Posts Tagged ‘Isn’t He Clever’

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

 

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)

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)

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Daddy Nose Best Takes Sunland Derby

The Kentucky Derby 2012 trail made a rare stop in New Mexico and Daddy Nose Best wore down local hope Isn’t He Clever in an exciting renewal of the Grade 3 Sunland Derby.

G3 Sunland Derby (3-25-12): 100 BSF (Daddy Nose Best)

Daddy Nose Best

Versatile colt Daddy Nose Best is headed to the Kentucky Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

An unexpected suicidal speed duel between post time favorite Castaway and Ender Knievel set things up for the patient runners and Isn’t He Clever got the first run trip under Luis Contreras, who seemingly jumped the gun and moved too soon.

Julien Leparoux and Daddy Nose Best bided their time in 6th place and went after the local hero turning for home.

Isn’t He Clever appeared home free for a moment but Asmussen’s El Camino Real winner was grinding away and got the job done by 3/4ths of a length, running nine furlongs in a solid 1:48.59.

It was more than seven lengths back to show finisher Stirred Up. No Spin was 4th, followed by Ender Knievel, Tequila Factor, Castaway, and Justanoldsong.

Daddy Nose Best earned $400,000 for the win and has more than enough graded dough for the first Saturday in May. The neat 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy has now won on dirt, synthetic, and turf.

Sunland Derby Grade: B- (83 out of 100)

Sunland Derby 2012 Preview: Ender Knievel’s coming out party?

Kentucky Derby 2012 hopeful Castaway, a visually impressive winner of the slower division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb 20, takes on seven rivals in Sunday’s Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby (race 12) at Sunland Park.

Castaway

Castaway goes after his third straight win in Sunday's G3 Sunland Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#1 Castaway (2-1) and his talented stablemate Secret Circle invaded Arkansas and left with graded glory in both divisions of the Southwest. Secret Circle returned to Oaklawn Park and landed the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes last weekend.

Now, Castaway visits New Mexico for trainer Bob Baffert in hopes of earning a nice chunk of graded cash for a possible engagement on the first Saturday in May.

Castaway, a well-bred son of Street Sense, took six tries to break his maiden, and he graduated in style over wet-fast footing at Santa Anita Park in January. He followed up his easy maiden tally over Holy Candy with another win in the G3 Southwest and figures in the think of things throughout from the inside post on Sunday. Rafael Bejarano rides again.

Baffert also conditions #3 Stirred Up (8-1). The late striding son of Lemon Drop Kid flees the speed conducive Santa Anita Park oval and would appreciate contested fractions. The recent graduate beat sharp next out winner Holy Candy last time will be ridden by Martin Garcia.

#2 Ender Knievel (6-1)  is on the upswing for Todd Pletcher. The promising son of Distorted Humor, out of an AP Indy mare, raced for George Arnold in Kentucky and Florida last year and improved his numbers each time. Pletcher took over the training duties and he responded immediately with a romping flat mile maiden win at Gulfstream Park on Feb 5. John Velazquez with pilot the fresh, prominent throughout threat.

#6 Daddy Nose Best (3-1) exits a game nostril victory over UAE Derby hopeful Lucky Chappy in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Steve Asmussen’s versatile son of Scat Daddy has been competitive on dirt, turf, and synthetic, and should be finishing under regular rider Julien Leparoux.

Local hope #4 Isn’t He Clever (4-1) is 4-for-4 in the state of New Mexico and smartly captured the local prep for this (Borderland Derby). The gelded son of Smarty Jones projects a tactical journey under new rider Luis Contreras. He is 2-for-2 at Sunland.

#5 No Spin (8-1) was last seen finishing 6th behind Castaway in Hot Springs. The Tim Ice trainee is 0-for-4 on dirt and appears better on turf/synthetic.

#7 Tequila Factor (15-1) easily captured a minor turf stakes affair at Turf Paradise March 17. He failed to threaten Isn’t He Clever in a pair of local starts and appears most effective on turf/synthetic at this stage of his career.

Lightly raced colt #8 Justanoldsong (20-1) colt broke his maiden in a local flat mile event Jan 31 and was a well-beaten 6th in the Borderland Derby last time. He is overmatched on numbers.

