Itsmyluckyday – He has to be at the top of everyone’s list at this point. He has run two incredibly fast races to start off 2013, and he clearly defeated the Two Year Old Horse of the Year in Shanghai Bobby. It’s a curious move to only give him one more start before the Derby considering that he needs points, but this one has shown the talent to get the job done. His breeding also suggest that distance shouldn’t be an issue.
Revolutionary – When you are going to run a race with twenty horses involved, it’s nice to know going in that your horse can overcome adversity. Revolutionary certainly proved he can do just that, as he bobbed and weaved his way through traffic to win the Withers Stakes by a neck. He certainly was a bit green in this race, but he got quite the education and should really improve off this effort.
Verrazano – Although he’s yet to run in a stakes, this one’s raw talent cannot go unnoticed. Verrazano has cruised against maiden and allowance fields. Stakes company will be next, and I look for him to pass that test as well. You can’t put him as the number one contender yet, but in time he could be that type of horse.
Violence – He hasn’t raced yet as a three-year old, but horses he defeated as a two-year old have come back to win in all sorts of places. Titletown Five came back to win a MSW at Churchill by nine. Orb has won two races since losing to Violence. Oxbow won the Lecomte Stakes by eleven lengths just one start after losing badly to Violence. If that form holds up, this horse could end up becoming Todd Pletcher’s best prospect.
Flashback – It was an impressive win in the Robert Lewis, but lets not forget that he beat three very average horses. He looks to have the talent, but it’s still very raw. Bigger challenges are down the road for this one, but you definitely have to say his stock is rising.
Shanghai Bobby – His loss in the Holy Bull was no embarrassment, but getting the Derby distance is very much in question. Right now he sits atop the Kentucky Derby Points leader board with 24, but with only one prep left for him before the big dance, he’ll have to run much better to make my list of contenders.
He’s Had Enough – This horse wasn’t much before his second place effort in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, and he hasn’t been much after it as well. The Juvenile has come back looking pretty weak, and last Saturday He’s Had Enough was easily defeated by a pair of Baffert horses there aren’t at the “super star” level yet.
Bern Identity – In the summer at Saratoga trainer Kelly Breen called this one a sprinter, but yet he was still hyped going two turns in his last three races. The last of the two, the Holy Bully, did not go well at all. This looks like a talented horse with distance limitations, and will probably disappear from the Derby trail when the real running begins.
Uncaptured – He’s certainly done nothing wrong, but his small margin of victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes is looking worse and worse. The second and third place finishers returned in the Holy Bull and ran pathetically. Add the fact that he’s had no recorded workouts since that race, and it looks as though this one might not make much of an impact on the Derby trail, if at all.
Den’s Legacy – We know exactly what this horse is…decent but nothing special. Time and time again now he’s shown a willingness to show up and race hard, but he’s just not fast enough to win against tough fields. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the Derby based on the fact he’ll probably get some seconds and thirds in the preps, but he won’t make an impact in the actual Derby.
Goldencents – I’ve put him in this spot basically because there are a lot of unknowns with him. He’s yet to have a race at three, and the fields he beat at two are still a little questionable. The way he’s been training at Santa Anita does make me think he has a great chance to move up the ladder, but lets see him prove himself first.
Normandy Invasion – He falls in the exact same category as Goldencents. He looks the part of a Derby horse, has a good trainer, is working out great, but lets let him prove it as a three-year old before we all jump on his bandwagon.
Oxbow – Oxbow has proven it as a three-year old, now he must do it against better competition. There is no question this one had the talent, speed, and pedigree. Now the question is whether he can win a race when he’s not allowed to set easy fractions, and can he step up and beat the best of the best? His ability to rate may be the key to him becoming a top five Derby prospect.
Departing – I’m really surprised to see the lack of coverage for this one. Perhaps it’s because he’s ran both races at the Fair Grounds, one of those being at night when many people weren’t watching. Regardless, this one looks to have loads of talent, and like Verrazano he’ll face stakes company next time out. I put him in the question mark category because he hasn’t ran a huge speed figure yet.
Will Take Charge – At this point Will Take Charge is kind of being considered as the “other” Lukas horse. Much like Revolutionary, Will Take Charge has proven he can win despite having a troubled trip. But, how fast is this horse, and how long can he run? Both are legitimate questions that he’ll have to prove in the races coming up.