Archive for the ‘Triple Crown’ Category

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Delta Jackpot Analysis (Video)

The next Kentucky Derby 2016 points race is the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot on Saturday, November 21, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 4th place finisher Exaggerator is the 2-1 morning line favorite.

delta jackpot field

Exaggerator is the only graded stakes winner in the Jackpot lineup and his class and positional speed should serve him well.

G1 Champagne runner-up Sunny Ridge is a fresh threat for the productive Ortiz/Servis team. He projects an inner tactical journey.

Found Money invades from Southern California for Doug O’Neill, who saddled Goldencents to win the 2012 Delta Jackpot.

Forevamo won the local Jackpot prep in the slop and will try to get involved late from the rail under Colby Hernandez.

The Jackpot field is completed by Memories of Winter, Whitmore, Harlan Punch, Texas Jambalaya, Cowboy Classic, and Iron Dome.

Last Saturday at Del Mar, Toews On Ice won his third sprint stakes in the G3 Bob Hope (84 BSF), defeating promising second timer Mac Daddy Mac. The latter was clearly second best and is an interesting long range Derby prospect.

Former exceptional eleven member I Will Score is back on the worktab for Jerry Hollendorfer. After a 30 day gap in his morning activity, he went 4f in :50.60 (31/33) at Santa Anita on Nov 7 and 4f in :48 (7/47) at that same venue on Nov 14.

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 Workout: 5f in 1:01.12 (2/4) at Belmont Park on Nov 18.

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase was a determined 1/2 length winner (87 BSF) over Seymourdini at six furlongs in his Belmont Park debut on 9-19-15. In the G2 Nashua on Nov 4 at Aqueduct, he stalked wide, took a clear lead in the stretch, and won nicely by 1.75 lengths (89 BSF) under a hand drive. McLaughlin is looking at the G2 Remsen for his next start. He retains the top spot.

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.16 (2/14) at Santa Anita Park on Nov 16.

Comments: $650k purchase had a slow start, made a nice inside middle move, took the lead, and ended up a clear 2nd (83 BSF) in his 6f Santa Anita debut Sept 27. He returned at a flat mile Oct 23 and cantered to an easy win (92 BSF) as the 1-2 favorite (geared down under Gary Stevens). The G1 Los Al Futurity on Dec 19 would be a logical next step. He stays put at #2.

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks

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

Comments: Looked great from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden win) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile and continues to look like a solid stretch factor on the Derby trail. He moved up one notch to #3 last time and stays right there.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Comments: Put it all together from off the pace in a strong 4-1/2 length victory in the Champagne. The BC Juvenile favorite was too far back early 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. His connections are deciding whether to winter in New York or Florida and he will not run again this year.  He retains his #4 ranking and I still like him as a long term prospect. I really like his pedigree and he figures to get better with age.

Derby Points (10)

(5) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City) conquest big e silks

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

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47.20 (1/68) at Churchill Downs on Nov 14.

Comments: Visually impressive maiden win at Keeneland Oct 2. In the BC Juvenile, he chased the pace from the inside pace and faded to finish 8th. I thought the Juvenile might be a bit too much too soon, but he is still learning and remains a promising sort. His stablemate Airoforce is expected to contest the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes so he might end up in a one mile allowance race at Churchill Downs on Nov 28.

(6) SAIL AHOY (Bernardini – Matlacha Pass, by Seeking the Gold) sail ahoy silks

Trainer (Shug McGaughey) – Owner (Phipps Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.65 (46/51) at Belmont Park on Nov 15.

Comments: He did not run a complete race from start to finish and ended up an even 4th in the Champagne. He was last for much of the race and rallied for the show (missed 2nd by a neck) in the G2 Nashua. As stated before, he figures to improve around two turns and should get better next year for patient trainer Shug McGaughey, who saddled Kentucky Derby winner Orb in 2013. He holds his #6 position.

Derby Points (1)

(7) SEYMOURDINI (Bernardini – Graeme Six, by Graeme Hall) seymourdini silks

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (Iris Smith Stable)

Comments: $900k purchase battled with Mohaymen throughout and ended up 2nd in his debut.He was clearly second best as the favorite (beaten 1/2 length) in a 6f special weight sprint at Belmont Park Oct 28 on a muddy (sealed) racetrack. He moves up one notch to #7.

