Posts Tagged ‘Cherry Wine’

HRN Video Race of the Week: G1 Secretariat with Long Island Sound and Beach Patrol

The video race of the week series continues with the Grade 1 Secretariat from Arlington Park. Beach Patrol and Long Island Sound figure to vie for favoritism but it is hardly a match race.

The 9-horse field also includes graded winners American Patriot, Oscar Nominated, and Surgical Strike, along with G1 Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine.

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Triple Crown Series 2016 Recap + Top 5 Three-Year-Olds to Watch

Now that the Triple Crown series is in the books, it is time to take a final look back at what transpired this spring and look forward to an exciting second half of 2016.

Nyquist

Kentucky Derby 2016 winner Nyquist – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Kentucky Derby

Nyquist tracked distance challenged Danzing Candy and the race was over when that one got tired. Exaggerator got on track too late to catch his nemesis but ran a quality race to finish a clear 2nd. Gun Runner was always in a good contending position but could not quite see out the trip and held off Mohaymen and Suddenbreakingnews to secure the show by a head.

Hard to believe that the Top 4 betting choices finished 1-2-3-4. The Derby has become a race for stalkers and the betting favorite has won every time since they switched to the points system.

Forwardly placed runners dominated the main track races at CD on Oaks/Derby Day. The Derby fractions seemed to be really fast but that was more a function of a lightning quick racing strip.

Preakness

Pace makes the race and everything pointed to Exaggerator turning the tables on Nyquist in Baltimore. Not that he needed the help, but Exaggerator moved up on the wet track and jockey Kent Desormeaux was the only rider brave enough to put his horse on the rail in the slop and his smooth inside/outside trip was bold and decisive. Kent D also put the versatile Exaggerator in the race earlier and he always looked like a winner.

Cherry Wine got past Nyquist late for the place. The Derby winner, while obviously a talented horse, was over hyped because of his unblemished record and people were spoiled by Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh last year. The Triple Crown is no easy feat and pretenders to the throne are usually exposed in one of the three distance tests. Nyquist came out of the Preakness with a fever and was forced to pass the Belmont Stakes.

Belmont

Everything worked out wonderfully for WinStar Farm. Gettysburg the rabbit did his job carving out honest splits and forcing Destin to work long and hard to get past him. Meanwhile, Creator was biding his time and getting an outstanding ground saving ride by Irad Ortiz Jr. In the last desperate stride before the wire, Creator got his nose down to edge Destin, who ran way too good to lose.

Japanese war horse Lani finished a wide 3rd and lost countless lengths running 80 feet farther than Creator.

Governor Malibu was blocked by a tiring Gettysburg and finished an unlucky 4th.

With different horses winning all three Triple Crown series races, the second half of the year is wide open and below are five horses worth following as the year progresses.

Jarrod Horak’s Top 5 3-year-olds to Watch (second half of 2016)  

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: He was my one and only top ranked Derby contender since the start of my list last September. He won his first five starts including four grade two scores. In the Florida Derby, he raced wide on a wet track he did not handle and ended up 4th in his first career loss as Nyquist ruled the day. It rained late in the afternoon on Kentucky Derby Day and he was not handling the track early and was much farther back than normal on a day when forwardly placed runners dominated. To his credit, he kept plugging away and ended up 4th, a head behind show finisher Gun Runner. After the Derby, McLaughlin said he would get a rest and point to the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga.

2. GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song) gift box 2016 silks

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.58 (6/50) at Belmont Park on June 18.

Comments: He was on my early Derby list for a good stretch. He graduated vs. Matt King Coal, another horse I have liked for quite some time and currently on the sidelines with a non-displaced hairline fracture of his pelvis. After breaking his maiden, Gift Box finished 3rd to Mohaymen in the G2 Remsen last fall and did not resurface until easily winning an Optional Claiming race at Belmont Park on May 26. He received a 98 BSF for his win on May 26 and could make some noise in sophomore stakes races later this year.

3. UNIFIED (Candy Ride – Union City, by Dixie Union) unified silks

Trainer (James Jerkens) – Owner (Centennial Farms)

Latest Workout: 3f in :36.20 (2/14) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on June 16.

