Posts Tagged ‘Fellowship’

Preakness 2016 Preview: Nyquist 3-5 Favorite

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

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

preakness draw 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kentucky Derby 2016 Recap + Early Preakness Preview

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

Nyquist

Kentucky Derby 2016 winner Nyquist – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Creator Storms Home in Final Points Race

The long and winding road to Kentucky Derby 2016 made a final stop at Oaklawn Park on April 16 and Creator roared home from off the pace to capture the Arkansas Derby.

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

Now that all of the points races are complete, it is time to focus on final workouts and the post position draw. The horses are beginning to gather under the Twin Spires and the excitement is starting to build.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G1 Arkansas Derby (4-16-16, 96 BSF): Creator’s late rally fell short in the G2 Rebel but the extra distance helped propel him to victory in the Arkansas Derby. He is clearly on the upswing for Steve Asmussen and I like it when closers rally through traffic, something fellow Derby hopeful Mo Tom has not been able to do. Suddenbreakingnews seemed to be struggling but kept plugging away, found his best stride in the lane, and was up for the place in a solid effort. Whitmore hit the board in the Southwest and Rebel and grabbed show dough on Saturday. To give us a gauge on the LA Derby, the show finisher in that heat, Dazzling Gem, finished an even 4th (beaten 4.75 lengths) in this affair. As for post time favorite Cupid, the wheels fell off the cart in the Arkansas Derby. His race was basically over after a less than ideal break. Garcia tried to push him forward but he was squeezed a bit and was chasing fast fractions before fading badly and crossing the line in 10th place. He surprisingly set the pace in the Rebel and they seemed intent on using the same tactics again but to no avail this time. He exited the Oaklawn showcase with an entrapped epiglottis and will miss the Kentucky Derby. The Preakness is still an option for the Baffert trainee. The pace fell apart in this race, something that has happened quite a bit on the Derby trail recently.

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 :46.80 (1/27) at Churchill Downs on April 20.

Comments: I thought he was the best 3-year-old in the country prior to the G1 Florida Derby and I am sticking to my guns for several reasons. In the G1 Florida Derby, he made a mild bid before ending up a well beaten 4th but that does not begin to tell the story. He never looked happy, raced wide from an outer post, was not handling the wet surface, and had to be coaxed to keep up instead of cruising along like he usually does. I will toss-out his final Derby prep and look for him to run a much better race on the first Saturday in May. He shipped to Churchill Downs April 17, uncorked a strong four furlong bullet April 20, and galloped out with interest. He maintains his #1 ranking, a spot he has occupied since I first started my 2016 Derby contender list more than six months ago.

Derby Points (80)  

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.60 (39/55) at Santa Anita on April 21.

Comments: Exaggerator really turned the tables on him in the SA Derby but the first Saturday in May is the big prize. He has never finished out of the Exacta, handles any footing, and was 2nd in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall. The one-paced, grinding type lacks explosiveness and that is a major concern but he is a gem of consistency and might be the most reliable of the Derby contenders. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied for more than five months.

Derby Points (84)

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

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

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

Comments: With Mohaymen swimming upstream, the undefeated, two-year-old champion had a very easy time of it on the front end against severely overmatched pace rivals in the G1 Florida Derby. I never liked his one sprint/one route path to the Kentucky Derby and he will take more money than he should on the first Saturday in May. Many question his ability to get ten furlongs based on his pedigree and that might be the case but I just don’t think he is fast enough around two turns to win the Derby. His best career number was earned in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs earlier this year and his Florida Derby speed figure was nothing special. He shipped to Keeneland to begin Derby preparations April 3 and is scheduled to work next on April 23.

Derby Points (130)

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

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

Comments: Both of his two turn wins (Delta Jackpot, SA Derby) were accomplished on wet tracks and he totally freaked at Santa Anita last time. He has turned into a strong late runner, has plenty of seasoning, and I love the way trainer Keith Desormeaux has handled him this year in regards to distance progression (7f San Vicente, 8.5f San Felipe, 9f SA Derby). Kent Desormeaux was more patient with him in the SA Derby and his well-timed ride resulted in a strong finish in his final Derby prep. A wet track at Churchill Downs would make him the one to beat but I am not sure what he will do on dry land. He stays put at #4.

