Archive for February, 2016

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Fountain of Youth analysis with MOHAYMEN (Video)

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen tries to run his record to 5-for-5 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Feb 27.

fountain of youth entries

The Fountain of Youth is worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5).

Mohaymen is the deserving morning line favorite and seemingly has every advantage on Saturday. The outside post should allow jockey Junior Alvarado to watch the pace unfold and pick a spot to stalk/pounce while steering clear of trouble.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Risen Star (2-20-16, 90 BSF): Gun Runner was ready to roll off a layoff for Asmussen. He sat a nice tactical trip and held on by a 1/2 length. He has a decent pedigree (Candy Ride – Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway) and is an interesting prospect if able to run faster next time. 40-1 longshot Forevamo rallied for the place and was gaining on the winner late. Show finisher Mo Tom was making a nice move before steadying sharply and that probably cost him a better placing. However, the late runner need will always need racing luck and pace help. Candy Boy set the pace and faded to 4th while well clear of the rest. Post time favorite Airoforce is likely off the Derby trail following a poor effort, his first try on fast dirt. Overall, I was not thrilled with this Derby prep.

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

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.60 (23/42) at Palm Meadows on Feb 19.

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen, both at Aqueduct. He made his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull and did not disappoint with an easy stalk/pounce victory at the Gulf on Jan 30. He drew the outside post in a 6-horse field for the G2 Fountain of Youth on Saturday, Feb 27 and looms a short-priced favorite. He maintains his number one ranking, a spot he has occupied since I started my list on September 30, 2015.

Derby Points (20)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.60 (21/49) at Santa Anita Park on Feb 17.

Comments: Last year’s G1 Los Al Futurity picked up where he left off with another graded win in the G3 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 6. Baffert’s improving stalker was supposed to work six furlongs on Feb 23 under Gary Stevens but the move was scrapped because Mor Spirit was wearing earplugs (mistakenly left in) and was unresponsive. They are supposed to work him again on Sunday, Feb 28 and the G2 San Felipe (March 12) remains a possibility. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since 10-24-15.

Derby Points (24)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.16 (6/21) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 21.

Comments: The stretch runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is wintering in Florida and figures to have two Derby preps, beginning with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and ending with the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. My longtime #3 stays put.

Derby Points (14)

(4) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.30 (17/65) at Palm Meadows on Feb 20.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile 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. He resurfaced in the Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking and his next start is undecided.

Derby Points (14)

(5) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication) exaggerator silks

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Comments: He came back ready to roll in the San Vicente but so did Nyquist and he settled for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. It was a solid beginning to his 3-year-old campaign and should set him up well for the San Felipe. I have moved him one spot ahead of Nyquist because I like the way Keith D is mapping out his sophomore campaign (nice distance progression) as opposed to one sprint and one route before the Derby.

Derby Points (16)

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ in his sophomore debut in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He ran fast throughout at Santa Anita on Feb 15, stopping the timer in 1:20.71 (100 BSF) and winning by 1.5 lengths over Exaggerator. He is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

(7) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home)

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:14.75 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Feb 23.

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures 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. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and is pointing to the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5.

(8) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Latest Workouts: 4f in :49 (16/56) at Palm Meadows on Feb 26. 5f bullet in 1:00.90 (1/12) at Palm Meadows on Feb 19.

Comments: The Holy Bull disappointment is behind him and it is put up or shut up time. He needs to step up and prove that he belongs in the graded ranks and must run big in his next start. The Casse barn is suddenly struggling on the Derby trail after Airoforce’s flop in the Risen Star.

Derby Points (1)

(9) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Samuel F. Henderson)

Comments: He replaced stablemate Synchrony on the list after rallying powerfully and going last-to-first in the G3 Southwest. He has fired Exacta shots in all six career starts and has a smart route-oriented pedigree. The G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19 is next.

Derby Points (10)

(10) ZULU (Bernardini – Temporada, by Summer Squall)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.21 (4/19) at Palm Meadows on Feb 21.

