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2011 Derby Starters: Where Are They Now?

Making it to the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby is on the same playing field as getting nominated for an Academy Award, but even better since the perks of winning one extend far beyond 6 months (wink). While only one horse wins, we all fall in love with a particular horse or two, many of whom seem to still be on track to return next year as four-year-olds:

  1. Archarcharch - Injured with a slab fracture in the Derby, the gorgeous son of Arch is now retired to Spendthrift in Kentucky awaiting the start of his stud career in 2012.
  2. Brilliant Speed - Successful on multiple surfaces, the son of Dynaformer came in a valiant third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He looks to return next year, likely on the grass where he seems best.
  3. Twice the Appeal - Finished a sleepy 10th in the Derby, the Sunland Derby winner took a vacation and hit the work tab at Santa Anita in October. He’s now preparing for his four-year-old season.
  4. Stay Thirsty - Out of all the Derby horses, Thirsty probably has had the best year total, winning the Jim Dandy and the Travers over the summer. He’s on track to keep training as a four-year-old in 2012, wintering in Florida before shipping north to New York.
  5. Decisive Moment - 14th in the Derby, black underdog scored a stakes win in July and another recently on one of his favorite tracks, Delta Downs, in the $125,000 Delta Mile. By the looks of it, he’s still a very happy little racehorse.
  6. Comma To The Top - Injured in the Derby after setting the pace, Comma has been training like the freight train he is and was recently entered in the Vernon O. Underwood Stakes in Hollywood Park. He was 9th in his comeback, but the gelding looks to continue on with his career as a gifted sprinter.
  7. Pants On Fire - Had a sour showing in the Kentucky Derby, but came back later after a rest to win the Pegasus at Monmouth Park. Currently still resting on the Jersey shore, but is expected to race again next year.
  8. Dialed In - Sidelined with an injury following the Preakness, the Derby favorite has been slowly warming back up to the rigors of training with the ultimate goal of entering the 2012 Met Mile.
  9. Derby Kitten - Obviously with a Kitten’s Joy, this Kitten is destined for the turf. Sixth in the Hawthorne Derby, he did manage to win the Ontario Derby on synthetic while making some strong runs throughout the year on grass. Expect to see him progress next year as well.
  10. Twinspired - The only gray horse in the field, the cute Harlan’s Holiday colt is working his way back to a respectable reputation. He faded to seventh in the ungraded Victoria Stakes at Woodbine on Polytrack, but managed a second very recently in an off-the-turf race at Churchill.
  11. Master of Hounds - Took a holiday back overseas, and is set to compete on his old stomping grounds in the 2012 Dubai World Cup.
  12. Santiva - Took a long breather after finishing eighth in the Belmont Stakes, but is currently back on the work tab at Palm Meadows.
  13. Mucho Macho Man - Took a long and much needed break after running well in all three Triple Crown races. “Macho” returned to the races at Aqueduct in an early November optional claimer, scoring a win very easily.
  14. Shackleford - The most campaigned Derby horse, Shack’s been a busy fellow since the Derby, winning the Preakness and finishing sharply in almost all of his races to hit the board. He finished off this year with a second in the Dirt Mile with no concrete plans set in stone for next year, though he will come back to the races.
  15. Midnight Interlude - Switched to turf racing after his sleeper performances in both the Derby and the Preakness. He won the ungraded Tsunami Slew in grass debut, but hasn’t managed to wake up in time for several others that followed. Likely going to continue on the grass by the looks of it.
  16. Animal Kingdom - Out of the picture following a slab fracture in the Belmont Stakes, the Derby winning horse has been slowly recuperating and is set to start regular galloping in December, with the ultimate goal of entering the 2012 Dubai World Cup— probably without any prep races.
  17. Soldat - Took a long breather after the Derby and vacationed at a Lexington farm with a return anticipated in the fall. Now that fall’s gone, Soldat is still nowhere to be seen. I’m guessing he needed more down time and will come back next year.
  18. Uncle Mo - Did not start in Derby due to gastrointestinal problems, but rocketed back to a show in the King’s Bishop and a big win in the Kelso Handicap. Unfortunately, he did not show up strong in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and due to his stress-related health condition, he’ll continue on to a stud career at Ashford Stud.
  19. Nehro - Runner-up in the Derby and a strong finisher in the Belmont Stakes, Nehro had to undergo ankle surgery to correct an injury sustained in the latter race. Originally expected to recover in time to make the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he will instead rest up more and come back in 2012 to race again.
  20. Watch Me Go - The plucky underdog of the bunch, he was never a factor in the Virginia Derby and finished fifth in the 6-furlong Select Stakes last out in August.

