Posts Tagged ‘Shug McGaughey’

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: California Code

Kentucky Derby 2014 contender California Chrome put together a complete performance in the Grade II San Felipe and has now won three straight in romping fashion at Santa Anita. The wire job winner earned a lofty 107 BSF and the CA-bred might be the best of the sophomore speed horses. He might go to the SA Derby next. There is talk about training up to the first Saturday in May.

California Chrome

California Chrome joins the list after a sharp wire job win in the San Felipe – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Midnight Hawk did not have the best break and was forced to chase California Chrome from the outset. He was run into the ground but never gave up and finished well clear of the rest. He probably has distance limitations but I want to see what he can do when he puts it all together mentally and physically.

Kristo rallied to finish a non-threatening 3rd in the San Felipe, his first start since landing the place in the Sham Stakes on Jan. 11, and only his second start in more than four months. He tried rating tactics on Saturday and it was a schooling experience at the very least. He is earning Derby points but needs to step up his game and fast.

Schoolofhardrocks was a well-beaten 4th in the San Felipe. He has talent but was thrown to the wolves off a long layoff in his second lifetime start. I would like to see him work his way through the allowance ranks and return to graded company later this year.

Another Derby prep…another wire job winner. Add Ring Weekend to the speed list after going all the way in the Tampa Bay Derby for Graham Motion. The improving, gelded son of Tapit has won two straight and earned a 94 BSF for his victory on Saturday. Sam Davis hero Vinceremos was 2nd best for Todd Pletcher, with Surfing U S A (Todd Pletcher) and Conquest Titan (Mark Casse) rounding out the top four.

Honor Code made his much anticipated two turn allowance return at the Gulf on March 12 but Social Inclusion stole his thunder in the compact field.

Speed rules in 8.5f races at Gulfstream and Social Inclusion had no problem making an easy lead from the rail. He ran fast throughout, setting a new track record and earning a 111 BSF. The promising son of Pioneerof The Nile could end up in the Florida Derby and would definitely impact the pace in that affair. He was unraced as a juvenile but is quickly making up for lost time with back-to-back facile wins. He does not have the seasoning to handle ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May and is yet another in a long line of quality speed horses in the sophomore division.

It was an inconclusive effort for Honor Code but he was lucky to participate in a legitimately run two turn race with only five entrants. This race had no Derby points attached and was an obvious stepping stone to much bigger things. The talented late runner was forced to chase the pace on Wednesday and was never going to catch the runaway winner. He was miles best of the rest and figures to move way up in his final Derby prep. If you like this one, do not abandon ship. Shug knows what it takes to win the Derby and understands that an 8.5f allowance race in mid-March is a means to an end.

Kendall’s Boy worked for the first time since flopping in the Southwest Stakes. He went 4f in :48 (4/73) at Fair Grounds on March 9.

Misconnect, an original “elite eleven” member dropped due to inactivity, is back on the worktab. He went an easy 3f in :38.60 (3/3) at Crupi’s New Castle Farm on March 14. He obviously won’t join the Triple Crown chase but is worth following later this year.

Add another to the ever growing IR. First it was Shared Belief (foot injury), followed by Indianapolis (cough), Havana (quarter crack), and Bayern (foot bruise). Last Saturday, Top Billing came out of a workout with a cracked cannon bone in his right front and is off the Triple Crown trail.

Each week that goes by, we add more potential quality speed to the first Saturday in May. Wildcat Red & General A Rod, Samraat, Uncle Sigh, and In Trouble, plus Albano, California Chrome, Midnight Hawk, Tapiture, Ring Weekend, Social Inclusion, and a handful of others like to run on or very near the lead…something has to give!

This week’s big Derby prep is the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn Park, which features a rematch of 1-2 Southwest finishers Tapiture and Strong Mandate.

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

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Shug’s late runner remains on top after an inconclusive distant place finish in his allowance return. Last year’s Remsen hero owns a strong late punch and I want to see what he can do when he sits back and makes a run in the graded ranks next time.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.60 (10/17) at Oaklawn Park on March 6.

