Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - The tough Derby trail has claimed another horse.
Tapizar, who was the early front runner in California is out with a bone chip in his knee. He'll be sent to Lexington for surgery and his future is a question mark.
The injury may explain his bizarre behavior in the Bob Lewis Stakes when he ran out of control and faded to 5th in the race at Santa Anita. Tapizar looked nothing like the horse that had won the Sham Stakes on January 15th.
The winner was Anthony's Cross, who flashed down the stretch and won a photo finish with Riveting Reason. The winner had almost dodged the race and Tapizar to run in Northern California. But at the last minute trainer Eoin Harty kept him home and picked up the winner’s check.
Meanwhile, the other brother is doing better than last year's Derby winner at this point. Last year a mare called Supercharger gave WinStar farm and the world, a colt named Super Saver.
Her current 3-year-old is a son of Distorted Humor, who is suddenly right in the middle of the Derby picture. Brethren, the half brother to the 2010 Derby winner, won the Sam F. Davis Stakes with ridiculous ease.
Brethren won by four lengths under a hand ride by Ramon Dominguez.
It was not a fast race but Tampa is a deep track and the winner handled it with ease. However, it doesn't seem like the horses he beat will make the Tampa Bay Derby let alone the Derby in May.
Meanwhile, Comma to the Top avoided Tapizar in the Bob Lewis and traveled to Golden Gate, where his five race winning streak came to an abrupt end. He was well positioned at the top of the stretch but finished fourth.
Silver Medallion was the one who kept running and won the Grade 3 and a shot to move up on the Derby trail. Comma to the Top seemed to validate some feelings that he might be a miler, at best.
In an interesting twist of fate, trainer Steve Asmussen lost at Santa Anita when Tapizar ran erratically and then turned up with an injury. But he shipped a second stringer to Golden Gate and beat the favorite.
Like most years, I'm not sure a Derby starter will come out of northern California, but some of them will certainly try the Santa Anita Derby on April 9.
Which brings us to our changing list of 20 for the Derby.
1. Uncle Mo
It's the time of year, when I start getting nervous when the two year old champion has not been seen as a 3-year-old. But Mo is working lights out at the Palm Meadows Training Center. His work tab on February 13, was 4 furlongs in 47.45. The official 2011 unveiling is the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12. I wonder who else will show up?
He won so easy at Tampa Bay, it was almost like a walk over.
But Todd Pletcher is not likely to run two of his Derby contenders in the same race, so look for Brethren to try to the Florida Derby or Arkansas. If there was one message from Brethren, however, it's don't mail the Derby trophy to Uncle Mo, just yet.
3. Dialed In
One horse that seems likely to stay in Florida, is the late running Dialed in, who won the Holy Bull Stakes with another stunning stretch run. Nick Zito has the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby as possible stepping stones.
This might be the toughest route to Louisville. There are a lot of good three year olds training in South Florida.
Speaking of fast horses in Florida, Soldat made the transition from grass to dirt with the greatest of ease, and he did it in the mud. Running a stakes race on a dry track is the only thing he has left to prove. He was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile turf and he destroyed an allowance group at Gulfstream.
5. To Honor and Serve
He's another late comer to the Derby trail. To Honor and Serve hasn't run since he won the Remsen Stakes on November 27th. The return will be the Fountain of Youth on February 26 and that could be a salty field of Derby hopefuls. He has a top Beyer figure of 102 but that was three months ago.
This is Eddie Kenneally's shot at Derby day but Santiva will have to improve
in the Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fairgrounds. The son of Giant's Causeway won the Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. The last horse to win that race: Super Saver. Santiva will run against a full field of Derby contenders in the Risen Star, including Decisive Moment, Rogue Romance and Machen.
7. Rogue Romance
He's likely to be the favorite in the Risen Star which is a prep for the one million dollar Louisiana Derby. Ah, the New Orleans slots are paying off for the horse industry. This will be the first race of the year for trainer Kenny McPeek's three year old who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. If you're thinking about a Derby connection, Rogue Romance is by Smarty Jones.
8. Decisive Moment
He returns to Louisiana, where he's won a ton of money by shipping in from Florida. Decisive Moment got a second in the Delta Jackpot and won the Jean Lafitte, which is not graded. His dosage index is (2:11) which says he'll love the races as they get longer. If he hits the board here, he's a serious Derby horse.
9. Gourmet Dinner
He could be a millionaire before he gets to Louisville. Gourmet Dinner won 600 thousand dollars in the Delta Jackpot, then picked up more money in the CashCall Futurity and the Holy Bull Stakes. He might have distance limitations but he will run in either the Fountain of Youth or the Tampa Bay Derby. A real overachiever
Another Asmussen trainee who was sent to California after winning the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill. He followed that with a second in the Jockey Club and quiet winter at Santa Anita. A California prep race is next, and the three year old path to the Santa Anita Derby is wide open.
