Heading my top five list for Derby Dark Horses is Endorsement. He is a talented colt who seems to be getting good at the right time. In the Sunland Derby, he showed the ability to sit off fast fractions and still fire. He easily collared Conveyance, in the stretch, before drawing away with authority. His win suggests the further the better, with the way he galloped under the wire with strong, steady, powerful strides. My only concern with this colt is that the Derby may be asking too much too soon from the talented, yet lightly race colt.
Dublin may or may not be a dark horse, but due to his lack of wins coming into the Derby, I feel he will be somewhat ignored by the public. The reason I have him on this Derby Dark Horse list is because of his consistency. He may not have any wins, but you may have a hard time finding any horse that has placed top three in three Derby preps. Another thing about him is that not only is he constantly hitting the board, but in his last three races he has lost by a total of 4 lengths. To some he seems to be a miler, but I feel this colt will be able to get the distance. If he doesn't hang in the Derby, then he should be a huge threat to any of the front runner as they turn for home.
Rule is also a horse I like a lot. He didn't rate in the Florida Derby, but then again I don't think Johnny V was all too concerned with rating, seeing as he made no attempt to back Rule off the pace when Pulsion came up and applied some early pace pressure. Pletcher has gone on record before stating that he feels that Rule would be more ratable than his stablemate Super Saver, who we all saw, rating quite comfortably, in the Arkansas Derby. If this is true, and Rule rates off the pace in the Derby, he is classy and talented enough to remain a strong presence in the stretch.
Setsuko comes next, and is only this low on my Derby Dark Horse list, because I'm wondering if he'll have enough earnings to make the field. If he does everyone better beware of this consistent stretch runner. He was second in the Sham, then second again in the Santa Anita Derby. It should also be noted, that in the Santa Anita Derby he came on late to actually pass, the tough luck, Lookin At Lucky for second. With the current trend of synthetic horses improving as they switch to dirt and the very likely possibility of a blistering pace, everyone should be watching for Setsuko to come flying home once more.
Lastly comes American Lion. He showed us he is a completely different horse on dirt than he is on synthetics. He was relaxed on the lead, galloping with his ears pricked, and fought back when Yawanna Twist eye balled him for the majority of the stretch. He should be close to, but not on the pace, seeing as how he has proven his ability to rate already. With Tiznow as his sire, I have no doubts about his ability to get the distance. My doubts lie with his ability to run with the likes of the four above him and the big three, Eskendereya, Lookin at Lucky, and Sidney's Candy.
There you have it, my Top five Derby Dark Horses. What long shot are you planning to pick in the Run for the Roses?