Posts Tagged ‘Uncle Sigh’

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:

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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)

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Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: The Countdown Begins

Most of the final Kentucky Derby 2014 works are in the books and all that remains are morning gallops and the post position draw on Wednesday.

Kentucky Derby 2014

Catching up on recent 3yo stakes action, Bayern crossed the line first in the Derby Trail but was disqualified and placed 2nd for interfering with Embellishing Bob. Myositis Dan was a fast closing 3rd and just missed in a solid effort.

Mr Speaker easily won the Lexington Stakes for Shug McGaughey but the 10 points he collected were not enough to make the Derby cut. He is a quality turf runner and proved the he could handle all-weather footing at Keeneland.

No Derby points were offered in the Illinois Derby, so the Hawthorne showcase has recently become a Preakness prep. In a thrilling renewal, Dynamic Impact nipped Midnight Hawk by the smallest of margins. The top two were well clear of the rest and the BSF came back a fine 102.

Midnight Hawk already qualified for the Derby on points, but trainer Bob Baffert says no Derby or Preakness for the son of Midnight Lute. He has been part of my list all year and has a ton of raw ability but his mind still has some catching up to do. He is targeting the 7f Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Dynamic Impact is a late developing son of Tiznow, and the Preakness is a possibility for the Mark Casse trainee.

Ring Weekend spiked a temperature and is out of the Kentucky Derby, opening the door for Commanding Curve. Pablo Del Monte now sits 21st on the points list.

I’ll be back after the post position draw to set the field and make final observations.

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 ( before post draw). He arrived in Kentucky on April 21 and looked good in his final Derby work at CD on April 26.

2. HOPPERTUNITY (Any Given Saturday – Refugee, by Unaccounted For) Hoppertunity silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Watson, Pegram, and Weitman – Jockey: Mike Smith

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :48 (3/15) at Churchill Downs on April 28.

Derby Points (95)

Comments: Unraced juvenile has grown leaps and bounds in his last pair, a win in the Rebel and a clear place finish in the SA Derby. The $300k purchase finished up well and had a strong gallop out last time. His juvenile experience consisted of twelve workouts dating back to Sept. 2013 at BHP, and he was entered and scratched in November, so he’s not your typical unraced juvenile. His sire Any Given Saturday was my Derby pick in 2007. Mike Smith will ride back in the Derby. Two solid works over the CD strip have him ready to rumble.

3. 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.

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

Trainer: James Jerkens – Owner: Centennial Farms

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:27.11 (1/1) at Belmont (dirt training) on April 25.

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 but he still must prove that he can run a huge race away from NY.

6. 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. Final Derby work was solid and he would not mind a wet track.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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. Clockers not thrilled with his Derby training.

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. Reportedly not training particularly well leading up to the Derby.

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 the Derby is his first trip away from Gulfstream Park. The overachiever had a below par CD work on April 27 and figures to be a Derby pace casualty.

(12) Dance With Fate, (13) Danza, (14) Medal Count, (15) Commanding Curve, (16) Uncle Sigh, (17) Chitu, (18) We Miss Artie, (19) Vinceremos, (20) Harry’s Holiday, (21) Pablo Del Monte (needs 1 defection).

 

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Danza displays talent in Arkansas Derby

Danza qualified for Kentucky Derby 2014 with a surprising victory in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 12.

Danza snuck up the rail and looked good visually, earning a solid 102 BSF. Was his win a fluke? That is tough to answer at this stage, but I do not like his Derby chances because he only has one route start under his belt and has to come back in three weeks after a career top.

Danza horse

Danza springs a 40-1 upset in the Arkansas Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Ride On Curlin rallied to catch Bayern for the place. The versatile sort is 0-for-6 at 8f and beyond but shows up for every dance and is always in the hunt for a share. Calvin Borel will ride in the Derby and he was aboard for both career wins (5.5f, 6f).

In the Blue Grass, Dance With Fate shuffled his way into the Derby with a 1-3/4 length win over Medal Count. The aforementioned duo can run on anything but both appear best on synthetic and turf.

Dance With Fate’s connections have decided to give the Derby a whirl, and Medal Count is definitely going to Churchill as well.

Big changes to the list with Bayern (3rd Arkansas Derby), Commissioner (6th Arkansas Derby), Gala Award (6th Blue Grass), and Strong Mandate (8th Arkansas Derby) all failing to earn enough Derby qualifying points in their April 12 starts.

