Kentucky Derby First Look

by TCI 5 years ago

With all of the final major preps in the books, the TCI boys review the likely field and solidify a Top 10 heading into the critical final two weeks of training at Churchill Downs, where they will look forward to being on location with first-hand accounts of the contenders in coming shows. Watch it. Comment.

TCI Top 10

Rank Name Bris Comments
1 Orb 102 Earned the distinction as this year’s colt with the best overall Derby profile; Horse to beat on May 4th no matter the set up.
2 Verrazano 104 Could be a year where a highly-talented colt can successfully carry his speed beyond his comfort zone; Likely Derby favorite.
3 Revolutionary 105 Borel seems tailor made for this colt, but the potential of a suspect pace in the Derby could hurt this deep closer.
4 Oxbow 101 Tired of making excuses for him after a bad Ark Derby run, but still have a feeling he can be dangerous in the Derby.
5 Normandy Invasion 104 Will be this year’s wise-guy horse in the Derby after impressive sub-12 final 1/8th and big gallop out in Wood.
6 Goldencents 106 Big win in SA Derby; Could be the pacesetter in a relatively pace-less KY Derby, but distance concerns still loom.
7 Itsmyluckyday 111 Couldn’t capitalize on a perfect trip in FL Derby, as late kick was clearly less explosive; Peaked too soon?
8 Vyjack 100 Has never run a bad race, including in the Wood where he suffered a lung infection; Must train well at CD.
9 Palace Malice 102 Really liked his race in the Blue Grass, but now the obvious concern is getting a top effort in his third race in 5 wks.
10 Mylute 105 Much-improved with blinkers off in La. Derby, and has the look of an improving colt that can handle the Derby trip.

OFF: War Academy, Will Take Charge

through 4/18/2013


  • Nick

    Joel, other than the Sunland Derby, won by Govenor Charlie in track record time, all the preps have been woefully slow!!! Why? Is this crop of sophomores really that bad, or can it be explained away. If all the final times are slow, then speed figures are irrelevant. Other factors must then take precedent….thanks

    • Joel Cunningham

      Fair point, Nick. The preps earlier this year looked more encouraging than the final preps, which all have been fairly slow. I’m a believer that pace makes the race, and frankly there hasn’t been a good pace in any of the final major preps besides the opening half mile of the Louisiana Derby – but they even slowed way down after that. The SA Derby pace seemed legit, but it was over a speed-type track where closers have been up against it all winter.

      So I don’t necessarily knock the quality of this crop based on speed figures that are contingent on final times because when the paces of the races are slow or average then it will have an impact on the final time – and in turn have an impact on speed figures based on final times. Verrazano is a good example…he completely switched off in the Wood and stalked a slow pace…so the first 3/4s of the race they were just in a canter…and to me, you can only judge the way the ran the last 3/8ths of a mile, which was honest.

      I will say this in closing: I thought this crop really had a good shot at being pretty fast/high quality earlier in the prep season. Obviously we’ve had some major injuries (which we do every year) that have affected that thought in terms of the current group of 3yo contenders heading into the Derby. I do believe that horses like Orb and Verrazano have legit quality to run as fast as they need to run to win races if the set-up is correct to do so. I am concerned about the depth of these Derby contenders, and really feel right now that this year’s Derby will be between a small group of 3yos as long as that small group gets trouble-free trips and can handle the distance. Maybe I change my tune after seeing them train the next couple of weeks, but right now based on past performances I only have confidence in a few of these heading up to May 4th. I think the fact I still have Oxbow in at #4 after that poor showing in the Ark Derby illustrates to a degree that I’m struggling to find confidence in much of this year’s group.

