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February 2022 - Derby Top Ten



Kentucky Derby Top Ten as of February 1st, 2022

I will be adding in the Progress Tracking Updates in Red for each of these colts, updating throughout the month.


I’ve seen many Derby Top Lists out there and most all of them base it on who has points and who had a flashy 8f prep performance so far. Actually, they mostly consist of who won a Derby prep so far. Complete and total disregard to anything pertaining to the 10f distance with their picks. I decided to post my Top Ten early this year, based on the raw potential with their breeding for the distance and those who have shown Champion qualities this early in the game, regardless of points. Every colt in my Top Ten is Board Hit Material based on the history of winners and certain qualities that hit the mark with the bias of the track and with weather conditions. This Top Ten Derby list is based on the #1 most important criteria - 10f capability.


I will post a new list on the first of each month leading up to the Derby as the points board dictates. I will also give reasons why they should be considered Derby material as opposed to simply using their names based on a prep win and a beyer figure in an 8f race.


The colts are listed from bottom preference to top based on what we have seen to date and will change as the months roll on. Hopefully they all remain healthy on their road to the Derby.


I have concluded, after my poor top picks in both the Breeders Cup Classic with Essential Quality and the Pegasus with Knicks Go, that I will stick with the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes going forward. With the likelihood of the absence of Baffert's tactics this year, I am hopeful of getting back to perfect precision with the numbers and the history of both races. With less than 100 days to go, all efforts and dedication with handicapping this edition will begin and it won't let up until the post parade. I'm going back to the basics, without any distractions, and I am absolutely determined to hit that superfecta on this - the Final Year.


10. ROCKET DAWG

Classic Empire - Rever de Vous (Distorted Humor)

Trained by Brad Cox

DP = 4-4-3-1-0 (12) DI = 3.80 CD = 0.92

Mare Profile = 3-4-8-11-4 Speed = 7 Stamina = 15

Index = 0.67 Triads = 15-23-23

And

CLASSIC MOMENT

Classic Empire - Victory Party (Yankee Victor)

Trained by Steven Asmussen

DP = 2-2-2-0-0 (6) DI = 5.00 CD = 1.00

Mare Profile = 3-8-7-11-3 Speed = 11 Stamina = 14

Index = 0.88 Triads = 18-26-21

These two Classic Empire boys have the very best speed configurations that I have been able to find so far but neither one has given us anything past their beautiful maiden wins. I am keeping them coupled at the moment because both have potential but neither one has stepped up to their charts yet. Both sets of numbers for each of these colts simply couldn’t be any better configured as far as what hits the tote board in the Derby, rain or shine. Both of them are set-up even better than their sire but they have not fired in the same manner as that guy this early on. After Classic Empire’s maiden win, he came back and demolished the Bashford Stakes crew and continued to post extremely commendable performances along the way including his win in the Arkansas Derby. His two sons have one more shot to display what they inherited if they are to stay on this radar. (Especially Rocket Dawg - His numbers are insanely good and exactly what dominates in the Derby.) The rest of the 2022 potential “speed” competitors pale in comparison to these figures but they both must exhibit their inbred capability very soon or I will be forced to finally and sadly let them go. The attributes are there in the chart, now it is a matter of seeing whether or not Classic Empire can actually pass them through. One more shot for both.

UPDATE: After Rocket Dawg's disappointing performance in the Gun Runner Stakes back in January, he has finally resurfaced at Keeneland with a short 3f workout on Feb 11th. Back at the end of December, he beat a full field of 12 in his Churchill Maiden race traveling 7f, bulldozing his opponents coming from the back by 5.5 lengths. For some reason, he was very agitated at the Fairgrounds and now it appears that Brad Cox has him back on the worktab. Hopefully, he gets back to his maiden form.


9. WHITE ABARRIO

Race Day – White Diamonds (Into Mischief)

Second Generation Tapit over Second Generation Into Mischief

Trained by Joseph Saffie Jr.

