Posts Tagged ‘Triple Crown 2014’

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.

 

 

Belmont Stakes 2014 Video Preview

It is Belmont Stakes week and California Chrome attempts to complete the Triple Crown sweep on Saturday, June 7.

Please watch and listen to the broadcasts below for pedigree profiles, Belmont Stakes history, pace analysis, and California Chrome’s true chances of winning the Belmont Stakes.

Watch Horse Racing Nation’s Belmont Stakes Round Table!

I joined Steve Bortstein on his First Sports radio program on June 5 to discuss the Belmont Stakes – Listen to the Podcast!

My Belmont Stakes Day 2014 full card is available to purchase for $10 at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest

I’ll return next week with a Belmont Stakes 2014 recap.

Preakness 2014 Recap: Chrome x 2

Preakness 2014 went according to the Hollywood script and California Chrome will try to complete the Triple Crown sweep in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 7.

California Chrome

California Chrome wins Preakness 2014 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

California Chrome earned his sixth straight win in Baltimore and had to fight harder than many expected. Once again, he fell into a cozy tactical trip, pulled the trigger with a short burst on the far turn, and held off Ride On Curlin to win by a length and a half. The winning BSF came back 105, faster than the Derby (97) but not as fast as his romping San Felipe (107) and Santa Anita Derby (108) wins.

Ride On Curlin made up more than five lengths on Chrome from the Derby to the Preakness but it was not quite enough to get the job done. He was clearly second best and will likely take another shot at the Derby-Preakness hero in the Belmont Stakes. The Preakness was his eighth loss from as many starts at a mile and beyond.

Social Inclusion wasted valuable energy in the post parade and in the starting gate. He did not grab the early lead as expected but made a run at Chrome around the far turn before weakening and just holding off General a Rod for the show. He has a ton of raw talent but does not have the mental capacity to win a classic event at this stage of his promising career. The Belmont Stakes is a possibility.

I have said all along that California Chrome was very good but not spectacular. His final quarter in the Derby was slow and it appeared as though he laid it all on the line in the Preakness. As distances increase, Chrome’s speed figures are shrinking, along with his win margins, and the last eight Belmont Stakes winners did not compete in the Preakness.

As I stated right after the Derby, I do not see a scenario in which the modestly bred, overachieving colt earns a quality speed figure while successful navigating twelve furlongs at Big Sandy. This is not meant to be a knock on Chrome and I hate to come across as Debbie Downer. He is obviously a classy, quality animal, but I have been following horse racing since 1980 and have seen every failed Triple Crown attempt, and there is nothing to suggest that this year will be different.

Based on this year’s events and recent history, all of the evidence points to a fresh horse with stamina and a long-winded pedigree winning Belmont Stakes 2014.

In the days and weeks leading up to Belmont Stakes 2014, I will preview the field and look at the bloodlines of the top contenders. Stay Tuned!

My Belmont Stakes Day 2014 full card analysis will be available to purchase for $10 at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest

Preakness 2014 Preview

The Preakness 2014 field is set and they will be off and running on Saturday (6:18pm) at Pimlico.

California Chrome shoots for his sixth straight win in Baltimore. He dominated his rivals at Santa Anita earlier this year and did not disappoint as the Kentucky Derby favorite, but the Derby left many unanswered questions.

California Chrome

California Chrome chases the second Triple Crown jewel Saturday – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Derby was slow throughout and many top contenders had rough trips. California Chrome is still a big question mark in legitimately run races at classic distances.

The Derby paper pace projected as fast early but that race shape never materialized. California Chrome closely tracked moderate fractions and kicked clear in the lane but did not appear to have much left in the tank late through a pedestrian final quarter mile in :26.21.

Listen to my Kentucky Derby recap – Preakness preview podcast!

The Preakness should be faster early and the overachieving, modestly bred California Chrome might be vulnerable late if he is too close to demanding fractions.

I would not be surprised if California Chrome captured the second jewel of the Triple Crown because many of the top sophomores skipped the Preakness. Regardless of what he does on Saturday, the Belmont Stakes looks to be an impossible distance hurdle for the Art Sherman trainee.

