Final Kentucky Derby Rankings

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1. California Chrome – There is no questioning the talent this horse has…can he take his show on the road is the only question mark left to answer for this Kentucky Derby Favorite. He brings a huge fan following with him, and also a bit of mystery as he won’t arrive to Churchill Downs until the week of the race. One of the more unlikely and entertaining favorites in Kentucky Derby history!

2. Hoppertunity – Just keeps getting better and better with each race and workout. He’s been clearly defeated by California Chrome, but if Chrome doesn’t show up with his best effort this is the horse that can take him down. His work on Wednesday morning was very strong.

3. Wicked Strong – Can he give his best effort outside of the state of New York? Wicked Strong is one of the few horses to win from off the pace which is great news in this field that should have a fast pace, but he’s ran a few duds outside of New York. Will Churchill suit him?

4. Intense Holiday – He’s been forgotten about since finishing second in the Louisiana Derby, but I look for him to rebound with a nice race. The long Churchill Downs stretch will be to his liking.

5. Samraat – This might be the toughest horse out of them all. He’s yet to run a bad race, and in the only loss of his career he was still a game second to Wicked Strong. Has a little bit of pedigree problems, but you can’t underestimate him.

6. Tapiture – Fairly disappointing effort in the Arkansas Derby, but perhaps he can rebound at the right time. Pedigree has always been in question…looked flat going a mile and one eighth.

7. Candy Boy – The Santa Anita Derby was not a good effort at all, but I do believe he’ll improve in this one. The extra distance should be right up his alley, and hopefully they can get him to settle early and make one big run at the end.

8. Wildcat Red – He’s outrunning his pedigree distance wise so you can’t discredit this ones heart. Most likely will be close to the lead the whole way, and also will most likely be the one fighting to stay around at the end.

9. Danza – Is he for real…or is he a one hit wonder? The first Saturday in May will give us an indication, but as of now this one has me puzzled.

10. Ride On Curlin – His level of improvement throughout the prep season has been great, and many are raving about his workouts leading up to this race. Can he make those workouts translate into a big time victory? Maybe…you also have to like that Calvin Borel has jumped aboard.

11. Uncle Sigh – Pedigree wise this one is shaky, but he’s another that has a lot of heart. I don’t look at him as a horse that can win, but he might keep trying while others will quit.

12. General A Rod – I’ve wanted to like this horse for awhile now, but he just has kind of developed into a hanger. In both his last two races at Gulfstream it looked like he was going to win during the stretch, and both times he’s come up short.

13. Dance With Fate – Really great performance in the Bluegrass, but his connections even hinted that this one is a poly track specialist. Will make him beat me.

14. Commanding Curve – Definitely a logical longshot pick here. Had a pretty nice closing kick last time out, and this trainer proved to us last year that you can’t leave him off any tickets.

15. Vicar’s In Trouble – I love the talent this one has…his natural turn of foot and early speed is something to be respected. However, I just have zero confidence that he can get the mile and one quarter Derby distance. If by some chance he can he could become very dangerous.

16. Vinceremos – Forget about his performance last time out in the Bluegrass Stakes as it was obviously he didn’t care for the surface. His races on dirt have been ok, but I’m not sure he’s quite good enough to make an impact in a tough spot like the Derby. You could find worse longshots though…

17. Medal Count – Certainly looks like a poly track specialist to me. He’s had a few chances on the dirt and none have turned out to be very pretty.

18. Ring Weekend – Usually horses don’t lose the Calder Derby and then come back to win the Kentucky Derby. He was able to win the Tampa Bay Derby by getting the right trip, but that most likely won’t happen again.

19. We Miss Artie – Got into the Derby by winning the Spiral Stakes, but that race wasn’t all the impressive. It’s also worth mentioning…he’s been terrible on dirt.

20. Harry’s Holiday – Complete toss for me as even if he brought his poly track form to this one he still wouldn’t be fast enough to compete.

Racing Dudes Divisional Rankings

All Eyes will be on California Chrome

All Eyes will be on California Chrome

Older Males

1. Game On Dude – He holds a head to head match up win over Will Take Charge and Mucho Macho Man so he assumes the top spot for now.  Most people are down on him for his second place effort in the Charles Town Classic, but I still think he ran well.

