Video Race of the Week: Charles Town Classic with Donworth and Page McKenney

With the Triple Crown preps in the book, we jump over to the Handicap Division and head to Charles Town Races for the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.

The key to this race might be the horses exiting the productive Santa Anita Handicap. Last weekend at Oaklawn Park, three Big ‘Cap runners, Effinex, Melatonin, and Point Piper, returned to finish 1-2-3 in the Oaklawn Handicap.

Donworth, Imperative, and Hard Aces are the three Big ‘Cap runners entered in the 2016 Charles Town Classic.

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Creator Storms Home in Final Points Race

The long and winding road to Kentucky Derby 2016 made a final stop at Oaklawn Park on April 16 and Creator roared home from off the pace to capture the Arkansas Derby.

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

Now that all of the points races are complete, it is time to focus on final workouts and the post position draw. The horses are beginning to gather under the Twin Spires and the excitement is starting to build.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G1 Arkansas Derby (4-16-16, 96 BSF): Creator’s late rally fell short in the G2 Rebel but the extra distance helped propel him to victory in the Arkansas Derby. He is clearly on the upswing for Steve Asmussen and I like it when closers rally through traffic, something fellow Derby hopeful Mo Tom has not been able to do. Suddenbreakingnews seemed to be struggling but kept plugging away, found his best stride in the lane, and was up for the place in a solid effort. Whitmore hit the board in the Southwest and Rebel and grabbed show dough on Saturday. To give us a gauge on the LA Derby, the show finisher in that heat, Dazzling Gem, finished an even 4th (beaten 4.75 lengths) in this affair. As for post time favorite Cupid, the wheels fell off the cart in the Arkansas Derby. His race was basically over after a less than ideal break. Garcia tried to push him forward but he was squeezed a bit and was chasing fast fractions before fading badly and crossing the line in 10th place. He surprisingly set the pace in the Rebel and they seemed intent on using the same tactics again but to no avail this time. He exited the Oaklawn showcase with an entrapped epiglottis and will miss the Kentucky Derby. The Preakness is still an option for the Baffert trainee. The pace fell apart in this race, something that has happened quite a bit on the Derby trail recently.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46.80 (1/27) at Churchill Downs on April 20.

Comments: I thought he was the best 3-year-old in the country prior to the G1 Florida Derby and I am sticking to my guns for several reasons. In the G1 Florida Derby, he made a mild bid before ending up a well beaten 4th but that does not begin to tell the story. He never looked happy, raced wide from an outer post, was not handling the wet surface, and had to be coaxed to keep up instead of cruising along like he usually does. I will toss-out his final Derby prep and look for him to run a much better race on the first Saturday in May. He shipped to Churchill Downs April 17, uncorked a strong four furlong bullet April 20, and galloped out with interest. He maintains his #1 ranking, a spot he has occupied since I first started my 2016 Derby contender list more than six months ago.

Derby Points (80)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael Lund Petersen)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.60 (39/55) at Santa Anita on April 21.

Comments: Exaggerator really turned the tables on him in the SA Derby but the first Saturday in May is the big prize. He has never finished out of the Exacta, handles any footing, and was 2nd in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall. The one-paced, grinding type lacks explosiveness and that is a major concern but he is a gem of consistency and might be the most reliable of the Derby contenders. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied for more than five months.

Derby Points (84)

(3) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) Nyquist

Trainer (Doug O’Neill) – Owner (Reddam Racing LLC.)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.60 (22/28) at Keeneland on April 15.

Comments: With Mohaymen swimming upstream, the undefeated, two-year-old champion had a very easy time of it on the front end against severely overmatched pace rivals in the G1 Florida Derby. I never liked his one sprint/one route path to the Kentucky Derby and he will take more money than he should on the first Saturday in May. Many question his ability to get ten furlongs based on his pedigree and that might be the case but I just don’t think he is fast enough around two turns to win the Derby. His best career number was earned in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs earlier this year and his Florida Derby speed figure was nothing special. He shipped to Keeneland to begin Derby preparations April 3 and is scheduled to work next on April 23.

Derby Points (130)

(4) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication) exaggerator silks

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Comments: Both of his two turn wins (Delta Jackpot, SA Derby) were accomplished on wet tracks and he totally freaked at Santa Anita last time. He has turned into a strong late runner, has plenty of seasoning, and I love the way trainer Keith Desormeaux has handled him this year in regards to distance progression (7f San Vicente, 8.5f San Felipe, 9f SA Derby). Kent Desormeaux was more patient with him in the SA Derby and his well-timed ride resulted in a strong finish in his final Derby prep. A wet track at Churchill Downs would make him the one to beat but I am not sure what he will do on dry land. He stays put at #4.

Derby Points (126)

(5) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) destin silks

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.94 (1/2) at Palm Beach Downs on April 16.

Comments: He was impressive in his final Derby prep (Tampa Bay Derby) and was flattered when a pair of his vanquished foes from that race (Outwork, Brody’s Cause) returned to win the G1 Wood Memorial and G1 Blue Grass. I like his positional speed and improving form but he still needs to prove he can run a big race away from Tampa Bay Downs. His connections were worried about a bounce so they decided to skip his final prep and train up to the Derby. He won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12, returned to the work tab April 2, has never raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth, and the Kentucky Derby will be his first start in two months. He has positives and negatives like many top Derby contenders this year.

Derby Points (51)

(6) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Samuel F. Henderson)

Comments: The impressive Southwest winner could not overcome a troubled trip from the outside post in the Rebel Stakes but bounced back with a much better performance in the Arkansas Derby. It looked like he was going nowhere in his final Derby prep but eventually started advancing in the middle of the track and got up for the place to secure a spot on the first Saturday in May. He has plenty of stamina and is one of several quality late runners but has shown some running style versatility in the past.

