Thursday, April 30, 2009

Terry's Horses To Watch For The Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs
Saturday, May 2

The 135th Run for the Roses has brought together a group of survivors. In a year where contenders have been “dropping like flies” off the Derby trail in recent weeks due to injury, this is not the deepest field in the history of this race. Still, it is the Kentucky Derby and the dream of the next Triple Crown winner will be alive late Saturday afternoon for one of these horses, the entire industry and all of it’s fans, even if only for a few weeks.

Kentucky Derby ~ Grade I ~ Purse $2,000,000 ~ 1 1/4 Miles
Dunkirk – Post 15 – Morning Line 4/1
This colt was a $3.7 million yearling purchase by the owners of the premier European racing operation Coolmore and he will give trainer Todd Pletcher his best chance to break his 0-21 Derby streak this year. He was off his entire two year old season with injuries and is lightly raced as a 3 year old. His runner up performance in the Florida Derby indicates he might be ready for a big effort here as does 4 straight bullet works since. Prado aboard doesn’t hurt.

I Want Revenge – Post 13 – Morning Line 3/1
Was an also ran on the synthetic tracks in CA but has been impressive in two starts on dirt in NY taking the Gotham by 8 lengths and then the Wood Memorial after being in traffic so he certainly deserves to be the morning line favorite. He posted his own bullet work on this track 2 days ago. Young rider Talamo has handled the pressure so far but the question is whether this horse’s peak was in those two races in New York.

Fresian Fire – Post 6 – Morning Line 5/1
He was very impressive in 7 length win in Louisiana Derby over a sloppy track which is also forecast for Louisville on Saturday. Same trainer/rider combo as with Eight Belles (2nd in 2008) and Hard Spun (2nd in 2007) and trainer Larry Jones always has his horses in top form for a big race. This horse has been training very well and posted a bullet work on Tuesday. Still, the question remains whether 7 weeks since his last race is too long.

Pioneerof The Nile – Post 16 – Morning Line 4/1
Co second choice in the M/L has run off 4 straight wins on CA synthetics since joining the Baffert barn in October including the Santa Anita Derby in his last. He has beaten several Derby rivals including the favorite in CA earlier this year and is the choice of rider Gomez who had also been riding Dunkirk. Lower Beyer numbers than top rivals and having never raced on dirt are normally a problem. That is unless your trainer is Bob Baffert who has won this race three times in the past decade. Rider Gomez has also won two straight Eclipse awards as the sport’s top jockey.

Desert Party – Post 19 – Morning Line 15/1
The top horse left for Godolphin, the sport’s top racing operation. Sheik Mohammad is 0-5 in the Derby and has not been back since 2000 but remains determined to win a Derby by training the horse up to the race in Dubai with no American derby trail prep races. He won the Sanford in the mud at Saratoga last summer before losing to Vineyard Haven who would have been a favorite here had he made it to this race. Was caught at the wire in his last in the UAE Derby in Dubai but has trained well at Churchill since arriving. Still, if you want to win the world’s most prestigious race, why would you put Dominguez on and leave the world’s best jockey, Frankie Dettori, at home.

Chocolate Candy – Post 11 – Morning Line 20/1
He made a huge move in closing for 2rd in the SA Derby and trainer Hollendorfer was quoted as saying that race was just about getting him ready and he does have a synthetic win over the favorite. Trainer’s 32% synthetic to dirt record and Mike Smith aboard will help but low Beyer numbers don’t. Your call as to whether he can handle these.

Others of Interest:
Hold Me Back – Post 5 – M/L 15/1 – Has ran well on Poly at Keeneland and must respect Mott / Desormeaux duo.
Musket Man – Post 2 – M/L 20/1 – Wins in Tampa and Illinois Derbys and 5 for 6 record overall, Coa aboard.
Papa Clem – Post 7 – M/L 20/1 – Won Ark Derby after 4 wide on turn, has never been below 2nd with Bejarano up.
General Quarters – Post 12 – M/L 20/1 – Was impressive in Blue Grass win at Keeneland, Leparoux aboard.
Regal Ransom – Post 10 – M/L 30/1 – Other Godolphin horse in the race, beat Desert Party in Dubai, Garcia up.