Scully’s Derby Top 10 – Prospect Park joins in advance of San Felipe
A dark bay son of Tapit, Prospect Park needed some time for development, requiring four starts before gamely breaking his maiden in late December. He improved nicely off the confidence-building win, displaying an outstanding turn of foot while crushing entry-level allowance foes by a 5 ¼-length margin on January 30, and rates a very promising sort for trainer Clifford Sise Jr.
The well-bred colt gets the chance to prove he belongs in Saturday’s $400,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita, with 1 1/16-mile race providing a stiff test for Prospect Park’s stakes debut.
Dortmund heads the esteemed cast of 10 runners. Trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, Dortmund is 4-for-4, posting stakes wins in the Robert B. Lewis and Los Alamitos Futurity, and currently ranks #1 on the Top 10 list.
Other talent includes Dortmund’s stablemate Lord Nelson, who defeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero Texas Red in the February 1 San Vicente at seven furlongs and will be attempting to establish himself as a force in two-turn races; Bolo, a smashing winner of December 27 Eddie Logan who looms as a major factor for Carla Gaines if he can transfer his form from turf to dirt; and speedy Grade 3 winner Ocho Ocho Ocho, perfect from three starts and making his 2015 bow for Jim Cassidy.
The San Felipe shapes up to be an outstanding race.
Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby is also deep with talent. The 1 1/16-mile race marks the return of Carpe Diem, who is ranked #2 based upon his outstanding juvenile form and classic potential this spring. He’s one of several talented Kentucky Derby contenders for Todd Pletcher.
Ocean Knight will make his first start in a points’ race in the Tampa Bay Derby. Ranked #6 following a nice win in the January 31 Sam F. Davis over the track, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee is two for two in his brief career with room for further improvement.
Multiple stakes hero Souper Colossal, well-regarded Gulfstream maiden winner Danzig Moon and Sam Davis runner-up Divining Rod add further depth to the Tampa Bay Derby.
The San Felipe and Tampa Bay Derby both promise to have a significant impact upon the Kentucky Derby picture.
The Kentucky Derby is eight weeks from Saturday.
- Dortmund – He’s been tested in both stakes appearances and could face another severe challenge against a strong San Felipe field. Massive chestnut will be a scary proposition for rivals if he continues to improve in the coming weeks.
- Carpe Diem – Rolled to an impressive Grade 1 victory in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last fall and turned in a commendable effort finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Well-bred colt has a lot going for him as he enters his sophomore opener Saturday.
- Upstart – Turned in arguably the best performance by any prospect this year when rolling to a 5 ½-length victory in the Jan. 24 Holy Bull, registering a 105 BRIS Speed rating, and figured to take a step back in the Fountain of Youth, earning only a 95 Speed rating while finishing first (disqualified to second for interference). Expecting a step forward off that performance in the April 4 Wood Memorial.
- American Pharoah – Excitement is high for the juvenile champion’s return in the March 14 Rebel, a race trainer Bob Baffert has won four of the past five years.
- Firing Line – After pushing Dortmund to the limit in the Los Alamitos Futurity and Bob Lewis, the talented colt could be headed to the March 22 Sunland Derby for his final prep.
- Ocean Knight – From the second crop of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, he’s as promising as any three-year-old, overcoming an extremely wide trip to remain unbeaten in Sam Davis. Tampa Bay Derby represents a class check for lightly-raced colt.
- Itsaknockout – Remained perfect via disqualification in Fountain of Youth, improving to 3-for-3 for Todd Pletcher, and Lemon Drop Kid colt possesses plenty of pedigree for the Triple Crown. Expected to remain at Gulfstream for final prep in March 28 Florida Derby.
- International Star – He’s shown nice improvement for Mike Maker this year, finishing full of run as he captured both the Lecomte and Risen Star going away, and provides Ken Ramsey with his best chance yet to wear the Roses.
- Prospect Park – Impressed recording an allowance victory last out and new addition immediately gets the opportunity to prove he belongs in San Felipe. Expecting a top three finish.
- Far From Over – Liked his Withers victory, overcoming a stumbling start to prove best over a seasoned rival in El Kabeir, but don’t understand a planned two-month absence for such a lightly-raced colt – how’s that help him prepare for 20-horse Kentucky Derby? Don’t expect him to remain in the top 10 for long.
Photo: Carpe Diem winning last year’s Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland (Coady Photography)