Archive for April, 2012

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Union Rags still top dog

We are less than two weeks to Kentucky Derby 2012. All of the preps have been run and now we wait for final workouts and the post position draw.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

There have been a few recent changes to the field. Secret Circle came down with an injury and is out for four months.

Seven furlong specialist Trinniberg is now pointing to the Derby and changes the complexion of the early pace. Will he hurt the chances of Hansen and Bodemeister?

Daddy Long Legs will invade from Europe and El Padrino has made the field after sitting on the graded earnings bubble for the last few weeks.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders

Union Rags horse

Union Rags is still my strong Derby top with less than two weeks to the big dance - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – The G1 Florida Derby show finisher has been on top of my list since last November. He breezed 4f in :47.40 (3/43) at Keeneland on April 20. Graded Earnings: $1,170,000   

2. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Kept his perfect record intact in game G1 Wood Memorial tally. The WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner likes Churchill Downs, owns fine early-pressing speed, and has a nose for the wire. He breezed 5f in 1:00.81 (7/11) at Palm Meadows on April 20. Graded Earnings: $703,855  

3. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – The versatile gem of consistency was last seen finishing a close-up 2nd in the G1 Santa Anita Derby (blinkers off). He worked 5f in 1:00.20 (5/35) at Hollywood Park on 4-24 . Graded Earnings: $836,000

4. Alpha (Bernardini) – Getting over an infection caused by a few small cuts in the Wood Memorial. McLaughlin will train him at Belmont Park before shipping to Louisville on April 30. Graded Earnings: $380,000

5. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – Moved into the top five after his facile wire job in the G1 Arkansas Derby (108 BSF). The Baffert trainee is a dangerous Derby early runner under Mike Smith. Breezed 5f in 1:00.80 (3/23) at Churchill Downs on 4-24. Graded Earnings: $660,000 

6. Daddy Nose Best (Scat Daddy) – Back-to-back nine furlong wins in G3 El Camino Real Derby (92 BSF) and G3 Sunland Derby (100 BSF). Late running Asmussen trainee can run on anything and breezed 6f in 1:14 (1/2) at Churchill Downs on 4-23. Graded Earnings: $545,558  

7. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Stole the Florida Derby but could only muster a 95 BSF despite everything going his way. I have always been fond of this one but he could be a pace casualty on the first Saturday in May. Breezed 5f in 1:01.66 (1/2) at Palm Meadows on 4-19. Graded Earnings: $698,400 

8. I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley) – Followed up his surprise G2 Robert Lewis triumph with another tally in the G1 SA Derby. The Doug O’Neill trainee looms an early-pressing threat on the first Saturday in May. Breezed 6f in 1:13.60 (5/18) at Hollywood Park on 4-19. Graded Earnings: $601,000

9. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Won his second Keeneland (Polytrack) Grade 1 from as many starts in the G1 Blue Grass. He is better this year so his conventional dirt task is not impossible. Graded Earnings: $855,000

10. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally but was too aggressive early in Blue Grass place finish. I have never thought of him as a ten furlong horse. Dominguez sticks with him  Graded Earnings: $1,550,000

The Other Ten

El Padrino horse

El Padrino is an interesting Derby longshot - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

11. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Finished a flat 4th in a disappointing Florida Derby performance. He moves up on wet footing and breezed 5f in 1:00.56 (5/11) at Palm Meadows on April 20. Rafael Bejarano will ride in Derby. Graded Earnings: $250,000

12. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Runner-up in G2 Risen Star and G2 Louisiana Derby. Breezed 5f in :59.60 (2/32) at Churchill Downs on April 23. Graded Earnings: $260,000

13. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – Followed in Animal Kingdom’s footsteps with a win in the G3 Spiral Stakes (92 BSF) for Graham Motion/Team Valor. He breezed 6f in 1:14.40 (2/3) at Keeneland  on 4-21. Graded Earnings: $282,000 

14. Prospective (Malibu Moon) – G2 Tampa Bay Derby hero finished 6th in G1 Blue Grass. Graded Earnings: $387,952

15. Rousing Sermon (Lucky Pulpit) – Rallied for the show in G2 Louisiana Derby. Worked 7f in 1:27.20 (1/2) at Hollywood Park on 4-21. Graded Earnings: $269,000

16. Daddy Long Legs (Scat Daddy) – G2 UAE Derby hero was 12th in last year’s productive BC Juvenile. Graded Earnings: $1,294,030

17. Done Talking (Broken Vow) – Late running G3 Illinois Derby winner breezed 4f in :49.40 (24/69) at Laurel Park on April 21. Graded Earnings: $310,000

18. Liaison (Indian Charlie) – G1 CashCall Futurity winner has disappointed in three starts at Santa Anita this year. Worked 6f in 1:13 (3/19) at Hollywood Park on 4-18. Graded Earnings: $393,000

19. Sabercat (Bluegrass Cat) – Finished an improved 3rd in G1 Arkansas Derby. Breezed 5f in 1:02.80 (19/32) under the Twin Spires on 4-23. Graded Earnings: $701,429

20. Trinniberg (Teuflesberg) – Back to-back sharp 7f wins in G3 Swale and G3 Bay Shore. Breezed 6f in 1:15.40 (1/1) at Calder on April 23. Graded Earnings: $324,500

On the Graded Earnings Bubble: Isn’t He Clever, Optimizer

 

Coolmore Lexington 2012 Preview: Holiday Promise on upswing

This is the final chance to earn Kentucky Derby 2012 graded cash and morning line favorite Castaway can make the gate on the first Saturday in May with a win in the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday.

Castaway

Castaway can make the Derby cut with a win in Saturday's G3 Lexington - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#7 Castaway (3-1) had his goose cooked on the front end in the G3 Sunland Derby. The Baffert trainee captured the slower division of the G3 Southwest before that and landed the place in his synthetic bow at Del Mar last summer. He won’t offer much value and could be in trouble if pressured early.

#6 Holiday Promise (6-1) had the light bulb turned on after adding blinkers Feb 20. He exits a fine place finish in the G3 Spiral and is working well at Keeneland. He has enough positional speed to keep the leaders in his sights and should offer a hint of value for Alvarado/Pletcher.

#11 Gold Megillah (10-1) finished 3rd in Turfway’s Rushaway last out and the top two came back to run well. The Graham Motion trainee needs to work out a trip from the outside post under Johnny V.

#10 News Pending (5-1) put his name on the map following a place finish behind Union Rags in the G2 Fountain of Youth. He never got involved in the paceless G1 Florida Derby but has some tactical ability and would not be the first turf horse to handle Polytrack.

#8 Hammers Terror (30-1) rates a longshot look. He ran well in both Polytrack starts last year and showed some ability at Fair Grounds this season. A tactical trip under Albarado is anticipated.

#1 Morgan’s Guerrilla (6-1) was last seen landing the place from post 12 in the G3 Illinois Derby on April 7. The early-pressing type should save all the ground under Leparoux and still has a shot to make the Derby field with a win.

#2 Summer Front (9-2) nabbed all three of his turf starts last year for Clement. The $475k purchase is firing Payson bullets for this and shows up in an ambitious spot off the shelf.

#3 Johannesbourbon (8-1) easily captured his Turfway sprint bow and the distant runner-up came back to tally. He stretches out and looms a pace factor at the very least in this salty spot.

#5 Golden Ticket (6-1) rallied for the place in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby. He raced evenly in both local sprints and will try to get involved late.

#4 Skyring (30-1) stumbled at the start, raced wide, and split the field at 45-1 in the Illinois Derby. He will probably stalk the pace under Court with a clean beginning.

#9 All Squared Away (50-1) made a wide move before flattening out in the Spiral. Wesley Ward has him now and he excels with new additions to his barn. This one could end up being a pace casualty.

The Plays:

$16 to win #6

$4 Exacta Box 6-11 ($8)

$4 Exacta 6-11/8-10 ($16)

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Bodemeister runs wild

It was an exciting week on the Kentucky Derby 2012 trail with Dullahan tagging Hansen in the Blue Grass and Bodemeister playing hide and go seek in the Arkansas Derby.

I am not sure if unraced juvenile Bodemeister can win on the first Saturday in May but he certainly earned his shot under the Twin Spires with a dominating wire job tally in Saturday’s G1 Arkansas Derby. He reminds me of another unraced juvenile, Curlin. The latter also romped in the Arkansas Derby before finishing 3rd in the 2007 Ky Derby.

