Derby Lists 2014

Kennedy
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:41 pm

Many of us have them. Many of us enjoy making them and or reading them. This is as good a place as any to put them.
Kennedy
Posts: 1043
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:58 pm

Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:41 pm

Kentucky Derby Top 10 – 2014 (December 2013)

1. New Year’s Day
2. Cousin Stephen
3. Honor Code
4. Cairo Prince
5. Mosler
6. Tap It Rich
7. Commissioner
8. Tapiture
9. Surfing USA
10. Strong Mandate

Radar
Bobby’s Kitten, Misconnect, Commanding Curve, In Trouble, Notability, Lunarwarfare, Shared Belief, Havana, Bond Holder, Mexikoma, Harpoon


This has been an interesting crop of 2yo’s thus far. The one thing that has struck me has been the sense of parity. Every time a stakes race is run we seem to learn that the established stakes class isn’t better than the maiden winners that have joined them. By my count we’ve only had 5 graded races for juveniles that were won by horses who had finished in the money in any race other than a maiden. One of those happened to be the KY Jockey Club where the winner had finished in the money in a graded race but was still a maiden and most recently ran third in a maiden.

This is a natural phenomenon to some degree but what has stood out to me most is that I don’t really believe that any of them are clearly better than the rest of the crop. It would not shock me to learn on Derby day that none of the top finishers had run in a stakes race through November of this year.

I have narrowed down my top 10 Derby choices in order that I feel most comfortable with but then I look at the next 10 horses I have listed on my radar and I’d be almost as comfortable if that group were my top 10. There aren’t a group of horses or even a single horse that I really believe in at this point. Having said there I think there are a few positive things that can be said about some contenders out there.

New Year’s Day – I think that the popular opinion on him is that he was lucky that Havana and Strong Mandate did so much hard work in the juvenile and couldn’t finish but I think that this horse still has a lot of room to improve and he should get better with distance. His BC Juvenile prep was less than ideal with having to miss what would have been his major prep race. His maiden win was pretty good in its own right and who knows, with another prep race prior to the Juvenile he may have worked his way onto the shortlist of favorites. Either way I’m not sure he was that lucky in the Juvenile I think he was just capable of finishing in a race where few others were. He isn’t a late runner and I think he’ll show good tactical speed in most of his prep races. He also isn’t a monster, at least not from what I’ve seen. I fully expect this horse to lose a prep race or two but like Real Quiet I expect him to show some decent form despite perhaps not winning.

Cousin Stephen – His racing career has been quite brief and I think it would be stretching it a bit to say he’s been brilliant but he did show a glimpse of real promise in his last race. In his debut he was easily handled by Mosler but that was a tough place to start your career. Next out at Aqueduct he dominated a 9f maiden race. What was most impressive was the way he quickened and drew away from this group. He finished very brightly and his closing splits of 12.8 and 24.8 are decent for a young horse in a race that wasn’t falsely run. Coup de Grace seems to be the stable #1 in many people’s opinion but I prefer this guy. His lineage does not scream classic Derby pedigree but I think that there is enough there to at least not place him at a disadvantage.

Honor Code – The most talked about horse on the TC trail. He’ll have a near cult following and will be bet down each and every time he runs. Because of his profile it’s going to be a common exercise for the “sharp” minds to try and beat him when he runs. I am firmly between the camps. Honor Code is a good horse and seems to have the right to improve as much as anyone in this crop. He also seems to be, at this moment, as talented as anyone and distance should help him. He has many of the right tools. He may be as good as anyone but there are a few horses that could say the same thing. The Beyer level he is performing at is decent but not at all difficult for even a first timer to equal. As time goes on more and more horses will achieve his current level of performance. He has to improve a great deal. The good news is that he looks like he can.

Cairo Prince
– Like many people I was hoping that the Remsen would tell us a little more about his capabilities. It didn’t turn out that way because the race was falsely run but if you look at the bare facts he is a nose away from being undefeated. His only loss came by a nose to the horse that most people consider to be the best of this crop. I thought the ride he got was curious and perhaps didn’t give him the best chance to beat Honor Code. 10f still looms as a potential problem for him but he seems like one of the most talented horses of the crop.

