The TDN Derby Top 12 for May 5


Tiz the Law continues atop the TDN Derby Top 12 | Ryan Thompson


We're 124 days out from the rescheduled GI Kentucky Derby. Last weekend's split divisions of the GI Arkansas Derby solidified the status of several contenders, while several others have slid off the list.

1) TIZ THE LAW (c, ConstitutionTizfiz, by Tiznow)
O-Sackatoga Stable. B-Twin Creeks Farm (NY). T-Barclay Tagg. Sales History: $110,000 yrl '18 FTNAUG. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 5-4-0-1, $945,300.
Last Start: 1st GI Curlin Florida Derby, GP, Mar. 28
Accomplishments Include: 1st GI Champagne S., 1st GIII Holy Bull S., GP, Feb. 1, 3rd GII Kentucky Jockey Club S., CD, Nov. 30
Next Start: Uncommitted. Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 122.

With the Derby now pegged for Labor Day weekend, “Tiz” has a tall task ahead of him in that he will be asked to maintain top form all the way from mid-summer of his 2-year-old season to early September of his sophomore year. This $110,000 Fasig-Tipton New York-Sale graduate debuted a winner against state-breds at the Spa last August, won the GI Champagne S. at Belmont, then endured a trip-troubled third in the slop in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. He got an early-winter freshening in Florida, then registered two emphatic stakes scores in Gulfstream's GIII Holy Bull S. and the GI Florida Derby, and in both of those open-length romps, he honed an already-high level of confidence to almost a swagger. This assertive stalker has been breezing at Palm Meadows while his connections wait to see what the Classics road map looks like. They want to be ready in case the GI Belmont S. suddenly emerges as the first race in the Triple Crown series, but August's GI Travers S. figures to be an option too.

2) HONOR A.P. (r, Honor Code–Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush)
O-C R K Stable LLC. B-George Krikorian (Ky). T-John Shirreffs. Sales History: $850,000 yrl '18 FTSAUG. Lifetime Record: GSP, 3-1-2-0, $122,200.
Last Start: 2nd GII San Felipe S., SA, Mar. 7
Next Start: GI Santa Anita Derby, June 6
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 20.

Honor A.P.'s trainer, John Shirreffs, said several weeks ago he had faith the GI Santa Anita Derby would be restored once Santa Anita gets the green light to reopen. He opted not to ship for the GI Arkansas Derby, and with the announcement that June 6 is now inked into a new condition book as the revised date for the Santa Anita Derby (purse reduced from $1 million to $400,000), it looks as if Shirreffs' gamble to keep pointing this $850,000 FTSAUG purchase for a race over his home track will pay off.  Honor A.P. already has three well-spaced races on his resume (August, October, March), and a Santa Anita Derby start would come off a three-month layoff. His Mar. 7 GII San Felipe S. second resonates as a way-better-than-it-looks try: he broke alertly, settled willingly inside, worked his way outside to methodically inhale the top stalking threats, but couldn't reel in loose-on-the-lead favorite Authentic (Into Mischief) over 1 1/16 miles, yet he galloped out on even terms with that winner.

3) NADAL (c, BlameAscending Angel, by Pulpit)
'TDN Rising Star' O-George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman & Mark Mathieson. B-Sierra Farm (KY); T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $65,000 yrl '18 KEESEP; $700,000 2yo '19 FTFMAR. Lifetime Record: GISW, 4-4-0-0, $1,053,000.
Last Start: 1st GI Arkansas Derby, OP, May 2
Accomplishments Include: 1st GII Rebel S., OP, Mar. 14; 1st GII San Vicente S., SA, Feb. 9
Next Start: Uncommitted Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 150.

