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

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