Looking for a Derby hero

Cairo Prince will look to start his run to Kentucky in the Holy Bull. NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Soon the vagaries will gather, and fate will present yet another reminder that nothing, not even a racehorse or a pastoral sport, is ever immune to fateful capriciousness. But until then, everything's lovely. It's that time of year when horse racing begins to turn seriously towards the Triple Crown, like a flower to the sun, and for this early moment of tropism nearly all of them, all these talented 3-year-olds, might seem to have the hopeful potential to get there, to Churchill Downs, for the most festive weekend and the most turbulent moment in all of sport, even if only, in some instances perhaps, in the delusional minds of febrile fans and horsemen.

Shug McGaughey, the trainer of Honor Code, a monument of possibilities, said everything's in "good shape," and Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of Cairo Prince, said he couldn't be happier. Bob Baffert, who has several Triple Crown possibilities in his barn, said he's dreaming in Technicolor, with a roseate red no doubt playing prominently in the reverie.

The horses haven't been stressed or challenged, the dreams haven't been tossed into a shower that's finished out in black and white tile, and so everything's possible and lovely and seductively enchanting. But that begins to change Saturday, with the first major prep for the Triple Crown, the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. All's hopeful now, but some of those hopes will lie underfoot Saturday afternoon.

More than 300 horses will be nominated, but only 20 will have the talent and the wherewithal and the points to get to the Kentucky Derby. Yes, the points. Last year, Churchill Downs introduced its new point system for determining the 20 Derby starters, and despite much hand-wringing and desk-pounding, the new system worked. Only 10 points were needed to get in -- The Wynn hotel in Vegas has put the over-under at 20.5 points this year -- and every horse that should have been there was.

Except for excluding the sprinter who in the past might have been entered in the Derby in service to an owner's hypertrophic ego, little has changed with the point system, and the few changes seem mostly positive. Yes, the winner of the Holy Bull, in spite of the race's lofty $400,000 purse, will earn only 10 points and so won't necessarily be ensured a spot in the Derby starting gate, as he would have been, say, three years ago. But that's good, for it means the winner will have to race again and will have to perform well enough to earn a few more points, and that's as it should be.

The Holy Bull represents an outstanding ratcheting up of Triple Crown seriousness; it's rife with intrigue and possibility and uncertainty. Can Coup de Grace stretch out? If so, he has upset possibilities. Can Mr. Speaker handle the dirt? And what about all those horses coming out of the Remsen? Will they provide a measure not only of their own abilities, but also Honor Code's?

The Remsen was the strangest of races. It was a turf race without the grass. The opening half-mile went in 52.74 seconds and the final three-eighths in 35.36. After the dawdling half, a fast final time became impossible, and indeed Honor Code's 1:52.92 for the nine furlongs was three full seconds slower than Wedding Toast's winning time that same day in the Comely. Similarly, because of the soporific fractions, any attempt to measure the Remsen performances or quantify them became more guesswork than analysis. And so what did the Remsen mean? Well, Cairo Prince, Wicked Strong, and Intense Holiday -- who ran 2-3-4 behind Honor Code -- all return in the Holy Bull.

And so it's time also for the annual list of 100 potential Triple Crown noisemakers. The list focuses on potential rather than accomplishment. Havana has accomplished much more than Matterhorn, for example, but the telling question is which one is more likely to make some noise in the Triple Crown.

It's a personal list, representing an assortment of preferences and opinions formed over many years of watching the Triple Crown races and the horses preparing for them, as well as six months of watching and following these particular horses. And, yes, the list also reflects an assortment of personal biases -- against slow horses, inactive horses, horses put together by committee, and trainers unable to locate Kentucky on a map.

The list includes only a few sprinters, for some will indeed make some noise along the way, if only to disappear in May, and a few turf horses, for they seem to do well on Keeneland's Polytrack and so could end up in the Derby. Most of all, though, the list strives to be informative, for in the end, no list can be definitive except the one the horses themselves create on the racetrack.

