Posts Tagged ‘Doug O’Neill’

Preakness 2013 Contenders – Will Orb capture second jewel?

Congratulations to Kentucky Derby 2013 hero Orb, and it was nice to see Shug McGaughey saddle his first Derby winner as well. He looks like a runaway locomotive at this point and might be too hot to handle in Preakness 2013.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb

Congrats to Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Orb was one of my Exciting Prospects when I posted my first Derby Top 10 list last September. He lacked maturity in his first three outings but has really put everything together since. The Derby was his fifth straight win and he goes to Baltimore on a serious roll. He received a great pace setup in the Derby and it could be more of the same in the Preakness with the likes of Titletown Five and Goldencents on the engine early.

Speaking of rolls, jockey Joel Rosario has been unstoppable since winning the Dubai World Cup. Orb is currently preparing for the second jewel at Belmont Park and will ship to Pimlico early next week.

It is fun to talk about Orb’s Triple Crown chances but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. History is not on his side but he does possess all of the tools to give it a serious run. The son of Malibu Moon wheels back quickly on May 18 and it should be noted that he graduated off two weeks rest last year. I also saw a stat on TVG earlier this week about Shug McGaughey clicking at a 50% rate (6-for-12) when he brings horses back in 14-days. New shooter Departing might be his biggest competition.

Look out if Orb makes it past the Preakness but he will still have to beat fresh, talented rival Revolutionary at Big Sandy. That’s a discussion for another day.

Derby runner-up Golden Soul is pointing to the Belmont Stakes. He finished 2nd in the Derby because of the pace and will be an underlay in the Test of Champions.

My Derby selection Revolutionary, the top ranked contender on my Derby list since February, ran well to land the show on the first Saturday in May. I have not lost faith and he reminds me of my past Derby/Belmont picks Empire Maker and Union Rags.

Oxbow was too close to the rapid Derby pace and Normandy Invasion moved too soon. Both are players in Baltimore, especially the latter if Chad Brown opts to go in that direction.

Mylute took advantage of the fleet fractions and was in the show photo (finished 5th). If he runs in the Preakness, note that jockey Rosie Napravnik has plenty of Pimlico experience.

Will Take Charge was making a move with Orb in the Derby but Verrazano was backing up and stopped his momentum. The Derby was his first start beyond a mile and a sixteenth and he was coming off a layoff so it was not a bad effort finishing 8th.

Goldencents seemingly hated the Derby slop and will be part of the Preakness pace, especially if the track is fast.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Preakness 2013 Contenders

Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his fifth straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G1 Kentucky Derby (wet track) and the strong finisher adapts to various pace scenarios. Red hot jockey Joel Rosario has been on a roll since the Dubai Gold Cup and he is an obvious major stretch player in Baltimore.

Departing (War Front) – Finished 3rd in the productive Louisiana Derby and overcame a wide draw to smartly take down the Illinois Derby. The Al Stall Jr. runner is a dangerous new shooter and it is nice to see him join the Triple Crown series.

Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s colt trained aggressively and moved too soon under Javier Castellano in the Derby. He needs to sit back with Orb and make a big late run in the Preakness. He is reportedly much more relaxed since returning to New York. His ultimate goal is the G1 Travers at the Spa in August.

Mylute (Midnight Lute) – LA Derby runner-up rallied to finish 5th on the first Saturday in May under Rosie Napravnik. Trainer Tom Amoss said that his Preakness status would be revealed on Saturday morning.

Oxbow horse

Oxbow was too close to the hot Derby pace – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Oxbow (Awesome Again) – G3 Lecomte hero shows up for every dance and finished a solid 6th in the Derby after attending fast fractions from an inner post under Gary Stevens. Lukas trainee can rate but went all the way in both career wins. His main problem is that he is usually not quick enough to grab the early lead.

Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner finished a respectable 8th in the Derby. He did find some traffic but that is to be expected in a 19-horse field. Mike Smith will ride in the Preakness and he could improve 2nd off the shelf.

Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Eddie Plesa Jr.’s colt was the talk of Florida earlier this year at the Gulf. The Holy Bull hero played second fiddle to Orb in the Florida Derby and finished a disappointing 15th on the first Saturday in May. John Velazquez will ride in the Preakness.

Preakness Dreamers:

Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Doug O’Neill’s quality early-pressing type seemingly hated the Derby wet track and the pace scenario did not help either. He earned a strong number in the SA Derby and is capable of big efforts on fast ground under the proper race shape.

Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute) – Smartly captured G3 Sunland Derby in his third career start. The Baffert trainee has plenty of upside but still lacks seasoning. He wisely passed on the Derby and has seemingly recovered from a minor hind foot issue. Worked 6f in 1:11.80 (1/3) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Street Spice (Street Sense) – Illinois Derby 5th place finisher seems up against it in the Preakness. He likely needs to find a softer spot to be competitive. Breezed 5f from the gate in 1:03.40 (27/33) at Arlington Park on 5-4.

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Has lost all three starts this year and looks like a sprinter at this point. He will attend the Preakness pace before fading. Breezed 4f in :47.60 (5/35) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Vyjack (Into Mischief) – 18th place Derby finisher has now dropped two straight. He came out of the Wood Memorial with a lung infection and that hiccup probably cost him under the Twin Spires. He has talent but is not sharp right now.

Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Another strong move for Revolutionary

My longtime top ranked Kentucky Derby 2013 contender Revolutionary had another strong workout at Churchill Downs on April 27 and it looks like all systems go for the first Saturday in May.

Revolutionary Kentucky Derby 2013 contender

Revolutionary has impressed clockers with his Churchill Derby works – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Revolutionary has been my top ranked Derby contender since late February, following the retirement of Violence, also trained by Todd Pletcher. I have always liked his pedigree and he started to ascend the ranks after a fast maiden win and visually impressive Withers tally. He maintained his top spot after a late running tally in the LA Derby and has not missed a beat this year. Will lightning strike twice for Borel, Pletcher, and WinStar Farm?

There are still 23 horses possible for the Derby so there are still a few bottom spots up for grabs. Govenor Charlie is supposed to work on Monday but Baffert has already said that he probably won’t run. Code West, also a Baffert trainee, is probably going to the Peter Pan instead, followed  by the Belmont Stakes.

Winning Cause, trained by Todd Pletcher, has enough points but might skip the Derby.

Tiz a Minister just finished 3rd in the Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park on 4-27 but still might catch a flight to Louisville if his owner decides to shoot for the Derby.

Golden Soul is 23rd on the Derby Points Leaderboard and will definitely go if he gets enough defections.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders

1. Revolutionary (War Pass) – Followed up a big fig maiden score with an adventurous winning journey in the G3 Withers. He broke slow, raced wide, and smartly held off Mylute in the G2 LA Derby on March 30. Both of his Churchill moves earned him DRF’s Derby work of the day including his 4f breeze in :48.20 (6/70) on 4-27. Derby Points (110).

Orb horse Kentucky Derby 2013 contender

Orb’s final Derby work is scheduled for Monday, April 29 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his fourth straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G1 Florida Derby and the strong finisher adapts to various pace scenarios. Red hot jockey Joel Rosario has been named to ride on the first Saturday in May. Breezed 5f in 1:02.10 (3/5) at Payson Park on 4-21 and has reportedly looked energetic in his recent Churchill gallops. Derby Points (150).

3. Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s colt ended his juvenile campaign with a runner-up effort in the G2 Remsen and ended up a troubled 5th in his G2 Risen Star return. He bounced back in the Wood Memorial to gain the place late and appears to be sitting on a career top in the Derby. Javier Castellano chose him over Revolutionary and he has been aggressive in his morning activity under the Twin Spires. Breezed a spirited 5f in :59 (2/52) at Churchill Downs on 4-27. Derby Points (44). 

4. Verrazano (More Than Ready) – Pletcher trainee cruised in his first three outings but was not nearly as brilliant winning the Wood Memorial. He no longer looks like a dominant force and will probably take too much action under the Twin Spires. No unraced 2yo has won the Derby since Apollo in 1882. Johnny V chose him over Orb. He has been solid if unspectacular in his Derby activity. Breezed 5f in :59.40 (6/52) at Churchill Downs on 4-27. Derby Points (150).

5. Black Onyx (Rock Hard Ten) – He is 2-for-2 since Kelly Breen took over the training duties and he smartly won the G3 Spiral Stakes with a wide stalk and pounce trip under Joe Bravo. He was the first Derby contender to arrive at Churchill Downs and has reportedly looked steady in his Derby gallops and works. His high action is better suited to synthetic and turf. Breezed 4f in :48.60 (12/70) at Churchill on 4-27. Derby Points (50).

Kentucky Derby 2013 contender Overanalyze

Overanalyze will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by red hot SoCal jockey Rafael Bejarano – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

6. Overanalyze (Dixie Union) – G2 Remsen hero finished a wide, flat 5th from post 11 in his needed Gotham return. He bounced back nicely in the Arkansas Derby (88 BSF) and tries to run two alike for the first time at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 4. He was all square with Palace Malice in a Derby team drill on 4-27. Derby Points (110). 

7. Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Champagne runner-up went all the way in the G3 Delta Jackpot and scored again in the G3 Sham Stakes. He faded to 4th in the San Felipe and bounced back with a big win in the Santa Anita Derby. Ten furlongs is his biggest Derby obstacle. Breezed 6f in 1:16.20 (8/8) at Santa Anita on 4-25. Derby Points (129).

8. Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Still not sold on this one as a legit Derby contender because I am skeptical about ten panels and he looks like a Florida specialist. G3 Holy Bull hero finished a solid 2nd in the Florida Derby, his first start in nine weeks. Breezed an easy 4f in :53 (9/9) at Calder on 4-25. Derby Points (50).

9. Vyjack (Into Mischief) – Tasted defeat for the first time in the Wood Memorial but was hardly disgraced with a solid show finish. Garrett Gomez has been named to ride in the Kentucky Derby. He has pedigree questions to answer and came out of the Wood Memorial with a lung infection. Breezed 5f in 1:00.40 (3/32) at Churchill Downs on 4-26. Derby Points (70).

10. Mylute (Midnight Lute) – His sire is on fire and the Amoss runner was 3rd in the Delta Jackpot, 7th in the Risen Star, and 2nd in the LA Derby.  He is on the grounds at Churchill Downs and will reunite with Rosie Napravnik in the Derby. Breezed  4f in :50.60 (59/70) at Churchill on 4-27 with a weak gallop out. Derby Points (42).

Derby Dreamers (in alphabetical order):

Charming Kitten (Kitten’s Joy) – Pletcher’s talented turf runner ended up 3rd in the Blue Grass and seemingly did just enough to quality for a starting gate spot on May 4. Revolutionary dusted him in a team drill on 4-27. Derby Points (20).

Code West (Lemon Drop Kid) – Currently sits 21st on the Derby Points Leaderboard. The Baffert runner followed up a place finish in the Risen Star with a 6th in the LA Derby. A Derby start is not out of the question but he is expected to use the Peter Pan as his Belmont Stakes prep. Breezed 5f in 1:00.40 (6/42) at Churchill Downs on 4-28. Derby Points (20).

Falling Sky (Lion Heart) – G3 Sam Davis winner finished 3rd in the Tampa Bay Derby and 4th in the Arkansas Derby. He seems a cut below the best but might have a say in the Derby pace. Fired a 5f bullet in :59.60 (1/32) at Churchill on 4-26. Derby Points (30).

Frac Daddy Kentucky Derby 2013 contender

Frac Daddy is coming up to the Derby in better shape than stablemate Java’s War – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Frac Daddy (Scat Daddy) – Ky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up grabbed a quarter and finished 6th in the Holy Bull. He finished 7th in the Florida Derby and snuck into the Derby back door with a runner-up effort in the Arkansas Derby. Got the better of Java’s War in a Derby team drill on 4-27. Derby Points (44).  

Golden Soul (Perfect Soul) – LA Derby 4th place finisher still has a shot to sneak into the Derby field with a couple of defections. Breezed 5f in 1:00.80 (7/32) at Churchill Downs on 4-26. Derby Points (14).

Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute) – Smartly captured G3 Sunland Derby in his third career start. The Baffert trainee has plenty of upside but the Derby is an ambitious spot considering his lack of experience. He had a hind foot issue but was given the all clear after being examined at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. He has not worked since April 11 but is expected to return to the worktab on April 29. Look for Baffert to do the right thing and take a Derby pass. Derby Points (50).

Java’s War (War Pass) – G2 Tampa Bay Derby runner-up flattered Verrazano with his late running G1 Blue Grass tally but he only received an 88 BSF. He will try to get involved late under the Twin Spires. Struggled to match strides with stablemate Java’s War in a Derby team move on 4-27. Derby Points (122).

Lines of Battle (War Front) – UAE Derby has never been a successful path to Churchill so it is hard to take this one seriously. Finished 7th in the 2012 BC Juvenile Turf, his lone trek to the states. Derby Points (100).

Oxbow (Awesome Again) – G3 Lecomte hero shows up for every dance and just missed in the G2 Rebel on March 16. Gary Stevens hopped aboard for the Arkansas Derby and he rallied from last to split the field from yet another outer post. Lukas trainee can rate but went all the way in both career wins and can surprise in Derby if he flashes speed. Breezed 5f in 1:01 (7/43) at Churchill Downs on 4-22. Derby Points (36).

