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

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