Posts Tagged ‘Optimizer’

KENTUCKY DERBY 2012 Contenders – Secret Circle, Gemologist score

Was the Rebel Stakes a strong Kentucky Derby 2012 prep? Secret Circle won the race as the favorite for Bob Baffert but the final time was moderate (92 BSF) and the talented son of Eddington looked tired in the lane.

Secret Circle

Do you think Secret Circle can handle ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I have always been fond of Secret Circle. He has been part of my Derby Top 10 list since last September but he always seemed suspect in the stamina department and a mile and a sixteenth appears to be his limit at this stage.

Optimizer is getting some Derby buzz for Wayne Lukas after finishing well for the place in the Rebel but I do not consider him a viable threat on the first Saturday in May. He has lost seven straight and is winless in five conventional dirt starts. He is better on turf/synthetic but won’t see preferred footing for quite some time.

Scatman made all the running and settled for the show in a solid effort. Sabercat, winner of the slow G3 Delta Jackpot last year, was never a threat in his sophomore debut.

Gemologist was originally scheduled to begin his 3yo campaign in the Rebel but Pletcher and company opted for a flat mile allowance prep at Gulfstream Park against four rivals on March 16.

The undefeated WinStar colorbearer ran his record to 4-for-4 with a facile wire job over returnee Currency Swap. Based on that performance (95 BSF), Gemologist would have won the Rebel. I wish Pletcher would have given him a tough, two turn graded test, but you can’t always get what you want and he needs graded earnings in the Wood Memorial to make the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Alpha horse

Alpha goes next in G2 Louisiana Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

In other Derby prep news, Alpha will likely make his next start in the G2 Louisiana Derby on April 1. Secret Circle is expected to return to Oaklawn Park for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14, and Bob Baffert is also considering Bodemeister for that spot. Howe Great and Dullahan, the 1-2 finishers in the grassy G3 Palm Beach on March 11, are expected to meet again in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked Derby contender looked great in G2 Fountain of Youth. He breezed 5f in 1:04.21 (22/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. The Florida Derby on 3-31 is next on the docket. Graded Earnings: $1,070,000   

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet and Withers. Breezed 5f in 1:01.01 (5/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. The G2 Louisiana Derby on 4-1 is next and Leparoux will ride. Graded Earnings: $180,000

3. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Gamely captured G2 Risen Star (98 BSF) at Fair Grounds on Feb 25. He handles any footing and goes next in Florida Derby. Breezed 5f in 1:01.22 (3/13) at Palm Meadows on March 18. Graded Earnings: $200,000  

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – G2 Ky Jockey Club hero returned in the pink at the Gulf on March 16. The undefeated WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher runner will have his final Derby prep in the G1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 7. Graded Earnings: $103,855  

Creative Cause

Creative Cause fires 5f bullet on March 20 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

5. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – Captured his second graded route in G2 San Felipe (102 BSF) at Santa Anita on 3-10. He fired a 5f bullet in :59.80 (1/29) at Hollywood Park on 3-20 and goes next in G1 SA Derby on April 7. Graded Earnings: $686,000

6. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero relaxed nicely in sharp G3 Gotham tally. He will train in Kentucky before returning to Aqueduct for the G1 Wood Memorial on April 7. Graded Earnings: $1,400,000 

7. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Captured back-to-back graded routes at Oaklawn in G3 Southwest (102 BSF) and G2 Rebel (92 BSF). He is expected to return to Hot Springs for the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Graded Earnings: $470,000

8. Dullahan (Even the Score) – Rallied for the place in grassy, nine furlong G3 Palm Beach Stakes at the Gulf on 3-11, his first start since BC Juvenile. The April 14 Blue Grass is expected to be his final Derby prep. Graded Earnings: $375,000  

9. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – Clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. Scratched out of Tampa Bay Derby in favor of Florida Derby. Worked 5f in 1:01.88 (10/22) at Palm Meadows on March 17. Graded Earnings: $98,400  

10. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen) – Almost upset El Padrino in his G2 Risen Star route/stakes bow. Look for Larry Jones trainee in Louisiana Derby. Fired 5f bullet in :59.40 (1/11) at Fair Grounds on 3-20. Graded Earnings: $60,000 

Exciting Prospects (in alphabetical order)

1. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – Followed up 101 BSF maiden romp with another 101 BSF in San Felipe runner-up effort on 3-10. He looms a serious prominent throughout player in the Arkansas Derby or Santa Anita Derby. Graded Earnings – $60,000

2. Castaway (Street Sense) – Baffert trainee won slower division of Southwest (92 BSF) in his first start against winners. Worked 6f in 1:12.40 (4/17) at Santa Anita on 3-16. G3 Sunland Derby on March 25 is next. Graded Earnings: $150,000

3. Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful hero was clearly second best behind romping, undefeated colt Gemologist at the Gulf on 3-16. Graded Earnings: $150,000  

4. Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Ended up a respectable 3rd in his G2 San Felipe, his first start around two turns. He deserves a shot in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. Graded Earnings: $36,000

5. Prospective (Malibu Moon) – Professional winner of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby (88 BSF) for Mark Casse. Blinkers helped him get involved earlier and he will face better next time in Wood Memorial. Graded Earnings: $365,452

Injured Reserve (in alphabetical order)

1. Algorithms (Bernardini) – Missed scheduled Fountain of Youth appearance with bone split injury and is off the Triple Crown trail.

2. B Shanny (Street Cry) – Ran twice in NY last summer including good looking maiden win over El Padrino at Saratoga Aug 20. Bone chip has him on the sidelines.

3. Consortium (Bernardini) – Ankle chip knocked him out of the Gotham and off the Derby trail. He is expected to return later this year.

4. Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Hind-end issue has knocked him off the Derby trail, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

5. Fire On Ice (Unbridled’s Song) – Suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg. He is expected to return later this year.

6. Junebugred (Corinthian) – Smarty Jones Stakes hero is off the Derby trail with a bone chip in his ankle.

7. O’Prado Again (El Prado) – G2 Remsen hero suffered a condylar fracture of his right front leg on Jan 9 and is off the Triple Crown trail. He is expected to return later this year.

8. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – G3 Sham hero goes to the sidelines after suffering a non-displaced condylar fracture to his left front ankle. He is off the Triple Crown trail.

9. Sky Kingdom (Empire Maker) – According to Bob Baffert via Twitter, Sky Kingdom needs 60 days off and is no longer on the Triple Crown trail.

10. Spring Hill Farm (Smart Strike) – 4th place Tampa Bay Derby finisher goes to the sidelines with a right knee fracture. He will have surgery and his racing future is unknown at this time.

11. Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He is expected to miss at least two months and could return this summer.

12. Timely Tally (Mr. Greeley) – From Ian Wilkes in a recent DRF article – “Timely Tally, on the other hand, will be done for a while. He has a tendon issue. It’s not career-threatening, but I’m trying to work out now how much time I’ll have to give him.”

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps – Secret Circle’s Rebel + Gemologist

The Oaklawn Park 3-year-olds are one step closer to Kentucky Derby 2012 following Secret Circle‘s game performance in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on Saturday.

G2 Rebel Stakes: (3-17–12): 92 BSF (Secret Circle)

Secret Circle horse

Secret Circle pads his graded bankroll in G2 Rebel - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Longshot Unbridled’s Note and Southwest runner-up Scatman made the running with Cyber Secret chasing and Secret Circle rating kindly in 4th. The top four retained their positions through six furlongs (1:11.42) with Unbridled’s Note the first to crack.

Scatman kicked clear on the bend with Cyber Secret going one-paced. Secret Circle was set down for the drive under Bejarano and went by Scatman with a sixteenth to go. Optimizer found his best stride late and was gaining on the Baffert trainee approaching the wire.

In the end, it was Secret Circle by 3/4ths of a length with Optimizer completing the exacta and Scatman rounding out the trifecta. Jake Mo got up for 4th, followed by Cyber Secret and a belated Najjaar. Adirondack King, Sabercat, Pee H Dee, Reckless Jerry, Atigun, and a tired Unbridled’s Note completed the dirty dozen.Ring It Up scratched.

I have always been a fan of Secret Circle and love his tenacity and winning spirit but he seems to be reaching the end of his rope in regards to stamina. I have always believed that Optimizer was better on turf/synthetic, so based on those statements, along with the moderate final time in Arkansas on Saturday, I doubt this was a top notch Derby prep.

Rebel Stakes Grade: C

Earlier in the week, Gemologist returned in the pink vs. four Allowance rivals at Gulfstream Park.