Dullahan

Can Dullahan fire a big shot away from Keeneland? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Dullahan is a Keeneland freak, notching his second grade one win from as many starts in Lexington. He is winless in three tries at Churchill Downs and might have a difficult time duplicating his stellar late running victory on May 5.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – The G1 Florida Derby show finisher has been on top of my list since last November. He breezed 4f in :48.40 (2/16) at Palm Meadows on April 12 and has since shipped to Keeneland. Graded Earnings: $1,170,000   

2. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Kept his perfect record intact in game G1 Wood Memorial tally. The WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner likes Churchill Downs, owns fine early-pressing speed, and has a nose for the wire. He will prepare for Kentucky Derby 2012 at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. Graded Earnings: $703,855  

Creative Cause

Creative Cause worked 5f at Hollywood Park on Tuesday - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

3. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – The versatile gem of consistency was last seen finishing a close-up 2nd in the G1 Santa Anita Derby (blinkers off). He worked 5f in 1:01.20 (16/37) at Hollywood Park on 4-17 . Graded Earnings: $836,000

4. Alpha (Bernardini) – Getting over an infection caused by a few small cuts in the Wood Memorial. McLaughlin will train him at Belmont Park before shipping to Louisville on April 30. Graded Earnings: $380,000  

5. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – Moves up from the Exciting Prospects list after his facile wire job in the G1 Arkansas Derby (108 BSF) on Saturday. The Baffert trainee is a dangerous early runner and will probably attempt a Derby wire job under Mike Smith. Graded Earnings: $660,000  

6. Daddy Nose Best (Scat Daddy) – Back-to-back nine furlong wins in G3 El Camino Real Derby (92 BSF) and G3 Sunland Derby (100 BSF). Late running Asmussen trainee can run on anything and fired a 5f bullet in 1:00.20 (1/20) at Churchill Downs on 4-16. Graded Earnings: $545,558  

7. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Stole the Florida Derby but could only muster a 95 BSF despite everything going his way. I have always been fond of this one but he could be a pace casualty on the first Saturday in May. Graded Earnings: $698,400 

8. I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley) – Followed up his surprise G2 Robert Lewis triumph with another tally in the G1 SA Derby. The Doug O’Neill trainee looms an early-pressing threat on the first Saturday in May. Graded Earnings: $601,000 

9. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Won his second Keeneland (Polytrack) Grade 1 from as many starts in Saturday’s G1 Blue Grass. He is better this year so his conventional dirt task is not impossible. Graded Earnings: $855,000

10. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally but was back to aggressive early tactics in Blue Grass place finish. I have never thought of him as a ten furlong horse. Graded Earnings: $1,550,000  

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order)

Castaway

Castaway can make the Derby graded earnings cut with a win in Saturday's G3 Lexington - photo by Eclipse Sportswire


1. Castaway (Street Sense) – G3 Southwest winner was dueled into submission in G3 Sunland Derby. He is apparently headed to Saturday’s G3 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. Worked 5f in 1:01.20 (28/64) at Santa Anita on April 15. Graded Earnings: $162,000

2. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Finished a flat 4th in a very disappointing Florida Derby performance. He is on the graded earnings bubble and seemingly moves up on wet footing. Breezed 4f in :49.10 (4/12) at Palm Meadows on April 15. Graded Earnings: $250,000

3. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow and finished 2nd behind 109-1 bomber Hero of Order in G2 Louisiana Derby. Graded Earnings: $260,000 

4. Secret Circle (Eddington) – G3 Southwest/G2 Rebel hero was dusted by stablemate Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday. He might have distance limitations but the consistent colt gives his all from start to finish. Graded Earnings: $670,000

5. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – Followed in Animal Kingdom’s footsteps with a win in the G3 Spiral Stakes (92 BSF) for Graham Motion/Team Valor. He breezed 5f in 1:02 (34/45) at Keeneland  on 4-14. Graded Earnings: $282,000 

Dullahan Runs Down Hansen in Blue Grass Stakes

Keeneland’s marquee Kentucky Derby 2012 prep was run on Saturday and Dullahan beat juvenile champ Hansen in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes.

G1 Blue Grass (4-14-12): 98 BSF (Dullahan)

Dullahan

Dullahan is 2-for-2 in Grade 1 races at Keeneland - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Hansen relaxed from an outer post in the G3 Gotham but went straight to the front from post 4 on Saturday, carving out solid fractions of :23.10, :46.64, and 1:11.32. Outsiders Politicallycorrect, Midnight Crooner, and Hero of Order gave futile chase.