Derby Points (50)

(7) CREATOR (Tapit – Morena, by Privately Held)

Trainer (Steve Asmussen) – Owner (WinStar Farm)

Comments: He broke his maiden in his sixth career start Feb 27, rallied for the show in the G2 Rebel Stakes March 19, and went last-to-first while working his way through traffic to capture his first graded stakes race in the G1 Arkansas Derby April 16. He is getting good in a hurry, has stamina influences throughout his pedigree, and could be heard from late on May 7.

Derby Points (110)

(8) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm)

Trainer (Dale Romans) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable)

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner proved once again that Keeneland is his favorite venue after a solid off the pace effort in the G1 Blue Grass. The G1 BC Juvenile show finisher threw in a clunker in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12 but some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface and he bounced back as expected on April 9. He broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky was definitely what the doctor ordered. The Blue Grass pace fell apart and the number did not come back strong. He has been part of my Derby list all along so I have obviously liked him for quite some time.

Derby Points (114)

(9) GUN RUNNER (Candy Ride – Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway)

Trainer (Steve Asmussen) – Owner (Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney Farms)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00 (1/16) at Churchill Downs on April 18.

Comments: He looked good in a pair ground saving, stalk and pounce wins this year in the G2 Risen Star and G2 Louisiana Derby. He did not run fast in either race but jockey Florent Geroux put him in the right spot and gave him every chance to succeed both times. His tactical speed and ability to get the jump on his opponents are big assets when it comes to a race like the Kentucky Derby but he will need to run quite a bit faster to be considered a serious threat to wear the blanket of roses.

Derby Points (151)     

(10) DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Clifford Sise Jr.) – Owner (Halo Farms)

Comments: The sharp wire-to-wire San Felipe winner did not show the same brilliance in the SA Derby. In the latter race, he was sent to the lead and faded badly in the mud. He whipped Mor Spirit and Exaggerator in the San Felipe but finished more than thirteen lengths behind that latter this time. What a difference four weeks and a longer distance can make on the Derby trail. Prior to the SA Derby, his biggest obstacle was his ability to relax and finish. Exaggerator clearly passed his test but not this colt. He is fast and talented but looks like a one-dimensional speed horse with stamina issues. He is better than his last and would appreciate a fast, speed favoring track but ten furlongs looks like a daunting trip.

Derby Points (60)

(11) MO TOM (Uncle Mo – Caroni, by Rubiano)

Trainer (Tom Amoss) – Owner (G M B Racing)

Latest Workout: 4f in :47 (2/27) at Churchill Downs on April 20.

Comments: Everything went right to kick off his sophomore campaign in the G2 LeComte but he has become the poster child for bad racing luck ever since. He was a troubled 3rd in the Risen Star and an even more unlucky 4th in the LA Derby. Closers frequently find trouble but a pair of questionable rides by jockey Corey Lanerie did not help matters. He is very close in ability to Gun Runner but the latter has tactical speed and some quickness to help him avoid traffic woes. He has not run fast yet and the main reason he keeps getting into trouble is because he is not nimble enough to avoid it. He is due for some good luck but finding clear sailing on the first Saturday in May will not be easy.

Derby Points (32)

THE NEXT NINE +1: (12) Outwork, (13) My Man Sam, (14) Whitmore, (15) Shagaf, (16) Tom’s Ready, (17) Lani, (18) Majesto, (19) Oscar Nominated, (20) Trojan Nation, (21) Fellowship

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Arkansas Derby Video

The road to Kentucky Derby 2016 makes a final stop at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 16.

arkansas derby odds

The last race to offer 170 Derby points attracted a 12-horse field and G2 Rebel hero Cupid is the morning line favorite for trainer Bob Baffert.

Cupid is a lightly raced, $900,000 son of Tapit, and an impressive performance at Oaklawn on Saturday might make him the second choice in the Kentucky Derby behind undefeated 2-year-old champ Nyquist.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G1 Wood Memorial (4-9-16, 93 BSF): Racing on a muddy (sealed) surface, Outwork battled hard throughout and beat 81-1 maiden Trojan Nation by a head. Adventist closed well to edge Matt King Coal for the show. Post time favorite Shagaf was never a serious factor in 5th. The winner flattered stablemate and Tampa Bay Derby hero Destin. Matt King Coal set a pressured pace and ran well but failed to qualify for the Derby. I do not think that this was a strong Derby prep.

G1 Blue Grass (4-9-16, 91 BSF): The pace fell apart and Keeneland lover Brody’s Cause took full advantage in a solid 1-3/4 length score. He flopped in the productive Tampa Bay Derby but bounced back in a big way here. My Man Sam rallied from post 14 to edge Cherry Wine by a neck for the place. Zulu’s flop was not a big surprise. It took him quite some time to return to the work tab after the Fountain of Youth and he was not ready for the the Florida Derby so they chose this race instead. I think the FOY wore him out and not qualifying for the Derby is a very good thing for the lightly raced runner. The Top 3 are are all solid closers and could make some late noise if the Derby pace is hot but the Blue Grass speed figure was mediocre at best.

G1 SA Derby (4-9-16, 103 BSF): Exaggerator loves the mud and on this day he had no problem handling nine furlongs. He steadily advanced outside, blew by the early runners, and coasted home by 6-1/4 lengths. Mor Spirit seemed to be struggling with the sloppy (sealed) main track but he has no quit in him and ended up a clear 2nd. Uncle Lino stalked and was best of the rest in 3rd. Danzing Candy set a fast pace and was a fading 4th, beaten 13+ lengths. He dusted the top three in the San Felipe and may not have cared for the footing. Also, there were questions about his ability to ration his speed and he went too fast, too soon in this spot.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase lost some of his luster after a very disappointing effort in the G1 Florida Derby but he never looked happy, raced wide from an outer post, was not handling the wet surface, and had to be coaxed to keep up instead of cruising along like he usually does. I will toss-out his final Derby prep and look for him to bounce back on the first Saturday in May if he trains well in the coming weeks. His trio of 95 BSF’s put him squarely in the mix this year and I think he is capable of running faster based on how easy he won his stakes races prior to the Florida Derby. He still needs to run the fastest race of his life at Churchill if he expects to be competitive and I think he can and will be a much better horse under the Twin Spires. He is expected to ship to Churchill Downs to begin Derby preparations April 17. He maintains his #1 ranking, a spot he has occupied since I first started my 2016 Derby contender list more than six months ago.