Nadal's division of the GI Arkansas Derby came up tougher on paper, and this 'TDN Rising Star' winning performance ended up being the stronger of the two splits from visual, tactical, time, and speed figure perspectives. This physically imposing bay ($65,000 KEESEP; $700,000 FTFMAR) transitioned adeptly into stalk mode when Wells Bayou (Lookin At Lucky) stole the lead from the outside gate, and they settled for the backstretch run with Nadal hounding him while into the bit, but not overly keen. Nadal appeared to be relishing the pursuit of prey while applying incremental pace pressure, and three-eighths out, the balance of power shifted when the leader was pumped on for run while Nadal swept on by. Joel Rosario waited until three-sixteenths out to set this colt down, and despite relentless pursuit from a pesky King Guillermo (Uncle Mo), Nadal already had a big jump and plenty left in the tank if he needed it. The performance looked polished and professional, and Nadal's 98 Beyer–stablemate Charlatan (Speightstown) ran a 96–was punctuated by a final furlong (:12.71) that was clocked .45 seconds faster than Charlatan's first division.

4) MAXFIELD (c, Street SenseVelvety, by Bernardini)
O/B-Godolphin LLC (KY). T-Brendan Walsh.
Lifetime Record: GISW, 2-2-0-0, $354,412.
Last Start: 1st GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity, KEE, Oct. 5
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 10.

The word from Maxfield's connections all along has been that he will be a better colt at age three than at two, and it seems they were thinking along those lines even before this Street Sense homebred unexpectedly (10-1 odds) won his September debut in a one-turn-mile at Churchill. But it was Max's lights-out, 5 1/2-length demolishing of the GI Breeders' Futurity field at Keeneland Oct. 5 that truly put him on the map. A withdrawal from the GI Breeders” Cup Juvenile the week of the race because of a foot issue (that ended up requiring ankle chip surgery) knocked Maxfield out of training for several months, but not off of the Derby Top 12 list. Now, here he is six months later still highly heralded but still unraced. He's been breezing steadily at Keeneland since shipping from Palm Meadows. The newly released Churchill Downs condition book contains a race that could be a return target: the May 23 GIII Matt Winn S. at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

5) AUTHENTIC (c, Into MischiefFlawless, by Mr. Greeley)
O-SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Fred Hertrich III, John D. Fielding & Golconda Stables. B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds LLC (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $350,000 yrl '18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 3-3-0-0, $331,200.
Last Start: 1st GII San Felipe S., SA, Mar. 7
Accomplishments Include: 1st GIII Sham S., SA, Jan. 4
Next Start: GI Santa Anita Derby, June 6
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 60.

Authentic celebrates his third birthday May 5. He's one of three Bob Baffert trainees within the Top 12, and those sophomores are a collective 10-for-10. After having his training dialed back because of the pandemic uncertainty, this $350,000 KEESEP Into Mischief bay is back on target to start favored in the rescheduled Santa Anita Derby. Baffert has described Authentic as a light-on-his-feet colt who still needs to work on his maturity, but he's also said this sophomore doesn't need a ton of training to get him at or near peak performance level. The stretch run of Authentic's GII San Felipe S. win over 1 1/16 miles caught  the eye because he kicked anew when confronted by Honor A.P. at the head of the lane. Longer distances remain an open question, because having Mr. Greeley (a multiple Grade III winner who won at a mile but never around two turns) as his dam-sire does give Authentic's pedigree a distinct sprinting slant.

6) SOLE VOLANTE (g, Karakontie {Jpn}Light Blow, by Kingmambo)
O-Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone & Limelight Stables Corp. B-Flaxman Holdings Limited (KY). T-Patrick Biancone. Sales History: $6,000 yrl '18 KEESEP; $20,000 2yo '19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 4-3-0-1, $196,310.
Last Start: 2nd GII Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, TAM, Mar. 7. Accomplishments Include: 1st GIII Sam F. Davis S., TAM, Feb. 8, 1st Pulpit S., GP, Nov. 30
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 30.

Sole Volante flies under the radar, but he's checked off more than a few boxes on the sophomore progression list to show he belongs with the top of the crop. This $6,000 KEESEP yearling turned $20,000 OBSAPR juvenile won his first two starts going long on the turf, and–when transitioned to dirt at Gulfstream and Tampa in early winter–he responded with a trio of Beyers in the 90+ range. Consistently putting up big numbers is not an easy task for a 3-year-old who likes to close from the back of the pack (speed-centric horses seem to do it more easily), and it underscores that Sole Volante has a decent foundation of stamina and fitness. His connections passed on entering the split Arkansas Derby primarily because of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions for horses shipping back into Florida, but the gritty second by King Guillermo (Uncle Mo) in the faster division of that Oaklawn stakes boosted Sole Volante's stock, because King Guillermo and Sole Volante ran one-two in the GII Tampa Bay Derby.

