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Early Bird Look

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 2/7/2011 1:20:01 PM

Don’t look now, but the Kentucky Derby is less than 12 weeks away and it’s never too early to get a quick peak about what might be on the horizon come the first Saturday in May.

Contenders abound at this point in time to win the Run for the the Roses.

Churchill Downs will once again host the one and a quarter mile Kentucky Derby on May 7 and although so much can happen from now till then, there are several runners that should be monitored and put on the rader screen.

Uncle Mo comes into 2011 as the unbeaten 2-year-old champion and off a clever victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His style suggests he will get the classic distance and his final time of 1:42 3/5 in the Juvenile stands up very well to the clocking recorded by the brilliant Arazi. That meteor won the 1992 Juvenile at Churchill in 1:44 3/5 over the same racetrack.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Mo will be put in a position for success and he will only need to stay healthy, have a little luck and be good enough.

To Honor and Serve is not only a slogan for the police, but also a highly-talented runner that won 3 of his first 4 starts and ran 2nd once. By Macho Uno and trained by world-class condtioner Bill Mott, this runner’s game and this Remsen winner looks like he will thrive as the distances stretch out.

A son of Afleet Alex could have a say in the outcome in Kentucky. Elite Alex has only run twice but he has been impressive and he has the blood to go long as his lone sibling to win cashed thrice all, routes.

Steve Asmussen did a pretty nice job with Horse of the Year Curlin a few seasons ago and he has an up and comer in Tapizar. By stamina sire Tapit, this guy had some eventful trips early in his career but he did something that is not easy and that was beating winners directly after winning his first race.

He accomplished that feat winning the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita and he did it despite losing concentration in the stretch.

Boys at Tosconova is in the right hands of Richard Dutrow Jr., who conditioned Big Brown to win the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

Boys has run well at Churchill as he was 2nd there in his racing debut. After graduating by a dozen lengths, he was impressive as the chalk winning the Grade 1 Hopeful and was again 2nd at Churchill in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

He was 6 lengths clear of the show horse that day.

His pedigree is balanced with Champagne Stakes winner Officer on top and a tried and true bottom line that goes back to some classic runners.

One horse that rates consideration but may be overlooked is Casper’s Touch. By Touch Gold, he has shown an affinity for the Churchill surface and could have much more than a ghost’s chance.

As the weeks tick off, try to get a good feel of the connections for all the contenders as where they put their horses and the campaigns they map out, will be pivotal to victory.

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