Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Wicked Strong Rally

Wicked Strong threw his hat into the Kentucky Derby 2014 ring with a sharp late running victory in the Wood Memorial.

Wicked Strong, 3rd in the G2 Remsen as a juvenile, put his ugly Gulfstream Park form behind him, and he is not the first closer to loathe the Gulf only to reverse form on fair footing. I have been waiting for a late runner to shine in a Derby prep! He joins my list and is a viable threat from off the pace under the Twin Spires.

Wicked Strong horse

Wicked Strong wins 2014 Wood Memorial – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Samraat nodded Social Inclusion for the place. The former is an overachieving street fighter, and the latter is fast and talented but lacks seasoning.

Wood Memorial also-ran Kristo failed to earn enough points to make the Derby starting gate and drops off the list.

California Chrome continued his West Coast domination in the SA Derby and is the likely favorite at Churchill Downs in a few weeks. He is the fastest sophomore in the land but that does not always translate into a Derby win. I am not tempted to put him on top of my Derby rankings because I do not think that he is a ten furlong horse (read comments below).

Hoppertunity ran a winning race in the SA Derby but hooked a local speed demon and was clearly second best. The unraced juvenile has gotten plenty of stakes seasoning this year and is one I will consider in the Derby.

Candy Boy could not hang with the top two SA Derby finishers but fought hard for the show. I believe that he is best as a closer and is worth considering as a Derby rebound threat.

Saturday’s Grade I Arkansas Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com

My April 12 Blue Grass Day full card from Keeeneland is ready to purchase at:
The Runaway Horse
Today’s Racing Digest

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 2014 Contenders

1. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess) Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Derby Points (30)

Comments: The G2 Robert Lewis Stakes hero could not keep up with California Chrome in the SA Derby, ending up a disappointing 3rd. In retrospect, he was probably too fresh, and the eventual 1-2 SA Derby finishers were battle tested and ready to rumble. Candy Boy is best as a closer. He will never beat California Chrome at his speed game, especially at Santa Anita. He needs to run his CashCall race in the Ky Derby. Sit back and roll. I have no idea if he can go ten furlongs, but a fresh horse in the Ky Derby is much more valuable than a fresh horse in the SA Derby. He temporarily retains the top spot.

2. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio) Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.80 (3/8) at Oaklawn Park (slop) on April 7.

Derby Points (42)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and will wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

3. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister) Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 3f in:37 (2/4) at Oaklawn Park on April 8.

Derby Points (11)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel. The Arkansas Derby is next.

4. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love) california chrome silks

Trainer: Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Derby Points (150)

Comments: 6-for-10 lifetime and has clearly elevated his game at Santa Anita this year. If you are trying to beat him in the Kentucky Derby, look at his modest 10f pedigree and expected demanding pace in a 20-horse field. Also, a regression could be just around the corner following four big wins.

5. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull) Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Derby Points (24)

Comments: Skipping the FOY did not work out so well after a flat 4th in the Florida Derby. Only two preps in 5+ months means that he is fresh but fitness might be a serious issue on the first Saturday in May. No guarantee that he gets in on points.

6. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power) Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46 (1/40) at Santa Anita on April 3.

Derby Points (52)

Comments: G3 Sham hero followed up that win was a show finish in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, a clear, distant 2nd in the G2 San Felipe, and another clear place finish in the G3 Sunland Derby. He has qualified for the Kentucky Derby but is not quite top class in graded route races.

7. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.25 (11/24) at Palm Meadows on April 6.

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

8. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch) bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 7f bullet from the gate in 1:23.80 (1/5) at Santa Anita on April 6.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe. He returned to the work tab March 20 and is ready for the Arkansas Derby.

9. INTENSE HOLIDAY (Harlan’s Holiday – Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song) intense holiday silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing

Derby Points (93)

Comments: The late running Risen Star hero showed much more tactical speed in LA Derby place finish. I am not sure that he is a true top class (Grade 1) animal, but his late kick makes him a viable threat on the first Saturday in May.

10. COMMISSIONER (A.P Indy – Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold) commisioner silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.05 (8/24) at Palm Meadows on April 6.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: The long winded sort owns two wins at nine furlongs. Could not keep up from the rail over speed favoring ground in the FOY and rallied to finish a better than appears 3rd after a bad start in the G3 Sunland Derby. The Arkansas Derby is his next stop.

11. WICKED STRONG (Hard Spun – Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) Wicked Strong silks

Trainer: James Jerkens – Owner: Centennial Farms

Derby Points (102)

Comments: Clearly a different animal away from the Gulfstream Park highway. He showed ability as a juvenile and his Wood Memorial (104 BSF) was not a fluke. His late kick must be respected on Derby Day.

(12) Hoppertunity, (13) Samraat, (14) Chitu, (15) Constitution, (16) Wildcat Red, (17) Vicar’s in Trouble, (18) General a Rod, (19) We Miss Artie, (20) Ring Weekend

Pedigree Spotlight: Wicked Strong

Wicked Strong’s sire Hard Spun (Danzig – Turkish Tryst, by Turkoman) was on the Triple Crown trail in 2007, winning the G3 Lecomte and G2 Lane’s End, and finishing 2nd in the Kentucky Derby, 3rd in the Preakness, and 4th in the Belmont Stakes. His other stakes winners include G1 Alabama winner Questing and G1 Mother Goose winner Zo Impressive.

Wicked Strong pedigree

Hard Spun’s sire Danzig (by Northern Dancer) won all three career starts in New York. The influential stallion died in 2006 at age 29. He sired such prominent runners as Chief’s Crown (3rd ’85 Belmont Stakes), Stephan’s Odyssey (’85 Belmont Stakes runner-up), Danzig Connection (’86 Belmont Stakes winner), ’92 Preakness hero Pine Bluff, and Breeders’ Cup Mile winners Lure and War Chant.

