It’s that time of year, again! I love going through the information on the net for possible KY Derby prospects and talking on forums to people that are just as eager and excited to get this thing going as I am. I also love to pick out sleepers that no one is talking about. My favorite horses for the Triple Crown are those that sit off the pace and have a mid-pack/closer running style and have that strong, late kick. Some that come to mind that I picked out in their 2-yo years are Afleet Alex and Street Sense. So, here are the horses that have me closely watching to their every workout and race. They’re not in any particular order, though some of my favorites are near the top. I’m also leaving some out that are obvious contenders like Uncle Mo, Boys At Tosconova, Pluck, Soldat, Jaycito and others that ran in the BC, plus Premier Pegasus.
Also, I’ve had this non-scientific theory dealing with the fact that a majority of the TC winners have had Mr. Prospector in their pedigree. Since ’95 there have been 48 TC races and 35 of the winners have had Mr. Prospector in their pedigree, that’s 73%, and most had him within 3 generations. It can be a scientific theory, if one takes into account all of the starters in all 48 TC races and then calculates the percentage of horses that have Mr. P in their pedigree and then figuring out the rest from there. Though, now-a-days most horses have Mr. P somewhere in their pedigree. However, it’s still a moot point and interesting enough to consider. So do with it what you please. * - denotes that the horse has Mr. Prospector in their pedigree.
1) To Honor and Serve* (Bernardini – Pilfer by Deputy Minister) – He is my #1 as of now. I’ve been watching this guy since last October. I love his pedigree and he should relish the classic distances. Good connections as well. I think this guy is going to be very special! Watch out Uncle Mo!
2) Tapizar* (Tapit – Winning Call by Deputy Minister) – This guy keeps growing on me every week. He too has DM as his bms which should allow him to keep stretching out. As a bms, DM has produced some very good runners like Curlin and Belmont Stakes winners Rags To Riches, Jazil and Sarava. Tapizar is a great prospect for the TC, but needs to improve and should by the first Saturday in May.
3) Brethren* (Distorted Humor – Supercharger by AP Indy) – He is a half-brother to last year’s KY Derby winner, Super Saver. And his sire, Distorted Humor, produced KY Derby winner, Funny Cide. So we know he has the bloodlines to excel at the classic distances. Has good connections and should be one to watch all the way to May 7th.
4) Sway Away* (Afleet Alex – Seattle Shimmer by Seattle Slew) – This is one of my favorite pedigrees. I loved his daddy and you can’t go wrong being out of a Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, mare. Has only one race under his belt, but is training very well. I can’t wait to see what he does in his first outing of the year. Keep an eye on this one!
5) Dialed In* (Mineshaft – Miss Doolittle by Storm Cat) – This guy was impressive in his only start at Churchill back in November. It was a 6.5f MSW race. Has a nice pedigree, by Mineshaft and has one of the best race horses ever, Secretariat, in the X-passing position. I wrote this before yesterday’s Holy Bull. WOW!!! He looked like he was out of it at the start. He’s started both races like this, so just think of what he can do when Zito gets him where he wants him. Very impressive though! He’s only had 2 races and he’s going to be even better as he stretches out. He beat some good horses, too! Watch out!!
6) Rogue Romance* (Smarty Jones – Lovington by Afleet) – I loved his race at Keeneland last October. He has a great kick and should only get better as we get closer to May 7th. His daddy was a good one, so maybe he’ll follow in his “hoofprints”. Has a top-class tail-female line going back to Cequillo who’s dam’s damsire is Man O’ War. Plenty of stamina coming through his 2nd dam, Katie Love, which has Le Fabuleux in the X-passing position.
7) Machen* (Distorted Humor – Ready’s Gal by More Than Ready) – He was an impressive winner his first out as well at Fair Grounds in a MSW at 6f. This gives trainer Howard a couple of good prospects with the other being the Lecomte winner, Wilkinson.
