Scully's Kentucky Derby Top 10 staying steady ahead of major preps

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TwinSpires Staff

March 31st, 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.

James Scully's most recent Kentucky Derby Report didn't deviate much from the March 22 Report in terms of the top 10.

In fact, the only change was champion Classic Empire re-joining the top 10 from 19th position as Malagacy fell to 13th after taking over the 10 spot a week ago. Classic Empire appears to be back on the Kentucky Derby track, having breezed on Tuesday, and is headed to the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park.

Malagacy is targeting the Arkansas Derby as well, but Scully isn't convinced the unbeaten Rebel Stakes (G2) victor can handle the extra distance.

  1. MCCRAKEN – Unbeaten in four starts, Churchill Downs specialist will be a solid favorite on Derby Day if he wins Blue Grass
    1. Sire – Ghostzapper
    2. Trainer – Ian Wilkes
    3. Race Record – 4-4-0-0
    4. 1:13.40 breezing 6f at Keeneland on 3/27/2017
    5. Wilkes – "This is the type of horse I could work him a half-mile and run him and he'd be fine. I didn't run him at Tampa Bay (in the March 11 Tampa Bay Derby [G2]), and I'm looking for a little more bottom on him this time (with) a longer work. Just (wanted) a nice solid work. Didn't need anything fast, fast. But just a solid work and a strong gallop out."
  1. GUNNEVERA – Fountain of Youth winner brings a big late kick but must overcome wide draw in Florida Derby
    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 – "The horse is a blessing. this is the biggest opportunity in my life. It's a new life. Venezuela is history. Now I am here in America. When I was a kid, my father said, 'One of these years maybe I'll win the Kentucky Derby.' Every day in Venezuela, I followed the racing here in America. Now I have the opportunity to win the race."
  1. TAPWRIT – Displayed outstanding turn of foot in Tampa Bay Derby win; Blue Grass and Wood Memorial options for Pletcher trainee
    1. Sire – Tapit
    2. Trainer – Todd Pletcher
    3. Race Record – 5-3-1-0
    4. :48.75 breezing 4f at Palm Beach Downs on 3/31/2017
    5. co-owner Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners told The Blood-Horse's Alicia Wincze Hughes on March 31 – "(Trainer) Todd (Pletcher) was extremely pleased with how he breezed this morning, as was (jockey) Jose Ortiz. He galloped out very energetically so, if all goes well, he will board a plane on Sunday to Lexington in preparation for the Blue Grass."
  1. J BOYS ECHO – Perfect-trip Gotham winner can confirm his legitimacy 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
  1. GIRVIN – Risen Star victor will try to enhance his profile in 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 – "(Girvin) seems to be more confident. He just keeps getting cooler, better and more mature. He is one of those horses who you just wait for him to have a bad day and he doesn't, which is nice. He's just very uncomplicated and he knows he's good at this point. He's actually getting cocky and confident and realizing he's as good as he is."
  1. BATTALION RUNNER – Pletcher has been considering all the major preps for well-regarded Gulfstream maiden and allowance winner
    1. Sire – Unbridled's Song
    2. Trainer – Todd Pletcher
    3. Race Record – 3-2-1-0
    4. 1:01.00 bullet breezing 5f at Palm Beach Downs on 3/25/2017
  1. PRACTICAL JOKE – Multiple Grade 1-winning juvenile returned with decent second in Fountain of Youth, looks to show more in Blue Grass
    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
  1. ONE LINER – Pletcher trainee impressed winning Southwest, eager to see how he handles stretch out to 1 1/8 miles in final prep
    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
  1. ILIAD – Eligible to move forward in Santa Anita Derby off non-threatening second in San Felipe
    1. Sire – Ghostzapper
    2. Trainer – Doug O'Neill
    3. Race Record – 4-2-1-0
    4. 1:13.80 handily 6f at Santa Anita Park on 3/31/2017
    5. jockey Flavien Prat told The Blood-Horse's Jeremy Balan on March 31 – "I didn't even ask him anything (in Friday's work), but at the quarter-pole he picked up the bridle and did it by himself. It was good. That's going to be the question mark – the distance. Last time was his first time (going) two turns, so you can expect an improvement from that race, but if he handles the distance, he should run really good."
  1. CLASSIC EMPIRE – 2-year-old champ still has a chance, recording back-to-back works including 5-furlong drill Tuesday in preparation for Arkansas Derby
    1. Sire – Pioneerof the Nile
    2. Trainer – Mark Casse
    3. Race Record – 6-4-0-1
    4. :59.30 breezing 5f from gate at Winding Oaks Farm on 3/28/2017
    5. Casse – "It's well documented – we've had some bumps in the road. But, the good news is, it doesn't matter. As I said, it's like a baseball game. Doesn't matter how many runs you score in the early innings, it's how many you score in the end."

McCraken photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography