Withers 1-2 finishers Samraat and Uncle Sigh pulled the same trick in the Gotham Stakes and the dynamic NY-bred duo are the best of the Big Apple Kentucky Derby 2014 hopefuls.
Samraat is now undefeated in five starts. Look for him to join Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the Wood Memorial. The winning Gotham BSF came back a rock solid 96 and the top three all have some quality to them but the Wood is dying to be won by an off the pace shipper like Honor Code.
Noble Cornerstone followed up a Sam Davis flop with another poor effort in the Gotham. He has not progressed from age 2 to 3 and drops off the bottom of the list.
Gala Award has emerged as an intriguing Derby prospect for Todd Pletcher. He exits back-to-back turf route wins including the G3 Palm Beach and could end up contesting the G1 Blue Grass Stakes next. He owns fine tactical speed and his promising dirt pedigree is featured below.
Injuries, illness, and missed training, oh my! First it was Shared Belief (foot injury), followed by Indianapolis (cough). Last week, Havana (quarter crack) missed the Swale Stakes. Now, Bayern (foot bruise) is out of the San Felipe. Eight weeks and counting – Time is rapidly running out to make the Derby, and Havana and Bayern drop to the bottom of the list and are in serious danger of falling off the radar screen.
Schoolofhardrocks worked 5f in 1:00.20 (14/69) at Santa Anita on March 4. An original “exceptional eleven” member dropped due to inactivity, he is finally set to return in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes. It is a tough test but he is training well and has a ton of raw ability.
Each week that goes by, we add more potential quality speed to the first Saturday in May. Wildcat Red & General A Rod, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and In Trouble, plus Albano, Midnight Hawk, Tapiture, and a handful of others like to run on or very near the lead…something has to give!
Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com.
Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.
Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders
1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)
Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm
Latest Workout: 5f in :59.18 (6/43) at Gulfstream Park on March 2. “So far everything looks good, McGaughey said from his South Florida base. “He worked real good the other day and we’ll work him again on Sunday.”
Derby Points (14)
Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles and returned to the work tab Feb. 12. He is entered in an Allowance event (8.5f, race 8) at Gulfstream Park on March 12, and if all goes well, he will wrap up his Derby prep season in the Wood Memorial.
2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack
Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.60 (10/17) at Oaklawn Park on March 6.
Derby Points (6)
Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.
3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable
Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 59.95 (1/35) at Palm Meadows on March 1. “He worked very well,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “It was a little faster than we wanted this far out, but yet we wanted a decent work. It was a great work. He worked excellent and everything went well. We were all very happy, and we’ll probably not go in company next week because we’re looking for a 1:01 and change. But, he worked great.”
Derby Points (14)
Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29). A majority interest in Cairo Prince was sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley operation. He will remain with McLaughlin but run in the colors of Godolphin Stable.
4. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)
Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable
Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.20 (23/52) at Santa Anita on March 6.
Derby Points (10)
Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.
5. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)
Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram
Latest Workout: 4f in :49.40 (45/61) at Santa Anita on March 4.
Derby Points (12)
Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally. Saturday’s San Felipe is his next engagement.
Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.
Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.40 (4/16) at Santa Anita on March 3.
Derby Points (4)
Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best. Joel Rosario will ride in the San Felipe.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.
Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (2/48) at Oaklawn Park on March 2.
Derby Points (22)
Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
Derby Points (2)
Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier
Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham
Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (18/65) at Santa Anita on March 3.
Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe Stakes.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Taber, Magnier, and Smith
Derby Points (14)
Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.90 (3/14) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 23.
Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. A quarter crack caused him to defect from the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 1.
Pedigree Spotlight: Gala Award
Gala Award’s sire Bernardini raced just one season but he certainly made a splash in 2006. In his 3rd career start, he won the G3 Withers and followed that up by capturing the G1 Preakness, G2 Jim Dandy, G1 Travers, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. He finished his career with a runner-up effort behind Invasor in the G1 BC Classic.
As a sire, Bernardini is represented by the likes of G1 Travers and G1 Cigar Mile winner Stay Thirsty, G1 Woodward Stakes and G1 Cigar Mile hero To Honor and Serve, and G1 Travers and G1 Woodward winner Alpha.
Bernardini’s influential sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic and has sired more than 135 stakes winners.
A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.
Bernardini’s mother Cara Rafaela (by Quiet American) was a classy runner for D Wayne Lukas in 1995-96. She won the G2 Alcibiades and G1 Hollywood Starlet and placed in such prestigious races as the G1 Las Virgenes (2nd), G1 SA Oaks (2nd), G1 Ashland (2nd), G1 Kentucky Oaks (3rd), G2 Black-Eyed Susan (2nd), and G1 Mother Goose (3rd). Cara Rafaela is out of the Spectacular Bid mare Oil Fable.
Cara Rafaela’s father Quiet American has sired numerous graded winners including 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero Real Quiet.
Gala Award’s dam Wilshewed (Carson City – So Cozy, by Lyphard) produced the likes of G1 Hollywood Futurity and G2 Norfolk winner Stormello, and G2 Del Mar Derby hero My Best Brother.
The speedy Carson City won multiple graded sprints including the G2 Sapling and G2 Fall Highweight. He sired may stakes winners including G2 Illinois Derby winner Pollard’s Vision.
So Cozy won the Priscilla Stakes at Suffolk Downs in 1982, and Northern Dancer’s son Lyphard won multiple overseas grass races in 1971-72 and produced 115 stakes winners including Dancing Brave, Jolypha, and Manila.
Gala Award is already proven at nine furlongs. He owns a promising dirt route pedigree and could easily get ten furlongs if he handles conventional dirt.