Can Bob Baffert work his magic on this colt, who's considered to be a bit of a training challenge? Jaycito won the Norfolk Stakes but had a troubled Breeders' Cup, to say the least. He recently worked five furlongs in under a minute and is one of those horses who could rise to the top in the San Vincente or San Felipe. There will be a quiz later this month of the Santa Anita Sans.
Thank goodness they changed one of those to the Bob Lewis.
12. Silver Medallion
With Tapizar out of Derby contention, Silver Medallion should now get more attention in the Asmussen barn. He's by Badge of Silver and the Dosage Index of 2.33 means he should be a candidate to run a mile and a quarter. He also qualifies for a $5.5 million bonus if he wins the Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness. He won the El Camino Real under all time winning jockey, Russell Baze.
13. J.P.'s Gusto
He has four wins and a half million dollars in earnings, and now he has a new trainer and a change of scenery. J. P. is now based at Oaklawn with Joe Petalino after racing in California for David Hofmans last year. The new target is the Southwest Stakes with new jockey Ramon Dominguez. Among the competition in Arkansas will be Elite Alex ridden by Calvin Borel.
14. Sweet Ducky
Now to horses like Sweet Ducky who will have to prove that they belong in the Derby chase. He might have won the Holy Bull had it not been for Dialed In's huge run down the stretch. Ducky has 120 thousand dollars in graded money and can pad his bank account in the Fountain of Youth or the Louisiana Derby.
Kelly Breen is the trainer.
Was he a one hit wonder in the Lecomte Stakes or will he improve? Neil Howard is back on the Derby trail with this colt by Lemon Drop Kid. Wilkinson won $60,000 with a rail trip to win the first Derby prep in New Orleans. But he needs another big score to make the Derby field.
16. The Factor
Maybe not a Derby horse, but certainly a fast horse.
The Factor set the six furlong track record at Santa Anita on the new dirt track. Now Bob Baffert has worked him 7 furlongs and will probably run The Factor in the San Vincente at, you guessed it, 7 furlongs. The Factor is a son of War Front, and his Dosage Index does not confine him to being a sprinter. Baffert has waffled about pointing him toward the Derby.
17 Stay Thirsty
In the great jigsaw puzzle that is the Pletcher Derby barn, Stay Thirsty is the talented workmate of Uncle Mo. Therefore he will head to the Gotham Stakes in New York to avoid any potential conflicts, and it's also the home base of owner Mike Repole. Stay Thirsty can pretty much work neck and neck with Uncle Mo, and that makes him a serious horse.
First time in our Twenty and leaps right into stakes competition after winning an allowance race with a 95 Beyer. But the Risen Star will be no easy field. Machen has the double challenge of running a decent race and winning some graded money. Neil Howard could come home with two Derby horses this year.
19. Anthony's Cross
He's the upset winner of the Bob Lewis and now may train up to the Santa Anita Derby. Trainer Eoin Harty made an excellent call when he kept his horse at home, even though he was also entered at Golden Gate. When Tapizar freaked out and ran away, Anthony's Cross was there to pick up the money. This means Uncle Mo is not the only Indian Charlie on the list.
20. Riveting Reason
And if you like Anthony's Cross, you'll love Riveting Reason who lost the Lewis in a photo finish. I really liked this horse before they ran the race, and he's hit the board now in three stakes races. With the California races wide open, don't count out Riveting Reason when we get to the big money races.
And falling out of our 20 for the Derby.
Boys at Tosconova.
He was second in the Breeders' Cup but first to be sidelined. This is another Officer colt, who bloomed early and disappeared just as quickly. Trainer Rick Dutrow said something was wrong, they don't know what. This Boy is out of training.
He's not the first Derby contender to be injured and he won't be the last.
They're hopeful that he can resume racing at some point but removing a bone chip is always risky for a race horse.
Comma to the Top.
Hate it. Hate it. I really liked this horse, and it looks like they'll try a comeback in the San Felipe. The pedigree is not impossible for the Derby, but maybe they ought to stay in Californina, run short and count the money. Think Lost in the Fog.
Always suspicious of a Derby contender when they aren't running by this time.
And this is a Baffert trainee. Maybe he'll appear soon and re-appear on the list but it's quiet, too quiet.
Not quiet at the race tracks this weekend. It's another trio of Derby preps.
Saturday is the Risen Star Stakes at the Fairgrounds.
On Sunday, Santa Anita stages the 7 furlong San Vincente.
And Monday, Oaklawn Park has its first Derby Prep, the one mile Southwest Stakes.
We'll update next Tuesday. Thanks for reading.