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Kentucky Derby Power Rankings: Week of February 24, 2013

We are headlong into Triple Crown prep season, and the throne of top contender still seems vacant. Shanghai Bobby was beaten for the first time in his three year old debut, Violence is now off the trail with and injury, and Normandy Invasion failed to overcome a bad start last week to solidify his place among the elite. Still, there are some studs gearing up for a run at the Derby and here are the top ten.

Photo: AP

{Matt: As you can tell from the name on this post, we have a new contributor here at ADTSTC, Zach Tirpak. Zach's going to provide a weekly look at the Kentucky Derby Top 10, with this week's version featuring his personal top 10. As we move forward, we're going to put together a composite Top 10 ranking from the other authors on the site, and then watch as some 100/1 wins the Derby on the first Saturday in May! Welcome, Zach!}

1. Flashback

Baffert has a few good-looking prospects on the Derby trail, but Flashback seemingly fits the mold of recent Triple Crown threats. The son of Tapit broke his maiden late last year in a seven furlong MSW on the synthetic of Betfair Hollywood Park. His next start launched him into the spotlight when he trounced a small field of rivals (including fellow Baffert trainee Den’s Legacy) in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes. He’ll obviously face much tougher challenges as May approaches, but right now this colt’s got the upside and the graded stakes success to be named top contender.

2. Itsmyluckyday

Itsmyluckyday was thrust up on a pedestal after taking down two-year old champion Shanghai Bobby in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream last month. He’s got a ton of races under his belt, which is now seen as a detriment on the Derby trail rather than an advantage. Still, he’s got four wins in seven starts since breaking his maiden last June and looks like he can handle the difficult fields of the prep races. He’ll go in the presumably star-studded Florida Derby on March 30.

3. Verrazano

Todd Pletcher’s barn is so deep, that even when his top two colts falter he’s got another superstar waiting in the wings. Verrazano has zero stakes experience, which is a big red flag when considering Derby preparedness, but he’s also won by 7 3/4 and 16 1/4 lengths in his two career starts. The More Than Ready colt oozes finishing speed as he’s displayed thus far, and could have more upside than any horse on the trail. He recorded a bullet five-furlong drill on February 25 and is pointed to the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9.

4. Goldencents

As a co-leader in points after the newly organized ‘Prep Season’, Goldencents could be trainer Doug O’Neill’s greatest chance at a Derby winner. After breaking his maiden, he’s raced three graded stakes routes, scoring two wins and a place. The colt looks fit too; he’s drilled four straight bullets at Santa Anita, all over six furlongs. O’Neill has stated that Goldencents is on target for the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 9.

5. Shanghai Bobby

The two-year old phenom tripped up in his first race in 2013, but he’s still one of the classiest colts in the field. Let’s not forget, he did run second in the Holy Bull, finishing over eleven lengths ahead of the place horse. With five wins in six races, including a pair of Grade I victories, I’d say this horse is poised to be on the big stage. If he can score a big win leading up to May, he’ll be back in the conversation for top horse in the field.

6. Orb

Man, has Shug McGaughey done a number on this colt. After failing to break his maiden until his fourth try, McGaughey changed the horse’s regimen a bit to spur some success. After breaking his maiden, Orb has started racing on Lasix and has found a solid race rhythm. He’s being raced at distances over eight furlongs, giving him a little more dirt to continue his late-move style. The added distance showed his last time out where he was able to outstride odds-on favorite Violence to the wire in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes.

7. Super Ninety Nine

Racing pundits are starting to discount Super Ninety Nine’s romp in the Grade III Southwest Stakes, chalking it up to a weak field and less-than-ideal conditions. Some say it was a fluke, others say it was a blatant display of sheer athleticism. Still, the son of Pulpit may be peaking at the right time. His race previous to the Southwest was an AOC at Gulfstream where he beat out a small but classy field. Baffert is pointing Super Ninety Nine to the Arkansas Derby on April 13.

8. Revolutionary

There may not be a tougher colt in this year’s field than this War Pass colt. Testament to that claim is his incredible stretch move in the Grade III Withers. Boxed in on the rail with 300 yards to go, jockey Javier Castellano weaved Revolutionary between horses and shot out of traffic to outrun the field to the wire. Many will say the field was tiring and were obviously asking to be outrun, but Revolutionary showed some grit to win that race. He looks as if he’ll enjoy the classic distances and could be a surprise contender in either the Florida or Louisiana Derby.

9. Code West

This Baffert trainee has a lot of upside, but he’s got to score a major win to climb the ladder of Derby contenders. The son of Lemon Drop Kid took four tries to break his maiden, lost a tough AOC to Super Ninety Nine, and was eaked out by I’ve Struck A Nerve in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes last week. He’s got a nice pedigree and seems to run well around two turns, so he can’t be counted out as a top-ten horse. Baffert looks to be pointing his horse to the Louisiana Derby on March 30.

10. Normandy Invasion

Chad Brown’s prized colt is regarded as the best he’s had in years. Normandy was at the top of everyone’s top-ten lists until he struggled to a less-than-impressive fifth place finish in last week’s Risen Star. Excuses can be made for the poor showing though: a bad start and a crowded field in front. He’s got the talent and Chad Brown is more than capable of training him to a big win leading up to May, but Normandy Invasion has some ground to make up after his trip-up last week.

Next Five Up:

11. Oxbow
12. Overanalyze
13. Palice Malice
14. I’ve Struck A Nerve
15. Power Broker