Derby Points (6)

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

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in 49.45 (34/73) at Palm Meadows on March 8. “It was just what we ordered and wanted to see,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He looked great doing it, and we’re on course for the race. The reason we backed up and went slower is because we can’t go 59 and four every week or there will be not much left of him. We were real happy with the work. He’s doing great.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed to Honor Code in the slow early/fast late Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29). A majority interest in Cairo Prince was sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley operation. He will remain with McLaughlin but run in the colors of Godolphin Stable.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.40 (2/57) at Santa Anita on March 14.

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.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.20 (12/27) at Oaklawn Park on March 10.

Derby Points (22)

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

6. CALIFORNIA CHROME (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love) california chrome silks

Trainer:  Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Derby Points (50)

Comments: 5-for-9 lifetime including three straight romps at Santa Anita. The overachieving CA-bred ran them off their feet in the G2 San Felipe (107 BSF) and will either run in the SA Derby or train up to the Kentucky Derby. He is a great Cinderella story and will try to overcome his modest breeding on May 3.   

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Derby Points (32)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph (blinkers off). He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes and was clearly second best in the San Felipe. He continues to rack up Derby points but still needs to develop mentally.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01 (3/21) at Fair Grounds on March 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 an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

9. GALA AWARD (Bernardini – Wilshew, by Carson City) Gala Award silks

Trainer:  Todd Pletcher – Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier

Comments: Runner-up in 8.5f turf route bow at the Gulf Dec. 7 and earned his diploma at that same course/distance second time out Jan. 20. Smartly captured the G3 Palm Beach Stakes at 9f March 1 and is living up to his hefty $1.55 million purchase price. He will likely try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe.

11. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch) bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (18/65) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). A foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe Stakes. Baffert said he is considering both the Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby for his final Derby prep.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Honor Code

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

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

honor code pedigree

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

Grade I winner Storm Cat (Storm Bird – Terlinga, by Secretariat) captured 4 of 8 lifetime starts and was 2nd in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the Big A. The legendary stallion stood for 20 years and sired more than 100 graded stakes winners. He died in 2013 at age 30 and is buried at Overbrook Farm.

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

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

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

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

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

Honor Code ran three quality races during his productive juvenile campaign including a graded win at nine panels. He shook off the rust in his allowance comeback and should be ready to resume graded success in his final Derby prep. He should continue to develop for patient trainer Shug McGaughey and ten furlongs should be well within reach on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Who deserves Top Billing?

Wildcat Red and Intense Holiday garnered 50 Kentucky Derby 2014 points each in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth and Risen Star.

Wildcat Red, General A Rod

Wildcat Red and General A Rod battled throughout once again at GP in the FOY – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Wildcat Red and General A Rod threw down the gauntlet right out of the gate and battled all the way to the wire in the FOY (101 BSF). It was a virtual replay of their GP Derby battle but Wildcat Red got his nose down at the finish this time. Both are quality speed horses with stamina questions to answer. They were helped by the speed friendly oval on Saturday.

Beaten post-time favorite Top Billing rallied to finish a respectable 3rd. To his credit, he broke from a disadvantageous outer post in a full field over a speed favoring surface. He ended up sitting a decent trip and had every chance to catch the top two but failed to do so. Longer distances and a fair track will help his cause in the future but it looks like the late runner needs multiple factors in his favor to beat top company.

Last year, Orb showed class, versatility, and the ability to close into slow, fast, and moderate fractions and win vs. allowance foes and in the FOY and Florida Derby at the speed favoring Gulfstream oval for Shug McGaughey. Top Billing has not shown that same adaptability, but of all the horses to run in the FOY and Risen Star, he might be the most likely to make some noise on the first Saturday in May, especially with a strong pace at 10f. I am still not sure that he is top class and he will have to show more in the graded ranks next time.

In the Risen Star at Fair Grounds, Intense Holiday (97 BSF) got his nose down on the wire to edge game early runner Albano.