Palace Malice (Curlin) – Risen Star show finisher finished a troubled 7th in the Louisiana Derby. He desperately needed Derby points in the Blue Grass and made the cut with a solid place finish. He was all square with Overanalyze in a Derby team drill on 4-27.  Derby Points (50).

Tiz a Minister (Ministers Wild Cat) – The late striding CA-bred has finished in the Top 3 in 9 of 12 lifetime starts. He finished 3rd in the 9f Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood on April 27 and might wheel back in a week. Derby Points (20).

Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner is training up to the Kentucky Derby, a rare move for Wayne Lukas. Breezed 8f in 1:41.60 (1/1) at Churchill Downs on 4-21. Derby Points (60).

Winning Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Keeneland specialist ran his Polytrack record to 3-for-3 in the G3 Lexington. If he goes in the Derby it would be his third start in four weeks. Derby Points (20).

Former Top Ten Members (currently in training)

Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid) – Late running turf specialist flopped in his Spiral Stakes return and ran better (6th of 14) but not good enough in the Blue Grass. He has returned to New York and will get back on the sod this summer. Breezed 4f in :48.91 (23/48) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 4-27.

Capo Bastone (Street Boss) – G1 FrontRunner and G1 BC Juvenile show finisher won an optional claiming route at Gulfstream on 2-16 for his new trainer Todd Pletcher and ended up 9th from the outside post in the Spiral Stakes. He rallied nicely to finish right behind stablemate Forty Tales in the G3 Derby Trial at CD on 4-27. Derby Points (4).

Know More (Lion Heart) – G1 FrontRunner place finisher was terribly mismanaged after that effort, most recently faded to last in an allowance dirt sprint at SA on 12-28. He worked 4f in :50.80 (20/23) at Santa Anita on 4-22. Derby Points (4).

Micromanage (Medaglia d’Oro) – Finished a distant last in the Remsen. That effort was too bad to believe but that’s back-to-back disappointments after a promising bow. Breezed 5f in 1:04.02 (1/2) at Palm Meadows (turf) on 4-19.

Noble Tune (Unbridled’s Song) – G3 Pilgrim winner finished a fine 2nd in the BC Juvenile Turf and flew home to capture a turf allowance event (84 BSF) at Tampa Bay to begin his 3yo season. Chad Brown decided not to enter the Blue Grass. Breezed 4f in :49 (13/52) at Churchill on 4-26.

Pataky Kid (Rockport Harbor) – G3 Arl-Wash Futurity hero finished 7th in the G2 Hutcheson in his first start of the year and 3rd to Noble Tune in a Tampa Bay turf allowance affair. He finished 6th in the third race (allowance turf route) at Keeneland on 4-14. Derby Points (1).

Power Broker (Pulpit) – $360k purchase graduated in style vs. graded foes in FrontRunner and raced wide and never got a chance to run his race in BC Juvenile. Baffert trainee returned in the Santa Anita Derby and finished 5th in that needed effort. Breezed 6f in 1:12.80 (2/3) at Churchill Downs on 4-22. Derby Points (10).

Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit) – Facile G3 Southwest hero finished a flat 5th as the beaten favorite in the Rebel and set the pace and weakened to 3rd in the SA Derby. The Baffert will not run in the Kentucky Derby. Derby Points (30).

Uncaptured (Lion Heart) – Mark Casse’s Ontario-bred finished a solid 2nd in the Spiral but stalked and faded in a disappointing Blue Grass effort. He is back in Canada and will point to the Queen’s Plate. Breezed 5f in 1:01 (3/86) at Woodbine on 4-27. Derby Points (30).

War Academy (Giant’s Causeway) – Baffert’s highly regarded debut winner returned with an even 4th place finish in the San Vicente on Feb. 17. He bounced back with a stylish Optional Claiming route win (98 BSF) at Santa Anita on March 15 and was pulled up as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby. He appears to be alright after taking a bad step at Oaklawn Park.

Injured Reserve

On the Sidelines: Archwarrior (Arch), Darwin (Big Brown), Flashback (Tapit), Gulfport (Unbridled’s Song), Hear the Ghost (Ghostzapper), Ive Struck a Nerve (Yankee Gentleman), Joha (Johar), Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday), Zaikov (Distorted Humor).

Missing in Action: Fortify (Distorted Humor), Gabriel Charles (Street Boss), Little Distorted (Distorted Humor), Tizracer (Tiznow).

Retired: Hightail (Mineshaft), Violence (Medaglia d’Oro).

Kentucky Derby 2013 contenders video featuring Orb & Verrazano

This is our first in a five part video series devoted to Kentucky Derby 2013 contenders. All of the major prep races have been run and final workouts and the post position draw are all that remain.

Each video will consist of four contenders. In this first video, we discuss Santa Anita Derby hero Goldencents, Blue Grass Stakes winner Java’s War, Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby winner Orb, and Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial hero Verrazano.

Thanks to Ryan Patterson for joining me in this video series. We will release each video in the coming days and the second one should be posted later in evening on Tuesday, April 23. The second video will feature Lines of Battle, Overanalyze, Revolutionary, and Vyjack.

Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders – Moment of Truth for War Academy

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2013 contender Revolutionary arrived at Churchill Downs on Friday, April 12. He will need a new rider for the Derby because regular pilot Javier Castellano decided to stick with Normandy Invasion.

Last weekend, Verrazano kept his perfect record intact with a solid if unspectacular victory by a bit less than a length in the slow early/fast late Wood Memorial (95 BSF).

Normandy Invasion finished well to nab the place late and punched his Derby ticket in the process. Vyjack crossed the line in 3rd, losing for the first time in his career.

Goldencents

Goldencents returns to the Top 10 after his sharp score in the SA Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Across the country at Santa Anita Park, Goldencents bounced back to smartly capture the Santa Anita Derby (105 BSF) by 1-1/4 lengths over Flashback, who came out of the race with an injury and is off the Triple Crown trail.

Kevin Krigger rode Goldencents to perfection and Doug O’Neill is firmly back in the Derby hunt after winning last year’s edition with I’ll Have Another.

Super Ninety Nine set the pace and faded to finish a well-beaten 3rd. He’s had a busy campaign and seemingly has distance limitations as well.

This week, my fifth ranked Derby contender War Academy steps up to face quality graded foes in the Arkansas Derby. Bob Baffert’s highly regarded colt gets one crack at qualifying for the Kentucky Derby and needs a 1-2 finish on Saturday to secure his spot. He has a ton of raw ability but is giving up valuable seasoning to the likes of Oxbow, Overanalyze, and his uncoupled stablemate Den’s Legacy.

Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes is also on tap for April 13 and Uncaptured is the tepid morning line favorite. We could be in for a wild finish in this always unpredictable Derby prep! Check out my Blue Grass video analysis below with special guest Joe DePaolo.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders

1. Revolutionary (War Pass) – Followed up a big fig maiden score with a winning adventure in the G3 Withers. He broke slow, raced wide, and smartly held off Mylute in the G2 LA Derby on March 30. He arrived at Churchill Downs on April 12. Derby Points (110).

2. Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his fourth straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G1 Florida Derby, and the strong finisher adapts to various pace scenarios. Joel Rosario has been named to ride on the first Saturday in May. Derby Points (150).

3. Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s colt ended his juvenile campaign with a runner-up effort in the G2 Remsen and ended up a troubled 5th in his G2 Risen Star return. He bounced back in the Wood Memorial to gain the place late and appears to be sitting on a career top in the Derby. Javier Castellano chose him over Orb. Derby Points (44).

4. Verrazano (More Than Ready) – Pletcher trainee cruised in his first three outings but was not nearly as brilliant winning the Wood Memorial. The unraced juvenile no longer looks like a dominant force and will probably take too much action under the Twin Spires. He will make his first appearance under the Twin Spires on April 14 and John Velazquez sticks with him. Derby Points (150).

5. War Academy (Giant’s Causeway) – Baffert’s highly regarded debut winner returned with an even 4th place finish in the San Vicente on Feb. 17. He bounced back with a stylish Optional Claiming route win (98 BSF) at Santa Anita on March 15 and is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Arkansas Derby on April 13. Worked 7f from the gate in 1:26.20 (1/3) at Santa Anita on 4-7. Mike Smith’s Derby mount?

6. Overanalyze (Dixie Union) – G2 Remsen hero finished a wide, flat 5th from post 11 in his needed Gotham return. He fires every other race so a big effort could be coming in the Arkansas Derby. Breezed 5f in 1:01.30 (4/18) at Palm Meadows on 4-7. Derby Points (10).

7. Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Champagne runner-up went all the way in the G3 Delta Jackpot and scored again in the G3 Sham Stakes. He faded to 4th in the San Felipe and bounced back with a big win in the Santa Anita Derby. Ten furlongs is his biggest Derby obstacle. Derby Points (129).

