It seems that a trend is developing in the run up to the Derby. The last two weeks, we have had a contender appear out of nowhere to take the fourth position and even earn a couple of first place votes. Quality Road's impeccable run to take the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth over some very impressive competition clearly made an impression on our voters.
Of course, this performance should not overshadow the equally strong outing by The Pamplemousse who rose seven places in our poll, moving comfortably into fifth place. It appears there might be a slight dirt vs. synthetic bias creeping in as Quality Road edges out The Pamplemousse and Old Fashioned continues to lead Pioneerof the Nile.
We have been honored with a few additional pollsters this week, adding Los Angeles Newspaper Group's Art Wilson, Dana Byerly of Green But Game, web pioneer Alex Brown and Simon Bray of TVG. We are confident their expertise and passion for the game will be a great addition. Also, we would like to thank ESPN.com, the Lexington Herald-Leader and The Saratogian for picking up the weekly PDI.
Ray's Picks and Analysis
1-Pioneerof the Nile. Nothing has happened to change my belief that this son of the Unbridled stallion Empire Maker has the right profile to win the Kentucky Derby: solid pedigree, experience in high-class 2-year-old races, and a trainer who knows how to get a colt ready for his best on the first Saturday in May.
2-Old Fashioned. Interesting that Unbridled is the grandsire of the top two horses on my list. One of the most important sources of stamina we have in the Thoroughbred gene pool today, Unbridled (by the Mr. Prospector stallion Fappiano) was dismissed by speed figure followers coming into the 1990 Kentucky Derby. I thought his victory that year served as a reminder that the Derby is unique, and that traditional handicapping methods are not well-suited to the race. It's more about horsemanship and getting a peak performance on the right afternoon, something Carl Nafzger did with Unbridled.
3-The Pamplemousse. Naysayers knock him as having a sprinter's pedigree (by Kafwain, a son of sprint champion Cherokee Run, out of a Rubiano mare), but how could you not like the way he strided out down the stretch to pull away from his opponents in the nine-furlong Sham Stakes on Santa Anita's synthetic Pro-Ride track? Appears to have just one way to go, and that's on the front end.
4-Stardom Bound. We'll know more about how last year's 2-year-old filly champion is doing after Saturday's Santa Anita Oaks. I think she's an exceptional filly who will hold her own against colts if given the opportunity. Tapit, was a top-notch racehorse who was undone by the horribly sloppy conditions of the Churchill Downs track when Smarty Jones won the 2004 Derby, and he's turning into a very promising young sire.
5-Quality Road. Lived up to his sensational morning workouts when he trounced his rivals in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Though it was only a one-turn mile (a configuration, by the way, that used to be considered a good prep in New York for horses like Secretariat and Easy Goer when the Gotham Stakes was run at that distance), Quality Road seemed to settle fine just off the early pace and move to the lead whenever John Velazquez wanted. Son of Elusive Quality (sire of Smarty Jones) will have to prove himself around two turns, and that opportunity probably will arise in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
6-Friesan Fire. Like several of my other top contenders, this son of A.P. Indy has a pedigree that suggests a mile and a quarter is within his scope. Of course, to quote the great Charlie Whittingham, “I know he can get a mile and a quarter. I just don't know how fast!” The intriguing aspect of Friesan Fire's family is the Australian female side that traces back to the exceptional racemare Bint Marscay and the great sire Sir Tristram. We'll know more about his quality after the March 14 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, where he's already won the LeComte and Risen Star Stakes.
7-Desert Party. The mystery horse from Dubai who's burden got a lot heavier this past week with the announcement from Godolphin that 2-year-old champ and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman was injured and is off the Derby trail. A good 2-year-old in the U.S. last year, Desert Party has looked good thus far in Dubai but has some history to overcome.
8-Beethoven. If Gulfstream Park's main track was playing to speed last Saturday, then Beethoven got the worst of it in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes. The son of Sky Mesa came from far back in the one-turn mile to get third, which was a forward moving performance that should be encouraging to his connections.
9-Patena. Aside from the super-hyped allowance winner Dunkirk (not on my top 10), no horse is getting more pre-race attention than this son of Seeking the Gold, who was purchased by IEAH Stables after running second to Friesan Fire in the LeComte Stakes in January and shifted from the barn of Josie Carroll to Rick Dutrow. All systems appear to be a go for the Louisiana Derby after a six-furlong workout at Gulfstream Park last Saturday. The important thing, according to Dutrow, is that Patena “scoped clean” after the work. He had been coughing for about 10 days, the trainer said. “We've been clearing different issues, and it seems to all be coming together,” Dutrow said.
