Posts Tagged ‘Vicar’s in Trouble’

Triple Crown Remains Elusive Target

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

Tonalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Candy Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: 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.

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Kentucky Derby 2014

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

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: Wicked Strong Rally

Wicked Strong threw his hat into the Kentucky Derby 2014 ring with a sharp late running victory in the Wood Memorial.

Wicked Strong, 3rd in the G2 Remsen as a juvenile, put his ugly Gulfstream Park form behind him, and he is not the first closer to loathe the Gulf only to reverse form on fair footing. I have been waiting for a late runner to shine in a Derby prep! He joins my list and is a viable threat from off the pace under the Twin Spires.

Wicked Strong horse

Wicked Strong wins 2014 Wood Memorial – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Samraat nodded Social Inclusion for the place. The former is an overachieving street fighter, and the latter is fast and talented but lacks seasoning.

Wood Memorial also-ran Kristo failed to earn enough points to make the Derby starting gate and drops off the list.

California Chrome continued his West Coast domination in the SA Derby and is the likely favorite at Churchill Downs in a few weeks. He is the fastest sophomore in the land but that does not always translate into a Derby win. I am not tempted to put him on top of my Derby rankings because I do not think that he is a ten furlong horse (read comments below).

Hoppertunity ran a winning race in the SA Derby but hooked a local speed demon and was clearly second best. The unraced juvenile has gotten plenty of stakes seasoning this year and is one I will consider in the Derby.

Candy Boy could not hang with the top two SA Derby finishers but fought hard for the show. I believe that he is best as a closer and is worth considering as a Derby rebound threat.

Saturday’s Grade I Arkansas Derby is my featured play of the day at HorseRacingNation.com

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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

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. He temporarily retains the top spot.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.80 (3/8) at Oaklawn Park (slop) on April 7.

Derby Points (42)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including a show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and will wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

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

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

Latest Workout: 3f in:37 (2/4) at Oaklawn Park on April 8.

Derby Points (11)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he 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, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel. The Arkansas Derby is next.

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

Trainer: Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Derby Points (150)

Comments: 6-for-10 lifetime and has 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. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull) Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Derby Points (24)

Comments: Skipping the FOY did not work out so well after a flat 4th in the Florida Derby. Only two preps in 5+ months means that he is fresh but fitness might be a serious issue on the first Saturday in May. No guarantee that he gets in on points.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46 (1/40) at Santa Anita on April 3.

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. He has qualified for the Kentucky Derby but is not quite top class in graded route races.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.25 (11/24) at Palm Meadows on April 6.

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.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 7f bullet from the gate in 1:23.80 (1/5) at Santa Anita on April 6.

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. He returned to the work tab March 20 and is ready for the Arkansas Derby.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing

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.

10. COMMISSIONER (A.P Indy – Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold) commisioner silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.05 (8/24) at Palm Meadows on April 6.

Derby Points (10)

Comments: The long winded sort owns two wins at nine furlongs. Could not keep up from the rail over speed favoring ground in the FOY and rallied to finish a better than appears 3rd after a bad start in the G3 Sunland Derby. The Arkansas Derby is his next stop.

11. WICKED STRONG (Hard Spun – Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) Wicked Strong silks

Trainer: James Jerkens – Owner: Centennial Farms

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 not a fluke. His late kick must be respected on Derby Day.

(12) Hoppertunity, (13) Samraat, (14) Chitu, (15) Constitution, (16) Wildcat Red, (17) Vicar’s in Trouble, (18) General a Rod, (19) We Miss Artie, (20) Ring Weekend

Pedigree Spotlight: Wicked Strong

Wicked Strong’s sire Hard Spun (Danzig – Turkish Tryst, by Turkoman) was on the Triple Crown trail in 2007, winning the G3 Lecomte and G2 Lane’s End, and finishing 2nd in the Kentucky Derby, 3rd in the Preakness, and 4th in the Belmont Stakes. His other stakes winners include G1 Alabama winner Questing and G1 Mother Goose winner Zo Impressive.

