Posts Tagged ‘Shared Belief’

Charles Town Classic 2015 analysis featuring Shared Belief (Video)

Shared Belief tries to run his impressive career record to 11-for-12 in Saturday’s Grade II Charles Town Classic.

Charles Town is a unique six furlong bullring oval and the nine furlong showcase will be run around three turns. This will be a new experience for Shared Belief but he has handled everything with ease throughout his career.

Eight horses will square off against Shared Belief including G1 winner Moreno. The latter was 3rd in the 2014 Charles Town Classic and should make his presence felt throughout.

2014 Charles Town Classic hero Imperative is back to defend his title but his recent form is suspect.

Fans might remember General a Rod from the 2014 Triple Crown series. He is now trained by Todd Pletcher and exits a romping score in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Lightly raced Street Babe exits a smart win in the G3 Mineshaft. He has plenty of upside but lacks the necessary seasoning to win a race like this.

G2 Kelso winner Vyjack appears most effective in extended sprints around one turn.

Gem of consistency Page McKenney shoots for a hat trick but has never faced rivals this tough.

Looking Cool was claimed out of his last for $62.5k and will try to get involved late.

Longshot Warrioroftheroses should show speed.

CT Classic field

 

Los Alamitos Derby Video: Will Shared Belief remain unbeaten?

My video race of the week for Saturday, July 5 is the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby. It is carded as the 8th race for 3-year-olds traveling a mile and an eighth on the main track (Post Time- 5:3opm PT).

Juvenile champ Shared Belief is the 4-5 morning line favorite. He easily captured all four lifetime starts and his lone outing in the last 6+ months was a very easy six furlong allowance score at Golden Gate against four rivals. Foot issues caused him to bypass the Triple Crown trail earlier this year. Is he fit enough to run nine furlongs against solid competition over a quirky dirt surface?

Candy Boy is fresh, fit (3 route races in 2014), and training well. He exits a miserable trip in the Kentucky Derby (my Derby pick) and should sit an outside stalk and pounce journey.

Eddie’s First from the rail and G3 Affirmed winner Can the Man (Baffert) are the early runners. G2 Woody Stephens runner-up Top Fortitude stretches out, and Shared Belief‘s uncoupled stablemate Tonito M will try to get involved late, along with Affirmed runner-up Friendswith K Mill.

Click here to view today’s Pick 6 and late Pick 4 tickets from Los Alamitos

Recapping last week’s video, I got home my suggested $5 Majestic Harbor-Clubhouse Ride exacta box, which returned $68.80 for a buck. Let’s bring home another video winner!

Click here to view today’s HRN video play of the day, the G2 Los Al Derby

 

Triple Crown Remains Elusive Target

California Chrome failed in his bid to sweep the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 7 at Belmont Park. Not surprisingly, the twelve furlong journey jumped up and bit him.

Tonalist

Tonalist spoils California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Tonalist, a fresh, lightly raced son of Tapit, caught Commissioner in the late stages to win by a head, with Medal Count landing the show. The winning BSF came back 100.

California Chrome finished in a dead-heat for 4th with Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong. The Derby-Preakness hero never looked like a winner and will get a well-deserved rest before returning in September for a BC Classic prep.

Tonalist has set his sights on the Travers and may prep in the Jim Dandy. Both races will be run at Saratoga later this summer.

Commissioner came out of the Belmont with a bone chip and could return later this year.

Let’s check in on some former “Exceptional Eleven” Derby members and see what they are up to:

My Derby top Candy Boy skipped the Preakness-Belmont and goes next in the Los Alamitos Derby on July 5. He worked 4f in :48.20 at Santa Anita on June 9.

Candy Boy

Candy Boy targets the Los Al Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Give No Quarter is back in training at Fair Hill for Graham Motion. The Sagamore Farm colorbearer most recently logged 5f in 1:02 on June 14.

Indianapolis returned to the Santa Anita worktab on June 12 (3f in :36.20).

Intense Holiday had to be put down after developing laminitis. Very sad ending.

Kendall’s Boy was last seen finishing 6th at OP on March 22. His steady worktab includes a 5f move in 1:01.20 at Churchill Downs on June 14.

Kristo failed to handle Santa Anita turf on May 18. He worked 5f in 1:00.60 on June 11.

