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Feb 17, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


With only a little more than 10 weeks remaining until the Kentucky Derby and the two year old champion already out of the race let’s take a look at our top 10 three year olds on the road to the Triple Crown.

1. BARBARO- Is the hot horse on many people’s lists and the fact that he is undefeated doesn’t hurt that matter. His four wins however have all come over surfaces other than a fast track. His first three wins have come on the turf with his last win coming over a very sloppy track. He easily got the 1 and 1/8th mile distance and his tactical speed will make him dangerous in the Kentucky Derby and races leading up to the Derby. In a wide open year he tops the list right now in February.

2. BOB AND JOHN- A Bob Baffert trainee has three wins from seven starts and he was actually D’Q from another win. This SEEKING THE GOLD colt seems to get better with each and every start and has handled the 1 and 1/8th miles distance easily. He is another with tactical speed and is easily placed during the race. His connections also know how to win the big one.

3. ACHILLES OF TROY- New York’s top horse for now has won half of his six starts with the last two wins coming in stakes races over the inner track. Two huge wins at two turn route races make him one to watch here in New York. His breeding however does not lend itself to the 1 and ¼ miles distance. The talent is there and he can only get better as the year goes on.

4. BROTHER DEREK- The new leader on the West Coast with the injury to STEVIE WONDERBOY. His last two wire to wire wins in the Grade I Hollywood Futurity and the Grade II San Rafael. Again he is another with early speed but he seems to carry it well even though he is not bred to love the 1 and ¼ miles distance.

5. BLUEGRASS CAT- Hails from the ever powerful Todd Pletcher barn and really showed a lot of ability since moving into his shedrow. Being by STORM CAT out of an A. P. INDY mare he is bred for the Derby distance and beyond. However we are still waiting for his first start this year.

6. FIRST SAMURAI- Was the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year but could only manage third and his first start this year was a second in the slop to a very fast colt from the Todd Pletcher barn. His sire GIANT’S CAUSEWAY was a good second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic so he should handle the Kentucky Derby distance. The fact that he has lost his last two races as the competition got better is worrisome.

7. KEYED ENTRY- An undefeated colt from the Todd Pletcher barn he is another that has sharp early speed. He went wire to wire in the slop over FIRST SAMURAI after setting solid fractions of 22, 44, and continued well to the wire. He will have to stretchout in distance in his next start and his sire is known mostly for up to a mile. However, Pletcher is the best trainer in the country and he can get him to stretchout especially if he can get away early.

8. PRIVATE VOW- Hails from the Steve Asmussen barn and ran his record to four wins from six starts with his win back in November in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. His loss in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile can be excused as a rein broke down the backstretch. Again he is another on this list with tactical speed and must be respected.

9. LATENT HEAT- This lightly raced colt by MARIA’S MON is owned by Juddmonte farm and trained by Bobby Frankel. He has one win and one second from two career starts and has the look of a horse with a future. It will be interesting to see how he progresses.

10. POINT DETERMINED- Another from the Bob Baffert barn and has one win, one second and one third from three career starts. His sire POINT GIVEN won the Preakness and Belmont and went on to win Horse of the Year. Improving sort can only get better and will be one to watch come Derby time if he stays healthy.

As the Derby draws closer and more prep races are run, we will be able to whittle down the list as the picture, hopefully gets clearer.



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