2020 Kentucky Derby Pros and Cons

In order of Kentucky Derby points: by (sire) Trainer, Jockey

Tiz the Law (Constitution) Barclay Tagg, Manny Franco

Pros: By leading sire Constitution, undefeated as a 3yo, significantly highest consistent speed numbers in field, trainer Tagg won 2003 Derby with Funny Cide, should handle distance-(won 10f Travers with highest speed number of career) six wins is most in Derby field, has won by open lengths in all starts as a 3yo

Cons: only off-track experience (at Churchill as 2yo in G2 stake) was only defeat of career, last New York-bred to win KY Derby (2003 Funny Cide) is only NY-bred to win

Derby winner he hopes to be: California Chrome

Authentic (Into Mischief) Bob Baffert, John Velazquez

Pros: By leading sire Into Mischief, five time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Baffert, two time KY Derby winning jockey John Velazquez, could be pace setter in race and controlling speed, only career loss (2nd) came to Honor A.P. in Santa Anita Derby

Cons: Pedigree suggests distance concerns. Set somewhat soft fractions in Haskell and almost got caught on wire, prior to Justify (Scat Daddy) in 2018, no Derby winner came from the Storm Cat sire line, no off-track experience, jockey Mike Smith opted for Honor A.P. for Derby, not known for late kick: sets the pace and hopes to hang on, has not faced a field larger than seven runners

Derby winner he hopes to be: Always Dreaming

Honor A.P. (Honor Code) John Shirreffs, Mike Smith

Pros: $850,000 Saratoga selected yearling, Trainer Shirreffs won 2005 KY Derby with Giacomo, decent 2nd place to Thousand Words in last start at Del Mar, recent Santa Anita Derby winners who have won Ky Derby include Justify, California Chrome, I’ll Have Another, defeated Authentic in SA Derby, jockey Mike Smith and trainer Shirreffs teamed together to win 2005 Derby with Giacomo

Cons: Shared Belief loss was a headscratcher, was it a step back from SA Derby, or a decent effort? Has not raced on an off-track, or outside of California.

Derby winner he hopes to be: Sunday Silence

Ny Traffic (Cross Traffic) Saffie Joseph, Jr., Paco Lopez

Pros: Awesome late move in the Haskell, seems to be improving as a 3yo, especially in Graded Stakes company and since transfer to trainer Joseph, 10 of the last 20 Derby winners come from Mr. Prospector sire line

Cons: hard to gauge the Haskell effort, as it was clearly his best race to date: bounce possible? Last (and only) NY-bred to win KY Derby was Funny Cide 2003, pedigree suggests distance may be an issue, will need to be faster earlier if there is a quick pace. Hasn’t beaten any of the top Derby candidates

Derby winner he hopes to be: Funny Cide

Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile) Bob Baffert, Florent Geroux

Pros: Baffert, sire Pioneerofthe Nile sired 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, did he re-gain 2yo form (and then some) in the Shared Belief? $1 million auction yearling, 10 of last 20 Derby winners from Mr. Prospector sire line, jockey Geroux having a great 2020 (26% in graded stakes this year)

Cons: In only start outside of California, faded to 11th in Oaklawn Stakes (on off-track, against a 13 horse field), Shared Belief win was easily best of his career, bounce possibility?

Derby winner he hopes to be: Real Quiet

Max Player (Honor Code) Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana, Jr.

Pros: Hall of Fame trainer Asmussen, dam sire Not for Love also dam sire of 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, has shown good late kick in last two starts against top competition, has won over an off-track

Cons: passed tiring horses in Travers? In last two races, has left a lot of work for himself in last quarter, 3/8 of a mile, Asmussen 0-20 in Ky Derby

Derby winner he hopes to be: Grindstone

Enforceable (Tapit) Mark Casse, Adam Beschizza

Pros: Outstanding pedigree, by leading sire Tapit, out of mare who has produced 4 SW from 5 starters, including champion 2yo New Year’s Day, decent Blue Grass effort: was wide and gained in the stretch, trainer Casse trained 2019 Preakness and Belmont winners

Cons: hasn’t won since LeComte in January, hasn’t hit the board since Risen Star in February, highest lifetime speed number one of the lowest in the field

Derby winner he hopes to be: Giacomo

Major Fed (Ghostzapper) Greg Foley, James Graham

Pros: By leading sire Ghostzapper, Pedigree suggests he should handle 10f, beat Ny Traffic in Risen Star, Necker Island in Indiana Derby

