By Dick Downey
One week into the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, we run down the schedules of the major contenders, and more.
Rather than break this down by race, we'll go horse by horse. Among the major contenders on the lists of just about everyone:
Delhomme, trained by Todd Pletcher, is still being pointed to the Grade II Rebel Stakes on March 16. Pletcher is keeping him separated from Verrazano, who's looking at the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby on March 9. Delhomme has put in six breezes at Palm Meadows since Jan. 20, and he could be ready before March 16, but Pletcher has few options at this point.
Falling Sky, trained by John Terranova II, will run against Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby after opting out of the Grade II Fountain of Youth last Saturday. He breezed Sunday morning, so all seems well for him.
Flashback, in the Bob Baffert barn, is still on schedule for the Grade II San Felipe on March 9. That race lost a contender over the weekend when it was disclosed that Demonic is recovering from a foot bruise. Meanwhile, Flashback demonstrated his readiness with a breeze on Monday going six furlongs in 1:11.00 (1/14).
The San Felipe may draw a short field, as have other California prep races this year, but one major contender will be Goldencents. He worked on Feb. 22, so he'll have one more appearance on the worktab during the intervening 15 days.
On Saturday at Calder, Itsmyluckyday climbed some fans' wall of worry when he finally breezed after winning the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 26. The move was third fastest of 55, and trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. says everything is fine. The Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30 remains the target.
Shanghai Bobby, from the Pletcher barn, also remains pointed to the Florida Derby after breezing Monday at Palm Meadows. Shanghai Bobby has breezed twice since the Holy Bull.
The Florida Derby showdown may include Shug McGahey's Orb, who created a lot of good feeling winning the Fountain of Youth. However, the trainer says the Grade I Wood Memorial on April 6 remains an option pending discussion with ownership.
Another winner over the weekend, Grade II Risen Star hero Ive Struck A Nerve, will be prepared for the Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 30. Keith Desormeaux is having a lot of fun in his own backyard with his first graded stakes winner.
Normandy Invasion will not return to Fair Grounds after running a tough-trip close fifth in the Risen Star. Instead, he'll go back to the scene of his of the race that really put him on the map last year: Aqueduct. The runner-up in the Grade II Remsen Stakes is being pointed to the Wood Memorial.
This Saturday, Remsen winner Overanalyze will return Pletcher to the spotlight in New York, where his Revolutionary created a stir winning the Grade III Withers Stakes on Feb. 2. Several contenders are expected to be entered in the Grade III Gotham Stakes to face Overanalyze, including Rudy Rodriguez' Grade II Jerome winner VyJack.
Meanwhile, Revolutionary breezed Monday for the first time since the Withers. The next-race plan for him hasn't been disclosed yet and could depend on a variety of factors. So far, stated options are the wood Memorial, Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby.
Super Ninety Nine, dominant winner of the Grade III Southwest Stakes, could return in the Rebel. But Baffert likes to keep options open and put them on the plane when they're ready. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, Baffert might consider sending Code West back to Fair Grounds after his gritty lost-by-a-nose finish in the Risen Star.
Mark Casse has yet to unveil Uncaptured this year. He's been unseen by the public while galloping and breezing at the Ocala Training Center. We should see him at Palm Meadows before long, with the Grade III Spiral Stakes on March 23 being the next objective.
Casse also has, of course, Dynamic Sky, set to face Verrazano and others in the Tampa Bay Derby.
Always in a Tiz, up the track in the Southwest, came out with a lung infection and is pointed to the Rebel.
Balance the Books and Noble Tune, both with Chad Brown, have been said to be looking at grass races. It's not clear yet whether both will be entered in Sunday's Grade III Palm Beach. But it looks significant that Noble Tune breezed on turf at Palm Meadows on Monday, while Balance the Books did not breeze at all. Both had been engaging in Monday dirt breezes for several weeks.
Capo Bastone is said to be possible for the Rebel.
Charming Kitten, who breezed on Monday, is definitely looking at the Palm Beach and may be the favorite. He's a rare example of this: a turf horse trained by Todd Pletcher for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Clearly Now is shortening up in Saturday's Grade II Swale Stakes after running a distant third in the Holy Bull.