Mosler – He only won a maiden race and the speed figure he got was nothing special but he’s earned the respect of many and his maiden victory seemed to be a key race as many next out winners emerged. I would maybe have him higher up the list but I really don’t know where he is. I’m assuming some kind of setback but not one serious enough to get a big headline. So I hope he can get back to the track soon enough to be properly prepared. A lot of people would love this horse to give Mott success in the Derby but you also know that Mott will pull the plug on the TC prep if the horse isn’t perfect. That should give you confidence in March and April if he’s still in the mix but right now it makes me nervous that he might not be joining the dance. I think that he could be any kind and could easily top my list at some point.

Tap It Rich – He grabbed a lot of headlines because of his maiden win but I think the Juvenile wasn’t really the best place to put him so quickly after that triumph. I thought he stayed on decently in that race. Given the circumstances he did not tarnish his reputation in my eyes. So he has the world before him. He could really run in to any type of horse. I do think that 10f will be within his scope and I do feel that he could have a touch of brilliance about him. I like his overall profile form a tactical standpoint. Despite not breaking the best in his maiden and falling into the pack a bit in the Juvenile I do think that he will have the tactical ability to sit mid-pack or closer and still finish. I have a generally positive outlook on his prospect for improvement.

Commissioner – He hasn’t been seen since winning a near stagger fest at Saratoga but in his defense he was asked to go 9f pretty early on and was also in a drive a long way from home. The fact that he was able to sustain that drive for that long while moving away from all put the second place finisher hinted at some decent staying ability. The real trick will be proving he’s good enough. As long as Pletcher has him fit I think he might actually be the #1 TC prospect in the barn. Most of Pletcher’s other horses seem to have distance concerns. Commissioner doesn’t seem very flashy but I’m interested to see how he develops.

Tapiture
– His connections has long thought of him as a good horse in the making but he didn’t give us a true glimpse until just recently when he waltzed away from the field in the KY Jockey Club. It was a good performance for a horse who had not won a race but for me the real test will come in his next race. Can he step it up another level? Can he run fast? Will he continue to relish more distance? I see him as a bit shaky at 10f but probably adequate. The biggest hurdle will be to turn into a horse that can win. Many do once they finally get a taste for it.

Surfing USA – His breeding is going to raise questions but he has looked pretty sharp so far and he has also finished both of his races quite well. I was pretty impressed with the way he closed out his last race at Aqueduct. It looked as though his rivals were going to get to him but he just kept going and held them rather safely in the end. I’m not sure how that will translate going forward but I do think that his next step (8.5f) will be no problem. He has a lot of natural speed but he seems like a kindly horse to handle. His perseverance through the lane should stand him in good stead.

Strong Mandate – As I have been working on this list no horse has bounced in and out of my top 10 more than Strong Mandate. The positives are his class and the obvious fact that he will run in every prep race available as well as all three TC races as long as he doesn’t break down. He will certainly be given the opportunity to take his chance. I am by no means an expert Lukas observer but it seems to me that his training style is to get a horse into action and let them improve through racing. He obviously is able to identify raw talent but has a tendency to throw raw talent horses into top races before the talent has matured. You see it over and over with his big stars. They often run in many stakes races before they put it together and start winning races. The fact that Strong Mandate is already a G-1 winner is certainly in his favor. His inconsistencies could show that he hasn’t figured it out they could also reveal that he is simply a horse prone to inconsistency. Distance should help this horse if his breeding is any guide although he has looked his sharpest in sprint races thus far. For me he is definitely the hardest one to make up my mind about. I’m not sure if I expect him to get better or not.
Kennedy
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:42 pm

Radar horses

Bobby’s Kitten – One of the most naturally talented horses of the 2yo crop. Or so it would seem after just a handful of races. I think that this horse has a big upside, but will that upside be realized at 10f on the dirt? My suspicion is no but my respect for his talent earns him a prominent spot on my radar. This horse has real speed which is not a common trait in an effective turf horse but could be super effective on the dirt but we don’t know if he’ll handle dirt at all. I think that this could go two ways. The first is that Ramsey loves this horse so much he won’t risk running him on a surface where he could get embarrassed. The second is that Ramsey believes in this horse so much that he is willing to throw him into the TC Trail in order to get Kitten his Derby win.

Misconnect – I’m taking a bit of a risk perhaps because this horse like many of his fathers lineage seems to be brilliant but fragile. It’s uncanny how many Unbridled’s Song horses look really good early on but can only get in a couple of starts before their connections have to pull the plug. In his debut Misconnect fell victim to the late swoop of Honor Code but really ran quite well. Next time out he came and got a speed horse that looked to have shaken off the field going 7f. I thought he looked quite good in both of his starts and while he may be most comfortable at 9f or less he may be one that bears watching

Commanding Curve – His first few races were pretty non-descript but he sure exploded in his last race. I was quite impressed by his maiden breaker. He looked like a horse that put a few things together. Can he replicate it against better horses? Hard to say. Not to be mean but his barn isn’t one that gives a lot of confidence however I think this horse could be heard from in a few big races during the spring.

