Posts Tagged ‘Conquest Big E’

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Tampa Bay Derby/San Felipe video analysis

My longtime second ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mor Spirit shoot for a graded stakes hat trick in Saturday’s San Felipe at Santa Anita Park.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit headlines the San Felipe – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mor Spirit has been part of the exacta in all five career starts and exits back-to-back wins in the G3 Robert Lewis Stakes and G1 Los Alamitos Futurity.

In addition to the aforementioned San Felipe, we have the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12 and both Grade 2 races are worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5).

The Tampa Bay Derby features the return of my third ranked Derby contender Brody’s Cause and the stretch runner should get pace help to flatter his potent late kick.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G3 Gotham (3-5-16, 87 BSF): Post time favorite Shagaf sat close throughout over the speed favoring oval and wore down pacesetter Laoban to win by a comfortable 1.5 lengths. The winner is now 3-for-3 for Chad Brown and has upside but needs to run much faster to be considered a serious Derby contender. Withers show finisher Adventist finished 3rd again, tuning the tables on Sunny Ridge. Conquest Big E needed a big effort but fell flat again and drops off my list. He was wide throughout and never looked like he was reaching contention at any point.

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 is 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct) and easily captured his three-year-old debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He will make his next start in the April 2 Florida Derby and is expected to return to the work tab March 11. He stays put at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list on September 30, 2015.

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: 6f in 1:12.20 (4/43) at Santa Anita Park on March 5.

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 shows two sharp works since the infamous earplug incident and appears poised to fire another big shot in the  G2 San Felipe on March 12. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (24)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (6/72) at Tampa Bay on March 6.

Comments: The closer concluded his juvenile season with a win in Keeneland’s G1 Breeders’ Futurity and a show finish in the BC Juvenile. He makes his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and gets pace to chase in the paper race. If everything goes well in Florida, he will return to Kentucky and have his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3, a spot he has occupied since Nov 6.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.95 (12/17) at Palm Meadows on March 5.

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 and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best. His future plans finally seem set with the March 26 G2 Louisiana Derby next (John Velazquez rides). He has held the #4 position on my list since Nov 6.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (24/134) at Santa Anita on March 5.

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the juvenile champ a scare in mid-stretch. It was a fine start to his 3-year-old campaign and should set him up perfectly for Saturday’s San Felipe. He drew the outside post in the San Felipe and figures to sit a nice stalking trip behind multiple early runners. I like the way Keith D is mapping out his sophomore campaign (nice distance progression – 7f, 8.5f, 9f) as opposed to one sprint and one route before the Derby (Nyquist).

Derby Points (16)

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (55/83) at Santa Anita on March 10.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ 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 will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

(7) ZULU (Bernardini – Temporada, by Summer Squall)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

Comments: Easily captured both sprint starts at Gulfstream and gave Mohaymen a decent challenge before settling for a clear place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. His sire and dam sire both captured the Preakness Stakes and he should continue to improve as distances increase. He will take on Mohaymen and Nyquist in the Florida Derby.

Derby Points (20)

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

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

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, the best two turn number by a sophomore this year (thru 3-9-16). The Wood Memorial might be next.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (9/46) at Oaklawn Park on March 5.

Comments: He replaced stablemate Synchrony on the list after rallying powerfully and going last-to-first in the G3 Southwest. He has fired Exacta shots in all six career starts and has a smart route-oriented pedigree. He had his first post-Southwest work Feb 27 and next up is the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19.

Derby Points (10)

(10) MALIBU SUNSET (Bernardini – One Stormy Mama, by Storm Cat)

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

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:26 (1/4) at Santa Anita on March 9.

Comments: He was unveiled as the 9-5 favorite in a six furlong special weight event at Fair Grounds on Jan 31. After a bumpy beginning, he seized command and pulled away with every stride, crossing the line 10+ clear of the place finisher (92 Beyer Speed Figure). After his debut, he was transferred from Wayne Catalano to Bob Baffert. He made his first start for Baffert in the third race at Santa Anita on Sunday, Feb 28, a one mile Optional Claiming event. He easily beat his overmatched rivals but did not run nearly as fast second time out. He has a ton of upside and might show up in a Derby prep next time. A smart plan would allow him to mature slowly and point to bigger races in the summer/fall.

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

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

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 and Jones says he reminds him of Hard Spun. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but now it looks as though they will target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Danzing Candy, (15) Destin, (16) Rafting, (17) Shagaf, (18) I Will Score, (19) My Man Sam, (20) Kasseopia

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Gotham Stakes video analysis

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen continues to rule the roost after running his record to 5-for-5 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27.

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

This week, we turn the calendar to March and head to the Big A for the Gotham Stakes, which is worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5).