Comments: Easily captured both sprint starts at Gulfstream and he gets the acid test in the Fountain of Youth. His sire and dam sire both captured the Preakness Stakes and he should improve as distances increase. He is new to the list.

(11) MALIBU SUNSET (Bernardini – One Stormy Mama, by Storm Cat)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Gary and Mary West)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (10/36) at Santa Anita Feb 24.

Comments: He was unveiled as the 9-5 favorite in a six furlong special weight event at Fair Grounds on Jan 31 and it was a visually impressive win to say the least. After a bumpy beginning, he seized command and pulled away with every stride, crossing the line 10+ clear of the place finisher. He was hand ridden and earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. After his debut, he was transferred from Wayne Catalano to Bob Baffert and he has worked three times at Santa Anita Park. He is entered in the third race at Santa Anita on Sunday, Feb 28, a one mile Optional Claiming event. He is new to the list.

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Danzing Candy, (15) Destin, (16) Rafting, (17) I Will Score, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Awesome Banner

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: G2 Risen Star Stakes Video Analysis

The Kentucky Derby 2016 points chase gets serious with the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday, February 20.

The Risen Star is the first Derby prep race to award 85 points (50-20-10-5). All of the points races up to this point were worth 17 points (10-4-2-1).

Airoforce is the 5-2 morning line favorite at Fair Grounds. He won 3 of 4 starts as a juvenile including the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November. The $350k son of Colonel John is training forwardly in preparation for his sophomore debut and he will by rallying from off the pace under Julien Leparoux.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G3 Southwest (2-15-16, 93 BSF): Suddenbreakingnews, coupled in the wagering with Synchrony, went from 14th (5+ lengths behind next-to-last horse) to 1st (by 2.75 lengths) to win going away at Oaklawn Park on Monday. Whitmore rallied for the place and had a less than ideal trip. American Dubai stalked, took the lead, and was passed by the top two late. Post time favorite Collected ran to his paper race expectations and finished 4th. Synchrony started out 12th and passed tired rivals to finish a flat 6th. Discreetness could not overcome post 14 (8 wide first turn) and ended up 7th.

G3 El Camino Real Derby (2-13-16, 86 BSF): Frank Conversation sure loves the synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields. The Doug O’Neill trainee followed up an easy win in the California Derby with a gritty score by less than a length on Saturday. Graham Motion saddled 2-3 finishers Tusk and Kasseopia. The latter probably needed the race (bad start) and is worth following.

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

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47.75 (1/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 12.

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen, both at Aqueduct. He was training well for his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull and did not disappoint with an easy stalk/pounce victory at the Gulf on Jan 30. I love his professionalism and tactical speed, which keeps him out of trouble, an important trait on the Derby trail. He has been my top ranked Derby contender since I started my list last September and appears to be in peak form in advance of the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Derby Points (20)

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.60 (21/49) at Santa Anita Park on Feb 17.

Comments: Last year’s G1 Los Al Futurity picked up where he left off with another graded win in the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 6. Baffert’s improving stalker keeps collecting Derby points. The G2 San Felipe on March 12 at Santa Anita Park might be next. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (24)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :58.71 (1/27) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 14.

Comments: The patient runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is wintering in Florida and figures to have two Derby preps, beginning with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and ending with the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

(4) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.80 (42/56) at Palm Meadows on Feb 14.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile 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. He resurfaced in the Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking and his next start is undecided.

Derby Points (14)

(5) AIROFORCE (Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee) airoforce silks

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John C. Oxley)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.30 (2/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 12.

Comments: He won a productive renewal of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last year, beating subsequent graded stakes winners Mor Spirit (Los Al Futurity, Robert Lewis Stakes) and Mo Tom (LeComte). He returned to the worktab Jan 11, missed his next work with an elevated temperature, and resumed morning activity Jan 25. His sire Colonel John was my Derby horse in 2008. He is entered in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb 20 and is the 5-2 morning line favorite. He needs a strong performance on Saturday to remain in the top five.

