[Note: Current forecast is for a dry track on Derby Day]
By Art Parker
Likes: A. The idea of trainer Art Sherman winning the Derby. What a great story. B. Espinoza in the saddle. A good judge of pace and “been there, done that.” C. Won last four races by an average of about six lengths. D. If it is a bad track he may get better because sire and broodmare sire have high rankings on off track. E. Good tactical speed. F. Has two graded stakes wins with one a Grade One win. H. Showed good form at age two. I. Has defeated at least one graded stakes winner.
Dislikes: A. There are some questions about distance limitations especially in a hard fought battle like the Derby. B. Has never been outside California. C. Longest road trip has been from LA to San Diego. D. Although his breeding is favorable to mud he has never run on an off track.
Vicar’s In Trouble
Likes: A. Has won two graded stakes. B. Has early speed. C. Never been out of the money. D. Has defeated at least one graded stakes winner. E. Wet track should not bother him and he won big once on a track labeled “Good.”
Dislikes: A. Other than a start last October, he only knows Fair Grounds. B. He is a Louisiana bred, not the normal ingredient for a Derby win. C. Concerns over distance limitations.
Dance With Fate
Likes: A. Won a Grade One race. B. Has defeated at least one graded stakes winner.
Dislikes: A. Concerns over distance limitations with sire, even though it is a different story with the broodmare sire. B. Has only won on All-Weather or turf. C. The Blue Grass field he defeated appeared to be very weak. D. Wet track capability is in question.
Likes: A. Won a Grade One race. B. With names like Northern Dancer, Secretariat and Buckpasser running through his veins, his breeding is very attractive for the Triple Crown races. C. Apparently ships well. D. Showed good form at age two. E. Very capable trainer, plus trainer’s father is a good advisor to have on hand. F. Will come from off the pace but probably has enough speed not to get to far away. G. Other than his races at Gulfstream he has overall excellent form. H. An off track could make him even tougher. I. Has defeated at least one graded stakes winner.
Dislikes: A. Jockey is not a classic rider, but very capable.
Likes: A. Has won two graded stakes. B. Showed good form at age two. C. Either first or second in all career races. D. Has won five of six races. E. Has tactical speed or can run on the lead.
Dislikes: A. Has never defeated a graded stakes winner. B. Has a promising young rider, but has never experienced the Triple Crown stage. C. Unknown quantity in mud; one side of the family says “yes” but the other is still unknown. D. New York bred, similar status as Louisiana when it comes to the Derby.
Likes: A. The way he ran away from the Arkansas Derby field in the stretch. His effort in the last furlong was almost identical to the four year old Will Take Charge a half hour earlier in the Oaklawn Handicap -an extremely favorable comparison. B. His breeding is attractive and his paternal grandsire gave us Zenyatta. C. Good form as a two year old and nearly captured a graded stakes at Saratoga. D. Won a Grade One race E. Has defeated at least one graded stakes winner. F. Is under the care of the top American trainer in the game. G. Apparently ships well. H. May lack early speed but if he shows the turn time he did in Arkansas he can gain position to make a stretch run.
Dislikes: A. Before they leave the gate he may be the horse with the least experience in the field. B. Never shows a real lively work-hard to figure readiness. C. Uncertain about wet track capability.
Likes: A. Has won a graded stakes. B. Has defeated at least one graded stakes winner. C. Should be fine on a wet track. Has actually won a race on a wet track. D. Trainer has won the Derby and all big races. E. Breeding has Derby appeal.
Dislikes: A. Didn’t run as a two year old. B. Didn’t come close to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby.
Likes: A. Has won a graded stakes. B. Has defeated at least one graded stakes winner. C. Breeding is okay for Derby. D. Is under the care of the top American trainer in the game. E. Has shown steady improvement in speed figures as a three year old.
Dislikes: A. Questionable if a wet track and has never raced in anything but fast tracks. B. Will probably come from way, way back, which means susceptible to traffic problems.
Likes: A. The most courageous, toughest horse in the race that loves a good fight. One of the most promising three year olds of the year, if not the most promising, is Constitution, who is injured. Wildcat Red gave him all he wanted and refused to quit in the Florida Derby. B. Is only a neck and a head from being a perfect seven for seven. C. Has won two graded stakes.
Dislikes: A. Breeding suggests some distance limitations. B. Wet track may not be to his liking if the Louisville weather creates an off track. C. Trainer has little, if any, experience with the Triple Crown stage. D. Has only raced at one track – Gulfstream Park.