8. Uncaptured (Lion Heart) – Mark Casse’s Ontario-bred ran his record to 6-for-7 in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He finished a solid 2nd in the Spiral considering the time off due to foot problems. He breezed 5f in 1:01.40 (13/80) at Keeneland on 4-6 and the Blue Grass is his final Derby prep. Derby Points (30).

Black Onyx horse

Black Onyx breezed 5f at Churchill Downs on Saturday – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

9. Black Onyx (Rock Hard Ten) – He is 2-for-2 since Kelly Breen took over the training duties and he smartly won the G3 Spiral Stakes with a wide stalk and pounce trip under Joe Bravo. He was the first Derby contender to arrive at Churchill Downs and posted his first Louisville move on April 13, breezing 5f in 1:00.60 (3/26). Derby Points (50).

10. Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid) – Won G2 With Anticipation and G3 Bourbon on turf last year and just miss the place in the BC Juvenile Turf. He flopped in his Spiral Stakes return and gets one more chance on synthetic in the Blue Grass.

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order):

Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Still not sold on this one as a Derby contender because I am skeptical about distance and he might be a Florida specialist. G3 Holy Bull hero finished a solid 2nd in the Florida Derby, his first start in nine weeks. Breezed a 5f bullet in 1:01 (1/9) at Calder on 4-11. Derby Points (50).

Mylute (Midnight Lute) – His sire is on fire and the Amoss runner was 3rd in the Delta Jackpot, 7th in the Risen Star, and 2nd in the LA Derby.  He is on the grounds at Churchill Downs. Derby Points (42).

Oxbow (Awesome Again) – G3 Lecomte hero shows up for every dance and just missed in the G2 Rebel on March 16. Gary Stevens hops aboard for the Arkansas Derby and he drew yet another outer post. Lukas trainee can rate but he went all the way in both career wins. Derby Points (36).

Vyjack horse

Garrett Gomez will ride Vyjack in the Kentucky Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Vyjack (Into Mischief) – Tasted defeat for the first time in the Wood Memorial but was hardly disgraced with a solid show finish. Garrett Gomez has been named to ride in the Kentucky Derby. Derby Points (70).

Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner is training up to the Kentucky Derby, a rare move for Wayne Lukas. Breezed 8f in 1:40.80 (1/1) at Oaklawn Park on 4-12. Derby Points (60).

Former Top Ten Members

Capo Bastone (Street Boss) – G1 FrontRunner and G1 BC Juvenile show finisher won an optional claiming route at Gulfstream on 2-16 for his new trainer Todd Pletcher and ended up 9th from the outside post in the Spiral Stakes. Derby Points (4).

Fortify (Distorted Humor) – BC Juvenile 4th place finisher finished 6th in the UAE 2000 Guineas at Meydan on 2-14. He scratched out of the Al Bastayika at Meydan on 3-9. Derby Points (3).

Frac Daddy (Scat Daddy) – Ky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up grabbed a quarter and finished 6th in the Holy Bull. He crossed the line 7th in the Florida Derby and is not ready for prime time. Breezed 5f bullet in 1:00.56 (1/13) at Gulfstream Park on 4-7 and McPeek surprisingly entered him in the Blue Grass Stakes. Derby Points (4).

Gabriel Charles (Street Boss) – He smartly won a downhill turf sprint (86 BSF) on the Saturday BC undercard at Santa Anita and was last seen landing the place in the Eddie Logan Stakes (off the turf) on 12-29. No published works since 1-31.

Know More (Lion Heart) – G1 FrontRunner place finisher was terribly mismanaged after that effort, most recently faded to last in an allowance dirt sprint at SA on 12-28. He worked 3f in :36.40 (11/28) at Santa Anita on 4-8. Derby Points (4).

Little Distorted (Distorted Humor) – Earned a 101 BSF in his NY bow Oct 28 and looks like a one hit wonder after three disappointing efforts since. He raced for his third trainer (Marty Wolfson) in the G3 Swale Stakes (finished 6th) on 3-2. They should probably regroup and give this one a breather.

Micromanage (Medaglia d’Oro) – Finished a distant last in the Remsen. That effort was too bad to believe but that’s back-to-back disappointments after a promising bow. Breezed 5f in 1:00.16 (3/10) at Palm Meadows (turf) on 4-8.

Noble Tune (Unbridled’s Song) – G3 Pilgrim winner finished a fine 2nd in the BC Juvenile Turf and flew home to capture a turf allowance event (84 BSF) at Tampa Bay to begin his 3yo season. Chad Brown decided not to enter the Blue Grass and will point to the G2 American Turf (May 3) at Churchill instead. Breezed 5f in 1:01.20 (8/35) at Keeneland on 4-7.