Comments: 3-for-3 lifetime with back-to-back stakes wins in the G3 Bay Shore and G2 Peter Pan. His patient trainer Jimmy Jerkens thought the Belmont Stakes was too much too soon and he opted to wait for the G3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday, June 19. It remains to be seen if he will be most effective routing or sprinting but he is fast and talented and appears to have a bright future.

(4) AMERICAN FREEDOM (Pulpit – Gottcha Last, by Pleasant Tap) american freedom silks

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Gary and Mary West)

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:11.80 (1/18) at Santa Anita on June 19.

Comments: Followed up a visually impressive maiden win on a wet track at Santa Anita with a very disappointing 6th place finish in the G3 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. He bounced back with a determined length victory (came again) in the Sir Barton Stakes (muddy, sealed track) on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico. I am not sure what Bob Baffert has in mind for his lightly raced, promising colt but he has won the Haskell many times and that could be his summertime goal.

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

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners)

Comments: He was very good in the Sam F Davis and Tampa Bay Derby this winter and his connections decided to enter the Kentucky Derby off an eight week freshening. He made a bid before flattening out and finishing 6th on the first Saturday in May. His next start would come in the Belmont Stakes and he battled WinStar Farms rabbit and former stablemate Gettysburg throughout but WinStar closer Creator nipped him in the final jump. He ran too good to lose in the test of Champions and he is still fresh for the second half of the year.

Belmont Stakes 2016 Video Preview: Preakness hero Exaggerator 9-5 Favorite

The 2016 Belmont Stakes field is set and Preakness winner Exaggerator will square off against twelve rivals in the Test of Champions.

Just like the Kentucky Derby set up perfectly for Nyquist, everything went right for Exaggerator in the Preakness. He got the wet track he loves and the fast early fractions took their toll on Nyquist, who lost second late to Cherry Wine.

Exaggerator was not nearly as far back in Baltimore and jockey Kent Desormeaux gave him a nice ground saving ride. He was always traveling smoothly and was much the best when the dust settled.

It is on to Belmont Park for the final leg of the Triple Crown and Exaggerator can take the lead in the race for 3-year-old championship honors with a victory at Big Sandy.

Belmont Stakes Field (in post position order, with comments)

#1 Governor Malibu (12-1) – Part of the Trifecta in all seven starts and was 2nd in the Peter Pan last time.

#2 Destin (6-1) – Two-time graded winner finished a respectable 6th in the Derby. He has stalking speed.

#3 Cherry Wine (8-1) – Late runner likes the slop and proved that statement true with a 2nd in the Preakness.

#4 Suddenbreakingnews (10-1) – G3 Southwest hero was a troubled 5th on the first Saturday in May.

#5 Stradivari (5-1) – Lightly raced and talented, he was a solid 4th in the Preakness and can move forward.

#6 Gettysburg (30-1) – Winstar entered the likely front runner to help their highly regarded late runner Creator.

#7 Seeking the Soul (30-1) – Recent maiden winner seems up against it but Stewart has surprised us before.

#8 Forever d’Oro (30-1) – Stewart’s second recent maiden winner graduated at Belmont.

#9 Trojan Nation (30-1) – Maiden was 2nd in the Wood Memorial and 16th in the Kentucky Derby.

#10 Lani (20-1) – Japanese warrior has competed in all three legs of the American Triple Crown.

#11 Exaggerator (9-5) – The fastest entrant was 1st in the SA Derby, 2nd in the Derby, and 1st in the Preakness.

#12 Brody’s Cause (20-1) – Keeneland specialist was an okay 7th in the Derby. Reminds me of Keen Ice.

#13 Creator (10-1) – Deep closer got up in the Arkansas Derby but was 13th in the Kentucky Derby.

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Preakness 2016 Preview: Nyquist 3-5 Favorite

The Preakness 2016 field is set and 3-5 morning line favorite Nyquist will break for post position 3.

The Kentucky Derby set up perfectly for Nyquist. He sat behind Danzing Candy and when that one threw in the towel as expected, Nyquist cruised to the front and the race was basically over.

preakness draw 2016

On the first Saturday in May, the main track at Churchill Downs played very fast and favored forwardly placed horses.

