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

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