In two weeks we begin the 100 point races, with the major 50 point races finishing up this weekend with the Rebel, won by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah last year, and in a few week the Spiral from Turfway Park, won by Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom back in 2011. Since my last top 5, we had 5 Kentucky Derby preps, all very much impacting my top 5. So here is my newly updated Quest for the Derby Top 5:
No. 5: Gun Runner
After not appearing in my top 10 last time, this newcomer was highly impressive in the Risen Star. Although the quality of the field is questionable, he was able to overcome a troubled trip early to capture the race in runaway fashion. He already has a win over the Churchill Downs track, which may take him far as we head to the Derby. However, Louisiana horses have not had the best of success in the Derby, so it will be interesting to see if his performances in the Louisiana preps will prepare him for the Kentucky Derby.
No. 4: Nyquist
The 2yo champion still garners much respect, but his best performance is not as good as those ahead of him. Having not had a true prep as a 3yo is a major knock on him, and forces him out of the top 3. Down from 2nd, Nyquist needs to race to move himself up, and he would be going up against Mohaymen. A win over Mohaymen would put him solidly at the top of my list, but until then, he will continue to fall as other 3yos prove themselves.
No. 3: Danzing Candy
After troubled break after troubled break, he finally got the break right in the San Felipe, which helped him put on one of the best performances in all of the Derby preps. He easily put away two very strong contenders in Exaggerator and Mor Spirit, as well as denying local favorite Smokey Image another win. He put up excellent early fractions on a track that wasn’t completely up to stuff after rain the days leading up to the race. While lightly raced against competition, he has Mike Smith piloting him to win after win and has a win in the best Derby prep field to date.
No. 2: Destin
Only two horses have won both of the track preps, Mohaymen and this horse, Destin. Destin took the Sam F. Davis, before capturing the Tampa Bay Derby over his stablemate Outwork, a strong front runner on a heavily speed favoring track. Destin has the right running style for the Kentucky Derby, running as a stalker. He has shown consistency and has Todd Pletcher to train him in the right direction. Targeting either the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, or Arkansas Derby next, this son of Giant’s Causeway wants to do what his sire couldn’t, win the Run for the Roses.
No 1: Mohaymen
Mohaymen has done absolutely nothing wrong and will remain at the top spot, after easily winning the Fountain of Youth. While he has shown no improvement since he was a 2yo, he hasn’t needed to, easily beating his foes and running away with the track. He has the pedigree to win the Derby, being a son of Tapit, and Shadwell Racing looks to capture their first Kentucky Derby, having already won the Epsom Derby and Irish Derby, as well as the Belmont Stakes with Jazil. His next test is in the Florida Derby, going against Nyquist. A win there will surely cement him as the Kentucky Derby favorite.
Honorable Mentions (6-10):
6. Mor Spirit
7. Sunny Ridge
9. Brody’s Cause