Posts Tagged ‘Midnight Transfer’

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)

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)

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Union Rags still on top

There were surprises galore on the Kentucky Derby 2012 trail last weekend with Take Charge Indy going all the way in the G1 Florida Derby and 109-1 bomb Hero of Order stunning his rivals in the G2 Louisiana Derby.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

I recapped the G1 Florida Derby here on Sunday and in the video below. I have always liked Union Rags and am not going to abandon ship after a less than ideal trip behind tepid splits in his final Derby prep. Julien Leparoux could not do much after he committed to taking back early, coupled with getting pinned down along the inside by El Padrino’s rider Javier Castellano.

Union Rags finished up nicely after finding room in the lane and almost caught Reveron for the place. He galloped out in front and horse/rider should move forward following that learning experience. In reality, he qualified for the Derby on graded earnings long ago, so Saturday’s race was meaningless from that standpoint. He remains a solid contender on the first Saturday in May as long as he trains well leading up to the big day.

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. I will monitor him closely in the weeks leading up to the Derby to see how he training. Graded Earnings: $1,170,000

Alpha horse

Alpha runs in Saturday's G1 Wood Memorial - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet and Withers. Breezed 4f in :49.17 (6/21) at Palm Meadows on March 30. The G1 Wood Memorial on 4-7 is next. Graded Earnings: $180,000

3. Gemologist (Tiznow) – G2 Ky Jockey Club hero returned in the pink at the Gulf on March 16. The undefeated WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner fired a 5f bullet in 1:00.44 (1/9) at Palm Meadows on April 1. Saturday’s G1 Wood Memorial is next. Graded Earnings: $103,855

4. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Captured his second graded route in G2 San Felipe (102 BSF) at Santa Anita on 3-10. He breezed 4f in :48.40 (5/14) at Hollywood Park on 4-3 and goes next in Saturday’s G1 SA Derby. Graded Earnings: $686,000

5. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He breezed 5f in :59.80 (2/10) at Churchill (training track) on 3-31. 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 drilled a 5f bullet in :58.40 (1/37) at Santa Anita on 3-29 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. 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

10. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Fired 5f bullet in 1:00.60 (1/14) at Fair Grounds on 3-27. Sunday’s G2 Louisiana Derby is next. Graded Earnings: $260,000

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order)

Bodemeister

Bodemeister is likely for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – Followed up 101 BSF maiden romp with another 101 BSF in San Felipe runner-up effort on 3-10. He zipped 6f in 1:10.40 (1/9) at Santa Anita on 4-2 and looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Arkansas Derby on 4-14. Graded Earnings: $60,000

2. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero was clearly second best behind romping, undefeated colt Gemologist at the Gulf on 3-16. Breezed 5f in 1:00 (2/9) at Gulfstream on 3-27 and goes next in G3 Illinois Derby on 4-7. Graded Earnings: $150,000

3. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Ended up a respectable 3rd in his G2 San Felipe, his first start around two turns. He fired a 6f bullet at Santa Anita on March 30 and goes next in the G1 SA Derby on April 7.

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.

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.

Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order)

1. Algorithms – Missed scheduled Fountain of Youth appearance with bone split injury and is off the Triple Crown trail.

2. B Shanny (Street Cry) – Ran twice in NY last summer including good looking maiden win over El Padrino at Saratoga Aug 20. Bone chip had him on the sidelines and he returned to the worktab on March 30, breezing 3f in :38.09 (16/22) at Belmont Park (training track).

3. Consortium (Bernardini) – Ankle chip knocked him out of the Gotham and off the Derby trail. He is expected to return later this year.

4. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Hind-end issue has knocked him off the Derby trail, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

5. Fire On Ice (Unbridled’s Song) – Suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg. He is expected to return later this year.

6. Junebugred (Corinthian) – Smarty Jones Stakes hero is off the Derby trail with a bone chip in his ankle.

7. O’Prado Again (El Prado) – G2 Remsen hero suffered a condylar fracture of his right front leg on Jan 9 and is off the Triple Crown trail. He is expected to return later this year.

8. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – G3 Sham hero goes to the sidelines after suffering a non-displaced condylar fracture to his left front ankle. He is off the Triple Crown trail.

9. Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) – According to Bob Baffert via Twitter, Sky Kingdom needs 60 days off and is no longer on the Triple Crown trail.

10. Spring Hill Farm (Smart Strike) – 4th place Tampa Bay Derby finisher goes to the sidelines with a right knee fracture. He will have surgery and his racing future is unknown at this time.

11. Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He is expected to miss at least two months and could return this summer.