Derby Points (126)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.94 (1/2) at Palm Beach Downs on April 16.

Comments: He was impressive in his final Derby prep (Tampa Bay Derby) and was flattered when a pair of his vanquished foes from that race (Outwork, Brody’s Cause) returned to win the G1 Wood Memorial and G1 Blue Grass. I like his positional speed and improving form but he still needs to prove he can run a big race away from Tampa Bay Downs. His connections were worried about a bounce so they decided to skip his final prep and train up to the Derby. He won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12, returned to the work tab April 2, has never raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth, and the Kentucky Derby will be his first start in two months. He has positives and negatives like many top Derby contenders this year.

Derby Points (51)

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

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

Comments: The impressive Southwest winner could not overcome a troubled trip from the outside post in the Rebel Stakes but bounced back with a much better performance in the Arkansas Derby. It looked like he was going nowhere in his final Derby prep but eventually started advancing in the middle of the track and got up for the place to secure a spot on the first Saturday in May. He has plenty of stamina and is one of several quality late runners but has shown some running style versatility in the past.

Derby Points (50)

(7) CREATOR (Tapit – Morena, by Privately Held)

Trainer (Steve Asmussen) – Owner (WinStar Farm)

Comments: He broke his maiden in his sixth career start Feb 27, rallied for the show in the G2 Rebel Stakes March 19, and went last-to-first while working his way through traffic to capture his first graded stakes race in the G1 Arkansas Derby April 16. He is getting good in a hurry, has stamina influences throughout his pedigree, and could be heard from late on May 7.

Derby Points (110)

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

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

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner proved once again that Keeneland is his favorite venue after a solid off the pace effort in the G1 Blue Grass. The G1 BC Juvenile show finisher threw in a clunker in his G2 Tampa Bay Derby return on March 12 but some horses do not handle the Tampa Bay surface and he bounced back as expected on April 9. He broke his maiden at Churchill so a return to Kentucky was definitely what the doctor ordered. The Blue Grass pace fell apart and the number did not come back strong. He has been part of my Derby list all along so I have obviously liked him for quite some time.

Derby Points (114)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00 (1/16) at Churchill Downs on April 18.

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

Derby Points (151)     

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

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

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

Derby Points (60)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47 (2/27) at Churchill Downs on April 20.

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

Derby Points (32)

THE NEXT NINE +1: (12) Outwork, (13) My Man Sam, (14) Whitmore, (15) Shagaf, (16) Tom’s Ready, (17) Lani, (18) Majesto, (19) Oscar Nominated, (20) Trojan Nation, (21) Fellowship

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Blue Grass, SA Derby, and Wood Memorial video analysis

The road to Kentucky Derby 2016 makes pit stops in California, New York, and Kentucky this week with a trio of 170 Derby points races.

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit tries to get his revenge in the SA Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Santa Anita Derby is a rematch between the top three finishers in the San Felipe – Danzing Candy, Mor Spirit, and Exaggerator. The pace scenario might favor Mor Spirit but if the track comes up wet (a real possibility) all bets are off!

The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct features undefeated Gotham hero Shagaf but he is light on numbers. Watch for fast stakes newcomer Matt King Coal to attempt a wire job.

Finally, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland features a full field of fourteen with two also-eligibles. Fountain of Youth runner-up Zulu is the 5-2 morning line favorite and Keeneland lover Brody’s Cause tries to bounce back after his non-effort in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Spiral Stakes (4-2-16, 82 BSF): In a five-horse blanket finish, Oscar Nominated got the neck victory and 50 Kentucky Derby points. He is not nominated to the Triple Crown series but owner Ken Ramsey is expected to pay the $200,000 supplemental fee to get him into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Azar was 2nd for Todd Pletcher and local hope Surgical Strike was 3rd. Disappointing efforts were turned in by Ralis (5th), Kasseopia (7th), Airoforce (8th), and Jensen (10th). The speed figure came back low and this was not a strong Derby prep.

G1 Florida Derby (4-2-16, 94 BSF): Nyquist remained undefeated with an easy wire-to-wire score, a result became a foregone conclusion when Mohaymen failed to handle the wet track. Nyquist is now the clear Kentucky Derby favorite. Majesto held 2nd by a length over late running Fellowship. The latter was dusted by Mohaymen in the Holy Bull and FOY but beat him by four lengths in this spot. Mohamen was wide and never looked comfortable over the off going. Common sense tells us that he is much better than Fellowship and he probably would have won the Florida Derby if he repeated his easy Fountain of Youth triumph. The other six entrants were hopelessly overmatched and ran to their long odds. The top four finishers are all expected to target the Kentucky Derby.

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 was a perfect 5-for-5 heading into the G1 Florida Derby but never looked happy in a very disappointing 4th place finish. He raced wide from an outer post, was clearly not handling the wet surface, and had to be coaxed to keep up instead of cruising along like he usually does. This is a toss-out race for him and he could easily bounce back on the first Saturday in May if he trains well in the coming weeks. His top BSF of 95 is not going to win the Derby but I think he is capable of running faster based on how easy he made it look in his stakes races prior to the Florida Derby. Still, he needs to run the fastest race of his life at Churchill if he expects to be competitive. I think he can and will be a much better horse under the Twin Spires and he maintains his #1 ranking for now. He no longer has a stranglehold on the top spot and an impressive effort from Mor Spirit on Saturday could shake things up a bit.

Derby Points (80)  

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47 (2/58) at Santa Anita on April 4.

Comments: He has never finished out of the Exacta and his speed figure in the San Felipe was his best yet. He received valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall and appears primed for a big effort in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He is training well for his Saturday engagement and should get pace to chase. He might be the most reliable of the Derby contenders. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied for more than five months, and Mohaymen can hear his footsteps now.

Derby Points (44)

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

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

Comments: The 2-year-old champion sure has a nose for the wire and ran his record to 7-for-7 with an easier than expected wire job win in the G1 Florida Derby. His task became much easier when his only competition Mohaymen failed to fire. I never like his one sprint/one route path to the Kentucky Derby and the 2-year-old champ will take more money than he should on the first Saturday in May. Many question his ability to get ten furlongs based on his pedigree and that might be the case but I just don’t think he is fast enough around two turns to win the Derby. His best overall number was earned in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs earlier this year. He shipped to Keeneland April 3 and had a slightly elevated white blood cell count (possibly caused by stress) April 7.

Derby Points (130)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.80 (56/70) at Santa Anita Park on April 2.

Comments: He made a big, premature move in the G2 San Felipe before flattening out and finishing 3rd behind Danzig Candy and Mor Spirit last time. Many have seemingly jumped ship and decided that he has distance limitations but I want to see what he does in the SA Derby before making any final conclusions. He has plenty of seasoning and foundation and I like the way trainer Keith Desormeaux has handled him this year in regards to distance progression (7f, 8.5f, 9f). Hopefully Kent Desormeaux is more patient with him this Saturday because he needs a well-timed ride and a strong finish in his final Derby prep. He stays put at #4.

Derby Points (26)

(5) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home) Matt King Coal

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

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:25.28 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on March 30.

Comments: He ran fast twice last year in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a got a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a number much better than the G3 Gotham a day earlier. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next and he should be a strong factor from start to finish in that event. He will get a class and distance test in Saturday’s Wood and we will know if he is the real deal after that affair. He stays put at #5 and the Wood is his one and only chance to make the Derby.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.98 (6/17) at Palm Beach Downs on April 2.

Comments: The improving son of Giant’s Causeway exits back-to-back stakes wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs. He finally returned to the work tab on April 2 but they have decided to skip his final prep and train up to the Derby. He has never raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth and the Kentucky Derby will be his first start in two months.

Derby Points (51)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (13/70) at Santa Anita Park on April 2.

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He drilled a faster than expected five furlong bullet on March 26 and his connections need to harness his speed and leave something in the tank for the SA Derby on April 9. He should get tested early and often on Saturday.

Derby Points (50)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.80 (8/39) at Oaklawn Park on April 1.

Comments: He made his way onto my list after a strong last-to-first score in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In his last start in the G2 Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He deserves another chance and will get a shot at redemption in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 16.

Derby Points (10)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:24.60 (1/3) at Santa Anita Park on April 6.

Comments: The late bloomer is getting good in a hurry and his improvement can be attributed to racing over a route of ground. He lost his first two sprint starts (finished 2nd Jan 9) and proceeded to easily graduate at a mile and a sixteenth Feb 7 and followed that up with a gritty prominent throughout score in the G2 Rebel Stakes March 19. He will return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby and could give Baffert a strong 1-2 Derby punch if he turns in another big effort on April 16.

