Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders – New Year’s Day Comes Early

It was a big day for my Kentucky Derby 2014 contenders in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, November 2.

New Year's Day

New Year’s Day wins 2013 BC Juvenile – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Three of my original exceptional eleven Derby contenders competed in the BC Juvenile, and they took down the top three spots.

New Year’s Day rose to the occasion for Bob Baffert, coming off a layoff and running down G1 Champagne hero Havana. They both finished in front of front runner Strong Mandate.

New Year’s Day owns a promising pedigree and might have the most potential. Havana has a ton of raw talent but might have distance limitations. D. Wayne Lukas will give Strong Mandate every opportunity to make the Derby starting gate.

The winning 2013 BC Juvenile BSF was a respectable 88. Last year’s Juvenile was a negative prep. The 2011 BC Juvenile was a key race. The 2013 edition probably falls somewhere in between.

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. PURPLE SKY (Pulpit – Tessa Blue, by Awesome Again)

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :50.80 (75/97) at Churchill Downs on 11-2.

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in Aug. 31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He overcame adversity to earn diploma at Churchill Downs (one mile) on 9-28.

UPDATE: Purple Sky is entered in the 7th race at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 9. He is the 5-2 morning line favorite vs. nine optional claiming rivals at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track.

2. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47 (1/24) at Belmont Park on 10-27.

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. He  skipped the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

3. NEW YEAR’S DAY (Street Cry – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Gary & Mary West

Comments: Rallied for 3rd in his 5.5f Del Mar debut 8-17 and beat next out G1 FrontRunner winner Bond Holder in a one mile maiden race at that same venue 8-31. He came off the bench and showed his talent with a professional score in the G1 BC Juvenile.

4. HAVANA (Dunkirk – Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Taber, Magnier, and Smith

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day.

Strong Mandate

Strong Mandate bounced back with a solid show finish in the BC Juvenile – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

5. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile.

6. MISCONNECT (Unbridled’s Song – Summer Raven, by Summer Squall)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :51.08 (41/45) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 10-14.

Comments: Battled on the pace throughout and was 2nd best to Honor Code in his 8-31 debut at the Spa. He graduated by a length at Belmont on 9-28 (85 BSF).

7. SCHOOLOFHARDROCKS (Rock Hard Ten – Miss Chapin, by Royal Academy)

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (32/48) at Santa Anita on 9-25.

Comments: It is not easy to win a route race first time out, but he did just at Del Mar on 8-31. Veteran jockey Victor Espinoza is high on this one. “He’s a very talented horse,” Espinoza said of the son of Rock Hard Ten. “I liked him the first time I saw him. I was impressed with how he ran going a mile and winning from the one hole (at odds of 10-1 Aug. 31 at Del Mar). I feel he’ll get even better.” Schoolofhardrocks scratched out of the FrontRunner Stakes. “It’s not too significant,” trainer David Hofmans said of the unrevealed injury. “It’s a problem we’re working on.”

8. GRAND ARRIVAL (Harlan’s Holiday – Grandstone, by Grindstone)

Trainer: Nick Zito – Owner: Ameche Jr., Ameche III, & Prancing Horse Enterprises

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47.98 (1/24) at Saratoga on 10-26.

Comments: Distant 3rd in his 7-22 Saratoga debut (Strong Mandate 5th). Romped by 6-1/4 lengths as the 3-2 favorite at that same venue at 7f second time out on 8-31 (sloppy, sealed). Attended pace and retreated to 8th in Champagne. He should get better with age.

9. KENDALL’S BOY (Sky Mesa – Golden Damsel, by Gold Token)

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.80 (8/44) at Churchill Downs on 10-14.

Comments: Clearly second best to Havana in his 8-23 debut (94 BSF) at the Spa and rolled by 5-1/4 lengths at 6f under the Twin Spires on 9-13. He never appeared comfortable on synthetic footing and was not persevered with in 11th place Breeders’ Futurity effort.

10. GIVE NO QUARTER (Tiz Wonderful – Roadtohanna, by Not for Love)

Trainer: Graham Motion – Owner: Sagamore Farm

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.20 (5/11) at Fair Hill on 10-30.

Comments: Two races at Presque Isle with a clear place finish in his 5.5f bow on 8-15 and a 22-length romp at one mile on 9-17 (85 BSF). He was eased without an apparent excuse in the G3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 6. From Graham Motion’s Twitter account: @GrahamMotion – I’m afraid I can’t give an explanation for Give no Quarter’s poor performance at Woodbine today. He seems to have cooled out fine.

11. CANDIP (Candy Ride – Indefinable, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: W. Bret Calhoun  – Owner: Sanders and Hirsch

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :51.41 (8/14) at Remington Park on 9-22.

Comments: Coasted home by 4-1/4 lengths in his 5.5f Remington bow on 9-2 (89 BSF).

Pedigree Spotlight: New Year’s Day

new year's day pedigree

New Year’s Day’s sire Street Cry (Machiavellian – Helen Street, by Troy) went 5-for-12 from 2000-02 and won such prestigious stakes races as the G1 Dubai World Cup and G1 Stephen Foster. He has sired multiple stakes winners including Desert Party, Street Boss, and Zenyatta.

Machiavellian (Mr. Prospector – Coup de Folie, by Halo) was a group one winner in France. He retired with four wins from seven starts and earnings of $355,790. In addition to Street Cry, he sired 47 stakes winners including Dubai World Cup winner Almutawakel.

Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native) won 7 of 14 starts including the Whirlaway and Gravesend Handicaps in 1974.

Legendary “Sire of sires” Mr. Prospector is one of the most influential horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, siring 181 stakes winners (47 Grade 1 or Group I winners) and 16 champions.

Street Cry’s dam Helen Street (GB) was a group one winner in Ireland in 1985. Her sire Troy (GB) won 8 of 11 races in 1978-79 including the Epsom Derby.

New Year’s Day’s dam Justwhistledixie (Dixie Union – General Jeanne, by Honour and Glory) won the G2 Davona Dale and G2 Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park in 2009. She was 2nd in the G1 Acorn at Belmont P:ark later that year.

Dixie Union (Dixieland Band – She’s Tops, by Capote) won the G1 Haskell in 2000, defeating Captain Steve and Milwaukee Brew. He also captured the G1 Malibu in his final career start and sired 39 stakes winners from his first eight crops including Gone Astray, Grasshopper, and G1 Belmont Stakes hero Union Rags.

Dixie Union’s sire was Dixieland Band (by Northern Dancer), a Maryland-bred horse I remember when I first started following racing in the early 1980′s. Dixieland Band won the G2.

New Year’s Day has a nice blend of speed and stamina throughout his pedigree, and ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May could easily be within his grasp. He is lightly raced, improving, and has plenty of upside for Bob Baffert.

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