Brad's BIG Race Analysis
The 137th Kentucky Derby
11th @ Churchill...All carry 126
1. Archarcharch...Court...I was all prepared to rave about him until the shoe dropped at the draw. He caught a break with a work on a fast track on the 29th and made the most of it. Absolutely should relish the distance and has the ability to stalk or close. Trouble is, he most likely will be shuffled back into an uncomfortable position entering the first turn. The one hole isn't necessarily the kiss of death, but it's not making it to second base with the girl next door either. It will take a lot of luck, along with his ability, to make up for that now. You couldn't get a nicer looking Thorograph sheet than he has coming into this. A pair-up of the Arkansas Derby would likely be enough to win this. But again, post kills. Didn't fare well in his only start on an off surface but the breeding says that shouldn't be an issue.
2. Brilliant Speed...Rosario...Only two starts on dirt, and that was his first two so don't know how much stock they hold. He was beaten a combined 40 lengths in those races. Got a dream inside trip in the Bluegrass on the poly but still seems a tad slow, and sire does better over the grass than on real dirt. Albertrani brings in West Coast wizard Rosario for the ride, but that probably won't be enough to make him competitive here.
3. Twice The Appeal...Borel...This one looks to be primed for a bounce after running a career best last time, and his price will suffer with Calvin aboard. A lot of development since 2, and he really isn't bred for the distance. Sure he stretched to 9 panels in the Sunland Derby, but does a grandson of Valid Appeal want 1 1/4 at this level? Taking 7 tries to break your maiden does not inspire tales of classic greatness. Will like it if it's off, but hard to envision that being enough to make him a contender.
4. Stay Thirsty...Dominguez...Lots of travel for very few races this year, and that might have compromised him in the Florida Derby. Ran just awful here in the BC last year while drifting. He did post a nice work in the slop on the 24th and Bernardini offspring showing every indication that they will love that condition, and the distance. It's obvious the blinker experiment is over. Was getting blasted by stablemate Uncle Mo in earlier works. Now they are much closer in the morning. Jury is still out on whom that flatters.
5. Decisive Moment...Clark...Have serious doubts that this one wants any part of this distance. Backed up seriously late in the Risen Star. On the bright side he did post a nice 4f work here in the mud on April 17. Tough to build a reasonable case off of that alone.
6. Comma To The Top...Valenzuela...In his 14th start! Wow. He will be sent, that's for sure. Has drifted all over the place in his last few, and really, does he want 10 furlongs? Have to believe the last took almost all he had in the tank. Done after 3/4 here, and quite possibly last when the dust (mud) settles.
7. Pants On Fire...Napravnik...Has an excellent pattern on Thorograph. Poised to run a race that would put him squarely in the mix. There are issues, as there most always are. The distance could be a concern, and rider experience in this arena. Nice work in Florida on the 15th of April, and another here in the slop on Sunday. I'm going back and forth on him. Distance ability usually is a major deciding factor for me. Tough decision.
8. Dialed In...Leparoux...Tough to knock the Florida Derby winner. Closer examination may reveal some kinks though. Nicky says he needed to remain in Florida to work to avoid weather issues in Kentucky. Ok, fair enough. He's not overly fast, and the final fraction of the Florida Derby was very slow. Considering he got a very nice trip, which is probably unlikely here given his running style, it would seem he is compromised. I always want to see a Derby horse have at least 1 work at CD. His gallops, by reports, have not looked that great since he arrived. Would need a dream trip and a move forward here to win. Will he get both? A lot not to like as the potential favorite.
9. Derby Kitten...Castellano...Beaten 27 lengths in his only dirt start, and off a 2 week rest from the Lexington off of poly, I can't see it. Mud numbers don't offer much help. Love Maker, but he's in deep here.
10. Twinspired...Smith...Another Maker horse and this one is not in any better position to make an impact. Another that had a great trip in the Bluegrass and just missed. But at this point, can't seriously take any horse out of that race as a major contender here (except one), Congratulations, Keeneland. You screwed up that track instead of making it a major stepping stone to the Triple Crown. Call me. I have the answer.
11. Master Of Hounds...Gomez...Normally would give a serious look to an overseas invader, but this guy has reportedly looked very lethargic since clearing quarantine. Looked very capable finishing second at Meydan. Again, synthetic, the bane of the breeding and racing industry, IMO. Would like to have another contender at 30+-1, but doubt it's him.