The Gotham will be run on the inner dirt track at a mile and a sixteenth and drew a field of eight, headed by 3-1 morning line favorite Shagaf. The Chad Brown trainee is a perfect 2-for-2 and the promising son of Bernardini tries two turns for the first time.

G3 Withers winner Sunny Ridge deserves plenty of respect. He also won the $100k Sappling as a juvenile and landed the place in the G1 Champagne and G3 Delta Jackpot.

Other Gotham contenders include inside speed Laoban and Holy Bull 4th place finisher Conquest Big E.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Fountain of Youth (2-27-16, 95 BSF): Mohaymen did it again and Junior Alvarado rode the tactical type perfectly. He stalked the pace from the outside post and put away stubborn foe Zulu while under a hand ride. The latter is lightly raced and was clearly second best in his first start around two turns. Fellowship picked up the pieces and duplicated his Holy Bull show finish. Awesome Speed finished an uncomfortable 4th and Awesome Banner faded badly after setting the pace. The latter is targeting the G2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 12.

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 is now 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. 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 is expected to make his next start in the Florida Derby. He maintains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015.

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: 5f in :59.80 (10/89) at Santa Anita Park on Feb 28.

Comments: Last year’s G1 Los Al Futurity picked up where he left off with another graded win in the G3 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 6. Baffert’s improving stalker was supposed to work six furlongs on Feb 23 under Gary Stevens but the move was scrapped because Mor Spirit was unresponsive (earplugs mistakenly left in). They worked him again without a hitch on Sunday, Feb 28 and the G2 San Felipe (March 12) remains a possibility. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since October 24, 2015.

Derby Points (24)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.73 (3/26) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 28.

Comments: The closer looked good in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity) and ended his juvenile season with a show finish in the BC Juvenile. He has been working steadily in Florida and will make his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12, followed by the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.45 (19/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 27.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up a better than appears 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane at Keeneland Oct 31. He exited the BC Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking but I am not sure what to make of the plan to have one more race prior to the Derby. His final Derby prep remains undecided.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (15/102) at Santa Anita on Feb 27.

Comments: He came back ready to roll in the San Vicente but so did Nyquist and he settled for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. It was a solid beginning to his 3-year-old campaign and should set him up well for the San Felipe. I like the way Keith D is mapping out his  sophomore campaign (nice distance progression – 7f, 8.5f, 9f) as opposed to one sprint and one route before the Derby (Nyquist).

Derby Points (16)

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.80 (14/29) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ 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 is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

(7) ZULU (Bernardini – Temporada, by Summer Squall)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

Comments: Easily captured both sprint starts at Gulfstream and gave Mohaymen a decent challenge before settling for a clear place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. His sire and dam sire both captured the Preakness Stakes and he should continue to improve as distances increase. He is expected to take on Mohaymen and Nyquist in the Florida Derby.

Derby Points (20)

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:14.75 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Feb 23.

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 did not enter the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5 as originally expected. Instead, he is entered in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt), an Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth. He drew post five and is the even money favorite under Jose Ortiz.

(9) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (16/56) at Palm Meadows on Feb 26.

Comments: The Holy Bull disappointment is behind him and it is put up or shut up time. He has the raw talent but has put it together mentally as well. He needs to step up and prove that he belongs in the graded ranks and must run big in Saturday’s G3 Gotham Stakes.

Derby Points (1)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :51.20 (73/82) at Oaklawn Park on Feb 27.

Comments: He replaced stablemate Synchrony on the list after rallying powerfully and going last-to-first in the G3 Southwest. He has fired Exacta shots in all six career starts and has a smart route-oriented pedigree. He had his first post-Southwest work Feb 27 and next up is the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19.

Derby Points (10)

(11) MALIBU SUNSET (Bernardini – One Stormy Mama, by Storm Cat)

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

Comments: He was unveiled as the 9-5 favorite in a six furlong special weight event at Fair Grounds on Jan 31. After a bumpy beginning, he seized command and pulled away with every stride, crossing the line 10+ clear of the place finisher (92 Beyer Speed Figure). After his debut, he was transferred from Wayne Catalano to Bob Baffert. He made his first start for Baffert in the third race at Santa Anita on Sunday, Feb 28, a one mile Optional Claiming event. He easily beat his overmatched rivals but did not run nearly as fast second time out. He has a ton of upside and might show up in a Derby prep next time. A smart plan would allow him to mature slowly and point to bigger races in the summer/fall.

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Danzing Candy, (15) Destin, (16) Rafting, (17) I Will Score, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Kasseopia

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Fountain of Youth analysis with MOHAYMEN (Video)

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen tries to run his record to 5-for-5 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Feb 27.

fountain of youth entries

The Fountain of Youth is worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5).

