1) El Padrino: Very professional in his impressive Risen Star Stakes victory which should have tightened his screws based on that long stretch duel with Mark Valenski at Fair Grounds. One more good showing - likely the $1 million LA Derby - and this guy heads to Louisville as a top 3 betting choice. Proved that he can rate just off the lead, a major plus in The Derby.
2) Creative Causeway: His third place finish in the 7 furlong San Vincente was fine by me, especially watching him gallop out past the wire. Two more preps should have him moving forward into the Derby rather than regressing from a tough spring training, as many of his foes will experience just to make The Derby starting field.
3) Algorithms: I leave him in my top three now assuming his scratch from Sunday's Fountain of Youth isn't a big deal. Would have loved to see how he fared vs. Union Rags is his dominating performance, but it will have to wait for the time being. Has the pedigree and talent to still get it done if he gets back on the worktab soon. The FOY scratch may put him on a softer path to Louisville (via Aqueduct).
4) Prospective: Ran a solid second in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at quirky Tampa Bay Downs and was flattered by two recent starters. John Servis' Adirondack King, who ran third behind this guy at Tampa at 7 furlongs, closed well to hit the board in the "fast" division of the Southwest Stakes behind Secret Circle. Also, Neck n' Neck had a decent fourth place finish in the FOY after running behind Prospective in the Sam Davis. He comes from far back but could be a live Derby long-shot, ala Animal Kingdom last year.
5) Fed Biz: Ran a sub 1:35 mile at Santa Anita on Feb. 9th while stalking a hot pace and pouring it on in the stretch. Impeccably bred Giant's Causeway colt out of a Wild Again mare. Starting to become a buzz horse thanks to the success of Baffert's deep stable (won both divisions of Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn) but remember, you heard it here first!
6) Out of Bounds: I'll stop shy of throwing the baby out with the bathwater after Discreet Dancer's (both out of Discreet Cat) poor showing after setting a mild pace in the FOY before spitting the bit. Probably won't get the 10 furlong distance but at least he's a closer that can get a part of it. War Emblem's pedigree certainly wasn't ideal for 10 furlongs either yet he got it done in 2002. Want to see one more race before I potentially dismiss him.
7) Union Rags: I know, I know -- that was a huge win in the FOY, but he had a dream trip and with Algorithms scratching we're still not sure what he beat in that field with those crawling 24 second splits. I still get dejavu with Union Rags reminding me of Uncle Mo and the latter's Timely Writer allowance/stakes win was even more impressive as he geared up for Louisville yet he proved to have distance limitations. As in years past, I certainly hope he heads into Churchill with all the hype continuing as the best way to cash a huge Derby ticket is to beat a heavy favorite:)
8) Dullahan: This guy had no chance in the BC Juvenile when they were walking through slow mid-race fractions, but still managed a nice rally from 13th and last to get up for 4th. Had a nice bullet 5 furlong work on the dirt at Gulfstream last week. Will follow the path of Paddy O' Prado by debuting on the turf in Florida followed by a synthetic prep. With in the money showings he will earn his way into the Churchill Downs starting gate.
9)Castaway: After flipping on his back in the Oaklawn infield while being saddled, this 400K plus son of Derby winner Street Sense dusted himself off, then dusted his competition from the outside #11 post. That race clearly was the softer side of the Southwest, but I also believe he left more in the tank and has more upside and distance advantage than Secret Circle or Scatman. Must respect Baffert and the Coolmore connections.
10) Najjaar: Dan Peitz has had his fair share of quality horses in his day and is very high on this son of Jazil for Shadwell Stable. Took a while to break his maiden but exits a key race at Oaklawn Park on January 14 where a couple have come back to get their picture taken as well. His work times have taken a major step forward after that maiden score which is a great sign for such a late closing horse. Probably comes back in the deep Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on St. Patrick's Day.