Posts Tagged ‘Mohaymen’

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: Louisiana Derby video analysis

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2016 contender Mohaymen is getting closer to his final prep race before his date with destiny on the first Saturday in May.

Mohaymen

Mohaymen is ready for the Florida Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Mohaymen completed his Florida Derby preparations with an easy four furlong breeze on March 24. In the Florida Derby on Saturday, April 2, he will meet undefeated Juvenile Champion Nyquist in what is shaping up as the most anticipated prep race of the Derby season.

The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at nine furlongs is the Kentucky Derby prep this week and it is worth a total of 170 Derby qualifying points (100-40-20-10). A competitive field of eleven will line up in what promises to be a very good betting race.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Rebel Stakes (3-19-16, 95 BSF): Martin Garcia took no chances aboard Cupid. He shot straight to the front after breaking a bit slow and kicked away from Whitmore when that one came after him in the lane. He won by a comfortable 1-1/4 lengths and galloped out strong. Bob Baffert’s exciting $900k son of Tapit figures to return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby. He did not quite make it into the Top 11 this week but moved up from #20 to #14. Southwest Stakes runner-up Whitmore played second fiddle again and Creator was 3rd, followed by Cherry Wine and a troubled Suddenbreakingnews.

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 ran his record to 5-for-5 after comfortably beating Zulu the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27. 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 had his final Florida Derby breeze on March 24 remains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015. At this stage it looks like a field of six for the Florida Derby: Mohaymen, Nyquist, Fellowship, along with longshots Ifyousnoozeyoulose, Sawyers Mickey, and Majesto.

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: 4f in :47.80 (2/27) at Santa Anita on March 24.

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He has never finished out of the exacta including a better than appears place finish behind wire job winner Danzing Candy in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 12. In the San Felipe, jockey Gary Stevens said he was too fresh and eager to go early and after settling he passed Exaggerator for the place and galloped out nicely. Baffert and company keep learning more about him and the versatile sort will take on Danzing Candy again in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 9. He had his first SA Derby work on March 24 and stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (44)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.30 (6/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best to Mohaymen. He drew post 2 and is listed at 7-2 on the morning line in the G2 Louisiana Derby on March 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (21/53) at Santa Anita on March 18.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like the real deal 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 keeps on winning but I am not sure he wants to go ten furlongs and I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Derby. He will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2 and is eligible for a $1 million bonus.

Derby Points (30)

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

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

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF (98) in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. In his second sophomore start in the San Felipe, he was much farther back than normal after a less than ideal start and unleashed a strong, premature run at Danzing Candy before understandably flattening out and finishing 3rd (96 BSF). Trainer Keith Desormeaux is concerned that he is a miler but will give him another Derby prep race shot in the Santa Anita Derby. I am not sure if he wants to go run longer distances but he is tough, durable, battle-tested, and deserves every chance to make the Derby. If he does not want to go that far, there is always races like the G1 King’s Bishop (seven furlongs) at Saratoga this summer. He remains at #5 for now.

Derby Points (26)

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f breeze in 1:13.06 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on March 19.

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a number much faster than the G3 Gotham a day earlier. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next.

(7) 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 responded with 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.

Derby Points (51)

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

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

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 contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He is scheduled to work five furlongs under Mike Smith at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 26.

Derby Points (50)

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

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

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 the 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 drops three spots and gets a shot at redemption in the Arkansas Derby.

Derby Points (10)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (3/25) at Fair Grounds on March 21.

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but they opted to target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on April 2. Larry Jones trained 2007 Spiral winner Hard Spun (Jensen’s dam sire). He will likely have to win the Spiral to have enough Derby points to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. He stays put at #10.

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

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

Comments: The G1 Breeders’ Futurity winner threw in a dud 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 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.

Derby Points (14)

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Cupid, (15) Zulu, (16) Shagaf, (17) My Man Sam, (18) Kasseopia, (19) Outwork, (20) Malibu Sunset

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Rebel Stakes video analysis

Mohaymen and Mor Spirit are still my top two Kentucky Derby 2016 contenders but I made some changes to the list after the Tampa Bay Derby and San Felipe Stakes were run on March 12.

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

Someone failed to tell Brody’s Cause, one of my top Derby contenders, that he was running last weekend because he never lifted a hoof in the Tampa Bay Derby. He only has one Derby prep remaining (Blue Grass) and that is the problem with two prep campaigns. There is not much wiggle room left if something goes wrong. He is my biggest dropper going from #3 to #11.

Fountain of Youth runner-up Zulu was expected to take on Mohaymen and Nyquist in the Florida Derby but it took him 20 days to return to the worktab and it was a very slow four furlong breeze in :50.98 (15/16) on March 18. Pletcher may end up shipping him out of town for his final Derby prep. The combination of his lack of experience and light morning activity since his last has me concerned. He drops off the list and is replaced by another Pletcher trainee with more experience and more Derby points (Destin).