DP = 2-5-5-0-0 (12) DI = 3.80 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 9-5-2-7-8 Speed = 14 Stamina = 15 Index = 1.00 Triads = 16-14-17

As the history of Tapit descendants show, they have a very hard time in the Kentucky Derby but they shine in the Belmont. Their numbers are not read the same as we all know. The high amount of stamina does not work in their favor in the Derby because most all of them have a chef index of 3.00 and under and Tapit takes over. White Abarrio has a 3.80 chef Index which works in the Derby and he is also carrying Into Mischief in his second generation on the bottom. The additional inbred speed from both that 3.80 chef index coupled with Into Mischief’s speed influence will work in his favor as the distances lengthen. Having that extreme Tapit stamina on the side blends very nicely with his inbred speed for 10f and as the history of the race reveals; that combination gets him on the board in the Derby. As of right now, (January 29th) he showed major speed potential in his 6f maiden win and he posted a nice winning performance in his second race, an allowance traveling 8f. Even though he only managed a 3rd place in his last race, the Kentucky Jockey Club at 8.5f, he did show some prowess and a bit of determination coming again down the stretch. Being a Tapit descendant, he should blossom as the distances go further and if he holds on to that speed, he could be a board-hit threat if he gets a gate.

UPDATE: White Abarrio won the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb 5th, beating out 2nd place finisher Simplification, who had a very bad start. Both colts displayed their inheritance perfectly. White Abarrio now deserves an upgrade on this list after passing his speed test. He is running exceptionally true to his inheritance, just as expected. Now you will begin to see this horse on Top Derby lists on the internet, after the fact, as they usually do.



8. CHASING TIME

Not This Time - Race Hunter (Dixie Union)

Trained by Steve Asmussen

DP = 1-0-9-0-0 (10) DI = 1.22 CD = 0.20

Mare Profile = 3-11-5-10-3 Speed = 14 Stamina = 13

Index = 1.05 Triads = 19-26-18

And

In Due Time

Not This Time - Sweet Sweet Annie (Curlin)

DP = 1-2-11-0-0 (14) DI = 1.55 CD = 0.29

Mare Profile = 3-7-3-11-3 Speed = 10 Stamina = 14

Index = 0.80 Triads = 13-21-17

At least one of two things needs to be present when a colt is sitting in the stamina category; either inbred speed or displayed speed. As of right now, Chasing Time has both points covered very well. That 1.05 mare index is very nice. However, these are textbook board-hit numbers as opposed to winning numbers. The difference between winning configurations and board-hit configurations is that excessive and overloaded stamina in this category usually takes the advantage. Animal Kingdom, Big Brown, Funny Side, etc, all with excessive points leaning to stamina in their mare’s line. Note how Chasing Time’s balance decreases by one point. The difference here though is that this guy, against his numbers, is running on the lead. This changes the drift of his set-up into a favorable one against his competitors in the speed category. Basing his progress against his half-brothers to date, he falls short, however, the potential will remain this early on and hopefully he gets his opportunity sooner than later. In Due Time has killer inbred stamina from both the chefs and the mares which is compatible to winning stamina configurations. His set-up is better than his half-brother and so far he has displayed magnificent speed in his last allowance race at Gulfstream.

UPDATE: In Due Time posted a bullet workout on 2/18 at Palm Meadows. 5f - 58.60 breezing.


7. SMILE HAPPY

Runhappy - Pleasant Smile (Pleasant Tap)

Trained by Kenny McPeek

DP = 2-6-5-2-1 (16) DI = 1.91 CD = 0.38

Mare Profile = 7-4-1-8-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.00 Triads = 12-13-14

Lacking in the perfect mare configurations may get offset by the double presence of Ribot and Flower Bowl. He has one furlong extra than his sire Runhappy which gets him the distance. With a 1.91 chef index, if he can somehow favor his sire’s side speed, this will get him balanced correctly as the distances extend. His triads are truly horrible, but his chart is fairly substantial. One of the only iffier colts on this list but deserves tracking based on his potential and perfect performances to date.

UPDATE: On 2/19/2022, Smile Happy placed second to a geared down Epicenter who made the entire field look like Allowance horses. Most likely, Smile Happy will not be present on the March 1st top ten list based on 3 things. One, he is too reliant on an extreme fast pace. Two, he was given a geared down leader to run at down the stretch and he couldn't do it, and three, his triads didn't help him at 9f, so they certainly wont help him at 10f. He is a talented horse and he beat up a few very nice colts out there, but he is nowhere near the league of Not This Time's two sons.