(8) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home) matt king coal silks

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.06 (19/40) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Nov 14.

Comments: Owns two of the better juvenile speed figures this year 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. He made his debut at #9 on the list Nov 6 at is up one spot.

(9) GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song) gift box silks

Trainer (Chad Brown) – Owner (W. S. Farish)

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:01.85 (13/35) at Belmont Park on Nov 14.

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. Also, the show finisher was another 18 lengths back Oct 3 so the top two were much the best. He was new to the list on Nov 6 and moves up one spot to #9.

(10) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) nyquist silks

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

Comments: Ran his record to 5-for-5 and wrapped up the 2-year-old title in the BC Juvenile. To his credit, he was farther back than usual and raced wide from post 13. He gamely held off Swipe for the fourth consecutive race but the final clocking was more than a second slower than filly counterpart Songbird once again. He still seems like a miler type but keeps on winning. At this stage he is in great shape in regards to Derby points and is expected to have two 2016 preps prior to the first Saturday in May. The deserving juvenile champ moves up on position to #10.

Derby Points (30)

(11) STREET VISION (Street Sense – Emmy’s Storm, by Stormy Atlantic) street vision silks

Trainer (Mark Glatt) – Owner (Norman Stables, LLC.)

Comments: Could not match strides with Toews On Ice in the Speakeasy (six furlongs) at Santa Anita Oct 18 but was clearly second best. He failed to threaten when 5th of 7 in the G3 Bob Hope (7f @ DMR on Nov 14), a race in which the top three dominated throughout (Toews On Ice, Mac Daddy Mac, I’malreadythere). I believe he will improve around two turns and hope he gets a chance to route in the near future. He was #7 last time and drops four notches to #11.

Honorable Mention: (12) Swipe, (13) Exaggerator, (14) I Will Score, (15) Riker, (16) Rafting, (17) Annual Report, (18) Flexibility, (19) Toews On Ice, (20) Mac Daddy Mac

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Recap (VIDEO)

Early Kentucky Derby 2016 favorite Nyquist kept his perfect record intact with a 1/2 length score over Swipe in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Kentucky Detby 2016 favorite Nyquist

Nyquist photo by Eclipse Sportswire

In a replay of the FrontRunner Stakes, Nyquist held off rival Swipe. The latter has now finished 2nd to his nemesis in four consecutive stakes races.

BC Juvenile Fillies winner Songbird ran more than one second faster. For comparison purposes, she received a 99 BSF and Nyquist got an 89. It was the same speed figure gap at Santa Anita when she won the Chandelier and Nyquist took the FrontRunner.

What does all of this mean in regards to Kentucky Derby 2016? The early evidence clearly suggests that the BC Juvenile horses are not on the same level as likely 2-year-old filly champ Songbird. Nyquist owns a win early pedigree tilted toward speed and there is a good chance that he will not improve as distances increase next year.

Take nothing away from Nyquist. He is 5-for-5 and the deserving 2-year-old champ, but he does not look like a mile and a quarter horse on the track or pedigree-wise. It is important to keep an open mind, especially at this early stage, and he will have ample opportunities to prove he can go nine furlongs and beyond in 2016.

Brody’s Cause was up for the show in the Juvenile and has always looked like a long winded type. Swipe’s stablemate Exaggerator ended up an even 4th and might have distance limitations.

Ralis chased early and faded to 14th and last. The G1 Hopeful winner needs a rest after a busy campaign and should probably turn back in distance. He drops off the list.

Due to workout inactivity, Justin Squared and I Will Score drop off the list as well.

Graded Recaps (Derby Points Races)

G1 BC Juvenile (10-31-15, 89 BSF): Southern California-based colts Nyquist and Swipe took their exacta show on the road and did their thing at Keeneland. Breaking from post 13, Nyquist was wide and further back than normal, but none of that mattered. He seized the lead in the lane and held off Swipe by a 1/2 length. The latter has better stamina breeding and might be able to turn the tables on his nemesis next year. Nyquist deserves the 2-year-old title but he is not dominating around two turns like he did in sprints. Brody’s Cause rallied through traffic to garner the show in a solid performance.

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

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

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase was a determined 1/2 length winner (87 BSF) at six furlongs in his Belmont Park debut on 9-19-15. In the G2 Nashua on Nov 4 at Aqueduct, he stalked wide, took a clear lead in the stretch, and won nicely by 1.75 lengths (89 BSF) under a hand drive. McLaughlin is looking at the G2 Remsen or G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes for his next start. He retains the top spot.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48 (9/35) at Santa Anita Park on Nov 3.

Comments: $650k purchase had a slow start, made a nice inside middle move, took the lead, and ended up a clear 2nd (83 BSF) in his 6f Santa Anita debut Sept 27. He returned at a flat mile Oct 23 and cantered to an easy win (92 BSF) as the 1-2 favorite (geared down under Gary Stevens). He stays put at #2.

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks

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

Comments: Looked great from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden win) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile and continues to look like a solid stretch factor on the Derby trail. He moves up one notch to #3.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Comments: Put it all together from off the pace in a strong 4-1/2 length victory in the Champagne. I really like his pedigree and he figures to get better with age. The BC Juvenile favorite was too far back early 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. His connections are deciding whether to winter in New York or Florida and he will not run again this year.  He swaps positions with Brody’s Cause and I still like him as a long term prospect.

Derby Points (10)

(5) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City) conquest big e silks

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

Comments: Visually impressive maiden win at Keeneland Oct 2. In the BC Juvenile, he chased the pace from the inside pace and faded to finish 8th. I thought the Juvenile might be a bit too much too soon, but he is still learning and remains a promising sort. The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov 28 might be next, and he could meet up with his stablemate, BC Juvenile Turf runner-up Airoforce. I will keep him at #5 and am expecting him to run better next time.

(6) SAIL AHOY (Bernardini – Matlacha Pass, by Seeking the Gold) sail ahoy silks

Trainer (Shug McGaughey) – Owner (Phipps Stable)

Comments: He did not run a complete race from start to finish and ended up an even 4th in the Champagne. He was last for much of the race and rallied for the show (missed 2nd by a neck) in the G2 Nashua. As stated before, he figures to improve around two turns and should get better next year for patient trainer Shug McGaughey, who saddled Kentucky Derby winner Orb in 2013. He holds his #6 position.

Derby Points (1)

(7) STREET VISION (Street Sense – Emmy’s Storm, by Stormy Atlantic) street vision silks

Trainer (Mark Glatt) – Owner (Norman Stables, LLC.)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (11/46) at Santa Anita Park on Nov 2.

Comments: Could not match strides with Toews On Ice in the Speakeasy (six furlongs) at Santa Anita Oct 18 but was clearly second best. He seems to want more ground and remains a promising sort. He was #7 last time and stays right there.

(8) SEYMOURDINI (Bernardini – Graeme Six, by Graeme Hall) seymourdini silks

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (Iris Smith Stable)

Comments: $900k purchase battled with Mohaymen throughout and ended up 2nd in his debut.He was clearly second best as the favorite (beaten 1/2 length) in a 6f special weight sprint at Belmont Park Oct 28 on a muddy (sealed) racetrack. With Ralis dropping off the list, he moves up one spot.

(9) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home) matt king coal silks

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

Comments: Owns two of the better juvenile speed figures this year 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. He makes his debut on the list.

(10) GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song) gift box silks

Trainer (Chad Brown) – Owner (W. S. Farish)

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:00.45 (2/13) at Belmont Park on Oct 31.

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. Also, the show finisher was another 18 lengths back Oct 3 so the top two were much the best. He’s new to the list.

(11) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry) nyquist silks

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

Comments: Ran his record to 5-for-5 and wrapped up the 2-year-old title in the BC Juvenile. To his credit, he was farther back than usual and raced wide from post 13. He gamely held off Swipe for the fourth consecutive race but the final clocking was more than a second slower than filly counterpart Songbird once again. He still seems like a miler type but keeps on winning. At this stage he is in great shape in regards to Derby points and is expected to have two 2016 preps prior to the first Saturday in May. The likely juvenile champ is new to the list and grabs the final spot in a very tight call over Swipe.

