Kentucky Derby 2013: Contender Watch List

Rob Carr

As the calendar rolls towards the end of January, the connections of many of the early contenders for the 2013 Kentucky Derby are making preparations for their colts' first starts of the season.

Slowly but surely, the journey to the 2013 Kentucky Derby is picking up steam. And while none of the races in late January or early-to-mid February are considered "key" or "critical" preps, a large part of training a horse towards the Kentucky Derby is consistency, as well as physical development.

The Kentucky Derby requires a horse to unleash a top physical performance during what will certainly be one of the most grueling and taxing races in a colt's career. As a result, the months leading up to the Derby provide the foundation on which a winning performance is based. Horses that miss training time or starts due to even minor injuries find themselves behind the proverbial 8-ball heading into the final preps in late March and April.

When examing the performances of Derby contenders in the early part of the year, it's important to pay attention to the horses that are not only winning the early Derby preps, but to the colts that are developing and improving at each step along the way. The goal of any top class trainer is to condition his horse to perform at its best on the big day -- not two, three or four weeks early.

A horse can't win the Kentucky Derby in January, regardless of how impressive he might look in a specific race. But a series of bad performances, or simply missing valuable morning workouts due to any kind of physical issue, can create impassable obstacles to Derby success.

Several weeks ago I introduced 20 colts worth keeping an eye on this winter/spring as we move towards the first Saturday in May. Below is a quick summary of the winners of the recent prep races, along with a look back at each colt on our watch list and their progress on the road to Louisville.

Recent prep races:

1/5 -- Sham Stakes, Santa Anita Park [Winner: Goldencents]
1/19 -- Lecomte Stakes, Fair Grounds [Winner: Oxbow]
1/21 -- Smarty Jones Stakes, Oaklawn Park [Winner: Will Take Charge]

Upcoming prep races:

1/26 - Holy Bull Stakes, Gulfstream Park

Archwarrior [Stock Falling]: Worked three furlongs in 38.56 (20th of 30) on Dec. 24; has yet to record a work in 2013.

Avie's Quality [Falling]: Finished eighth in the Grade 3 Lecomte at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 19. The Lecomte was his first race over dirt and was a flop in every sense of the word. He'll need to turn it around in the Risen Star on Feb. 23 (assuming his connections decide to enter that race) if he's to have any legitimate shot of making the Derby.

Capo Bastone [Steady]: Worked four furlongs in 49.55 on Jan. 20 (20/39). No word yet on where he'll make his first start of 2013.

Dewey Square [Rising]: Worked five furlongs in a blistering 59.10 on Jan. 20, the fastest of 20 horses to drill the distance that morning. He'll make his seasonal debut in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Frac Daddy [Steady]: He'll make his 2013 debut in the Holy Bull Stakes; he drilled five furlongs in 1:01.31 (9/30) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 21.

General Election [Steady]: Worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 (24/39) down in Louisiana on Jan. 21 but wasn't entered in the Lecomte. The connections may be pointing towards the Risen Star on Feb. 23 for his seasonal debut.

Goldencents [Steady]: Worked six furlongs in 1:10.20 on Dec. 27 (1/14); won the G1-CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in mid-December and will likely make his seasonal debut in either the Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 2 or the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 18.

Hard to Name [Falling Like A Rock]: His Derby chances are fading fast after he flopped in his first race in 2013, the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 12. Even though the Derby is still over four months away, the chances of this colt making the field appear to be quickly slipping away.

Itsmyluckyday [Rising]: He won the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year's Day in dominating fashion and will run in the Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 26 against Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby. He drilled four furlongs in a rapid 48.40 (2/27) at the Palm Meadows Training Center on Jan. 19.

Normandy Invasion [Steady]: The Remsen Stakes runner-up returned to the track just a few weeks ago and is possibly targeting the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs for his season debut.

Overanalyze [Steady]: Worked four furlongs in 51.62 (38/39) on Jan. 20 and is expected to race in the G3-Gotham Stakes on March 2 at Aqueduct in New York.

Palace Malice [Steady]: Worked five furlongs in 1:01.42 (12/23) on Jan. 13 and is training down in Florida with Todd Pletcher's main string of Derby contenders.

Power Broker [Falling]: He hasn't turned in a published work since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5.

Revolutionary [Slightly Falling]: Worked four furlongs in 48.05 (14/81) at Belmont Park on Jan. 20 but doesn't appear close to making his seasonal debut.

Shanghai Bobby [Rising]: The juvenile champ looks ready to pick up where he left off last fall following a string of solid works in Florida for trainer Todd Pletcher. He'll run his first race of 2013 on Jan. 26 in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream.

Titletown Five [Falling]: Hasn't worked since late October; it's a bad sign if trainer D. Wayne Lukas isn't pushing a well-regarded three-year-old colt in January.

To the Stars [Steady]: Worked five furlongs in 1:00.77 (2/13) on Jan. 22 at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.

Uncaptured [Slightly Falling]: Hasn't worked since mid-November.

Violence {Steady]: The winner of the CashCall Futurity in December is now down in Florida where he's put in a series of solid works over the last several weeks

War Academy [Steady]: Sizzled four furlongs in 48.20 (14/43) at Santa Anita on Jan. 20.

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