Posts Tagged ‘Sagamore Farm’

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

This is my first in a series of blogs devoted to Kentucky Derby 2014 contenders. Once again, I am getting an early start in September, and there will be many twists and turns in the months ahead.

Kentucky Derby 2014 logoEight of the last thirteen Kentucky Derby winners graduated by October 4, including six of the last eight. Kentucky Derby 2012 hero I’ll Have Another captured his career debut at Hollywood Park on July 3 of his juvenile season.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb lost his first three juvenile outings. He graduated at the Big A on November 24, 2012, his first of five straight wins, culminating in a scintillating off the pace tally under the Twin Spires on May 4.

An ideal Kentucky Derby contender would have a solid juvenile foundation, a long-winded pedigree, sharp graded stakes form, running style versatility, and winning connections. Strong pre-Derby works are the icing on the cake.

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

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

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :50.80 (81/91) at Churchill Downs on 9-22.

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in 8-31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He owns a promising route pedigree and is entered in the third race at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Sept. 28 (MSW, 8f).

UPDATE: Purple Sky overcame adversity to earn diploma at CD on 9-28.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:01.54 (13/24) at Belmont Park on 9-23.

UPDATE: Honor Code breezed 4f in :47.99 (5/38) at Belmont Park on 9-29.

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 should get better as distances increase and will run next in the G1 Champagne at Belmont Park on 10-5.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49.53 (8/29) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 9-21.

Comments: Battled on the pace throughout and was 2nd best to Honor Code in his 8-31 debut at the Spa. He won’t be a maiden much longer and is entered in the second race at Belmont Park on Saturday, Sept. 28 (MSW, 7f).

UPDATE: Misconnect graduated by a length at Belmont on 9-28 (85 BSF).

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48.15 (1/29) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 9-21.

UPDATE: Grand Arrival fired a 4f bullet in :48.02 (1/31) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 9-28.

Comments: Distant 3rd to Big Sugar Soda 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).

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

Strong Mandate horse

Hopeful hero Strong Mandate eyes the G1 Champagne – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:01 (5/50) at Churchill Downs on 9-22.

UPDATE: Strong Mandate breezed 4f in :48 (9/48) at Churchill Downs on 9-29.

Comments: Has been sensational since finishing 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 will go for back-to-back Grade I wins in the Champagne.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00.85 (1/17) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on 9-23.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. The G1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park is next.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: Breezed 5f in :59.80 (2/40) at Churchill Downs on 9-23.

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.

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

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

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

Comments: It is not easy to win a route race first time out, but he did just at Del Mar on 8-31. Veteran jockey Victor Espinoza is high on this one. “He’s a very talented horse,” Espinoza said of the son of Rock Hard Ten. “I liked him the first time I saw him. I was impressed with how he ran going a mile and winning from the one hole (at odds of 10-1 Aug. 31 at Del Mar). I feel he’ll get even better.” He is entered in the G1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita on 9-28.

UPDATE: 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.”

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

Trainer: Graham Motion – Owner: Sagamore Farm

Comments: Two races at Presque Isle with a clear place finish in his 5.5f bow on 8-15 and a 22-length romp at one mile on 9-17 (85 BSF).

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Gary & Mary West

Latest Workout: Worked 4f in :49.40 (40/49) at Santa Anita on 9-23.

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

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

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

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

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

Pedigree Spotlight: PURPLE SKY

Purple Sky pedigreePurple Sky’s sire 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.

Purple Sky’s mother Tessa Blue, a Maryland-bred daughter of Awesome Again, won the G3 Indiana Oaks and Inside Information Stakes in 2007. She finished 2nd in the G2 Rampart and G3 Sixty Sails Handicaps in 2008.

Tessa Blue’s father Awesome Again (by Deputy Minister) won 9 of 12 races and more than $4 million, capturing such prestigious races as the Queen’s Plete, G2 Jim Dandy, G2 Stephen Foster, G2 Whitney, G2 Saratoga BC ‘Cap, G3 Hawthorne Gold Cup, and G1 BC Classic.

Tessa Blue’s mother Blue Sky Princess (by Conquistador Cielo), a classy Maryland-bred, won the Caesar’s Wish and Twixt Stakes at Pimlico and the Anne Arundel Stakes at Laurel. She also placed in the Hilltop, Pearl Necklace, G2 Cotillion, and G3 Martha Washington.

Purple Sky has class and stamina influences throughout his bloodlines and should continue to improve as distances increase. He has every reason to excel pedigree-wise if he makes it to the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Wood Memorial 2012 Preview – Will Gemologist remain unbeaten?

Saturday’s Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct is worth a cool $1 million and provides New York sophomores a final chance to qualify for Kentucky Derby 2012 on graded earnings.

#6 Gemologist (8-5) is 4-for-4 and needs a top two finish to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. The sharp early-pressing type exits a romping tally over G3 Illinois Derby favorite Currency Swap in his Gulfstream return and tries to avoid a bounce while returning in three weeks.

