American Turf Magazine
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Apr 02, 2004


By: Joe Girardi

            With only a month until the Kentucky Derby the following is our list of top 10 Derby prospects

 which will be narrowed to five after the major preps are completed.

  1. IMPERIALISM- Obviously we will know more after the Santa Anita Derby on April 3rd but his two races at Santa Anita have been very impressive. His strong late kick will help when the Derby comes, the main question is can his kick be as strong at 1 and ¼ miles as it is at a mile. A quick pace will definitely help and his most recent works show that he is still sharp.
  2. WIMBLEDON- Another that will race in the Santa Anita Derby. After breaking his maiden impressively he came back with a score in the Louisiana Derby. This Bob Baffert trainee is working well for this race and is considered one of the top contenders for the Derby. His running style is conducive to the Kentucky Derby because he can sit midpack and make a strong late run.
  3. VALUE PLUS- Ran very well in first try at 1 and 1/8th miles in the Florida Derby. After contesting the pace, he took over before getting run down late in the drive. That race came after only one prep race at seven furlongs. He is scheduled to make his next start in the April 10th Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. A big race there puts him right at the top of all the Derby lists.
  4. LION HEART- Finally lost last out just missing by a neck in the San Rafael at Santa Anita. He will skip the Santa Anita Derby and wait for the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 10th. Very talented colt will have to face the question that most others will be facing, the distance question. It looks like he will not be at his best going 1 and ¼ miles but he does have all the talent in the world.
  5. EUROSILVER- Zito’s leading Derby contender may have to miss the Blue Grass with an infection that was found a few days ago. Two seven furlong races and a two-turn prep should have him ready for the Derby, however, this latest setback may be too much.
  6. ROCK HARD TEN- Hard not to get excited about this horse after two easy wins to start his career. However the downside is he has only two starts and will have to be rushed into this Derby trail. The Santa Anita Derby will be his next start and a win there or a good race will make him one to watch on the first Saturday in May.
  7. ACTION THIS DAY- Never made an impact in the Grade II San Felipe but had an excuse as he was cut by a loose horse heading into the first turn. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero has worked well since and can put himself right in the picture again with a solid showing in his final prep.
  8. SINISTER G- Put himself in the picture with a solid showing in the Lane’s End at Turfway Park. He is expected to make his next start in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 10th. A good showing there may get him to the Derby but a better race may be the Preakness at Pimlico, the second leg of the Triple Crown.
  9. BIRDSTONE- Lost a lot of luster with a poor performance in the Lane’s End but should be given another shot when he tries to bounce back in the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 10th. Zito knows how to get them there so don’t give up just yet.
  10. SMARTY JONES- Has done nothing wrong so far compiling a five for five record at three different tracks. Will be tested for speed and stamina in the Arkansas Derby on April 10th but his pedigree doesn’t bode well for the 1 and ¼ mile distance.

Next week we will review the Santa Anita Derby as well as some of the other Derby preps being run this weekend.

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