Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Danza displays talent in Arkansas Derby

Danza qualified for Kentucky Derby 2014 with a surprising victory in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 12.

Danza snuck up the rail and looked good visually, earning a solid 102 BSF. Was his win a fluke? That is tough to answer at this stage, but I do not like his Derby chances because he only has one route start under his belt and has to come back in three weeks after a career top.

Danza horse

Danza springs a 40-1 upset in the Arkansas Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Ride On Curlin rallied to catch Bayern for the place. The versatile sort is 0-for-6 at 8f and beyond but shows up for every dance and is always in the hunt for a share. Calvin Borel will ride in the Derby and he was aboard for both career wins (5.5f, 6f).

In the Blue Grass, Dance With Fate shuffled his way into the Derby with a 1-3/4 length win over Medal Count. The aforementioned duo can run on anything but both appear best on synthetic and turf.

Dance With Fate’s connections have decided to give the Derby a whirl, and Medal Count is definitely going to Churchill as well.

Big changes to the list with Bayern (3rd Arkansas Derby), Commissioner (6th Arkansas Derby), Gala Award (6th Blue Grass), and Strong Mandate (8th Arkansas Derby) all failing to earn enough Derby qualifying points in their April 12 starts.

Florida Derby winner Constitution is out of the Kentucky Derby with a shin injury. Uncle Sigh moves up one spot to join the cast. More movement could be on the horizon. Midnight Hawk runs in Saturday’s Illinois Derby and would be back in two weeks if he opted to run at CD as well.

My April 19 Lexington Stakes Day full card from Keeneland is ready to purchase for $10 at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest

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 – Jockey: Gary Stevens

Derby Points (30)

Comments: The G2 Robert Lewis Stakes hero could not keep up with California Chrome in the SA Derby, ending up a disappointing 3rd. In retrospect, he was probably too fresh, and the eventual 1-2 SA Derby finishers were battle tested and ready to rumble. Candy Boy is best as a closer. He will never beat California Chrome at his speed game, especially at Santa Anita. He needs to run his CashCall race in the Ky Derby. Sit back and roll. I have no idea if he can go ten furlongs, but a fresh horse in the Ky Derby is much more valuable than a fresh horse in the SA Derby. In an odd Derby prep season, he retains the top spot (for now). He is scheduled to work at SA on April 19, and his final Derby work will occur at CD on April 26.

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable – Jockey: Luis Saez

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.60 (2/17) at Palm Meadows on April 13.

Derby Points (24)

Comments: Skipping the FOY did not work out so well after a flat 4th in the Florida Derby, but he has done enough to qualify for the Derby on points. Only two prep races in 5+ months mean that he is fresh but fitness might be an issue on the first Saturday in May. He has the same pattern as another McLaughlin Derby runner (Closing Argument). In 2005, Closing Argument won the Holy Bull in his early February 3yo bow off a 2-month layoff, and finished a distant 3rd in the Blue Grass before landing the place in the Ky Derby. Cairo Prince’s sire Pioneerof The Nile was my Derby horse in 2008, and Pioneerof The Nile’s sire Empire Maker was my Derby pick in 2003. Both finished 2nd on the first Saturday in May.

UPDATE (From DRF’s Dave Grening): Cairo Prince out of Derby with injury to left front ankle. Horse being sent to Rood and Riddle for further evaluation, per

3. HOPPERTUNITY (Any Given Saturday – Refugee, by Unaccounted For) Hoppertunity silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Watson, Pegram, and Weitman – Jockey: Mike Smith

Derby Points (95)

Comments: Unraced juvenile has grown leaps and bounds in his last pair, a win in the Rebel and a clear place finish in the SA Derby. The $300k purchase finished up well and had a strong gallop out last time. His juvenile experience consisted of twelve workouts dating back to Sept. 2013 at BHP, and he was entered and scratched in November, so he’s not your typical unraced juvenile. His sire Any Given Saturday was my Derby pick in 2007. Mike Smith will ride back in the Derby.

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

Trainer: Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin – Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Derby Points (150)

Comments: 6-for-10 lifetime and clearly elevated his game at Santa Anita this year. If you are trying to beat him in the Kentucky Derby, look at his modest 10f pedigree and expected demanding pace in a 20-horse field. Also, a regression could be just around the corner following four big wins.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing – Jockey: John Velazquez

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.90 (7/17) at Palm Meadows on April 13.

Derby Points (93)

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. John Velazquez is his new pilot for the Derby.

6. WICKED STRONG (Hard Spun – Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) – Jockey: Rajiv Maragh Wicked Strong silks

Trainer: James Jerkens – Owner: Centennial Farms

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.62 (14/28) at Belmont (dirt training) on April 17.