The 2-year-old champion opened up a commanding 2-1/2 length lead in the stretch but Dullahan was slowly creeping up from 11th after a 1/4, 10th, after a 1/2, and 9th after six panels. The son of Even The Score made a sustained three furlong run under Kent Desormeaux and had dead aim on Hansen in the lane.

Dullahan had the momentum and swept past Hansen to win by 1-1/4 lengths for trainer Dale Romans. He completed his nine furlong trip in 1:47.94 and paid $8.40 as the second betting choice. Hansen was clearly second best, followed by longshot stablemate Gung Ho and late runner Holy Candy.

Howe Great was an even 5th for Graham Motion, followed by Tampa Bay Derby hero Prospective, Heavy Breathing, Midnight Crooner, Scatman, Ever So Lucky, Russian Greek, Politicallycorrect, and Hero of Order.

Dullahan seems as though he can run all day and continues to improve for Romans. He has two solid nine furlong preps under his belt this year and looms a late running threat on the first Saturday in May. Both of his career wins occurred in Grade 1 races at Keeneland and his 0-for-3 conventional dirt record under the Twin Spires does not seem to bode well for his Kentucky Derby chances.

Hansen dropped two of his three Derby preps this year after going 3-f0r-3 as a juvenile. He surprisingly seemed willing to relax a bit in the G3 Gotham but was back to aggressive early tactics in Lexington on Saturday. The Derby pace could be on the quick side with the likes of Bodemeister, Hansen, I’ll Have Another, Secret Circle, and Take Charge Indy mixing it up early.

Blue Grass Stakes Grade: B (85 out of 100)

Bodemeister Humbles Stablemate Secret Circle in Arkansas Derby

Bodemeister stamped his Kentucky Derby 2012 ticket with a facile 9-1/2 length triumph over stablemate Secret Circle in Saturday’s Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

G1 Arkansas Derby (4-14-12): 105 BSF (Bodemeister)

Bodemeister

Bodemeister runs away and hides in Arkansas Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Bodemeister broke outwardly from post 11 but quickly straightened himself out and set sail for the lead under Mike Smith, carving out splits of :23.02, :46.55, and 1:11.36. The Bob Baffert trainee increased his advantage at every call and opened up by two lengths after six panels.

Stat started to give up the chase after six furlongs and it was Secret Circle’s turn to make his move. The G3 Southwest/G2 Rebel hero was clearly second at this point but Bodemeister was more than three clear after a mile in 1:36.74 and cruised across the line more than nine to the good, stopping the clock in 1:48.71 and paying $6.80 as the post time favorite.

Secret Circle might have distance limitations but he always fights hard to the end and would not let Sabercat and Cozzetti pass him for 2nd. Baffert’s runner-up has fired Exacta shots in all seven lifetime starts. I have been a fan for quite some time but do not consider him a viable ten furlong threat on the first Saturday in May.

Sabercat punched his Derby ticket last November when he captured the $1million, G3 Delta Jackpot. He flopped in his Rebel return and showed some late interest to garner the show on Saturday. He is not good enough to win the Derby but has earned the right to participate based on the rules.

Atigun finished 5th and was followed by Stat, Najjaar, Isn’t He Clever, Optimizer, Jake Mo, and Raconteur.

As for Bodemeister, he put it all together in Hot Springs but I do not like his chances under the Twin Spires. The unraced juvenile may have peaked at Oaklawn Park and I cannot see him running the same race in three weeks. Yesterday’s win reminded me of his maiden tally and after that effort he returned in four weeks to lose to Creative Cause in the G2 San Felipe. Note that he romped the two times he grabbed the early lead and he finished 2nd both times he failed to clear off early.

For final time comparison purposes, Alternation won the G2 Oaklawn Handicap for older horses earlier in the day and completed his nine furlong journey in 1:49.94.

Arkansas Derby Grade: A (94 out of 100)

Blue Grass Stakes 2012 Preview: Hansen’s final Derby prep

The Keeneland sophomores try to make their mark on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 in Saturday’s Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes and juvenile champ Hansen is the strong 6-5 morning line choice.

