(Editors Note: The following is a preview of Bluegrass Derby Hopefuls)
GENERAL CROOK (UNION RAGS x BERNARDINI x MR. PROSPECTOR)
Out of the 2014 Bluegrass Oaks winning mare FIRST DEGREE BURN, he’s certainly looked the part up till this point. He’s also a half-brother to LOW FIDELITY (BROKEN VOW) who finished 2nd in the 2017 Bluegrass Derby. He may have been the most dominant male horse on dirt as a 2 year old winning three graded events including two G1’s (Breeder’s Bowl Juvenile, Sparkling Wine Stakes). His speed figs continue to improve as the distances grow. Having earned 276 points already it looks as though GENERAL CROOK may have already punched his ticket to the derby, however he is set to make his 3 year old debut in the G2 Land’s End March 15th to add to his already impressive resume.
ARROGATE’S MALIBU (ARROGATE x MALIBU MOON x DEPUTY MINISTER)
Out of the G2 winning MALIBU MOON’S LADY and half-brother to the G1 winning MY AMERICAN LADY. Like GENERAL CROOK he’s never been out of the money in a graded race and earned his G1 badge in the Merry Christmas less than a month ago. He’ll make his three year old debut running in the G1 Vermont is 4 Lovers. Given that his G1 winning sister won at 10 furlongs, I think its fair to assume that he may get better and better as the distances open up.
NOT YET REGISTERED (EL CORREDOR x TIZNOW x ELITE SQUADRON)
An interesting character out of the speedy stakes winning WOKINGHAM. He seems to defy logic in the sense that his mare was the super short sprinty type and his sire seems to throw much more sprinters then routers. Despite that he managed two graded wins in his 2 year old season with the biggest being the G1 End of the Line Futurity. I’ll also give him an honorable mention for finishing 3rd in the Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile but he concerns have arisen as he didn’t fire in the G1 Movieland Futurity. One has to wonder just how much of a threat he’ll be when he starts his three year old season in the G2 Sleepy Fan Stakes next month.
JOEY DA K (INTO MISCHIEF x STREET CRY x GIANT’S CAUSEWAY)
Out of the stakes placed mare SECRET CONNECTION, he’s already surpassed his mare’s accomplishments earning a G1 victory in the Movieland Futurity. He made it look easy in that race making a powerful move at 2nd call and picking up 13 lengths to run away with ease. He’ll make his 3 year old debut in a couple weeks where he’ll meet A TINY BIT (see below) in the G3 Scam.
A TINY BIT (ARROGATE x DANZIG x DYNAFORMER)
Scratch bred colt coming from a trainer who’s determined to get that derby bid. Thus far he’s won the G1 Back up Battle but fell short in the G1 Merry Christmas finishing 7th by 7.5 lengths. As mentioned above he’ll run against JOEY DA K in the G3 Scam.
NYQSTAY APE (NYQUIST x STAY GOLD (JPN) x AFFIRMED)
Out of the G1 winning mare LUNA APE took down the G1 North Fork Stakes back in September before falling flat in the G1 Breeder’s Bowl Juvenile. He started his derby trail this past weekend in the G3 Legoland finishing 4th. The 4th place finish was a hiccup in his Bluegrass aspirations, but there’s still plenty of time for him to rebound. Time will tell where he ends up next.
SPEED GENES (FIBRE SONDE x HUSSONET x A.P. INDY)
Out of the allowance winning SPEED DAEMON and has been in the money in all of his 7 races including a 3rd place G1 North Fork Stakes and 2nd place in the G1 Breeders Bowl Juvenile. Having always been the bride’s maid and never the bride he’s in a unique position that keeps him very relevant in the upcoming derby preps even without having a key victory. For the moment there is nothing set up for him in the immediate future at the
DERBY THEORY (BLAME x SMART STRIKE x NUREYEV)
The appropriately named DERBY THEORY is a scratch bred colt who’s defining moment thus far came in the G3 Charcoal Breeder’s Cup. He ran a very good race in the G1 Merry Christmas where he finished 2nd missing by less than a length. At the moment he’s pointing towards the G1 Dreams of Zambia on Feb 15th.
