West could be lacking in real Derby contenders

There are 83 days until the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and the West Coast could be lacking a strong contender for the Run for the Roses after its two top candidates — Tapizar and Comma to the Top — both got knocked off Saturday in California.

But it’s not just that they both lost, it’s how they lost. Neither colt finished in the top three in their respective Derby prep. Right now, a little less than three months from the Derby, there are no Lookin At Luckys, Pioneerof the Niles or Brother Dereks out west.

Tapizar, the 1-5 favorite, was rank the whole way in the $250,000 Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and faded to fifth after looking so impressive in a 4 1/4-length victory in the Grade III Sham Stakes on Jan. 15.

Comma to the Top, gate-to-wire winner of the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 17, rated off the lead in the $200,000 Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields and never seriously threatened, finishing fourth in the 1 1/8-mile race.

The two winners, Anthony’s Cross in the Lewis and Silver Medallion in the El Camino Real, might be nice colts, but they’re unlikely to attract much Future Book action until they follow up Saturday’s victories with more of the same.

The big winner nationally Saturday was Brethren, a half-brother to 2010 Derby winner Super Saver who toyed with the field in the $225,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs en route to a four-length victory. He might not have beaten much, but it was the way he defeated his nine rivals that made the victory so impressive.

But all is not lost out west just yet.

The talented Jaycito, winner of the Norfolk Stakes in October before a much-troubled seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile a month later, is scheduled to make his sophomore debut Feb. 20 at Santa Anita in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes. If he comes back as good as he was at 2 and shows any improvement, he’s the real deal.

And there are other talented 3-year-olds on the West Coast, including Astrology, Runflatout, The Factor, Clubhouse Ride and Indian Winter, to name a few. There is still enough time for one or more of them to step forward, but it’s getting to the point now where it’s time for the true contenders to separate themselves from the pretenders.

Two of those colts might be Anthony’s Cross and Silver Medallion, but color me skeptical until I see more. Also, don’t totally write off Tapizar and Comma to the Top off one poor start, especially with how unpredictable these 3-year-olds can be early in the year.

My latest Kentucky Derby rankings:

1. Uncle Mo — Only question with this unbeaten colt is the Derby distance
2. To Honor and Serve — Bernardini colt real threat to give Mott first Derby victory
3. Santiva — Slated to debut this year in Risen Star (Feb. 19) or Fountain of Youth (Feb. 26)
4. Astrology — Yet to debut this year for Asmussen, but he looked solid at 2
5. Jaycito — Has shown as much talent as any 3-year-old out there
6. Brethren — Super Saver’s baby brother might just be the real deal
7. Dialed In — Looked solid in the Holy Bull, but let’s see another one
8. The Factor — Might just be a speed ball, but want to see what he does in San Vicente
9. Tapizar — Deserves another shot after flopping as 1-5 favorite in Robert Lewis Stakes
10. Runflatout — Everything Sadler touches is turning to gold so far in 2011

Let me know who you like.


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