Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet

--Brian DiDonato and Steve Sherack

Looking for a short and handy rundown of all GI Kentucky Derby contestants to take to the track or OTB? Look no further--see below, or click here for a downloadable pdf version of our Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet.

1 - DADDY LONG LEGS (Scat Daddy--Dreamy Maiden, by Meadowlake) - 1st G2 UAE Derby - 30-1 - SS: Follows the same blueprint as Master of Hounds (better-than-expected fifth in '11 Derby after a close second in Dubai), but hard to forgive the lackluster performance in last year’s Juvenile in his lone try on dirt... No thanks. BD: Think he's a really nice turf/synth horse, but not interested in him on this surface... Stride looks extremely grassy to me and post is far from optimal.

2 - OPTIMIZER (English Channel--Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy) - 9th GI Arkansas Derby - 50-1 - SS: You really didn’t think that they’d run the Kentucky Derby without D. Wayne Lukas, did you? Inconsistent homebred fired nicely when second at 27-1 in Rebel, but has to answer for double-digit defeats in Arkansas Derby/Risen Star, and last year’s Juvenile... Even if he feels like running Saturday, it won’t be enough. BD: His one competitive dirt race was an optical illusion--he wasn’t “full of run” like the chart says--leader Secret Circle was slowing... Would be a complete jaw-dropper.

3 - TAKE CHARGE INDY (A.P. Indy--Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) - 1st GI Florida Derby - 15-1 - BD: Original inclination was to toss well-bred runner as a pace casualty, but think he'll find himself off the leaders here with Trinniberg in... Borel factor could be both a positive and negative--should get the right trip, but might be over bet. SS: Was handed the Florida Derby on a silver platter, and will take much more tote action than he deserves because of the pilot... Will let him beat me at an underlay.

4 - UNION RAGS (Dixie Union--Tempo, by Gone West) - 3rd GI Florida Derby - 9-2 - SS: If you think Leparoux gave him a bad ride in the Florida Derby, wait and see what happens if he doesn’t secure early positioning in a 20-horse field... Have been a fan since the debut victory and he won’t have a problem staying the Classic distance, but career-best 95 Beyer just isn’t going to cut it. BD: Still trying to figure out what was so bad about his trip last time... Hate that he hasn't improved from two to three figure-wise... Reportedly working up a storm, but he'll be my shortest-priced toss.

5 - DULLAHAN (Even the Score--Mining my Own, by Smart Strike) - 1st GI Blue Grass S. - 8-1 - BD: Not as concerned about dirt as others--his Juvenile performance was fine... Figures to love the distance and certain to be rolling late; a must use. SS: Is much more developed since decent fourth over track in Juvenile, and hard to argue with what Romans has accomplished during the Triple Crown series the past three seasons, including a third-place finish from near carbon copy Paddy O’Prado in 2010... A major player.

6 - BODEMEISTER (Empire Maker--Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat) - 1st GI Arkansas Derby - 4-1 - BD: Hard to argue with what he has done so far... Almost certainly the most talented runner in the field and deserving of top billing--getting caught too close to a hot pace could be his undoing, but if not, the race is over. SS: If he can keep his cool while Trinniberg runs wild early, I don’t care how many years it’s been since an unraced juvenile captured the roses, the rest of them will be running for second.

7 - ROUSING SERMON (Lucky Pulpit--Rousing Again, by Awesome Again) - 3rd GII Louisiana Derby - 50-1 - SS: Jerry Hollendorfer didn’t get inducted into the Hall of Fame by spotting his horses where they don’t belong... Stone-closer is only a neck removed from being a Grade I winner at two, and will have plenty of pace to run at here; live longshot. BD: Think he's been up against it in a few of his races, and wouldn't be shocked at all if he clunks up for a piece... Can't see him winning, though.

8 - CREATIVE CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway--Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) - 2nd GI Santa Anita Derby - 12-1 - SS: Remarkably consistent gray is one of a select few in the field to crack triple-digits on the Beyer scale, and is tactical enough to land in the garden spot... Has shown immaturity at times despite solid foundation at two, but can put on a show as an overlay if he remains focused. BD: Have no major knocks on him other than that I think he'll find at least one horse better on Saturday... Agree that his consistency is an asset, but not sure he'll be an overlay on the win end--likely to finish towards the top, though.

9 - TRINNIBERG (Teuflesberg--Bella Dorato, by Goldminers Gold) - 1st GIII Bay Shore S. - 50-1 - SS: The 2012 example of the extremely talented sprinter that was never the same after trying his hand in the Derby. BD: Nice horse, wrong spot...

10 - DADDY NOSE BEST (Scat Daddy--Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch) - 1st GIII Sunland Derby - 15-1 - BD: Could not have had a better set-up at Sunland and the 100 Beyer he received seems inflated... I guess he could fall into a similar trip here, but it's hard to project something like that and think he's a cut below. SS: Has made a big jump from two to three with a pair of wins, albeit in second-tier prep races... Capable of further improvement for top barn, but just don’t think he’s good enough to make an impact at this level.