8) Casper’s Touch (Touch Gold – Lizzy Cool by Saint Ballado) – Won at Churchill in his last outing at a mile. Has the pedigree and trainer to be something special. McPeek said he reminds him of Sunday Silence in that he is jet black, has that type of head and he can run. He has that Saint Ballado/Halo look to him. He’s been working very well, too. Has plenty of stamina coming through his bms, Saint Ballado, having Herbager in the X-passing position. And his dam’s damsire is Key to the Mint which is Graustark and Princequillo (STAMINA!!). It doesn’t hurt that his daddy won the Belmont Stakes either. Can’t wait to see his next start which will most likely be an allowance race on Feb. 4th at Gulfstream! Watch out for this guy!
9) Santiva (Giant’s Causeway – Slide by Smarten) – He had a very good race last out in the KJC at Churchill. He “nosed-out” 2 good horses in Astrology and Major Gain. This guy will have no problem stretching out. Seems like he gets better with every race and will be one to watch all the way up to May 7th. His next start will be in the G2 Fountain of Youth.
10) Alternation* (Distorted Humor – Alternate by Seattle Slew) – Has 2 wins and a 3rd place finish in his 3 starts. Good win last out at Oaklawn at a mile. Faced a decent field beating another on this list, Elite Alex, who finished a close 2nd. Has potential. His next start is possibly the G3 Southwest. Worth a look!
11) Awesome Patriot* (Awesome Again – Tizamazing by Cee’s Tizzy) – His dam is a full sister to the great Tiznow. I’ve always liked his daddy, AA, who produced one of my favorites, Ghostzapper. Baffert has some good 3-yos and this is one of them along with the next guy on the list and Jaycito. Could be dangerous!
12) The Factor* (War Front – Greyciousness by Miswaki) – Very impressive setting a NTR for 6f on the dirt at Santa Anita. Well, we know he’s fast, but does he have the stamina to stretch out to the classic distances? He will get some from Buckpasser who is in the X-passing position. Though, something tells me he’s going to be a sprinter/miler type horse. However, he is worth watching. So keep an eye on him.
13) Wilkinson* (Lemon Drop Kid – Tasha’s Delight by Afternoon Deelites) – Had a very nice win in the Lecomte. Kept on fighting all the way down the stretch to the wire. Loved his daddy when he raced. Could be one of those sleepers. I like the little guy!
14) Elite Alex* (Afleet Alex – Catch the Moment by Unbridled) - Love this guy’s pedigree! Has plenty of stamina from his tail-female line which includes Secretariat in the 5th generation. Next start is probably the G3 Southwest. Keeps moving up on my list. Watch out for this one as he improves!
15) Comma To The Top (Bwana Charlie – Maggie’s Storm by Stormy Atlantic) - Has already had 10 starts and 6 of those are wins. So, he definitely has a good foundation. Not sure how far he wants to go yet. Though, he has won at 8.5f twice. Not dismissing him yet. Also has a nice pedigree with SA as his bms.
16) Manicero* (Mass Media – Ritzy Blitz by Kris S) – This guy is flying under the radar and could be one to watch. Very nice pedigree and should relish the longer distances. Has 4 wins in 5 career starts. I don’t know about the public, but I like him!
17) Washington’s Rules* (Roman Ruler – Petite Charme by Silver Charm) – McPeek has a good one here. Has a nice pedigree and was 2nd to Stay Thirsty in a MSW back in August. Recently had a nice 1 mile win at Gulfstream. Not big on him or anything, but worth keeping an eye on.
18) Astrology* (AP Indy – Quiet Eclipse by Quiet American) – Pretty consistent horse, but hasn’t done anything flashy or worth getting hyped about. Has the pedigree and connections to excel against the best 3-yos. I think he will really improve off of his 2-yo season. Don’t overlook!
19) Sweet Ducky* (Pulpit – Storm’s Darling by Storm Boot) – Had a pretty good race yesterday against some good competition. One to keep an eye on. Has a solid pedigree, too. Not big on him, but can’t dismiss just yet.
20) Crossbow* (Bernardini – Forest Heiress by Forest Wildcat) – Can’t wait to see this guy run again. Has great potential and has the pedigree, too. I think McLaughlin has a good one here. Has 2 wins and a show in 3 starts. One to watch!