Posts Tagged ‘Graham Motion’

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

This is my first in a series of blogs devoted to Kentucky Derby 2014 contenders. Once again, I am getting an early start in September, and there will be many twists and turns in the months ahead.

Kentucky Derby 2014 logoEight of the last thirteen Kentucky Derby winners graduated by October 4, including six of the last eight. Kentucky Derby 2012 hero I’ll Have Another captured his career debut at Hollywood Park on July 3 of his juvenile season.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb lost his first three juvenile outings. He graduated at the Big A on November 24, 2012, his first of five straight wins, culminating in a scintillating off the pace tally under the Twin Spires on May 4.

An ideal Kentucky Derby contender would have a solid juvenile foundation, a long-winded pedigree, sharp graded stakes form, running style versatility, and winning connections. Strong pre-Derby works are the icing on the cake.

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :50.80 (81/91) at Churchill Downs on 9-22.

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in 8-31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He owns a promising route pedigree and is entered in the third race at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Sept. 28 (MSW, 8f).

UPDATE: Purple Sky overcame adversity to earn diploma at CD on 9-28.

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: 5f breeze in 1:01.54 (13/24) at Belmont Park on 9-23.

UPDATE: Honor Code breezed 4f in :47.99 (5/38) at Belmont Park on 9-29.

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 should get better as distances increase and will run next in the G1 Champagne at Belmont Park on 10-5.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49.53 (8/29) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 9-21.

Comments: Battled on the pace throughout and was 2nd best to Honor Code in his 8-31 debut at the Spa. He won’t be a maiden much longer and is entered in the second race at Belmont Park on Saturday, Sept. 28 (MSW, 7f).

UPDATE: Misconnect graduated by a length at Belmont on 9-28 (85 BSF).

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48.15 (1/29) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 9-21.

UPDATE: Grand Arrival fired a 4f bullet in :48.02 (1/31) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 9-28.

Comments: Distant 3rd to Big Sugar Soda 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).

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

Strong Mandate horse

Hopeful hero Strong Mandate eyes the G1 Champagne – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:01 (5/50) at Churchill Downs on 9-22.

UPDATE: Strong Mandate breezed 4f in :48 (9/48) at Churchill Downs on 9-29.

Comments: Has been sensational since finishing 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 will go for back-to-back Grade I wins in the Champagne.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00.85 (1/17) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 9-23.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. The G1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park is next.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: Breezed 5f in :59.80 (2/40) at Churchill Downs on 9-23.

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.

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

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (32/48) at Santa Anita on 9-25.

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.” He is entered in the G1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita on 9-28.

UPDATE: 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.”

9. GIVE NO QUARTER (Tiz Wonderful – Roadtohanna, by Not for Love)

Trainer: Graham Motion – Owner: Sagamore Farm

Comments: Two races at Presque Isle with a clear place finish in his 5.5f bow on 8-15 and a 22-length romp at one mile on 9-17 (85 BSF).

10. NEW YEAR’S DAY (Street Cry – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Gary & Mary West

Latest Workout: Worked 4f in :49.40 (40/49) at Santa Anita on 9-23.

Comments: Rallied for 3rd in his 5.5f Del Mar debut 8-17 and won by 1-3/4 (one mile) at that same venue 8-31.

11. CANDIP (Candy Ride – Indefinable, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: W. Bret Calhoun  – Owner: Sanders and Hirsch

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :51.41 (8/14) at Remington Park on 9-22.

Comments: Coasted home by 4-1/4 lengths in his 5.5f Remington bow on 9-2 (89 BSF).

Pedigree Spotlight: PURPLE SKY

Purple Sky pedigreePurple Sky’s sire Pulpit (A.P. Indy – Preach, by Mr. Prospector) had a short but productive 6-race career in 1997, beginning with a debut maiden win at Gulfstream Park in January.

Pulpit (1994-2012) captured an allowance race in Florida second time out, and followed that up with a win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a 2nd in the Florida Derby, and a victory in the Blue Grass Stakes. He chipped his knee during a 4th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and was subsequently retired.

