Malagacy, One Liner earn spots in Scully's Kentucky Derby Top 10

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TwinSpires Staff

March 26th, 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.

Malagacy earned his spot in the top 10 thanks to a nice win in the Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 18. The chestnut son of Shackleford was nowhere to be seen on the March 15 Report, but rocketed into Kentucky Derby (G1) consideration with his two-length Rebel victory.

Gunnevera and Tapwrit each moved up one spot as last week's No. 2 spot holder, American Anthem, dropped off the list entirely following his 10th-place effort in the Rebel. Classic Empire also exited the top 10, falling from fifth to 19th overall.

One Liner, unraced since taking the Southwest Stakes (G3) on February 20, joined the top 10 in the eighth spot.

The rest of the top 10 horses remained the same but saw their positions re-arranged. J Boys Echo took over the fourth spot after being in seventh, Girvin jumped from ninth to fifth and Battalion Runner rose four spots to sixth. Like Gunnevera and Tapwrit, Practical Joke moved up one spot to seventh while Iliad dropped from sixth to ninth.

  1. MCCRAKEN – No rival has stepped up to displace unbeaten colt, who continues to ready for April 8 Blue Grass after missing Tampa Bay Derby due to ankle issue
    1. Sire – Ghostzapper
    2. Trainer – Ian Wilkes
    3. Race Record – 4-4-0-0
    4. 1:00.00 breezing 5f at Keeneland on 3/20/2017
    5. Wilkes – "Maybe missing that race (Tampa Bay Derby) was a blessing. He's a different horse. He's filled out, stronger. Things happen for a reason. You may not agree at the time; you may not want it to happen. But things happen for a reason. Just in that short time, he changed on me."
  1. GUNNEVERA – The more pace the better for last-to-first winner of Fountain of Youth, Delta Jackpot & Saratoga Special
    1. Sire – Dialed In
    2. Trainer – Antonio Sano
    3. Race Record – 8-4-2-0
    4. 1:01.80 breezing 5f at Gulfstream Park West on 3/25/2017
    5. Sano – "He is ready for the race. It's exciting and it's pressure. More people come by the barn for the horse. The owners call me every day. I think it's normal. I feel that my horse is a good horse."
  1. TAPWRIT – Displayed lethal turn of foot in convincing Tampa Bay Derby win, could point to Blue Grass or Wood Memorial on April 8
    1. Sire – Tapit
    2. Trainer – Todd Pletcher
    3. Race Record – 5-3-1-0
    4. :49.20 breezing 4f at Palm Beach Downs on 3/25/2017
    5. co-owner Robert V. LaPenta – "This was a breakout race for him. I really felt he stepped up today. This is such a tough sport, and a win like this brings you to the moon."
  1. J BOYS ECHO – Perfect-trip Gotham winner to receive class check in Blue Grass
    1. Sire – Mineshaft
    2. Trainer – Dale Romans
    3. Race Record – 5-2-1-1
    4. 1:02.89 breezing 5f at Gulfstream Park on 3/25/2017
    5. jockey Robby Albarado – "He was really impressive. He was a good horse today. It was only his second start of the year. There's room for him to be better. I don't want to say too much, but he's a nice horse. He's a good colt."
  1. GIRVIN – Risen Star hero the one to beat in April 1 Louisiana Derby
    1. Sire – Tale of Ekati
    2. Trainer – Joe Sharp
    3. Race Record – 3-2-1-0
    4. 1:01.00 breezing 5f at Fair Grounds on 3/25/2017
    5. Sharp told The Blood-Horse's Alicia Wincze Hughes on March 11 – "As the races get tougher and the fields get larger, the more versatile and pliable a horse can be, the more advantage they have in being able to overcome obstacles and difficult situations in races. And that's ultimately what ends up winning races that are the nature of the Derby and any kind of big race. Basically (the Risen Star) got us excited and let us know that he's ready for pretty much anything we throw at him. And he's talented enough to handle it."
  1. BATTALION RUNNER – Appears well-suited for 1 1/4-mile distance but must step forward in April 1 Florida Derby
    1. Sire – Unbridled's Song
    2. Trainer – Todd Pletcher
    3. Race Record – 3-2-1-0
    4. 1:01.00 breezing 5f at Palm Beach Downs on 3/25/2017
    5. Pletcher – "We understand the risk if he doesn't run well that he won't have enough (Kentucky Derby) points, and everyone is comfortable with that. If he doesn't run well enough he doesn't need to go on to the Derby. It's more about managing the individual horse and we think he thrives on more space between races."
  1. PRACTICAL JOKE – Classy juvenile eligible to improve upon non-threatening Fountain of Youth second in 2017 bow
    1. Sire – Into Mischief
    2. Trainer – Chad Brown
    3. Race Record – 5-3-1-1
    4. 1:00.90 breezing 5f at Palm Meadows Training Center on 3/25/2017
    5. Brown – "I want to speak to the owners and come up with a final decision...weigh our options. It's probable I will run (Practical Joke in the Florida Derby), but it's not certain. We'll see how the horse comes out of his work. The other idea is maybe running in the Blue Grass."
  1. ONE LINER – Southwest winner isn't bred for 10 furlongs but could prove tough to beat if he ships west for April 8 Santa Anita Derby
    1. Sire – Into Mischief
    2. Trainer – Todd Pletcher
    3. Race Record – 3-3-0-0
    4. :49.60 breezing 4f at Palm Beach Downs on 3/25/2017
    5. Pletcher after the Southwest – "I'm very pleased with his race. He handled things very professionally. He shipped and settled in well. It looked like he finished strong and may have left something in reserve, which is encouraging."
  1. ILIAD – San Felipe runner-up must show more in Santa Anita Derby
    1. Sire – Ghostzapper
    2. Trainer – Doug O'Neill
    3. Race Record – 4-2-1-0
    4. 1:01.40 handily 5f at Santa Anita Park on 3/24/2017
    5. Assistant trainer Leandro Mora – "Both horses (Iliad and San Felipe third Term of Art) went real well. Iliad finished up gret and both (owner) Kaleem (Shah) and I thought he showed great energy
  1. MALAGACY – Classy type stepped up in Rebel win, likes to race on or close to the pace
    1. Sire – Shackleford
    2. Trainer – Todd Pletcher
    3. Race Record – 3-3-0-0
    4. 1:01.00 breezing 5f at Palm Beach Downs on 3/11/2017
    5. Exercise rider Adele Bellinger – "He came out of his race just great. The only time he stepped out of his ‘I’m an old horse’ mode and showed a little attitude was on Thursday when we went back to the gate. Other than that he trained so beautifully and was so laid back."

Malagacy photo courtesy of Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography