Archive for March, 2016

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Louisiana Derby video analysis

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen is getting closer to his final prep race before his date with destiny on the first Saturday in May.

Mohaymen

Mohaymen is ready for the Florida Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mohaymen completed his Florida Derby preparations with an easy four furlong breeze on March 24. In the Florida Derby on Saturday, April 2, he will meet undefeated Juvenile Champion Nyquist in what is shaping up as the most anticipated prep race of the Derby season.

The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at nine furlongs is the Kentucky Derby prep this week and it is worth a total of 170 Derby qualifying points (100-40-20-10). A competitive field of eleven will line up in what promises to be a very good betting race.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Rebel Stakes (3-19-16, 95 BSF): Martin Garcia took no chances aboard Cupid. He shot straight to the front after breaking a bit slow and kicked away from Whitmore when that one came after him in the lane. He won by a comfortable 1-1/4 lengths and galloped out strong. Bob Baffert’s exciting $900k son of Tapit figures to return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby. He did not quite make it into the Top 11 this week but moved up from #20 to #14. Southwest Stakes runner-up Whitmore played second fiddle again and Creator was 3rd, followed by Cherry Wine and a troubled Suddenbreakingnews.

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 breeze in :48.95 (9/46) at Palm Meadows on March 24.

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase ran his record to 5-for-5 after comfortably beating Zulu the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct) and easily captured his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He had his final Florida Derby breeze on March 24 remains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015. At this stage it looks like a field of six for the Florida Derby: Mohaymen, Nyquist, Fellowship, along with longshots Ifyousnoozeyoulose, Sawyers Mickey, and Majesto.

Derby Points (70)

(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 :47.80 (2/27) at Santa Anita on March 24.

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He has never finished out of the exacta including a better than appears place finish behind wire job winner Danzing Candy in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 12. In the San Felipe, jockey Gary Stevens said he was too fresh and eager to go early and after settling he passed Exaggerator for the place and galloped out nicely. Baffert and company keep learning more about him and the versatile sort will take on Danzing Candy again in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He had his first SA Derby work on March 24 and stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (44)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.30 (6/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best to Mohaymen. He drew post 2 and is listed at 7-2 on the morning line in the G2 Louisiana Derby on March 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course.

Derby Points (14)

(4) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) Nyquist

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (21/53) at Santa Anita on March 18.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like the real deal 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 keeps on winning but I am not sure he wants to go ten furlongs and I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Derby. He will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2 and is eligible for a $1 million bonus.

Derby Points (30)

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

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

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF (98) in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. In his second sophomore start in the San Felipe, he was much farther back than normal after a less than ideal start and unleashed a strong, premature run at Danzing Candy before understandably flattening out and finishing 3rd (96 BSF). Trainer Keith Desormeaux is concerned that he is a miler but will give him another Derby prep race shot in the Santa Anita Derby. I am not sure if he wants to go run longer distances but he is tough, durable, battle-tested, and deserves every chance to make the Derby. If he does not want to go that far, there is always races like the G1 King’s Bishop (seven furlongs) at Saratoga this summer. He remains at #5 for now.

Derby Points (26)

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f breeze in 1:13.06 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on March 19.

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 made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a number much faster than the G3 Gotham a day earlier. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next.

(7) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC)

Comments: The improving son of Giant’s Causeway responded with back-to-back stakes wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs.

Derby Points (51)

(8) DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Clifford Sise Jr.) – Owner (Halo Farms)

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but he still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He is scheduled to work five furlongs under Mike Smith at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 26.

Derby Points (50)

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

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

Comments: He made his way onto my list after a strong last-to-first score in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In the Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He drops three spots and gets a shot at redemption in the Arkansas Derby.

Derby Points (10)

(10) JENSEN  (Haynesfield – Spun Lake, by Hard Spun)

Trainer (Larry Jones) – Owner (Larry and Cindy Jones)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (3/25) at Fair Grounds on March 21.

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but they opted to target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on April 2. Larry Jones trained 2007 Spiral winner Hard Spun (Jensen’s dam sire). He will likely have to win the Spiral to have enough Derby points to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. He stays put at #10.

(11) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm)

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

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner threw in a dud in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12. Some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface so he gets a mulligan and is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 9. We know he likes Keeneland (1st Breeders’ Futurity, 3rd BC Juvenile) and he broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky might be just what the doctor ordered. He will remain on the list until he runs in the Blue Grass.

Derby Points (14)

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Cupid, (15) Zulu, (16) Shagaf, (17) My Man Sam, (18) Kasseopia, (19) Outwork, (20) Malibu Sunset

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Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Rebel Stakes video analysis

Mohaymen and Mor Spirit are still my top two Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders but I made some changes to the list after the Tampa Bay Derby and San Felipe Stakes were run on March 12.

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

Someone failed to tell Brody’s Cause, one of my top Derby contenders, that he was running last weekend because he never lifted a hoof in the Tampa Bay Derby. He only has one Derby prep remaining (Blue Grass) and that is the problem with two prep campaigns. There is not much wiggle room left if something goes wrong. He is my biggest dropper going from #3 to #11.

Fountain of Youth runner-up Zulu was expected to take on Mohaymen and Nyquist in the Florida Derby but it took him 20 days to return to the worktab and it was a very slow four furlong breeze in :50.98 (15/16) on March 18. Pletcher may end up shipping him out of town for his final Derby prep. The combination of his lack of experience and light morning activity since his last has me concerned. He drops off the list and is replaced by another Pletcher trainee with more experience and more Derby points (Destin).

Malibu Sunset has a ton of potential but with only two lifetime starts (no Derby points) and some big efforts in graded points races last weekend, I no longer have room for him on my list. He worked six furlongs in 1:14.80 (8/12) at Santa Anita on March 17.

The Grade 2 Rebel Stakes is the Derby prep this week and it is worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5). A full field of fourteen will line up in what promises to be a competitive betting event.

Keep a close eye on Cupid. The Bob Baffert runner was originally targeting the Sunland Derby but when that race was canceled, he was entered in the San Felipe. Baffert, as he is apt to do, especially with his sophomores, changed his mind and scratched Cupid from the San Felipe. He worked him a strong six furlongs late last week and was redirected to the Rebel, and Baffert is deadly when he ships his 3-year-olds to Oaklawn Park to run in stakes races.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Tampa Bay Derby (3-12-16, 100 BSF): Sam F. Davis hero Destin made all the right moves under Javier Castellano. He smartly stalked stablemate Outwork and wore that one down to win by a length. The latter set the pace and was seven lengths clear of show finisher Star Hill. Sam Davis runner-up Rafting failed to move forward on the speed figure scale and ended up 4th. Post time favorite Brody’s Cause was last after six furlongs and only managed to pass two rivals in a surprising non-effort.

G2 San Felipe (3-12-16, 100 BSF): Danzing Candy was one of four early runners but went straight to the front and discouraged the other pace players in a good looking 2-length wire-to-wire score under Mike Smith. Mor Spirit was too fresh under Gary Stevens and wanted to go early. He ended up rallying for the place after all was said and done and he galloped out well. Exaggerator was last early and made an eye-catching premature move before running out of gas and finishing a clear 3rd.

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

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

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:01 (1/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase ran his record to 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct), and easily captured his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He continues to train forwardly in advance of the Florida Derby on April 2. He maintains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015.

Derby Points (70)  

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

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

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He has never finished out of the exacta including a better than appears place finish behind wire job winner Danzing Candy in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 12. In the San Felipe, jockey Gary Stevens said he was too fresh and eager to go early and after settling he passed Exaggerator for the place and galloped out nicely. Baffert and company keep learning more about him and the versatile sort will take on Danzing Candy again in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (44)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.30 (6/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best. His future plans are set with the G2 Louisiana Derby next but I do not like the wide gaps between his three-year-old starts. He moves up on notch to #3 and must run big in the LA Derby on March 26.

Derby Points (14)

(4) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) Nyquist

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (21/53) at Santa Anita on March 18.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like the real deal 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 keeps on winning but I am not sure he wants to go ten furlongs and I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Derby. He will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2. He jumps back in front of Exaggerator and makes his debut in the Top 5.

Derby Points (30)

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

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

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF (98) in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. In his second sophomore start in the San Felipe, he was much farther back than normal after a less than ideal start and unleashed a strong, premature run at Danzing Candy before understandably flattening out and finishing 3rd (96 BSF). Trainer Keith Desormeaux is concerned that he is a miler but will give him another Derby prep race shot in the Santa Anita Derby. I am not sure if he wants to go run longer distances but he is tough, durable, battle-tested, and deserves every chance to make the Derby. If he does not want to go that far, there is always races like the G1 King’s Bishop (seven furlongs) at Saratoga this summer. He stays put at #5 for now.

Derby Points (26)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02 (7/22) at Oaklawn Park on March 14.

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. He had his final G2 Rebel Stakes work March 14 and is all set for his next Oaklawn Park test on March 19. He drew post 14 in the Rebel but the late runner won the Southwest from post 13 so his wide draw may not matter.

Derby Points (10)

(7) 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 vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a much better number than the G3 Gotham the day before. He was getting tired late and My Man Sam was closing but he had enough gas in the tank to get the job done despite being much less than 100% fit. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next and he should be much fitter for that engagement.

(8) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC)

Comments: The improving newcomer to my list responded in a big way in his last two wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa.

Derby Points (51)

(9) DANZING CANDY (Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Clifford Sise Jr.) – Owner (Halo Farms)

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but he still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He is a new addition to the “exceptional eleven.”

Derby Points (50)

(10) JENSEN  (Haynesfield – Spun Lake, by Hard Spun)

Trainer (Larry Jones) – Owner (Larry and Cindy Jones)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.60 (27/51) at Fair Grounds on March 13.

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time and Jones says he reminds him of Hard Spun. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but now it looks as though they will target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. He moves up one spot to #10.

(11) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm)

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

Comments: The closer ended his 2YO season with a win in Keeneland’s G1 Breeders’ Futurity and a show finish in the BC Juvenile. He made his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and never picked his feet up in a very surprising non-effort. He is expected to return to Kentucky for his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9 and he needs a big performance to make the Derby cut. He plummets from #3 to #11.

Derby Points (14)

The Next Nine: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Zulu, (15) Malibu Sunset, (16) Shagaf, (17) My Man Sam, (18) Kasseopia, (19) Outwork, (20) Cupid

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Tampa Bay Derby/San Felipe video analysis

My longtime second ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mor Spirit shoot for a graded stakes hat trick in Saturday’s San Felipe at Santa Anita Park.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit headlines the San Felipe – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mor Spirit has been part of the exacta in all five career starts and exits back-to-back wins in the G3 Robert Lewis Stakes and G1 Los Alamitos Futurity.

In addition to the aforementioned San Felipe, we have the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12 and both Grade 2 races are worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5).

The Tampa Bay Derby features the return of my third ranked Derby contender Brody’s Cause and the stretch runner should get pace help to flatter his potent late kick.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G3 Gotham (3-5-16, 87 BSF): Post time favorite Shagaf sat close throughout over the speed favoring oval and wore down pacesetter Laoban to win by a comfortable 1.5 lengths. The winner is now 3-for-3 for Chad Brown and has upside but needs to run much faster to be considered a serious Derby contender. Withers show finisher Adventist finished 3rd again, tuning the tables on Sunny Ridge. Conquest Big E needed a big effort but fell flat again and drops off my list. He was wide throughout and never looked like he was reaching contention at any point.

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 purchase is 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct) and easily captured his three-year-old debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He will make his next start in the April 2 Florida Derby and is expected to return to the work tab March 11. He stays put at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list on September 30, 2015.

Derby Points (70)  

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12.20 (4/43) at Santa Anita Park on March 5.

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He shows two sharp works since the infamous earplug incident and appears poised to fire another big shot in the  G2 San Felipe on March 12. 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: 4f in :48.40 (6/72) at Tampa Bay on March 6.

Comments: The closer concluded his juvenile season with a win in Keeneland’s G1 Breeders’ Futurity and a show finish in the BC Juvenile. He makes his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and gets pace to chase in the paper race. If everything goes well in Florida, he will return to Kentucky and have his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3, a spot he has occupied since Nov 6.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.95 (12/17) at Palm Meadows on March 5.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best. His future plans finally seem set with the March 26 G2 Louisiana Derby next (John Velazquez rides). He has held the #4 position on my list since Nov 6.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (24/134) at Santa Anita on March 5.

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the juvenile champ a scare in mid-stretch. It was a fine start to his 3-year-old campaign and should set him up perfectly for Saturday’s San Felipe. He drew the outside post in the San Felipe and figures to sit a nice stalking trip behind multiple early runners. I like the way Keith D is mapping out his sophomore campaign (nice distance progression – 7f, 8.5f, 9f) as opposed to one sprint and one route before the Derby (Nyquist).

Derby Points (16)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (55/83) at Santa Anita on March 10.

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 will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

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

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

Comments: Easily captured both sprint starts at Gulfstream and gave Mohaymen a decent challenge before settling for a clear place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. His sire and dam sire both captured the Preakness Stakes and he should continue to improve as distances increase. He will take on Mohaymen and Nyquist in the Florida Derby.

Derby Points (20)

(8) 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 vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, the best two turn number by a sophomore this year (thru 3-9-16). The Wood Memorial might be next.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (9/46) at Oaklawn Park on March 5.

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. He had his first post-Southwest work Feb 27 and next up is the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19.

Derby Points (10)

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

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

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:26 (1/4) at Santa Anita on March 9.

