Posts Tagged ‘Bernardini’

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.


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

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: New York, New York

Withers 1-2 finishers Samraat and Uncle Sigh pulled the same trick in the Gotham Stakes and the dynamic NY-bred duo are the best of the Big Apple Kentucky Derby 2014 hopefuls.


Samraat wins a Gotham thriller – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Samraat is now undefeated in five starts. Look for him to join Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the Wood Memorial. The winning Gotham BSF came back a rock solid 96 and the top three all have some quality to them but the Wood is dying to be won by an off the pace shipper like Honor Code.

Noble Cornerstone followed up a Sam Davis flop with another poor effort in the Gotham. He has not progressed from age 2 to 3 and drops off the bottom of the list.

Gala Award has emerged as an intriguing Derby prospect for Todd Pletcher. He exits back-to-back turf route wins including the G3 Palm Beach and could end up contesting the G1 Blue Grass Stakes next. He owns fine tactical speed and his promising dirt pedigree is featured below.

Injuries, illness, and missed training, oh my! First it was Shared Belief (foot injury), followed by Indianapolis (cough). Last week, Havana (quarter crack) missed the Swale Stakes. Now, Bayern (foot bruise) is out of the San Felipe. Eight weeks and counting – Time is rapidly running out to make the Derby, and Havana and Bayern drop to the bottom of the list and are in serious danger of falling off the radar screen.

Schoolofhardrocks worked 5f in 1:00.20 (14/69) at Santa Anita on March 4. An original “exceptional eleven” member dropped due to inactivity, he is finally set to return in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes. It is a tough test but he is training well and has a ton of raw ability.

Each week that goes by, we add more potential quality speed to the first Saturday in May. Wildcat Red & General A Rod, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and In Trouble, plus Albano, Midnight Hawk, Tapiture, and a handful of others like to run on or very near the lead…something has to give!

Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby is my featured play of the day at

Listen to my analysis of the San Felipe Stakes on the Fast Track radio show Saturday morning (10am ET).

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat) Honor Code horse silks

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.18 (6/43) at Gulfstream Park on March 2. “So far everything looks good, McGaughey said from his South Florida base. “He worked real good the other day and we’ll work him again on Sunday.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles and returned to the work tab Feb. 12. He is entered in an Allowance event (8.5f, race 8) at Gulfstream Park on March 12, and if all goes well, he will wrap up his Derby prep season in the Wood Memorial.

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.60 (10/17) at Oaklawn Park on March 6.

Derby Points (6)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 59.95 (1/35) at Palm Meadows on March 1. “He worked very well,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “It was a little faster than we wanted this far out, but yet we wanted a decent work. It was a great work. He worked excellent and everything went well. We were all very happy, and we’ll probably not go in company next week because we’re looking for a 1:01 and change. But, he worked great.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29). A majority interest in Cairo Prince was sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley operation. He will remain with McLaughlin but run in the colors of Godolphin Stable.

4. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.20 (23/52) at Santa Anita on March 6.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

5. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.40 (45/61) at Santa Anita on March 4.

Derby Points (12)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally. Saturday’s San Felipe is his next engagement.

6. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.40 (4/16) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best. Joel Rosario will ride in the San Felipe.

7. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (2/48) at Oaklawn Park on March 2.

Derby Points (22)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.

8. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

9. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer:  Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

10. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch)bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (18/65) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe Stakes.

11. HAVANA (Dunkirk – Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man) Havana Silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Taber, Magnier, and Smith

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.90 (3/14) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 23.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. A quarter crack caused him to defect from the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 1.

Pedigree Spotlight: Gala Award

Gala Award’s sire Bernardini raced just one season but he certainly made a splash in 2006. In his 3rd career start, he won the G3 Withers and followed that up by capturing the G1 Preakness, G2 Jim Dandy, G1 Travers, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. He finished his career with a runner-up effort behind Invasor in the G1 BC Classic.

As a sire, Bernardini is represented by the likes of G1 Travers and G1 Cigar Mile winner Stay Thirsty, G1 Woodward Stakes and G1 Cigar Mile hero To Honor and Serve, and G1 Travers and G1 Woodward winner Alpha.

