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

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2 responses to this post.

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