Posts Tagged ‘Dunkirk’

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders – Havana pops Champagne cork

Todd Pletcher’s top early Kentucky Derby 2014 contender Havana followed up a sharp debut maiden win with a game neck victory in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, October 5.

Havana holds off Honor Code in G1 Champagne – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Havana dueled through honest splits of :22.87 and :45.54. He opened up a 2-1/2 length lead after six panels in 1:10.12 and widened his advantage to 4-1/2 lengths in the lane.

The Champagne was not ready to be uncorked with Honor Code was flying home on the outside, but he came up a tad short in a gallant effort. Ride On Curlin was well clear of the rest in 3rd. The final time was 1:35.81, which translated to a solid 93 BSF.

We Miss Artie is a Grade I winner on paper after capturing Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity, but he only received a 70 BSF for his winning effort. He needs to run much faster if he expects to be competitive on Breeders’ Cup day.

Sunday’s Grade III Grey Stakes winner Ami’s Holiday garnered an 80 BSF against three opponents.

This is only my second Kentucky Derby 2014 contenders blog, and at this early stage, my original “exceptional eleven” contenders remain intact despite some disappointing efforts. Ride On Curlin ran fast enough to be considered and will have every chance to join my list with another strong performance.

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. PURPLE SKY (Pulpit – Tessa Blue, by Awesome Again)

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :50.80 (50/65) at Churchill Downs on 10-12.

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in Aug. 31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He overcame adversity to earn diploma at Churchill Downs (one mile) on 9-28.

2. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5 and will skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

3. MISCONNECT (Unbridled’s Song – Summer Raven, by Summer Squall)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

Comments: Battled on the pace throughout and was 2nd best to Honor Code in his 8-31 debut at the Spa. He graduated by a length at Belmont on 9-28 (85 BSF).

4. HAVANA (Dunkirk – Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Taber, Magnier, and Smith

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. The BC Juvenile on 11-2 is next.

5. NEW YEAR’S DAY (Street Cry – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Gary & Mary West

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in 4f in :47.80 (1/27) at Santa Anita on 10-8.

Comments: Rallied for 3rd in his 5.5f Del Mar debut 8-17 and won by 1-3/4 lengths (one mile) at that same venue 8-31.

Strong Mandate will try to rebound in the G1 BC Juvenile – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

6. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)

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

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and will likely try to rebound in G1 BC Juvenile.

7. SCHOOLOFHARDROCKS (Rock Hard Ten – Miss Chapin, by Royal Academy)

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (32/48) at Santa Anita on 9-25.

Comments: It is not easy to win a route race first time out, but he did just at Del Mar on 8-31. Veteran jockey Victor Espinoza is high on this one. “He’s a very talented horse,” Espinoza said of the son of Rock Hard Ten. “I liked him the first time I saw him. I was impressed with how he ran going a mile and winning from the one hole (at odds of 10-1 Aug. 31 at Del Mar). I feel he’ll get even better.” Schoolofhardrocks scratched out of the FrontRunner Stakes. “It’s not too significant,” trainer David Hofmans said of the unrevealed injury. “It’s a problem we’re working on.”

8. GRAND ARRIVAL (Harlan’s Holiday – Grandstone, by Grindstone)

Trainer: Nick Zito – Owner: Ameche Jr., Ameche III, & Prancing Horse Enterprises

Comments: Distant 3rd in his 7-22 Saratoga debut (Strong Mandate 5th). Romped by 6-1/4 lengths as the 3-2 favorite at that same venue at 7f second time out on 8-31 (sloppy, sealed). Attended pace and retreated to 8th in Champagne. He should get better with age.

9. KENDALL’S BOY (Sky Mesa – Golden Damsel, by Gold Token)

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Comments: Clearly second best to Havana in his 8-23 debut (94 BSF) at the Spa and rolled by 5-1/4 lengths at 6f under the Twin Spires on 9-13. He never appeared comfortable on synthetic footing and was not persevered with in 11th place Breeders’ Futurity effort.

10. CANDIP (Candy Ride – Indefinable, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: W. Bret Calhoun  – Owner: Sanders and Hirsch

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :51.41 (8/14) at Remington Park on 9-22.

Comments: Coasted home by 4-1/4 lengths in his 5.5f Remington bow on 9-2 (89 BSF).

11. GIVE NO QUARTER (Tiz Wonderful – Roadtohanna, by Not for Love)

Trainer: Graham Motion – Owner: Sagamore Farm

Comments: Two races at Presque Isle with a clear place finish in his 5.5f bow on 8-15 and a 22-length romp at one mile on 9-17 (85 BSF). He was eased without an apparent excuse in the G3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 6. From Graham Motion’s Twitter account: @GrahamMotion – I’m afraid I can’t give an explanation for Give no Quarter’s poor performance at Woodbine today. He seems to have cooled out fine.

Pedigree Spotlight: Havana

Havana’s hot freshman sire Dunkirk (Unbridled’s Song – Secret Status, by A.P. Indy) had a brief but productive 5-race career in 2009, beginning with a debut maiden win at Gulfstream Park in January.

havana pedigree

Dunkirk captured an allowance race in Florida second time out, and followed that up with a 2nd in the Florida Derby, a troubled 11th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, and a 2nd place effort in the Belmont Stakes. He suffered a condylar fracture to his left hind cannon bone during the Test of Champions and was unable to return to the races. He stands at Ashford Stud in Versailles, KY.

Dunkirk’s late sire Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled – Trolley Song, by Caro) captured the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 1995 and won the G1 Florida Derby and G2 Wood Memorial as a sophomore. Plagued by tender feet, he finished 5th as the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

As a stallion, Unbridled’s Song was responsible for more than 100 stakes winners including 2013 G1 Travers hero Will Take Charge.

