Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Post Positions Drawn Wednesday

The final Kentucky Derby 2016 workouts are complete and the last piece of business is the all-important post position draw on Wednesday, May 4.


Outwork is not in my Top 11 but is knocking at the door at #12 and continues to impress in his morning activity leading up to the Derby. The Wood Memorial winner in 3-for-4 with his lone loss a length defeat to his stablemate Destin in the productive Tampa Bay Derby. His lack of experience is a big drawback but the likely pace player is sharp and talented.

On the other end of the workout spectrum, UAE Derby winner Lani is a temperamental son of Tapit. He is playable on pedigree but has been a hot mess in the mornings, sometimes refusing to work. He clearly has a mind of his own and getting him into the Derby starting gate could be an adventure.

After post positions are drawn, I will come back with a final look at the top Derby contenders later this week.

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

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

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workouts: 4f in :47.40 (5/67) at Churchill Downs on April 29. 4f bullet in :46.80 (1/27) at Churchill Downs on April 20.

Comments: He shipped to Churchill Downs April 17, uncorked a strong four furlong bullet April 20, and galloped out with interest. He has been aggressive and energetic since arriving in Kentucky. He is a dangerous rebound threat if he settles into a nice stalking rhythm under the Twin Spires on May 7. He maintains his #1 ranking, a spot he has occupied since I first started my 2016 Derby contender list more than six months ago.

Derby Points (80)  

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

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

Latest Workouts: 5f in :59.80 (2/27) at Churchill Downs on May 2. 5f in :59.80 (2/18) at Churchill Downs on April 26.

Comments: Both of his five furlong moves at Churchill were identical in time. In his April 26 move, he was fast early and slow late. On May 2, he was fast early but looked a bit better in the late stages. Neither of the works had that “wow” factor and he should be forwardly placed based on his recent morning activity. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied for more than five months.

Derby Points (84)

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

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

Latest Workout: 8f in 1:41 (1/3) at Keeneland on April 29.

Comments: His final Derby work at Keeneland was solid but not spectacular. My main concern has always been his one sprint/one route prep schedule this year. When the real running begins, I fear that he will not be able to outmaneuver fitter foes.

Derby Points (130)

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

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

Latest Workouts: 5f in 1:02.60 (48/57) at Churchill Downs on April 30. 5f in 1:00 (7/40) at Santa Anita Park  on April 23.

Comments: Starting with the Delta Jackpot and ending with the SA Derby, his speed figures went over the century mark and three of those numbers were in two turn races. He moves up on a wet track but the track is expected to be fast on May 7. Nyquist beat him three times but he keeps getting closer to that rival and I love the way he has been prepared for the Derby (7f, 8.5f, 9f) by trainer Keith Desormeaux. He stays put at #4 and looks like a solid threat to wear the blanket of roses.

Derby Points (126)

(5) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) destin silks

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (29/53) at Churchill Downs on April 29.

Comments: He was impressive in the productive Tampa Bay Derby but still needs to prove he can run a big race away from Tampa Bay Downs. He has never raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth and the Kentucky Derby will be his first start in two months. His tactical speed is an asset on the first Saturday in May.

Derby Points (51)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.60 (8/53) at Churchill Downs on April 29.

Comments: The impressive Southwest winner could not overcome a troubled trip from the outside post in the Rebel Stakes but bounced back with a much better effort to land the place in the Arkansas Derby. He has plenty of stamina and is one of several quality late running Derby closers. He has made a nice impression in his Derby training sessions.

Derby Points (50)

(7) CREATOR (Tapit – Morena, by Privately Held)

Trainer (Steve Asmussen) – Owner (WinStar Farm)

Latest Workouts: 4f in :50.60 (47/56) at Churchill Downs on May 2. 5f in 1:02.40 (25/34) at Churchill Downs on April 25.

Comments: He might win the most improved horse award. It took him six starts to graduate and after a 3rd in the Rebel he had his breakout performance in the Arkansas Derby. The late runner has impressed clockers at Churchill and should ready to pounce if the Derby pace gets hot and heavy.

Derby Points (110)

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

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

Latest Workouts: 5f in 1:00.20 (4/57) at Churchill Downs on April 30. 5f in 1:01.80 (35/65) at Churchill Downs on April 23.

Comments: He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs but his three Keeneland numbers stand out and I am not sure he can earn that kind of figure away from the Lexington oval. The Blue Grass pace fell apart and the number did not come back particularly strong. He has been part of my Derby list all along so I have obviously been a fan for quite some time.

Derby Points (114)

(9) GUN RUNNER (Candy Ride – Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway)

Trainer (Steve Asmussen) – Owner (Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney Farms)

Latest Workouts: 6f in 1:12.20 (1/2) at Churchill Downs on April 25. 5f bullet in 1:00 (1/16) at Churchill Downs on April 18.

Comments: From a running style standpoint, he is a strong Derby threat, but speed figures tell a different story. He may not have beaten the toughest fields in the Risen Star and LA Derby but has room to improve in his third start of 2016. He has looked okay at Churchill in advance of the Derby.

Derby Points (151)     

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

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

Latest Workouts: 5f in :59.80 (2/17) at San Luis Rey Training Center on April 30. 6f bullet in 1:12 (1/12) at San Luis Rey Training Center on April 23.

Comments: The sharp wire-to-wire San Felipe winner probably did not like the wet track in the SA Derby. In the latter race, he was sent to the lead and faded badly in a too bad to be true effort. He whipped Mor Spirit and Exaggerator in the San Felipe but finished well behind those rivals in the SA Derby. His biggest obstacle is his ability to relax and finish. He is fast and talented but looks like a one-dimensional speed horse with stamina issues. He is better than his last and would appreciate a fast, speed favoring track but ten furlongs looks like a daunting trip.

Derby Points (60)

(11) MO TOM (Uncle Mo – Caroni, by Rubiano)

Trainer (Tom Amoss) – Owner (G M B Racing)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.60 (28/67) at Churchill Downs on April 29. 4f in :47 (2/27) at Churchill Downs on April 20.

Comments: The hard luck closer has made a decent impression training for the Derby at Churchill Downs. He is close in ability to Gun Runner but the latter has tactical speed and some quickness to help him avoid traffic woes. He has not run fast yet and the main reason he keeps getting into trouble is probably because he is not nimble enough to avoid it. He is due for some good luck but finding clear sailing on the first Saturday in May will not be an easy task.

Derby Points (32)

THE NEXT NINE +1: (12) Outwork, (13) My Man Sam, (14) Whitmore, (15) Shagaf, (16) Tom’s Ready, (17) Lani, (18) Majesto, (19) Oscar Nominated, (20) Trojan Nation, (21) Fellowship

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