Kentucky Derby 2015 Contenders

This is my first in a series of blogs devoted to Kentucky Derby 2015 contenders. Once again, I am getting an early start in September, and there will be many twists and turns in the weeks and months ahead.

Kentucky Derby 2015 logo

Kentucky Derby 2015 logo

9 of the last 14 Kentucky Derby winners graduated by October 4, including 6 of the last 8. Kentucky Derby 2012 hero I’ll Have Another captured his career debut at Hollywood Park on July 3 of his juvenile season.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb lost his first three juvenile outings. He graduated at the Big A on November 24, 2012, his first of five straight wins, culminating in a scintillating off the pace tally under the Twin Spires on May 4.

Kentucky Derby 2014 winner California Chrome earned his diploma in his second career start ($100k Graduation – 5.5f) at Del Mar on July 31, 2013. He ended his juvenile season with an easy win in the King Glorious, the beginning of a 6-race winning streak that ended with a dead-heat for 4th in the Belmont Stakes.

Some of my original September Derby blog juvenile contenders panned out, like my early 2010-2011 Number 1’s Stay Thirsty and Alpha. Both won the G1 Travers during their 3-year-old seasons. Others turn out to be disappointments, such as Fortify and Purple Sky, my 2012 and 2013 original Number 1’s. The latter recently returned to action in a $40k claimer at Churchill Downs for Al Stall Jr.

An ideal Kentucky Derby contender would have a solid juvenile foundation, a long-winded pedigree, sharp graded stakes form, running style versatility, and winning connections. Strong pre-Derby works are the icing on the cake.

Graded Recaps

G1 Hopeful (90 BSF): Competitive Edge ran his record to 2-for-2 with an easy win over I Spent It, who was nine clear of the rest.

G1 Del Mar Futurity (101 BSF): The fastest of the early graded juvenile events was dominated by maidens (American Pharoah, Calculator, Iron Fist) exiting the same August 9 Del Mar affair (Om won by 7.25 lengths). American Pharoah, trained by Bob Baffert, was sired by my 2009 Derby horse Pioneerof The Nile.

G3 Iroquois (82 BSF): The first Derby points race was captured by Lucky Player and it was not an impressive race visually or by clocking standards. The winner defeated stablemate Bold Conquest (both trained by Steve Asmussen). Hashtag Bourbon was a troubled 3rd and might have been best. 4th place finisher Danny Boy was well clear of beaten favorite Mr. Z.

G3 Arl-Wash Futurity (85 BSF): Recount turned the tables on Private Prospect by a head with One Go All Go another head back in 3rd. The winner is a decent Illinois-bred.

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2015 Contenders

1. INTERNATIONAL STAR (Fusaichi Pegasus – Parlez, by French Deputy)international star silks

Trainer: Michael Maker – Owner: Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey

Comments: Romped in his turf sprint bow and was clearly second best in the Rockville Centre on dirt at Belmont second time out. He stretched out on turf in the G2 With Anticipation on Aug 28 at Saratoga and finished a troubled 2nd behind Startup Nation. International stallion Fusaichi Pegasus won the 2000 Kentucky Derby. Dam Parlez won a couple of 2003 dirt routes in Maryland, and dam sire French Deputy won the G2 Jerome in ’95.

2. SOUPER COLOSSAL (War Front – Soaring Emotions, by Kingmambo) souper colossal silks

Trainer: Eddie Plesa Jr. – Owner: Live Oak Plantation

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.60 (11/40) at Monbmouth on Sept 14.

Comments: 3-for-3 at Monmouth Park including stakes tallies in the Tyro and Sapling (86 BSF). War Front, sire of 31 stakes winners, captured the G2 Vanderbilt in ’06 and placed in numerous other graded sprints. Dam Soaring Emotions won a flat mile allowance turf race at Tampa Bay in ’09 for Clement, and dam sire Kingmambo won a couple of overseas Group 1’s in ’93.

3. STARTUP NATION (Temple City – Pennyrile, by Wagon Limit)startup nation silks

Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Klaravich Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :50.24 (6/12) at Saratoga (dirt training) on Sept 10.

Comments: Back-to-back late striding turf wins at 8.5f to begin his career including the G2 With Anticipation (85 BSF) at the Spa. His sire Temple City won the 2010 Cougar II at a mile and a half (Del Mar). Dam Pennyrile was stakes placed and dam sire Wagon Limit captured the ’98 G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

4. BLOFELD (Quality Road – Storm Minstrel, by Storm Cat)blofeld silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Glencrest Farm

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:03.98 (6/7) at Saratoga (dirt training) on Sept 15.

Comments: A length best (88 BSF) in his Aug 14 debut at Saratoga as the heavy favorite. Freshman sire Quality Road won multiple graded races including the G1 Florida Derby, G1 Donn, G1 Met Mile, and G1 Woodward. Dam sire Storm Minstrel was a multiple stakes winner in the Mid-Atlantic, and legendary dam sire and Grade 1 winner Storm Cat was 2nd in the ’85 BC Juvenile.

5. CARPE DIEM (Giant’s Causeway – Rebridled Dreams, by Unbridled’s Song)carpe diem silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm & Stonestreet Stables

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.64 (8/55) at Belmont (dirt training) on Sept 15.

Comments: Won like a good thing in his 5.5f bow from the rail at Saratoga on Sept 1. Champion stallion and 2000 BC Classic runner-up Giant’s Causeway sired 12 GSW’s in ’13. Dam sire Rebridled Dreams was graded stakes placed in ’03 and dam sire Unbridled’s Song won the G1 BC Juvenile in ’95, and the G1 Florida Derby and G2 Wood Memorial in ‘96.

6. AMERICAN PHAROAH (Pioneerof The Nile – Littleprincessemma, by Yankee Gentleman)american pharoah silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Zayat Stables

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.80 (7/53) at Santa Anita on Sept 15.

Comments: A fading 5th as the beaten favorite in his Del Mar bow but was a different horse when handed a clear lead from the inside post in the G1 Del Mar Futurity (101 BSF). Sire Pioneerof The Nile finished 2nd in the ’09 Kentucky Derby and sprinting dam sire Yankee Gentleman was 5th in the ‘03 BC Sprint.

7. COMPETITIVE EDGE (Super Saver – Magdalena’s Chase, by Cape Town)competitive edge silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Favreau, Psoinos, and Tabor

Comments: Cruised in both Saratoga starts including the G1 Hopeful (90 BSF). Freshman sire Super Saver won the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Dam sire Magdalena’s Chase was multiple stakes placed and dam sire Cape Town’s biggest score was the G1 Florida Derby in ’98.

INJURY UPDATE: On Sept 17, Competitive Edge sustained a a hairline fracture to his left foreleg.
He is done for the year and is expected to be out of training for 60 days.

8. CHIEF ISTAN (Istan – My Indian, by Indian Charlie)chief istan silks

Trainer: Larry Jones – Owner: Brereton C. Jones

Comments: Shook off pace foe and drew off in romping DelPark debut Sept 3. Multiple graded winning sire Istan is responsible for ’14 graded stakes winners Istanford and Albano. Dam sire Indian Charlie won his first four starts including the G1 SA Derby and his show finish in the ‘98 G1 Kentucky Derby was his career finale.

9. EL KABEIR (Scat Daddy – Great Venue, by Unbridled’s Song)el kabeir

Trainer: John Terranova II – Owner: Zayat Stables

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:00.22 (2/28) at Belmont on Sept 13.

Comments: 3rd to Blofeld in his Spa debut and was fast throughout in 10.75 length romp (93 BSF) at 7f on Aug 30. Stallion Scat Daddy sired 5 GSW’s in ’13. He won multiple graded races including the G1 Champagne, G2 Fountain of Youth, and G1 Florida Derby. Dam sire Unbridled’s Song won the G1 BC Juvenile in ’95 and the G1 Florida Derby and G2 Wood Memorial in ‘96.

