Battalion Runner joins Scully's Kentucky Derby Top 10

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TwinSpires Staff

March 17th, 2017

The Road to the Kentucky Derby is charging forward and James Scully is fired up with his Kentucky Derby Report. Scully breaks down the action each week before listing his top 20 for the Kentucky Derby. We're paring it down even more, taking the top 10 from Scully's Report and throwing in tidbits from notes and/or connections' quotes when available.

This week's top 10 features the reappearance of Classic Empire, who only rose to 11th on the list in the March 8 Report, as well as Battalion Runner joining the fray.

McCraken, American Anthem and Gunnevera are holding fast in the top three spots, but Tapwrit's easy victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) saw the Todd Pletcher pupil jump to into fourth position from ninth last week.

Mastery captured the San Felipe (G2) but has dropped off the list, and out of Kentucky Derby consideration, after being pulled up in the gallop out at Santa Anita with a condylar fracture in his left front ankle.

Classic Empire took over the fifth spot and Battalion Runner catapulted to 10th from his 18th position.

  1. MCCRAKEN – Back working after minor ankle issue, unbeaten colt pointing for April 8 Blue Grass
    1. Sire – Ghostzapper
    2. Trainer – Ian Wilkes
    3. Race Record – 4-4-0-0
    4. :50.20 breezing 4f at Palm Meadows Training Center on 3/11/2017
    5. Wilkes told The Blood-Horse's Alicia Wincze Hughes on March 11 – "It's good to get that work in and get back to a routine, that's the main thing. He had just a maintenance half, I was very pleased with him. The best thing about it was he got better. He galloped out really strong."
  1. AMERICAN ANTHEM – Well-regarded Baffert trainee seeks to confirm legitimacy in  Rebel
    1. Sire – Bodemeister
    2. Trainer – Bob Baffert
    3. Race Record – 2-1-1-0
    4. 1:11.60 handily 6f bullet at Santa Anita Park on 3/11/2017
    5. Baffert – "(Jockey) Mike (Smith) was really impressed with his toughness last time when he ran (a head second) against Gormley (in the Sham [G3]). He had every reason to give in. We know he'll fight. He's got a huge heart."
  1. GUNNEVERA – Last-to-first specialist to receive final tune-up in Florida Derby
    1. Sire – Dialed In
    2. Trainer – Antonio Sano
    3. Race Record – 8-4-2-0
    4. 1:01.00 breezing 5f at Gulfstream Park West on 2/18/2017
  1. TAPWRIT – Looked like a major player recording big win in Tampa Bay Derby
    1. Sire – Tapit
    2. Trainer – Todd Pletcher
    3. Race Record – 5-3-1-0
    4. :50.80 breezing 4f at Palm Meadows Training Center on 3/4/2017
    5. Pletcher – "We were looking for a big effort from him and this was everything we could hope for. He won pretty convincingly, and we're very pleased."
  1. CLASSIC EMPIRE – Returned to worktab with half-mile breeze Sunday, champion 2yo targeting Blue Grass but can't afford any more setbacks
    1. Sire – Pioneerof the Nile
    2. Trainer – Mark Casse
    3. Race Record – 6-4-0-1
    4. :48.95 breezing 4f at Palm Meadows Training Center on 3/13/2017
    5. Casse told The Blood-Horse's Alicia Wincze Hughes on March 5 – "He was really sensitive when Julien (Leparoux) when to get off him the other day. When Julien put his hands on his withers, he almost dropped to the ground so it was really weird. (An equine therapist) went over his back, found a few issues and treated him. This morning (March 5)...our main vet went over him and he couldn't believe how much better he was today. There is a very good shot the issue with his foot ended up causing the back issue. Anyone that has had that kind of injury, when you change your gait, it can hurt your back. We deal with issues like this all the time. This is part of training racehorses. We still have a lot of time and I wouldn't count us out yet."
  1. ILIAD – San Felipe runner-up could go favored in Santa Anita Derby barring any surprise additions
    1. Sire – Ghostzapper
    2. Trainer – Doug O'Neill
    3. Race Record – 4-2-1-0
    4. 1:26.00 handily 7f at Santa Anita Park on 3/3/2017
    5. Assistant trainer Leandro Mora – "Both horses (Iliad and San Felipe third Term of Art) looked good this morning (March 12) and the Santa Anita Derby (G1) is what we're looking at."
  1. J BOYS ECHO – Looked good winning Gotham but let's see him back it up in Blue Grass
    1. Sire – Mineshaft
    2. Trainer – Dale Romans
    3. Race Record – 5-2-1-1
    4. 1:01.82 breezing 5f at Gulfstream Park on 2/25/2017
    5. Romans – "This horse hasn't been the easiest of horses. He's been a project for (assistant trainer and exercise rider) Tammy (Fox) and she's done a great job getting him around and getting us here."
  1. PRACTICAL JOKE – Second opening year in Fountain of Youth, Brown trainee attempts to move forward in final prep
    1. Sire – Into Mischief
    2. Trainer – Chad Brown
    3. Race Record – 5-3-1-1
    4. :48.00 breezing 4f at Palm Meadows Training Center on 2/26/2017
  1. GIRVIN – Risen Star winner will try to enhance profile in Louisiana Derby
    1. Sire – Tale of Ekati
    2. Trainer – Joe Sharp
    3. Race Record – 3-2-1-0
    4. :49.00 breezing 4f at Fair Grounds on 3/11/2017
    5. Sharp told The Blood-Horse's Alicia Wincze Hughes on March 11 – "Girvin galloped out great and we couldn't have been happier for a first work back. He came back, cooled out great, scoped clean. Rosie (Napravnik, who was aboard for the move) was very happy with the work and I was equally happy being alongside him (aboard Cool Arrow)."
  1. BATTALION RUNNER – Promising Pletcher trainee gets one chance to qualify in Florida Derby
    1. Sire – Unbridled's Song
    2. Trainer – Todd Pletcher
    3. Race Record – 3-2-1-0
    4. 1:13.80 breezing 6f at Palm Beach Downs on 3/11/2017
    5. Pletcher – "I thought it was a very good work. He finished up well, galloped out strongly on a track that wasn't playing particularly quick. The main thing we are focused on now is making sure that we do enough with him while he has the added time between races to have him fit and ready to go the mile and the eighth. We're trying to keep him fresh and healthy but also we know we have to be ready to go April 1."

Battalion Runner photo courtesy of Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography