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2011 KENTUCKY DERBY: A Top 10

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LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01:  Race fans stand in the in rain prior to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01: Race fans stand in the in rain prior to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Now that almost every Derby contender has started a race in 2011, I figure I can roll out a Top 10 list.  No real surprises in the list below; if we're basing rankings on pure talent, the top-colt is pretty clear.  Of course, winning the Kentucky Derby tends to be than just a question of "talent"; pace, pedigree, and trip will play a bigger role in deciding the winner than which horse has won the biggest and best races coming into Lousiville.  At the same time, it's hard to deny that, at this point in tiime, Uncle Mo is the top of the class.

I've updated the 2011 Triple Crown excel file with current prep winners, Vegas odds, and graded earnings.  I've also added the Raw Times worksheet to the Triple Crown file (with the addition of splits and Beyer/Bris numbers), so now everything is in one place. The file can be found at the link below:

2011 Triple Crown

On to the Top 10...which I'm sure will prove to be utterly useless on Derby Day...

Rank Horse Notes
1 Uncle Mo While there are questions about 10f (as there are with most contenders), he's clearly the best of the bunch.  His high-cruising speed combined with an ability to relax in the early stages combined with a excellent burst in the stretch is everything you look for in a Derby winner.
2 Premier Pegasus The #2 spot has been looking for a colt to dazzle and the most recent to do that was clearly Premier Pegasus.  Sure, the San Felipe set-up for him perfectly with an absolutely unsustainable early pace (even for Santa Anita), but you can't deny that he was loads best of every colt in that field.
3 Dialed In The loss in that OC/Allowance on March 7th is of no concern as he faced older and zero pace on the front end.  His Holy Bull, in my mind, is the second best prep performance by a three-year-old this spring (behind the San Felipe).  His running style isn't a tremendous fit for the Derby due to possible traffic issues, but he looks like the real deal.
4 Soldat I've got him behind Dialed In almost entirely due to the differences in running styles.  While Dialed In will have to pass the entire field to win the Derby, Soldat will need to do the dirty work on the front end, a tough task when you consider that Uncle Mo will likely be tracking him all the way.  On the positive side, Soldat has gotten better in after switching back to dirt from turf and he's proven himself twice at 9 furlongs this spring. 
5 Mucho Mancho Man   He ran well in his first start off of the layoff in the Holy Bull after a rough break from the gate, and then came back to post a nice win in the Risen Star back on Feb. 19th.  He's a consistent performer, he's tested around two-turns, and he's got a pretty high cruising speed that keeps him in the mix early on.  Can't overlook a consistent colt like this.
6 Santiva A really good 2nd to Mucho Macho Man in the Risen Star, Santiva already owns a win over the Churchill Downs main track (G2-Ky JC, 11/27), something that I think is a big plus.  If you look closely at the pedigree, this colt should get better as the distance gets longer.  His sire, Giant's Causeway, has an average winning distance of 8.4f for his offspring.  On the dam's side, broodmare sire Smarten produces offspring at a 7.3f clip. 
7 Sway Away He's never gone two turns, he's yet to face the top contenders in the division, and he's got some work to do with the graded earnings, but I love the looks of Sway Away should he get to Louisville.  First, he's an Afleet Alex colt out of a Seattle Slew mare (Seattle Shimmer), something that should serve him well as he stretches out.  He's lightly raced so you'd think he's got a lot of room to improve, especially if he takes to an increase in distance, as I think he might.  I grabbed him at 35/1 in a Vegas future bet so I'm hugely biased at this point.
8 To Honor and Serve                                 I've probably got him a bit too low considering his accomplishments as a juvenile, but I just can't get away from how lackluster he was in the Fountain of Youth.  Both of his big juvenile scores (Remsen and Nashua) came against five horse fields in races where he was able to get away on the lead.  I've give him a pass for the Fountain of Youth due to the layoff, but he's got to show more in his next start.
9 Gourmet Dinner He doesn't do a whole lot of winning in Graded stakes, which is troublesome, but he also doesn't ever run a bad race, which means you can't totally throw him out.  2nd to Soldat in the Fountain of Youth, 3rd to Dialed In in the Holy Bull, and the winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot; Gourmet Dinner's only "bad" race was a 4th to Comma to the Top in the CashCall Futurity, and that race was his lone try on synthetics.  He's out of a sprinting sire, Trippi, but he's run very well at two-turns.  At the very least, he should be in discussion to hit the board in Louisville.
10 Rougue Romance He was pretty flat in the Risen Star, his first start since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but he probably should get a bit of a pass since the pace was practically non-existant in the early stages.  Could still be a player if he's steps it up in his next start.