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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, April 23, 2024 – This list of categories concerning potential Kentucky Derby winners and exotics fillers is by no means complete, not before final workouts, more video review and, of course, post positions are drawn.

But it is a means to an end, our thinking after reviewing the Thoro-Graph figures of all entrants. As the HRI Faithful know, performance figures are a major part of our comprehensive analysis. The fastest horses have the best chance.

But any analysis is incomplete without video verification, trainer/jockey statistics, and the best elements of Handicapping 2.0.

Thus far, we’ve broken our contenders down to a group of 14 three-year-olds that require further review. This is our preliminary ideas about Most Probable Winners, Win Savers, Exotics Fillers, both logical and longshot fillers.

FOR THE WIN — Drilling down, I don’t foresee picking anyone to win Derby 150 other than Fierceness, Sierra Leone, or Forever Young.

Fierceness clearly is the fastest horse, but is coming off a huge lifetime top. Bad efforts have always followed his best efforts. Do I know what to expect? No, nobody does. But he’s a classic Super-Exotics use him and lose him.

Sierra Leone has huge upside potential and his pattern is very progressive and rates to move forward. So does Forever Young, an undefeated Japanese superstar whose stride reaches from here to Indiantown. Is he “best” horse? Just might be, need to see his serious move over the track.

POSSIBLE WIN SAVERS — Just a Touch is not as fast as many in the group but is poised for a forward move. Could offer value. He’s one of three that might break Brad Cox’s Derby maiden. Just Steel is vastly underrated, owning competitive figures and a relentless finish.

SOLID EXOTICS CONTENDERS  — There are four on the short list that can be expanded or pared sown.

Catching Freedom: Progressive, never having taken a backward step, but figures are slow. For us, this horse is more about the connections.

Dornoch: I don’t understand his last race, disappointing on several levels. But his ‘A’ game gets him close to the money because of a very stout pedigree. Slow figures, but he wants to beat you. Rebound likely.

Resilience: Another who’s never gone backward, made incremental improvement at 9 furlongs and has the look of a Bill Mott trainee that’s been pointing toward this spot for a long time.

Stronghold: Remains progressive after six starts, is on the slower side, but his good-trip Santa Anita Derby impressed us visually. No Baffert this year again but, along with Endlessly, a good SoCal representative.

POSSIBLE SUPER-EXOTICS VALUE – Listed in alphabetical order, their inclusion at game time is price dependent.

Encino: Jumped up in dirt debut, winning the Lexington in style. Might move forward again as Godolphin appears to be executing a game plan like they know what they have right from the start.

Endlessly:  Another synth-to-dirt explosion? McCarthy runner has been training at CD since early April and is stoutly bred. Underrated due to dominant All-Weather form.

Grand Mo the First: At first blush doesn’t class up, but despite wide trips he keeps finding all the way to the finish. Trip-wise, he was best in te Tampa Bay Derby. Need a huge price.

Honor Marie: Hard-tryer keeps coming in the lane but hasn’t gotten close to a major victory. Must-use given long pedigree.

Mystik Dan: Fast, devastating win in the Southwest, but regressed when meeting some trouble in G1 Arkansas Derby. Rebound candidate.

Reiterating, nothing set in stone here and all horses, save our top three win contenders, can be upgraded or downgraded at any time for any reason. There’s plenty of time remaining; no pressure.

Here’s a list of runners with a win over the Churchill strip before the latest up-to-date PPs were available: Catching Freedom,; Resilience (no win but good 2nd to Stronghold); Track Phantom; West Saratoga; Just Steel; Honor Marie; Mystik Dan.

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