Derby Points (50)

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

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables, Tabor, Magnier, and Smith)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.07 (8/17) at Palm Beach Downs on April 2.

Comments: Trainer Todd Pletcher decided to skip the Florida Derby and he has been redirected to the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Blue Grass and will add blinkers for that engagement. He is light on seasoning and needs a strong test in his final Derby prep. We will see how talented he is after the Keeneland showcase but even if he runs well the Derby might be too much too soon.

Derby Points (20)

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

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Spiral Stakes/Florida Derby video analysis

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen is the even money favorite against nine rivals including undefeated juvenile champion Nyquist in Saturday’s Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Mohaymen

Florida Derby favorite Mohaymen – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mohaymen seems to have every advantage on Saturday. He is 2-for-2 at Gulfstream and drew outside his main rival Nyquist. He owns running style versatility and also won the G2 Remsen Stakes at the nine furlong Florida Derby distance last year.

Nyquist looked super in his G2 San Vicente return but the Florida Derby will be his first start around two turns in more than five months. He is chasing a $1 million bonus as a Fasig-Tipton sales graduate running in the Florida Derby and is expected to head straight to Kentucky to prepare for the Derby after Saturday’s race.

Fellowship finished 3rd in the G2 Holy Bull and G2 Fountain of Youth and there is a good chance that he will occupy that spot again. The others seem overmatched and another show finish (or possibly 4th) will net Fellowship enough points to quality for the Kentucky Derby.

The Grade 2 Spiral Stakes attracted a full field of twelve with two also-eligibles. The nine furlong Kentucky Derby prep will be contested on Polytrack (synthetic footing) and it is worth a total of 85 Derby qualifying points (50-20-10-5), half the amount of points offered in the Florida Derby.

Jensen has been part of my Derby list for the last few weeks but owner/trainer Larry Jones did not nominate him to the Triple Crown at the recently concluded late stage and would have to pay $200,000 to supplement him if he earns enough Derby qualifying points in the Spiral. Jones is on record as saying he can make good money with the son of Haynesfield by ducking the big boys and choosing his spots wisely. He drops off my list but could resurface if he dominates the Spiral and they decide to pay the supplemental fees.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Louisiana Derby (3-26-16, 91 BSF): In a replay of the G2 Risen Star, Gun Runner sat a perfect stalking trip and got the jump on a troubled Mo Tom again. The latter received a questionable ride but late runners in full fields are always at the mercy of the pace, need racing luck, and are frequently bad win propositions. Tom’s Ready occasionally shows up with a big effort and he is in the Derby for Dallas Stewart after finishing 2nd on Saturday. Stewart can be dangerous in the exotics with longshots in Triple Crown races (Golden Soul, Commanding Curve, Tale of Verve). Dazzling Gem picked up 20 points for finishing 3rd but he is not close to being as talented as very unlucky 4th place finisher Mo Tom (36 Derby points). My longtime Top 5 Derby contender Greenpointcrusader was a bust in 7th place. I never liked the decision to take time off after his solid 2nd in the G2 Holy Bull and I am not sure what they are going to do next. 14 Derby points is not going to cut it and he is a NY horse so maybe they shoot for the Peter Pan/Belmont Stakes. Is he better routing or sprinting? Does he need a wet track? There are more questions than answers and he drops off my list. The speed figure came back low and the Fair Grounds horses are not fast enough to be considered major win contenders on the first Saturday in May.

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

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

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

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

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase is undefeated and 4-for-4 in the graded ranks (G2 Nashua, G2 Remsen, G2 Holy Bull, G2 Fountain of Youth). The versatile sort has shown no chinks in the armor and can cement his status as the early Kentucky Derby favorite with a win in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, April 2. I started my Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders list last September and Mohaymen has occupied the top spot all along.

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 (1/20) at Santa Anita on March 30.

