The end of the Derby Preps is soon, with only the Arkansas Derby and the Lexington remaining, meaning a list of probables for the Kentucky Derby is nearing complete. After three amazing preps this past weekend, the Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial, and the Blue Grass, this year is shaping up to be a very wide-open affair. Here is my Top 10 list midway through April:
Finally making a return to the races this Saturday in the Lexington, the other Desormeaux still has a lot of talent and if he makes it into the Kentucky Derby field, watch out! He is the closest horse to ever beating Nyquist and if he wins the Lexington, he should make it in if enough defections occur.
Wasn’t sure where to include him, but the Japanese trained runner has the pedigree to fit in with the field and will have enough time in the States to get adjusted. He ran very strong in the UAE Derby, closing well on a track that was favoring speed. After stumbling early and having to go wide for much of the backstretch, Lani was able to get up in the shadow of the wire to take the UAE Derby. While not the most impressive win figure or time wise (more owed to the slow nature of racing at Meydan), this Derby looks to be filled with speed, perhaps too much speed, and a closer like Lani could do well here.
After being off my list for awhile, this Desormeaux looks to make the Twin Spires his home on the First Saturday in May. After romping away in the Santa Anita Derby, Exaggerator looks to down Nyquist. While he has a great closing kick, his best win was in the slop (the same reason why I worry about the Wood Memorial and the Florida Derby). Still some qualms about his class, but has made it into my list after his big win on Sunday.
7. Gun Runner
Even after winning the Louisiana Derby, Gun Runner has not done enough to merit staying in my Top 5. The Louisiana preps have been poor as of late and I just don’t think this year is even close to being enough to win the Kentucky Derby. Gun Runner would need to step up to prove he can win the Run for the Roses, and with such a heavy pace up front this year, I don’t think it is possible. Talented and worth a bet in the Derby, but he continues to fall for me.
6. Danzing Candy
Another to fall out of my Top 5, Danzing Candy didn’t perform well in the Santa Anita Derby, getting caught in a hot early pace and fading to fourth. With another early pace similar to what he faced Saturday awaiting him in May, hard to say he will perform any better; however, having to deal with the slop in that race, I will give him a slight pass, letting him stay up front and I’ll give him a chance in the Kentucky Derby.
Dropping from the top spot, this son of Tapit might just not like the distance. Odd, but possible. He just stalled and wheeled back in the Florida Derby on the wet track (see a trend?) and doesn’t look to be able to sustain his kick against a strong competitor. Will be interested to see if he can bounce back, but he might just be a miler for much of his career.
Todd Pletcher is training his Tampa Bay Derby winner up to the Kentucky Derby, letting him rest after his impressive Tampa Bay Derby win. He was able to kick the bias last time and will sit off of a strong front pace in the Kentucky Derby. With the right running style and liking for a strong early pace, Destin is one to watch out for in the Derby. The layoff isn’t the best thing, but Derby winners have overcome worse.
3. Brody’s Cause
He looked like a lost horse two runs ago, but his win in the Blue Grass puts him back in the picture. He was very impressive last year and looks on pace to put up a good show in the Kentucky Derby. He may end up being just a horse for course at Keeneland, but he had a very troubled trip and had no pace to close into in the Blue Grass. He is going to be a huge threat come Churchill Downs.
Giving Baffert another Rebel Stakes, Cupid easily coasted to victory and looks on towards a run in the Arkansas Derby. Very impressive in the Rebel, Cupid has the versatility to run up front or stalk, and will look to improve next race. Although lightly raced, this son of Tapit has been improving heavily. Strong runner who could have a very good run in the Derby.
Shocker here; Nyquist is my top horse in the Kentucky Derby. I was very skeptical of him for months, but after his Florida Derby win, I can’t doubt him any more. Just impressive. Being as lightly raced this year as he is will be a worry, but very impressive.
This weekend is the Arkansas Derby and the Lexington, being headlined by Cupid and Swipe, respectfully. Both look to improve on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.