Posts Tagged ‘Bob Baffert’

Triple Crown 2015: Belmont Stakes Preview (Video)

Is American Pharoah the next Triple Crown winner? The last 9 Belmont Stakes winners did not compete in the Preakness, and the final leg of the Triple Crown series has been dominated by fresh horses since the early 2000’s.

In the video below, Handicapper Jarrod Horak takes a look back at the Preakness Stakes and previews the Belmont Stakes.

Preakness 2015 Recap + Belmont Stakes Triple Crown Preview

Once again, 2-Year-Old Champion and post time favorite American Pharoah lived up to the hype with a romping victory in Preakness 2015.

American Pharoah

American Pharoah wins Preakness 2015 – Photo by Eclipse Sportswire

A beautiful day turned ugly in a hurry with heavy rains pelting the Pimlico oval shortly before the running of the Preakness Stakes.

Jockey Victor Espinoza changed tactics and the race was over before it started. He was planning on rating from the inside post on a fast track, but when the rains came, he decided to send and play catch me if you can. The competition never stood a chance as the Derby winner floated over the wet footing and was never headed in his fourth triumph from as many 2015 starts.

Longshot Tale of Verve was up for the place for trainer Dallas Stewart, who also saddled Kentucky Derby runner-ups Golden Soul (2013) and Commanding Curve (2014).

Divining Rod finished 3rd for Lael Stable, the owners of 2006 Kentucky Derby hero Barbaro.

American Pharoah goes for the Triple Crown sweep at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 6, and it will almost certainly be the biggest test of his career.

Can American Pharoah win the Triple Crown? Affirmed in 1978 was the last horse to sweep the series and an unlucky thirteen horses have failed to complete the hat trick since. The last nine Belmont Stakes winners did not compete in the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes will be Pharoah’s fifth start in twelve weeks.

A talented group of fresh, graded winners will be waiting for Pharoah in New York, including G1 Wood Memorial winner Frosted, G1 Florida Derby hero Materiality, G1 Blue Grass winner Carpe Diem, G1 UAE Derby romper Mubtaahib, and G2 Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky.

Kentucky Derby 2015 Contenders: Carpe Diem New Number One

This is my December 2014 update and fourth in a series of blogs devoted to Kentucky Derby 2015 contenders. Once again, I am got an early start in September, and there will be many twists and turns in the weeks and months ahead.

Kentucky Derby 2015 logo

You will notice a few changes to the list. International Star is no longer the top dog. He drops to 7th after an even 4th in the Ky Jockey Club Stakes. Carpe Diem is the new Number 1.

Frosted is the big upward mover, going from 7th to 2nd after landing the place in the Remsen.

Chief Istan has been inactive since breaking his maiden at Delaware on Sept 3 and has been replaced by Dortmund.

Lord Nelson is 2-for-2 sprinting and 0-for-2 around two turns. His replacement is Imperia.

Graded Recaps

G2 Remsen (90 BSF): Leave the Light On (Chad Brown) rode the inside speed bias to victory over unlucky favorite Frosted. The latter broke from the outside post and was wide throughout in a fine effort. It was another 8 lengths back to show finisher Keen Ice.

G2 Kentucky Jockey Club (94): El Kabeir established the early lead and had just enough left in the tank to hold off Imperia. The latter was making his dirt debut for McLaughlin-Godolphin and seems to want more ground. Eagle, International Star, and Lord Nelson rounded out the top five finishers.

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 2015 Contenders

  1. CARPE DIEM (Giant’s Causeway – Rebridled Dreams, by Unbridled’s Song) carpe diem silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm & Stonestreet Stables

Last Start: 2nd in G1 BC Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov 1.

Comments: Enjoying some R & R at Winstar Farm.

Derby Points (14)

  1. FROSTED (Tapit – Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister) frosted silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Racing

Last Start: 2nd from the outside post in G2 Remsen.

Comments: He almost certainly would have won the Remsen with a better post position.

Derby Points (4)

  1. BLOFELD (Quality Road – Storm Minstrel, by Storm Cat) blofeld silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Glencrest Farm

Last Start: 1st in G2 Nashua (8f, 93 BSF) at Aqueduct on Nov 2.

