Scully shakes up his Kentucky Derby Top 10 ahead of weekend preps
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 varies greatly from the March 1 Report.
McCraken retains the top spot despite a minor ankle injury which is forcing him to miss Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Irish War Cry and El Areeb, on the other hand, have been knocked from their respective number 2 and 3 spots. The former now sits in 14th on Scully's Kentucky Derby Top 20 while El Areeb exits the list altogether.
That leaves the way clear for American Anthem to claim the second position as he heads into the March 18 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park. Gunnevera jumps all the way from the 11th spot to number 3 thanks to his powerful late-running victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) on March 4.
Iliad and Mastery each rise one spot over last week's list as the pair get ready to face off in Saturday's San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park. That race also features Gormley, who takes over Classic Empire's spot in sixth after the champion tumbles to the 11th spot.
J Boys Echo's romping win in the March 4 Gotham Stakes (G3) sees him return to Scully's list, while Practical Joke and Tapwrit each rise a spot. Girvin rounds out the top 10 list.
MCCRAKEN – Recent results haven't knocked him from top spot despite a physical setback; Churchill specialist could head a nice field in Blue Grass
- Sire – Ghostzapper
- Trainer – Ian Wilkes
- Race Record – 4-4-0-0
- :48.90 breezing 4f at Palm Meadows Training Center on 2/27/2017
- Wilkes told The Blood-Horse's Alicia Wincze Hughes on March 7 – "He's been to the track, galloped the last three days. I'm very pleased with him, he's doing good. (The ankle) has been good. I'm stabled next to (trainer) Michael Matz and Michael has been very kind to let me use his vibration plate."
AMERICAN ANTHEM – Rebel an important test for well-regarded Baffert trainee
- Sire – Bodemeister
- Trainer – Bob Baffert
- Race Record – 2-1-1-0
- 1:12.20 handily from gate 6f at Santa Anita Park on 3/4/2017
GUNNEVERA – Convincing Fountain of Youth victor possesses big late kick
- Sire – Dialed In
- Trainer – Antonio Sano
- Race Record – 8-4-2-0
- 1:01.00 breezing 5f at Gulfstream Park West on 2/18/2017
- Sano – "He's very good. It was very exciting. The horse demonstrated that he was the best horse in the (Fountain of Youth). Right now, the horse has demonstrated he's the best, to me."
ILIAD – Will find out if smashing San Vicente winner is real deal in San Felipe
- Sire – Ghostzapper
- Trainer – Doug O'Neill
- Race Record – 3-2-0-0
- :58.80 handily 5f at Santa Anita Park on 2/26/2017
- O'Neill – "He's got a mind, the stride and the pedigree of a two-turn horse, but you never know until you do it. We're excited about him. He's doing really well."
MASTERY – Plenty to like about juvenile form, San Felipe will show how much he's progressed at age 3
- Sire – Candy Ride
- Trainer – Bob Baffert
- Race Record – 3-3-0-0
- 1:12.60 (bullet) handily 6f at Santa Anita Park on 3/5/2017
GORMLEY – Sham winner looks to confirm himself as a serious player in San Felipe
- Sire – Malibu Moon
- Trainer – John Shirreffs
- Race Record – 4-3-0-0
- 1:02.40 handily 5f at Santa Anita Park on 3/6/2017
- Shirreffs on running Gormley in San Felipe – "The big thing was how well Gormley worked here when he went (six furlongs) in 1:11 and change (best of 14 at the distance on February 27)."
J BOYS ECHO – Improving but received ideal set-up in Gotham; let's see if he can back it up in final prep
- Sire – Mineshaft
- Trainer – Dale Romans
- Race Record – 5-2-1-1
- 1:01.82 breezing 5f at Gulfstream Park on 2/25/2017
- Co-owner Jason Loutsch – "It's really humbling. We've been waiting for that race for him to break out and kind of grow up and he did that yesterday and we're thrilled."
PRACTICAL JOKE – Eligible to improve off Fountain of Youth runner-up in 2017 opener
- Sire – Into Mischief
- Trainer – Chad Brown
- Race Record – 5-3-1-0
- :48.00 breezing 4f at Palm Meadows Training Center on 2/26/2017
- Brown – "(He) looked good so far (at Palm Meadows), no plans moving forward yet."
TAPWRIT – Speedy female family a concern but expecting strong showing in Tampa Bay Derby
- Sire – Tapit
- Trainer – Todd Pletcher
- Race Record – 4-2-1-0
- :50.80 breezing 4f at Palm Meadows Training Center on 3/4/2017
- Pletcher – "Tapwrit has done very well physically since the Sam Davis. For him, I think the most important thing he got from that race was the experience and education. He got hemmed up inside and had to wait for room, but when he got clear he closed well and galloped out strongly. I think he and (jockey) Jose (Ortiz) both learned enough to hopefully bring forth an improved effort."
GIRVIN – Risen Star winner possesses good turn of foot, needs to improve BRIS Speed ratings in Louisiana Derby
- Sire – Tale of Ekati
- Trainer – Joe Sharp
- Race Record – 3-2-1-0
- :49.20 breezing 4f at Fair Grounds on 2/17/2017
- Sharp – "We believed in the horse all along. I lost my voice (from cheering) and we're in shock and very excited."
Gunnevera photo courtesy of Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography