Archive for November, 2011

Grading the Early Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps

The unofficial road to the 2012 Kentucky Derby began with the Breeders’ Cup in early November and now that we have multiple graded routes in the books it is time to rate the quality of the preps so far.

2012 Kentucky Derby

BC Juvenile Sprint (11-4-11) – 95 BSF (Secret Circle)

Not sure about the overall strength of the field but winner Secret Circle is arguably the fastest juvenile in the land with 97-97-95 BSF’s in his three winning races to date. He owns three of the top ten BSF’s for juveniles as of 11-29. Grade: B-

Secret Circle had every right to fold after dueling through quick splits of :20.96 and :44.55 but the Baffert trainee gamely held off overseas filly Shumoos to remain undefeated. He has route influences in his pedigree and might try two turns in the G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on 12-17.

G1 BC Juvenile (11-5-11) – 94 BSF (Hansen)

The deepest juvenile prep race of the season with seven Graded/Group winners in the starting gate. Hansen went all the way, becoming the eighth member of the field to make the grade. The number came back solid if unspectacular and the top three were well clear of the rest. Grade: B

Hansen

Is Hansen a legit Ky Derby threat? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Hansen kept his perfect record intact with a game wire job head victory. He has never been headed in three career starts and it remains to be seen how he will react to serious pace pressure. Mike Maker’s talented colt is wintering in Florida with the Gulfstream 3-year-old preps on his radar screen.

Union Rags tasted defeat for the first time but was probably best after breaking 12th from post 10, racing wide, and wandering in the stretch. He is also spending the winter in Florida.

Creative Cause ended his productive juvenile season with a solid show finish in the BC Juvenile. He will likely resurface at Santa Anita in 2012 with the G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb 19 a possible starting point.

Dullahan was bumped at the start and rallied to finish a respectable 4th. He graduated in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and might be better on turf/synthetic.

Real Quiet Stakes (11-12-11) – 81 BSF (Liaison)

A bit of quality in this six-pack with a pair of multiple winners including CalCup Juvenile hero Rousing Sermon. Liaison gamely edged the aforementioned CalCup winner but did not earn much of a number. Grade: C-

Liaison has now won two straight and is clearly making nice progress. He has the right connections (Baffert) and a decent pedigree (Indian Charlie-Victory Gallop). The CashCall Futurity might be next.

G3 Delta Jackpot (11-19-11) – 80 BSF (Sabercat)

Pace meltdown with morning line favorite Drill and My Adonis dueling through splits of :22.11, :45.41, and 1:11.60. Top three finishers Sabercat, Basmati, and Longview Drive rallied from 9th, 6th, and 10th while crawling home in slow final time of 1:46.62. Delta Princess winner Now I Know earned a slightly better 81 BSF. Grade: D

Sabercat was making his sixth start of the year and won his third straight route in Delta Jackpot. Improving Asmussen runner breezed an easy 4f in :53 at Fair Grounds on 11-28.

Basmati took six tries to break his maiden and earned a nice chunk of change in place finish at Delta Downs. The busy juvenile might show up next in the CashCall Futurity.

Jerry Hollendorfer’s NoCal invader Longview Drive showed a new dimension rallying for the show. The $175k Keeneland sales grad has earned his best numbers in sprint races.

Drill came back in two weeks after a failed BC Juvenile attempt and flopped once again in Louisiana for Baffert. He has dropped three straight Graded dirt routes and seemingly needs a break. Both wins occurred at Del Mar in synthetic sprints.

G3 Hollywood Prevue (11-24-11) – 83 BSF (So Brilliant)

So Brilliant gamely wired six rivals but all members of the field were eligible for their entry level condition prior to this seven furlong synthetic affair. Grade: D+

So Brilliant was hardly as secret in his winning bow and made the betting public happy again on Thanksgiving Day. Bob Baffert’s $300k purchase is bred to route and has plenty of room to improve. CashCall Futurity is on his radar screen.

Empire Way was visually impressive in his Nov 13 bow but did not earn much of a number in that event and showed nothing in his Stakes debut. He should improve next year in routes but needed to run much faster.

G2 Remsen (11-26-11) – 80 BSF (O’Prado Again)

The pace was crawling (4f – :49.97, 6f – 1:15.05) and they ran the final 3f in :37.02. Tough to get a true gauge on this event with an overall impression of something close to average. Grade: C

O'Prado Again

O'Prado Again wins his second 9f race in Remsen - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

O’Prado Again won his second straight 9f affair in the Remsen. Trainer Dale Romans has had some success in recent Triple Crown events (Paddy O’Prado, First Dude, Shackleford).

Souper Speedy set the aforementioned crawling fractions and had just enough left to hold the place. Not a bad effort considering he was coming off a layoff after graduating in his 7f mud bow at 31-1.

El Padrino is an interesting long term prospect. He graduated by open lengths in his second career start and saved all the ground tracking the pace while showing late interest in the Remsen. Todd Pletcher’s $210k purchase has a nice distance pedigree and plenty of room to develop.

G2 Kentucky Jockey Club (11-26-11) – 85 BSF (Gemologist)

This one could turn out to be a decent prep. The fractions and final time were solid and the top three ran well. One/all could be heard from next year. Grade: C+

Gemologist remained unbeaten with a sharp stalk/pounce tally. Super Saver won this for same connections (Pletcher/WinStar Farm) en route to 2010 Kentucky Derby triumph. Interesting pedigree with Tiznow on top and Mr. Prospector on bottom.

Ever So Lucky set the pace and gamely held the place. Souper Speedy had a similar effort/pattern in the Remsen but Ever So Lucky carved out stronger splits and looks like the better long term prospect for Jonathan Sheppard. Like the speed (Indian Charlie), stamina (Summer Squall) pedigree mix.

Timely Tally has clearly kicked it up a few notches around two turns. He had some traffic issues under Borel and flew late to just miss the place. Gemologist seemingly has his number but the $220k son of Mr. Greeley is coming around and could be a player next year for Ian Wilkes.

Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes 2011 Preview: Hardly a Cyber Secret

The Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes gives 2012 Kentucky Derby hopefuls the opportunity to compete under the Twin Spires and morning line favorite Ever So Lucky gets the acid test.

Ever So Lucky, conditioned by Jonathan Sheppard, turned heads with a smashing local debut sprint tally Nov 11. The $600k son of Indian Charlie could be any kind but is worth trying to beat on the win end at 5-2 in his stakes route bow.

Cyber Secret also began his career with a sharp victory and he showed determination in the Belmont mud that day. Chad Brown’s $110k Keeneland sales grad earned a competitive number in that Oct 20 affair and is bred to route. He seems worth a shot at 6-1.

Gemologist is 2-for-2 and might get brave if able to shake loose early. He should face pace pressure from Ever So Lucky, Mr. Prankster, Fine, and maybe Saint Honore from the outside post, but Todd Pletcher’s $310k colt exits a course/distance tally and could be the speed of the speed.

Optimizer

Wayne Lukas gives Optimizer another shot on dirt - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Timely Tally rallied for the place behind Gemologist last time and did not get much pace help that day. He figures to save all of the ground under Borel and today’s expected honest fractions should help his cause. The improving sort can threaten these at 10-1.

Wayne Lukas gives Optimizer another shot on dirt after his charge finished 8th in the BC Juvenile. Distance is not a question but the son of English Channel might be better on synthetic or turf. He removes the hood and will try to get involved late.

Atigun is getting better for Ken McPeek and he appeared to enjoy the Churchill main track in his flat mile graduation run Nov 6. He is playable at 10-1.

Africanist ran into the likes of Currency Swap and Alpha in his first two outings at the Spa. He exits a course/distance maiden win in the slop and can compete for a spot in the Trifecta at 10-1.

The field is completed by maiden outsider Seve.

The $30 Play:

$12 to win Cyber Secret

$8 to win Timely Tally

.50 cent Trifecta Cyber Secret, Timely Tally with Ever So Lucky, Cyber Secret, Timely Tally with Ever So Lucky, Africanist, Timely Tally, Cyber Secret, Optimizer, Atigun, Gemologist

 

 

 

 

Delta Downs Jackpot 2011 Preview: Can Drill Rebound?

The Grade 3, $1 Million Delta Jackpot has the purse power to guarantee the winner a starting spot in the 2012 Kentucky Derby, and headlining the Delta Downs showcase is Grade 1 winner Drill.

Drill

Drill puts blinkers back on in Delta Jackpot - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Bob Baffert’s Drill, a juvenile son of Lawyer Ron, finished a non-threatening 8th as the even money favorite in his synthetic sprint bow at Del Mar. He ran two more times at the seaside oval with a maiden victory and a game tally in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.

He stretched out in Santa Anita’s Grade 1 Norfolk and was clearly second best behind Creative Cause. He was last seen finishing up the track in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (blinkers off) and he may not have cared for the sticky, drying out track.

The $300,000 Keeneland sales grad returned to Southern California after his failed Kentucky journey and he fired a three furlong bullet in :35.40 at Santa Anita Park on Nov 14. He ran his best three races with blinkers on and Baffert reintroduces him to the hood on Saturday. The Delta Downs bullring is tricky to handle and Drill attempts to rebound after running poorly two weeks ago.

Longview Drive and Seven Lively Sins figure to carve out the fractions from the inside with Basmati, My Adonis, and Dougs Buddy chasing. Tiz Moe, Drill, Sabercat, and Jake Mo should be sitting in the next flight with the latter trying to work out a forwardly placed trip from the outside box. Laurie’s Rocket does his best running late but did show improved positional speed with the addition of blinkers at Churchill Downs last time.

My ideal Delta Jackpot contender will break from post 2-7 and sit a decent tactical trip. Drill fits that bill but will not offer value. My Adonis easily won the local prep for this and is a much better morning line price at 4-1. Tiz Moe was clearly second best in the local Jean Lafitte and has plenty of upside with only two races under his belt. His 15-1 price is right as well.

In the end, I am a fan of Drill and would like to see him run well but from a wagering standpoint I will pick My Adonis to win and play him in an exacta box with Tiz Moe.

Hansen, Union Rags Early 2012 Kentucky Derby Favorites

The 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is in the books and the road to the 2012 Kentucky Derby has officially begun. Hansen and Union Rags put on a show at Churchill Downs on Saturday and the race for juvenile champion figures to be a close one.

Hansen Kentucky Derby 2012

Is BC Juvenile hero Hansen the 2YO champ? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Hansen was game wiring the field but Union Rags was probably best. The G1 Champagne hero failed to run a straight course in the lane and that made all the difference.

Creative Cause was well clear of the rest in 3rd and it will be interesting to see if he shows up in the G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec 17.

Drill was one of several Breeders’ Cup disappointments for trainer Bob Baffert and Champagne runner-up Alpha acted up in the gate and weakened to finish 11th after stalking the pace. The latter clearly lacks maturity at this stage.

Below is the BC Juvenile recap I wrote for Horse Racing Nation

Hansen made every pole a winning one and just had enough left to hold off favorite Union Rags Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.

Hansen set sail for the lead through splits of :23.26, :47.39, and 1:12.24. Speightscity and Creative Cause were the chasers with Union Rags sitting midpack.

Ramon Dominguez got busy on Hansen in the lane and he increased his advantage over Creative Cause but Union Rags was starting to make up some ground.

Union Rags began weaving in and out and made a late surge once straightened out but missed by a diminishing head.

Creative Cause was well clear of the rest in 3rd with Dullahan rallying from 13th to snatch 4th away from Take Charge Indy.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile 2011 results

Breeders' Cup Juvenile 2011 complete order of finish

 

2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Analysis: Can Alpha Step Up?