And so here are the 100 leaders and potential noisemakers, a vanguard of 20 with 80 also-eligibles, on the road to the Triple Crown:

1. Honor Code
Record: 3-2-1-0
Earnings: $388,000
Sire: A.P. Indy
Trainer: Claude "Shug" McGaughey

His potential and talent stood out last year. Although his inexperience was also obvious in all three of his races last year -- he broke slowly from the gate in his debut and again in the Champagne; he lost focus when he got to the lead in the Remsen -- it couldn't begin to obscure the raw ability and the possibility. Yes, the possibility that he could be the one to win the Kentucky Derby and, who knows, maybe more. He's in the hands of a masterful trainer who knows how to aim for the big moments and then hit them squarely. In preparation for his return to competition next month, he has had two workouts in Florida.

2. Cairo Prince
Record: 3-2-1-0
Earnings: $272,000
Sire: Pioneerof The Nile
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

The gray colt who lost the Remsen by the length of Honor Code's nose appears to have all the tools needed to be exceptional -- tactical speed, tractability, willfulness and stamina. And his talent is such that as a 2-year-old he sometimes trained in the company of an accomplished elder, Alpha. The winner of last year's Nashua Stakes, Cairo Prince will make his seasonal debut Saturday in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream.

3. Strong Mandate
Record: 5-2-0-1
Earnings: $432,900
Sire: Tiznow
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

The winner of the Hopeful Stakes by nine lengths, Strong Mandate gave what was arguably the best performance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, even though he finished third. He also has a pedigree and connections that inspire confidence: He's by a two-time winner of the Classic out of a millionaire mare, Clear Mandate, who won major stakes races up to 1 ¼ miles, and, of course, his Hall of Fame trainer has four Derby victories. Strong Mandate is stabled at Oaklawn Park preparing for the track's highly productive series of stakes.

4. Shared Belief
Record: 3-3-0-0
Earnings: $451,200
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

The champion juvenile of 2013 has won his three races by a total of 20 ½ lengths, including the CashCall Futurity by nearly six and the Hollywood Prevue by almost eight. Yes, he's fast. He's tractable and professional, too, and he has a Hall of Fame trainer and a celebrity owner. But Shared Belief also has a stride that includes a left hook, a pedigree that stirs doubt, and a formerly abscessed foot that forced him to miss some training. In other words, he's as intriguing as he is talented. Depending on the problematic foot, he could make his seasonal debut in early February, in the Robert Lewis Memorial at Santa Anita.

5. Commissioner
Record: 3-2-1-0
Earnings: $85,100
Sire: A.P. Indy
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

With two victories at 1 ⅛ miles, he's one of the few 3-year-olds for whom the classic 10-furlong distance of the Kentucky Derby isn't a question. A mile and a quarter? No problem. Commissioner stepped forward significantly in his more recent victory, moving boldly between horses in the stretch and then galloping out strongly beyond the wire. He showed more tactical speed and professionalism than he had as a 2-year-old, as well as an auspicious awakening of determination. The Fountain of Youth is probably next.

6. Tap It Rich
Record: 3-1-0-0
Earnings: $89,050
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Bob Baffert

Rallying from far back on a speed-biased surface to win his debut, he flashed his prodigious potential last October. Since then, however, he has had a disappointing Breeders' Cup, where he was rank and wide, and a debacle of a CashCall Futurity, where he seemed, well, demented and lost. After that, his Hall of Fame trainer in effect had to start all over with him. But Tap It Rich appears to be training sharply for his return.

7. Top Billing
Record: 2-1-1-0
Earnings: $31,935
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: Claude "Shug" McGaughey

Top Billing rallied from far back to win his debut by more than five lengths at Laurel while hardly seeming to get out of a gallop. And then, in is second start, at Gulfstream Park he rallied from last into a slow pace, running the fourth quarter-mile in 24.05 seconds, and finished second in a photo with Commissioner. His more celebrated stablemate, ironically enough, gets top billing, but Top Billing already has proven he's a runner, too. Saturday, in an allowance race in Florida, he'll make his third start.

8. Candy Boy
Record: 5-1-2-0
Earnings: $185,600
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: John Sadler

Like a perfect student, he improved steadily through his juvenile campaign, which culminated with a runner-up finish in the CashCall, where he moved boldly, if prematurely, to have a brief advantage at the top of the stretch. He's obviously one of the more talented and capable youngsters in California, and there appears room yet for more improvement.

