By Dick Downey
It's February, and that means many of last year's stars are close to making their 2014 debuts. Let's see what's next for over 60 horses trying to make the Kentucky Derby.
Bond Holder has put in four workouts for Doug O'Neill since Jan. 4 and is pointed to the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He was carrying 50-1 odds to win the Kentucky Derby as of a Feb. 3 release from Wynn Las Vegas Race and Sports Book. Odds are subject to change. Not in Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2.
A big announcement last week came from Kiaran McLaughlin when he said Cairo Prince, dominant winner of the Holy Bull Stakes, will more than likely skip the Fountain of Youth and be trained up to the Florida Derby on March 29. Wynn has him at 12-1. He's an 8-1 morning line in Pool 2.
Commissioner, trained by Todd Pletcher, remains on track for the Fountain of Youth following breezes on Jan. 26 and Feb. 2. He was the winner of an allowance race over Top Billing on Jan. 3. Wynn odds 28-1. Pool 2 morning line is 20-1.
Gold Hawk, who disappointed in the Lecomte states, worked on a sloppy track afterward, just like he did beforehand. Another work came on Feb. 3, and he remains on track for the Risen Star on Feb. 22 for Steve Asmussen. Wynn Book says 45-1. Missing from Pool 2.
Havana, who finally returned to the worktab on Febr. 1, is being pointed to the Swale Stakes on March 1. Pletcher said after that breeze that Havana was further along than he thought the colt would be. 40-1 at Wynn. 30-1 in Pool 2.
Honor Code is 15-1 at Wynn despite being diagnosed with bruised back ankles and has not breezed since going three furlongs on Jan. 18 at Payson Park. On Jan. 30, Shug McGaughey moved Honor Code from Payson to his barn at Gulfstream Park so he could keep a closer eye on him. He's 10-1 in Pool 2.
Midnight Hawk is definite for the Robert B Lewis stakes this Saturday for Bob Baffert. He way outworked Awesome Baby on Sunday and stood at 25-1 at Wynn at last look. Pool 2 has him at 20-1.
Samraat, winner of the Withers Stakes by a length over Uncle Sigh, will either wait for the Florida Derby or Louisiana Derby or Wood Memorial or, in the words of Rick Violette, if he's tearing down his stall could go in the Gotham on March 1. 50-1 at Wynn, 30-1 Pool 2.
We're still awaiting a workout by Shared Belief, and right now it looks like there is no way to predict when it will happen. Maybe we'll see the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee in the San Felipe on March 8, but that's only a little over four weeks away. He has been galloping but has not put in a recorded workout since Jan. 3. He's 18-1 on the sheet at Wynn, 10-1 in Pool 2.
Strong Mandate is one workout away from the February 17 Southwest states. He breezed a bullet on a sloppy track Sunday. That was his seventh workout since December 17 for Wayne Lukas, who said he was impressed by the move. Wynn says 30-1, Pool 2 morning line says 20-1.
As time passes, the separation of talent gets more serious. Tapiture is also looking at the Southwest Stakes for Asmussen and has been steadily preparing at Fair Grounds while 28-1 at Wynn, 20-1 in Pool 2.
The featured horse on Shug McGaughey's marquee right now is Top Billing, and with Honor Code unable to make the Fountain of Youth, Shug doesn't have to ship Top Billing out of town in order to keep those two apart. He's 14-1 at Wynn and 15-1 in Pool 2's morning line.
Vicar's in Trouble, energetic winner of the Lecomte, is staying put and pointing to the Risen Star for Mike Maker. The Wynn book is 20-1, just like the Pool 2 morning line.
Other Contenders -- All of them listed on our Worth Watching Page
Albano: Second in the Lecomte, next is the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 22 for Larry Jones.
Almost Famous: Presumably the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 22 for Pat Byrne after his fourth in the Holy Bull.
Baratti: Gotham Stakes on March 1 for Kiaran McLaughlin's maiden winner.
Bayern: Got a little sick and hasn't recorded a workout since Jan. 19.
Bobby's Kitten: Since his third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, he's worked thrice, six and seven days apart; and so we're looking for another move today or tomorrow.
Bourbonize: Allowance winner to the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.
California Chrome: Cal Cup Derby winner to the San Felipe Stakes on March 8.
Candy Boy: Robert B. Lewis Stakes this Saturday for his 2014 debut; was second in the CashCall.
Chitu: Looks like the Southwest Stakes for the sprint allowance winner.