Unbridled’s Song’s sire Unbridled (Fappiano – Gana Facil, by Le Fabuleux) won the G1 Florida Derby, G1 Kentucky Derby, and G1 BC Classic in 1990. He earned more than $4.4 million on the racetrack and sired classic winners Grindstone, Red Bullet, and Empire Maker.

Dunkirk’s mother Secret Status (by A.P. Indy) took the G1 Kentucky Oaks and G1 Mother Goose in 2000.

Secret Status’s papa A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Havana’s mother Missy Turtle was a 4-time dirt sprint winner ($103,283 earnings) from 2000-04.

Missy Turtle’s father Kyle’s Our Man (by In Reality) won the G3 Nashua as a juvenile in 1990 and the G2 Gotham as a 3yo in 1991.

Missy Turtle’s mother Redding Ridge (by Screen King) won 7 of 37 starts and earned more than $164k, including wins in the 1988 Dearly Precious Stakes, and the 1989 Alma North Handicap and Dearly Precious Stakes.

Havana has more speed than stamina influences in his pedigree, especially on the dam side. He could stay two turns, up to nine furlongs, and possibly beyond, if he learns to relax and better distribute his available energy.

Farm Hopping: Hello, Union Rags!

by Jarrod Horak

Earlier this week, I ventured to Lexington, Kentucky with Candice Curtis and Stacy Edwards to visit with some of our favorite equine stars.

First stop was Lane’s End Farm. We spent some quality time with the likes of After Market, Candy Ride, City Zip, Curlin, Discreetly Mine, English Channel, The Factor, Lemon Drop Kid, Pleasantly Perfect, Quality Road, Smart Strike, and Union Rags.

Seeing these equine legends brought back some handicapping memories. I was in the early stages of my stint with Racing On The Net when Lemon Drop Kid captured the Belmont Stakes, and he was one of my first significant online play of the day winners.

I made my first trek to Santa Anita Park for the 2003 Breeders’ Cup and Pleasantly Perfect won the Classic that year.

Jarrod and rags 2

Fast forward to 2012 and Union Rags was my Derby horse. He had a less than ideal trip that day but redeemed himself in the Belmont Stakes. He retired shortly after the Test of Champions and I relocated to Kentucky just in time to visit the regal looking son of Dixie Union. He was taking a nap when we first arrived but curiosity got the best of him and he came over to see what we were up to. I rubbed his nose a few times and the gentle giant went back to sleep in the blink of an eye.

Some delicious refreshments were offered including chili and quiche. Real men don’t eat quiche but I had some anyway before out next stop — Ashford Stud.

Coolmore America is an impressive operation with an imposing group of young stallions including Cape Blanco, Dunkirk, Hansen, Lookin At Lucky, Stay Thirsty, and Uncle Mo. It was also a pleasure to see veteran sires Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant’s Causeway, Tale of the Cat, and Thunder Gulch.

Candice got her picture taken with her early racing idol Thunder Gulch, and for Stacy it was all about Stay Thirsty.

Hansen horse

Hansen stood out with his soft, light coat. He seemed a bit edgy at first but calmed down nicely once he got outside and allowed us to get up close and personal. Our picture perfect day was not over yet, because we were only a hop, skip, and a jump from Three Chimneys.

Stacy told me to wear my Big Brown hat since she knew we would be visiting the 2008 Derby winner, but before that I had to get a glimpse of my 2001 Derby horse, Point Given.

Point Given horse

I was all over Point Given before, during, and after the 2001 Triple Crown trail, and I even traveled to Big Sandy to watch him romp in the Belmont Stakes. He seemed unaware that I was there but just as I was about to walk away he pranced over and allowed me to share a moment with him. To his right was young stallion Caleb’s Posse. Brilliant Speed was just down the road and Ice Box was in the middle of his meet and greet with the fans.

We journeyed outside and as we walked down the path, a horse handler looked at my hat and said “I know who you want to see.” Actually, Colonel John was my Derby horse that year, but I played along.

Big Brown horse

Big Brown is a magnificent looking bay son of Boundary, standing at 16.1 hands, and he seems to know that he is a Derby winner.

We proceeded to walk a bit further down the path and were greeted by Marketing and Communications Director Jen Roytz. She was very gracious and asked us if we would like to see any horses.

She showed us Exchange Rate, Red Giant, and War Chant, and walked us to the next viewing area to visit with I’ll Have Another’s proud papa Flower Alley, who seemed to set a world record for chowing down his food. Jen was very excited about showing off low profile sire Lewis Michael, and we were more than happy to the share our day with the handsome son of Rahy.

Before we left Three Chimneys, we had a lengthy conversation with a veteran bloodstock consultant and helped ourselves to some food offered during the open house. Chili was on the menu again, and although it was tasty, I have to give the cook-off award to Lane’s End.

Wise Dan

We hopped in the car and headed to our final destination, Keeneland. It was the first day of the January sale but before hitting the pavilion, we toured the grounds, snapped some more photos, and reminisced about last year’s stakes winners through the eyes of the lawn jockeys.

As for the sale, Trip for A. J. (hip 241) went for $310k, and we left after Big Tiz (hip 299) brought down the gavel at a cool $600k.

This was our first of many planned Kentucky farm visits. 2013 is off to a wonderful start and that spring aroma in the not too distant future can only mean one thing – live racing at Keeneland is just around the corner!

If you would like to view more of our farm adventure pictures, please visit Stacy’s Kentucky Horse Racing Photos page.