9. Unknown Road
Record: 2-1-1-0
Earnings: $38,000
Sire: Bernardini
Trainer: Al Stall Jr.

Nine of the last 10 Kentucky Derby winners had raced around two turns by now -- that is, they stretched out and tried, generally with success, longer distances early in their careers, the exception being I'll Have Another. If not for a history that insists on the importance of an early introduction to two turns, Unknown Road might be rated even higher here. A half-brother to the champion Banshee Breeze, Unknown Road has yet to race beyond three-quarters of a mile, but his maiden victory in New Orleans, by 11 lengths, was sensational. Since then he has had three workouts, and he's entered in a two-turn race Friday at Fair Grounds.

10. Indianapolis
Record: 2-2-0-0
Earnings: $74,200
Sire: Medaglia d'Oro
Trainer: Bob Baffert

A $490,000 yearling purchase, he, too, hasn't raced beyond three-quarters of a mile but has looked sensational in his sprints. He won the recent San Pedro Stakes with a final quarter-mile in 23.83 seconds, completing the six furlongs in 1:08.80 and galloping out strongly. Also like Unknown Road, Indianapolis looks like he'll be able to stretch out; he has a dosage index, which is the ratio of speed to stamina in the first four generations of his pedigree, of 1.77, which suggests the presence of endurance influences.

11. Samraat
Record: 3-3-0-0
Earnings: $133,200
Sire: Noble Causeway
Trainer: Richard Violette Jr.

Samraat has won his three races by a combined 25 lengths. Yes, he has raced exclusively against New York-breds to this point and he's not going to turn heads with his classic looks, but he has run his opponents off their feet and has been so dominant that he raises the question of just how good he might be. Can he race with the best of his generation? Maybe, and he'll soon get the opportunity to prove it; he's reportedly aimed at the Withers on Feb. 1.

12. Coup de Grace
Record: 2-2-0-0
Earnings: $68,100
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Chad Brown

In his debut, he defeated Unknown Road and then he took a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream, and so Saturday he'll graduate into stakes company. Even though his pedigree insists he'll carry his talents around two turns, Coup de Grace rather looks like one of those powerfully built speedsters, an explosion that's always waiting for a spark. He's facing a major test Saturday that will probably determine his immediate career path. With an inside post position and sufficient speed to control the pace, he could upset Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull Stakes.

13. Matterhorn
Record: 1-1-0-0
Earnings: $45,000
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Purchased for $625,000 last year in Florida, he won his debut at a mile in one of the best and strongest maiden races of the year at Aqueduct. He rallied strongly in traffic and then drew clear. Most of all, though, in winning his debut he looked like a stayer, like the sort of horse who has a modicum of tactical speed but is going to excel at longer distances. He has had only a recent half-mile workout as he prepares for his return to competition.

14. Wicked Strong
Record: 3-1-1-1
Earnings: $113,000
Sire: Hard Spun
Trainer: James Jerkens

He already has become the wise-guy horse, a favorite among the astute and insightful investors in the short-term futures market -- maybe the Derby Futures, too. And that's based largely on his Remsen, where he finished full of energy despite running somewhat erratically down the lane, weaving in and out. But here's the eye-catcher, the rest of the story that usually goes unnoticed, the little detail that can make all the difference and prove golden: Beyond the wire, as if just getting warmed up, Wicked Strong galloped out beyond both Honor Code and Cairo Prince. Wicked Strong will make his first start as a 3-year-old Saturday, in the Holy Bull.

15. No Nay Never
Record: 3-3-0-0
Earnings: $368,819
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Wesley Ward

Now, here's a mystery wrapped in an enigma. After No Nay Never won his debut at Keeneland last April, he became a world traveler. He won a major stakes race at Ascot in June and then another at Deauville in August, where the "result rarely seemed in doubt," according to one rapturous report. So, is No Nay Never a turf horse? Maybe, but he appears to be training well in three workouts on the main track at Gulfstream Park. Is he just a sprinter? Possibly, but his pedigree is rather noncommittal on the subject. For the moment, he's simply exciting.

16. Midnight Hawk
Record: 2-2-0-0
Earnings: $87,000
Sire: Midnight Lute
Trainer: Bob Baffert

An impressive maiden winner, he took the Sham Stakes in only his second outing. Midnight Hawk has enjoyed an auspicious start to his career. But his Sham might not have been entirely genuine. While winning impressively, he beat only three horses, and he ran the final quarter-mile in 25.98 seconds. In other words, at this point, he still has some crucial questions to answer, as they all do, of course.