Hard Spun’s dam Turkish Tryst (by Turkoman) captured 4 of 15 starts including the April Run Stakes.

Hard Spun’s dam sire Turkoman (by Alydar) was a multiple graded stakes winner of more than $2.1 million. His daughter Turko’s Turn is the dam of Preakness & Belmont hero Point Given, and another daughter (Sweet Damsel) produced Travers winner Colonel John.

Wicked Strong’s dam sire Charismatic (by Summer Squall) won the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness and finished 3rd in the Belmont Stakes.

Wicked Strong has classic influences sprinkled throughout his pedigree. He has the right patient running style to succeed on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Florida Constitution

Constitution secured a Kentucky Derby 2014 spot for Todd Pletcher & WinStar Farm following a neck victory over Wildcat Red in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

Constitution is now undefeated in three lifetime starts, all at Gulfstream Park in 2014. He is obviously talented, but has no 2yo foundation and is giving up a ton of seasoning to his Derby rivals. I don’t like him for the Derby but he is one to watch in other big races later this year.

Constitution

Constitution wins 2014 Florida Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Wildcat Red is an overachieving fighter with seven exacta finishes from as many starts, all at the Gulf. He figures to face pace pressure early and often on the first Saturday in May.

General a Rod continues to fly under the radar. The gem of consistency was an even 3rd on Saturday and looks the best prepared of the Florida Derby horses pointing to the Kentucky Derby. I will consider him a Derby contender if he trains well in Kentucky.

Cairo Prince finished a puzzling 4th in the Florida Derby. He did not necessarily have to win, and I was not surprised that he did not cross the line 1st, but I was expecting much more. He never got in serious contention and finished a flat 4th. Two races in 5+ months, including a lackluster final prep, may leave him short under the Twin Spires. He has 24 Derby points and is not guaranteed a starting spot at this stage.

Vicar’s In Trouble absolutely stole the LA Derby. The fast pace paper race never materialized and Rosie Napravnik walked the dog if effortless fashion. He is a talented LA-bred but his distance limitations will show up when he has to chase much faster fractions at Churchill Downs.

I thought Intense Holiday ran well considering the race shape. He closed strongly in the Risen Star but was much closer to soft splits this time. He should have gotten something out of his chasing runner-up effort and is still a viable Derby contender given his finishing kick.

Commanding Curve rallied for the show in his best Golden Soul imitation. He can be used in Derby exotics if he makes the gate.

Gold Hawk failed to qualify on Derby points and drops off the list. He has raw ability but has been slow to develop mentally. Will look for more from him down the road.

Keeping up with past “exceptional eleven” members, Schoolofhardrocks worked 4f in :49.40 (28/40) at Santa Anita on April 3. He is entered in Saturday’s G1 SA Derby.

My Wood Memorial Day Aqueduct full card analysis is ready to purchase! 

Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com

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 2014 Contenders

1. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess) Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:11.80 (4/26) at Santa Anita on March 29.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is next.

2. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio) Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00.80 (1/11) at Oaklawn on March 31.

Derby Points (42)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and will wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

3. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister) Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (5/21) at Oaklawn on April 1.

Derby Points (11)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel. The Arkansas Derby is next.

4. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love) california chrome silks

Trainer: Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46.40 (1/19) at Los Alamitos on March 29.

Derby Points (50)

Comments: 5-for-9 lifetime including three straight romps at Santa Anita. The overachieving CA-bred ran them off their feet in the G2 San Felipe (107 BSF) and is the SA Derby favorite. He is a great Cinderella story and will try to overcome his modest breeding on May 3.

5. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull) Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Derby Points (24)

Comments: Skipping the FOY did not work out so well after a flat 4th in the Florida Derby. Only two preps in 5+ months means that he is fresh but fitness might be a serious issue on the first Saturday in May.

6. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power) Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46 (1/40) at Santa Anita on April 3.

Derby Points (52)

Comments: G3 Sham hero followed up that win was a show finish in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, a clear, distant 2nd in the G2 San Felipe, and another clear place finish in the G3 Sunland Derby. He has qualified for the Kentucky Derby but is not quite top class in graded route races.

7. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47.40 (1/35) at Palm Meadows on March 30.

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will likely try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

8. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote) Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.40 (1/11) at Santa Anita Park on March 30.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe. He is entered in Saturday’s G1 Wood Memorial.

9. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch) bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (28/61) at Santa Anita on March 31.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe. He returned to the work tab March 20 and is training up to the Arkansas Derby.

10. INTENSE HOLIDAY (Harlan’s Holiday – Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song) intense holiday silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing

Comments: The late running Risen Star hero showed much more tactical speed in LA Derby place finish. I am not sure that he is a true top class (Grade 1) animal, but his late kick makes him a viable threat on the first Saturday in May.

11. COMMISSIONER (A.P Indy – Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold) commisioner silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm

Derby Points (10)

Comments: The long winded sort owns two wins at nine furlongs. Could not keep up from the rail over speed favoring ground in the FOY and rallied to finish a better than appears 3rd after a bad start in the G3 Sunland Derby. The Arkansas Derby is his next stop.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Cairo Prince

I am rooting for Cairo Prince to do well on the Triple Crown trail because his sire, Pioneerof The Nile (Empire Maker – Star of Goshen, by Lord at War), was my Derby horse in 2008, and I got to see him on a visit to WinStar Farm in 2013.

Pioneerof The Nile won half of his ten lifetime starts and banked more than $1.6 million. In addition to his Derby place finish, career highlights included wins in the G1 CashCall Futurity, G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, G2 San Felipe, and G1 SA Derby. America’s #2 freshman sire has a 2014 stud fee of $20k.