Intense Holiday flattered the form of Honor Code and Cairo Prince but the jury is still out on the overall strength of the Risen Star. Albano sped to a surprisingly easy early lead and was clearly aided after a slow start left Rise Up rank and virtually eliminated from the discussion. The latter must prove that he is more than a Delta freak.

Albano turned away almost all challenges and was well clear of the show. It was a solid effort but he will not get such an easy trip in the LA Derby.

Lecomte hero Vicar’s In Trouble finished a wide 3rd and might have distance limitations. Albano stole his trip and if they swapped posts the results would have been much different. As for his LA Derby chances, he should have gotten a ton out of the Risen Star and might be worth a look if he has better luck at the draw.

For the second time in as many graded routes at Fair Grounds, Gold Hawk threatened to run a big one but was as flat as a pancake in the stretch. He might need blinkers. He also might not be ready for prime time.

Still nothing from Indianapolis. I can no longer justify keeping him on the list and have replaced him with stablemate Bayern.

Havana makes his much anticipated return in the Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park March 1. The seven furlong affair also attracted Wesley Ward’s undefeated charge No Nay Never.

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

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

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

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

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

Latest Workout: Easy 4f move in :52.06 (24/24) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25. “I’m going to work him again over the weekend and will probably put him in company,” McGaughey said. “I’d like to have Javier (Castellano) come out and do it. I’ll make up my mind after that.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles. He returned to the worktab Feb. 12. “I’m really happy with him–I think every day is better than the last,” McGaughey offered. “I jogged him Wednesday and he galloped great (Thursday).”

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 (1/31) at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 25.

Derby Points (6)

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

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in 49.90 (51/71) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 22.

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.90 (3/14) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 23.

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. He is entered in Saturday’s Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.20 (26/78) at Santa Anita on Feb. 26.

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.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 5f in :58.80 (2/86) at Santa Anita on Feb. 26.

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.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:10.80 (1/8) at Santa Anita on Feb. 24.

Derby Points (4)

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

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Derby Points (22)

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

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

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 an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

10. BAYERN (Offlee Wild – Alittlebitearly, by Thunder Gulch)bayern silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.80 (4/43) at Santa Anita on Feb. 24.

Comments: Followed up a good looking debut 7f win on Jan. 4 with a commanding allowance route score Feb. 13 (both at Santa Anita). He is set to try graded foes next.

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

Trainer:  Wesley Ward – Owner: My Meadowview Farm

Latest Workout: 4f in :51.65 (23/24) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25.

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 is entered in Saturday’s G3 Gotham Stakes (blinkers on) at Aqueduct and needs a strong performance to remain on the list.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: 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 to stretch his speed 9f in the Florida Derby seems realistic, especially if the track favors speed like it did in the Fountain of Youth.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders – Honor Code’s Odd Remsen

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

Honor Code nips Cairo Prince in 2013 Remsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Gary & Mary West

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

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

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

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

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

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

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

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

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

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

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

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

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

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

Pedigree Spotlight: Honor Code

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

honor code pedigree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Preakness 2013 Preview: Will Orb overcome inside post?

The field has been set for Preakness 2013 and even money favorite Orb will break from the rail.

Preakness 2013 Post Positions

PP, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, ML Odds

 1. Orb, Shug McGaughey, Joel Rosario  1-1
2. Goldencents, Doug O’Neill, Kevin Krigger  8-1
3. Titletown Five, D. Wayne Lukas, Julien Leparoux  30-1
4. Departing, Al Stall Jr., Brian Hernandez Jr.  6-1
5. Mylute, Tom Amoss, Rosie Napravnik  5-1
6. Oxbow, D. Wayne Lukas, Gary Stevens  15-1
7. Will Take Charge, D. Wayne Lukas, Mike Smith  12-1
8. Govenor Charlie, Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia  12-1
9. Itsmyluckyday, Eddie Plesa Jr., John Velazquez  10-1

Preakness 2013

Jarrod Horak’s Preakness 2013 Preview (in post position order):

1. Orb (Malibu Moon) – Tabasco Cat is the only horse in the last 41 years to win the Preakness Stakes from post one and Orb likes to make wide, sweeping moves. If he is a legit Triple Crown threat the inside post will not bother him and Rosario continues to ride great. I have always liked Shug’s colt but he won’t offer any value in Baltimore.

