After a very strong Derby prep weekend, featuring races in Dubai and Florida, several winners emerged. Quality Road for the first time makes his ascension to the top of our Paulick Derby Index by AmWest Entertainment despite having fewer first-place votes than second-place finisher Friesan Fire. His impressive win in the Florida Derby proved only to cloud the upper echelon of 3-year-olds this year with five horses within striking distance at the top. Next weekend's Wood Memorial (I Want Revenge) and Santa Anita Derby (Pioneerof the Nile, The Pamplemousse) should answer many questions…or further delay a consensus favorite.
The aforementioned Pioneerof the Nile wins the “What have you done for me lately” award, dropping from 2nd to 4th and losing six first-place votes despite having done nothing to hurt his case. On the flip side, despite losing in the Florida Derby, Dunkirk actually moved up a place this week. Theregoesjojo went bye bye, dropping off our list from 13th place. And Beethoven rolled over once more as he continued his hot/cold relationship with our voters after skipping the Florida Derby due to an injury.
Ray Paulick's top 10 and analysis:
1-Quality Road. It wasn't the strongest Florida Derby field ever assembled (that's an understatement), but Quality Road progressed from a one-turn miler to a two-turn horse very impressively. The final time was meaningless (because of how the track was playing), though I like the way he lengthened his stride and turned back a talented Dunkirk down the stretch. The Jerkens family has never been big on traveling road shows, so it will be interesting to see where and how trainer Jimmy Jerkens prepares the son of Elusive Quality for the Kentucky Derby.
2-Pioneerof the Nile. His big test comes Saturday in the Santa Anita Derby. Here is how clocker Bruno De Julio (www.racingwithbruno.com <http://www.racingwithbruno.com> ) described son of Empire Maker's five-furlong workout over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride synthetic surface last Wednesday: “Pioneerof The Nile, with Joe Steiner on board, worked a strong five furlongs in 59.1 and out in 111.2. Galloping out in 126 for seven furlongs. He extended strongly through the lane. Baffert definitely tightened the girth on 'Nile and he responded with a good work. Nile is not the prettiest of movers on this track, and that drew some criticism from some onlookers. He has never really been a horse that has handled the pro-ride 'pretty'.” Do I think Baffert will have tightened the screws completely for the Santa Anita Derby? Of course not, so I won't be that surprised to see Pioneerof the Nile come up short in his final Kentucky Derby prep.
3-The Pamplemousse. With Julio Canani in Dubai, front-running son of Kafwain worked rather unimpressively, six furlongs in 1:13 flat, according to Bruno De Julio, in his final Santa Anita Derby tune-up. Here are Bruno's comments: “He started quickly early as he broke from the pole pulling Alex Solis from the saddle. He went the first half mile in 47 flat while being kept wide off the fence and finished in a lackluster 26 flat on our watch. Railroad, the old claimer, ran up inside of him in the lane, but that didn't get 'Mousse's dandruff up at all. In fact, he was shut down late. Alex Solis seemed to be moving his hands just slightly, as he did last week. The colt galloped out rather slowly in 127 and change.” Despite the less-than-rave reviews, I think The Pamplemousse will be tough to catch in the Santa Anita Derby.
4-Dunkirk. Showed he's a very good horse when closing against a Gulfstream Park dirt track with a speed bias in the Florida Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher has been playing some serious catch-up with the Unbridled's Song colt, as this was just his third start of the year after going unraced as a 2-year-old. If he gets into the Derby field, he will be highly regarded, but the lack of experience unquestionably plays against him. Nevertheless, I thought his Florida Derby performance was a huge step forward and puts him into the ranks of leading contenders.
5-Friesan Fire. The more I review the decision to prep the son of A.P. Indy at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, the more skeptical I am that he's in quite the same league as the Florida and California-based 3-year-olds. Louisiana has seldom been a successful route to the Kentucky Derby, and I really haven't seen that much in terms of depth of competition that makes me change my mind. Besides, the daylight victory in the slop in the Louisiana Derby may be less meaningful than the margin indicates simply because of the track condition.
6-I Want Revenge. No reason he can't repeat his Gotham performance this Saturday in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, unless the back-and-forth travel from California to New York gets to him. Have to admit I overlooked this son of Stephen Got Even until the Gotham, probably in part because of the big-race inexperience of trainer Jeff Mullins. Here are clocker Bruno De Julio's comments on his final work last Sunday at Hollywood Park: “He worked solo and relaxed nicely to the pole in 12.3, 24.2, and 36 flat to the 1/4 pole. You can see him winding up and (Joe) Talamo barely shook the reins. The colt pricked his left ear inside the furlong pole waiting forTalamo to ask him. Talamo never did and the colt shut himself off and finished in 59.4 on our watch. Final 1/4 in 23.4 and out in 112.4 for six furlongs, 127.1 for seven furlongs and out a mile in 143 flat. He actually went out a mile and three quarters before pulling up.” Bruno seems to be saying the colt can run all day.