Fast forward to Baltimore and the pace scenario looks much different. Also, there is an 80% chance of rain (1/2 inch expected) on Preakness Day. The rain is expected to begin around 6am and persist throughout the day. Exaggerator won the Delta Jackpot and Santa Anita Derby on a wet track and figures to enjoy the wet conditions.

As for the Preakness pace scenario, Uncle Lino figures to be hustled away from the gate from post 2, with Nyquist, Awesome Speed, Collected, Laoban, Abiding Star, and Stradivari in close proximity.

Nyquist will have to work hard to keep his perfect record intact. He has beaten his main rival Exaggerator four times but the race shape and track condition might be enough to tip the scales.

Stradivari looks like the most interesting new shooter. He is light on seasoning but has plenty of raw talent and tries to give trainer Todd Pletcher his first Preakness win.

Cherry Wine, Lani, and Fellowship will try to get involved late.

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Kentucky Derby 2016 Recap + Early Preakness Preview

There was not much drama in Kentucky Derby 2016 and that has been the case the last few years. The Derby has become a stalker’s paradise and Nyquist took full advantage.

Nyquist

Kentucky Derby 2016 winner Nyquist – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Horses showing early/pressing speed dominated on the win end on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs and the main track played extremely fast, hence the rapid fractions and quickest Derby since 2003.

Nyquist and Gun Runner both stalked distance-challenged Danzing Candy and the latter was spent before the mile marker. Gun Runner tried to go with Nyquist but his light speed figures caught up with him and that left the Derby favorite alone in the lane without a challenger.

Exaggerator, Mohaymen, and Suddenbreakingnews were putting in late bids for minor awards but the race for the win was basically over at the top of the lane. Exaggerator finished with a nice head of steam and got to within a length and a quarter of Nyquist at the line. Gun Runner bravely held 3rd by a nose over a slow-starting Mohaymen, with Suddenbreakingnews checking in an unlucky 5th.

My Derby top Mohaymen will not compete in any more Triple Crown races. He will head to Saratoga and point to the Jim Dandy and Travers later this summer.

It is on to the Preakness and Nyquist’s tactical speed makes him a solid threat to take down the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

As of Tuesday, May 17, there is a 100% chance of rain on Preakness Day with a high temperature of 59. If that forecast holds up, mud lover Exaggerator would deserve extra consideration.

Gun Runner will not move on to Baltimore and it now looks like an eleven horse field for the second jewel of the Triple Crown: Abiding Star, Awesome Speed, Cherry Wine, Collected, Exaggerator, Fellowship, Lani, Laoban, Nyquist, Stradivari, and Uncle Lino.

I will be back after the Preakness post position draw later this week with a final look at the contenders.

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Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Arkansas Derby Video

The road to Kentucky Derby 2016 makes a final stop at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 16.

arkansas derby odds

The last race to offer 170 Derby points attracted a 12-horse field and G2 Rebel hero Cupid is the morning line favorite for trainer Bob Baffert.

Cupid is a lightly raced, $900,000 son of Tapit, and an impressive performance at Oaklawn on Saturday might make him the second choice in the Kentucky Derby behind undefeated 2-year-old champ Nyquist.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G1 Wood Memorial (4-9-16, 93 BSF): Racing on a muddy (sealed) surface, Outwork battled hard throughout and beat 81-1 maiden Trojan Nation by a head. Adventist closed well to edge Matt King Coal for the show. Post time favorite Shagaf was never a serious factor in 5th. The winner flattered stablemate and Tampa Bay Derby hero Destin. Matt King Coal set a pressured pace and ran well but failed to qualify for the Derby. I do not think that this was a strong Derby prep.

G1 Blue Grass (4-9-16, 91 BSF): The pace fell apart and Keeneland lover Brody’s Cause took full advantage in a solid 1-3/4 length score. He flopped in the productive Tampa Bay Derby but bounced back in a big way here. My Man Sam rallied from post 14 to edge Cherry Wine by a neck for the place. Zulu’s flop was not a big surprise. It took him quite some time to return to the work tab after the Fountain of Youth and he was not ready for the the Florida Derby so they chose this race instead. I think the FOY wore him out and not qualifying for the Derby is a very good thing for the lightly raced runner. The Top 3 are are all solid closers and could make some late noise if the Derby pace is hot but the Blue Grass speed figure was mediocre at best.

