After this weekend's three-year-old races you could make a strong argument for any of four horses as the likely winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Gemologist and Alpha in the Wood Memorial as well as I'll Have Another and Creative Cause in the Santa Anita Derby were all impressive, with Gemologist the most impressive of all.
In fact, Gemologist ticks all the boxes. He was good at two, better at three, bred on his sire's side at least to get the distance and had his final prep start four weeks before the big day. Possibly most important is the fact that he has a win over the sometimes idiosyncratic Churchill Downs track. He ran an excellent Beyer as well.
Somehow, though, I still think I'd take Union Rags if they were giving away free Derby contenders. Sure, he finished third last week in the Florida Derby, but he actually ran a really good race considering the trouble he had. If he wasn't Union Rags and was instead a previously little-known horse, we'd be talking about him as a colt who surely looks like he could get a mile-and-a-quarter. I think what intrigues me is the sudden burst of speed he can come up with. I'm a sucker for horses who have the additional gear and I still think we may see it at Churchill Downs. As for the third-place finish, remember the 1973 Wood. The horse who finished third that year was named Secretariat.