Pace Scenario:

Early Speed- Hansen, Hero of Order, Scatman

Pressers – Heavy Breathing, Politicallycorrect, Midnight Crooner, Howe Great, Ever So Lucky

Closers – Gung Ho, Prospective, Russian Greek, Dullahan, Holy Candy

Analysis:

#9 Holy Candy (30-1) could be poised to surprise this field. He scratched out of the SA Derby in favor of this and Candy Ride is a fine synthetic sire. He has done the bulk of his training on Cushion Track and ran well in his Hollywood Park synthetic sprint bow last fall. The promising Sadler trainee looked great in March 23 graduation run and has faced some decent sorts in SoCal (Empire Way, Castaway, Stirred Up). Did you know that Drew Brees might have a Kentucky Derby horse?

#3 Prospective (10-1) is 2-f0r-2 on Polytrack (Woodbine) and exits a good looking tally in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby (blinkers on). The improving sort owns a pair of graded route wins and should get pace to chase.

#6 Dullahan (6-1) won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last year and fired a strong local bullet for this April 8. He has had a few setbacks this year (fever, minor splint injury) but ran well in the grassy G3 Palm Beach and appears to be back on track.

#4 Hansen (6-5) is an obvious prominent throughout threat but he meets other speed and gets a stamina test at low odds. He is 2-for-2 on Polytrack (Turfway Park) but My Adonis, the horse he beat in his last pair, came back to disappoint in the G1 Wood Memorial last weekend. I woulf not be shocked if he won or finished up the track.

The Plays:

$5 Exacta Box 3-6-9 ($30), $10 to win #9

Arkansas Derby 2012 Preview: Bodemeister or Secret Circle?

The Oaklawn Park 3-year-olds take their final steps toward Kentucky Derby 2012 in Saturday’s G1 Arkansas Derby and Bodemeister and Secret Circle share top billing for trainer Bob Baffert.

Bodemeister

Can anyone stop the Baffert express at Oaklawn Park? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#11 Bodemeister is the 9-5 morning line favorite. The unraced juvenile landed the place in his Santa Anita sprint bow before romping in a fast flat mile graduation run Feb 11. He gave his all but could not quite match strides with Creative Cause in the G2 San Felipe March 10, and he was hardly disgraced in a fine runner-up performance. He removes the hood and figures in the thick of things throughout under Mike Smith.

#5 Secret Circle (5-2) has fired Exacta shots in all six lifetime starts and is 2-for-2 at Oaklawn Park. The hard knocking early-pressing type may have reached the end of his stamina rope but must be respected throughout under Bejarano.

#3 Najjaar (15-1) is an interesting late runner for profitable dirt route trainer Dan Peitz. He fell too far back under Borel in the G2 Rebel and showed late interest while splitting the 12-horse field. He is reportedly training well for this and can make a serious late run if he is able to maintain contact with the field.

#2 Stat (10-1) has raw talent for Todd Pletcher. The early-pressing type reminds me a bit of Dance City, who landed the show for this barn in last year’s Arkansas Derby.

#6 Isn’t He Clever (6-1) almost stole the candy in the G3 Sunland Derby but he moved a bit too soon under Contreras. He would probably be a slam dunk if this race was in New Mexico but looms a tactical threat nonetheless. Albarado hops aboard.

#1 Cozzetti (15-1) put in a late run to garner the show in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby last time. He appears capable of landing the show for Dale Romans but a win would surprise.

#4 Jake Mo (30-1) has danced all of the local dances (Smarty Jones, Southwest, Rebel) and was not disgraced in any of those events. He can compete for a minor award at a big number.

#7 Optimizer (30-1) rallied for the place in the Rebel but that was his sixth straight loss on conventional dirt. Court got to know him last time but Lukas struggles in graded races (2% wins, 154-race sample) and this one is better on synthetic/turf.

#9 Sabercat (15-1) won a slow renewal of the G3 Delta Jackpot as a juvenile and predictably flopped while overbet in his Rebel return. He can spring forward 2nd off the shelf but is not fast enough to threaten these.

#8 Atigun (30-1) is training forwardly and has seemingly gotten rid of his pesky quarter crack. He adds lasix and should improve off his 11th place Rebel finish.

#10 Raconteur (15-1) exits a game win in the $75k Private Terms Stakes but was dusted in his lone graded try (Gotham) and is a few notched below the best in here.