Comments: Blew past pacesetter El Kabeir to win G2 Nashua by five. He skipped the Remsen and will winter in Florida.

  1. AMERICAN PHAROAH (Pioneerof The Nile – Littleprincessemma, by Yankee Gentleman) american pharoah silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Zayat Stables

Last Start: 1st in the G1 FrontRunner at Santa Anita on Sept 27.

Comments: Foot bruise knocked him out of the G1 BC Juvenile. He is expected to resurface next February.

Derby Points (10)

  1. SOUPER COLOSSAL (War Front – Soaring Emotions, by Kingmambo) souper colossal silks

Trainer: Eddie Plesa Jr. – Owner: Live Oak Plantation

Last Start: 7th in G1 BC Juvenile on Nov 1.

Comments: Stumbled at the start and dueled 3-wide before slowly fading to 7th in the BC Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov 1.

  1. EL KABEIR (Scat Daddy – Great Venue, by Unbridled’s Song) el kabeir

Trainer: John Terranova II – Owner: Zayat Stables

Last Start: 1st in G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill on Nov 29.

Comments: Snuck away early in the Remsen and was all out to hold on. I stand by my November comment that he is fast but might have distance limitations.

Derby Points (11)

  1. INTERNATIONAL STAR (Fusaichi Pegasus – Parlez, by French Deputy) international star silks

Trainer: Michael Maker – Owner: Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey

Last Start: 4th in G2 Ky Jockey Club at Churchill on Nov 29.

Comments: Still searching for his best footing. He needs to kick it up on dirt in the near future.

Derby Points (11)

  1. TEXAS RED (Afleet Alex – Ramatuelle, by Jeune Homme) texas red silks

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Last Start: 1st in G1 BC Juvenile on Nov 1 (104 BSF).

Comments: Big, romping off the pace win in G1 BC Juvenile for Team Desormeaux. I like his pedigree moving forward but note that the pace sort of fell apart in the Juvenile and the top four finishers rallied from 11th, 10th, 8th, and 7th.

Derby Points (12)

  1. IMPERIA (Medaglia d’Oro – Cocoa Beach, by Doneraile Court) Imperia silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Racing

Last Start: 2nd by a head in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill on Nov 29.

Comments: Handled dirt just fine under the Twin Spires on Thanksgiving weekend.

Derby Points (4)

  1. DAREDEVIL (More Than Ready – Chasethewildwind, by Forty Niner) Daredevil silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Let’s Go Stable

Last Start: 11th and last in G1 BC Juvenile.

Comments: Was hung out to dry (wide throughout from outer post) in BC Juvenile and retreated to last in a throw out effort. Enjoying some R & R at Winstar Farm.

Derby Points (10)

  1. DORTMUND (Big Brown – Our Josephina, by Tale of the Cat) Dortmund silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Shah, Inc.

Latest Published Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (7/19) at Santa Anita on Dec 9.

Comments: 2-for-2 including a visually impressive optional claiming victory at Churchill Downs (8f, 97 BSF) on Nov 29. The G1 Los Al Futurity might be next.

Honorable Mention: (12) Upstart, (13) Ocho Ocho Ocho, (14) Calculator, (15) Lord Nelson, (16) Mr. Jordan, (17) Eagle, (18) Leave the Light On, (19) Startup Nation, (20) Chief Istan

Injured Reserve

Competitive Edge – Hairline fracture (9-17-14). Out for rest of 2014. Back in Pletcher barn at Palm Meadows.

Hashtag Bourbon – Ankle chip (left front). Could show up at Oaklawn Park in 2015.

Om – Hock injury. Out for rest of 2014.




Video Race of the Week: G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes is one of two Kentucky Derby 2015 preps. The other big juvenile event on November 29 is Aqueduct’s Grade II Remsen Stakes at nine furlongs.

In the Ky Jockey Club (11th race at Churchill Downs), Bob Baffert trains morning line favorite Lord Nelson. The promising son of late sire Pulpit is 2-for-3 lifetime with his lone setback a 4th place finish behind stablemate American Pharoah in the Grade I FrontRunner at Santa Anita Park.