2. Goldencents (Into Mischief) – SA Derby winner hated the Derby wet track and the pace scenario did not help his cause. He is a quality speed horse but needs everything to go his way to compete vs. these at this distance. Krigger might send him and play catch me if you can.

3. Titletown Five (Tiznow) – He finished in front of Orb in a Saratoga maiden race last summer. He has raw talent but is best as a sprinter at this stage. Interesting that patient rider Leparoux takes over. They are trying to get him to relax.

4. Departing (War Front) – Playing the part of Red Bullet is Departing and taking over the role of Fusaichi Pegasus is Orb. At least that is what trainer Al Stall Jr.  is hoping. He is 4-for-5 lifetime and the LA Derby was a productive prep. He did not beat much in the Illinois Derby but looked good doing it.

5. Mylute (Midnight Lute) – He is winless in seven stakes outings but is usually in the hunt. Napravnik was the queen of Maryland racing when she rode at Laurel/Pimlico and she really wants to win the Preakness.

6. Oxbow (Awesome Again) – Lukas trainee was done in by the quick Derby splits but hung in there to finish a fine 6th. His main problem is that he pulled off wire jobs in both career wins but is not quick enough to grab the early lead in the Preakness.

7. Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner finished a troubled 8th in the Derby. He is a bit interesting if he finds clear sailing under Mike Smith but is not fast enough and has yet to win beyond a mile and a sixteenth.

8. Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute) – G3 Sunland Derby hero is lightly raced and on the improve. He lacks seasoning and has recovered from the minor hind foot issue that forced him to miss the Derby. Look for him to make some noise later this year.

9. Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Eddie Plesa’s colt got the best of the draw based on his preferred outside stalk and pounce style. The Florida Derby runner-up flopped in the Derby and may have peaked in January. Orb beat him in his last pair.

Check out my Friday & Saturday (May 17-18) Black-Eyed Susan & Preakness Day full card analysis from Pimlico (available now) and Bonus Free Pick (PIM 8th race, click view sample) at TodaysRacingDigest.com.

Upcoming full cards:
Pimlico
(Fri. May 17 – Black-Eyed Susan Day) – available now!
Pimlico (Sat. May 18 – Preakness Day) – available now!
Belmont
(Fri. June 7 – Brooklyn ‘Cap Day)
Belmont (Sat. June 8 – Belmont Stakes Day)
Churchill Saturdays (May 25, June 1, June 15, June 22, June 29)

Preakness 2013 Contenders – Will Orb capture second jewel?

Congratulations to Kentucky Derby 2013 hero Orb, and it was nice to see Shug McGaughey saddle his first Derby winner as well. He looks like a runaway locomotive at this point and might be too hot to handle in Preakness 2013.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb

Congrats to Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Orb was one of my Exciting Prospects when I posted my first Derby Top 10 list last September. He lacked maturity in his first three outings but has really put everything together since. The Derby was his fifth straight win and he goes to Baltimore on a serious roll. He received a great pace setup in the Derby and it could be more of the same in the Preakness with the likes of Titletown Five and Goldencents on the engine early.

Speaking of rolls, jockey Joel Rosario has been unstoppable since winning the Dubai World Cup. Orb is currently preparing for the second jewel at Belmont Park and will ship to Pimlico early next week.

It is fun to talk about Orb’s Triple Crown chances but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. History is not on his side but he does possess all of the tools to give it a serious run. The son of Malibu Moon wheels back quickly on May 18 and it should be noted that he graduated off two weeks rest last year. I also saw a stat on TVG earlier this week about Shug McGaughey clicking at a 50% rate (6-for-12) when he brings horses back in 14-days. New shooter Departing might be his biggest competition.

Look out if Orb makes it past the Preakness but he will still have to beat fresh, talented rival Revolutionary at Big Sandy. That’s a discussion for another day.

