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Feb 16, 2007

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            Even though we are only in the middle of February there is just a little more than two months until the Kentucky Derby on May 5th so we will make an early top five list of the leading contenders for that race.

  1. NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ- This ALBERT THE GREAT colt has showed that his form from last year carried over to this year with a very solid win in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 3rd. With that win he ran his record to three wins from four starts with one second place finish and that came in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont when he had some traffic trouble. He has already won around two turns in the Remsen at Aqueduct and the 1 and 1/8th miles distance which came in the same race. He is continuing to learn from each start and has the look of a superstar that will be a force to reckon with come the first Saturday in May.
  2. RAVEL- This horse may be a surprise to some especially this high on the list but the potential to be a great one is there. He is by FUSAICHI PEGASUS out of an A. P. INDY mare so the breeding is there, he is trained by Todd Pletcher so the connections are there and he does have two wins and a second from three career starts. His most recent victory came in the Grade III Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in which he stalked the pace through moderate fractions before swinging out and running by the leaders, finishing up well in a solid time of 1:48:4 for the 1 and 1/8th miles distance. This is another horse like NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ that is still learning the game and coming into his own but he does have enough tactical speed that he can make his own race and it will be interesting to see how he progresses up until the Derby.
  3. SUMMER DOLDRUMS- Solid three year old by STREET CRY has really improved over the last month scoring twice in impressive fashion both times over the inner track at Aqueduct. After a disappointing seventh place finish behind NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ in the Remsen at Aqueduct in November he was given some time off by his trainer Richard Violette Jr. He returned on January 12th of this year in an allowance race and he exploded to score by more than eight lengths in a good time for the inner track. His next start would come in the Whirlaway Stakes on February 10th where he would meet the highly regarded but untested New York bred LAWRENCE THE ROMAN along with four other horses. After breaking well from the rail his jockey, Mike Luzzi, put him on the lead and he battled with SPORTS TOWN throughout before drawing away in the drive to score by more than five lengths with SPORTS TOWN finishing third. LAWRENCE THE ROMAN never got going and tired to finish a disappointing fifth as the 1-2 choice. The breeding is there to handle the Derby distance and this three year old can only get better.
  4. STREET SENSE- Another one by STREET CRY he makes the list based on a huge performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November. With two wins from five starts, one second and two thirds, he has never been off the board. However, there is the Juvenile jinx as no horse that has won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. Although we don’t believe in jinxes this horse still has a lot to prove as he has yet to make it back to the races. The ability is obviously there but will it carryover to his three year old year; only time will tell.
  5. CIRCULAR QUAY- Three year old from the Todd Pletcher barn is by THUNDER GULCH out of a BELONG TO ME mare. THUNDER GULCH won the Kentucky Derby back in 1995 so you know the breeding is there and this horse has a strong late kick which can come in handy in the Derby. His first start of the year came in the Grade III Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on February 10th in which he finished fifth, beaten nine lengths. There was an excuse in that race however, as he had to swerve out to avoid a fallen jockey and lost all his momentum but still closed for fifth. That was a good race to start back with and can only help him for his next few preps before making it to the Kentucky Derby.

With many prep races still to come we are sure that there will be some changes to this list but these horses right now are the ones to watch for on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.



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