Scully's Derby Top 10

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January 14th, 2015

Leaving Calculator out of the initial Kentucky Derby Top 10 list was an oversight. The gray colt proved he belongs with a smart performance in last Saturday’s Sham at Santa Anita, breaking his maiden with a 4 1/4-length decision that netted a career-best 100 BRIS Speed rating.

He makes his debut this week at #6.

The Sham continued to enhance the merits of the FrontRunner Stakes, the deepest race of 2014 for two-year-olds. The top two finishers from the September 27 event at Santa Anita, American Pharoah and Calculator, were both forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to injury.

With those rivals out of commission, FrontRunner third-placer Texas Red romped by a 6 ½-length margin in the Juvenile.

All three are based out west this winter and the California three-year-old contingent is obviously very deep, with Dortmund, Firing Line and Ocho Ocho Ocho adding further depth.

A pair of scoring races in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series will be offered this weekend. I’m excited to see what Mr. Z can do in Monday’s Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park and Saturday’s Lecomte at Fair Grounds also holds plenty of intrigue.

Kentucky Jockey Club third-placer Eagle is the horse to beat in the Lecomte but faces a daunting task breaking from post 11 at a mile and 70 yards. His late-running style is another potential liability and trainer Neil Howard just needs a solid performance to build upon – winning isn’t that important.

The connections of Savoy Stomp are hoping for a much-improved effort following a well-beaten third in a December 17 allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the well-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro ($850k yearling) was returning from a brief freshening and caught a deep field last time, with the winning Bluegrass Singer coming back to post an easy win in the Mucho Macho Man on January 3. And I like runner-up Frammento, a Midshipman colt trained by Nick Zito.

Savoy Stomp gets first-time Lasix and Mike Smith– I’m expecting a good showing.

The Kentucky Derby is 15 weeks from Saturday.

  1. Dortmund – Unbeaten in three juvenile starts, he showed an affinity for Churchill Downs when romping over allowance foes prior to a game win in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity. Big Brown colt has worked twice already this year, posting a six-furlong bullet on January 14 (1:12.20). Bob Baffert said he plans to keep Dortmund and American Pharoah separated but hasn’t announced plans yet.
  2. Carpe Diem – Leads the Florida contingent. Todd Pletcher trainee recorded an impressive win in Breeders’ Futurity prior to runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Giant’s Causeway colt looks set for a strong three-year-old campaign.
  3. American Pharoah – Posted brilliant front-running wins in Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner, easily defeating top company each time, and has returned to light training after missing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to an injury.                He brings plenty of speed to the scene.
  4. Texas Red – Earned a 101 BRIS Speed rating and couldn’t have been more visually impressive winning the Juvenile, but the race fell apart in upper stretch as late runners dominated. Afleet Alex colt needs to prove it wasn’t a fluke but remains a very promising prospect for the Desormeaux brothers (trainer Keith and jockey Kent).
  5. Mr. Z – Malibu Moon colt made seven stakes attempts last season and is on course to run in all four preps at Oaklawn Park this year (Smarty Jones, Southwest, Rebel & Arkansas Derby). He concluded 2014 with a pair of fine showings and I’ll be looking for a lot more as a three-year-old.
  6. Calculator – Late runner displayed an outstanding turn of foot in the Sham, putting the race away by the completion of the far turn, and the talent is there – longer distances remain a possible impediment given that he’s a son of In Summation.
  7. Upstart – He’s readying for his 2015 bow in the January 24 Holy Bull and Flatter colt concluded last season in good order, recording a runner-up in the Champagne and a third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Earned the top stakes BRIS Speed rating of any two-year-old (106) for his victory over New York-bred rivals in the Funny Cide at Saratoga.
  8. Frosted – Thought he was best finishing second in the Remsen and Tapit colt owns good speed as well as a pedigree for classic distances. He worked five furlongs last week for Kiaran McLaughlin.
  9. El Kabeir – Earned his first stakes win posting a narrow score in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs and opened 2015 with a convincing score in the Jerome. Not sure about his threshold for longer distances but can’t knock the progress he’s making for John Terranova.
  10. Imperia – Exits an excellent second in the Kentucky Jockey Club, his first dirt start, and late-running son of Medaglia d’Oro recently returned to the worktab for McLaughlin.

Photo Credit – Benoit Photo