Comments: He was unveiled as the 9-5 favorite in a six furlong special weight event at Fair Grounds on Jan 31. After a bumpy beginning, he seized command and pulled away with every stride, crossing the line 10+ clear of the place finisher (92 Beyer Speed Figure). After his debut, he was transferred from Wayne Catalano to Bob Baffert. He made his first start for Baffert in the third race at Santa Anita on Sunday, Feb 28, a one mile Optional Claiming event. He easily beat his overmatched rivals but did not run nearly as fast second time out. He has a ton of upside and might show up in a Derby prep next time. A smart plan would allow him to mature slowly and point to bigger races in the summer/fall.

(11) JENSEN  (Haynesfield – Spun Lake, by Hard Spun)

Trainer (Larry Jones) – Owner (Larry and Cindy Jones)

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time and Jones says he reminds him of Hard Spun. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but now it looks as though they will target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Danzing Candy, (15) Destin, (16) Rafting, (17) Shagaf, (18) I Will Score, (19) My Man Sam, (20) Kasseopia

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Gotham Stakes video analysis

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen continues to rule the roost after running his record to 5-for-5 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27.

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

This week, we turn the calendar to March and head to the Big A for the Gotham Stakes, which is worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5).

The Gotham will be run on the inner dirt track at a mile and a sixteenth and drew a field of eight, headed by 3-1 morning line favorite Shagaf. The Chad Brown trainee is a perfect 2-for-2 and the promising son of Bernardini tries two turns for the first time.

G3 Withers winner Sunny Ridge deserves plenty of respect. He also won the $100k Sappling as a juvenile and landed the place in the G1 Champagne and G3 Delta Jackpot.

Other Gotham contenders include inside speed Laoban and Holy Bull 4th place finisher Conquest Big E.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Fountain of Youth (2-27-16, 95 BSF): Mohaymen did it again and Junior Alvarado rode the tactical type perfectly. He stalked the pace from the outside post and put away stubborn foe Zulu while under a hand ride. The latter is lightly raced and was clearly second best in his first start around two turns. Fellowship picked up the pieces and duplicated his Holy Bull show finish. Awesome Speed finished an uncomfortable 4th and Awesome Banner faded badly after setting the pace. The latter is targeting the G2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 12.

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 purchase is now 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct) and easily captured his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He is expected to make his next start in the Florida Derby. He maintains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015.

Derby Points (70)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (10/89) at Santa Anita Park on Feb 28.

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 unresponsive (earplugs mistakenly left in). They worked him again without a hitch 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 October 24, 2015.

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 1:00.73 (3/26) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 28.

Comments: The closer looked good in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity) and ended his juvenile season with a show finish in the BC Juvenile. He has been working steadily in Florida and will make his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12, followed by 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: 5f in 1:02.45 (19/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 27.

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 but I am not sure what to make of the plan to have one more race prior to the Derby. His final Derby prep remains undecided.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (15/102) at Santa Anita on Feb 27.

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 like the way Keith D is mapping out his  sophomore campaign (nice distance progression – 7f, 8.5f, 9f) as opposed to one sprint and one route before the Derby (Nyquist).

Derby Points (16)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.80 (14/29) at Santa Anita on March 3.

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) ZULU (Bernardini – Temporada, by Summer Squall)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

Comments: Easily captured both sprint starts at Gulfstream and gave Mohaymen a decent challenge before settling for a clear place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. His sire and dam sire both captured the Preakness Stakes and he should continue to improve as distances increase. He is expected to take on Mohaymen and Nyquist in the Florida Derby.

Derby Points (20)

(8) 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 did not enter the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5 as originally expected. Instead, he is entered in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt), an Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth. He drew post five and is the even money favorite under Jose Ortiz.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (16/56) at Palm Meadows on Feb 26.

Comments: The Holy Bull disappointment is behind him and it is put up or shut up time. He has the raw talent but has put it together mentally as well. He needs to step up and prove that he belongs in the graded ranks and must run big in Saturday’s G3 Gotham Stakes.

Derby Points (1)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :51.20 (73/82) at Oaklawn Park on Feb 27.

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. He had his first post-Southwest work Feb 27 and next up is the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19.

Derby Points (10)

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

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

Comments: He was unveiled as the 9-5 favorite in a six furlong special weight event at Fair Grounds on Jan 31. After a bumpy beginning, he seized command and pulled away with every stride, crossing the line 10+ clear of the place finisher (92 Beyer Speed Figure). After his debut, he was transferred from Wayne Catalano to Bob Baffert. He made his first start for Baffert in the third race at Santa Anita on Sunday, Feb 28, a one mile Optional Claiming event. He easily beat his overmatched rivals but did not run nearly as fast second time out. He has a ton of upside and might show up in a Derby prep next time. A smart plan would allow him to mature slowly and point to bigger races in the summer/fall.

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) Kasseopia