This time of year, you start to find all kinds of articles to read about the Kentucky Derby which is now just five short months away. Some outlets have their Top Ten Lists, one has a Derby Dozen, others have the “Top Contender Watch”, and I even saw one that listed out twenty-five hopefuls in the Run for the Roses. They are well and good, and each of us is doing our best to discern the true contenders in May.
Well, here at the Club, I’m gonna take a stab at something a little different:
I’m not just going to give you a Top contender list based off of 2 yr. old exploits.
I’m not just going to regurgitate the horses that possess the fastest Time figures so far.
I’m not just going to give you every horse at the top of the points leaderboard.
And I’m not just going to list every horse in Bob Baffert’s band.
No. I’m going to dig a little deeper, and try to identify those current two year olds who, if with a little luck, are able to earn a gate on the first Saturday in May, may be carrying the sort of goods that can land a horse with a blanket of roses.
Let me introduce you to the first ever edition of the Dirty Dozen.
The horses listed below are a mix of fairly well known, and mostly obscure. Some possess great speed, others great stamina. They come from a variety of barns, and from a variety of families. What they all possess, in my opinion, is the correct combination to excel at ten furlongs at Churchill Downs in five months.
Before I get started, let me clarify something up front. For the past eight years, I’ve attended what I like to call Miss Lisa’s Pedigree School for the Willing. Joking aside, I’ve acquired an incredible education from Lisa just by listening and asking questions, and being willing to dig in, and understand the numbers of a horse’s pedigree. It’s complex, and involves both the sires and dams, but it is unbelievable when it starts to click. I’ll be forever grateful.
Ok, let’s get started…
How many people can name the top two finishers in this year’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile???
If you answered Game Winner and Knicks Go, you are 100% right. What you might be surprised to learn, is that neither of these horses is making my Dirty Dozen.
That’s right. The undefeated and soon to be two-year-old Champion is not on my list of likely winners of the Kentucky Derby. He’s a darn good horse. I’m not crazy. But relative to his peer group, I don’t view him a likely winner of the Roses. His profile indicates that he may lack the necessary turn of foot to win the Derby. He can wear you down, no doubt, but a Derby Winner has to be fast, AND has to be able to carry it a long way.
Now, despite my education at MLPS, I’m not nearly as skilled as Lisa at identifying these gems, nor am I as eloquent when it comes to offering a comprehensive write-up. What I’ll attempt to do is identify a couple of traits/characteristics/variables in each of these contenders that has me leaning in their direction…
Now, without further ado…
#1. Mucho Gusto- One of Baffert’s less heralded runners is loaded with potential. What we have here is a horse who is bred for Stamina (DI- 1.40) but runs on the pace. Typically you’d see a guy like this towards the back of the pack early and then make is run as the others get tired. Not him. He runs fast, and he does it longer than the others. And that is what wins Derbies! He’s by Mucho Macho Man, from a Giants Causeway Mare. His Triads are OFF THE CHARTS (21-24-23) Just Spectacular. I have a feeling Baffert his touting his other guys to get a price on this bad bay.
#2. Code of Honor- Lisa already dedicated an entire article to this guy, so there isn’t much left to say. He’s proven he can run on the lead, or coming from the clouds. His profile his beautiful, as are his Triads. He’s by Noble Mission, a full brother to Frankel, and he’s in the capable hands of Shug. He did get scratched from the Juvenile with a fever, which is a shame, because he was going to dominate. He also scratched from the Remsen, but I think that all might be a blessing in disguise. He’s got the goods, now let him grow into them a little.
#3. Instagrand- On the shelf for a few months, his owner knows he has a Ferrari, and wants to keep him in pristine condition. Expect him back in January, and expect more of his winning ways. He’s interesting in that he only has 2 points in his profile, which is very low. That said, he’s by Into Mischief who has had success with horses like Goldencents, Practical Joke, and Audible. Instagrand’s Triads are magnificent with 61 total points, and an 18-24-19 breakdown. He’s for real.
