Better late than never, I am blaming Union Rags for this. According to e-mails I receive from the Daily Racing Form, the Kentucky Derby season is in full swing. It doesn’t feel like it though. The meticulously planned out campaigns of the top runners and likely nominees for the failure five list are planned out into such detail that some of the hopefuls will scratch from a race on the faintest feeling of a stiff breeze. Last year’s lists fared pretty well with a high failure or success rate depending on the point of view. Maybe there is a pressure to perform on the next go around, we shall see.
1. Union Rags
Top of the heap after his visually impressive score in the Fountain of Youth. The pace and speed figures were a bit pedestrian. Last year I was on the Tapizar bandwagon and the tires went flat on that, this year it is Union Rags. Only two starts to the Derby, there is not much room for error if a prep or work is missed.
Here is a synopsis of his two races this year (leader in races among top derby prospects), fast early and slowing down late. The Wood is the next stop from all indications and he certainly doesn’t need the earnings to get in. Look for more refinement of the rating tactics that Dominguez employed in the Gotham next out.
3. El Padrino
Algorithms is off the trail. Too bad, that one had a lot of talent. El Padrino is the Pletcher pinch hitter off of a popular Risen Star score. Usually Fair Grounds runners have a tough pull, it’s been over a decade since Grindstone captured the bed of roses via the bayou.
4. Feb Biz/I'll Have Another/Any colt that has won an allowance or maiden race at Santa Anita
Pretty interchangeable part of the list, it seems that there is a good-looking winner out there at least once a week and Baffert usually trains the colt. It would not register as a surprise if the Santa Anita Derby draws twelve entries this year.
Ed. Note: Out of Bounds was originally here until someone pointed out he was injured a few days ago. Shows how much I follow the racing product at Santa Anita.
NYRA has boosted its purses and moved around its stakes schedule to be more prominent, so far it has produced some timid fields and short priced victors. Alpha ran fast enough to be competitive deeper into the season in his Withers score, but he has to do it again against the big boys to be taken seriously. The Florida Derby will be the acid test for this one.