Derby runner-up Golden Soul is pointing to the Belmont Stakes. He finished 2nd in the Derby because of the pace and will be an underlay in the Test of Champions.

My Derby selection Revolutionary, the top ranked contender on my Derby list since February, ran well to land the show on the first Saturday in May. I have not lost faith and he reminds me of my past Derby/Belmont picks Empire Maker and Union Rags.

Oxbow was too close to the rapid Derby pace and Normandy Invasion moved too soon. Both are players in Baltimore, especially the latter if Chad Brown opts to go in that direction.

Mylute took advantage of the fleet fractions and was in the show photo (finished 5th). If he runs in the Preakness, note that jockey Rosie Napravnik has plenty of Pimlico experience.

Will Take Charge was making a move with Orb in the Derby but Verrazano was backing up and stopped his momentum. The Derby was his first start beyond a mile and a sixteenth and he was coming off a layoff so it was not a bad effort finishing 8th.

Goldencents seemingly hated the Derby slop and will be part of the Preakness pace, especially if the track is fast.

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

Jarrod Horak’s Preakness 2013 Contenders

Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his fifth straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G1 Kentucky Derby (wet track) and the strong finisher adapts to various pace scenarios. Red hot jockey Joel Rosario has been on a roll since the Dubai Gold Cup and he is an obvious major stretch player in Baltimore.

Departing (War Front) – Finished 3rd in the productive Louisiana Derby and overcame a wide draw to smartly take down the Illinois Derby. The Al Stall Jr. runner is a dangerous new shooter and it is nice to see him join the Triple Crown series.

Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s colt trained aggressively and moved too soon under Javier Castellano in the Derby. He needs to sit back with Orb and make a big late run in the Preakness. He is reportedly much more relaxed since returning to New York. His ultimate goal is the G1 Travers at the Spa in August.

Mylute (Midnight Lute) – LA Derby runner-up rallied to finish 5th on the first Saturday in May under Rosie Napravnik. Trainer Tom Amoss said that his Preakness status would be revealed on Saturday morning.

Oxbow horse

Oxbow was too close to the hot Derby pace – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Oxbow (Awesome Again) – G3 Lecomte hero shows up for every dance and finished a solid 6th in the Derby after attending fast fractions from an inner post under Gary Stevens. Lukas trainee can rate but went all the way in both career wins. His main problem is that he is usually not quick enough to grab the early lead.

Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner finished a respectable 8th in the Derby. He did find some traffic but that is to be expected in a 19-horse field. Mike Smith will ride in the Preakness and he could improve 2nd off the shelf.

Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Eddie Plesa Jr.’s colt was the talk of Florida earlier this year at the Gulf. The Holy Bull hero played second fiddle to Orb in the Florida Derby and finished a disappointing 15th on the first Saturday in May. John Velazquez will ride in the Preakness.

Preakness Dreamers:

Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Doug O’Neill’s quality early-pressing type seemingly hated the Derby wet track and the pace scenario did not help either. He earned a strong number in the SA Derby and is capable of big efforts on fast ground under the proper race shape.

Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute) – Smartly captured G3 Sunland Derby in his third career start. The Baffert trainee has plenty of upside but still lacks seasoning. He wisely passed on the Derby and has seemingly recovered from a minor hind foot issue. Worked 6f in 1:11.80 (1/3) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Street Spice (Street Sense) – Illinois Derby 5th place finisher seems up against it in the Preakness. He likely needs to find a softer spot to be competitive. Breezed 5f from the gate in 1:03.40 (27/33) at Arlington Park on 5-4.

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Has lost all three starts this year and looks like a sprinter at this point. He will attend the Preakness pace before fading. Breezed 4f in :47.60 (5/35) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Vyjack (Into Mischief) – 18th place Derby finisher has now dropped two straight. He came out of the Wood Memorial with a lung infection and that hiccup probably cost him under the Twin Spires. He has talent but is not sharp right now.

