We are still a little more than two months away from the Kentucky Derby, but with the “Prep Season” races concluded and the Championship Series just kicking in, it’s a good time to look at some of the contenders leading up to high reward races such as the Gotham, San Felipe, and Spiral Stakes and the Tampa Bay Derby. Wins in these races, along with the Rebel Stakes and Sunland Derby are worth 50 points each and they could well be enough to land the victor in the Kentucky Derby. Expect to see quite a few first time stakes runners in these races over the next few weeks.
At the top of the DerbyDeals.com Kentucky Derby contender list is two-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby. Todd Pletcher’s Eclipse winner has fallen out of favor a bit with some racing analysts due to questions about his sustainability in a long race, but we are keeping him in the number one spot until he proves he isn’t worthy of the ranking or another hopeful emerges in dominant fashion as a clear cut favorite. Shanghai Bobby has a 5-1 record, with three stakes wins and a strong second place showing against Itsmyluckday in the Holy Bull Stakes. His next start is likely to come in the Florida Derby which could see him lock up with Itsmyluckyday again and Fountain of Youth winner Orb.
Goldencents was the “hot” horse back in January after pulling in his second prep win in the Sham Stakes. He previously had won the Delta Downs Jackpot and along with Shanghai Bobby (whom he finished second to in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) was a winner of two Derby prep races. There seems to be concern that his prep victories were not impressive enough and that he may not own the overall ability as some of the thoroughbreds that are just starting to emerge as contenders. You can look for him as a possibility in the San Felipe Stakes and further down the road in the Santa Anita Derby. At this point, Goldencents looks to be the most well rounded horse in Doug O’Neill’s stable of possible Derby contenders.
Checking in at third on our list is the Mark Casse trained Uncaptured. Uncaptured may not stir thoughts of greatness into the minds of many fans, but this colt has a solid foundation moving into heavier competition. He has had a steady climb in distance through seven races, winning six times against one set back in his first attempt at over seven furlongs. He came back nicely from that 5th place finish to win the Iroquois and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, both at Churchill Downs. His next contest will be after a long layoff and will be his 2014 debut. He is expected to hit the track next in the Spiral Stakes.
The next two on our top five are Overanalyze and Revolutionary, both trained by Todd Pletcher. Overanalyze may be a bit overrated in light of the emergence of colts such as Orb and Verrazano, but until he gives us a reason for uprooting him, he’ll remain a contender. His wins in the Remsen and Futurity, which seems like ages ago, are two reasons not to be quick to write him off. Overanalyze will be running in the Gotham Stakes this weekend and after that is likely headed to the Wood Memorial. Revolutionary has two consecutive victories after not hitting the finish line first in three consecutive maiden races. He came from behind to take the Withers Stakes and is a horse that seems to have speed to spare late. His next outing could be in the Florida Derby, which would have him taking the dirt against top notch competition and give fans a real sense of where he stands in regards to other Derby hopefuls.
There are plenty of other horses to discuss and we hope to get into those over the next few weeks. Top flight athletes such as Orb, Power Broker, Verrazano, and Flashback are likely to be forces in the chase for a Derby berth and DerbyDeals.com will be keeping an eye on them as well as the upcoming races in the Derby Championship Series!