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

Here are the final five analysis of Kentucky Derby 138 probable starters from AGameofSkill.com. As always, the Wynn Future Book Odds (from 4/16/12) are listed next to the horse.


PPs Ill Have Another

2012 copyright Brisnet.com and Equibase

I’LL HAVE ANOTHER (16/1, # 12 on Money List)

This son of Flower Alley has done little wrong for owner J. Paul Reddam, who has owned such top horses as Wilko, Red Rocks and Square Eddie. After scoring an easy win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, he followed that up with a game win over top California horse Creative Cause in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. He gutted out a nose victory after a tough final stretch duel. That is not the type of prep you want to see going into the Derby, in this handicapper’s view. There is nothing wrong with a tough race, but I believe there is a good chance that I’ll Have Another will regress off that Santa Anita Derby victory.

Two other things I don’t particularly like about this colt. In the Robert B. Lewis win, which was visually impressive, he switched back to the wrong lead at the 1/16th pole. Let me assure you that is not a positive sign. It is often the sign of a horse with a physical ailment.

In addition, there are several horses in this year’s field that have a similar running style. I believe he would need a perfect trip to overcome the pace scenario and outfinish those rivals.

I’ll Have Another will be ridden by jockey Mario Gutierrez, a very talented rider who made his mark at Hastings Park in Vancouver, Canada but has never ridden in the Kentucky Derby.

Status: Borderline Horse for the Exotics.


PPs of Gemologist

2012 copyright Brisnet.com and Equibase

GEMOLOGIST (7/1, # 7 on Money List)

Last year in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club, Gemologist overcame a tough outside post with the short run to the first turn, and a three-wide trip on every turn, to claim a gutsy win in the prestigious fall meet stakes.

After the win, trainer Todd Pletcher said he was envisioning a two-prep plan next year, reminiscent of Super Saver.

“We’ll give him a little bit of a break off that, and I’ll get with Elliott[Walden], and we’ll come up with a game plan,” Pletcher said. “I’d say we’d try to follow a similar path — hopefully two starts before the big race, if things go well.”

Everything has gone according to plans this year. His first start off the year with an impressive win at Gulfstream Park with the short field spread out behind him. He followed that up with another impressive win, this time in the G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. A lot of people talk about runner-up Alpha’s troubled trip around the first turn, but Gemologist didn’t exactly have a clean trip either. He was involved in the “five way crush of horses” as Tom Durkin called it.  In fact, the race around the first turn was the type one often sees in the Kentucky Derby each year. Gemologist’s tactical speed and button-push acceleration helped avoid major trouble around the first turn. In the process he was used up some to maintain a good position behind a quick pace once they cleared the first turn.  In the stretch run I believe Gemologist starting loafing a bit. Once he saw Alpha range up on him, he pulled away from that rival nearing the wire. They could have gone around the track a second time and Alpha never would have caught Gemologist.

His victory in the Wood was his fourth career win over as many different racetracks. He now returns to Churchill Downs where he is undefeated in two career starts.

Gemologist has improved with each career start, and as a son of superstar Tiznow, the distance of the Kentucky Derby is not a question.

Status: Contender


2012 copyright Brisnet.com and Equibase

OPTIMIZER (85/1, # 21 on Money List)

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is back in the Kentucky Derby, this time with longshot Optimizer who gets in at the last minute due to the defection of another longshot, Mark Valeski.

This turf specialist has a main track dirt record that reads like this: 6-0-1-0 (six starts, zero wins, 1 place, zero show). His lone good effort on the dirt was a fast-closing 2nd to miler Secret Circle in the G2 Rebel Stakes. For that “visually impressive” late run, he earned an 88 Late Pace figure. That might win you an allowance race on the undercard, such as  a “non-winners of two life” which this son of English Channel is eligible for.

Status: Throwout


2012 copyright Brisnet.com and Equibase

SABERCAT (35/1, # 8 on Money List)

The only thing this colt from the Steve Asmussen barn has going for him is his closing running style. Kentucky Derby 138 figures to feature a fast pace and that will benefit the closers. Sabercat was crushed by Bodemeister in the G1 Arkansas Derby and he couldn’t even pass miler Secret Circle in the final furlong, as that rival was staggering down the stretch run at Oaklawn Park. Secret Circle’s best lifetime BRIS Speed Rating is a 94, and to say that “doesn’t cut it” would be an understatement.

Sabercat is 2-0-0-1 at Churchill Downs.

Status: Throwout


PPs Union Rags

2012 copyright Brisnet.com and Equibase

UNION RAGS (9/2, # 3 on Money List)

Despite his troubled third in the G1 Florida Derby, Union Rags remains the horse to beat in Kentucky Derby 138. The son of Dixie Union has never run a bad race for trainer Michael Matz of Barbaro fame. His two huge wins in graded stakes in New York last year made him the strong favorite in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Breaking from the ten hole that day, he suffered a wide trip and just could not catch the loose leader, Hansen, in the stretch run. This has turned out to be the strongest running of the BC Juvenile in its history, with no less than 9 horses coming back to eventually win stakes races.

The hype continued into his three year old season when he scored a smashing win in the G2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes, but Union Rags had a perfect trip and set up that day. That was not the case in the FL Derby when he raced throughout in traffic and was shuffled back heading into the far turn. When he finally got clear, he could not run down the top two finishers, including wire-to-wire winner Take Charge Indy.

