It’s Post Time by Jon White: Twists and Turns on the Derby Trail

How quickly the Kentucky Derby picture can change. Fans of the sport each year certainly are entertained by the many twists and turns on the Derby trail.

There were three races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby last Saturday. They were Gulfstream Park’s Grade II Holy Bull at 1 1/16 miles, Santa Anita’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis at 1 1/16 miles and Aqueduct’s Grade III Withers at 1 1/8 miles. Each of those three races was worth 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, four for finishing second, two for third and one for fourth.

As I noted last week, the Holy Bull, Lewis and Withers were eligible to have an impact on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 this week. That has turned out be the case.

Audible (an impressive 5 1/2-length winner in the Holy Bull at 3-1) and Avery Island (a two-length winner as an even-money favorite in the Withers) move onto my Top 10 list this week.

Enticed (fourth as the 9-5 favorite in the Holy Bull), Untamed Domain (third as a 6-5 favorite in Gulfstream’s Dania Beach on the grass) and Firenze Fire (second in the Withers) drop out of my Top 10.

Here is my current Kentucky Derby Top 10:

 

  1. McKinzie
  2. Instilled Regard
  3. Good Magic
  4. Bolt d’Oro
  5. Audible
  6. Solomini
  7. Avery Island
  8. Mask
  9. Catholic Boy
  10. Sporting Chance

Audible serves as an excellent example of just how quickly a horse’s stock can rise — and rise dramatically — with respect to the Run for the Roses. In last week’s column, I listed the 49 horses at under 100-1 in Kentucky Derby future book odds

at the Wynn Race Book in Las Vegas. Audible was not one of the 49.

On Jan. 25, Audible was 200-1 at the Wynn. Interestingly, he dropped to 125-1 on Feb. 2, the day before the Holy Bull. A fair amount of money evidently was wagered on Audible prior to the Holy Bull. Audible’s price after his decisive Holy Bull victory has plunged to 15-1 in Kentucky Derby odds released Tuesday by the Wynn. That means Audible’s price has gone from 200-1 to 15-1 from Jan. 25 to Feb. 6.

As for Withers winner Avery Island, he was 45-1 on Jan. 25. He now is 30-1.

Lombo, who won the Lewis by two lengths in his first start around two turns, was 150-1 on Jan. 25. His price now is 65-1.

How about Lewis runner-up Ayacara? His price has plunged to 50-1 (even lower than Lombo’s) after he was 250-1 on Jan. 25.

Meanwhile, the prices have risen for the three horses to depart my Top 10 this week. Enticed now is 75-1 after he was 20-1 on Jan. 25. Untamed Domain now is 50-1 after he was 35-1 on Jan. 25. And Firenze Fire now is 75-1 after he was 65-1 on Jan. 25.

As of Feb. 6, these were the 28 horses whose odds were 50-1 or under at the Wynn:

 

7-1 Bolt d’Oro

8-1 McKinzie

12-1 Good Magic

15-1 Audible

18-1 Montauk

18-1 Solomini

20-1 Instilled Regard

20-1 Mask

25-1 Principe Guilherme

30-1 Avery Island

30-1 Catholic Boy

30-1 Restoring Hope

30-1 Vino Rosso

40-1 Free Drop Billy

40-1 Mendelssohn

40-1 Mourinho

40-1 Sporting Chance

40-1 Strike Power

45-1 Noble Indy

50-1 Analyze It

50-1 Ayacara

50-1 Copper Bullet

50-1 Dak Attack

50-1 Marconi

50-1 Mississippi

50-1 Untamed Domain

50-1 World of Trouble

50-1 Zulfikhar

BEYER SPEED FIGURE REPORT

Audible, trained by Todd Pletcher, was assigned a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the Holy Bull. His previous top Beyer had been an 84. Because the New York-bred Into Mischief colt took such a giant leap in the Beyer department, some are viewing his performance with a measure of skepticism and want to see him validate it down the road.

Pletcher has indicated Audible might well make his next start in Gulfstream’s Grade I Xpressbet.com Florida Derby at 1 1/8 miles on March 31. That would give Audible just one more race before the May 5 Kentucky Derby. If that is indeed what occurs, Audible will have five career starts before the Churchill Downs classic. Pletcher won the 2017 Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming, who previously had made five lifetime starts, including a victory in the Florida Derby. Pletcher also won the Kentucky Derby in 2010 with Super Saver, who previously had made six career starts.

Lombo, conditioned by Mike Pender, has shown steady improvement in terms of his Beyer Speed Figures. The Kentucky-bred Graydar colt earned just a 52 on the turf Nov. 10 at Del Mar in his career debut, followed by a 73, then an 81, then an 86 in the Lewis.

Avery Island, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, recorded a career-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the Remsen. His previous top Beyer had been an 83 when the Kentucky-bred Street Sense colt finished second to Catholic Boy in Aqueduct’s Grade II Remsen at 1 1/8 miles on Dec. 2.

Speaking of Catholic Boy, who is No. 9 on my Top 10, he heads a field of seven entered in Tampa Bay Downs’ Grade III Sam F. Davis at 1 1/16 miles this Saturday. The Kentucky-bred More Than Ready colt, trained by Jonathan Thomas, will be making his first start since his sparkling 4 3/4-length Remsen triumph.