Gala Award pedigree

Bernardini’s influential sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic and has sired more than 135 stakes winners.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Bernardini’s mother Cara Rafaela (by Quiet American) was a classy runner for D Wayne Lukas in 1995-96. She won the G2 Alcibiades and G1 Hollywood Starlet and placed in such prestigious races as the G1 Las Virgenes (2nd), G1 SA Oaks (2nd), G1 Ashland (2nd), G1 Kentucky Oaks (3rd), G2 Black-Eyed Susan (2nd), and G1 Mother Goose (3rd). Cara Rafaela is out of the Spectacular Bid mare Oil Fable.

Cara Rafaela’s father Quiet American has sired numerous graded winners including 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero Real Quiet.

Gala Award’s dam Wilshewed (Carson City – So Cozy, by Lyphard) produced the likes of G1 Hollywood Futurity and G2 Norfolk winner Stormello, and G2 Del Mar Derby hero My Best Brother.

The speedy Carson City won multiple graded sprints including the G2 Sapling and G2 Fall Highweight. He sired may stakes winners including G2 Illinois Derby winner Pollard’s Vision.

So Cozy won the Priscilla Stakes at Suffolk Downs in 1982, and Northern Dancer’s son Lyphard won multiple overseas grass races in 1971-72 and produced 115 stakes winners including Dancing Brave, Jolypha, and Manila.

Gala Award is already proven at nine furlongs. He owns a promising dirt route pedigree and could easily get ten furlongs if he handles conventional dirt.

Belmont Stakes 2012 Bloodlines: Alpha

Which horse has the best pedigree to handle twelve furlongs in the final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 9 at Belmont Park? My Belmont Stakes alphabetical list starts with graded winner Alpha, and you would be hard pressed to find better bloodlines.


photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Alpha’s sire Bernardini raced just one season but he certainly made a splash in 2006. In his 3rd career start, he won the G3 Withers and followed that up by capturing the G1 Preakness, G2 Jim Dandy, G1 Travers, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. He finished his career with a runner-up effort behind Invasor in the G1 BC Classic.

As a sire, Bernardini was represented by three grade one winners in his first crop, including his son Stay Thirsty, who finished 2nd in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.

Bernardini’s sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes.

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Alpha’s Withers

The first New York graded route on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 was run at Aqueduct on Saturday and overwhelming favorite Alpha did not disappoint in a facile G3 Withers tally.

G3 Withers (2-4-12): 90 BSF (Alpha)

Alpha was my original number one Derby contender when I posted my first blog about the current sophomore class last September and he is on the upswing for Godolphin and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Alpha horse

Alpha is on the upswing for Godolphin - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Alpha began his career with a facile extended sprint win at Saratoga last summer before rallying for the place behind Union Rags in the G1 Champagne. He lost his top ranking on my list after coming apart at the gate and finishing up the track in the G1 BC Juvenile but he always remained in my top ten.

I gave the Count Fleet hero a C+ grade for his win on Jan 7 and thought he was more professional in the Withers. He behaved in the gate, sat a wide stalking trip from the outside post, and was hand urged while clearly best under Ramon Dominguez on Feb 4.

Alpha has all of the tools to make a splash on the first Saturday in May. He is bred top and bottom (Bernardini-Nijinsky II) to improve as distances increase and his sharp conditioner has Kentucky Derby experience. Godolphin wants to win the Derby and they are going about it the right way this time after buying young talent and unsuccessfully shipping to/from Dubai in the past.

The promising son of Bernardini is making nice progress on the Beyer scale, going from an 85 in the Count Fleet to a 90 in the Withers. I love his tactical speed and top notch jockey Ramon Dominguez rides him well. He needs to run faster to be considered a serious Derby player but he is only getting warmed up at a mile and a sixteenth and is clearly moving in the right direction.

There was not much depth in the Withers. Outsider Speightscity completed the exacta at 44-1.Rallying show finisher Tiger Walk has potential for Sagamore Farm. He was making his first start of the year and handles turf/dirt.

Withers Stakes Grade: B-

Count Fleet Stakes 2012 Preview: Time for Alpha to Shine

The $150,000 Count Fleet Stakes at a mile and seventy yards begins the Kentucky Derby 2012 journey for the newly turned 3-year-olds based in New York and it is put up or shut up time for Alpha.

The promising son of flashy stallion Bernardini, out of Nijinsky II mare Munnaya, began his career with an eye catching seven panel graduation run at Saratoga last September. Alpha chased talented colt Union Rags in the G1 Champagne in his second career start before coming apart at the gate in a disappointing G1 BC Juvenile showing.