Pataky Kid (Rockport Harbor) – G3 Arl-Wash Futurity hero finished 7th in the G2 Hutcheson in his first start of the year and 3rd to Noble Tune in a Tampa Bay turf allowance affair. He is 7-2 on the line in the third race (allowance turf route) at Keeneland on 4-14 and Gary Stevens will ride. Breezed 5f in 1:00.40 (6/80) at Keeneland on 4-6. Derby Points (1).

Power Broker (Pulpit) – $360k purchase graduated in style vs. graded foes in FrontRunner. He raced wide and never got a chance to run his race in BC Juvenile. Baffert trainee returned in the Santa Anita Derby and finished 5th in that needed effort. Derby Points (10).

Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit) – Facile G3 Southwest hero finished a flat 5th as the beaten favorite in the Rebel. Baffert trainee set the pace and weakened to 3rd in the SA Derby and appears to have distance limitations. Derby Points (30).

Tizracer (Tiznow) – Improved smartly second time out to romp in flat mile graduation run (92 BSF) at Belmont Park on 9-8. Todd Pletcher trainee attended the pace before weakening to finish 12th in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity. He might not have care for synthetic and deserves a chance to rebound on conventional dirt.

Injured Reserve

Archwarrior (Arch) – Pletcher’s highly regarded $375k colt was a professional debut winner at Saratoga on 8-30. He finished 4th in the Champagne and was most likely done in by his lack of seasoning. He has not worked since 12-24 and is reportedly getting a break after an undisclosed physical problem. Derby Points (1).

Darwin (Big Brown) – Former exciting prospect and 4th place Nashua finisher is on holiday and could return this summer.

Flashback (Tapit) – Came out of his 2nd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby with a bone chip but is expected to make a full recovery. Derby Points (70).

Gulfport (Unbridled’s Song) – Promising Romans trainee is injured and off the Derby trail.

Hear the Ghost (Ghostzapper) – Injured his right front leg preparing for the SA Derby and if off the Triple Crown trail.

Hightail (Mineshaft) – BC Juvenile Sprint winner was injured following a recent workout at Oaklawn Park and has been retired.

Ive Struck a Nerve (Yankee Gentleman) – Surprising G2 Risen Star winner had ankle surgery on 3-12 and is off the Derby trail.

Joha (Johar) – He was pulled from the Keeneland January sale because of a minor injury. He is expected to resume racing later this year.

Shanghai Bobby (Harlan’s Holiday) – BC Juvenile winner and 2yo champ tasted defeat for the first time in the Holy Bull and faded to 5th in the nine furlong Florida Derby. He came out of the Florida Derby with a pelvic stress fracture and will need at least three months rest. Derby Points (24).

Violence (Medaglia d’Oro) – Was diagnosed with a fractured sesamoid following his game runner-up effort in the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on 2-23. He has been retired. Derby Points (10).

I’ll Have Another Scratched from Belmont Stakes

Trainer Doug O’Neill announced on Dan Patrick’s radio show that I’ll Have Another will be scratched from the Belmont Stakes.

When asked by Dan Patrick if we would see I’ll Have Another race again, O’Neill responded that if he had to gamble we have already seen I’ll Have Another’s last race.

Read the rest of this post at HorseRacingNation.com.

 

 

Will I’ll Have Another Sweep Triple Crown?

I’ll Have Another will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 when he runs in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9.

I'll Have Another

Does I’ll Have Another have what it takes to win the Triple Crown? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Since Spectacular Bid in 1979, eleven 3-year-olds have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to fail in their Triple Crown quest at Belmont Park.

Spectacular Bid appeared to be a slam dunk in the ’79 Belmont Stakes but received a questionable ride and finished 3rd. Pleasant Colony was also 3rd in his failed bid in 1981. Alysheba finished a disappointing 4th behind runaway winner Bet Twice in 1987. Easy Goer turned the tables on his arch rival Sunday Silence to deny history in 1989.

Touch Gold turned the tables on Silver Charm in 1997. Real Quiet moved too soon and Victory Gallop made him pay the price late in 1998. My value top Lemon Drop Kid spoiled Charismatic‘s party in 1999.

Big Brown

Big Brown was a big frown in 2008 Belmont Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

War Emblem faded to 8th while Sarava lit up the tote in 2002. My Derby top Empire Maker got sweet revenge on Funny Cide in 2003. I was never on the Smarty Jones bandwagon and was not surprised to see him go down to Birdstone in 2004. Finally, I was not a fan of Big Brown and expected him to go down in flames in 2008 but I was not smart enough to come up with Da Tara.

