The Derby preps starts to heat up concurrently with the 2-year-olds-in-training sales, and trainers, like college coaches, are on the recruiting trail for next year’s prospects while preparing this year’s athletes. It all starts in Florida (Fasig-Tipton’s sale pictured above; photo by Frances J. Karon) in late February/early March, first at Fasig-Tipton’s “The Florida Sale,” and then at OBS in March and April. Take a look back at who came from where. It’s a top group, headed by G1 winner and champion juvenile colt Nyquist. Fasig-Tipton and Gulfstream are offering a $1 million bonus to any horse sold at the Fasig-Tipton sale last year that can win the track’s G1 Florida Derby, and it’s been reported that Nyquist is aiming for the bonus. Horses are listed by most expensive, with consignor in parens.
Zulu: Fasig-Tipton February, $900,000, (Northwest Stud) — Undefeated in two starts; owned by the consortium of Stonestreet and Coolmore’s principals; trained by Todd Pletcher.
Mor Spirit: Fasig-Tipton February, $650,000 (Wavertree Stables) — 3 for 5 and a G1 winner at 2; won G3 Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 6 at Santa Anita; trained by Bob Baffert.
Nyquist: Fasig-Tipton February, $400,000 (Niall Brennan Stables) — 6 for 6, G1 winner, and champion 2-year-old colt; won G2 San Vicente Feb. 15 at Santa Anita; trained by Doug O’Neill.
Airoforce: OBS April, $350,000 (Richardson Bloodstock) — 3 for 4; G2 and G3 winner at 2 in Kentucky and G1-paced in BC Juvenile Turf; season debut in G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds Saturday; trained by Mark Casse.
Awesome Speed: Fasig-Tipton February, $335,000 (SBM Training & Sales) — 3 for 4; black-type winner at 2; won Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 2; trained by Alan Goldberg.
Flexibility: Fasig-Tipton February, $185,000 (Eddie Woods) — 2 for 5; multiple G2-placed at 2; won G3 Jerome on Jan. 2 at Aqueduct but was fourth in G3 Withers at same track on Jan. 30; trained by Chad Brown.
Collected: OBS March $170,000 (SGV Thoroughbreds) — 2 for 4; G3-placed in California at 2; won G3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 9 but fourth in G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 15 at Oaklawn; trained by Bob Baffert.
Frank Conversation: OBS March $120,000 (Wavertree Stables) — 3 for 6; G3-placed at 2 in California; won G3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate on Feb. 13; trained by Doug O’Neill.
Discreetness: OBS March $105,000 (Royal Thoroughbred International) — 4 for 7; won Remington Springboard Mile Stakes at 2; won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn on Jan. 18 but was unplaced in the G3 Southwest Stakes at the same track on Feb. 15; trained by William Fires.
Riker: OBS April, $60,000 (Paul Sharp) — 4 for 5; multiple black type winner and G3 winner at 2; nominated for a Sovereign Award; hasn’t started in 2016; trained by Nick Gonzalez in 2015 but Mark Casse reportedly takes over this year for new majority owner Team Valor.