11 - ALPHA (Bernardini--Munnaya, by Nijinsky II) - 2nd GI Wood Memorial - 15-1 - SS: Missed valuable training time after emerging from valiant second in the Wood with an infected wound... Seems to have overcome gate woes, but big crowd could lead to another meltdown. BD: Thought he was a bit slow and dressed up before the Wood... Seemed to improve there, but again had things his own way... Not sold, but do fear him a bit on the basis that he should get the distance.

12 - PROSPECTIVE (Malibu Moon--Spirited Away, by Awesome Again) - 6th GI Blue Grass S. - 30-1 - BD: His best races have come on synthetic and the very quirky Tampa dirt and still wouldn't be enough... Would be shocked if he won. SS: Registered a career high when the hood was added in the Tampa Bay Derby, but has flopped in his two attempts against the big boys, including a last-of-13 effort in the Juvenile... Can’t toss quick enough.

13 - WENT THE DAY WELL (Proud Citizen--Tiz Maie's Day, by Tiznow) - 1st GIII Spiral S. - 20-1 - BD: Was aided by a fast pace at Turfway against a pretty weak bunch... Doubt he's another Animal Kingdom, and comparisons to his stablemate might deflate his price. SS: Don’t think he’s half the horse Animal Kingdom was at this time last year, and figures to go off at similar odds... Next.

14 - HANSEN (Tapit--Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat) - 2nd GI Blue Grass S. - 10-1 - BD: Respect his ability and he ran better than I was expecting in the Blue Grass... More distance and more company up front can't be good for him, though--think he's up against it. SS: Always nice to see the Juvenile champ come back to perform at a high level at three, but pace scenario and Classic distance will prove too much for the flashy gray.

15 - GEMOLOGIST (Tiznow--Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector) - 1st GI Wood Memorial - 6-1 - SS: Speed Figures continue to rise with each trip to post as he remains unbeaten, and seemed to be toying with Alpha in narrow Wood victory... Two wins over the track are a major plus, and connections know what it takes to get it done on the First Saturday in May. BD: Not crazy about how he has been handled , and wonder how his fitness will be with such an easy campaign so far in 2012... Enough positives for me to use defensively somewhere, but think he'll be over bet.

16 - EL PADRINO (Pulpit--Enchanted Rock, by Giant’s Causeway) - 4th GI Florida Derby - 20-1 - SS: Just wasn’t the same horse in the Florida Derby after beginning 2012 campaign with a pair of highly-regarded victories... Price should be right to find out if he can bounce back, and gets a major upgrade if the track comes up wet. BD: Win over Take Charge Indy in GP allowance came because TCI moved too soon... Risen Star was okay, but no excuses in the Florida Derby and workout reports have been less than stellar... Could be another Bluegrass Cat, but I doubt it.

17 - DONE TALKING (Broken Vow--Dixie Talking, by Dixieland Band) - 1st GIII Illinois Derby - 50-1 - BD: I know, I know--he's really slow and got a nice set-up in a weak race last time... But I've been a believer since day one, and think he's perfectly primed for big improvement... Probably won't be enough, but he'll be a giant price, so why not take a shot? SS: Stretch runner handled big fields, traffic, and slow fractions like a pro in the Remsen and Ill Derby... Speed figures say he doesn’t belong, but minor award isn’t impossible if it falls apart.

18 - SABERCAT (Bluegrass Cat--Miner's Blessing, by Forty Niner) - 3rd GI Arkansas Derby - 30-1 - BD: Has the earnings thanks to a pace meltdown in a historically negative key race for the Derby... Was better last time, and might fall into another dream trip, but just not sold and can't use them all. SS: Son of '06 Derby runner-up will prove once again why the Delta Jackpot shouldn’t be a "Win and You’re In" event for the big dance.

19 - I'll HAVE ANOTHER (Flower Alley--Arch's Gal Edith, by Arch) - 1st GI Santa Anita Derby - 12-1 - BD: Just enough knocks against for me to toss him at his expected price... Seems a bit fragile and have a feeling this will prove too much to ask of him. SS: Validated 43-1 Lewis score with narrow tally over Creative Cause in a thrilling renewal of the Santa Anita Derby... One of the feel-good stories of the year with Gutierrez staying aboard, but light campaign and recent shockwave therapy report are major concerns.

20 - LIAISON (Indian Charlie--Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop) - 6th GI Santa Anita Derby 50-1 - SS: CashCall Futurity winner hasn’t done a thing since turning three, but clearly three-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert is thinking... I have no clue what he’s thinking!!! BD: Didn't love him even when he was winning... Distance probably won't do him any favors; hard to fathom.

21 (AE) - MY ADONIS (Pleasantly Perfect--Silent Justice, by Elusive Quality) - 7th GI Wood Memorial - 50-1 - BD: Has been inconsistent in both running style and overall performance... Rushing here last minute can’t be a good thing, either... Not using if he gets in. SS: On the outside looking in, and hard to support following dismal effort in the Wood... Off track is his only hope.

DiDonato's Top Five:             
1-Done Talking
4-Take Charge Indy
5-Creative Cause
Wild Card: Rousing Sermon

Sherack's Top Five:
1-Creative Cause
5-El Padrino
Wild Card: Rousing Sermon

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