Derby Points (10)

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ in his sophomore debut in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He ran fast throughout at Santa Anita on Feb 15, stopping the timer in 1:20.71 (100 BSF) and winning by 1.5 lengths over Exaggerator. He is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

(7) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication)

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Comments: He came back ready to roll in the San Vicente but so did Nyquist and he settled for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. It was a solid beginning to his 3-year-old campaign and should set him up nicely for the San Felipe.

Derby Points (16)

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:17.66 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Feb 15.

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures 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. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and is pointing to the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5.

(9) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (3/50) at Palm Meadows on Feb 13.

Comments: The Holy Bull disappointment is behind him and it is put up or shut up time. He needs to step up and prove that he belongs in the graded ranks and must run big in his next start.

Derby Points (1)

(10) GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (25/71) at Palm Meadows on Jan 25.

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 missed a couple of recent works and took a pass on the Risen Star. He should be back on the work tab shortly and needs to get fit and find a race in a hurry.

Derby Points (2)

(11) SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Samuel F. Henderson)

Comments: He replaces stablemate Synchrony on the list after rallying powerfully and going last-to-first in the G3 Southwest. He has fired Exacta shots in all six career starts and has a smart route-oriented pedigree. The G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19 is next.

Derby Points (10)

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Zulu, (14) Danzing Candy, (15) Malibu Sunset, (16) Rafting, (17) I Will Score, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Awesome Banner

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Southwest Stakes Preview (Video)

Mohaymen has had a stranglehold on the top spot since I started my Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders list last September, and his visually impressive win in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 30 was a great start to his sophomore campaign.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit wins 2016 Robert Lewis Syakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Last week, my second ranked Derby contender Mor Spirit made his 3-year-old debut a winning one in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, February 6.

This week, four races (2 points races) may have Derby implications. The Sam F. Davis Stakes (non-points race) at Tampa Bay on Saturday, Feb 13 is the local prep for the Tampa Bay Derby and it is my HRN Play of the Day.

The G3 El Camino Real Derby (points race) will also be contested on Feb 13 and I will be talking about that race on The Fast Track with Steve Bortstein Saturday morning at 10am (eastern time).

On Monday, Feb 15, juvenile champ Nyquist makes his much anticipated return in the G2 San Vicente (non-points race), and Oaklawn Park presents their second two turn Derby prep, the G3 Southwest Stakes (points race).

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Robert Lewis Stakes (2-6-16, 92 BSF): Mor Spirit figured to sit a dream trip behind honest fractions and that is exactly what happened. He stalked, pounced, and pulled clear late to win by 1.5 lengths over Uncle Lino and early runner I Will Score.

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

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47.75 (1/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 12.

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen, both at Aqueduct. He was training well for his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull and did not disappoint with an easy stalk/pounce victory at the Gulf on Jan 30. I love his professionalism and tactical speed. He has been my top ranked Derby contender since I started my list last September and he is in peak form in advance of the Fountain of Youth Stakes on Saturday, Feb 27 at Gulfstream Park.

Derby Points (20)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

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

Comments: Last year’s G1 Los Al Futurity picked up where he left off with another graded win in the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 6. Baffert’s stalker keeps improving and picking up Derby points. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (24)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.97 (8/19) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 7.

Comments: The patient runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is wintering in Florida and figures to have two Derby preps, beginning with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and ending with the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

(4) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks 2016

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

Comments: The well bred colt with low profile connections put it all together from off the pace in a strong 4-1/2 length victory in the G1 Champagne last fall. 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. He is wintering in Florida, returned to the work tab Dec 28, and resurfaced in the Holy Bull. In the paceless Holy Bull, the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking and remains a solid Derby prospect.

Derby Points (14)

(5) AIROFORCE (Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee) airoforce silks

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John C. Oxley)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.30 (2/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 12.

Comments: His first three turf races produced two wins (MSW, G3 Bourbon) and a second (G1 BC Juvenile Turf). They switched to dirt (wet track) in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Nov 28 and he wrapped up his juvenile campaign with a victory over subsequent graded stakes winners Mor Spirit (Los Al Futurity) and Mo Tom (LeComte). He returned to the worktab Jan 11, missed his next work with an elevated temperature, and resumed morning activity Jan 25. His sire Colonel John was my Derby horse in 2008. He is entered in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb 20. He makes his debut in the top five.

