TROJAN NATION

Trainer: Patrick Gallagher

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Jockey: Aaron Gryder

Record: 6-0-1-3

Last 3: 2-3-3

Winless colt lost photo in Wood Memorial at 81-1 after never coming close in five maiden races in California. That may be further proof that the West has the best 3-year-olds. Strong distance pedigree, yet don’t expect him to be the first maiden-breaker to wear the roses since Brokers) Tip in 1933.

 

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SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS

Trainer: Donnie Von Hemel

Jockey: Luis Quinones

Record: 8-3-4-0

Laat 3: 2-5-1

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Will be way back, perhaps last, early, and I can’t get excited about gelding’s pace-aided strong finish in a subpar Arkansas Derby. Will have to weave through lots of traffic, and he’s winless beyond a mile on a fast track. Won’t be playing him.

 

 

CREATOR

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Record: 8-2-4-1

Last 3: 1-3-1

Went last to first in Arkansas Derby only two starts after breaking his maiden in his sixth try. Needs a perfect trip and hot pace to get it done, which is asking a lot. Late bloomer looks like a lesser version of Brody’s Cause, and if Creator wins, I won’t be cashing.

 

MO TOM

Trainer: Tom Amoss

Jockey: Corley Lanerie

Record: 7-3-0-3

Last 3: 4-3-1

Son of Uncle Mo belongs to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, for whom he’s named. Obvious pick for trip handicappers after bad rides by Lanerie in Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. Was making strong moves when checked sharply in both. Four trouble lines in seven starts, though, so maybe it’s not just bad luck. Wouldn’t be stunned if long shot inflated the superfecta, or if he had traffic trouble again.

 

GUN RUNNER

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Record: 5-4-0-0

Last 3: 1-1-4

Stalker with quick acceleration is 4-for-4 on fast tracks, with only loss in slop last fall at Churchill. Asmussen, No. 2 all-time in wins in North America, has record for starts (13) without a Derby victory. Colt will be downgraded because he didn’t beat much in Louisiana. Still deserves respect, and odds will be generous. Far from the worst stab.

 

MY MAN SAM

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Record: 4-1-2-0

Last 3: 2-2-1

Ran big from post 14 to close for second in Blue Grass. Strong closing figures and terrific connections, but only win was in January at Aqueduct. Makes big class jump from Blue Grass, which didn’t draw any standouts. Potential down the road, but Derby looks like too much, too soon.

 

OSCAR NOMINATED

Trainer: Mike Maker

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Record: 7-3-2-0

Last 3: 1-1-2

Owner Ken Ramsey didn’t nominate Oscar Nominated for the Derby, so he’s supplementing him for $200,000, half of which reportedly will be paid by a silent partner. Derby will be this former maiden claimer’s dirt debut, just as it was for 2011 winner Animal Kingdom. I seriously doubt history will repeat.

 

LANI

Trainer: Miklo Matsunaga

Jockey: Yutaka Take

Record: 6-3-1-0

Last 3: 1-5-1

Japan-based colt won the UAE Derby in Dubai, and it’s hard to say what he beat there. Japanese racing is top of the line, and he definitely has the pedigree (by top sire Tapit out of a daughter of all-time great Sunday Silence). Odds will be gigantic, but no UAE Derby winner has made a mark in our Derby. Throw him out.

 

DESTIN

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Record: 5-3-1-0

Last 3: 1-1-4

Pletcher (1-for-43 in Derby) brings him in off an eight-week break. Despite world-class connections, he’ll be a big price, partly because it’s his Grade I debut. Big negative: Never been beyond 1 1/16 miles, and experience at 1 1/8 has been a must for Derby success.

 

WHITMORE

Trainer: Ron Moquett

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Record: 6-2-2-1

Last 3: 3-2-2

Arkansas-based gelding has lost three straight, is 0-for-4 in graded stakes and winless past 6 furlongs, hardly the resume of a serious Derby contender. Lacks tactical speed and his late-pace figures are nothing special. Not a chance.

 

EXAGGERATOR

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Jockey: Kent Desoremeaux

Record: 9-4-2-1

Last 3: 1-3-2

Freaked by 6¼ lengths in Santa Anita Derby, aided greatly by closing into blazing pace as front-runners backed up late. He’s 2-for-3 on off tracks, so if you like him, pray for rain. The Desormeauxs would be first trainer-jockey brother combo to win a Derby and only the third to try. He’s 0-for-3 vs. Nyquist but hasn’t run a dud since his debut. A long shot with resources.