Cairo Prince bloodlines

I seem to really identify with these bloodlines, because Pioneerof The Nile’s sire Empire Maker (Unbridled – Toussaud, by El Gran Senor) was my Derby pick in 2003.He ended up 2nd on the first Saturday in May that year and turned the tables on Funny Cide in the Belmont Stakes five weeks later.

Empire Maker has sired U.S. champion, Royal Delta, and Kentucky Derby runner-ups Bodemeister and Pioneerof the Nile. He was exported to Japan in 2010.

Empire Maker’s sire Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1990 and sired 1996 Derby hero Grindstone and 2000 Preakness winner Red Bullet.

Empire Maker’s late, great Grade I winning dam Toussaud also tossed Grade I winners Chester House, Honest Lady, Chiselling, and Grade II hero Decarchy.

On the female side, Cairo Prince gets class from his mother Holy Bubbette (Holy Bull), a 6-timer winner (2 stakes wins) of more than $240k.

Dam sire Holy Bull was on the Derby trail in 1994, winning Horse of the Year and 3YO honors that season. He captured 13 of 16 career outings and earned more than $2.4 million, winning such prestigious races as the G1 Futurity, G1 Florida Derby, G1 Met Mile, G1 Haskell, G1 Travers, and G1 Woodward.

Cairo Prince owns a classy pedigree with many classic influences on top. His early-pressing running style keeps him out of trouble but he was flat off a layoff in his final Derby prep and might be a short horse at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Baffert’s Derby Push

Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity qualified for Kentucky Derby 2014 last week, and Chitu and Midnight Hawk join their stable mate after finishing 1-2 in the Sunland Derby on March 23.

Chitu was the post time favorite from the outside post and made his presence felt throughout under Martin Garcia. Midnight Hawk briefly went by him while three wide but Garcia never panicked and pulled clear again, crossing the line 2-1/4 lengths in from and earning a 102 BSF.

We Miss Artie

We Miss Artie surges late in an exciting Spiral Stakes victory – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Midnight Hawk was returning in two weeks and was clearly second best. Chitu also beat him in the Robert Lewis Stakes. Midnight Hawk is a gem of consistency but is not quite top class at distances beyond a mile.

Commissioner did not have much of a chance after stumbling at the start and leaving himself too much to do. He found his best stride late and ended up a better than appears 3rd. He only has 10 Derby points and will run next in the Arkansas Derby.

Chitu is built like a sprinter and adds even more pace to chase in the Derby. The top three Sunland Derby finishers have ability but I do not think we saw the Kentucky Derby winner in that field, unless Commissioner qualifies and flies home under the Twin Spires.

At Turfway Park on March 22, We Miss Artie surged very late to nip Harry’s Holiday and Coastline in a thrilling renewal of the Spiral Stakes (88 BSF).

We Miss Artie has proven quite capable on turf and synthetic but has failed to seriously threaten in a trio of conventional dirt tries. The Kentucky Derby is next, but if he struggles with the Churchill footing as expected, look for the Ontario-bred to switch gears and shoot for the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine (Sunday, July 6).

Harry’s Holiday was a late Triple Crown nominee and could be headed to the big dance.

Keeping up with past “exceptional eleven” members, Schoolofhardrocks worked 6f in 1:12.80 (4/16) at Santa Anita on March 28. It might be too much to ask at this stage, but the SA Derby is next. Look for more from him later this year.

This week’s key Kentucky Derby preps are the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

My LA Derby Day Fair Grounds full card analysis is ready to purchase!  

Saturday’s Grade 1 Florida Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com.

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 2014 Contenders

1. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull) Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.90 (59/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22. “He went great. We were looking for a 49ish, but it doesn’t matter. It was just a maintenance work, his last work. He did it great,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We’re all set for next weekend.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed to Honor Code in the slow early/fast late Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is the 9-5 moning line favorite for the Florida Derby (March 29).

2. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12.80 (4/15) at Santa Anita on March 22.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

3. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Derby Points (42)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and should wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

4. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 4f in :54 (38/39) at Oaklawn Park on March 26.

Derby Points (11)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel.

5. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love)california chrome silks

Trainer:  Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (7/31) at Los Alamitos on March 22.

Derby Points (50)

Comments: 5-for-9 lifetime including three straight romps at Santa Anita. The overachieving CA-bred ran them off their feet in the G2 San Felipe (107 BSF) and will either run in the SA Derby or train up to the Kentucky Derby. He is a great Cinderella story and will try to overcome his modest breeding on May 3.   

6. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Derby Points (52)

Comments: G3 Sham hero followed up that win with a show finish in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, a clear, distant 2nd in the G2 San Felipe, and another clear place finish in the G3 Sunland Derby. He has qualified for the Kentucky Derby but is not quite top class in graded route races.

7. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.60 (17/27) at Fair Grounds on March 24.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds Dec. 22. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. The LA Derby is his last chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

8. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City)Gala Award silks

Trainer:  Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.50 (40/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22.

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will likely try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

9. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.20 (3/44) at Santa Anita Park on March 24.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe. Listed in the NYRA barn notes as a possibility for the Wood Memorial.

10. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch)bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00 (8/38) at Santa Anita on March 26.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe. He returned to the work tab March 20 and Baffert is looking at the SA Derby or Arkansas Derby for his final Derby prep.

11. INTENSE HOLIDAY (Harlan’s Holiday – Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song)intense holiday silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49.40 (36/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22.

Comments: The G2 Risen Star hero joins the list because of his decent late kick in a Derby trail dominated by speed horses. Mike Smith will stick by his side for the LA Derby, and he will break from the rail as the 2-1 morning line favorite.

