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Weekend Expose': Derby 138 Top Twenty

Weekend Expose': Derby 138 Top Twenty

Credit: AP

In this image released by Gulfstream Park, Take Charge Indy, ridden by Calvin Borel, wins the Florida Derby horse race at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 31, 2012, in Hallandale Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Gulfstream Park, Adam Coglianese)

by Gary Roedemeier

Posted on April 2, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 2 at 9:18 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Exposed: The entire Louisiana Derby field, beaten by a 109 to 1 shot, who staggered home in :13.47 seconds for the last furlong.

Exposed: Union Rags, number one in the Derby futures betting but third in the Florida Derby.

Exposed: El Padrino, number one Derby contender in the Pletcher barn, but fourth in the Florida Derby.
In short, my Top Twenty list was shot full of longshots. 

The longest shot of all was Hero of Order, who somehow won a million dollar race and paid 220 dollars for a two dollar bet.

This Hero was a 3000 dollar purchase…yes 3000 dollars at the Keeneland September sale. Everybody in the horse world, from royalty to cowboys in big hats, overlooked him.

And, oh yes, the owners neglected to nominate him to the Triple Crown. He would have to be supplemented for $200,000 dollars and all the original nominees would have priority. It's not going to happen.

What will happen? The next month will see new attention and new respect for Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy. The son of A.P. Indy and Take Charge Lady will now be under the microscope.

Many thought it was just a matter of time before this pedigree showed up in the winner's circle at a major stakes race. He might have peaked too early, or the Florida Derby could be just the beginning.
There's a feeling that the top four horses in the Florida race could have dusted the entire field at the Fairgrounds. After all, El Padrino had beaten a similar field in his last race and was well beaten at Gulfstream.

In the Louisiana Derby, the winner ran the last three furlongs in 38:58
On Saturday, the last three in the Florida Derby went in  36.70.
The Florida track is faster, but you can do the math.

However, can I re-build a Top Twenty in the wake of this "Lost Weekend" for so many Derby hopefuls?
Hey, it's just handicapping.

1. Take Charge Indy
Go ahead, take charge baby.
If this is just the beginning and he's getting better, the rest of them can stay home? I was impressed. Pat Byrne has experience with great horses like Favorite Trick and Awesome Again, and he has a little good luck charm in Calvin Borel. Calvin is a candidate to win his fourth Derby. 
2. Hansen
Still the number one Derby horse in graded stakes money and he has done nothing wrong. If he wins the Bluegrass Stakes, he could be the favorite on Derby Day. And he'll draw millions in wagers from people who only bet on gray horses that train on Poplar Level Road.

3. Union Rags
I'm thinking that Michael Matz is not at all upset with the third place in the Florida Derby. Union Rags was closing at the end, he appeared to come back in good health and of course, Secretariat was third in his last race before the Derby. Union Rags did get a bad trip and jockey Julien Leparoux blames himself. He'll be determined not to let it happen again.

4. Creative Cause
He moves up because he wasn't exposed to the upset bug over the weekend but he could be vulnerable in the Santa Anita Derby. But, he is a Giant's Causeway and he has plenty of money that will take him to Louisville.
Just hitting the board at Santa Anita would be encouraging.

5. Went The Day Well
I'll make a bet. I'll bet that this year, nobody overlooks the horse that won the Spiral Stakes and is trained by Graham Motion and owned by Team Valor.
This is not the second coming of Animal Kingdom but it does catch your attention. Big question: Will they fit in another race to give him more experience?

6. Gemologist
He might be primed to make a big splash at the Wood Memorial. Come to think of it, he better be ready for a big race or he won't even make the field. The graded stakes price of doing business at Derby is going up. Gemologist and Alpha need to split this million dollar bankroll. If they don't some longshot will cash in and head to Louisville.