Misconnect finished 4th in the Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont undercard.

Noble Cornerstone finished 2nd in a Belmont Park Allowance race on May 18. He worked 4f in :47.91 on June 6 and was entered and subsequently scratched on June 14.

Schoolofhardrocks was visually impressive in an Optional Claiming turf win at Santa Anita on May 31. He appears ready for a turf stakes assignment and will probably make some noise at Del Mar this summer. He worked 5f in 1:00.40 on June 12.

Shared Belief captured his much anticipated Golden Gate comeback on May 26. He traveled 5f in 1:02.20 on June 10 and has options for his next outing, including the aforementioned Los Al Derby.

Tapiture runs next in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday night, June 14.

Vicar’s in Trouble has been in steady training since running last in the Ky Derby. He went 5f in 1:01.20 at Churchill Training on June 9.

Wildcat Red got beat up during his rough 18th in the Derby. The Haskell is his summer goal and he worked 3f in :36.80 at Gulfstream Park on June 14.

 

 

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: Running Wild

Saamrat and Uncle Sigh, a pair of NY-bred Kentucky Derby 2014 hopefuls, battled throughout in the Grade III Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

Samraat

NY-breds ran 1-2 in last Saturday’s Withers – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Saamrat stuck his head in front at the quarter pole and gradually inched a length clear at the wire. Uncle Sigh was more than ten clear of maiden show finisher Scotland. The winning BSF was 94.

The jury is still out on the strength of the Withers. The top two dominated throughout, the pace was ordinary, and a maiden was third. The waters will get much deeper in the Gotham and Wood Memorial.

In the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay, Pletcher trainees Vinceremos and Harpoon finished 1-2 in an exciting contest. The BSF came back 82, and this did not look like a serious Derby prep to say the least.

Post time favorite Noble Cornerstone was very fractious in the gate and never got involved in a throwout race. His gate behavior was very disturbing. If he manages to make the Derby gate, how is he going to react with a noisy crowd surrounded by nineteen other horses?

Romping G2 Hutcheson hero Wildcat Red was the most impressive sophomore of the weekend. He earned a 96 BSF at Gulfstream on Saturday and will try two turns in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 22.

This week’s Derby prep is the Grade II Robert Lewis Stakes from Santa Anita Park.

Saturday’s Robert Lewis 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 :38.10 (2/14) at Payson Park on Jan. 18.

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. From Mike Welsh via DRF Inside Post (1-28-14): Shug says Honor Code “bruised up his back ankles a little bit” nothing serious will return to the track on Friday but FOY unlikely. He is currently jogging at Gulfstream Park.

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. The 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

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. At this stage, he is expected to skip the Fountain of Youth Stakes and wait for the Florida Derby.

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 :48.95 (3/6) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 6.

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. From DRF: “We got a little behind schedule with him, but hopefully we’ll be able to get him back on the work schedule this week and make the Swale,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “If he runs well in the Swale, we’d still have time to give him two preps before the [Kentucky] Derby, although only one of them will be around two turns, that’s all.”

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

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 and another on Jan. 24 due to a foot abscess, and is out of the Robert Lewis Stakes. Asked Friday morning (Jan. 24) for an update on the gelding’s status, Jerry Hollendorfer said, “There is no update.” When approached again later, the Hall of Fame trainer said, “I don’t have any news for the next 15 days.”

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:00.60 (3/44) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 3.

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.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (18/71) at Santa Anita on Feb. 2.

Derby Points (10)

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 has plenty of raw talent and should continue to develop mentally and physically.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (7/43) at Santa Anita on Feb. 3.

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.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (5/43) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 1.

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.

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 could go next in 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

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. He clings to the bottom of my list.

Pedigree Spotlight: Wildcat Red

Wildcat Red silks

Overachiever Wildcat Red (D’wildcat – Racene, by Miner’s Mark) is easy to root for, but how far will he be able to carry his speed?

