Posts Tagged ‘Alpha horse’

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders

It seems impossible but it is that time again, and the September tradition continues. This is my first in a series of blogs devoted to Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders. This is just the beginning and there will be many twists and turns in the weeks and months ahead.

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

10 of the last 15 Kentucky Derby winners graduated by October 4, including 7 of the last 9. Kentucky Derby 2012 hero I’ll Have Another captured his career debut at Hollywood Park on July 3 of his juvenile season.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb lost his first three juvenile outings. He graduated at the Big A on November 24, 2012, his first of five straight wins, culminating in a scintillating off the pace tally under the Twin Spires on May 4.

Kentucky Derby 2014 winner California Chrome earned his diploma in his second career start ($100k Graduation – 5.5f) at Del Mar on July 31, 2013. He ended his juvenile season with an easy win in the King Glorious, the beginning of a 6-race winning streak that ended with a dead-heat for 4th in the Belmont Stakes.

Triple Crown 2015 winner American Pharaoh graduated in the G1 Del Mar Futurity on 9-3-14, the beginning of an 8-race win streak (7 Grade 1‘s and a Grade 2).

Some of my original September Derby blog juvenile contenders panned out, like my early 2010-2011 Number 1’s Stay Thirsty and Alpha. Both won the G1 Travers during their 3-year-old seasons. Others turn out to be disappointments, such as Fortify and Purple Sky, my 2012 and 2013 original Number 1’s.

International Star was my original number one Kentucky Derby 2015 contender and he was scratched the morning of the Derby. 3 of my original 11 Derby contenders made it to the starting gate including winner American Pharoah. The other two were Frosted and Carpe Diem.

An ideal Kentucky Derby contender would have a solid juvenile foundation, a long-winded pedigree, sharp graded stakes form, running style versatility, and winning connections. Strong pre-Derby works are the icing on the cake.

Graded Recaps (Derby Points Races)

G1 FrontRunner (79 BSF): American Pharoah won the FrontRunner last year. This time around, Nyquist was the overwhelming favorite and he remained undefeated with yet another win over Swipe. His margin of victory dipped and talented juvenile filly Songbird ran much faster in the G1 Chandelier. Nyquist looks like a miler and will not make my Derby list at this time.

G3 Iroquois (81 BSF): Cocked and Loaded stalked, pounced, and kicked clear to win by 2-lengths over Rated R Superstar, Unbridled Outlaw, and Conquest Windycity. The Iroquois has not been a productive race in regards to Derby contenders in recent years.

There are three Derby points races this weekend: G1 Champagne (Belmont Park, Oct 3), G1 Breeders’ Futurity (Keeneland, Oct 3), and G3 Grey (Woodbine, Oct 4).

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. Dam Justwhistledixie won the G2 Davona Dale and G2 Bonnie Miss at GP in 2009.
The G2 Nashua on Nov 4 at Aqueduct might be next.

(2) 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 is one of three Bernardini freshman to make the initial list.

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

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

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 will not be a maiden much longer.

(4) RALIS (Square Eddie – Silar Rules, by Ten Most Wanted) ralis silks

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.60 (53/87) at Santa Anita on Sept 26.

Comments: His five starts include a second time out maiden win at Santa Anita, a 2nd in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar, and a romping win in the G1 Hopeful (93 BSF) at Saratoga Sept 7. He is entered in the G1 Champagne at Belmont Park on Saturday, Oct 3.

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

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

Comments: Followed up a distant 4th behind a runaway winner in his Del Mar bow with a professional stalk/pounce win under Bejarano at Santa Anita Sept 27 (87 BSF).

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

Trainer (Shug McGaughey) – Owner (Phipps Stable)

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :47.66 (5/40) at Belmont Park on Sept 27.

Comments: Rallied to finished a distant 3rd (17-1 odds) behind Ready Dancer & Condominium in his six furlong debut at Saratoga Aug 29. He was ready to roll in his second start at Belmont Park (one mile, Sept 12), going last-to-first by a head at 3.95-1 odds. He is entered in the G1 Champagne at Belmont Park on Saturday, Oct 3.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.20 (2/32) at Churchill Downs Sept 25.

Comments: Broke in the air, rallied wide to take the lead, and was run down by Brody’s Cause in his flat mile debut at Churchill Sept 11. His is still immature and needs to get over his gate issues.

(8) I WILL SCORE (Roman Ruler – Grassy Nellie, by Belong to Me) i will score silks

Trainer (Jerry Hollendorfer) – Owner (Hans Poetsch)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (4/13) at Los Alamitos Sept 25.

Comments: Romped in his Los Alamitos debut Sept 11.

(9) JUSTIN SQUARED (Zensational – Graciously Soft, by Vindication) justin squared silks

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Zayat Stables LLC.)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.20 (1/55) at Santa Anita Park Sept 28.

Comments: Went all the way in an easy wire job debut at Del Mar Sept 5 (86 BSF).

