Greg Melikov’s Top 10 Derby Contenders
Injuries and upsets in major preps have muddled my list of Top 10 Kentucky Derby contenders. Here’s the revised lineup from the bottom to the new No. 1:
Stay Thirsty: The Gotham winner flopped in the Florida Derby, but the son of Bernardini wasn’t the only stakes winner to stub his hoof this spring. He did whip Wood Memorial victor Toby’s Corner on March 5 at Aqueduct.
Brethren: The Blue Grass at Kenneland is the make-or-break prep for the son of Distorted Humor who ran third in the Tampa Bay Derby after capturing the Sam F. Davis.
Soldat: The son of War Front had no response in the Florida Derby by one clunker doesn’t mean he doesn’t stand a chance at Churchill; Downs. If it comes up sloppy on the first Saturday in May his stock goes way up. He does have two victories at 1 1/8 miles, including the Fountain of Youth.
Pants on Fire: Winner of the Louisiana Derby likes to sit just off the pace. But the son of Jump Start will be in a crowd. The trip often decides races with large fields.
Midnight Interlude: This colt picked the right afternoon to break his maiden, winning the Santa Anita Derby despite a troubled stretch run during which he was steadied off the heels of the pacesetter. The son of War Chant rallied from fourth to stick his head in front at the wire and earn a trip to Louisville.
Toby’s Corner: Will this be another case of like father, life son? His dad Bellamy Road romped in the Wood Memorial by more than 17 lengths, than ran seventh at Louisville. The son won his second stakes at Aqueduct by a neck and has four scores in routes.
Mucho Macho Man: The if-you-don’t-succeed-at-first-horse tried again tossed a shoe leaving the gate in the Louisiana Derby, but managed a fourth. After a troubled fourth in the Holy Bull, the son of Macho Uno captured the Risen Star. Next stop Louisville? Could be worth a wager at high odds.
Uncle Mo: The son of Indian Charlie looked like a winner in mid-stretch of the Wood, but finished third. Another horse that finished in that position 38 years ago rebounded in the Kentucky Derby en route to becoming the 10th Triple Crown champ – Secretariat. He came up four lengths short at Aqueduct and some handicappers questioned whether he had the stamina to go long. Like Uncle Mo, Secretariat’s longest victory had been 1 1/16 miles until the Kentucky Derby. History could repeat.
The Factor: Another son of War Front aims to repeat his Rebel Stakes triumph in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby. If he could be the post-time favorite at Churchill Downs on May 7. This far, his winning streak his three, including an impressive performance in his first two-turn try, winning by 6 ¼ lengths at Oaklawn Park.
Dialed In: What a difference a race makes. The son of Mineshaft went from second in an allowance contest against older horses to a fantastic off-the-pace victory in the Florida Derby. He just might become the third horse in the past six years finding the Churchill Downs winners circle off Gulfstream Park’s premier stakes race.