We all knew a shakeup was about to occur. Rarely if ever, do the consensus horses at the top of the field continue to impress throughout the Derby prep season and this year has officially proven to be no different. Despite leaving the third-place finisher behind by eight lengths, it is hard to ignore the fact that Old Fashioned was beaten in the Rebel Stakes by 56-1 shot Win Willy, a $25,000 yearling purchase whose victory led his connections to turn down a $3-million offer in exchange for the promise of an exciting two months on the Triple Crown trail. This turn of events has dropped the previous consensus number one to sixth in our poll.
Perhaps the most interesting trend this week is a tightening in what seemed to be the de facto top 8 horses despite first place votes being distributed as low as 10th with Rachel Alexandra. The 74-point drop between Desert Party and Imperial Council might imply a tightening at the top and less confidence in the bottom 12 contenders.
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Paulick's Derby Picks
1-Pioneerof the Nile. My initial reaction was to drop the Empire Maker colt from the top spot, because I didn't like the way he won Saturday's San Felipe. But after looking at the slow fractions, and the fact he moved sooner than normal, his win was really not as bad as it looked to me the first time around. Plus, it was a win, and trainer Bob Baffert hadn't done that much with him in the way of training. His philosophy isn't to win all the preps, it's to have the horse on his game for the Kentucky Derby; or, as only Baffert can say, “We don't wear our good shoes until Sunday.”
2- The Pamplemousse. He went back to work with a three-eighths of a mile breeze after his eye-popping victory in the Sham Stakes. California clocker Bruno De Julio (click here <http://www.racingwithbruno.com/> to visit his web site) said the Kafwain colt seems to be thriving and is holding his weight and coat color well. Looking forward to his showdown against Pioneerof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby.
3- Friesan Fire. How many times have we seen horses draw off to huge winning margins on a sloppy racetrack like Friesan Fire did in Saturday's Louisiana Derby? He's obviously a mudlark, so that begs the questions: How much did the racing surface factor in to that huge margin of victory? I think it was a big contributing factor. Sloppy track winners are often overbet in their next starts, and I think this A.P. Indy colt was overbet down to 8-1 the next day in the second pool of the Derby Futures wager.
4-I Want Revenge. Stephen Got Even colt worked an easy half-mile at Hollywood Park Sunday, just over a week after his dominating victory at Aqueduct in the Gotham Stakes. Clocker De Julio said of the work: “visually it was perfect. The colt was well relaxed and has actually kept good weight on despite the race being only eight days ago. His coat is impeccable and he seems to be thriving physically.” Figures to be part of a sizable speed brigade in this year's Derby field.
5-Quality Road. Will be staying in Florida for the Florida Derby rather than going to New York for the Wood Memorial, as trainer Jimmy Jerkens originally said he might do. Son of Elusive Quality still has a lot to prove, from the standpoint of getting the Derby distance.
6-Old Fashioned. I've been questioning the quality of the horses Old Fashioned has been beating, so it didn't help his cause when a 56-1 longshot blew by him in the final sixteenth of a mile in Saturday's Rebel. Yes, Ramon Dominguez allowed the colt to chase fast early fractions on a tiring track, but if that's the only way this son of Unbridled's Song can run, then he's going to be up against it in the Kentucky Derby. It's probably too late to expect any change in his running style.
7-Desert Party. Not much to say about son of Street Cry, who is being geared up for the UAE Derby in Dubai. One of these days, Sheikh Mohammed will succeed in winning the Kentucky Derby with a horse that winters in Dubai, but this is a tough group of 3-year-olds and I don't this is going to be his year.
8-Imperial Council. Added son of Empire Maker to my list this week after going back and looking at his effort in the Gotham behind I Want Revenge. Looks like he's got a lot of improvement left in him.
9-Theregoesjojo. Florida Derby will be make or break for the son of Brahms.
10-Dunkirk. I finally relented and added the unbeaten son of Unbridled's Song onto my top 10, in part because of the disappointing performances of others last weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby and Louisiana Derby. I stand behind the belief that 2-year-old form's historical significance in being able to win the Kentucky Derby is not an accident but a result of the unique and challenging circumstances of the race.
