Monday, December 1, 2008

Kentucky Quatorze: My Top 14 Derby Prospects

Ranking / Previous Week’s Ranking / Horse
1. 2. Break Water Edison
2. 5. Old Fashioned
3. 3. Charitable Man
4. 1. Flying Pegasus
5. Silver City
6. Quality Road
7. 7. Regal Ransom
8. 7. Indygo Mountain
9. 8. Royal Vindication
10. 9. Hello Broadway
11. 4. Skipadate
12. 10. Trinity Magic
13. 11. Midshipman
14. 12. Capt Candyman Can

On the Edge:
15. 13. Vineyard Haven
16. 14. Well Positioned

The story this week was breakout performances by horses who looked primed to do so. Old Fashioned made everyone take a second glance after his tour de force in the Remsen. I see a great deal of potential in this colt, but I do see his damsire, Meadowlake, as a liability. Meadowlake is notorious for young runners, especially juveniles, who develop early and very rarely improve after the midpoint of their sophomore years. To be fair, Unbridled’s Song’s offspring do well at younger ages as well. This makes me wonder if, despite his few races, he is simply more physically developed than his counterparts. On the other hand, we have another new gray superstar budding in Silver City, who flew Alysheba’s famed colors to a sharp victory at Churchill. Watch out for this colt and his stablemate, Indygo Mountain. Another big debut was Quality Road in an Aqueduct maiden. This Jimmy Jerkins-trained colt is beautifully bred with Elusive Quality on top and a full sister to feisty champion, Ajina, on the bottom. Ajina was a talented, tough stalker who could put up some big numbers. She was also a great deal more aggressive than her stablemate, Escena. Perhaps that is why she was a bit less consistent. In this, do not be surprised if Quality Road is equally as spotty.

I am still waiting to see what will come of the Nashua’s top three (Break Water Edison, Hello Broadway, Royal Vindication), but all three bode pedigrees that force us to take a second look at their chances in the Big Dance. I do see Break Water Edison developing really well in the future. His sire, Lemon Drop Kid, improved with age. Also, he has some great classic influence with Risen Star, Secretariat, and Ack Ack on his damside. It is also a good thing that they are giving him some time off, as he ran a great deal already this year (five times), including a quick two-week wheeling after a gritty second in the Saratoga Special.

I am still waiting to hear about Regal Ransom, but I am still a big fan of this colt with a wonderful high cruising rate. Hopefully he is still here in the U.S. and not training in the U.A.E. with the rest of Darley’s first string. I get the feeling that Charitable Man will be a late-comer in the sophomore Derby trials, as he is slated to return to training in early January.

Many of you may be wondering who in the heck Flying Pegasus is. He’s the tough once-beaten colt who finished second in the Futurity to Charitable Man. He showed so much talent that day, that I have to keep him in my top tier. He has a beautiful energy-saving stride and a great cruising rate. Do not be surprised to see Skipadate move his very game efforts from grass to dirt. He is bred for the dirt and has his sire’s signature high knee action. Trinity Magic has shown some impressive numbers, but simply has to prove that he can do it around two turns this week in the Delta Jackpot. Midshipman and Vineyard Haven are low on the list because he is going to Dubai. Captain Candyman Can ran gamely, but must run like less of a miler and more of a stayer if he is to ‘stay’ on this list. The other two colts who finished with him in the KJC, Giant Oak and winner Beethoven, both failed to truly impress me. Let us see them do it again and in faster numbers. Lastly, Well Positioned is still on here because I believe he will jump up and impress more people than myself. He is bred to get better with age and love a distance of ground.

Here’s to the Derby Trail!

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