Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 Kentucky Derby Field Analysis

25,808 Thoroughbred foals born in the United States in 2010 were registered with the Jockey Club. On Saturday, only 20 of them will load into the starting gate for the most prestigious race in the nation: the Kentucky Derby (GI). The trials and tribulations leading up to this race are incomparable and although 20 is a very large field, it is a miniscule number compared to the amount of Thoroughbreds born each year. For these 20 horses, it is nothing short of a miracle that they will parade before the grandstand as the nostalgic melody of “My Old Kentucky Home” rings through the air.

Years of preparation have directed these horses to the shadow of the twin spires. But within a matter of two minutes, the race will be over, a new hero will be crowned, and focus will soon be on the next year’s race. But for those two minutes, the racing world comes together to cherish the majestic creature that is the Thoroughbred racehorse, the revered animal that so many pin their hopes and dreams to. The pageantry, the passion, and the excitement the Kentucky Derby generates are greater than any other race in the nation, rivaling that of other grand sporting events.

Listed below are all of the horses entered to run in the 2013 Run for the Roses, along with descriptions of their pedigrees, racing records, final preparations, and my opinions of them. The runners are listed in post position order.

1. BLACK ONYX: His bloodlines imply that the Derby's ten-furlong distance will not be an issue, as he is by Rock Hard Ten and out of a Cape Town mare.

Black Onyx broke his maiden in his second start prior to finishing fourth in an allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream Park. His two most recent starts were victories, including a win in the Spiral Stakes (GIII) at Turfway Park.

Black Onyx has had two works at Churchill Downs since the Spiral and has shown improvement since his first work. In his final breeze before the Derby, the colt completed a half-mile in 48.60 seconds, traveling powerfully over the surface while easily overtaking the horse ahead of him.

Black Onyx could certainly enter the Derby as a rather unnoticeable candidate, but he is bred to be successful at classic distances and has shown talent from the beginning. He may run greenly at times and may have faced easier competition than many other contenders, but he is a gifted horse that should not be completely overlooked. However, his chances are severely damaged by his rail post. Read about Black Onyx in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Black Onyx.”

2. OXBOW: This colt is a three-quarters brother to Haskell Invitational (GI, 9F) winner and Belmont Stakes (GI, 12F) runner-up Paynter, being by Breeders' Cup Classic (GI, 10F) winner Awesome Again and out of a full sister to two-time Breeders' Cup Classic hero Tiznow.

Pulled up and vanned off in his debut, Oxbow turned in a pair of steady performances in maiden special weights prior to breaking his maiden by a large margin at Churchill Downs. Shipped west for the CashCall Futurity (GI), Oxbow finished fourth to culminate his juvenile campaign. His three-year-old year began with a romp in the LeComte Stakes (GIII) at the Fair Grounds and though he hasn't won since, he has had good performances in his starts since then, all of which have been graded stakes.

Oxbow has put in a pair of works at Churchill Downs since arriving after the Arkansas Derby. He has been full of energy, keeping his head cocked but getting over the surface quite well.

Oxbow may not bring to the table the most fashionable race record, but when he is at the top of his game, he is a fierce competitor. In the LeComte earlier this season, Oxbow drew a post near the rail and was an easy winner, but since then, he has drawn outside posts and has failed to reach the winner’s circle. Perhaps this inside post may not be detrimental for Oxbow as it would be for other horses. Furthermore, although he has appeared to tire in the final stages of a handful of his races, he has had a taxing campaign and though this could be worrisome for his chances, the colt is bred for distance. Read about Oxbow in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Oxbow.”

REVOLUTIONARY: A son of the late champion War Pass, Revolutionary is out of a grade one-winning daughter of A.P. Indy that was successful at ten furlongs. Notably, the colt is a direct descendant of the great broodmare La Troienne, who is found in the tail female line of the Derby winners Go for Gin, Sea Hero, Smarty Jones, and Super Saver.

Despite encountering much bad luck throughout his career, Revolutionary has won three of his six starts. Catching my eye with his debut, a third-place effort at Saratoga, Revolutionary did not break his maiden until his fourth start, although he had finished no worse than third prior to then. He was won both starts since his maiden: the Withers Stakes (GIII) and the Louisiana Derby (GII), gutting out a win in both of those races despite traffic trouble.

