Baffert Reloads and Derby Rankings

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D.S. Williamson

December 23rd, 2015

Bob Baffert reloaded for the Kentucky Derby this past weekend. Two of Bob Baffert's three-year-olds were ultra-impressive as Mor Spirit and Toews on Ice finished 1-2 in the Los Alamitos Futurity. Based on Bob "G-TOAL's" assessment (G-TOAL:  Greatest Trainer of All Time), Toews On Ice was going to have trouble with the distance. Expect Bob to put Toews on Ice either on the turf, the Archarcharch sired progeny's grandsire is Kris S., or back into races up to a mile.

I think that Toews on Ice deserves another shot at a longer distance race. He was on the lead throughout the Futurity, carving out some quick fractions for two-year-olds:  :23, :47, 1:11.2, before trying to hold off Mor Spirit in the long Los Al stretch. It was a beautiful race by Toews on Ice. Hopefully, Baffert agrees with me. Who knows what would have happened if they had tried to take Toews On Ice off the pace like they did with Mor Spirit?

In any case, I dropped Toews On Ice from my Kentucky Derby Top 5. Until Baffert shows me that he's still on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, I'll keep him off. Same with Songbird. She's heads and tails beyond any of the horses currently on the list. Sure, they'll improve, but so will she. I really hope that Hollendorfer reconsiders the plan to put her on the the path to Kentucky Oaks. She can win the Derby, no doubt.

Kentucky Derby Top 5

1. Airoforce 

The reason that I'm posting Airoforce's second place finish in the Breeders Cup Juvenile instead of his win in the Kentucky Jockey Club is because it shows how much fight is in this son of Colonel John. He actually came on again deep in the stretch as soon as he saw Hit It a Bomb, but it was too late. This horse's grandsire is Tiznow. He's as proffesional as they come and he appears to be one of those types that will run as fast as he needs to in order to win, sort of like Silver Charm back in 1997.

2. Brody's Cause

His third place finish in the BC Juvenile was actually much more impressive after subsequent viewings than when I first saw it. He had to wait before pressing the button and then he had to go wide in the stretch. There also appears to be a point where he had trouble changing leads. I'm not even sure if even changed leads. In any case, the upside for the Dale Romans trainee is huge. The win in the Breeders Futurity was sensational. He had an elongated run from well back in the pack. Plus, he had to go wide around the final turn.

3. Mohaymen

I tried to stay off the Moyhamen bandwagon  for as long as I could. But, I become  more impressed with his Remsen win every time that I view it. The way that  he accelerated when asked was awesome. Most horseplayers already know that this guy is bred to run at the classic distance. He appears to have the push button type of burst that many Kentucky Derby winners have shown in the past. It's time for me to take Mohaymen seriously.

4. Mor Spirit

The son of Eskendereya professionally waited behind the speed, came up to stablemate Toews On Ice, and then accelerated past that one to the finish line first. It looked like the Baffert trainee had much more in the tank. He can run all day based on his breeding. Eskendereya's sire is Giant's Causeway. If Baffert thinks this guy has what it takes to win the Kentucky Derby, horseplayers had better pay attention.

5. Nyquist

Although breeding suggests that he won't be able to negotiate 1 1/4 miles, breeding doesn't mean everything when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. The truth is that he has such a high cruising speed, not American Pharoah high cruising speed but a high cruising speed, that a well-timed ride would probably make him awfully tough on the First Saturday in May. Nyquist went wide on both turns in the BC Juvenile and still kicked it in when asked.

Saturday is opening day at Santa Anita Park!  Get in on all of the Great Race Place handicapping action as well as the awesome BetAmerica Tournaments!