Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Year-End Rankings

My newest Kentucky Derby 2014 contender Gold Hawk ran his record to a perfect 2-for-2 with a good looking, late striding 3-1/2 length score in an entry level route at Fair Grounds Dec. 27.

Kentucky Derby 2014 logoA $450k purchase trained by Steve Asmussen, Gold Hawk owns a promising route pedigree and has plenty of upside. Look for him to join the sophomore stakes ranks in New Orleans next year.

Purple Sky had every chance in the stretch and ended up a respectable 4th, 3/4ths and a head shy of the place. That’s back-to-back disappointments around two turns and his stock continues to drop.

Bob Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day has suffered a non-displaced chip on the left hind sesamoid and has been retired.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. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer – Owner: Jungle Racing (Jim Rome)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.20 (47/52) at Santa Anita Park on 12-28.

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut (84 BSF) and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue (99 BSF) on 11-10. The exciting gelding thoroughly dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He could make two, possibly three starts on the Derby trail at Santa Anita next year, culminating with the G1 SA Derby on April 5.

Honor Code horse

Honor Code is back on the work tab in Florida – photo be Eclipse Sportswire

2. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)

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

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :39 (10/13) at Payson Park on 12-31.

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 is wintering in Florida.

3. HAVANA (Dunkirk – Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man)

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

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.60 (3/17) at Oaklawn Park on 12-26.

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile.

5. GRAND ARRIVAL (Harlan’s Holiday – Grandstone, by Grindstone)

Trainer: Nick Zito – Owner: Ameche Jr., Ameche III, & Prancing Horse Enterprises

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :36 (2/5) at Palm Meadows on 12-27.

Comments: Distant 3rd in his 7-22 Saratoga debut (Strong Mandate 5th). Romped by 6-1/4 lengths as the 3-2 favorite at that same venue at 7f second time out on 8-31 (sloppy, sealed). Attended pace and retreated to 8th in Champagne and finished a wide 7th of 12 from post 10 in the G2 Nashua. He is entered in the GP Derby at the Gulf on Jan. 1.

Cairo Prince horse

Cairo Prince has worked twice this winter at Palm Meadows – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

6. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :51.90 (45/48) at Palm Meadows on 12-31.

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and is wintering in Florida.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

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. The promising colt is headed to the 3YO stakes ranks in New Orleans.

8. KENDALL’S BOY (Sky Mesa – Golden Damsel, by Gold Token)

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 4f breezed in :49 (6/70) at Fair Grounds on 12-16.

Comments: Clearly second best to Havana in his 8-23 debut (94 BSF) at the Spa and rolled by 5-1/4 lengths at 6f under the Twin Spires on 9-13. He never appeared comfortable on synthetic footing and was not persevered with in 11th place Breeders’ Futurity effort.

9. MISCONNECT (Unbridled’s Song – Summer Raven, by Summer Squall)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

Comments: Battled on the pace throughout and was 2nd best to Honor Code in his 8-31 debut at the Spa. He graduated by a length at Belmont on 9-28 (85 BSF).

10. PURPLE SKY (Pulpit – Tessa Blue, by Awesome Again)

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in Aug. 31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He overcame adversity to earn diploma at Churchill Downs (one mile) on Sept. 28. Never got involved in allowance route at Churchill on Nov. 9 and finished a conpetitive 4th in an entry level allowance route at Fair Grounds Dec. 27.

11. SCHOOLOFHARDROCKS (Rock Hard Ten – Miss Chapin, by Royal Academy)

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

Comments: It is not easy to win a route race first time out, but he did just at Del Mar on 8-31. Veteran jockey Victor Espinoza is high on this one. “He’s a very talented horse,” Espinoza said of the son of Rock Hard Ten. “I liked him the first time I saw him. I was impressed with how he ran going a mile and winning from the one hole (at odds of 10-1 Aug. 31 at Del Mar). I feel he’ll get even better.” Schoolofhardrocks scratched out of the FrontRunner Stakes. “It’s not too significant,” trainer David Hofmans said of the unrevealed injury. “It’s a problem we’re working on.”

Pedigree Spotlight: Gold Hawk

Gold Hawk’s sire Empire Maker (Unbridled – Toussaud, by El Gran Senor) was my Derby horse in 2003 and he ended up 2nd on the first Saturday in May that year. He turned the tables on Funny Cide in the Belmont Stakes five weeks late.

gold hawk pedigree

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 Decarchy.

Gold Hawk’s dam Caressing (Honour and Glory – Lovin Touch, by Majestic Prince) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2000. Her sire Honour and Glory (Relaunch) won multiple stakes races including the G1 Breeders’ Futurity, G1 Met Mile, G2 San Rafael, and G2 King’s Bishop.

Gold Hawk should get dam-side stamina from Lovin Touch and Majestic Prince. Lovin Touch won the G3 Selene and landed the place in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Majestic Prince captured the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1969.

Gold Hawk has the stride and running style of a true router, and his pedigree suggests that he should excel in longer events. Look for him to do some damage in upcoming Fair Grounds stakes races.   

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