G1 SA Derby (4-9-16, 103 BSF): Exaggerator loves the mud and on this day he had no problem handling nine furlongs. He steadily advanced outside, blew by the early runners, and coasted home by 6-1/4 lengths. Mor Spirit seemed to be struggling with the sloppy (sealed) main track but he has no quit in him and ended up a clear 2nd. Uncle Lino stalked and was best of the rest in 3rd. Danzing Candy set a fast pace and was a fading 4th, beaten 13+ lengths. He dusted the top three in the San Felipe and may not have cared for the footing. Also, there were questions about his ability to ration his speed and he went too fast, too soon in this spot.

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

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase lost some of his luster after a very disappointing effort in the G1 Florida Derby but he never looked happy, raced wide from an outer post, was not handling the wet surface, and had to be coaxed to keep up instead of cruising along like he usually does. I will toss-out his final Derby prep and look for him to bounce back on the first Saturday in May if he trains well in the coming weeks. His trio of 95 BSF’s put him squarely in the mix this year and I think he is capable of running faster based on how easy he won his stakes races prior to the Florida Derby. He still needs to run the fastest race of his life at Churchill if he expects to be competitive and I think he can and will be a much better horse under the Twin Spires. He is expected to ship to Churchill Downs to begin Derby preparations April 17. He maintains his #1 ranking, a spot he has occupied since I first started my 2016 Derby contender list more than six months ago.

Derby Points (80)  

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

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

Comments: I will admit that I was expecting a much better effort in the SA Derby and was fully prepared to move him to the top of my list but his 2nd behind runaway winner Exaggerator was not damaging in the grand scheme of things. His biggest strength is that nothing seems to bother him and he has been part of the Exacta in all seven of his starts. Another plus is his 2nd over wet footing in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. His one-pace, grinding style concerns me but the gem of consistency might be the most reliable of the Derby contenders. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied for more than five months.

Derby Points (84)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.60 (22/28) at Keeneland on April 15.

Comments: After Mohaymen failed to fire, the 2-year-old champion had a very easy time of it on the front end against severely overmatched pace rivals in the G1 Florida Derby. I never like his one sprint/one route path to the Kentucky Derby and he will take more money than he should on the first Saturday in May. Many question his ability to get ten furlongs based on his pedigree and that might be the case but I just don’t think he is fast enough around two turns to win the Derby. His best career number was earned in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs earlier this year. He shipped to Keeneland to begin Derby preparations April 3.

Derby Points (130)

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

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

Comments: He made a big, premature move before flattening out in the G2 San Felipe but turned the tables on More Spirit and Danzig Candy in a visually impressive, rallying effort in the G1 SA Derby. He rolled through the mud last Saturday, rumbling past the wire more than six lengths clear and earning a solid 103 BSF, easily the best nine furlong stakes number so far. That is precisely why I did not jump ship after the San Felipe. He was too talented to jump to conclusions in regards to his true two turn ability after one less that ideal outcome. He has plenty of seasoning and foundation and I like the way trainer Keith Desormeaux has handled him this year in regards to distance progression (7f San Vicente, 8.5f San Felipe, 9f SA Derby). Kent Desormeaux was more patient with him last Saturday and his well-timed ride resulted in a strong finish in his final Derby prep. Blowout wet track wins are not frequently repeated under a different set of circumstances next time out and he stays put at #4 for the time being.

Derby Points (126)

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

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

Latest Workouts: 5f in 1:00.94 (1/2) at Palm Beach Downs on April 16. 5f in 1:01.04 (3/12) at Palm Beach Downs on April 8.

Comments: The improving Tampa Bay Derby hero was flattered when vanquished foes Outwork and Brody’s Cause returned to win the G1 Wood Memorial and G1 Blue Grass last weekend. He owns fine positional speed and is peaking at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs. His sheets-oriented connections were worried about a bounce so they decided to skip his final prep and train up to the Derby. He won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12, returned to the work tab April 2, has never raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth, and the Kentucky Derby will be his first start in two months.

