This is my first in a series of blogs devoted to Kentucky Derby 2015 contenders. Once again, I am getting an early start in September, and there will be many twists and turns in the weeks and months ahead.
Kentucky Derby 2015 logo
9 of the last 14 Kentucky Derby winners graduated by October 4, including 6 of the last 8. 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.
Kentucky Derby 2014 winner California Chrome earned his diploma in his second career start ($100k Graduation – 5.5f) at Del Mar on July 31, 2013. He ended his juvenile season with an easy win in the King Glorious, the beginning of a 6-race winning streak that ended with a dead-heat for 4th in the Belmont Stakes.
Some of my original September Derby blog juvenile contenders panned out, like my early 2010-2011 Number 1’s Stay Thirsty and Alpha. Both won the G1 Travers during their 3-year-old seasons. Others turn out to be disappointments, such as Fortify and Purple Sky, my 2012 and 2013 original Number 1’s. The latter recently returned to action in a $40k claimer at Churchill Downs for Al Stall Jr.
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.
G1 Hopeful (90 BSF): Competitive Edge ran his record to 2-for-2 with an easy win over I Spent It, who was nine clear of the rest.
G1 Del Mar Futurity (101 BSF): The fastest of the early graded juvenile events was dominated by maidens (American Pharoah, Calculator, Iron Fist) exiting the same August 9 Del Mar affair (Om won by 7.25 lengths). American Pharoah, trained by Bob Baffert, was sired by my 2009 Derby horse Pioneerof The Nile.
G3 Iroquois (82 BSF): The first Derby points race was captured by Lucky Player and it was not an impressive race visually or by clocking standards. The winner defeated stablemate Bold Conquest (both trained by Steve Asmussen). Hashtag Bourbon was a troubled 3rd and might have been best. 4th place finisher Danny Boy was well clear of beaten favorite Mr. Z.
G3 Arl-Wash Futurity (85 BSF): Recount turned the tables on Private Prospect by a head with One Go All Go another head back in 3rd. The winner is a decent Illinois-bred.
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 2015 Contenders
1. INTERNATIONAL STAR (Fusaichi Pegasus – Parlez, by French Deputy)
Trainer: Michael Maker – Owner: Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey
Comments: Romped in his turf sprint bow and was clearly second best in the Rockville Centre on dirt at Belmont second time out. He stretched out on turf in the G2 With Anticipation on Aug 28 at Saratoga and finished a troubled 2nd behind Startup Nation. International stallion Fusaichi Pegasus won the 2000 Kentucky Derby. Dam Parlez won a couple of 2003 dirt routes in Maryland, and dam sire French Deputy won the G2 Jerome in ’95.
2. SOUPER COLOSSAL (War Front – Soaring Emotions, by Kingmambo)
Trainer: Eddie Plesa Jr. – Owner: Live Oak Plantation
Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.60 (11/40) at Monbmouth on Sept 14.
Comments: 3-for-3 at Monmouth Park including stakes tallies in the Tyro and Sapling (86 BSF). War Front, sire of 31 stakes winners, captured the G2 Vanderbilt in ’06 and placed in numerous other graded sprints. Dam Soaring Emotions won a flat mile allowance turf race at Tampa Bay in ’09 for Clement, and dam sire Kingmambo won a couple of overseas Group 1’s in ’93.
3. STARTUP NATION (Temple City – Pennyrile, by Wagon Limit)
Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Klaravich Stables
Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :50.24 (6/12) at Saratoga (dirt training) on Sept 10.
Comments: Back-to-back late striding turf wins at 8.5f to begin his career including the G2 With Anticipation (85 BSF) at the Spa. His sire Temple City won the 2010 Cougar II at a mile and a half (Del Mar). Dam Pennyrile was stakes placed and dam sire Wagon Limit captured the ’98 G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
4. BLOFELD (Quality Road – Storm Minstrel, by Storm Cat)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Glencrest Farm
Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:03.98 (6/7) at Saratoga (dirt training) on Sept 15.
Comments: A length best (88 BSF) in his Aug 14 debut at Saratoga as the heavy favorite. Freshman sire Quality Road won multiple graded races including the G1 Florida Derby, G1 Donn, G1 Met Mile, and G1 Woodward. Dam sire Storm Minstrel was a multiple stakes winner in the Mid-Atlantic, and legendary dam sire and Grade 1 winner Storm Cat was 2nd in the ’85 BC Juvenile.