17. Tonalist
Record: 2-1-0-0
Earnings: $28,950
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Christophe Clement

Fourth despite a troubled trip behind Matterhorn in that key maiden race at Aqueduct, Tonalist made his second start recently at Gulfstream, where he advanced five-wide in the second turn and drew clear to win by four lengths. He looks like the sort of horse who'll continue to improve as he fills out, matures and, most of all, gets more distance.

18. Noble Cornerstone
Record: 2-1-1-0
Earnings: $86,000
Sire: Noble Causeway
Trainer: Wesley Ward

After a romping victory at Aqueduct, he traveled to Oklahoma to make his second start, in the Springboard Mile, where he rallied powerfully but finished second, just as Will Take Charge finished second in the same race a year ago. A powerful and handsome gelding, Noble Cornerstone looks as if he'll have no problem with added distance. He's training in Florida for his seasonal debut, which could come in the Risen Star Stakes in New Orleans.

19. Vicar's In Trouble
Record: 3-2-0-1
Earnings: $148,000
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Mike Maker

A Louisiana-bred with a sprinter's pedigree -- could such a horse win a classic? It's unlikely, but he could make plenty of noise along the way to Kentucky. Vicar's In Trouble won the recent LeComte Stakes by nearly seven lengths despite tiring and looking a bit green in the run down the stretch.

20. Intense Holiday
Record: 5-1-0-0
Earnings: $71,900
Sire: Harlan's Holiday
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Although fourth in the Remsen, he actually ran the fastest final three-eighths of a mile. He has encountered some trouble and unfavorable circumstances in his races, but he's probably better than his record. Most important, he's improving, according to his trainer. But he drew the far outside post position for the Holy Bull.

Also eligible

21. Havana
Sire: Dunkirk
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

His only defeat came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he seemed to be on his way to the winner's circle but then faltered in the final yards, inviting much skepticism about his ability to succeed at longer distances. On the other hand, he rated, controlled his speed. He's certainly going to make some noise on the road to the Triple Crown, probably starting with the Swale Stakes, but the expectation here is that he'll turn out to be a sensational sprinter and miler.

22. In Trouble
Sire: Tiz Wonderful
Trainer: Tony Dutrow

Sidelined with an injury after winning Belmont's Futurity, he could be higher on the list, but he only recently recorded his first published workout in Florida.

23. Danza
Sire: Street Boss
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

In the Saratoga Special, he came home as though he heard the dinner gong, finishing with a rush to be third. But he exited with sore shins and didn't race again as a juvenile. He's had three workouts in Florida in preparation for his return. He could be a runner.

24. Noble Moon
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: Leah Gyarmati

In his only loss, in the Nashua Stakes, he broke poorly and slowly from the gate, but he recovered to finish third. Most recently he won the Jerome, announcing himself to be, along with Samraat and perhaps Uncle Sigh, one of the top candidates for the Withers.

25. Mexikoma
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Richard Mettee

He rallied from far back, saved ground around the turn, angled out and closed strongly to finish less than four lengths back in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Lightly raced, he has the potential to develop into a major player.

26. Mr. Speaker
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: Claude "Shug" McGaughey

He has won half of his four races, but has raced exclusively on turf. His pedigree argues rather convincingly that he can be equally effective on dirt; if that's so, he could be tough Saturday in the Holy Bull Stakes.

27. Almost Famous
Sire: Unbridled's Song
Trainer: Patrick Byrne

After a dominating allowance victory, he was scratched from the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes the morning of the race because of a foot bruise. The speedy colt returns Saturday in the Holy Bull. How far can his speed take him?

28. Constitution
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Although he stumbled at the start, he quickly recovered to win his debut at Gulfstream Park. A $400,000 yearling, he obviously has considerable potential, not to mention quickness.

29. Surfing USA
Sire: Roman Ruler
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

A handsome colt with good speed, he stalked the pace and drew clear in his maiden victory, beating a good field. He'll also get a major test Saturday, taking on Top Billing in an allowance race.

30. Ride On Curlin
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: William Gowan

He has had moments of scintillating promise -- setting a track record at Ellis, finishing third in the Champagne, winning his first start of the new year at Oaklawn. But he has looked very ordinary at Churchill Downs: He's winless in three races in Louisville, two-for-three everywhere else.