 

TOM’S READY

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Record: 9-1-4-0

Last 3: 2-7-2

Stewart was second in the Derby with long shots Golden Soul (2013) and Commanding Curve (2014) and in last year’s Preakness with Tale of Verve. Fans of trends might consider this loser of six in a row. Positives: Ran second in two Fair Grounds stakes, his only win came at Churchill. If Stewart inflates another exacta with this guy, I won’t be making money.

 

NYQUIST

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Record: 7-7-0-0

Last 3: 1-1-1

Could be eighth unbeaten Derby winner and first since Big Brown in 2008. Prefers to stalk but took Florida Derby wire to wire. Could get perfect trip sitting off Danzing Candy and Outwork. High cruising speed, tough in a fight (three wins by less than a length). Speed figures unspectacular, yet has done nothing wrong. Twenty straight Derby favorites (1980-99) lost, but last three won. Getting 1¼ miles is the only unanswered question, the case for everybody. Beat him to cash.

 

 

MOHAYMEN

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Record: 6-5-0-0

Last 3: 4-1-1

It’s a front-running world, and Mohaymen’s bandwagon emptied after his wide-trip fourth behind Nyquist in the Florida Derby. It’s foolish to disregard a four-time stakes winner off one bad race on a sloppy track, and expect him to rebound. Has right profile (stalker, strong late-pace numbers) to fire big-time at Churchill. Training well there and deserves strong consideration. A legitimate contender. .

 

OUTWORK

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: John Velazquez

Record: 4-3-1-0

Last 3: 1-2-1

Game win in Wood Memorial, yet barely held off an 81-1 maiden in plodding final furlong (14 seconds). He’s a true family production for owner Mike Repole. He not only raced Uncle Mo but bred Outwork’s dam, Nonna Mia (“my grandmother” in Italian), who’s named for Repole’s mother’s mother. Like Nyquist, he’s a speedy son of hot young sire Uncle Mo. Should be part of early pace before fading.

 

SHAGAF

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Joel Rosario Jr.

Record: 4-3-0-0

Last 3: 5-1-1

Brown is the country’s top-30-something trainer, and someday he’ll win Triple Crown events. Can’t imagine it happening with this colt, whose numbers and class lines don’t measure up. His credentials are light, with his career highlight a Gotham win on Aqueduct’s inner track.

 

MOR SPIRIT

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Gary Stevens

Record: 7-3-4-0

Last 3: 2-2-1

Baffert’s only chance for back-to-back Derby wins never has been out of the exacta. If Nyquist falters, he has the pedigree and connections to contend. Stevens said colt recoiled from being hit in face with standing water in sloppy Santa Anita Derby, and he recovered to be a distant second. Nobody’s better at getting a colt to peak on Derby Day, and this roan should be in the picture in the stretch.

 

MAJESTO

Trainer: Gustavo Delgado

Jockey: Emiseal Jaramillo

Record: 6-1-2-2

Last 3: 2-1-3

Surprise second, 2¾ lengths behind Nyquist, in Florida Derby after breaking his maiden in fifth try. You can say “Well, somebody had to be second” or “I think he’s peaking at the right time.” Horses with similar resumes have been in the Derby superfecta, but I’ll side against him. .

 

BRODY’S CAUSE

Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Luis Saez

Record: 6-3-0-1

Last 3: 1-7-3

Deep closer made strong, sustained run to win Blue Grass after showing nothing in 2016 debut in Tampa Bay Derby. Needs strong pace, which Danzing Candy, Outwork and Nyquist may provide. Has won at Churchill and wasn’t far behind Nyquist in Juvenile. Unimpressive final times, but worth a look.

 

 

DANZING CANDY

Trainer: Clifford Sise Jr.

Jockey: Mike Smith

Record: 5-3-0-0

Last 3: 4-1-1

Here’s the odds-on choice to set the pace. Doesn’t strike me as a distance type, more like a sprinter-miler. Will be at least 20-1 off a backpedaling fourth in Santa Anita Derby, so if you think he’ll make a long, lonesome lead, play him. I doubt he’ll have much left after a mile.

 

 

ALSO ELIGIBLES (will draw into race in order in which they are listed if there are defections)

 

LAOBAN

Trainer: Eric Guillot

Jockey: Cornelio Velasquez

Record: 5-0-2-1

Last 3: 4-2-3

Speedy maiden son of Uncle Mo was second in the Gotham and third in the Sham, So there’s talent there. The Derby is not the place to go for your first career win, though. If front-runner somehow slips in the field, he’ll be a pace casualty.

 

CHERRY WINE

Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Robby Albarado

Record: 8-2-1-2

Last 3: 3-4-1

Deep closer finished third in substandard renewal of Blue Grass. Will win more races as he moves up the ladder. Doesn’t have the numbers to fight heavyweights at this stage.