Comments: Jockey Gary Stevens and trainer Bob Baffert used the G2 San Felipe Stakes to teach Mor Spirit to relax and finish up strong and their mission was accomplished after he rallied for the place and galloped out strongly. They want him to peak on the first Saturday in May and the $650k son of Eskendereya has never finished out of the Exacta. He received valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall and should be set for a big effort in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (44)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03 (56/72) at Santa Anita on March 25.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion has not competed in a Kentucky Derby points race since the 2015 BC Juvenile and the upcoming Florida Derby will be his first two turn race in more than five months. I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Kentucky Derby and he is eligible for a $1 million Fasig-Tipton sales graduate bonus if he wins the Florida Derby on April 2. He moves up a notch to #3.

Derby Points (30)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (11/54) at Santa Anita Park on March 26.

Comments: He made a big, premature move in the G2 San Felipe before flattening out and finishing 3rd behind Danzig Candy and Mor Spirit last time. Many have seemingly jumped ship and decided that he has distance limitations but I want to see what he does in the SA Derby before making any final conclusions. He has plenty of seasoning and foundation and I like the way trainer Keith Desormeaux has handled him this year in regards to distance progression (7f, 8.5f, 9f). Hopefully jockey Kent Desormeaux is more patient with him in the SA Derby because he needs a well-timed ride and a strong finish in his final Derby prep. He moves up one spot to #4.

Derby Points (26)

(5) MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man – Donna Marie, by Came Home) Matt King Coal

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

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:25.28 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on March 30.

Comments: We know he is fast because of his two juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a number much better than the G3 Gotham a day earlier. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next and he should be a strong factor from start to finish in that event. He will get a class and distance test in the Wood and we will know if he is the real deal after that affair. He makes his debut in the Top 5.

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

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

Comments: The improving son of Giant’s Causeway exits back-to-back stakes wins in the Sam F. Davis (91 BSF) and G2 Tampa Bay Derby (100 BSF). Creative Cause’s brother owns fine positional speed and is getting good at the right time but still needs to prove his worth away from the friendly confines of Tampa Bay Downs. We are closing in on three weeks since the Tampa Bay Derby and he has yet to resurface on the work tab. He is expected to go next in the Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby. He moves up one spot to #6.

Derby Points (51)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :58.60 (1/54) at Santa Anita Park on March 26.

Comments: Ran his win streak to three with a sharp wire-to-wire score in the G2 San Felipe, smartly beating quality Derby contenders Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. He is fast and talented but he still has some stamina and versatility questions to answer. I would consider him a very serious Kentucky Derby win contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He drilled a faster than expected five furlong bullet on March 26 and his connections need to harness his speed and leave something in the tank for the SA Derby on April 9. He goes from #8 to #7.

Derby Points (50)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.80 (8/39) at Oaklawn Park on April 1.

Comments: He made his way onto my list after a strong last-to-first score in the G3 Southwest, his sixth exacta finish from as many starts up to that point. In his last start in the G2 Rebel Stakes on March 12, he was wide early from post 14, raced in traffic, briefly lost action, steadied, and missed 4th by a head in a troubled, inconclusive effort. He deserves another chance and will get a shot at redemption in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 16. He is on his way back up the ladder to #8.

Derby Points (10)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.90 (17/76) at Gulfstream Park on March 27.

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :50 (37/44) at Santa Anita Park on March 31.

Comments: The late bloomer is getting good in a hurry and it is all about two turns. He lost his first two sprint starts (finished 2nd Jan 9) but proceeded to easily graduate at a mile and a sixteenth Feb 7 and followed that up with a gritty prominent throughout score in the G2 Rebel Stakes March 19. He will probably return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby. He makes his debut on the list at #10.

Derby Points (50)

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

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables, Tabor, Magnier, and Smith)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.43 (14/24) at Palm Beach on March 26.

Comments: What he lacks in seasoning he makes up for in talent. The Pletcher trainee returns to my list after dropping off the last couple of weeks to make room for the likes of Destin and Danzing Candy. The Fountain of Youth runner-up was originally scheduled to run in the Florida Derby but his connections did not want to take on the two undefeated heavyweights in that contest so he will leave Gulfstream for the first time and shoot for the Blue Grass or Wood Memorial.

Derby Points (20)

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) My Man Sam, (15) Shagaf, (16) Whitmore, (17) Kasseopia, (18) Outwork, (19) Tom’s Ready, (20) Fellowship

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

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 2015 Video Preview Featuring Nyquist & Greenpointcrusader