Approximately 35,000 horses were bred in 2008. Today, all are now considered 3 year olds, the year in which only one could potentially break the 31 year Triple Crown drought, by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Approximately 30% of horses foaled make it to the race track. That’s roughly 11,000 horses. January 22nd was the early deadline to nominate (for $600) a 3 year old to compete in the trio of Triple Crown Classics (Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes) in 2011. There also will be a late period for nominations at $6,000 each that will close on Saturday, April 2. On Sunday, February 13th a list of all early nominations will be released. In 2010, there were only 366 “early nominees”.
Over the next few months the best 20 will surface, earning their way into the starting gate on May 7th to run in the 137th Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands. Next weekend Churchill Downs is offering the first of three Future Wager Pools for the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
The dates for the Derby Future Wager are:
–Pool 1: Feb. 18-20
–Pool 2: March 11-13
–Pool 3: April 1-3
This is the 13th year for the Derby Future Wager. Betting for each pool will open at noon (ET) daily; the Derby pools will close at 6 p.m. on the final day of each pool. The pool will consist of 24 wagering interests – 23 individual horses and a mutuel field of all others as the 24th wagering option. The Derby mutuel field includes all other 3-year-olds. Each bet is WIN only and is a $2 minimum. There are no refunds on the future wagers.
In keeping with my (not so long) tradition, the time has come to reveal the 2011 GQ Derby Double Dozen. Here are my Top 24 colts and geldings (sorry ladies, no fillies) that I humbly believe have the best shot of getting to Louisville on the first Saturday in May and breaking out of the starting gate at approximately 6:20pm (EDT).
Here’s how the previous three GQ Derby Double Dozen lists have fared in picking the Kentucky Derby winner…
2008: Big Brown was ranked #2.
2009: Mine That Bird was not on the list (nor was on anyone’s list); Derby runner-up Pioneerof The Nile was ranked #1.
2010: Super Saver was ranked #10.
Below is the 2011 list which shows my ranking, horse name, trainer, current jockey and facts/comments which include the Dosage Index (if you don’t know what this is… Google it).
#1 – Santiva (E. Kenneally/S. Brigmohan) KY-bred son of Giant’s Causeway won G2 KY Jockey Club (2-turns at CD) in late 2010. 3 y.o. debut delayed until late February as his connections want to give him a shot going further than 1 mile. Probable next start: Risen Star @ FG (Feb. 19th) or Fountain Of Youth @ GP (Feb. 26th). Dosage: 1.67
#2 – Elite Alex (T. Ritchey/C. Borel) In his 2nd career race was beat a head in a 3-way finish in NW1X Allowance race at OP going 1 mile. He had a horrible start, dropping back to last, 10 lengths off the pace, and then making a big run just missed.He returned with a bruised foot and lacerations, so this son of Afleet Alex (same owners too) could make it Deja Vu in the OP 3 y.o. stakes series. Next test: Southwest @ OP (Feb. 21st). Dosage: 2.47
#3 – Dialed In (N. Zito/ J. Leparoux) Broke maiden on Nov. 12 at CD after a terrible trip early just inhaled the field in a stunning stretch run. Won Holy Bull (G3) at a mile on Jan. 30th “coming from the clouds” w/o even being shown the whip. He’s a son of Mineshaft and the Dosage fits at 3.62. His dam is out of Storm Cat. Next start: Fountain Of Youth (Feb. 26th) or Florida Derby (Apr. 3rd).