El Kabeir invades from NY, removes the hood, and might be the one to catch. International Star drew favorably (PP 3) and gets pace to chase. All three of the aforementioned colts are part of my “Exceptional Eleven” Derby 2015 contender list.

Saturday’s written play at is the Grade II Remsen Stakes featuring Frosted.


Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 2014 Preview (Video)

Saturday’s 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park changed dramatically this week following the defection of sharp speedster and morning line favorite American Pharoah.

With Bob Baffert’s aforementioned colt out of action, Todd Pletcher trainees Carpe Diem and Daredevil figure to vie for favoritism. Bob Baffert will still be represented by One Lucky Dane.

A few of my “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2015 contenders are entered in the BC Juvenile, including Carpe Diem, Daredevil, and Souper Colossal.

Click here to view free Breeders’ Cup Friday Early Pick 3 Tickets!

FRIDAY (OCT 31) & SATURDAY (NOV 1) BREEDERS’ CUP  analysis now available to purchase for $10 each at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest


Los Alamitos Derby Video: Will Shared Belief remain unbeaten?

My video race of the week for Saturday, July 5 is the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby. It is carded as the 8th race for 3-year-olds traveling a mile and an eighth on the main track (Post Time- 5:3opm PT).

Juvenile champ Shared Belief is the 4-5 morning line favorite. He easily captured all four lifetime starts and his lone outing in the last 6+ months was a very easy six furlong allowance score at Golden Gate against four rivals. Foot issues caused him to bypass the Triple Crown trail earlier this year. Is he fit enough to run nine furlongs against solid competition over a quirky dirt surface?

Candy Boy is fresh, fit (3 route races in 2014), and training well. He exits a miserable trip in the Kentucky Derby (my Derby pick) and should sit an outside stalk and pounce journey.

Eddie’s First from the rail and G3 Affirmed winner Can the Man (Baffert) are the early runners. G2 Woody Stephens runner-up Top Fortitude stretches out, and Shared Belief‘s uncoupled stablemate Tonito M will try to get involved late, along with Affirmed runner-up Friendswith K Mill.

Click here to view today’s Pick 6 and late Pick 4 tickets from Los Alamitos

Recapping last week’s video, I got home my suggested $5 Majestic Harbor-Clubhouse Ride exacta box, which returned $68.80 for a buck. Let’s bring home another video winner!

Click here to view today’s HRN video play of the day, the G2 Los Al Derby


Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Baffert’s Derby Push

Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity qualified for Kentucky Derby 2014 last week, and Chitu and Midnight Hawk join their stable mate after finishing 1-2 in the Sunland Derby on March 23.

Chitu was the post time favorite from the outside post and made his presence felt throughout under Martin Garcia. Midnight Hawk briefly went by him while three wide but Garcia never panicked and pulled clear again, crossing the line 2-1/4 lengths in from and earning a 102 BSF.

We Miss Artie

We Miss Artie surges late in an exciting Spiral Stakes victory – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Midnight Hawk was returning in two weeks and was clearly second best. Chitu also beat him in the Robert Lewis Stakes. Midnight Hawk is a gem of consistency but is not quite top class at distances beyond a mile.

Commissioner did not have much of a chance after stumbling at the start and leaving himself too much to do. He found his best stride late and ended up a better than appears 3rd. He only has 10 Derby points and will run next in the Arkansas Derby.

Chitu is built like a sprinter and adds even more pace to chase in the Derby. The top three Sunland Derby finishers have ability but I do not think we saw the Kentucky Derby winner in that field, unless Commissioner qualifies and flies home under the Twin Spires.

At Turfway Park on March 22, We Miss Artie surged very late to nip Harry’s Holiday and Coastline in a thrilling renewal of the Spiral Stakes (88 BSF).

We Miss Artie has proven quite capable on turf and synthetic but has failed to seriously threaten in a trio of conventional dirt tries. The Kentucky Derby is next, but if he struggles with the Churchill footing as expected, look for the Ontario-bred to switch gears and shoot for the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine (Sunday, July 6).

Harry’s Holiday was a late Triple Crown nominee and could be headed to the big dance.