10. I SPENT IT (Super Saver – Rateeba, by Sky Mesa)i spent it silks

Trainer: Anthony Dutrow – Owner: Alex and JoAnn Lieblong

Comments: Won first two outings including a professional effort in the G2 Saratoga Special (85 BSF). He could not keep up with Competitive Edge in the Hopeful and was clearly second best that day. Freshman sire Super Saver won the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Dam Rateeba went 1-for-10 in ’08 and dam sire Sky Mesa won the G1 Hopeful and G2 Breeders’ Futurity as a juvenile in ’02.

11. FROSTED (Tapit – Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister)frosted silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Racing

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48.48 (1/37) at Saratoga (dirt training) on Sept 12.

Current Entries: Frosted is entered in a MSW event (race 9, 6.5f) at Belmont Park on Sept 20.

Comments: 2nd to runaway winner Bayerd in his Saratoga debut Aug 23. Now stallion and multiple graded winner Tapit is responsible for ’14 Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist and G1 Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable. Dam Fast Cookie took the G2 Cotillion in ’03 and dam sire Deputy Minister won numerous graded races and was Champion 2-Year-Old in Canada and the U.S. in 1981.

Honorable Mention: (12) Om, (13) Bayerd, (14) Pride of Stride, (15) Iron Fist, (16) Wild Zambesi, (17) Calculator, (18) Today’s Agenda, (19) Bustin It, (20) Upstart

 

 

Woodward Stakes 2014 Video: Will Moreno go all the way again?

Saturday’s 12-race Woodward Day program from Saratoga Race Course includes four graded events.

The first graded event is the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch (5th race). Horse of the Year Wise Dan returns to action as your 3-5 morning line favorite. A strong performance will have him on course for yet another shot at the BC Mile.

The Grade 2 Prioress (8th race) features some runners from the G1 Test but I am looking for fresh face Princess Violet to get the job done.

Romping Belmont Sprint hero Clearly Now loves seven panels and is fresh and ready to roll in the Grade 1 Forego (10th race).

Moreno seeks back-to-back grade one wire jobs at the Spa in the Woodward (11th race). Itsmyluckyday adds blinkers and tries to turn the tables on Moreno. Zivo goes after his seventh straight win for Chad Brown and he easily beat Moreno in the Suburban at Belmont Park in July.

Click here to view Saturday’s Pick 6 & Late Pick 4 Tickets from Saratoga Race Course

SATURDAY’S DEL MAR FULL CARD (AUGUST 23) analysis is now available to purchase for $10 at:

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Today’s Racing Digest

Travers 2014 Video: Will Bayern Steal the Mid-Summer Derby?

Saturday’s 14-race Travers Day program from Saratoga Race Course includes four graded events.

The first graded event is the Grade 2 Ballston Spa (race 9). They were off the turf Friday and the course condition might be less than firm. I used to be a fan of Centre Court but she has been inconsistent lately and cannot be trusted. Filibi is the now horse. Strathnaver can surprise with clear sailing.

The Grade 1 King’s Bishop (race 10) figures to have a contested pace and Coup de Grace might be the major beneficiary. A couple of contenders have questions to answer. Can Wildcat Red win away from the Gulf? Is The Big Beast ready for prime time?

The Grade 1 Ballerina (race 11) is an interesting handicapping challenge. My Miss Aurelia can improve 2nd off the shelf and turn the tables on Better Lucky. Artemis Argotera is a viable threat if she can overcome the rail.

The main event on Saturday is the Grade 1 Travers (race 12) for three-year-olds traveling a mile and a quarter on the main track. Morning line favorite Bayern is the one to catch. 1-2 Jim Dandy finishers Wicked Strong and Tonalist figure to enjoy the ten furlong distance.

Click here to view Saturday’s Pick 4 Tickets (Races 9-12 & Races 11-14) from Saratoga Race Course

SATURDAY’S DEL MAR FULL CARD (AUGUST 23) analysis is now available to purchase for $10 at:

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Fourstardave 2014 Video: Can anyone catch Silver Max?

Saturday’s program from Saratoga Race Course features a Pick 6 carryover of more than $88k. The Pick 6 begins with race six. The sequence includes five turf races and an extended sprint on the main track.