His win early sprint sire D’wildcat (Forest Wildcat – D’Enough, by D’Accord) was built for speed, winning the G3 Swale, G2 Churchill Downs Handicap, and G1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash. His top three leading runners by lifetime earnings are Authenicat ($720,046), D’Funnybone ($686,700), and D’wild Ride ($622,841).

wildcat red pedigree

D’wildcat’s sire, 9-time winner Forest Wildcat, was fast in his own right, winning the G3 Maryland BC ‘Cap, G3 Finger Lakes BC, Ben Cohen Stakes, and Keeneland Phoenix Stakes in 1996. He sired 55 stakes winners including G1 Acorn winner Forest Secrets and G2 Lexington hero Behindatthebar. His son Wildcat Heir also won the the G1 De Francis Dash.

Wildcat Red should get stamina from the female side of his pedigree. His mother, Racene, won 2 of 14 career starts including a ten furlong entry level turf affair at Santa Anita in 2002.

Dam sire Miner’s Mark (Mr. Prospector – Personal Ensign, by Private Account), bred by Ogden Phipps, fell just short of the $1 million earnings plateau, capturing the G1 JC Gold Cup, G2 Jim Dandy, and G3 Colin Stakes. His full brother Our Emblem sired 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, and his half-sister, multiple Grade I winner My Flag, tossed 2002 champion juvenile filly Storm Flag Flying.

Wildcat Red gets a ton of speed from his sire line and picks up some class and stamina on the dam side. He will probably a bigger threat in races like the G1 King’s Bishop at 7f later this year, but he is razor sharp and loves Gulfstream Park, so trying two turns in the Fountain of Youth makes sense at this stage of his career.       

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Cairo Prince Crowned in Holy Bull

Cairo Prince moves up a couple of spots on my top Kentucky Derby 2014 contender list following a dominating stalk and pounce victory in Saturday’s Grade II Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25.

Cairo Prince horse

Cairo Prince started his 3yo season in style with an easy win in the Holy Bull – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Cairo Prince is a nose away from a perfect 4-for-4 record, and it is good to see Kiaran McLaughlin with a viable Derby threat. He earned a solid 95 BSF on Saturday and could show up next in the Fountain of Youth or wait for the Florida Derby.

Finishing behind Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull were Conquest Titan, Intense Holiday, and early leader Almost Famous. Second betting choice Coup de Grace folded like a bad poker hand and is off the Derby trail.

On the Holy Bull undercard, Shug McGaughey’s promising late runner Top Billing captured an allowance route in fine fashion and earned a 90 BSF. He is likely to try the Fountain of Youth next, and we will see how good he is at that time.

Also on Jan. 25, California Chrome ran away from a decent state bred field including grade one winner Tamarando in the Cal Cup Derby. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of fellow CA-breds Best Pal, Cavonnier, and Free House, and make some noise on the Derby trail and beyond. The above average Art Sherman trainee earned an 88 BSF in the Cal Cup Derby and will likely face graded rivals in the San Felipe on March 8.

Schoolofhardrocks, one of my original exceptional eleven contenders, worked again on Jan. 28. He traveled 4f in :47.60 (2/25) at Santa Anita Park. He has only raced once so the Derby is highly unlikely, but he is one to keep an eye on as the year unfolds.

As noted below, Honor Code, Shared Belief, and Havana have all had recent setbacks and will miss their next scheduled starts. They remain on my list but I will keep a close eye on each in the coming weeks.

This week, Tampa Bay begins their 3yo route stakes series with the Grade III Sam F. Davis.

Today’s Sam F. Davis Stakes is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com

At Aqueduct, six sophomores square off in the Grade III Withers. A pair of promising NY-breds, Uncle Sigh and Samraat, figure to take the bulk of the wagering action, but I have my eye on G2 Jerome 2-3 finishers Classic Giacnroll and Scotland. The latter is still a maiden but has talent and is good enough to make some Withers noise at 8-1.

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 :38.10 (2/14) at Payson Park on Jan. 18.

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. From Mike Welsh via DRF Inside Post (1-28-14): Shug says Honor Code “bruised up his back ankles a little bit” nothing serious will return to the track on Friday but FOY unlikely.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00.40 (1/60) at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 27.

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. The 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

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 and might resurface in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, or he could wait for the Florida Derby.

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

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 but has yet to have a published work and will not make the Fountain of Youth. From DRF: “We got a little behind schedule with him, but hopefully we’ll be able to get him back on the work schedule this week and make the Swale,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “If he runs well in the Swale, we’d still have time to give him two preps before the [Kentucky] Derby, although only one of them will be around two turns, that’s all.”

5. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat) Shared Belief horse silks

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 and another on Jan. 24 due to a foot abscess, and is out of the Robert Lewis Stakes. Asked Friday morning (Jan. 24) for an update on the gelding’s status, Jerry Hollendorfer said, “There is no update.” When approached again later, the Hall of Fame trainer said, “I don’t have any news for the next 15 days.”

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :50.20 (14/27) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 27.

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.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.20 (35/40) at Santa Anita on Jan. 27.

Derby Points (10)

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.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.80 (3/26) at Santa Anita on Jan. 27.

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.

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 :48.20 (2/51) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 20.

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.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (4/33) at Santa Anita on Jan. 30.

Comments: Smartly ran his sprint record to 2-for-2 in the San Pablo for Baffert. He could go next in 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 1:02.53 (6/11) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 22.

Comments: Easy 6f maiden win in prominent throughout Aqueduct debut. He rallied for the place in the Springboard Mile to end his juvenile campaign. Kicks off his 3yo campaign in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay on Feb. 1.

Pedigree Spotlight: Cairo Prince

I am rooting for Cairo Prince to do well on the road to the Kentucky Derby because his sire, Pioneerof The Nile (Empire Maker – Star of Goshen, by Lord at War), was my Derby horse in 2008, and I got to see him on a recent visit to WinStar Farm.

Cairo Prince bloodlines

Pioneerof The Nile won half of his ten lifetime starts and banked more than $1.6 million. In addition to his Derby place finish, career highlights included wins in the G1 CashCall Futurity, G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, G2 San Felipe, and G1 SA Derby. America’s #2 freshman sire has a 2014 stud fee of $20k.

I seem to really identify with these bloodlines, because Pioneerof The Nile’s sire Empire Maker (Unbridled – Toussaud, by El Gran Senor) was my Derby pick in 2003.He ended up 2nd on the first Saturday in May that year and turned the tables on Funny Cide in the Belmont Stakes five weeks later. Another of my top five Derby players this year, Gold Hawk, is a son of Empire Maker.

Pioneerof The Nile

Pioneerof The Nile at WinStar Farm in 2013 – photo by Stacy Edwards

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 hero Decarchy.

On the female side, Cairo Prince gets class from his mother Holy Bubbette (Holy Bull), a 6-timer winner (2 stakes wins) of more than $240k.

Dam sire Holy Bull was on the Derby trail in 1994, winning Horse of the Year and 3YO honors that season. He captured 13 of 16 career outings and earned more than $2.4 million, winning such prestigious races as the G1 Futurity, G1 Florida Derby, G1 Met Mile, G1 Haskell, G1 Travers, and G1 Woodward.

Cairo Prince owns a classy pedigree with many classic influences on top. His early-pressing running style keeps him out of trouble and he is an exciting prospect on the Derby trail.     

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Vicar’s In Charge

Vicar’s In Trouble burst onto the Kentucky Derby 2014 scene with a sharp, decisive, prominent throughout triumph in last Saturday’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Kentucky Derby 2014 logo

Vicar’s In Trouble, a LA-bred son of Into Mischief, broke his maiden by many lengths in a local state bred sprint prior to the Lecomte. He settled into a nice pressing rhythm under Rosie Napravnik on Saturday, and with early-pressing types dominating on the main track all day, he figured to be tough to beat. He assumed the lead after six panels and widened throughout, crossing the line almost seven to the good and earning a 97 BSF.

Albano held off Gold Hawk for the place, with early leader Roman Unbridled checking in a clear 4th. The top four held their positions throughout in a bit of a merry-go-round race.

Vicar’s In Trouble is owned by Ken & Sarah Ramsey, and trained by Mike Maker. He is clearly fast and talented, and we will learn more when he faces better pace rivals in upcoming stakes assignments. He reminds me of another son of Into Mischief…Goldencents.

As for the others, runner-up Albano had no excuses. He figured to be forwardly placed stretching out in distance but could not match strides with the impressive winner.

Beaten favorite Gold Hawk is still worth following and will remain on my list. The speed favoring oval and race shape were not to his liking, which is why he did not punch it in turning for home, and he only missed 2nd by a ½ length. He was also returning in three weeks and was hardly disgraced in a valuable learning experience.