We Miss Artie
Likes: A. Has won two graded stakes, one of those a Grade One. B. Good two year old form. C. Is under the care of the top American trainer in the game, even though the trainer doesn’t seem to be too enthused about running him in the Derby. D. Breeding is good for the Derby distance.
Dislikes: A. His victories have come on turf or All-Weather and his performances on dirt have been dismal. B. Although he won his last, he will need to overcome a six week gap in races. C. Difficult to tell if he will handle a wet track if the weather creates an off track. D. Coupled with his poor efforts on dirt, he may be further back than normal with dirt being kicked in his face. E. Has not defeated graded stakes winner.
Ride On Curlin
Likes: A. His pedigree is beautiful and made to be a classic winner, and he looks to be one that is a little late maturing. He could be one of those three year olds that wakes up at any moment. B. A wet track will elevate his chances and he has already demonstrated his liking to a messy surface. C. Will get three time Derby winner Calvin Borel in the saddle.
Dislikes: A. Has never won a graded stakes or defeated a graded stakes winner. B. Trainer is a virtual unknown compared to the usual high profile conditioners at the Derby. C. Has only run at Oaklawn as a three year old, and he could not win at Churchill in three efforts as a two year old.
Likes: A. He is a real mystery horse but is trained by one who is very familiar with the Winner’s Circle at Churchill Downs. B. Breeding is in question for the Derby distance, but if his mother’s family prevails with influence then it is no problem at all. C. Excellent early speed and tactical speed. D. Has won a graded stakes. E. Has defeated a grade stakes winner. F. Excellent form as a two year old. G. Only a half- length separates him from a perfect record.
Dislikes: A. Before they leave the gate he may be the horse with least experience in the field. B. Was defeated by Candy Boy, who has yet to provide a serious challenge to the likely favorite.
Likes: A. Has won graded stakes at ages two and three, a major plus. B. Should be fine on a wet track. C. A son of the top sire in North America. C. Ran well at Churchill as a two year old, which could turn out to be a major factor. D. Has defeated a graded stakes winner. E. Has good tactical speed.
Dislikes: A. Last race was something of a clunker. B. His mother’s side of his breeding may cause distance limitations. C. His jockey may be talented but the Derby is far up the ladder from his past experiences.
General A Rod
Likes: A. Excellent tactical speed. B. Fought Wildcat Red tooth and nail several times and defeated him once, which means he has defeated a graded stakes winner. C. The grandson of a Derby winner and on his mother’s side a granddad with tremendous stamina genes. D. Never finished out of the money. E. Gets the rider services of last year’s Derby winner. F. Good two year old form.
Dislikes: A. Has never won a graded stakes.
Likes: A. Has won a graded stakes. B. Has defeated a graded stakes winner. C. There is no doubt that this colt was bred to run all day long, the question will be his maturity as a three year old. D. Current form is good.
Dislikes: A. Bred to run on grass. One of his career wins was on grass, the other on All-Weather. B. Looks to be a better prospect for the Belmont than the Derby. C. Other than breaking his maiden, his two year old form was lousy.
Likes: A. Has won a graded stakes. B. Has defeated a graded stakes winner. C. The biggest plus is that he gets Gary Stevens in the saddle.
Dislikes: Has never left Southern California and shipping is a question. B. Was no match for the probable favorite at Santa Anita. C. Breeding causes concerns with distance limitations.
Likes: A. Good tactical speed even though he was off slow in last race. B. Has run toe to toe with Samraat on two occasions. C. Should love a wet track if the weather causes a mess in Louisville.
Dislikes: Has never won a graded stakes. B. Has never defeated a grade stakes winner. C. Breeding may not allow him to enjoy races beyond 9 furlongs. D. Young talented jockey but has never been on this big stage before. E. Has never raced at a track other than Aqueduct and has never shipped-major negative. F. New York bred.
Likes: A. Has won a graded stakes. B. Is under the care of the top American trainer in the game. C. Breeding should be fine for a Derby run.
Dislikes: A. Has not faced tough competition. B. His last race was awful. C. Has never defeated a graded stakes winner.
Likes: A. Two year old form was good.
Dislikes: A. Breeding in question for the Derby distance. B. Has never defeated a graded stakes winner. C. Is a former claimer and was claimed for $30,000 as a two year old.
Likes: A. Decent third in the Louisiana Derby.
Dislikes: Too many to mention.