Social Inclusion might be the speed of the speed in the Preakness. He has the most upside and might be the best horse in the race but is very inexperienced with only three lifetime starts. California Chrome, Ring Weekend, Bayern, and Pablo Del Monte are the other speed horses.

Dynamic Impact and General a Rod project decent trips behind the speed, and Ria Antonia, Kid Cruz, and Ride On Curlin will try to get involved late.

Preakness 2014 field with post positions and morning line odds:

preakness 2014 odds

My Preakness Day 2014 full card from Pimlico is available to purchase for $10 at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest

I’ll return next week with a Preakness 2014 recap and an early Belmont Stakes preview.

COMING SOON: Belmont Stakes Day full card analysis!

Kentucky Derby 2014 Rewind: California’s Derby

California Chrome was very fortunate and pretty good in Kentucky Derby 2014, but much more of the former. The pace was surprisingly slow (:47.37, 1:11.80) for a 19-horse field full of early-pressing types.

California Chrome

California Chrome captures Kentucky Derby 2014 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I have been watching Derbies since 1980 and this “fast track” edition (2:03.66/97 BSF) was one of if not the slowest that I have witnessed. The track was not slow earlier on Saturday. Central Banker rattled off 7f in 1:21.15 in the CD Stakes, good for a 107 BSF. Some argue that the track was not playing as fast by the time they ran the Derby. That may be true but a budding star capable of winning the Triple Crown should have run much faster.

Despite sitting a perfect trip tracking a pair of longshot pacesetters (Uncle Sigh, Chitu) through modest splits, California Chrome could only manage to come home in :26.21, hardly a superstar performance and indicative of distance limitations beyond 9f. He loses the Derby under any other pace scenario but the racing gods were surely with him under the Twin Spires.

The Derby horses were tightly bunched due to the modest fractions and that caused a chain reaction of troubled/wide trips (Candy Boy, General a Rod, Intense Holiday, Ride On Curlin, Wicked Strong). Chrome’s main foes were eliminated and the race was essentially over after a half mile.

Commanding Curve, eligible for an entry level affair, ran on well to finish a clear second and probably stuns the Derby field with a bit more pace help. Danza, with four lifetime starts and only one around two turns, finished a solid 3rd.

The real shining star on Derby weekend was Untapable in the Kentucky Oaks. She dominated from the outside post, getting 9f in 1:48.68 (107 BSF), the second-fastest Oaks in history. The pace was moderate (:47.80, 1:12.24) and she came home in a spry :36.34 ( final 1/8 in :12.52). She easily could have won the Derby and would have been the one to beat in the Preakness but will not face males at this stage. Look for her next in the Acorn (June 7) and/or Mother Goose (June 28) at Belmont Park.

Early Preakness 2014 Preview

Preakness 2014 should have much livelier splits. Bayern won his first two starts in SoCal before a foot bruise knocked him out of the San Felipe. He returned with a solid 3rd in the Arkansas Derby and had his number taken down in the Derby Trial. The speedy sort drilled a strong 5f bullet in :58.20 (1/19) at Churchill Downs on May 5. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Preakness five times.

Social Inclusion, another promising early runner, ran away in his first two starts at the Gulf before ending up a better than expected 3rd in the Wood Memorial. He arrived at Pimlico on May 8.

Pablo Del Monte scratched out of the Derby in favor of the Preakness. He set the pace before settling for the show in Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes.

Ride On Curlin had no chance in the Derby after shooting over to the rail from the auxiliary gate under Borel. He ended up a better than appears 7th and gets Rosario in Baltimore.

Can California Chrome win the Triple Crown?

The Triple Crown hype has begun in earnest, but I do not see any scenario in which Chrome gets a mile and a half at Big Sandy. He is much more likely to win the shorter Preakness Stakes but will be a huge underlay in Baltimore.

California Chrome’s Derby come home time was slow and long distance breeding means everything in the Belmont Stakes. The last 8 Belmont Stakes winners did not compete in the Preakness. Four of those lost the Derby, skipped the Preakness, and won the Belmont (Palace Malice, Union Rags, Summer Bird, Jazil).

