ELMONT, NY, April 22, 2013—With a few exceptions, all the major work is done. Todd Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby quintet all had a good weekend, including possible favorite Verrazano, as did his fillies.
Orb, who worked on Monday, is training so good that he’s buck-jumping in the middle of his gallops. Will vie for favoritism with Verrazano and we think likely to be the public’s choice.
Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday made a great appearance when they were first seen galloping at the Downs this weekend, but it was the fillies that have regulars buzzing.
And, parenthetically, I must say that I can’t remember a potential field of Kentucky Oaks fillies so talented and so deep.
This filly class is so deep, in fact, that the individual horses seemingly get lost in the shuffle.
If Dreaming Of Julia or Unlimited Budget or Midnight Lucky had come along in an ordinary year, any of them would be hailed as the best sophomore miss to come along since Rachel Alexandra.
And Close Hatches is an enormous talent capable of upsetting that trio. This group is so good that juvenile champion Beholder, who’s done nothing wrong at 3, places fifth on most Oaks depth charts.
Entries for the Oaks will be taken Tuesday; the Derby on Wednesday. It would have been nice if both races could have been drawn a day earlier, giving fans an extra 24 hours for their handicapping.
In the information age, and with also-eligibles now part of the equation, what would have been the harm in that?
Then when do the needs of fans matter? Perhaps you thought that this would be the first time Dime Superfectas were offered on the Oaks and Derby? Think again.
This shortsightedness in the name of track logistics is intelligence-insulting, as if designated automated betting machines on track and online wagering off track could not be made available to solve the “problem.” But I digress.
With the Derby Trial results not part of the big dance equation, there are no changes in the final Derby Power 10 of 2013. Our staff contributors will make individual selections available as Derby Day draws near:
1. Orb (40) Johnny Velazquez is scheduled to return from the sidelines in Wednesday’s third race at Belmont Park, but Keeneland record setter Joel Rosario more than an able replacement. The colt has been training like a Downs monster according to ace clocker Mike Welsch.
2. Verrazano (38) had an excellent company work on Saturday, 5 furlongs in :59 2/5, with a solid gallop-out. The Pletcher quints came out of Saturday’s works very well and all were back jogging on Sunday morning.
3. Goldencents (30) As previously stated, won the fastest, most recent Derby prep and looked good doing it. He made a good appearance in his first training session over the Churchill surface Sunday after arriving on Saturday. Reportedly has thrived at his West Coast base.
4. Revolutionary (24) has been one of the training stars, if not the workout star in advance of Derby 139. Recently elected Hall of Famer Calvin Borel has been loving the signals he’s been getting from him in the mornings.
5. Overanalyze (23) Pletcher said that of all his Derby horses, this is the one that has taken the biggest strides training up to the biggest race in his life. Recall his big figure score in the 9-furlong 2012 Remsen.
6. Normandy Invasion (17) had his second aggressive 5-furlong workout over the weekend and came out of it very well said Chad Brown. Figures to be closer to the early Derby pace for the position conscious Javier Castellano.
7. Itsmyluckyday (15) Second fastest two-turn member of the 2013 Derby class had a strong jog on Sunday following his arrival in Louisville Saturday. May or may not have a blowout later this week.
8. Will Take Charge (14) earned this ranking based on his strong come-from-behind Rebel score but has not been overly impressive in recent mornings at Churchill Downs. Enters the Derby off seven-week freshening.
9. Java’s War (11) doesn’t make the strongest impression with observers because his biggest win came on Polytrack and failed to keep pace with stablemate Frac Daddy in a recent Churchill work.
10. Oxbow (6) figures to enter the starting gate way below the radar despite the pairing of the dual Derby-winning Lukas-Stevens team. A much better colt than his Arkansas Derby would indicate.