Derby Points (30)

Honorable Mention: (12) Swipe, (13) Exaggerator, (14) Justin Squared, (15) I Will Score, (16) King Kranz, (17) Riker, (18) Rafting, (19) Annual Report, (20) Flexibility

Beyond the Crown – Neck ‘n Neck wins Indiana Derby

Neck ‘n Neck, patiently handled while breaking from post eleven under Brian Hernandez Jr., rallied from 10th place to land the Grade II Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on Saturday.

Neck 'n Neck

Neck ‘n Neck is not expected to run in the Breeders’ Cup – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Ian Wilkes trainee clearly enjoys a mile and a sixteenth, and his fondness for Churchill Downs is well documented, so he could end up under the Twin Spires next.

Super Derby hero Bourbon Courage was up for the place and beaten favorite Fed Biz checked in a respectable 3rd.

Gemologist has been retired to WinStar Farm and is one of several high profile sophomores to hit the breeding shed much too early.

Since my last report, Paynter had surgery to remove a growth from his intestines and is on the road to recovery.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

Alpha

The BC Classic is probably next for Alpha – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Alpha (Bernardini) – Jim Dandy/Travers hero finished a flat 6th in the PA Derby. He is currently gearing up for the BC Classic, most recently breezing 4f in :48.40 (3/4) at Greentree Training Center on 10-5.

2. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions and looked great capturing his first graded stakes in the Haskell. He is recovering from recent intestinal surgery and hopefully all of his recent health issues are behind him.

3. Nonios (Pleasantly Perfect) – Haskell place finisher ended up 5th in the Travers. He was clearly second best behind likely BC Classic favorite Game On Dude in the G1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Sept 29.  Worked 4f in :47.60 (3/55) at Hollywood Park on 10-6.

4. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Ran his Polytrack record to a perfect 3-for-3 in the Pacific Classic but never picked up his feet in the grassy G1 Jamaica. The BC Turf or Classic is next.

5. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Rallied from the back of the pack (post 11) to gamely capture the G2 Indiana Derby (95 BSF). He will probably show up next in a stakes race at Churchill Downs.

6. Bourbon Courage (Lion Heart) He put together a trio of strong efforts in the G2 West Va. Derby (2nd), G2 Super Derby (1st), and G2 Indiana Derby (2nd).

7. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Baffert’s highly regarded colt returned in the pink at Del Mar (El Cajon Stakes) on Aug 31 and just finished a close-up 3rd in the Indiana Derby on Oct 6.

8. Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor) – Gave Fed Biz everything he could handle in El Cajon and  Mandella’s $900k purchase rallied for the show vs. salty older sprinters in G1 SA Sprint Championship on 10-6. The BC Sprint might be next.

9. Unbridled’s Note (Unbridled’s Song) – Unlucky G1 King’s Bishop show finisher probably would have won that heat with clear sailing. Asmussen trainee switched to turf and smartly nabbed the G3 Eddie D (92 BSF) over Santa Anita’s downhill course on Sept 28. The BC Turf Sprint is probably next. Worked 4f in :50.40 (35/44) at Santa Anita on 10-8.

10. Summer Front (War Front) – Lost for first time on turf in G1 Secretariat but was hardly disgraced in show finish. He was 3rd again in the G1 Jamaica and could have won that one with clear sailing.

Beyond the Crown – Union Rags retired

Much has happened since my last update. Union Rags was diagnosed with a suspensory injury a month after capturing the G1 Belmont Stakes and was officially retired on Friday. I was hoping he would return as a 4yo but it was not meant to be. At least he captured a classic and ended his career on a high note.

Union Rags

My longtime #1 ranked 3yo Union Rags has been retired and will enter stud in 2013 – photo by Eclipse Sportwire

In other 3yo news, Bodemeister spiked a temperature and is out of the Haskell. Baffert will replace him in the Monmouth showcase with Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter.

Went The Day Well, my disappointing Preakness top, has bone bruising in both front ankles and is done for the year. He is expected to return to the races in Florida this winter.

Holy Candy was pulled up as the heavy favorite in Wednesday’s Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar. He will undergo tests soon to determine the problem.

