It was a weekend of much consequence for the ever-shaping Derby Trail. In the Santa Anita Derby, Pioneerof the Nile strengthened his credentials as a top pick with an impressive win while Chocolate Candy shot up four places on the Paulick Derby Index by AmWest Entertainment on the back of a strong second place finish. In Illinois, Musket Man finally made a case strong enough for our voters, cracking our list for the first time at number nine. And I Want Revenge showed his prowess with a highly unusual and seemingly impossible ride in the Wood Memorial. Despite severely stumbling out of the gate, he stuck with the race and battled from last to first.
The weekend also had its fair share of disappointments with poor performances by hopefuls Imperial Council and Mr. Hot Stuff. However, most disturbing was the sudden scratch of The Pamplemousse, rendering this previous favorite completely off the Derby Trail. Quality Road also had a run in this weekend when a quarter crack was discovered in his right hind hoof. Since the news broke after many of our balloters had submitted their selections, look to see how far Quality Road drops in next week's poll.
Next weekend, the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes will help to round out the Derby picture for many of the horses on our list including Old Fashioned, Papa Clem, Win Willy, Patena and Mafaaz.
Ray Paulick's Analysis
1-Pioneerof the Nile. With the scratch of The Pamplemousse, the Santa Anita Derby came up a completely different kind of race than trainer Bob Baffert was hoping to get for the Empire Maker colt. But despite the crawling pace, Pioneerof the Nile came through with perhaps his best performance yet. He'll get a fast pace in the Kentucky Derby, giving him the opportunity to make the kind of late run that Baffert thinks will best suit him.
2-I Want Revenge. Spectacular performance in the Wood Memorial, showing the Stephen Got Even colt's versatility. He showed speed in the Gotham and blew away the field at the top of the stretch, and had to utilize a completely different running style here. I'm not big into offering owners advice, but if I were David Lanzman and Mike Iavarone, I'd get some duct tape and put it on trainer Jeff Mullins' mouth when the media shows up Derby week. Nothing he says is going to help him in the mess he created at the Aqueduct detention barn last Saturday prior to the Bay Shore Stakes.
3- Dunkirk. He moved up without racing this week, and the chances of getting into the starting field with his limited graded stakes earnings look better than ever. On the downside, if Dunkirk, with his expensive yearling price tag and fancy pedigree, does win the Derby and other big races as a 3-year-old, what are the chances we'll see him as a 4-year-old next year. But I digress. He is an exciting prospect who should improve, if serious physical ailments aren't the reason for his light record.
4-Quality Road. I had to chuckle when I saw the headline “Quality Road Quarter Crack Not Serious” on one web site. It's right there with “mild” heart attack. That's the same kind of spin Team IEAH was trying to put out last year when Big Brown's quarter crack re-emerged just before the Belmont, forcing Rick Dutrow to alter training. Missing any training in the final weeks before the Kentucky Derby is a serious setback, so we need to watch this one closely.
5-Friesan Fire. He's got some history to beat with his long layoff and Louisiana wintertime route to Churchill Downs, but this is a good horse, and the Vinery Stable (co-owners with Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm) is one of the hottest things going in racing right now, from limited numbers.
6-Old Fashioned. Arkansas Derby is the big test. Is he just a miler? I like the rider switch and think the Unbridled's Song colt will avenge his only career loss, suffered when when he was a bit too close to a hot pace on a tiring Oaklawn track in the Rebel.
7-Musket Man. The under the radar horse can't stay hidden any longer after winning Saturday's Illinois Derby impressively. Son of Yonaguska is one of those horses that looks better on paper the longer you look at him, though it's a pedigree that comes up light on stamina.
8-Desert Party. Not much new to report on UAE Derby runner-up. I'm sure it was a quiet week for him.
9-Chocolate Candy. Ran a really solid race against Pioneereof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby, closing ground late on super slow fractions. I know it's horse racing (not owner racing), but would love to see Jenny Craig in the winner's circle at Churchill Downs on Derby Day with a son of Candy Ride that she bred with her late husband. After a week of dealing with the likes of Ernie Paragallo, I'd like to see good people rewarded, and she certainly qualifies.
10-Papa Clem. Let's hope the Arkansas Derby comes up with a fast track. If it does, I wouldn't be surprised to see son of Smart Strike be the one to upset Old Fashioned. The win would further validate the strength of the West Coast's 3-year-olds, a point that's already been made by I Want Revenge's New York performances.
