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2016 Kentucky Derby Top 10: Reinier’s Picks

2016 Kentucky Derby Top 10: Reinier’s Picks– Picking the best Kentucky Derby 142 candidate seems like a tough task. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) champion looks suspect on paper for longer distances and few other horses stand out in terms of experience and talent. Speed figures help though and this author relies on TimeformUS numbers for the most part, which makes Mohaymen No. 1.

Nyquist Kentucky Derby 2016

Champion two-year-old colt of 2015 Nyquist took another step closer to his three-year-old debut in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes Feb. 15, working six furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2016 in 1:15.60.
Photo: Clockers’ Corner/Zoe Metz

1. Mohaymen (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)

Mohaymen earned a 116 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his Remsen Stakes (GII) win and 110 for the Nashua Stakes (GII), both at Aqueduct last November. While Remsen winners tend to flame out during the spring, the pattern will end at some point. The runner-up in each of those wins, Flexibility, went on to capture the Jerome Stakes (GII) this month. Look for Mohaymen to continue his win streak in the Holy Bull Stakes (GII) on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

2. Flexibility (Bluegrass Cat – Santa Vindi, by Vindication)

Staying in New York may give Flexibility’s form a boost this winter and spring. He won the Jerome at Aqueduct, but with most stables sending their top horses to Gulfstream Park, what kind of competition did Flexibility defeat? Still, his efforts against Mohaymen last fall are solid. He earned a 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the Remsen. Flexibility recently worked in 48.14 seconds for four furlongs at Belmont Park in preparation for the Withers (GIII) this weekend.

3. Nyquist (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

The reigning champion 2-year-old colt and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner lacks impressive speed figures to back up his accomplishments. In addition, his pedigree hints at distance limitations, at least on the dam side. But, he deserves respect given his record. Uncle Mo, while presumed a sprinter sire, must be given the benefit of the doubt. Look for Nyquist to return in the San Vicente (GII) at Santa Anita Park before shipping east for the Florida Derby (GI) in March.

4. Airoforce (Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee)

This Colonel John colt needed to prove his dirt ability in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) at Churchill Downs, and triumphed on a sloppy track. He earned a 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Runner-up Mor Spirit returned to win the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI) and third-place finisher Mo Tom recently took the Lecomte (GIII) at Fair Grounds. According to an article on Lexington Herald-Leader, trainer Mark Casse hopes to start Airoforce in the Sam F. Davis (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs.

5. Mor Spirit (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union)

Trained by Bob Baffert, Mor Spirit lacks the sizzle most fans expect from his barn. He likes to grind out his victories and should enjoy longer races. Mor Spirit lost to Airoforce at Churchill Downs, but ran equally by TimeformUS numbers with the same 110 figure. In his next start, he mowed down sprinter Toews On Ice at Los Alamitos. His 2016 debut will come soon in the Robert B. Lewis (GIII) at Santa Anita.

6. Cherry Wine (Paddy O’Prado – C.S. Royce, by Unbridled’s Song)

Out of six starts, this colt only owns two wins. They each stand out, as he broke his maiden in the slop at Churchill Downs by nine, then won at Gulfstream closing from last in an optional claimer. The wins give him two victories in two-turn routes. Cherry Wine needs to prove himself versus established horses, of course. Will he show up to face Mohaymen in the Holy Bull? He faces a tall order for his possible graded stakes debut.

7. Gift Box (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song)

The third-place finisher in the Remsen ran well, as the 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure suggests. He took a while in returning to the worktab and only showed up with a four-furlong spin in 48.85 seconds on Jan. 19. Perhaps the previous race took something out of him? His new work came at Palm Meadows Training Center, so expect Gift Box to show up during the Gulfstream meet.

8. Mo Tom (Uncle Mo – Caroni, by Rubiano)

Like Mor Spirit, Mo Tom lacks a bit of spark. He ran late for third in the Kentucky Jockey Club. This Uncle Mo colt might benefit from a quick pace in the Kentucky Derby. As mentioned, give Uncle Mo time to establish whether longer-distance runners are up his alley. Look for Mo Tom in the Risen Star (GII) at Fair Grounds next month.

9. Discreetness (Discreet Cat – Fondness, by Elusive Quality)

Trainer William Fires’ colt deserves credit for taking the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park, although it must be noted Mo Tom easily defeated Discreetness at Churchill Downs back in November. Young horses change form quickly and maybe Discreetness required time to grow. His Horse Racing Nation page suggests the Southwest Stakes (GIII) as the next stop.

10. Zulu (Bernardini – Temporada, by Summer Squall)

Ah, a sharp, well-bred Todd Pletcher-trained horse based at Gulfstream stirs up conversation on online forums. He owns a maiden and optional claiming win so far, and both wins came on wet dirt which Bernardini progeny love. Even if he destroys the Fountain of Youth (GII) field next month, will he make the Derby? The same scenario happens frequently with this barn.

Related Links:
Few Wrong Paths to Kentucky Derby 142