Crop Report, a fast-finishing third in a turf allowance at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, may come back in the Spiral. No official word yet.
All we know about Den's Legacy is that he is likely to run somewhere out of town next time. He should be ready soon. The Grade III Sunland Derby looks like a possible spot, but he could run sooner than that in the Rebel.
Departing, who skipped the risen Star, will be entered in the Texas Heritage Stakes at Sam Houston, set for this Saturday.
Dice Flavor, the Grade III El Camino Real Derby winner, is a question mark.
Fear the Kitten, second in the Southwest while not threatening Super Ninety Nine, is pointing to the Spiral.
Fortify was going shorter than he wanted to go on a surface new to him when he finished up the track in the Group III UAE 2000 Guineas. The longer distance of the Group II UAE Derby should suit him better, but what about the Tapeta surface? No word yet on his next start.
Frac Daddy has not breezed since Feb. 9. After sustaining a grabbed quarter in the Holy Bull, his foot was a lot better, but an issue with a throat ulcer arose, according to Ken McPeek.
He's Had Enough failed to fire again in the Fountain of Youth, but don't be surprised if something new is tried with him before very long.
Honorable Dillon, thought by the NYRA press office to be going to New York for the Gotham, is pointing to the Tampa Bay Derby.
My Name Is Michael missed the Fountain of Youth after getting sick. As of Monday, he'd not returned to the worktab since running third in the Grade III Sam F Davis.
Oxbow, valiant in defeat in the Risen Star, will undoubtedly be returned to Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby.
Palace Malice, a very good third in the Risen Star, his first two-turn race, could be returned to Louisiana from Palm Meadows at the end of March.
Power Broker remains an enigma, but he’s definitely working back toward the races after putting in his third breeze since Feb. 14 on Monday. A recent lengthy article about him in DRF.com did not mention any specific plans.
Purple Egg looks primed to make the Tampa Bay Derby.
Shakin It Up, winner of the seven-furlong, Grade II San Vicente Stakes, will probably be tried at two turns next time, but we don't know where yet.
Treasury Bill, second to Shakin It Up, is being pointed to the Rebel.
Sky Captain, who took a pass on the Fountain of Youth, looks like he may be in the Gotham this weekend. The Battaglia Memorial was also mentioned as being possible.
Speak Logistics, third in the Fountain of Youth, will surely not face his stable mate Itsmyluckyday in the Florida Derby. Wait and see.
Sunbean could be given a chance in the Louisiana Derby. The Gentilly Stakes winner is a Louisiana-bred and has a sporting owner.
Tiz the Truth, impressive maiden winner at Santa Anita on Feb. 2, was on the worktab on Feb. 17. But as of Monday, he had not returned to the tab.
Will Take Charge, who had a setback in the Southwest after winning the Smarty Jones Stakes, looks like he'll go to the Rebel.
Some from Our Just In Case List and Others
Amerigo Vespucci to the Gotham Stakes.
Bambazonki to the Palm Beach.
Channel Isle to the Rebel.
Clawback to the Gotham.
Dewey Square to the Palm Beach.
Dry Summer to the Sunland Derby.
Elnaawi to the Gotham.
Escapefromreality to the Gotham.
Forty Tales to the Swale.
Golden Soul to the Louisiana Derby.
Gombey Dancer to the Swale.
Hear the Ghost to the San Felipe?
Heaven's Runway, third in the Southwest, to the Grade I Arkansas Derby, bypassing the Rebel.
Mac the Man to bypass the Battaglia and go in the Spiral.
Majestic Hussar to a sprint stake -- although his trainer said he’s not ruled out the Florida Derby.
Mylute to the Louisiana Derby.
Ore Pass to the Gotham.
Proud Strike to the Louisiana Derby.
Res Judicata to the Swale?
Siete de Oros to the Gotham.
Texas Bling to the Rebel.
Titletown Five, something in March, maybe the Rebel Stakes, maybe something less rigorous with an eye toward something bigger later.
Other Gotham Probables: West Hills Giant, Alcolite, Champion Boy. Maybe Transparent.
Other Swale Probables: Are You Kidding Me, Dighton, Merit Man, maybe Little Distorted.
Disclaimer: Not intended to be a complete survey of every 3-year-old nominated to the Triple Crown.