7) CHARLATAN (c, SpeightstownAuthenticity, by Quiet American)
'TDN Rising Star' O-SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Frederick Hertrich, III, John D. Fielding & Golconda Stables. B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $700,000 yrl '18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISW, 3-3-0-0, $367,200.
Last Start: 1st GI Arkansas Derby, OP, May 2
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 100.

Charlatan made the lead fluidly from the rail and cruised around the track under his own power through legit splits in his six-length cudgeling of the weaker/slower division of the Arkansas Derby. Just a subtle cue to quicken at the 3 1/2-furlong pole was all it took for this $700,000 KEESEP acquisition to open up on his overwhelmed rivals, who were all being hustled and muscled in futile attempts to close the gap. This 'TDN Rising Star' is now 3-for-3, but we've yet to see how he handles adversities like getting hooked into a speed duel or having to face multiple challenges late in the lane. This son of champion sprinter Speightstown outpaced stablemate Nadal in all of the internal splits up to a mile in their respective divisions, but Nadal came home quicker in the final eighth after having to wrest away the lead and then fight off a late-closing foe. Charlatan's Arkansas Derby Beyer of 96 represents a sizable drop from the 105 and 106 he earned in his first two lifetime starts at Santa Anita. It's not often you see a 2-5 favorite win his stakes debut by open lengths yet drop 10 points by the numbers.

8) KING GUILLERMO (c, Uncle MoSlow Sand, by Dixieland Band)
O-Victoria's Ranch. B-Carhue Investments, Grouseridge Ltd. & Marengo Investments (KY). T-Juan Avila. Sales History: $90,000 RNA yrl '18 KEESEP; $150,000 2yo '19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 5-2-1-1, $340,350.
Last Start: 2nd GI Arkansas Derby, OP, May 2
Accomplishments Include: 3rd Pulpit S., GP, Nov. 30, 1st
GII Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 90.

King Guillermo's second in the stronger/faster division of the split Arkansas Derby represents the best performance by any of the horses who ran behind the two winning favorites. His prolonged run behind Nadal wasn't a 'Wow!' effort, but it earned him style points for how he kept digging in determinedly without quitting even though he only had one brief chance at the eighth pole to try and seize the lead. This Uncle Mo bay ($90,000 RNA at KEESEP; $150,000 OBSAPR) carved out a nice inside trip and handled being covered up at the rail as the speedsters sparred, but he was already being nudged along a half-mile out to engage. By the midway point on the far turn, jockey Samy Camacho was whipping and driving hard, and this colt gave his rider all he had and kept grinding away even as Nadal clicked into a higher gear that King G. could not match. He might not have been the best sophomore on the first Saturday in May, but such tenacity signals that he could be in the mix come September with a little more experience under his belt.

9) ENFORCEABLE (c, TapitJustwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)
O-John Oxley. B-Clearsky Farm (KY). T-Mark Casse. Sales History: $775,000 RNA yrl '18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP,
9-2-2-2, $367,150.
Last Start: 5th GII Louisiana Derby, FG, Mar. 21
Accomplishments Include: 1st GIII Lecomte S., FG, Jan. 18; 3rd GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity, KEE, Oct. 5, 2nd GII Risen Star S. Div. 1, FG, Feb. 15. Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 33.

Count Enforceable's trainer, Mark Casse, in the camp of those who believe the delayed Derby will help his horse. Despite nine races, this $775,000 KEESEP RNA hasn't matured as quickly as Casse would have liked, and Enforceable's stout closing kick had already shown signs of tailing off in two so-so starts since a smart off-the-pace shakedown of a decent GIII Lecomte S. field back on Jan. 18. But considering Casse's knack for patiently getting freshened stakes horses ready off the layoff, and this colt's Tapit (out of a Dixie Union mare) bloodlines, is this really the type of horse you want to dismiss going 10 furlongs on the first Saturday of September? It might be wise to assess Enforceable's Kentucky Derby chances right now the way you'd expect to be ranking horses in January for the traditional May Derby—we're still four months out, and it's foolish to exclude legit contenders simply on a “What have you done for me lately?” basis.

