2012 Kentucky Derby Contenders, Borderline Horses and Throwouts – Part VII

 

PPs of KY Derby contender Hansen

copyright 2012 Brisnet.com and Equibase

HANSEN (14/1, # 1 on Money List)

The G1 Blue Grass Stakes featured a large field of 13 three year olds, highlighted by the presence of 6/5 morning line favorite Hansen, who was fresh of an impressive win in the G3 Gotham Stakes on March 3. But a big problem for the prohibitive favorite was not only the large field but an abundance of early speed, which would likely force rider Ramon Dominguez’ hand early. In this handicapper’s view, the 9 furlong race set up big time for two particular horses – Prospective and Dullahan – and worked against the speedy gray Hansen.

Hansen was pretty “wound up” in the post parade and appeared to be using up some of his valuable energy prior to entering the starting gate, which is never a good sign for any horse, especially a  betting favorite. Despite that pre-race issue, compounded by the presence of a lot of other speed, Hansen burst to the lead into the first turn and dictated the way for 8 1/2 furlongs. However, he could not hold off the powerful late run of the fresh closer, Dullahan, who stormed down the middle of the track, catching the leader at the 1/16th pole and drawing off to a 1 1/4 length victory in very fast time.

The son of Tapit has never run a bad race, having finished first or second in all six career starts. His Gotham win was something special as he overcame a wide trip from a brutal outside post to crush 12 other rivals. The show horse was left 9 lengths in his wake. In the process Hansen earned a big 105 BRIS Speed Rating, which topped his 103 fig from the Breeders’ Cup score.

Although he will enter the Derby with remarkably different credentials, Hansen reminds this handicapper of longshot Derby upsetter War Emblem. He is a route horse with a tremendous amount of early speed and a huge heart, to boot. That’s a dangerous combination. This is a horse handicappers should not easily dismiss.

Status: Contender

 

copyright 2012 Brisnet.com and Equibase

ROUSING SERMON (60/1, # 21 on Money List)

I am not going to waste a lot of time on this horse. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is a nice Grade 3 horse but he doesn’t fit in the Kentucky Derby.  The only thing he has going for him is his closing running style in a year when there figures to be quite a bit of early pace.  But the son of Lucky Pulpit is no where near as fast as some of the other closers. His lifetime best BRIS Speed Rating is a 94. He also doesn’t appear to have improved any as a three year old (over his two year old form), which is a very negative sign.

Status: Throwout

 

copyright 2012 Brisnet.com and Equibase

DADDY LONG LEGS (35/1, # 13 on Money List)

This son of Scat Daddy is a physical specimen. He broke his maiden first time out overseas going 7 furlongs on the grass, and two races later captured a group 2 event at the prestigious Newmarket meet. He was shipped to Churchill and, instead of contesting the Juvenile Turf (G1), he was entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), where he never lifted a hoof en route to a next-to-last finish in the field of 13.

The connections were not discouraged by that, and they still were thinking KY Derby when then entered this guy in the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup day. He responded with a smashing win in the 9 1/2 furlong stakes. That race came over the synthetic surface at Meydan, so Daddy is still unproven over a conventional dirt surface. In addition, he only has one race coming into the Kentucky Derby and has to ship overseas for this start.  He is owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, who have had success winning graded and group stakes around the world.

This is a very difficult horse to judge because he clearly has a ton of talent and he can run all day. Even worse, he is expected to arrive next Wednesday, leaving little time to judge how he looks over the Churchill surface.  I don’t know what happened last year in the Cup, but this horse has a pedigree on both sides that screams dirt. He should be able to handle the main track. For that reason, coupled with his proven talent, Daddy Long Legs is a sleeper for Kentucky Derby 138.

Status: Contender

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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