The winner of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile will immediately be made the favorite for the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

Unbeaten colt Union Rags or Creative Cause can virtually wrap up the 2-year-old title if they come out on top. They both exit grade one wins and have the pedigrees to be classic players next year.

{Check out my latest 2012 Kentucky Derby Contenders Top 10 list}

Hansen exits back-to-back facile Polytrack wire jobs and is probably the one to catch under Ramon Dominguez. He gets the acid test in his first conventional dirt start.

Take Charge Indy has flashed talent on synthetic and is training well at Churchill Downs. He can spice up the exotics.

Drill traded grade one decisions with Creative Cause in his last two SoCal starts and should have gotten plenty out of the Norfolk for trainer Bob Baffert.

Finally, Alpha looked great in his Saratoga debut and rallied for the place in the G1 Champagne last time. He has plenty of upside and should excel over a route of ground.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile field (in post position order with morning line odds)

1. Take Charge Indy (30-1): Bred for dirt and training well under the Twin Spires.

2. Dullahan (8-1): Broke maiden in G1 Breeders’ Futurity. Better on synthetic/turf?

3. Crusade (12-1): British invader tries dirt route for first time.

4. Drill (8-1): G1 Del Mar Futurity winner was clearly second best in Norfolk.

5. Hansen (10-1): Romped in both Turfway synthetic starts.

6. Prospective (30-1): Improving sort exits solid score in G3 Grey.

7. Creative Cause (7-2): Stomped Drill in G1 Norfolk.

8. Speightscity (30-1): Graduated in style at nine furlongs.

9. Alpha (15-1): G1 Champagne runner-up is bred to run all day.

10. Union Rags (2-1): Overcame trouble to remain undefeated in G1 Champagne.

11. Daddy Long Legs (12-1): Captured 2 of 3 overseas turf starts.

12. Fort Loudon (20-1): Rolled through Florida Stallion Series.

13. Optimizer (15-1): Placed in both graded routes on turf/synthetic.

The Plays:

$20 to win #9

$5 Exacta Box 9-10 ($10)

.50 cent Trifecta 9-10/4-7-9-10/1-4-5-7-9-10 ($12)

2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Preview

Post positions were drawn for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Monday and hopefully a few of horses entered will make it to the starting gate in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Below is the advance I wrote on Horse Racing Nation.

It’s East vs. West as Champagne hero Union Rags takes on Norfolk winner Creative Cause in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.

Union Rags

Union Rags tries to stay unbeaten in BC Juvenile - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Morning line favorite Union Rags made it 3-for-3 in his promising career as he overcame trouble to impressively capture the G1 Champagne at Belmont Park. On Saturday, he will try to navigate two turns for the first time from post ten.

Creative Cause is 3-for-4 so far with his lone setback a troubled 3rd (place 2nd via DQ) in the G1 Del Mar Futurity. He exits a smart triumph in the G1 Norfolk and is proven over a route of ground.

Champagne runner-up Alpha could easily move forward in this spot. Kiaran McLaughlin’s well-bred son of Bernardini romped in his Saratoga debut before rallying for the place behind Union Rags last time. The Godolphin colorbearer should excel around two turns and has plenty of upside with only two races under his belt.

Drill has traded decisions with Creative Cause in his last pair. The Bob Baffert runner owns fine tactical speed and is a grade one winner.

The mystery horse in this affair is undefeated colt Hanson. Tapit’s juvenile son crushed his rivals in both synthetic starts including the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park last time. He looms a pace factor at the very least but must prove he can handle conventional dirt against a full cast of classy rivals.

G1 Breeders’ Futurity 1-3 finishers Dullahan and Optimizer will try dirt after doing the bulk of their damage on turf and/or synthetic. The former is a 1/2 brother to Mine That Bird, and the latter has run well over a route of ground in all three turf/synthetic starts for Wayne Lukas.

The BC Juvenile baker’s dozen is completed by Take Charge Indy, Crusade, Prospective, Speightscity, Daddy Long Legs, and Fort Loudon.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile 2011

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Odds

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