6. JACK CHRISTOPHER

Munnings - Rushin No Blushin (Half Ours)

Trained by Chad Brown

DP = 3-8-5-0-0 (16) DI = 5.40 CD = 0.88

Mare Profile = 6-3-5-9-6 Speed = 9 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.77 Triads = 14-17-20

This guy was in undefeated beast mode territory before the unthinkable happened. His configurations are screaming Derby Player, but we must wait and see how his healthy return pans out. The balance in these numbers is just about as good as it gets when it comes to a clean track in the Derby, and they are stellar for a wet track as well. Hopefully, he gets his mojo back and returns to his former glory. I foresee a major boost in ranks upon his return.


5. RATTLE N ROLL

Connect - Jazz Tune (Johannesburg)

Trained by Kenny McPeek

DP = 2-4-4-0-0 (10) DI = 4.00 CD = 0.80

Mare Profile = 7-2-2-10-8 Speed = 9 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.64 Triads = 11-14-20

A 4.00 speed colt coming from the back is very rare which, in this case, is pointing to a momma’s boy type colt. He is running directly in line with his mare’s entire set-up. That 9-point spread leaning to stamina in the mare's balance is fantastic, and his style is in direct line with those triads - slow out of the gate and loaded late. Dependent a great deal on lead speed pretenders as the distances stretch out, this guy could be sitting in the most opportune spot should a horse bred like Newgrange make a gate. Smashing amount of inbred stamina sitting underneath that 4.00 chef index. These numbers are balanced extremely well for a very clean track. Unfortunately, there is a strong possibility that the mare’s set-up would hurt on a sloppy track, (along with his preferred running style) and so he needs to be highly monitored when it comes to any performances or workouts in the rain. He could go either way in adverse weather.


4. EMMANUEL

More Than Ready - Hard Cloth (Hard Spun)

Trained by Todd Pletcher

DP = 5-3-14-0-0 (22) DI = 2.14 CD = 0.59

Mare Profile = 7-5-5-10-6 Speed = 12 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.89 Triads = 17-20-21

These numbers are sensational for both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. Being on the lower end in the “average” 2.00 to 2.90 range is exactly the spot that finds favor even in this category. His balance is terrific and the 7 points in the mare’s brilliant slot in the profile is an added bonus for the Derby. He has posted only one win so far (as of January 29th), his maiden traveling 8f at Gulfstream. He wired that field and beat 9 opponents with second place finisher, Touch Code, 6-3/4 behind him. With his breeding on that track, that was one of the better debuts for this crop so far, especially coming from a 2.14 indexed colt. It was a standout debut performance. In addition, when a great trainer bypasses the normal 6f maiden and opts for 8f instead, you know that the barn understands exactly what they have and exactly what type of distances will be in his favor. With only a maiden under his belt, this colt has the potential to be a major contender in the Derby.

UPDATE 1: After the writing of this critique, Emmanuel won his allowance race on Jan 30th, demolishing the field by 4.5 lengths traveling 1mi 70yd. He controlled the slowest of paces but then poured it on, with a killer late run. This Pletcher boy looks to have everything in the right spot for a 2.14 bred colt so far. I like him so much mainly because I am feeling shades of Maxfield with this guy.

UPDATE 2: We will see him next on March 5th in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream up against the big boys.


3. VARATTI

Into Mischief - Artemis (Empire Maker)

Trained by Todd Pletcher

DP = 2-3-1-0-0 (6) DI = 11.00 CD = 1.17

Mare Profile = 5-8-5-9-5 Speed = 13 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.96

Triads = 18-22-19

With this set-up all one needs to think is the word MANDALOUN. This half-brother has basically the same exact balance. Both sons of Into Mischief packing an 11.00 index with killer mare figures across the board. The triads and the set-up in the mares profile are both very nice and will be more influential in the shaping of this colt. With only a 6.5f maiden win at Belmont Park under his belt, this guy will remain on the top 10 list to see if he can align himself with this killer breeding. As with most Into Mischief sons, they have minor chef points with an amazing set-up from their mares, packed across the board. The 19 in the final slot of the triads is only one or two points off but not if it pours that day. Incredible potential if he can rise to it.