Interesting that four of my top 10 are by sons of Unbridled and three are by A.P. Indy or his sons or grandsons. That may be contributing to the overall quality of this group. It's good to see stamina influences represented in such big numbers among the leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby.
|Paulick Report||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||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile|
|The Pamplemousse||I Want Revenge||Dunkirk||Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire|
|Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned|
|I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||The Pamplemousse||I Want Revenge||Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse||The Pamplemousse|
|Quality Road||Dunkirk||Rachel Alexandra||Desert Party||Quality Road||Old Fashioned||Quality Road|
|Old Fashioned||Quality Road||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||Imperial Council||Dunkirk||I Want Revenge|
|Desert Party||Old Fashioned||Desert Party||The Pamplemousse||Win Willy||Chocolate Candy||Desert Party|
|Imperial Council||Desert Party||Affirmatif||Imperial Council||I Want Revenge||Win Willy||Dunkirk|
|Theregoesjojo||Win Willy||Theregoesjojo||Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse||Hello Broadway||Papa Clem|
|Dunkirk||Imperial Council||Stardom Bound||Rachel Alexandra||Desert Party||Beethoven||Theregoesjojo|
|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||Quality Road||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile|
|I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Rachel Alexandra||I Want Revenge||Desert Party||Stardom Bound||Friesan Fire|
|Dunkirk||Friesan Fire||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||Pioneerof the Nile||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk|
|Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse||Stardom Bound||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Desert Party||Imperial Council|
|The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile||Papa Clem||Pioneerof the Nile||Chocolate Candy||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned|
|Old Fashioned||I Want Revenge||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Quality Road||Quality Road|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Stardom Bound||Imperial Council||The Pamplemousse||Papa Clem||Theregoesjojo||The Pamplemousse|
|Theregoesjojo||Win Willy||Mr. Hot Stuff||Theregoesjojo||Imperial Council||Imperial Council||Mr. Hot Stuff|
|Desert Party||Desert Party||Dunkirk||Beethoven||Theregoesjojo||Flying Pegasus||I Want Revenge|
|Win Willy||Old Fashioned||Desert Party||Imperial Council||Quality Road||Beethoven||Papa Clem|
|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||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire|
|Desert Party||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Pioneerof the Nile||The Pamplemousse||I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse||Stardom Bound||Desert Party|
|Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Quality Road||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse|
|Old Fashioned||Quality Road||Old Fashioned||The Pamplemousse||Quality Road||The Pamplemousse||Old Fashioned|
|The Pamplemousse||Old Fashioned||The Pamplemousse||Old Fashioned||Dunkirk||I Want Revenge||Quality Road|
|Theregoesjojo||Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Papa Clem||I Want Revenge||Papa Clem||I Want Revenge|
|Quality Road||Desert Party||Desert Party||Dunkirk||Theregoesjojo||Imperial Council||Chocolate Candy|
|Win Willy||Rachel Alexandra||Stardom Bound||Chocolate Candy||Beethoven||Win Willy||Papa Clem|
|Nowhere to Hide||Papa Clem||Chocolate Candy||Theregoesjojo||Patena||Quality Road||Beethoven|
|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||Friesan Fire||Imperial Council||Rachel Alexandra||Friesan Fire||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile|
|Friesan Fire||Pioneerof the Nile||The Pamplemousse||Friesan Fire||Desert Party||Friesan Fire||The Pamplemousse|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Desert Party||Desert Party||Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||Friesan Fire|
|Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||I Want Revenge||Pioneerof the Nile||Dunkirk||Desert Party||I Want Revenge|
|Dunkirk||The Pamplemousse||Rachel Alexandra||I Want Revenge||Quality Road||Flat Out||Quality Road|
|I Want Revenge||Theregoesjojo||Quality Road||Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned||Terrain||Old Fashioned|
|Quality Road||I Want Revenge||Friesan Fire||Quality Road||The Pamplemousse||Quality Road||Chocolate Candy|
|Imperial Council||Dunkirk||Dunkirk||Dunkirk||I Want Revenge||The Pamplemousse||Stardom Bound|
|Desert Party||Win Willy||Just a Coincidence||Imperial Council||Win Willy||Old Fashioned||Desert Party|
|Giant Oak||Terrain||Win Willy||Papa Clem||Imperial Council||Mr. Hot Stuff||Papa Clem|
|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||Desert Party|
|Chocolate Candy||Friesan Fire||Dunkirk||Pioneerof the Nile||The Pamplemousse|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Pioneerof the Nile||I Want Revenge||Old Fashioned||Odl Fashioned|
|The Pamplemousse||Old Fashioned||Imperial Council||Friesan Fire||Friesan Fire|
|I Want Revenge||Dunkirk||Old Fashioned||The Pamplemousse||Quality Road|
|Patena||Quality Road||Quality Road||Dunkirk||Dunkirk|
|Quality Road||Desert Party||The Pamplemousse||Desert Party||I Want Revenge|
|Papa Clem||The Pamplemousse||Pioneerof the Nile||Quality Road||Affirmatif|
|Terrain||Win Willy||Patena||Chocolate Candy||Pioneerof the Niile|
|General Quarters||Theregoesjojo||Beethoven||Imperial Council||Theregoesjojo|
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