The Super Six Derby Pix will look a little different this week, since former #1 Algorithms was scratched out of Sunday's Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream Park with a popped splint and he is now officially off the Derby Trail. That left the race to pretty much two horses, Union Rags and Discreet Dancer. Clearly, one of those will be listed in the Pix this week. Also this past weekend, El Padrino was given all he needed from Mark Valeski in a stirring stretch duel. Here are this Pix for this week:
#1 Union Rags- There really isn't anyone else to put in the top spot right now. He absolutely dominated the Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream and since his only loss was by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after swerving through the stretch all the way. He is far and away #1 in the Derby rankings at this early date.
#2 El Padrino- He is the top Todd Pletcher trainee on the list so far and since Pletcher is likely to have a multitude of horses in the gate on Derby Day, the winner of the Risen Star is rightly ranked this high. I am curious if he will end up remaining at Fair Grounds to run in the Louisiana Derby or return to Gulfstream to run in the Florida Derby for his next prep. A story on ESPN.com is reporting that the co-owners are trying to answer this same question.
#3 Alpha- Has been the dominant horse in New York over the inner track at The Big A so far, but how far will that take him? His lone effort outside the state of New York was a disaster, an 11th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last autumn. The plan that I have heard for him was to run in just the Wood Memorial over the main dirt at Aqueduct and then head right to Kentucky. I don't know if this will leave him short in the Run For The Roses, but those old Derby cliches have been falling fast in recent years.
#4 Hansen- He is still the Champion Two-Year-Old from 2011 and the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile over the Churchill Downs track last fall. However, his return race at Gulfstream in the Holy Bull was a sound defeat to the horse that was formerly #1 (Algorithms). He has now left Florida to run this coming weekend in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct. I still tend to think his front-running style could get compromised in the Derby itself, but we all thought that would happen to War Emblem too, didn't we?
#5 Creative Cause- He finished third in his last two tries, behind Hansen and Union Rags in the BC Juvenile, and then behind Drill and American Act in the San Vicente. His is the first name from Southern California to be on the list. He will be racing on March 10 in the Grade 2 San Felipe and then the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby after that. Since the California contingent just is not as strong as I originally thought it was going to be, I am interested to see how forward he moves in these prep races.
#6 Gemologist- Two years ago, WinStar and Todd Pletcher teamed up to win the Kentucky Derby with Super Saver. Could this colt be a return engagement for those connections in the Winner's Circle at Churchill Downs? He is undefeated in three starts so far and two of those wins were over the track in Louisville. However, he has not raced since November, so his first start of 2012 is expected to be on St. Patrick's Day in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn.
Tune in again later this week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!