Posts Tagged ‘We Miss Artie’

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: Baffert’s Derby Push

Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity qualified for Kentucky Derby 2014 last week, and Chitu and Midnight Hawk join their stable mate after finishing 1-2 in the Sunland Derby on March 23.

Chitu was the post time favorite from the outside post and made his presence felt throughout under Martin Garcia. Midnight Hawk briefly went by him while three wide but Garcia never panicked and pulled clear again, crossing the line 2-1/4 lengths in from and earning a 102 BSF.

We Miss Artie

We Miss Artie surges late in an exciting Spiral Stakes victory – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Midnight Hawk was returning in two weeks and was clearly second best. Chitu also beat him in the Robert Lewis Stakes. Midnight Hawk is a gem of consistency but is not quite top class at distances beyond a mile.

Commissioner did not have much of a chance after stumbling at the start and leaving himself too much to do. He found his best stride late and ended up a better than appears 3rd. He only has 10 Derby points and will run next in the Arkansas Derby.

Chitu is built like a sprinter and adds even more pace to chase in the Derby. The top three Sunland Derby finishers have ability but I do not think we saw the Kentucky Derby winner in that field, unless Commissioner qualifies and flies home under the Twin Spires.

At Turfway Park on March 22, We Miss Artie surged very late to nip Harry’s Holiday and Coastline in a thrilling renewal of the Spiral Stakes (88 BSF).

We Miss Artie has proven quite capable on turf and synthetic but has failed to seriously threaten in a trio of conventional dirt tries. The Kentucky Derby is next, but if he struggles with the Churchill footing as expected, look for the Ontario-bred to switch gears and shoot for the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine (Sunday, July 6).

Harry’s Holiday was a late Triple Crown nominee and could be headed to the big dance.

Keeping up with past “exceptional eleven” members, Schoolofhardrocks worked 6f in 1:12.80 (4/16) at Santa Anita on March 28. It might be too much to ask at this stage, but the SA Derby is next. Look for more from him later this year.

This week’s key Kentucky Derby preps are the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

My LA Derby Day Fair Grounds full card analysis is ready to purchase!  

Saturday’s Grade 1 Florida 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. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull) Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Godolphin Stable

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.90 (59/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22. “He went great. We were looking for a 49ish, but it doesn’t matter. It was just a maintenance work, his last work. He did it great,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We’re all set for next weekend.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed to Honor Code in the slow early/fast late Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He is the 9-5 moning line favorite for the Florida Derby (March 29).

2. 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 1:12.80 (4/15) at Santa Anita on March 22.

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.

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

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

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 should wrap up his Derby prep campaign in the Arkansas Derby.

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

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

Latest Workout: 4f in :54 (38/39) at Oaklawn Park on March 26.

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.

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

Trainer:  Art Sherman – Owner: Coburn or Martin

Latest Workout: 4f in :47.40 (7/31) at Los Alamitos on March 22.

Derby Points (50)

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

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Derby Points (52)

Comments: G3 Sham hero followed up that win with 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. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.60 (17/27) at Fair Grounds on March 24.

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 Dec. 22. 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. The LA Derby is his last chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

8. 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 :49.50 (40/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22.

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.

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

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.20 (3/44) at Santa Anita Park on March 24.

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. Listed in the NYRA barn notes as a possibility for the Wood Memorial.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Kaleem Sham

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00 (8/38) at Santa Anita on March 26.

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 Baffert is looking at the SA Derby or Arkansas Derby for his final Derby prep.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Starlight Racing

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49.40 (36/74) at Palm Meadows on March 22.

Comments: The G2 Risen Star hero joins the list because of his decent late kick in a Derby trail dominated by speed horses. Mike Smith will stick by his side for the LA Derby, and he will break from the rail as the 2-1 morning line favorite.

Pedigree Spotlight: Chitu

Does Chitu (Henny Hughes – Sea Gift, by A.P. Indy) have Kentucky Derby pedigree power?

chitu silks

Chitu’s sire Henny Hughes (Hennessy – Meadow Flyer, by Meadowlake) won 6 of 10 lifetime starts and banked more than $1.1 million. The talented sprinter captured the G2 Saratoga Special in 2005, and the G3 Jersey Shore, G1 King’s Bishop, and G1 Vosburgh in 2006. His biggest winner to date is Beholder, 2-time Eclipse champion and 2012 BC Juvenile Fillies and 2013 BC Distaff winner. The 11-year-old stallion was sold to Japan in 2013.

chitu pedigree

Sea Gift (A.P. Indy – Ocean Queen, by Zilzal) won her only start in 2005. Her sire, A.P. Indy, won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic. As a sire, he was responsible for well over 100 stakes winners.

Sea Gift’s sire 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.

Hennessy (Storm Cat – Island Kitty, by Hawaii) captured 4 of 9 starts and earned $580k. He made the grade in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Sapling, and Hopeful Stakes as a two-year-old. He sired 2001 juvenile champion Johannesburg. Unfortunately, Hennessy died of heart failure in Argentina in 2007.

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

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

Chitu is built like a sprinter and has successfully carried his speed nine furlongs. This is the wrong year to have a speedy sophomore and he figures to struggle with ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders – Havana pops Champagne cork

Todd Pletcher’s top early Kentucky Derby 2014 contender Havana followed up a sharp debut maiden win with a game neck victory in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, October 5.

