5th Annual GQ’s Derby Double Dozen

February 08, 2012 | Gary Quill

Approximately 35,000 horses were bred in 2009. Today, all are now considered 3 year olds, the year in which only one could potentially break the 32 year Triple Crown drought, by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This year all three Triple Crown races will be televised live by NBC Sports.

Approximately 30% of horses foaled make it to the race track. That’s roughly 11,000 horses. January 21st 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 2012. There also will be a late period for nominations at $6,000 each that will close on Saturday, March 24th. The list of 398 early nominations was released on February 4th, a significant increase from the 364 in 2011 and 366 in 2010.

Over the next few months the best 20 will surface, earning their way into the starting gate on May 5th to run in the 138th Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands. This weekend Churchill Downs is offering the first of three Future Wager Pools for the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

The dates for the Derby Future Wager are:
–Pool 1: Feb. 10-12
–Pool 2: March 2-4
–Pool 3: March 30 – April 1

This is the 14th year for the Derby Future Wager. Betting for each pool will open at noon (EST) 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 annual tradition, the time has come to reveal the 2012 GQ Derby Double Dozen… just under 90 days prior to the Run For The Roses. It’s 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 four 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.
2011: Animal Kingdom was not on the list; my #1 was Santiva who finished 6th at 34-1 just 5½ lengths behind the winner.

Below is the 2012 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). Call me a dinosaur, but I still believe in Dosage.

#1 – Discreet Dancer (T. Pletcher / J. Castellano) FL-bred son of Discreet Cat looked strong and raced effortlessly while going 2 for 2 @ GP in MSW & AlwNW1X but is untested in graded stakes. The Pletcher barn is loaded with 3 yr old talent, but the man himself has said they don’t know where the bottom is with this guy since they’ve yet to ask him for everything he’s got. A slight fever detected on Feb. 6th forced him to miss a scheduled workout, but hoping this won’t detour plans to run in G2 Fountain of Youth on Feb. 26th at GP. Dosage: 3.44

#2 – Gemologist (T. Pletcher / J. Castellano) KY-bred son of Tiznow has the stamina to get the Classic distance; was sharp in winning G2 Ky Jockey Club (85 BSF @ Nov. 26th) and Alw race, both going 1 1/16 miles @ CD. Undefeated (3 for 3) colt owns fine early-pressing speed and plenty of upside. Looking to run in only 2 preps prior to Derby. Dosage: 2.73

#3 – Algorithms (T. Pletcher / J. Castellano) KY-bred son of Bernardini is 3 for 3 in career after disposing of 2 yr of BC Juvenile and Eclipse Award winner Hansen in mid-stretch in the G3 Holy Bull @ GP Jan. 29th; Fountain of Youth would be the next logical step towards the Kentucky Derby. Dosage: 2.71

#4 – Union Rags (M. Matz / J. Castellano) KY-bred son of Dixie Union won G1 Champagne in Nov. but failed to run a straight course in unlucky BC Juvenile place finish, behind Hansen who led throughout w/o being pressed. “Rags” is training @ Palm Meadows (FL) with likely 3 year old debut in G2 Fountain Of Youth @ GP Feb. 26th followed by G1 Florida Derby on Mar. 31st then if all is well onto Louisville. Dosage: 2.14

#5 – Creative Cause (M. Harrington / J. Rosario) KY-bred son of Giant’s Causeway started career off sprinting to victory, earning a 107 Beyer; won G1 Norfolk then finished a respectable 3rd in BC Juvenile behind Hansen and Union Rags. He could make 3 yr old debut in G2 San Vicente going at 7f @ SA on Feb 19th. Actively training @ Hol. Dosage: 1.43

#6 – Sabercat (S. Asmussen / G. Melancon) KY-bred son of Bluegrass Cat won G3 Delta Jackpot (1 1/16 mile @ Ded; Nov. 19th) from far off pace on a day when Speed was holding and no runners from more than 3 lengths off pace got anywhere close at the wire. Has plenty of graded stakes earnings to get in Derby, so all Asmussen needs to do is keep him healthy and get him ready for the 1st leg of the Triple Crown. Next possible start: G2 San Felipe @ SA on Mar. 10th. Dosage: 2.73

#7 – Fly Lexis Fly (N. Drysdale / TBD) KY-bred son of Badger Of Silver raced in Peru and concluded his 2 yr old campaign with a pair of G1 victories versus older at a distance of 2400m (that’s 1½ miles). Owner shipped him to California just after the new year to prep for a Run For The Roses. Even though he sports no published workouts in North America, he’s been nominated to run in the Santa Anita Derby on Apr. 7th and is Triple Crown nominated, so he’s worth having on my radar, as all the experts so far have ignored him. Dosage: 1.29

#8 – Stirred Up (B. Baffert / M. Garcia) VA-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid only made career debut on Jan. 29th @ SA going 7 panels; ran 2nd but had the look of his Dad (who won Belmont stakes) in wanting plenty more distance. Considering he earned a 107 Brisnet Speed figure in that debut, it would not shock me to see this one show up next in a graded stakes race (at FG or OP) or stay in CA for a 1st level allowance going long. Definitely one to watch. Dosage: 1.67