#4 – Machen (N. Howard/J. Theriot) KY-bred son of Distorted Humor romped by 5+ lengths at FG (Jan. 2nd) in career debut after a slow start going 6f.; Won 1st-level Alw race @ FG in similar fashion against four (4) weak foes. Has Derby history working against him.as last Derby winner unraced as a 2 y.o. was Apollo in 1882. Next start: Risen Star @ FG (Feb.19th). Dosage: 2.56
#5 – Uncle Mo (T. Pletcher/J. Velazquez) Run away winner of BC Juvenile over CD dirt; early Derby favorite; bloodlines aren’t cut out for Classic distance (mare was a sprinter); last Champagne stakes winner to win Derby was Sea Hero (1993). Probable next start: Tampa Bay Derby (Mar. 12th) then to NY for the Wood Memorial (Apr. 9th). Dosage: 2.20
#6 – Jaycito (B. Baffert/M. Smith) Disappointing 7th in BC Juvenile as he was wide throughout after swerving out badly on the first turn. Has a nice late running style that plays into Baffert’s training strength in preparing a 3 y.o. for the Derby. Got month off and is training again in CA for a February 2011 3 yr old debut. Probable starter in Robert B. Lewis stakes @ SA (Feb. 12th). Dosage: 3.00
#7 – Sway Away (J. Bonde/ R. Bejarano) Son of Afleet Alex has a bright future and an incredible closing kick; runner-up in Best Pal (G2); passed Holy Bull (G3) on Jan. 30th for 3 y.o. debut. Trainer needs to get a race under his belt soon to be considered a Top 10 contender. Rumors of running in 7 furlongs San Vicente @ SA (Feb. 20th) is a head-scratcher. Dosage: 2.50
#8 – Soldat (K.McLaughlin/ A. Garcia) 2nd in BC Juvenile Turf; made 3 y.o. debut @ GP Jan. 21 in NW1X Allowance going 1 1/8, won by 10+ lengths in solid fractions throughout finishing in 12.57 (race time: 1.49.22 in slop); Fountain Of Youth @ GP (Feb.26th) is next up. Dosage: 2.47
#9 – Casper’s Touch (K. McPeek/J. Leparoux) Sent to England (Chesham) in order to run distant races early in 2010 after a 4th place finish going 4 1/2 f. @ Kee. In 1st start at Chesham he ran 3rd, beaten 3+ lengths going 7 f. Came back to states and broke maiden on Nov. 19 @ CD at 1 mile (1:37 1/5). Made 3 y.o. debut @ GP in 1 1/8 Alw. (Feb. 5th), was rank early then when entering stretch was severely impeded by rival, nearly run into rail, losing all momentum yet came again get up for 2nd. Next start:: 1 1/8 mile Fountain Of Youth @ GP (Feb.26th). Dosage: 1.53
#10 – Astrology (S. Asmussen/G. Gomez) Runner-up in KY Jockey Club; spending early part of winter training in So. Cal (Santa Anita); son of Bernardini. Will be concerned if he doesn’t run in a graded prep race by mid-March (San Vicente on Feb.20th or San Felipe on Mar. 12th @ SA are on the radar screen). Dosage: 3.42
#11 – Tiz Blessed (C. Brown/P. Husbands) Won minor (Display) stakes at WO after breaking maiden in debut on Aug. 7th at Sar.; Out of Tiznow whose runners can get Classic distance; one to watch in early part of 2011. Training at Palm Meadows (FL). Dosage: 2.20
#12 – Stay Thirsty (T. Pletcher/J. Castellano) 5th in BC Juvenile; Tons of stamina in bloodlines (sired by Bernardini); hopefully will mature thru the winter and get better to qualify for Derby. Might head to NY for Gotham (Mar. 5th) or Tampa preps. Dosage: 2.25
#13 – Brethren (T. Pletcher/G. Gomez) Half-brother to 2010 KY Derby winner Super Saver; won debut and first level Allowance at CD; heading to Tampa Bay Downs (like Rule did) for Derby preps. Next start: Sam F. Davis (Feb. 12th). Dosage: 3.00
#14 – Awesome Patriot (B. Baffert/M. Garcia) Won allowance @ SA on Dec. 29th; has pedigree (by Awesome Again) to improve the further he runs. Though he has been winning on the front-end, Baffert may be training him to relax early and “take back” a bit to possess more of a stalking style like many of the Baffert Derby contender of the past (Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Lookin At Lucky, Point Given, etc.). Needs graded stakes earnings, might get shipped to Oaklawn for Southwest (Feb. 21st). Dosage: 2.50
#15 – Rogue Romance (K. McPeek/J. Leparoux) Game 3rd in BC Juvenile after being successful on turf leading up to that race. Son of a Derby winner (Smarty Jones) is still training for 3 y.o. debut. Possibly Risen Star @ FG (Feb. 19th). Dosage: 3.00
#16 – To Honor And Serve (W. Mott/ J. Velazquez) Won G2 Remsen at Big A (Thunder Gulch was last Derby winner who won Remsen); great pedigree (son of Bernardini). Lost some luster has Mucho Macho Man, whom he beat twice, ran 4th in Holy Bull (@ GP Jan. 30th) as favorite. Probable next start: Fountain Of Youth @ GP (Feb. 26th). Dosage: 2.38
#17– Gourmet Dinner (S. Strawbridge/S. Madrid) Won $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3 on Nov. 20th); nosed out for 4th in Cash Call Futurity (G1 @ Hollywood on Dec. 18th) and nipped for 2nd in Holy Bull (G3 @ GP on Jan. 30th). Already has a ticket (Graded stakes earnings) to Derby. Sire (Trippi) doesn’t cry out for Derby distance but Dosage (3.00) is acceptable.
