Scully’s Derby Top 10 - Mubtaahij, Materiality added; four horses in action this weekend

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April 2nd, 2015

The final major preps are underway, with the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby expected to yield multiple starters last weekend, and three scoring races will be offered this Saturday.

The Blue Grass and Wood Memorial are important races, but I’m really looking forward to the Santa Anita Derby – top-rated Dortmund will make his first attempt at 1 1/8 miles and the six-horse field contains two other runners that I consider to be serious Kentucky Derby contenders at this stage, Prospect Park and Bolo.

There promises to be more shuffling in the weeks to come but here is an analysis of my present Top 10 list:

  1. Dortmund – He’s done nothing wrong so far and puts his undefeated mark on the line against a strong group of Santa Anita Derby challengers. Possesses good speed but stablemate One Lucky Dane should allow him to track the pace instead of trying to lead wire to wire like he did in San Felipe. Very formidable and should be either the first or second choice in Kentucky Derby with another victory Saturday.
  2. American Pharoah – He’s a threat to run his rivals into the ground on Derby Day. Female family offers little encouragement for classic distances but colt’s massive stride may be good enough to overcome any pedigree concerns. A common refrain surrounding the sensational front-runner: “He breathes a different air.” Looking for another big effort in April 11 Arkansas Derby.
  3. Mubtaahij – His training at Churchill Downs will be important because improving colt may have skill set to challenge our best three-year-olds on dirt. Mike De Kock is an all-world trainer who figures to have him ready and loved the turn of foot colt displayed to embarrass rivals in U.A.E. Derby, with the jockey wrapping up on him by midstretch. By far the most imposing challenger yet from Dubai and see him as very intriguing.
  4. Prospect Park – Expect him to keep moving forward in Santa Anita Derby. Overcame a less-than-favorable trip to post eye-catching allowance win in 2015 opener and didn’t have clear sailing in San Felipe, in a pocket surrounded by horses leaving the far turn. Colt displayed signs of greenness both times, turning head sideways in an attempt to run over rivals in his way, but watch out if he puts it all together in time for Derby; big potential upside.
  5. Carpe Diem – He’s good but facile tally in Tampa Bay Derby didn’t tell us much; looking forward to seeing what he has to offer while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles in Blue Grass. Well-bred chestnut heads a deep Todd Pletcher contingent and owns fine tactical speed; very serious prospect.
  6. Bolo – Missed some training time in late January/early February and ran well when third in first dirt start, the San Felipe. Another step forward expected in Santa Anita Derby and can be placed anywhere with his natural speed. He’s bred to thrive at longer distances and could be a serious challengers on Derby Day if he keeps improving for trainer Carla Gaines.
  7. Firing Line – Flattered Dortmund while posting a confidence-building Sunland Derby romp and would have an excellent win chance if Kentucky Derby was at 1 1/8 miles. But extra distance represents a legitimate hurdle for talented colt; not giving up completely on him yet but have my doubts.
  8. International Star – Kudos for sweeping Fair Grounds stakes and liked the gameness he displayed running down Stanford in Louisiana Derby -- pacesetter had everything his own way on lead and fought determinedly to the wire. International Star made up a lot of ground on the far turn in all three wins and that’s where the Kentucky Derby is often won. Does have some class concerns (wasn’t facing top company in New Orleans) but I’ll use the stout closer underneath in exotics on Derby Day.
  9. Upstart – Opened the year in fine fashion, registering a 105 BRIS Speed rating for a convincing tally in January’s Holy Bull, but took a step back from that performance in Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. Latter also raised concerns surrounding his threshold for 1 ¼ miles, but Upstart remains a hard-trying individual who could get a completely different track Derby Day from the tiring, slow-playing ovals he competed over the last two times.
  10. Materiality – May not be able to overcome 132 years of history (no unraced juvenile has captured the Derby since 1882), but improving colt could receive a favorable trip with his speed and be prominent turning for home. Could be a little overlooked off Florida Derby win and consider him to be a possible exotics player.