Top Ten 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders; Casey’s Picks
Top Ten 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders; Casey’s Picks: A victory in the Kentucky Derby is the most sought-after accomplishment for any three-year-old thoroughbred. The prestigious race is run annually on the first Saturday in May at the grand old Louisville oval, Churchill Downs. To qualify for the Kentucky Derby, colts, geldings, and even fillies have to earn points toward a spot in the starting gate. The horses must run in enough races to collect a sufficient number of points or win a 100-point race to qualify. Everyone has a list of their top contenders, and here is mine!
1 Upstart (Flatter – Party Silks, by Touch Gold) – After regressing in the Fountain of Youth and drifting in the stretch to impede Itsaknockout, this Flatter ridgling was knocked down to second. While he did cross the wire first, stewards decided to take him down. This is upsetting, but he remains on the top of my list. I, and trainer Violette, expected him to regress a bit after that huge Holy Bull run.
2 Dortmund (Big Brown – Our Josephina, by Tale of the Cat) – While I have not yet seen a horse with as much grit, heart, and drive as I have seen in Dortmund this early in his three-year-old year, I couldn’t put him above Upstart for one reason: his pedigree. While he is tough and fights like no horse I have seen lately, this guy hasn’t convinced me that he wants ten furlongs. I admit that he is amazingly put together, and I could look at him all day, but looks don’t win classics.
3 Firing Line (Line of David – Sister Girl Blues, by Hold for Gold) – I am still unsure of how far he wants to go, but I love how he gives Dortmund so much fight. However, I actually dropped him under Dortmund because he should have been able to keep Dortmund put away in the Robert Lewis but somehow still finished second to the son of Big Brown. I do like his pedigree, but, being out of a mare by an unraced damsire who hasn’t proven much, I am still a bit skeptical.
4 Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway – Rebridled Dreams, by Unbridled’s Song) – I loved this colt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and while he finished well back in second, I like the experience he gained from the race. He was used to being close to the lead, if not totally on it, but in the Breeders’ Cup, he had to overcome his trip and close, which he successfully managed to do. He also defeated Upstart in the process. He is pointing towards the Tampa Bay Derby as his sophomore debut.
5 Far From Over (Blame – Alchemist, by A.P. Indy) – In two starts, this Blame colt jumped onto many Derby lists after a very eventful win in the Withers Stakes over multiple graded stakes winner El Kabeir. Bred for distance, this colt has little foundation but looks to continue his streak in the upcoming Gotham Stakes in which he will be pitted against El Kabeir once again. I am watching him closely as he continues on the Derby trail.
6 International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus – Parlez, by French Deputy) – Each year the Ramseys have a presence on the Kentucky Derby trail but have yet to find success in their attempts. This colt by the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner could be their best shot yet. He has won a race on every surface, and he has shown that he likes the Fair Grounds in particular while recently beating another good field over that track much more professionally than he did in the Lecomte. He basically made a hole to get through on the rail in the Risen Star, stamping himself as a legitimate Derby contender.
7 War Story (Northern Afleet – Belle Waiting, by Pulpit) – In four career starts, this colt has two wins and two second-place finishes. His two place finishes have come at the hooves of International Star. This colt is bred on an uneventful cross; with only three horses bred on the Northern Afleet-Pulpit cross, there is one winner, accounting for a 33% win rate. War Story is that single winner. He didn’t have the ideal trip in the Risen Star, but he was second-best once again.
8 Texas Red (Afleet Alex – Ramatulle (CHI), by Jeune Homme) – This interesting cross has obviously proven successful for this colt. Found to have a hoof abscess after his close second-place finish in the seven-furlong San Vicente, he is currently swimming to recover and is now targeting the Santa Anita Derby, meaning he is on a crash course to take on both Firing Line and Dortmund. A longshot winner in the Breeders’ Cup, he is hoping to follow 2007 victor Street Sense to become only the second Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to also take the Kentucky Derby.
9 Khozan (Distorted Humor – Delta Princess, by A.P. Indy) – This sensational young colt is 2-for-2 in his career, both wins coming at Gulfstream Park. His latest score was an allowance that he won by nearly 13 lengths! Is he another Gulfstream horse or can he win the Florida Derby and take the Apollo Curse head on in Louisville?
10 Itsaknockout (Lemon Drop Kid – Stormy B, by Cherokee Run) – Claiming the Fountain of Youth win by the disqualification of Upstart, this colt has a lovely pedigree. He is a son of 1999 Belmont Stakes winner and 2000 Eclipse Older Male Lemon Drop Kid, a stallion who throws all kinds of runners. This colt has the speed foundation on the distaff side from damsire Cherokee Run, winner of the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Cherokee Run was not a pure sprinter, however, as he finished second in the 1993 Preakness Stakes and managed to win the nine-furlong Dwyer Stakes the same year. This one certainly has the foundation to continue towards Louisville.
Just for Luck…
11 Keen Ice (Curlin – Sugar Britches, by Awesome Again) – I have been backing this horse since before his maiden score, but lately, his form has been off. While he finished third in the Remsen, he was well back from the top two. He then finished fifth in the Holy Bull behind Upstart. Leaving Gulfstream, this colt closed in the long Fair Grounds homestretch to grab third. Looking at his form, he needs to figure out his running style, but it is easy to say that he does want longer distances of nine and ten furlongs. Keep an eye on him.