MIKE'S DERBY FAB FIVE.....PLUS FIVE - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

MIKE'S DERBY FAB FIVE.....PLUS FIVE

IT'S VERY EARLY BUT LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT OUR FIRST TOP TEN ON THE ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY  DERBY:

10. CHERRY WINE-- FIRST OF 2  DALE ROMANS-TRAINED RUNNERS IN MY FIRST RANKINGS. THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, AT THE END OF THE MONTH, IS ON TAP FOR THIS GUY AS HE IS SET TO MAKE HIS STAKES-DEBUT.  IT WILL BE A STERN TEST AS HE'LL FACE THE LIKES OF MOHAYMEN AND OTHER GOOD ONES.

9. MO TOM-- BEGAN HIS YEAR WITH A BANG AS HE TOOK THE LECOMTE STAKES AND IS EXPECTED TO STAY AT FAIR GROUNDS FOR THE RISEN STAR.  VERY PROMISING AT AGE 2 AS HE RAN 3RD IN THE KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB STAKES, RIGHT BEHIND MOR SPIRIT AND WINNER, AIROFORCE.

8. SMOKEY IMAGE-- SORT OF HARD TO GAUGE HOW GOOD HE IS, BUT SO FAR, HE REMINDS MANY OF CALIFORNIA CHROME.  LIKE CHROME, HE'S A CAL-BRED, ENJOYS WINNING, AND EVEN HAS THE SAME RIDER, VICTOR ESPINOZA.   HIS FIRST REAL HURDLE COMES NEXT MONTH IN THE SAN FELIPE STAKES.

7. GREENPOINTCRUSADER--FLASHED MAJOR ABILITY LAST FALL IN WINNING THE CHAMPAGNE STAKES, BUT THEN FINISHED 7TH IN THE BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE.  HE HAD AN EXCUSE IN THAT DAY AT KEENELAND AS HE SUFFERED AN EYE INJURY.   IN HIS FIRST RACE OF THE YEAR, HE WAS RUNNERUP TO MOHAYMEN IN THE RECENT HOLY BULL.  NEXT UP, THE LOUISIANA DERBY  IN MARCH.  CURIOUS SCHEDULE SO WE''LL  SEE.

6. AIROFORCE--AT THE TOP OF HIS LIST OF CREDENTIALS :  A VICTORY LAST FALL IN CHURCHILL'S KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB STAKES.  HE DEFEATED BOTH MOR SPIRIT AND MO TOM.   SCHEDULED TO MAKE HIS 2016 DEBUT IN NEXT WEEKEND'S  RISEN STAR STAKES.  NEED TO SEE HIM PERFORM WELL ON A FAST DIRT TRACK, BUT AT LEAST HIS RECENT WORKS SUGGEST HE'L BE FINE OVER THAT TYPE SURFACE.

5. EXAGGERATOR-- LAST YEAR, HE LOST BOTH OF HIS 2-TURN RACES BUT AT LEAST WAS VERY COMPETITIVE. IF THIS SON OF CURLIN CAN IMPROVE  A NOTCH OR SO IN  2016, HE'LL BE A MAJOR FACTOR.   HIS 3-YEAR-OLD CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN MONDAY'S SAN VICENTE AT SANTA ANITA.

4. NYQUIST-- THE UNDEFEATED 2-YEAR-OLD CHAMP IS READY TO BEGIN HIS 2016 ROAD TO CHURCHILL. HE'LL SQUARE OFF AGAINST EXAGGERATOR IN THE SAN VICENTE.  HE WON LAST FALL'S  BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE WITHOUT AN IDEAL TRIP AND HE GAINED SOLID SUPPORT AFTER THAT TRIUMPH.   SO FAR, TRAINER DOUG O'NEILL HAS PUSHED ALL THE RIGHT BUTTONS WITH HIM.  O'NEILL WON THE DERBY FOUR YEARS AGO WITH I'LL HAVE ANOTHER.

3. MOR  SPIRIT--  BOB BAFFERT WAS WEARING A BIG SMILE LAST WEEKEND AFTER HIS DERBY CONTENDER CAME CHARGING TO CAPTURE THE LEWIS STAKES.  THAT " PHAROAH" RUN WILL BE TOUGH , IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE, TO TOP.  BUT IF ANYONE CAN PULL OFF BACK-TO-BACK KENTUCKY DERBY WINS, IT'S BOB.   NEXT UP LIKELY THE SAN FELIPE IN MARCH.

2. BRODY'S  CAUSE-- DALE ROMANS HAS BEEN KNOCKING ON THAT DERBY DOOR IN RECENT YEARS AND THIS RUNNER COULD BE HIS TICKET TO THE ROSES. IT LOOKS LIKE A MILE AND A QUARTER WILL SUIT HIS GUY.  ONLY 2 PREPS ON HIS SCHEDULE PRIOR TO DERBY DAY: THE TAMPA BAY DERBY IN MARCH FOLLOWED BY APRIL'S  BLUE GRASS STAKES.

1. MOHAYMEN-- VERY LOGICAL PICK AT THE TOP.  REALLY REALLY GOOD AT AGE 2 ....LOOKS EVEN BETTER AT 3 AFTER HIS TERRIFIC VICTORY IN THE HOLY BULL.  HE'S GOT THE PEDIGREE ( BY THE PROVEN SIRE, TAPIT), THE EXPERIENCE,  AND THE TALENT. HIS NEXT START FIGURES TO BE THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH.

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