Posts Tagged ‘Purple Sky’

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Talented Tapiture

Tapiture is the new Kentucky Derby 2014 points leader with 22 following a sharp victory over Strong Mandate in the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Tapiture horse

Tapiture passed his second graded test in the Southwest – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Tapiture, making his first start since Nov. 30, save all of the ground on or near the lead from the inside post and was 4-1/4 lengths clear at the wire. He received a 98 BSF.

I like the progression on the numbers scale from age 2 to 3 for Tapiture but I have my doubts about his ability to get ten panels. I am basing my opinion on his pedigree and headstrong nature. Sons of Tapit do not possess the stamina or mindset to handle classic distances. See pedigree profile below.

In sharp contrast to the winner, clear runner-up Strong Mandate raced in traffic before making a good looking wide middle move. He continued to travel wide and failed to keep a straight line in the lane. He should have gotten a ton out of the race and should move up in the Rebel.

Kendall’s Boy faded for the second time in as many two turn tries and drops off the list. He is still worth following in the sprint ranks.

Schoolofhardrocks (former exceptional eleven) worked 6f in 1:14.40 (4/9) at Santa Anita on Feb. 19. He is expected to return to the races “in a couple of weeks,” trainer David Hofmans said.

Purple Sky (former exceptional eleven) is entered in a 7.5f allowance race at Delta Downs on Feb. 22. The All Stall Jr. trainee disappointed in his final two juvenile starts and tries to get back on the winning track.

The next two big events on the Derby trail are the Fountain of Youth from Gulfstream Park and the Risen Star from Fair Grounds. Both will be run on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Saturday’s G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com

Listen to my analysis of the Risen Star Stakes on the Fast Track radio show Saturday morning (10am ET).

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

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)Honor Code horse silks

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

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49.71 (6/13) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 19. “We walked him yesterday and jogged him this morning,” trainer Shug McGaughey offered. “He seems to be pretty good.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles. He returned to the worktab Feb. 12.

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

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

Derby Points (6)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in 48.75 (16/83) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 15. “It really went well; it went perfect. We were looking for :49 or :50 , and we got :48-and-3. He looked great doing it,” trainer McLaughlin said. “We’ll most likely work him every Saturday from now on, although we may take one Saturday off, because there are a lot of Saturdays between now and March 29.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He returned to the worktab Feb. 15 and is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29).

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.25 (3/9) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 17.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. From DRF: We’ve kind of consolidated three breezes here in 15 days,” said Pletcher on Tuesday. “Now, hopefully, he’s on schedule where we can kind of space them out every six or seven days.”

5. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.80 (17/47) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished a better than appears 3rd in the Lecomte and could easily move forward in the Risen Star on Feb. 22.

6. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

7. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.60 (6/61) at Santa Anita on Feb. 21.

Derby Points (12)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally.

8. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13 (2/12) at Santa Anita on Feb. 17.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best. Joel Rosario will ride in the San Felipe.

9. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Derby Points (22)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.

10. INDIANAPOLIS (Medaglia d’Oro – Pretty N Smart, by Beau Genius)Indianapolis horse silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Magnier, Smith, and Tabor

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:11.40 (1/14) at Santa Anita on Feb. 5.

Comments: Smartly ran his sprint record to 2-for-2 in the San Pablo for Baffert. He came down with a cough last week, which forced him to miss the G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb. 16.

11. NOBLE CORNERSTONE (Noble Causeway – Besige, by Polish Numbers)Noble Cornerstone silks

Trainer:  Wesley Ward – Owner: My Meadowview Farm

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.56 (4/10) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 19.

Comments: Easy 6f maiden win in prominent throughout Aqueduct debut. He rallied for the place in the Springboard Mile to end his juvenile campaign. Kicked off his 3yo campaign in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay on Feb. 1 but was very fractious in the gate and never got involved in a throwout race. There is no more time for mistakes.

Pedigree Spotlight: Tapiture

Tapiture’s sire Tapit (Pulpit – Tap Your Heels, by Unbridled) won half of his six starts and earned more than $550k in 2003-04. He won the G1 Wood Memorial before finishing 9th in the Kentucky Derby. He is known for siring hard to handle, aggressive runners like Flashback, Hansen (9th in Kentucky Derby 2012), and Tapizar. Another son of Tapit, Normandy Invasion, finished 4th in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

tapiture breeding

Pulpit (A.P. Indy – Preach, by Mr. Prospector) had a short but productive 6-race career in 1997, beginning with a debut maiden win at Gulfstream Park in January.

Pulpit (1994-2012) captured an allowance race in Florida second time out, and followed that up with a win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a 2nd in the Florida Derby, and a victory in the Blue Grass Stakes. He chipped his knee during a 4th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and was subsequently retired.

A.P. Indy’s most successful son at stud, Pulpit was responsible for 42 graded stakes winners (11 Grade I winners), including 2010 Florida Derby winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box.

