Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby at The Downey Profile®
Derby Trail: Where They're Going Next
By Dick Downey
Corrections to General a Rod and Wildcat Red posted 12:31 p.m.
Kentucky Derby prospects are gathered and waiting to run, waiting in the wings, and waiting to come out of the woodwork. Let's take a look at where they're going next on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
First we'll focus on some leading names, then we'll get into a large cast of characters, many of which are already familiar to die-hards and perhaps new to others less fanatical.
Go to our Looking Good, Worth Watching and Just In Case pages to read about these 3-year-olds and many, many more. We have almost 150 profiles posted.
Bond Holder (Looking Good) -- Last year, this Doug O'Neill trainee ran in three grade I's in a row, winning the FrontRunner and running fourth in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and CashCall Futurity. He'll be shipped to Fair Grounds for the Grade III Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 22 for his 2014 debut.
Cairo Prince (Looking Good) -- Winner of the Grade II Nashua and second by an eyelash to Honor Code in the strangely-run Grade II Remsen, he'll make his debut in Saturday's Grade II Holy Bull for Kiaran McLaughlin. Perhaps not at issue in this race, but maybe later, is his high dosage index of 7.00.
Commissioner (Looking Good) -- He's just an allowance winner, but he attracted a lot of attention doing it, causing his future odds at the Wynn Las Vegas Book to plummet. Todd Pletcher's plan calls for the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 22.
Gold Hawk (Looking Good)-- Steve Asmussen will probably send him into the Grade II Risen Star on Feb. 22, where he'll seek to make amends for his third-place finish in the Grade III Lecomte at low, low odds. Connections still say the longer he goes, the better he'll get. I was in the winner's circle after his debut maiden-breaker at Churchill Downs, and he has the eye of the tiger.
Havana (Looking Good) -- The Fountain of Youth was penciled in as a target for the winner of the Grade I Champagne and runner-up in the BC Juvenile, but Havana has yet to put in a recorded workout this year. He’s been at Palm Meadows since the Breeders’ Cup, and on Jan. 5, Pletcher said, "Havana is just getting back to light training.... He’s filled out, and I think he looks great."
Honor Code (Looking Good) -- Shug McGaughey has him and two others on the Derby Trail. Whether they'll get on down the road no one knows yet, but Honor Code remains on track for the Fountain of Youth. He's had a couple of light breezes at Payson Park. Look for more serious workouts soon.
Midnight Hawk (Looking Good) -- The Grade II Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 8 is said to be possible, but as every courtroom lawyer knows, anything is possible. Bob Baffert has mentioned there could be a trip out of town. Given Baffert's stellar record at Oaklawn Park, the Grade III Southwest on Feb. 17 has to be a consideration. On the other hand, Baffert tries to run them when they're ready. The colt breezed four furlongs in :47:40 (5/33) on Tuesday, 10 days after he won the Grade III Sham, and Baffert is on record saying "He’s so heavy, I’d rather run him than work him."
Shared Belief (Looking Good) -- The Lewis was a hard target until his injury, described as both an abscess and a grabbed quarter in media reports. Now the Lewis is a soft target, but a workout could come any time for the runaway CashCall winner and Male Juvenile Champion. Jerry Hollendorfer says the last thing he wants to do is work Shared Belief too soon and set him back again.
Strong Mandate (Looking Good) -- One of the most exciting 3-year-old debuts of the year will come when D. Wayne Lukas' Strong Mandate hits the ground for the Southwest. Think about the addition of a Baffert runner or two, and you come up with a great prologue of things to come. Strong Mandate crushed the Grade I Hopeful by 9 3/4 lengths on a sloppy track, finished seventh in the Champagne, then came back with a fine third-place finish in the BC Juvenile after breaking from post 14.
Tamarando (Looking Good) -- Let's review the Cal-bred's accomplishments. Won the Grade I Del Mar Futurity around one turn. Won the Real Quiet Stakes around two. Third in the FrontRunner and third in the CashCall. We think what's next for Hollendorfer's trainee is the California Cup Derby on Saturday. Entries will be taken after this story is posted.
Tapiture (Looking Good) -- Asmussen will probably keep him separated from Gold Hawk -- they have the same owner -- and so the Road to the Derby will begin in the Southwest Stakes for Tapiture, winner of the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club as a fourth-race maiden.
