The Kentucky Derby is now less that forty days away. It is hard to believe, but that is certainly the case. The preps from this past weekend produced some upset winners, especially in the Louisiana and Sunland Derbies. The main headline this coming weekend will be the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Sunday. That race is expected to produce several horses that will be in the gate come the First Saturday In May. Here are the Pix:
#1- Soldat- I know I am being premature with this move to the #1 spot for the Fountain Of Youth winner. I know he will not be allowed to get the easy lead he seemed to have in that earlier race in the Florida Derby. I just honestly think that this horse is now the best of the three-year-old crop and I also honestly think he will be wearing the garland of roses come May 7. Do keep in mind that I have been wrong about this every year since 1994, but that is my opinion.
#2- Uncle Mo- Well, I have stated already here that I was wholly unimpressed with the Timely Writer, be it the competition, the race itself, and even the champion's performance. That being said, no one has beaten him yet and the last time the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was run at Churchill Downs, the winner came back to win the Derby six months later off of two less than stellar preps. History might be poised to repeat itself.
#3- Dialed In- The Nick Zito trainee had absolutely no pace to run at in his last race and it showed as he was unable to close into the dawdling fractions and finished second. I think we can safely say that he will get a pace in the Florida Derby and in the Kentucky Derby both. If the pace in either race is blistering, he will certainly be a horse to reckon with when they turn for home in Louisville.
#4- Santiva- I really think he is improving his form the closer we get to the First Saturday In May. Once again, I am less than crazy about the move to Keeneland to run in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes as the final prep over the polytrack in Kentucky. However, this horse might have more grit than anyone else on any of these Derby Contender lists and that will certainly matter come May 7. I fully expect him to be a part of any Superfecta in the Kentucky Derby.
#5- Premier Pegasus- The West Coast's best of the bunch right now. His next start is expected to be as the prohibitive favorite in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 9. His Sire, Fusaichi Pegasus, won the Derby in 2000. He crushed the field in the Grade 2 San Felipe on March 12 by nearly eight lengths. It remains the standard by which all other Derby prep performances need to be measured so far this spring.
#6- The Factor- I am really still not sold on the Bob Baffert representative, but there is the fact that Baffert certainly knows what is necessary to get a horse ready for the Triple Crown. His speed will likely be compromised on Derby Day, but the great Laz Barrera won not just a Derby, but also a Belmont with speedster Bold Forbes in 1976. If anyone is going to steal this Kentucky Derby, it just might be Bob Baffert.
Tune in again on Thursday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!