Unfortunately, Pulpit died in his stall at Claiborne Farm at age 18 in late 2012.

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

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

Pulpit’s mother Preach (by Mr. Prospector) won the G1 Frizette as a juvenile in 1991. She won the Bourbonette Stakes to kick off her sophomore campaign, and placed in the G2 Prioress, G1 Test, Gallant Bloom, and Aladancer Stakes later that year.

Preach’s papa Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native) won 7 of 14 starts including the Whirlaway and Gravesend Handicaps in 1974.

Legendary “Sire of sires” Mr. Prospector is one of the most influential horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, siring 181 stakes winners (47 Grade 1 or Group I winners) and 16 champions.

Tapiture’s dam Free Spin (Olympio – Spin n Win, by Private Account) captured 3 of 6 starts (2 allowance sprints) from 2001-04. She is also the dam of minor stakes winners Retap and Remit.

Olympio won 9 of 17 starts and banked more than $1.4 million on the racetrack, winning such races as the G2 Arkansas Derby, G1 Hollywood Derby, and G2 Malibu. He sired 30 stakes winners before his death at age 23 in 2011.

Tapiture will almost certainly have enough points to make the Derby gate. He is clearly talented and on the upswing but can a son of  Tapit successfully negotiate 10f on the first Saturday in May?

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Kobe is Back!

Kobe’s Back jumped into the Kentucky Derby 2014 picture with a visually impressive late running tally in Sunday’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Candy Boy

Candy Boy, Kobe’s Back, and Kristo give trainer John Sadler three Derby hopefuls – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

John Sadler now has three viable Derby threats. In addition to Kobe’s Back, he also conditions G2 Robert Lewis hero Candy Boy and G3 Sham runner-up Kristo.

Kobe’s Back has looked like a late running sprinter since day one, and that is what his breeding suggests as well. He finished a troubled 10th in his lone two turn try, the G1 CashCall Futurity, and that productive race has produced three graded winners so far this year – Kobe’s Back (San Vicente), Candy Boy (Robert Lewis), Tamarando (El Camino Real Derby).

Kobe’s Back will get another shot at two turns in the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 15.

Tamarando rallied to take the G3 El Camino Real Derby (91 BSF) on Feb. 15 for Jerry Hollendorfer. The hard knocking CA-bred was making his 10th career start on Saturday. He has now won four synthetic races, including the G1 Del Mar Futurity, but is 0-for-3 with three underneath finishes on conventional dirt.

Bayern totally freaked in an allowance route at Santa Anita on Feb. 13. He plastered his headcase stablemate Tap It Rich by 15-lengths and earned a 98 BSF. Gary Stevens rode the son of Offlee Wild for owner Kaleem Shah. He received a 92 BSF in his winning 7f debut on Jan. 4 and is clearly fast and talented. The San Felipe on March 8 could be his next engagement.

Last Saturday, Candy Boy earned 10 Kentucky Derby 2014 qualifying points with a professional tally over Baffert runners Chitu and Midnight Hawk in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 8.

Candy Boy ate Shared Belief’s dust in the G1 CashCall Futurity to end his juvenile campaign, but with the 2-year-old champ on the sidelines, there was no stopping the John Sadler trainee in the Lewis. He stalked, pounced, and finished strong, crossing the line a 1/2 length on top, garnering a solid 96 BSF.

Jockey Gary Stevens is really high on this one and it appears that he will await the SA Derby in April.

Chitu proved that he could handle two turns and might end up shipping to Oaklawn Park for the Rebel Stakes. The Sunland Derby also makes sense.

Midnight Hawk still has some growing up to do. He lost for the first time in three starts and was not disgraced but wants to do too much early at this stage. If you like this one (I still like him), do not abandon ship. It looks like Baffert experimented with rating tactics in the Robert Lewis, so chalk it up to a valuable learning experience.

Schoolofhardrocks fired a 5f bullet in :59 (1/37) at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 13. As I have stated previously, he only has one career start and is unlikely to make the Derby. He was an original member of my “Elite Eleven” last September, and I look for him to make some noise later this year.

Speaking of former Derby list members, Purple Sky continues his steady February work pattern at Fair Grounds for Al Stall Jr. His most recent move was a 5f breeze from the gate in 1:01.80 (23/60) on Feb. 15. He has shown flashes of ability but has not been able to put everything together when it matters. He could still be a quality performer down the road.

With less than 11 weeks to the Derby, it is time to remove Shared Belief from the list. The juvenile champ has not worked since Jan. 3 and is rapidly running out of time to get two preps under his belt.

The next big event on the Derby trail is the Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday, Feb. 17. It marks the much anticipated return of Strong Mandate.