Wicked Strong pedigree

Hard Spun’s sire Danzig (by Northern Dancer) won all three career starts in New York. The influential stallion died in 2006 at age 29. He sired such prominent runners as Chief’s Crown (3rd ’85 Belmont Stakes), Stephan’s Odyssey (’85 Belmont Stakes runner-up), Danzig Connection (’86 Belmont Stakes winner), ’92 Preakness hero Pine Bluff, and Breeders’ Cup Mile winners Lure and War Chant.

Hard Spun’s dam Turkish Tryst (by Turkoman) captured 4 of 15 starts including the April Run Stakes.

Hard Spun’s dam sire Turkoman (by Alydar) was a multiple graded stakes winner of more than $2.1 million. His daughter Turko’s Turn is the dam of Preakness & Belmont hero Point Given, and another daughter (Sweet Damsel) produced Travers winner Colonel John.

Wicked Strong’s dam sire Charismatic (by Summer Squall) won the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness and finished 3rd in the Belmont Stakes.

Wicked Strong has classic influences sprinkled throughout his pedigree. He has the right patient running style to succeed on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Florida Constitution

Constitution secured a Kentucky Derby 2014 spot for Todd Pletcher & WinStar Farm following a neck victory over Wildcat Red in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

Constitution is now undefeated in three lifetime starts, all at Gulfstream Park in 2014. He is obviously talented, but has no 2yo foundation and is giving up a ton of seasoning to his Derby rivals. I don’t like him for the Derby but he is one to watch in other big races later this year.

Constitution

Constitution wins 2014 Florida Derby – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Wildcat Red is an overachieving fighter with seven exacta finishes from as many starts, all at the Gulf. He figures to face pace pressure early and often on the first Saturday in May.

General a Rod continues to fly under the radar. The gem of consistency was an even 3rd on Saturday and looks the best prepared of the Florida Derby horses pointing to the Kentucky Derby. I will consider him a Derby contender if he trains well in Kentucky.

Cairo Prince finished a puzzling 4th in the Florida Derby. He did not necessarily have to win, and I was not surprised that he did not cross the line 1st, but I was expecting much more. He never got in serious contention and finished a flat 4th. Two races in 5+ months, including a lackluster final prep, may leave him short under the Twin Spires. He has 24 Derby points and is not guaranteed a starting spot at this stage.

Vicar’s In Trouble absolutely stole the LA Derby. The fast pace paper race never materialized and Rosie Napravnik walked the dog if effortless fashion. He is a talented LA-bred but his distance limitations will show up when he has to chase much faster fractions at Churchill Downs.

I thought Intense Holiday ran well considering the race shape. He closed strongly in the Risen Star but was much closer to soft splits this time. He should have gotten something out of his chasing runner-up effort and is still a viable Derby contender given his finishing kick.

Commanding Curve rallied for the show in his best Golden Soul imitation. He can be used in Derby exotics if he makes the gate.

Gold Hawk failed to qualify on Derby points and drops off the list. He has raw ability but has been slow to develop mentally. Will look for more from him down the road.

Keeping up with past “exceptional eleven” members, Schoolofhardrocks worked 4f in :49.40 (28/40) at Santa Anita on April 3. He is entered in Saturday’s G1 SA Derby.

My Wood Memorial Day Aqueduct full card analysis is ready to purchase! 

Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Derby 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. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess) Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:11.80 (4/26) at Santa Anita on March 29.

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 next.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00.80 (1/11) at Oaklawn on March 31.

Derby Points (42)

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. He finished a troubled 2nd in the Rebel and will wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (5/21) at Oaklawn on April 1.

Derby Points (11)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Spa bow and smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out. He cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) and never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler. In his final 2yo start, he 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, the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17, and set the pace and weakened to 4th in the G2 Rebel. The Arkansas Derby is next.