Derby Points (10)

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.20 (2/48) at Santa Anita on Feb 7.

Comments: The recently named 2-year-old champ ran his record to 5-for-5 and overcame an outer post and wide trip in the BC Juvenile, a race that was more than a second slower than filly counterpart Songbird in the BC Juvenile Fillies. He is in great shape in regards to Derby points and is preparing to make two starts prior to the first Saturday in May. First up is the G2 San Vicente Stakes (non-points race) at Santa Anita on February 15, followed by the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2. He stays put at #6.

Derby Points (30)

(7) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication)

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (2/23) at Santa Anita on Feb 9.

Comments: He had a busy juvenile campaign with six starts and wins in the G2 Saratoga Special and G3 Delta Jackpot. He was also 2nd in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and 4th in the G1 BC Juvenile. He will begin his Derby march in the San Vicente and got serious with a bullet work on Feb 2. He is up one notch.

Derby Points (16)

(8) SYNCHRONY (Tapit – Brownie Points, by Forest Wildcat)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Pin Oak Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (2/45) at Oaklawn Park on Feb 6.

Comments: After finishing 2nd in his career debut, he won back-to-back races at Keeneland and Churchill to end his 2-year-old season. He put in a nice late run to finish 3rd in the Smarty Jones and was gaining on the top two in a promising effort at Oaklawn Jan 18. He moves up two places and goes next in the Southwest on Feb 15.

Derby Points (2)

(9) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home)

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.55 (10/31) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Feb 7.

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures 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. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and is pointing to the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5. He moves up a couple of notches.

(10) GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (25/71) at Palm Meadows on Jan 25.

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 missed a recent work and is not longer under consideration for the Risen Star. He drops five spots.

(11) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Comments: The Holy Bull was supposed to be his coming out party but it did not work out that way. I thought Mike Smith would send him to the lead in the paceless Holy Bull but he stalked the pace and finished a flat 4th after a bit of a slow start. He drops to the bottom of the list.

Derby Points (1)

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Zulu, (14) I Will Score, (15) Rafting, (16) Malibu Sunset, (17) Danzing Candy, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Awesome Banner

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Mohaymen Won Holy Bull, Now It’s Mor Spirit’s Turn

Mohaymen, my top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender since last September, ran his record to 4-for-4 with an easy win in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 30.

Mohaymen was always traveling well in the Holy Bull and nothing seems to bother the McLaughlin trainee. If all goes well, look for his next target to be the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit is the one to beat in today’s Bob Lewis Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

G1 Los Al Futurity hero Mor Spirit makes his sophomore bow in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes on Saturday, Feb 6 and the race shape seems to favor the stalking type. He has been part of my Derby list all along.

The Robert Lewis Stakes is my HRN written play of the day

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Holy Bull (1-30-16, 95 BSF): Mohaymen lived up to the hype with an easy stalk and pounce win to remain unbeaten after four starts. He cruised up without being asked and cantered across the wire to defeat G1 Champagne hero Greenpointcrusader by 3.5 lengths. The latter was prominently placed in the paceless affair and ran very well in his first start since the BC Juvenile. Fellowship rallied from last and smartly put away Conquest Big E for the show. Big E broke a step slow, stalked, and never seriously threatened in a flat performance.

G3 Withers (1-16-16, 87 BSF): Trip and post position was the key to victory here. Sunny Ridge drew the outside post and sat a clear, tactical trip en route to a gritty win by less than length over pacesetter Vorticity. Adventist outgamed Flexibility by a neck for the show. The latter broke from post two and seemed a bit uncomfortable on the inside as the beaten favorite.

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

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen, both at Aqueduct. He was training well for his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull and did not disappoint with an easy stalk/pounce victory at the Gulf on Jan 30. I love his professionalism and tactical speed. He has been my top ranked Derby contender since I started my list last September and keeps getting better.

