The Kentucky Derby is only 47 days away and the field is starting to take shape. It’s the time of the year where people start putting together their top ten lists and we here at HBD are no different. There are a number of horses that have started to move away from the pack and separating themselves as true Derby contenders.
Samraat – Still my top horse, he is currently the leader on the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard and yet the majority of the people out there aren’t talking about this horse. Samraat is undefeated in his five starts which have all came in New York with his last four being at Aqueduct. The big bloggers out there point toward the idea that a New York bred horse can’t compete with the rest of the country, but I have a feeling this is the horse to prove them wrong. Watching the Gotham replay (http://bit.ly/HBDGotham) I am more and more convinced we haven’t even seen what this horse can do. He was toying with Uncle Sigh and In Trouble as they moved down the stretch and Samraat still looked like he had another gear to go to if had needed it. Pointed toward the Wood Memorial on April 5th, Samraat could easily enter the Derby undefeated in his 6 starts
Tapiture – I know its crazy to put a horse that just lost this past weekend in the two spot on my list, not to mention I was big on Hoppertunity going into the weekend. But watch that replay again of the Rebel Stakes (http://bit.ly/HBDRebel), Tapiture wins that race by a couple of lengths if he has the same trip that Hoppertunity had. Tapiture moved well but ended up caught behind two horses and had to literally push his way into a running lane. Once he got a chance to get going he was bumped again from the inside and had to be checked between horses. He was still able to push forward and finish a clear second only half a length off the nose of the winner. Pointed toward the Arkansas Derby the second week of April we may get to see this horse show what he is capable with a cleaner trip.
Cairo Prince – There are still a great deal of questions about this horse who looked great in the Holy Bull back in January where he beat a proven field by more than 5 lengths. We will have to see how the long layoff plays out. The Prince isn’t guaranteed a spot in the Derby at this point and has placed all of his eggs pointed toward an insanely stacked Florida Derby. With 14 points currently in the standings he is more than likely going to need to finish in the top four to have a shot at the starting gate the first Saturday in May. He has the talent to win the race, but the Florida Derby is quickly filling up with some amazing talent looking to use that race as the stepping stone into the Derby.
Candy Boy – The lone west coast horse to make my list, Candy Boy looks to be the only real contender coming out of California at this point. Many people are pointing toward Bayern, but we have yet to see him in a big race and his health is a definite concern. Candy Boy also needs some help in the Santa Anita Derby on April 5th, to make the field of 20 in Kentucky. Maybe I am wrong to not be impressed by the performance of California Chrome in the San Felipe, but he wired a weak field on a fast track. The ability to come from off the pace is impressive, but what I like about this horse is where he makes his move, fairly early coming around the turn. The distance of the Derby shouldn’t be a problem for this horse and his ability to rate could land him in a perfect spot comes May.
Social Inclusion – The giant question mark thus far in the field of derby contenders. Early this week Social Inclusion destroyed derby contender and a favorite of many in Honor Code making his return in an allowance race. If you believe Honor Code is the real deal as I did, then you have to turn your head and watch the performance put on by Social Inclusion. The track at Gulfstream could fit right into his wheelhouse come Florida Derby time but he is going to have to keep WildCat Red and General Arod at bay if he wants the lead. We don’t know much about this horse, other than looking more than impressive against a horse that had a spot on this list just a couple of weeks ago.
Hoppertunity – That stretch run in the Rebel is nothing to scoff about. If I am looking for a horse who is willing to take a beating and keep on running, this horse has to be near the top of the list. He got a great trip leading into the stretch and an amazing ride out of Mike Smith, but if we are looking for a horse to make his way around Churchill Downs with 19 other horses, then Hoppertunity has to be given a shot to be in contention down the stretch.
Also Rans: Conquest Titan, General A Rod, Intense Holiday, Bobby’s Kitten
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