2. Will Take Charge – From a consistency standpoint he is well clear of the others so far this year.  He’s ran two winning type races when finishing second, and was able to redeem himself with a home track win last time out at Oaklawn.  Looks like he is on his way to another big year.

3. Wise Dan – Most of his big races are still to come so he’s third for now, but what a nice comeback race he had last time out at Keeneland.

4. Palace Malice – Already has two wins under his belt, with the last one being a monster effort in New Orleans.  Came back looking better than ever.

5. Mucho Macho Man – Dull performance at Santa Anita last time out, but he stays ranked out of respect.  Needs to pick it up if he wants to move past the monsters ahead of him.

Sleeper: Normandy Invasion – Obviously he’s come back strong, but he was beaten decisively by Palace Malice last time out.  Wouldn’t toss him out yet though…

Older Females

1. Beholder – Freak of nature!  Not sure if anyone can beat her in this division.

2. Close Hatches – Two very workman like performances at Oaklawn has me thinking she has progressed even further since last year.

3. Princess of Sylmar – Easy winner in her return race.  She’s one that is easy to root for considering she could have easily won the eclipse award last year.

4. Groupie Doll – I put her on here out of respect, and because some of the stars of last year haven’t started yet.  What a great career for this champion.

5. On Fire Baby – Ran two decent races to start the year, no disrespect in losing to Close Hatches…lets see if she can keep improving and stay healthy.

Sleeper: Dreaming of Julia – If she ever makes it back in good form we don’t know how good she could end up being…

3 Year Old Males

1. California Chrome – There is no doubting he’s the top horse in this bunch as of now…can he take his show on the road?

2. Hoppertunity – He’s improving at a rapid rate.  With one more progression he could be the best of the bunch.

3. Wicked Strong – He’s the “now” horse, but like California Chrome he also must prove he can take his show on the road.  Hasn’t ran well outside of New York.

4. Samraat – Yet to run a bad race.  Horse is talented and as steady as they come…pedigree in question for the Derby though.

5. Tapiture – Took a step backwards in the Arkansas Derby, but could see him rebounding.  The talent is there.

Sleeper: Kid Cruz – Quietly winning the smaller races for three-year olds, but could sneak up on a lot of people come Preakness time.

3 Year Old Females

1. Untapable – Cleary above and beyond anyone in this group by a wide margin.

2. My Miss Sophia – Her blowout wins of late make her the intriguing challenger to Untapable in the Oaks

3. Awesome Baby – Declared that she is not running in the Oaks, but still like her talent.

4. In Tune – Has progressed extremely well at Gulfstream, but can she run that well away from her home track?

5. Sugar Shock – Another that has gotten better with each race.  She’s a cut below the best at this point though.

Sleeper: She’s a Tiger – Never ran a bad race as a two-year old, but yet to see her this year.

Sprinters

1. Secret Circle – This division hasn’t heated up yet, but when it does he’ll be the top dog.

2. Goldencents – Haven’t seen him yet this year, but has already proven to be a monster at a mile.

3. Gentleman’s Bet – Another that is training forward for his 2014 debut.

4. Sahara Sky – Has found his stride after a slow start to 2013.

5. Wild Dude – This is a rising star in the division who has run three strong races in a row at Santa Anita.

Sleeper: Vicar’s In Trouble – He may be pointed to the Derby, but when they shorten him up he could really be something special.

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Holy Bull Stakes (Grade 2) Preview

Cairo Prince Make His 3 Year Old Debut in the Holy Bull

Cairo Prince Make His 3 Year Old Debut in the Holy Bull

Racing Dudes Picks

Win – 1

Exacta –1,8,11/1,4,7,8,11

Trifecta –1,8,11/1,4,7,8,11/1,4,7,8,11

Horses to Use in Vertical Wagers – 1,8,11,7.4

Race Shape

Speed – Coup de Grace, Almost Famous

Stalkers – Best Plan Yet, Mr. Speaker, Cairo Prince

Closers – Finance Mogul, Our Caravan, Wicked Strong, Conquest Titan, Big Bazinga, Intense Holiday

