by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am

The first Derby Future bets have been placed and nearly every major 3 year old contender has run in 2009 so we decided this would be the ideal time to roll out the first Paulick Derby Index (PDI). While it seems everyone and their apprentice jockey are making Derby watch lists this year, we realized there was no central body that aggregated Derby picks to create our industry's version of a Coach's or AP Poll, so we decided to take on that task.

But because our industry is in such a state of flux and because there are so many important groups of people who have a vested interest in the run up to the Triple Crown, we have decided to do things a little differently. Instead of the typical writer's association poll or biased coach's rankings, we are including many of the walks of life that make our sport so rich. Below, you will find some of the top turf writers, Thoroughbred bloggers and handicappers in the industry.

We are featuring prize winning journalists like Bill Nack, Billy Reed and Bill Christine, ESPN's Randy Moss, Handicapper of the Year John Conte and several of the top bloggers in the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance among others. And next week, we will even include a fan vote that you can take part in through our polling function on the front page of the Paulick Report. Oh, and there's this guy named Ray who will be chiming in each week as well.

Below, you will find our PDI Top 20, Ray's in depth analysis of each of his picks and a chart of each voter's top ten list. So take a few minutes, or an hour, and let us know where you think we are right, what we got wrong and why you are smarter than us! Hopefully you will find this information to be as much fun to read as we had putting it together.


1. Pioneerof The Nile. I'm one of those believers who considers 2-year-old experience at top-class levels to be an important factor toward winning the Kentucky Derby, with its oversized field and frenetic atmosphere. While it's easy to get excited about late developers who had limited or no racing experience at two, history shows us not only that 2-year-old form is important, so is the level of competition in their juvenile campaign. By virtue of the fact he never sprinted, Pioneerof The Nile was unlikely to be considered a “precocious” 2-year-old. His pedigree (Empire Maker out of a Lord at War mare) also suggests late development. He appears to be improving with every start, and, of course, is in the hands of a trainer, Bob Baffert, who knows how to get a horse to peak for big races.

2. Old Fashioned. There's nothing wrong with perfection, and Old Fashioned has made no mistakes thus far in four starts. Despite recent trends, I've not been a big fan of the Oaklawn Park route to the Derby because I don't believe the depth of competition is very strong. This Unbridled's Song colt has been cut out to be a good one from day one, however, and it's difficult to question any decisions made by one of the game's most successful trainers of the last few years, Larry Jones.

3. Stardom Bound. This is one of the best young fillies I've seen in many years, and hat's off to Christopher Paasch for the outstanding job he did with her during her championship year at two. New trainer Robert Frankel appears to be trying to lower expectations for IEAH, which I don't think paid $5.7 million to see her win the Kentucky Oaks. I can't see anyone beating her in the Santa Anita Oaks, a victory in which should seal the deal for a race against colts in the Kentucky Derby. I think it's a challenge fans will want to see.

4. Friesan Fire. One of the strengths of this year's group of Derby contenders is the sire power, and no one has that more in spades than this son of A.P. Indy. Since having blinkers added to his equipment, Friesan Fire's he's been all business for Larry Jones, though like Old Fashioned I question the strength of competition he'll be facing in his Derby preps in Louisiana.

5. Desert Party. One of a trio of Godolphin-owned horses now training in Dubai for a possible Kentucky Derby run, this son of Street Cry showed a powerful turn of foot to win the UAE Two Thousand Guineas over Vineyard Haven, among others. A highly regarded sale 2-year-old, he showed good form for Eoin Harty last year and appears to be adapting well to the desert training regimen for Saeed bin Suroor.

6. Patena. A bit of a late bloomer, all eyes will be on this son of Seeking the Gold as he makes his first start for IEAH and trainer Rick Dutrow. Outstanding pedigree to get the Derby distance. Could be the most-hyped horse of the spring, especially if he wins first-time out for Dutrow.

7. Midshipman. Hard to move a horse up from Bob Baffert, especially one that came to hand so quickly once he broke his maiden in August. Son of Unbridled's Song has the appearance of an exceptional 2-year-old whose classmates are catching up to him. Will be interesting to see how he has adapted to training in Dubai for Saeed bin Suroor.

8. Vineyard Haven. Will improve off his fourth-place finish behind Desert Party in Dubai, but it's hard to see this son of Lido Palace moving up off what Hall of Fame conditioner Frankel was able to get from him last year. Not convinced he has the pedigree to get the distance, either.

9. Beethoven. Got the worst of the post position and anti-outside track bias in the Holy Bull Stakes in a race a he likely needed. Needs to step up in next start to prove he has the class to compete at top level.

10. Giant Oak. Could be the breakout horse for Illinois-based trainer Chris Block, who hasn't had any opportunities in national spotlight yet. Giant's Causeway colt shows signs of talent but has had bad racing luck. Must put it all together soon in order to be a serious contender.


