Sketches of Kentucky Derby starters

By ROBERT KIECKHEFER   |   May 2, 2002 at 5:12 PM   |   0 comments

LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 2 (UPI) -- Thumbnail sketches of Kentucky Derby starters

(By post position)

JOHANNESBURG

Bay colt by Hennessey-Myth (Ogygian)

Owners: Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier Trainer: Aidan O'Brien

Career record: 8-7-1-0 earnings: $1,017,005

Highlights: This Kentucky-bred and Irish-trained colt capped a perfect season last year by racing from off the pace to win the $1 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park. That was his first race beyond 6 furlongs, his first race in the States and his first race off the grass. His wins in Ireland, England and France were solid. He has raced only once this year, finishing second in a Group 3 event in Ireland on April 7.

Outlook: Many negatives. Only one prep. The inside post position. No Juvenile winner has come back to win the Derby. The positives are that he overcame a similar list of objections in the Breeders' Cup and that his jockey has ridden three Derby winners.

Jockey: Gary Stevens

WILD HORSES

Bay colt by Saint Ballado-Waltzing With Deb (Robyn Dancer)

Owner: Peachtree Stable (John Fort, et al) Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Career record: 5-1-3-0 earnings: $142,400

Highlights: This Kentucky-bred has progressed steadily, starting with a maiden win at Fair Grounds, then second in the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park and another second behind Private Emblem in the Arkansas Derby even though his rider lost his whip. His Beyer Speed Ratings also have increased steadily.

Outlook: He's still eligible for the entry-level allowance races and needs to take another major step forward to be competitive in the Derby. With the No. 2 post and a forward-running style, he's likely to be gunned from the gate and look for a spot just behind the early leaders. It could be crowded in that spot. Still, he's not the least likely longshot in the field.

Jockey: Rene Douglas

PERFECT DRIFT

Bay gelding by Dynaformer-Nice Gal (Naskra)

Owner: Stonecrest Farm (Dr. William Reed) Trainer: Murray Johnson

Career record: 6-3-3-0 earnings: $382,160

Highlights: He finished second behind Request For Parole twice at Turfway Park this winter, then turned the tables in that Northern Kentucky track's big race, the Spiral Stakes, winning by a neck in excellent time. He has never raced outside Kentucky and finished second in his only start at Churchill Downs -- his first race last November.

Outlook: He has done what he's been asked to do and his off-the-pace running style is probably right for the Derby. But he will face a tougher bunch than he found in such events as the WEBN Frog Stakes at Turfway and will have to show he can deal with them. Look for a big price.

Jockey: Eddie Delahoussaye

LUSTY LATIN

Gray/roan colt by El Prado-Scarlet Ann (Afleet)

Owner: Joey and Wendy Platts Trainer: Jeff Mullins

Career record: 11-2-2-3 earnings: $179,693

Highlights: Here's another with some unusual stops on this Cal-bred's record, including the Rattlesnake Stakes in January at Turf Paradise in Arizona. That event was one of his two wins. The other was a maiden race at Fairplex. He took his game up a big notch when he finished third behind Came Home and Easy Grades in the Santa Anita Derby in his last outing, rallying from well back in the field.

Outlook: He probably will need another immense step forward to be in the picture on Saturday. The owners are from Wyoming and the trainer started his career there, too. All are making their first Derby run, as is the rider. Listed at 30-1 on the morning line and deservedly so.

Jockey: Glenn Corbett

WAR EMBLEM

Dark bay or brown colt by Our Emblem-Sweetest Lady (Lord At War)

Owner: The Thoroughbred Corp. (Prince Ahmed Salman) Trainer: Bob Baffert

Career record: 7-4


0 earnings: $366,000

Highlights: He developed slowly this winter at Fair Grounds, then shipped to Chicago where he won an allowance event, then scored a front-running victory in the Illinois Derby. He was purchased after that race for an undisclosed sum. The odd thing about the transaction is that his previous owne and trainer did not intend to run the colt in the Kentucky Derby while the Prince bought him with just that in mind.