Keeping up with past “exceptional eleven” members, Schoolofhardrocks worked 6f in 1:12.80 (4/16) at Santa Anita on March 28. It might be too much to ask at this stage, but the SA Derby is next. Look for more from him later this year.

This week’s key Kentucky Derby preps are the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

My LA Derby Day Fair Grounds full card analysis is ready to purchase!  

Saturday’s Grade 1 Florida Derby is my featured play of the day at

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.90 (59/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22. “He went great. We were looking for a 49ish, but it doesn’t matter. It was just a maintenance work, his last work. He did it great,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We’re all set for next weekend.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed to Honor Code in the slow early/fast late Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is the 9-5 moning line favorite for the Florida Derby (March 29).

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12.80 (4/15) at Santa Anita on March 22.

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.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Derby Points (42)

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. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and should wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :54 (38/39) at Oaklawn Park on March 26.

Derby Points (11)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he 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, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel.

5. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love)california chrome silks

Trainer:  Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (7/31) at Los Alamitos on March 22.

Derby Points (50)

Comments: 5-for-9 lifetime including three straight romps at Santa Anita. The overachieving CA-bred ran them off their feet in the G2 San Felipe (107 BSF) and will either run in the SA Derby or train up to the Kentucky Derby. He is a great Cinderella story and will try to overcome his modest breeding on May 3.   

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Derby Points (52)

Comments: G3 Sham hero followed up that win with a show finish in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, a clear, distant 2nd in the G2 San Felipe, and another clear place finish in the G3 Sunland Derby. He has qualified for the Kentucky Derby but is not quite top class in graded route races.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.60 (17/27) at Fair Grounds on March 24.

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 Dec. 22. 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. The LA Derby is his last chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.50 (40/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22.

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 likely try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.20 (3/44) at Santa Anita Park on March 24.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe. Listed in the NYRA barn notes as a possibility for the Wood Memorial.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00 (8/38) at Santa Anita on March 26.

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. He returned to the work tab March 20 and Baffert is looking at the SA Derby or Arkansas Derby for his final Derby prep.

11. INTENSE HOLIDAY (Harlan’s Holiday – Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song)intense holiday silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49.40 (36/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22.

Comments: The G2 Risen Star hero joins the list because of his decent late kick in a Derby trail dominated by speed horses. Mike Smith will stick by his side for the LA Derby, and he will break from the rail as the 2-1 morning line favorite.

Pedigree Spotlight: Chitu

Does Chitu (Henny Hughes – Sea Gift, by A.P. Indy) have Kentucky Derby pedigree power?

chitu silks

Chitu’s sire Henny Hughes (Hennessy – Meadow Flyer, by Meadowlake) won 6 of 10 lifetime starts and banked more than $1.1 million. The talented sprinter captured the G2 Saratoga Special in 2005, and the G3 Jersey Shore, G1 King’s Bishop, and G1 Vosburgh in 2006. His biggest winner to date is Beholder, 2-time Eclipse champion and 2012 BC Juvenile Fillies and 2013 BC Distaff winner. The 11-year-old stallion was sold to Japan in 2013.

chitu pedigree

Sea Gift (A.P. Indy – Ocean Queen, by Zilzal) won her only start in 2005. Her 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. As a sire, he was responsible for well over 100 stakes winners.

Sea Gift’s sire 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.

Hennessy (Storm Cat – Island Kitty, by Hawaii) captured 4 of 9 starts and earned $580k. He made the grade in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Sapling, and Hopeful Stakes as a two-year-old. He sired 2001 juvenile champion Johannesburg. Unfortunately, Hennessy died of heart failure in Argentina in 2007.

Hennessy’s sire, Grade I winner Storm Cat (Storm Bird – Terlinga, by Secretariat), captured 4 of 8 lifetime starts and was 2nd in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the Big A. The legendary stallion stood for 20 years and sired more than 100 graded stakes winners. He died in 2013 at age 30 and is buried at Overbrook Farm.

Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird (Northern Dancer) was a European champion. He sired 63 stakes winners (Summer Squall, Bluebird) before his death in 2004 at age 26.

Chitu is built like a sprinter and has successfully carried his speed nine furlongs. This is the wrong year to have a speedy sophomore and he figures to struggle with ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May.


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