Kentucky Derby 2015 Contenders: International Star retains top spot

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

Kentucky Derby 2015 logo

Some of my highly regarded horses from the first September blog came back to run extremely well, including International Star, Blofeld, Carpe Diem, and American Pharoah.

Graded Recaps

G1 FrontRunner (101 BSF): In a virtual replay of the G1 Del Mar Futurity, American Pharoah was in complete control throughout. He is the deserving BC Juvenile favorite for Bob Baffert.

G1 Champagne (107 BSF): Daredevil was perfectly drawn on the outside and easily captured his second from as many wet track starts at Belmont Park. He clearly has talent and we will learn more when he faces quality foes on fast ground.

G1 Breeders’ Futurity (91 BSF): Carpe Diem dominated his eleven rivals for Johnny V-Pletcher. He is 2-for-2 lifetime and is a very promising prospect.

G3 Grey (66 BSF): International Star sat comfortably behind tepid splits before rallying nicely to win under a hand ride. The final number came back very low but the winner looked good from a visual standpoint.

G2 Futurity (100 BSF): Blofeld sat behind horses along the inside and won in a professional manner for Johnny V-Pletcher. This is exactly what you want to see in a young horse. Very promising colt.

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

Latest Published Workout: Breezed 4f in :50.20 (16/21) at Churchill (dirt training) on Oct 18.

Comments: Retains the top spot after a nice win in the G3 Grey at Woodbine on Oct 5. He looked good visually, rallying to win under a hand ride, but only received a 66 BSF. He picked up 10 Derby Points and the versatile sort has now run well on dirt, turf, and synthetic.

Derby Points (10)

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

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

Latest Published Workout: Breezed 4f in :48.60 (3/34) at Monmouth on Oct 19.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Glencrest Farm

Latest Published Workout: 4f in :48.34 (3/49) at Belmont (dirt training) on Oct 20.

Comments: Followed up his sharp Saratoga debut with a fast tally (100 BSF) in the G2 Futurity at Belmont Park on Oct 5. In the Futurity, he showed professional maturity, waiting for room behind horses along the rail without being intimidated. The G2 Nashua at Aqueduct on Nov 2 might be next.

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

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

Latest Published Workout: 4f in :48.33 (2/49) at Belmont (dirt training) on Oct 19.

Comments: Looked great from start to finish in sharp G1 Breeders’ Futurity score. WinStar says he is their best juvenile ever. He looks like a solid BC Juvenile contender.

Derby Points (10)

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Zayat Stables

Latest Published Workout: 5f bullet in :58.60 (1/42) at Santa Anita on Oct 20.

Comments: Back-to-back facile Grade I wins in the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner. His easy home court win at the BC Juvenile distance makes him the solid early favorite for that event. His promising stablemate One Lucky Dane could join him in the gate for the BC Juvenile.

Derby Points (10)

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

Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Klaravich Stables

Latest Published Workout: Breezed 5f in 1:03.57 (11/18) at Belmont (good inner turf) on Oct 19.

Comments: Two big turf wins to begin his career before finishing a flat 4th in the G3 Pilgrim at Belmont on Sept 28.

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

Trainer: Larry Jones – Owner: Brereton C. Jones

Latest Published Workout: 5f bullet in :59.40 (1/20) at Keeneland on Oct 6.

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.

8. DAREDEVIL (More Than Ready – Chasethewildwind, by Forty Niner) Daredevil silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Let’s Go Stable

Comments: 2-for-2 after easy win in the G1 Champagne. Both wins at Belmont on wet tracks so he still has some proving to do.

Derby Points (10)

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

Trainer: John Terranova II – Owner: Zayat Stables

Latest Published Workout: 5f in 1:02.14 (3/18) at Belmont (good inner turf) on Oct 19.

Comments: Bad start from the rail over wet footing cost him dearly in the G1 Champagne (well-beaten 4th). He showed plenty of promise at Saratoga and deserves another chance.

Derby Points (1)

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Racing

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (3/30) at Saratoga (dirt training) on Oct 21.

Comments: 2nd to runaway winner Bayerd in his Saratoga debut Aug 23, and he occupied that same spot at Belmont on Sept 20. Talented maiden should graduate soon.

11. LORD NELSON (Pulpit – African Jade, by Seeking the Gold) lord nelson silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Peachtree Stable

Comments: Smart Del Mar debut sprint win July 19 before finishing 4th to stablemate American Phaorah in the Sept 27 FrontRunner. Cruised to an easy win in the 6f Speakeasy Stakes (92 BSF) at Santa Anita on Oct 13.

Derby Points (1)

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

Injured Reserve

Competitive Edge – Hairline fracture (9-17-14). Out for rest of 2014.

Hashtag Bourbon – Ankle chip (left front). Could show up at Oaklawn Park in 2015.

Om – Hock injury. Out for rest of 2014.

 

 

Video Race of the Week: G1 QE II Challenge Cup from Keeneland

My video race of the week for Saturday, October 11 is the QE II Challenge Cup (9th race) from Keeneland. The Grade I affair is for 3-year-old fillies traveling nine furlongs on the soft turf course.

The QE II field has been reduced to seven following the defections of Aurelia’s Belle and Daring Dancer. G1 Del Mar Oaks winner Personal Diary figures to vie for favoritism with Chad Brown’s uncoupled duo of Minorette and Ball Dancing.

Click here to view Saturday’s free Pick 5 & Late Pick 4 Tickets from Keeneland!

SATURDAY’S SANTA ANITA PARK FULL CARD (OCT 11) analysis is now available to purchase for $10 at:

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Video Race of the Week: G1 Frizette and G1 Champagne from Belmont Park

My video race of the week for Saturday, October 4 is a juvenile double-header from Belmont Park. First up is the Grade 1 Frizette (race 6) for 2-year-old fillies, followed by the Grade 1 Champagne (race 8) for the boys.

Cavorting and Condo Commando figure to take the bulk of the wagering action in the Frizette. The Champgane drew a 6-horse field including Pletcher favorite Daredevil.

Click here to view Saturday’s free Pick 5 & Late Pick 4 Tickets from Keeneland!

SATURDAY’S SANTA ANITA PARK FULL CARD (OCT 4) analysis is now available to purchase for $10 at:

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Jockey Club Gold Cup 2014 video: Tonalist back at Belmont

My video race of the week for Saturday, September 27 is Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. It is carded as the 10th race for 3-year-olds and up traveling a mile and a quarter on the main track (Post Time- 5:50pm ET).

The 12-horse field includes 2014 graded stakes winners Micromanage (G3 Skip Away), Wicked Strong (G1 Wood Memorial, G2 Jim Dandy), Zivo (G2 Suburban), Tonalist (G2 Peter Pan, G1 Belmont), V. E. Day (G1 Travers), and Moreno (G1 Whitney).

Click here to view Saturday’s free Pick 6 & Late Pick 4 Tickets from Belmont Park!

SATURDAY’S SANTA ANITA PARK FULL CARD (SEPT 27) analysis is now available to purchase for $10 at:

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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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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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