Derby Points (51)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (9/45) at Oaklawn Park on April 9.

Comments: He looked very good after a strong last-to-first score from post 13 in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In his last start in the G2 Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He deserves another chance and drew post 4 (5-1 morning line) in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 16. A show finish would put him on the bubble so he needs a top two finish to secure a Derby berth.

Derby Points (10)

(7) CUPID (Tapit – Pretty ‘n Smart, by Beau Genius)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derek Smith)

Latest Workouts: 4f in :48.20 (24/54) at Santa Anita Park on April 12. 7f in 1:24.60 (1/3) at Santa Anita Park on April 6.

Comments: The late bloomer is getting good in a hurry and his improvement can be attributed to racing over a route of ground. He lost his first two sprint starts (finished 2nd Jan 9) and proceeded to easily graduate at a mile and a sixteenth Feb 7 and followed that up with a gritty prominent throughout score in the G2 Rebel Stakes March 19. He is the morning line favorite for the Arkansas Derby and could give Baffert a strong 1-2 Derby punch if he turns in another big effort at Oaklawn Park.

Derby Points (50)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.82 (2/19) at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner proved once again that Keeneland is his favorite venue after a solid off the pace effort in the G1 Blue Grass. The G1 BC Juvenile show finisher threw in a clunker in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12 but some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface and he bounced back as expected on April 9. He broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky was definitely what the doctor ordered. The Blue Grass pace fell apart and the number did not come back strong so I will not move him back into the top five at this stage.

Derby Points (114)

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

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

Comments: The sharp wire-to-wire San Felipe winner did not show the same brilliant form in the SA Derby. In the latter race, he was sent to the lead and faded badly in the mud. He whipped Mor Spirit and Exaggerator in the San Felipe but finished more than thirteen lengths behind that latter this time. What a difference four weeks and a longer distance can make on the Derby trail. Prior to the SA Derby, his biggest obstacle was his ability to relax and finish. Exaggerator clearly passed his test but not this colt. He is fast and talented but looks like a one-dimensional speed horse with stamina issues. He is better than his last and would appreciate a fast, speed favoring track but ten furlongs looks like a daunting task.

Derby Points (60)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01 (5/12) at Churchill Downs on April 11.

Comments: He looked good in a pair ground saving, stalk and pounce wins this year in the G2 Risen Star and G2 Louisiana Derby. He did not run fast in either race but jockey Florent Geroux put him in the right spot and gave him every chance to succeed both times. His tactical speed and ability to get the jump on his opponents are big assets when it comes to a race like the Kentucky Derby but he will need to run quite a bit faster to be considered a serious threat to wear the blanket of roses.

Derby Points (151)  

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (5/32) at Churchill Downs on April 13.

Comments: Everything went right to kick off his sophomore campaign in the G2 LeComte but he has become the poster child for bad racing luck ever since. He was a troubled 3rd in the Risen Star and an even more unlucky 4th in the LA Derby. Closers frequently find trouble but a pair of questionable rides by jockey Corey Lanerie did not help matters. He is very close in ability to Gun Runner but the latter has tactical speed and some quickness to help him avoid traffic woes. He has not run fast yet and the main reason he keeps getting into trouble is because he is not nimble enough to avoid it. He is due for some good luck but finding clear sailing on the first Saturday in May will not be easy.

Derby Points (32)

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

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Louisiana Derby video analysis

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen is getting closer to his final prep race before his date with destiny on the first Saturday in May.

Mohaymen

Mohaymen is ready for the Florida Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mohaymen completed his Florida Derby preparations with an easy four furlong breeze on March 24. In the Florida Derby on Saturday, April 2, he will meet undefeated Juvenile Champion Nyquist in what is shaping up as the most anticipated prep race of the Derby season.

