Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Midnight Hawk Attack

Midnight Hawk and Kristo, a pair of promising Kentucky Derby 2014 contenders based in Southern California, traded punches for much of Saturday’s Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Midnight Hawk horse

Midnight Hawk wins 2014 Sham Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Midnight Hawk proved superior in the lane and picked up 10 Derby Points, and earned a solid 95 BSF. The Baffert trainee is now 2-for-2 but is still green and needs more experience.

Kristo seemed a bit out of his element dueling on the inside and it was nice to see him fight hard to the bitter end. The Sham was his first start in three months and he should have gotten a ton out of Saturday’s race.

Midnight Hawk replaces Purple Sky on my list, and Sham runner-up Kristo remains in the mix.

It is tough to interpret compact Derby preps (Sham) and pace puzzlers (Remsen), but the most important things to look for at this stage are strong efforts, top connections, and long winded pedigrees. These early Derby hopefuls need to stay healthy while picking up Derby Points and gaining experience. We will learn more about many of these promising sophomores in the coming months.

The featured Derby prep this week is the Grade III Lecomte Stakes from Fair Grounds. Gold Hawk, currently sitting at No. 6 on my list, is the 3-1 morning line favorite. He figures to be tough to beat if he gets enough pace help to set up his late charge.

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) shared belief

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 and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue on 11-10. He dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He missed a scheduled work on Jan. 12 due to a foot abscess. “I’m not going to work him until he’s perfect,” Hollendorfer said Friday morning. “We want to try and make the Lewis if we can, but if we don’t, it’s not going to bother me any.

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

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 is expected to make his 3YO bow in the Fountain of Youth.

Havana horse

Havana has resumed light training in Florida – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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. He battled through swift splits 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.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:04.20 (22/94) at Oaklawn Park on 1-12.

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 fired in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile.

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.90 (1/29) at Palm Meadows on 1-12. That’s nearly identical back-to-back 5f bullets.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and will make his next start in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on 1-25.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.80 (22/47) at Fair Grounds (slop) on 1-13.

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 entered in the G3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 18.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Comments: Clearly second best to Havana in his 8-23 debut 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. Went wire-to-wire under Rosie Napravnik in his 6f allowance return at Fair Grounds on Jan. 11.

8. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)

Trainer: Bob Baffert Owner: Mike Pegram

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mid was wondering in the lane. He has plenty of raw talent and should continue to develop mentally and physically.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He battled Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best.

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

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

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :48.80 (19/59) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 17.

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.

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

Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Fox Hill Farms

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.75 (7/30) at Palm Meadows on 1-12.

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

Pedigree Spotlight: MIDNIGHT HAWK

midnight hawk silks

Midnight’s Hawk’s sire Midnight Lute (Real Quiet – Candytuft, by Dehere) won the BC Sprint in 2007 and 2008 and was the Champion Sprinter in ’07. The promising young stallion’s leading runners include Queen’s Plate winner Midnight Aria, G1 Acorn winner Midnight Lucky, and G1 Malibu hero Shakin It Up.

midnight hawk pedigree

Midnight Lute’s sire Real Quiet (Quiet American) won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1998 and just failed in his Triple Crown bid. The late sire’s leading runners include Grade 1 winners Pussycat Doll and Wonder Lady Ann L.

Real Quiet’s sire Quiet American (Fappiano) banked more than $750k and won the G1 NYRA Mile in 1990. The now pensioned sire was responsible for multiple stakes winners including 1997 Champion Older Female Hidden Lake, and Grade 1 winners Cara Rafaela, Seattle Smooth, and Switch.

Midnight Hawk’s dam Miss Wineshine (Wolf Power – Miss Mississippi, by Cormorant) won the Silver Spur in 1999 and placed in the G3 Debutante, G2 Adirondack, and G1 Spinaway.

Wolf Power was South African Horse of the Year in 1984. He sired 38 stakes winners including G1 hero Freedom Cry.

Midnight Hawk has more speed than stamina influences in his pedigree. He proved his two turn mettle in the G3 Sham and is lightly raced, undefeated, and on the improve.     

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