Posts Tagged ‘Liaison’

Del Mar 2013 Video Series: Week 5 Recap + Pacific Classic Preview

The 2013 Del Mar thoroughbred season got underway on Wednesday, July 17. In the video series below, I look back at the 2012 leading riders, trainers, and the track profile. Each week, I also take a look at current track bias trends, hot jockey-trainer teams, key races, and horses to watch for 2013.

Each week, I will recap the racing week that was at Del Mar, and preview the upcoming week.

As always, I will be posting daily free Del Mar Pick 6 selections and tickets:

For daily insight on Del Mar’s Pick 6 races, check out Pick 6blog.HorseRacingNation. com
for free selections and tickets.

Beyond the Crown – Hansen rights his ship

Juvenile champion Hansen rebounded from a 9th place finish in the Kentucky Derby to trounce four overmatched rivals in the G3 Iowa Derby (97 BSF) on June 30. The Michael Maker trainee has his confidence back and will try to make it two straight in the G2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on August 3.

Hansen

Hansen got back on the beam at Prairie Meadows – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Teeth of the Dog, stablemate of Union Rags, gamely captured the G2 Dwyer at Belmont Park on June 30. The Michael Matz trainee earned a 92 BSF and will take on Hansen in West Virginia next.

In other 3-year-old stakes action, Bob Baffert sent out Blueskiesnrainbows in the G2 Swaps and he controlled the tempo and kept on finding on the fourth of July. G3 Affirmed winner Nonios rallied for the place and Baffert runner Liaison finished 3rd. The winner earned a 102 BSF.

My Adonis threw his hat into the Haskell following a game ½ length score over Macho Macho in Monmouth’s Long Branch Stakes on July 8.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked sophomore goes next in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park on Sunday, July 29. The Belmont Stakes hero breezed 5f in 1:00.60 (1/7) at Fair Hill on July 6.

Bodemeister

Bodemeister worked five panels on July 8 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – The Derby-Preakness bridesmaid was tuckered out after his 3rd race in 5-weeks at Pimlico. His early speed is especially dangerous up to nine panels and he could prove an elusive target in the Haskell. Worked 5f in 1:01 (11/31) at Santa Anita on 7-8.

3. Alpha (Bernardini) – Leg infection after the Wood Memorial probably contributed to his 12th place Derby effort. He spiked a fever and missed the Belmont Stakes. He is currently stabled at Saratoga and fired a 4f bullet in :47.33 (1/16) on July 7.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He is back in Pletcher’s barn with an eye on the Travers. Breezed 5f in 1:04.88 (8/10) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 7-2.

5. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion got back on the beam in facile G3 Iowa Derby victory. The G2 West Virginia Derby on 8-4 is up next, followed by the Travers.

6. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions. Baffert’s lightly raced colt should continue to develop. He zipped 5f in :58.60 (1/19) on July 4 and could resurface in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy on July 28.

7. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well. Look for him to resurface in the Haskell. Breezed 5f in 1:01 (2/11) at Churchill Downs on 7-7.

8. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer ran into the likes of Union Rags in Florida earlier this year. He exits back-to-back sharp Churchill wins and made the grade in the Matt Winn on June 16.

9. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – G3 Spiral Stakes hero finished a troubled 4th in the Derby. My Preakness top flopped in the second jewel and seemingly had nothing left to offer after his aforementioned bad trip two weeks earlier. Breezed 4f in :48.40 (1/14) at Fair Hill on 6-23 and 5f in 1:01.20 (4/16) on 6-30.

10. Holy Candy (Candy Ride) – Expecting big things from Sadler’s late developing colt. He exits a needed show finish in the G3 Affirmed and goes next in the Oceanside at Del Mar on July 18. Worked 6f in 1:13.80 (2/7) at Hollywood Park on 7-5.

Kentucky Derby 2012 Aftermath: What Happened to Union Rags?

The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby went according to script from a pace standpoint and I’ll Have Another ran down Bodemeister after sitting the perfect outside stalking trip.

Post position was critical in the outcome of Kentucky Derby 2012 and the key was the draw of the speed horses. Bodemeister (post 6) drew inside the other pace players and hit the ground running under Mike Smith.

I'll Have Another

Will I’ll Have Another win the Preakness? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I’ll Have Another was comfortably drawn outside the other speedsters in post 19 and his young rider Mario Gutierrez did a great job angling him in early and positioning him within striking range throughout.

I’ll Have Another is better than recent Derby winners Mine That Bird and Super Saver but probably not as good as Animal Kingdom. He was in the right spot to take advantage of a strung out field on the first Saturday in May and I want him to go out and prove it again at Pimlico.

Bodemeister ran a winning race but was forced to expend too much early energy and could not hold off I’ll Have Another. He wires the field if speedy sprinter Trinniberg is not entered.

Union Rags lost the race at the start and my troubled Derby tops have been down this road before (Lookin At Lucky, Point Given, Hansel, Risen Star). He reminds me of Lookin At Lucky the most. My 2010 Derby top experienced troubled trips in the SA Derby and Ky Derby that year under Garrett Gomez. Baffert made the switch to Martin Garcia and he proceeded to win the Preakness, Haskell, and Indiana Derby.

Julien Leparoux has gotten Union Rags into trouble in back-to-back races and it is time for a change. Just like ‘Lucky and Gomez, the karma is not there for some reason. Who would I like to see on Union Rags? I am thinking Rosie Napravnik. She always seems to put her horses in the right spot and gives them every chance to succeed.

Also, rewind your mind to the Gulf this winter when Javier Castellano ditched Union Rags for a plethora of Pletcher runners including Algorithms. Maybe Michael Matz gives him a second chance.

Let’s recap the entire field…

1st – I’ll Have Another: Post 19 was perfect because he drew outside the other speed horses and was able to keep Bodemeister in his sights throughout. I have never been on his bandwagon and am not about to hop aboard now but you gotta love his positional speed and winning spirit.

2nd Bodemeister: Ran great considering Trinniberg forced him to go too fast early. He has accomplished so much in a short time this year and I would like to see him get a well-deserved break. Preakness remains a possibility but that would be three races in five weeks and he could bounce to the moon following his grueling Derby run.

3rdDullahan: Not surprised that the Keeneland specialist clunked up for a minor award because he did the same thing in the BC Juvenile. He handles any footing but clearly does his best work in Lexington.

4th Went The Day Well: Nice late run to garner a minor award under the Twin Spires. He was one of my projected trifecta/superfecta contenders so he ran as I expected. He will prepare for the Preakness at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

5thCreative Cause: Made a wide run to get into 3rd but lost the show late when Dullahan and Went The Day Well shot past him. He beat Bodemeister in March and was a nose behind I’ll Have Another in April so he is right there with these on his best day and can make some noise in the Preakness.

6thLiaison: Ended up a better than expected 6th from post 20. He still has not won a race since last December.

Union Rags

Look for Union Rags to have a new rider in the near future – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

7thUnion Rags: A real shame that he did not get to strut his stuff in the Derby. I still think he is the best 3yo in the land and at this point it looks he might skip the Preakness and wait for the Belmont Stakes. He probably wins the second jewel if he goes in that direction.

8thRousing Sermon: Decent CA-bred has not won since moving into open company last November. He packs a nice late kick and could resurface in the Belmont Stakes.

9th Hansen: Never looked like a ten furlong horse and faded under Twin Spires as expected. Juvenile champ is now 1-for-4 in 2012.

10thDaddy Nose Best: Split the field in a bit of disappointing run considering he was training well for the big dance. He handles dirt, synthetic, and turf so Asmussen has plenty of options in the coming months.

11thOptimizer: Not a terrible effort beating nine rivals from post two. He has now dropped seven straight on conventional dirt but Lukas will surely keep him on the Triple Crown trail. He is a decent turf/synthetic horse.

Alpha

I am expecting Alpha to make some noise later this year – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

12thAlpha: Missed a key Derby work after being diagnosed with a leg infection after the Wood Memorial. He reminds me of Stay Thirsty and I fully expect him to blossom later this year.

13th El Padrino: Had a slow start and a rough trip early. He passed a few rivals after sitting in last early and has not been the same since grueling nose victory in G2 Risen Star. I always had the feeling that he was better on wet footing.

14th Done Talking: Late runner passed a few tired foes and ran to expectations.

15thSabercat: Figured to finish near the bottom.

16thGemologist: Folded like a cheap suit when the real running began. Guess Pletcher’s plan to avoid Kentucky and train in Florida backfired.

17thTrinniberg: Seven furlong specialist cost Bodemeister the race and had no business running ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May. Connections are thinking Preakness if Bodemeister skips the second leg and he will finish up the track again if he ends up in that spot. A more logical placement would be the G2 Woody Stephens at seven panels on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

18thProspective: G2 Tampa Bay Derby hero is a few cuts below the best.

19thTake Charge Indy: Came out of the Derby with an ankle chip and is scheduled to go under the knife this week. He could return in the fall if everything goes well.

20thDaddy Long Legs: Not surprising the he did not take to conventional dirt since he finished 12th of 13 in last year’s BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs.

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Union Rags looks the part

We are less than one week to Kentucky Derby 2012. All of the preps have been run and now we wait for Wednesday’s post position draw.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

The big news on Tuesday was the defection of Mark Valeski and the addition of Wayne Lukas trainee Optimizer.

Mark Valeski, trained by Larry Jones, could resurface in the G2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 12.

My Adonis is on the outside looking in and needs one defection to make the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Bodemiester and Union Rags figure to vie for favoritism and both are training well leading up to the big dance.

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 in my top three since last September and on top of my list since last November. He breezed a strong 5f in :59.80 (3/53) at Churchill Downs on April 28. 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 a 4f bullet in :50.39 (1/8) at Palm Meadows on April 29. 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 breezed 4f in :47.80 (3/58) at Churchill Downs on 4-30 . Graded Earnings: $836,000

4. Alpha (Bernardini) – Infection caused by a few small cuts in the Wood Memorial forced him to miss one Derby work. He needed a swift final move and got it with a 5f bullet in :59.54 (1/25) at Belmont Park on April 28. Made a nice appearance at Churchill Downs on May 1. Graded Earnings: $380,000

5. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – G1 Arkansas Derby (108 BSF) wire job winner has history against him under the Twin Spires. Bob Baffert’s unraced juvenile is back in three weeks and faces a tough pace scenario. Excellent 5f breeze in :59.60 (2/10) at Churchill Downs on 4-29. Graded Earnings: $660,000

Daddy Nose Best

Daddy Nose Best is an interesting late running Derby threat - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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). He is quietly training well under the Twin Spires and would appreciate a contested early pace.  Breezed 4f in :49.40 (29/58) at Churchill Downs on 4-30. 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 1:00.77 (1/4) at Palm Meadows on 4-26. 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 factor on the first Saturday in May. Breezed 6f in 1:13.80 (7/22) at Hollywood Park on 4-27. Graded Earnings: $601,000

9. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Won his second Keeneland (Polytrack) Grade 1 from as many starts in the Blue Grass. He is better this year so his conventional dirt task is not impossible. Breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (9/53) at Churchill Downs on 4-28. 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 chose him over Alpha. Breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (2/5) at Churchill Downs (training track) on April 28. Graded Earnings: $1,550,000

The Other Ten

Went The Day Well

Can Went The Day Well give Graham Motion/Team Valor back-to-back Derby wins? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

11. 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. Reportedly training well but might not be experienced enough to make a serious Derby run. He breezed 5f in 1:01 (6/53) at Churchill Downs on 4-28. Graded Earnings: $282,000

12. Rousing Sermon (Lucky Pulpit) – Rallied for the show in G2 Louisiana Derby and can hit the board in the Derby if a fast pace develops. Decent 5f move in 1:00.40 (2/18) at Churchill Downs on May 1. Graded Earnings: $269,000

13. El Padrino (Pulpit) – G2 Risen Star hero finished a wide 4th in disappointing Florida Derby performance. He moves up on wet footing and breezed a slow 4f in :53.34 (7//8) at Palm Meadows on April 29. Graded Earnings: $250,000

14. Prospective (Malibu Moon) – G2 Tampa Bay Derby hero finished 6th in G1 Blue Grass. Breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (9/53) at Churchill Downs on 4-28. Graded Earnings: $387,952

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

16. Optimizer (English Channel) – G2 Rebel runner-up is winless in six conventional dirt starts. Wayne Lukas trainee breezed 5f in 1:00.40 (4/10) at Churchill Downs on 4-29.