  • joe polander

    Hi Joel – I love your top 3! Same as mine! I’ve been a big Orb fan since he beat my then #1 Violence in the FOY, then beat the next “now” horse, ItsMyLuckyDay in the Florida Derby. I’d love to see Titletown Five make it to the Derby, which is possible if he wins the Derby Trial, to provide some pace to the top closers in the KY Derby. A hot pace surely would help Revolutionary, N. Invasion, and Mylute. You’ve gotta love Orb’s chances because he seems adaptable in that he can close from a hot or soft pace. Joel Rosario has won on Orb which is a plus. In researching Mylute, I noticed that the one time that Rosie Naprovnik rode Mylute he won by 10 lengths in an allowance race at the Fairgrounds. I am now on board with this horse as a live longshot. I’ve got my list down to a top 6 now Joel. #1 Orb, #2 Verrazano #3 Revolutionary #4 Gov. Charlie #5 N. Invasion #6 Mylute. Iread that Baffert said that Gov. Charlie had some minor foot issues recently, possibly a minor foot bruise he believes. Vet Bramledge did a bone scan on Gov. Charlie which checked out negative. You have to believe that unless Baffert believes that this horse is 100% for the derby, that he would scratch him, based on how he looks at Churchill, and that he is running normally and not favoring one foot over another. I do have Oxbow in some future Bets with Orb, Verrazano, and Revolutionary, but he will have to draw well in the Derby for me to consider adding him to the bottom of my list.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Joe! Agree with you once again on most of this! Sounds like all is well with the Govenor, although you never want those kind of concerns this close to the Derby obviously. A big attraction to Orb is his ability to adapt in a race…he is a closer by type, but he’s good enough to put his rider into the needed striking range if you look at his last two races. I love that about him and believe it will serve him well on May 4th. Rosario’s confidence has to be through the roof the way he’s riding right now, and I think you have to love a rider coming into a race like this with the confidence he figures to have.

      Mylute interests me, and I can sincerely say that he’s one I can see improving again on May 4th and being on the board at big odds… but it’s still hard for me to believe in him in terms of a colt that can win the Derby as long as some of the better contenders get clean trips. Oxbow is a complete wildcard…part of me wonders if he can breathe well after seeing how he perhaps lacks the late closing punch in his races…not to start rumors because it’s all speculation…but something isn’t adding up for me on Oxbow. I still believe that on his best day he can run with the best of this group, which is why I haven’t totally given up on him yet, BUT I must see him touting himself at Churchill the next 2 weeks in his training and general conditioning.

  • joe polander

    Hi Joel – Youre gut feeling with Oxbow may be right! With only 12 days left for the 2013 KY Derby my list changes again. Oxbow on Monday breezed at Churchill and showed alot of energy and had a strong gallop out. He doesn’t look like a tired horse, which he should be, but instead is back to the friendly confines of CD, a track which he likes, and now Gary Stevens realizes that Oxbow needs to be forwardly placed in the Derby to have any chance to hit the board, or maybe even win. He will be giant odds off of his poor performance in the AK Derby and will reward those that stick with him in the exotics should he hit the board. Oxbow has good gate speed, good tactical, cruising speed and like Orb, has a killer pedigree for the 1 1/4. It could be Orb and Oxbow at the end. Here’s my new top 7 Joel: also hoping Oxbow draws well on derby day, PP 4-8 would seem perfect for him. #1 Orb – Shug’s got him ready. #2 Verrazano – should contend. #3 Revolutionary – Gutsy horse + Borel is very dangerous. #4 Normandy Invasion – Major player. #5 Oxbow – Big odds, Big chance. #6 Mylute – Departing win in the Illinois Derby shows how good Revolutionary and Mylute are. Could hit the board at big odds for Rosie. #7 Gov. Charlie – He has a big hill to climb, but if the Gov. is healthy, this attractive Midnite Lute colt could be wearing the roses at big odds.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Joe, Oxbow did look good and passed him first test for me on Monday. He almost has too much energy because he’s just so aggressive from the time he steps onto the track to the time he leaves it. But despite his tough campaign the last few months, the colt is carrying good weight and muscle tone, which is obviously one of the main things you want to see…definitely one that physically gives you the impression he’s still developing in the proper directly and doing well through the grind of the Derby prep schedule, and not a tired colt that could be over the top.

      His energy level makes it harder to sense how well he breathes, but I haven’t seen anything that would lead me to believe that’s an issue. Obviously, for a colt who has not finished well inside the 16th pole in a couple races this year – and obviously was flat in the Ark Derby when going the furthest he’s ever gone – logic creeps in on if he’s getting his wind properly, and whether that is a contributing factor in his late finishes in races. Currently, I have not seen or heard anything that would leave doubt.

      Now he needs to come back and really tout himself with a sharp final work within his own comfort level, and at that point I think Oxbow fans can have confidence that this 30-1 longshot could run very big on May 4th.

      Joe, I agree with everything else you say. Great analysis per usual! I have not seen Govenor Charlie out yet but he’s on the list to watch closely, particularly in his final tune up this weekend of early next week. Weather appears as though it could play a factor in Louisville this weekend for horses trying to get in their final serious works. We’ll have to hope for the best that it’s not going to affect anything or anyone!

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