Greg Melikov’s Top 10 Derby Contenders

by Greg Melikov

posted on February 24, 2010 in Free Picks and Tips, General Discussion, Kentucky Derby | 1 Comment >>

It appears the Run for the Roses is the Todd and Bob Show as in trainers Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert. Here are my Top 10 contenders for the Kentucky Derby from bottom to top Dave Letterman style:

Super Saver: One of the many Kentucky Derby hopefuls trained by Todd Pletcher. The son of Maria’s Mon has been training well, but is not scheduled to debut as a 3-year-old until next month. Next race: Gotham Stakes on March 6 at Aqueduct.

Drosselmeyer: His fourth place finish in the Risen Star wasn’t too bad, making up nearly 2 1/2 lengths in the stretch and losing by less than 1 3/4 lengths. It was the son of Golden Ballet’s second trip on dirt after winning in allowance company at Gulfstream. Next race: Louisiana Derby on March 27 at Fair Grounds.

Buddy’s Saint: Two race winning streak was snapped for son of Saint Liam, when he had a disastrous start in the Fountain of Youth. Jockey Jose Lezcano said right after his ninth place finish on Feb. 20: “The other horses came in like nothing (on the first turn). I was already in a spot, and they came in and killed my horse; put him into the rail.” Next race: Florida Derby on March 20 at Gulfstream.

Jackson Bend: Runner-up in Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth needs to pick it up in next outing. Last victory in a route came last year as a top 2-year-old at Calder. Three strikes and the son of Hear No Evil is out of the Top 10.  Next race: Florida Derby.

Dublin: Poor showing in his last race in November led to successful epiglottis surgery. The son of Afleet Alex came from far back in the Risen Star, after starting slowly and racing wide off the far turn, to make up 3 1/4 lengths in the stretch to finish second. He plainly ran out of ground in the 1 1/16-mile contest. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is also breathing easier: “The further the better for him. He’s a big, imposing individual with a long stride.”

Discreetly Mine: One of many Kentucky Derby hopefuls trained by Todd Pletcher that shows promise. This son of Mineshaft captured the Risen Star on the front end when no foe wanted the lead. Tactical speed is a plus as he progresses. Next race: Louisiana Derby.

Rule: This Pletcher trainee is a horse for all tracks. The son of Roman Ruler has won four in a row. His victories were on Belmont’s sweeping track, Delta Downs’ fast and sloppy surfaces and Tampa Bay Downs’ quirky oval. Next race: Undecided.

Conveyance: One of trainer Bob Baffert’s stars is unbeaten in four outings, following his three-quarters of a length triumph in the Southwest Stakes. Transition to dirt went smoothly, but one question remains for the son of Indian Charlie: Can he get 1 1/4 miles? Next race: UAE Derby in Dubai March 27, Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 3, or Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn April 10.

Lookin at Lucky: Baffert’s pride and joy hasn’t debuted as a sophomore, but has worked well. Despite being considered the top dog going 5 for 6, including runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in a horrible trip, the son of Smart Strike has time to get fit. Only negative: not racing on dirt with only two Kentucky Derby preps likely. Next race: San Felipe at Santa Anita or Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 13.

Eskendereya: An impresive 8 1/2-length victory in the Fountain of Youth puts the Pletcher trainee at the top of the 3-year-old ladder. The son of Giant’s Causeway has tactical speed and can win just off the pace, like he did Feb. 20, or can come from a bit out of it to grind down his foes. He’s 3 for 3 on dirt. Next race: Florida Derby.?