The unofficial road to the 2012 Kentucky Derby began with the Breeders’ Cup in early November and now that we have multiple graded routes in the books it is time to rate the quality of the preps so far.
BC Juvenile Sprint (11-4-11) – 95 BSF (Secret Circle)
Not sure about the overall strength of the field but winner Secret Circle is arguably the fastest juvenile in the land with 97-97-95 BSF’s in his three winning races to date. He owns three of the top ten BSF’s for juveniles as of 11-29. Grade: B-
Secret Circle had every right to fold after dueling through quick splits of :20.96 and :44.55 but the Baffert trainee gamely held off overseas filly Shumoos to remain undefeated. He has route influences in his pedigree and might try two turns in the G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on 12-17.
G1 BC Juvenile (11-5-11) – 94 BSF (Hansen)
The deepest juvenile prep race of the season with seven Graded/Group winners in the starting gate. Hansen went all the way, becoming the eighth member of the field to make the grade. The number came back solid if unspectacular and the top three were well clear of the rest. Grade: B
Hansen kept his perfect record intact with a game wire job head victory. He has never been headed in three career starts and it remains to be seen how he will react to serious pace pressure. Mike Maker’s talented colt is wintering in Florida with the Gulfstream 3-year-old preps on his radar screen.
Union Rags tasted defeat for the first time but was probably best after breaking 12th from post 10, racing wide, and wandering in the stretch. He is also spending the winter in Florida.
Creative Cause ended his productive juvenile season with a solid show finish in the BC Juvenile. He will likely resurface at Santa Anita in 2012 with the G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb 19 a possible starting point.
Dullahan was bumped at the start and rallied to finish a respectable 4th. He graduated in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and might be better on turf/synthetic.
Real Quiet Stakes (11-12-11) – 81 BSF (Liaison)
A bit of quality in this six-pack with a pair of multiple winners including CalCup Juvenile hero Rousing Sermon. Liaison gamely edged the aforementioned CalCup winner but did not earn much of a number. Grade: C-
Liaison has now won two straight and is clearly making nice progress. He has the right connections (Baffert) and a decent pedigree (Indian Charlie-Victory Gallop). The CashCall Futurity might be next.
G3 Delta Jackpot (11-19-11) – 80 BSF (Sabercat)
Pace meltdown with morning line favorite Drill and My Adonis dueling through splits of :22.11, :45.41, and 1:11.60. Top three finishers Sabercat, Basmati, and Longview Drive rallied from 9th, 6th, and 10th while crawling home in slow final time of 1:46.62. Delta Princess winner Now I Know earned a slightly better 81 BSF. Grade: D
Sabercat was making his sixth start of the year and won his third straight route in Delta Jackpot. Improving Asmussen runner breezed an easy 4f in :53 at Fair Grounds on 11-28.
Basmati took six tries to break his maiden and earned a nice chunk of change in place finish at Delta Downs. The busy juvenile might show up next in the CashCall Futurity.
Jerry Hollendorfer’s NoCal invader Longview Drive showed a new dimension rallying for the show. The $175k Keeneland sales grad has earned his best numbers in sprint races.
Drill came back in two weeks after a failed BC Juvenile attempt and flopped once again in Louisiana for Baffert. He has dropped three straight Graded dirt routes and seemingly needs a break. Both wins occurred at Del Mar in synthetic sprints.
G3 Hollywood Prevue (11-24-11) – 83 BSF (So Brilliant)
So Brilliant gamely wired six rivals but all members of the field were eligible for their entry level condition prior to this seven furlong synthetic affair. Grade: D+
So Brilliant was hardly as secret in his winning bow and made the betting public happy again on Thanksgiving Day. Bob Baffert’s $300k purchase is bred to route and has plenty of room to improve. CashCall Futurity is on his radar screen.
Empire Way was visually impressive in his Nov 13 bow but did not earn much of a number in that event and showed nothing in his Stakes debut. He should improve next year in routes but needed to run much faster.
G2 Remsen (11-26-11) – 80 BSF (O’Prado Again)
The pace was crawling (4f – :49.97, 6f – 1:15.05) and they ran the final 3f in :37.02. Tough to get a true gauge on this event with an overall impression of something close to average. Grade: C
O’Prado Again won his second straight 9f affair in the Remsen. Trainer Dale Romans has had some success in recent Triple Crown events (Paddy O’Prado, First Dude, Shackleford).
Souper Speedy set the aforementioned crawling fractions and had just enough left to hold the place. Not a bad effort considering he was coming off a layoff after graduating in his 7f mud bow at 31-1.
El Padrino is an interesting long term prospect. He graduated by open lengths in his second career start and saved all the ground tracking the pace while showing late interest in the Remsen. Todd Pletcher’s $210k purchase has a nice distance pedigree and plenty of room to develop.
G2 Kentucky Jockey Club (11-26-11) – 85 BSF (Gemologist)
This one could turn out to be a decent prep. The fractions and final time were solid and the top three ran well. One/all could be heard from next year. Grade: C+
Gemologist remained unbeaten with a sharp stalk/pounce tally. Super Saver won this for same connections (Pletcher/WinStar Farm) en route to 2010 Kentucky Derby triumph. Interesting pedigree with Tiznow on top and Mr. Prospector on bottom.
Ever So Lucky set the pace and gamely held the place. Souper Speedy had a similar effort/pattern in the Remsen but Ever So Lucky carved out stronger splits and looks like the better long term prospect for Jonathan Sheppard. Like the speed (Indian Charlie), stamina (Summer Squall) pedigree mix.
Timely Tally has clearly kicked it up a few notches around two turns. He had some traffic issues under Borel and flew late to just miss the place. Gemologist seemingly has his number but the $220k son of Mr. Greeley is coming around and could be a player next year for Ian Wilkes.