Mohaymen is the deserving morning line favorite and seemingly has every advantage on Saturday. The outside post should allow jockey Junior Alvarado to watch the pace unfold and pick a spot to stalk/pounce while steering clear of trouble.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Risen Star (2-20-16, 90 BSF): Gun Runner was ready to roll off a layoff for Asmussen. He sat a nice tactical trip and held on by a 1/2 length. He has a decent pedigree (Candy Ride – Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway) and is an interesting prospect if able to run faster next time. 40-1 longshot Forevamo rallied for the place and was gaining on the winner late. Show finisher Mo Tom was making a nice move before steadying sharply and that probably cost him a better placing. However, the late runner need will always need racing luck and pace help. Candy Boy set the pace and faded to 4th while well clear of the rest. Post time favorite Airoforce is likely off the Derby trail following a poor effort, his first try on fast dirt. Overall, I was not thrilled with this Derby prep.

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 in :49.60 (23/42) at Palm Meadows on Feb 19.

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen, both at Aqueduct. He made his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull and did not disappoint with an easy stalk/pounce victory at the Gulf on Jan 30. He drew the outside post in a 6-horse field for the G2 Fountain of Youth on Saturday, Feb 27 and looms a short-priced favorite. He maintains his number one ranking, a spot he has occupied since I started my list on September 30, 2015.

Derby Points (20)  

(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 :48.60 (21/49) at Santa Anita Park on Feb 17.

Comments: Last year’s G1 Los Al Futurity picked up where he left off with another graded win in the G3 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 6. Baffert’s improving stalker was supposed to work six furlongs on Feb 23 under Gary Stevens but the move was scrapped because Mor Spirit was wearing earplugs (mistakenly left in) and was unresponsive. They are supposed to work him again on Sunday, Feb 28 and the G2 San Felipe (March 12) remains a possibility. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since 10-24-15.

Derby Points (24)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.16 (6/21) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 21.

Comments: The stretch runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is wintering in Florida and figures to have two Derby preps, beginning with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and ending with the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. My longtime #3 stays put.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.30 (17/65) at Palm Meadows on Feb 20.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up a better than appears 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane at Keeneland Oct 31. He exited the BC Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking and his next start is undecided.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Comments: He came back ready to roll in the San Vicente but so did Nyquist and he settled for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. It was a solid beginning to his 3-year-old campaign and should set him up well for the San Felipe. I have moved him one spot ahead of Nyquist because I like the way Keith D is mapping out his sophomore campaign (nice distance progression) as opposed to one sprint and one route before the Derby.

Derby Points (16)

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ 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 is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:14.75 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Feb 23.

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 is pointing to the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5.

(8) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Latest Workouts: 4f in :49 (16/56) at Palm Meadows on Feb 26. 5f bullet in 1:00.90 (1/12) at Palm Meadows on Feb 19.

Comments: The Holy Bull disappointment is behind him and it is put up or shut up time. He needs to step up and prove that he belongs in the graded ranks and must run big in his next start. The Casse barn is suddenly struggling on the Derby trail after Airoforce’s flop in the Risen Star.

Derby Points (1)

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

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

Comments: He replaced stablemate Synchrony on the list after rallying powerfully and going last-to-first in the G3 Southwest. He has fired Exacta shots in all six career starts and has a smart route-oriented pedigree. The G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19 is next.

Derby Points (10)

(10) ZULU (Bernardini – Temporada, by Summer Squall)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.21 (4/19) at Palm Meadows on Feb 21.

Comments: Easily captured both sprint starts at Gulfstream and he gets the acid test in the Fountain of Youth. His sire and dam sire both captured the Preakness Stakes and he should improve as distances increase. He is new to the list.

(11) MALIBU SUNSET (Bernardini – One Stormy Mama, by Storm Cat)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (10/36) at Santa Anita Feb 24.

Comments: He was unveiled as the 9-5 favorite in a six furlong special weight event at Fair Grounds on Jan 31 and it was a visually impressive win to say the least. After a bumpy beginning, he seized command and pulled away with every stride, crossing the line 10+ clear of the place finisher. He was hand ridden and earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. After his debut, he was transferred from Wayne Catalano to Bob Baffert and he has worked three times at Santa Anita Park. He is entered in the third race at Santa Anita on Sunday, Feb 28, a one mile Optional Claiming event. He is new to the list.

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Danzing Candy, (15) Destin, (16) Rafting, (17) I Will Score, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Awesome Banner

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: G2 Risen Star Stakes Video Analysis

The Kentucky Derby 2016 points chase gets serious with the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday, February 20.

The Risen Star is the first Derby prep race to award 85 points (50-20-10-5). All of the points races up to this point were worth 17 points (10-4-2-1).

Airoforce is the 5-2 morning line favorite at Fair Grounds. He won 3 of 4 starts as a juvenile including the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November. The $350k son of Colonel John is training forwardly in preparation for his sophomore debut and he will by rallying from off the pace under Julien Leparoux.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G3 Southwest (2-15-16, 93 BSF): Suddenbreakingnews, coupled in the wagering with Synchrony, went from 14th (5+ lengths behind next-to-last horse) to 1st (by 2.75 lengths) to win going away at Oaklawn Park on Monday. Whitmore rallied for the place and had a less than ideal trip. American Dubai stalked, took the lead, and was passed by the top two late. Post time favorite Collected ran to his paper race expectations and finished 4th. Synchrony started out 12th and passed tired rivals to finish a flat 6th. Discreetness could not overcome post 14 (8 wide first turn) and ended up 7th.

G3 El Camino Real Derby (2-13-16, 86 BSF): Frank Conversation sure loves the synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields. The Doug O’Neill trainee followed up an easy win in the California Derby with a gritty score by less than a length on Saturday. Graham Motion saddled 2-3 finishers Tusk and Kasseopia. The latter probably needed the race (bad start) and is worth following.

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 bullet in :47.75 (1/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 12.

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen, both at Aqueduct. He was training well for his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull and did not disappoint with an easy stalk/pounce victory at the Gulf on Jan 30. I love his professionalism and tactical speed, which keeps him out of trouble, an important trait on the Derby trail. He has been my top ranked Derby contender since I started my list last September and appears to be in peak form in advance of the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Derby Points (20)

(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 :48.60 (21/49) at Santa Anita Park on Feb 17.

Comments: Last year’s G1 Los Al Futurity picked up where he left off with another graded win in the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 6. Baffert’s improving stalker keeps collecting Derby points. The G2 San Felipe on March 12 at Santa Anita Park might be next. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (24)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :58.71 (1/27) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 14.

Comments: The patient runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is wintering in Florida and figures to have two Derby preps, beginning with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and ending with the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.80 (42/56) at Palm Meadows on Feb 14.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up a better than appears 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane at Keeneland Oct 31. He exited the BC Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking and his next start is undecided.

Derby Points (14)

(5) AIROFORCE (Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee) airoforce silks

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John C. Oxley)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.30 (2/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 12.

Comments: He won a productive renewal of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last year, beating subsequent graded stakes winners Mor Spirit (Los Al Futurity, Robert Lewis Stakes) and Mo Tom (LeComte). He returned to the worktab Jan 11, missed his next work with an elevated temperature, and resumed morning activity Jan 25. His sire Colonel John was my Derby horse in 2008. He is entered in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb 20 and is the 5-2 morning line favorite. He needs a strong performance on Saturday to remain in the top five.

Derby Points (10)

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ 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 is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

(7) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication)

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

Comments: He came back ready to roll in the San Vicente but so did Nyquist and he settled for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. It was a solid beginning to his 3-year-old campaign and should set him up nicely for the San Felipe.

Derby Points (16)

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:17.66 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Feb 15.

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 is pointing to the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5.

(9) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.40 (3/50) at Palm Meadows on Feb 13.

Comments: The Holy Bull disappointment is behind him and it is put up or shut up time. He needs to step up and prove that he belongs in the graded ranks and must run big in his next start.

Derby Points (1)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (25/71) at Palm Meadows on Jan 25.

Comments: Beat Matt King Coal by a nose at 8.5f (Belmont Park, Oct 3) and was flattered when that one returned to win impressively four weeks later. He fought restraint in the Remsen and ended up an even 3rd in his first stakes try. He missed a couple of recent works and took a pass on the Risen Star. He should be back on the work tab shortly and needs to get fit and find a race in a hurry.

Derby Points (2)

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

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

Comments: He replaces stablemate Synchrony on the list after rallying powerfully and going last-to-first in the G3 Southwest. He has fired Exacta shots in all six career starts and has a smart route-oriented pedigree. The G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19 is next.

Derby Points (10)

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Zulu, (14) Danzing Candy, (15) Malibu Sunset, (16) Rafting, (17) I Will Score, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Awesome Banner

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Southwest Stakes Preview (Video)

Mohaymen has had a stranglehold on the top spot since I started my Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders list last September, and his visually impressive win in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 30 was a great start to his sophomore campaign.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit wins 2016 Robert Lewis Syakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Last week, my second ranked Derby contender Mor Spirit made his 3-year-old debut a winning one in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, February 6.

This week, four races (2 points races) may have Derby implications. The Sam F. Davis Stakes (non-points race) at Tampa Bay on Saturday, Feb 13 is the local prep for the Tampa Bay Derby and it is my HRN Play of the Day.

