The news on Sunday morning that probable Kentucky Derby favorite, and #1 on my Derby Countdown for the last eight weeks, Eskendereya, would be scratched was a bitter pill to swallow. Not only had I become a fan of the horse, I really believed he was a cinch to win the race with anything close to what he puet forth in the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial. Now, we’re left with a full field of horses whos accomplishments are not particularly impressive and who have never posted a Beyer figure of 102 or more.
Here’s a short list of who I’m looking for to run a big race and who I think is worth trying to beat:
Ice Box – This son of Pulpit stands to get a great pace setup in the Derby. He benefited from a strong pace in the Florida Derby and the likelihood of a quick tempo in this affair is terrific. He will handle the distance without issue and is reportedly training great at the ‘Downs.
Lookin at Lucky – Yes, I’m a chalk-eating weasel for even bringing up the Derby favorite but if you believe the pace is going to be strong then you have to like this guy. He’s another who has looked great in the mornings and his white-haired fox of a trainer has done pretty well in this race over the years.
Awesome Act – Jockey Julien Leparoux likened this son of Awesome Again’s lost shoe in the Wood to a tire blowing out on your vehicle. He believes it was the reason why this guy fought with him so much down the backstretch and ultimately came up empty in the waning stages. There are still minor concerns about whether he can finish his move in a 10 furlong race but he’s a very interesting candidate for the top honors.
Sidney’s Candy – If this son of Candy Ride wins, I lose. I have been against him since they crossed the wire in the Santa Anita Derby as he was the beneficiary of a dream pace setup. I have serious doubts about whether he can handle a pace duel or rate comfortably off the pace. In order to back a horse who’s going to need to do something they haven’t before you need a good price to reward your faith and this guy will not go off a good price.
Paddy O’ Prado – There’s been a great deal of talk about this colt’s appearance at Churchill Downs in the morning over the last few days. It’s really no great surprise that he’s taken to the sloppy surface well as many turf horses are also generally able to run well on wet tracks. However, this guy has not made a start on dirt and this is a very tough time to be asked to go a furlong farther than he ever has before. The more aggressive style he’s shown in his last two races will lead to him getting scorched in this event.
Noble’s Promise – How would you like a horse who is coming off a dull effort from which he exited with a lung infection, who’s bred to be a sprinter? That’s what you’re getting with this guy and he’s another who’s going to be a much shorter price than he should be since I honestly think he should be 50-1.
I’ll be back with more thoughts over the next few days and a complete analysis of the Kentucky Oaks on Friday morning. Click here for my Kentucky Derby Contender Profiles. Until then I’ll leave you with a replay of the 2009 Kentucky Derby: