In just under three months a new Derby champ will be crowned. And there's a strong probability that horse has yet to race this calendar year. So there is a lot that can - and will - happen on this Derby trail, just as there is every year. But I wanted to get the chatter started before this weekend's first series of major regional prep races go postward (Robert Lewis @ Santa Anita and Sam Davis Stakes @ Tampa Bay on Saturday followed by the Southwest Mile @ Oaklawn and San Vicente @ SA on Monday).
In addition to posting wrap-ups each Monday following the major 3YO racing weekends leading up to Derby 136, I will also launch my top 10 Derby colts. Since I had a friend in Vegas for the Super Bowl, I studied up over the weekend to place a few futures bets (thanks J-Bern!). So without further delay, let's get Derby season 136 crancked up...
1) Lookin At Lucky - I got on Pioneerof The Nile early last year and rode him to a solid 2nd place Derby finish. Baffert is looking good again with this versatile colt and looks to follow his proven formula of 2 Derby preps while getting a peak effort on the first Saturday in May.
2) Super Saver - My favorite bloodlines for this year's bunch includes a proven sire in Maria's Mon (Monarchos in 2001) from an A.P. Indy mare. As my family in Arkansas would say, "It just don't get no better than that."
3) Buddy's Saint - Seems to be the "it" horse but perhaps a little early in the game. I'm waiting to see if he can duplicate those Big A performances (the quirky Aqueduct track historically leads to huge margins of victory) at Gulfstream. But after yesterday's game, who dat talkin bout beatin dem Saints?!
4) Jackson Bend - Backed up his Calder domination with a nice place in the Holy Bull. We'll see if his obscure breeding can hold up through the Derby grind.
5) American Lion - One of many live runners for the WinStar Farms group from Dallas. His presidential name is certainly worthy of being engraved on The Derby trophy.
6) Drosselmeyer - Speaking of names, this guy gets my vote - sounds like an old fraternity nickname of mine. Has a solid race foundation and a proven sire in Distorted Humor (Funny Cide in 2003).
7) Eskendereya - Yikes, don't make me say this name! Been running against the best and from the potent Storm Cat - Seattle Slew lines. Familiar silks of owner Zayat, who had Pioneerof The Nile last year.
8) Rule - Front running type, so who knows if he can learn to harness his speed. But Pletcher places an emphasis on speed and may have a plan for this one.
9) Noble's Promise - Well traveled McPeek charge never has run a bad one, including a 3rd in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year.
10) Connemara - A lovely western Ireland region where Atlantic salmon, Guinness and craic are as common as railbirds at a New York racetrack. The horse is a fairly talented runner in California. I visited this place on my honeymoon and if he were to win The Derby, I've the funds for a return trip. Erin Go Bragh!