12. Timely Tally (Mr. Greeley) – From Ian Wilkes in a recent DRF article – “Timely Tally, on the other hand, will be done for a while. He has a tendon issue. It’s not career-threatening, but I’m trying to work out now how much time I’ll have to give him.”

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – 5 weeks and counting

Went The Day Well did his older stablemate Animal Kingdom proud by winning the G3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 24, and Daddy Nose Best solidified his Kentucky Derby 2012 contender status with a late running victory in the G3 Sunland Derby (March 25).

Daddy Nose Best

Daddy Nose Best captures Sunland Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

In other Derby prep news, Dullahan had his second setback but is still expected to make the G1 Blue Grass Stakes. He had a cough during the winter and recently missed several days of training with a splint injury No published works since 3-3 but he did gallop over the muddy main track at Gulfstream Park on 3-28. I am dropping him off my list again because he has only raced once this year with a pair of setbacks.

Castaway drops off the Exciting Prospects list after dueling and fading as the favorite in the Sunland Derby.

Discreet Dancer is not injured but is off the Derby trail. He will go to Ocala for some rest and is expected to resume his career later this year.

G2 San Vicente hero Drill, an original member of my Kentucky Derby Top 10 list from last September, will make his next start in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14.

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

Union Rags squares off against El Padrino in Saturday's Florida Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked Derby contender looked great in G2 Fountain of Youth. He breezed 4f in :49.10 (13/41) at Palm Meadows on March 24. The Florida Derby on 3-31 is next on the docket. Graded Earnings: $1,070,000  

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet and Withers. Breezed 4f in :49.17 (6/21) at Palm Meadows on March 30. The G1 Wood Memorial on 4-7 is next. Graded Earnings: $180,000  

3. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Gamely captured G2 Risen Star (98 BSF) at Fair Grounds on Feb 25. He handles any footing and goes next in Florida Derby. Breezed 4f in :49.11 (9/22) at Palm Meadows on March 25. Graded Earnings: $200,000 

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – G2 Ky Jockey Club hero returned in the pink at the Gulf on March 16. The undefeated WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7. Graded Earnings: $103,855  

5. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Captured his second graded route in G2 San Felipe (102 BSF) at Santa Anita on 3-10. He worked 6f in 1:12.80 (2/9) at Hollywood Park on 3-28 and goes next in G1 SA Derby on April 7. Graded Earnings: $686,000

6. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (6/6) at Churchill (training track) on 3-24. His new target is the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14. Graded Earnings: $1,400,000

7. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Captured back-to-back graded routes at Oaklawn in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) and G2 Rebel (92 BSF). He drilled a 5f bullet in :58.40 (1/37) at Santa Anita on 3-29 and is expected to return to Hot Springs for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Graded Earnings: $470,000

8. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. Scratched out of Tampa Bay Derby in favor of Florida Derby. Worked 5f in 1:01.57 (6/20) at Palm Meadows on March 24. Graded Earnings: $98,400  

9. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Fired 5f bullet in 1:00.60 (1/14) at Fair Grounds on 3-27. Sunday’s G2 Louisiana Derby is next. Graded Earnings: $60,000 

10. Daddy Nose Best (Scat Daddy) – Back-to-back nine furlong wins in G3 El Camino Real Derby and G3 Sunland Derby (100 BSF). Late running Asmussen trainee can run on anything. Graded Earnings: $545,558

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 4f in :46.80 (2/41) at Santa Anita on 3-23 and looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Arkansas Derby on 4-14. Graded Earnings: $60,000 

2. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero was clearly second best behind romping, undefeated colt Gemologist at the Gulf on 3-16. Worked 5f in 1:00 (2/9) at Gulfstream on 3-27 and could go next in G3 Illinois Derby on 4-7. Graded Earnings: $150,000  

Went The Day Well

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

3. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Ended up a respectable 3rd in his G2 San Felipe, his first start around two turns. He fired a 6f bullet at Santa Anita on March 30 and goes next in the G1 SA Derby on April 7.  Graded Earnings: $36,000

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 Wood Memorial or Blue Grass. Breezed 5f in 1:03 (3/4) at Churchill Downs on 3-27. 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: $282,000Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order)

1. Algorithms – Missed scheduled Fountain of Youth appearance with bone split injury and is off the Triple Crown trail.

2. B Shanny (Street Cry) – Ran twice in NY last summer including good looking maiden win over El Padrino at Saratoga Aug 20. Bone chip has him on the sidelines.

3. Consortium (Bernardini) – Ankle chip knocked him out of the Gotham and off the Derby trail. He is expected to return later this year.

4. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Hind-end issue has knocked him off the Derby trail, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

5. Fire On Ice (Unbridled’s Song) – Suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg. He is expected to return later this year.

6. Junebugred (Corinthian) – Smarty Jones Stakes hero is off the Derby trail with a bone chip in his ankle.

7. O’Prado Again (El Prado) – G2 Remsen hero suffered a condylar fracture of his right front leg on Jan 9 and is off the Triple Crown trail. He is expected to return later this year.

8. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – G3 Sham hero goes to the sidelines after suffering a non-displaced condylar fracture to his left front ankle. He is off the Triple Crown trail.

9. Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) – According to Bob Baffert via Twitter, Sky Kingdom needs 60 days off and is no longer on the Triple Crown trail.

10. Spring Hill Farm (Smart Strike) – 4th place Tampa Bay Derby finisher goes to the sidelines with a right knee fracture. He will have surgery and his racing future is unknown at this time.

11. Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He is expected to miss at least two months and could return this summer.

12. Timely Tally (Mr. Greeley) – From Ian Wilkes in a recent DRF article – “Timely Tally, on the other hand, will be done for a while. He has a tendon issue. It’s not career-threatening, but I’m trying to work out now how much time I’ll have to give him.”

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Secret Circle, Gemologist score

Was the Rebel Stakes a strong Kentucky Derby 2012 prep? Secret Circle won the race as the favorite for Bob Baffert but the final time was moderate (92 BSF) and the talented son of Eddington looked tired in the lane.

Secret Circle

Do you think Secret Circle can handle ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I have always been fond of Secret Circle. He has been part of my Derby Top 10 list since last September but he always seemed suspect in the stamina department and a mile and a sixteenth appears to be his limit at this stage.

Optimizer is getting some Derby buzz for Wayne Lukas after finishing well for the place in the Rebel but I do not consider him a viable threat on the first Saturday in May. He has lost seven straight and is winless in five conventional dirt starts. He is better on turf/synthetic but won’t see preferred footing for quite some time.

Scatman made all the running and settled for the show in a solid effort. Sabercat, winner of the slow G3 Delta Jackpot last year, was never a threat in his sophomore debut.

Gemologist was originally scheduled to begin his 3yo campaign in the Rebel but Pletcher and company opted for a flat mile allowance prep at Gulfstream Park against four rivals on March 16.

The undefeated WinStar colorbearer ran his record to 4-for-4 with a facile wire job over returnee Currency Swap. Based on that performance (95 BSF), Gemologist would have won the Rebel. I wish Pletcher would have given him a tough, two turn graded test, but you can’t always get what you want and he needs graded earnings in the Wood Memorial to make the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Alpha horse

Alpha goes next in G2 Louisiana Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

In other Derby prep news, Alpha will likely make his next start in the G2 Louisiana Derby on April 1. Secret Circle is expected to return to Oaklawn Park for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14, and Bob Baffert is also considering Bodemeister for that spot. Howe Great and Dullahan, the 1-2 finishers in the grassy G3 Palm Beach on March 11, are expected to meet again in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14.

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 looked great in G2 Fountain of Youth. He breezed 5f in 1:04.21 (22/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. The Florida Derby on 3-31 is next on the docket. Graded Earnings: $1,070,000   

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet and Withers. Breezed 5f in 1:01.01 (5/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. The G2 Louisiana Derby on 4-1 is next and Leparoux will ride. Graded Earnings: $180,000

3. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Gamely captured G2 Risen Star (98 BSF) at Fair Grounds on Feb 25. He handles any footing and goes next in Florida Derby. Breezed 5f in 1:01.22 (3/13) at Palm Meadows on March 18. Graded Earnings: $200,000  

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – G2 Ky Jockey Club hero returned in the pink at the Gulf on March 16. The undefeated WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7. Graded Earnings: $103,855  

Creative Cause

Creative Cause fires 5f bullet on March 20 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

5. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Captured his second graded route in G2 San Felipe (102 BSF) at Santa Anita on 3-10. He fired a 5f bullet in :59.80 (1/29) at Hollywood Park on 3-20 and goes next in G1 SA Derby on April 7. Graded Earnings: $686,000

6. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He will train in Kentucky before returning to Aqueduct for the G1 Wood Memorial on April 7. Graded Earnings: $1,400,000 

7. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Captured back-to-back graded routes at Oaklawn in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) and G2 Rebel (92 BSF). He is expected to return to Hot Springs for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Graded Earnings: $470,000