10) MR. MONOMOY (c, Palace MaliceDrummette, by Henny Hughes) 'TDN Rising Star' O-Madaket Stables, LLC, Michael Dubb, Doheny Racing Stable. B-FPF LLC & Highfield Ranch (KY). T-Brad Cox. Sales History: $60,000 Wlg '17 KEENOV; €180,000 2yo '19 ARQMAY. Lifetime Record: GSW, 5-2-1-1, $327,162.
Last Start: 1st GII Risen Star S., Div. 1
Accomplishments Include: 3rd GIII Lecomte S., FG, Jan. 18
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 52.

A rescheduled Derby puts 'TDN Rising Star' Mr. Monomoy back in play. He was the stylish, front-running victor of the faster division of the GII Risen Star S. back in February, but on Mar. 1 he was declared off of the Derby trail when he came out of a gallop with heat in an ankle. At the time, trainer Brad Cox told TDN, “We took some X-rays and found that there was some roughening in the P1 (first phalanx) area. He'll need 60 days off and is on his way to WinStar to recuperate.” This $60,000 KEENOV weanling and €180,000 ARQMAY breeze-up buy) is a half-brother to the Cox-trained 2018 champion filly Monomoy Girl (Tapizar).

11) MODERNIST (c, Uncle MoSymbolic Gesture, by Bernardini) O-Pam & Martin Wygod. B-Wygod Family (KY). T-Bill Mott. Lifetime Record: 5-2-0-2, $388,800.
Last Start: 3rd GII Louisiana Derby, FG, Mar. 21.
Accomplishments Include: 1st GII Risen Star S., FG, Feb. 15.
Next Start: Uncommitted. Equineline PPs KY Derby Points: 70.

Modernist battled for the lead and won the slower division of the Risen Star S. in February, earning an 84 Beyer under favorable tactical circumstances. Then he ran third from the 14 post in the GII Louisiana Derby while giving up significant real estate with wide trips on both turns. He's been in next-race limbo ever since with no published workouts. Trainer Bill Mott has compared this Uncle Mo homebred favorably to 2019 Derby winner-via-DQ Country House, although this colt seems more comfortable as a forward factor as opposed to Country House's off-the-pace style. Mott said recently that Modernist is likely to resurface in a to-be-determined race in New York once racing resumes there.
12) ETE INDIEN (c, Summer FrontEast India, by Mizzen Mast)
O-Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable, Inc., Horse France America, D P Racing LLC & Patrick L. Biancone Racing LLC. B-Robert B. Tillyer & Eric Buckley (KY). T-Patrick Biancone. Sales History: $85,000 RNA wnl '17 KEENOV; $80,000 yrl '18 KEESEP; €240,000 2yo '19 ARQMAY. Lifetime Record: GSW, 5-3-1-0, $333,156.
Last Start: 3rd GI Curlin Florida Derby, GP, Mar. 29
Accomplishments Include:  1st GII Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth S., GP, Feb. 29; 2nd GIII Holy Bull S., GP, Feb. 1
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 74.

Ete Indien is a streamlined, high-energy colt who sparked some interest with a 97 Beyer win in the GII Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth S. Feb. 29. He settled comfortably and cranked out legit splits, but his cause was aided considerably by the heavy favorite Dennis' Moment (Tiznow), running dead last while never seriously threatening. This three-time auction prospect ($85,000 KEENOV RNA, $80,000 KEESEP, $269,640 ARQMAY) ended up being sacrificial speed in the Florida Derby, but he has a decent foundation of six races (five at a mile or longer) and has already tangled twice with top-ranked Tiz the Law while not being disgraced in defeat. Some down time and/or the prospect of spectator-free racing might smooth out Ete Indien's temperament. He's usually flighty and on his toes in the paddock and is sometimes washed out in pre-race warm-ups, and he has also had cotton jammed in his ears to keep from reacting to crowd noise.

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