The Plays:

$20 to win #2 Ender Knievel

$5 Exacta #2 Ender Knievel over #3 Stirred Up and #6 Daddy Nose Best ($10)

$5 Exacta #3 Stirred Up and #6 Daddy Nose Best over #2 Ender Knievel ($10)

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Robert Lewis, Sam Davis

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 made stops in Florida and Southern California on Feb 4 and the G3 Sam Davis and G2 Robert Lewis Stakes both produced surprising results.

G3 Sam F. Davis (2-4-12): 81 BSF (Battle Hardened)

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

Saturday’s Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs did not look strong on paper and eventual winner Battle Hardened was a maiden coming in and got the job done in slow time.  He is out of strong route sire Giant’s Causeway and trainer Eddie Kenneally is back on the Triple Crown trail after catching Derby fever with Santiva in 2011.

Three noses were on the wire for runner-up honors with Prospective edging out Reveron and Ravelo’s Boy. Prospective won the G3 Grey at Woodbine as a juvenile and Reveron was last seen capturing the Gulfstream Park Derby.

State of Play set the pace and faded to 7th for Team Valor and Graham Motion. Look for him to return to the sod in the near future.

Sam Davis Stakes Grade: D

I'll Have Another

I'll Have Another goes next in SA Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I’ll Have Another made the most of his first start in five months at Santa Anita on Saturday, posting a surprising $88.60 upset in a strange renewal of the Lewis.

G2 Robert Lewis Stakes (2-4-12): 96 BSF (I’ll Have Another)

Sprinter Isn’t He Clever set the pace with I’ll Have Another tracking him intently. The early leader faded after six panels and the eventual winner inherited the lead and was never seriously threatened in a relatively easy 2-3/4 length tally.

Liaison was the solid favorite for Bob Baffert but was never traveling comfortably and fell in the stretch after clipping heels with Groovin’ Solo, who crossed the line in 3rd but was place last via disqualification.

Royal Delta’s brother Empire Way was up to finish a clear 2nd and Rousing Sermon was elevated to 3rd.

It was double disappointment for Baffert as Sky Kingdom failed to get involved. Chips All In failed to lift a hoof.

The number from the Lewis came back solid enough but the race was dominated by longshots and did not look strong from a visual standpoint. I’ll Have Another is expected to go next in the G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

Robert Lewis Stakes Grade: C

Robert Lewis Stakes 2012 Preview: Four-bagger for Liaison?

The Kentucky Derby 2012 trail heats up in Southern California on Saturday with the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park and morning line favorite Liaison seeks his fourth straight win for Bob Baffert.

Liaison

Is Liaison beatable on Saturday? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#2 Liaison (9-5) landed the show in his flat mile bow and Del Mar and it has been all smiles ever since. He graduated in a seven panel event at Santa Anita Park, and proceeded to win back-t0-back stakes races in the Real Quiet and G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park. The hard knocking Baffert trainee owns fine tactical speed and is training well for this. This is a starting point to his sophomore campaign and he is already sitting pretty on the graded earnings list so he does not have to win this at low odds.

Liaison’s stablemate #5 Sky Kingdom (6-1) was my top choice in the aforementioned CashCall Futurity and he was hardly disgraced in a 4th place finish. He exits a facile allowance route win at the Great Race Place and appears poised to make a splash in the graded ranks.

#6 Rousing Sermon (5-2) finished 2nd to Liaison in the Real Quiet and CashCall in his last pair. He won the CalCup Juvenile at Santa Anita and will be finishing under Talamo. He needs a fair racetrack and some pace help.

#8 Chips All In (6-1) has a nose for the wire and should sit a decent outer tactical trip if he can avoid getting hung out to dry. The Mullins runner gets tested for class.

#7 Empire Way (6-1) is slowly improving for Mike Harrington. Royal Delta’s brother tries conventional dirt for the first time and will try to get involved late under Rosario.

#3 Groovin’ Solo (12-1) took to the local oval like a duck to water in his recent flat mile graduation run Dec 30. He sports two local bullets for this and is getting better but class is a cloud.

#1 Isn’t He Clever (6-1) is a New Mexico shipper with a hint of ability. The gelded son of Smarty Jones will probably flash speed from the rail under Nakatani. He will get a distance and class challenge.

#4 I’ll Have Another (12-1) would appreciate a speed favoring oval. He ran well in a pair of synthetic sprints last summer and has not been seen since struggling in the Saratoga slop last September.

The Plays:

$20 to win #5
$8 to win #8
$1 Trifecta 5-8/2-5-6-8/2-5-6-8 ($12)

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