Cons: one win from six career starts, Indiana Derby 2nd place result not flattered by Shared Sense in Ellis Park Derby

Derby winner he hopes to be: Proud Clarion

Storm the Court (Court Vision) Peter Eurton, Julien Leparoux

Pros: Eclipse Champion 2yo colt, 10 of last 20 Derby winners from Mr. Prospector sire line

Cons: hasn’t won since November (BC Juvenile), not sure he wants the distance, runner-up  in G2 La Jolla on turf in last start was decent but not overly promising

Derby winner he hopes to be: Gato del Sol

Attachment Rate (Hard Spun) Dale Romans, Joe Talamo

Pros: Pedigree suggests he should handle 10f, showed nice late kick in Ellis Derby defeating Necker Island

Cons: Only 1 win from eight starts, waits too long to make his run, has faced top rivals but can’t seem to beat them, low speed numbers, hasn’t hit the board in 2 starts at Churchill Downs

Derby winner he hopes to be: Dust Commander

Sole Volante (Karakontie) Patrick Biancone, Luca Panici

Pros: dam has 2SW from 4 starters and should get distance, if you excuse the Belmont he has shown great late kick and is 2 wins and 1 2nd in last 3

Cons: Last start was a flat 6th in Belmont Stakes in June, was in excellent form in January and February and hasn’t continued

Derby winner he hopes to be: Animal Kingdom

Finnick the Fierce (Dialed In) Rey Hernandez, Martin Garcia

Pros: Good 2nd place, with late run in G2 Ky Jockey Club at Churchill as 2yo, June allowance at Churchill was a good effort: 3rd behind Art Collector, Shared Sense. Has solid efforts at Churchill, and on off-track surfaces

Cons: has only crossed the wire first once: promoted to first via DQ in April allowance at Oaklawn. Pedigree, and recent races, suggest 10f is too far

Derby winner he hopes to be: Mine that Bird

Winning Impression (Paynter) Dallas Stewart, Joe Rocco, Jr.

Pros: Has won on off-track, trainer Stewart has been 2nd twice in Ky Derby at big odds (2014, 2013)

Cons: only win was in Maiden race in December at Fair Grounds, (Dq’d in Oaklawn Allowance in April), has not hit the board in Derby preps, ran 6th in only start at Churchill Downs

Derby winner he hopes to be: Charismatic

Necker Island (Hard Spun) Chris Hartman, Miguel Mena

Pros: pedigree suggests should get 10f, 2-4 at Churchill Downs, 1-1 on off track, has shown some improvement since claim and transfer to trainer Hartman

Cons: has not won as 3yo, low speed numbers, has only shown strong late kick once (June allowance at Churchill behind Art Collector, Shared Sense, Finnick the Fierce)

Derby winner he hopes to be: Exterminator

South Bend, (Algorithms) Bill Mott, Tyler Gaffalione

Pros: 2-3 at Churchill Downs, pretty solid 4th in the Travers, his first start under Hall of Fame trainer Mott, good Ohio Derby 2nd place where he made up lots of ground in the stretch, jockey Gaffalione won 2019 Preakness and trainer Mott won 2019 Derby

Cons: pedigree suggests 10f may be too far, hasn’t won since October of 2yo year, has run much of his 3yo year on turf

Derby winner he hopes to be: Country House

Mr. Big News (Giant’s Causeway) Bret Calhoun, Gabriel Saez

Pros: Incredible pedigree: by leading sire Giant’s Causeway, out of Galileo mare, distance should not be a problem, won Oaklawn Stakes in April defeating Thousand Words, showed some heart in a tough trip in Blue Grass Stakes, seems to like off-track

Cons: low speed figures, the Oaklawn Stakes may have been a one-time shot, has only once shown late turn of foot

Derby winner he hopes to be: Gallahadion

Money Moves (Candy Ride) Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano

Pros: two-time Derby winning trainer Pletcher, Hall of Fame rider Castellano, by leading sire Candy Ride, should be able to get 10f, $975k 2yo purchase, good speed figures, has experience in large fields

Cons: only three career starts, has yet to run in stakes competition, may have to show more early speed to be involved

Derby winner he hopes to be: War Emblem


About shepracing

Thoroughbred racing, research and writing.
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