Florida Derby winner Constitution is out of the Kentucky Derby with a shin injury. Uncle Sigh moves up one spot to join the cast. More movement could be on the horizon. Midnight Hawk runs in Saturday’s Illinois Derby and would be back in two weeks if he opted to run at CD as well.

My April 19 Lexington Stakes Day full card from Keeneland is ready to purchase for $10 at:

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Today’s Racing Digest

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

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 (for now). He is scheduled to work at SA on April 19, and his final Derby work will occur at CD on April 26.

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable – Jockey: Luis Saez

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.60 (2/17) at Palm Meadows on April 13.

Derby Points (24)

Comments: Skipping the FOY did not work out so well after a flat 4th in the Florida Derby, but he has done enough to qualify for the Derby on points. Only two prep races in 5+ months mean that he is fresh but fitness might be an issue on the first Saturday in May. He has the same pattern as another McLaughlin Derby runner (Closing Argument). In 2005, Closing Argument won the Holy Bull in his early February 3yo bow off a 2-month layoff, and finished a distant 3rd in the Blue Grass before landing the place in the Ky Derby. Cairo Prince’s sire Pioneerof The Nile was my Derby horse in 2008, and Pioneerof The Nile’s sire Empire Maker was my Derby pick in 2003. Both finished 2nd on the first Saturday in May.

UPDATE (From DRF’s Dave Grening): Cairo Prince out of Derby with injury to left front ankle. Horse being sent to Rood and Riddle for further evaluation, per

3. HOPPERTUNITY (Any Given Saturday – Refugee, by Unaccounted For) Hoppertunity silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Watson, Pegram, and Weitman – Jockey: Mike Smith

Derby Points (95)

Comments: Unraced juvenile has grown leaps and bounds in his last pair, a win in the Rebel and a clear place finish in the SA Derby. The $300k purchase finished up well and had a strong gallop out last time. His juvenile experience consisted of twelve workouts dating back to Sept. 2013 at BHP, and he was entered and scratched in November, so he’s not your typical unraced juvenile. His sire Any Given Saturday was my Derby pick in 2007. Mike Smith will ride back in the Derby.

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

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. 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 in :48.90 (7/17) at Palm Meadows on April 13.

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.

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

Trainer: James Jerkens – Owner: Centennial Farms

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.62 (14/28) at Belmont (dirt training) on April 17.

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.

7. 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 bullet in :59.80 (1/4) at Churchill Training on April 17. Galloped out 6f in 1:14.40.

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.

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

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

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.

9. SAMRAAT (Noble Causeway – Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlsamraat silksie)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.12 (8/19) at Belmont Park on April 18.

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.

10. CHITU (Henny Hughes – Sea Gift, by A. P. Indy) chitu silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Tanma Corporation – Jockey: Martin Garcia

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (16/51) at Santa Anita on April 13.

Derby Points (54)

Comments: Has fired Exacta shots in all four starts including a win in the G3 Sunland Derby. I do not think that a son of sprint sire Henny Hughes can successfully navigate ten furlongs.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.60 (7/17) at Santa Anita on April 13.

Derby Points (52)

Comments: G3 Sham hero followed up that win was a show finish in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes, a clear, distant 2nd in the G2 San Felipe, and another clear place finish in the G3 Sunland Derby. Is he skipping the Kentucky Derby and using the Illinois Derby as a prep race for the Preakness?

(12) Wildcat Red, (13) Vicar’s in Trouble, (14) Ride On Curlin, (15) Danza, (16) Dance With Fate, (17) Medal Count, (18) We Miss Artie, (19) Ring Weekend, (20) Uncle Sigh

Pedigree Spotlight: California Chrome

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 has outrun his modest pedigree up to this point. If he successfully navigates ten furlongs, he should probably thank stamina influences Pulpit, A.P. Indy, and Cozzene.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: New York, New York

Withers 1-2 finishers Samraat and Uncle Sigh pulled the same trick in the Gotham Stakes and the dynamic NY-bred duo are the best of the Big Apple Kentucky Derby 2014 hopefuls.

Samraat

Samraat wins a Gotham thriller – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Samraat is now undefeated in five starts. Look for him to join Uncle Sigh and In Trouble in the Wood Memorial. The winning Gotham BSF came back a rock solid 96 and the top three all have some quality to them but the Wood is dying to be won by an off the pace shipper like Honor Code.

Noble Cornerstone followed up a Sam Davis flop with another poor effort in the Gotham. He has not progressed from age 2 to 3 and drops off the bottom of the list.

