The Derby Pros and Cons list

Arranged in order of Road to the Kentucky Derby points. By horse name, sire, and trainer, here goes….

Magnum Moon, Malibu Moon, Todd Pletcher

Pros: Undefeated in four starts, including Rebel and Arkansas Derby, which American Pharoah used as preps to win KY Derby in 2015. Bred on the same pedigree cross and by the same sire as ’13 Derby winner Orb. Trainer Pletcher has won two KY Derbys previously, and seven trainer Eclipse Awards.

Cons: Had great trips in both Arkansas wins and was green in both races. The Apollo curse (only Apollo, in 1882, has won the Kentucky Derby after not racing as a 2yo). Speed numbers are ok, but not in the top tier.

Good Magic, Curlin, Chad Brown

Pros: Two year-old champ. Has already beaten several of the top contenders in BC Juvenile, Blue Grass, Champagne. Brown is the two-time defending Eclipse Champion trainer, Jose Ortiz the defending Eclipse jockey. By leading sire Curlin (3rd in 07 Derby).

Cons: Did he peak in the Breeders’ Cup as a 2yo? Speed numbers indicate maybe so. Only one BC Juvenile winner has won the Kentucky Derby (1-33). Blue Grass win was good, but didn’t totally answer questions from his 3rd place in Fountain of Youth. Last Blue Grass winner to win KY Derby Strike the Gold, 1991.

Audible, Into Mischief, Todd Pletcher

Pros: Big speed figures, especially in last two starts. Three of the last five Kentucky Derby winners won the Florida Derby. Pletcher. Jockey Castellano is 4x Eclipse winner.

Cons: Storm Cat line stallions have yet to sire a Kentucky Derby winner. Sire Into Mischief average winning distance 6.7 furlongs. Gilded Time as a broodmare sire has an average winning distance of just short of 6.5 furlongs. Didn’t have much of a gallop-out in Florida Derby win. How deep was the Florida Derby field?

Noble Indy, Take Charge Indy, Todd Pletcher

Pros: Pletcher. Gutsy, grinding winning effort in Louisiana Derby.

Cons: Speed figures are ok, but not in the top group. Last KY Derby winner from Louisiana Derby was Grindstone, 1996. Pedigree suggests ten furlongs could be tough to get.

Vino Rosso, Curlin, Todd Pletcher

Pros: Pletcher.  Leading sire Curlin. Jockey Velazquez has won two KY Derbys. Solid Wood Memorial win. Street Cry broodmare sire adds class and distance.

Cons: Speed figures are average. 4th place finish in the Tampa Derby was a head scratcher. Last KY Derby winner from Wood Memorial was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.

Bolt D’ Oro, Medaglia D’ Oro, Mick Ruis

Pros: Consistent and shows no quit. Excellent speed figures. Sire Medaglia D’ Oro has been red hot over the last year, A.P. Indy dam sire. Victor Espinoza 3x Derby winning jockey.

Cons: Ran a great race in SA Derby, but wasn’t gaining on Justify. What does he have left in the tank after the last two demanding races? Hasn’t crossed the wire first since the Frontrunner at Santa Anita in September.

Enticed, Medaglia D’ Oro, Kiaran McLaughlin

Pros: Medgalia D’ Oro. Ran a good 2nd in the Wood Memorial, won Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill as 2yo. Has won over muddy track.

Cons: 4th in the Holy Bull with no excuse. Speed figures toward the middle of the pack.

Mendelssohn, Scat Daddy, Aiden O’ Brien

Pros: Won UAE Derby by 18 lengths in his first dirt start, setting a track record. Half brother to four-time Eclipse champ Beholder. Won last three starts, all on different surfaces. Beat three fellow Derby starters in the BC Juvenile Turf. $3 Million auction yearling.

Cons:  Storm Cat sire line. Dubai to Louisville hasn’t yet been a successful route to the Derby winners circle. The Breeders’ Cup win was solid, otherwise, who’s he beaten? Broodmare sire Tricky Creek’s average winning distance barely 6.5 furlongs.

Justify, Scat Daddy, Bob Baffert

Pros: Four-time Derby winning trainer. Speed figures through the roof. Versatile running style, can set the pace, or come from off pace. Beat a really nice colt in Bolt D’ Oro without much effort in SA Derby. Jockey Smith won 2005 Derby on Giacomo. Has won over muddy track.

Cons: Storm Cat sire line. Has had really easy trips in all three starts. The Curse of Apollo. Baffert has yet to have a Santa Anita Derby winner win the KY Derby (0-7). Does he bounce off of what has been three incredible starts? Hasn’t run outside of Santa Anita.

