Valentine’s Day Massacre
One bright spot in following an entire group of horses is that it gives me perspective. I realize that it isn’t only my colts who are fond of doing face plants – it is almost everyone’s colts. And while I keep telling myself, someone has to win this thing and eventually we are going to get around 20 horses in the starting gate (almost certainly the URC version anyway), it is extremely hard to train a decent 3yo dirt router. The last two weeks saw so many of the dozen implode with cover your eyes disastrous results that I was left with a dilemma; do I elevate horses who are unproven winning lesser races and not yet testing stakes quality which just bowled over the others, or do I ride the course assuming at least SOME of these horses will rebound from their efforts. Since it is likely more fun for you to read about wild swings I chose the latter method and so, as a clever man once said, chaos is a ladder and the last two weeks have brought a slew of new contestants in 2020’s game of Who Want’s to be a Derby Horse?
- NYSP Sergeant – (More Than Ready x Deputy Minister) trained by doodlegsbs. That the #1 horse can not race and move up from 8th to 1st tells you all that you really need to know about the current state of affairs with this crop of colts. In fact, the first two colts benefit from not losing, so perhaps the secret strategy is to keep your horse in the barn! NYSP is getting by on his front-running 3rd place G3 finish back in early January so to say this is a tenuous position is being generous. But, what the heck, three editions of the Dozen and three new horses at the pole position.
- Running With Beto – (Constitution x Galileo) trained by waremblem. Did I say, new leaders? Well, this is also the third straight edition where the top 2 has changed and so by virtue of simply not racing, Beto goes up a spot. My Constitution colt didn’t draw into his G2 this week but since Dan has kindly purchased a trifecta (superfecta?) of open stakes he’ll instead by taking on a trio of stormborn colts next week. While my fillies have shown some spark this year, every dirt colt has badly flopped. This doesn’t bode well for Beto, especially considering his namesake. All signs point toward another new top 2 in March.
- Detract – (Curlin x War Chant) trained by robd. Rising from 12th to 3rd on the basis of his 4th place finish in the G3 Dubai 2000 Guineas, Detract didn’t grab any stakes points but he did put himself in the upper echelons of the Dozen. He was moving late perhaps confirming that he is not a sprinter (although he is 0-2 in routes). Detract earned a 98 SP for his effort. He has Malibu Moon in the DDS kicker position and with Curlin as his sire there really isn’t any reason he shouldn’t like longer. The SIM does seem to throw a large number Curlin sprinters though. Even so, he’s a G3 winner with a pedigree and some accomplishments. And since he ran last week, he can’t lose any time soon. A rare occasion where a 4th paid off.
- Titanic Ghost – (California Chrome x Smart Strike) trained by punter34. Last week’s top horse falls to 4 following his 6th place result in the G1 Vermont is For Lovers. On the plus side, he has now run two straight 100+ SPs, something no other colt on this list has done. One the negative, after winning five straight to start his career he’s lost his last two. Titanic Ghost was moving toward the end of the race and perhaps one could question the decision to debut as a 3yo in a G1. Vermont is For Lovers is something of a trap race luring colts in with the draft sexy stakes points but rarely providing a positive result for the runners’ future prospects. It remains to be seen whether the colt will regress following a difficult G1 or will use it further build his foundation. The fourth position is my wait and see approach.
- Divisidario – (Carpe Diem x Pulpit) trained by johnk. When judges score a boxing match they often use the criteria; who would I rather have been in that round? Of all the horses on the Dozen, I suspect most would either want to be Titanic Ghost or this undefeated 3-3 colt. Divisidario rises up from the honorable mention ranks to debut at 5th and while he isn’t all that fast on paper, holding only a career-high 85 SP, he is undefeated and he has won by open lengths. Let’s face it, he hasn’t beaten anyone winning two HOT races and an allowance in Michigan (where we don’t even have real thoroughbred racing). But he’s undefeated, and right now that means something. Carpe Diem has risen above the usual son of Giant’s Causeway status to show some life as a successful SIM sire and his scratch-bred Pulpit x Miswaki back end is both uncommon and pedigree pleasing. Hopes and dreams, hopes and dream.