Derby Points (102)

Comments: Clearly a different animal away from the Gulfstream Park highway. He showed ability as a juvenile and his Wood Memorial (104 BSF) was probably not a fluke, but he still only has the one big effort. His late kick must be respected on Derby Day.

7. GENERAL A ROD (Roman Ruler – Dynamite Eyes, by Dynaformer) general a rod

Trainer: Mike Maker – Owner: J. Armando Rodriguez – Jockey: Joel Rosario

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.80 (1/4) at Churchill Training on April 17. Galloped out 6f in 1:14.40.

Derby Points (40)

Comments: Gem of consistency is flying way under the radar. He came to Kentucky early and could surprise if able to rediscover the closing kick he showed in his winning debut.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds – Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Derby Points (52)

Comments: Put it all together in his final 2yo start (Ky Jockey Club Stakes), and opened up his 3yo campaign with a sharp score in the Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and ended up a wide, flat 4th in the Arkansas Derby. He may have already peaked. Reunites with winning pilot Santana in the Derby.

9. SAMRAAT (Noble Causeway – Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlsamraat silksie)

Trainer: Richard Violette Jr. – Owner: My Meadowview Farm – Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.12 (8/19) at Belmont Park on April 18.

Derby Points (100)

Comments: Tasted defeat for the first time and fought hard for the place in the Wood Memorial. He has run the same number in his last four and is not improving against better foes in longer races. The overachieving NY-bred street fighter reminds me a bit of Funny Cide.

10. CHITU (Henny Hughes – Sea Gift, by A. P. Indy) chitu silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Tanma Corporation – Jockey: Martin Garcia

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (16/51) at Santa Anita on April 13.

Derby Points (54)

Comments: Has fired Exacta shots in all four starts including a win in the G3 Sunland Derby. I do not think that a son of sprint sire Henny Hughes can successfully navigate ten furlongs.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.60 (7/17) at Santa Anita on April 13.

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. Is he skipping the Kentucky Derby and using the Illinois Derby as a prep race for the Preakness?

(12) Wildcat Red, (13) Vicar’s in Trouble, (14) Ride On Curlin, (15) Danza, (16) Dance With Fate, (17) Medal Count, (18) We Miss Artie, (19) Ring Weekend, (20) Uncle Sigh

Pedigree Spotlight: California Chrome

California Chrome’s sire Lucky Pulpit (Pulpit – Lucky Soph, by Cozzene) won 3 of 22 starts and earned $209,928. He placed in multiple stakes – Pinjara Stakes (2nd), G3 Generous (3rd), G2 Santa Catalina (2nd), Ocenaside (3rd), Smile Stakes (1st), Taylor’s Special (3rd), Sneakbox (2nd). He entered stud in 2007 and his leading runner before California Chrome was CA-bred stakes winner and multiple graded placed runner Rousing Sermon ($710,092). The latter finished 8th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

california chrome breeding

Lucky Pulpit’s sire Pulpit (A.P. Indy – Preach, by Mr. Prospector) had a short but productive 6-race career in 1997, beginning with a debut maiden win at Gulfstream Park in January.

Pulpit (1994-2012) captured an allowance race in Florida second time out, and followed that up with a win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a 2nd in the Florida Derby, and a victory in the Blue Grass Stakes. He chipped his knee during a 4th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and was subsequently retired.

A.P. Indy’s most successful son at stud, Pulpit was responsible for 42 graded stakes winners (11 Grade I winners), including 2010 Florida Derby winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box.

Unfortunately, Pulpit died in his stall at Claiborne Farm at age 18 in late 2012.

Pulpit’s sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Lucky Pulpit’s dam Lucky Soph (by Cozzene) captured 1 of 6 overseas starts.

Lucky Soph’s sire Cozzene captured 10 of 24 starts including the 1985 BC Mile. He was responsible for numerous stakes winners including 1996 BC Classic hero Alphabet Soup and 1994 BC Turf winner Tikkanen.

California Chrome’s dam Love the Chase (by Not For Love) won a single race from six Golden Gate outings.

Not For Love (by Mr. Prospector) scored on six occasions (29 starts) and placed in the 1994 Bob Harding Stakes. He has sired many useful performers and was the leading sire in North American earnings in 2003-06.

California Chrome has outrun his modest pedigree up to this point. If he successfully navigates ten furlongs, he should probably thank stamina influences Pulpit, A.P. Indy, and Cozzene.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by joseysranch on April 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Reblogged this on joseysranch.


  2. Hi M.S.!
    So exciting to see what you are doing… It is all so fantastic!! I have been working on several race horse paintings in honor of our friend Stewey!!! You can see on my esty site or my WordPress site with poetry! Oaks and Derby will be great this year!!!! Cheers!


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