Turf writers in desperate search of a story know two things: go see Nick Zito; go see Wayne Lukas, not necessarily in that order. Both, after all, are extremely quotable and each knows the value of keeping their brands in front of the public (read prospective owners).

Turf writers know a third thing. Bereft of storylines when on deadline, think two words: Kentucky Derby.

In that spirit, a forward look at certain-to-be juvenile champion War Pass; Remsen hero Court Vision, a courageous and classy nine-furlong winner, and Denis of Cork, one of the more impressive debut winners ever.
While the measure of dosage index is no longer in vogue as a predictor of Derby form, it still has some merit. So, as an aside, an early look at some dosage profiles as outlined by column contributor Brad Morgan.

Morgan reviewed the dosage profiles of 37 newly turned three-year-olds. Of those, only six had as many as two points in either its Solid or Professional wing. Meaning, according to dosage theory, theyre light on the stamina side of their pedigree.

Considering the current state of the breeding industry, is it any wonder that this small sample of relatively high class individuals reflects that the majority of American racehorses are bred for speed?

Interestingly, three of the six stamina-influenced sophomores are fillies.

Of greater significance, though, were the names of several highly regarded Triple Crown hopefuls, all of which impressed on the racetrack as two-year-olds.

El Gato Malo, undefeated in two starts, including the two-turn Gold Rush at Golden Gate Fields, has a DI of 4.33.

Etched, undefeated in two starts by a combined 13- lengths, including the G3 Nashua, has a dosage index of 4.14.

Gayego, a maiden breaker by three lengths in 1:09 over Hollywoods Cushion Track, has a DI of 4.33.

Pyro, the strong-finish runnerup to War Pass in both the Grade 1 Champagne and Juvenile, has a dosage of 4.14.

Sea of Pleasure, 2-for-2, including a preliminary allowance win in 1:08 3/5 at Hollywood Park, checks in with a 4.33.

And, finally, War Pass, 4-for-4 in high, championship style but with a dosage index of 4.09, slightly over the desired measure of 4.0 or lower.

The knock one hears most often, however, is that he may not be rate-able. Even Zito admitted last year that you have to let him do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.

But thats where the knocks end. In four starts, he never has taken a backward step on the Equiform performance-figure scale. He came out running fast then came back and ran even faster, earning an Equiform figure of 74.25. He followed that up with a 76.25 in the Champagne, moving up in class and distance, before earning a breathtaking 79.25 in the Juvenile.

Only jinx-busting Street Sense ran that fast at 2 in the modern era, albeit earning his figure over a dry Churchill surface.

Horses that never take a backward step are impossible to knock. But since every rule has an exception, heres one: too much; too soon. Going from a 71.75 to 79.25 in three months is substantial development.

Developmentally, Court Vision did nothing wrong in his four starts, either. His figures improved from start one to start three, coming out running while showing good energy distribution, improving in his second start to break maiden, then went forward again to win the G3 Iroquois mile at Churchill Downs.

But his Remsen was something else altogether. Termed a soft win because the pace and final time were slower than his Iroquois score, his trip and subsequent victory was anything but soft.

Court Vision simply willed his way to victory, bulling and bumping his way through horses in deep stretch despite a slow pace that figured to compromise his late surge. Not many young horses will do that, especially at nine furlongs. Bill Motts Majestic Warrior gets all the publicity for his upside. But its Court Vision thats already a proven commodity.

Denis of Corks maiden win has to be seen to be believed, and maybe not even then (6th race, CD, Nov. 24). The majority of juvenile debut winners speed-pop their rivals right to the finish. Not Denis.

At the first call of the seven-furlong sprint, Denis of Cork had only one of 11 rivals beaten. At the second call. It was three. Then he began a five-wide run rounding the famed Churchill far turn for and was a length behind the leader approaching midstretch.

Denis of Cork finished off the huge rally to finish 3/4s of a length to the good in 1:22 2/5. Calvin Borel rode the colt for trainer David Carroll. Interesting to note that Carl Nafzger had a starter in the race, too.

Denis of Cork earned an Equiform figure of 72.25, a fast--but not too fast--building block. Viewing the effort in context is more revealing. Along the way to his final figure was a four-furlong pace figure of 71 and a two-furlong figure of 63. His internal six furlong figure was 69. Meaning, the farther he went, the faster he went. Stabled at Fair Grounds, he owns a DI of 1.80.

Zitos War Pass is scheduled to make his seasons debut in late February at Gulfstream. No plans have been announced for Court Vision, also stabled in Florida, or for Denis of Cork.

But the road begins tomorrow. Aqueduct will offer the Count Fleet at a mile and 70 yards and features the undefeated, well managed Giant Moon, leaving from the outside in a field a seven with a short run into the first turn.

Zito, meanwhile, will run two in Gulfstreams G2 Hutcheson at seven furlongs: Cool Coal Man, strangled into submission in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last out, and Coal Play, second in Calders What A Pleasure Stakes. Both are owned by Robert Lapenta. Big Truck, Grand Minstrel and Halo Najib are serious contenders in a very competitive renewal.

So let the games, and the quotes, begin.