Creative Cause to face 5 in San Vicente// Official Graded Earnings list released// No dye for Hansen// Optimizer the best in Southwest?

One of the big questions along the Kentucky Derby Trail seems to always be how promising juveniles will fare in their sophomore year.  Recent conventional wisdom suggests they don’t hold up well.  Just last year we saw the descent of early favorites Uncle Mo and To Honor and Serve, although both bounced back somewhat after the Derby.  There seems to be something about the slow period of mid-November to February that either causes a horse to grow, mature, and progress or become a shadow of his own self through regression, injury, or ailment.

Sunday should give somewhat of an answer to that question for Creative Cause, currently #2 in the CTD Top 5, who makes his 3-year-old debut in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.  However, we may not get a definitive answer on where he stands off a three-and-a-half month layoff for a host of reasons.  Creative Cause is only facing five other sophomores and only one is a stakes winner.  That would be Drill, who has run off the board in his last four starts and seems to be past his prime.  The San Vicente is also only one-turn, which means it could benefit other horses that may not be Derby material but are more suited to sprinting.  Nonetheless, it will be telling to witness Creative Cause’s demeanor, motion, and effort.  For details on his competition there are links to several preview articles below. Also, PPs, race videos, and picks are available on the race page here.  

Churchill Downs released the first Official Graded Earnings list today.  The top 20 after April 28th are eligible to enter the Kentucky Derby.  As it stands now- and the list will change drastically over the coming months- there is a three-way tie for spots #18 through #20.  Those horses currently have $120,000 in earnings, which is the exact same amount Derby Kitten had in 2011 to fill the final spot in the Derby gate.  The average amount for spot #20 in the past five years has been $132,650.  I’ve been keeping an unofficial Graded Earnings list for the 2012 Kentucky Derby for several weeks and there are some inconsistencies and question marks between it and the official version. Two horses are absent from the rankings- She Digs Me and Seven Lively Sins.  One would then assume they are off the trail although it has not been reported to the public.  Furthermore, Todd Pletcher’s Overdriven made the list despite recent quotes from the trainer indicating it’s nearly impossible the colt can make it May 5th.

Trainer Kenny Smith thinks Reckless Jerry is sitting on a big effort in Monday’s Southwest as long as he gets a better trip than he did in the Smarty Jones Stakes.  D. Wayne Lukas believes Optimizer is the best horse in the probable Southwest field, but says the colt needs more distance.  Even if the race were 10 furlongs I have a feeling bettors would disagree with his statement, seeing as Optimizer has been off the board in his last three races// According to both trainer and jockey of Lady of Fifty, the filly does not necessarily need the early lead to win the El Camino Real// Nice feature on My Adonis, who will meet Hansen again, this time in New York in the Gotham Stakes (G3).  Steve Haskin thinks My Adonis is a serious threat to pass Hansen in the stretch at Aqueduct.

Speaking of Hansen and the Gotham, the Aqueduct stewards ruled against the dyeing of his mane and tail.  In my opinion the whole idea and buzz surrounding it amount to nothing.  I’m all for promoting the sport in unique ways and don’t consider myself too much of a traditionalist, but the idea to color the horse would not bring new permanent fans to the sport or attract positive attention.  Frankly, would anyone aside from a four-year-old that likes carousels really care to vote on a color?  Hopefully the story will now go away…

Upcoming Graded Races:
El Camino Real Derby (G3)- PPs, race videos, picks and more here
San Vicente (G2)- PPs, race videos, picks and more here

San Vicente Previews: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet
A Derby candidate in Pegram’s stable? (Princeton Daily Clarion)

Graded Earnings
Official list (Churchill Downs)

Handicapper Picks:
The Commish’s picks- El Camino (The Downey Profile)

Reckless Jerry- OP- 4F- 49:80- B- 10/38 (Good)
Majestic Stride- OP- 3F- 36:00 B- 1/12 (Good)
Right to Vote- PMM- 4F- 48:40- B- 2/27
Mr. Style- PMM- 4F- 49:23- B- 9/27
Fort Loudon- CRC- 6F- 1.14:40- B- 1/3 (reported late, occurred 2/15)
Stoney Fleece- HOL- 4F- 50:20- H- 16/18