McCraken (Ghostzapper - Ivory Empress, by Seeking the Gold) After his season debut in the Sam F. Davis, McCraken had nowhere to go but up; I was simply waiting for his debut. The Whitham Thoroughbreds owned colt will likely head to the Tampa Bay Derby next. What I love most about McCraken is his versatility and room for improvement. After a nine point improvement from the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to the Sam F. Davis, Wilkes is doing a fantastic job to get this colt to hit peak performance on Kentucky Derby day.
Irish War Cry (Curlin - Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers) The second of the undefeated runners on this list, Irish War Cry will show his face next in the Fountain of Youth, as Motion said the colt will have just one breeze before the race. The pedigree on the colt is nothing to worry about, but one thing I want to see is his ability to take back, if needed. He has such amazing natural speed, but one aspect is that he could burn it quickly if challenged early. His maiden was a win by coming from off the pace, so if he can split running styles and rate just a bit, I will like him just a bit more.
Gormley (Malibu Moon - Race to Urga, by Bernstein) Other than the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Gormley is perfect. While he won the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes over highly regarded Klimt, Gormley was able to take back in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes and fight off a very game American Anthem. Gormley is to start in either the Rebel or the San Felipe next, depending on what Shirreffs decides to do with stablemate Royal Mo.
El Areeb (Exchange Rate - Feathered Diamond, by A.P. Indy) The grey MMG Stables colt is on a four race winning streak, with his last two races being won by a combined 15 1/2 lengths, which include the Jerome and the Withers. While New York preps have lost credibility over the years, this colt seems to be as real a deal that a racehorse should be, and honestly, the more he runs, the more he looks like a serious contender.
American Anthem (Bodemeister - Indy’s Windy, by A.P. Indy) American Anthem was highly impressive in his second lifetime start, which came in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, where he battled with Gormley. Baffert has worked him twice since that effort, and while it is unclear where he will send him next (the San Felipe or the Rebel), American Anthem might just be the best bet of Baffert to get another Kentucky Derby.
Guest Suite (Quality Road - Guest House, by Ghostzapper) The colt will surface next in the Risen Stakes Stakes at the Fair Grounds, but has looked phenomenal since winning the LeComte last out in the slop. Other than a third behind McCraken and a third in his debut, Guest Suite has done nothing wrong. His pedigree is even bigger than his stride. His dam is out of a Seeking the Gold half to A.P. Indy and Summer Squall. Also, his dam is bred on the exact cross that produced McCraken.
Royal Mo (Uncle Mo - Royal Irish Lass, by Saint Ballado) While the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis did not possess the quality as other prep races have held, the son of Uncle Mo was highly impressive, and what is even more impressive than his win, is his size. His stride is absolutely huge, and with maturity, this horse could be a very dominant runner. Eventually, I wonder if he will try the turf. However, for now, his next race is undetermined, as stablemate Gormley and he will not be running against each other until, hopefully, the Kentucky Derby.
Gunnevera (Dialed In - Unbridled Rage, by Unbridled) This colt from the first crop of Dialed in has won two graded stakes and placed in another, behind a highly regarded Irish War Cry. For only $16,000, Gunnevera has earned his price and looks to keep going. While his running style is mostly pace dependent, Gunnevera was able to sit much closer in the Holy Bull and close in to finish second, well clear of Classic Empire. Gunnevera has a pedigree that should handle more distance, but I still question his ability against the best of the best.
One Liner (Into Mischief - Cayala, by Cherokee Run) His win in the Southwest was impressive, especially since Petrov passed Uncontested easily and seemed to be drawing away. In three starts, the colt is now undefeated. A $150,000 Keeneland January graduate, the China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, and SF Racing teamed up on this colt. His next race, as long as he comes out of the Southwest all right, will likely be the Rebel or train up to the Arkansas Derby. Pedigree seems very limited when referring to stamina, as Cherokee Run was a solid sprinter and passes on his speed.
Mastery (Candy Ride - Steady Course, by Old Trieste) Mastery was last seen winning the Grade 1 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 10, but hasn't started in a Kentucky Derby prep race yet. However, Baffert has been working him and getting foundation under him, including a seven furlong work in 1:25.40. He needs to start soon if he is going to stay on this list.
Keep an eye on…
Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile - Sambuca Classica, by Cat Thief) An abscess was found following his lackluster third place in the Holy Bull. Now, Mark Casse is saying that he will also miss the Fountain of Youth, as the abscess is not draining like they want it to. While it likely won’t cause the colt to miss too much training, if any at all, there is a difference between galloping and working as to running full force against other horses. If he can rebound, he could make the Derby, but if he only gets one more race in before then, his Derby Dreams might be over before they really begin.
Article by Casey Laughter