A second outcome is much more plausible. Derby hero California Chrome wins the Preakness and loses the Belmont Stakes at miniscule odds. Since 2000, horses exiting the Derby have captured the Preakness 11 times. Exceptions: Rachel Alexandra, Bernardini, and Red Bullet.

In a third scenario, Chrome loses the Preakness, skips the Belmont Stakes, and wins the Los Alamitos Derby at his home track on July 5.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: California Chrome

california chrome silks

California Chrome’s sire Lucky Pulpit (Pulpit – Lucky Soph, by Cozzene) won 3 of 22 starts and earned $209,928. He placed in multiple stakes – Pinjara Stakes (2nd), G3 Generous (3rd), G2 Santa Catalina (2nd), Ocenaside (3rd), Smile Stakes (1st), Taylor’s Special (3rd), Sneakbox (2nd). He entered stud in 2007 and his leading runner before California Chrome was CA-bred stakes winner and multiple graded placed runner Rousing Sermon ($710,092). The latter finished 8th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

california chrome breeding

Lucky Pulpit’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.

Lucky Pulpit’s dam Lucky Soph (by Cozzene) captured 1 of 6 overseas starts.

Lucky Soph’s sire Cozzene captured 10 of 24 starts including the 1985 BC Mile. He was responsible for numerous stakes winners including 1996 BC Classic hero Alphabet Soup and 1994 BC Turf winner Tikkanen.

California Chrome’s dam Love the Chase (by Not For Love) won a single race from six Golden Gate outings.

Not For Love (by Mr. Prospector) scored on six occasions (29 starts) and placed in the 1994 Bob Harding Stakes. He has sired many useful performers and was the leading sire in North American earnings in 2003-06.

California Chrome continues to outrun his modest pedigree. He successfully navigated ten furlongs in the Derby, thanks to stamina influences Pulpit, A.P. Indy, and Cozzene.

COMING SOON: Preakness and Belmont Stakes Day full cards!

Kentucky Derby Day full card analysis recap

My Preakness Day 2014 full card will be available to purchase for $10 at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest

I’ll return next week after the Preakness draw with a sneak preview of Pimlico’s showcase event.

 

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: It’s Derby Day!

The Kentucky Derby 2014 horses will break from the gate in a few hours.

Check out my final “Exceptional Eleven” Derby contenders below. A recap will follow after the race, and I will begin previewing Preakness 2014 in the near future.

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

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

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable – Jockey: Gary Stevens

Latest Workout: 5f breeze in 1:00.80 (5/69) at Churchill Downs on April 26.

Derby Points (30)

Comments: The G2 Robert Lewis Stakes hero could not keep up with California Chrome in the SA Derby, ending up a disappointing 3rd. In retrospect, he was probably too fresh, and the eventual 1-2 SA Derby finishers were battle tested and ready to rumble. Candy Boy is best as a closer. He will never beat California Chrome at his speed game, especially at Santa Anita. He needs to run his CashCall race in the Ky Derby. Sit back and roll. I have no idea if he can go ten furlongs, but a fresh horse in the Ky Derby is much more valuable than a fresh horse in the SA Derby. In an odd Derby prep season, he retains the top spot. He arrived in Kentucky on April 21 and looked good in his final Derby work at CD on April 26. He will break from post 18.

2. INTENSE HOLIDAY (Harlan’s Holiday – Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song) intense holiday silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing – Jockey: John Velazquez

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48.60 (7/59) at Churchill Downs on April 27.

Derby Points (93)

Comments: The late running Risen Star hero showed much more tactical speed in LA Derby place finish. I am not sure that he is a true top class (Grade 1) animal, but his late kick makes him a viable threat on the first Saturday in May. John Velazquez is his new pilot for the Derby. Big final Derby work on April 27. Drew post 16.

3. WICKED STRONG (Hard Spun – Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) – Jockey: Rajiv Maragh Wicked Strong silks

Trainer: James Jerkens – Owner: Centennial Farms

Latest Workout: 3f bullet in :36.60 (1/26) at Churchill Downs on May 1.