Outlook: He appears to want the lead and might be quick enough to get it from the No. 5 post position. However, in his last two races, he's been allowed to coast on the lead without serious challenge. It's unlikely that will happen in the Kentucky Derby so he will have to be up to an unaccustomed challenge.

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

OCEAN SOUND

Bay colt by Mujadil-Ossana (Tejano)

Owner: K M Stable, Jim Ford and Deron Pearson Trainer: James Cassidy

Career record: 12-1-2-3 earnings: $126,258

Highlights: This Irish-bred colt has been on the fringes in four starts in the United States this year. He was fourth in the San Rafel at Santa Anita, behind Came Home, second in the Rebel at Oaklawn, behind Windward Passage, and third in the Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland behind Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Harlan's Holiday. He had only modest success in England last year. His sire is by Storm Bird.

Outlook: Here's another of a long list of potential longshot contenders. He needs a step forward to hit the board but in his last four races he has appeared one-paced and without a late kick.

Jockey: Alex Solis

REQUEST FOR PAROLE

Dark bay or brown colt by Judge T C-Madison's Quest (Deputy Minister)

Owner: Jeri and Sam Knighton Trainer: Stephen Margolis

Career record: 10-4-3-2 earnings: $343,812

Highlights: This colt has one of the most interesting past performance charts of any Derby starter. He was second to Harlan's Holiday in the Miller Cradle Stakes at River Downs and again in the Iroquois at Churchill Downs last year. Then he was second behind Repent in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill and third behind Perfect Drift in the Spiral at Turfway. He is the winner of the WEBN Frog Stakes.

Outlook: If you like Harlan's Holiday, you need to give this guy a look. He has been competitive with that rival in two of their three meetings. And he held on well to finish third, beaten just a neck, in the Spiral in his last start. He has been off since that March 23 race, however, and that is a question mark.

Jockey: Robby Albarado

ESSENCE OF DUBAI

Dark bay or brown colt by Pulpit-Epitome (Summing)

Owner: Godolphin Racing Inc. Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor

Career record: 6-4


1 earnings: $1,543,200

Highlights: This colt raced well in California last summer and fall as part of Godolphin's modified plan to conquer the Derby, then returned to Dubai and entered into the unmodified part of that campaign, which so far hasn't been successful. Since running last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in October, the colt has raced only twice in Dubai, winning the UAE Derby in his most recent start. That race may not have been the most competitive of any Kentucky Derby prep, however.

Outlook: Obviously, this is a talented colt who could compete in this field. Prepping exclusively in Dubai, even after a 2-year-old campaign stateside, may not be enough to sharpen the talent for a task as tough as the Derby. One year, Godolphin will get this right and win the race.

Jockey: David Flores

MEDAGLIA D'ORO

Dark bay or brown colt by El Prado-Cappucino Bay (Bailjumper)

Owner: Edmund Gann Trainer: Bobby Frankel

Career record: 4-2-2-0 earnings: $319,720

Highlights: A late-developing Kentucky-bred, this colt jumped from a maiden win at Oaklawn Park to winning the San Felipe, beating U S S Tinosa and Siphonic. He then just missed in the Wood Memorial, losing a long and dramatic duel to Buddha at the wire, by a head.

Outlook: One of the top contenders off the Wood. But there are some negatives. They include the relative lack of experience, coupled with the hard race last time out, and extensive shipping from Kentucky to Arkansas to California to New York and back to Kentucky, all in the space of four months. Also, he probably will have to fight with War Emblem and maybe some others for the lead. He's a possibility but if he wins, it will be an accomplishment.

Jockey: Laffit Pincay Jr.

BUDDHA

Gray/roan colt by Unbridled's Song-Cahooters (Storm Cat)

Owner: Gary and Mary West Trainer: H. James Bond

Career record: 4-3


01 earnings: $498,600

Highlights: He has reeled off three straight wins this year -- a maiden race and an allowance event at Gulfstream Park in Florida, then the Wood Memorial victory over Medaglia d'Oro. He has come from just behind the leaders in each of those wins.

Outlook: He has taken three consecutive big steps forward this year, one in each month starting with February. If he has the required fourth step forward in his genes and can get to a comfortable pace-stalking position by the time the field hits the first turn, he could win.