The G3 El Camino Real Derby (points race) will also be contested on Feb 13 and I will be talking about that race on The Fast Track with Steve Bortstein Saturday morning at 10am (eastern time).

On Monday, Feb 15, juvenile champ Nyquist makes his much anticipated return in the G2 San Vicente (non-points race), and Oaklawn Park presents their second two turn Derby prep, the G3 Southwest Stakes (points race).

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Robert Lewis Stakes (2-6-16, 92 BSF): Mor Spirit figured to sit a dream trip behind honest fractions and that is exactly what happened. He stalked, pounced, and pulled clear late to win by 1.5 lengths over Uncle Lino and early runner I Will Score.

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 bullet in :47.75 (1/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 12.

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen, both at Aqueduct. He was training well for his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull and did not disappoint with an easy stalk/pounce victory at the Gulf on Jan 30. I love his professionalism and tactical speed. He has been my top ranked Derby contender since I started my list last September and he is in peak form in advance of the Fountain of Youth Stakes on Saturday, Feb 27 at Gulfstream Park.

Derby Points (20)  

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

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

Comments: Last year’s G1 Los Al Futurity picked up where he left off with another graded win in the Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb 6. Baffert’s stalker keeps improving and picking up Derby points. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (24)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.97 (8/19) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 7.

Comments: The patient runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is wintering in Florida and figures to have two Derby preps, beginning with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and ending with the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Comments: The well bred colt with low profile connections put it all together from off the pace in a strong 4-1/2 length victory in the G1 Champagne last fall. The BC Juvenile favorite was too far back early and ended up a better than appears 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane at Keeneland Oct 31. He exited the BC Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He is wintering in Florida, returned to the work tab Dec 28, and resurfaced in the Holy Bull. In the paceless Holy Bull, the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking and remains a solid Derby prospect.

Derby Points (14)

(5) AIROFORCE (Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee) airoforce silks

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John C. Oxley)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.30 (2/31) at Palm Meadows on Feb 12.

Comments: His first three turf races produced two wins (MSW, G3 Bourbon) and a second (G1 BC Juvenile Turf). They switched to dirt (wet track) in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Nov 28 and he wrapped up his juvenile campaign with a victory over subsequent graded stakes winners Mor Spirit (Los Al Futurity) and Mo Tom (LeComte). He returned to the worktab Jan 11, missed his next work with an elevated temperature, and resumed morning activity Jan 25. His sire Colonel John was my Derby horse in 2008. He is entered in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb 20. He makes his debut in the top five.

Derby Points (10)

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.20 (2/48) at Santa Anita on Feb 7.

Comments: The recently named 2-year-old champ ran his record to 5-for-5 and overcame an outer post and wide trip in the BC Juvenile, a race that was more than a second slower than filly counterpart Songbird in the BC Juvenile Fillies. He is in great shape in regards to Derby points and is preparing to make two starts prior to the first Saturday in May. First up is the G2 San Vicente Stakes (non-points race) at Santa Anita on February 15, followed by the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2. He stays put at #6.

Derby Points (30)

(7) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (2/23) at Santa Anita on Feb 9.

Comments: He had a busy juvenile campaign with six starts and wins in the G2 Saratoga Special and G3 Delta Jackpot. He was also 2nd in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and 4th in the G1 BC Juvenile. He will begin his Derby march in the San Vicente and got serious with a bullet work on Feb 2. He is up one notch.

Derby Points (16)

(8) SYNCHRONY (Tapit – Brownie Points, by Forest Wildcat)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Pin Oak Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (2/45) at Oaklawn Park on Feb 6.

Comments: After finishing 2nd in his career debut, he won back-to-back races at Keeneland and Churchill to end his 2-year-old season. He put in a nice late run to finish 3rd in the Smarty Jones and was gaining on the top two in a promising effort at Oaklawn Jan 18. He moves up two places and goes next in the Southwest on Feb 15.

Derby Points (2)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.55 (10/31) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Feb 7.

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 is pointing to the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5. He moves up a couple of notches.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (25/71) at Palm Meadows on Jan 25.

Comments: Beat Matt King Coal by a nose at 8.5f (Belmont Park, Oct 3) and was flattered when that one returned to win impressively four weeks later. He fought restraint in the Remsen and ended up an even 3rd in his first stakes try. He missed a recent work and is not longer under consideration for the Risen Star. He drops five spots.

(11) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Comments: The Holy Bull was supposed to be his coming out party but it did not work out that way. I thought Mike Smith would send him to the lead in the paceless Holy Bull but he stalked the pace and finished a flat 4th after a bit of a slow start. He drops to the bottom of the list.