31. Cousin Stephen
Sire: Proud Citizen
Trainer: Chad Brown

After a romping victory at Aqueduct, he finished fifth as the 8-5 favorite against Commissioner and Top Billing. But Cousin Stephen reportedly came out of that race with some respiratory congestion that could have affected his performance. His best is in front of him.

32. Bond Holder
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Fourth in the Juvenile and fourth again in the CashCall Futurity, he's obviously capable and, with perfect circumstances, might even pocket a significant stakes along the way to Kentucky; but at this point he seems a notch below the best of the group.

33. Bobby's Kitten
Sire: Kitten's Joy
Trainer: Chad Brown

He ran third behind two Europeans in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and has had two recent workouts in Florida to prepare for his turn. He might not be aimed exactly at the roses, but turf horses have enjoyed considerable success in the Blue Grass.

34. General A Rod
Sire: Roman Ruler
Trainer: Mike Maker

When he won the Gulfstream Park Derby in only the third start of his career, it represented a meaningful step forward for the lightly raced colt. In a demanding one-turn mile, he dueled with a speedster and persevered. He'll probably be better around two turns.

35. Conquest Titan
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse

When he lost his footing at the start of a race at Churchill Downs, it might have been the best thing that could have happened because in that instant the speedster who had faltered so badly in the Breeders' Cup became a stretch runner. And that style proved successful for him in his final start as a juvenile. He'll make his seasonal debut in the Holy Bull.

36. Mosler
Sire: War Front
Trainer: Bill Mott

The big colt who's a half-brother to Contested impressed with his maiden score last September, winning in hand and comfortably despite changing leads, or strides, three times in the stretch. He still has much to learn, of course. But the million-dollar yearling could become a major player; nevertheless, he doesn't look like a classic type, and if he's like his half-sister he could have difficulty beyond a mile.

37. Kristo
Sire: Distorted Humor
Trainer: John Sadler

He didn't surrender when passed in the Sham; on the other hand, he couldn't keep up through a slow final furlong. He might not want to run much farther than a mile.

38. Hartford
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

A $700,000 yearling, the tall gray colt won his debut at Gulfstream in easy, but slow, fashion. He looks like he'll enjoy more distance.

39. Gold Hawk
Sire: Empire Maker
Trainer: Steve Asmussen

After facile victories in his first two races, he disappointed in the LeComte Stakes, where he didn't want to load into the gate and then gave a dull performance. He's better than that.

40. Financial Mogul
Sire: Street Boss
Trainer: Richard Violette

Second in the Nashua Stakes, he ran with the best youngsters in New York last year and consistently performed well. Now, can he step up in the Holy Bull?

41. Louies Flower
Sire: Flower Alley
Trainer: Bret Calhoun

He finished his juvenile campaign with three consecutive victories, including the Springboard Mile at Remington Park. He's in Hot Springs, Ark., preparing for next month's Southwest Stakes.

42. Uncle Sigh
Sire: Indian Charlie
Trainer: Gary Contessa

He looks like a runner. He won by 14 lengths in his first attempt around two turns. He's ready to try stakes company.

43. Bayern
Sire: Offlee Wild
Trainer: Bob Baffert

He stalked a lively pace and then responded with a powerful run down the lane to win his debut at the difficult seven-furlong distance.

44. Rise Up
Sire: Rockport Harbor
Trainer: Tom Amoss

A romping winner of the Delta Jackpot, he also won a minor stakes at Mountaineer Park. The speedster has considerable talent, and it'll be interesting to see how he matches up with the leaders of the division or even if he attempts to take them on. So far, he's made a fortune avoiding them, and that prove a wise and profitable plan.

45. Baratti
Sire: Medaglia d'Oro
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

He got away with an easy lead in modest fractions in his maiden victory; still, he finished strongly and won by six lengths. That was his first race on Lasix after a troubled debut. He's certainly one to keep in view.

46. Roundupthelute
Sire: Midnight Lute
Trainer: Bob Baffert

His trainer said the colt's training "like a good horse," which is precisely what he appeared to be last fall, before a disappointing performance in the FrontRunner Stakes. He could give Baffert a stronger hand in California, or the Hall of Fame trainer could decide, as he has in recent years, to send some of his potential players traveling.

47. Charge Now
Sire: Tiznow
Trainer: Bill Mott

Unraced, this half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver is behind his rivals in terms of conditioning and experience, but he has been training steadily at Payson Park and could become rather boisterous by the time the Triple Crown trail turns into Baltimore.