||Fan Vote||Alex Brown||Paul Moran||Billy Reed||John Conte||Bill Finley|
|Paulick Report||Paulick Report||Alex Brown Racing||At The Races||Billy Reed Says||Conte's Picks
|Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||I Want Revenge|
|I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Rachel Alexandra||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Quality Road||Friesan Fire|
|Dunkirk||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road|
|Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile||Desert Party||Rachel Alexandra||Old Fashioned||Chocolate Candy||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire||West Side Bernie||Old Fashioned|
|Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Regal Ransom||Dunkirk||Friesan Fire||Regal Ransom|
|Chocolate Candy||Mafaaz||Desert Party||Chocolate Candy||Musket Man||Dunkirk|
|Desert Party||Musket Man||Regal Ransom||Chocolate Candy||Terrain||Old Fashioned||Desert Party|
|Chocolate Candy||Win Willy||Musket Man||Friesan Fire||Musket Man||Terrain||Win Willy|
|Papa Clem||Desert Party||Win Willy||Musket Man||Desert Party||Giant Oak||Chocolate Candy|
|Randy Moss||Bill Nack||Valerie Grash||Gary West||Michael Nikolic||Dana Byerly||Jeremy Plonk|
|ESPN||ESPN||Foolish Pleasure||FW Star-Telegram||Gathering the Wind||Green But Game||Horseplayer Pro, ESPN|
|I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Dunkirk||I Want Revenge||Rachel Alexandra||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Quality Road||Quality Road|
|Friesan Fire||Dunkirk||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Dunkirk|
|Desert Party||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||I Want Revenge|
|Quality Road||Chocolate Candy||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Chocolate Candy||Regal Ransom||Friesan Fire|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Papa Clem||Friesan Fire||Papa Clem||Desert Party||Old Fashioned|
|Old Fashioned||Musket Man||Dunkirk||Desert Party||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Terrain|
|Win Willy||Stardom Bound||Chocolate Candy||Win Willy||Musket Man||Musket Man||Desert Party|
|Musket Man||Win Willy||Musket Man||Musket Man||Desert Party||Chocolate Candy||Chocolate Candy|
|Chocolate Candy||Old Fashioned||Mr. Hot Stuff||Regal Ransom||Dunkirk||Papa Clem||Hold Me Back|
|Bill Christine||John Pricci||Vic Zast||Jon White||Richard Eng||Alan Mann||Alicia Wincze|
|Horserace Insider||Horserace Insider||Horserace Insider||HRTV, Santa Anita TV||Las Vegas R-J||Left at the Gate||Lexington H-L|
|I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire||Dunkirk||Friesan Fire|
|Quality Road||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge|
|Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Chocolate Candy||Quality Road||Papa Clem||Quality Road|
|Desert Party||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Friesan Fire||Dunkirk||Chocolate Candy||Old Fashioned|
|Old Fashioned||Chocolate Candy||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Old Fashioned||Win Willy||Chocolate Candy|
|Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Regal Ransom||Old Fashioned||Patena||Friesan Fire||Dunkirk|
|Chocolate Candy||Win Willy||Chocolate Candy||Papa Clem||Win Willy||Old Fashioned||Desert Party|
|Regal Ransom||Desert Party||Musket Man||Musket Man||Chocolate Candy||Quality Road||Regal Ransom|
|Theregoesjojo||Musket Man||Desert Party||Theregoesjojo||Musket Man||Musket Man||Musket Man|
|Art Wilson||Joe Drape||Andy Serling||Jessica Chapel||Brendan O'Meara||Jeff Scott||Lisa Grimm|
|Los Angeles Newspapers||New York Times||NYRA||Railbird||The Saratogian||The Saratogian||SuperfectaBlog|
|I Want Revenge||Mafaaz||Dunkirk||I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||I Want Revenge|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Quality Road||Quality Road||I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire||Quality Road|
|Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Desert Party||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Quality Road||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Desert Party||Quality Road||Desert Party||Friesan Fire|
|Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Rachel Alexandra||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Quality Road||Chocolate Candy|
|Chocolate Candy||I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned||Flat Out||Old Fashioned|
|Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Win Willy||Dunkirk||Desert Party||Terrain||Regal Ransom|
|Musket Man||Terrain||West Side Bernie||Regal Ransom||Chocolate Candy||Dunkirk||Papa Clem|
|Papa Clem||Win Willy||Musket Man||Papa Clem||Musket Man||Musket Man||Mafaaz|
|Giant Oak||Musket Man||N/A||Terrain||Rachel Alexandra||Chocolate Candy||Dunkirk|
|Patrick Patten||Peter Denk||Nick Kling||Simon Bray||Todd Schrupp|
|Tbred Bloggers Alliance||Thoroughbred Times||The Troy Record||TVG||TVG|
|Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||I Want Revenge||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Quality Road||Quality Road||Quality Road|
|Quality Road||Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge|
|I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Dunkirk|
|Musket Man||Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire|
|Chocolate Candy||Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile||Chocolate Candy||Desert Party|
|Patena||Win Wily||Patena||Desert Party||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Papa Clem||Desert Party||Desert Party||Dunkirk||Big Drama|
|Terrain||Chocolate Candy||Regal Ransom||Musket Man||Musket Man|
|West Side Bernie||Musket Man||Mafaaz||Win Willy||Win Willy|
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