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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

Derby Watch - The Start of 2023

Now that the two year old season has come to its conclusion, we can take a closer look at what 2022 produced and who we should keep our eyes on moving forward. It was quite the opposite of the excitement of the year prior, but it still revealed a few highly capable Derby players.

Picking apart the Derby Futures Pool One and Pool Two Standouts, along with the Prep Winners of 2022 Preps so far, things are starting to take shape for the season ahead. As far as the actual Prep Winners of 2022, three colts were given 5 star ratings, however, not one of them for the Kentucky Derby.

The first 5 star recipient of the 2022 preps went to AUGUSTE RODIN - but for the 2023 Epsom Derby, not the Kentucky Derby. Winner of the Vertem Futurity back in October, the son of Deep Impact and Great Grandson of Sunday Silence and Galileo, gave Aiden O'Brien his eleventh trophy in this particular race. The only hope we have of this monster appearing in a USA gate would be on November 4th at Santa Anita, headlining the Breeders Cup Turf.

The other two 5 star ratings from the Derby Preps went to HAYES STRIKE and DUBYUHNELL - for the Belmont Stakes. Both built impeccably for the 12f track and both with the perfect balance to find a great advantage in that race. Whether or not they stand in a Belmont gate is anyone's guess, but they sure do have what it takes to navigate that track.

A look at where the 2022 players stand now and then a reveal of the top two prospects so far at the start of 2023.

The Standouts from From Pool One - October 31, 2022

Curly Jack - Ended his two year old season back in November with a very slow 2nd in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill. Took advantage of faltering lead speed at 8.5f. Built much better for the Belmont Stakes.

Forbidden Secret - Appears Pletcher has him sitting on ice, with his last race back on October 12th. Speed demon with enough endurance and who can compete on a variety of biases.

Full Moon Madness - Weakened on the lead on December 20th at Laurel Park traveling only 7f. He did not progress, he went backwards. Off the radar.

Loggins - On 10/8/22, this horse showed severe conviction in the Breeder's Futurity, being the only "speed" dominant horse on the field to compete in the stretch at Keenelend. Built with an incredible balance for the Kentucky Derby, he needs to post a win in a prep. When he does, he will get his 5 stars.

Rocket Can - Ran second behind the gate to wire winner Confidence Game in November at Churchill, another who is built impressively for the Derby. Further distances will suit both going forward. Both the winner and 2nd place finisher from this allowance race at 8.5f have major star potential.

Signator - Impressive win back in October at Aqueduct with his Tapit stamina breeding. Needs to translate onto a speed favoring track and then he'll be on his way.

Tapit's Conquest - Brad Cox's resounding maiden winner at Churchill back on Oct 1st traveling 8.5f. Son of Tapit with displayed front running speed has major potential when he returns to the track.

Victory Formation - Second generation Tapit boy who was "a must" in Pool One back in October returned a winner again in the Smarty Jones this past weekend. With this win in the First Prep of the 2023 season, he received his deserving 5 stars. This signifies the first and only USA 5 star rating for the Kentucky Derby. With his ability to compete and win on both biases, his forward style, his displayed speed and equipped with Tapit Stamina, he is perfect for the Churchill Race. Most likely pointed to the Rebel Stakes at the end of February. Looking forward to seeing him compete and moving forward. Excellent Derby potential revealed in his configurations.

The Additional Standouts from From Pool Two - November 22, 2022

Cascais - This horse traveled wire to wire at Aqueduct at one mile beating a full field back on 11/6. Into Mischief son with one of the best sets of configurations from the crop. Most likely will thrive on a speedier bias and will continue to show dominance with no track preference. Major potential moving into 2023.

Blazing Sevens - Rear runner with Good Magic stamina who had a troubled start in the Breeders Juvenile in November. Must pass the test on a speedier bias moving forward which is against his breeding.

Hal - Gelding from Accelerate who showed promise with his configurations and his first two races but then bombed in his 8.5f last at Woodbine on 11/26. Unknown barn with last performance takes him off the radar now.