The feature race for Saturday, August 9  is the Grade 2 Fourstardave (10th race) for turf milers. Silver Max is the one to catch but Sayaad might soften him up. Look for Seek Again to stalk the pace with Jack Milton rallying late. My Fourstardave handicapping video is included below.

Click here to view today’s free Pick 6 & Late Pick 4 Tickets from Saratoga Race Course

SATURDAY’S DEL MAR FULL CARD (AUGUST 9) analysis is now available to purchase for $10 at:

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Whitney Handicap 2014 Video: Palace Malice strong favorite

My video race of the week for Saturday, August 2 is the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap Saratoga. It is carded as the 10th race for 3-year-olds and up traveling a mile and an eighth on the main track (Post Time- 5:46pm ET).

Even money favorite Palace Malice puts his perfect 2014 (4-for-4) record on the line.  Chinks in the armor are hard to find but if you are looking to topple him, he has been beating up on seconditis horses such as Goldencents, Normandy Invasion, and Golden Ticket. Also, 3 of his 4 wins this year have been around one turn (one mile), so perhaps he prefers that trip right now.

Moreno is the target but he does not like to win vs. this type. Itsmyluckyday should be close throughout but appears best up to 8.5f.

Will Take Charge likes this course-distance but was better late last year and early this year. Ditto Last Gunfighter.

Departing has upside with only two starts this year including a close 3rd in the G1 Stephen Foster.

Romansh is inconsistent and Golden Ticket has not won in quite some time.

Prayer for Relief seems a cut below.

Click here to view today’s free Pick 6 & Late Pick 4 Tickets from Saratoga!

SATURDAY’S DEL MAR FULL CARD (AUGUST 2) analysis is now available to purchase for $10 at:

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Today’s Racing Digest

 

Jim Dandy Stakes 2014 Video: Tonalist vs. Wicked Strong

My video race of the week for Saturday, July 26 is the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes from Saratoga. It is carded as the 10th race for 3-year-olds traveling a mile and an eighth on the main track (Post Time- 6:01pm ET).

Morning line favorite Tonalist makes his first start since spoiling California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes on June 7. He is prepping for the Travers and figures to attend tepid fractions.

Wicked Strong finished 4th in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont. He won the G1 Wood Memorial at today’s 9f distance and will add blinkers.

Legend is lightly raced and has tactical speed in a race lacking early zip. He might find himself on the early lead at a price.

Kid Cruz has been very busy lately and figures to be hurt by the race shape. Ulanbator and Commanding Curve are closers as well.

Cousin Stephen ran last in Friday’s Curlin Stakes and will scratch.

Click here to view today’s free Pick 6 & Late Pick 4 Tickets from Saratoga

SATURDAY’S DEL MAR FULL CARD (JULY 26) analysis now available to purchase for $10 at:

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Diana Stakes 2014 video: Alterite back in action

My video race of the week for Saturday, July 19 is the Grade 1 Diana Stakes from Saratoga. It is carded as the 10th race for fillies and mares traveling a mile and an eighth on the inner turf course (Post Time- 5:46pm ET).

Morning line favorite Alterite makes her first start in 8+ months for Chad Brown. She ran well in each of her three U.S. outings last year and figures right there if she is ready to roll off a long layoff.

Somali Lemonade looms the one to catch at a distance beyond her best. Emollient should make her presence felt throughout but is not as sharp this year. Consistent early-pressing filly Discreet Marq is an interesting contender at 5-1.

Solid Appeal, Abaco, Strathnaver, Caroline Thomas, Stephanie’s Kitten, and Tannery are all patient runners in a wide open turf heat. Stephanie’s Kitten was a close-up 3rd in this event last year but has disappointed in a pair of 2014 outings. Maybe she can bounce back 3rd off the shelf.

Click here to view today’s free Pick 6 & Late Pick 4 Tickets from Saratoga

SATURDAY’S DEL MAR FULL CARD (JULY 19) analysis now available to purchase for $10 at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest

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