Lexington S. preview

by TCI 4 years ago

With all major preps in the books, Jon and Joel adjust the TCI Top 10 based on the realistic contenders that can make the Derby gate. Did Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate and Arkansas Derby winner Danza do enough to forge onto the list? The guys also preview Saturday’s final chance for Derby points – Keeneland’s Lexington S. (G3). Will it produce a Derby starter?

Watch it. Comment.

TCI Top 10

Rank Name Bris Comments
1 California Chrome 106 Deserving Derby favorite after back-to-back fast and dominant victories, but has he peaked a month too early?
2 Samraat 99 Wood performance was typical of his runs in the Withers & Gotham; Needs more on May 3rd, but he’s capable.
3 Social Inclusion 106 Stays on list for now but likely to come off without enough Derby points; If so, he’s a huge threat in Preakness.
4 Cairo Prince 100 Made it in; Distance and form are concerns, but he could easily be the most talented colt in the gate May 3rd.
5 Dance With Fate 99 Always been a good colt and quietly has a nice form cycle going into the Derby; Dirt is the question.
6 Wicked Strong 103 Relished a return to AQU and rewarded those who stuck with him since the Remsen; Will need his AQU form, not GP form.
7 Hoppertunity 99 Consistent and solid, just not sure he’s destined to be top class; Will be a wise-guy horse in Louisville.
8 Danza 104 Looked awesome physically and in performance at Oaklawn; Half-bro just won at 1 ½ miles so there’s some stamina.
9 Intense Holiday 99 The track & race didn’t favor his style in La. Derby, but the KY Derby will favor his style; Still needs a big forward step.
10 Medal Count 97 One of the few that is screaming for 1 ¼ miles, but the Derby will be his third race in 4 weeks.

OFF: Constitution, Conquest Titan
through 4/17/2014


  • 1JoeP

    Hi Joel – Soon we should know the definite 20 horse field. Can’t wait to see California Chrome galloping at CD. He certainly has earned the attention that he will get Derby week. I believe that he will not dissapoint. My #2 is Wicked Strong. #3 is Hoppertunity. #4 is General A rod. #5 is Danza.Joel – what are your impressions of General A rod, and Commanding Curve?

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Joe!

      I’m anxious to see Chrome in person myself. Should steal the show here when he gets into town!

      General a Rod obviously has Churchill experience, and grinders have historically done well in the Derby, so he’s not without a shot. I have been disappointed that he hasn’t gone by Wildcat Red in his last two starts, but perhaps Gulfstream wasn’t to his liking. His consistency is noticeable…one cannot ignore the fact that he’s been right there against top competition all winter, which makes him better than his odds will be May 3rd. So if you like him then I would definitely stick with him.

      Many look at Commanding Curve like this year’s Golden Soul because of connections, circuit, and overall profile. To me, you can never bank on that happening again. Not to say t can’t, but I cannot justify betting on his current form in a race like the Derby.

      • 1JoeP

        Hi Joel – Thanks for the info. on Commanding Curve, I will toss that one. Your argument for Dance With Fate is a Strong One. He ran mid pack, far off the lead in the Bluegrass, was between horses and got alot of synthetic kick back and handled that well. You have to like the strong move he made in the stretch as he blew by the leaders and rann through the wire to win the Bluegrass.He will be flying late at CD and could hit the board. He will be a longshot, so he will be had at a big price.I will now add Dance With Fate as #6 on my list. #7 is Samraat.

  • Clifton

    Why is everyone over looking Chitu? In his last race he ran a 1:47.88 and California Chrome ran a 1:47.52. Also, do you think there will even be a 20 horse field for the derby?

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Clifton!

      Yes, I do believe there will be a 20-horse field. The Derby allure is the most significant in our entire sport, and you see that again this year with plenty of 3-year-olds hoping to get into the field, including Social Inclusion who is on the outside looking in. This is a particularly wide-open year (or at least it has that perception) so I think they’ll keep lining up if others go down between now and Entries day to assure 20 in the field.

      In my opinion, Chitu is a nice colt and it would not shock me to see him hold on for a piece if nobody respected him on the front end, because he definitely looks like part of the pace. But I do see this as a competitive pace which hurts his chances quite a bit. Chitu is definitely running more to his dam side which is full of stamina, while he’s by a sprint sire that typically doesn’t throw runners that will go as far as he has already gone. His main problem is class…he barely beat Midnight Hawk over a fast Sunland track (which can produce fast times) and MH came back to fail again around two turns in the Illinois Derby over a weak field. Further, Candy Boy didn’t flatter him either by getting distanced in the Santa Anita Derby. Baffert is as good as any Derby trainer in history, but with Chitu it simply is a case of whether or not he’s good enough based on his company lines.

      BUT every 3-year-old has a license to improve leaps and bounds this time of year because most are going through many physical and mental changes – and this isn’t the greatest Derby field to have to try and beat – so you are getting a big price on a Baffert runner, Clifton. Best of luck!