Vicar's in Trouble (Looking Good) -- What a run he made in the Lecomte, so why wouldn't Mike Maker keep him right where he is and try to repeat the effort in the Risen Star? Will his 5.00 dosage index limit him as the distances increase? In the Risen Star, he'll have to run farther, but not much farther, than he did in the Lecomte.
Albano (Worth Watching) -- He's a half-brother to Mark Valeski, but further along than that one at this point according to Larry Jones. The trainer will keep him right where he is pointing to the Risen Star after his runner-up effort in the Lecomte.
Albert's Hope (Worth Watching) -- The winner of the Grade II Best Pal was second in the Del Mar Futurity and was off for months. He re-entered the worktab on Jan. 7 at Betfair Hollywood Park and has breezed there twice more since then. There'll be no more workouts at BHP after January, they say.
Almost Famous (Worth Watching) -- The Pat Byrne trainee will go next in Saturday's Holy Bull, the race where we start separating the men from the boys at Gulfstream Park. There was talk of putting him the Jan. 1 Gulfstream Park Derby, but that didn't materialize. The Holy Bull will be his first outing since the runaway allowance win on Nov. 9 at Churchill Downs.
Baratti (Worth Watching) -- He amazed even his own connections with a huge maiden win at Aqueduct on Jan. 10 in his second start. Kiaran McLaughlin will let the horse tell him and his staff which Grade III the next target is -- the Withers on Feb. 1 or the Gotham on March 1.
Bayern (Worth Watching) -- We don't know where Baffert will send the impressive debut winner, but since that occurred on Jan. 4, he's already worked twice.
Bobby's Kitten (Worth Watching) -- Chad Brown's Grade III Pilgrim winner came back with a third-place finish in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvewnile, then took a little vacation. He returned to the worktab on Jan. 14 with a three-furlong move.
Bourbonize (Worth Watching) -- He's won at two tracks in two starts, one on fast dirt (Churchill Downs) and one on the slop (Oaklawn Park), so there's no reason to think Kellyn Gorder won't try the Southwest next if all is well, rain or shine.
Candy Boy (Worth Watching) -- He made a huge middle move for John Sadler in the CashCall and stayed on to get second. Next is the Lewis, and one has to wonder if he'll be sent right away or reserved a bit longer than he was in the CashCall.
Classic Giacnroll (Worth Watching) -- The Withers is next for the Lisa Guerrero trainee. "Coming down the stretch, he stayed on his left lead; it probably cost him a little bit," Alex Solis said after his runner-up effort in the Grade II Jerome.
Coastline (Worth Watching) -- No telling what's next after the disappointing, no-excuse third as the 6-5 favorite in the Smarty Jones Stakes, but maybe a change of scenery will be in the offing for Mark Casse's charge.
Conquest Titan (Worth Watching) -- The Holy Bull is next, and he will be formidable if he can more or less duplicate what he did at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30. But can he win making one late run at Gulfstream Park? This may be Casse's best 3-year-old.
Constitution (Worth Watching) -- Pletcher is on record that an allowance race is probably next logical spot for the impressive maiden winner.
Cool Samurai (Worth Watching) -- The good: Cool Samurai finished second to Wicked Strong in his debut. The bad: He only beat The Admiral by a half-length in his maiden-breaker next time out. At couple of works at Betfair Hollywood Park in January, and we'll have to see what's next.
Coup de Grace (Worth Watching) -- Coup de Grace drew the rail in the Holy Bull. "It’s going to be a tough race. He’s unproven around two turns, and it’s a real test for him. I think it’s that time of year to try him around two turns and then we can figure out how to campaign him the rest of the year,” Chad Brown said Monday.
Cousin Stephen (Worth Watching) -- Brown and his barn are regrouping and want to give this one another shot to run like he did in his maiden win after his bewildering fifth-place finish as the 8-5 favorite in the follow-up allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 3. He's back on the worktab, so let's not lose faith in him just yet.
Dance with Fate (Worth Watching) -- The FrontRunner runner-up came back to run eighth in the BC Juvenile. He's entered in a Friday Santa Anita allowance optional claimer going a mile. It would be his first start on turf.
Enterprising (Worth Watching) -- Tom Proctor put him on synthetic in the California Derby after he won the Eddie Logan on turf. It was a good effort, second to the front-running Exit Stage Left. Time will tell what's next. Back to turf?