I have only had two horses occupy the top spot in my Triple Crown trail and beyond rankings. Alpha was number one until last year’s BC Juvenile and Union Rags took over until his retirement. Alpha appears to be poised for a big summer/fall campaign and is back on top of the heap.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

Alpha horse

Alpha regains my top spot following retirement of Union Rags – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Alpha (Bernardini) – Wood Memorial runner-up was last seen finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. He had a leg infection after the Wood and spiked a fever and missed the Belmont Stakes. He is working extremely well for the Jim Dandy and breezed 4f in :49.58 (31/63) at Saratoga on July 21.

2. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He goes next in the Jim Dandy or Haskell and fired a 5f bullet in :58.40 (1/43) at Saratoga on 7-22.

3. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – The Derby-Preakness bridesmaid spiked a temperature and is out of the Haskell. The BC Classic is his ultimate goal if his heath cooperates. No published works since 7-8.

4. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion got back on the beam in facile G3 Iowa Derby victory. The G2 West Virginia Derby on 8-4 is probably up next, followed by the Travers. Could still alter plans and try the Haskell. Breezed 5f in 1:01 (1/2) at Churchill (training track) on July 17.

5. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions. Baffert’s lightly raced colt now has his eye on the Haskell and worked 6f in 1:13.20 (1/6) at Del Mar on July 18.

6. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well. He is pointing to the Haskell and fired a 5f bullet in :59.80 (1/15) at Churchill Downs on 7-21.

7. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer exits back-to-back sharp Churchill wins and made the grade in the Matt Winn on June 16. Jim Dandy is next and he breezed 5f in 1:00.65 (3/22) at Saratoga on July 17.

8. Nonios (Pleasantly Perfect) – Hollendorfer’s consistent late developer exits a solid place finish behind lone speedster Blueskiesnrainbows in the G2 Swaps. The Haskell is next and he worked 5f in 1:01.80 (14/37) at Del Mar on July 17.

9. Summer Front (War Front) – Ran his turf record to 5-for-5 in sharp Duluth win at the Spa on July 22. He could face fellow turf win machine Silver Max in the near future.

10. Ever So Lucky (Indian Charlie) – Impressive Delaware return vs. four overmatched rivals July 5. Sheppard’s highly regarded colt breezed 5f in :59.38 (3/43) under Johnny V at Saratoga on 7-22. He goes next in Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on July 27.

Beyond the Crown – Union Rags back on the beam

It is that time again. My annual Beyond the Triple Crown series top ten list is back in full swing and Union Rags got his much deserved Classic in the Belmont Stakes as I predicted. He has been my top ranked Triple Crown series colt since last November and remains the top dog after getting back on the beam under new pilot John Velazquez.

Union Rags

Union Rags wears down Paynter in Belmont Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Test of Champions was only the beginning of things to come from the talented Matz trainee. A marathon is obviously not his best trip but he figured to handle it based on stamina influences on the female side of his pedigree and class pulled him through.

The Travers Stakes is the main summer goal for Union Rags with a prior pit stop in the Jim Dandy or Haskell.

Paynter is the new kid on the block and he came through with flying colors in the Belmont Stakes. He made the pace but could not hold off my troubled Derby top when the real running began. Baffert is looking at the Travers for the son of Awesome Again as well.

Baffert also has Derby-Preakness runner-up Bodemeister for the Haskell.

A few parting words on I’ll Have Another. It was a shame that he missed the Belmont Stakes and subsequently retired but part of the Triple Crown challenge is the ability to withstand the rigors of three races in five weeks. It takes a very sturdy horse to make the gate in Kentucky, Maryland, and New York.

I never believed that I’ll Have Another was going to sweep the Triple Crown. The last eleven horses to go for the Triple Crown sweep went down in flames and there is a reason why horses exiting the Preakness have only managed two wins in the last fourteen editions of the Belmont Stakes. He is the clear leader of the sophomore division and it will take a huge second half by Union Rags to take the title away from him.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – I refused to drop him from my top spot after troubled trips in the Florida Derby/Ketucky Derby and my stubbornness was rewarded in the Belmont Stakes. We have not come close to seeing his best and I am looking for a big second half.

Bodemeister

Bodemeister eyes Haskell – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – The Derby-Preakness bridesmaid was tuckered out after his 3rd race in 5-weeks at Pimlico. His early speed is especially dangerous up to nine panels and he could prove an elusive target in the Haskell.