48. Global View
Sire: Galileo
Trainer: Tom Proctor

A winner of two races on the turf, including the Generous Stakes at Hollywood, he appears to have considerable talent. Can he transfer that to the dirt? Maybe. To a synthetic surface? Probably.

49. Jose Sea View
Sire: Badge Of Silver
Trainer: Reade Baker

He was probably the best 2-year-old to race in Canada last year, where he won all three of his starts, including two stakes. His only loss involved Cairo Prince and a trip to Aqueduct.

50. Hy Kodiak Warrior
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: Agustin Bezara

Third to Commissioner and Top Billing, he has run well each time he has gone to the post, never finishing worse than fourth. He's another who looks like he'd appreciate a little trip to Tampa Bay.

51. Kendall's Boy
Sire: Sky Mesa
Trainer: Tom Amoss

Second to Havana in his debut, he won at Churchill and recently led throughout to win a sprint in New Orleans. He's obviously speedy, but his pedigree suggests his endurance might be able to take him around two turns. His dam, Golden Damsel, made a living around two turns. Kendall's Boy is an intriguing and underrated colt in the hands of an outstanding horseman.

52. Matuszak
Sire: Bernardini
Trainer: Bill Mott

Fourth in the Jerome Stakes, he looks like the sort of colt who's going to continue to develop and improve as he grows and the distances stretch out. He might even make some noise down the road.

53. Medal Count
Sire: Dynaformer
Trainer: Dale Romans

He finished far back in the Breeders' Cup, but he recently won his turf debut (in a dead heat), and his trainer says he has "all the natural talent in the world."

54. Casiguapo
Sire: Sightseeing
Trainer: Mario Morales

Second in the Delta Jackpot, fourth in the Champagne, and second in the Hopeful, he never has run a poor race or given a bad performance, and he could make some noise on the way to Kentucky, but he seems a notch below the best of the group.

55. Kobe's Back
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: John Sadler

A stakes winner in his debut, he ran well in his return, in the Hollywood Prevue, but then he showed nothing in the CashCall. He might be a late-running sprinter.

56. Classic Giacnroll
Sire: Giacomo
Trainer: Lisa Guerrero

A late foal (May), he improved steadily as a juvenile and then finished second behind a nice horse in the Jerome in his first start this year. If he continues to develop, he could be a player in New York's stakes.

57. Lawmaker
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: Chad Brown

A winner of his debut, he ran fifth in the Jerome in only his second start. He has plenty of room for improvement and could be making some noise by spring.

58. Chelios
Sire: Distorted Humor
Trainer: Tom Proctor

In his debut, he ran second in a fast clocking at Santa Anita, and his pedigree suggests he could improve with distance.

59. Manhattan Johnnie
Sire: Roman Ruler
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally

He looked full of potential when he won his debut, defeating Wicked Strong. But then Manhattan Johnnie faded fast as the favorite in the Nashua Stakes. Which is the real form? Is he just a sprinter? He's in Florida preparing for a return.

60. Interchange
Sire: Fairbanks
Trainer: Thomas Clark

If not for being disqualified from a minor stakes, he'd be unbeaten. He's training in New Orleans for his return.

61. Candy Dandy
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen

After winning his debut last year at Churchill, he was the even-money favorite in the Saratoga Special, where he was injured. But he's training in New Orleans for his return.

62. California Chrome
Sire: Lucky Pulpit
Trainer: Art Sherman

The classy Cal-bred won the King Glorious Stakes by more than six lengths, but he seems to give his best efforts on synthetic surfaces.

63. Harpoon
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Just when it was starting to look as if he could finish second to anybody, he scored his maiden victory in flashy style. A $500,000 yearling, he has talent and potential. He looks like he might enjoy a trip to Tampa Bay.

64. Tapiture
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Asmussen

After some tough losses, he found the winner's circle after the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill. It wasn't an especially fast race, but he drew clear and won with professional style.

65. Tamarando
Sire: Bertrando
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

He always seems to be charging down the stretch, and from time to time his determination and the circumstances combine to put him in the winner's circle. He's probably more admirable than talented, and those horses he could beat with just his determination have improved.

