Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Is Kristo a Sham?

Malibu Moon was responsible for last year’s Derby winner Orb, and his son Noble Moon earned valuable Kentucky Derby 2014 points in his victory in the Grade II Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 4.

Noble Moon

Noble Moon wins 2014 Jerome – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Noble Moon earned an 85 BSF at the Big A last Saturday and will need to run faster against better company next time. He did what he had to do and has now been competitive in all three career starts including his last pair in the graded ranks. More than anything else, he flattered Nashua winner Cairo Prince.

Commissioner and Top Billing put on a nine furlong allowance show at the Gulf on Jan. 4. The former sat the right trip and owns a promising pedigree for Pletcher. The latter experienced a troubled journey and is currently Shug’s #2 on the depth chart behind Honor Code. The winning BSF came back 91. Both will have an opportunity to join my list when they take on salty stakes foes in the coming months.

Three strikes and you’re out! I gave Nick Zito’s Grand Arrival every possible chance to remain on my list, but he gets the boot after flopping in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day.

In the GP Derby, General a Rod edged Wildcat Red by a head, and the BSF came back a solid 92. We will learn more about them when they face graded foes in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes and beyond.

The race of the week for the sophomore set in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Jan. 11. It looks like a showdown between Bob Baffert’s Midnight Hawk and John Sadler’s Kristo.

Schoolofhardrocks has been MIA since scratching from the G1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 28. He won his lone lifetime start at Del Mar (one mile) on Aug. 31 and can rejoin my list if he makes it back in the near future.

Misconnect also drop off the list. He has not been on the worktab since October.

Purple Sky clings to the bottom and could get shoved off the cliff in the near future. He has disappointed in back-to-back allowance route tries including a 4th place finish behind Gold Hawk at Fair Grounds on 12-27.

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. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer – Owner: Jungle Racing (Jim Rome)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (11/40) at Santa Anita Park on 1-3.

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut (84 BSF) and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue (99 BSF) on 11-10. The exciting gelding thoroughly dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He could make two, possibly three starts on the Derby trail at Santa Anita, culminating with the G1 SA Derby on April 5.

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: 3f breeze in :39 (10/13) at Payson Park on 12-31.

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 will winter in Florida.

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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. He has resumed light training in Florida.

Strong Mandate

Strong Mandate is training at Oaklawn Park – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.60 (5/48) at Oaklawn Park on 1-2.

Derby Points (2)

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. He is currently training at Oaklawn Park.

5. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.70 (1/31) at Palm Meadows on 1-5.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and is wintering in Florida. The G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream on 1-25 is next.

6. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.60 (25/78) at Fair Grounds on 1-5.

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. The promising colt is headed to the G3 Lecomte Stakes on 1-18.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :58.60 (1/31) at Fair Grounds on 1-3.

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. Entered in a 6f allowance event (race 8) at Fair Grounds on 1-11.

8. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12.80 (7/28) at Santa Anita on Jan. 5.

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. Sadler skipping the CashCall Futurity because of the all-weather surface and he has a fresh horse for the Grade III Sham Stakes at one mile (Santa Anita) on Jan. 11.

9. UNKNOWN ROAD (Bernardini – Banshee Winds, by Known Fact)

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: JMJ Racing Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 5f in 1:01 (9/39) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 6.

Comments: Finished a good 2nd to Chad Brown’s Coup de Grace in his 6f Big A debut on Nov. 9. He torched six rivals at Fair Grounds (six furlongs) second time out on Dec. 19 and should get better as distances increase. Stall is looking for an allowance spot.

10. COUP DE GRACE (Tapit – Home Court, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Fox Hill Farms

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.75 (26/49) at Palm Meadows on 1-5.

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 with a professional one mile allowance tally at Gulfstream Park on 12-15. The G2 Holy Bull Stakes might be next.

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

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 Sept. 28. Never got involved in allowance route at Churchill on Nov. 9 and finished an okay 4th in an entry level allowance route at Fair Grounds Dec. 27. Put up or shut up time has arrived!

Pedigree Spotlight: KRISTO

Kristo’s sire Distorted Humor (Forty Niner – Danzig’s Beauty, by Danzig) banked more than $769k in his career, winning such races as the G3 Salvator Mile, G2 Commonwealth, and G3 Ack Ack. He currently stands at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky for a stud fee of $100k. He has sired 119 stakes winners including Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner Funny Cide, Belmont Stakes/BC Classic hero Drosselmeyer, Travers hero and BC Classic runner-up Flower Alley (sire of Derby winner I’ll Have Another), 2-time G1 Whitney hero Commentator, and G1 Haskell winner Any Given Saturday.

kristo breeding

Distorted Humor’s sire Forty Niner (by Mr. Prospector) was the 1987 Juvenile Champion. The ’88 Kentucky Derby runner-up won multiple stakes races as a 3YO including the G1 Travers and G1 Haskell. He was North American’s leading freshman sire in 1992 and sired ‘96 Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note. The sire of sires was whisked away to Japan in 1995 for a cool $10 million and was pensioned in 2007.

Forty Niner’s late, great sire 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.

Distorted Humor’s dam Danzig’s Beauty won the G3 Gardenia and finished 2nd in the G1 Acorn.

Danzig’s Beauty’s sire Danzig (by Northern Dancer) won all three career starts in New York. The influential stallion died in 2006 at age 29. He sired such prominent runners as Chief’s Crown (3rd ’85 Belmont Stakes), Stephan’s Odyssey (’85 Belmont Stakes runner-up), Danzig Connection (’86 Belmont Stakes winner), ’92 Preakness hero Pine Bluff, and Breeders’ Cup Mile winners Lure and War Chant.

Kristo’s dam Capote’s Crown (Capote – Majesty’s Crown, by Magesterial) won 3 of 8 lifetime starts including a tally in the Queen of Song Stakes and a place finish in the G3 Tempted.

Capote (Seattle Slew) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Norfolk Stakes in 1986. He sired more than 60 stakes winners including 2YO champ Boston Harbor.

Capote’s Crown’s dam Majesty’s Crown was an 8-time winner in Maryland.

Kristo has an intriguing blend of speed on the bottom and stamina on the top of his pedigree. He has already passed his first two turn test so the G3 Sham is easily within reach. Energy distribution is the key to success in longer events and it will be interesting to see how he progresses this winter and beyond.

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