On the road to the Derby, many factors come into play. Did a horse get something out of the race ? – Did they encounter any trouble and learn ?? – Could a race be a “mirage” of sorts by fooling our eyes with an effort that wasn’t as good as posted ?? – Any of the above enters into a horse player’s mind as we begin to finalize runners for the first Saturday in May.
I have taken a peek at some of the runners who are getting our attention, and some that have hit my radar screen.
Verrazano = I actually loved the way he looked. His action was smooth over the cuppy track, and the rider was looking around for anyone to come and take a shot. Well, that can be curse in many ways. Do you want your horse to peek right now, or have a track of good works and few learning lessons ? – I love him, but my money will not be aboard. I have some friends who have him nailed in the future books, and I would enjoy seeing them win. But two questions keep popping up for me – Who did he beat, and how much did he learn ?? Nobody, and he had it all his own way. Wait until the top of the lane when 20 Thoroughbreds weave in and out down the long Churchill stretch. Also, with no two-year-old season under his belt is my final decision maker.
Uncaptured = It looks like the Spiral is on tap for this son of Lion Heart. Mark Casse likes the way he moving, and Turfway has been good the last few years (Animal Kingdom, Went The Day Well). I think that the poly “legs’ them up nicely, and if Casse is talking. He must have something worth watching. Next weekend, we’ll see.
Orb = The win in the Fountain of Youth caught all of our eyes. All he needs is a hot pace, and it can be lights out. His way of moving looked fluid, and I think he’ll just get better with time. It took him four races to break his maiden, and in the allowance event at GP he was knocked around quite a bit. I like some mileage, and the ability to overcome hurdles. If he could ever keep a bit closer and rate, you may be seeing a maturing horse heading to Louisville. Next up, the Florida Derby….
Flashback = What the heck happened last out ? Did he escape Leparoux, or did he just take off like a little kid ? Either way, he gets a new rider according to the DRF – Garrett Gomez. I am not ready to toss him out just yet. I need to see another race. You cannot train maturity into a runner, and maybe Gomez will help his causes. This being said, I am tossing Goldencents, and leaving in this guy. I think we will see a better run next out in Santa Anita Derby.
Super Ninety Nine = This is one of my wait and watch runners. He got one in at age two, and finished fourth sprinting. Since 2013, he is a perfect two-for-two. I am not ready to sell the farm with that blowout over a sloppy / sealed track in the Southwest. His next race in the Rebel should give us a better indication of what to expect. Bejarano rode him like mad, and this son of Pulpit looks to have gas in the tank for a bit longer. This should be a solid glimpse of what he has to offer as he attempts to overcome the outside post.
Vyjack = The word on the street is that the Derby will go through New York. He is perfect so far, and man does he look solid. But, not too hasty…. He will not be alone in the Wood, and will have to lock horns with some tough eggs. The way he rated and pounced was impressive. We’ll see his makings in the Wood Memorial, and I don’t think you will be disappointed in the Rodriguez trainee.
These next three weekends will have many of my questions answered. By the time April is in the air, I will have two or three definites to watch leading up to the Kentucky Derby. I can’t stress enough how important it is to watch, read, and see replays of the past races. This will give you firm ground to stand when you find yourself at the windows making your wager.