The Plays:

$6 to win, $10 to place, $15 to show #3 Najjaar

.50 cent Trifecta 5-11/ALL/3 ($9)

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Gemologist, Alpha impress in Wood Memorial

It was business as usual on the Kentucky Derby 2012 trail last weekend with favorites Gemologist and Alpha running 1-2 in the G1 Wood Memorial and highly regarded colts I’ll Have Another and Creative Cause noses apart in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. Done Talking upset the G3 Illinois Derby but that race was a puzzling crapshoot and  should not have a major impact on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Four of my top five contenders (Alpha, Secret Circle, Union Rags, Creative Cause) from my initial Derby Top 10 list last September are still very much in the thick of things, with Alpha, Union Rags, and Creative Cause running well without winning in their final Derby preps.

Currency Swap and Midnight Transfer drop off the Exciting Prospects list after disappointing in graded action on April 7.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked Derby contender remains #1 after a troubled show finish in the G1 Florida Derby. He is expected to post his first work since the Florida Derby at Palm Meadows on Friday or Saturday and could ship to Keeneland as early as this weekend. Graded Earnings: $1,170,000  

Alpha Gemologist Kentucky Derby 2012

Gemologist and Alpha put on a show in New York on Saturday - photo by Eclipse sportswire

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – G3 Withers hero almost ran down Gemologist in Saturday’s G1 Wood Memorial. He continues to improve and enters the Derby a sharp, fresh threat for Kiaran Mclaughlin. Graded Earnings: $380,000  

3. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Kept his perfect record intact in game G1 Wood Memorial tally. The WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner likes Churchill Downs, owns fine early-pressing speed, and has a nose for the wire. He will train for Kentucky Derby 2012 at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. Graded Earnings: $703,855  

4. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Captured his second graded route in G2 San Felipe on 3-10 and just missed to I’ll Have Another in Saturday’s G1 SA Derby (blinkers off). Graded Earnings: $836,000

5. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He breezed 5f in 1:00 (4/14) at Churchill (training track) on 4-7. The G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14 in next on the docket. Graded Earnings: $1,400,000 

6. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Captured back-to-back graded routes at Oaklawn in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) and G2 Rebel (92 BSF). He worked 5f in 1:00.20 (9/25) at Santa Anita on 4-9 and is expected to return to Hot Springs for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Graded Earnings: $470,000

7. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Stole the Florida Derby but could only muster a 95 BSF despite everything going his way. I have always been fond of this one but he could be a pace casualty on the first Saturday in May. Graded Earnings: $698,400 

8. Daddy Nose Best (Scat Daddy) – Back-to-back nine furlong wins in G3 El Camino Real Derby (92 BSF) and G3 Sunland Derby (100 BSF). Late running Asmussen trainee can run on anything. Breezed 5f in 1:02.40 (14/15) at Churchill Downs on 4-9. Graded Earnings: $545,558  

9. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Finished a flat 4th in a very disappointing Florida Derby performance. He is on the graded earnings bubble and seemingly moves up on wet footing. Graded Earnings: $250,000

I'll Have Another Kentucky Derby 2012

I'll Have Another joins the Top 10 list after winning the SA Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

10. I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley) – Followed up his surprise G2 Robert Lewis triumph with another tally in the G1 SA Derby. The Doug O’Neill trainee looms an early-pressing threat on the first Saturday in May. Graded Earnings: $601,000

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order)

1. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – Followed up 101 BSF maiden romp with another 101 BSF in San Felipe runner-up effort on 3-10. He worked 5f in 1:00.40 (14/55) at Santa Anita on 4-8 and looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Arkansas Derby on 4-14. Graded Earnings: $60,000

2. Dullahan (Even The Score) – 4th place BC Juvenile finisher landed the place in G3 Palm Beach at the Gulf March 11. Fired a 5f bullet in :57.40 (1/33) at Keeneland in advance of Saturday’s G1 Blue Grass. Graded Earnings: $405,000

3. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow and finished 2nd behind 109-1 bomber Hero of Order in G2 Louisiana Derby. Graded Earnings: $260,000 

4. Prospective (Malibu Moon) – Professional winner of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby (88 BSF) for Mark Casse. Blinkers helped him get involved earlier and he will face better next time in G1 Blue Grass. Breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (2/5) at Churchill Downs on 4-2. Graded Earnings: $365,452  

5. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – Followed in Animal Kingdom’s footsteps with a win in the G3 Spiral Stakes (92 BSF) for Motion/Team Valor. He was green in the stretch and might run one more time before the Derby, with the G3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on 4-21 a logical target. Graded Earnings: $282,000 

I’ll Have Another, Done Talking Win Key Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps

The West Coast 3-year-olds completed their path to Kentucky Derby 2012 on Saturday and I’ll Have Another got the bob over Creative Cause in the 75th running of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

G1 Santa Anita Derby (4-7-12): 94 BSF (I’ll Have Another)

I'll Have Another nips Creative Cause in the SA Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

42-1 Baffert bomber Blueskiesnrainbows surprisingly coasted on an easy lead through splits of :23.11, :47.11, and 1:11.14. I’ll Have Another stalked on the outside and Creative Cause was relaxed along the rail.