#3 MY ADONIS (8-1) might be a cut below but he looks like the value play in this spot. The Kelly Breen trainee should sit a decent tactical journey and his numbers are on the rise. He gets away from Hansen after finishing behind the juvenile champ in the G3 Holy Bull and G3 Gotham.

Alpha horse

Alpha shoots for 3rd straight win on Saturday - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#1 Alpha (5-2) enters fresh and projects a ground saving tactical trip for the productive Dominguez/McLaughlin team. He was my original top ranked Derby contender when I began my list last September and I like the progress he is making this season.

#7 Tiger Walk (15-1) deserves a longshot look. He finished a solid 3rd in the G3 Withers and was hung out to dry from post 13 in G3 Gotham (missed 3rd by head).  His stablemate Millionreasonswhy is a strong contender in the G3 Comely earlier on the Big A program.

#5 Street Life (4-1) showed a nice late kick on the inner dirt in his last pair despite not getting much pace help. The son of Street Sense is on the upswing and will be finishing.

#8 The Lumber Guy (8-1) easily captured a pair of sprints to begin his career and looms a pace player at the very least. He will probably find this company and distance a bit beyond his scope at this stage.

#2 Casual Trick (20-1) is trying to rediscover his GP Derby form for Zito. He reportedly flipped his palate in his last pair and had surgery to correct the breathing problem.

#4 Teeth of the Dog (15-1) is getting better for Matz but this is a tough spot for a horse exiting a head maiden victory.

THE PLAYS:

$20 to win #3

$2 Exacta Box 1-3 ($4)

$4 Exacta 1-3/6-7  ($16)

Gotham Stakes 2012 Preview: Hansen seeks redemption

The next-to-last major Kentucky Derby 2012 prep in New York will be run at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday and juvenile champ Hansen tries to get back on the beam in the G3 Gotham Stakes.

Hansen horse

Is Hansen a legit Kentucky Derby contender? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#12 Hansen (6-5) removes the hood in hopes of relaxing a bit in the early going. He used too much early energy after stumbling at the start off the shelf in the G3 Holy Bull and it cost him dearly in the lane. I have always thought the 2-year-old champion was a speedy colt with distance limitations and he figures to take too much action under Dominguez. As of this writing, there is a 100% chance of rain at the Big A on March 3 and the strong morning line favorite handles any type of ground.

#2 Stealcase (12-1) is an interesting price player for Mark Casse. He was favored in all three career starts and smartly moved forward to earn his diploma over a route of ground at Gulfstream Jan 19. Windsurfer, the clear place finisher from his last, came back to break his maiden as the favorite. He finished 4th on Dec 24 and that key heat produced multiple next out winners including Thunder Moccasin in the G2 Hutcheson. The promising sort has faced decent runners and is on the improve.

#5 Maan (15-1) won both sprint starts for Eddie Kenneally (Santiva, Battle Hardened) including a stalk and pounce tally in the slop at the Gulf Feb 9. The $200k purchase is bred to go this far but must avoid a bounce.

#1 My Adonis (5-1) rallied for the show in the G3 Holy Bull. He handles any footing and is capable of stalking the pace or rallying late, depending on the race shape. His only bad race occurred when he dueled on a fast pace and faltered in the G3 Delta Jackpot.

#13 Tiger Walk (12-1) matched his career top number in a show finish behind Alpha in the G3 Withers here Feb 4. The Sagamore Farm colt has some talent and new pilot Eddie Castro will try to work out a tactical trip from a tough post.

#10 Side Road (20-1) replaces injured colt Consortium for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The Darley Stable colorbearer is on the upswing and can grab a piece of this with further development.

#9 King And Crusader (15-1) could throw a monkey wrench into Hansen’s theft plans. Rick Dutrow’s fleet colt has rattled off three straight and looms a pace player at the very least. He might not want to go this far against this type of competition.

It would not be a Derby prep without Todd Pletcher and he takes two shots at the top prize. #6 Dan And Shelia (8-1) rallied to finish 4th in a slow renewal of the G3 Lecomte but that was only his second lifetime start so he has upside. Uncoupled stablemate #8 Raconteur (15-1) owns fine tactical speed and exits back-to-back inner track route victories. He is bred for a wet track and gets tested for class.

#3 Finnegans Wake (20-1) is one of two uncoupled longshots entered for Dale Romans. This one is owned by Donegal Racing (Dullahan, Paddy O’Prado) and goes turf-to-dirt. Stablemate #7 Suns Out Guns Out (30-1) is still a maiden for West Point Thoroughbreds. The son of Empire Maker is getting better but this is a tough spot.

#4 Pretension (20-1) has fired Exacta shots in all five lifetime starts. The decent NY-bred projects a tactical trip but might find this group a tad salty.

#11 Done Talking (20-1) was last seen rallying for 4th in the G2 Remsen. He has some ability but might need the outing.

The Plays:

$20 to win #2

$1 Trifecta 2-5/1-2-5-12/1-2-5-10-12-13 ($24)

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Alpha’s Withers

The first New York graded route on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 was run at Aqueduct on Saturday and overwhelming favorite Alpha did not disappoint in a facile G3 Withers tally.