#18 – Bert B Don (D. Fawkes / D. Centeno) Iron horse raced 7 times as a 2 y.o. (all sprints) then was runner-up in 7 f. minor stakes race at Tampa Downs. tactical speed runner never worse than 2nd in career; $5k yearling purchase has pedigree to get Derby distance, just needs to run in graded stakes races to prove it. Sam F. Davis @ Tam (Feb. 12th) would fit the bill. Dosage: 3.00
#19 – Washington’s Rules (K. McPeek / K.Desormeaux) Broke maiden on Jan. 22 @ GP going 1 mile in 2nd start after long layoff (2nd in debut at Sar. Aug. 10th); looked easy coming from 9th on the far turn to run down another nice colt (San Pablo) by 1 who was 6 in front of 3rd place finisher. KY-bred, roan, gelded son of Roman Ruler has Silver Charm on the mares side, so he’ll get the Classic distance. Entered to run in Sam F. Davis @ Tampa (Feb.12th) to avoid stablemates (Rogue Romance and Casper’s Touch) @ GP. Dosage: 3.00
#20 – Alternation (D. Von Hemel / L. Quinonez) Spent 2 y.o. season racing at Remington Park but won 3 y.o. debut (@ OP Jan. 15th) in gutty effort over Elite Alex. He’ll undoubtedly knock heads again w/ Elite Alex in Southwest (Feb. 21st). Dosage: 2.20
#21 – Tapizar (S. Asmussen/G. Gomez) Won G3 Sham by 4+ lengths at SA going 1 1/16th after a 10 length maiden score at CD, run a full second faster then the race (Jockey Club) before his at same distance. Staying in southern CA for prep races (Feb. 12th – $250k 1 1/8 mile Robert B. Lewis @ SA). Dosage: 3.00
#22 – Toby’s Corner (H.G. Motion / E. Casto) Won the Whirlaway Stakes @ Aqu (Feb.5th) in the slop after a couple dominate performances @ Lrl. Son of Bellamy Road has the pedigree to get Derby distance (Dosage: 1.86). Would appear to be on track to run in the Gotham Stakes @ Aqu (Mar. 5th).
#23 – Boys At Toscanova (M. Matz/J. Velazquez) Chased Uncle Mo in BC Juvenile; much second best there. Had to ditch Holy Buill @ GP (Jan. 31st) plans because “he wasn’t showing his usual high energy”. Unless Dutrow feeds this guy the same “vitamins” he gave Big Brown, this detour is huge. Whispers originally were he’ll target Tampa or Oaklawn preps, but the latest is he’ll make only one start (Florida Derby, Apr. 3rd) prior to 1st Saturday in May. Dosage:3.00
#24 – Comma To The Top (P. Miller / C. Nakatani) So. Cal. runner looks like real deal after Cash Call Futurity (@Hollywood) after throwing shoe before race . Will have to prove himself on natural dirt as his bloodlines loved synthetic surfaces. He’ll also have to outrun his Bwana Charlie (sprinter) pedigree and a veteran jock who has never won KY Derby. Pointing to El Camino Real Derby on the synthetic surface of GG (Feb. 12th). Dosage: 2.20
In addition to these 24, here are another “Baker’s Dozen” who you might hear from over the next couple months…
Shackleford, Travelin Man, Cal Nation, Rocking Out, Heron Lake, Manicero, Monzon, Crossbow, Lumberyard Jack, Silver Medallion, Positive Response, Twinspired and Wilkinson.
The Road To The Roses always has many twists, turns and detours, and this year should be no different. One quick observation, the races at Gulfstream Park (GP) will be loaded with talent thanks to MDI’s Preakness $5.5 Million bonus, eligible to winners of 3 year old graded stakes races who can also win the 2011 Preakness Stakes. MDI owns Gulfstream Park (GP), Santa Anita (SA) and Golden Gate Fields (GG).
Buckle-up and enjoy the thrill of thoroughbred horse racing!