In the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday (Jan. 20), Tanzanite Cat outdueled Walt in the flat mile affair, with post time favorite Coastline checking in 3rd. The winning BSF came back 83.

Indianapolis might be the most intriguing horse to win a stakes race during the 3-day holiday weekend. The Baffert trainee dusted three rivals in the San Pablo at six furlongs on Monday and garnered a 97 BSF. His promising route pedigree is featured below.

Unknown Road flopped in an allowance route test at Fair Grounds on Jan. 24 and drops off the bottom of my list. He is replaced by Indianapolis.

Later today, my 5th ranked Derby contender Cairo Prince makes his much anticipated sophomore debut in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Coup de Grace, also one of my Derby players, drew the rail and looks like a serious threat as well.

Cairo Prince exits a strange renewal of the G2 Remsen, and we should get a better gauge on that race after today’s Holy Bull.

Today’s Grade II Holy Bull Stakes is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com.

Breaking news from Gulfstream Park. Top Billing just swept past the field to win the 4th race in hand. The allowance route on the fast main track was contested at a mile and a sixteenth, and he completed his final 1/4 in :24.96. We will learn much more about Shug McGaughey’s promising late runner when he faces graded stakes foes next time.

Schoolofhardrocks, one of my original exceptional eleven contenders, got back on the worktab on Jan. 22. He went 3f in :36 (4/17) at Santa Anita Park. He could be one to watch as the year unfolds.

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 :38.10 (2/14) at Payson Park on Jan. 18.

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.

2. SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride – Common Hope, by Storm Cat) Shared Belief horse silks

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 and missed another workout on Jan. 24. Asked Friday morning (Jan. 24) for an update on the gelding’s status, Jerry Hollendorfer said, “There is no update.” When approached again later, the Hall of Fame trainer said, “I don’t have any news for the next 15 days.”

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 horse

Strong Mandate is targeting the Southwest Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (2/46) at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 20.

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. The Southwest Stakes is his first 2014 target.

Cairo Prince runs later today in the Holy Bull Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: 4f solo breeze in :48.40 (7/52) at Palm Meadows on Jan. 19.

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

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.

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.20 (2/51) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 20.

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.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (5/33) at Santa Anita on Jan. 21.

Derby Points (10)

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.

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.

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

Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Fox Hill Farms

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47.40 (1/52) at Palm Meadows on Jan. 19.

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 at the Gulf on Jan. 25 is next, and he will break from the rail under Johnny V.

11. INDIANAPOLIS (Medaglia d’Oro – Pretty N Smart, by Beau Genius)

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

Comments: Smartly ran his sprint record to 2-for-2 in the San Pablo for Baffert. He could go next in the G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb. 16.

Pedigree Spotlight: Indianapolis

Indianapolis horse silks

Bob Baffert’s $490k purchase Indianapolis ran his record to 2-for-2 in the San Pedro Stakes, and he should get stamina from his sire, Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado – Cappucino Bay, by Bailjumper).

Indianapolis horse pedigree

Medaglia d’Oro won 8 races and earned more than $5.7 million on the track. He captured 7 stakes races and a trio of grade 1’s (G1 Travers, G1 Whitney, G1 Donn). He also finished 2nd in the G1 Belmont, G1 Pacific Classic, G1 Dubai World Cup, and the G1 BC Classic in 2002 and 2003. As a sire, he is responsible for such runners as Rachel Alexandra, Marketing Mix, Plum Pretty, and Violence.

Besides Medaglia d’Oro, El Prado (Sadler’s Wells) sired such performers as Artie Schiller, Asi Siempre, Borrego, Kitten’s Joy, Paddy O’Prado, and Winter Memories.

On the female side, dam Pretty ‘n Smart (Beau Genius – Charge d’Affaires, by Vice Regent) won 2 of 7 starts and placed 3rd in the G2 Railbird and Manhattan Beach Stakes.

Pretty ‘N Smart’s sire Beau Genius won or placed in 21 stakes races and earned more than $1 million. He was represented by 39 stakes winners including Belle Genius, Gentleman Beau, and My Creed.

Indianapolis could stretch out successfully with stamina on top and speed on the bottom of his pedigree. I would not be surprised if he handled turf, if they opt to explore that avenue in the future.

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.