Derby Points (1)

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Zulu, (14) I Will Score, (15) Rafting, (16) Malibu Sunset, (17) Danzing Candy, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Awesome Banner

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Mohaymen Won Holy Bull, Now It’s Mor Spirit’s Turn

Mohaymen, my top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender since last September, ran his record to 4-for-4 with an easy win in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 30.

Mohaymen was always traveling well in the Holy Bull and nothing seems to bother the McLaughlin trainee. If all goes well, look for his next target to be the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit is the one to beat in today’s Bob Lewis Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

G1 Los Al Futurity hero Mor Spirit makes his sophomore bow in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes on Saturday, Feb 6 and the race shape seems to favor the stalking type. He has been part of my Derby list all along.

The Robert Lewis Stakes is my HRN written play of the day

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Holy Bull (1-30-16, 95 BSF): Mohaymen lived up to the hype with an easy stalk and pounce win to remain unbeaten after four starts. He cruised up without being asked and cantered across the wire to defeat G1 Champagne hero Greenpointcrusader by 3.5 lengths. The latter was prominently placed in the paceless affair and ran very well in his first start since the BC Juvenile. Fellowship rallied from last and smartly put away Conquest Big E for the show. Big E broke a step slow, stalked, and never seriously threatened in a flat performance.

G3 Withers (1-16-16, 87 BSF): Trip and post position was the key to victory here. Sunny Ridge drew the outside post and sat a clear, tactical trip en route to a gritty win by less than length over pacesetter Vorticity. Adventist outgamed Flexibility by a neck for the show. The latter broke from post two and seemed a bit uncomfortable on the inside as the beaten favorite.

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 yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen, both at Aqueduct. He was training well for his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull and did not disappoint with an easy stalk/pounce victory at the Gulf on Jan 30. I love his professionalism and tactical speed. He has been my top ranked Derby contender since I started my list last September and keeps getting better.

Derby Points (20)  

(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 :49 (22/33) at Santa Anita on Feb 2.

Comments: Last year, Baffert’s $650k purchase was a good 2nd in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and ended his juvenile campaign with a win in the G1 Los Al Futurity. The grinding type drew post five and is the 8-5 morning line favorite for the Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb 6. He stays put at #2 and needs a strong effort Saturday to maintain his high ranking.

Derby Points (14)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.42 (41/63) at Gulfstream Park on Jan 31.

Comments: The patient runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden race) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is wintering in Florida and figures to have two Derby preps, beginning with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and ending with the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9. He remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Comments: The well bred colt with low profile connections put it all together from off the pace in a strong 4-1/2 length victory in the G1 Champagne last fall. The BC Juvenile favorite was too far back early and ended up a better than appears 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane at Keeneland Oct 31. He exited the BC Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He is wintering in Florida, returned to the work tab Dec 28, and resurfaced in the Holy Bull. In the paceless Holy Bull, the patient sort surprisingly took up the running and was clearly second best. He retains his #4 ranking due to his solid return and I still like him as a long term prospect.

Derby Points (14)

(5) 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 :49 (25/71) at Palm Meadows on Jan 25.

Comments: Beat Matt King Coal by a nose at 8.5f (Belmont Park, Oct 3) and was flattered when that one returned to win impressively four weeks later. He fought restraint in the Remsen and ended up an even 3rd in his first stakes try. He returned to the worktab at Palm Meadows Jan 19 and is reportedly pointing to the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. He moves up one position.

Derby Points (2)   

(6) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:16.20 (19/22) at Santa Anita on Jan 30.

Comments: The recently named 2-year-old champ ran his record to 5-for-5 and overcame an outer post and wide trip in the BC Juvenile, a race that was more than a second slower than filly counterpart Songbird in the BC Juvenile Fillies. He is in great shape in regards to Derby points and is preparing to make two starts prior to the first Saturday in May. First up is the G2 San Vicente Stakes (non-points race) at Santa Anita on February 15, followed by the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2. He is up one spot.

Derby Points (30)

(7) AIROFORCE (Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee)

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John C. Oxley)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.35 (2/32) at Palm Meadows on Jan 31.

Comments: His first three turf races produced two wins (MSW, G3 Bourbon) and a second (G1 BC Juvenile Turf). They switched to dirt (wet track) in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Nov 28 and he wrapped up his juvenile campaign with a victory over subsequent graded stakes winners Mor Spirit (Los Al Futurity) and Mo Tom (LeComte). He returned to the worktab Jan 11 but missed his next work with an elevated temperature. He resumed morning activity Jan 25 and is on track for his seasonal debut in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Derby Points (10)

(8) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication)

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

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :58.20 (1/27) at Santa Anita on Feb 2.

