Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - In less than two minutes, Dialed In went from a horse on the Derby bubble to a horse with a Derby bankroll. The son of Mineshaft went from 17th on the graded stakes money list to number two. Only Breeders' Cup champ Uncle Mo has more money and a showdown is looming in May.
Replacing Dialed In on the bubble is the surprising Shackleford, who almost stole the Florida Derby, but was passed at the wire by the hard charging Dialed In. Now, Shackleford and the Dale Romans connections will wait and watch as a half dozen Derby contenders make a last desperate run for the money, in an effort to make the starting gate.
Over $4 million in graded stakes money will be up for grabs over the next two weekends before Churchill Downs says "show me the money" as a condition for making the Derby field.
Dialed In's performance in the Florida Derby will make him one of the favorites, if not "the" favorite at Churchill Downs. It all depends on how Uncle Mo runs this weekend at the Wood Memorial. It looks like the Wood is not going to be a strong field but Uncle Mo could use a challenge to get ready for a mile and a quarter.
One stunning development in Florida was the flat performance by the race time favorite Soldat. He was number one on our Top 20 list, but got trapped down on the rail and then faded to fifth place during the stretch. Uncle Mo's stable mate, Stay Thirsty, was another disappointment, finishing well back.
To Honor and Serve was third and has plenty of money but you wonder if Bill Mott will push the horse to run in Kentucky.
So here we go with our Top 20 and there is a new number one.
1. Dialed In
This is the way you draw it up for Dialed In, if you're Nick Zito. He got a fast pace in the Florida Derby and came flying at the end. It looks like there will be plenty of speed in the Derby. The only thing that bothers me is traffic trouble.
It's tough to weave through 19 horses.
2. Uncle Mo
The Wood Memorial is shaping up like the Uncle Mo Show. Bob Baffert decided to keep Jaycito in California, so the field includes some of the minor award winners from the Gotham and some long long shots. The final evaluation may be "how good did he look while winning."
3. Premier Pegasus
Looks like this colt will be the favorite in the Santa Anita Derby based on his win in the San Felipe. But he really needs to put two good races together to be a serious contender. At least the Santa Anita is on dirt this year, and will be a better predictor of success at Churchill.
4. The Factor
He runs one week later in the Arkansas Derby, a course that he blistered in the Rebel Stakes. But this horse has blistered the track everywhere he has run. He's incredibly fast but can he carry his speed to the classic distance. If he can run that fast for a mile and a quarter, he's very special.
He jumps to number five because he stays at home and has a good chance to make his mark in the Santa Anita Derby. Just hitting the board gets Jaycito to the Derby and Baffert is one of the best at getting his horses to Louisville.
He could even turn the tables of Premier Pegasus.
6. Mucho Macho Man
Just sitting back with $370,000 waiting for the Derby. He was third in the Louisiana Derby but lost a shoe coming out of the gate and his trainer thinks that was the difference down the stretch. If he gets a good trip in the Derby, he could be a serious contender.
7. Decisive Moment
If you live in Louisville, you can drop by the backside and see the first Derby horse to arrive in town and start training on site. He's a tough campaigner, who has won $300,000. No stranger to big races.
What happened in the Florida Derby? He drew the rail and never got free, but he also looked like a tired horse running down the stretch. He has five weeks until the Derby and if I was the owner, I would enter the race and pray for rain.
9. Pants on Fire
Here's a horse that improved at just the right time and took the $600,000 first prize at the Louisiana Derby. The connections have made reservations in Louisville and he will be part of the early speed that could set Derby 137 up for a closer.
10. Watch Me Go
Tampa Bay Derby winner is also waiting for his next race, but he gets either the Arkansas or Illinois Derbys before the trip to Kentucky. He has $232,000 in graded stakes money and a little more wouldn't hurt his chances.
Everything hinges on the Bluegrass Stakes on April 16. He has $240,000 in graded stakes money and he also has a stakes win at Churchill Downs. But if he throws in a clunker at Keeneland, maybe it's not worth the trouble.
He needs to be the comeback kid in Arkansas for more than one reason.
He's outside the top twenty in graded stakes money and his last race was less than inspiring at Tampa Bay. A jockey change to Calvin Borel would certainly catch the bettors’ attention.
13. To Honor and Serve
He wouldn't be the first horse to run third in the Florida Derby and then run a good race at Churchill Downs. And the Kentucky Derby would be his third race off the winter layoff and he could be ready to peak. Dark horse.
Made a nice comeback in the Sunland Park Derby although the speed figures were not breath taking. He has enough money to make the field but can Asmussen get him in shape to run a race like the Derby. The next race hasn't been determined, but he could give Arkansas a try.
15. Anthony's Cross
Another bubble boy that has been waiting for the Santa Anita Derby. He has $162,000 in graded stakes, and needs to at least hit the board.
Good horse, but it will be a tough field at Santa Anita.
Showed great speed in the Florida Derby and almost won against a very good field. Dialed In just nailed him at the wire and he stunned the exotic bettors by hitting the board at 68 to 1. The problem is graded stakes money. $212,000 might not make the field. But if not, Dale Romans will settle for the Preakness.
17. Twice the Appeal
You must consider this horse because he's already making the trip to Louisville. Winning the Sunland Park Derby and $400,000 put him in the field. He is a great story, who broke his maiden in a claiming race in California. But the pedigree says Cinderella can run a mile and a quarter.
He grabbed $200,000 in the Louisiana Derby and now will try to confirm his status as a contender in the Arkansas Derby. He came out of no-where to beat Mucho Macho Man to the wire and get in the Derby picture. Is he a one shot wonder or the real deal?
19. Silver Medallion
Another contender whose fate will be decided in the Santa Anita Derby.
Hit the board in that million dollar race and you're on the plane to Louisville International. It's possible, but Santa Anita will be full of good horses.
20. Prime Cut
My last minute long shot.
He was just a fifth of a second off the track record at Louisiana Downs on Derby day but it wasn't in the Derby. It was an allowance race and it showed he can run. If Neil Howard can find a stakes race during April, this is a real late bloomer.
Falling off the Top 20 this week.
He was the biggest disappointment in the Florida Derby. The Gotham winner was way back and will probably make the Kentucky Derby field but I can't give him much of a chance after the dull performance at Gulfstream.
This week on the Derby trail: Who will come from California? The Santa Anita will be the elimination Derby. But those that hit the board will probably make enough money to make the trip.
At Aqueduct, the Repole connections will hold their breath and hope that Uncle Mo makes it safely to the finish line. You wonder how Mo would have run in the Florida Derby? We'll have to wait another 4 weeks for the showdown with Dialed In.
And at Hawthorne, we have the no-show Derby. They've cut the purse and the Illinois Derby may have trouble scaring up much of a field. But this is the race that gave us Derby winner War Emblem.
The Bluegrass and the Arkansas come up on April 16th…and then it's Derby time. It will be time to "Show Them the Money" and wait for the Derby draw.
Thanks for reading.