  • 1JoeP

    Hi Joel – I would like you to get some KDFW exacta information for me regarding pool 1. Only Ride On Curlin Remains from that pool, and the #24 betting interest, which is the field. the rules state that there must be at least 3 betting interests in the field. Ride On Curlin and the field only makes 2 betting interests. I bet $80 on exacta boxes with Strong Mandate and Shared Belief with the field and with each other. Sounds like I may get lucky and get my $80 back as a refund. Thanks Joel.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Joe, I am trying to find out. That would only make sense to me, but I am unsure of the rule.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Joe,

      Here is the response I got when looking into your situation:

      The only way there would be a refund of the Exacta pool is if the race is not run or there would be no winners. The requirement for a certain number starters is something the Commission waives due to the nature of the Future bet. The rules specifies that there are no refunds due to scratches and the nature of the Future Wager takes in to account that there might not be any starters from the named body of the entries. Should there be no horse from the named body of horses run in the Derby the payout will be 24 and “All.” If Ride On Curlin is the only horse from the named body to run, the payout will be on 24-18 or on 18-24.

      I hope this helps clarify the rules, Joe. A bizarre scenario for sure…

  • Owen

    California Chrome’s biggest hurdle may just be getting by Wildcat Red. Red is so gutsy that it will be tough to get by him for at least 7 furlongs.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Wildcat Red is a game racehorse. I am interested to see him run outside of Florida. I think it will be hard for him to run the same going 10 furlongs, especially over a track that’s not as kind to speed. But his presence on the front end will definitely challenge anyone close to it early. He’s one of the reasons I see a contested pace in this year’s Derby. I agree if California Chrome were to mess with WR too much early then he’s not likely going to be the Derby winner at the wire.

  • Clint

    Hey Joel- im still trying to figure out how much speed we could see with Samraat, Wildcat Red, Cal Chrome, and Vicars In Trouble all expected to be up front early. Do you still see this as a race with alot of early speed now that horses like Bayern and SI may not make it in the gate? If we do get decent fractions I could see Wicked Strong making a good run down the stretch. Also what do you make of Mike Smith choosing the Hopper over Intense Holiday? Thanks

    • Joel Cunningham


      First let me apologize for not responding to you. The truth is that I did respond (rather lengthy response actually) last week and it appears to not have published for whatever reason. I have no reason why it disappeared..frustrating, but anyway I am sorry about that.

      I’m sure you have seen in this week’s show by now, but my response to you about Danza was that he was an absolute study of what a horse should look like before a race. When they look as good as he did they seldom run poorly, and I used the horse simply on his looks. He had a fairly easy trip, but one had to be impressed with his kick the final 1/8th in his first start around two turns, and then he galloped out ears pricked as if he’d done it well within himself and was meant to be a route horse all along. I definitely questioned his stamina being by Street Boss, but he has a 1/2 brother that won at 1 1/2 miles on the Santa Anita dirt in a G3 recently (Majestic Warrior by middle-distance sire Rockport Harbor) and physically Danza looks like he has some stretch. So I am actually very intrigued by him now in the current Derby picture, and if he shows the positive signs that I saw in the Ark Derby post parade during his training the next couple weeks at Churchill then I’ll like him even more. He breezes next Sunday for his final work and it should be evident how he’s doing and whether the Ark Derby took anything out of him or not. I will be there to witness it.

      I do think there will be an honest and contentious pace in this Derby. I don’t see any blazers, but Wildcat Red wants the lead. Baffert is reportedly running Chitu in the Derby Trial now after Bayern outworked him this morning, which could open up another spot for Bayern to sneak in (especially since I find it hard to believe he’ll run Midnight Hawk)…could be part of Bob’s strategy now if he think Bayern is his best chance and is trying to sneak him in. Bayern would indeed be a pace presence. Vicar’s in Trouble won’t be far off, and I still think Social Inclusion has a shot of sneaking in. Pablo Del Monte? It’s hard to say for sure without knowing the 20 that will be in the gate at this point. But these late draw-ins seems to have a lot of speed that can effect that Derby pace. I do not see Samraat as part of the early pace but more in the second flight. To be continued…

      As for Mike Smith, I think he’s just taking the horse he feels may have the best shot, and the fact that he already rides Game On Dude, etc. for Baffert probably reinforced his decision some. I think the styles of both colts are similar, and I did like Intense Holiday better in the Risen Star when they faced off…but Hoppertunity’s numbers have improved since then and he’s now become a wise-guy horse, while IH lugged in badly in the La. Derby and really wasn’t closing that well through a slow final 1/8th, so perhaps Mike just felt Baffert and Hopp was the more attractive option now. I do NOT think it’s a disadvantage for IH, who will now get the barn’s regular rider Velazquez. Probably works out great for both.

      Sorry again!

Take our site on the go!
Scan with your smart phone.