UPDATE: Varatti finally posted a 4f workout down at Palm Beach on 2/7. Breezing 48.76 - after a few little 3f teasers the past month. Seems Pletcher may Finally be getting him in gear now and back on a real worktab. Eagerly awaiting his second start with a probable unleashing down in Florida. Let's just hope Varatti can handle that chart.

2. EPICENTER

Not This Time - Silent Candy (Candy Ride)

Trained by Steve Asmussen

DP = 0-0-9-1-2 (12) DI = 0.60 CD = -0.42

Mare Profile = 1-10-5-8-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.74 Triads = 16-23-18

This colt will be the one in the final gate with the highest amount of inbred stamina on the field no matter who else enters the scene. He has a negative .42 CD. NEGATIVE! On dirt! On the lead! Think of it this way... where do you think Instilled Regard would have ended up on the tote board if he was a lead runner? This is the exact stellar example of how well this horse is set-up alongside his running style. Posting extremely commendable late figures. The 10 points in the Intermediate slot in his mare's profile slides in perfectly underneath his chefs and dumps a ton of speed to the left of all of that stamina. Both profiles are aligned so nicely which leaves him loaded across the board. Displaying will and determination with the best of them. Recent editions of the Derby are revealing that his location on the far extreme of the stamina category list has been very advantageous, and his configurations will afford him a dream scenario should he secure his favored lead spot against those up in the speed category.

UPDATE: On 2/19/22, the monster demolished a packed field of high-end entries in the Risen Star after Rosario geared him down mid-stretch. Now all of those "hotshot writers" on all the horse sites will start back-pedaling on him, just as they did with Simplification. Understanding how to actually read the breeding and potential within a horse's chart BEFORE the gates open goes a long way when handicapping a race. Maybe someday, they will actually learn how to do that. This horse will win the Louisiana Derby as well. He has yet to perform at his optimum distance.


1. SIMPLIFICATION

Not This Time - Simply Confection (Candy Ride)

Trained by Antonio Sano

DP = 1-0-9-0-0 (10) DI = 1.22 CD = 0.20

Mare Profile = 2-11-4-11-3 Speed = 13 Stamina = 14

Index = 0.90 Triads = 17-26-18

There is a major difference between Simplification and his half-brother Epicenter even though they are both impressive out on the lead with their comparable styles. The mares in Simplification’s bottom level in his chart have given him a more even and balanced set-up, where-as Epicenter’s 4th generation chefs tilt his balance to the far extreme in stamina. Both are excellent for two separate reasons. In the “Under 2.00” category, extreme stamina is ideal for a win as noted in Chasing Time and In Due Time's paragraph. With Simplification, even though he is sporting a 1.22 chef index, he is extremely well balanced when the reines and the chefs are combined. The "ingredients" become completely concentrated in the Intermediate - Classic - Solid slots. This means that the 2 furthest extremes (Brilliant and Professional) will have zero chance of watering down neither his speed nor his stamina. It is perfectly centered on that scale, and it is LOADED. This strange and uncanny dynamic coupled with his magnificent displayed speed puts him in an “easier” and more “aligned” spot with his speed category peers. He can basically be considered for both categories based on that perfect balance and his displayed speed on the lead. The way these numbers fall, he has the potential to run exactly the same throughout each call of the 10f distance, along with excess stamina and reserved speed that may not be found up in that top category. This is a recipe for success in the Triple Crown races, straight across the board, if he continues to display everything he inherited going forward. So far, he has done just that.

UPDATE: On February 5th, Simplification came in 2nd in the Holy Bull after a poor start. Displaying his speed this time from the back of the pack simply solidifies how talented this horse truly is. He didn't need his preferred lead spot to compete, and he spotted the entire field several lengths as the gate opened. He also ran 4 -5 wide for a good portion of the race and showed off his determination like a champ down the backstretch. Many so-called hot-shots both in print and on TV actually questioned both this colt's distance capability (at 8.5f no less!) and his talent and now they are back-pedaling. The numbers never lie. This guy is the real deal, just as he was from day one.