#9 – Currency Swap (T. Pompay / R. Maragh) FL-bred son of High Cotton is a perfect 2 for 2 after winning G1 Hopeful @ Sar on Sep. 5th but had to be put on the shelf in Oct. due to an ankle injury; his connections are pointing to the Fountain of Youth (Feb. 26th) or Florida Derby (Mar. 31st) for his 3 yr old debut. First workout since injury came on Jan. 28th @ GP going 3f in 36.60. All systems appear to be “Go”! Dosage: 3.00

#10 – I’ll Have Another (D. O’Neill / M. Gutierrez) KY-bred son of Flower Alley pulled the biggest upset of the young 3 year old season when he easily won the G2 Robert B. Lewis @ SA on Feb. 4th going 1 1/16 miles at odds of 43-1. This was his first start since September (due to shin ailment) when he was up-the-track on a sloppy CD surface. Prior to that he sprinted to victory at first asking, then was a game 2nd to Creative Cause in the G2 Best Pal. The plan is to run in G1 Santa Anita Derby @ SA on Apr. 7th with the Kentucky Derby being his 3rd race after a layoff. Dosage: 2.11

#11 – Alpha (McLaughlin / R. Dominguez) KY-bred son of Bernandini has the stamina to get the Classic distance and was sharp in winning both starts as a 3 yr old (Count Fleet @ Aqu on Jan. 14th and G3 Withers @ Aqu on Feb. 4th) although he didn’t beat much in either. Willing to toss BC Juvenile disaster (11th) as he was fractious in the gate and bled. Owned by deep-pockets Goldolphin Stables who desparately want to win Derby, but have never had a runner finish better than 6th on the first Saturday in May. Training @ Bel; most likely will only prep once more (G1 Wood Memorial @ Aqu on Apr. 7th). Dosage: 1.67

#12 – El Padrino (T. Pletcher / J. Castellano) KY-bred son of Pulpit ran 3rd in Remsen last fall after breaking maiden by 12. Made successful 3 yr old debut in 1 1/16 allowance race @ GP in slop a few races prior to 1 mile G3 Holy Bull, where winner Algorithms beat 2 yr old champ (Hansen) by 5 lengths, but just .11 seconds faster than the one mile split this guy clocked and then he finished the final 1/16th in 6.40 seconds, earning a 100 Beyer. Appears he’ll head to the Bayou state to run in the G2 Risen Star @ FG on Feb. 25th. Dosage: 2.60

#13 – Empire Way (M. Harrington / J. Rosario) KY-bred son of Empire Maker is full brother to 2011 Eclipse award winning 3 yr old filly Royal Delta, had run all 3 career races as a 2 year old over the synthetic surface at Hollywood Park, but made a nice 3 year old debut with a runner-up effort in the G2 Robert B. Lewis @ SA on Feb. 4th travelling 1 1/16 miles on natural dirt, galloping out well beyond the winner (I’ll Take Another). Not sure what the plan is, but the immediate future appears to be very bright. Dosage: 2.81

#14 – Dullahan (D. Romans / K. Desormeaux) KY-bred son of Even The Score appeared to be making a living running on turf and/or synthetic until he finished 4th in the BC Juvenile on CD dirt. Owned by the same outfit who had Paddy O’Prado (3rd in 2010 KY Derby), this one might prep this spring in turf graded-stakes, with final Derby prep in Blue Grass @ Keeneland (synthetic surface). Training @ GP; likely to go in G3 Palm Beach Stakes, a 1 1/8 mile turf event @ GP on Mar. 11th. Dosage: 4.20

#15 – Tizanexpense (M. Maker / J. Castellano) KY-bred son of Tiznow will provide trainer Mike Maker a better shot at winning the KY Derby than his 2 year old champ (Hansen; who is nowhere among this Top 24 list). He’s already raced 9 furlongs (aka 1 1/8 mile) albeit on the turf, finishing 4th w/ plenty of energy. Then followed that effort with 2 winning ones, both at FG going 1 mile 70 yards. First on the front end in a MSW and then from off the pace in an Optional Claimer. His ability to rate will take him a long way. Look for him in G2 Risen Star, Feb. 25th. Dosage: 2.20

#16 – Ever So Lucky (J. Sheppard / J. LeParoux) KY-bred son of Indian Charlie has been impressive in two career starts, both @ CD. Easily breaking his maiden and then was the 8-5 favorite in the G2 KY Jocky Club and gave the winner (Gemologist) all he could handle, until the last 1/16th. Jury should still be out on his ability to get classic distance (1 1/4) as Indian Charlie offspring have a history of coming up short as did this one’s dam sire (Summer Squall) in the Derby. He could be an excellent Miler, so if he makes it to the Derby he won’t be on top in any of my exotics. Working in A.M. @ GP and will make 3 yr old going 7f in G2 Hutcheson on Feb. 11th. Dosage: 3.00

