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Road to Kentucky Derby 136 - vol. 3

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02: The field starts the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02: The field starts the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Another week goes by on the road to the 2010 Kentucky Derby.  Here are a few Derby related news and notes, a review of last week's prep races, a look ahead to the next preps on the horizon, and an initial list of Top 10 contenders.

  • Early Triple Crown nominations were released on Sunday and contained 366 three year old hopefuls.
  • Pool 1 for this year's Kentucky Derby Future Wager will open this Friday at Noon ET / 9AM PT and closes on Sunday at 6PM ET / 3PM PT.  
  • If you don't like the official future wager and instead want to get your action from Vegas (where you have a much larger menu to choose from), Lucky's and the Wynn both updated their future book odds on February 1st.  It pays to shop your odds; the Wynn is offering D'Funnybone at 40/1 while you can get 75/1 at Lucky's.
  • This week's Road to Kentucky Derby 136 features an initial Top 10 list of contenders.  From now until the Derby this list can be found on the left sidebar with a link to each horse's pedigree profile from pedigreequery.com.

Last Week

The cancellation of the Saturday card at Santa Anita due to excessive rain left only one traditional prep race on the weekend, the Whirlaway at Aqueduct.  That race featured the heavily favored Eightyfiveinafifty, who responded to the 2/5 odds bestowed on him by the betting public by bolting on the first turn, crashing through the outer rail, and tossing his jockey to the ground.  With the heavy favorite out, Peppi Knows grabbed the lead heading into the first turn and held off all contenders to score the win.

On Sunday, Gulfstream Park ran the G3-Hallandale Beach Stakes for three year olds on the turf featuring multiple graded stakes winner Interactif.  Early leader Bim Bam fought back after being headed by the 4/5 favorite in deep, deep stretch to win by a nose.  Interactif had every opportunity to go by the winner but just couldn't find the extra energy to put away Bim Bam.  

This Week

Three Derby preps will take place over the next seven days.  First up is the re-scheduled G2-Robert B. Lewis Stakes from Santa Anita, along with the G3-Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs.  Both races are carded at 1 1/16 miles.

On Tuesday Oaklawn Park gets in to the action with the G3-Southwest Stakes, a one mile event that marks the first graded stake on the road to the G1-Arkansas Derby.

I'll have a preview of all three prep races later on in the week. 

Top 10 Derby Contenders

Now that the early Triple Crown nominations have been released I decided to sketch out an early list of top contenders.  I keep telling myself that it's way to early to come up with a Derby Top 10 given the volatile nature of three year old colts in early February, but at the same time, where's the fun in waiting to try and pick the top contender?  

A couple of points on my thought process for this list.  First, I'm guessing that half of these horses won't even make it to Louisville.  Some will suffer minor injuries, others will run up the track in a prep or two, and others fall short on graded earnings.  I'll be interested in comparing this list to the final list the week of the Derby.  Second, I've been trying to decide what to do with the California horses and have come to the conclusion to essentially down grade any horse that hasn't proven themselves over a conventional dirt surface.  Thus, Lookin At Lucky finds himself at #5 on my initial list.  

With that in mind, here is inaugural And Down The Stretch They Come Top 10 Kentucky Derby Contender list:

Rank

Horse

Notes

1

Buddy's Saint

Will make 3YO debut in Fountain of Youth on Feb. 20th.

2

D'Funnybone

Flopped on plastic at BC; dominat ed at BEL and SAR last summer/fall.

3

Super Saver

Has shown tremendous early speed in his last three.

4

Jackson Bend

Probably ran the best race of any in the G3-Holy Bull

5

Lookin At Lucky

Best in the West would be higher if he had some dirt form to judge.

6

Noble's Promise

If you like #5 you have to like #6, right?

7

Dryfly

Wire to wire in the Smarty Jones on 1/18; will prep in Arkansas.

8

Eskendereya

Who will own this colt by the time he races again?

9

Drosselmeyer

Big improvement in last two efforts; steps up to stakes comp. next out.

10

Uh Oh Bango

An Arizona bred? Runner-up in last two graded stakes has a lot of talent.

Others considered:

  • Dave in Dixie: Entered in last Saturday's cancelled G2-Robert B. Lewis, he should be back in action this weekend.  Ran a good race in the G1-Norfolk but encountered a bunch of trouble.
  • Dublin: Performed poorly when stretched out in his last two (G3-Iroquois and G1-Champaign); pointing towards a return in Arkansas.
  • Fearless Cowboy: Not sure how far this one wants to go but he ran well in the G2-Saratoga Special this past summer.  Likely to be pointed towards sprints rather than the Derby.
  • Laus Deo: Rolled the field in the Count Fleet on January 2nd and is bred to run all day long.
  • Maximus Ruler: Came home very slowly in the G3-Lecomte (like every horse not named Ron The Greek) but held second after taking all the abuse on the front end after a layoff.  Will be back in the Risen Star.
  • Pleasant Storm: Oklahoma bred closed to finish second in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn.  
  • Ron The Greek: Looked impressive winning the G3-Lecomte but that race set-up perfect for his running style.  His next race, the Risen Star, should tell us more.
  • Rule: He's already got some graded earnings under his belt thanks to a win in the G3-Delta Jackpot back in early December.  Currently working out in Florida.
  • Schoolyard Dreams: Has yet to experience graded stakes company but he appears to be taking the Tampa Bay Downs path towards Louisville. Look for this colt in the G3-Sam F. Davis this Saturday.
  • Thiskyhasnolimit: This might be my favorite sleeper pick right now. Had all kinds of issues in the G2-Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes when he broke poorly and then ran into trouble.  When he gets out of the gate in good order he's a shown a nice mid-pack running style.