Derby Points (20)  

(2) MOR SPIRIT (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) more spirit silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (22/33) at Santa Anita on Feb 2.

Comments: Last year, Baffert’s $650k purchase was a good 2nd in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and ended his juvenile campaign with a win in the G1 Los Al Futurity. The grinding type drew post five and is the 8-5 morning line favorite for the Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb 6. He stays put at #2 and needs a strong effort Saturday to maintain his high ranking.

Derby Points (14)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.42 (41/63) at Gulfstream Park on Jan 31.

Comments: The patient runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is wintering in Florida and figures to have two Derby preps, beginning with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and ending with the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

(4) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks 2016

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

Comments: The well bred colt with low profile connections put it all together from off the pace in a strong 4-1/2 length victory in the G1 Champagne last fall. 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. He is wintering in Florida, returned to the work tab Dec 28, and resurfaced in the Holy Bull. In the paceless Holy Bull, the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking due to his solid return and I still like him as a long term prospect.

Derby Points (14)

(5) GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song) gift box 2016 silks

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (25/71) at Palm Meadows on Jan 25.

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 returned to the worktab at Palm Meadows Jan 19 and is reportedly pointing to the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. He moves up one position.

Derby Points (2)   

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:16.20 (19/22) at Santa Anita on Jan 30.

Comments: The recently named 2-year-old champ ran his record to 5-for-5 and overcame an outer post and wide trip in the BC Juvenile, a race that was more than a second slower than filly counterpart Songbird in the BC Juvenile Fillies. He is in great shape in regards to Derby points and is preparing to make two starts prior to the first Saturday in May. First up is the G2 San Vicente Stakes (non-points race) at Santa Anita on February 15, followed by the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2. He is up one spot.

Derby Points (30)

(7) AIROFORCE (Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee)

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John C. Oxley)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.35 (2/32) at Palm Meadows on Jan 31.

Comments: His first three turf races produced two wins (MSW, G3 Bourbon) and a second (G1 BC Juvenile Turf). They switched to dirt (wet track) in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Nov 28 and he wrapped up his juvenile campaign with a victory over subsequent graded stakes winners Mor Spirit (Los Al Futurity) and Mo Tom (LeComte). He returned to the worktab Jan 11 but missed his next work with an elevated temperature. He resumed morning activity Jan 25 and is on track for his seasonal debut in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Derby Points (10)

(8) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication)

Trainer (Keith Desormeaux) – Owner (Big Chief Racing, LLC)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :58.20 (1/27) at Santa Anita on Feb 2.

Comments: He had a busy juvenile campaign with six starts and wins in the G2 Saratoga Special and G3 Delta Jackpot. He was also 2nd in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and 4th in the G1 BC Juvenile. He is scheduled to begin his Derby march in the San Vicente and got serious with a bullet work on Feb 2.

Derby Points (16)

(9) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Comments: The Holy Bull was supposed to be his coming out party but it did not work out that way. I thought Mike Smith would send him to the lead in the paceless Holy Bull but he stalked the pace and finished a flat 4th after a bit of a slow start. He does not have the goods to compete at the highest level at this time and drops four spots.

Derby Points (1)

(10) SYNCHRONY (Tapit – Brownie Points, by Forest Wildcat)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Pin Oak Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (2/45) at Oaklawn Park on Feb 6.

Comments: After finishing 2nd in his career debut, he won back-to-back races at Keeneland and Churchill to end his 2-year-old season. He put in a nice late run to finish 3rd in the Smarty Jones and was gaining on the top two in a promising effort at Oaklawn Jan 18. He goes next in the Southwest on Feb 15.

Derby Points (2)

(11) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home)

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

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures 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. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a few weeks. He is reportedly back in the Rice barn in NY (along with Seymourdini) and they hope to have him ready for the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5. He clings to the bottom of the list.

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Zulu, (14) I Will Score, (15) Rafting, (16) Malibu Sunset, (17) Danzing Candy, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Seymourdini