Both of Revolutionary’s works at Churchill Downs in preparation for the Derby have been very impressive despite the fact that the colt changes leads multiple times in the final stages of his works – a trademark of his. Perhaps the most remarkable components of his breezes have been his gallop outs, in which the colt has effortlessly drawn away from his workmate each time, traveling over the Churchill Downs oval effortlessly.

Revolutionary has a tendency to find trouble, but he is full of raw talent. He has displayed perhaps the greatest determination of any horse in this field and possesses a significant will to win that you can’t train a horse to have. A post so close to the rail would usually be worrisome, but it appears to be perfect for Revolutionary’s jockey, Calvin Borel (“Bo-rail”), who has won three Kentucky Derbies with rail-skimming trips. Considering I am torn between Orb and this colt, I would not be surprised in the least to see Revolutionary take home the garland of roses. Read about Revolutionary in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Revolutionary.”

Photo by Brittlan Wall
4. GOLDEN SOUL: A son of Canadian champion Perfect Soul and out of a Mr. Prospector mare that has been primarily successful with runners under nine furlongs, distance may pose as a doubt for this colt.

After his maiden score in his second career start, Golden Soul was second behind Oxbow in the LeComte Stakes (GIII). He then finished sixth in the Risen Star Stakes (GII) and fourth in the Louisiana Derby (GII), both of which were somewhat lackluster performances.

In his two works at Churchill Downs, Golden Soul has appeared to move well over the track – on which he was beaten by just a head in his debut last fall. He is quite the physical specimen.

If Golden Soul wins the Kentucky Derby, it will be a very shocking moment. He is certainly a looker, but he will need to show tremendous improvement in order to find victory.

NORMANDY INVASION: At first glance, Normandy Invasion’s pedigree creates thoughts of a miler. However, his sire – Tapit – has sired a handful of distance horses and the colt’s pedigree is home to many hidden stamina influences.

After a fifth-place finish in his debut, Normandy Invasion was a dominant winner of his second career start, which he followed up with a narrow loss in the Remsen Stakes (GII). Although his fifth-place effort in the Risen Star Stakes (GII) earlier this year may seem to be discouraging, Normandy Invasion actually performed very well considering the poor trip he encountered. His final start before the Derby was a fast-closing runner-up finish behind Verrazano in the Wood Memorial Stakes (GI).

Normandy Invasion has had two works at Churchill Downs since the Wood Memorial and in both of these breezes, he has fluidly traveled over the ground and has flourished at Churchill Downs.

Despite the distance questions his pedigree form, Normandy Invasion’s lengthy strides and fluid action suggest added distance will not be an issue for him. Coming from off the pace will be a difficult task, but Normandy Invasion is a contender that should not be forgotten. Read about Normandy Invasion in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Normandy Invasion.”

MYLUTE: This colt is bred for shorter distances, though his champion sprinting sire, Midnight Lute, provides potential for wins at long distances.

Following in-the-money finishes in a maiden special weight and black-type race, Mylute broke his maiden at Arlington Park. A horse that has never had consecutive victories, Mylute then finished fifth in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) prior to running a good second in the Jean Lafitte Stakes. A third-place effort in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII) preceded Mylute's dominant win in an allowance optional claiming event at the Fair Grounds. Following a poor seventh-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes (GII), Mylute rebounded with a game runner-up effort behind Revolutionary in the Louisana Derby (GII).

Mylute had four works over Churchill’s dirt oval in the month April, the most recent of which was a steady four-furlong drill a week out from the Derby. Keeping his ears perked throughout the work, the colt appeared green but comfortable.

Mylute is a wild card horse, but he has the potential to run a big race. Read about him in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Mylute.”

This colt is a member of the first crop of Frost Giant – a grade one-winning son of Giant’s Causeway – and is out of a Hickman Creek – a son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew – mare.

Winner of his debut, Giant Finish finished fifth in the Damon Runyon at Aqueduct in the second start of his career prior to taking an allowance optional claiming event at the same track. Second in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes over Turfway Park’s Polytrack, Giant Finish then ran third in the Spiral Stakes (GIII).

A late addition to the Derby lineup, Giant Finish has not had a workout at Churchill Downs, with his last work coming on April 25 at Fair Hill Training Center.

A victory by Giant Finish in the Kentucky Derby would be as shocking as Mine That Bird’s triumph in 2009.

8. GOLDENCENTS: This colt is not bred for distance, being by Into Mischief and out of a Banker's Gold mare. However, his grandsire, Harlan’s Holiday, has succeeded in siring distance horses.