Pedigree Spotlight: Chitu

Does Chitu (Henny Hughes – Sea Gift, by A.P. Indy) have Kentucky Derby pedigree power?

chitu silks

Chitu’s sire Henny Hughes (Hennessy – Meadow Flyer, by Meadowlake) won 6 of 10 lifetime starts and banked more than $1.1 million. The talented sprinter captured the G2 Saratoga Special in 2005, and the G3 Jersey Shore, G1 King’s Bishop, and G1 Vosburgh in 2006. His biggest winner to date is Beholder, 2-time Eclipse champion and 2012 BC Juvenile Fillies and 2013 BC Distaff winner. The 11-year-old stallion was sold to Japan in 2013.

chitu pedigree

Sea Gift (A.P. Indy – Ocean Queen, by Zilzal) won her only start in 2005. Her sire, A.P. Indy, won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic. As a sire, he was responsible for well over 100 stakes winners.

Sea Gift’s sire A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Hennessy (Storm Cat – Island Kitty, by Hawaii) captured 4 of 9 starts and earned $580k. He made the grade in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Sapling, and Hopeful Stakes as a two-year-old. He sired 2001 juvenile champion Johannesburg. Unfortunately, Hennessy died of heart failure in Argentina in 2007.

Hennessy’s sire, Grade I winner Storm Cat (Storm Bird – Terlinga, by Secretariat), captured 4 of 8 lifetime starts and was 2nd in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the Big A. The legendary stallion stood for 20 years and sired more than 100 graded stakes winners. He died in 2013 at age 30 and is buried at Overbrook Farm.

Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird (Northern Dancer) was a European champion. He sired 63 stakes winners (Summer Squall, Bluebird) before his death in 2004 at age 26.

Chitu is built like a sprinter and has successfully carried his speed nine furlongs. This is the wrong year to have a speedy sophomore and he figures to struggle with ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: A Golden Hoppertunity

Hoppertunity made the most of his Kentucky Derby 2014 prep opportunity in a rough renewal of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Hoppertunity horse

Hoppertunity is Bob Baffert’s latest Kentucky Derby contender – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Hoppertunity and Tapiture were doing their best impression of “the bump”, and there was no change to the original order of finish despite an inquiry and objection.

Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity, unraced as a juvenile, came into the Rebel off a rallying 4th in the Risen Star, but new pilot Mike Smith had him much closer to the pace this time. Baffert owns Oaklawn Derby preps and the Rebel was no exception. Hoppertunity’s sire, Any Given Saturday, was my Derby horse in 2007.

Tapiture had a perfect trip in the Southwest but took the worst of it in the Rebel. He was rank and unhappy with mud in his face along the inside and behind horses. He bullied his way into contention and ended up a fine 2nd.

Ride On Curlin mixed it up on the front end with Strong Mandate and outfinished the latter for the show. The average fractions allowed Ride On Curlin to hang in there.

I was expecting Strong Mandate to rate and finish, but Rosario had him up close due to moderate fractions. I wish he would have gone on with it like California Chrome did in the San Felipe. The modest pace kept the top four bunched up from start to finish. He remains on my list but drops a few spots.

Keeping up with past “exceptional eleven members, Kendall’s Boy worked 4f in :48.40 (2/35) at Fair Grounds on March 16. He is entered in the $100k Gazebo Stakes at Oaklawn on March 22. Misconnect drilled a 3f bullet in :36.20 (1/12) at Crupi’s New Castle Farm on March 22, and Schoolofhardrocks traveled 5f in :59.20 (4/56) at Santa Anita Park.

This weekend’s key Kentucky Derby preps are the Spiral Stakes and Sunland Derby.

Spiral Stakes Quick Picks: (1) We Miss Artie, (2) Coastline, (3) Tamarando, (4) Big Bazinga

Listen to my analysis of the Sunland Derby on the Fast Track radio show Sunday morning (10am ET).

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 2014 Contenders

HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)Honor Code horse silks

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

UPDATE (March 23): From DRF’s Mike Welsch – Honor Code off the Triple Crown trail with a slight tear in right hind upper suspensory. Will be re-evaluated in 60 days according to McGaughey. Stay tuned for new Derby #1.

2. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.90 (59/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22. “He went great. We were looking for a 49ish, but it doesn’t matter. It was just a maintenance work, his last work. He did it great,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We’re all set for next weekend.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed to Honor Code in the slow early/fast late Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25 and is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29). A majority interest in Cairo Prince was sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley operation. He will remain with McLaughlin but run in the colors of Godolphin Stable.

3. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout (update): 6f in 1:12.80 (4/15) at Santa Anita on March 22.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

4. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Derby Points (42)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and should wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

5. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Derby Points (11)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel.

6. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love)california chrome silks

Trainer:  Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (7/31) at Los Alamitos on March 22.

Derby Points (50)

Comments: 5-for-9 lifetime including three straight romps at Santa Anita. The overachieving CA-bred ran them off their feet in the G2 San Felipe (107 BSF) and will run in the SA Derby. He is a great Cinderella story and will try to overcome his modest breeding on May 3.   

7. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.20 (8/46) at Santa Anita on March 17.

Derby Points (32)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph (blinkers off). He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes and was clearly second best in the San Felipe. He continues to rack up Derby points but still needs to develop mentally. Saturday’s Sunland Derby is next and he is the 5-2 morning line favorite.

8. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12 (1/3) at Fair Grounds on March 17.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds Dec. 22. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. The LA Derby is his last chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

9. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City)Gala Award silks

Trainer:  Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Latest Workout (Update): 4f breeze in :49.50 (40/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22.