G3 Withers (2-4-12): 90 BSF (Alpha)

Alpha was my original number one Derby contender when I posted my first blog about the current sophomore class last September and he is on the upswing for Godolphin and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Alpha horse

Alpha is on the upswing for Godolphin - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Alpha began his career with a facile extended sprint win at Saratoga last summer before rallying for the place behind Union Rags in the G1 Champagne. He lost his top ranking on my list after coming apart at the gate and finishing up the track in the G1 BC Juvenile but he always remained in my top ten.

I gave the Count Fleet hero a C+ grade for his win on Jan 7 and thought he was more professional in the Withers. He behaved in the gate, sat a wide stalking trip from the outside post, and was hand urged while clearly best under Ramon Dominguez on Feb 4.

Alpha has all of the tools to make a splash on the first Saturday in May. He is bred top and bottom (Bernardini-Nijinsky II) to improve as distances increase and his sharp conditioner has Kentucky Derby experience. Godolphin wants to win the Derby and they are going about it the right way this time after buying young talent and unsuccessfully shipping to/from Dubai in the past.

The promising son of Bernardini is making nice progress on the Beyer scale, going from an 85 in the Count Fleet to a 90 in the Withers. I love his tactical speed and top notch jockey Ramon Dominguez rides him well. He needs to run faster to be considered a serious Derby player but he is only getting warmed up at a mile and a sixteenth and is clearly moving in the right direction.

There was not much depth in the Withers. Outsider Speightscity completed the exacta at 44-1.Rallying show finisher Tiger Walk has potential for Sagamore Farm. He was making his first start of the year and handles turf/dirt.

Withers Stakes Grade: B-

Withers Stakes 2012 Preview: Alpha Looms Large

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 continues at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday with the G3 Withers Stakes and even money favorite Alpha drew the outside post against six rivals.

I have always been fond of #7 Alpha (1-1). He was my top ranked Derby contender when I started tracking the current sophomores last September. Kiaran McLaughlin’s exciting son of Bernardini was a sharp winner right out of the box in his extended sprint bow at the Spa last summer and came right back to land the place behind highly regarded colt Union Rags in the G1 Champagne.

Alpha

Alpha seeks graded glory in Withers - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Alpha came unglued at the gate in the G1 BC Juvenile and ended up a disappointing 11th after stalking the pace. He resumed training in Florida during the month of December before returning to the Big Apple to impressively snare his 3-year-old debut in the Count Fleet Stakes on Jan 7.

Once again, Alpha had some gate issues in the Count Fleet and has been successfully schooling at the Big A ever since. He fired a best of 14 Belmont training track bullet for this engagement on Jan 30 and looms large at low odds.

#1 Hakama (5-1) is the one to catch from the rail and might be dangerous if the inner dirt track is favoring speed. The Michael Trombetta runner exits back-to-back route wire jobs including a local maiden win Dec 10.

Sagamore Farm runner #6 Tiger Walk (6-1) is firing bullets for his first start of the season. He ended his juvenile campaign with back-to-back wins on turf and dirt at Laurel Park and should offer value at 6-1. He’s the wildcard.

#2 Speightscity (20-1) was dusted by Alpha in the Count Fleet but he was bumped at the start and raced wide from an outer post that day. He lands a better post and can grab a piece of this with better racing luck.

#4 King Kid (4-1) was sharp in his extended sprint bow and finished a solid 3rd in the Gulfstream Park Derby last time. He has upside with only two races under his belt. His pedigree screams turf (Lemon Drop Kid-Royal Academy).

#3 Swag Daddy (10-1) owns running style versatility and captured his last two inner dirt routes against NY-breds. He faces open company for the first time and shows an improving numbers pattern.

Pace factor #5 How Do I Win (10-1) faded to 4th after tracking the leader in the Count Fleet and it might be deja vu all over again with early runner Hakama breaking from the rail.

The Plays:

$4 Exacta 7-2

$1 Trifecta 7/1-6/ALL ($10)

$1 Trifecta 7/ALL/1-6 ($10)

$1 Trifecta 1-6/7/ALL ($10)

$1 Trifecta 1-6-7/1-6-7/2 ($6)

Belmont Stakes 2011 Profile: Monzon

Monzon failed to hit the board in three prior graded stakes races and will attempt to turn things around in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

Belmont Stakes logo

The gelded son of ’95 Belmont Stakes hero Thunder Gulch has faced the starter eight times with three wins to his credit. He romped in a pair of flat mile starts in Maryland (dirt) and Delaware (turf) last year and started 2011 with an Aqueduct inner dirt tally in the Count Fleet Stakes, beating the likes of Pants On Fire.

The wheels came off the cart with a non-threatening 5th in the Sam Davis and a 6th in the Peter Pan but he figures to be grinding away late. Hi aforementioned sire Thunder Gulch threw 2001 Belmont Stakes winner Point Given.

Monzon will represent legendary Sagamore Farm and the late striding three-year-old will have to kick his game up a notch or two to compete for a minor award. A minor award in not out of the question.