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2010 Kentucky Derby Contenders
The Kentucky Derby is America’s most famous horse race and the one steeped in the most traditions. Winning the Run for the Roses is a major accomplishment, and is also the first step in winning horse racing’s Triple Crown. For three-year-olds, there are no bigger races than these.
The Derby will be run on May 1 this year, the first Saturday in May. There are still a few prep races before the Derby. The winners (and losers) of those will determine which horses will be included in the 20-horse field on the big day. For now, however, here are my top picks for Derby day.
Caracortado is a chestnut gelding bred in California by Michael Machowsky. The gelding’s sire is Cat Dreams and his dam is Mons Venus, by Maria’s Mon. He has had six lifetime starts with five wins and one third place. His most recent win was in the G2 RB Lewis at Santa Anita in which he ran three wide and achieved his best beyer speed rating of 98. Caracortado makes the list because of his two 90+ beyer ratings, his three-wide run in the RB Lewis, and his four-wide run in the San Felipe where he finished third.
Conveyance is a gray Bob Baffert-trained colt by Indian Charlie and out of the Holy Bull mare, Emptythetill. This horse is undefeated in four starts with two beautiful wins in the San Rafael and Southwest Stakes. Of those four races he has 90+ beyer ratings in three races, his best a 99. Conveyance is a bit of a speed horse on paper so may not stand up to the longer distance of the Kentucky Derby, and with no racing experience over one mile, it’s hard to say how he’ll handle the distance.
Dublin hasn’t seemed to garner much respect. He only has two wins in seven lifetime starts, the last one in the Hopeful Stakes in 2009. The chestnut son of Afleet Alex is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, one of racing’s winningest trainers, and is out of the Storm Bird mare Classy Mirage. His pedigree says he should do well. Looking at his races, Dublin has run wide in four of his five stakes races. He finished third in his last race, the G2 Rebel, but had to run four wide. Before that he finished second in the G3 Southwest but also ran four wide. In both of those races he had a 90+ beyer rating. Even in his last win in the Hopeful last year, he stumbled, drifted and ran wide, still coming away with the win.
A win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes a few weeks ago put Eskenderya on the radar and right up there with early Kentucky Derby favorite, Lookin’ At Lucky. This chestnut colt by Giant’s Causeway and out of the Seattle Slew mare Aldebaran Light has the highest beyer rating of the other Derby contenders – a blazing 106. He has six lifetime starts with four wins and a second. His only out-of-the-money race came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November when he finished 9th behind Vale of York (not a Derby contender), Lookin’ At Lucky and Noble’s Promise. That race, however, seems to have been a bumping match as inexperienced two-year-olds ducked, were steadied, bumped and basically tried to figure out how to go straight instead of sideways into each other. Eskenderya won his two stakes wins by commanding leads – 8.5 lengths in the Fountain of Youth to beat Jackson Bend and by 7.25 lengths in the Pilgrim. In his last start, he again annihilated his competition in the Santa Anita Derby for a solid win.
Ice Box makes the list for his recent Florida Derby win. Several winners of this race have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, but many also have not. This year’s field was weak at best giving Ice Box a fairly easy win as he pulled past Pleasant Prince. This chestnut colt has an impressive pedigree. His sire is Pulpit who is by A.P. Indy, and his dam is Spice Island by Tabasco Cat. And he’s trained by Nick Zito, an all-time favorite trainer of race fans. Ice Box has seven lifetime starts with three wins, but in 2010 he has three starts with two wins. His only loss this year has came in the Fountain of Youth Stakes where he was demolished by Eskenderya and Jackson Bend to finish 5th. Ice Box makes the list for running four and three wide in two of his wins. If he goes to the Derby he will likely not make another start before then.
Jackson Bend is a chestnut colt by Hear No Evil and out of the Tabasco Cat mare Sexy Stockings. On paper he looks like a speed horse and may burn out early in the Derby. He has been beaten soundly by Eskenderya twice, in the Fountain of Youth and the Wood Memorial. In 2010 he has started three times – the losses in the Fountain of Youth, Wood Memorial and another second place in the Holy Bull. As a two-year old, however, he won five of six starts with his only loss in his maiden race in which he placed second. He has four 90+ beyer ratings in his four stakes races. That, coupled with his breeding, indicates the 1-1/4 mile Derby length may be too long for him to handle.
Lookin’ At Lucky
One of the early Kentucky Derby favorites, Lookin’ At Lucky is a bay colt trained by Bob Baffert. His sire is Smart Strike by Mr. Prospector and his dam is Private Feeling by Belong to Me. Lookin’ At Lucky was the two-year-old champion in 2009 and has had strong races so far in 2010. Last year he won five of his six starts, coming in second once in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile where he lost by a head to Vale of York. In his last start, he placed third in the Santa Anita Derby to Sidney’s Candy and Setsuko.
Noble’s Promise is one of those horses that looks good on paper. He’s won three times in seven starts but hasn’t placed out of the money yet. In his last two starts – the Rebel in March and the Cash Call Futurity in December – he was beaten by Lookin’ At Lucky, and not beaten too badly either. He ran three wide in the Rebel to come within a head of Lookin’ At Lucky and ran four wide in the Cash Call to come within ¾ of a length. Before that he ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile only a ½ length behind Lookin’ At Lucky. Last year he won the G1 Breeders Futurity in which he also ran four wide. This colt seems to have that quality that eludes mediocre horses – heart. Noble’s Promise is a son of Cuvee and The Devil’s Trick, by Clever Trick. He will run next in the Arkansas Derby on April 10.
Rule is another horse that looks like he might be a speedster, though he’s done well at races over a mile. The problem is those races have come at less than spectacular racetracks. Rule is a son of Roman Ruler and out of the Personal Flag daughter Rockcide. Roman Ruler is by Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. He is trained by Todd Pletcher. Rule makes the list for having four beyer ratings of 95, 97, 97, and 98 in his last four starts. Lifetime he has started seven times and won four of those. In his last start he was third to Ice Box and Pleasant Prince in the Florida Derby.
This chestnut colt by Argentine stallion Candy Ride is out of the Storm Cat mare Fair Exchange. He had good wins this year in the G2 San Felipe and G2 San Vicente, winning both easily, the latter over Interactif and Caracortado, both Derby hopefuls. In his last start, he won the Santa Anita Derby beating Derby hopeful Lookin’ At Lucky. On paper Sidney’s Candy looks like he’ll be able to handle the longer distances of the Derby and Belmont but only time will tell.