The Trending Ten
On the first Monday of every month I will be giving you my Trending Ten; the top ten Kentucky Derby horses at that particular time. It’s never too soon to start the Kentucky Derby hype, but let’s be honest here. At this moment last year Always Dreaming had yet to win a race, West Coast- currently a top trending 3-year-old- hadn’t even ran a race yet, and- at this stage in his career- even Orb was coming off a 22-length maiden loss. Between now and the first Saturday in May, anything and everything can happen. But at this particular moment in time, these are the ten horses to have at the top of your Kentucky Derby radar.
1) Bolt d’Oro
-Mick Ruis & Corey Nakatani
WOW! That’s all you can say after his last performance in the Grade 1 Frontrunner Stakes at Santa Anita as the heavy favorite, coming off of a victory in the Del Mar Futurity. To already have two Grade 1’s under his belt this early in his career is impressive. He is the progeny of Medaglia d’Oro out of Globe Trot by A.P Indy. His last race was similar to The Tabulator’s (next on this list), except in that he sat one off a brisk pace. But when he turned for home, he hit a second gear. With a possible next start in the Breeders Cup Juvenile on a track he has shown an affinity for, this horse is set to be the Derby favorite come winter. Not to mention a win in the Juvenile would give him three Grade 1 wins prior to the major Derby prep races- the same accolades Nyquist accumulated prior to his 2016 Derby win. Bolt d’Oro horse is showing improvement and looked the part of a Derby winner in this most recent effort. Not to mention, two out of the five past Derby winners won the Frontrunner- Nyquist and American Pharoah. That is yet another reason why he comes in at number one on the first Trending Ten.
2) The Tabulator
-Larry Rivelli & Jose Valdivia Jr
The Tabulator is a son of Dialed In out of little-known dam Fly to the Stars. He has three races under his belt and is currently undefeated. Most recently, he beat fellow Trending Ten member Ten City in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs. Trained by Larry Rivelli, he broke his maiden at Arlington Park and shortly afterward took the Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows. His most impressive win, however, was in the Iroquois. He sat one length off the pace and, stretching out to two turns for the first time, he held on strongly in the stretch even when he drifted toward the middle of the track, winning by about a length. At this point on the Derby trail, I focus on consistency. He now has three wins from three starts and he’s looked progressively better. The Tabulator is definitely one to keep “tabs” on for the future.
3) Dak Attack
-Dale Romans & Robby Albarado
Dak Attack, named after Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, is from the same connections as J Boys Echo, an entrant in the 2017 Derby. Unfortunately for J Boys Echo, Albarado broke his ankle and was unable to ride in the Derby. Hopefully that is not the case this year. Dak Attack has won both of his starts including the Ellis Park Juvenile, which featured a great handful of runners including fellow Trending Ten member Ten City. He took off in the stretch and ended up winning by three lengths. He’s shown he can win at Churchill by breaking his maiden there, and we might see him soon at Keeneland or Belmont. He’s only had two starts so he hasn’t stretch out yet, but with the way he took off in the stretch in his last start, that shouldn’t be an issue. Could this be the horse Dale Romans wins his first Derby with? Only time will tell, but Dak Attack shows promise just like his namesake.
4) Ten City
-Kenneth McPeek & Jack Gilligan
This horse broke onto the scene after a maiden win at Keeneland in April, followed by a win the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill. Since then, he has two third-place finishes, but they were both behind fellow Trending Ten members Dak Attack and The Tabulator. Ten City made a monstrous move around the second turn in the Iroquois, but seemed to lose ground on the backside. The main question surrounding him is distance. Out of Run Away and Hide a graded stakes winner, but the longest distance was 6.5 furlongs. Unfortunately, he had a short career so we can’t really tell the distance potential. Overall Ten City fits the part of a typical two-year-old on the Derby trail- showing potential with many questions to be answered. Hopefully we find out more in the Breeders Futurity if he enters.
5) Snapper Sinclair
-Steve Asmussen & Ricardo Santana Jr.
