Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kentucky Derby Top 10

1. I Want Revenge (1)
2. Fresian Fire (3)
3. Quality Road (6)
4. Dunkirk (8)
5. Pioneerof The Nile (4)
6. Old Fashioned (7)
7. Desert Party (9)
8. Musket Man (New)
9. Chocolate Candy (New)
10. Rachel Alexandra (10)

Dropped: The Pamplemousse and Imperial Council

First lets deal with the drops. The Pamplemousse was scratched and now is sidelined for 6 months with a tendon injury. Refer to the "Weekend Review" for my thoughts on the situation. Imperial Council threw in a clunker and I cant quite figure out what went wrong. If searching for a poor excuse, it could actually be that they opted to have him stalk the pace. The horse looks like he needs a target and I think when its all said and done with this horse he will be a closer. I understand why they wanted him closer after he was in a different area code in the Gotham, but perhaps having him press the pace went a bit overboard. With that said the pace was dull and class alone should have carried him farther. He fizzled when it mattered most and hopefully he will pan out later in the year. (Belmont Stakes)

Now onto the list. As you'll notice I did a lot of movement this week, more so than I've been inclined to do in weeks past. A good Derby list in my estimation is equal parts accomplishments and projection. Now that the preps are out of the way for most of the serious contenders the only way to rank them at this point is on their Derby chances alone and that is reflected in my list. For example Dunkirk didn't deserve to be ranked over more established horses a week or two ago, but now that the Run for the Roses is almost upon us, he looks a hell of a lot more live than horses who've won other preps.

I Want Revenge has done everything you'd want in a contender. He's run a race fast enough to win the Derby and he had an effort where he had to overcome a ton of adversity. We know he has the heart and ability and for that he is #1.

Fresian Fire moved up after Imperial Council's flop. He has been consistently dominant against useful fields and his pedigree screams 10 furlongs. Some dislike the 7 week layoff but those need to remember what Jones did with Hard Spun in the Derby off a 6 week layoff. (And that horse wasn't nearly as well regarded as Fresian)If there is a trainer to trust to get the job done, its Larry Jones.

Quality Road makes a massive jump to third. Some might wonder why he's made such a drastic jump now, and to put it simply, he's very fast. His Florida Derby was light years better than the Santa Anita Derby and Illinois Derby and he beat a contender in the process. I'm not in love with the horse, but to deny his chances in the race would be foolish at this point.

Dunkirk made a massive leap as well. The controversy here will be why he overtook Pioneerof The Nile. I'll address Pioneer later but Dunkirk is a horse that has to be well regarded if you like Quality Road at all. If you think Quality Road is the next great thing then by default you have to respect Dunkirk, who made a real go at Quality Road in only his first start in stakes company. The fact that he is bred to run all day long doesn't hurt either and is making some inclined to consider him a more logical Derby threat than his rival.

Its not very often a horse wins the Santa Anita Derby and falls down the rankings in the process. Pioneerof The Nile has for several reason. One, he's not that fast. He hasnt run a brilliant race this year. He would need to improve significantly to win the Derby and as history shows us, the Derby is generally won by a horse that doesn't have to improve but rather run back to a previous best. Secondly, he has no form over dirt. We have no idea whether dirt will move him up or back. Colonel John was impressive over the synthetics last year but that didn't work out to well for him in the Derby. Lastly, I don't like a horse that runs multiple races rank. The horse has not settled at all in his last few races. He refused to sit behind horses and he refused to idle off the pace in the Santa Anita Derby. The lack of pace might be the root of the problem but the horse is going to need to cooperate with the jockey if he has any shot in the Derby and he has looked awfully headstrong of late. Many of his backers have pointed to the fact that Pioneer defeated I Want Revenge twice as a 2yo, but that is to deny several important points. Horses can improve and regress as 3yo's and I Want Revenge might have actually been flattered by those races as it clearly was not his preferred surface.

Old Fashioned remains sixth as he is the only non top 5 horse left that can break into that group. He flopped in the Rebel but is every bit eligible to rebound in the Arkansas Derby this week. One loss does not define a horse and the Rebel will be a forgotten race if he impresses at Oaklawn.

Desert Party moved up two spots with the two drops this week. Frankly, there just aren't many other horses to consider.

Musket Man and Chocolate Candy both break into the list with solid efforts over the weekend. Musket Man is the model of consistency who just knows how to win and Chocolate Candy looks on the improve after flying somewhat under the radar.

Rachel Alexandra is tenth after another easy victory in the Fantasy over the weekend. If she was confirmed for the Derby she'd move up this list because rankly I don't think there are more than 6 or 7 colts that are better than her as of right now. She hasn't been in a dog fight or really challenged, but then again she is destroying inferior competition as a good horse should.

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