3. Alpha (Bernardini) – Leg infection after the Wood Memorial probably contributed to his 12th place Derby effort. He spiked a fever and missed the Belmont Stakes. He is currently stabled at Saratoga with the Jim Dandy a possibility.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He is back in Pletcher’s barn with an eye on the Travers.

5. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion finished 9th on the first Saturday in May. He could show up in the G3 Iowa Derby on 6-30, followed by the G2 West Virginia Derby on 8-4. He fired a 5f bullet in 1:00.60 (1/14) over the Churchill training track on 6-16.

6. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions. Baffert’s lightly raced colt should continue to develop. He could resurface in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy on July 28.

7. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well. Look for him to possibly resurface in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 21.

8. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer ran into the likes of Union Rags in Florida earlier this year. He exits back-to-back sharp Churchill wins and made the grade in the Matt Winn on June 16.

9. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – G3 Spiral Stakes hero finished a troubled 4th in the Derby. My Preakness top flopped in the second jewel and seemingly had nothing left to offer after his aforementioned bad trip two weeks earlier.

10. Holy Candy (Candy Ride) – Expecting big things from Sadler’s late developing colt. He exits a needed show finish in the G3 Affirmed and probably goes next in G2 Swaps on July 4. Breezed 4f in :49.60 (25/36) at Hollywood Park on 6-13.

Union Rags Captures Belmont Stakes 2012

How sweet it is. Union Rags received a ground saving trip and ran down a game Paynter in the final strides to capture the 144th Belmont Stakes at Big Sandy on June 9.

Union Rags

Union Rags beats Paynter in Belmont Stakes 2012 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I have been touting this horse since last September and it was great to see my Derby top redeem himself under new pilot John Velazquez.

He has been my top ranked Triple Crown series contender since last November and I never lost faith after a pair of troubled journeys in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby under Julien Leparoux.

Michael Matz did a great job preparing the strapping son of Dixie Union for the Test of Champions and he received stamina from the female side of his pedigree as predicted.

This was the start of a big second half of 2012 for Union Rags and it is on to races like the Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

I hope to catch up with him in person at Santa Anita Park in the fall!

 

 

 

Belmont Stakes Day – Saturday, June 9, 2012

DerbyWars.com

We have a $30,000 Belmont Stakes Day game on tap for Saturday. The buy in is $175 and the Prize Distribution goes down to 32nd place. Winner brings home $10k.

Derby Wars

Play Saturday’s Belmont Stakes Day games at DerbyWars.com

Also scheduled for Saturday is our $1,000 Belmont Stakes Survivor.  The Derby Wars survivor games are a great value. The buy in is $4 and you can purchase up to three entries. If you selection finishes 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, you survive to the next contest race. First place gets $750 and second place brings home $250.

Other games scheduled for Saturday include a $150 Belmont Survivor, a $500 Belmont Park game ($12 buy in), and a $600 Belmont-Hollywood game ($25 buy in).

Fast Track Radio Show

As usual, I will be joining Steve Bortstein on the Fast Track this weekend. The show airs weekends at 10am ET and we do frequently go over the following hour by about 5-10 minutes, so we’re not automatically done at 11am ET. Click here to listen to the show.

HorseRacingNation.com

Horse Racing Nation

Check out all of the latest Belmont Stakes news at HorseRacingNation.com

Check out HRN for updated Belmont Stakes 2012 news, including results, recaps, videos, and selections.

For Saturday, I posted free analysis of the Grade 2 True North Handicap.

Pick 6 Blog.com

Friday night’s Betfair Hollywood Park Pick 6 Tickets are now available for your viewing pleasure. It looks like a moderately tough sequence and make sure to check back for Saturday’s Pick 6 tickets as well. In addition to my Pick 6 tickets, I am also now including a best bet and live longshot for each Hollywood Park program.

Today’sRacingDigest.com

I am offering full card analysis for Belmont Stakes Day on my Today’s Racing Digest Handicapper Page.

The cost is $10 and includes wagering strategies for all 13-races. Primary/Secondary Pick 6 Tickets included as well.

I have also posted a bonus Saturday free play (Belmont race 13) on my Digest Handicapper page (click view sample).

Note that I posted my analysis before I’ll Have Another scratched, but I have never been a fan and he was not part of my top four selections anyway.