While The Factor was dazzling in going all the way in the Rebel Stakes this past weekend at Oaklawn Park, I am still not convinced he can go 1 1/4 miles on the First Saturday In May. I will readily admit I was wrong about his ability to get 1 1/16 miles last weekend, but that still doesn't mean he can get that extra 3/16 of a mile when it really counts. That being said, we move on to this week's edition of the Super Six Derby Pix:
#1- Uncle Mo- Again, I didn't find his Timely Writer win that demoralizing to the rest of the Derby contingent. He is supposed to be heading to the Wood Memorial to run in owner Mike Repole's home area. Should he go in the Wood and win, he would be undefeated, but only have five starts and only two of those around two turns. Is that enough of a resume' to install as the heavy favorite he will be? We'll see.
#2- Dialed In- Worked out this morning at Palm Meadows and went four furlongs in 47.55 seconds, including a final furlong of 11.04 seconds, at least on trainer Nick Zito's watch. He will be the favorite for the Florida Derby on April 3. However, he will face some tough stuff at Gulfstream that day, including the Fountain Of Youth winner, Soldat. Again, the experience factor will be crucial for this one. He will only have four starts behind him when he enters the gate at Churchill Downs, provided there is not another prep following the Florida Derby.
#3- Santiva- He has been my "under the radar" horse for Derby Day since his gritty win over Astrology in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last fall. We'll see how Astrology does this weekend in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby in New Mexico. Santiva will have more starts on Derby Day than the first two, but he has won only that one race. I admire his tenacity, but winning matters more than determination when it comes down to brass tacks.
#4- Soldat- You want a resume', this guy has a resume'. He has been to the track seven times already in his career and has been first or second in all seven of them. He has more varied distances than the first three and more varied surfaces, having proven he excels now on both turf and dirt. Last week, I compared him to Barbaro. I still think that is an apt desciption, maybe he is the one to complete what Barbaro couldn't. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin needs that elusive Derby win for his record, just like Todd Pletcher needed it last year.
#5- Premier Pegasus- Likely is the best of what has proven to be a very weak crop of West Coast Derby contenders. I couldn't have been more impressed with his win in the San Felipe and based on that win, he should be the heavy choice in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 9. Others likely to be in that field include Anthony's Cross, Comma To The Top, and Silver Medallion. None of those tickle my fancy when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, at least not yet.
#6- Mucho Macho Man- He didn't frighten anyone away from the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby this weekend at Fair Grounds. There will be twelve other runners in the gate with him as he tries to complete the Risen Star-Louisiana Derby Double. He got drilled by Dialed In once already this season in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream, which prompted the move to Louisiana. Should he win the Louisiana Derby, he will have three wins in eight starts for his career thus far. He also will be trying to become just the third horse since 1924 to win the Louisiana Derby and then pick up the win in the Kentucky Derby.
Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!