17. Done Talking (Broken Vow) – Late running G3 Illinois Derby winner breezed 5f in 1:01 (1/17) at Laurel Park on April 28. Graded Earnings: $310,000

18. Liaison (Indian Charlie) – G1 CashCall Futurity winner has disappointed in three starts at Santa Anita this year. Breezed 5f in 1:00.80 (7/28) at Churchill Downs on 4-30. Graded Earnings: $393,000

19. Sabercat (Bluegrass Cat) – Finished an improved 3rd in G1 Arkansas Derby. Breezed 4f in :48.40 (10/58) under the Twin Spires on 4-30. Graded Earnings: $701,429

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

On the Graded Earnings Bubble: My Adonis

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

 

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)

Santa Anita Derby 2012 Preview – Creative Cause a slam dunk?

Southern California’s top Kentucky Derby 2012 contender Creative Cause is the strong 6-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Is he worth trying to beat in Santa Anita Park’s showcase event?

Creative Cause

Creative Cause looms large in SA Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#1 Creative Cause (6-5) has been a major Derby top ten player since I began my list last September and he continues to go strong for trainer Mike Harrington.  The tactical gem of consistency removes the hood and the only weakness he has is losing focus and goofing around in the stretch. He qualified for the Kentucky Derby on graded earnings long ago and does not need to win this. The main thing is to keep his mind on business and finish up strong with a quality top three performance.

#8 Midnight Transfer (10-1) is capable of giving the aforementioned favorite a scare if he improves off his San Felipe show finish. He is training well for this and has the numbers to make a dent if he handles today’s added ground. Not sure he really wants to go this far but he projects a decent tactical trip under new rider Mike Smith and the price figures to be right.

#2 Liaison (8-1) capped off a productive juvenile season with a game win in the G1 CashCall Futurity but everything has gone wrong this year. He clipped heels and fell in the G2 Robert Lewis and got no pace help in G2 San Felipe 4th place effort. He reunites with winning pilot Bejarano and should offer value.

#4 I’ll Have Another (5-2) surprised off the shelf in the G2 Robert Lewis at 43-1 but that race has not been productive and he offers no value at 5-2. The fresh colt is an early-pressing player at the very least.

#5 Longview Drive (12-1) is 0-for-3 in the graded ranks and will probably be aggressively handled by Russell Baze, who rides him well.

#3 Holy Candy (8-1) makes his third start in five weeks for Sadler. The promising son of Candy Ride looked good in local flat mile graduation run March 23 but he shows up in a tough spot and is light on numbers. Does Drew Brees have a Kentucky Derby horse?

#10 Brother Francis (20-1) is a stakes placed maiden trying to make the Derby cut. He does not have the numbers to win but another minor award is not out of the question. Garrett Gomez ends up here.

#6 Paynter (6-1) looked good graduating against three rivals at 5.5 furlongs at Santa Anita Feb 18. The Baffert trainee is probably not up to this type of company at this stage but is worth following.

#7 Senor Rain (15-1) exits an optional claiming extended sprint tally here and should make his presence felt from the outset. He seems a cut or two below the best in here.

#9 Blueskiesnrainbows (20-1) is a Baffert outsider. He removes the hood and should stalk the pace before throwing in the towel.

The Plays:

$20 to win #8

$10 Exacta Box 1-8 ($20)

Ranking the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps

I began grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 preps with the Breeders’ Cup last November and the BC Juvenile has turned out to be quite a productive race.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

I gave the BC Juvenile a B grade, which was my highest ranked 2-year-old Derby prep of 2011. The race did not earn a triple digit speed rating but I liked the looks visually and thought there were numerous well bred prospects capable of making noise on the Derby trail including Union Rags, Creative Cause, and Alpha.

So far, I have graded 29 Kentucky Derby preps, beginning with the  BC Juvenile Sprint (11-4-11) through the Rebel Stakes (3-17-12). The next phase of Derby preps stretch the stamina limits to nine furlongs so I thought this was an appropriate time to rank the aforementioned 29 Derby prep races.

I graded each prep along the way like a teacher, using the A-B-C-D format. For ranking purposes, I have included a number with the letter grade. For example, 100 is the highest number possible, an A+ perfect prep. A 60 or D- is the lowest possible grade.

