are both horses I think well of and I'm hoping they justify my belief in the Lexington. They'll need to if they want to be in the Derby.

On the radar: Cowboy Cal

Dropped: Cool Coal Man (3), Visionaire (8), Big Truck, My Pal Charlie


peeptoad said...

1. Colonel John
2. Big Brown
3. Smooth Air
4. Eight Belles
5. Gayego
6. Z Fortune
7. Visionaire
8. Monba
9. Pyro
10. Court Vision

radar: Tomcito, Atoned

Colonel John retains the top spot and will likely go into the Derby as the horse most likely to get a win bet from me (depending on how he trains at Churchill). Based on how the CA shippers have performed (although most, if not all, of the knockout performances have come at Oaklawn...) I think that CJ is pretty solid in the top spot right now.
Pyro drops to 9th after the BG...and I'm not willing to give him a 100% pass on that track. I really was expecting him to run much better, even with a potential dislike for the Poly. Speed-wise he is not so superior to the rest of these that he couldn't have run a nice race. Personally, I think he's hanging on by a thread and I'd use him in a boxed wager, but wouldn't be at all surprised to see him finish up the track on May 3rd. Eight Belles and Smooth Air move up due to the drop of Cool Coal Man who, like Pyro, needed to show more to remain a contender. His FOY was good, but prior to that race I wasn't real high on him.
While I think he'll struggle with 10F a bit, I have to give props to Gayego...he's yet another CA shipper who has performed well at OP. This horse has been the model of consistency against quality opposotion and he's got a good shot to run underneath in the big one. Z Fortune rebounded in that race and he may actually be a better prospect than the horse he lost to. He still needs to move forward, but he's got pedigree on his side and it was good to see him return to form.
Visionaire is sort of in the same boat as Gayego...he loked good in the Gotham, but has questionable bloodlines for the Derby distance. He actually ran the sort of race in the BG that I was expecting from Pyro...he should improve back on the dirt, but will likely have more of a future at 9F.
Monba enters in the 8th spot and he's a question for the Derby because of his truncated/trouble-filled prep season, but I really feel this horse's best days are ahead of him. He obviously has what it takes to succeed on the synthetics, and my guess is that he'll run a nice race back on the CD dirt, but maybe miss the board. I'm looking for him to possibly round out the superfecta, but then improve out of the Derby and become a more prominent player over the summer/fall. That is, if he improves on the dirt...if not, then perhaps they should drop him off in CA and let him beat up on the weak handicap division there. Cowboy Cal, on the other hand I don't ike at all for the Derby...I think the distance and the surface will play against him, and he'll have a lot of company on the front end.
Court Vision stays on the list, but really looks like a grinder to me...he's another who just doesn't seemed to have improved at all from the 2yo season.

slot33 said...


Note that Eight Belles is 4th on your list. Yet no comments about her. I sure have some doubts about her win possibility for the Derby.

She hasn't faced any large fields. Or been roughed up a bit to withstand first time against 19 colts.

She hasn't faced colts yet.

As recently as late January she was still racing at the allowance level.

The pace in all of her distance races has been run in the 1.12.2-1.14.1 6 furlong range. Can she keep up behind a fast pace and still be within range to give the same closing kick?

She got her best Byr. and Bris numbers in her last 2 races. Yes, competitive with the colts. But against fields of 4 and 6.

She hasn't raced at a 1 1/8.

Finally, IF the owner/trainer commit her to the Derby... then she should run. Not fair to scratch in my opinion. Don't have a problem with her running in the Derby, just have serious doubts that she can win.

Kennedy said...

I don't mention every horse, every week. You can view the top 10 archive by clicking on the "Kentucky Derby Top 10" header on the sidebar.

Here is what I said in previous weeks

"Her Beyer Speed Figures are right in line if not a bit superior to the colts numbers and visually there are very few holes you can see in her. She is nice sized filly with very good tactical speed and a nice turn of foot. She seems to do everything easily and has become a real monster as a 3yo among her peers. The biggest change in her was probably maturity but it is worth noting she she has always done better when stalking the pace closely. they've taken her back a bit further in 3 of her lifetime starts and she did not fare as well in any of them. Given the fact that most contenders are late runners this year, good tactical speed is a handy weapon. She still has much to prove though and the Arkansas Derby might be a good idea, just so they get a little taste of what they're up against."

"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."

I recognize all the concerns you have about her but in the end I still think she's dangerous given the level of ability she's shown. At this point I likely would not put money on her but I think she's is quite a threat, she has all the tools they are simply untested against this class.