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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ZJ's Kentucky Derby Dozen - #1A 12/3/13

Here we go!

ZJ's Kentucky Derby Dozen makes it's return by popular demand! If you recall last year, I debuted Oxbow on my list in the lower half when most of racing had no idea who he even was. He went on to capture the Preakness after running his way into racing hearts and headlines.

For 2014, I don't have too many crazy ideas to start as we've seen some good looking horses race in the last 3 months. I tend to discount horses who make their name sprinting as babies as that type rarely stretch out to be a factor come Triple Crown Season.

Something new this year, I will try to provide a replay of a race for my entrant so you might see why I thought they were talented enough to make the list. So here we go, buckle up!


1. SHARED BELIEF - this Candy Ride gelding caught my eye breaking his maiden at Golden Gate. Prior to the Hollywood Preview, I tweeted to everyone that in my opinion, he was the horse to beat, not Kobe's Back who went off the solid favorite. He sat off the leader through solid fractions, then opened up on them in the lane winning off by 8 lengths with some powerful strides going the last quarter in 11 & change. He is the real deal.

2. HONOR CODE - having witnessed his debut that will go down in Saratoga folklore being behind 22 lengths at the half yet winning by 4+ lengths, this gorgeous son of AP Indy by a 3rd generation mare from Serena's Song, burst upon the scene with a tremendous splash. He finished his season gutting out a victory in the Remsen Stakes after pedestrian fractions early and flying home late. He will be #1 or #2 on every list out there, for good reason.

3. CAIRO PRINCE - This well built son of Freshman sire Pioneerof The Nile debuted with two impressive victories prior to an unexplained jockey maneuver which may have cost him The Remsen Stakes. After showing good speed in his first two starts, the jock had him hanging back off dawdling fractions, then rode over-confidently through the lane losing by a nose to Honor Code. If he won that race, he may have been #2 to start the year. He will be a force in 2014.

4. TAP IT RICH - the 2nd West Coaster to debut on the list left us in awe after his sparkling debut. The son of Tapit broke his maiden with complete authority still being green as grass. He has tremendous natural ability of which he is barely scratching the surface of his talent. He was thrown to the wolves to take money as the 'other Baffert' in the BC Juvenile after training very greenly for that race. If he finds a way to bring that talent out, he will be a very serious player.

5. NEW YEAR'S DAY - the final West Coaster to make the top 12, this is another Baffert. This son of distance loving Street Cry made his name winning the BC Juvenile. He has the tools to make some noise in 2014, and knowing he has a big heart (the Baffert horses hearts are tested to judge the size, bigger the heart, further they run) to pump lots of blood through his engine, distance should be no problems.

6. WICKED STRONG - this big strapping son of Hard Spun debuted behind the fast Manhattan Johnnie at a sprint distance, but added Lasix and won stretching out to a mile. He has a wonderful stride that fits my eye of a future Derby contender, and showed his ability rallying into snail paced fractions to finish with a flourish in The Remsen Stakes. He is in the good hand of Centennial Farms and Jimmy Jerkins, son of the Giant Killer, Allen Jerkins.

7. GOLD HAWK - this big beautiful son of Empire Maker just made his winning debut at Churchill Downs for Steve Asmussen. He overcame both his trainer who wins more 2nd time out than in debuts, plus the distance, which was 7 furlongs, being one of the toughest debut distances period. He has one of the best strides I've seen from all these Derby hopefuls and I am anxiously awaiting his next step down the trail. He could be our next star.

8. TAPITURE - the 2nd Asmussen horse to make the list has been very well thought of since his debut over the summer but ended up facing some stiff competition in those sprints. The long striding son of Tapit finally got to stretch out to two turns and ran away and hid on closing day at Churchill Downs breaking his maiden in a stakes race. Another who I'm looking forward to seeing how he matures in future months as his presence will be felt.

9. STRONG MANDATE **(not in list 1)**- this son of Tiznow will help The Coach get back to the promise land like 2013 when he had Oxbow and Will Take Charge. He was a precocious two year old that may have gotten tired as the season wore on. I feel the skies the limit for him, and wouldn't be surprised to see him right there when the Derby rolls around.

10. ALMOST FAMOUS - this striking son of Unbridled's Song has the speed of his sire flashing it to victory in his debut. After losing his 2nd start for Pat Byrne, he added blinkers and cruised to another victory going two turns for the first time. He will need to develop into a monster to get to the wire first on the first Saturday in May, but stranger things have happened.

11. MEXICOMA - this son of Birdstone flies the Team Valor colors and seems to be a pure distance horse as he has run in nothing but routes. He was up against it running in the Breeders Cup, but may turn out to be a very useful prospect.

12. HAVANA - the first of Todd Pletcher's runners to make the list and for good reason, he trains horses to win off layoffs at shorter distances than 10 furlongs, so it will be a fluke when/if he ever wins the Derby going forward. This son of Dunkirk will be tough until April when his trainer will run out of tricks. Might need to ride a bus to get home first at 10 furlongs.

13. SMART COVER - the son of Any Given Saturday might be the most talented of Dale Romans 2014 charges. He should adore distances as they get further, and might surprise in some of the spring preps with his late foot.

There are many horses to watch as the list will have many additions and deletions once horses start there progression to the Derby. Here is some of the Watch List.

For Pletcher -
Trail Blaze, Misconnect, Commissioner, & Dunkin Bend

From California -
Candy Boy, Kristo, Schoolofhardrocks, Colvir, & Bond Holder

From the East -
Unknown Road, Noble Moon, Financial Mogul, Coastline, Conquest Titan, Cleburne, Coup de Grace, Coastal Dawn, Big Bazinga, & Casaguapo.

A few turf runners -
Poker Player, Medal Count, and Bobby's Kitten

There we go, after much procrastination, ZJ's Derby Dozen #1.


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