Comments: He had a busy juvenile campaign with six starts and wins in the G2 Saratoga Special and G3 Delta Jackpot. He was also 2nd in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and 4th in the G1 BC Juvenile. He is scheduled to begin his Derby march in the San Vicente and got serious with a bullet work on Feb 2.

Derby Points (16)

(9) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City)

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

Comments: The Holy Bull was supposed to be his coming out party but it did not work out that way. I thought Mike Smith would send him to the lead in the paceless Holy Bull but he stalked the pace and finished a flat 4th after a bit of a slow start. He does not have the goods to compete at the highest level at this time and drops four spots.

Derby Points (1)

(10) SYNCHRONY (Tapit – Brownie Points, by Forest Wildcat)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Pin Oak Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (2/45) at Oaklawn Park on Feb 6.

Comments: After finishing 2nd in his career debut, he won back-to-back races at Keeneland and Churchill to end his 2-year-old season. He put in a nice late run to finish 3rd in the Smarty Jones and was gaining on the top two in a promising effort at Oaklawn Jan 18. He goes next in the Southwest on Feb 15.

Derby Points (2)

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

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

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 few weeks. He is reportedly back in the Rice barn in NY (along with Seymourdini) and they hope to have him ready for the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5. He clings to the bottom of the list.

Honorable Mention: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Zulu, (14) I Will Score, (15) Rafting, (16) Malibu Sunset, (17) Danzing Candy, (18) Shagaf, (19) Rally Cry, (20) Seymourdini

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Holy Bull Preview Featuring Mohaymen (Video)

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen makes his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 30.

Mohaymen

Mohaymen starts his 3yo season in the Holy Bull – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mohaymen sports an unblemished 3-for-3 record has worked four times at Palm Meadows in preparation for the Holy Bull including a five furlong bullet on Jan. 21.

Six horses will line up in Holy Bull and there is not much pace in the paper race. Mohaymen and Conquest Big E look like the main speed and I would not be surprised if Mike Smith tried to go all the way aboard the latter.

Grade 1 Champagne winner Greenpointcrusader is the other main contender. The race shape of the Holy Bull might play against the patient type and I expect him to get better as the year progresses.

This is my first 2016 Derby contenders update. So far this year, the winners of the Derby Points races have flattered some of the top performers from last year. Flexibility (entered in G3 Withers at Aqueduct Jan 30) flattered Mohaymen with his tally in the Jerome and Mo Tom flattered Kentucky Jockey Club 1-2 finishers Airoforce and Mor Spirit with his win in the LeComte.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

Smarty Jones (1-18-16, 83 BSF): Discreeetness stalked Gordy Florida and beat his rival by a neck after a lengthy stretch duel. Synchrony rallied from 10th to finish 3rd and odds-on favorite Toews On Ice attended the pace and faded to 6th for Baffert.

G3 LeComte (1-16-16, 88 BSF): Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes show finisher Mo Tom (Uncle Mo) had a troubled beginning, dropped well off the pace, and closed strongly on the outside to win by 2-1/4 lengths over Tom’s Ready, who rallied to the lead in the stretch but could not match strides with the winner. Uncle Walter stalked the pace and ended up an even 3rd.

G3 Sham (1-9-16, 80 BSF): Collected successfully made the turf/dirt move for Baffert. He stalked, pounced, and pulled clear by 1-1/4 lengths as the 3-2 favorite. Let’s Meet in Rio rallied from 8th to land the place and Laoban was best of the rest. This did not look like a strong Derby prep on paper and the speed figure drove that point home.

G3 Jerome (1-2-16, 90 BSF): Remsen runner-up Flexibility was the heavy favorite and did not disappoint his backers with a very easy stalk/pounce score by 4-1/2 lengths. Vorticity dueled on the lead and finished a clear 2nd and In Equality was almost ten lengths ahead of the rest.

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: 5f bullet in :59.40 (1/10) at Palm Meadows on Jan 21.

Comments: The $2.2 million yearling purchase went 3-for-3 as a juvenile and rattled off back-to-back graded wins in the G2 Nashua (89 BSF) and G2 Remsen (96 BSF), both at Aqueduct. He is training well for his sophomore debut. He has been my top ranked Derby contender since I started my list last September.

Derby Points (10)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.20 (6/37) at Santa Anita on Jan 28.

Comments: $650k purchase was a clear 2nd (83 BSF) in his 6f Santa Anita debut Sept 27 and returned to graduate at a flat mile Oct 23 second time out (92 BSF). He shipped to Churchill Downs and battled hard throughout in a good runner-up performance in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Nov 28 and wrapped up his fine juvenile season with a nice win in the G1 Los Al Futurity on Dec 19. He continues to prepare for the Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb 6 and stays put at #2.