Kentucky Derby 2013 Day Analysis Recap

Thanks to everyone for purchasing my Kentucky Derby Day analysis from Churchill Downs last Saturday, May 4. For those who missed it, I have included highlights and analysis below.

Check out my Saturday (May 11) Churchill Downs full card analysis (available now) and Bonus Free Pick (CD 11th race, click view sample) at TodaysRacingDigest.com.

Upcoming full cards:
Churchill (Sat. May 11) – available now!
Pimlico
(Fri. May 17 – Black-Eyed Susan Day)
Pimlico (Sat. May 18 – Preakness Day)
Belmont
(Fri. June 7 – Brooklyn ‘Cap Day)
Belmont (Sat. June 8 – Belmont Stakes Day)
Churchill Saturdays (May 25, June 1, June 15, June 22, June 29)

The Fast Track with Steve Bortstein

For best bets and more, listen to the Fast Track radio show every Saturday and Sunday morning. (10am eastern)

Kentucky Derby Day analysis highlights:
CD 1 Glamour Puss/Apropos Exacta ($14.60)
CD 5 BELLARMINE ($25.60), Trifecta ($317.20)
CD 8 STEPHANIE’S KITTEN ($9.80), Exacta ($28)
Daily Double (race 7-8, $51.40)
Pick 3 (race 7-9, $146)
Pick 3 (race 8-10, $69)
Pick 4 (race 8-11, $358.80)
Pick 5 (race 7-11, $325.10)

Kentucky Derby Day analysis from Churchill Downs (Saturday: 5-4-13)
By Jarrod Horak (horseracingnation.com, pick6blog.com)  
Weather
:  Showers (50% chance). High 61.
Best Bets (races 4, 9, 11, 12).

CD 1 (OC-62.5k/2x, 6f) #2 FIVE STAR MOMMA (4-1) scored in her local debut in 2011 and earned her best number to date in a Keeneland place finish April 6. Terranova excels 2nd off the shelf and I like her early-pressing versatility. #3 Glamour Puss (2-1) has fired Exacta shots in all five starts. She is 2-for-2 at this trip and Rosario rode her perfectly at Keeneland April 11. #1 Apropos (8-5) ran away from entry level foes at Oaklawn March 7 and the clear place finisher came back to score. She wins this with anything resembling her last. THE PLAYS: #2 to win, Exacta 2/1-3, Exacta 2-3/1

CD 2 (OC-75k/1x, 7f) #2 GOMBEY DANCER (7-2) earned a big number in his 6f maiden win at Gulfstream Feb. 3. He disappointed in the G3 Swale but runs well fresh and fired a local bullet April 20. He reunites with winning pilot Lezcano, who is 3-for-3 with Kenneally recently. #8 Slan Abhaile (5-2) went all the way in his 7f bow at the Gulf March 30. Romans has him now and he’s an obvious outside speed threat. #1 River Rocks (3-1) is an inside pace factor at the very least. He won his lone start at this distance. THE PLAYS: #2 to win, Exacta 2/1-8, Exacta 1-8/2

CD 3 (OC-80k/3x, 8.5T) #6 SCREENPLAY (3-1) has a nose for the wire on turf. He is 3-for-4 here, like this trip, and new pilot Rosario has options with the sharp, versatile sort. #5 The Pizza Man (3-1) is a turf win machine. He is 6-for-6 at this distance and won for his trainer Amoss at Fair Grounds March 21. #1 Old Time Hockey (5-2) lands the cozy rail and might be aggressively handled under Gomez. He likes this trip, needed his last, and meets a field without much speed. #2 Prime Cut (12-1) won his lone turf start at Fair Grounds Jan. 27 and has always had a touch of class. #7 Cavalero (10-1) packs a decent late kick and lands sharp turf rider Napravnik. He is 5-for-6 at 8.5f. THE PLAYS: #6 to win, Trifecta 1-5-6/1-2-5-6-7/1-2-5-6-7