Unlike any other previous year, the top two most promising colts who have presented brilliance "against the grain" with dominating wins coupled with perfect Derby Configurations are both simply MAIDEN WINNERS.

One of them is recovering from minor surgery, the other, believe it or not, is out of Bob Baffert's barn. I am not blind when it comes to a Baffert trainee if he has signs of a potential superstar. Back in 2020, the best two year old at the time appeared to be Nadal and I was not blind to it because of Baffert. Unfortunately, Nadal was retired to stud in Japan after his career ending injury early on. My distaste for the trainer has nothing to do with the horses. If he is holding a potential star, I will always climb aboard, just like Nadal.

Making sure to concentrate on the best performances geared towards running AGAINST their breeding, with one coming from the Speed category and one from the Stamina category.

Speed Category:

FAUSTIN Curlin - Hard Not To Like (Hard Spun)

DP = 5-6-9-0-0 (20) DI = 3.44 CD = 0.80

Mare Profile = 3-5-3-9-7 Speed = 8 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.54 Triads = 11-17-19

With a combined CD at -0.04, his potential distance capability sits at 11.2f. The obvious tilt towards stamina from those mares depict a strong lack in inherited speed, with total dominance on the stamina side. On December 26th at Santa Anita, traveling only 6f, Faustin ran mid-pack among a field of 8 and steadily passed horse after horse against his disadvantage on that track. He was not "forced" to run on the lead against his style, which is STRONGLY depicted in his numbers. It appears from this first maiden race, Baffert is allowing him to follow his inheritance in the same manner that he allowed Nadal to run; not enforcing the predictable Lead Speed Clone Game.

Based on Faustin's inheritance, the Santa Anita track (especially at 6f) is highly against his breeding but he performed at such a high level that you cannot ignore. This horse ran against the bias and beat a full field of highly advantaged colts. He will thrive at much longer distances and it appears he will have no bias preference if allowed to continue to run on his own merit.

Sitting in the highly advantaged speed category for the Kentucky Derby, with a 3.44 index, this horse has a very nice balance and showed his eagerness to be up front and at the wire first. He tackled that 6f distance in 1:10.08 which is magnificent, given the mare's configurations that he is holding.

Severe stamina with displayed speed against the bias. This is a perfect example of the type of configurations that one would need to see coming out of Santa Anita and it's ideal alignment with a 10f Churchill track.

Out of all of Baffert's over-hyped newly minted 3-year-olds, Faustin has the speed, the stamina and the proper configurations to be a player in the Kentucky Derby. Five stars.

Stamina Category:


DP = 1-2-6-5-0 (14) DI = 0.75 CD = -0.07

Mare Profile = 2-11-6-9-5 Speed = 13 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.84 Triads = 19-26-20

There isn't a shadow of a doubt that these configurations, coupled with his maiden performance at 7f on the Keeneland track, are pure perfection. With a combined CD of -0.16 and distance potential of 11.6f, his outward speed on the track almost defies logic. Built in the exact same manner as Epicenter, the early displayed speed is so magnificently obvious as a talented stand-out.

The 11 points in the mares Intermediate slot is the key and he rode it "brilliantly." At the time of his maiden race, the Keeneland track was playing a bit kinder to stamina and at the 7f distance, most speedsters will throw in the towel. He did have a bit of help from the bias and the distance, however, this horse did NOT run into faltering lead speed. He traveled GATE TO WIRE and he owned that track running completely against the grain, just like Epicenter. He did not capitalize off of the bias which many (stamina) competitors at Keeneland at the time took advantage of. It would have been a completely different story had he waited mid-pack for lead speed to disintegrate. Not the case and completely opposite of many winners on that track at the time. A gate to wire win with these configurations in a Keeneland maiden is a depiction of a MONSTER going forward.

With a speedy recovery from his minor surgery, the hope is that he gains enough competitive experience along the trail, not simply hitting it big in a single 100 point race to make the Derby. Having the perfect build is one thing, but experience in as many gates as he can demolish before May is another. This horse is built incredibly and based on his preferred style could be a true force along the trail. Lets hope for that speedy recovery. Five Stars.


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