- Pancakes and Beer – (Mineshaft x Tapit) trained by pboy. The 2×4 inbreeding to A.P. Indy may have paid dividends here with another horse making his dozen debut. He came up in the URC racing ranks running 2nd in the Mr. Prospector Sons of Bitches then breaking his maiden next time out. After running 5th in the URC Hopes and Dreams Stakes, he debuted with a 2nd at 9 as a 3yo. Last weekend he stretched out to 9.5 in ALW company and won by 2 1/2 in a hand ride posting a career-high 94 SP and being up by almost 7. This would suggest there is a lot in the tank here. Pancakes and Beer is a horse who has speed, can get the distance, has a strong pedigree and has kept improving. Another with upside who will look to survive his next test.
- Imbil Hajun – (Exaggerator x Candy Ride) trained by kymar. Moving from 10th to 7th Imbil Hajun faces his reckoning this weekend in stakes company so he’ll either reverse the story of the colts thus far and become a front-runner or he’ll join the others discarded off the list wondering where to go next. Everything points to a successful effort on the horizon but PPs haven’t helped us too much so far. Exaggerator, like Carpe Diem, has been under the radar successful in the SIM.
- NYSP Trooper – (Distorted Humor x Seattle Slew) trained by doodlegbs. The Risen Star was Waterloo for both NYSP Trooper and Draconomicon (below). Trooper finished 10th which drops last week’s 2nd horse half a dozen spots. This snaps Trooper’s 4 race winning streak and for the moment we’ll say maybe he needed the graded seasoning. Or he possibly has a graded ceiling. He could, maybe even should, rebound by dropping down into open company and could still be a major player in the URC Derby. He’s won a lot of races (4) and his pedigree is among the best. No doubt the Risen Star was an incredible disappointment, but he has two more preps to redeem himself.
- Sense of Thunder – (Street Sense x Thunder Gulch) trained by dkyoung. Recent maiden winner is trying to pull a Justify and do it all as a 3yo. His 2020 debut was a spectacular one as he posted a 96 SP at 9.5 furlongs winning in a hand ride after being up by 7. That represents a 20 point jump from his debut race just before Christmas at 7-furlongs. His mom was a G1 winner who was also out of a G1 winner. Clearly, a lot of work to do yet but the horse offers some tantalizing possibilities. A key decision awaits dkyoung on where the colt goes next.
- Kymard Persav – (Stratford Hill x Super Saver) trained by kymar. He falls 3 spots not because I’ve lost faith in him but because he hasn’t run yet and we’re still waiting to see what he does. Some of the others who have passed him have had electrifying races so Persav needs to show the promise that I believe he has in him. I’m anxious to see if he is who I think he is. Either way, he’s managed to stay on the Dozen for three editions.
- Haashim – (Casino Drive x Broken Vow) trained by johnk. The 5 for 6 colt holds the 11th spot as we await how he fares against non-HOT race competition.
- Antarctika – (Astern x Storm Cat) trained by waremblem. Something of an intriguing prospect here who is 3-1-2 since switching to the dirt. He comes off an open allowance win at 8.25 furlongs that he won by 6 1/2 lengths. He’s only been off the board once in his 7 career starts. Next race he’ll try 9-furlongs which should be a barometer on how he handles the distance. Storm Cat x Seeking the Gold would indicate he is a sprinter. Astern himself was a turf sprinter so to say Antarctika has outrun his pedigree is an understatement.
Draconomicon ran last in the Risen Star effectively ending his Derby push. Best case scenario he’s a sprinter who may improve with age, worse case his career is over. Forest Costa and Imbil Baleen both finished 8th in open stakes company. It was a major setback for each horse and pulled them down from their 4th and 6th spots. With Draconomicon surrendering the 5th spot that was the molly whopped zone in the Dozen. Also running 8th in an open stakes with the 9th position horse Rebel Cavalry. Horses this young can go through ups and downs but all these were bad loses which will leave the trainers wondering where to go from here.
Not necessarily honorable but Imbil Bonzai ran 11th in his stakes effort making the Dozen a tall task for the son of Looking at Lucky. Many maiden winners took steps forward in a late push exhibiting an affinity to route if nothing else. These include Golden Tapas, Turkey King, Vertical Threat, and Superbowl LIII. Carriere is 2-2 after winning a low-level allowance. A Keen Ice son with some potential.