The time has come to watch and wait. As the song says, “The waiting is the hardest part.” We saw their body of work, and the many obstacles they overcame. The Kentucky Derby countdown officially begun when the big preps hit the books. I believe we have seen their best efforts, and now we’ll wait for them to ship and work a final time. Inevitably, there will be a few defections, and at least one will be one of marquee value. If there wasn’t a process of elimination, we wouldn’t be able to match the best against the best. Nobody said it would be easy, and if it were. Every three-year-old would do it.
Constitution= Todd Pletcher will be bringing this son of Tapit to Louisville. Javier Castellano will probably be named, and you’ll start hearing the “Apollo” jinx theories. You know, how no Derby runner has won since 1882 when Apollo wore the roses. This guy is different. It has been ten years since his sire Tapit won the Wood Memorial, and finished 9th in the Derby. This guy is being slammed about not being able to get the distance, and they may be selling him short. I admit the fractions in the Florida Derby were average, and he had rail trip to get the job done. If you have forgot, he was under a hammer-lock at the first quarter, settled by the half, and waiting patiently along the rail against three of the powerhouse runners of the season. Does this have the sound of a runner who has matured ? – He showed poise, patience and power. He dug in gamely and beat one of the best stretch fighters in 2014. Is he the one to break the curse? They have the best money rider in the irons for the powerful Todd-Squad. This has been a tough year for most, and he comes in focused and ready off four starts.
Samraat = I wasn’t much of a believer in the beginning, but when a friend was talking about his speed and turn of foot. I began to listen. – I saw three things in the Wood Memorial from this son of Noble Causeway. He had to face the X-horse in Social Inclusion. (If the wheels hold together, he’ll be a monster.) Samratt broke sharply, took the lead, and allowed Social Inclusion to get the jump as he patiently settled between. As the race unfolded, he moved up and back with ease, and when the real running began he dug in gamely. The pace setters were starting to wear down, and you could see Wicked Strong benefit from the early street fight. Samratt looked right over at “Wicked” and started running after him. This New York-bred is game. – He has grit, fight, and is learning to settle and wait. Everyone needs a dog fight before Louisville. This was his, and it was a good one.
California Chrome = You probably think I’m crazy, and I should have him wearing the roses. Not just yet… Does anyone remember Kobe’s Back and Tamarando beating him? Now I’m not saying he isn’t the real-deal, or he won’t be the morning line favorite. I like him a good deal, but he’ll need his best “AA game” to run into the winner’s circle. I won’t leave him out, and his trainer Art Sherman was the exercise rider for Swaps who was a Cal-bred to win the Derby. “Chrome” inhaled the field last out, and it looks like it took ten starts to find out he’s a super hero. If he encounters any traffic or can’t blow right by, did he need that dog fight to get his Chrome to shine? – I don’t think Victor Espinoza would trade with any other riders, and his owners turned down $6 million. They will have to be stuck at the airport to miss the Derby.
Chitu = Bob Baffert has another ace up his sleeve, and this son of Henny Hughes is lightly raced, and has a proper four starts to his credit. In his first start in 2014, he looked to run into a buzz saw with Candy Boy, but if you watch a few replays of the Robert B. Lewis. You’ll see he ran his game. The way he went right to rail and fought gamely, was enough to make me keep my eyes peeled. His last effort was a win in the (G-3) Sunland Derby, and Baffert owns the track as everything he sends comes back with the money. Look at it this way, he had two good wins in 2013, and 2 starts with a win and hard fought second in 2014. Lightly raced, and rested. We’ll want to see a few good works, and look for him to put in a game effort.
Here are four contenders that have made my final list. You can go back and watch all of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks replays right here on Winning Ponies. As we draw closer and the road becomes clearer. Winning Ponies will take you right to the winner’s circle. The E-Z Win exotic payouts have totaled over $2,359,468. We are dialed in everyday, but for the mega-field that assembles in Louisville. Our tier levels will uncover hidden value that will translate into a bumper payday. Keep your eyes peeled, as you’ll be able to prepare for Derby 140 with our stories and updates, Internet radio show, and player-friendly easy-to-use E-Z Win Forms. The countdown has begun!