Havana holds off Honor Code in G1 Champagne – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Havana dueled through honest splits of :22.87 and :45.54. He opened up a 2-1/2 length lead after six panels in 1:10.12 and widened his advantage to 4-1/2 lengths in the lane.

The Champagne was not ready to be uncorked with Honor Code was flying home on the outside, but he came up a tad short in a gallant effort. Ride On Curlin was well clear of the rest in 3rd. The final time was 1:35.81, which translated to a solid 93 BSF.

We Miss Artie is a Grade I winner on paper after capturing Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity, but he only received a 70 BSF for his winning effort. He needs to run much faster if he expects to be competitive on Breeders’ Cup day.

Sunday’s Grade III Grey Stakes winner Ami’s Holiday garnered an 80 BSF against three opponents.

This is only my second Kentucky Derby 2014 contenders blog, and at this early stage, my original “exceptional eleven” contenders remain intact despite some disappointing efforts. Ride On Curlin ran fast enough to be considered and will have every chance to join my list with another strong performance.

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

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

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

Trainer: Al Stall Jr. – Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :50.80 (50/65) at Churchill Downs on 10-12.

Comments: 3rd behind Honor Code and Misconnect in Aug. 31 Saratoga debut and raced green that day. He overcame adversity to earn diploma at Churchill Downs (one mile) on 9-28.

2. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)

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

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5 and will skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

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

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Repole Stable

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

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

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

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut on 8-23 and earned a 102 BSF. Put away Debt Ceiling and Grand Arrival early, and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) at Belmont on 10-5. The BC Juvenile on 11-2 is next.

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

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Gary & Mary West

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in 4f in :47.80 (1/27) at Santa Anita on 10-8.

Comments: Rallied for 3rd in his 5.5f Del Mar debut 8-17 and won by 1-3/4 lengths (one mile) at that same venue 8-31.

Strong Mandate will try to rebound in the G1 BC Juvenile – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

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

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

Comments: Finished 5th in his 7-22 Saratoga bow. He graduated by 4-1/2 lengths at 6.5f at the Spa on 8-17 and cruised by 9-3/4 in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on 9-2 (85 BSF). He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and will likely try to rebound in G1 BC Juvenile.

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

Trainer: David Hofmans – Owner: Amerman Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (32/48) at Santa Anita on 9-25.

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

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

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

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

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

Trainer: Tom Amoss – Owner: Jerry Namy

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

10. CANDIP (Candy Ride – Indefinable, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: W. Bret Calhoun  – Owner: Sanders and Hirsch

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in :51.41 (8/14) at Remington Park on 9-22.

Comments: Coasted home by 4-1/4 lengths in his 5.5f Remington bow on 9-2 (89 BSF).

11. GIVE NO QUARTER (Tiz Wonderful – Roadtohanna, by Not for Love)

Trainer: Graham Motion – Owner: Sagamore Farm

Comments: Two races at Presque Isle with a clear place finish in his 5.5f bow on 8-15 and a 22-length romp at one mile on 9-17 (85 BSF). He was eased without an apparent excuse in the G3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 6. From Graham Motion’s Twitter account: @GrahamMotion – I’m afraid I can’t give an explanation for Give no Quarter’s poor performance at Woodbine today. He seems to have cooled out fine.

Pedigree Spotlight: Havana

Havana’s hot freshman sire Dunkirk (Unbridled’s Song – Secret Status, by A.P. Indy) had a brief but productive 5-race career in 2009, beginning with a debut maiden win at Gulfstream Park in January.

havana pedigree

Dunkirk captured an allowance race in Florida second time out, and followed that up with a 2nd in the Florida Derby, a troubled 11th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, and a 2nd place effort in the Belmont Stakes. He suffered a condylar fracture to his left hind cannon bone during the Test of Champions and was unable to return to the races. He stands at Ashford Stud in Versailles, KY.

Dunkirk’s late sire Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled – Trolley Song, by Caro) captured the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 1995 and won the G1 Florida Derby and G2 Wood Memorial as a sophomore. Plagued by tender feet, he finished 5th as the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

As a stallion, Unbridled’s Song was responsible for more than 100 stakes winners including 2013 G1 Travers hero Will Take Charge.

Unbridled’s Song’s sire Unbridled (Fappiano – Gana Facil, by Le Fabuleux) won the G1 Florida Derby, G1 Kentucky Derby, and G1 BC Classic in 1990. He earned more than $4.4 million on the racetrack and sired classic winners Grindstone, Red Bullet, and Empire Maker.

Dunkirk’s mother Secret Status (by A.P. Indy) took the G1 Kentucky Oaks and G1 Mother Goose in 2000.

Secret Status’s papa 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.

Havana’s mother Missy Turtle was a 4-time dirt sprint winner ($103,283 earnings) from 2000-04.

Missy Turtle’s father Kyle’s Our Man (by In Reality) won the G3 Nashua as a juvenile in 1990 and the G2 Gotham as a 3yo in 1991.

Missy Turtle’s mother Redding Ridge (by Screen King) won 7 of 37 starts and earned more than $164k, including wins in the 1988 Dearly Precious Stakes, and the 1989 Alma North Handicap and Dearly Precious Stakes.

Havana has more speed than stamina influences in his pedigree, especially on the dam side. He could stay two turns, up to nine furlongs, and possibly beyond, if he learns to relax and better distribute his available energy.