CD 4 (MSW, 7f) #5 BAMA BOUND (6-1) broke 12th from the intimidating rail in his Keeneland bow April 7 and he ended up an okay 7th that day. Margolis excels with second time starters and barn $$ rider Bridgmohan sticks. #12 Troubadour Tango (5-1) was the beaten favorite in both synthetic starts and he missed by a head in his career bow. #3 Saint X. (3-1) has hit the board in three straight and the $450k purchase ran into the likes of Oxbow here last fall. #6 Esplendido (8-1) finished a respectable 3rd in his synthetic sprint bow and can improve second time out. THE PLAYS: #5 to win, Exacta 5/3-6-12, Exacta 3-6-12/5  

CD 5 (OC-75k/1x, 8.5f) #4 BELLARMINE (8-1) is getting better for McPeek. He handles any surface and ran well to land the place in his lone conventional dirt try at Gulfstream. #8 Code West (7-5) wisely skipped the Derby and has the class/speed to be a major player here. He figures to make his presence felt throughout for the productive Bejarano/Baffert team. No value here. #10 Ghost Hunter (6-1) might attempt a wire job and should be given extra consideration if a speed bias pops up. He won his 5.5f dirt sprint bow and finished 2nd to synthetic specialist and G3 Lexington hero Winning Cause at Keeneland last time. THE PLAYS: #4 to win, Trifecta 4-10/4-8-10/ALL  

CD 6 (G3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint, 5T) #4 GHOST IS CLEAR (9-2) could sit the right stalk and pounce trip under Rosario. The 2-time turf sprint winner consistently runs his race on any footing and Maker shows a profit synthetic-to-turf. #8 Icon Ike (3-1) is a late running turf sprint win type for the productive Napravnik/Jones team. He could easily make it three straight. #2 Havelock (7-2) just got there off the shelf under Gomez April 13. He has captured half of his ten turf starts at this trip. THE PLAYS: #4 to win, Exacta 4/2-8, Exacta 2-8/4  

CD 7 (G1 Humana Distaff, 7f) #8 BYRAMA (5-1) would have won the G1 Madison with a different trip. She broke slow from the rail and encountered traffic in that neck defeat. Rosario knows her now and she can tag there if able to handle dirt. #1 Jamaican Smoke (5-1) has speed to burn and easily won at this course/distance last May. She ran well in both Graded sprints and might not look back under Leparoux. #6 Aubby K (7-2) won the G2 Inside Information off a lengthy layoff and has had plenty of time to recover. She hails from a profitable, low profile barn. #2 Rumor (5-2) runs well fresh but she is 0-for-2 at seven panels and must prove that she can run a big race away from SoCal. THE PLAYS: #8 to win, Exacta Box 1-8, Exacta 1-8/2-6  

CD 8 (G2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, 8T) Honest fractions are expected with #3 Daisy Devine, #4 Frontside, #7 Karlovy Vary, and #10 Stopshoppingmaria vying for early position. #6 STEPHANIE’S KITTEN (4-1) has not been seen in more than six months but she is 2-for-2 over the local weeds and owners Ken & Sarah Ramsey have been rolling since Keeneland. She likes this distance and Leparoux does some of his best work with patient turf runners. #8 Marketing Mix (5-2) has not been seen in more than six months but runs well fresh. Gomez rides her well and she clearly has the class to win this for sharp layoff trainer Proctor. #5 Hungry Island (4-1) captured her Keeneland return April 7. She won this event last year and should get pace to chase. #3 Daisy Devine (3-1) is the best of the speed types. She usually fires Exacta shots on turf, except a fading 5th in this event last year. THE PLAYS: #6 to win, Exacta Box 6-8, Exacta 6-8/3-5 

CD 9 (G2 Churchill Downs, 7f) #5 UNBRIDLED’S NOTE (5-1) is 2-for-2 at CD and could sit the garden spot trip behind the speed. Asmussen’s consistent colt ran into crack sprinter Jimmy Creed (twice) at Santa Anita and downhill specialist Mizdirection in the BC turf Sprint. He fits well here. #2 Hierro (10-1) is also 2-for-2 here including the 2012 Derby Trial. He ran well in both starts this year for new trainer Pletcher and could move forward 3rd off the shelf. #9 Delaunay (2-1) is in the form of his life. He shoots for six straight wins and enjoys seven panels. #8 Trinniberg (8-5) flopped in Dubai March 30 and most U.S. horses need more time to recover from the long journey. I’ve never been a big fan of this horse but he likes this trip. THE PLAYS: #5 to win, Exacta 5/2-9, Exacta 2-9/5  