Flameaway, Scat Daddy, Mark Casse

Pros: Seems to be improving as a 3yo, good recent speed numbers. Broodmare sire Fusaichi Pegasus won 2000 Derby. Versatile running style, may be close to the lead in a race that may not have much early speed. Beat Vino Rosso in February in Sam F. Davis. His five career wins leads the Derby field.

Cons: Storm Cat sire line. Middle of the pack overall speed numbers. Only two Canadian-breds have won KY Derby, last in 1983 (Sunny’s Halo).

Solomini, Curlin, Bob Baffert

Pros: Consistent, never off the board in six starts. 4x Derby winning trainer Baffert. By Curlin. Has been mixing it up with the top contenders since last Breeders’ Cup.

Cons: Gets into racing trouble, usually by his own making. Starts awkwardly, runs green, stays on left lead through stretch. Only win was 2yo maiden at Del Mar in September (DQ’d in Los Al Futurity).

Bravazo, Awesome Again, D. Wayne Lukas

Pros: Trainer Lukas has four Derbys. Beat Noble Indy in the Risen Star. Bred on the same pedigree cross as Preakness winner Oxbow. Broke maiden at Churchill Downs.

Cons: Poor speed figures. Really inconsistent, melted down in the Louisiana Derby. Broodmare sire Cee’s Tizzy doesn’t encourage for 10 furlongs.

My Boy Jack, Creative Cause, Keith Desormeaux

Pros: Good win in Lexington at Keeneland. Jockey Kent Desormeaux has won three KY Derbys. Improving speed numbers as a 3yo. Won Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn over muddy track.

Cons: Storm Cat sire line.  Middle of the pack overall speed figures. Running style may leave him left behind by faster early-types, or passed by good closers.

Promises Fulfilled, Shackleford, Dale Romans

Pros: Fountain of Youth win was really impressive. Solid 3rd as 2yo in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Running style may allow for him to set pace in a race with not much early speed.

Cons: Storm Cat sire line. 9th place finish in Florida Derby, didn’t seem comfortable at all in the race. Marquetry broodmare sire isn’t encouraging for ten furlongs.

Free Drop Billy, Union Rags, Dale Romans

Pros: Pedigree suggests ten furlongs should be right up his alley. Has been competing against the top contenders since Breeders’ Cup as 2yo. Really unlucky in Blue Grass, could have finished much higher.

Cons: Hasn’t won since Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October. Average speed numbers. Hasn’t finished ahead of any of the major contenders.

Lone Sailor, Majestic Warrior, Tom Amoss

Pros: Excellent 2nd place effort in Louisiana Derby. Broke maiden by 11 lengths over sloppy track.

Cons: One career victory. Mr. Greeley dam sire’s average winning distance is 6.9 furlongs. Speed figures are well below top contenders.

Hofburg, Tapit, Bill Mott

Pros: By leading sire Tapit, half-brother to four-time Grade 1 winner and millionaire Emollient. Ran excellent runner-up effort in the Florida Derby. Trained by Hall of Famer Mott. Broodmare sire Touch Gold won 1997 Belmont Stakes.

Cons: Florida Derby field behind him was questionable. Three lifetime starts, one career win. Touch Gold as dam sire’s average winning distance is 6.9 furlongs.

Firenze Fire, Poseidon’s Warrior, Jason Servis

Pros: Four career wins. Won Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct over muddy track. Beat Good Magic, Free Drop Billy, Enticed as 2yo.

Cons: Speed figures well below top contenders. May have peaked as a 2yo. Sire Poseidon’s Warrior average winning distance 6.4 furlongs.

Combatant, Scat Daddy, Steve Asmussen

Pros: Hall of Fame trainer Asmussen has four in the money Derby finishes. Ran good 2nd in Southwest Stakes over muddy track. Broodmare sire Boundary sired 2008 KY Derby, Preakness winner Big Brown.

Cons: One career win, as 2yo. Storm Cat sire line. Speed figures well below top contenders.

Instilled Regard, Arch, Jerry Hollendorfer

Pros: Won Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds in January. Broodmare sire Forestry also dam sire of 2016 Derby winner Nyquist. SA Derby 4th place finish better than it looked. Excellent Los Al Futurity effort vs Solomini and McKinzie. Hall of Fame trainer Hollendorfer 3rd in 2017 Derby with Battle of Midway.

Cons: Forestry average winning distance 6.4 furlongs. Two straight fourth-place finishes. Running style may not suit a field with good early speed ahead of him and good late speed behind him.



About shepracing

Thoroughbred racing, research and writing.
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