66. C. Zee
Sire: Elusive Bluff
Trainer: Stanley Gold

He ran second in a fast Spectacular Bid Stakes and never has been worse than second in his brief career, but he probably won't have much success beyond a mile.

67. Alberts Hope
Sire: Run Away and Hide
Trainer: Mike Puype

Despite a troubled trip, he finished with a rush to be fourth in the Del Mar Futurity last September. He has had three workouts recently in preparation for his return and could make surface soon in California.

68. Cool Samurai
Sire: First Samurai
Trainer: John Shirreffs

Second to Wicked Strong in his debut, he then traveled to Santa Anita, where he rallied for a solid victory at a mile.

69. Commanding Curve
Sire: Master Command
Trainer: Dallas Stewart

After a slow start, he rallied strongly for his maiden score at Churchill. That was in November, and he has put up a series of solid works at Fair Grounds, most recently three-quarters in 1:14.80 last week, in preparation for his return.

70. Wired Bryan
Sire: Stormy Atlantic
Trainer: Michael Dilger

Included here even though he's essentially a sprinter and even though he hasn't raced or had a published workout since October, Wired Bryan is exceptional at distances up to seven-eighths of a mile, and he might be capable of making some success beyond that. He lost only twice last year, once in the mud and once by a nose.

71. Ami's Holiday
Sire: Harlan's Holiday
Trainer: Josie Carroll

One of the best juveniles in Canada last year, he's already proven around two turns, with a victory in the point-earning Grey Stakes in only his second start. But he hasn't had a workout since finishing third in the Display Stakes in early December.

72. Diamond Bachelor
Sire: War Front
Trainer: Patrick Biancone

A speedster in his first three races, he broke poorly in the Breeders' Cup and never had an opportunity to show his talent. Biancone thinks he has runner here.

73. Enterprising
Sire: Elusive Quality
Trainer: Tom Proctor

After winning the Eddie Logan Stakes on the grass, he traveled north to Golden Gate Fields for the California Derby. He couldn't catch a lone speedster, but he finished with energy and determination to be second. He's both versatile and talented.

74. Germaniac
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Timothy Tullock

He has won three of his five races, including the recent Frank Whiteley Stakes at Laurel, where he seemed to cruise on the lead with a long loping stride before drawing off to win by more than six lengths in a rather fast clocking for the day. He could raise a ruckus in Maryland.

75. Storming Inti
Sire: Stormy Atlantic
Trainer: Chad Brown

Storming Inti has won four consecutive races, including three stakes, two on turf and one on Gulfstream Park's sloppy main track. He might be as good as he is versatile.

76. Tashir
Sire: Afleet Alex
Trainer: Gennadi Dorochenko

He had shown some ability as a juvenile, finishing close in some minor stakes in Delaware. But he took his game up a peg with his recent victory at Calder, by more than nine lengths, in a fast clocking.

77. Paganol
Sire: Tiz Wonderful
Trainer: Cody Autrey

Despite a slow start, he won his debut at Oaklawn Park over a strong group, and now he's preparing for nest month's Southwest Stakes.

78. Exit Stage Left
Sire: Noonmark
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

He remained undefeated with his victory in the California Derby. But all his wins have been over Golden Gate's Tapeta surface.

79. Street Strategy
Sire: Street Sense
Trainer: Randy Morse

Second by a nose to Paganol in his debut despite a wide trip, he looks like he could step forward significantly in his next outing, especially if it's around two turns.

80. Wry
Sire: Distorted Humor
Trainer: Gary Hartlage

His dam, High Heels, won the Fantasy Stakes and ran third in the Kentucky Oaks, and so when Wry won by three lengths last year at Churchill, he stirred up some high expectations. But he hasn't raced since then, nor has he had any recent workouts. But he's included here simply because of the high intrigue factor.

81. Albano
Sire: Istan
Trainer: Larry Jones

A half-brother to the stakes winner Mark Valeski, he won the Sugar Bowl Stakes, but then finished nearly seven lengths behind the Vicar in his first attempt around two turns.

82. Ria Antonia
Sire: Rockport Harbor
Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart

The winner via disqualification of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, she's aimed at taking on the "boys" in New Orleans. But she probably isn't even the most talented filly there, and if she doesn't have the talent necessary to take on the best colts she could soon find herself on a more traditional path leading in the general direction of the Oaks.