Derby Points (80)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael Lund Petersen)

Comments: I will admit that I was expecting a much better effort in the SA Derby and was fully prepared to move him to the top of my list but his 2nd behind runaway winner Exaggerator was not damaging in the grand scheme of things. His biggest strength is that nothing seems to bother him and he has been part of the Exacta in all seven of his starts. Another plus is his 2nd over wet footing in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. His one-pace, grinding style concerns me but the gem of consistency might be the most reliable of the Derby contenders. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied for more than five months.

Derby Points (84)

(3) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) Nyquist

Trainer (Doug O’Neill) – Owner (Reddam Racing LLC.)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.60 (22/28) at Keeneland on April 15.

Comments: After Mohaymen failed to fire, the 2-year-old champion had a very easy time of it on the front end against severely overmatched pace rivals in the G1 Florida Derby. I never like his one sprint/one route path to the Kentucky Derby and he will take more money than he should on the first Saturday in May. Many question his ability to get ten furlongs based on his pedigree and that might be the case but I just don’t think he is fast enough around two turns to win the Derby. His best career number was earned in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs earlier this year. He shipped to Keeneland to begin Derby preparations April 3.

Derby Points (130)

(4) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication) exaggerator silks

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Comments: He made a big, premature move before flattening out in the G2 San Felipe but turned the tables on More Spirit and Danzig Candy in a visually impressive, rallying effort in the G1 SA Derby. He rolled through the mud last Saturday, rumbling past the wire more than six lengths clear and earning a solid 103 BSF, easily the best nine furlong stakes number so far. That is precisely why I did not jump ship after the San Felipe. He was too talented to jump to conclusions in regards to his true two turn ability after one less that ideal outcome. He has plenty of seasoning and foundation and I like the way trainer Keith Desormeaux has handled him this year in regards to distance progression (7f San Vicente, 8.5f San Felipe, 9f SA Derby). Kent Desormeaux was more patient with him last Saturday and his well-timed ride resulted in a strong finish in his final Derby prep. Blowout wet track wins are not frequently repeated under a different set of circumstances next time out and he stays put at #4 for the time being.

Derby Points (126)

(5) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) destin silks

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC)

Latest Workouts: 5f in 1:00.94 (1/2) at Palm Beach Downs on April 16. 5f in 1:01.04 (3/12) at Palm Beach Downs on April 8.

Comments: The improving Tampa Bay Derby hero was flattered when vanquished foes Outwork and Brody’s Cause returned to win the G1 Wood Memorial and G1 Blue Grass last weekend. He owns fine positional speed and is peaking at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs. His sheets-oriented connections were worried about a bounce so they decided to skip his final prep and train up to the Derby. He won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12, returned to the work tab April 2, has never raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth, and the Kentucky Derby will be his first start in two months.

Derby Points (51)

(6) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Samuel F. Henderson)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (9/45) at Oaklawn Park on April 9.

Comments: He looked very good after a strong last-to-first score from post 13 in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In his last start in the G2 Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He deserves another chance and drew post 4 (5-1 morning line) in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 16. A show finish would put him on the bubble so he needs a top two finish to secure a Derby berth.

Derby Points (10)

(7) CUPID (Tapit – Pretty ‘n Smart, by Beau Genius)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derek Smith)

Latest Workouts: 4f in :48.20 (24/54) at Santa Anita Park on April 12. 7f in 1:24.60 (1/3) at Santa Anita Park on April 6.

Comments: The late bloomer is getting good in a hurry and his improvement can be attributed to racing over a route of ground. He lost his first two sprint starts (finished 2nd Jan 9) and proceeded to easily graduate at a mile and a sixteenth Feb 7 and followed that up with a gritty prominent throughout score in the G2 Rebel Stakes March 19. He is the morning line favorite for the Arkansas Derby and could give Baffert a strong 1-2 Derby punch if he turns in another big effort at Oaklawn Park.

Derby Points (50)

(8) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm)

Trainer (Dale Romans) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.82 (2/19) at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner proved once again that Keeneland is his favorite venue after a solid off the pace effort in the G1 Blue Grass. The G1 BC Juvenile show finisher threw in a clunker in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12 but some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface and he bounced back as expected on April 9. He broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky was definitely what the doctor ordered. The Blue Grass pace fell apart and the number did not come back strong so I will not move him back into the top five at this stage.

Derby Points (114)

(9) DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Clifford Sise Jr.) – Owner (Halo Farms)

Comments: The sharp wire-to-wire San Felipe winner did not show the same brilliant form in the SA Derby. In the latter race, he was sent to the lead and faded badly in the mud. He whipped Mor Spirit and Exaggerator in the San Felipe but finished more than thirteen lengths behind that latter this time. What a difference four weeks and a longer distance can make on the Derby trail. Prior to the SA Derby, his biggest obstacle was his ability to relax and finish. Exaggerator clearly passed his test but not this colt. He is fast and talented but looks like a one-dimensional speed horse with stamina issues. He is better than his last and would appreciate a fast, speed favoring track but ten furlongs looks like a daunting task.

Derby Points (60)

(10) GUN RUNNER (Candy Ride – Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway)

Trainer (Steve Asmussen) – Owner (Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney Farms)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01 (5/12) at Churchill Downs on April 11.

Comments: He looked good in a pair ground saving, stalk and pounce wins this year in the G2 Risen Star and G2 Louisiana Derby. He did not run fast in either race but jockey Florent Geroux put him in the right spot and gave him every chance to succeed both times. His tactical speed and ability to get the jump on his opponents are big assets when it comes to a race like the Kentucky Derby but he will need to run quite a bit faster to be considered a serious threat to wear the blanket of roses.

Derby Points (151)  

(11) MO TOM (Uncle Mo – Caroni, by Rubiano)

Trainer (Tom Amoss) – Owner (G M B Racing)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (5/32) at Churchill Downs on April 13.

Comments: Everything went right to kick off his sophomore campaign in the G2 LeComte but he has become the poster child for bad racing luck ever since. He was a troubled 3rd in the Risen Star and an even more unlucky 4th in the LA Derby. Closers frequently find trouble but a pair of questionable rides by jockey Corey Lanerie did not help matters. He is very close in ability to Gun Runner but the latter has tactical speed and some quickness to help him avoid traffic woes. He has not run fast yet and the main reason he keeps getting into trouble is because he is not nimble enough to avoid it. He is due for some good luck but finding clear sailing on the first Saturday in May will not be easy.

Derby Points (32)

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Outwork, (13) My Man Sam, (14) Whitmore, (15) Shagaf, (16) Tom’s Ready, (17) Fellowship, (18) Lani, (19) Majesto, (20) Oscar Nominated

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Blue Grass, SA Derby, and Wood Memorial video analysis

The road to Kentucky Derby 2016 makes pit stops in California, New York, and Kentucky this week with a trio of 170 Derby points races.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit tries to get his revenge in the SA Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Santa Anita Derby is a rematch between the top three finishers in the San Felipe – Danzing Candy, Mor Spirit, and Exaggerator. The pace scenario might favor Mor Spirit but if the track comes up wet (a real possibility) all bets are off!

The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct features undefeated Gotham hero Shagaf but he is light on numbers. Watch for fast stakes newcomer Matt King Coal to attempt a wire job.

Finally, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland features a full field of fourteen with two also-eligibles. Fountain of Youth runner-up Zulu is the 5-2 morning line favorite and Keeneland lover Brody’s Cause tries to bounce back after his non-effort in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Spiral Stakes (4-2-16, 82 BSF): In a five-horse blanket finish, Oscar Nominated got the neck victory and 50 Kentucky Derby points. He is not nominated to the Triple Crown series but owner Ken Ramsey is expected to pay the $200,000 supplemental fee to get him into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Azar was 2nd for Todd Pletcher and local hope Surgical Strike was 3rd. Disappointing efforts were turned in by Ralis (5th), Kasseopia (7th), Airoforce (8th), and Jensen (10th). The speed figure came back low and this was not a strong Derby prep.

G1 Florida Derby (4-2-16, 94 BSF): Nyquist remained undefeated with an easy wire-to-wire score, a result became a foregone conclusion when Mohaymen failed to handle the wet track. Nyquist is now the clear Kentucky Derby favorite. Majesto held 2nd by a length over late running Fellowship. The latter was dusted by Mohaymen in the Holy Bull and FOY but beat him by four lengths in this spot. Mohamen was wide and never looked comfortable over the off going. Common sense tells us that he is much better than Fellowship and he probably would have won the Florida Derby if he repeated his easy Fountain of Youth triumph. The other six entrants were hopelessly overmatched and ran to their long odds. The top four finishers are all expected to target the Kentucky Derby.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase was a perfect 5-for-5 heading into the G1 Florida Derby but never looked happy in a very disappointing 4th place finish. He raced wide from an outer post, was clearly not handling the wet surface, and had to be coaxed to keep up instead of cruising along like he usually does. This is a toss-out race for him and he could easily bounce back on the first Saturday in May if he trains well in the coming weeks. His top BSF of 95 is not going to win the Derby but I think he is capable of running faster based on how easy he made it look in his stakes races prior to the Florida Derby. Still, he needs to run the fastest race of his life at Churchill if he expects to be competitive. I think he can and will be a much better horse under the Twin Spires and he maintains his #1 ranking for now. He no longer has a stranglehold on the top spot and an impressive effort from Mor Spirit on Saturday could shake things up a bit.

Derby Points (80)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael Lund Petersen)

Latest Workout: 4f in :47 (2/58) at Santa Anita on April 4.

Comments: He has never finished out of the Exacta and his speed figure in the San Felipe was his best yet. He received valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall and appears primed for a big effort in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He is training well for his Saturday engagement and should get pace to chase. He might be the most reliable of the Derby contenders. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied for more than five months, and Mohaymen can hear his footsteps now.

Derby Points (44)

(3) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) Nyquist

Trainer (Doug O’Neill) – Owner (Reddam Racing LLC.)

Comments: The 2-year-old champion sure has a nose for the wire and ran his record to 7-for-7 with an easier than expected wire job win in the G1 Florida Derby. His task became much easier when his only competition Mohaymen failed to fire. I never like his one sprint/one route path to the Kentucky Derby and the 2-year-old champ will take more money than he should on the first Saturday in May. Many question his ability to get ten furlongs based on his pedigree and that might be the case but I just don’t think he is fast enough around two turns to win the Derby. His best overall number was earned in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs earlier this year. He shipped to Keeneland April 3 and had a slightly elevated white blood cell count (possibly caused by stress) April 7.

Derby Points (130)

(4) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication) exaggerator silks

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.80 (56/70) at Santa Anita Park on April 2.