After a spectacular maiden victory at Del Mar, Goldencents shipped east for the Champagne Stakes (GI) at Belmont, falling to eventual champion Shanghai Bobby. A journey to Louisiana resulted in a victory in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII), which was a prelude to Goldencents' Sham Stakes (GIII) win. A speed duel in the San Felipe Stakes (GII) led to Goldencents' downfall in that race, in which he finished fourth after a valiant effort to remain in the battle for the win. The colt rebounded with a strong triumph in the Santa Anita Derby (GI), in which he stamped himself as California's top Derby contender.

Trained by Doug O’Neill, the conditioner of last year’s Derby winner (I’ll Have Another) Goldencents had his final work in California, just like I’ll Have Another did a year ago. Since arriving at Churchill Downs, Goldencents has appeared very strong in his gallops over the track.

Goldencents will need to rely on his talent to win the Derby, as he is bred to have a distance limit of nine furlongs. He certainly has a will to win – as well as a trainer who knows how to win – and will try his hardest to fight for triumph. Distance is a question for Goldencents, but heart is not. Read about Goldencents in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Goldencents.”

Photo by Brittlan Wall

9. OVERANALYZE: Another horse with a pedigree slightly questionable in relation to distance, Overanalyze’s sire – Dixie Union – has been considered to not be useful in siring distance horses. However, his son Union Rags won last year’s Belmont Stakes (GI). Despite appearing to be rather lacking in outstanding stakes success, Overanalyze’s tail female line traces back to Muzzie II, a mare imported from Great Britain in 1931 that produced the multiple stakes-winning Shot Put – a gelding that equaled and set numerous track records at various distances, including 2 ¾ miles and 2 ¼ miles.

Overanalyze has never won consecutive races, having formed a win-lose-win-lose pattern. This could be worrisome, since he is entering the Derby off a win, but the colt also seems to be coming into his own. Overanalyze contested in four graded stakes events as a juvenile, capturing two of them – including the Remsen Stakes (GII) by a nose over Normandy Invasion. In his two starts as a three-year-old thus far, Overanalyze ran a poor fifth in the Gotham Stakes (GIII) behind Vyjack prior to an easy win in the Arkansas Derby (GI).

Overanalyze, who already has a third-place finish at Churchill Downs under his belt, turned in a bullet work on Saturday, working in company with Palace Malice at the famed track. Chasing after Palace Malice throughout the breeze, Overanalyze drew even with his stablemate midway through the far turn and actually finished ahead of the other colt narrowly, though Palace Malice galloped out several lengths ahead. Nevertheless, Overanalyze appeared very comfortable and authoritative in his work.

This colt will need to run the race of his life in order to receive a garland of roses after the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports. But he has always been a classy individual and could certainly be underestimated. Read about Overanalyze in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Overanalyze.”

PALACE MALICE: Being a son of Curlin and a Royal Anthem mare, classic distances should be right up this one’s alley.

Palace Malice broke his maiden impressively in his second start and after a runner-up effort in an allowance optional claiming event at Gulfstream Park this January, Palace Malice advanced to graded stakes company and hasn’t looked back since. The colt ran a very good third in the Risen Star Stakes (GII) prior to finishing seventh in the Louisiana Derby (GII), a race that can be thrown out for Palace Malice, as the colt had no chance after encountering severe traffic trouble. His last race before the Derby was a noteworthy runner-up finish in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) over Keeneland’s Polytrack.

Working in company with stablemate Overanalyze the Saturday before the Derby, Palace Malice set the early tempo of the breeze before galloping evenly with the other Todd Pletcher trainee. Although Overanalyze very narrowly finished ahead of Palace Malice at the wire, the son of Curlin had a much better gallop-out and traveled over the Churchill track in a manner that suggested he had no problems with its surface.

Palace Malice has become one of the “wise guy” horses for this year’s Derby and understandably so. He is on the improve and has yet to show just how good he is. He will be a longer price than many others and could prove to be a worthy play on race day. Read about Palace Malice in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Palace Malice.”

Bred in Kentucky, Lines of Battle is by War Front and out of an Arch mare that is a half-sister to Dynaformer. His ancestry suggests that the colt is capable of winning at classic distances.

Winning his debut at the Curragh in Ireland, Lines of Battle finished sixth behind Dawn Approach – the top-rated colt in Europe – in the Coventry Stakes (GII) prior to falling just a quarter of a length short in the Tyros Stakes (GIII). Following a stakes win at Dundalk, Lines of Battle was shipped to California for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI), in which he finished a disappointing seventh. His lone start this year was an impressive victory in the UAE Derby (GII) – which is contested at approximately 9 ½ furlongs (the distance of the Preakness Stakes).