In Trouble – It was tough to leave this horse off the list but I’m really not sure what his health status is. Both his wins have been fantastic and he is bred to get more ground. His connections however seemed to be a bit cautious about his stamina claiming that they’d stretch him out gradually. He was supposed to be in the Nashua but was a no show. Definitely talented but how many Derby winners were graded stakes winners at 6f? Not any for a long time. Not that it’s a curse or something it’s simply a case where good 10f horses often don’t have graded stakes winning ability at 6f.

Notability – Still a maiden and only managed an even effort in the KY Jockey Club stakes. However he did flash real talent in his debut and finished ahead of Tapiture. Given that he’s only had two starts and is bred to handle distance I’m willing to wager that he’s going to improve.

Lunarwarfare
– I think a lot of people who read this name will have to read it twice before they remember him and then once they remember him they will pass me off as an idiot for including him. Lunarwarfare burst on to the scene with a huge win at 4.5f. They are rarely big indicators of anything but in his next two starts he proceeded to run decently in stakes company while receiving some pretty hard luck. His father was a miler but his damsire actually does impart some stamina. Robert LaPenta splashed the cash for him after the Hopeful because he wanted to manage the War Pass brand a little but then the horse got hurt. I have to think that he will at least be given a shot in TC prep races and I do believe that he has some talent. He might be a nice under the radar kind of horse. Maybe a better play to win a prep race at a price rather than the Derby but I’ll be following him.

Shared Belief – Easily the most explosive and impressive 2yo I’ve seen this year. But his breeding screams distance limitations and I just think he’ll be a miler. However he has been talented enough for me to keep on my radar. Sometimes really good horses outrun their limitations. He might but I don’t think he will.

Havana
– Like Shared Belief I think he has all kinds of talent and a definite stamina ceiling. He will likely look very good in some TC prep races. He even has the talent to arrive at the Derby as one of the top choices but he will need to show me that he handles 9f with ease before I’d be talking him as a Derby horse.

Bond Holder – Might be the kind that needs a setup but every once in a while I think he’ll pop up with a big race. I don’t think he is that good.

Mexikoma – He was a wise guy type horse for the BC Juvenile but never really showed much. Hard to say if that performance was definitive or not. I’m willing to keep an eye on him.

Harpoon
– A serial loser at this point in his career but he has flashed talent and maybe he is one that could improve with age. His breeding suggests that he should handle two turns. He just needs to figure things out a bit more.
peeptoad
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:57 pm

Great lists Kennedy. I always enjoy reading your analyses of these guys.
The Hollywood Futurity should be really interesting this year, especially since it may impact the 2yo eclipse. The top 3 or 4 all have virtually identical records right now, and a couple of them (I think) are slated to run in the Futurity. I look forward to seeing what Shared Belief does in that spot.
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Life At Zen
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:18 pm

I feel like none of these horses are going to make an impact come Derby day.

I'm not into the 2yo's at all this year.
A R R O G A T E
Paradise Woods, Lady Eli, Songbird, Ziconic
Gormley, Royal Mo, Shaman Ghost, Constellation

Once upon a time there was a horse named Kelso.
But only once. ~Joe Hirsch
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Raven
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:15 pm

[quote="Life At Zen"]I feel like none of these horses are going to make an impact come Derby day.



I'm with you on that.
You will soon break the bow if you keep it always stretched ~Faedus~
Kennedy
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:34 pm

Life At Zen wrote:I feel like none of these horses are going to make an impact come Derby day.

I'm not into the 2yo's at all this year.
One of the current 2yo's will win the Derby.

You can take that one to the bank.
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Life At Zen
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:43 pm

Kennedy wrote:
Life At Zen wrote:I feel like none of these horses are going to make an impact come Derby day.

I'm not into the 2yo's at all this year.
One of the current 2yo's will win the Derby.