In his two starts this year, he has earned triple digit speed figures and 113 and 115 BRIS Late Pace Ratings, respectively, which are monster numbers.

Since arriving in Louisville, he has been working exceptionally well. He appears to be on top of his game and another typical, strong effort should be expected. It doesn’t hurt that top jockey Julien Leparoux, who has been on fire this year, is anxious to made amends for the last race.

Status: Contender

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


2012 copyright Brisnet.com and Equibase

DADDY NOSE BET ( 20/1, #13 on Money List)

This runner from the Steve Asmussen barn has become the “hype” horse over the past 7-10 days. He has been working well over the Churchill Downs surface and drawn rave reviews from some of the experts.  Yada, yada, yada.

The son of Scat Daddy owns a win in the G3 Sunland Park Derby, which I will concede has been a positive race in the Triple Crown and other higher profile events over the past three years. However, Daddy Nose Bet has only faced top competition once in his career and that resulted in a fair sixth place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He has never faced Grade One quality on the dirt.

I bet him when he won the G3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate earlier in the year, and one of the main reasons I liked him was because I thought he could transfer his turf form to the synthetic Tapeta surface. He scored by a “nose” that day under Julien Leparoux at very generous odds of 4.10-1.

Daddy’s main track dirt record is 3-1-1-0, with two of those starts coming in maiden races last year. I am not sure he is at his best over a traditional dirt surface, and that is certainly not a question mark you want to have going into the Derby. More importantly, I don’t think this colt is good enough to compete against the top runners in this field. This is one of the strongest Kentucky Derbies in recent memory, and Daddy Nose Bet has done nothing to indicate in his past performances that he can upset the apple cart.

Status: Borderline Horse for the Exotics


2012 copyright Brisnet.com and Equibase

LIAISON (35/1, # 14 on Money List)

As a two year old the Bob Baffert trainee won three races in a row, culminating with a win in the G1 Cash Call Futurity in December. His three year old season has been a stark contrast, and there is nothing to indicate a turnaround is in the works. Baffert has stated that Liaison did not like the track at Santa Anita, but considering he broke his maiden there impressively in October, that excuse is hard to buy.

As a son of Indian Charlie, he doesn’t figure to move forward with added distance. His workout the other day at Churchill Downs also left a lot to be desired. Jockey Rafael Bejarano is bailing on the horse. We’ll pass on this longshot.

Status: Throwout


PPs of FL Derby winner Take Charge Indy

2012 copyright Brisnet.com and Equibase

TAKE CHARGE INDY (18/1, # 9 on Money List)

Calvin Borel’s mount in the Kentucky Derby does not seem to be getting a lot of attention. This is probably because the colt has only had one race since January, and his two year old races were a notch below the nation’s best. However, he has the markings of a horse that has improved dramatically from age two to three.

For starters, pedigrees don’t get any better. He is a son of world class sire A.P. Indy and out of the multiple Grade 1 winning mare Take Charge Lady. He is bred to get better with age and distance, and that is exactly what this sophomore colt has done. His two races this year were outstanding. First, he ran 2nd to El Padrino in an allowance race, but he earned a monster 109 BRIS Speed Rating in the process. He proved that was no fluke when Borel put him on the lead, for good, in the G1 Florida Derby. All the talk after the race was the “questionable” ride by Leparoux on heavy favorite Union Rags, but there wasn’t much discussion about the impressive win by this colt. Sure, he had things his own way on the lead, but he was challenged by not one, but two horses on the far turn, easily disposed of those two rivals and maintained  command in the stretch.

In addition, by being down at Palm Meadows training center, he has been training out of the public eye by trainer Pat Byrne. Here were Byrne’s post-work comments the colt’s last serious drill on April 26th:

“To sum it up in a word — magnificent,” Byrne said. “The track here is in great shape. It was a super work. He couldn’t be doing any better. He’s ready to go. He was just stretching his legs this morning. I’m delighted…he has never been better. He worked absolutely fantastic. It was visually impressive and he outworked his company.”

Although Take Charge Indy won the Florida Derby on the front end, he does not need the lead to win. Of course, in this year’s Kentucky Derby, that is an important trait to have for a colt that does possess a lot of early speed.

Status: Contender

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


PPs of KY Derby contender Creative Cause

copyright 2012 Brisnet.com and Equibase

CREATIVE CAUSE (12/1, # 5 on Money List)

This gray son of top sire Giant’s Causeway has a  lot of things going for him on the first Saturday in May. A Grade 1 winner at age two, he proved he can handle the dirt at Churchill Downs when he finished a close third, beaten only one length, behind Hansen and Union Rags in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall. He has three races under his belt this year, starting with a good third in the swiftly run G2 San Vincente. He followed that up with a very nice score over Bodemeister, who would return to flatter that win in the G2 San Felipe by crushing the field in the G1 Arkansas Derby in his next outing.

Last time out in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, Creative Cause looked like a winner at the 1/8th pole when he collared the loose leader. But right on his heels was eventual winner I’ll Have Another, who got his nose in front at the wire after a stirring stretch duel. Although the top two earned a modest speed figure, Creative Cause once again earned a huge triple digit BRIS Late Pace Rating, which is a very good sign for this improving three year old.

Creative Cause, as a mid-pack stalker, has the perfect running style for this year’s Derby and a great rider in Joel Rosario. He was the top horse this spring on the West Coast, and the three-year-olds from California are believed to be very good this year.

Status: Contender