This horse has looked fantastic in his past two races. However they’ve both been on the turf. His lone dirt start was his first time out and he finished fifth. He’s already shown he can handle different tracks by breaking his maiden at Saratoga and then following that up with a win in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile. He is likely going to be pointed towards the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf. It’ll be interesting to see if he is moved to the dirt for the winter campaign and just needed a few races under his belt. The dirt is a huge question mark, but if he can adjust to the surface he is a major Derby contender.
-Bob Baffert & Flavien Prat
Hailing from the same barn as American Pharoah, Zayat Stable’s Solomini broke his maiden in September at Del Mar. Less than a month later, he was going a mile and a sixteenth in only his second career start. Not to mention he was facing arguably the best two-year-old in the country in Bolt d’Oro. Solomini made a great move in the stretch, but unfortunately for him it wasn’t enough to handle Bolt d’Oro. But one positive is that it was his first try at the distance and only his second career start. This horse has a lot of upside and is in great hands with the masterful Baffert.
-Mark Casse & Patrick Husbands
Blueblood has done nothing wrong in his two starts. The only reason he is so far down on this list is because he’s somewhat unproven. Blueblood broke his maiden at Woodbine and went on to win the Victoria Stakes there. The farthest distance he’s gone is only five and a half furlongs, but he’s coming along nicely for the Casse barn. Patrick Husbands said after the Victoria win, “He’s more like a three-year-old. Everything I want him to do, he does.” With Casse training and owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, we know this horse is in good hands. It’ll be interesting to see how he comes along.
8) He Hate Me
-Horacio DePaz & Ricardo Santana Jr
This horse looked good in the Tremont Stakes as he made a late-charging run. He showed the explosive closing kick that we all look for in a Derby horse. While the Tremont was only an eight-horse field, he’s another horse who is 2 for 2 and looks to be a solid two-year-old. He’s especially intriguing with his late closing style, and has showed he can win on different tracks.
9) Run Away
-Simon Callaghan & Flavien Prat
Run Away is one of the most experienced two-year-olds in the country and he showed in his last race he doesn’t have to be on the lead. After a third-place finish in the Del Mar Futurity, he returned on somewhat short rest to win the Barrets Juvenile at Los Alamitos. He’s now 4 for 5 lifetime and it’ll be interesting to see how he finishes off the year. He will have an advantage going into the major spring preps on experience alone. This Kaleem Shah runner is certainly one to keep tabs on in the future.
10) St. Patrick’s Day
-Bob Baffert & Flavien Prat
You can’t create a top ten list and leave off the full brother to the last Triple Crown winner right? St. Patrick’s Day is a full brother to American Pharoah and broke his maiden last time out at Del Mar. This horse has a lot of hype, but also an equal number of questions, and we won’t be getting any answers for a while. Baffert said he is too immature and will not be pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup. So who knows when we will see this horse again, but you have to respect him solely on pedigree.
Zatter- This horse actually bested St. Patrick’s Day in a maiden and then ran second to Bolt d’Oro in the Del Mar Futurity. You could plead his case for any spot here, but after his fifth in the Frontrunner I couldn’t put him in here. He’s definitely still a horse who will be on the Derby trail and another talented horse out of Bob Baffert’s always-loaded barn.
Copper Bullet– This is another horse out of Steve Asmussen’s barn who has experience on multiple tracks and has looked good on all of them. In the Saratoga Special, he ran a near-perfect race and was a game second in the Bashford Manor after a rough trip. Irad Ortiz has the mount and had nothing bad to say about this horse, saying he responded when asked. It’ll be interesting to see where they decide to run Copper Bullet in the future when he returns from his setback.
Biblical- Looks to be the lead horse in Todd Pletcher’s barn and definitely one to keep an eye on as a son of Tapit.
Free Drop Billy- Same connections as Dak Attack and had a blazing workout last week. Could be two special horses here for Dale Romans and the Albaugh Family.
Hollywood Star, Black Pepper, and Sand and Sea round out my near-miss list and are good horses who I just need to see a little more from.
Overall it is shaping up to be a great Kentucky Derby trail thus far!