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.
RAY'S PICKS AND ANALYSIS
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.
INDIVIDUAL PDI BALLOTS
|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|
|Peter Denk||Nick Kling|
|Thoroughbred Times||The Troy Record|
|Old Fashioned||Old Fashioned|
|Desert Party||Capt. Candyman Can|
|Pioneerof the Nile||Imperial Council|
|Friesan Fire||Hello Broadway|
|Capt. Candyman Can||Flying Pegasus|
|Hello Broadway||Giant Oak|
|Mr. Fantasy||West Side Bernie|
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