#4. Cairo Cat- So our first two had heavy stamina profiles, Instagrand sits in the middle at 3.00, and now Cairo Cat is our first who is showing serious speed with his 5.00 DI. He’s by Cairo Prince, and is balanced beautifully with a Tale of the Cat mare. This profile w/ Speed over Stamina has done well recently in the Derby.
#5. Gunmetal Gray- This is a nicely balanced individual out of the Hollendorfer barn. Same Hollendorfer that trained Instilled Regard last year. This guy has a 3.00 DI but a CD that is pushing that 3.00 towards stamina. His triads are very nice w/ a peak of 20 in the middle. His running style and the race shape will matter, but he’s got the requirements in his veins.
#6. Cruel Intention- Another guy you’d say is on the speed scale with a 4.00 DI, but his CD of 0.70 is very low comparatively, which means he’s gonna be able to carry that speed a little further. His Mares Triads peak in the middle, like the previous guy w/ a beautiful 15-21-18 triad construction. He’s by sprinter Smiling Tiger, but Pleasantly Perfect on the dam side will allow him to carry the Tiger’s speed.
#7. Fortin Hill- Out of the Chad Brown bar, this lightly raced guy sports a neat profile. His DI of 3.00 and mere 10 points aren’t anything special, but point out his lean to speed. However, he’s also carrying some of the nicest Triads of the crop at 17-21-22 and 60 massive points. Chad has had Practical Joke and Good Magic in back-back years… I expect he’s only getting warmed up… Second horse by Mucho Macho Man on the list.
#8. Mucho- Never worse than 2nd in 3 starts. Trained by Bill Mott. By Blame, out of a Pulpit mare. His chefs profile his strong, 3-7-16-2-0, 28 points, and a 1.80 DI. He’s a stamina boy for sure. Is he fast enough??? I’m willing to say yes. In his Mares profile he’s getting 7 points in both his Brilliant and Intermediate segments which could give him the necessary kick required. He’ll need to be forwardly placed, but so far that has been no problem.
#9. Fog of War- Another from the Chad Brown barn, but this guy so far is 2 for 2 on the Turf. By War Front, out of a Galileo mare, I think Chad may give him a shot on dirt. We all know by now, that turf horses tend to do well on the Churchill dirt… His Chef’s profile is a dream… 3-5-18-6-0, 32 pts, 1.13 DI and 0.16 CD! His Triads aint shabby either… 14-17-20. Obviously he’s bred to go long, so the fact that he’s won at 5.5 and 8 furlongs is impressive.
#10. Standard Deviation- Another from the Brown Barn, and this time w/ the same connections as Practical Joke. He’s the first Curlin colt on my list, which shocks even me, but I have a feeling Chad will get this Curlin coly going the way he did Good Magic. His chef profile carries 36 points, the highest on the list so far, and a very high amount in any generation. This means he has some legit stuff in his veins, the question is, can he capitalize on it. His 3.80 DI is speedy, but does peak w/ 15 at the Classic distance. His triads are not what I’d want, but they do lean towards stamina at 13-13-19. So if he can grab that chef speed and that mare stamina, he could do some damage.
#11. Jungle Warrior- Call me crazy, but this turf runner from Woodbine has a chance to upset the Remsen tomorrow. He’s by Animal Kingdom out of an Afleet Alex mare. His chefs profile is fine, but his Triads are gorgeous at 14-21-22. He won his maiden and then was a fast closing 5th in his second start the Grade 1 Summer Stakes. With a fast pace tomorrow, I think he stands a good chance to be closing down the lane, and seal the deal. Either way, I love they are giving him a shot on the dirt.
#12. Epic Dreamer- By Orb, I can’t look past what appears to read Speed over Stamina. His chefs DI of 3.00 and CD of 0.82 suggest 3x more speed inherited and that bares out in the profile of 7-5-9-1-0. I’d prefer the 7 and 5 were inverse, but I think the mares can carry the stamina required. The Triads show 13-16-18, with paired 8s in the Solid and Professional slots.
So those are my Dirty Dozen. If any of these guys makes the Derby field, I think they deserve consideration to be on your ticket. They have the inherited goods and, in some cases, good connections required to succeed in May.