With only one or two prep races to go, here's this man's list of the Top Twelve Derby contenders. Given that Todd Pletcher & Doug O'Neill each have 6 legitimate contenders, perhaps they should just run a match race on the first Saturday in May.
1. Any Given Saturday. Pletcher's best hope, but you have to hope the Tampa Bay Derby didn't take too much out of him.
2. Great Hunter. O'Neill's best hope; the big knock on him is that he's only going to have 2 starts this year, a trick that's only worked once since 1943. Still, he has a solid foundation from last year with 7 races, so he's logical. His Robert Lewis was sublime.
3. Street Sense. This is the first Juvenile winner that's got a legit shot in the Kentucky Derby since Unbridled's Song in 1996. Sorry Wilko.
4. Circular Quay. Dead closer ran a big one last out, but you have to worry about him hitting severe traffic problems on the big day. For examples of this, see Victory Gallop, Medaglia d'Oro, Atswhatimtalkinabout, and any horse I've bet on since Real Quiet.
5. Notional. Now here's a horse that gets no credit whatsoever--his Risen Star win was written off as meh because Circular Quay almost fell in the process. He ran well, is well bred, and has super connections. What's not to like? Great horse to future at 20-1 or greater right now.
6. Nobiz Like Shobiz. Everyone's favorite, but I'm not buying. At some point, you have to improve between ages 2 and 3.
7. Scat Daddy. Well, he did win the Fountain of Youth, but they crawled home, and he's by Johannesburg. Pletcher's got plenty more that are interesting.
8. Ravel. He's immensely talented, but is going to hit the Derby with 4 career starts and only 2 starts this year. That. Never. Works. Future him for the Travers if you can.
9. Chelokee. Now here's a sleeper who hasn't won a stakes race yet. Gets a chance finally this weekend in the Lane's End. Cherokee Run shouldn't sire a Derby winner, but then again, neither should have Elusive Quality.
10. Hard Spun. Moves up with a good race in the Lane's End, moves off with a bad one.
11. Curlin. Immensely talented but he's run twice. TWICE!
12. Cobalt Blue. Whipping Grapelli in the San Felipe does not make a great horse.