Jockey: Pat Day

PRIVATE EMBLEM

Dark bay or brown colt by Our Emblem-Merion Miss (Halo)

Owners: James Cassels and Bob Zollars Trainer: Steven Asmussen

Career record: 7-4-2-1 earnings: $459,300

Highlights: A New York-bred, this colt raced against his fellows as a 2-year-old, then departed for the Southwest climes in the winter. He won at Fair Grounds, then won the Southwest at Oaklawn and continued the trend in the Arkansas Derby, kicking clear in that event to win by more than 4 lengths. He has been rating kindly in his recent starts and finishing well.

Outlook: He has shown the kind of progress you'd like a Kentucky Derby contender to show. And the Arkansas Derby has been known to produce a Kentucky Derby winner. He could be one of the livest of the longshots.

Jockey: Donnie Meche

CASTLE GANDOLFO

Chestnut colt by Gone West-Golden Oriole (Northern Dancer)

Owner: Mrs. John Magnier Trainer: Aidan O'Brien

Career record: 5-3-2-0 earnings: $189,836

Highlights: This Kentucky-bred colt finished his 2-year-old campaign with a second place in a Group 2 event at Saint Cloud in France, then opened this year with a victory in a dirt race in England. He has never raced in North America. It's worthy of note that his 2001 finale was at the Derby distance of 1 1/4 mile, and that he finished well. His training has been largely under cover so it's hard to determine where he is in terms of development.

Outlook: He has the breeding, has proved he can get the trip and his jockey is a Kentucky Derby master. His off-the-pace running style suits the Derby. The main questions are whether he's fit enough after just one start this spring and whether he can deal with the traffic.

Jockey: Jerry Bailey

PROUD CITIZEN

Bay colt by Gone West-Drums of Freedom (Green Forest)

Owners: R.C. Baker, D. Cornstein and W. Mack Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Career record: 6-2-1-0 earnings: $262,117

Highlights: Proud Citizen wouldn't be a Derby prospect if he hadn't upset the Lexington Stakes at odds of better than 8-1. Jockey Mike Smith had the mount for the first time in the Lexington. Before that, he was seventh of eight in the Santa Anita Derby, beating only Danthebluegrassman, in his seasonal debut. He also was well beaten in the Hopeful and the Sanford at Saratoga last summer.

Outlook: In his two wins, this Kentucky-bred led from gate to wire, so he logically could be expected to go to the front in the Derby. That will be a tough task in this field and it's hard to work out how he can have much impact on the eventual results so he's a deserved longshot.

Jockey: Mike Smith

HARLAN'S HOLIDAY

Bay colt by Harlan-Christmas in Aiken (Affirmed)

Owners: Starlight Stable (Jack and Laurie Wolf) Trainer: Ken McPeek

Career record: 10-6-4-0 earnings: $1,466,564

Highlights: When you never finish worse than second against top company, your whole career is a highlight. In this case, the reel currently is on hold with victories in the Florida Derby and the Toyota Blue Grass and the billing, "morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby." The horse battled with Booklet through the Gulfstream Park 3-year-old events, getting better as the distance increased. He seems to run best from just off the pace. He also won the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall, showing he can handle the quirky Louisville racing strip.

Outlook: If he gets a good trip, probably in the pack right behind the early leaders, he will have every chance to show he deserves to be favorite. He's likely to bid for the lead at the top of the stretch and then see if anyone else has a better late kick. Question marks: This will be his fifth start of 2002 and his final Derby workout wasn't as energetic as McPeek might have wished.

Jockey: Edgar Prado

CAME HOME

Dark bay or brown colt by Gone West-Nice Assay (Clever Trick)

Owners: Farish, Gooman, McCaffery and Toffan Trainer: Paco Gonzalez

Career record: 7-6


0 earnings: $871,400

Highlights: Other than a seventh-place finish in last fall's Juvenile, this Kentucky-bred colt hasn't missed a beat. His closest margin in victory was 2 lengths and he comes into the Kentucky Derby off a 2 1/4-length score in the Santa Anita Derby. Although he has raced mostly in California, he did travel successfully to win the Hopeful last summer at Saratoga.