Gala Award has emerged as an intriguing Derby prospect for Todd Pletcher. He exits back-to-back turf route wins including the G3 Palm Beach and could end up contesting the G1 Blue Grass Stakes next. He owns fine tactical speed and his promising dirt pedigree is featured below.

Injuries, illness, and missed training, oh my! First it was Shared Belief (foot injury), followed by Indianapolis (cough). Last week, Havana (quarter crack) missed the Swale Stakes. Now, Bayern (foot bruise) is out of the San Felipe. Eight weeks and counting – Time is rapidly running out to make the Derby, and Havana and Bayern drop to the bottom of the list and are in serious danger of falling off the radar screen.

Schoolofhardrocks worked 5f in 1:00.20 (14/69) at Santa Anita on March 4. An original “exceptional eleven” member dropped due to inactivity, he is finally set to return in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes. It is a tough test but he is training well and has a ton of raw ability.

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, Midnight Hawk, Tapiture, and a handful of others like to run on or very near the lead…something has to give!

Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com.

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

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.18 (6/43) at Gulfstream Park on March 2. “So far everything looks good, McGaughey said from his South Florida base. “He worked real good the other day and we’ll work him again on Sunday.”

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 and returned to the work tab Feb. 12. He is entered in an Allowance event (8.5f, race 8) at Gulfstream Park on March 12, and if all goes well, he will wrap up his Derby prep season in the Wood Memorial.

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: 5f bullet in 59.95 (1/35) at Palm Meadows on March 1. “He worked very well,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “It was a little faster than we wanted this far out, but yet we wanted a decent work. It was a great work. He worked excellent and everything went well. We were all very happy, and we’ll probably not go in company next week because we’re looking for a 1:01 and change. But, he worked great.”

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 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 1:01.20 (23/52) at Santa Anita on March 6.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.40 (45/61) at Santa Anita on March 4.

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. Saturday’s San Felipe is his next engagement.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.40 (4/16) at Santa Anita on March 3.

Derby Points (4)

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

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (2/48) at Oaklawn Park on March 2.

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.

8. 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.

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 try to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

10. 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.

11. 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. A quarter crack caused him to defect from the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 1.

Pedigree Spotlight: Gala Award

Gala Award’s sire Bernardini raced just one season but he certainly made a splash in 2006. In his 3rd career start, he won the G3 Withers and followed that up by capturing the G1 Preakness, G2 Jim Dandy, G1 Travers, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. He finished his career with a runner-up effort behind Invasor in the G1 BC Classic.

As a sire, Bernardini is represented by the likes of G1 Travers and G1 Cigar Mile winner Stay Thirsty, G1 Woodward Stakes and G1 Cigar Mile hero To Honor and Serve, and G1 Travers and G1 Woodward winner Alpha.

Gala Award pedigree

Bernardini’s influential 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 and has sired more than 135 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.

Bernardini’s mother Cara Rafaela (by Quiet American) was a classy runner for D Wayne Lukas in 1995-96. She won the G2 Alcibiades and G1 Hollywood Starlet and placed in such prestigious races as the G1 Las Virgenes (2nd), G1 SA Oaks (2nd), G1 Ashland (2nd), G1 Kentucky Oaks (3rd), G2 Black-Eyed Susan (2nd), and G1 Mother Goose (3rd). Cara Rafaela is out of the Spectacular Bid mare Oil Fable.

Cara Rafaela’s father Quiet American has sired numerous graded winners including 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero Real Quiet.

Gala Award’s dam Wilshewed (Carson City – So Cozy, by Lyphard) produced the likes of G1 Hollywood Futurity and G2 Norfolk winner Stormello, and G2 Del Mar Derby hero My Best Brother.

The speedy Carson City won multiple graded sprints including the G2 Sapling and G2 Fall Highweight. He sired may stakes winners including G2 Illinois Derby winner Pollard’s Vision.

So Cozy won the Priscilla Stakes at Suffolk Downs in 1982, and Northern Dancer’s son Lyphard won multiple overseas grass races in 1971-72 and produced 115 stakes winners including Dancing Brave, Jolypha, and Manila.