Comments: He made a big, premature move in the G2 San Felipe before flattening out and finishing 3rd behind Danzig Candy and Mor Spirit last time. Many have seemingly jumped ship and decided that he has distance limitations but I want to see what he does in the SA Derby before making any final conclusions. He has plenty of seasoning and foundation and I like the way trainer Keith Desormeaux has handled him this year in regards to distance progression (7f, 8.5f, 9f). Hopefully Kent Desormeaux is more patient with him this Saturday because he needs a well-timed ride and a strong finish in his final Derby prep. He stays put at #4.

Derby Points (26)

(5) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home) Matt King Coal

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (Lady Sheila Stable)

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:25.28 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on March 30.

Comments: He ran fast twice last year in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a got a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a number much better than the G3 Gotham a day earlier. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next and he should be a strong factor from start to finish in that event. He will get a class and distance test in Saturday’s Wood and we will know if he is the real deal after that affair. He stays put at #5 and the Wood is his one and only chance to make the Derby.

(6) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.98 (6/17) at Palm Beach Downs on April 2.

Comments: The improving son of Giant’s Causeway exits back-to-back stakes wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs. He finally returned to the work tab on April 2 but they have decided to skip his final prep and train up to the Derby. He has never raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth and the Kentucky Derby will be his first start in two months.

Derby Points (51)

(7) DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Clifford Sise Jr.) – Owner (Halo Farms)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (13/70) at Santa Anita Park on April 2.

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He drilled a faster than expected five furlong bullet on March 26 and his connections need to harness his speed and leave something in the tank for the SA Derby on April 9. He should get tested early and often on Saturday.

Derby Points (50)

(8) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Samuel F. Henderson)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.80 (8/39) at Oaklawn Park on April 1.

Comments: He made his way onto my list after a strong last-to-first score in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In his last start in the G2 Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He deserves another chance and will get a shot at redemption in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 16.

Derby Points (10)

(9) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm)

Trainer (Dale Romans) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.82 (2/19) at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner and G1 BC Juvenile show finisher threw in a clunker in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12. Some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface so he gets a mulligan and will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday, April 9. We know he likes Keeneland (1st Breeders’ Futurity, 3rd BC Juvenile) and he broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky might be just what the doctor ordered. He will remain on the list until he runs in the Blue Grass Stakes, a make or break race for him.

Derby Points (14)

(10) CUPID (Tapit – Pretty ‘n Smart, by Beau Genius)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derek Smith)

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:24.60 (1/3) at Santa Anita Park on April 6.

Comments: The late bloomer is getting good in a hurry and his improvement can be attributed to racing over a route of ground. He lost his first two sprint starts (finished 2nd Jan 9) and proceeded to easily graduate at a mile and a sixteenth Feb 7 and followed that up with a gritty prominent throughout score in the G2 Rebel Stakes March 19. He will return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby and could give Baffert a strong 1-2 Derby punch if he turns in another big effort on April 16.

Derby Points (50)

(11) ZULU  (Bernardini – Temporada, by Summer Squall)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables, Tabor, Magnier, and Smith)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.07 (8/17) at Palm Beach Downs on April 2.

Comments: Trainer Todd Pletcher decided to skip the Florida Derby and he has been redirected to the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Blue Grass and will add blinkers for that engagement. He is light on seasoning and needs a strong test in his final Derby prep. We will see how talented he is after the Keeneland showcase but even if he runs well the Derby might be too much too soon.

Derby Points (20)

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) My Man Sam, (15) Shagaf, (16) Whitmore, (17) Outwork, (18) Tom’s Ready, (19) Fellowship, (20) Lani

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Spiral Stakes/Florida Derby video analysis

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen is the even money favorite against nine rivals including undefeated juvenile champion Nyquist in Saturday’s Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Mohaymen

Florida Derby favorite Mohaymen – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mohaymen seems to have every advantage on Saturday. He is 2-for-2 at Gulfstream and drew outside his main rival Nyquist. He owns running style versatility and also won the G2 Remsen Stakes at the nine furlong Florida Derby distance last year.

Nyquist looked super in his G2 San Vicente return but the Florida Derby will be his first start around two turns in more than five months. He is chasing a $1 million bonus as a Fasig-Tipton sales graduate running in the Florida Derby and is expected to head straight to Kentucky to prepare for the Derby after Saturday’s race.

Fellowship finished 3rd in the G2 Holy Bull and G2 Fountain of Youth and there is a good chance that he will occupy that spot again. The others seem overmatched and another show finish (or possibly 4th) will net Fellowship enough points to quality for the Kentucky Derby.

The Grade 2 Spiral Stakes attracted a full field of twelve with two also-eligibles. The nine furlong Kentucky Derby prep will be contested on Polytrack (synthetic footing) and it is worth a total of 85 Derby qualifying points (50-20-10-5), half the amount of points offered in the Florida Derby.

Jensen has been part of my Derby list for the last few weeks but owner/trainer Larry Jones did not nominate him to the Triple Crown at the recently concluded late stage and would have to pay $200,000 to supplement him if he earns enough Derby qualifying points in the Spiral. Jones is on record as saying he can make good money with the son of Haynesfield by ducking the big boys and choosing his spots wisely. He drops off my list but could resurface if he dominates the Spiral and they decide to pay the supplemental fees.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Louisiana Derby (3-26-16, 91 BSF): In a replay of the G2 Risen Star, Gun Runner sat a perfect stalking trip and got the jump on a troubled Mo Tom again. The latter received a questionable ride but late runners in full fields are always at the mercy of the pace, need racing luck, and are frequently bad win propositions. Tom’s Ready occasionally shows up with a big effort and he is in the Derby for Dallas Stewart after finishing 2nd on Saturday. Stewart can be dangerous in the exotics with longshots in Triple Crown races (Golden Soul, Commanding Curve, Tale of Verve). Dazzling Gem picked up 20 points for finishing 3rd but he is not close to being as talented as very unlucky 4th place finisher Mo Tom (36 Derby points). My longtime Top 5 Derby contender Greenpointcrusader was a bust in 7th place. I never liked the decision to take time off after his solid 2nd in the G2 Holy Bull and I am not sure what they are going to do next. 14 Derby points is not going to cut it and he is a NY horse so maybe they shoot for the Peter Pan/Belmont Stakes. Is he better routing or sprinting? Does he need a wet track? There are more questions than answers and he drops off my list. The speed figure came back low and the Fair Grounds horses are not fast enough to be considered major win contenders on the first Saturday in May.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.95 (9/46) at Palm Meadows on March 24.