You can take that one to the bank.
That's the only legitimate prediction anyone can make at this time of the year.
A R R O G A T E
Paradise Woods, Lady Eli, Songbird, Ziconic
Gormley, Royal Mo, Shaman Ghost, Constellation

Once upon a time there was a horse named Kelso.
But only once. ~Joe Hirsch
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Raven
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:02 pm

The bank will turn you down on that!! LMAO
You will soon break the bow if you keep it always stretched ~Faedus~
Kennedy
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:37 pm

Life At Zen wrote:
Kennedy wrote:
Life At Zen wrote:I feel like none of these horses are going to make an impact come Derby day.

I'm not into the 2yo's at all this year.
One of the current 2yo's will win the Derby.

You can take that one to the bank.
That's the only legitimate prediction anyone can make at this time of the year.
Disagree. One can always make their best guess based on the information they have present at a given time. The only time it is impossible to make a legitimate prediction is if there is no data at all.

I agree that it is very difficult to be accurate about the Derby at this time of year but that doesn't mean it's impossible to see attributes in horses currently running and make assumptions about how far that will take them.

I myself have been tossing these lists out since 2005 so this is my 10th list that I've placed on this forum. From the 90 horses selected prior to this year 28 won grade 1 races and 53 won graded stakes of some kind after they featured in my first Derby list as relatively inexperienced horses. 3 Derby winners were among my top 10's from 9 years along with 2 other TC race winners...and I'm not even any good.

Anyways while it is hard to be accurate it's not that hard to have a legitimate prediction at this stage in the game.
Last edited by Kennedy on Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
carole
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:52 pm

Anyone think a filly has a legitimate chance at battling with the colts and geldings? Isn't the winner of the BCJ Fillies on the road to the KD?
Somnambulist
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:58 pm

carole wrote:Anyone think a filly has a legitimate chance at battling with the colts and geldings? Isn't the winner of the BCJ Fillies on the road to the KD?
If they're snorting coke, sure.
"Life's no piece of cake, mind you, but the recipe's my own to fool with."
carole
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:15 pm

Somnambulist wrote:
carole wrote:Anyone think a filly has a legitimate chance at battling with the colts and geldings? Isn't the winner of the BCJ Fillies on the road to the KD?
If they're snorting coke, sure.
I agree that it's a bad idea, at this stage, the fillies that we thought could be special, haven't really proved it (ehm eh Sweet Reason!). The 2yo filly division looks really messy right now.
Matt Converse
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:37 pm

Unbridled Forever was impressive winning at CD. UBS/Lemon Drop Kid mare
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larrythek
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:32 pm

There were no fillies on my derby worksheet. My Conquestadory is my favorite, but not a 10F dirt prospect. I just saw the race Unbridled Forever ran and It was a pretty awesome performance and now I have 1 girl for my Top 30. That's going to get a big BSF (high 80s +). The field was strung out + a very fast 7f time..
Matt Converse wrote:Unbridled Forever was impressive winning at CD. UBS/Lemon Drop Kid mare
Last edited by larrythek on Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
tcw
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Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:40 pm

Kennedy wrote:Kentucky Derby Top 10 – 2014 (December 2013)

Cairo Prince – Like many people I was hoping that the Remsen would tell us a little more about his capabilities. It didn’t turn out that way because the race was falsely run but if you look at the bare facts he is a nose away from being undefeated. His only loss came by a nose to the horse that most people consider to be the best of this crop.
Along with the fact that he was toting 6 lbs. more than Honor Code in that race.
Matt Converse
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Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:51 am

How would rate Stewart as a Derby trainer? Or Oaks trainer?
Matt Converse
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Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:00 am

(Lemons Forever!)
carole
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Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:19 pm

And it's official, Ria Antonia set for Derby trail, will go for Risen Star first up. Well, somebody has to take one for the fillies, maybe if she does pretty ok, other trainers will fancy trying it with their fillies.
Matt Converse
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Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:47 pm

Rockport Harbor-Mr. Greely mare. Beverage Queen showed promise winning debut at 8.5f, then a third and that was her career so far. Right on Renee had 3 career starts. The mare herself, Beer Baroness, also had 3 career starts.

Rockport Harbor had a longer but still brief career, and life. He produced Bryan's Jewel, a Gr.3-ish 8.5 horse, when crossed with a Touch Gold mare. Fighting Hussar prefers 7-9f. May Day Rose won at 8.5f, R Free Roll 6-7f, Pataky Kid went 7-8f, Z Rockstar was a miler.

Now we have both Rise Up and Ria Antonio winning at 8.5f. It'll be interesting to see how the Risen Star goes. The handlers must think she's a 10f horse.
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