The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at nine furlongs is the Kentucky Derby prep this week and it is worth a total of 170 Derby qualifying points (100-40-20-10). A competitive field of eleven will line up in what promises to be a very good betting race.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Rebel Stakes (3-19-16, 95 BSF): Martin Garcia took no chances aboard Cupid. He shot straight to the front after breaking a bit slow and kicked away from Whitmore when that one came after him in the lane. He won by a comfortable 1-1/4 lengths and galloped out strong. Bob Baffert’s exciting $900k son of Tapit figures to return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby. He did not quite make it into the Top 11 this week but moved up from #20 to #14. Southwest Stakes runner-up Whitmore played second fiddle again and Creator was 3rd, followed by Cherry Wine and a troubled Suddenbreakingnews.

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

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) mohaymen silks 2016

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.95 (9/46) at Palm Meadows on March 24.

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase ran his record to 5-for-5 after comfortably beating Zulu the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct) and easily captured his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He had his final Florida Derby breeze on March 24 remains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015. At this stage it looks like a field of six for the Florida Derby: Mohaymen, Nyquist, Fellowship, along with longshots Ifyousnoozeyoulose, Sawyers Mickey, and Majesto.

Derby Points (70)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.80 (2/27) at Santa Anita on March 24.

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He has never finished out of the exacta including a better than appears place finish behind wire job winner Danzing Candy in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 12. In the San Felipe, jockey Gary Stevens said he was too fresh and eager to go early and after settling he passed Exaggerator for the place and galloped out nicely. Baffert and company keep learning more about him and the versatile sort will take on Danzing Candy again in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He had his first SA Derby work on March 24 and stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (44)

(3) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.30 (6/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best to Mohaymen. He drew post 2 and is listed at 7-2 on the morning line in the G2 Louisiana Derby on March 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (21/53) at Santa Anita on March 18.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like the real deal in his sophomore debut in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He ran fast throughout at Santa Anita on Feb 15, stopping the timer in 1:20.71 (100 BSF) and winning by 1.5 lengths over Exaggerator. He keeps on winning but I am not sure he wants to go ten furlongs and I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Derby. He will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2 and is eligible for a $1 million bonus.

Derby Points (30)

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

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

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF (98) in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. In his second sophomore start in the San Felipe, he was much farther back than normal after a less than ideal start and unleashed a strong, premature run at Danzing Candy before understandably flattening out and finishing 3rd (96 BSF). Trainer Keith Desormeaux is concerned that he is a miler but will give him another Derby prep race shot in the Santa Anita Derby. I am not sure if he wants to go run longer distances but he is tough, durable, battle-tested, and deserves every chance to make the Derby. If he does not want to go that far, there is always races like the G1 King’s Bishop (seven furlongs) at Saratoga this summer. He remains at #5 for now.

Derby Points (26)

(6) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home)

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

Latest Workout: 6f breeze in 1:13.06 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on March 19.

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures 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. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a number much faster than the G3 Gotham a day earlier. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next.

(7) DESTIN (Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)

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

Comments: The improving son of Giant’s Causeway responded with back-to-back stakes wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs.

Derby Points (51)

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

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

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but he still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He is scheduled to work five furlongs under Mike Smith at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 26.

Derby Points (50)

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

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

Comments: He made his way onto my list after a strong last-to-first score in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In the Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He drops three spots and gets a shot at redemption in the Arkansas Derby.

Derby Points (10)

(10) JENSEN  (Haynesfield – Spun Lake, by Hard Spun)

Trainer (Larry Jones) – Owner (Larry and Cindy Jones)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (3/25) at Fair Grounds on March 21.

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but they opted to target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on April 2. Larry Jones trained 2007 Spiral winner Hard Spun (Jensen’s dam sire). He will likely have to win the Spiral to have enough Derby points to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. He stays put at #10.

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

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

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner threw in a dud in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12. Some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface so he gets a mulligan and is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 9. We know he likes Keeneland (1st Breeders’ Futurity, 3rd BC Juvenile) and he broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky might be just what the doctor ordered. He will remain on the list until he runs in the Blue Grass.

Derby Points (14)

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Cupid, (15) Zulu, (16) Shagaf, (17) My Man Sam, (18) Kasseopia, (19) Outwork, (20) Malibu Sunset