Malibu Sunset has a ton of potential but with only two lifetime starts (no Derby points) and some big efforts in graded points races last weekend, I no longer have room for him on my list. He worked six furlongs in 1:14.80 (8/12) at Santa Anita on March 17.

The Grade 2 Rebel Stakes is the Derby prep this week and it is worth a total of 85 Derby points (50-20-10-5). A full field of fourteen will line up in what promises to be a competitive betting event.

Keep a close eye on Cupid. The Bob Baffert runner was originally targeting the Sunland Derby but when that race was canceled, he was entered in the San Felipe. Baffert, as he is apt to do, especially with his sophomores, changed his mind and scratched Cupid from the San Felipe. He worked him a strong six furlongs late last week and was redirected to the Rebel, and Baffert is deadly when he ships his 3-year-olds to Oaklawn Park to run in stakes races.

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

G2 Tampa Bay Derby (3-12-16, 100 BSF): Sam F. Davis hero Destin made all the right moves under Javier Castellano. He smartly stalked stablemate Outwork and wore that one down to win by a length. The latter set the pace and was seven lengths clear of show finisher Star Hill. Sam Davis runner-up Rafting failed to move forward on the speed figure scale and ended up 4th. Post time favorite Brody’s Cause was last after six furlongs and only managed to pass two rivals in a surprising non-effort.

G2 San Felipe (3-12-16, 100 BSF): Danzing Candy was one of four early runners but went straight to the front and discouraged the other pace players in a good looking 2-length wire-to-wire score under Mike Smith. Mor Spirit was too fresh under Gary Stevens and wanted to go early. He ended up rallying for the place after all was said and done and he galloped out well. Exaggerator was last early and made an eye-catching premature move before running out of gas and finishing a clear 3rd.

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

(1) MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:01 (1/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase ran his record to 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb 27. 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 continues to train forwardly in advance of the Florida Derby on April 2. 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)

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He has never finished out of the exacta including a better than appears place finish behind wire job winner Danzing Candy in the G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 12. In the San Felipe, jockey Gary Stevens said he was too fresh and eager to go early and after settling he passed Exaggerator for the place and galloped out nicely. Baffert and company keep learning more about him and the versatile sort will take on Danzing Candy again 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) GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) greenpointcrusader silks 2016

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.30 (6/10) at Palm Meadows on March 18.

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best. His future plans are set with the G2 Louisiana Derby next but I do not like the wide gaps between his three-year-old starts. He moves up on notch to #3 and must run big in the LA Derby on March 26.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.40 (21/53) at Santa Anita on March 18.

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like the real deal 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 keeps on winning but I am not sure he wants to go ten furlongs and I do not like his one sprint/one route path to the Derby. He will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2. He jumps back in front of Exaggerator and makes his debut in the Top 5.

Derby Points (30)

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

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

Comments: He uncorked a new career top BSF (98) in his San Vicente return but so did Nyquist and he had to settle for a clear place finish after giving the champ a scare in mid-stretch. In his second sophomore start in the San Felipe, he was much farther back than normal after a less than ideal start and unleashed a strong, premature run at Danzing Candy before understandably flattening out and finishing 3rd (96 BSF). Trainer Keith Desormeaux is concerned that he is a miler but will give him another Derby prep race shot in the Santa Anita Derby. I am not sure if he wants to go run longer distances but he is tough, durable, battle-tested, and deserves every chance to make the Derby. If he does not want to go that far, there is always races like the G1 King’s Bishop (seven furlongs) at Saratoga this summer. He stays put at #5 for now.

Derby Points (26)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02 (7/22) at Oaklawn Park on March 14.

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 final G2 Rebel Stakes work March 14 and is all set for his next Oaklawn Park test on March 19. He drew post 14 in the Rebel but the late runner won the Southwest from post 13 so his wide draw may not matter.

Derby Points (10)

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

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

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, a much better number than the G3 Gotham the day before. He was getting tired late and My Man Sam was closing but he had enough gas in the tank to get the job done despite being much less than 100% fit. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 is next and he should be much fitter for that engagement.

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

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

Comments: The improving newcomer to my list responded in a big way in his last two 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.

Derby Points (51)

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

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

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 contender if he relaxes and finish strongly in the SA Derby at nine furlongs. He is a new addition to the “exceptional eleven.”

Derby Points (50)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.60 (27/51) at Fair Grounds on March 13.

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time and Jones says he reminds him of Hard Spun. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but now it looks as though they will target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. He moves up one spot to #10.

