Derby Dark Horses (March 5, 2012) (March 5, 2012)

Network Cashes In on The Road to the Derby Saturday!
In the Gotham: Hansen wins $3.60 and My Adonis fills exacta box for $17.20
In the Battaglia: State of Play a $6.00 winner and hits the $36.00 exacta and $137.40 trifecta COLD with Ill Conceived and Dynamical!

UNDER THE RADAR ON THE ROAD TO LOUISVILLE - DERBY DARK HORSES

Hope Springs Eternal - Monday, March 5

The second wave of Kentucky Derby Future Wagering wrapped up yesterday with the ALL OTHERS GROUP at 3-1 nosing out recent Fountain of Youth Stakes winner and legitimate pre-Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags who closed at 4-1.

Should Union Rags go on to win his next and final prep and the other top of the line contenders hold form, getting 4-1 with the FOY and Grade I Champagne Stakes winner and BC Juvenile runner up will seem like a bargain. However, today we are not going to rehash how good the likes of Union Rags, recent Risen Star Stakes winner El Padrino, Saturday's Gotham winner Hansen or others such as Creative Cause, Secret Circle, Alpha, Liaison and those that are part of the well advertised consensus of top line Derby contenders are doing.

Today we are going to take a look at a handful of UNDER THE RADAR Kentucky Derby hopefuls that just might provide a surprise or two by the First Saturday In May.

The following horses have recently run the type of race that has indicated they bear watching while at the same time not yet built the type of resume which has put them under the national spotlight. Right now they are definitely worth the watch while still UNDER THE RADAR.

Bodemeister - Definitely playing catch up at this point as he has had only two career races, breaking his maiden in his last. But given that all those foundational standards of the past (win as a 2-year old...three 3-year old races...at least graded stakes placed by now) have one by one fallen to the wayside one can simply look at what the horse has shown on the race track and feel confident that further development could lead to big things. The Bob Baffert trained son of Empire Maker (more often than not a sire of later developers) tuned up around one turn at Santa Anita on January 16 and then absolutely destroyed MSW competition when he broke through by 9 ¼ ridden out lengths, getting a mile in 1:34 2/5 on February 11. His second quarter was run in :23 4/5 and each following quarter was faster. That is a very impressive turn of foot. The colt has continued working forwardly and hopefully Baffert gets a pair of preps into him. Only 4 career races would make it tough. But can you say, Big Brown?

Castaway - Baffert again. Sure it took him six races to break his maiden, but the impressiveness of the maiden breaker at Santa Anita on January 21 was validated by an equally impressive pressing win from post 11 in the sort stretch mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on February 20. Sometimes it takes a while, but the son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense has definitely figured it out, and seeing that his first four career races were sprints and his three mile plus races since have been professional, maybe he just needed a distance of ground in order to relax. Certainly much is made of the fact that he needed a full second more to win his division of the Southwest than stable mate Secret Circle needed to win his...but watching that race and how this colt pressed from the outside, one got the sense he could have taken control a bit sooner, but might have been even more impressive winning as he did from the outside post while being used early to get position and then reacting well when Rafael Bejarano asked him to rate until they turned for home.

Lucky Chappy - His late run in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby was as impressive looking as one could hope for in a developing Kentucky Derby contender. He confirmed the consistent late running ability that indicates the further they go the better he'll like it. Racing wide down the backstretch he circled up 5 wide into the lane and made up 7 lengths in the final three furlongs and ran the final 5 furlongs of the mile and an eighth race in 1:00 2/5. Trainer Graham Motion has indicated that he will keep the well bred son of BC Turf winner High Chaparral on the "dirt" for now, which is significant because even with his strong late run and solid foundation (three races in Italy as a juvenile, two starts in the states as a juvenile and a pair of 2012 races in which he has amassed a 7-2-3-1 slate) he has spent his entire career on grass and synthetic dirt. However, if he takes to standard dirt, look out.  