Coastline: Southwest Stakes after a disappointing third in the Smarty Jones.
Coltimus Prime: A close second in the Display Stakes last year, he's only recently returned to the worktab at Palm Beach Downs.
Conquest Titan: Gotham Stakes on March 1 or possibly the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 22. Mark Casse would prefer to not ship and run in the Fountain of Youth, but he's concerned that the colt's closing style isn't suited to Gulfstream Park after a closing second in the Holy Bull.
Constitution: Trainer Pletcher is on record that an allowance race is probably next logical spot for the debut maiden winner.
Cool Samurai: Was steady on the Betfair Hollywood Park worktab, but all the horses have cleared out of there now, and we'll have to see what's next for the Dec. 27 maiden winner.
Cousin Stephen: Don't yet know if he'll return in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 8 after running third in the Sam F. Davis.
Diamond Bachelor: Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Ninth last out in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Edison: Will be fun to follow what this $950,000 turf maiden winner does next.
Enterprising: Second in the California Derby, will he return to Golden Gate for the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 15?
Exit Stage Left: First in the California Derby, the El Camino Real Derby is next for this New Jersey-bred.
General a Rod: Fountain of Youth Stakes is next for the Gulfstream Park Derby winner.
Global View: Note that the Nov. 30 Generous Stakes winner is working at Tampa for his 2014 debut.
Harpoon: Too early to know what's next for the closing runner-up of the Sam F. Davis.
Hy Kodiak Warrior: Third to Commissioner in that Jan. 3 allowance, he's not appeared on the worktab since Jan. 17.
In Trouble: Hasn't raced since winning the Futurity on Sept. 29, but he's been working at Palm Meadows since Jan. 11.
Indianapolis: San Pedro winner goes next in the San Vicente on Feb. 16.
Intense Holiday: Third in the Holy Bull, his next outing could be either the Fountain of Youth Stakes or Risen Star Stakes, both on Feb. 22.
Kristo: Presumed to be the Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 8. Last seen second in the Sham.
Louies Flower: Springboard Mile winner to the Southwest Stakes for his 2014 debut.
Matador: A close fourth in the Davis, presumably the Tampa Bay Derby is next.
Medal Count: A stake on the dirt "somewhere," Dale Romans said on Jan. 20. Dead-heat win on turf at Gulfstream Park last time out.
Mexikoma: He's been on the worktab pretty much weekly since Dec. 31, but a next-race plan isn't shown on the Team Valor website. Unraced since he was sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Mr Speaker: Back to the grass in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 1 after a disappointing effort on dirt in the Holy Bull.
Noble Moon: As of early February, the Jerome winner could make the March 1 Gotham Stakes if everything goes exactly right after missing three weeks of training with a foot injury.
Quick Indian: The Risen Star Stakes has been mentioned as logical by his trainer following an allowance win on Jan. 24.
Ria Antonia: The Risen Star was the original plan, but as of the end of January, a co-owner/racing manager said he's thinking more about the Rachel Alexandra on the same date.
Ride On Curlin: Southwest Stakes for the recent sprint allowance winner.
Rise Up: The Risen Star is the 2014 debut destination for the Delta Jackpot winner.
Sassicaia: Maiden special weight stretching out from 6 1/2-furlong debut.
Scotland: A distant third in the Withers, is the Gotham Stakes on March 1 next, or will connections be less amitious with him?
Solitary Ranger: Has not put in a recorded workout since Jan. 18.
Son of a Preacher: Presumbly the Southwest Stakes is next after a fourth in the Smarty Jones.
Storming Inti: Palm Beach Stakes-to-Keeneland route to the Derby?
Tamarando: The San Felipe Stakes on March 8 is the next local opportunity for the Cal Cup Derby runner-up.
Tanzanite Cat: Smarty Jones winner being pointed to the Southwest Stakes.
Tonalist: As of Feb. 3, look for him to race in the next two weeks or so. Connections keeping mum about the exact spot.
Uncle Sigh: Withers runner-up will go to the Gotham next.
Vinceremos: One would think the Sam F. Davis winner will proceed to the Tampa Bay Derby if all goes well.
Walt: Smarty Jones second finisher to the Southwest Stakes.
We Miss Artie: Will it be the Palm Beach on March 1, then on to Polytrack in Kentucky?
Wildcat Red: Fountain of Youth Stakes next for the Hutcheson winner.
This survey is not intended to cover all 3-year-olds on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.