Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Florida Constitution

Constitution secured a Kentucky Derby 2014 spot for Todd Pletcher & WinStar Farm following a neck victory over Wildcat Red in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

Constitution is now undefeated in three lifetime starts, all at Gulfstream Park in 2014. He is obviously talented, but has no 2yo foundation and is giving up a ton of seasoning to his Derby rivals. I don’t like him for the Derby but he is one to watch in other big races later this year.


Constitution wins 2014 Florida Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Wildcat Red is an overachieving fighter with seven exacta finishes from as many starts, all at the Gulf. He figures to face pace pressure early and often on the first Saturday in May.

General a Rod continues to fly under the radar. The gem of consistency was an even 3rd on Saturday and looks the best prepared of the Florida Derby horses pointing to the Kentucky Derby. I will consider him a Derby contender if he trains well in Kentucky.

Cairo Prince finished a puzzling 4th in the Florida Derby. He did not necessarily have to win, and I was not surprised that he did not cross the line 1st, but I was expecting much more. He never got in serious contention and finished a flat 4th. Two races in 5+ months, including a lackluster final prep, may leave him short under the Twin Spires. He has 24 Derby points and is not guaranteed a starting spot at this stage.

Vicar’s In Trouble absolutely stole the LA Derby. The fast pace paper race never materialized and Rosie Napravnik walked the dog if effortless fashion. He is a talented LA-bred but his distance limitations will show up when he has to chase much faster fractions at Churchill Downs.

I thought Intense Holiday ran well considering the race shape. He closed strongly in the Risen Star but was much closer to soft splits this time. He should have gotten something out of his chasing runner-up effort and is still a viable Derby contender given his finishing kick.

Commanding Curve rallied for the show in his best Golden Soul imitation. He can be used in Derby exotics if he makes the gate.

Gold Hawk failed to qualify on Derby points and drops off the list. He has raw ability but has been slow to develop mentally. Will look for more from him down the road.

Keeping up with past “exceptional eleven” members, Schoolofhardrocks worked 4f in :49.40 (28/40) at Santa Anita on April 3. He is entered in Saturday’s G1 SA Derby.

My Wood Memorial Day Aqueduct full card analysis is ready to purchase! 

Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Derby is my featured play of the day at

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. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess) Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:11.80 (4/26) at Santa Anita on March 29.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is next.

2. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio) Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00.80 (1/11) at Oaklawn on March 31.

Derby Points (42)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and will wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

3. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister) Strong Mandate silks

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (5/21) at Oaklawn on April 1.

Derby Points (11)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel. The Arkansas Derby is next.

4. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love) california chrome silks

Trainer: Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46.40 (1/19) at Los Alamitos on March 29.

Derby Points (50)

Comments: 5-for-9 lifetime including three straight romps at Santa Anita. The overachieving CA-bred ran them off their feet in the G2 San Felipe (107 BSF) and is the SA Derby favorite. He is a great Cinderella story and will try to overcome his modest breeding on May 3.

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Derby Points (24)

Comments: Skipping the FOY did not work out so well after a flat 4th in the Florida Derby. Only two preps in 5+ months means that he is fresh but fitness might be a serious issue on the first Saturday in May.

6. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power) Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46 (1/40) at Santa Anita on April 3.

Derby Points (52)

Comments: G3 Sham hero followed up that win was a show finish in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, a clear, distant 2nd in the G2 San Felipe, and another clear place finish in the G3 Sunland Derby. He has qualified for the Kentucky Derby but is not quite top class in graded route races.

7. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47.40 (1/35) at Palm Meadows on March 30.

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will likely try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.40 (1/11) at Santa Anita Park on March 30.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe. He is entered in Saturday’s G1 Wood Memorial.

9. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch) bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (28/61) at Santa Anita on March 31.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe. He returned to the work tab March 20 and is training up to the Arkansas Derby.

10. INTENSE HOLIDAY (Harlan’s Holiday – Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song) intense holiday silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing

Comments: The late running Risen Star hero showed much more tactical speed in LA Derby place finish. I am not sure that he is a true top class (Grade 1) animal, but his late kick makes him a viable threat on the first Saturday in May.

11. COMMISSIONER (A.P Indy – Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold) commisioner silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm

Derby Points (10)

Comments: The long winded sort owns two wins at nine furlongs. Could not keep up from the rail over speed favoring ground in the FOY and rallied to finish a better than appears 3rd after a bad start in the G3 Sunland Derby. The Arkansas Derby is his next stop.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Cairo Prince

I am rooting for Cairo Prince to do well on the Triple Crown trail because his sire, Pioneerof The Nile (Empire Maker – Star of Goshen, by Lord at War), was my Derby horse in 2008, and I got to see him on a visit to WinStar Farm in 2013.

Pioneerof The Nile won half of his ten lifetime starts and banked more than $1.6 million. In addition to his Derby place finish, career highlights included wins in the G1 CashCall Futurity, G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, G2 San Felipe, and G1 SA Derby. America’s #2 freshman sire has a 2014 stud fee of $20k.

Cairo Prince bloodlines

I seem to really identify with these bloodlines, because Pioneerof The Nile’s sire Empire Maker (Unbridled – Toussaud, by El Gran Senor) was my Derby pick in 2003.He ended up 2nd on the first Saturday in May that year and turned the tables on Funny Cide in the Belmont Stakes five weeks later.

Empire Maker has sired U.S. champion, Royal Delta, and Kentucky Derby runner-ups Bodemeister and Pioneerof the Nile. He was exported to Japan in 2010.

Empire Maker’s sire Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1990 and sired 1996 Derby hero Grindstone and 2000 Preakness winner Red Bullet.

Empire Maker’s late, great Grade I winning dam Toussaud also tossed Grade I winners Chester House, Honest Lady, Chiselling, and Grade II hero Decarchy.

On the female side, Cairo Prince gets class from his mother Holy Bubbette (Holy Bull), a 6-timer winner (2 stakes wins) of more than $240k.

Dam sire Holy Bull was on the Derby trail in 1994, winning Horse of the Year and 3YO honors that season. He captured 13 of 16 career outings and earned more than $2.4 million, winning such prestigious races as the G1 Futurity, G1 Florida Derby, G1 Met Mile, G1 Haskell, G1 Travers, and G1 Woodward.

Cairo Prince owns a classy pedigree with many classic influences on top. His early-pressing running style keeps him out of trouble but he was flat off a layoff in his final Derby prep and might be a short horse at Churchill Downs.

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