Monday’s G3 Southwest Stakes is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com

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

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat) Honor Code horse silks

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

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :35.66 (2/6) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 12. “He breezed very well – I was very pleased with him,” McGaughey said. “He seemed to come out of it very well. I jogged him this morning just to make sure and it seemed like he was none the worse for the wear, so, hopefully, all systems are go.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles. “I think the Gotham (at Aqueduct on March 1) in New York would be too soon,” McGaughey noted. “Two weeks after that is the Rebel (at Oaklawn on March 15), and I think that would be one I could probably make.”

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

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

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48.60 (1/77) at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 2.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. Monday’s Southwest Stakes is his first 2014 target.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in 48.75 (16/83) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 15. “It really went well; it went perfect. We were looking for :49 or :50 , and we got :48-and-3. He looked great doing it,” trainer McLaughlin said. “We’ll most likely work him every Saturday from now on, although we may take one Saturday off, because there are a lot of Saturdays between now and March 29.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He returned to the worktab Feb. 15 and is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29).

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.50 (18/30) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 11.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. From DRF: We’ve kind of consolidated three breezes here in 15 days,” said Pletcher on Tuesday. “Now, hopefully, he’s on schedule where we can kind of space them out every six or seven days.”

5. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49 (16/68) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 10.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished a better than appears 3rd in the Lecomte and could easily move forward in the Risen Star on Feb. 22.

6. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess) Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

7. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power) Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.80 (9/66) at Santa Anita on Feb. 16.

Derby Points (12)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally.

8. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.20 (1/47) at Santa Anita on Feb. 10.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best. The G2 San Felipe is next.

9. KENDALL’S BOY (Sky Mesa – Golden Damsel, by Gold Token)Kendall's Boy silks

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.60 (8/68) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 10.

Comments: Clearly second best to Havana in his 8-23 debut at the Spa and rolled by 5-1/4 lengths at 6f under the Twin Spires on 9-13. He never appeared comfortable on synthetic footing and was not persevered with in 11th place Breeders’ Futurity effort. Went wire-to-wire in his 6f allowance return at Fair Grounds on Jan. 11. He is entered in Monday’s Southwest Stakes. “When you look at his form, you see he was second to (the highly-regarded) Havana in his first start so you walk away saying this is a very nice horse,” said Amoss. “But the question still remains will he successfully negotiate two turns. Like I said, we’ve worked on that and we’ll see.”

10. INDIANAPOLIS (Medaglia d’Oro – Pretty N Smart, by Beau Genius)Indianapolis horse silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Magnier, Smith, and Tabor

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:11.40 (1/14) at Santa Anita on Feb. 5.

Comments: Smartly ran his sprint record to 2-for-2 in the San Pablo for Baffert. He came down with a cough earlier this week, which forced him to miss the G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb. 16. He will drop off the list if he does not recover quickly.

11. NOBLE CORNERSTONE (Noble Causeway – Besige, by Polish Numbers)Noble Cornerstone silks

Trainer:  Wesley Ward – Owner: My Meadowview Farm

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.82 (4/17) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 12

Comments: Easy 6f maiden win in prominent throughout Aqueduct debut. He rallied for the place in the Springboard Mile to end his juvenile campaign. Kicked off his 3yo season in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay on Feb. 1 but was very fractious in the gate and never got involved in a throwout race.

Pedigree Spotlight: Candy Boy

Candy Boy’s sire Candy Ride (Ride the Rails – Candy Girl, by Candy Stripes) went 6-for-6 in 2002-03 and ended his brief career with a victory in the G1 Pacific Classic. He has been a smashing success at stud, siring stakes winners Clubhouse Ride, Kettle Corn, Misremembered, Sidney’s Candy, Twirling Candy, and juvenile champ Shared Belief, among others. His versatile offspring typically handle any distance on dirt, synthetic, and turf. He stands for $35,000.

Candy Boy pedigree

Ride the Rails (Cryptoclearance – Herbalesian, by Herbager) was on the Kentucky Derby trail in 1994, finishing 3rd in the G2 Fountain of Youth, 2nd in the G1 Florida Derby, and 4th in the G2 Arkansas Derby. In addition to Candy Ride, he sired 22 stakes winners before his death in Uruguay in 2010.

Cryptoclearance (Fappiano) earned more than $3 million from 1986-89, capturing such prestigious races as the G1 Florida Derby and G1 Donn, and placing in the G1 Preakness, G1 Belmont Stakes, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Candy Boy’s dam She’s an Eleven (In Excess – She’s a Sensation, by Flying Sensation) won 2 of 13 career starts including the 2006 Melair Stakes. She tried tougher rivals later that year in the G2 Black-Eyed Susan (5th), G2 Hollywood Oaks (4th), and she was 6th in the 2007 Lady’s Secret (G1).

In Excess was one of my favs back in the day. He captured 11 of 25 starts, good for more than $1.7 million. The multiple stakes winner scored grade one glory in the Met Mile, Suburban, Whitney, and Woodward in 1991. As a stallion, he was responsible for 16 California champions. Unfortunately, he died last year at age 26.  I was a fan of the band INXS, and I used to wear my concert shirt to the races when In Excess the horse ran.

