2009 Kentucky Derby Contenders – Top 10
by Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com
Updated March 1, 2009
The Kentucky Derby is only nine weeks away but theres still much moving and shaking going on. Numerous Kentucky Derby contenders failed to show up with good efforts this past weekend while others moved into the top 10 on class, talent, pedigree and courage. All contenders bear close watching now. They will be severely tested for class and stamina in the coming weeks. Below follow our top Kentucky Derby contenders as of March 1, 2009. If were missing a horse you like please let us know and well check it out. We will update our contender list every Monday until the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009 at Churchill Downs.
1. Pioneer of the Nile Bided his time in sixth in the Robert B. Lewis on February 7 at Santa Anita before advancing between horses on the final turn and being forced to wait a bit in late turn. Swung wide for the drive and mowed them down late. The more Gomez asked him to run in the drive the more he accelerated. Appears to listen well to his rider and responds willingly when asked. His ability to dig deeper when asked will benefit him in the Kentucky Derby.
2.Dunkirk – Was 10-wide on the first turn and remained wide while stalking a slow pace set by the second choice in a 1 1/8 mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park on February 19. Put the second choice away and also turned back a couple of other outside rivals in late turn and drew away when asked in the stretch. Should benefit from that race, looks like hell handle the distance and is another who has the right running style to take advantage of a hot pace in the Kentucky Derby. Note he didnt race as a 2-year-old, and the last time a horse won the Derby without racing as a juvenile was in 1882. Ahh but the times they may be changing. Headed for the Florida Derby on March 28. Can improve again.
3. Old Fashioned Wasnt beating much in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 16 but was close to a fast pace and drew off in workmanlike fashion. Still undefeated and can improve, but might not be as far ahead of the top contenders as some think. Son of Unbridled Song is slated to make his next start in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 14.
4.The Pamplemousse Set a good pace winning his third in a row in the Sham at Santa Anita on February 28. Still hasnt been tested on the lead and his ability to come from off the pace remains a question mark. That being said, he has a stride that eats up ground even when on the lead and if youre going to beat him its clear youll have to run him into the ground. Not sure weve seen anyone who can do that yet.
5.Quality Road Made a number of former Derby contenders look bad in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 28, stalking a quick pace set by second choice This Ones for Phil and drawing away in the stretch. Favorite Capt. Candyman Can was in good striking position inside throughout and faded in the stretch to finish fourth. The favorite may have bounced but hes going to have to come back with a big improvement to be a Kentucky Derby contender. Quality Road was making his first start on Lasix for sharp trainer Jimmy Jerkens off a six-week layoff and looks like he can improve again.
6. Friesan Fire Son of A.P. Indy had an uncomfortable hard-held trip between horses from just off the pacesetters in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds on February 7, but when it came time to battle in early stretch he rose to the occasion and ended up drawing out late. He isnt flashy but he appears to have some fight in him. Not sure how much talent he has, but should get a better idea in the Louisiana Derby on March 14.
7.Take the Points Gave it a good try on the class raise moving up off a win in a mile allowance at Gulfstream Park to finish second to The Pamplemousse in the Sham on February 28 at Santa Anita. He had to travel cross-country to try Polytrack for the first time and still finished second from a poor wide post with a good effort. Has the pedigree and connections to improve.
8.Theregoesjojo Had the tables turned on him in the Fountain of Youth by Quality Road, who he had previously beaten in an allowance race, but it wasnt for lack of trying. Made a nice move on the turn and rallied for second off a six-week layoff. Has the stamina to be a force in the Kentucky Derby with a hot pace up front. Like Quality Road, could bounce in his next, but watch out after that.
9.Giant Oak Entered the Risen Star at Fair Grounds on February 7 at Oaklawn Park off a 7-week layoff and finished fifth despite a terrible trip in which he broke slow, dropped back to last, made a good move into a switch entering the final turn, had to be taken back, had no place to run through the turn, and finally rallied for fifth in the stretch. Probably should have finished at least second. Whether he could have won is difficult to tell, but among Kentucky Derby contenders he does own the honor of the worst trip in his most recent race. Should get a better look at him in the Louisiana Derby or Rebel Stakes later this month. Dont sell short just yet.
10. Papa Clem Good fighting effort as a 17-1 longshot on the class raise from maiden win to stakes in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita on February 7. Did get a good trip from just off a moderate pace but dug in courageously to put away second choice I Want Revenge in the drive before succumbing late to favorite Pioneer of the Nile. Would probably need to improve but certainly worth watching in next start, likely the Louisiana Derby on March 14 at Fair Grounds.
Kentucky Derby Contenders Still Worth Watching
Desert Party Won the UAE 2000 Guineas on February 12 and will make his next start in the UAE Derby at 1 1/8 miles on March 28, but would have to improve on the records of previous highly thought of contenders who have trained in Dubai before arriving on Kentucky Derby day only to get trounced.
General Quarters Took advantage of a good trip inside and drew off to win the Sam F. Davis at 13-1 on February 14 at Tampa Bay Downs. Not sure what he beat in that race and will really have to step it up a notch to beat the top Kentucky Derby contenders, BUT, he does look like he can still improve. Pointing towards the Tampa Bay Derby on March 14.
Beethoven Plodded home third in the Fountain of Youth in his second start off the layoff and could be just rounding into form. Might very well improve in his next start but hell have to. Another who would benefit from a fast pressured pace in the Kentucky Derby but who must show more in his next start.
Stardom Bound A filly against the boys? Well, at least she has the right running style. Despite the fact that she is currently the best 3-year-old filly in the land, its difficult to imagine her beating up on some of these boys, even if she runs her best race in the Kentucky Derby. Won the Las Virgenes on February 7 at Santa Anita over her own sex and will now point for the Santa Anita Oaks on March 7. Shes on this list because of her accomplishments against her own sex. Were thinking it would be a much smarter to keep her there.
Got a difference of opinion? We would love to hear from you! Know of any other 2009 Kentucky Derby Contenders that should be on this list? Please let us know. Thanks!