WILD WILD DEPUTY (HONOR CODE x DEPUTY MINISTER x GONE WEST)
Same determined trainer (cough cough given) has another impressive one, this time a scratch bred son of HONOR CODE who head bobbed his way to victory in the G2 Club Stakes this past November. He’s classically bred and has looked the part of a potential derby candidate early on as he’s been competitive at whatever distance he’s run at. He’ll meet another derby hopeful NOT YET REGISTERED in the G2 Sleepy Fan Stakes February 22nd.
BLAME THE CADET (BLAME x FORTY NINER x DEPUTY MINISTER)
This makes the third of given’s derby hopefuls that look the part early on. Bred by the great cadetdegen out of his SW mare CADET’S QUEEN he ran a well placed 2nd in the G1 Movieland Futurity to end his 2 year old season. BLAME THE CADET is set to make his 3 year old debut in the G1 Vermont is 4 Lovers where he’ll face off against a tough looking ARROGATE’S MALIBU.
RED WOLF ROAD (QUALITY ROAD x DEPUTY MINISTER x SEEKING THE GOLD)
If you haven’t guessed by now, this is basically a write up on given’s barn. This scratch bred son of QUALITY ROAD has yet to get that defining win with his best finish coming in the form of a 2nd place finish at the G1 Sparkling Wine Stakes. His last race as a two year old was less than inspiring as he faded to 14th in the Breeders Bowl Juvenile. I didn’t see an entry for him, so he may be getting a bit of a break before he starts his quest for the derby.
PIRATE TYPHOON (ARROGATE x DEPUTY MINISTER x FORTY NINER)
Scratch bred son of Arrogate is another who is still looking for that graded victory but has run well enough to be in the conversation. He’s got a listed stakes victory and a 2nd place finish in the G1 End of the Line Futurity. However, his last two tries at the G1 level have been less than stellar with him finishing 8th and 7th. Nothing scheduled for him in the near future, so we’ll see if his trainer elects to keep him on the derby trail or send him down a different path.
ZERO POINT ZERO (QUALITY ROAD x STORM CAT x EASY GOER)
Winner of the G1 Hopeless Stakes (7F)
Winner of the G2 Horsehead Juvenile (7F)
3rd place in the G1 Sparkling Wine Stakes (8F)
THE ROAD TO VAES (QUALITY ROAD x DISTORTED HUMOR x A.P. INDY)
3rd place finish in the G2 Horsehead Juvenile (7F)
2nd place finish in the G1 North Folk Stakes (8.5F)
JUNGLE PIRATE (LION HEART x DEHERE x CARO)
Note: Probably not actively attempting for the derby based on sprint record.
Winner of the G3 Television Stakes (5F)
Winner of the G3 Montana Futurity (5.5F)
Winner of the G2 Closest Friend Stakes (6.5F)
Winner of the G1 Pirates Life for Me (6F)
2nd in the G3 Happytime Stakes (6F)
MUSTANG BROOK (NYQUIST x CURLIN x GIANT’S CAUSEWAY)
Winner of the G2 The Ransom (9F)
OLDMOON’S MINE (MEAN SEASON x MINESHAFT x SUMMER SQUALL)
Winner of the G2 The Future Stakes (7F)
3rd in the G3 Family of Dragons (8.5F)
2nd in the G2 Club Stakes (8.5F)
KIM THE ANIMAL (ANIMAL KINGDOM x SUMMER SQUALL x ALLEGED)
2nd in the G3 LEST WE FORGET
3rd in the G1 Movieland Futurity
NORTHERLY ISLAND (MEDAGLIA D’ORO x STORM CAT x KINGMAMBO)
3rd place finish in the G1 Back up Battle
TARTON SQUIRT (MR SPEAKER x EL CORREDOR x LAMMTARRA)
2nd in the G3 The Cornstalk (8F)
1st in the G3 The Legoland (8F)