Updated on 09/15/2011 2:37PM

Siphonic: Remember that name


NEW YORK - Since a whole lot can happen between December and May, it's good policy not to predict Kentucky Derby winners at this time of year. And, despite the fact that no one has ever confused me with Einstein, I will do my best to stick as close to that policy as I can.

However, in the wake of . This winter, Hofmans plans on staying put in California with *knockout victory in Saturday's Hollywood Futurity, I am strongly compelled to break a rule I just promised I would try to keep. So, to be as diplomatic as possible, let's put it this way: Siphonic is at the top of my list of probable winners of the 2002 Derby, and my list is short. Very short.

Siphonic couldn't have been more impressive Saturday. He showed the positional speed that almost all truly good horses have, but even in what was just his fourth career start, he showed the maturity to rate patiently. He showed all the requisite stamina and most importantly, he showed genuine talent.

Siphonic crushed a Hollywood Futurity field that included Fonz's, a gelding who was good enough to pop a 97 Beyer Speed Figure off a six-month layoff winning the Hollywood Prevue, and Officer, who, despite confirming distance limitations, was not that long ago thought to be the second coming.

Siphonic is the complete package. He sports a pedigree (by Siphon out of a Cherokee Colony mare) that says he will be effective at distances as far as races are written. He has a Hall of Fame jockey who has never ridden better in Jerry Bailey, and who will travel thousands of miles to stick with him. And, he has an outstanding trainer in David Hofmans, whose work getting Touch Gold to derail Silver Charm's Triple Crown bid in the 1997 Belmont Stakes on three feet is one of the most under-appreciated training feats in recent years.

One thing Siphonic doesn't have is a perfect record. He was third behind certain 2-year-old champion Johannesburg in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in his only defeat. But, Siphonic was stuck on the dead Belmont Park rail every step of the way in the Juvenile. Johannesburg, whose pedigree doesn't scream 1 1/4 mile, also has the double whammy of being the Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion - no Juvenile winner has won the Kentucky Derby and a 2-year-old champion hasn't won the Derby since Spectacular Bid. Put all those factors together and it only makes Siphonic's position next spring all the more enviable.

Even if Siphonic doesn't win the 2002 Derby, recent history tells us that he will still go on to do big things. The previous 10 winners of the Hollywood Juvenile (winners of the 1991 through 2000 runnings of the race) went on to account for five classic races, an astounding 11 other Grade 1 events, six Grade 2 stakes, and two Grade 3 races. Only two of the previous 10 winners of the Hollywood Futurity never won again.

The future success of Hollywood Futurity winners dwarfs that of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners, and also betters that of the two other important late-season 2-year-old stakes races, the Remsen and the Kentucky Jockey Club. Winners of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile from 1991 through 2000 subsequently accounted for only one classic event, only two other Grade 1 stakes, four Grade 2 races, and two Grade 3's. Twice as many Juvenile winners through this period - four - failed to win again.

Over the same period, Remsen winners went on to win four classic races and four other Grade 1's, six Grade 2's, and two Grade 3's. Four never won again. Winners of the Kentucky Jockey Club did not go on to win any classic events, but they did account for five Grade 1's, four Grade 2's, and six Grade 3's. One never won again.

So, if you haven't gotten to know Siphonic yet, as you should have, don't worry. You will be reading a lot about him in the future.

Now that all this year's major racing is done (the Malibu is still to be run opening day at Santa Anita, but it will not impact any divisional championships) here's what my Eclipse Award ballot will look like in the equine divisions:

Two-year-old male - Johannesburg (this and the Derby are separate issues).

Two-year-old filly - Tempera (she won when it mattered the most).

Three-year-old male - Point Given (in a walkover).

Three-year-old filly - Exogenous (tough call; deceased filly was a monster in blinkers).

Older male - Tiznow (Big Cap and Breeders' Cup Classic trump the rest).

Older female - Gourmet Girl (very weak division; two Grade 1 wins and two decisions over the other to win two Grade 1's, Lazy Slusan).

Sprinter - Squirtle Squirt (also won when it meant the most).

Male turf horse - Fantastic Light (all it took was one race).

Female turf horse - Banks Hill (only took one start to prove she was in a league of her own).

Steeplechase horse - Pompeyo (flawless in an abbreviated campaign).

Horse of the Year - Point Given.

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