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will likely try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

10. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.60 (8/31) at Santa Anita Park on March 17.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe.

11. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch)bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (7/47) at Santa Anita on March 20.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe. He returned to the work tab March 20 and Baffert is looking at the SA Derby or Arkansas Derby for his final Derby prep.

Pedigree Spotlight: Hoppertunity

Hoppertunity silks

Hoppertunity (Any Given Saturday – Refugee, by Unaccounted For) tries to become the first unraced juvenile to win the Kentucky Derby since Apollo in 1882.

Hoppertunity’s sire Any Given Saturday (Distorted Humor – Weekend in Indy, by A.P. Indy) was my Derby horse in 2007 and he ended up 8th that day. Later that year, he captured the G2 Dwyer, G1 Haskell, and G2 Brooklyn. He has been a disappointment in the breeding shed but a Derby win by Hoppertunity would certainly boost his portfolio.

Hoppertunity pedigree

Any Given Saturday’s dam Weekend in Indy has A.P. Indy on top and Spectacular Bid on the bottom of her pedigree. She raced for James Bond in New York, winning one of eleven lifetime starts.

Any Given Saturday’s sire Distorted Humor (Forty Niner – Danzig’s Beauty, by Danzig) banked more than $769k in his career, winning such races as the G3 Salvator Mile, G2 Commonwealth, and G3 Ack Ack. He currently stands at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky for a stud fee of $100k. He has sired 119 stakes winners including Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner Funny Cide, Belmont Stakes/BC Classic hero Drosselmeyer, Travers hero and BC Classic runner-up Flower Alley (sire of Derby winner I’ll Have Another), 2-time G1 Whitney hero Commentator, and G1 Haskell winner Any Given Saturday.

Distorted Humor’s sire Forty Niner (by Mr. Prospector) was the 1987 Juvenile Champion. The ’88 Kentucky Derby runner-up won multiple stakes races as a 3YO including the G1 Travers and G1 Haskell. He was North American’s leading freshman sire in 1992 and sired ‘96 Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note. The sire of sires was whisked away to Japan in 1995 for a cool $10 million and was pensioned in 2007.

Forty Niner’s late, great sire Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native) won 7 of 14 starts including the Whirlaway and Gravesend Handicaps in 1974.

Legendary “Sire of sires” Mr. Prospector is one of the most influential horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, siring 181 stakes winners (47 Grade 1 or Group I winners) and 16 champions.

Distorted Humor’s dam Danzig’s Beauty won the G3 Gardenia and finished 2nd in the G1 Acorn.

Danzig’s Beauty’s sire Danzig (by Northern Dancer) won all three career starts in New York. The influential stallion died in 2006 at age 29. He sired such prominent runners as Chief’s Crown (3rd ’85 Belmont Stakes), Stephan’s Odyssey (’85 Belmont Stakes runner-up), Danzig Connection (’86 Belmont Stakes winner), ’92 Preakness hero Pine Bluff, and Breeders’ Cup Mile winners Lure and War Chant.

Hoppertunity’s dam Refugee won 3 of 13 outings and finished 3rd in the G2 Orchard at the Gulf in 2002.

Refugee’s sire Unaccounted For won 6 of 13 starts (Jim Dandy, Whitney) and banked more than $998k. He had a successful stud career in Turkey before his death in 2013.

Hoppertunity has history against him but is on the upswing, has Classic influences in his pedigree, and Baffert knows how to win the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: California Code

Kentucky Derby 2014 contender California Chrome put together a complete performance in the Grade II San Felipe and has now won three straight in romping fashion at Santa Anita. The wire job winner earned a lofty 107 BSF and the CA-bred might be the best of the sophomore speed horses. He might go to the SA Derby next. There is talk about training up to the first Saturday in May.

California Chrome

California Chrome joins the list after a sharp wire job win in the San Felipe – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Midnight Hawk did not have the best break and was forced to chase California Chrome from the outset. He was run into the ground but never gave up and finished well clear of the rest. He probably has distance limitations but I want to see what he can do when he puts it all together mentally and physically.

Kristo rallied to finish a non-threatening 3rd in the San Felipe, his first start since landing the place in the Sham Stakes on Jan. 11, and only his second start in more than four months. He tried rating tactics on Saturday and it was a schooling experience at the very least. He is earning Derby points but needs to step up his game and fast.

Schoolofhardrocks was a well-beaten 4th in the San Felipe. He has talent but was thrown to the wolves off a long layoff in his second lifetime start. I would like to see him work his way through the allowance ranks and return to graded company later this year.

Another Derby prep…another wire job winner. Add Ring Weekend to the speed list after going all the way in the Tampa Bay Derby for Graham Motion. The improving, gelded son of Tapit has won two straight and earned a 94 BSF for his victory on Saturday. Sam Davis hero Vinceremos was 2nd best for Todd Pletcher, with Surfing U S A (Todd Pletcher) and Conquest Titan (Mark Casse) rounding out the top four.

Honor Code made his much anticipated two turn allowance return at the Gulf on March 12 but Social Inclusion stole his thunder in the compact field.

Speed rules in 8.5f races at Gulfstream and Social Inclusion had no problem making an easy lead from the rail. He ran fast throughout, setting a new track record and earning a 111 BSF. The promising son of Pioneerof The Nile could end up in the Florida Derby and would definitely impact the pace in that affair. He was unraced as a juvenile but is quickly making up for lost time with back-to-back facile wins. He does not have the seasoning to handle ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May and is yet another in a long line of quality speed horses in the sophomore division.

