The Time of Year

It is the time of year for fans of the Sport of Kings to turn their attention to the Kentucky Derby, and the top three-year-old horses. Generally, I like to start fresh, and I overlook or take with a grain of salt much of the two-year-old form. It doesn’t mean much now, and it will probably mean less come the first Saturday in May.

Over at Aqueduct the other day we got to watch Independence Hall win the one turn Jerome going a mile in 1:37.2. He left some of his race in the paddock, still won easily, and made the Derby radar of some watchers. Not mine. Nothing about him looks like a Kentucky Derby horse to me. A nice horse, sure, a derby winner, I highly doubt it. 

We’ll see some other three-year-olds try and make the Derby radar screen Saturday at Gulfstream Park and also at Santa Anita. Bob Baffert has two of the six entrants at Santa Anita and that alone means there is a better chance a Derby runner is racing in Arcadia as opposed to Hallandale Beach on Saturday. We’ll take a quick look at both races, not so much for the winner, but for who has the look of someone who might go on to make some noise on the first Saturday in May. We have a pretty good track record with these columns that run the risk of aging poorly so why not keep swinging?

Let’s start out west. 

Baffert’s first horse Authentic, is an Into Mischief out of a Mr. Greely mare who could be a really nice one. He definitely looks like he can win Saturday. He doesn’t scream a mile and a quarter in the pedigree department. He’d need a really good set up to get that distance I would imagine, but in Bob’s hands, it may not matter. He knows how to get them peaking when they are supposed to. 
Zimba Warrior is by an interesting pretty new sire, who had a ton of potential, but he does not look top tier to me. 

Uncaptured Hero already ran for a tag, albeit 100k, and you can’t run for a tag and win the Kentucky Derby right? Oh yeah, Maximum Security did that, sort of. Uncaptured Hero is not Maximum Security. 

Azul Coast is the next one from Mr. Baffert. He was good enough to win at a mile first out. That suggests he likes distance and he is by Super Saver, a sloppy Derby winner. I am not sold here. I want to watch one more. 

Scoring looks like a sprinter, and Taishan does not look top tier. 

Baffert may run one-two in here. The winner is likely on everybody’s Derby radar after the race. I suspect Bob has better in the barn, and the winner of the Derby is not in here. 

Well, maybe it turns out the Baffert factor can be overcome. On the east coast, we will see South Bend back on a fast track hopefully. He has never lost on one. His only blemish was in the slop. He is improving and being brought along the right way in my opinion. I think he is definitely the type to make the gate in May. 

Chance It looks like he is already pushing his limits distance wise. I do not see him being a factor at a mile and a quarter in May. I would say the same about Smash Factor. 

As Seen On TV looks like he may be a decent horse. He is learning and improving. If he takes another step forward, which he can do even without winning, he can make my radar. 
Ashaar fell apart in the Nashua. I do not know why. Before that, he had a good look to him. I will need to see some serious redemption before considering him.

Solo Volante is a runner. If he likes dirt, lookout. Patrick Biancone does know his way around nice horses. Definitely, the type to make my radar if he handles the surface switch. 

Inter Miami looks like a sprinter. 

South Bend, As Seen On TV, Sole Volante, Authentic, and Azul Coast are the ones I will be looking at as possible Derby contenders. I also think the winner of both races Saturday will be in that group. Let us see how this one ages. 

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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