A.P. Indy’s most successful son at stud, Pulpit was responsible for 42 graded stakes winners (11 Grade I winners), including 2010 Florida Derby winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box.

Unfortunately, Pulpit died in his stall at Claiborne Farm at age 18 in late 2012.

Pulpit’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.

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.

Pulpit’s mother Preach (by Mr. Prospector) won the G1 Frizette as a juvenile in 1991. She won the Bourbonette Stakes to kick off her sophomore campaign, and placed in the G2 Prioress, G1 Test, Gallant Bloom, and Aladancer Stakes later that year.

Preach’s papa 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.

Purple Sky’s mother Tessa Blue, a Maryland-bred daughter of Awesome Again, won the G3 Indiana Oaks and Inside Information Stakes in 2007. She finished 2nd in the G2 Rampart and G3 Sixty Sails Handicaps in 2008.

Tessa Blue’s father Awesome Again (by Deputy Minister) won 9 of 12 races and more than $4 million, capturing such prestigious races as the Queen’s Plete, G2 Jim Dandy, G2 Stephen Foster, G2 Whitney, G2 Saratoga BC ‘Cap, G3 Hawthorne Gold Cup, and G1 BC Classic.

Tessa Blue’s mother Blue Sky Princess (by Conquistador Cielo), a classy Maryland-bred, won the Caesar’s Wish and Twixt Stakes at Pimlico and the Anne Arundel Stakes at Laurel. She also placed in the Hilltop, Pearl Necklace, G2 Cotillion, and G3 Martha Washington.

Purple Sky has class and stamina influences throughout his bloodlines and should continue to improve as distances increase. He has every reason to excel pedigree-wise if he makes it to the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Crop Report on the rise for Team Valor

Crop Report arrived too late for the Kentucky Derby 2013 party but he is a colt on the rise following a visually impressive score in the $75,000 Team Valor Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park on March 23.

Crop Report Team Valor

Wearing blinkers for the first time in the Rushaway, Crop Report sat in last early after getting bumped at the start before unleashing a strong late run to prove best by 1-1/2 lengths under Joel Rosario. He earned an 85 BSF.

Crop Report began his career with a 7th place finish at Newmarket (Great Britain) and stylishly captured a flat mile turf race at that same venue second time out.

Crop Report

He made his first start on turf in the U.S. at Gulfstream Park and closed nicely to land the show after hitting the gate at the start. The winner of that heat, Black Onyx, stole the show at Turfway Park on March 23 with a sharp score in the G3 Spiral Stakes.

Crop Report

Crop Report has now won on synthetic and turf and the Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro, out of a Crafty Prospector mare, has the pedigree to handle conventional dirt as well.

Owned by Barry Irwin’s Team Valor International and trained by Graham Motion, Crop Report is a late March 31 foal and will probably target the Belmont Stakes. He could make his next start in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 11.

For more Spiral Stakes day coverage and Crop Report pictures, check out Stacy’s Kentucky horse racing photos page.

Spiral Stakes 2012 Recap – Went The Day Well rolls home

The lone graded Kentucky Derby 2012 prep at Turfway Park was run on Saturday and Went The Day Well emerged as a contender on the first Saturday in May after cruising home in the G3 Spiral Stakes for Graham Motion and Team Valor.

G3 Spiral (3-24-12): 92 BSF (Went The Day Well)

Went The Day Well

Is Went The Day Well the next Animal Kingdom? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Heavy Breathing carved out the early splits for Todd Pletcher, with Went The Day Well positioned perfectly behind the speed along the rail under John Velazquez.

Pletcher’s other colt Holiday Promise was sitting midpack at almost 26-1 and expected early runner Handsome Mike broke 12th and last after losing his footing and getting bumped at the start.

Heavy Breathing put away overmatched pace rivals Ill Conceived and Coach Royal but Went The Day Well was always traveling smoothly and passed the front runner after six furlongs.

Holiday Promise made a wide move and tried to gain on the new leader but got a bit weary in late stretch while settling for runner-up honors.

Heavy Breathing was a comfortable 3rd and was followed across the line by Handsome Mike, Stealcase, All Squared Away, Ill Conceived, Russian Greek, Tizanexpense, Red Jack, Mr. Prankster, and Coach Royal.