Midnight Transfer - Not sure if this guy will be able to stretch out or not. After all, he is bred with plenty of mile speed on the male side and a lot of foundation on the female side, but seeing that he has already run five races, including his solid drop back and come on win in the San Pedro Stakes in his most recent, one has to wonder if trainer Carla Gaines believes he can go long since he's never been two turns. Nonetheless, the San Pedro did at least bring attention, although the favoring of him on this list might subconsciously have as much to do with how tough his sire Hard Spun was when most pundits kept questioning whether or not that one could keep turning in competitive efforts at the distances he kept turning in competitive efforts at. Based on his sharp 7 furlong work in 1:24 4/5 on February 26 in preparation for Saturday's San Felipe, the stretch out might give his connections the positive sign they are looking for.   

News Pending - Arrived on the scene with an impressive second in the recent Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes. Since the winner of the race, Union Rags is now the consensus division leader that second place finish gets notice. It also gets notice because prior to the FOY the son of Harlan's Holiday had actually run his better races on grass. On the upside, while no match for the in command winner, who was making his 3-year old debut and could have won by much more than the 4 l4ngths he prevailed by, this colt did dig in and run second the entire way and in the process held off the well-regarded Discreet Dancer by a comfortable margin. On the still-has something to prove side. The Dale Romans trainee might have finished second because after the injury to and defection of Algorithms, no one other than Union Rags had even run in a graded stakes race. Next race will tell us more but for now he has earned a look.

LET'S TAKE A BRIEF SECOND TO NOTE A BIT MORE GREAT NEWS PENDING...
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Out Of Bounds - So far he has done everything right, and if you were able to get most Kentucky Derby contender trainers to be perfectly candid, they'd tell you that the absolute scenario would be for their 3-year olds to run good races, win or lose while building foundation and leaving the tank full until the first Saturday in May. So far this Eoin Harty trained son of Discreet Cat out of the Grade I winning mare Unbridled Elaine. The colt heads into this weekend's San Felipe off a series of brilliant works (7 trials over six weeks including 7 furlongs in 1:25 3/5 on 2/27 that followed a 5 furlong blowout in :59 4/5 on 2/20) since his triumph in the January 7 Grade III Sham. His win that day has certainly been flattered by runner up Secret Circle's dominant winning performance in the Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn recently. If all goes well in the san Felipe and he then gets as much as needed out of the Santa Anita Derby he could head to Louisville as a very live contender.

Rousing Sermon - Has sort of disappeared from attention following his fourth place finish in the Grade II Robert B Lewis on February 4. However, a "wait just a minute" might be in order regarding the son of Lucky Pulpit. The Lewis was his 3-year old debut, and the trip could have been considerably smoother for the California bred son of Lucky Pulpit. He was checked in tight at the 7/8ths pole in the mile and a sixteenth test, had to wait a bit for room. Was hard held until he got out three wide and then raced evenly the rest of the way and was moved up via disqualification from 4th to 3rd. The colt has had three serious drills since the race, each spaced only 6 days apart, culminating in a 6 furlong work in 1:13 1/5 on February 27th so it appears as though the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee hasn't even begun to expand his energy source. The Lewis aside, all one needs do is look back to his 2-year old season to see a strong resume of six races (2-2-2) including a neck beaten second (by Liaison) in the seminal Grade I Cash Call Futurity as well as the fact that he ran four different distances at three different southern California tracks and made up ground in each race. This is the kind of three-year old a legitimate long shot bettor hopes stays UNDER THE RADAR.

Thunder Moccasin - This so far lightly raced colt from the Todd Pletcher barn has yet to make his third career start and has yet to race around two turns. But if Pletcher decides that the son of A.P. Warrior should move forward then you might want to keep his credits in front of you. The quick turn of foot colt was in stride easily, moved off the rail when asked and drew off under a hand ride to break his maiden in his debut back on December 26 at Gulfstream. In his last he was sent off as the 1-5 favorite in the Grade II Hutcheson on February 11 and broke similarly to his debut, pressing the pace form a length back, taking off in the lane and winning by 6 ¾ lengths over a glib surface while 4 wide. Given how many logical contenders Pletcher has in the barn, he might very well be taking his time with this guy, but if he all of a sudden turns up in a key two turn prep and duplicates his Hutcheson performance he could be something special.
Between now and the middle of April some of these will emerge big time, some will disappear and other UNDER THE RADAR runners will begin to come out of the shadows. We'll keep fresh batteries in our spotlight.

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