Arriving at Churchill Downs after 2 A.M. the Wednesday before the Derby, Lines of Battle will have little time to become acclimated to the track. Fortunately, his trip to the United States went smoothly.

A Europe-based horse has never won the Kentucky Derby, but many of those that have attempted to have been bred for the turf. Lines of Battle’s pedigree is directed toward dirt, but the Run for the Roses will serve as a very tall task for this Aidan O’Brien trainee, especially due to the very small amount of time he has to become used to Churchill Downs.

ITSMYLUCKYDAY: A son of the late but brilliant Lawyer Run, Itsmyluckyday is out of a Doneraile Court – a son of Seattle Slew – mare. His pedigree may seem to mainly imply that this colt would be successful at distances under nine furlongs, but the well-built individual does possess distance forces within his ancestry.

Itsmyluckyday raced seven times as a juvenile, winning at second asking prior to diving into stakes company. Following a third-place finish in the Tyro Stakes, Itsmyluckyday captured a pair of stakes at Calder before running sixth in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII), in which he may not have been fond of the bullring track. His final start as a two-year-old resulted in a fourth-place effort in the Dania Beach Stakes over Gulfstream Park’s turf course. A return to the dirt brought a resurgence in Itsmyluckyday: the colt captured both the Gulfstream Park Derby and the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII) with impressive late turns of foot. Sent off as the favorite in the Florida Derby (GI), the colt finished second to Orb.

Itsmyluckyday has remained at his home track of Calder while preparing for the Derby, but since arriving at Churchill Downs a week out from the Derby, the colt has made a significant impression. He has a great presence to him and seems very confident while traveling beneath the twin spires.

Although it is logical to worry about his distance abilities, especially after not offering to fight Orb for the victory in the nine-furlong Florida Derby, Itsmyluckyday exudes confidence and looks the part of a Derby winner. However, looks will get him nowhere if he is unable to be competitive at ten furlongs. Nonetheless, he is among my top selections due to his presence and talent. Read about Itsmyluckyday in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Itsmyluckyday.”

Photo by Brittlan Wall
13. FALLING SKY: This colt's sire, Lion Heart, was second in the 2004 Kentucky Derby and his broodmare sire, Sea Hero, won the 1993 Run for the Roses. His dam line is lined with stamina-influencing sires.

Falling Sky won his debut at Calder prior to finishing fourth of six in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. After rebounding with a win in an allowance optional claiming event at Gulfstream Park, Falling Sky returned to Tampa Bay Downs, where he won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (GIII). He then ran third in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII) behind future grade one winners Verrazano and Java's War before traveling to Oaklawn Park, where he finished fourth in the Arkansas Derby (GI), beaten approximately 5 lengths.

Falling Sky has had two works at Churchill Downs while preparing for the Derby, though they were spread apart by nineteen days. He has displayed good energy while excercising.

Falling Sky is a rather consistent runner, but appears to be in over his head.

14. VERRAZANO: The main worry regarding this colt is his pedigree’s ability to carry him to wins at classic distances. But although his sire, More Than Ready, has principally excelled with horses that race at nine furlongs or less, the stallion has produced many distance horses. In addition, Verrazano should be aided by his broodmare sire, Giant’s Causeway.

Verrazano has generated talk since the beginning of his career, creating waves with a 7 ¾-length victory in his debut on New Year’s Day. Following an overwhelming 16 ¾-length demolition of his rivals in an allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream Park, Verrazano upgraded to graded stakes company in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII), coasting to a victory that left his nearest rival, future grade one winner Java’s War, 3 lengths behind. The Todd Pletcher trainee faced the toughest test of his career in his final prep, the Wood Memorial Stakes (GI), which he captured by ¾ of a length.

Verrazano has put in a pair of works at Churchill Downs and has shown improvement in his time at the Louisville track. In his first breeze over the oval, he appeared to struggle with the surface, but he exhibited significant progress in his second drill below the twin spires. Going five furlongs in 59.40, Verrazano edged past his workmate much more easily than he had the initial time, finishing up impressively as he glided over the ground into a good gallop-out.