Gulfstream Park Allowance: 95 BSF (Gemologist)

Gemologist, originally pointing to the G2 Rebel Stakes, stayed in South Florida instead and made short work of Currency Swap and friends on March 16.

The Pletcher/Winstar colt made the lead in the flat mile affair around one turn and widened his advantage throughout, crossing the line seven in front. Currency Swap was clearly second best in his needed return and was followed by Angel’s Tune, Jordan’s Image, and Brother Pat.

It was tough to get a true gauge on this one. Gemologist looked good and earned a decent enough number but Team Pletcher took the easy way out. Gemologist has been in my Derby top ten for many months and is currently ranked 4th. This decision by Pletcher reminds me of Uncle Mo in the Timely Writer. The Rebel was ripe for the taking and would have been a much better Derby prep because it was a graded two turn affair against moderately tough competition.

At any rate, Gemologist remains undefeated and needs to pick up somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 in graded earnings next time to make the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Gemologist’s Allowance Race Grade: C+

Rebel Stakes 2012 Preview – Can anyone beat Secret Circle?

The Arkansas sophomores take another step on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 and morning line favorite Secret Circle will be tough to overhaul in Saturday’s Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Secret Circle Kentucky Derby 2012

Secret Circle seeks more graded cash in Rebel Stakes - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#8 Secret Circle (9-5) is one of the fastest members of his generation for Bob Baffert. The fleet son of Eddington has earned strong Final Time Ratings in all five outings and exits a gritty victory in the G3 Southwest. A mile and a sixteenth should be within his grasp and he figures in the hunt early and often under Bejarano.

#4 Cyber Secret (15-1) is worth a stab at square odds. He was only 5-1 against Secret Circle and company in the Southwest and ended up a respectable 5th after racing wide and returning in 16-days. The tactical threat looked great in fast local optional claiming route tally Feb 4 and can rebound with 26-days between starts.

#2 Scatman (8-1) gave Secret Circle fits in the Southwest and will probably attempt to go all the way once again. He makes his second start around two turns and could have more to offer in his 3rd race off the shelf.

For country music star Toby Keith Kentucky Derby hopeful Reckless Jerry is one of his best Derby chances in years. #9 Reckless Jerry (12-1) has fired Trifecta shots in all seven lifetime starts including underneath finishes in the Smarty Jones and G3 Southwest here. He is one you can use in your exotics.

#13 Adirondack King (6-1) will try to overcome unlucky post 13. He was best of the rest in the faster edition of the Southwest and has hit the board in all seven career starts.

#7 Sabercat (5-1) will take too much action off the shelf for Steve Asmussen. He rattled off three straight to end his juvenile campaign and fattened his graded stakes bankroll in the G3 Delta Jackpot. The versatile son of Bluegrass Cat owns ordinary numbers and might need the race.

#6 Jake Mo (20-1) was up for the place in the slower division of the Southwest and can contend for a minor award.

#11 Najjaar (6-1) seems pegged too low on the morning line. The late runner is slowly improving and is 2-for-2 at Oaklawn but he lands a tough post and needs to run much faster to make a dent in this salty spot. Calvin Borel sticks with the long winded stretch runner.

#9 Atigun (12-1) packs a decent late kick and is 2-for-3 on regular dirt. He necked today’s rival Ring It Up when last seen in a local optional claiming route Jan 15.

#2 Unbridled’s Note (20-1) stalked and pounced his way to a good looking debut maiden win under the Twin Spires last October. He took money in his needed Southwest return but never got seriously involved after a troubled start and racing in traffic. He lands the cozy rail and could attend the pace with a clean beginning.

#1 Ring It Up (20-1) and #1a Pee H Dee (20-1) run as a coupled entry for high percentage trainer Chris Richard. The former was 4th to Castaway in the slower division of the Southwest and the latter was 4th in the faster division of the Southwest on Feb 20.

#5 Optimizer (30-1) exits a disappointing 9th in the G2 Risen Star. Wayne Lukas has given this one every chance to excel on conventional dirt but he clearly prefers turf or synthetic. He fired a local three furlong bullet for this March 13.

The Plays:

$20 to win #4

$10 Exacta Box 4-8 ($20)

$5 Exacta Box 2-4 ($10)

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Risen Star Stakes

The final major local prep for the Louisiana Derby was contested at Fair Grounds on Saturday and Kentucky Derby 2012 hopeful El Padrino nipped Mark Valeski a thrilling renewal of the G2 Risen Star Stakes.

G2 Risen Star Stakes (2-25-12): El Padrino (99 BSF)

El Padrino horse

El Padrino wins thrilling renewal of Risen Star - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

It was not easy by any means but overwhelming favorite El Padrino notched his first stakes win and garnered a much needed $180,000 in Derby graded earnings on Feb 25.

The Pletcher trainee settled into a nice stalking rhythm on the outside under Castellano with Rosie Napravnik and Mark Valeski intently tracking longshot Hero of Order.

Mark Valeski poked his head in front but was quickly joined by El Padrino and the two leaders matched strides and brushed in the lane with The Godfather getting his nose down on the line.

El Padrino was not flashy or brilliant in New Orleans but he proved he could win a dogfight and walked away win the victory. The versatile sort handles any footing and has fired in all five lifetime starts at Saratoga, Belmont, Aqueduct, Gulfstream, and Fair Grounds. He possesses all of the tools to win on the first Saturday in May and will have one more race before the big dance under the Twin Spires.

Mark Valeski had the most upside in the Risen Star but did not offer much value because he was coupled with Lecomte hero Mr. Bowling. The Larry Jones trainee did everything but win and the top two were well clear of the rest. He could continue to progress and looms a major player in the Louisiana Derby on April 1. El Padrino could end up in that spot as well.

Z Dager landed the show and was the only Lecomte runner to do anything. Mr. Bowling ended up last.

Optimizer ended up 9th for Wayne Lukas and needs to return to synthetic or turf.

Risen Star Stakes Grade: B-

Risen Star Stakes 2012 Preview: El Padrino deserving favorite

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 heats up in New Orleans on Saturday with the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes and El Padrino looms large for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Kentucky Derby logo

#7 EL PADRINO (2-1) is the deserving favorite following a visually impressive and fast Optional Claiming route tally at Gulfstream Jan 29. He owns fine positional speed and should win this with anything resembling his last. Is he better on wet ground?

#3 Afford (8-1) might be worth a gamble in here. He exits a decent Fair Grounds route tally in the Optional Claiming ranks and figured to relish two turns with Street Sense on top and Unbridled on the bottom of his pedigree. He won despite a wide trip last time and could end up saving ground from the cozy rail today.

The G3 Lecomte came back with a low number so I will toss all six entrants (#1 Mr. Bowling, #2 Adena’s Chance, #2b Hero of Order, #5 Z Dager, #6 Ted’s Folly, #8 Shared Property)  that ran in that below par local prep.

I am a bit intrigued by #1a Mark Valeski (4-1) but he will offer no value due to coupling with Lecomte hero #1 Mr. Bowling. Mark Valeski is on the upswing and tries a route of ground for the first time. Leading rider Rosie Napravnik ends up riding this one for trainer Larry Jones.

#4 Optimizer (6-1) appears best on turf/synthetic for trainer Wayne Lukas. 

#9 Tizanexpense (10-1) exits back-to-back local route (off the turf) tallies against softer company. He drew the outside post and owns ordinary numbers.

THE PLAYS:

$10 to win #3

$18 Exacta 7-3

$5 exacta 3-7

$1 Trifecta 7/ALL/3 ($7)


Smarty Jones Stakes 2012 Preview: On Fire Baby takes on the boys

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 gets underway at Oaklawn Park on Monday with the $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and On Fire Baby takes on eleven boys from post 10 in the one mile test for 3-year-olds.

On Fire Baby

Will On Fire Baby beat the boys on Monday? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#10 On Fire Baby captured all three of her conventional dirt starts last year and she used a different style each time. She stalked the pace in her Ellis Park sprint debut, rallied in the G2 Pocahontas, and went wire-to-wire in the G2 Golden Rod. Her only off the board finish occurred when she dueled and weakened to 5th in the G1 Alcibiades at Keeneland (Polytrack).

She must overcome an outer post in Hot Springs on Monday and her speed figures are rather ordinary for a 2-time graded winner.

#4 No Spin could be the value play at 6-1. He was stuck out in post 12 in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec 10 and was hardly disgraced in a 4th place effort. He graduated in a synthetic sprint and impressed in a turf stakes tally at Hawthorne in October. Dirt might not be his best surface but I’m willing to take a shot if his morning line odds hold up.