Exit Stage Left (Worth Watching) -- There's not much doubt about what's next for this, another Hollendorfer trainee, and that's the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 15.
Financial Mogul (Worth Watching) -- There's an old saying about three works in 10 days -- it's a good thing. Let's see how it pans out for Rick Violette's colt in the Holy Bull.
General a Rod (Worth Watching) -- The Gulfstream Park Derby winner was thought to be a formidable factor in the Holy Bull for Maker, whether he's the pacesetter or attending it -- but he wasn't entered.
Harpoon (Worth Watching) -- Pletcher's Gulfstream Park allowance winner will try the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 1.
In Trouble (Worth Watching) -- I was giving a friend the business a couple of weeks ago. He'd read a piece in a well-known publication about under-the-radar horses. I told him they we no longer under the radar, but that In Trouble really is still under the radar. He won the Grade II Futurity on Sept. 29 and finally returned to the worktab for Tony Dutrow on Jan. 11 at Palm Meadows. He was back on the tab Monday.
Indianapolis (Worth Watching) -- After he won the San Pedro Stakes on Tuesday: "Now, he’ll run in stakes races," Baffert said. "From here on out, hopefully up to the first Saturday in May, we’ll put him on a schedule that will stretch him out and hopefully we’ll win some big races."
Intense Holiday (Worth Watching) -- Pletcher has been attributed as describing both of his last two efforts, fourth-place finishes in the Nashua and Remsen, as sneaky good. Will the Holy Bull be a break-through race? Nice string of breezes coming into it.
Kobe's Back (Worth Watching) -- He will revert to sprinting on Feb. 16 in the seven-furlong San Vicente, and then the Sadler camp will decide what to do next. He finished 10th in the CashCall.
Kristo (Worth Watching) -- He didn't have the best of it in the Sham, finishing second to Midnight Hawk, and many look for him to do bigger and better things. The question is where and when. Sadler trains.
Louies Flower (Worth Watching) -- Bret Calhoun had to like what he saw when this one took the Springboard Mile, and now he'll see more of what he's got in the Southwest.
Matador (Worth Watching) -- Another one from the Casse barn, and he'll step up to the plate next in the Sam F. Davis.
Matterhorn (Worth Watching) -- After beating Harpoon and others at Aqueduct in November, and turning some heads in the process, he was off the worktab until Sunday at Palm Meadows for Pletcher.
Matuszak -- Fourth in the Jerome, and still on the worktab in New York for Bill Mott's barn, presumably his next start will be in the Withers.
Medal Count (Worth Watching) -- Several days after the dead-heat turf win at Gulfstream on Jan. 12, Dale Romans said a stake on the dirt "somewhere" is next.
Mexikoma (Worth Watching) -- There's been no public disclosure of where or when his 2014 debut will be, but the BC Juvenile sixth-place finisher has been working every nine days since New Year's Eve at Palm Meadows for Rick Metee.
Mr Speaker (Worth Watching) -- It's well-documented that his forebears ran well on dirt and that he's trained well on dirt, so now we're going to find out if he can run on dirt in the Holy Bull for McGaughey.
Noble Moon (Worth Watching) -- The Jerome winner came out of it with a foot injury and will not start again until the Gotham at the earliest for Leah Gyarmati.
Our Caravan (Worth Watching) -- "He’s not a green horse; he just lacks that race track experience. He’s running against some pretty nice horses that have already proven themselves to be stakes caliber, so those are the two main concerns," Michael Dilger said last week of an impending entry in the Holy Bull.
Ria Antonia (Worth Watching) -- The BC Juvenile Fillies winner, via disqualification of She's a Tiger, is being pointed to the Risen Star by Jeremiah Englehart. Set to arrive in New Orleans on Dec. 27, that trip was delayed, but she was on the Fair Grounds worktab by Jan. 18.
Ride On Curlin (Worth Watching) -- William Gowan sent him out on Jan. 12 to win a sprint allowance at Oaklawn, and next he'll stretch out again in the Southwest. Gowan recently said Ride On Curlin emerged from a distant third-place finish in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs with a lung infection.
Rise Up (Worth Watching) -- The Grade III Delta Jackpot winner from the barn of Tom Amoss has been absent from the worktab since that race on Nov. 23.