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

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

Comments: The closer ended his 2YO season with a win in Keeneland’s G1 Breeders’ Futurity and a show finish in the BC Juvenile. He made his much anticipated 3-year-old debut in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby March 12 and never picked his feet up in a very surprising non-effort. He is expected to return to Kentucky for his final Derby prep in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9 and he needs a big performance to make the Derby cut. He plummets from #3 to #11.

Derby Points (14)

The Next Nine: (12) Mo Tom, (13) Gun Runner, (14) Zulu, (15) Malibu Sunset, (16) Shagaf, (17) My Man Sam, (18) Kasseopia, (19) Outwork, (20) Cupid

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

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

Mor Spirit

Mor Spirit headlines the San Felipe – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

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

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

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

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

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

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase is 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct) and easily captured his three-year-old debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He will make his next start in the April 2 Florida Derby and is expected to return to the work tab March 11. He stays put at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list on September 30, 2015.

Derby Points (70)  

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

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

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

Comments: Bob Baffert’s $650k purchase is a 2-time graded winner (G1 Los Al Futurity, G3 Robert Lewis) and he got valuable shipping experience in a place finish over wet footing in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last fall. He shows two sharp works since the infamous earplug incident and appears poised to fire another big shot in the  G2 San Felipe on March 12. He stays put at #2, a spot he has occupied since Oct 24.

Derby Points (24)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

Comments: The G1 Champagne winner was too far back early as the favorite in the BC Juvenile and ended up 7th after getting fanned very wide in the lane. He exited the Juvenile with an eye ulcer, probably caused by flying dirt during the running of the race. He resurfaced in the Jan 30 Holy Bull and the patient sort surprisingly took up the running in the paceless affair and was clearly second best. His future plans finally seem set with the March 26 G2 Louisiana Derby next (John Velazquez rides). He has held the #4 position on my list since Nov 6.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (16)

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

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

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

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ in his sophomore debut in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He ran fast throughout at Santa Anita on Feb 15, stopping the timer in 1:20.71 (100 BSF) and winning by 1.5 lengths over Exaggerator. He will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

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

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

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

Derby Points (20)

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

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

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and made his first 2016 start in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt). In that Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth, he went wire-to-wire and earned a 97 BSF, the best two turn number by a sophomore this year (thru 3-9-16). The Wood Memorial might be next.

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments: Fired exacta shots in all four starts at Fair Grounds including a romping two turn entry level wire job Feb 25 (89 BSF). He seems to be developing at the right time and Jones says he reminds him of Hard Spun. The Louisiana Derby was being discussed but now it looks as though they will target the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

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

Kentucky Derby 2016 Contenders: Gotham Stakes video analysis

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

Kentucky-Derby-logo-2016_615x400

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

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

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

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

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

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

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

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

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Comments: The $2.2 million purchase is now 5-for-5 after comfortably winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He took the G2 Nashua and G2 Remsen as a juvenile (both at Aqueduct) and easily captured his sophomore debut in the Holy Bull at the Gulf on Jan 30. He is expected to make his next start in the Florida Derby. He maintains at number one, a spot he has occupied since I started my list September 30, 2015.

Derby Points (70)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (24)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (16)

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

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

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

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ in his sophomore debut in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He ran fast throughout at Santa Anita on Feb 15, stopping the timer in 1:20.71 (100 BSF) and winning by 1.5 lengths over Exaggerator. He is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

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

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

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

Derby Points (20)

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

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

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

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and did not enter the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5 as originally expected. Instead, he is entered in the third race on Sunday, March 6 at Aqueduct (inner dirt), an Optional Claiming event at a mile and a sixteenth. He drew post five and is the even money favorite under Jose Ortiz.

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (1)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

fountain of youth entries

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

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

Graded Recaps (2016 Derby Points Races)

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

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

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

Trainer (Kiaran Mclaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.60 (23/42) at Palm Meadows on Feb 19.

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

Derby Points (20)  

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.60 (21/49) at Santa Anita Park on Feb 17.

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

Derby Points (24)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

Derby Points (16)

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

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

Comments: The 2-year-old champion looked like a champ in his sophomore debut in the G2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He ran fast throughout at Santa Anita on Feb 15, stopping the timer in 1:20.71 (100 BSF) and winning by 1.5 lengths over Exaggerator. He is expected to have his final Derby prep in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Derby Points (30)

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

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

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

Comments: Earned two of the better juvenile speed figures in a clear place finish at 8.5 furlongs at Belmont Oct 3 (93 BSF) and a 96 BSF for his easy flat mile wire job maiden win at that same venue Oct 29. Following a respiratory infection, he spiked a fever, missed the G3 Jerome on Jan 3, and went to the farm for a vacation. He returned to the work tab Feb 7 and is pointing to the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct March 5.

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (1)

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

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

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

Derby Points (10)

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

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Stonestreet Stables)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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