Moving Parts But No Change at Top of HRI Derby Power 10
HALLANDALE BEACH, March 22, 2015—Pretend for a moment you own Dubai Sky. Would you have spent your hard-earned $6,000 to nominate your horse to the Kentucky Derby? Before you answer, check the Spiral Stakes replay for yourself.
Do you spend that money only to find out that your three-year-old is unable to match up with the best of his generation on the dirt? Well, with the March 23 nominations deadline, the owners are expected to do just that.
A short trip down memory lane might be helpful here. Consider that only Needles and Animal Kingdom won the big race coming in off a six-week break. History is not on his side and neither is the unknown of unknowns—his suitability to dirt.
But he’s now won four straight dating back to September of his two-year-old year and on Saturday won his first race ever over an all-weather surface.
Looking at raw times, it took Animal Kingdom 1:52.32 to win the 2011 Spiral Stakes, the slowest renewal ever, but Dubai Sky won his edition with authority, saving no ground at all, getting the trip in 1:50.26, a heartbeat away from the stakes record.
It’s also useful to recall that no one gave Animal Kingdom a serious chance until a brilliant workout at Churchill Downs Monday of Derby week. Well, there’s that, but also the realization that Bill Mott trained him for the Spiral over the glib dirt of Gulfstream Park. There may be a lot more there, there.
Firing Line did what was expected of him in New Mexico Sunday. He, too, has prep schedule questions to answer. But nine furlongs in 1:47.39 in a rocking-chair, track-record performance solidified his status and Dortmund’s at or near to top of every poll out there. Simon Callahan wanted to give him an easy run; mission accomplished.
HRI Kentucky Derby Power 10, Week 3:
1.AMERICAN PHAROAH (32): Went from #4 to #1 last week off his winning performance in the Rebel, remarkable on many levels. There were some that had serious reservations about the performance for obvious reasons but the feeling is most of those critics would prefer checkers to chess. This immensely talented and beautiful mover has been confirmed by Bob Baffert as an Arkansas Derby starter, the trainer’s stranglehold on the top two Power 10ers likely to continue until and unless something extraordinary happens the next two weekends.
2.DORTMUND (30): Worked Saturday morning at Santa Anita in 1:12 beneath Martin Garcia, galloping out another furlong in 1:22 4/5. If there’s a chink in the armor it’s not readily apparent: He’s 5-for-5 in life, beats you inside, outside, from on or near the pace. “To me, I really see him starting to mature now,” said the trainer. “He's filling out that big frame of his and I couldn't be happier with the way he worked today.” Not good news for the colt’s rivals.
3.UPSTART (22): Now that’s two, two excellent works in succession since the Fountain of Youth with only an easy half-mile in between for the best New York-bred three-year-old in training. On Saturday, prompted by a workmate, he went five-eighths in 59.55 with a final furlong shading 12 seconds. “It was exceptional. It's what good horses do,” said trainer Rick Violette. “He should be pretty close to his ‘A’ game in the Florida Derby.”
4.CARPE DIEM (16-tie): All is going according to plan as the Todd Pletcher runner prepares for his next start in Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes a week from Saturday. His starting gate antics notwithstanding, he does everything right from his appearance to his powerful gait. Until proven otherwise, the HRI staff believes he’s the Todd Squad leader.
4.ITSAKNOCKOUT (16-tie): Todd Two. By all accounts, he’s ready to defeat Upstate on the square this time. On Saturday, he worked in company with his Florida Derby mate Materiality, a half-mile in 48 3/5 over a testing Palm Beach Downs surface with a strong gallop-out in 1:12 1/5 for six furlongs. He still doesn’t get enough credit for his Fountain of Youth effort considering he had only two races worth of experience, the difficult trip and a dull, tiring and un-Gulfstream-like strip.
6.FIRING LINE (14): acquitted himself very well in his two battles with Dortmund, especially in the Robert B. Lewis, then came back Sunday with what amounted to a pay-for-play afternoon in arguably the most dominant performance in a race by any of his peers. Of greater significance, it shows just how deep the talent pool waters at in SoCal this season.
7.EL KABEIR (11-tie): has caught on to what it means to be a professional racehorse, making the transition from speedy juvenile, to early season presser, to a force not to be taken lightly with his powerful two-move performance to win the Gotham in change-of-pace style. It’s not fair to categorize him as an Aqueduct winter track wonder, but it’s not unfair, either. Showing no ill effects from that Wood Memorial prep, he worked five furlongs in 59.97 Sunday morning.
7.PROSPECT PARK (11-tie): as we’ve stated previously, he did not disappoint in his San Felipe stakes debut with a strong late run for second behind Dortmund, altering course through the stretch following a ground-losing journey. He showed continued development but still may need to show more mental maturity as well. He has a big late kick but needs it to actually contend for the win, not just picking up the minors after the fact.
9.INTERNATIONAL STAR (10): just seems to win every time he’s led over to the front-side in the afternoon. After a quizzical delay, he returned to the work tab with a five-furlong breeze in the Fair Grounds mud in 1:02 4/5 early last week. The Louisiana Derby waters figure to be the deepest in Louisiana this season, including talented Risen Star rival War Story. His pedigree is enigmatic depending on the measure. By a Kentucky Derby winner from a broodmare sire that has two Derby winners in his lineage, he has no dosage points in his stamina wing and is a non-qualifier with an index of 4.09.
10.FAR FROM OVER (6): still has that buzz from with his Withers score which indicated the talent is there but he remains a mystery due to the limited campaign which is typical of all three-year-old Todd Squaders. Taking no weather related chances, the New York winter-track hero has been training under the watchful eye over the demanding Palm Beach Downs strip.
ALSO ELIGIBLES: Texas Red came off the trail following last week’s poll… The talented Bolo continues to train well after his eye-opening dirt debut in the San Felipe. OchoOcho Ocho needs to improve big time to catch up with his peers…Materiality looks ready for the Florida Derby following Saturday’s stride-for-stride company work with Itsaknockout…War Story worked in 58 and change late last week and reportedly looked good doing it.
Written by John Pricci - Comments (3)