Derby Dozen #12 of 12: Twice the Appeal (Successful Appeal x Double Boarded, by Cormorant)
Trained by Jeff Bonde
Jockey: Calvin Borel
Owned by Edward Brown Jr., Victor Flores, Henry Hernandez
Summary: Sweeping the Sunland Derby in a big (25-1) upset with a 1 1/2 length defeat over favorite Astrology, it’s hard to argue against a horse who has obviously improved well beyond a second place finish in his prior stakes start and an allowance win in January.
Story: His trainer commented he became a different horse switching from synthetic to dirt, a good sign the colt will go deep at Churchill. While he hasn’t hogged the spotlight much, he has three things in common with runaway winner Mine That Bird: he’s a longshot, Calvin Borel will be aboard (who has won three Kentucky Derbies!), and he’s the winner of the Sunland Derby.
Running Style: Sits off the pacesetters
Pros: He’s got Churchill’s best jockey and he’s favored for a pace that saves it all for one big late run— probably Borel’s favorite strategy in the Derby. 
Cons: He’s not terribly experienced, unlike Borel’s other Derby mounts, and I didn’t hear Calvin singing Twice the Appeal’s praises anywhere like he did with the others. Even Mine That Bird got the subtlest of winks from his jockey. A less-than-flashy pedigree will dissuade him from overcoming longshot status.
Final Comment: I get a tad annoyed with clockers celebrating fast Derby works/breezes… this is not a speed duel. While speed at the right time is important, it requires endurance and strategy: two things that will be on Twice the Appeal’s side come Saturday as he’s been working modestly over at Churchill. Will he win? I think this horse will be cruising mostly on luck during the race, so we’ll see.

Derby Dozen #12 of 12: Twice the Appeal (Successful Appeal x Double Boarded, by Cormorant)

  • Trained by Jeff Bonde
  • Jockey: Calvin Borel
  • Owned by Edward Brown Jr., Victor Flores, Henry Hernandez

Summary: Sweeping the Sunland Derby in a big (25-1) upset with a 1 1/2 length defeat over favorite Astrology, it’s hard to argue against a horse who has obviously improved well beyond a second place finish in his prior stakes start and an allowance win in January.

Story: His trainer commented he became a different horse switching from synthetic to dirt, a good sign the colt will go deep at Churchill. While he hasn’t hogged the spotlight much, he has three things in common with runaway winner Mine That Bird: he’s a longshot, Calvin Borel will be aboard (who has won three Kentucky Derbies!), and he’s the winner of the Sunland Derby.

Running Style: Sits off the pacesetters

Pros: He’s got Churchill’s best jockey and he’s favored for a pace that saves it all for one big late run— probably Borel’s favorite strategy in the Derby. 

Cons: He’s not terribly experienced, unlike Borel’s other Derby mounts, and I didn’t hear Calvin singing Twice the Appeal’s praises anywhere like he did with the others. Even Mine That Bird got the subtlest of winks from his jockey. A less-than-flashy pedigree will dissuade him from overcoming longshot status.

Final Comment: I get a tad annoyed with clockers celebrating fast Derby works/breezes… this is not a speed duel. While speed at the right time is important, it requires endurance and strategy: two things that will be on Twice the Appeal’s side come Saturday as he’s been working modestly over at Churchill. Will he win? I think this horse will be cruising mostly on luck during the race, so we’ll see.

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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