It was an inconclusive effort for Honor Code but he was lucky to participate in a legitimately run two turn race with only five entrants. This race had no Derby points attached and was an obvious stepping stone to much bigger things. The talented late runner was forced to chase the pace on Wednesday and was never going to catch the runaway winner. He was miles best of the rest and figures to move way up in his final Derby prep. If you like this one, do not abandon ship. Shug knows what it takes to win the Derby and understands that an 8.5f allowance race in mid-March is a means to an end.

Kendall’s Boy worked for the first time since flopping in the Southwest Stakes. He went 4f in :48 (4/73) at Fair Grounds on March 9.

Misconnect, an original “elite eleven” member dropped due to inactivity, is back on the worktab. He went an easy 3f in :38.60 (3/3) at Crupi’s New Castle Farm on March 14. He obviously won’t join the Triple Crown chase but is worth following later this year.

Add another to the ever growing IR. First it was Shared Belief (foot injury), followed by Indianapolis (cough), Havana (quarter crack), and Bayern (foot bruise). Last Saturday, Top Billing came out of a workout with a cracked cannon bone in his right front and is off the Triple Crown trail.

Each week that goes by, we add more potential quality speed to the first Saturday in May. Wildcat Red & General A Rod, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and In Trouble, plus Albano, California Chrome, Midnight Hawk, Tapiture, Ring Weekend, Social Inclusion, and a handful of others like to run on or very near the lead…something has to give!

This week’s big Derby prep is the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn Park, which features a rematch of 1-2 Southwest finishers Tapiture and Strong Mandate.

Listen to my analysis of the San Felipe Stakes on the Fast Track radio show Saturday morning (10am ET).

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 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat) Honor Code horse silks

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Shug’s late runner remains on top after an inconclusive distant place finish in his allowance return. Last year’s Remsen hero owns a strong late punch and I want to see what he can do when he sits back and makes a run in the graded ranks next time.

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister) Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.60 (10/17) at Oaklawn Park on March 6.

Derby Points (6)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in 49.45 (34/73) at Palm Meadows on March 8. “It was just what we ordered and wanted to see,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He looked great doing it, and we’re on course for the race. The reason we backed up and went slower is because we can’t go 59 and four every week or there will be not much left of him. We were real happy with the work. He’s doing great.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed to Honor Code in the slow early/fast late Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29). A majority interest in Cairo Prince was sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley operation. He will remain with McLaughlin but run in the colors of Godolphin Stable.

4. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess) Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.40 (2/57) at Santa Anita on March 14.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

5. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio) Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.20 (12/27) at Oaklawn Park on March 10.

Derby Points (22)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.

6. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love) california chrome silks

Trainer:  Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Derby Points (50)

Comments: 5-for-9 lifetime including three straight romps at Santa Anita. The overachieving CA-bred ran them off their feet in the G2 San Felipe (107 BSF) and will either run in the SA Derby or train up to the Kentucky Derby. He is a great Cinderella story and will try to overcome his modest breeding on May 3.   

7. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power) Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Derby Points (32)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph (blinkers off). He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes and was clearly second best in the San Felipe. He continues to rack up Derby points but still needs to develop mentally.

8. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory) Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01 (3/21) at Fair Grounds on March 10

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

9. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer:  Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will likely try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

10. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote) Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe.

11. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch) bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (18/65) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe Stakes. Baffert said he is considering both the Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby for his final Derby prep.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Honor Code

Honor Code’s sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic. As a sire, he was responsible for well over 100 stakes winners.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

honor code pedigree

Honor Code’s dam Serena’s Cat (Storm Cat – Serena’s Tune, by Mr. Prospector) went 4-for-12 in 2005-07 and won the Klassy Briefcase Stakes at Monmouth in ’07. She is also the dam of Grade II turf winner Noble Tune.

Grade I winner Storm Cat (Storm Bird – Terlinga, by Secretariat) captured 4 of 8 lifetime starts and was 2nd in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the Big A. The legendary stallion stood for 20 years and sired more than 100 graded stakes winners. He died in 2013 at age 30 and is buried at Overbrook Farm.

Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird (Northern Dancer) was a European champion. He sired 63 stakes winners (Summer Squall, Bluebird) before his death in 2004 at age 26.

Serena’s Tune (Mr. Prospector – Serena’s Song, by Rahy), foaled in 1998, was a stakes winner at age 3 and 4. The late mare was a half-sister to graded and/or group winners Grand Reward, Harlington, and Sophisticat.

Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native) won 7 of 14 starts including the Whirlaway and Gravesend Handicaps in 1974.

Legendary “Sire of sires” Mr. Prospector is one of the most influential horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, siring 181 stakes winners (47 Grade 1 or Group I winners) and 16 champions.

Hall of Famer Serena’s Song (Rahy – Imagining, by Northfields) won 13 Grade I races and was Champion U.S. 3YO Filly in 1995.

Honor Code ran three quality races during his productive juvenile campaign including a graded win at nine panels. He shook off the rust in his allowance comeback and should be ready to resume graded success in his final Derby prep. He should continue to develop for patient trainer Shug McGaughey and ten furlongs should be well within reach on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: New York, New York

Withers 1-2 finishers Samraat and Uncle Sigh pulled the same trick in the Gotham Stakes and the dynamic NY-bred duo are the best of the Big Apple Kentucky Derby 2014 hopefuls.

Samraat

Samraat wins a Gotham thriller – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Samraat is now undefeated in five starts. Look for him to join Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the Wood Memorial. The winning Gotham BSF came back a rock solid 96 and the top three all have some quality to them but the Wood is dying to be won by an off the pace shipper like Honor Code.

Noble Cornerstone followed up a Sam Davis flop with another poor effort in the Gotham. He has not progressed from age 2 to 3 and drops off the bottom of the list.