7-Old Fashioned. One-time leader of the division slips a few more spots as other contenders step up. Son of Unbridled's Song will need to turn in impressive performance in the Arkansas Derby to regain any support, and even then the competition won't be that deep, so it would be a somewhat hollow victory.
8-Desert Party. Lost the UAE Derby to stablemate Regal Ransom on a track that really played to speed. It's so difficult to know how much a transoceanic trip is going to take out of the Dubai-based horses, but I wouldn't throw son of Street Cry out completely just because of the UAE loss.
9-Imperial Council. Son of Empire Maker remains the sleeper in my top 10. A big effort in the Wood against I Want Revenge moves him up considerably, but a flat performance may take him out of the Derby altogether.
10-Regal Ransom. Fought off Desert Party while winning the UAE Derby in solid performance. Historically, the race hasn't meant much vis a vis the Kentucky Derby, but I have to think that's going to change one of these years.
||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
|Quality Road||Quality Road||Quality Road||Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile||N/A||Friesan Fire|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||N/A||Quality Road|
|The Pamplemousse||I Want Revenge||The Pamplemousse||Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned||N/A||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire||N/A||Old Fashioned|
|Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Rachel Alexandra||Pioneerof the Nile||Dunkirk||N/A||The Pamplemousse|
|I Want Revenge||Dunkirk||Desert Party||The Pamplemousse||Imperial Council||N/A||I Want Revenge|
|Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Regal Ransom||Desert Party||N/A||Regal Ransom|
|Desert Party||Rachel Alexandra||Affirmatif||Desert Party||I Want Revenge||N/A||Dunkirk|
|Imperial Council||Desert Party||Stardom Bound||Stardom Bound||The Pamplemousse||N/A||Desert Party|
|Regal Ransom||Imperial Council||Mafaaz||Rachel Alexandra||Terrain||N/A||Win Willy|
|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|
|Quality Road||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile|
|I Want Revenge||Dunkirk||Rachel Alexandra||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Quality Road||Quality Road|
|Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse||Quality Road||Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile||Stardom Bound||Dunkirk|
|Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire|
|The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile||Stardom Bound||Friesan Fire||Chocolate Candy||I Want Revenge||Imperial Council|
|Desert Party||Friesan Fire||Papa Clem||Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned||Regal Ransom||Mr. Hot Stuff|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Imperial Council||I Want Revenge||Imperial Council||Papa Clem||Desert Party||I Want Revenge|
|Old Fashioned||Stardom Bound||Imperial Council||Big Drama||The Pamplemousse||Dunkirk||Old Fashioned|
|Win Willy||Win Willy||Mr. Hot Stuff||Theregoesjojo||Desert Party||Imperial Council||Terrain|
|Regal Ransom||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse||Dunkirk||Papa Clem||Desert Party|
|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||Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Quality Road||The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Stardom Bound||Quality Road|
|Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse||I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire||Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse||The Pamplemousse|
|Desert Party||I Want Revenge||The Pamplemousse||The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Old Fashioned|
|Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Old Fashioned||I Want Revenge||I Want Revenge|
|The Pamplemousse||Dunkirk||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||I Want Revenge||Papa Clem||Chocolate Candy|
|Dunkirk||Papa Clem||Imperial Council||Papa Clem||Patena||Win Willy||Dunkirk|
|Regal Ransom||Desert Party||Chocolate Candy||Chocolate Candy||Win Willy||Friesan Fire||Desert Party|
|Theregoesjojo||Win Willy||Regal Ransom||Theregoesjojo||Imperial Council||Imperial Council||Regal Ransom|
|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|
|The Pamplemousse||Mafaaz||Imperial Council||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||The Pamplemousse|
|Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Dunkirk||Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Quality Road|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire||Desert Party||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire|
|Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Desert Party||I Want Revenge||Desert Party||I Want Revenge|
|I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||Quality Road||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Quality Road||The Pamplemousse||Rachel Alexandra||Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse||Flat Out||Regal Ransom|
|Chocolate Candy||I Want Revenge||The Pamplemousse||Dunkirk||Desert Party||Terrain||Old Fashioned|
|Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Friesan Fire||Regal Ransom||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Dunkirk|
|Imperial Council||Terrain||Just a Coincidence||Imperial Council||Win Willy||The Pamplemousse||Chocolate Candy|
|Papa Clem||Win Willy||Win Willy||Papa Clem||Imperial Council||Mr. Hot Stuff||Imperial Council|
|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||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road|
|The Pamplemousse||Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Quality Road||Dunkirk|
|Quality Road||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse|
|I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||Imperial Council||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire|
|Chocolate Candy||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||The Pamplemousse||I Want Revenge|
|Patena||Win Wily||The Pamplemousse||Dunkirk||Desert Party|
|Papa Clem||Desert Party||Pioneerof the Nile||Chocolate Candy||Big Drama|
|Terrain||The Pamplemousse||Patena||Desert Party||Pioneerof the Niile|
|General Quarters||Imperial Council||Desert Party||Imperial Council||Affirmatif|
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