Derby Points (102)

Comments: Clearly a different animal away from the Gulfstream Park highway. He showed ability as a juvenile and his Wood Memorial (104 BSF) was probably not a fluke, but he still only has the one big effort. His late kick must be respected on Derby Day, if he can overcome the far outside post position.

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

Trainer: Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin – Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.20 (5/12) at Los Alamitos on April 26.

Derby Points (150)

Comments: 6-for-10 lifetime and clearly elevated his game at Santa Anita this year. If you are trying to beat him in the Kentucky Derby, look at his modest 10f pedigree and expected demanding pace in a 20-horse field. Also, a regression could be just around the corner following four big wins.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds – Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Latest Workout: 4f in :50 (12/15) at Churchill Downs on April 28.

Derby Points (52)

Comments: Put it all together in his final 2yo start (Ky Jockey Club Stakes), and opened up his 3yo campaign with a sharp score in the Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and ended up a wide, flat 4th in the Arkansas Derby. He may have already peaked. Reunites with winning pilot Santana in the Derby. Trainer/owner teamed up to win Friday’s Kentucky Oaks with Untapable.

6. SAMRAAT (Noble Causeway – Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie) samraat silks

Trainer: Richard Violette Jr. – Owner: My Meadowview Farm – Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Latest Workout: 8f in 1:45.91 (1/1) at Aqueduct on April 25.

Derby Points (100)

Comments: Tasted defeat for the first time and fought hard for the place in the Wood Memorial. He has run the same number in his last four and is not improving against better foes in longer races. The overachieving NY-bred street fighter reminds me a bit of Funny Cide.

7. RIDE ON CURLIN (Curlin – Magical Ride, by Storm Cat) Ride On Curlin silks

Trainer: William Gowan – Owner: Daniel J. Dougherty – Jockey: Calvin Borel

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:29 (1/1) at Churchill Downs on April 27.

Derby Points (55)

Comments: Usually runs his race but has not won beyond 6f. Rates a reasonable chance to hit the board on the first Saturday in May but a win would be a surprise given his 0-for-6 record at a mile and beyond. Can Borel find the rail from post 19?

8. GENERAL A ROD (Roman Ruler – Dynamite Eyes, by Dynaformer) general a rod

Trainer: Mike Maker – Owner: J. Armando Rodriguez – Jockey: Joel Rosario

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.40 (13/15) at Churchill Downs on April 23.

Derby Points (40)

Comments: Gem of consistency is flying way under the radar. He came to Kentucky early and could surprise if able to rediscover the closing kick he showed in his winning debut. Morning activity has improved recently.

9. DANZA (Street Boss – Champagne Royale, by French Deputy) danza silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners Jockey: Joe Bravo

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:04.40 (36/37) at Churchill Downs on April 27.

Derby Points (100)

Comments: Arkansas Derby winner has made a favorable impression leading up to the Derby. His lack of seasoning is a negative but the promising sort might duplicate his ground saving OP triumph from post 4.

10. VICAR’S IN TROUBLE (Into Mischief – Vibrant, by Vicar) Vicar's in Trouble sdilks

Trainer: Mike Maker – Owner: Ken & Sarah Ramsey – Jockey: Rosie Napravnik

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.80 (57/69) at Churchill Downs on April 26.

Derby Points (120)

Comments: He is one of several classy early-pressing types. He stole the LA Derby but figures to face much more pace pressure under the Twin Spires. Must overcome the inside post.

11. WILDCAT RED (D’wildcat – Racene, by Miner’s Mark) Wildcat Red silks

Trainer: Jose Garoffalo – Owner: Honors Stable Corp. Jockey: Luis Saez

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:04.40 (36/37) at Churchill Downs on April 27.

Derby Points (90)

Comments: Certainly cannot fault his record (7-4-3-0) but he has never left Gulfstream Park. The overachiever figures to be a Derby pace casualty. Might be on the lead early.

My Kentucky Derby Day full card is available to purchase for $10 at:

The Runaway Horse

Today’s Racing Digest

COMING SOON: Preakness and Belmont Day full cards!

Kentucky Derby 2014

Kentucky Derby 2014 field and odds, courtesy of Churchill Downs (Hoppertunity and Pablo Del Monte scratched)

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.