CD 10 (G1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, 9T) #9 POINT OF ENTRY (7-5) looked great beating Animal Kingdom in his Gulfstream return at this trip Feb. 9. The classy turf marathon specialist is fresh and strictly the one to fear if he duplicates his last. #8 Wise Dan (6-5) was good but not great in his G1 Maker’s 46 comeback at Keeneland. He liked 9f in the past but has been a flat mile specialist since last August. He needs to relax early if he expects to win this race. All of his past success at this distance came on dirt and synthetic. THE PLAYS: #9 to win, Exacta 9-8

CD 11 (G1 Kentucky Derby, 10f) #3 REVOLUTIONARY (10-1) has been my top ranked Derby contender since February. He is 3-3 around two turns, has overcome trouble, owns a nice finishing kick, and Borel has won the Derby three times, including the 2010 renewal aboard Super Saver for Pletcher & WinStar Farm. Both CD works were impressive and LA Derby show finisher Departing came back to win the Illinois Derby. #16 Orb (7-2) is also 3-for-3 around two turns and shoots for his fifth win in a row today. He adapts to various pace scenarios and his work and gallop sessions have been impressive. Red hot rider Rosario has booted him home twice and he beat Revolutionary last fall but both are much better now. #5 Normandy Invasion (12-1) is sitting on a career top in his 3rd start off the shelf. He is training aggressively for this and won’t be as far back as expected. Castellano chose him over Revolutionary. His only good races occurred at the Big A. #12 Itsmyluckyday (15-1) is growing on me. He was fast earlier this year and his morning gallops suggest that he is back on top of his game. He can move forward 2nd off the shelf after landing the place behind Orb in the Florida Derby.  #2 Oxbow (20-1) finally draws an inner post but I’m sure Lukas did not want post 2 in Derby. He is best as a free runner and might attempt a wire job under Stevens. #1 Black Onyx (50-1) drew the dreaded rail. He is on the upswing and training well but must work out a trip from the worst possible post. He is a late scratch. #9 Overanalyze (15-1) never runs two alike but Bejarano is on a roll. #14 Verrazano (4-1) has been less dynamic with each passing furlong. The unraced juvenile has accomplished plenty this year but is no longer improving. #8 Goldencents (5-1) must relax at a distance that he is not bred to get. Lightning will not strike twice for O’Neill. #6 Mylute (15-1) would be a great story with Rosie in the irons. #4 Golden Soul (50-1) will be passing tired horses. With Black Onyx now scratched, I will use him underneath in the Trifecta instead. THE PLAYS: #3 to win, Exacta Box 3-16, Exacta 3-16/5-12, Trifecta 3-16/3-5-12-16/2-3-4-5-12-16   

CD 12 (OC-62.5k/2x, 7f) #7 WILD TARGET (4-1) runs well fresh and Rosario hops aboard. He handles seven panels and figures to stalk the pace for sharp trainer Kenneally. #2 Rightfully So (3-1) earned a big number March 30 and the show finisher came back to score. He romped at this course/distance last fall. #4 Seven Lively Sins (12-1) hails from a deadly synthetic-to-dirt barn (Stall). He has won at this course and distance and should offer value. THE PLAYS: #7 to win, Trifecta 2-7/ALL/4  

Double/Pick 3/Pick 4/Pick 5 contenders – in order of preference

Race

1   (2-3-1)
2   (2-8-1)
3   (6-5-1-2-7)
4   (5-12-3-6)
5   (4-8-10)
6   (4-8-2)
7   (8-1-6-2)
8   (6-8-5-3)
9   (5-2-9)
10 (9-8)
11 (3-16-5-12)
12 (7-2-4)