Rivers Run Deep (Worth Watching) -- After that belated, from-the-clouds third behind Ride On Curlin in the Jan. 12 allowance, you have to wonder if Cody Autrey will try him next in the Southwest -- but the trainer has others that could fit in the same race.
Roundupthelute (Worth Watching) -- After eight workouts at Santa Anita from Nov. 16 to Jan. 6, the Baffert trainee has been absent from the worktab since.
Samraat (Worth Watching) -- Presumably the Sam F. Davis or the Fountain of Youth for this 16 3/4-length winner of the Damon Runyon Stakes. "He's got a high cruising speed, and I think the two turns will be an asset," said Rick Violette on Dec. 14.
Sassicaia (Worth Watching) -- This $1.6 million purchase has had eight breezes at Palm Meadows for Chad Brown since Nov. 19. Somebody tweet me @DowneyProfile if they know when he's going to race.
Scotland (Worth Watching) -- Third in the Jerome, the Withers or Gotham may be next. He's in training at Fair Hill for Tony Dutrow.
Storming Inti (Worth Watching) -- Brown plans a turf campaign for the Kitten's Joy winner, but you just have to think he'll wind up in an important Polytrack race in Kentucky before all is said and done. He is talented, having narrowly beaten We Miss Artie in the Kitten's Joy.
Tanzanite Cat (Worth Watching) -- One would think the Smarty Jones winner could stay the course and come back in the Southwest for Autrey.
Tonalist (Worth Watching) -- What's up, Christophe Clement is on the Kentucky Derby Trail? It would not be a total surprise to see Tonalist in a stakes race like the Fountain of Youth next, but connections may want to give him more seasoning first after his impressive nine-furlong maiden breaker at Gulfstream Park last Saturday.
Top Billing (Worth Watching) -- Come Saturday, after running second to Commissioner on Jan. 3, this McGaughey trainee will run again at Gulfstream Park in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claimer.
Unknown Road (Worth Watching) -- Eschewing the need to run in a stake at this point, Al Stall, Jr. entered Unknown Road in an allowance going a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds on Saturday.
Walt (Worth Watching) -- After the runner-up effort in the Smarty Jones, Chris Hartman was concerned. "We’ll have to reevaluate and see where we’re at. I think we could be (in the Southwest) for sure, it just depends how the horse comes back, that’s the main thing. He switched leads late, and that caused a little concern for me,” he said. So the Southwest is a wait-and-see.
We Miss Artie (Worth Watching) -- He's obviously best on Polytrack and turf, so we're looking for a Keeneland Polytrack route to the Kentucky Derby for Pletcher's Grade I Dixiana Breeders' Futurity winner. Pletcher is, of course, well-familiar with this map. We Miss Artie ran a great race off the layoff in the Kitten's Joy.
Wicked Strong (Worth Watching) -- Javier Castellano chose him over Coup de Grace in the Holy Bull, and Castellano just won an Eclipse Award, so you be the judge unless you're willing to defer to Castellano. Jimmy Jerkens has to be feeling hopeful about this development.
Wildcat Red (Worth Watching) -- He couldn't quite hang with General a Rod in the Gulfstream Park Derby, and we thought he would go a sixteenth farther in the Holy Bull for Jose Garoffalo -- but he wasn't entered.
Best Plan Yet (Just In Case) -- Ninth of nine in the Gulfstream Park Derby, Stanley Gold must think he's better than that, so Best Plan Yet finds himself in the Holy Bull.
Big Bazinga (Just In Case) -- He finished second to Ami's Holiday, beaten a half-length, in the Grade III Grey Stakes, but then he ran a desultory seventh in the Grade Delta Jackpot. The Holy Bull will be his 2014 debut for Katerina Vassilieva.
Germaniac (Just In Case) -- Saturday's one-mile Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel is next for the Tim Tullock-trained winner of the Frank Whiteley Stakes.
Joint Custody (Just In Case) -- Presumably the same destination as Germaniac for John Robb's Marylander Stakes winner.
Paganol (Just In Case) -- This one created a stir at Oaklawn with a big maiden win and is said to be pointed to the Southwest by Autrey.
Street Gent (Just In Case) -- Same connnections as Noble Moon looking at the Withers.
Uncle Sigh (Just In Case) -- Takeoff on the Duck Dynasty ice tea drinker is being pointed to the Withers by Gary Contessa.