Racing Dudes Projected Order of Finish

#1 Coup de Grace (KY) – There is no hotter sire than Tapit right now, and in my opinion he’ll have yet another winner by the time Saturday ends.  Coup de Grace has been tremendous in two lifetime starts.  He looks to be a horse that is blossoming into something special, and his early speed will do him a lot of favors in a race like this.  His speed rating is the highest of anyone in the field, plus he comes into this off a bullet work just a few days ago.  Chad Brown has always been money on the turf, but Coup de Grace might prove that he can train a dirt horse as well.

#8 Wicked Strong (KY) – This is definitely one to take serious!  Had to close last time out in the Remsen into an incredibly slow pace, but still managed to finish third only beaten a half-length against two very solid horses.  He comes into this off of a bit of a layoff which is something I don’t like, but he did have a nice five furlong work on January 19th.  Also very encouraging that Javier Castellano is hopping aboard…

#11 Intense Holiday (KY) – The Pletcher at Gulfstream factor may have me blinded with this horse, but I just think there is a little more to this one that we haven’t seen yet.  With the endless supply of horses Pletcher could have sent out in this one, this is the one he chose which makes me think this horse is on the improve.  He’s going to need a little pace to run into, which he should get, so I’m going to take a chance and say he hits the board here.  He’s been competitive with the top horses in his class…just a little improvement is all that’s needed.

#7 Cairo Prince (KY) – In all actuality, he may have been the best two-year old in 2013.  You may think that’s crazy, but I thought the ride he got last time out cost him the Remsen Stakes.  If he wins that race he’s unbeaten, and would have a win over Honor Code.  However, I’m a bit skeptical on his latest workouts.  Perhaps he needs this race to get going, and is one to put on top in races down the road.  He’s definitely in here with a shot, but not going crazy on him at a short price.

#4 Almost Famous (KY) – That last race at Churchill Downs was as impressive as it gets, but I’m still not fully sold on this horse.  The question of “who has he beaten” looms in my mind, and I think without a doubt this will be the toughest field he’s faced by far.  He might turn out to be a really nice horse, but I want to see him prove it against tougher horses before I take him at a short price.

#2 Financial Mogul (KY) – He’s shown he can compete with the top horses in the division so far, but he hasn’t actually been able to win against them yet.  In fact his only victory came over a sloppy track that more than likely moved him up just a bit.  Nice horse, but maybe getting into the trifecta is his limit.

#5 Our Caravan (KY) – Well my wild card picks went two for two last week…so here is my wild card for this week!  Our Caravan was a winner at first asking going two turns on December 14th at Gulfstream, which is very impressive to me.  What’s even more impressive is the fact he had to close from several lengths behind, which is something that is sometimes tricky to do over the Gulfstream surface.  Could former Todd Pletcher assistant Michael Dilger be sitting on a big time horse?

#3 Best Plan Yet (FL) – This Florida bred has already ran seven times, and could be a Calder/state bred specialist.  He was beaten by twenty lengths last time out at Gulfstream, which was his first start away from Calder.  Will definitely need to improve.

#6 Mr Speaker (KY) – Winner of the Grade 3 Diana Beach last time out which was his second straight win.  However, my ranking him this low is for one simple reason…all four of his starts have come on the turf.  He’s just too big of a question mark to play here…but if he handles the surface he has the talent to compete.

#9 Conquest Titan (KY) – Really liked his last race as he won an allowance at Churchill, but this will prove to be a steep class jump today.  Also he still has a little proving to do as to whether he is a true dirt horse.  Yes, his last win was on the dirt, but the Churchill Downs dirt can sometimes be kind to turf/synthetic horses.  He’s a “wait and see” for me.

#10 Big Bazinga (KY) – Wow…well I guess someone had to land in this spot.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Big Bazinga is a pretty decent horse, but in this field I had to rank him last.  His last race was the Delta Jackpot where he finished seventh, and the waters are much deeper for him in this loaded field.  Probably just aiming a little too high.

TwinSpires Million Road to Derby Showdown