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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 Kentucky Derby early preview

Now that all the points have been given out for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, we now know the top 24 horses likely to be entered.  There will be 20 horses drawn for the race along with four also-eligibles.  Below is a brief analysis of each horse in order from highest to lowest points earned. 

California Chrome: The likely favorite off his 5 1/4 length victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.  He has raced 10 times dating back to April 26, 2013 and has won his last four starts.  He has yet to race outside of Calfornia and there is plenty of pace in the field.  However, he has proven he can duel and finish and he has won four straight by open lengths.  

Vicar's In Trouble: Bounced back with a win in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby after his 3rd as the favorite in the Grade 2 Risen Star.  He seems to be at his best when forwardly-placed and all three of his wins have been by open lengths.  Now, can he carry his form outside of Fair Grounds?

Dance With Fate: Rallied for the win in the Grade 1 Blue Grass over Polytrack.  He was 2nd in a Grade 1 on dirt as a 2-year-old and has finished in the Exacta in six of his eight starts.  A likely hot pace only figures to help his chances.

Wicked Strong: Was the upsetter in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial for his second lifetime win.  He showed little at Gulfstream this winter and all of his good races have been in New York.  However, he could take advantage in the late going should there be a pace meltdown.

Samraat: Suffered his first defeat when 2nd in the Wood Memorial.  He won all five previous starts all in New York and he was game to finish 2nd in that last start.  His pressing style could lead to a great trip and he may be able to get a jump on the closers entering the stretch.

Danza: Lit up the tote with a win in his first lifetime route in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.  He finished 3rd in his two starts as a winner, but he has tactical speed and could receive another ideal trip if that was not a fluke.

Hoppertunity: Likely punched his ticket with a win in the Grade 2 Rebel.  He was a no-threat 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby, but he may not have been fully cranked and his running style figures to have him within striking range throughout.  

Intense Holiday: Is battle-tested with six straight Graded Stakes starts and he was 2nd in his last start in the Louisiana Derby.  He rallied from midpack to win the Risen Star and that may be the running style that will give him the best chance to win with all the early speed lined up.

Wildcat Red: Has fired in every start with five wins and two runner-ups with those two losses by a head and a neck.  He was game in defeat in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and he has proven he can duel and finish.  His biggest neg may be he has yet to race outside of Gulfstream Park.  

We Miss Artie: Proved his love for Polytrack with a win in the Grade 3 Spiral.  He did make a middle move in the Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth on dirt, but faded badly in the stretch.  His good race bad race pattern suggests a bad race next time out, but if he handles the track he could be a late threat.

Ride On Curlin: Has yet to win a Stakes, but he has finished in the Trifecta in each of his last four Graded Stakes.  He was 2nd in the Arkansas Derby and he seems to be at his best when able to settle early and rally in the stretch.  

Chitu: Was the winner of the Grade 3 Sunland Derby and he has won three of his four starts.  He has pressing speed and was 2nd in the Grade 2 RB Lewis at Santa Anita in his only other route.  Class may be his biggest obstacle.

Tapiture: Raced evenly when 4th in the Arkansas Derby.  He was 2nd in the Rebel prior to that and he won a Grade 2 at Churchill Downs last year.  He has pressing speed and he could be a bounce back candidate.

Ring Weekend: Led all the way in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.  He disappointed in the Calder Derby last time out when a distant 2nd, but he may not have been fully cranked.  However, he also needs to prove that Tampa Bay Derby win was not a fluke and there figures to be plenty of pace up front.

General A Rod: Has finished in the Trifecta in all five starts and was 3rd in the Florida Derby.  He was game in the stretch in his previous two starts and he was 2nd at Churchill Downs last year.  He figures to be part of the early pace at the very least.

Medal Count: Rallied for 2nd in the Blue Grass, but finished far back in his last two dirt routes.  He did win his debut on dirt and his closing style may be a plus, but he has some surface questions to answer.

Candy Boy: Proved best in the RB Lewis and was 3rd last time out in the Santa Anita Derby.  He may have been too close to the pace in that last one and we would not be surprised to see him drop back and make one run next time out.  This would be his first start outside of California.

Uncle Sigh: Has yet to defeat winners and all five starts have been at Aqueduct.  He finished 2nd in a pair of Grade 3's earlier this year and was 5th in the Wood Memorial last time out.  He did not show his early speed in that last one and maybe he will show it this time around.

Vinceremos: Was the narrow winner of the Grade 3 SF Davis prior to his 2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby.  He finished last of 14 in the Blue Grass in his last start and he may need dirt for his best.  He could rebound, but he likely needs to improve quite a bit if he wants to make an impact.

Harry's Holiday: Finished 13th in the Blue Grass.  He lost by a nose in the Spiral prior to that and he would be trying a dirt route for the first time.  He is usually forwardly-placed and would need to bounce back big time if he wants to contend.

Commanding Curve: Filled out the Trifecta when 3rd in the Louisiana Derby.  He has yet to defeat winners and he figures to sit back early and try to make a rally late.

Pablo Del Monte: Set the pace and held 3rd in the Blue Grass.  Two turns on dirt is a cloud and he may have a tough time keeping up with the pace against classier runners.

Bayern: Went off favored in the Arkansas Derby and tired to 3rd after setting the pace.  That was only his third lifetime start and he seems to have some talent, but his lack of seasoning might work against him.

Social Inclusion: Looks similar to Bayern as he set the pace and tired to 3rd in the Wood Memorial in his third lifetime start.  He figures to be a pace factor if he starts, but his inexperience may be his biggest neg.

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