Wicked Strong threw his hat into the Kentucky Derby 2014 ring with a sharp late running victory in the Wood Memorial.
Wicked Strong, 3rd in the G2 Remsen as a juvenile, put his ugly Gulfstream Park form behind him, and he is not the first closer to loathe the Gulf only to reverse form on fair footing. I have been waiting for a late runner to shine in a Derby prep! He joins my list and is a viable threat from off the pace under the Twin Spires.
Samraat nodded Social Inclusion for the place. The former is an overachieving street fighter, and the latter is fast and talented but lacks seasoning.
Wood Memorial also-ran Kristo failed to earn enough points to make the Derby starting gate and drops off the list.
California Chrome continued his West Coast domination in the SA Derby and is the likely favorite at Churchill Downs in a few weeks. He is the fastest sophomore in the land but that does not always translate into a Derby win. I am not tempted to put him on top of my Derby rankings because I do not think that he is a ten furlong horse (read comments below).
Hoppertunity ran a winning race in the SA Derby but hooked a local speed demon and was clearly second best. The unraced juvenile has gotten plenty of stakes seasoning this year and is one I will consider in the Derby.
Candy Boy could not hang with the top two SA Derby finishers but fought hard for the show. I believe that he is best as a closer and is worth considering as a Derby rebound threat.
Saturday’s Grade I Arkansas Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com
Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.
Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders
1. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)
Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable
Derby Points (30)
Comments: The G2 Robert Lewis Stakes hero could not keep up with California Chrome in the SA Derby, ending up a disappointing 3rd. In retrospect, he was probably too fresh, and the eventual 1-2 SA Derby finishers were battle tested and ready to rumble. Candy Boy is best as a closer. He will never beat California Chrome at his speed game, especially at Santa Anita. He needs to run his CashCall race in the Ky Derby. Sit back and roll. I have no idea if he can go ten furlongs, but a fresh horse in the Ky Derby is much more valuable than a fresh horse in the SA Derby. He temporarily retains the top spot.
2. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.
Latest Workout: 4f in :50.80 (3/8) at Oaklawn Park (slop) on April 7.
Derby Points (42)
Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and will wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.
3. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack
Latest Workout: 3f in:37 (2/4) at Oaklawn Park on April 8.
Derby Points (11)
Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel. The Arkansas Derby is next.
4. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love)
Trainer: Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin
Derby Points (150)
Comments: 6-for-10 lifetime and has clearly elevated his game at Santa Anita this year. If you are trying to beat him in the Kentucky Derby, look at his modest 10f pedigree and expected demanding pace in a 20-horse field. Also, a regression could be just around the corner following four big wins.
5. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable
Derby Points (24)
Comments: Skipping the FOY did not work out so well after a flat 4th in the Florida Derby. Only two preps in 5+ months means that he is fresh but fitness might be a serious issue on the first Saturday in May. No guarantee that he gets in on points.
Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram
Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46 (1/40) at Santa Anita on April 3.
Derby Points (52)
Comments: G3 Sham hero followed up that win was a show finish in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, a clear, distant 2nd in the G2 San Felipe, and another clear place finish in the G3 Sunland Derby. He has qualified for the Kentucky Derby but is not quite top class in graded route races.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier
Latest Workout: 4f in :49.25 (11/24) at Palm Meadows on April 6.
Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham
Latest Workout: 7f bullet from the gate in 1:23.80 (1/5) at Santa Anita on April 6.
Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe. He returned to the work tab March 20 and is ready for the Arkansas Derby.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing
Derby Points (93)
Comments: The late running Risen Star hero showed much more tactical speed in LA Derby place finish. I am not sure that he is a true top class (Grade 1) animal, but his late kick makes him a viable threat on the first Saturday in May.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm
Latest Workout: 4f in :49.05 (8/24) at Palm Meadows on April 6.
Derby Points (10)
Comments: The long winded sort owns two wins at nine furlongs. Could not keep up from the rail over speed favoring ground in the FOY and rallied to finish a better than appears 3rd after a bad start in the G3 Sunland Derby. The Arkansas Derby is his next stop.
Trainer: James Jerkens – Owner: Centennial Farms
Derby Points (102)
Comments: Clearly a different animal away from the Gulfstream Park highway. He showed ability as a juvenile and his Wood Memorial (104 BSF) was not a fluke. His late kick must be respected on Derby Day.
(12) Hoppertunity, (13) Samraat, (14) Chitu, (15) Constitution, (16) Wildcat Red, (17) Vicar’s in Trouble, (18) General a Rod, (19) We Miss Artie, (20) Ring Weekend
Pedigree Spotlight: Wicked Strong
Wicked Strong’s sire Hard Spun (Danzig – Turkish Tryst, by Turkoman) was on the Triple Crown trail in 2007, winning the G3 Lecomte and G2 Lane’s End, and finishing 2nd in the Kentucky Derby, 3rd in the Preakness, and 4th in the Belmont Stakes. His other stakes winners include G1 Alabama winner Questing and G1 Mother Goose winner Zo Impressive.
Hard Spun’s sire Danzig (by Northern Dancer) won all three career starts in New York. The influential stallion died in 2006 at age 29. He sired such prominent runners as Chief’s Crown (3rd ’85 Belmont Stakes), Stephan’s Odyssey (’85 Belmont Stakes runner-up), Danzig Connection (’86 Belmont Stakes winner), ’92 Preakness hero Pine Bluff, and Breeders’ Cup Mile winners Lure and War Chant.
Hard Spun’s dam Turkish Tryst (by Turkoman) captured 4 of 15 starts including the April Run Stakes.
Hard Spun’s dam sire Turkoman (by Alydar) was a multiple graded stakes winner of more than $2.1 million. His daughter Turko’s Turn is the dam of Preakness & Belmont hero Point Given, and another daughter (Sweet Damsel) produced Travers winner Colonel John.
Wicked Strong’s dam sire Charismatic (by Summer Squall) won the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness and finished 3rd in the Belmont Stakes.
Wicked Strong has classic influences sprinkled throughout his pedigree. He has the right patient running style to succeed on the first Saturday in May.