#2 Junebugred earned a decent speed figure in a flat mile maiden win at the Big A on Nov 26. He is now under the care of Steve Hobby and should make his presence felt throughout under Joe Bravo at 5-1.

#5 Fastestwhogetspaid is not without a chance at 15-1. He graduated in a Maiden Claiming sprint but his numbers are going the right way and he looked good in an Optional Claiming route in Chicago Dec 28.

#12 Reckless Jerry has been part of the Trifecta in all five outings including a fine runner-up effort in the Springboard Mile. The improving tactical threat must work out a trip from post 12.

D Wayne Lukas will give #6 Optimizer another chance to shine on dirt. He graduated in his turf route bow and placed in a pair of graded events on turf and synthetic after that. In his two dirt starts he finished 8th in the G1 BC Juvenile and 4th in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He seems worth trying to beat on the win end at 5-2.

#1 Laurie’s Rocket would be the choice if this was a sprint as he has finished 1-2 in his four outings at 6.5 furlongs or less. He should sit a decent ground saving tactical trip but might find this trip a bit far and has a cold jockey-trainer team in his corner.

#8 Jake Mo could not keep up with the sizzling pace when last seen in the G3 Delta Jackpot. Both of his wins were accomplished in wire job fashion and he might have a hard time finding the lead in this salty spot.

#11 King Coral was dusted by Reckless Jerry in October and came back to flatter that one with his own Allowance triumph in Oklahoma on Nov 17. The stalk and pounce type is light on numbers.

#3 Prince Cheval has been competitive versus Illinois-bred company in his last three and might find these a bit tough to handle.

Illinois-bred #7 Copus exits a wire-to-wire maiden sprint win at Hawthorne and will likely fade after contesting the early lead.

#9 Hard Nosed was blasted in an Optional Claiming route at Fair Grounds on Dec  8 and looms a brief pace player at the most.

The Plays:

$16 to win #4

.50 cent Trifecta 2-4-10/ALL/5 ($15)

.50 cent Trifecta 2-4-10/2-4-10/2-4-5-10-12 ($9)

Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes 2011 Preview: Hardly a Cyber Secret

The Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes gives 2012 Kentucky Derby hopefuls the opportunity to compete under the Twin Spires and morning line favorite Ever So Lucky gets the acid test.

Ever So Lucky, conditioned by Jonathan Sheppard, turned heads with a smashing local debut sprint tally Nov 11. The $600k son of Indian Charlie could be any kind but is worth trying to beat on the win end at 5-2 in his stakes route bow.

Cyber Secret also began his career with a sharp victory and he showed determination in the Belmont mud that day. Chad Brown’s $110k Keeneland sales grad earned a competitive number in that Oct 20 affair and is bred to route. He seems worth a shot at 6-1.

Gemologist is 2-for-2 and might get brave if able to shake loose early. He should face pace pressure from Ever So Lucky, Mr. Prankster, Fine, and maybe Saint Honore from the outside post, but Todd Pletcher’s $310k colt exits a course/distance tally and could be the speed of the speed.

Optimizer

Wayne Lukas gives Optimizer another shot on dirt - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Timely Tally rallied for the place behind Gemologist last time and did not get much pace help that day. He figures to save all of the ground under Borel and today’s expected honest fractions should help his cause. The improving sort can threaten these at 10-1.

Wayne Lukas gives Optimizer another shot on dirt after his charge finished 8th in the BC Juvenile. Distance is not a question but the son of English Channel might be better on synthetic or turf. He removes the hood and will try to get involved late.

Atigun is getting better for Ken McPeek and he appeared to enjoy the Churchill main track in his flat mile graduation run Nov 6. He is playable at 10-1.

Africanist ran into the likes of Currency Swap and Alpha in his first two outings at the Spa. He exits a course/distance maiden win in the slop and can compete for a spot in the Trifecta at 10-1.

The field is completed by maiden outsider Seve.

The $30 Play:

$12 to win Cyber Secret

$8 to win Timely Tally

.50 cent Trifecta Cyber Secret, Timely Tally with Ever So Lucky, Cyber Secret, Timely Tally with Ever So Lucky, Africanist, Timely Tally, Cyber Secret, Optimizer, Atigun, Gemologist