I did not start attending the races until 1980 so I just missed Spectacular Bid’s 3-year-old season, but I did see the last ten failed attempts and know how hard it is to complete the sweep with a win in the Test of Champions.

I’ll Have Another has a winning spirit, versatile running style, and a promising pedigree, but is that enough to complete a seemingly impossible task? History is not on his side.

Mario Gutierrez has been a huge asset up to this point, but so was Stewart Elliott aboard Smarty Jones until he was harassed by Rock Hard Ten (Alex Solis) and Eddington (Jerry Bailey) at Big Sandy. Kent Desormeaux jumped the gun in ’98 aboard Real Quiet and Gary Stevens and Victory Gallop tagged him late. Gutierrez has been a cool customer so far but the inexperienced pilot could get lost in the vastness of Belmont Park.

Ruler On Ice

Last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On ice – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Fresh, talented rivals also make the twelve furlong task a daunting one. Empire Maker, 2nd to Funny Cide in the 2003 Derby, skipped the Preakness and turned the tables on him in the Belmont. Birdstone did the same thing to Smarty Jones in 2005. The last six Belmont Stakes winners (Ruler On Ice, Drosselmeyer, Summer Bird, Da’  Tara, Rags To Riches, Jazil) did not run in the Preakness Stakes.

The most dangerous threat to I’ll Have Another is Union Rags. The Michael Matz trainee is a 3-time graded winner exiting back-to-back troubled trips under Julien Leparoux in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. I have always thought that he was the most talented member of his generation and a clean trip is all he needs to prove me right. Look for Matz to reach out for an experienced NY rider for the Belmont Stakes.

Alpha is another interesting candidate and reminds me of last year’s Belmont Stakes runner-up Stay Thirsty. He owns tactical speed, is bred to run all day, and should get better with age. Kiaran McLaughlin won the 2006 Belmont Stakes with Jazil. This year’s Kentucky Derby show finisher Dullahan is also waiting in the wings.

Much will be written and said in the weeks leading up to the Belmont Stakes. I would like to see a Triple Crown winner as much as anyone and will be pleasantly surprised if history is made at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 9. Let the games begin!

Preakness Recap: I’ll Have Another Wins Again

In a virtual repeat of the Kentucky Derby, I’ll Have Another ran down Bodemeister to win Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

I'll Have Another

Will I’ll Have Another end the Triple Crown drought? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Bodemeister set a controlled tempo as expected and briefly appeared home free in the lane but I’ll Have Another put in a relentless rally and stuck his neck out in deep stretch.

It was almost nine lengths back to show finisher Creative Cause.

I’ll Have Another completed his nine and one-half furlong journey in 1:55.94 and paid $8.40 as the second betting choice. Once again, Mario Gutierrez rode the son of Flower Alley perfectly for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill.

Bodemeister was game in defeat and has accomplished so much this year for trainer Bob Baffert. The Preakness was his third start in the last five weeks and he is not expected to contest the Belmont Stakes.

I’ll Have Another will attempt a Triple Crown sweep in the Belmont Stakes on June 9. If he pulls it off he would be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Let’s recap the entire Preakness field…

1st – I’ll Have Another: Ran down Bodemeister again. He has won four straight and goes for Triple Crown at Belmont on June 9.

2nd – Bodemeister: Looked home free but once again he ran out of gas late. He has been very busy this year and has earned a rest.

3rd – Creative Cause: Did all of the pace dirty work and could not match strides with the top two. He is another in need of a break.

4th – Zetterholm: NY-bred ended up an okay 4th for Dutrow. I would not be shocked if he showed up in the Belmont Stakes.

5th – Teeth of the Dog:  Second stringer for Matz ran about as well as expected and remains a few notches below the best.

6th – Optimizer: Has now dropped eight straight on conventional dirt. He clearly prefers turf or synthetic.

7th – Cozzetti: G2 Tampa Bay Derby show finisher remains eligible for an entry level spot. Lone win in slop at CD.

8th – Tiger Walk: Stalked and faded on Saturday. Graduated on turf and could end up back on that footing.

9th – Daddy Nose Best: Has won on dirt, synthetic, and turf so Asmussen has plenty of options in the coming months.

10th – Went The Day Well: Motion trainee barely lifted a hoof. He handles any ground and is much better than he showed today.

11th Pretension: NY-bred needs a much easier spot.