Candy Boy possesses an interesting pedigree with some stamina influences on top and mostly speed on the bottom. He should handle any footing but ten furlongs might be pushing the envelope.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Midnight Hawk Attack

Midnight Hawk and Kristo, a pair of promising Kentucky Derby 2014 contenders based in Southern California, traded punches for much of Saturday’s Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Midnight Hawk horse

Midnight Hawk wins 2014 Sham Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Midnight Hawk proved superior in the lane and picked up 10 Derby Points, and earned a solid 95 BSF. The Baffert trainee is now 2-for-2 but is still green and needs more experience.

Kristo seemed a bit out of his element dueling on the inside and it was nice to see him fight hard to the bitter end. The Sham was his first start in three months and he should have gotten a ton out of Saturday’s race.

Midnight Hawk replaces Purple Sky on my list, and Sham runner-up Kristo remains in the mix.

It is tough to interpret compact Derby preps (Sham) and pace puzzlers (Remsen), but the most important things to look for at this stage are strong efforts, top connections, and long winded pedigrees. These early Derby hopefuls need to stay healthy while picking up Derby Points and gaining experience. We will learn more about many of these promising sophomores in the coming months.

The featured Derby prep this week is the Grade III Lecomte Stakes from Fair Grounds. Gold Hawk, currently sitting at No. 6 on my list, is the 3-1 morning line favorite. He figures to be tough to beat if he gets enough pace help to set up his late charge.

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

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat) shared belief

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer – Owner: Jungle Racing (Jim Rome)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (11/40) at Santa Anita Park on 1-3.

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue on 11-10. He dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He missed a scheduled work on Jan. 12 due to a foot abscess. “I’m not going to work him until he’s perfect,” Hollendorfer said Friday morning. “We want to try and make the Lewis if we can, but if we don’t, it’s not going to bother me any.

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

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

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :39 (10/13) at Payson Park on 12-31.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He is expected to make his 3YO bow in the Fountain of Youth.

Havana horse

Havana has resumed light training in Florida – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. He battled through swift splits and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. He has resumed light training in Florida.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:04.20 (22/94) at Oaklawn Park on 1-12.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never fired in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile.

5. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.90 (1/29) at Palm Meadows on 1-12. That’s nearly identical back-to-back 5f bullets.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and will make his next start in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on 1-25.

6. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.80 (22/47) at Fair Grounds (slop) on 1-13.

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. The promising colt is entered in the G3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 18.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Comments: Clearly second best to Havana in his 8-23 debut at the Spa and rolled by 5-1/4 lengths at 6f under the Twin Spires on 9-13. He never appeared comfortable on synthetic footing and was not persevered with in 11th place Breeders’ Futurity effort. Went wire-to-wire under Rosie Napravnik in his 6f allowance return at Fair Grounds on Jan. 11.

8. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)

Trainer: Bob Baffert Owner: Mike Pegram

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mid was wondering in the lane. He has plenty of raw talent and should continue to develop mentally and physically.

9. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He battled Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best.

10. UNKNOWN ROAD (Bernardini – Banshee Winds, by Known Fact)

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: JMJ Racing Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :48.80 (19/59) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 17.

Comments: Finished a good 2nd to Chad Brown’s Coup de Grace in his 6f Big A debut on Nov. 9. He torched six rivals at Fair Grounds (six furlongs) second time out on Dec. 19 and should get better as distances increase.

11. COUP DE GRACE (Tapit – Home Court, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Fox Hill Farms

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.75 (7/30) at Palm Meadows on 1-12.

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 with a professional one mile allowance tally at Gulfstream Park on 12-15. The Holy Bull Stakes might be next.

Pedigree Spotlight: MIDNIGHT HAWK

midnight hawk silks

Midnight’s Hawk’s sire Midnight Lute (Real Quiet – Candytuft, by Dehere) won the BC Sprint in 2007 and 2008 and was the Champion Sprinter in ’07. The promising young stallion’s leading runners include Queen’s Plate winner Midnight Aria, G1 Acorn winner Midnight Lucky, and G1 Malibu hero Shakin It Up.

midnight hawk pedigree

Midnight Lute’s sire Real Quiet (Quiet American) won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1998 and just failed in his Triple Crown bid. The late sire’s leading runners include Grade 1 winners Pussycat Doll and Wonder Lady Ann L.

Real Quiet’s sire Quiet American (Fappiano) banked more than $750k and won the G1 NYRA Mile in 1990. The now pensioned sire was responsible for multiple stakes winners including 1997 Champion Older Female Hidden Lake, and Grade 1 winners Cara Rafaela, Seattle Smooth, and Switch.

Midnight Hawk’s dam Miss Wineshine (Wolf Power – Miss Mississippi, by Cormorant) won the Silver Spur in 1999 and placed in the G3 Debutante, G2 Adirondack, and G1 Spinaway.