Derby Points (14)

(3) BRODY’S CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway – Sweet Breanna, by Sahm) brody's cause silks 2016

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

Latest Workouts: 5f in 1:01.16 (11/31) at Gulfstream Park on Jan 24. 4f bullet in :47.74 (1/38) at Gulfstream Park on Jan 18.

Comments: The professional runner looked good from off the pace in back-to-back wins at Churchill (one mile maiden win) and Keeneland (G1 Breeders’ Futurity). He worked his way through traffic to finish a decent 3rd in the BC Juvenile and figures to make a nice late run wherever he shows up on the Derby trail. He is wintering in Florida and remains at #3.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 102 (8/16) at Palm Meadows on Jan 24.

Comments: After a pair of solid sprint efforts to begin his career at Saratoga, he put it all together from off the pace in a strong 4-1/2 length victory in the Champagne. The BC Juvenile favorite was too far back early and ended up a better than appears 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane at Keeneland Oct 31. He exited the BC Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He is wintering in Florida and returned to the work tab Dec 28. I fancy his pedigree and he kicks off his 3-year-old season in the Holy Bull. He retains his #4 ranking and I like him as a long term prospect.

Derby Points (10)

(5) CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City) conquest big e silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (39/102) at Palm Meadows on Jan 24.

Comments: Visually impressive maiden win at Keeneland Oct 2. In the BC Juvenile, he chased the pace from the inside pace and faded to finish 8th. He bounced back with a solid stalk/pounce 2-length flat mile Optional Claiming win at Churchill Downs on Nov 28. He is wintering in Florida and will be the services of Mike Smith in the Holy Bull. He remains at #5.

(6) GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled’s Song)

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

Latest Workouts: 4f in :49 (25/71) at Palm Meadows on Jan 25. 4f in :48.95 (13/74) at Palm Meadows on Jan 19.

Comments: Beat Matt King Coal by a nose at 8.5f (Belmont Park, Oct 3) and was flattered when that one returned to win impressively four weeks later. He fought restraint in the Remsen and ended up an even 3rd in his first stakes try. He returned to the worktab at Palm Meadows Jan 19. He moves up one position.

Derby Points (2)  

(7) NYQUIST (Uncle Mo – Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry)

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:15.60 (14/18) at Santa Anita on Jan 24.

Comments: Ran his record to 5-for-5 and wrapped up the 2-year-old title in the BC Juvenile. To his credit, he was farther back than usual and raced wide from post 13. He gamely held off Swipe for the fourth consecutive race but the final clocking was more than a second slower than filly counterpart Songbird. He seems like a miler type but keeps on winning. At this stage he is in great shape in regards to Derby points and is preparing to make his first 2016 start in the G2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on February 15. He is up one spot.

Derby Points (30)

(8) AIROFORCE (Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee)

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John C. Oxley)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48 (3/71) at Palm Meadows on Jan 25.

Comments: His first three turf races produced two wins (MSW, G3 Bourbon) and a second (G1 BC Juvenile Turf). They switched to dirt (wet track) in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Nov 28 and he wrapped up his juvenile campaign with a victory over subsequent graded stakes winners Mor Spirit (Los Al Futurity) and Mo Tom (LeComte). He returned to the worktab Jan 11 but missed his next work with an elevated temperature. He resumed morning activity Jan 25. He makes his debut on the list.

Derby Points (10)

(9) EXAGGERATOR (Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication)

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

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:25.80 (2/5) from the gate at Santa Anita on Jan 23.

Comments: He had a busy juvenile campaign with six starts and wins in the G2 Saratoga Special and G3 Delta Jackpot. He was also 2nd in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and 4th in the G1 BC Juvenile. He is expected to begin his Derby March in the San Vicente. He is a new addition to the list.

Derby Points (16)

(10) SYNCHRONY (Tapit – Brownie Points, by Forest Wildcat)

Trainer (Donnie K Von Hemel) – Owner (Pin Oak Stable)

Comments: After finishing 2nd in his career debut, he won back-to-back races at Keeneland and Churchill to end his 2-year-old season. He put in a nice late run to finish 3rd in the Smarty Jones and was gaining on the top two in a promising effort at Oaklawn Jan 18. He is new to the list and might go next in the Southwest in Feb 15.

Derby Points (2)

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

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

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 and missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3. He is getting a 4-6 week vacation on the farm and they hope to have him back for the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5. He remains glued to the bottom of the list.

Honorable Mention: (12) Flexibility, (13) Mo Tom, (14) Zulu, (15) Sail Ahoy, (16) I Will Score, (17) Rafting, (18) Street Vision, (19) Swipe, (20) Seymourdini