Outlook: Here's another who, if he runs his race, will be in the second flight as the field hits the second turn. The conventional wisdom is that he is not one of the ones who will find a second wind at that point but it's hard to support that assumption with any facts currently on his past performance sheet. He is another of the mid-level longshots with a chance to get the job done.

Jockey: Chris McCarron

SAARLAND

Bay colt by Unbridled-Versailles Treaty (Danzig)

Owners: Cynthia Phipps Trainer: Shug McGaughey

Career record: 7-2-1-0 Earnings: $262,660

Highlights: There are no solider horse racing figures than the Phipps family, Shug McGaughey, Unbridled and Versailles Treaty. And he has raced well in all of his starts other than the Juvenile last fall. He just hasn't shown that he can win, finishing fourth in the Wood, second to Mayakovsky in the Gotham, fourth in the Champagne last fall, etc. He won the Remsen at Aqueduct last fall over a field that hasn't done much.

Outlook: In both his wins, this Kentucky-bred has come from well back in the field. To do that in the Kentucky Derby, he will need traffic control, a well-timed ride and some luck. He also needs to run just a bit faster than he has so far. Another in the big group of longshots with a chance to have an impact.

Jockey: John Velazquez

DANTHEBLUEGRASSMAN

Chestnut colt by Pioneering-Stay With Bruce (Grey Dawn II)

Owner: Michael Pegram Trainer: Bob Baffert

Career record: 8-3-3-0 earnings: $180,630

Highlights: Won the Golden Gate Derby in Janjuary, second in the El Camino Real Derby in March, then last with a tough trip in the Santa Anita Derby. Baffert sprang this Kentucky-bred colt as a last-minute surprise on the Derby field after he worked well at Churchill Downs. However, he has never raced outside California.

Outlook: He runs near the lead and probably will try to get a position in or near the first group during the first run past the stands. Picks up a new rider. Longshot.

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

IT'SALLINTHECHASE

Bay colt by Take Me Out-Limestone Landing (Red Ryder)

Owner: Darwin Olson Trainer: Wilson Brown

Career record: 14-2-3-2 earnings: $192,160

Highlights: He hasn't won since copping a $75,000 event at Remington Park last Nov. 24. In his last five races, the best he could do was a pair of third-place finishes -- although one of those was in the Louisiana Derby. He was ninth in the Arkansas Derby in his last start. He did finish second to Publication in the Arlington-Washington Futurity last fall.

Outlook: The Louisiana Derby effort wasn't bad. But he didn't show anything in Arkansas and would have to rebound significantly to have any impact on the Kentucky Derby finish.

Jockey: Eddie Martin Jr.

EASY GRADES

Dark bay or brown gelding by Honor Grades-Itsoeasy (Easy Goer)

Owner: Desperado Stables (Scott Guenther) Trainer: Ted West

Career record: 5-1-3-0 earnings: $229,600

Highlights: After a fling on the grass, this Kentucky-bred switched back to the main track for the San Rafael at Santa Anita in March and finished a good second to Came Home. He then repeated that result in the Santa Anita Derby, earning his trip to Churchill Downs. In each of his last two races, he came from off the pace and caught everyone but Came Home.

Outlook: If the question about Came Home is how well he will finish, and if this colt couldn't catch Came Home in either of his last two starts, that's a question mark. But if you like Came Home a lot, you'd have to give this horse pretty good marks.

Jockey: Jorge Chavez

BLUE BURNER

Chestnut colt by French Deputy-Halati (Alydar)

Owner: Kinsman Stable (George Steinbrenner) Trainer: Bill Mott

Career record: 6-3-1-1 earnings: $299,300

Highlights: Third in the Fountain of Youth, second to Harlan's Holiday in the Florida Derby but then regressed to finish fifth in the Wood Memorial.

Outlook: The Florida Derby move was very good and set him up as a prospect. The Wood performance was disappointing and the far outside post position won't do anything to help the cause. That said, the sire, owner, trainer and rider all contribute to a solid foundation, so add him to the list of "can do" horses if the stars are right.

Jockey: Corey Nakatani

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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