We're now less than 12 weeks out from Derby Day and we've got good momentum on the trail! Some of our leaders have yet to make their first appearance, while others are continuing their winning ways. There have been several breakthrough performances in the last few weeks, and a name or two (Cairo Cat) that have been sent to the bench. Such is life on the trail....
Since the first Dirty Dozen was posted there have certainly been some modifications to the list. Only five of the original twelve remain, but the goal is the same: Identify those horses, who if given a gate, have the opportunity to Win, or at least hit the board in Kentucky Derby. The Super is the Grail!
As written about previously, there is no "one right way" to identify a Derby Win contender. What we do know is the winner must possess significant speed, and the stamina to carry it the distance. In years past horses w/ Index's below 2.00 have faired well, while in more recent years, it's the horses w/ Index's over 3.00. Rarely does the 2.00-2.99 Index win. The horses I've selected for this Dozen fall into all of these categories.
What is most interesting to me however, is that each of the 12 has a different sire! Again, no "one right way!" The sires of the Top 12 include: Curlin, Into Mischief, Noble Mission, Mucho Macho Man, Blame, Exchange Rate, City Zip, Hat Trick, War Front, Candy Ride, Hard Spun, and Lookin at Lucky. Three of the 12 do come from AP Indy mares however.
I'm sure a few names will change between now and Derby Day, but I feel confident that our Derby Winner is coming from this list of twelve.
#1 Code of Honor- Yes, I'm still high on this boy. His Index, his triads, his points, and his connections all say that he still has a huge chance. I'm giving him a pass in his last, but he needs to turn up the heat for the Fountain of Youth. It will be a challenge, but word from Payson park is that he's back.
#2 Mucho Gusto- The least touted of Bafferts Big 3, I think he has the goods. Dosage of 1.40 and Triads of 21-24-23! YES! He settled beautifully in the Lewis, and he loves the slop. Yes. All. Day.
#3 Instagrand- He's preparing for a return in the San Felipe, where he'll meet Game Winner. We know he's fast, but he's yet to go two turns. Can he stretch out? Have they waited to long? I don't think so. He might be really special.
#4 Global Campaign- Owned by Winstar. He's 2-2 and has made it look easy. He's by Curlin out of an AP Indy mare. His 3.31 DI and 10-10-20 Triads reflect speed over stamina. He's a new shooter w/ a bright future. He's also a half brother to Bolt D'Oro.
#5 Improbable- The 2nd of Bafferts Gang has done nothing wrong in 3 starts... He's only going to make two starts prior to the Derby, and Baffert has compared his efficiency to that of Pharaoh and Justify. He has a 4.23 DI which is on the high side, but his 16-17-18 Triads should serve him well. He's arguably the betting favorite in my mind.
#6 Mucho- Yes, he has not been seen since Sept. but I can't help think this guy contains some brilliance. He's loaded w/ stamina, and if Mott can get him to be tactical enough, I think he can make some noise. He's been working steadily and may reappear in the FOY.
#7- Win Win Win- Set a new track record for 7f at Tampa Bay. He's got Sunday Silence and Smarty Jones in his first two generations. His #s are similar to Improbable w/ a 4.50 DI and a 15-19-19 Triad configuration. Can he stretch it out?? Can he learn to harness his speed, and use it when necessary. We'll find out in the Tampa Bay Derby.
#8 War of Will- I REALLY like this guy. In my first Dirty Dozen I had his half brother Fog of War who won the Summer Stakes. But it's this War hero who was sent to the dirt and has flourished. With a 1.72 DI and Triads of 15-23-18, he's loaded. He also has 34 points in his Chef profile which is tops of this crop. He's back again this weekend in the Risen Star, and I expect him to keep rolling.
#9 Gunmetal Gray- He his a defined closer, but he's yet to run his optimum distance. He's been up against the best the west has to offer, and he always brings it. He's very workman-like, but needs a strong pace to run into. He'll be on my tickets, but likely only filling out the 3 and 4 slots.
#10 Game Winner- Bafferts big horse barely makes my list. I like him. I think he's very good. I just don't think he's brilliant enough to win the Derby. Hit the board, yes. Win, I don't think so. He'll be on my ticket, but only underneath.
#11 Hidden Scroll- Want to talk brilliant??? Here he is. His maiden romp was unreal. Yes it was on a sloppy track, so we'll wait to see it again before fully buying in. His 2.71 DI is not ideal but his 13-19-18 Triads are sweet. Hard Spun, out of an Empire Maker. Definite potential.
#12 Country House- Lisa just wrote about this guy being a Belmont Beauty! I can't disagree w/ a thing she said, but as of today he's on my Derby ticket. He has a 2.69 DI and a 12-18-21 Triad config. He's gonna be running at the end, but will he be close enough at the top of the stretch?
So that does it for the Feb edition of the Dirty Dozen. I have confidence that the Derby Winner is amongst this list. What do you think??