The Kentucky Derby is now 96 days away. Of course, you have the prohibitive set of favorites that have already established themselves through their doings in the waning days of 2010. Uncle Mo won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in about as devastating a fashion as possible. Even with that, the runner-up, Boys At Tosconova, might still be considered one of the favorites, although his absence from the Grade 3 Holy Bull on Sunday at Gulfstream is considered a glaring one. To Honor And Serve's victory in the Remsen last fall stamped him as one to definitely consider, although the way that runner-up Mucho Macho Man disappointed at Gulfstream yesterday might lessen that victory a tad. The West Coast is not without its candidates either with CashCall Futurity winner, Comma To The Top, and Sham Stakes winner, Tapizar, considered in the vanguard.
This weekend DID produce some new faces to the Kentucky Derby picture, mainly in the southeast. Machen, trained by Neil Howard, repeated his devastating maiden victory in an Allowance score at Fair Grounds, winning by a widening five lengths and paying a salty $2.10 to win. The horse that ran second to Machen in the maiden race, the Al Stall-trained Sour, broke the maiden at less than even-money on Monday at Fair Grounds. It is my opinion that one of those two horses will likely be the winner of the Louisiana Derby, if not complete the Risen Star-Louisiana Derby double. Nick Zito might have another solid Derby candidate in Dialed In, who came from well off the pace to run past everyone and win the Holy Bull. His style seems reminiscent of Zito's 2010 Derby horse, Ice Box, another stone closer. The runner-up in the Holy Bull was Gourmet Dinner, winner of the Delta Jackpot late in 2010 to clinch a spot in the gate at Churchill Downs. All he did yesterday was re-establish his credentials as a possible Derby horse with a respectable second-place that makes one think his poor effort in the CashCall was likely caused either by the artificial surface or the interminable wait he experienced in the saddling paddock.
I just rattled off ten possible Derby candidates in two paragraphs and it is likely that in the next 96 days, we will see one or more establish themselves as chalk for the Roses, one or more disappear from the Derby Road without leaving an oil slick, and several more step up from the background and make their cases most emphatically. 96 days seems like forever, but believe me, it will go by before you know it.
Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!