10-Theregoesjojo. Finished well to be second to Quality Road in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth for trainer Ken McPeek, who was pleased with the effort. Son of Brahms (by Danzig) defeated Quality Road in his previous start Jan. 10 and should be tighter after his most recent race. Not sure where he will surface, but it won't take that much improvement for Jojo to get his first stakes win.
|Ray Paulick||Fan Vote||Alex Brown||Paul Moran||Bill Reed||John Conte||Bill Finley|
|Paulick Report||Paulick Report||Alex Brown Racing||At The Races||Billy Reed Says||Conte's Picks||ESPN, NYT|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned||Quality Road||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned|
|Old Fashioned||The Pamplemousse||Dunkirk||Stardom Bound||Quality Road||The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile|
|The Pamplemousse||Quality Road||Stardom Bound||Pioneerof the Nile||Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Friesan Fire|
|Stardom Bound||Dunkirk||Old Fashioned||Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||The Pamplemousse|
|Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile||The Pamplemousse||Hello Broadway||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Stardom Bound|
|Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Rachel Alexandra||The Pamplemousse||Hello Broadway||Haynesfield||Quality Road|
|Desert Party||Stardom Bound||Desert Party||Friesan Fire||Desert Party||Friesan Fire||Desert Party|
|Beethoven||Desert Party||Affirmatif||Desert Party||Patena||Hello Broadway||Haynesfield|
|Patena||Patena||Haynesfield||Evita Argentina||Beethoven||Chocolate Candy||Dunkirk|
|Theregoesjojo||Hello Broadway||Pioneerof the Nile||Dunkirk||Stardom Bound||West Side Bernie||Siver City|
|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||Dunkirk||Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||N/A|
|Old Fashioned||The Pamplemousse||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Friesan Fire||Stardom Bound||N/A|
|Dunkirk||Pioneerof the Nile||Stardom Bound||Quality Road||Desert Party||Friesan Fire||N/A|
|The Pamplemousse||Quality Road||Rachel Alexandra||Hello Broadway||Patena||Flying Pegasus||N/A|
|Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Desert Party||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Desert Party||N/A|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Pioneerof the Nile||Chocolate Candy||Quality Road||N/A|
|Theregoesjojo||Giant Oak||Chocolate Candy||Imperial Council||Papa Clem||Patena||N/A|
|Desert Party||Desert Party||Papa Clem||Giant Oak||Quality Road||Theregoesjojo||N/A|
|Beethoven||Stardom Bound||Hello Broadway||Patena||Flying Pegasus||Imperial Council||N/A|
|Hello Broadway||Patena||Mr. Hot Stuff||Flying Pegasus||Dunkirk||Nowhere to Hide||N/A|
|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|
|Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile||Patena||Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned|
|Desert Party||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Stardom Bound||Stardom Bound||Stardom Bound||Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse||The Pamplemousse||Quality Road||The Pamplemousse||Dunkirk||Desert Party|
|Stardom Bound||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile||Papa Clem||Stardom Bound|
|Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Dunkirk||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Big Drama||The Pamplemousse|
|Haynesfield||Hello Broadway||Desert Party||Patena||Dunkirk||Stardom Bound||Quality Road|
|Vineyard Haven||Mr. Fantasy||Capt. Candyman Can||Papa Clem||Haynesfield||The Pamplemousse||Hello Broadway|
|The Pamplemousse||Theregoesjojo||Chocolate Candy||I Want Revenge||Mr. Fantasy||Mr. Fantasy||Haynesfield|
|Theregoesjojo||Desert Party||Quality Road||Dunkirk||Danger to Society||Flying Pegasus||Chocolate Candy|
|Art Wilson||Joe Drape||Andy Serling||Brendan O'Meara||Jeff Scott
|LA Newspaper Group||New York Times||NYRA||The Saratogian||The Saratogian
|Haynesfield||Old Fashioned||Desert Party||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile|
|The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile||Giant Oak||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire||Desert Party||The Pamplemousse|
|Old Fashioned||Quality Road||The Pamplemousse||Desert Party||Desert Party||Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned|
|Pioneerof the Nile||The Pamplemousse||Imperial Council||Quality Road||Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire|
|Dunkirk||Theregoesjojo||Rachel Alexandra||Dunkirk||Flat Out||Flying Pegasus||Stardom Bound|
|Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Take the Points||Dunkirk||Regal Ransom||Chocolate Candy|
|Papa Clem||Hello Broadway||Danger to Society||The Pamplemousse||General Quarters||Papa Clem||Patena|
|Friesan Fire||Haynesfield||Old Fashioned||Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Dunkirk||Quality Road|
|Desert Party||Sumo||Dunkirk||Nowhere to Hide||The Pamplemousse||Capt. Candyman Can||Hello Broadway|
|I Want Revenge||Dunkirk||Hello Broadway||Imperial Council||Mr. Hot Stuff||The Pamplemousse||Capt. Candyman Can|
|Tbred Bloggers Alliance
||The Troy Record
|Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned|
|General Quarters||Dunkirk||Patena||Pioneerof the Nile||Stardom Bound|
|Chocolate Candy||Quality Road||Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse||Desert Party|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Desert Party||Imperial Council||Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse|
|The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire||Dunkirk||Quality Road|
|Hello Broadway||Stardom Bound||Hello Broadway||I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire|
|Patena||Patena||Flying Pegasus||Hello Broadway||Dunkirk|
|Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire||Giant Oak||Chocolate Candy||Affirmatif|
|Quality Road||The Pamplemousse||West Side Bernie||Quality Road||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Flying Pegasus||Mr. Fantasy||Beethoven||Desert Party||I Want Revenge|
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