Gala Award has emerged as an intriguing Derby prospect for Todd Pletcher. He exits back-to-back turf route wins including the G3 Palm Beach and could end up contesting the G1 Blue Grass Stakes next. He owns fine tactical speed and his promising dirt pedigree is featured below.

Injuries, illness, and missed training, oh my! First it was Shared Belief (foot injury), followed by Indianapolis (cough). Last week, Havana (quarter crack) missed the Swale Stakes. Now, Bayern (foot bruise) is out of the San Felipe. Eight weeks and counting – Time is rapidly running out to make the Derby, and Havana and Bayern drop to the bottom of the list and are in serious danger of falling off the radar screen.

Schoolofhardrocks worked 5f in 1:00.20 (14/69) at Santa Anita on March 4. An original “exceptional eleven” member dropped due to inactivity, he is finally set to return in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes. It is a tough test but he is training well and has a ton of raw ability.

Each week that goes by, we add more potential quality speed to the first Saturday in May. Wildcat Red & General A Rod, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and In Trouble, plus Albano, Midnight Hawk, Tapiture, and a handful of others like to run on or very near the lead…something has to give!

Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com.

Listen to my analysis of the San Felipe Stakes on the Fast Track radio show Saturday morning (10am ET).

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 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat) Honor Code horse silks

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.18 (6/43) at Gulfstream Park on March 2. “So far everything looks good, McGaughey said from his South Florida base. “He worked real good the other day and we’ll work him again on Sunday.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles and returned to the work tab Feb. 12. He is entered in an Allowance event (8.5f, race 8) at Gulfstream Park on March 12, and if all goes well, he will wrap up his Derby prep season in the Wood Memorial.

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.60 (10/17) at Oaklawn Park on March 6.

Derby Points (6)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 59.95 (1/35) at Palm Meadows on March 1. “He worked very well,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “It was a little faster than we wanted this far out, but yet we wanted a decent work. It was a great work. He worked excellent and everything went well. We were all very happy, and we’ll probably not go in company next week because we’re looking for a 1:01 and change. But, he worked great.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29). A majority interest in Cairo Prince was sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley operation. He will remain with McLaughlin but run in the colors of Godolphin Stable.

4. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.20 (23/52) at Santa Anita on March 6.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

5. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.40 (45/61) at Santa Anita on March 4.

Derby Points (12)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally. Saturday’s San Felipe is his next engagement.

6. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.40 (4/16) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best. Joel Rosario will ride in the San Felipe.

7. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (2/48) at Oaklawn Park on March 2.

Derby Points (22)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.

8. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

9. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer:  Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

10. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch)bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (18/65) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe Stakes.

11. HAVANA (Dunkirk – Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man) Havana Silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Taber, Magnier, and Smith

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.90 (3/14) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 23.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. A quarter crack caused him to defect from the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 1.

Pedigree Spotlight: Gala Award

Gala Award’s sire Bernardini raced just one season but he certainly made a splash in 2006. In his 3rd career start, he won the G3 Withers and followed that up by capturing the G1 Preakness, G2 Jim Dandy, G1 Travers, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. He finished his career with a runner-up effort behind Invasor in the G1 BC Classic.

As a sire, Bernardini is represented by the likes of G1 Travers and G1 Cigar Mile winner Stay Thirsty, G1 Woodward Stakes and G1 Cigar Mile hero To Honor and Serve, and G1 Travers and G1 Woodward winner Alpha.

Gala Award pedigree

Bernardini’s influential sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic and has sired more than 135 stakes winners.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Bernardini’s mother Cara Rafaela (by Quiet American) was a classy runner for D Wayne Lukas in 1995-96. She won the G2 Alcibiades and G1 Hollywood Starlet and placed in such prestigious races as the G1 Las Virgenes (2nd), G1 SA Oaks (2nd), G1 Ashland (2nd), G1 Kentucky Oaks (3rd), G2 Black-Eyed Susan (2nd), and G1 Mother Goose (3rd). Cara Rafaela is out of the Spectacular Bid mare Oil Fable.

Cara Rafaela’s father Quiet American has sired numerous graded winners including 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero Real Quiet.

Gala Award’s dam Wilshewed (Carson City – So Cozy, by Lyphard) produced the likes of G1 Hollywood Futurity and G2 Norfolk winner Stormello, and G2 Del Mar Derby hero My Best Brother.

The speedy Carson City won multiple graded sprints including the G2 Sapling and G2 Fall Highweight. He sired may stakes winners including G2 Illinois Derby winner Pollard’s Vision.

So Cozy won the Priscilla Stakes at Suffolk Downs in 1982, and Northern Dancer’s son Lyphard won multiple overseas grass races in 1971-72 and produced 115 stakes winners including Dancing Brave, Jolypha, and Manila.

Gala Award is already proven at nine furlongs. He owns a promising dirt route pedigree and could easily get ten furlongs if he handles conventional dirt.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Who deserves Top Billing?

Wildcat Red and Intense Holiday garnered 50 Kentucky Derby 2014 points each in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth and Risen Star.

Wildcat Red, General A Rod

Wildcat Red and General A Rod battled throughout once again at GP in the FOY – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Wildcat Red and General A Rod threw down the gauntlet right out of the gate and battled all the way to the wire in the FOY (101 BSF). It was a virtual replay of their GP Derby battle but Wildcat Red got his nose down at the finish this time. Both are quality speed horses with stamina questions to answer. They were helped by the speed friendly oval on Saturday.

Beaten post-time favorite Top Billing rallied to finish a respectable 3rd. To his credit, he broke from a disadvantageous outer post in a full field over a speed favoring surface. He ended up sitting a decent trip and had every chance to catch the top two but failed to do so. Longer distances and a fair track will help his cause in the future but it looks like the late runner needs multiple factors in his favor to beat top company.