12. Santiva...Bridgmohan...Now here's a horse we can sink our teeth into. At one point, and still may be, my top choice. Before you send the guys wearing the white coats to collect me, let me explain. In his first start at Saratoga he finished third behind Soldat at 5f. This was an eventful race where he raced greenly, ducked in, and checked. A month later, again at Saratoga, he was placed on the grass at 1 1/16 where he finished a game second. Still a maiden, and switched form McPeek to Pletcher, he goes in the G1 Breeder's Futurity at Keeneland where he again finishes 2nd. Eddie Keneally now gets the task of bringing him up and he places him in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club stakes on THIS track in late November, which he wins. 3 months off and finishes 2nd to Mucho Macho Man in the Risen Star running 4 wide on BOTH turns! Time to move forward, right? If this were my horse, he would not have been taken back to Keeneland. Since I do not own him, I had no say in the matter. He goes in the Bluegrass as the 2-1 fav, and promptly gets trapped behind a wall of horses for nearly the entire race. His Risen Star effort if duplicated would put him squarely in the mix here, and he should have improved off of that. The distance is not a question, and an off surface will not hamper him. His post is perfect. At his morning line of 30-1, I'll be all over it if I can get it.
13. Mucho Macho Man...Maragh...Still not convinced this guy wants this distance. Yeah, I know, he was a game 2nd in the Remsen at 9 furlongs last year. Still lost some luster this year as he still has not surpassed that effort speed wise. A classic indication that he has not developed enough to tackle the longer distances. Ritvo is a great story. Great stories are usually made here, and beyond. Hasn't really traveled well in his works at Churchill either.
14. Shackelford...Castenon...Here's one who has looked dynamite in the mornings at CD. He could be sitting on a BIG one, but he's another who may wilt in that final furlong. He was beaten 23 lengths in the Fountain Of Youth at 1 1/8. He couldn't hold off a plodding Dialed In in the Florida Derby. Have no doubt he'll have some input on the pace here, and he will like it if the track comes up off. Can he hang on for a piece?
15. Midnight Interlude...Espinoza...No races at 2. That in and of itself is enough to toss him from win consideration. He has improved every step of the way this year, but with every improvement it increases the chance for a step back. He's got Baffert, he's worked well, and he can get the distance. He has decent tactical speed so Victor should be able to place him in any spot he wants. Tough to decide whether he's got another forward move in him, and if that move will be enough to win. He most likely will be on some tix underneath.
16. Animal Kingdom...Albarado...It's hard to get excited about a horse who won his final poly prep in 1:52:1. His breeding suggests turf, and doesn't even suggest that he would do well on an off surface. I'll pass.
17. Soldat...Garcia...Broke his maiden on the grass at Saratoga, then finished a good 2nd in the Breeders' Cup Juvy Turf. Came to Florida for the winter and ran an absolute monster race in the slop at Gulfstream in January. Followed that up with the win in the Fountain, even though he backed up a bit. That huge effort surely took something out of him. In the Florida Derby he looked disinterested, washed out, and he ran like it. Now he's had 5 weeks rest and if he can get back to that number he ran in January it's all over. Not too worried about the outside post as he looked uncomfortable inside in his last. A wet track only enhances his chances.
18. Uncle Mo...Scratched
19. Nehro...Nakatani...Making his 3rd start in 6 weeks. He hasn't really looked good in the morning, perhaps as a result. Only one race at two and that was very late in the year. You need a good foundation at two to win this race. Not sure about off track ability. A little to like, but the post is bad, and I think he may need a rest. Breeding is great. His spot is not.
20.Watch Me Go...Bejarano...Can't really get excited. Last at Hawthorne was awful, then took him back to Florida, then back to Churchill for this. No thanks.
With the scratch of Uncle Mo the prices are going to take a beating. Better to do right by the horse, thankfully. Just two days ago Pletcher said he was doing great. Ok.
I've gone back and forth and I can't get Santiva out of my top spot. It takes a bit of a leap of faith but I really believe he is, or will be, the best of this bunch.
Another that is looking better and better is Soldat. There is a 50% chance of showers on Saturday. If the track is a mess, me moves up.
Archarcharch was compromised by the draw. It'll take some luck to get a piece of this, but he has done nothing wrong and is coming into this very well.
Shackleford has looked very good here in the mornings. Don't know if he can get the distance, but a piece isn't out of the question.
Pants On Fire and Midnight Interlude will be used in minor spots as well.