THE LATEST NTRA POLLS

This is this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll:

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

 

  1. 388 West Coast (7)
  2. 350 Gun Runner (35)
  3. 276 World Approval
  4. 218 Forever Unbridled
  5. 209 Roy H (1)
  6. 168 Gunnevera
  7. 138 Abel Tasman
  8. 110 Sharp Azteca
  9. 84 Beach Patrol
  10. 79 Unique Bella

Here is this week’s NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll:

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

 

  1. 405 Good Magic (30)
  2. 360 Bolt d’Oro (10)
  3. 300 McKinzie (1)
  4. 245 Audible
  5. 206 Solomini
  6. 184 Instilled Regard
  7. 150 Catholic Boy
  8. 141 Avery Island
  9. 72 Mask
  10. 57 Mourinho

MY UPDATED TOP 100 OF 20TH AND 21ST CENTURIES

Now that Gun Runner’s racing career is over, I have been contemplating where to put him on my list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th and 21st Centuries to have raced in North America.

I previously had Gun Runner at No. 93. But that No. 93 ranking was prior to his impressive sequence of Grade I victories in the Stephen Foster Handicap, Whitney, Woodward, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup.

I have moved Gun Runner all the way up to No. 37. I now have him just behind fellow recent retirees Arrogate (No. 34), Shared Belief (No. 35) and California Chrome (No. 36).

I have Arrogate ranked at No. 34, slightly higher than California Chrome, mainly because Arrogate beat California Chrome both times they met.

I have Shared Belief at No. 35 because I always felt Shared Belief was better than California Chrome. And the one time they met, Shared Belief beat California Chrome fair and square by 1 1/2 lengths in the Grade II San Antonio in 2015.

It’s my opinion that Shared Belief is one of the most underappreciated racehorses of our time. He won 10 of 12 lifetime starts, with legitimate excuses for his only two defeats. Shared Belief finished fourth after a troubled start in the 2014 BC Classic. In his only other loss, he was pulled up with an injury in the 2015 Charles Town Classic.

I have California Chrome, a two-time Horse of the Year, ranked slightly higher than Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year.

To a large extent Gun Runner is not ranked higher than No. 37 on my Top 100 because he did not do better at 3. He lost five races as a 3-year-old.

Here now is my updated list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th and 21st Centuries to have raced in North America (in parentheses, when applicable, is where the horse ranked on the BloodHorse’s list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century):

 

  1. Man o’ War (1)
  2. Secretariat*(2)
  3. Citation* (3)
  4. Kelso (4)
  5. Spectacular Bid (10)
  6. Native Dancer (7)
  7. Dr. Fager (6)
  8. Seattle Slew* (9)
  9. Count Fleet* (5)
  10. Affirmed* (12)
  11. Ruffian (35)
  12. Swaps (20)
  13. Phar Lap (22)
  14. Forego (8)
  15. American Pharoah*
  16. Tom Fool (11)
  17. Buckpasser (14)
  18. Round Table (17)
  19. Seabiscuit (25)
  20. War Admiral* (13)
  21. Colin (15)
  22. Damascus (16)
  23. John Henry (23)
  24. Zenyatta
  25. Regret (71)
  26. Exterminator (29)
  27. Whirlaway* (26)
  28. Sunday Silence (31)
  29. Cigar (18)
  30. Bold Ruler (19)
  31. Nashua (24)
  32. Alydar (27)
  33. Easy Goer (34)
  34. Arrogate
  35. Shared Belief
  36. California Chrome
  37. Gun Runner
  38. Equipoise (21)
  39. Gallant Fox* (28)
  40. Sysonby (30)
  41. Gallant Man (36)
  42. Assault* (33)
  43. Armed (39)
  44. Sir Barton* (49)
  45. Omaha* (61)
  46. Discovery (37)
  47. Northern Dancer (43)
  48. Ack Ack (44)
  49. Majestic Prince (46)
  50. Arts and Letters (67)
  51. Alysheba (42)
  52. Personal Ensign (48)
  53. Curlin
  54. Pan Zareta
  55. Sham
  56. Rachel Alexandra
  57. Stymie (41)
  58. Challedon (38)
  59. Busher (40)
  60. Gallorette (45)
  61. All Along (68)
  62. Coaltown (47)
  63. Sword Dancer (53)
  64. Grey Lag (54)
  65. Devil Diver (55)
  66. Dahlia (50)
  67. Zev (56)
  68. Native Diver (60)
  69. Noor (69)
  70. Twilight Tear (59)
  71. Riva Ridge (57)
  72. Ta Wee (80)
  73. Shuvee (70)
  74. Holy Bull (64)
  75. Precisionist
  76. Point Given
  77. Ghostzapper
  78. Twenty Grand (52)
  79. Tiznow
  80. Skip Away (32)
  81. Alsab (65)
  82. Johnstown (73)
  83. Wise Dan
  84. Susan’s Girl (51)
  85. Genuine Risk (91)
  86. Go for Wand (72)
  87. Landaluce
  88. Rags to Riches
  89. Cicada (62)
  90. Silver Charm (63)
  91. Bald Eagle (74)
  92. Lady’s Secret (76)
  93. Slew o’ Gold (58)
  94. Hill Prince (75)
  95. Beholder
  96. Azeri
  97. Top Flight (66)
  98. Old Rosebud (88)
  99. Goldikova
  100. Exceller (96)

 *Triple Crown winner

It’s Post Time by Jon White: Twists and Turns on the Derby Trail

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