We have little to do but wait and see how our favorites are coming into the Derby. We've sufficiently chewed over most of what has already transpired and most of us have sorted out how we expect the Derby to finish. But what would change your mind for the better or worse about the contenders in the next week and a half?
I've jotted down a few of my thoughts about what would be ideal for the horses that I consider to be the main ones for the Derby.
I Want Revenge - I'd like his last work to be solid but not blazing. He has always been somewhat quick in the morning but not brilliant. The most important thing for him is the physical look, his coat, his weight etc... He has probably logged more air miles than any other Derby contender this spring. You have to make sure he is on the improve instead of getting jaded.
Quality Road - His last three workouts have been long and more moderate. Ideally I'd like to see something short and quick over the CD surface. It'll be a good signal that he's feeling good and getting over the track well. He had an extremely impressive workout before the Fountain of Youth. I'd like to see one of similar quality in this next week. I'm also really hoping this horse does not draw inside the 3 hole. Speed inside is the worst for a race like this.
Pioneerof the Nile - The DRF clockers are gushing over this horse and it's certainly a good sign to hear that a trained eye loves his morning preparations. For me I'll be demanding to see a bullet type work from him. He's a Baffert horse and that's what his race ready charges do. More importantly he worked bullets regularly on synthetics he was a brilliant workhorse in California, it would be a bad sign if he wasn't able to replicate that brilliance on dirt.
Friesan Fire - He is coming into the race the right way, at least in my opinion. Jones gave him a stiff longer work to more or less make up for the lack of a recent race. He will probably just get one more workout before the big day. I think connections will attempt to tighten the screws with a sharp workout. I expect him to go sub :59 for 5f, I won't be impressed with anything slower than that. I'll also be interested to see if they give any clues about his tactics for the Derby. He is one of those horses that could be pressed to show early speed or he might take back and simply be one of the pack.
Dunkirk - Observers at Palm Meadows are comparing him to Big Brown because of the similarity of their experience and pre-Derby preparation. The bad news for Dunkirk is that he'll have to be better than Big Brown to win this Derby. Pletcher has had an odd history with the Derby. Some of his longshots have run above themselves while the majority of his well backed contenders have finished nearer to last. For Dunkirk I think the draw matters less than almost anyone in the field. He is going to go to the back and make one run. What I'd like to see in his workouts is strong gallop outs. He made a monster move in the Florida Derby but flattened out. Horses cannot continue to accelerate like that indefinitely but the good ones sustain the momentum of the move and ride it to victory. Dunkirk needs to show that he doesn't flame out right after firing up.
Papa Clem - I was not a fan of either the timing or quality of his last workout. It was too slow to inspire confidence and too quick after his last race. I'm hoping to see much better from him in his next workout. He's a street fighter who is always going to do better in the heat of battle than the cool of the morning so a really sharp workout would be a massive plus.
Desert Party - A worrisome trend has been emerging. He had the measure of Regal Ransom for most of the spring but last time out he couldn't catch his stablemate. More recently he was just outworked by Regal Ransom. Who knows how the Dubai form will stack up against what we've seen in the US but certainly in order to have a great chance he's got to prove to be better than his stablemate.
Musket Man - He seems to fly under the radar no matter what he does. He virtually does nothing but win and he's also been a good workhorse. He has likely been able to outrun his pedigree thus far thanks to a steady series of tough works over the deep Tampa surface. Leading up to the Derby I'd expect the sharp works to continue. For the draw I wouldn't want to see him too far outside. He's is one of the many stalkers in the race and he'll probably need to be in the inside 10 posts because he doesn't have the same gate speed that some other stalkers do.
General Quarters - I might want to see him in a different race if his morning gallops continue in their current vein. Every report seems to say the same thing. He looks uncomfortable and out of sorts. He was in flying form at Churchill before the Blue Grass I'd love to see him return to that.
Chocolate Candy - I already see two black marks against him. He worked back quickly after his last race and his most recent mile work was unimpressive. Could it be that this is the synthetic horse we should all be worried about adjusting?