7. Reveron
This was the second place horse in the Florida Derby and that means he beat Union Rags and El Padrino. He's being being pointed for the Kentucky Derby but his graded stakes money might put him on the bubble. But, if he makes the field, he'll be on many exotic tickets. He has a way of hitting the board.

8. Secret Circle
This is the most accomplished of the Bob Baffert trained horses and every time he is asked to race longer, he does and wins. He has the Breeders' Cup sprint win to his credit and will have no problem making the Derby field. The next step is a mile and an eighth and a Baffert decision on going farther.       

9. Daddy Nose Best
He's a sure thing for Kentucky after winning the Sunland Derby and the time, 1:48:59, shows he can run with the big kids. It's up to Steve Asmussen to plan a schedule to get Daddy to the big race and get his nose in front.

10. Mark Valeski
Why didn't he win the Louisiana Derby? He had every chance to run down a 100-1 shot and stalled in the stretch. He tries hard, and he's been in two stretch duels at the Fairgrounds. Consider that the Fairgrounds track is deeper and slower than most…..and safer it seems. But…was this runner leading a group of slow horses down the stretch?

11. Optimizer
D. Wayne Lukas is back in the Derby picture with this horse, who came out of no-where to get second in the Rebel Stakes. Optimizer had a very spotty record until Jon Court found a ton of horse in the stretch at Oaklawn. He still needs a great run in the Arkansas Derby to get D. Wayne right in the middle of Derby week.

12. Bodemeister
This is the Bob Baffert horse with the least experience but perhaps the most potential. He recently turned in a bullet four furlong work and now the trainer must decide where he will race and when. These key decisions come as Baffert returns from Dubai still recovering from a heart attack.

13. Dullahan
Keeneland opens April 6th and eight days later we should know the future of horses like Dullahan, who seem to prefer grass or Polytrack. The Dale Roman's trainee won as a two year old at Keeneland last fall, and his closing kick might work at Churchill Downs.

14. Alpha
After two early wins at Aqueduct, the connections of Alpha decided to back off and wait for the Wood Memorial…or the Florida Derby….or the Wood, or maybe Louisiana…but finally the Wood, I think. Check your local listings but Alpha should be facing serious competition, somewhere.

15. Prospective
If you want to see a Derby horse, and you live in Louisville, this might be your best shot. Prospective worked five furlongs in 1:03 on March 27 at Churchill Downs.  That was the beginning of Mark Casse's preparation for Derby week.     
It appears that he'll have another race in April, but Churchill will be the base.

16. Daddy Long Legs
You never know about European horses and whether they'll make the effort to make the Derby, but it looks like this one is coming.
Daddy Long Legs won the UAE Derby on the Tapeta track in Dubai. He has almost 1.3 million dollars in graded earnings, so why not?  But it's a long plane ride.

17.  El Padrino
Oh! How the mighty have fallen. His dull effort in the Florida Derby has dropped him to the earnings bubble with 250 thousand dollars. He's number 18 on the list and there's a few million dollars to be earned in the next two weeks.
Might be the best horse not to make the starting gate.

18. Rousing Sermon
He's been just OK in California and then placed third in the Louisiana Derby. That still puts him ahead of El Padrino in earnings and El Padrino, is probably the better horse.

19. I'll Have Another
The West Coast version of Alpha. He won the Bob Lewis Stakes and then went to work training for the Santa Anita Derby.  That's two months off. Sure he was great in the Bob Lewis, but what will show up on April 7th. For trainer Doug O'Neill it's hit the board or stay home.

20. Liaison
Still number 20 but based only on the fact that he won enough money in 2011 to make the 2012 Derby. He needs a good race in the Santa Anita Derby to prove he's Derby worthy, otherwise he's bumping another good horse, who might have a chance.

Who's got a chance for Derby 138?
After Final Four weekend it seems like anything is possible.
My Derby Top Twenty went the way of my Final Four Brackets.
And for the Derby….we approach the final four….the final four weeks before the first Saturday in May.
Thanks for reading.