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Monday, December 7, 2015

ZJ's 2016 KY Derby Dozen #1


Its time to roll out my first edition of the 2016 KY Derby Dozen.

Number 1 was easy last year, I saw American Pharoah's stride in his last work prior to the BC Juvenile in 2014, (which he obviously skipped)  knew he was special, and boy did he prove it. It was great fun watching him in 2015 from being on hand at The Belmont as he swept the Triple Crown to being in the paddock as a guest of the Zayats for his gut wrenching Travers loss. Memories of a lifetime.

This year I see a lot of talented horses but none stick out the way The Champ did last year. I have a good mix of horses from all over the country that should start popping up in less than 45 days preparing for these 2016 Classic. Mind you, my list is how I see them shaking out on Derby Day, it is not a list on "now" talent but a projection of how I see them the first Saturday in May.

Without further ado, counting down the ZJ's 2016 KY Derby Dozen #1.

#13 UNEXPLAINED ~ This gelded son of champion Ghostzapper has started twice so far at Churchill Downs with a ridiculous maiden win (VIDEO) followed up with a strong 2nd later in an allowance race. He has yet to go two turns but distance should not be a problem what so ever.

#12 SWIPE ~ The son of distance loving Birdstone has made a living running 2nd so far as he ran 2nd again in the BC Juvenile. (VIDEO) He still has room to improve and frankly will need to if he wants to threaten the Top 5.

#11 MOR SPIRIT ~ This ridgling son of Eskendereya trained by Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert has showed plenty of talent so far and may not have completely handled the wet track as he stretched out to two turns in the KY Jockey Club finishing 2nd after showing his speed. (VIDEO)

#10 ANNUAL REPORT ~ This son of the late Harlan's Holiday from a Phipps family mare roared from off the pace winning the Futurity at Belmont Park stamping himself as special. (VIDEO) He did not handle the tremendously sloppy track in his next start, but I'm far from giving up on this guy.

 #9 AIROFORCE ~ This Mark Casse trained son of Colonel John has handled everything tossed his way so far. He started his career on turf including just missing in the BC Juvenile Turf then moved to the dirt splashing home the victor in the KY Jockey Club at Churchill Down. (VIDEO) He is currently down in Florida on respite to prepare for his 3 yr old season.

#8 DREFONG ~ The second entrant for Bob Baffert as I was very impressed with this son of Gio Ponte who was professional breaking his maiden in his 2nd start displaying a smooth stride while flaunting his speed. (VIDEO) Really looking forward to seeing him stretch out around two turns.

#7 GUN RUNNER ~ The Steve Asmussen trained son of Candy Ride exploded on the scene with a big debut win at Churchill Downs then moved forward with a terrific race winning an allowance at Keeneland. (VIDEO) There were a few horses that didn't handle the wet track on KY Jockey Club day so I'm not holding that against him. Very interested in seeing how he develops.

#6 SHAGAF ~ Chad Brown jumps into the action with this son of Bernardini who showed his talent breaking his maiden at Belmont Park. (VIDEO) He showed a good mind by rating then drawing off beating a quality field this day. Chad had a huge year in 2015 and this colt could jump start his 2016 in style.

#5 BRODY'S CAUSE ~  This son of Giant's Causeway was uber impressive blowing away the Futurity field at Keeneland displaying strong late foot through the stretch. (VIDEO) If Dale Romans could possibly find this horses best on the 1st Saturday in May, he will be a very dangerous foe.

#4 NYQUIST ~ The Doug O'Neill trained son of Uncle Mo took me by surprise as he blew the doors off the BC Juvenile field at Keeneland. (VIDEO) While he is out of a Forestry mare, this effort stamps him as a serious contender with added development for the spring classics.

#3 MOHAYMEN ~ This Kiaran McLaughlin trained son of Tapit handled the two turns with a plume running away from his competition in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct to remain undefeated. (VIDEO)   He is now in Florida waiting to return to serious training as future development makes his a scary participant on the Road to the Roses.

#2 EXAGGERATOR - This son of Curlin is bred to run all day for Sleepy and his brother Keith. I was very impressed back in Saratoga as he exploded to victory in the Saratoga Special. (VIDEO) He continued to race through the fall culminating with his victory in the Delta Jackpot. The 10 furlongs really should hit him between the eyes if Sleepy actually rides him through the wire, he'll be a threat to win it all on Derby Day.

#1 CONQUEST BIG E - This gorgeous son of Tapit will need to out run his pedigree as he is out of a Carson City mare but man oh man he has been electric so far. He took to the sloppy track at Churchill like a duck to water splashing home in a very fast time. (VIDEO) He also is in Florida part of the Casse 80 horse contingent. If he continues his development, Big E will be a force to be reckoned with  come Ky Derby 2016.

So there it is - ZJ's 2016 KY Derby Dozen #1.

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