8. Dullahan (Even the Score) – Rallied for the place in grassy, nine furlong G3 Palm Beach Stakes at the Gulf on 3-11, his first start since BC Juvenile. The April 14 Blue Grass is expected to be his final Derby prep. Graded Earnings: $375,000  

9. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. Scratched out of Tampa Bay Derby in favor of Florida Derby. Worked 5f in 1:01.88 (10/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. Graded Earnings: $98,400  

10. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Look for Larry Jones trainee in Louisiana Derby. Fired 5f bullet in :59.40 (1/11) at Fair Grounds on 3-20. Graded Earnings: $60,000 

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 looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Arkansas Derby or Santa Anita Derby. Graded Earnings – $60,000

2. Castaway (Street Sense) – Baffert trainee won slower division of Southwest (92 BSF) in his first start against winners. Worked 6f in 1:12.40 (4/17) at Santa Anita on 3-16. G3 Sunland Derby on March 25 is next. Graded Earnings: $150,000

3. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero was clearly second best behind romping, undefeated colt Gemologist at the Gulf on 3-16. Graded Earnings: $150,000  

4. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Ended up a respectable 3rd in his G2 San Felipe, his first start around two turns. He deserves a shot in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. Graded Earnings: $36,000

5. 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 Wood Memorial. Graded Earnings: $365,452

Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order)

1. Algorithms (Bernardini) – Missed scheduled Fountain of Youth appearance with bone split injury and is off the Triple Crown trail.

2. B Shanny (Street Cry) – Ran twice in NY last summer including good looking maiden win over El Padrino at Saratoga Aug 20. Bone chip has him on the sidelines.

3. Consortium (Bernardini) – Ankle chip knocked him out of the Gotham and off the Derby trail. He is expected to return later this year.

4. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Hind-end issue has knocked him off the Derby trail, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

5. Fire On Ice (Unbridled’s Song) – Suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg. He is expected to return later this year.

6. Junebugred (Corinthian) – Smarty Jones Stakes hero is off the Derby trail with a bone chip in his ankle.

7. O’Prado Again (El Prado) – G2 Remsen hero suffered a condylar fracture of his right front leg on Jan 9 and is off the Triple Crown trail. He is expected to return later this year.

8. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – G3 Sham hero goes to the sidelines after suffering a non-displaced condylar fracture to his left front ankle. He is off the Triple Crown trail.

9. Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) – According to Bob Baffert via Twitter, Sky Kingdom needs 60 days off and is no longer on the Triple Crown trail.

10. Spring Hill Farm (Smart Strike) – 4th place Tampa Bay Derby finisher goes to the sidelines with a right knee fracture. He will have surgery and his racing future is unknown at this time.

11. Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He is expected to miss at least two months and could return this summer.

12. Timely Tally (Mr. Greeley) – From Ian Wilkes in a recent DRF article – “Timely Tally, on the other hand, will be done for a while. He has a tendon issue. It’s not career-threatening, but I’m trying to work out now how much time I’ll have to give him.”

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

 

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Key graded wins for Creative Cause, Prospective

There were a pair of graded routes on the Kentucky Derby 2012 trail last weekend and Creative Cause pleaded his case in Santa Anita’s G2 San Felipe Stakes.

Creative Cause Kentucky Derby 2012

Creative Cause won his third graded race on Saturday - photo by Eclipse sportswire

Creative Cause has been a Derby hopeful for quite some time and he took another step forward at the Great Race Place on Saturday. He wore down a stubborn Bodemeister and garnered a fine 102 BSF. The talented son of Giant’s Causeway was goofing off in the stretch and needs to keep his mind on business if he expects to make a serious dent under the Twin Spires.

Bodemeister was giving up valuable experience and seasoning to the winner but he almost made up for it on raw talent. He did all of the pace dirty work and did everything but win. The Bob Baffert trainee was unraced as a juvenile and probably won’t win the Derby but his early-pressing speed will always give him a chance to shine, especially over the speed conducive Santa Anita oval.

Midnight Transfer performed admirably to land the show in his first start around two turns. He clearly has talent but it remains to be seen how far he really wants to go.

Prospective won the second graded route of his career in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby. He showed improved positional speed with the addition of blinkers and earned an 88 BSF for his efforts. At this point, he is not fast enough to wear the roses on the first Saturday in May, but he seems like the type to spice up the exotics. He could make his final Derby prep in the Wood Memorial.

Ever So Lucky finished a distant 3rd in the G2 Swale Stakes and is not expected to make the Kentucky Derby. He drops off the exciting prospects list.