5. CARPE DIEM (Giant’s Causeway – Rebridled Dreams, by Unbridled’s Song)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm & Stonestreet Stables
Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.64 (8/55) at Belmont (dirt training) on Sept 15.
Comments: Won like a good thing in his 5.5f bow from the rail at Saratoga on Sept 1. Champion stallion and 2000 BC Classic runner-up Giant’s Causeway sired 12 GSW’s in ’13. Dam sire Rebridled Dreams was graded stakes placed in ’03 and dam sire Unbridled’s Song won the G1 BC Juvenile in ’95, and the G1 Florida Derby and G2 Wood Memorial in ‘96.
6. AMERICAN PHAROAH (Pioneerof The Nile – Littleprincessemma, by Yankee Gentleman)
Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Zayat Stables
Latest Workout: 4f in :47.80 (7/53) at Santa Anita on Sept 15.
Comments: A fading 5th as the beaten favorite in his Del Mar bow but was a different horse when handed a clear lead from the inside post in the G1 Del Mar Futurity (101 BSF). Sire Pioneerof The Nile finished 2nd in the ’09 Kentucky Derby and sprinting dam sire Yankee Gentleman was 5th in the ‘03 BC Sprint.
7. COMPETITIVE EDGE (Super Saver – Magdalena’s Chase, by Cape Town)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Favreau, Psoinos, and Tabor
Comments: Cruised in both Saratoga starts including the G1 Hopeful (90 BSF). Freshman sire Super Saver won the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Dam sire Magdalena’s Chase was multiple stakes placed and dam sire Cape Town’s biggest score was the G1 Florida Derby in ’98.
INJURY UPDATE: On Sept 17, Competitive Edge sustained a a hairline fracture to his left foreleg.
He is done for the year and is expected to be out of training for 60 days.
8. CHIEF ISTAN (Istan – My Indian, by Indian Charlie)
Trainer: Larry Jones – Owner: Brereton C. Jones
Comments: Shook off pace foe and drew off in romping DelPark debut Sept 3. Multiple graded winning sire Istan is responsible for ’14 graded stakes winners Istanford and Albano. Dam sire Indian Charlie won his first four starts including the G1 SA Derby and his show finish in the ‘98 G1 Kentucky Derby was his career finale.
9. EL KABEIR (Scat Daddy – Great Venue, by Unbridled’s Song)
Trainer: John Terranova II – Owner: Zayat Stables
Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:00.22 (2/28) at Belmont on Sept 13.
Comments: 3rd to Blofeld in his Spa debut and was fast throughout in 10.75 length romp (93 BSF) at 7f on Aug 30. Stallion Scat Daddy sired 5 GSW’s in ’13. He won multiple graded races including the G1 Champagne, G2 Fountain of Youth, and G1 Florida Derby. Dam sire Unbridled’s Song won the G1 BC Juvenile in ’95 and the G1 Florida Derby and G2 Wood Memorial in ‘96.
10. I SPENT IT (Super Saver – Rateeba, by Sky Mesa)
Trainer: Anthony Dutrow – Owner: Alex and JoAnn Lieblong
Comments: Won first two outings including a professional effort in the G2 Saratoga Special (85 BSF). He could not keep up with Competitive Edge in the Hopeful and was clearly second best that day. Freshman sire Super Saver won the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Dam Rateeba went 1-for-10 in ’08 and dam sire Sky Mesa won the G1 Hopeful and G2 Breeders’ Futurity as a juvenile in ’02.
11. FROSTED (Tapit – Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Racing
Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48.48 (1/37) at Saratoga (dirt training) on Sept 12.
Current Entries: Frosted is entered in a MSW event (race 9, 6.5f) at Belmont Park on Sept 20.
Comments: 2nd to runaway winner Bayerd in his Saratoga debut Aug 23. Now stallion and multiple graded winner Tapit is responsible for ’14 Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist and G1 Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable. Dam Fast Cookie took the G2 Cotillion in ’03 and dam sire Deputy Minister won numerous graded races and was Champion 2-Year-Old in Canada and the U.S. in 1981.
Honorable Mention: (12) Om, (13) Bayerd, (14) Pride of Stride, (15) Iron Fist, (16) Wild Zambesi, (17) Calculator, (18) Today’s Agenda, (19) Bustin It, (20) Upstart