Wolf Power was South African Horse of the Year in 1984. He sired 38 stakes winners including G1 hero Freedom Cry.

Midnight Hawk has more speed than stamina influences in his pedigree. He proved his two turn mettle in the G3 Sham and is lightly raced, undefeated, and on the improve.     

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Is Kristo a Sham?

Malibu Moon was responsible for last year’s Derby winner Orb, and his son Noble Moon earned valuable Kentucky Derby 2014 points in his victory in the Grade II Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 4.

Noble Moon

Noble Moon wins 2014 Jerome – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Noble Moon earned an 85 BSF at the Big A last Saturday and will need to run faster against better company next time. He did what he had to do and has now been competitive in all three career starts including his last pair in the graded ranks. More than anything else, he flattered Nashua winner Cairo Prince.

Commissioner and Top Billing put on a nine furlong allowance show at the Gulf on Jan. 4. The former sat the right trip and owns a promising pedigree for Pletcher. The latter experienced a troubled journey and is currently Shug’s #2 on the depth chart behind Honor Code. The winning BSF came back 91. Both will have an opportunity to join my list when they take on salty stakes foes in the coming months.

Three strikes and you’re out! I gave Nick Zito’s Grand Arrival every possible chance to remain on my list, but he gets the boot after flopping in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day.

In the GP Derby, General a Rod edged Wildcat Red by a head, and the BSF came back a solid 92. We will learn more about them when they face graded foes in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes and beyond.

The race of the week for the sophomore set in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Jan. 11. It looks like a showdown between Bob Baffert’s Midnight Hawk and John Sadler’s Kristo.

Schoolofhardrocks has been MIA since scratching from the G1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 28. He won his lone lifetime start at Del Mar (one mile) on Aug. 31 and can rejoin my list if he makes it back in the near future.

Misconnect also drop off the list. He has not been on the worktab since October.

Purple Sky clings to the bottom and could get shoved off the cliff in the near future. He has disappointed in back-to-back allowance route tries including a 4th place finish behind Gold Hawk at Fair Grounds on 12-27.

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

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer – Owner: Jungle Racing (Jim Rome)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (11/40) at Santa Anita Park on 1-3.

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut (84 BSF) and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue (99 BSF) on 11-10. The exciting gelding thoroughly dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He could make two, possibly three starts on the Derby trail at Santa Anita, culminating with the G1 SA Derby on April 5.

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

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

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :39 (10/13) at Payson Park on 12-31.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He will winter in Florida.

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. He has resumed light training in Florida.

Strong Mandate

Strong Mandate is training at Oaklawn Park – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.60 (5/48) at Oaklawn Park on 1-2.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He is currently training at Oaklawn Park.

5. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.70 (1/31) at Palm Meadows on 1-5.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and is wintering in Florida. The G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream on 1-25 is next.

6. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.60 (25/78) at Fair Grounds on 1-5.

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. The promising colt is headed to the G3 Lecomte Stakes on 1-18.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :58.60 (1/31) at Fair Grounds on 1-3.

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

8. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12.80 (7/28) at Santa Anita on Jan. 5.

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. Sadler skipping the CashCall Futurity because of the all-weather surface and he has a fresh horse for the Grade III Sham Stakes at one mile (Santa Anita) on Jan. 11.

9. UNKNOWN ROAD (Bernardini – Banshee Winds, by Known Fact)

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: JMJ Racing Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 5f in 1:01 (9/39) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 6.

Comments: Finished a good 2nd to Chad Brown’s Coup de Grace in his 6f Big A debut on Nov. 9. He torched six rivals at Fair Grounds (six furlongs) second time out on Dec. 19 and should get better as distances increase. Stall is looking for an allowance spot.

10. COUP DE GRACE (Tapit – Home Court, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Fox Hill Farms

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.75 (26/49) at Palm Meadows on 1-5.

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 with a professional one mile allowance tally at Gulfstream Park on 12-15. The G2 Holy Bull Stakes might be next.

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in Aug. 31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He overcame adversity to earn diploma at Churchill Downs (one mile) on Sept. 28. Never got involved in allowance route at Churchill on Nov. 9 and finished an okay 4th in an entry level allowance route at Fair Grounds Dec. 27. Put up or shut up time has arrived!

Pedigree Spotlight: KRISTO

Kristo’s sire Distorted Humor (Forty Niner – Danzig’s Beauty, by Danzig) banked more than $769k in his career, winning such races as the G3 Salvator Mile, G2 Commonwealth, and G3 Ack Ack. He currently stands at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky for a stud fee of $100k. He has sired 119 stakes winners including Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner Funny Cide, Belmont Stakes/BC Classic hero Drosselmeyer, Travers hero and BC Classic runner-up Flower Alley (sire of Derby winner I’ll Have Another), 2-time G1 Whitney hero Commentator, and G1 Haskell winner Any Given Saturday.

kristo breeding

Distorted Humor’s sire Forty Niner (by Mr. Prospector) was the 1987 Juvenile Champion. The ’88 Kentucky Derby runner-up won multiple stakes races as a 3YO including the G1 Travers and G1 Haskell. He was North American’s leading freshman sire in 1992 and sired ‘96 Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note. The sire of sires was whisked away to Japan in 1995 for a cool $10 million and was pensioned in 2007.