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 Kentucky Derby 2012

Union Rags should get tested in G1 Florida Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked Derby contender remains at the top of the heap following impressive return tally in the G2 Fountain of Youth. He breezed 4f in :50.76 (48/51) at Palm Meadows on March 10. The Florida Derby on 3-31 is next on the docket. Graded Earnings: $1,070,000

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet and Withers and was finally on good behavior in the gate Feb 4. Breezed 5f in 1:01.21 (10/19) at Palm Meadows on March 10. Look for him in Florida Derby, Wood Memorial, or possibly the Louisiana Derby. Graded Earnings: $180,000

3. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Gamely captured G2 Risen Star (98 BSF) at Fair Grounds on Feb 25. He handles any footing and goes next in Florida Derby or Louisiana Derby. Breezed 4f in :48.08 (2/40) at Palm Meadows on March 12. Graded Earnings: $200,000

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Sharp G2 Ky Jockey Club (85 BSF) victory to end undefeated juvenile campaign for WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher. He breezed 4f in :49.77 (25/40) at Palm Meadows on March 12. Begins 3yo season in flat mile allowance affair at Gulfstream Park on March 16. Graded Earnings: $103,855

5. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Captured his second graded route in G2 San Felipe (102 BSF) at Santa Anita on 3-10. He probably goes next in G1 SA Derby on April 7. Graded Earnings: $686,000

6. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He will train in Kentucky before returning to Aqueduct for the G1 Wood Memorial on April 7. Graded Earnings: $1,400,000

7. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Bob Baffert’s fleet colt passed his second route test in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) at Oaklawn on Feb 20. Saturday’s G2 Rebel is next and he worked 6f in 1:11.60 (2/16) at Santa Anita on March 10. Graded Earnings: $170,000

8. Dullahan (Even the Score) – Returns to my top ten after rallying for the place in grassy, nine furlong G3 Palm Beach Stakes at the Gulf on 3-11, his first start since BC Juvenile. The April 14 Blue Grass is expected to be his final Derby prep. Graded Earnings: $375,000

9. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. Scratched out of Tampa Bay Derby in favor of Florida Derby. Fired 4f bullet in :47.66 (1/36) at Palm Meadows on March 4. Graded Earnings: $98,400 

10. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Look for Larry Jones trainee in Louisiana Derby. Graded Earnings: $60,000 

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 looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Santa Anita Derby. Graded Earnings: $60,000

2. Castaway (Street Sense) – Baffert trainee won slower division of Southwest (92 BSF) in his first start against winners. Worked 6f in 1:11.40 (2/16) at Santa Anita on 3-10. G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park is next. Graded Earnings – $150,000

3. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero has recovered from ankle surgery and worked 6f from the gate in 1:11.40 (1/3) at Gulfstream Park on 3-10. He will face Gemologist at the Gulf on March 16. Graded Earnings: $150,000  

4. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Ended up a respectable 3rd in his G2 San Felipe, his first start around two turns. He deserves a shot in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. Graded Earnings: $36,000 

5. 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 (Wood Memorial?). Graded Earnings: $365,452

Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order):

1. Algorithms – Missed scheduled Fountain of Youth appearance with bone split injury and is off the Triple Crown trail.

2. B Shanny (Street Cry) – Ran twice in NY last summer including good looking maiden win over El Padrino at Saratoga Aug 20. Bone chip has him on the sidelines.

3. Consortium (Bernardini) – Ankle chip knocked him out of the Gotham and off the Derby trail. He is expected to return later this year.

4. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Hind-end issue has knocked him off the Derby trail, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

5. Fire On Ice (Unbridled’s Song) – Suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg. He is expected to return later this year.

6. Junebugred (Corinthian) – Smarty Jones Stakes hero is off the Derby trail with a bone chip in his ankle.

7. O’Prado Again (El Prado) – G2 Remsen hero suffered a condylar fracture of his right front leg on Jan 9 and is off the Triple Crown trail. He is expected to return later this year.

8. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – G3 Sham hero goes to the sidelines after suffering a non-displaced condylar fracture to his left front ankle. He is off the Triple Crown trail.

9. Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) – According to Bob Baffert via Twitter, Sky Kingdom needs 60 days off and is no longer on the Triple Crown trail.

10. Spring Hill Farm (Smart Strike) – 4th place Tampa Bay Derby finisher goes to the sidelines with a right knee fracture. He will have surgery and his racing future is unknown at this time.

11. Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He is expected to miss at least two months and could return this summer.

12. Timely Tally (Mr. Greeley) – From Ian Wilkes in a recent DRF article – “Timely Tally, on the other hand, will be done for a while. He has a tendon issue. It’s not career-threatening, but I’m trying to work out now how much time I’ll have to give him.”

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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