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.85 (5/31) at Belmont Park Sept 26.

Comments: Missed by a neck in his Saratoga debut July 25 and scored by a neck at that same venue (seven furlongs) second time out Sept 5. He is entered in the G1 Champagne at Belmont Park on Saturday, Oct 3.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:01.80 (21/43) at Churchill Downs Sept 26.

Comments: Finished 8th in his Ellis Park debut and went last-to-first (paid $69.20) to beat well-meant first timer Conquest Big E at a flat mile (Churchill Downs) Sept 11. He is entered in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday, Oct 3.

Honorable Mention: (12) Nyquist, (13) Swipe, (14) Exaggerator, (15) Who’s Out, (16) Gametown, (17) Wild Man, (18) King Kranz, (19) Arabian Leopard, (20) Rafting

Beyond the Crown – Alpha entered in BC Classic

My top ten active sophomores will be busy during the 2-day Breeders’ Cup on Nov 2-3, including  Alpha in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Alpha

Alpha is a 20-1 longshot in Saturday’s BC Classic – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Alpha should relish the ten furlong trip at Santa Anita but he has never run a quality race away from New York. I would be pleasantly surprised if he cracked the top four.

Fellow top ten member Nonios is also entered in the Classic and the late blooming SoCal based colt rates a realistic shot at a Trifecta finish.

The best hopes for one of my members to win a Cup race are Fed Biz (BC Dirt Mile), Jimmy Creed (BC Sprint), and Unbridled’s Note (BC Turf Sprint).

Dullahan goes in the BC Turf and should appreciate firm footing. All three of his career wins were accomplished in Grade 1 Polytrack races and I am not convinced that he can go twelve furlongs on turf against a quality international cast on Saturday.

Indiana Derby hero Neck ‘n Neck runs today in the G3 Ack Ack at his favorite venue (Churchill Downs). A strong effort could lead to a start in the G1 Clark Handicap under the Twin Spires later this month.

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

1. Alpha (Bernardini) – Jim Dandy/Travers hero finished a flat 6th in the PA Derby. He drew post 3 for Saturday’s BC Classic and is listed at 20-1 on the morning line.

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. Hopefully his health issues are behind him and he may return next year if all continues to go well.

3. Nonios (Pleasantly Perfect) – Haskell place finisher was clearly second best behind BC Classic morning line favorite Game On Dude in the G1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Sept 29.  He will try to turn the tables on his aforementioned rival in the Classic.

Dullahan horse

Dullahan seeks his third G1 win of the year in Saturday’s BC Turf – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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 is next for the synthetic specialist.

5. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Rallied from the back of the pack (post 11) to gamely capture the G2 Indiana Derby (95 BSF). Today’s G3 Ack Ack at Churchill Downs is next.

6. Bourbon Courage – 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 finished a close-up 3rd in the Indiana Derby on Oct 6. He is entered in Saturday’s G1 BC Dirt Mile.

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. He drew post 2 in the BC Sprint.

9. Unbridled’s Note (Unbridled’s Song) –Asmussen trainee switched to turf and smartly nabbed the G3 Eddie D (92 BSF) over Santa Anita’s downhill course from post 12 on Sept 28. The BC Turf Sprint is next and he landed post 13 this time.

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 – 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 – Alpha shares Travers trophy

Last Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, it appeared as though Golden Ticket was going to shock the world at 33-1 in the Travers but post time favorite Alpha wanted to be part of the party as well and surged late to share in the spoils.

Alpha and Golden Ticket

Alpha & Golden Ticket put on a show in Travers- photo courtesy of NYRA

Golden Ticket saved all of the ground under David Cohen and needed every advantage to tie with my top ranked sophomore Alpha, who sat an outer stalking trip under Ramon Dominguez. Golden Ticket will have to prove that he is more than a one-hit wonder before he joins my top ten.

I began my Derby Top 10 list right after Del Mar/Saratoga in September in 2010 and 2011 and will do the same this year. In an interesting side note, my initial number one in 201o was Stay Thirsty and Alpha was the early juvenile boss this time around. Both Bernardini colts went on to capture the Jim Dandy and Travers during their sophomore campaigns. Maybe I should rename my future road to the Derby blogs for the Travers trail!

Dullahan traveled west and toppled salty older foes Game On Dude and Richard’s Kid in the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug 26. He sure adores synthetic, specifically Polytrack, and is probably the best in the business on that footing. He crashes back to earth on conventional dirt so if he ends up in the Breeders’ Cup it will likely be on turf.

Since my last report, Paynter resumed training at the Spa but got sick again and is fighting colitis at a clinic in New York. Bodemeister, Hansen, and Street Life have all been retired. It has been a tough year for the sophomore class with numerous injuries and premature retirements.

Checking in with former top ten members, B Shanny won a sprint at the Spa on 8-12. Consortium recently returned to the worktab for Kiaran McLaughlin, and Fire On Ice and O’Prado Again are getting close to a race.

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

1. Alpha (Bernardini) – Controlled the pace in Jim Dandy and stalked/pounced his way to a share of the Travers (100 BSF) title on Aug 25. The Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on 9-22 could be next.

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 currently battling colitis at a clinic in NY…get well soon.

Dullahan

What’s next for synthetic specialist Dullahan? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

3. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Ran his Polytrack record to a perfect 3-for-3 in the Pacific Classic (111 BSF). Let’s see if Romans and company can avoid the temptation to try dirt again.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – He came out of the Derby with a foot bruise and spit the bit in his disappointing Haskell return. He breezed 4f in :48.15 (6/54) at Saratoga on 8-26 and could meet up with Alpha in the PA Derby.

5. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Baffert’s highly regarded colt returned in the pink at Del Mar (El Cajon Stakes) on Aug 31. He could be a major player in the Strub Series this winter at Santa Anita.

6. Nonios (Pleasantly Perfect) – Haskell place finisher ended up 5th in the Travers. He handles dirt but might be better on synthetic.

7. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer gamely chased Alpha home in the Jim Dandy and finished 6th in the Travers. He does his best work at Churchill Downs.

8. Jimmy Creed (Distorted Humor) – Gave Fed Biz everything he could handle in El Cajon. Mandella’s $900k purchase appears tailor-made for Santa Anita’s G1 Malibu on Dec 26.

9. Summer Front (War Front) – Lost for first time on turf in G1 Secretariat but was hardly disgraced in show finish. Look for him to cut back in distance next time as ten panels is a bit beyond his range at this point.

10. Unbridled’s Note (Unbridled’s Song) – Unlucky G1 King’s Bishop show finisher probably would have won that heat with clear sailing. Asmussen trainee looks like and up and coming sprinter.

Beyond the Crown – Paynter on the move

It has been a strange journey this year for Paynter. After earning his diploma in his 5.5 furlong debut at the Great Race Place on Feb 18, he was thrown to the wolves in the G1 Santa Anita Derby but was hardly disgraced in a 4th place finish. He returned three weeks later to land the place in the G3 Derby Trial and easily captured an allowance event at Pimilco 21-days after his Churchill excursion.

Paynter

Will Paynter make the Travers? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Staying on a three week pattern, Bob Baffert’s late bloomer made all the running in the Belmont Stakes but could not hold off Union Rags. After a much needed rest, he garnered his first stakes victory in the Haskell and got sick shortly after that. He was missing in action for over a week but is now safely tucked away at Belmont Park. The Travers is sneaking up fast and it remains to be seen if he actually makes the gate for the Mid-Summer Derby.

I have only had two horses occupy the top spot in my Triple Crown trail and beyond rankings since I started my list September 2011. Alpha was number one until last year’s BC Juvenile and Union Rags took over until his retirement. Alpha retook the top spot after Union Rags was whisked away to the breeding shed and remains there with a little more than two weeks to go before the Travers.

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

Alpha horse

Alpha remains on course for Mid-Summer Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Alpha (Bernardini) – Controlled the pace in smart Jim Dandy triumph over wet ground. He figured to get better with age and is peaking just in time for the Aug 25 Travers. He breezed 4f in :48.33 (7/39) at Saratoga on 8-9.

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 spiked a temp after the Haskell and could end up missing the Travers…stay tuned!

3. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer made the grade in the Matt Winn under the Twin Spires on June 16 and gamely chased Alpha home in the Jim Dandy. He will try to turn the tables on the top dog in the upcoming Travers. Breezed 4f in :48.53 (17/48) at Saratoga on 8-8.

4. Nonios (Pleasantly Perfect) – His Haskell place finish proved that he was more than a SoCal synthetic wonder. He worked 4f in :47 (2/35) at Del Mar on 8-6 and Johnny V will ride him in the Travers.

5. Summer Front (War Front) – Ran his turf record to 5-for-5 in sharp Duluth win at the Spa on July 22. He is expected to challenge fellow turf win machine Silver Max in the G1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on 8-18. Breezed 5f in :58.55 (2/43) at Saratoga (turf training) on 8-8.

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

7. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He set the pace before faltering in his needed Haskell return and could show up next in the PA Derby at Parx on 9-22.

8. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion got back on the beam in facile G3 Iowa Derby victory but Hero of Order got after him in the West Va. Derby and the Mike Maker trainee surprisingly offered little resistance in a disappointing 4th place effort. The Travers is still on the table but his stock is dropping rapidly.

9. Dullahan (Even The Score) – The Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont and Haskell. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well so hopefully Romans and company will avoid dirt at all costs. He is reportedly pointing to the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on 8-26.

10. Street Life (Street Sense) – He is 0-for-3 in graded ranks (4th Belmont, 3rd Peter Pan) but looked good winning listed Curlin last time and Broad Brush earlier this season. The Travers is next for the Chad Brown trainee and he breezed an easy 4f in :50.93 (40/42) at Saratoga on 8-9.

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.