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

Trainer: Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46.40 (1/19) at Los Alamitos on March 29.

Derby Points (50)

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

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Derby Points (24)

Comments: Skipping the FOY did not work out so well after a flat 4th in the Florida Derby. Only two preps in 5+ months means that he is fresh but fitness might be a serious issue on the first Saturday in May.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :46 (1/40) at Santa Anita on April 3.

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. He has qualified for the Kentucky Derby but is not quite top class in graded route races.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :47.40 (1/35) at Palm Meadows on March 30.

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

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.40 (1/11) at Santa Anita Park on March 30.

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts and stretched out at Santa Anita and romped by almost 7-lengths on Oct. 31. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best, and ended up a distant 3rd (California Chrome & Midnight Hawk 1-2) in the San Felipe. He is entered in Saturday’s G1 Wood Memorial.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (28/61) at Santa Anita on March 31.

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. He returned to the work tab March 20 and is training up to the Arkansas Derby.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing

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.

11. COMMISSIONER (A.P Indy – Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold) commisioner silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: WinStar Farm

Derby Points (10)

Comments: The long winded sort owns two wins at nine furlongs. Could not keep up from the rail over speed favoring ground in the FOY and rallied to finish a better than appears 3rd after a bad start in the G3 Sunland Derby. The Arkansas Derby is his next stop.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Cairo Prince

I am rooting for Cairo Prince to do well on the Triple Crown trail 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 visit to WinStar Farm in 2013.

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.

Cairo Prince bloodlines

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.

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 but he was flat off a layoff in his final Derby prep and might be a short horse at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Who deserves Top Billing?

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

Wildcat Red, General A Rod

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48 (1/31) at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 25.

Derby Points (6)

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

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

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

Derby Points (14)

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. He is entered in Saturday’s Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

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

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

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

Derby Points (12)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

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

Derby Points (4)

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

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Derby Points (22)

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

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished an okay 3rd in the Lecomte and basically ran the same race (even 5th of 14) in the Risen Star on Feb. 22. He seems to be losing focus and I would like to see him add blinkers for the LA Derby.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

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

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

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

Trainer:  Wesley Ward – Owner: My Meadowview Farm

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

Comments: Easy 6f maiden win in prominent throughout Aqueduct debut. He rallied for the place in the Springboard Mile to end his juvenile campaign. Kicked off his 3yo campaign in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay on Feb. 1 but was very fractious in the gate and never got involved in a throwout race. He is entered in Saturday’s G3 Gotham Stakes (blinkers on) at Aqueduct and needs a strong performance to remain on the list.

Pedigree Spotlight Revisited: Wildcat Red

Wildcat Red silks

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

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

wildcat red pedigree

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

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

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

Wildcat Red gets a ton of speed from his sire line and picks up some class and stamina on the dam side. He will probably a bigger threat in races like the G1 King’s Bishop at 7f later this year, but he is razor sharp and loves Gulfstream Park, so trying to stretch his speed 9f in the Florida Derby seems realistic, especially if the track favors speed like it did in the Fountain of Youth.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Vicar’s In Charge

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

Kentucky Derby 2014 logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He is expected to make his 3YO bow in the Fountain of Youth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (14)

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

Strong Mandate horse

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

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

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

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

Derby Points (2)

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

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

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

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

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

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua. Just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen and will make his next start in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on 1-25.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Derby Points (2)

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

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

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

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

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

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

Derby Points (10)

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

9. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Derby Points (4)

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

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

Trainer: Chad Brown – Owner: Fox Hill Farms

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

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 with a professional one mile allowance tally at Gulfstream Park on 12-15. The G2 Holy Bull Stakes at the Gulf on Jan. 25 is next, and he will break from the rail under Johnny V.

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

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

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

Pedigree Spotlight: Indianapolis

Indianapolis horse silks

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

Indianapolis horse pedigree

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

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

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

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

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