Forty Niner’s late, great sire Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native) won 7 of 14 starts including the Whirlaway and Gravesend Handicaps in 1974.

Legendary “Sire of sires” Mr. Prospector is one of the most influential horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, siring 181 stakes winners (47 Grade 1 or Group I winners) and 16 champions.

Distorted Humor’s dam Danzig’s Beauty won the G3 Gardenia and finished 2nd in the G1 Acorn.

Danzig’s Beauty’s sire Danzig (by Northern Dancer) won all three career starts in New York. The influential stallion died in 2006 at age 29. He sired such prominent runners as Chief’s Crown (3rd ’85 Belmont Stakes), Stephan’s Odyssey (’85 Belmont Stakes runner-up), Danzig Connection (’86 Belmont Stakes winner), ’92 Preakness hero Pine Bluff, and Breeders’ Cup Mile winners Lure and War Chant.

Kristo’s dam Capote’s Crown (Capote – Majesty’s Crown, by Magesterial) won 3 of 8 lifetime starts including a tally in the Queen of Song Stakes and a place finish in the G3 Tempted.

Capote (Seattle Slew) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Norfolk Stakes in 1986. He sired more than 60 stakes winners including 2YO champ Boston Harbor.

Capote’s Crown’s dam Majesty’s Crown was an 8-time winner in Maryland.

Kristo has an intriguing blend of speed on the bottom and stamina on the top of his pedigree. He has already passed his first two turn test so the G3 Sham is easily within reach. Energy distribution is the key to success in longer events and it will be interesting to see how he progresses this winter and beyond.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Year-End Rankings

My newest Kentucky Derby 2014 contender Gold Hawk ran his record to a perfect 2-for-2 with a good looking, late striding 3-1/2 length score in an entry level route at Fair Grounds Dec. 27.

Kentucky Derby 2014 logoA $450k purchase trained by Steve Asmussen, Gold Hawk owns a promising route pedigree and has plenty of upside. Look for him to join the sophomore stakes ranks in New Orleans next year.

Purple Sky had every chance in the stretch and ended up a respectable 4th, 3/4ths and a head shy of the place. That’s back-to-back disappointments around two turns and his stock continues to drop.

Bob Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day has suffered a non-displaced chip on the left hind sesamoid and has been retired.Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer – Owner: Jungle Racing (Jim Rome)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.20 (47/52) at Santa Anita Park on 12-28.

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut (84 BSF) and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue (99 BSF) on 11-10. The exciting gelding thoroughly dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He could make two, possibly three starts on the Derby trail at Santa Anita next year, culminating with the G1 SA Derby on April 5.

Honor Code horse

Honor Code is back on the work tab in Florida – photo be Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :39 (10/13) at Payson Park on 12-31.

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He is wintering in Florida.

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

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

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.60 (3/17) at Oaklawn Park on 12-26.

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile.

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

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

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :36 (2/5) at Palm Meadows on 12-27.

Comments: Distant 3rd in his 7-22 Saratoga debut (Strong Mandate 5th). Romped by 6-1/4 lengths as the 3-2 favorite at that same venue at 7f second time out on 8-31 (sloppy, sealed). Attended pace and retreated to 8th in Champagne and finished a wide 7th of 12 from post 10 in the G2 Nashua. He is entered in the GP Derby at the Gulf on Jan. 1.

Cairo Prince horse

Cairo Prince has worked twice this winter at Palm Meadows – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

6. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :51.90 (45/48) at Palm Meadows on 12-31.

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and is wintering in Florida.

7. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. The promising colt is headed to the 3YO stakes ranks in New Orleans.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 4f breezed in :49 (6/70) at Fair Grounds on 12-16.

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

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

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

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in Aug. 31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He overcame adversity to earn diploma at Churchill Downs (one mile) on Sept. 28. Never got involved in allowance route at Churchill on Nov. 9 and finished a conpetitive 4th in an entry level allowance route at Fair Grounds Dec. 27.

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

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

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

Pedigree Spotlight: Gold Hawk

Gold Hawk’s sire Empire Maker (Unbridled – Toussaud, by El Gran Senor) was my Derby horse in 2003 and he ended up 2nd on the first Saturday in May that year. He turned the tables on Funny Cide in the Belmont Stakes five weeks late.

gold hawk pedigree

Empire Maker has sired U.S. champion, Royal Delta, and Kentucky Derby runner-ups Bodemeister and Pioneerof the Nile. He was exported to Japan in 2010.

Empire Maker’s sire Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1990 and sired 1996 Derby hero Grindstone and 2000 Preakness winner Red Bullet.

