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Road to Kentucky Derby 136 - vol. 12

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05: A vendor sells 'Mint Juleps' during the 133rd Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2007 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05: A vendor sells 'Mint Juleps' during the 133rd Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2007 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Derby prep season has, essentially, ended after last weekend's running of the Blue Grass and the Arkansas Derby.  We've still got the Coolmore Lexington on Saturday at Keeneland, but that figures to have minimal impact on the make-up of this year's field for the Kentucky Derby.  Since I've already shard some of my thoughts on last weekend's prep action I'm just going to skip right to this week's Top 10 and a discussion of where things stand with the prime contenders. 

Over the next two weeks I'm going to post a horse-by-horse preview of each contender that will look at the horse's race record, running style, and chances for success as compared to his Derby rivals.  That series will begin this coming Monday.  Until then, let's take a look at my current Top 10 Kentucky Derby contenders:

Rank

Last

Horse

Notes

1

1

Lookin At Lucky

Despite the tough trip at SA he's still the best.

2

3

Eskendereya

Wood proves he's for real.

3

5

Endorsement

Might be a little green but he's got talent.

4

6

Awesome Act

Gotta think he can do better than his Wood performance.

5

--

Line of David

Ran them off their feet in the Arkansas Derby

6

7

Rule

Both he and Line of David are the best of the speed.

7

4

Dublin

This horse has cost me a lot of money this spring.

8

10

Sidney's Candy

Will be tested on a conventional dirt surface.

9

3

Noble's Promise

May have had an excuse for that dismal Ark. Derby.

10

10

Ice Box

I'm starting to warm up to this horse.


Honestly, this list feels like an awful mess at this point; it would probably be just as effective to flip a coin between the top two and then take the remaining contenders and just pull names out of a hat for the final eight spots.

As I noted last week, I've got Lookin At Lucky on top due to his experience with tough races, bad trips, and unkind pace scenarios.  On pure talent, I think Eskendereya is the better horse, but pure talent doesn't always win out in the twenty horse free-for-all that is the Kentucky Derby.  Lucky, a horse I wasn't sold on at the beginning of the spring, has shown me enough to put him at the top of the list.

The big concern with Eskendereya is how he'll respond if and when he doesn't get to sit in the perfect spot right behind the leaders.  Will he run as well if he's in 8th or 9th after a half mile and six or seven lengths behind the leaders?  That's the key to his chances in the Derby.

I generally don't like "need-to-lead" horses in the Derby but I also don't like to ignore horses that have shown they can run a big race off testing fractions.  Line of David and Rule are, in my opinion, clearly the best of the speed horses.  After much review, I really like Line of David's Arkansas Derby win, even if I don't think his running style is really suited for winning this year's Derby.  But regardless of how he'll fare in Louisville, Line of David ran a very nice race in Arkansas.  In fact, this is one of those times where I don't think the Beyer figure tells the whole story of the race as I would rank his win in at Oaklawn as one of the better prep performances of the spring.

Sidney's Candy...I really don't know what to do with this colt as I could see him ranked higher or completely out of the Top 10.  The horse keeps winning races, that's just something you have to respect.  But at the same time, I just can't get by some of those soft early fractions that he's taken advantage of.  Toss in a surface switch and a host of other speed horses, and I'm not convinced that this horse is going to be doing much running during the Derby's final quarter mile.

I've got Endorsement at number 3 right now and that might be a little too higher for that colt given his light resume.  His ranking is more due to potential and untapped talent than performance during the prep season.

Dublin, Dublin, Dublin: how many chances am I going to give you?  I suppose that he's going to get one more chance from me on Derby day as I believe he's got to be due for a big race at some point.  This colt's pedigree is really something to behold: he's got stamina all over the top half with Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex, and a bunch of speed on the bottom with a Storm Bird mare.  Usually you want to see that reversed if you are looking for a horse to get a classic distance like the Derby, but to me, Dublin looks like a horse that shouldn't have too much problem going a mile and a quarter.  Time will tell if he can go that mile and a quarter faster than the other nineteen horses in the Derby.

As for Derby runners that don't appear on this list...I can't believe I'm going to type this but I actually like the grinder, Dean's Kitten, to be a factor in the exotics.  I don't believe this horse has a chance to win (at least not a good or realistic chance), but I definitely think he could find a way to finish in the tri or the super.  Recently, I began to pencil out some possible trifecta and superfecta plays that would involve keying this horse on the back end of tickets in the hopes that he could trigger a boxcar payout.  This colt is probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 75/1 on the board at post time.

I wrote up a little post about Interactif several weeks ago as to whether he was just a turf horse or whether he could be a true Derby contender.  There's no doubt that this horse is going to go off at a huge price in the Derby, maybe somewhere along the lines of 25 or 30/1...maybe longer.  I'd be willing to take a shot that this horse would love the dirt at 30/1 and I'd certainly toss him into a Pick 4 play at those odds.