Throughout this year’s journey to the Derby, Verrazano has been heralded as the Derby favorite and deservedly so. He has flashed brilliance unlike any other colt and although distance may be a question, he seems to have a sufficient amount of stamina influences to win route races. His post position may be the best in the field and fortunately for him, he is drawn to the outside of likely speed horses Falling Sky and Goldencents. Verrazano is among the top contenders in this elite field and a spectacular performance is expected of him. Read about Verrazano in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Verrazano.”

Photo by Brittlan Wall

By Kitten's Joy and out of a Wild Again mare, Charming Kitten should not have trouble with the ten-furlong distance.

After winning his debut over Saratoga's turf course, Charming Kitten finished third in the With Anticipation Stakes (GII) at Saratoga. In the penultimate start of his two-year-old year, Charming Kitten ran ninth in the Breeders' Futurity (GI) over Keeneland's Polytrack. A game runner-up effort in the Dania Beach Stakes over Gulfstream's turf course closed out 2012 for this colt, who began 2013 with a win in the race named after his sire, the Kitten’s Joy Stakes. Since then, he has finished second in the Palm Beach Stakes (GIII) and third in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI).

Charming Kitten’s work at Churchill Downs was crucial, as he has never raced over a dirt surface before. He has appeared to get over the track well, but it does not seem to be his favorite surface.

Unless he is pulling an Animal Kingdom card on us, Charming Kitten would be better suited to turf and synthetic races. Not only does dirt not appear to be his preferred surface, but Charming Kitten seems outclassed here.

ORB: This colt, campaigned by the classic connections of trainer Shug McGaughey and owners Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable, is bred for distance. A grandson of A.P. Indy through his sire, Malibu Moon, Orb is a half-brother to Cause of Freedom, an earner of more than $100,000 who never won at a distance shorter than nine furlongs and won up to eleven furlongs. This colt is from a very strong tail female line, hailing from the same female family as the great Ruffian.

Orb turned in steady efforts in his first three starts but did not win until his fourth race. Since then however, he has been unbeatable, winning three races at Gulfstream Park this year, including the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) and the Florida Derby (GI). He has been a prime example of improvement.

Orb’s final work was perhaps the most raved-about in the week leading up to the Derby. Traveling a half-mile in 47.80 seconds at Churchill Downs on Monday, the colt appeared very professional, galloping over the track fluidly while leaving his workmate several lengths behind.

Although the final times of Orb’s races have been slow, he is not the horse who sets the pace; he closes into the pace and therefore has no control over the fractions that are set. The fact that he can win despite a slow pace is remarkable and though it is usually difficulty to close in the Derby, Orb’s sheer talent has the potential to achieve things that wouldn’t normally be achieved. His final work suggests that Orb has taken a significant liking to Churchill’s surface, which will certainly be to his advantage. Orb is narrowly my top selection for the Kentucky Derby. Read about Orb in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Orb.”

Photo by Brittlan Wall

17. WILL TAKE CHARGE: One of the most beautifully bred horses in the race, Will Take Charge is a son of top sire Unbridled's Song and the grade one-winning mare Take Charge Lady, which makes him a half-brother to winner of the 2012 Florida Derby (GI), Take Charge Indy.

Will Take Charge's first victory came in his second start. He then finished last in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) at Churchill Downs prior to finishing second against weaker company in the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park. He began 2013 with a win in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Should the track come up sloppy on Derby day, that would be cause for concern, as Will Take Charge did not take a liking to the mud in the Southwest Stakes (GIII), finishing sixth. He then resurfaced with a game win over stablemate Oxbow in the Rebel Stakes (GII).

Will Take Charge’s first work at Churchill Downs was an impressive mile work, in which he traveled over the track powerfully. But in his final drill, a five-furlong breeze, the colt seemed to labor and did not finish up well.

Perhaps the colt does not handle Churchill’s surface as well as his initial work suggested. A last-place finish below the twin spires last fall certainly does not bode well for him, either. He will need to run the race of a lifetime to win the Derby. Read about Will Take Charge in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Will Take Charge.”

18. FRAC DADDY: By Florida Derby winner (GI) Scat Daddy and out of a Skip Away mare, Frac Daddy should not lack the stamina needed to win at ten furlongs.

Frac Daddy garnered his first victory in his second start, which came at Churchill Downs. He turned in a game runner-up performance in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GI) beneath the twin spires, but in his first start as a three-year-old, the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII), Frac Daddy finished sixth after grabbing a quarter. Following a poor seventh-place effort in the Florida Derby (GI), Frac Daddy ran second in the Arkansas Derby (GI) behind Overanalyze.