Empire Maker’s late, great Grade I winning dam Toussaud also tossed Grade I winners Chester House, Honest Lady, Chiselling, and Grade II Decarchy.

Gold Hawk’s dam Caressing (Honour and Glory – Lovin Touch, by Majestic Prince) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2000. Her sire Honour and Glory (Relaunch) won multiple stakes races including the G1 Breeders’ Futurity, G1 Met Mile, G2 San Rafael, and G2 King’s Bishop.

Gold Hawk should get dam-side stamina from Lovin Touch and Majestic Prince. Lovin Touch won the G3 Selene and landed the place in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Majestic Prince captured the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1969.

Gold Hawk has the stride and running style of a true router, and his pedigree suggests that he should excel in longer events. Look for him to do some damage in upcoming Fair Grounds stakes races.   

Kentucky Derby 2014 Favorite Shared Belief Wins CashCall Futurity

Shared Belief, ranked 5th on my Kentucky Derby 2014 contenders list last time (Dec. 7), shot to the head of the class with another facile victory in the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14.

Shared Belief

Shared Belief remains unbeaten after another easy win in the G1 CashCall Futurity – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Shared Belief has a deadly combination of tactical speed, finishing kick, and stamina, and has yet to be tested in three lifetime starts. He is clearly the fastest juvenile in the land but still must prove that he can run the same quality race on conventional dirt. He will get his chance this winter at Santa Anita.

Candy Boy made an early winning bid but could not come close to matching strides with Shared Belief when the real running began. He easily held the place over Tamarando. Bond Holder was 4th and Kobe’s Back finished a troubled 10th. Tap It Rich (11th) is a head case and is his own worst enemy at this stage. Bob Baffert has his work cut out with the son of Tapit.

In the $250k Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 15, Bret Calhoun’s Louies Flower (Flower Alley – Tembisa, by Johannesburg) beat Noble Cornerstone by a neck, and it was more than five lengths back to show finisher Smack Smack. The BSF came back a solid 91. The top three Springboard finishers all have talent and will surely show up in the graded ranks in the near future.

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

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer – Owner: Jungle Racing (Jim Rome)

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut (84 BSF) and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue (99 BSF) on 11-10. The exciting gelding thoroughly dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He could make two, possibly three starts on the Derby trail at Santa Anita next year, culminating with the G1 SA Derby on April 5.

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

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

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He will winter in Florida.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Gary & Mary West

Latest Workout: 3f in :37.80 (7/16) at Santa Anita on 12-15.

Comments: Rallied for 3rd in his 5.5f Del Mar debut 8-17 and beat next out G1 FrontRunner winner Bond Holder in a one mile maiden race at that same venue 8-31. He came off the bench and showed his talent with a professional score in the G1 BC Juvenile. He is expected to make his 3yo bow in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 8.

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

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

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day.

Strong Mandate

Strong Mandate is wintering at Oaklawn Park – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

Latest Workout: 3f bullet in :34.80 (1/8) at Oaklawn Park.

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :50 (22/31) at Palm Meadows on 12-13.

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

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:02.60 (12/49) at Fair Grounds on 12-15.

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in Aug. 31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He overcame adversity to earn diploma at Churchill Downs (one mile) on 9-28. Never got involved in allowance route at Churchill on Nov. 9.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 4f breezed in :49 (6/70) at Fair Grounds on 12-16.

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

9. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and will winter in Florida.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :51.08 (41/45) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 10-14.

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

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

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

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

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Shared Belief (originally posted 11-12-13)

shared belief

Shared Belief’s sire Candy Ride (Ride the Rails – Candy Girl, by Candy Stripes) went 6-for-6 in 2002-03 and ended his brief career with a victory in the G1 Pacific Classic. He has been a smashing success at stud, siring stakes winners Clubhouse Ride, Kettle Corn, Misremembered, Sidney’s Candy, and Twirling Candy, among others. His versatile offspring typically handle any distance on dirt, synthetic, and turf. He stands for $35,000.

shared belief pedigree

Ride the Rails (Cryptoclearance – Herbalesian, by Herbager) was on the Kentucky Derby trail in 1994, finishing 3rd in the G2 Fountain of Youth, 2nd in the G1 Florida Derby, and 4th in the G2 Arkansas Derby. In addition to Candy Ride, he sired 22 stakes winners before his death in Uruguay in 2010.

Cryptoclearance (Fappiano) earned more than $3 million from 1986-89, capturing such prestigious races as the G1 Florida Derby and G1 Donn, and placing in the G1 Preakness, G1 Belmont Stakes, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Shared Belief’s dam Common Hope (Storm Cat – Sown, by Grenfall) raced five times in 2000-01 with a maiden win at Del Mar to her credit. She is also the dam of 2011 Iowa Oaks (G3) winner Little Miss Holly. Her siblings include successful California sire Tribal Rule (Storm Cat – Sown, by Grenfall) and G1 Santa Monica winner Key Phrase (Flying Paster – Sown, by Grenfall)

Grade I winner Storm Cat (Storm Bird – Terlinga, by Secretariat) captured 4 of 8 lifetime starts and was 2nd in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the Big A. The legendary stallion stood for 20 years and sired more than 100 graded stakes winners. He died earlier this year at age 30 and is buried at Overbrook Farm.

Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird (Northern Dancer) was a European champion. He sired 63 stakes winners (Summer Squall, Bluebird) before his death in 2004 at age 26.

Shared Belief has only competed on all-weather ground but is bred to handle any footing. As expected, two turns was not a problem in the CashCall Futurity, and ten furlongs could be within reach on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders – Honor Code’s Odd Remsen

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2014 contender (since Nov. 12) Honor Code won a strange renewal of the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

Honor Code nips Cairo Prince in 2013 Remsen

The Remsen photo goes to Honor Code – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Honor Code, typically a sustained runner, was all over pedestrian fractions in the Remsen, with his main foe Cairo Prince stalking 3-wide while conceding six pounds. The latter began to inch away in the lane but was confronted again by Honor Code. The final margin was a nose, and the 88 BSF was pure conjecture.

What do we make of the Remsen? The best two horses ran 1-2 but we learned little due to the complete lack of pace. A quality speed horse like Havana probably would have romped in the Remsen.

Honor Code gets points for altering his running style and coming again, and Cairo Prince gave the winner weight and raced wide. They came home fast but that was to be expected given the soft early splits. Both well-bred colts have talent but we will have to wait for them to resurface to learn more.

In the Grade III Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Nov. 23, Rise Up cruised to an easy wire job win for trainer Tom Amoss. He also dusted his Delta opponents a few weeks earlier in the local Jackpot prep and must prove that he can run that same quality race at another venue.

My 11th ranked Derby contender Give No Quarter drops off the list after finishing 3rd as the favorite in a Laurel Park allowance on Nov. 20. According to the Equibase chart, he went to the gate with blood in his mouth, stumbled at the start, and raced wide. The Graham Motion trainee is owned by Sagamore Farm and is better than his recent form suggests.

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

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)honor code silks

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

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He will winter in Florida.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Gary & Mary West

Comments: Rallied for 3rd in his 5.5f Del Mar debut 8-17 and beat next out G1 FrontRunner winner Bond Holder in a one mile maiden race at that same venue 8-31. He came off the bench and showed his talent with a professional score in the G1 BC Juvenile and is an exciting long term prospect.

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

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

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day.

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

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

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile.

5. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer – Owner: Jungle Racing (Jim Rome)

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.60 (1/20) at Hollywood Park on 12-1.

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes on 11-10. The exciting gelding shows up next in the CashCall Futurity (Dec. 14).

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49.90 (9/16) at Palm Meadows on 12-5.

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

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.80 (26/63) at Churchill Downs on 11-22.

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in Aug. 31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He overcame adversity to earn diploma at Churchill Downs (one mile) on 9-28. Never got involved in allowance route at Churchill on Nov. 9.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :51.08 (41/45) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 10-14.

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

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

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

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

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.80 (8/44) at Churchill Downs on 10-14.

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

11. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and will winter in Florida.

Pedigree Spotlight: Honor Code

Honor Code’s sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic. As a sire, he was responsible for well over 100 stakes winners.

honor code pedigree

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

Honor Code’s dam Serena’s Cat (Storm Cat – Serena’s Tune, by Mr. Prospector) went 4-for-12 in 2005-07 and won the Klassy Briefcase Stakes at Monmouth in ’07. She is also the dam of Grade II turf winner Noble Tune.

Grade I winner Storm Cat (Storm Bird – Terlinga, by Secretariat) captured 4 of 8 lifetime starts and was 2nd in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the Big A. The legendary stallion stood for 20 years and sired more than 100 graded stakes winners. He died earlier this year at age 30 and is buried at Overbrook Farm.

Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird (Northern Dancer) was a European champion. He sired 63 stakes winners (Summer Squall, Bluebird) before his death in 2004 at age 26.

Serena’s Tune (Mr. Prospector – Serena’s Song, by Rahy), foaled in 1998, was a stakes winner at age 3 and 4. The late mare was a half-sister to graded and/or group winners Grand Reward, Harlington, and Sophisticat.

Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native) won 7 of 14 starts including the Whirlaway and Gravesend Handicaps in 1974.

Legendary “Sire of sires” Mr. Prospector is one of the most influential horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, siring 181 stakes winners (47 Grade 1 or Group I winners) and 16 champions.

Hall of Famer Serena’s Song (Rahy – Imagining, by Northfields) won 13 Grade I races and was Champion U.S. 3YO Filly in 1995.

Honor Code ran three quality races during his productive juvenile campaign and already owns a graded win at nine panels. He should continue to develop for patient trainer Shug McGaughey and ten furlongs should be well within reach on the first Saturday in May.