83. Boji Moon
Sire: Cactus Ridge
Trainer: Chris Richard

After winning his first three outings, he disappointed as the favorite in both the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland and the Springboard Mile at Remington. He's training at Oaklawn Park.

84. Dobra Historia
Sire: Unbridled's Song
Trainer: Bill Mott

He showed flashes of talent as a juvenile, especially in his maiden victory at Keeneland, and always indicated distance would not be a problem. Maybe a return to Keeneland would mean a return to the winner's circle.

85. Bourbonize
Sire: Tiz Wonderful
Trainer: Kellyn Gorder

He won his debut at Churchill and then stretched out successfully at Oaklawn Park, albeit in a slow race in the slop. He could be ready to try stakes company next.

86. Cleburne
Sire: Dixie Union
Trainer: Dale Romans

Injured with what his trainer described as a "cracked shin" after he won the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill, he recently resumed training but would seem to be far behind at this point on the road to the Triple Crown.

87. Coastline
Sire: Speightstown
Trainer: Mark Casse

He looked like he could develop into a major player when he won the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill, but he ran poorly in the Delta Jackpot after a stumbling start and recently finished third as the favorite in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park.

88. East Hall
Sire: Graeme Hall
Trainer: William Kaplan

Although not blessed with abundant talent, he's proving to be a tough and consistent performer who never gives a poor effort. He finished third, for example, in the Gulfstream Park Derby. He could make some noise if he finds some softer spots.

89. Best Plan Yet
Sire: Hear No Evil
Trainer: Stanley Gold

A two-time stakes winner at Calder, he ran miserably in the Gulfstream Park Derby, but he gets a chance to make amends in the Holy Bull.

90. Smack Smack
Sire: Closing Argument
Trainer: Don Von Hemel

He raced wide and finished fast to be third in the Springboard Mile. Before that, he had won four of his first five outings for his celebrity owner, Toby Keith.

91. Wildcat Red
Sire: D'Wildcat
Trainer: Jose Garoffalo

Not many sprinters are included in this list of 100 simply because the new points system reduces their impact on the Triple Crown, but Wildcat Red could be an exception. He's fast, and he can sustain his run. He has lost only twice, once by disqualification and the recent one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby by a head.

92. Tanzanite Cat
Sire: Graeme Hall
Trainer: Cody Autrey

Although the Smarty Jones Stakes wasn't especially fast or strong, Tanzanite Cat's victory was impressive simply because it was his first effort around two turns -- he had only raced 5 ½ furlongs until then -- and only his third start. The son of an Arkansas Derby winner, he could still improve significantly.

93. Smart Cover
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Dale Romans

Sidelined with a saucer fracture after finishing second in the Iroquois, he has resumed training but would seem to be far behind.

94. Walt
Sire: Run Away And Hide
Trainer: Chris Hartman

Fourth in the Springboard Mile and third in the Smarty Jones Stakes, he has proven to be game and determined, but he looks like he might be best at about a mile.

95. Culprit
Sire: Street Sense
Trainer: Dale Romans

He looked promising in his maiden win, where he defeated Tapiture, but then he showed nothing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He's training in Florida for his return.

96. Day of Fury
Sire: Street Sense
Trainer: Bob Baffert

After a series of sharp workouts, he ran greenly as the favorite in his debut and finished up the track. He's obviously better than that sixth-place finish suggests and could show his talent a little farther down the road

97. Texas Ryano
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: Carla Gaines

A handsome chestnut, he rallied from last to win his debut recently while racing on the turf at Santa Anita. He looks like he has a bright future, and his pedigree suggests it doesn't have to be confined to turf.

98. Grand Arrival
Sire: Harlan's Holiday
Trainer: Nick Zito

A $200,000 yearling, he looked like he had a bright future when he won by more than six lengths at Saratoga. But he has done little or nothing since. Will he find his form Saturday at Gulfstream?

99. Our Caravan
Sire: Daaher
Trainer: Michael Dilger

He charged home to win his debut by three lengths, but running in the Holy Bull represents an aggressive move. Of course, it'll be a brilliant move if it works.

100. Fire Starter
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Hobby

After winning by more than 10 lengths at Laurel, he made his stakes debut in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, where he finished fifth. But he had trouble and raced greenly, and then he galloped out strongly. Like most of us, this colt might be okay once he figures out the meaning of all this running in circles.