Alpha shipped to Florida during the month of December before firing a four furlong bullet in his Big Apple return Jan 3. The highly regarded Godolphin colorbearer adds lasix and attracts top notch jock Ramon Dominguez. He was my top ranked juvenile following his debut maiden win and can start living up to his vast potential with a big effort at Aqueduct on Saturday. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee is the strong 4-5 morning line favorite.

Count Fleet 2012 field with morning line odds

Last year’s Kentucky Derby winning trainer Graham Motion has well bred colt Stephanoatsee ready to rumble at the Big A on Jan 7. Shackleford’s baby brother rallied from far back to land the place in his Laurel bow before earning his diploma in Maryland last October. He got no pace help in 7th place G2 Remsen effort and could put his best foot forward at 6-1 odds on Saturday.

Il Villano has rattled off three straight sprints and will take them as far as he can from the rail. He figures to face stern pace pressure from Todd Pletcher trainee and fellow sprint/route runner How Do I Win.

Shkspeare Shaliyah won a graded turf route as a juvenile but is an unknown commodity on conventional dirt. He can always go back to the sod if this dirt experiment goes awry.

Speightscity is a 2-time route winner exiting a sharp stalk and pounce inner track tally. He was trounced in both graded outings and might be up against it from a class standpoint.The son of Speightstown owns plenty of two turn experience, should sit a decent tactical trip, and could grab a piece of this.

Whistleblower earned a decent number in his local inner dirt sprint maiden victory Dec 3. He gets the acid test in his first route try against winners.

The Plays:

$20 Exacta Alpha over Stephanoatsee
$5 Trifecta Key Alpha over Stephanoatsee, Speightscity ($10)



Grading the 2012 Kentucky Derby Preps: GP Derby

The ungraded, $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby was the first stakes route opportunity for Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders to square off and newly turned three-year-old Reveron got the best of highly regarded Nick Zito runner Casual Trick.

Gulfstream Park Derby (1-1-12) – 87 BSF (Reveron)


Is Reveron a legit Ky Derby contender? - photo by Eclipse Sportwire

Early-pressing types from inner posts perform well in routes at the Gulf and Reveron took advantage of his inner draw and made his presence felt throughout in a game 1/2 length victory. I am not sure that the son of Songandaprayer is a serious Derby contender but he can do some damage in two turn stakes races in Florida this winter.

Casual Trick ran a nice race for Zito. He sat a decent tactical trip and gave the winner a scare while clearly second best. He was making his third lifetime start and first try around two turns on Sunday and should continue to develop. He is yet another hot Bernardini commodity, and he gets more stamina from dam sire Red Ransom. Interesting long range prospect.

{Check out the latest Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders workout report}.

King Kid appeared to have run along the rail but could not match strides with the top two in the stretch. He was best of the rest in 3rd and has plenty of upside with only two races under his belt. The son of Lemon Drop Kid, out of a Royal Academy mare, might have turf routes in his future. Dale Romans trains.

Gulfstream Park Derby Grade: c+

Belmont Stakes 2011 Profile: Stay Thirsty

One of the most intriguing 2011 Belmont Stakes contenders is Uncle Mo’s stablemate Stay Thirsty.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Mike Repole, Stay Thirsty began his career with a runner-up sprint effort at Belmont Park last summer. He easily earned his diploma at Saratoga second time out subsequently placed in the Grade 1 Hopeful at seven furlongs.

Stay Thirsty

Stay Thirsty is the forgotten Belmont horse - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Stay Thirsty returned from two-month break to finish a well-beaten 5th behind Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He went to Florida to prepare for his three-year-old campaign, which started off with a bang in Aqueduct’s Gotham Stakes.

After the Gotham he returned to South Florida but wilted in the Florida Derby heat. He was hardly on top of his game for the Kentucky Derby and he barely made a whimper back in 12th.

Stay Thirsty has yet to live up to his potential but the son of Bernardini (A.P. Indy), out of Storm Bird mare Marozia, is bred to handle the Belmont Stakes trip and looms a pace player at the very least under Javier Castellano. He has experience racing and training over the Belmont Park surface and could help his connections heal from the sting of Uncle Mo’s adventurous spring with a win in the Test of Champions.