The colt has trained very well at Churchill Downs and in his lone work there, Frac Daddy outperformed his more famous stablemate, Java’s War, appearing much more content with the surface.

Frac Daddy obviously runs well over Churchill Downs' surface, but he may be outshone by the other horses in this field.

19. JAVA’S WAR: One of two War Pass colts entered in the Derby, the bottom side of Java's War's pedigree is abounding with stamina. His own dam, a daughter of Rainbow's Quest, won at a mile and one-quarter.

Java's War broke his maiden in his second start, which he followed up with a win in the Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Despite a rough trip in the Breeders' Futurity (GI) at Keeneland, the colt finished a game third. However, in his next start – and his only start at Churchill Downs to date – he finished a lackluster sixth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII). He commenced his sophomore campaign with a stunning rally in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII), in which he finished second to Verrazano. In his final start before the Derby, Java's War offered a breathtaking closing run to capture the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) despite leaving the gate very slowly.

The small colt has done rather well at Churchill Downs, but it is clear that his stablemate, Frac Daddy, who has had a less stellar campaign than Java’s War, has taken a greater liking to the surface at the Louisville track.

Java's War is clearly talented, but he appears to be better suited to turf and synthetic surfaces. He does not appear to have much of an affinity for Churchill's surface, which joins his sluggishness out of the gate as a major disadvantage. Read about Java’s War in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Java’s War.”

20. VYJACK: Vyjack's pedigree does not give him much hope for being successful at classic distances, as he is a son of Into Mischief and out of a mare that has failed to produce horses capable of winning at long distances.

Vyjack won the first four starts of his career, including impressive victories in the Traskwood Stakes and Gotham Stakes (GIII). In his final start before the Derby, the gelding finished third in the Wood Memorial Stakes (GI) behind Verrazano and Normandy Invasion.

After the Wood Memorial, Vyjack was found to have a lung infection and was sent to the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center. This cut into the gelding’s training time and could very well be a disadvantage for him. In his single work at Churchill Downs, he put in a decent breeze, though it was nothing special.

Although distance is questionable to Vyjack, he has the benefit of versatility, as he can take any position during the race. However, his outside post is far from an advantage. Read about Vyjack in greater detail in my article “Derby Hopeful: Vyjack.”

Also Eligible:

By Kitten’s Joy and out of a Dynaformer mare, Fear the Kitten should not have an issue with long distances. He only has two wins to his credit – a maiden claiming and an allowance victory. His best finish this year was a runner-up finish in the Southwest Stakes (GIII) in the slop. Should he get into the race via the scratch of another horse, I do not expect a good run from him.

Although many doubt the depth of this year’s three-year-old crop, I view this as a very competitive field. I am torn between Orb and Revolutionary, though I will give a very slight nod in Orb’s direction. I also expect top performances from Verrazano, Normandy Invasion, and Itsmyluckyday. I will not discount Palace Malice and Goldencents, either. See my “Derby Hopeful Roster” on the right side of this blog to view my featured Derby Hopefuls, listed in order of preference.


  1. Mary, as always your insights are spot on! I put together a "compilation" of info about each horse with links to the source material for myself and my buddies. I put it together primarily to organize my review of past performances, info about connections, trainers, etc. I have added a link back to your blog, as I think it fits nicely with your information.

    1. Thank you so much! Your blog is very informative; thank you for linking back to my blog. Enjoy the Derby!

  2. Thanks for the analyses...but I'm wondering who would you pick for an off-track, which is what it looks like this bunch may be facing today?

    1. I will still stick with my selections, as I believe they will handle the off-track. I already liked Itsmyluckyday, but I like him even more over the sloppy track, though he isn't my number one choice. I do still like Orb, Revolutionary, and Verrazano's chances. I won't throw out Palace Malice and I believe the off-track may lessen my belief in Normandy Invasion, but I do still like him. I do, however, think this may create more cause for concern for Goldencents. I posted an article about the off-track if you would like to check it out:

  3. Beautiful Horses i like your blog its really nice and magnificent event The Kentucky Derby and the festival both are fantastic fun and, as a lifelong Louisville, I welcome you to the event and to our fine city. Just keep in mind that there are some things you should do while here and some things you probably shouldn’t, at least if having fun is your motivation. If you really want fun and feel relax then book a Kentucky Derby Rentals and Lousivlle Home Rental