#17 – Liaison (B. Baffert / R. Bejarano) KY-bred son of Indian Charlie has been impressive twice in holding off Rousing Sermon in Real Quiet Stakes & G1 CashCall Futurity, but weakened in Robert B. Lewis as 3-2 choice, was squeezed, clipped heels and lost jock in mid-stretch. Not giving up on him yet because he carried 5 lbs. more than any of his foes, which if he gets to the Derby, everyone will carry 126 lbs. This one’s Mom was sired by Victory Gallop (’98 Belmont Stakes winner), so he might get enough stamina from his dam’s side to have a shot at earning a blanket of roses. Will likely resurface in G2 San Felipe on Mar. 10th @ SA. Dosage: 3.00

#18 – Big Blue Nation (T. Pletcher / R.Dominguez) KY-bred son of Bluegrass Cat was fast-closing 3rd in G1 Hopeful @ Sar on Sep. 5th on an off track after a bad start. Awaiting 3 year old debut while he’s been steadily training at Palm Meadows (FL). Skipped G3 Withers @ Aqu, so he may stay in FL and go in an allowance race @ GP. Dosage: 3.00

#19 – Reckless Jerry (K. Smith / B. Laviolette) KY-bred son of Cactus Ridge (has Raise A Native in dam line) made a splash in Smarty Jones (@ OP Jan. 16th) when 17-1 was a fast-closing 2nd behind Junebugred. He broke from 12 post going 1 mile, was hung 5-6 wide throughout, giving tons of ground to winner who had a rail trip. Came to OP via RP; he’s now 2-2-2 in 6 career starts. Will face tougher in 1 mile G3 Southwest on Feb. 20th. Dosage: 1.91

#20 – Neck ‘N Neck (I. Wilkes / J. Lezcano) KY-bred son of Flower Alley got a horrendous ride in the G3 Sam F. Davis @ Tam on Feb. 4th, yet still managed to close ground in deep stretch to finish less than 3 lengths behind the winner (Battle Hardened). Should be given another shot and could prove to be a diamond-in-the-rough, as he can handle two turns and was runner-up to the highly touted Discreet Dancer prior to the Sam F. Davis debacle. Dosage: 2.11

#21 – Stealcase (M. Casse / L. Contreras) KY-bred son of Lawyer Ron was impressive in breaking his maiden on Jan. 19 @ GP going 1 1/16 after 2 previous 4th place finishes in (6f) sprints; has been bet favorite in all 3 career outings, so connections must have high hopes for him; might point to G2 Fountain Of Youth on Feb. 26th? Dosage: 3.67

#22 – Longview Drive (J.Hollendorfer / J. Rosario) KY-bred son of Pulpit has been climbing through the ranks and tracks as he broke his maiden last Summer @ Golden Gate then toured the CA Fair meets @ Pleasanton, Santa Rosa & Fresno, was an late-gaining 3rd over a speed bias DeD track in the G3 Delta Jackpot & a game 3rd in the G3 Sham @ SA (Jan. 8th) with blinkers added. No Stamina issues here with Wild Again (’84 BC Classic winner) on dam side. Training @ SA but headed to OP for 1 mile G3 Southwest on Feb. 20th. Dosage: 3.73

#23 – Secret Circle (B. Baffert / M. Garcia) KY-bred son of Eddington won BC Juvenile Sprint then stretched out for 1st time in 3 yr old debut, but failed as favorite in G2 Sham (1 mile @ SA; Jan. 8th), unable to hold off the late charging Out Of Bounds. Not sure if Baffert will press on as the distances get longer or realize he’s got a good sprinter on his hands. Pointing towards the 7f G2 San Vincente on Feb 19th @ SA or 1 mile G3 Southwest @ OP on Feb 20th. Dosage: 2.53

#24 – Forward March (C. McGaughey / C. DeCarlo) KY-bred son of Distorted Humor won at first asking easily way back on Sept. 5th and hasn’t raced since. He was a $2 million yearling purchase, is among the 398 Triple Crown nominees and has been on a nice training schedule at Payson Park (FL). Definitely a longshot to break from the CD starting gate on the first Saturday in May, but worth a look when he does surface in the afternoon. Dosage: 2.20

In addition to these 24, here are another “Baker’s Dozen” who you might hear from over the next couple months…

Battle Hardened, Cop A Tude, Exothermic, Fed Biz, Isn’t He Clever, Junebugred, Mark Valeski, Midnight Transfer, Out Of Bounds, Prospective, Spring Hill Farm, Thunder Moccasin, and Unbridled’s Note.

An obvious omission is the 2 year old Champion Hansen. IMHO, he’s not a classic distance winner, but I’ve been wrong before. Who’s on your list that you don’t see here?

The Road To The Roses always has many twists, turns and detours, and this year should be no different. Buckle-up and enjoy the thrill of thoroughbred horse racing!