I will be honest this early in the game - Simplification is absolutely my favorite horse since Le Vent Se Leve back in 2017 even after just a couple of races under his belt. His second maiden race says it all. That race basically reveals the entire story as far as a "Champion-type" colt based on that performance with that breeding. As you all know by now, my heart has a way of clouding my judgement at times, especially with stamina-driven colts. However, I have not seen killer potential and talent like this since the Champ, Shared Belief or Japan's Le Vent Se Leve after that maiden win, (which I actually didn't see until after his incredible win in the MMM stakes). I think this time, my heart has hit that perfect sweet spot again. If this horse stays healthy and in line with those configurations as the months roll on, he will be a major star as the year progresses. This guy is Derby, Preakness, Belmont, Haskell, Travers and Breeders Cup Classic Material all rolled up into one, with a very strong potential of an undefeated career going forward. He must stay true to that chart and that balance like he has been, with complete consistency in these "shorter" races. If he does, he can take it all the way.



+++This early list depicts the best Derby POTENTIAL seen out there so far. Now we must see if these guys can either live up to that potential found in their charts (Emmanuel, Chasing Time, Varatti, White Abarrio, The Classic Empire boys) or continue with consistency if they have shown some sort of signs that they already are (Simplification, Epicenter, Jack, Smile Happy, Rattle N Roll). Since these guys have an inheritance that favors the Classic distance, do not be surprised if they fall short of the finish line in the 8f to 9f races along the way. The speedier types who win over them at 8f to 9f are travelling their optimum distances in most cases and may not have the proper stamina to tower over them again in the 10f Derby. In most instances, their time will come traveling their optimum in the Derby. All 10 of these guys must show SPEED now because they have the distance later.

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49 Comments


Unknown member
Feb 23, 2022

Classic Moment is running in the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park on the 27th. If he does well, I'd imagine he would have a start in the Sunland Derby. I guess I haven't given up on him yet. We shall see.

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Unknown member
Jun 02, 2022
Replying to

....and here it is, 6/01/2022, after Classic Moment ran in the Sunland Derby 3/27/2022 (after running 3rd in the Mine That Bird Derby) and we STILL don't know what happened to this horse after he was vanned off at Sunland. Just "disappeared" with no works, no news, no announcement of retirement, etc. I can assure you this would NOT happen in most other racing jurisdictions; it would not happen in Hong Kong, Japan, and just about any euro racing place I can think of. I am going to keep being the squeaky wheel on this, because every horse deserves it, every horse deserves not to be "disappeared" as if they never gave their all in a race f…

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Unknown member
Feb 20, 2022

Thanks to you Lisa I put $$ on Epicenter for the Derby last week and keyed him today at the Fairgrounds.

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Unknown member
Feb 22, 2022
Replying to

Keep cashing!!!!

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Unknown member
Feb 20, 2022

When Casse said the Derby Winner will probably come out of the Risen Star, he was right!!! EPICENTER is a monster, and they won't catch him in the Louisiana Derby either. What a great horse. Written all over that horse's chart.

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Unknown member
Feb 20, 2022
Replying to

Exactly!

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Unknown member
Feb 18, 2022

There's another Classic Empire boy hiding out there - Morello.

He's with Asmussen. He won the Jimmy Winkfield stakes. He's 2 for 2 at Aqueduct which is a very hard track for a horse bred like him. He is being pointed to the Gotham. He may just be the Classic Empire boy we have been waiting for. One of them just has to be a Derby player with the type of killer configurations they are holding. Just one of them.


Morello

DP = 4-3-5-0-0 (12) DI = 3.80 CD = 0.92

Mare Profile = 6-5-6-9-7 Speed = 11 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.79 Triads = 17-20-22

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Unknown member
Feb 10, 2022

Lisa, re Chasing Time. I'm handicapping an optional claiming race at Oaklawn for 3 year olds (I give my picks every race day on my Oaklawn forum......50+ weeks of doing that, but my group has been doing it for almost 2 decades now so I guess we will continue LOL ...nobody else quits so I'm not gonna either.) Anway there' a few nice longhots in the race, and the Baffert horse that got sent over to Brisset's barn is going to take all the money, but he's been off for 2 months so he's beatable. There's a few that ran 2nd and 3rd to Chasing Time that are longshots that I'll be playing against the former Baffert's Barossa. …

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Unknown member
Feb 12, 2022
Replying to

This race was more of a "prep for a prep" as most of these horses had not accomplished much. Cox's ZOTOS won, after only having run a sprint before this, but Cox is 29% sprint to route trainer, and Zotos was working real sharp. I suspect he will enter him in the Rebel or Arkie Derby.

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