Went The Day Well picked up $282,000 in graded earnings on March 24, which should be more than enough to make the Derby gate. The promising son of Proud Citizen handles dirt, turf, and synthetic, and Motion/Team Valor have plenty of options with the versatile sort this year. He was green in the Turfway stretch before kicking away to win by 3-1/2 lengths. He has some catching up to do and seems a cut or two below the best at this stage. The G3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 21 could be next.

It should be noted that Animal Kingdom won the Spiral Stakes and Kentucky Derby for Graham Motion, Team Valor, and John Velazquez last year…deja vu all over again?

Spiral Stakes Grade: C+ (78 out of 100)

 

 

Spiral Stakes 2012 Preview – Wide Open Kentucky Derby Prep

Will the next Animal Kingdom emerge from the shadows at Turfway Park on Saturday? One thing is for sure. The Grade 3 Spiral Stakes is a wide open Derby prep race and the winner will have the necessary graded earnings to make the starting gate in Kentucky Derby 2012.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

#11 Stealcase (10-1) is worth a stab at double digit odds. He had a troubled start in a 6th of 13 performance behind Hansen in the G3 Gotham Stakes. He ran into multiple next out winners in his first few starts including promising runners Thunder Moccasin, Ender Knievel, and Windsurfer. He looked good in Gulfstream dirt route maiden tally Jan 19 and can compete here if he handles the footing. The Mark Casse runner dons the hood and sports a bullet for this engagement.

#4 Went The Day Well (4-1) is an interesting contender for Graham Motion/Team Valor. He landed the place in both Great Britain turf starts last year and graduated in a flat mile special weight affair at Gulfstream Park March 3.

#12 Handsome Mike (4-1) dueled and held the show in the G3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb 18. He handles any footing but appears best on turf. Joel Rosario rides.

#1 Russian Greek (10-1) captured two synthetic route stakes events at Golden Gate Fields and was last seen splitting a 10-horse field in the aforementioned El Camino Real Derby. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee dons the hood and attracts Nakatani.

#3 Heavy Breathing (3-1) easily captured both Gulfstream starts for Todd Pletcher. He is an obvious threat if he handles synthetic ground but probably won’t offer much value.

Pletcher also has #5 Holiday Promise (12-1). He donned the hood and landed the place when last seen at Laurel Park Feb 20.

#7 Ill Conceived (8-1) just missed in the Battaglia, the local prep for this. He will not get away with an easy lead this time and might find nine panels a bit much.

#9 Tizanexpense (15-1) failed to fire from post 11 in the G2 Risen Star last time. He was making steady progress before that and is not without a chance in a tough handicapping puzzle. Michael Maker conditions the son of Tiznow.

Maker also saddles #10 Mr. Prankster (12-1) and leading Fair Grounds jockey Rosie Napravnik is in to ride. He flopped in the Battaglia but won back-to-back local stakes races before that.

#8 Coach Royal (15-1) dons the hood and goes turf/synthetic. The is ambitious spot for the well-bred maiden.

#6 All Squared Away (30-1) will likely attend the pace for sharp SoCal trainer Peter Miller. He faded in the El Camino Real and will probably do the same today.

#2 Red Jack (30-1) has dropped all four starts this year for Wayne Lukas. He graduated in a turf route and failed to fire in lone all-weather route last year.

The Plays: $20 to win/place #11 Stealcase

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: El Camino Real Derby

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 made a pit stop in Northern California on Feb 18 and Daddy Nose Best edged Lucky Chappy in a thrilling renewal of the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

Kentucky Derby logo 2012

G3 El Camino Real Derby (2-18-12): 92 BSF (Daddy Nose Best)

I am not sure that the El Camino Real was a serious Kentucky Derby prep but it was an exciting race. Daddy Nose Best was full of run and just waiting for an opening, and the tactical threat made his move at the same time as late runner Lucky Chappy. The two shippers battled down the lane with the Steve Asmussen trainee getting the bob.

