03/25/2015 10:25AM

Jerardi: Searching for Derby prospects to use with Dortmund

Coady Photography
Firing Line, easy winner of the Sunland Park Derby, is an intriguing prospect for the Kentucky Derby.

We are five weeks away from the Kentucky Derby, and I admit to feeling confused. You ever look at a race over and over until all the horses start to look the same? You eventually get a headache and finally just move on to the next race. I am just about there with this Derby.

I still like Dortmund, but I can make a case for 10 other contenders to be part of the superfecta. I am looking for separation this weekend in Florida and Louisiana, next weekend in New York, Kentucky, and California, and some final inspiration from Arkansas.

There is certainly a possibility that American Pharoah blows away the competition in the Arkansas Derby and I have to reevaluate everything. Failing that, I am in no-man’s-land at the moment, caught between what I know and what I don’t know, the latter being much more prominent.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

I know Dortmund has not lost. I know he has run fast enough to win the Derby. I expect he will run beautifully in the Santa Anita Derby, which I will watch as always from courtside at the Final Four. Until then, I am plotting.

Let’s see about Upstart, Itsaknockout, and International Star on Saturday. Upstart has clearly done the most, has been the most consistent, and appears to have the highest upside. But you have to keep watching with an open mind.

Carpe Diem screams potential. If the Derby were won on bloodlines, he would be heading for the winner’s circle. I was totally impressed by Prospect Park’s late run when second to Dortmund in the San Felipe Stakes. Prospect Park, a son of Tapit, has the running style and perhaps the price to be a key superfecta horse for me. I love El Kabeir’s heart, but in my heart and on the numbers, I just don’t think he is going to be fast enough to win. But he could get a share of it because he is just so tough.

Firing Line gets more fascinating every time he runs. I understand that he beat nothing in the Sunland Derby, but each race is just a bit better visually than the previous one, and I love horses who win final preps with zero duress.

Could I decide on some horse not on this list to key in my supers? Yes, but that would depend on what we see in the next few weeks and what I hear Derby Week at Churchill Downs.

Could I change from Dortmund? I could, but I am not planning on it – unless something significant happens that makes me reconsider.

Hall of Fame choices

I don’t particularly understand why the Hall of Fame ballot includes horses, jockeys, and trainers. I am not quite sure how I am supposed to evaluate Craig Perret in relation to Lava Man, King Leatherbury vs. Chris Antley.

I do understand that the more people or horses I vote for, the less my vote actually matters. So, I voted for two horses and two people – Lava Man and Xtra Heat were the horses, Leatherbury and Perret the people.

I have no idea why Perret was not elected years ago. He was Jerry Bailey before Jerry Bailey, the best big-race jockey of his time. He just did not last as long at the top or ride as many great horses as Bailey eventually did. Like Bailey, Perret read a race like a player. If you wanted to bet on a Perret horse and hoped that horse would be placed in a certain spot to give the horse his best chance for success, you could count on him knowing that before you ever did and acting on it when the race started.

I have no idea why it took Leatherbury so long to get on the ballot. His sheer numbers alone should get him into the Hall easily, but who else had his best horse at the end of a career that has spanned seven decades and managed that horse as well as the King has managed Ben’s Cat? We all love the track because of the stories. Few have a better story than the man from Maryland, and nobody deserves to tell his story this August at Saratoga more than Leatherbury.