Most of if not all of the big races have been run in February, so it’s time for some knee jerk reactions as to my current top 12 along with those I think are currently in the hunt. I excluded fillies for the time being despite knowing at least one of them is actively trying for the Bluegrass and I tried to look at the horses objectively based on their most recent performances. Outside of those two minuscule bits of logic I admittedly don’t know what I’m talking about. All that being said my top 12 are below.
1. GENERAL CROOK (UNION RAGS x BERNARDINI x MR. PROSPECTOR)
Still top dog in this bunch with all the work he put in as a two year old. Will be making the debut in March at the G2 Land’s End.
2. HOPKINSON FLYER (ARROGATE x A.P. INDY)
The only undefeated colt still left ran a monster race in the Vermont is 4 Lovers winning by half a length and earning a 103 speed fig. He’s heading to the G1 Corkscrew derby lock next out. The race is a little more than a month away and hasn’t filled up with entries as of yet so it remains to be seen which of the top tier horses will point that way.
3. ARROGATE’S MALIBU (ARROGATE x MALIBU MOON)
He opens up my personal rankings in 3rd, after running in the Vermont is 4 lovers this month and finishing 3rd by half a length. He’s more than likely already earned enough to get into the Bluegrass but is pointed towards the G1 All Saints Derby where he’ll link up with runners like MUSTANG BROOK, WAKAHARO, & TITANIC GHOST for the 2nd time in as many months.
4. FLAVORS OF MAYHEM (UNCLE MO x SADLER’S WELLS)
He’s burst onto the scene as a three year old winning the 9.5F Intergalactic Dirt Route stakes and most recently taking down the G1 Dreams of Zambia with an impressive 102 speed fig. Distance is certainly not a question for him. He’s not yet pointed to a derby lock but it will be interesting to see which one lenny goes for.
5. FIERCELY FROSTED (FROSTED x DYNAFORMER)
He was on the fringe of last month’s write up mainly because all he’d won to that point was an 8.5F listed. However, this month he just popped off a big one taking down the G2 Fountain of Ute with a 108 speed fig. Currently he’s pointed towards the G1 Florida Derby in an attempt to lock up his derby spot.
6. JIAN YANG (JUSTIFY x TAPIT x DANZIG)
Winner of the G2 Sleepy Fan Stakes where he put up an impressive 106 speed fig. This 3 year old son of JUSTIFY looks to be finding his best stride at the right time. JIAN YANG is pointed towards the G1 California Derby in a month’s time.
7. BLAME THE CADET (BLAME x FORTY NINER)
Ran a game 5th in the G1 Vermont is 4 Lovers where he missed by a length. This is the first time he’s finished out of the money in his career and if you’re going to have a hiccup it’s good to have it now as opposed to a lock or the derby itself. He’s pointing towards the G1 Florida Derby next month.
8. TARTON SQUIRT (MR SPEAKER x EL CORREDOR)
Was a late closing 2nd in the G2 Fountain of Ute and has shown he can be competitive at 9F. His trainer was a bag of mixed emotions after the 2nd place finish, happy that he was in the money but disappointed that he didn’t win. If I remember correctly his trainer mentioned in chat that he will likely be going to the Florida Derby for a rematch against FIERCELY FROSTED.
9. IRISH WAR BOOTY (IRISH WAR CRY x GIANT’S CAUSEWAY)
Ran a very close 2nd in the Vermont is 4 Lovers, missing by half a length. He was impressive showing he can contend with the big boys making the jump from allowance to graded with ease. As of this writing there’s no direction for his next race but like all the others on this list a derby lock is likely in his future.
10. VAR REACHING (VAR x AWESOME AGAIN)
I liked the performance he put up in the G1 Dreams of Zambia closing late to finish 2nd. He’s been essentially chasing FLAVORS OF MAYHEM finishing 2nd to him twice now in the aforementioned and Intergalactic Dirt Stakes. No derby lock set up for him as of yet but we will know much more about this guy by next month.
11. JOEY DA K (INTO MISCHIEF x STREET CRY x GIANT’S CAUSEWAY)
He ran poorly in the G3 Scam where he finished 8th by 5 and regressed to a 95 speed fig. However, I’m willing to forgive that one as it was his first start as a 3 year old and he may have needed a race to freshen up. He’s not yet pointed towards a derby lock but I’d imagine wherever he goes he’ll be much more competitive in his next effort.
12. BIG DOME LV (DOME x BIG BROWN)
He ran wire to wire in the G3 Risen Star where he posted a 104 speed fig. Tough to tell if he’ll be able to sustain his speed at the longer distances but given his most recent performance he’ll most certainly give it a shot. He’ll face off with a bunch of the horses on this list in the G1 All Saints Derby.
In the Hunt: (No particularorder)
A TINY BIT (ARROGATE x DANZIG x DYNAFORMER)
I want to like this horse a lot but after blowing a 5 length lead and finishing 7th by 4 in the G3 Scam I’m now questioning whether or not he has the lungs to get the distances. I could use the same excuse for him as I did with JOEY DA K, but the main difference is I liked that JOEY DA K was picking up some of the pieces and A TINY BIT was retreating at a rapid pace. A TINY BIT is pointed to the G1 All Saints Derby lock.
WESTWARD WINDS (WEST COAST x UNBRIDLED)
He ran a game 3rd in the G2 Fountain of Ute and from what his trainer has mentioned he’ll likely get a jock change. I’d expect to see him in the Florida Derby or Corkscrew in his next start.
DERBY THEORY (BLAME x SMART STRIKE)
I didn’t like the way he ran down the stretch in the G1 Dreams of Zambia where he finished 8th by 7. He very well may still be a contender but he’s going to need to open up his lungs quite a bit.
UNJUSTIFY (JUSTIFY x UNBRIDLED)
He finished a solid 3rd in the G1 Dreams of Zambia scoring a 98 speed fig in the performance. Not yet pointed to a derby lock.
MUSTANG BROOK (NYQUIST x CURLIN)
His three year old season hasn’t been very kind to him as he’s finished 6th by 11 in the Intergalactic stakes and most recently finished 8th in the Vermont is 4 Lovers. He’s got the pedigree for the Bluegrass, just need to have him put it all together on the track. Up next he’s going to the G1 All Saints Derby lock.
WILD WILD DEPUTY (HONOR CODE x DEPUTY MINISTER)
First start after almost three months off and he threw in a dud finishing 10th by 7 lengths in the G2 Sleepy Fan. By the looks of it distance may be a real question for him as he’s now being pointed to the G1 Marino Mile in the middle of March.
TREZAR (NYQUIST x DEEP IMPACT)
Most recently he ran 2nd in the G3 Scam and he hasn’t been out of the money since his first try against winners. He’s steadily improving and is heading to the Florida Derby to try and fight his way into the race for roses.
EXAGGERATED ZLTAP (EXAGGERATOR x TAPIT)
He’s yet to run in a graded race and like most of what’s on my list will need to win a lock to get in. He’s not currently pointed towards a derby prep but his biggest win to date was the 9.5F Go Long stakes.