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase is undefeated and 4-for-4 in the graded ranks (G2 Nashua, G2 Remsen, G2 Holy Bull, G2 Fountain of Youth). The versatile sort has shown no chinks in the armor and can cement his status as the early Kentucky Derby favorite with a win in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, April 2. I started my Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders list last September and Mohaymen has occupied the top spot all along.

Derby Points (70)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael Lund Petersen)

Latest Workout: 5f in :59 (1/20) at Santa Anita on March 30.

Comments: Jockey Gary Stevens and trainer Bob Baffert used the G2 San Felipe Stakes to teach Mor Spirit to relax and finish up strong and their mission was accomplished after he rallied for the place and galloped out strongly. They want him to peak on the first Saturday in May and the $650k son of Eskendereya has never finished out of the Exacta. He received valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall and should be set for a big effort in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (44)

(3) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) Nyquist

Trainer (Doug O’Neill) – Owner (Reddam Racing LLC.)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03 (56/72) at Santa Anita on March 25.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion has not competed in a Kentucky Derby points race since the 2015 BC Juvenile and the upcoming Florida Derby will be his first two turn race in more than five months. I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Kentucky Derby and he is eligible for a $1 million Fasig-Tipton sales graduate bonus if he wins the Florida Derby on April 2. He moves up a notch to #3.

Derby Points (30)

(4) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication) exaggerator silks

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (11/54) at Santa Anita Park on March 26.

Comments: He made a big, premature move in the G2 San Felipe before flattening out and finishing 3rd behind Danzig Candy and Mor Spirit last time. Many have seemingly jumped ship and decided that he has distance limitations but I want to see what he does in the SA Derby before making any final conclusions. He has plenty of seasoning and foundation and I like the way trainer Keith Desormeaux has handled him this year in regards to distance progression (7f, 8.5f, 9f). Hopefully jockey Kent Desormeaux is more patient with him in the SA Derby because he needs a well-timed ride and a strong finish in his final Derby prep. He moves up one spot to #4.

Derby Points (26)

(5) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home) Matt King Coal

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (Lady Sheila Stable)

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:25.28 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on March 30.

Comments: We know he is fast because of his two juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a number much better than the G3 Gotham a day earlier. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next and he should be a strong factor from start to finish in that event. He will get a class and distance test in the Wood and we will know if he is the real deal after that affair. He makes his debut in the Top 5.

(6) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC)

Comments: The improving son of Giant’s Causeway exits back-to-back stakes wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs. We are closing in on three weeks since the Tampa Bay Derby and he has yet to resurface on the work tab. He is expected to go next in the Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby. He moves up one spot to #6.

Derby Points (51)

(7) DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Clifford Sise Jr.) – Owner (Halo Farms)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :58.60 (1/54) at Santa Anita Park on March 26.

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but he still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby win contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He drilled a faster than expected five furlong bullet on March 26 and his connections need to harness his speed and leave something in the tank for the SA Derby on April 9. He goes from #8 to #7.

Derby Points (50)

(8) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Samuel F. Henderson)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.80 (8/39) at Oaklawn Park on April 1.

Comments: He made his way onto my list after a strong last-to-first score in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In his last start in the G2 Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He deserves another chance and will get a shot at redemption in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 16. He is on his way back up the ladder to #8.

Derby Points (10)

(9) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm)

Trainer (Dale Romans) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.90 (17/76) at Gulfstream Park on March 27.

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner and G1 BC Juvenile show finisher threw in a clunker in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12. Some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface so he gets a mulligan and is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday, April 9. We know he likes Keeneland (1st Breeders’ Futurity, 3rd BC Juvenile) and he broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky might be just what the doctor ordered. He advances two spots to #9 and will remain on the list until he runs in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Derby Points (14)

(10) CUPID (Tapit – Pretty ‘n Smart, by Beau Genius)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derek Smith)

Latest Workout: 4f in :50 (37/44) at Santa Anita Park on March 31.

Comments: The late bloomer is getting good in a hurry and it is all about two turns. He lost his first two sprint starts (finished 2nd Jan 9) but proceeded to easily graduate at a mile and a sixteenth Feb 7 and followed that up with a gritty prominent throughout score in the G2 Rebel Stakes March 19. He will probably return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby. He makes his debut on the list at #10.

Derby Points (50)

(11) ZULU  (Bernardini – Temporada, by Summer Squall)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables, Tabor, Magnier, and Smith)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.43 (14/24) at Palm Beach on March 26.

Comments: What he lacks in seasoning he makes up for in talent. The Pletcher trainee returns to my list after dropping off the last couple of weeks to make room for the likes of Destin and Danzing Candy. The Fountain of Youth runner-up was originally scheduled to run in the Florida Derby but his connections did not want to take on the two undefeated heavyweights in that contest so he will leave Gulfstream for the first time and shoot for the Blue Grass or Wood Memorial.

Derby Points (20)

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) My Man Sam, (15) Shagaf, (16) Whitmore, (17) Kasseopia, (18) Outwork, (19) Tom’s Ready, (20) Fellowship

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Louisiana Derby video analysis

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen is getting closer to his final prep race before his date with destiny on the first Saturday in May.

