Derby Top 10 - Jan 13th
1. Imperial Council (1)
2. Old Fashioned (2)
3. Hello Broadway (3)
4. Capt. Candyman Can (4)
5. Square Eddie (5)
6. Midshipman (6)
7. Vineyard Haven (7)
8. Terrain (8)
9. Break Water Edison (9)
10. Quality Road (10)
Not a major week of Derby doings. Most of the action came in Gulfstream allowances but there was also the Lecomte stakes. I did like Friesan Fire to win the Lecomte but I knew going into it that there was very little he could do that would cause me to include him in the top 10. He won nicely but I need to see him step it up in his next few starts. He has already faced some of the good horses in this division and lost. The Lecomte simply lacked quality opposition so even a win doesn't count for much. But there were some positives, he looks as though he could be the best horse wintering at the Fair Grounds after stablemate Old Fashioned leaves for Oaklawn. He also has good speed which I think is essential. I'd rather fall for a less talented horse with tactical speed than a less talented plodder like Patena.
Ken McPeek had a very big week with three different allowances victories. Danger To Society, Free Country and Theregoesjojo all managed to find the winners circle and give McPeek a pretty good hand of contenders. None of the three did enough to merit a glance from me however. Danger to Society and Free Country were both slow. Now if the crop ends up being a particularly slow one I may have to consider them. But the horses currently in my top 10 are faster than they were. The positives for both of them are that there is still plenty of time to develop. The Holy Bull is penciled in for both and we'll find out a bit more about them.
Theregoesjojo is a separate case and he does deserve some consideration because his allowance victory came at the expense of Quality Road, my current #10. My fear with "jojo" is that he might be a late running sprinter. He really did get a perfect setup behind dueling speed and was able to draw clear late. But then again the 95 Beyer and the early career precocity speak well of his ability. He would be the unofficial #11 on my list.
Quality Road got a valuable lesson and that lesson is that talent is not enough you need to learn to rate. He went out at a breakneck pace with another quality colt and it cost them both in the final furlong when Theregoesjojo made up almost 7 lengths. Quality Road still would have received approximately a 90 Beyer for the effort so he's still faster on average than a good number of this crop. What he needs to do now is settle down and still show the ability to put up a fast number around two turns. This next start is key for him. A lot of big figure maidens regress in their second start. It's almost inevitable but he ought to bounce back in his third start if he's destined to be top quality. I did like that he still outfought Obligingly for second. It showed guts and ticks another box in the experience factor.
I'm being deliberately patient with my Derby horses this year. I put a good amount of time into my initial talent appraisals now these horses must do something much worse than I expected for them to get dropped. Conversely a new horse has to really step up and show some talent to break into the ranking.
All of my top 10 contenders who have not been specifically mentioned are still on schedule and working well. Midshipman and Vineyard Haven are the only ones without recent published workouts but that information is not recorded the same way in Dubai. No problems have been reported so it's safe to assume they're on schedule.
This week we get a look at Square Eddie as well as Brother Keith, Chocolate Candy and a few others in the San Rafael and California Derby. For Square Eddie he doesn't need to win to stay in the top 10. In fact even a terrible performance might keep him in, as I wrote last week a lot of eventual Derby winners didn't do very well in January stakes races. But in a perfect world I'd like to see him run well and earn a Beyer at least in the high 80's.