Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Mor Spirit retains high ranking after Los Al Futurity

Mor Spirit, ranked #2 on my Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders list since October 24, maintains his high standing after a determined victory in the Grade 1 Los Al Futurity.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit wins 2015 Los Al Futurity – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mor Spirit had every reason to regress a bit after doing all of the pace dirty work and finishing a game 2nd in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov 28. He shipped back to SoCal, returned in three weeks, and won yesterday’s Los Al Futurity by a length and a quarter.

Graded Recaps (Derby Points Races)

G1 Los Alamitos Futurity (12-19-15, 88 BSF): Mor Spirit stalked the pace in 6th for much of the opening six furlongs before rallying wide in the lane and running down stablemate Toews On Ice. The latter was all over the pace throughout and ended up six lengths clear of show finisher I’malreadythere. The top two ran well and the winner should have more to offer in the speed figure department next year with better spacing.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase beat promising $900k purchase Seymourdini at six furlongs in his Belmont Park debut on 9-19-15 (87 BSF). In the G2 Nashua on Nov 4 at Aqueduct, he stalked wide, took a clear lead in the stretch, and won nicely by 1.75 lengths (89 BSF) under a hand drive. He wrapped up his juvenile campaign with an effortless stalk/pounce win by 1.5 lengths (96 BSF) in the G2 Remsen at Aqueduct on Nov 28. He retains the top spot and might make his sophomore bow in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on January 30.

Derby Points (10)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) mor spirit silks

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael Lund Petersen)

Comments: $650k purchase had a slow start, made a nice inside middle move, took the lead, and ended up a clear 2nd (83 BSF) in his 6f Santa Anita debut Sept 27. He returned at a flat mile Oct 23 and cantered to an easy win (92 BSF) as the 1-2 favorite (geared down under Gary Stevens). He shipped to Churchill Downs and battled hard throughout in a good runner-up performance in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Nov 28. He wrapped up his fine juvenile season with a win in the G1 Los Al Futurity on Dec 19 (see recap above). He has been on my list since the beginning and stays put at #2.

Derby Points (14)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks

Trainer (Dale Romans) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable)

Comments: Looked great from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden win) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile and continues to look like a solid stretch factor on the Derby trail. He remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

(4) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks

Trainer (Dominick Schettino) – Owner (St. Elias Stable)

Comments: Put it all together from off the pace in a strong 4-1/2 length victory in the Champagne. I really like his pedigree and he figures to get better with age. The BC Juvenile favorite was too far back early and ended up a better than appears 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane at Keeneland Oct 31. He exited the BC Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. His connections are deciding whether to winter in New York or Florida and he will not run again this year.  He retains his #4 ranking and I still like him as a long term prospect.

Derby Points (10)

(5) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City) conquest big e silks

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (Conquest Stables, LLC.)

Comments: Visually impressive maiden win at Keeneland Oct 2. In the BC Juvenile, he chased the pace from the inside pace and faded to finish 8th. He bounced back with a solid stalk/pounce 2-length flat mile Optional Claiming win at Churchill Downs on Nov 28. He remains at #5.

(6) SEYMOURDINI (Bernardini – Graeme Six, by Graeme Hall) seymourdini silks

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (Iris Smith Stable)

Comments: $900k purchase battled with Mohaymen throughout and ended up 2nd in his debut.He was clearly second best as the favorite (beaten 1/2 length) in a 6f special weight sprint at Belmont Park Oct 28 on a muddy (sealed) racetrack. In a one mile straight maiden race at Aqueduct on Nov 22, he controlled the pace as the heavy favorite and won by nine lengths under hand urging. He goes from #7 to #6.

(7) GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song) gift box silks

Trainer (Chad Brown) – Owner (W. S. Farish)

Comments: Beat Matt King Coal by a nose at 8.5f (Belmont Park, Oct 3) and was flattered when that one returned to win impressively four weeks later. He fought restraint in the Remsen and ended up an even 3rd in his first stakes try. He moves up a notch to #7.

Derby Points (2) 

(8) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home) matt king coal silks

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (Lady Sheila Stable)

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:15.55 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Nov 27.

Comments: Owns two of the better juvenile speed figures this year in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. He is down one peg to #8.

(9) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) nyquist silks

Trainer (Doug O’Neill) – Owner (Reddam Racing LLC.)

Latest Workout: 3f in :37 (6/20) at Santa Anita on Dec 19.

Comments: Ran his record to 5-for-5 and wrapped up the 2-year-old title in the BC Juvenile. To his credit, he was farther back than usual and raced wide from post 13. He gamely held off Swipe for the fourth consecutive race but the final clocking was more than a second slower than filly counterpart Songbird once again. He still seems like a miler type but keeps on winning. At this stage he is in great shape in regards to Derby points and is expected to have two 2016 preps prior to the first Saturday in May. The likely juvenile champ stays put at #9 and might make his 2016 debut in the G2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on February 15.

Derby Points (30)

(10) SAIL AHOY (Bernardini – Matlacha Pass, by Seeking the Gold) sail ahoy silks

Trainer (Shug McGaughey) – Owner (Phipps Stable)

Comments: He did not run a complete race from start to finish and ended up an even 4th in the Champagne. He was last for much of the race and rallied for the show (missed 2nd by a neck) in the G2 Nashua. In the Remsen, he made a decent run from off the pace but flattened out and ended up 4th.  He dropped four spots from #6 to #10 last time and holds position this week.

Derby Points (2)

(11) STREET VISION (Street Sense – Emmy’s Storm, by Stormy Atlantic) street vision silks

Trainer (Mark Glatt) – Owner (Norman Stables, LLC.)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (8/82) at Santa Anita on Dec 13.

Comments: Could not match strides with Los Al Futurity runner-up Toews On Ice in the Speakeasy (six furlongs) at Santa Anita Oct 18 but was clearly second best. He failed to threaten when 5th of 7 in the G3 Bob Hope (7f @ DMR on Nov 14), a race in which the top three dominated throughout (Toews On Ice, Mac Daddy Mac, I’malreadythere). I believe he will improve around two turns and hope he gets a chance to route in the near future. He clings to the bottom of the list.

Honorable Mention: (12) Exaggerator, (13) Airoforce, (14) Toews On Ice, (15) Swipe, (16) I Will Score, (17) Riker, (18) Rafting, (19) Flexibility, (20) Mac Daddy Mac

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