Mohaymen

Mohaymen is ready for the Florida Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mohaymen completed his Florida Derby preparations with an easy four furlong breeze on March 24. In the Florida Derby on Saturday, April 2, he will meet undefeated Juvenile Champion Nyquist in what is shaping up as the most anticipated prep race of the Derby season.

The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at nine furlongs is the Kentucky Derby prep this week and it is worth a total of 170 Derby qualifying points (100-40-20-10). A competitive field of eleven will line up in what promises to be a very good betting race.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Rebel Stakes (3-19-16, 95 BSF): Martin Garcia took no chances aboard Cupid. He shot straight to the front after breaking a bit slow and kicked away from Whitmore when that one came after him in the lane. He won by a comfortable 1-1/4 lengths and galloped out strong. Bob Baffert’s exciting $900k son of Tapit figures to return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby. He did not quite make it into the Top 11 this week but moved up from #20 to #14. Southwest Stakes runner-up Whitmore played second fiddle again and Creator was 3rd, followed by Cherry Wine and a troubled Suddenbreakingnews.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.95 (9/46) at Palm Meadows on March 24.

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase ran his record to 5-for-5 after comfortably beating Zulu the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct) and easily captured his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He had his final Florida Derby breeze on March 24 remains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015. At this stage it looks like a field of six for the Florida Derby: Mohaymen, Nyquist, Fellowship, along with longshots Ifyousnoozeyoulose, Sawyers Mickey, and Majesto.

Derby Points (70)

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael Lund Petersen)

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.80 (2/27) at Santa Anita on March 24.

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He has never finished out of the exacta including a better than appears place finish behind wire job winner Danzing Candy in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 12. In the San Felipe, jockey Gary Stevens said he was too fresh and eager to go early and after settling he passed Exaggerator for the place and galloped out nicely. Baffert and company keep learning more about him and the versatile sort will take on Danzing Candy again in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He had his first SA Derby work on March 24 and stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (44)

(3) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks 2016

Trainer (Dominick Schettino) – Owner (St. Elias Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.30 (6/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best to Mohaymen. He drew post 2 and is listed at 7-2 on the morning line in the G2 Louisiana Derby on March 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course.

Derby Points (14)

(4) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) Nyquist

Trainer (Doug O’Neill) – Owner (Reddam Racing LLC.)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (21/53) at Santa Anita on March 18.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like the real deal in his sophomore debut in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He ran fast throughout at Santa Anita on Feb 15, stopping the timer in 1:20.71 (100 BSF) and winning by 1.5 lengths over Exaggerator. He keeps on winning but I am not sure he wants to go ten furlongs and I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Derby. He will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2 and is eligible for a $1 million bonus.

Derby Points (30)

(5) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication) exaggerator silks

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF (98) in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. In his second sophomore start in the San Felipe, he was much farther back than normal after a less than ideal start and unleashed a strong, premature run at Danzing Candy before understandably flattening out and finishing 3rd (96 BSF). Trainer Keith Desormeaux is concerned that he is a miler but will give him another Derby prep race shot in the Santa Anita Derby. I am not sure if he wants to go run longer distances but he is tough, durable, battle-tested, and deserves every chance to make the Derby. If he does not want to go that far, there is always races like the G1 King’s Bishop (seven furlongs) at Saratoga this summer. He remains at #5 for now.

Derby Points (26)

(6) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home)

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (Lady Sheila Stable)

Latest Workout: 6f breeze in 1:13.06 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on March 19.

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a number much faster than the G3 Gotham a day earlier. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next.

(7) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC)

Comments: The improving son of Giant’s Causeway responded with back-to-back stakes wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs.

Derby Points (51)

(8) DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Clifford Sise Jr.) – Owner (Halo Farms)

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but he still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He is scheduled to work five furlongs under Mike Smith at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 26.

Derby Points (50)

(9) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Samuel F. Henderson)

Comments: He made his way onto my list after a strong last-to-first score in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In the Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He drops three spots and gets a shot at redemption in the Arkansas Derby.

Derby Points (10)

(10) JENSEN  (Haynesfield – Spun Lake, by Hard Spun)

Trainer (Larry Jones) – Owner (Larry and Cindy Jones)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (3/25) at Fair Grounds on March 21.

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but they opted to target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on April 2. Larry Jones trained 2007 Spiral winner Hard Spun (Jensen’s dam sire). He will likely have to win the Spiral to have enough Derby points to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. He stays put at #10.

(11) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm)

Trainer (Dale Romans) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable)

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner threw in a dud in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12. Some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface so he gets a mulligan and is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 9. We know he likes Keeneland (1st Breeders’ Futurity, 3rd BC Juvenile) and he broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky might be just what the doctor ordered. He will remain on the list until he runs in the Blue Grass.

Derby Points (14)

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Cupid, (15) Zulu, (16) Shagaf, (17) My Man Sam, (18) Kasseopia, (19) Outwork, (20) Malibu Sunset

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Rebel Stakes video analysis

Mohaymen and Mor Spirit are still my top two Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders but I made some changes to the list after the Tampa Bay Derby and San Felipe Stakes were run on March 12.

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

Someone failed to tell Brody’s Cause, one of my top Derby contenders, that he was running last weekend because he never lifted a hoof in the Tampa Bay Derby. He only has one Derby prep remaining (Blue Grass) and that is the problem with two prep campaigns. There is not much wiggle room left if something goes wrong. He is my biggest dropper going from #3 to #11.

Fountain of Youth runner-up Zulu was expected to take on Mohaymen and Nyquist in the Florida Derby but it took him 20 days to return to the worktab and it was a very slow four furlong breeze in :50.98 (15/16) on March 18. Pletcher may end up shipping him out of town for his final Derby prep. The combination of his lack of experience and light morning activity since his last has me concerned. He drops off the list and is replaced by another Pletcher trainee with more experience and more Derby points (Destin).