Last year, Orb showed class, versatility, and the ability to close into slow, fast, and moderate fractions and win vs. allowance foes and in the FOY and Florida Derby at the speed favoring Gulfstream oval for Shug McGaughey. Top Billing has not shown that same adaptability, but of all the horses to run in the FOY and Risen Star, he might be the most likely to make some noise on the first Saturday in May, especially with a strong pace at 10f. I am still not sure that he is top class and he will have to show more in the graded ranks next time.

In the Risen Star at Fair Grounds, Intense Holiday (97 BSF) got his nose down on the wire to edge game early runner Albano.

Intense Holiday flattered the form of Honor Code and Cairo Prince but the jury is still out on the overall strength of the Risen Star. Albano sped to a surprisingly easy early lead and was clearly aided after a slow start left Rise Up rank and virtually eliminated from the discussion. The latter must prove that he is more than a Delta freak.

Albano turned away almost all challenges and was well clear of the show. It was a solid effort but he will not get such an easy trip in the LA Derby.

Lecomte hero Vicar’s In Trouble finished a wide 3rd and might have distance limitations. Albano stole his trip and if they swapped posts the results would have been much different. As for his LA Derby chances, he should have gotten a ton out of the Risen Star and might be worth a look if he has better luck at the draw.

For the second time in as many graded routes at Fair Grounds, Gold Hawk threatened to run a big one but was as flat as a pancake in the stretch. He might need blinkers. He also might not be ready for prime time.

Still nothing from Indianapolis. I can no longer justify keeping him on the list and have replaced him with stablemate Bayern.

Havana makes his much anticipated return in the Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park March 1. The seven furlong affair also attracted Wesley Ward’s undefeated charge No Nay Never.

Listen to my analysis of the Gotham Stakes on the Fast Track radio show Saturday morning (10am ET).

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 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)Honor Code horse silks

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Latest Workout: Easy 4f move in :52.06 (24/24) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25. “I’m going to work him again over the weekend and will probably put him in company,” McGaughey said. “I’d like to have Javier (Castellano) come out and do it. I’ll make up my mind after that.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles. He returned to the worktab Feb. 12. “I’m really happy with him–I think every day is better than the last,” McGaughey offered. “I jogged him Wednesday and he galloped great (Thursday).”

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48 (1/31) at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 25.

Derby Points (6)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in 49.90 (51/71) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 22.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He returned to the worktab Feb. 15 and is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29).

4. HAVANA (Dunkirk – Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man)Havana Silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Taber, Magnier, and Smith

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.90 (3/14) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 23.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. He is entered in Saturday’s Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

5. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.20 (26/78) at Santa Anita on Feb. 26.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

6. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 5f in :58.80 (2/86) at Santa Anita on Feb. 26.

Derby Points (12)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally.

7. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:10.80 (1/8) at Santa Anita on Feb. 24.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best. Joel Rosario will ride in the San Felipe.

8. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Derby Points (22)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.

9. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

10. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch)bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (4/43) at Santa Anita on Feb. 24.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). He is set to try graded foes next.

11. NOBLE CORNERSTONE (Noble Causeway – Besige, by Polish Numbers)Noble Cornerstone silks

Trainer:  Wesley Ward – Owner: My Meadowview Farm

Latest Workout: 4f in :51.65 (23/24) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25.

Comments: Easy 6f maiden win in prominent throughout Aqueduct debut. He rallied for the place in the Springboard Mile to end his juvenile campaign. Kicked off his 3yo campaign in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay on Feb. 1 but was very fractious in the gate and never got involved in a throwout race. He is entered in Saturday’s G3 Gotham Stakes (blinkers on) at Aqueduct and needs a strong performance to remain on the list.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Wildcat Red

Wildcat Red silks

Overachiever Wildcat Red (D’wildcat – Racene, by Miner’s Mark) is easy to root for, but how far will he be able to carry his speed?

His win early sprint sire D’wildcat (Forest Wildcat – D’Enough, by D’Accord) was built for speed, winning the G3 Swale, G2 Churchill Downs Handicap, and G1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash. His top three leading runners by lifetime earnings are Authenicat ($720,046), D’Funnybone ($686,700), and D’wild Ride ($622,841).

wildcat red pedigree

D’wildcat’s sire, 9-time winner Forest Wildcat, was fast in his own right, winning the G3 Maryland BC ‘Cap, G3 Finger Lakes BC, Ben Cohen Stakes, and Keeneland Phoenix Stakes in 1996. He sired 55 stakes winners including G1 Acorn winner Forest Secrets and G2 Lexington hero Behindatthebar. His son Wildcat Heir also won the the G1 De Francis Dash.

Wildcat Red should get stamina from the female side of his pedigree. His mother, Racene, won 2 of 14 career starts including a ten furlong entry level turf affair at Santa Anita in 2002.

Dam sire Miner’s Mark (Mr. Prospector – Personal Ensign, by Private Account), bred by Ogden Phipps, fell just short of the $1 million earnings plateau, capturing the G1 JC Gold Cup, G2 Jim Dandy, and G3 Colin Stakes. His full brother Our Emblem sired 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, and his half-sister, multiple Grade I winner My Flag, tossed 2002 champion juvenile filly Storm Flag Flying.

Wildcat Red gets a ton of speed from his sire line and picks up some class and stamina on the dam side. He will probably a bigger threat in races like the G1 King’s Bishop at 7f later this year, but he is razor sharp and loves Gulfstream Park, so trying to stretch his speed 9f in the Florida Derby seems realistic, especially if the track favors speed like it did in the Fountain of Youth.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 490 other followers