Gala Award is already proven at nine furlongs. He owns a promising dirt route pedigree and could easily get ten furlongs if he handles conventional dirt.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Running Wild

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

Samraat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday’s Robert Lewis Stakes is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com

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

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

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

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

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :38.10 (2/14) at Payson Park on Jan. 18.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. From Mike Welsh via DRF Inside Post (1-28-14): Shug says Honor Code “bruised up his back ankles a little bit” nothing serious will return to the track on Friday but FOY unlikely. He is currently jogging at Gulfstream Park.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48.60 (1/77) at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 2.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. The Southwest Stakes is his first 2014 target.

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. At this stage, he is expected to skip the Fountain of Youth Stakes and wait for the Florida Derby.

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.95 (3/6) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 6.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. From DRF: “We got a little behind schedule with him, but hopefully we’ll be able to get him back on the work schedule this week and make the Swale,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “If he runs well in the Swale, we’d still have time to give him two preps before the [Kentucky] Derby, although only one of them will be around two turns, that’s all.”

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (11/40) at Santa Anita Park on 1-3.

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue on 11-10. He dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He missed a scheduled work on Jan. 12 and another on Jan. 24 due to a foot abscess, and is out of the Robert Lewis Stakes. Asked Friday morning (Jan. 24) for an update on the gelding’s status, Jerry Hollendorfer said, “There is no update.” When approached again later, the Hall of Fame trainer said, “I don’t have any news for the next 15 days.”

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

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

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished a better than appears 3rd in the Lecomte and could easily move forward in the Risen Star.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

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

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He has plenty of raw talent and should continue to develop mentally and physically.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

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

Derby Points (4)

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

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

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

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

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

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

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:11.40 (1/14) at Santa Anita on Feb. 5.

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

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

Trainer:  Wesley Ward – Owner: My Meadowview Farm

Comments: Easy 6f maiden win in prominent throughout Aqueduct debut. He rallied for the place in the Springboard Mile to end his juvenile campaign. Kicked off his 3yo campaign in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay on Feb. 1 but was very fractious in the gate and never got involved in a throwout race. He clings to the bottom of my list.

Pedigree Spotlight: Wildcat Red

Wildcat Red silks

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

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

wildcat red pedigree

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

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

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

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

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Cairo Prince Crowned in Holy Bull

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

Cairo Prince horse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest Workout: 3f breeze in :38.10 (2/14) at Payson Park on Jan. 18.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. From Mike Welsh via DRF Inside Post (1-28-14): Shug says Honor Code “bruised up his back ankles a little bit” nothing serious will return to the track on Friday but FOY unlikely.

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

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

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

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. He shot to the front from post 14 and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. The Southwest Stakes is his first 2014 target.

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25 and might resurface in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, or he could wait for the Florida Derby.

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. He has resumed light training in Florida but has yet to have a published work and will not make the Fountain of Youth. From DRF: “We got a little behind schedule with him, but hopefully we’ll be able to get him back on the work schedule this week and make the Swale,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “If he runs well in the Swale, we’d still have time to give him two preps before the [Kentucky] Derby, although only one of them will be around two turns, that’s all.”

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (11/40) at Santa Anita Park on 1-3.

Comments: Cruised in his 10-19 Golden Gate debut and crushed four rivals in the G3 Hollywood Prevue on 11-10. He dominated the G1 CashCall Futurity (106 BSF) on 12-14, his first start around two turns. He missed a scheduled work on Jan. 12 and another on Jan. 24 due to a foot abscess, and is out of the Robert Lewis Stakes. Asked Friday morning (Jan. 24) for an update on the gelding’s status, Jerry Hollendorfer said, “There is no update.” When approached again later, the Hall of Fame trainer said, “I don’t have any news for the next 15 days.”

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

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

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished a better than appears 3rd in the Lecomte and could easily move forward in the Risen Star.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

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

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mid was wondering in the lane. He has plenty of raw talent and should continue to develop mentally and physically.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

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

Derby Points (4)

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

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trainer:  Wesley Ward – Owner: My Meadowview Farm

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.53 (6/11) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 22.

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

Pedigree Spotlight: Cairo Prince

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

Cairo Prince bloodlines

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

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

Pioneerof The Nile

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

Empire Maker has sired U.S. champion, Royal Delta, and Kentucky Derby runner-ups Bodemeister and Pioneerof the Nile. He was exported to Japan in 2010.

Empire Maker’s sire Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1990 and sired 1996 Derby hero Grindstone and 2000 Preakness winner Red Bullet.

Empire Maker’s late, great Grade I winning dam Toussaud also tossed Grade I winners Chester House, Honest Lady, Chiselling, and Grade II hero Decarchy.

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

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

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