Malibu Sunset has a ton of potential but with only two lifetime starts (no Derby points) and some big efforts in graded points races last weekend, I no longer have room for him on my list. He worked six furlongs in 1:14.80 (8/12) at Santa Anita on March 17.

The Grade 2 Rebel Stakes is the Derby prep this week and it is worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5). A full field of fourteen will line up in what promises to be a competitive betting event.

Keep a close eye on Cupid. The Bob Baffert runner was originally targeting the Sunland Derby but when that race was canceled, he was entered in the San Felipe. Baffert, as he is apt to do, especially with his sophomores, changed his mind and scratched Cupid from the San Felipe. He worked him a strong six furlongs late last week and was redirected to the Rebel, and Baffert is deadly when he ships his 3-year-olds to Oaklawn Park to run in stakes races.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Tampa Bay Derby (3-12-16, 100 BSF): Sam F. Davis hero Destin made all the right moves under Javier Castellano. He smartly stalked stablemate Outwork and wore that one down to win by a length. The latter set the pace and was seven lengths clear of show finisher Star Hill. Sam Davis runner-up Rafting failed to move forward on the speed figure scale and ended up 4th. Post time favorite Brody’s Cause was last after six furlongs and only managed to pass two rivals in a surprising non-effort.

G2 San Felipe (3-12-16, 100 BSF): Danzing Candy was one of four early runners but went straight to the front and discouraged the other pace players in a good looking 2-length wire-to-wire score under Mike Smith. Mor Spirit was too fresh under Gary Stevens and wanted to go early. He ended up rallying for the place after all was said and done and he galloped out well. Exaggerator was last early and made an eye-catching premature move before running out of gas and finishing a clear 3rd.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:01 (1/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase ran his record to 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct), and easily captured his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He continues to train forwardly in advance of the Florida Derby on April 2. He maintains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015.

Derby Points (70)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael Lund Petersen)

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He has never finished out of the exacta including a better than appears place finish behind wire job winner Danzing Candy in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 12. In the San Felipe, jockey Gary Stevens said he was too fresh and eager to go early and after settling he passed Exaggerator for the place and galloped out nicely. Baffert and company keep learning more about him and the versatile sort will take on Danzing Candy again in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (44)

(3) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks 2016

Trainer (Dominick Schettino) – Owner (St. Elias Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.30 (6/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best. His future plans are set with the G2 Louisiana Derby next but I do not like the wide gaps between his three-year-old starts. He moves up on notch to #3 and must run big in the LA Derby on March 26.

Derby Points (14)

(4) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) Nyquist

Trainer (Doug O’Neill) – Owner (Reddam Racing LLC.)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (21/53) at Santa Anita on March 18.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like the real deal in his sophomore debut in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He ran fast throughout at Santa Anita on Feb 15, stopping the timer in 1:20.71 (100 BSF) and winning by 1.5 lengths over Exaggerator. He keeps on winning but I am not sure he wants to go ten furlongs and I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Derby. He will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2. He jumps back in front of Exaggerator and makes his debut in the Top 5.

Derby Points (30)

(5) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication) exaggerator silks

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF (98) in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. In his second sophomore start in the San Felipe, he was much farther back than normal after a less than ideal start and unleashed a strong, premature run at Danzing Candy before understandably flattening out and finishing 3rd (96 BSF). Trainer Keith Desormeaux is concerned that he is a miler but will give him another Derby prep race shot in the Santa Anita Derby. I am not sure if he wants to go run longer distances but he is tough, durable, battle-tested, and deserves every chance to make the Derby. If he does not want to go that far, there is always races like the G1 King’s Bishop (seven furlongs) at Saratoga this summer. He stays put at #5 for now.

Derby Points (26)

(6) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Samuel F. Henderson)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02 (7/22) at Oaklawn Park on March 14.

Comments: He replaced stablemate Synchrony on the list after rallying powerfully and going last-to-first in the G3 Southwest. He has fired Exacta shots in all six career starts and has a smart route-oriented pedigree. He had his final G2 Rebel Stakes work March 14 and is all set for his next Oaklawn Park test on March 19. He drew post 14 in the Rebel but the late runner won the Southwest from post 13 so his wide draw may not matter.

Derby Points (10)

(7) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home)

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (Lady Sheila Stable)

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a much better number than the G3 Gotham the day before. He was getting tired late and My Man Sam was closing but he had enough gas in the tank to get the job done despite being much less than 100% fit. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next and he should be much fitter for that engagement.

(8) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC)

Comments: The improving newcomer to my list responded in a big way in his last two wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa.

Derby Points (51)

(9) DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Clifford Sise Jr.) – Owner (Halo Farms)

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but he still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He is a new addition to the “exceptional eleven.”

Derby Points (50)

(10) JENSEN  (Haynesfield – Spun Lake, by Hard Spun)

Trainer (Larry Jones) – Owner (Larry and Cindy Jones)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.60 (27/51) at Fair Grounds on March 13.

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time and Jones says he reminds him of Hard Spun. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but now it looks as though they will target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. He moves up one spot to #10.

(11) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm)

Trainer (Dale Romans) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable)

Comments: The closer ended his 2YO season with a win in Keeneland’s G1 Breeders’ Futurity and a show finish in the BC Juvenile. He made his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and never picked his feet up in a very surprising non-effort. He is expected to return to Kentucky for his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9 and he needs a big performance to make the Derby cut. He plummets from #3 to #11.

Derby Points (14)

The Next Nine: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Zulu, (15) Malibu Sunset, (16) Shagaf, (17) My Man Sam, (18) Kasseopia, (19) Outwork, (20) Cupid

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