If I had to pick one of the top two in regards to making the Derby field, I would have to side with Daddy Nose Best. He landed the place in his dirt sprint bow at Churchill last summer and his dam sire Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby in 1995. He owns a decent late kick and showed nice positional speed on Saturday.

Irish bred Lucky Chappy is expected to contest Dubai’s UAE Derby at Meydan for trainer Graham Motion on March 31.

Show finisher Handsome Mike now has stakes placings on turf and synthetic. Doug O’Neill’s versatile colt handles any footing and gave sire Scat Daddy a 1-3 finish in the El Camino Real.

El Camino Real Derby Grade: C

El Camino Real Derby 2012 Preview: Daddy Nose Best

Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby is the lone graded route in Northern California’s road to Kentucky Derby 2012 and Daddy Nose Best should offer a hint of value for Steve Asmussen.

Kentucky Derby 2012

#1 Daddy Nose Best (9-2) began his career splitting a pair of subsequent stakes winners (Exfactor, Dullahan) in a Churchill dirt sprint. He disappointed second time out but started to hit his best stride with added ground on the turf. Asmussen won this with Silver Medallion last year and that one also exited Santa Anita’s grassy Eddie Logan Stakes. Leparoux strings along and he shows five works for this.

#6 Lucky Chappy (7-2) brought strong Italian form to Keeneland for his US bow last fall and was hardly disgraced in a G3 Bourbon show finish. He followed that up with a troubled 4th from post 11 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and prepped for this with a runner-up effort in the Jan 21 Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream. The Graham Motion trainee is a late running threat if he handles the Tapeta footing.

#7 Handsome Mike (8-1) is an interesting price player. The versatile SoCal shipper finished 4th in the G3 Sham (dirt), 7th in the G1 CashCall Futurity (synthetic), and 2nd in the G3 Generous (turf). He dons the hood and looms a pace factor at the very least.

#10 Lady of Fifty (5-1) is a filly taking on the boys and she might be the best local hope. She ran faster than the gents in the Cal Oaks but seems most effective on the lead and meets other speed. She must overcome the outside post but her task is not impossible.

#4 Russian Greek (5-2) is 2-for-2 in local routes and exits a fine late running score in the $100,000 Cal Derby. His numbers are a bit light but the $100k Keeneland sales grad packs a decent late kick and will be finishing for the productive Gryder-Hollendorfer team.

#3 Cahill Chrome (10-1) was tagged in a surprise place finish in the Cal Derby. He owns fine early-pressing speed and likes this oval but is probably a cut below the best in here.

#2 Senor Rain (12-1) finished an even 3rd in the Cal Derby and will need to show more to make a dent in this tougher event.

#8 Rockinarz Recruit (20-1) stretches out in distance and will probably show speed. He remains eligible for an entry level spot and is probably in over his head today.

#5 Unveiled Heat (20-1) broke his maiden on turf in his 9th career start. He finished 5th in the Cal Derby at 18-1 and looks like an outsider in this spot.

#9 All Squared Away (20-1) broke his maiden in a local route Jan 22 but he controlled the pace that day and did not earn much of a number. He is overmatched in the paper race.

The Plays:

$24 to win #1

$10 Quinella 1-6

$6 Quinella 1-7

 

 

2011 Belmont Stakes Profile: Animal Kingdom

It is time to begin looking at the hopefuls for the 2011 Belmont Stakes and my contenders countdown begins with Kentucky Derby hero Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom

photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The aforementioned Derby winner has been an exacta player in all six lifetime starts and the 2-time graded hero was hardly disgraced in a rallying Preakness place finish. Graham Motion’s talented son of Leroidesanimaux paired-up top figures in the first two legs of the Triple Crown and is bred to handle the marathon distance of the Belmont Stakes.

Animal Kingdom owns a long distance turf-oriented pedigree and is capable of producing a strong late kick under the right pace circumstances. He seems best closing into moderate fractions but the odd Preakness race shape (fast early/slow middle) proved his undoing, especially with eventual winner Shackleford in the hunt throughout.

Team Valor International’s 3-year-old colt should make his presence felt at Big Sandy if the Derby and Preakness did not take too much out of him.

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