Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: The Countdown Begins

Most of the final Kentucky Derby 2014 works are in the books and all that remains are morning gallops and the post position draw on Wednesday.

Kentucky Derby 2014

Catching up on recent 3yo stakes action, Bayern crossed the line first in the Derby Trail but was disqualified and placed 2nd for interfering with Embellishing Bob. Myositis Dan was a fast closing 3rd and just missed in a solid effort.

Mr Speaker easily won the Lexington Stakes for Shug McGaughey but the 10 points he collected were not enough to make the Derby cut. He is a quality turf runner and proved the he could handle all-weather footing at Keeneland.

No Derby points were offered in the Illinois Derby, so the Hawthorne showcase has recently become a Preakness prep. In a thrilling renewal, Dynamic Impact nipped Midnight Hawk by the smallest of margins. The top two were well clear of the rest and the BSF came back a fine 102.

Midnight Hawk already qualified for the Derby on points, but trainer Bob Baffert says no Derby or Preakness for the son of Midnight Lute. He has been part of my list all year and has a ton of raw ability but his mind still has some catching up to do. He is targeting the 7f Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Dynamic Impact is a late developing son of Tiznow, and the Preakness is a possibility for the Mark Casse trainee.

Ring Weekend spiked a temperature and is out of the Kentucky Derby, opening the door for Commanding Curve. Pablo Del Monte now sits 21st on the points list.

I’ll be back after the post position draw to set the field and make final observations.

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

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:00.80 (5/69) at Churchill Downs on April 26.

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 ( before post draw). He arrived in Kentucky on April 21 and looked good in his final Derby work at CD on April 26.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48 (3/15) at Churchill Downs on April 28.

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. Two solid works over the CD strip have him ready to rumble.

3. 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 breeze in :48.60 (7/59) at Churchill Downs on April 27.

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. Big final Derby work on April 27.

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.20 (5/12) at Los Alamitos on April 26.

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

Trainer: James Jerkens – Owner: Centennial Farms

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:27.11 (1/1) at Belmont (dirt training) on April 25.

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 but he still must prove that he can run a huge race away from NY.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :50 (12/15) at Churchill Downs on April 28.

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. Final Derby work was solid and he would not mind a wet track.

7. SAMRAAT (Noble Causeway – Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie) samraat silks

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

Latest Workout: 8f in 1:45.91 (1/1) at Aqueduct on April 25.

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.

8. RIDE ON CURLIN (Curlin – Magical Ride, by Storm Cat) Ride On Curlin silks

Trainer: William Gowan – Owner: Daniel J. Dougherty – Jockey: Calvin Borel

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:29 (1/1) at Churchill Downs on April 27.

Derby Points (55)

Comments: Usually runs his race but has not won beyond 6f. Rates a reasonable chance to hit the board on the first Saturday in May but a win would be a surprise given his 0-for-6 record at a mile and beyond.

9. 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 in 1:03.40 (13/15) at Churchill Downs on April 23.

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. Clockers not thrilled with his Derby training.

10. VICAR’S IN TROUBLE (Into Mischief – Vibrant, by Vicar) Vicar's in Trouble sdilks

Trainer: Mike Maker – Owner: Ken & Sarah Ramsey – Jockey: Rosie Napravnik

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.80 (57/69) at Churchill Downs on April 26.

Derby Points (120)

Comments: He is one of several classy early-pressing types. He stole the LA Derby but figures to face much more pace pressure under the Twin Spires. Reportedly not training particularly well leading up to the Derby.

11. WILDCAT RED (D’wildcat – Racene, by Miner’s Mark) Wildcat Red silks

Trainer: Jose Garoffalo – Owner: Honors Stable Corp. Jockey: Luis Saez

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:04.40 (36/37) at Churchill Downs on April 27.

Derby Points (90)

Comments: Certainly cannot fault his record (7-4-3-0) but the Derby is his first trip away from Gulfstream Park. The overachiever had a below par CD work on April 27 and figures to be a Derby pace casualty.

(12) Dance With Fate, (13) Danza, (14) Medal Count, (15) Commanding Curve, (16) Uncle Sigh, (17) Chitu, (18) We Miss Artie, (19) Vinceremos, (20) Harry’s Holiday, (21) Pablo Del Monte (needs 1 defection).

 

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