Blueskiesnrainbows still held the advantage after a mile in 1:35.36 but I’ll Have Another and Creative Cause were gaining fast. The two favorites crossed the line noses apart with I’ll Have Another narrowly getting the job done under Mario Gutierrez. Baffert’s longshot pacesetter was another 1/2 length back in 3rd.

Paynter finished 4th, and was followed by maiden Brother Francis, Liaison, Midnight Transfer, Senor Rain, and Longview Drive.

I’ll Have Another, trained by Doug O’Neill, competed his nine furlong journey in 1:47.88 and paid $10.20. The son of Flower Alley picked up $450k in graded earnings and heads to Louisville riding a 2-race graded route win streak.

Creative Cause removed the hood and ran well from post one. He qualified for the Kentucky Derby on graded earnings long ago and received a useful prep on Saturday.

I have always thought the Southern California 3-year-olds were a cut below the top Florida runners and continue to hold that belief following the SA Derby.

Kudos to I’ll Have Another for proving me wrong on Saturday but he figures to fall short on the first Saturday in May. Creative Cause always runs his race and is the more serious Derby threat.

Santa Anita Derby Grade: B- (82 out of 100)

In the $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne, Done Talking rallied to an upset victory for sharp Maryland connections Hamilton Smith and Sheldon Russell.

G3 Illinois Derby (4-7-12): 85 BSF (Done Talking)

The pace was honest with Frankie Is Rock and Our Entourage leading through splits of :23.94 and :48.64. Morgan’s Guerilla made a wide middle move and was up to 2nd after six panels in 1:13.94.

Morgan’s Guerilla struck the front under Rosie Napravnik in the lane but Done Talking and Hakama were finishing fast. In the end, it was Done Talking by 3/4ths of a length over Morgan’s Guerilla with Hakama another length and a half back in 3rd.

Saturday Launch was a rallying 4th and was followed across the line by Ring It Up, Skyring, Frankie Is Rock, Pretension, Z Rockstar, Currency Swap, Fastestwhogetspaid, Romancing the Gold, and Slamit.

This looked like a weak Derby prep on paper and did not impress visually while earning a mediocre number.

Illinois Derby Grade: C- (71 out of 100)

Wood Memorial 2012 Recap: Gemologist Edges Alpha

Gemologist and Alpha punched their Kentucky Derby 2012 tickets after running 1-2 in an exciting edition of the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on Saturday.

G1 Wood Memorial (4-7-12): 98 BSF (Gemologist)

Gemologist Alpha Kentucky Derby 2012

Gemologist is undefeated heading into Ky Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Lumber Guy was the headstrong early leader through splits of :23.04, :47.57, and 1:22.54. My Adonis tracked in 2nd, followed by Gemologist on the outside and Alpha along the rail.

The Lumber Guy was getting pressure from My Adonis and Gemologist with three furlongs to go. Gemologist put away his two pace foes but had to deal with a fresh challenge from Alpha. The stage was set for a thrilling finish and Gemologist stuck his neck out on the line with Alpha three clear of rallying show finisher Teeth of the Dog.

Tiger Walk finished 4th and was followed by The Lumber Guy, Street Life, My Adonis, and Casual Trick (more breathing problems).

Gemologist stopped the clock in 1:50.96 and paid $4.40 to win under Javier Castellano. Todd Pletcher’s undefeated colt will return to Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida to prepare for the Kentucky Derby.

Gemologist fans should be pleased. He showed he could stalk and pounce and turned back talented colt Alpha in a determined effort. He is 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs and could end up the Derby favorite, depending on what happens with Hansen in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14.

Alpha did everything but win under Ramon Dominguez. He was on good gate behavior once again and proved he could take dirt in the face after racing along the rail. The McLaughlin/Godolphin colt finished up nicely and his numbers are on the rise.

This was a solid Derby prep from start to finish.

Wood Memorial Grade: A- (91 out of 100)

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