In the chart below, El Padrino‘s allowance win at Gulfstream Park in January received an A- grade or 90, which is my highest ranked race on the Derby trail up to this point. The Delta Jackpot is ranked lowest with a grade of 65.

How did I come up with the rankings? I considered speed figures, strength of competition, and visual impressions, which helped me compile the rankings below.

Kentucky Derby 2012

 

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Creative Cause Wins San Felipe

The West Coast sophomores moved one step closer to Kentucky Derby 2012 on Saturday and Creative Cause emerged victorious in the G2 San Felipe.

G2 San Felipe (3-10-12): 102 BSF (Creative Cause)

Creative Cause

Creative Cause now has $686,000 in graded earnings - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Creative Cause sat the perfect tactical trip at the Great Race Place on March 10 and he wore down a game Bodemeister to grab the $180k top prize. Mike Harrington’s winner was gawking and wandering in the stretch and needs to get rid of those bad habits before the first Saturday in May. He is now a 2-time graded route winner and looks like the best of the west at this point.

Bodemeister probably ran the best overall race at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. He did all of the pace dirty work in his first start against winners. He was also an unraced juvenile so the Baffert trainee was giving up a huge seasoning edge to the winner. He owns dangerous early-pressing speed and looms a serious threat in the Santa Anita Derby if he goes that route.

Midnight Transfer did well to land the show in his first two turn test. I am not sure how much further he wants to go but he deserves a shot in the Santa Anita Derby.

Liaison rallied to finish an even 4th and was followed across the line by Rousing Sermon, Blingo, American Act, Tiz Point, Empire Way, and Groovin’ Solo.

San Felipe Grade: B

 

San Felipe 2012 Preview: Creative Cause vs. Bodemeister

The Southern California road to Kentucky Derby 2012 heats up on Saturday with the Grade 2 San Felipe and morning line favorite Creative Cause is back around two turns at the Great Race Place.

Creative Cause Kentucky Derby 2012 contender

Is Creative Cause the best out west? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#7 Creative Cause (5-2) has fired Trifecta shots in all six career outings and exits a needed show finish in the G2 San Vicente at seven panels. He won the G1 Norfolk at this trip and projects a decent tactical journey under Rosario. He has dropped two straight and three of his last four and has plenty of graded earnings for the first Saturday in May. The obvious contender will not offer much value on top.

#4 Midnight Transfer (6-1) looked great in his last two local sprint wins including a minor stakes tally in the San Pedro on Jan 22. Carla Gaines is a sharp conditioner and he figures to stalk the pace under new rider Victor Espinoza. He is an interesting player if able to navigate two turns.

#3 American Act (8-1) beat Creative Cause and Bodemeister in his last pair and looms a pace factor at the very least under Pedroza. He is bred to go this far and might get brave if able to shake loose early.

#1 Blingo (8-1) is training well for Shirreffs. The lightly raced colt graduated in his turf route bow and ended up a respectable 6th of 13 in the G1 CashCall Futurity on Dec 17. He has not been seen since but is training well for this and can rally for a share under Mike Smith.

#2 Bodemeister (3-1) was clearly second best behind American Act in his local sprint bow and ran off the charts in his local flat mile maiden win Feb 11. He will need to earn better Pace Ratings to make a dent in his first start against winners but the promising son of Empire Maker might be up to the task for Baffert.

I was not impressed with the G2 Robert Lewis so I will toss all four rivals exiting that heat. #5 Groovin’ Solo (20-1) was disqualified for causing #6 Liaison (6-1) to clip heels that day but the latter was going nowhere fast prior to going down. #8 Rousing Sermon (8-1) was placed 3rd but had a flat performance and might be better on synthetic. #10 Empire Way (6-1) rallied for the place and is slowly improving for Harrington. Royal Delta’s late striding brother needs to get away from this speed conducive oval.

#9 Tiz Point (20-1) exits a local turf route entry level wire job. He will need a new rider because Garrett Gomez called off his comeback yesterday after experiencing pain in his heel.

The Plays:

$18 to win #4

$10 to win #3

$1 Trifecta 3-4/7/ALL ($16)

$1 Trifecta 3-4/ALL/1 ($16)

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