Ray Paulick Paul Moran Billy Reed John Conte Bill Finley
Paulick Report At The Races Billy Reed Says Conte's Picks ESPN, NYT
 Pioneerof the Nile Old Fashioned  Old Fashioned Old Fashioned Old Fashioned
 Old Fashioned Stardom Bound  Midshipman Pioneerof the Nile Pioneerof the Nile
 Stardom Bound Pioneerof the Nile  Chocolate Candy Capt. Candyman Man Friesan Fire
 Friesan Fire Midshipman  Evita Argentina Midshipman Stardom Bound
 Desert Party Hello Broadway  Silver City Chocolate Candy Capt. Candyman Can
 Patena Taquarub  Pioneerof the Nile West Side Bernie Silver City
 Midshipman Notonthesamepage  Capt. Candyman Can Friesan Fire Haynesfield
 Vineyard Haven Friesan Fire  Friesan Fire The Pamplemousse Midshipman
 Beethoven Desert Party  Beethoven Hello Broadway Flying Pegasus
 Giant Oak Evita Argentina  Imperial Council Haynesfield Patena

Randy Moss Bill Nack Gary West Michael Nikolic Jeremy Plonk
ESPN ESPN Star-Telegram Gathering The Wind Horseplayer Pro, ESPN
Old Fashioned Friesan Fire Old Fashioned Old Fashioned Old Fashioned
Friesan Fire Giant Oak Hello Broadway Friesan Fire Patena
Pioneerof the Nile Haynesfield Friesan Fire Patena Mr. Fantasy
Capt. Candyman Can Stardom Bound Capt. Candyman Can Flying Pegasus Pioneerof the Nile
Desert Party Old Fashioned Giant Oak Chocolate Candy Friesan Fire
Hello Broadway Silver City Pioneerof the Nile Desert Party Imperial Council
Midshipman Patena Imperial Council Pioneerof the Nile Hello Broadway
Flying Pegasus I Want Revenge Patena Papa Clem Capt. Candyman Can
Patena Pioneerof the Nile Flying Pegasus Parade Clown Silver City
Giant Oak   Taqarub Giant Oak Notonthesamepage

Bill Christine John Pricci Vic Zast Jon White Alan Mann
Horserace Insider Horserace Insider Horserace Insider HRTV, Santa Anita TV Left At The Gate
Old Fashioned Old Fashioned Old Fashioned Pioneerof the Nile Pioneerof the Nile
Midshipman Pioneerof the Nile Pioneerof the Nile  Old Fashioned Friesan Fire
Desert Party Stardom Bound Capt. Candyman Can  Stardom Bound Capt. Candyman Can
Pioneerof The Nile Capt. Candyman Can Stardom Bound  Friesan Fire Old Fashioned
Friesan Fire Midshipman Friesan Fire  Patena Papa Clem
Stardom Bound Hello Broadway Desert Party  Capt. Candyman Can Big Drama
Beethoven Mr. Fantasy Chocolate Candy  Papa Clem Stardom Bound
Haynesfield West Side Bernie Flying Pegasus  I Want Revenge Mr. Fantasy
Capt. Candyman Can Friesan Fire Giant Oak  Chocolate Candy Flying Pegasus
Vineyard Haven Quality Road Haynesfield  The Pamplemousse Dunkirk

Alicia Wincze Joe Drape Brendan O'Meara Jeff Scott Patrick Patten
Lexington H-L New York Times The Saratogian The Saratogian Tbred Bloggers Alliance
Old Fashioned Old Fashioned Friesan Fire Pioneerof the Nile Friesan Fire
Friesan Fire Pioneerof the Nile Old Fashioned Old Fashioned General Quarters
Pioneerof the Nile Evita Argentina Desert Party Desert Party Chocolate Candy
Capt. Candyman Can Capt. Candyman Can Flat Out Friesan Fire Pioneer of the Nile
Desert Party Leedstheway Take the Points Flat Out Patena
Midshipman Hello Broadway Nowhere to Hide Beethoven Hello Broadway
Stardom Bound Chocolate Candy Imperial Council General Quarters Old Fashioned
Beethoven Haynesfield Danger to Society Mr. Hot Stuff The Pamplemousse
Hello Broadway Friesan Fire Midshipman Stardom Bound Flying Pegasus
Haynesfield Sumo Vineyard Haven Midshipman Notonthesamepage

Peter Denk Nick Kling
Thoroughbred Times The Troy Record
Old Fashioned Old Fashioned
Desert Party Capt. Candyman Can
Midshipman Patena
Pioneerof the Nile Imperial Council
Patena Friesan Fire
Friesan Fire Hello Broadway
Capt. Candyman Can Flying Pegasus
Hello Broadway Giant Oak
Mr. Fantasy West Side Bernie
Imperial Council Beethoven
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