My Exceptional Eleven 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders

As of December 13, 2014 (Note: blue bold fonts are linked to race videos or references)

1) Texas Red – Loved his closing style and speed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he hung around at the back of the pack and then blasted his way through the field to win by 6 1/2 lengths. This should make him a threat to win any race regardless of post position draw. I also like the fact that he proved in the BC Juvenile to be unbothered by getting a little dirt kicked in his face. He also has good pedigree–his sire was Afleet Alex who won the 2005 Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. I placed a $20 bet on him in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1. Equibase Profile 

2) American Pharoah – Trained by Bob Baffert, he has posted two 101 Beyer Speed Figures at two different tracks (Del Mar and Santa Anita). He beat Texas Red in his last start in the Frontrunner Stakes. A foot bruise kept him out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. Equibase Profile

3) Dortmund – I call him Bayern 2.0, same owner (Kaleem Shah), same trainer (Bob Baffert) and same sprinter style as Bayern. Two races, two wins. Good pedigree–his sire was Big Brown who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2008. He is rumored to be an entry in the Los Alamitos Futurity Stakes race December 20th. Equibase Profile

4) Daredevil – So far, he has posted the fastest Beyer Speed Figure (107) and Equibase Speed Figure (110) of any two year old this year. Had a disappointing run in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but expect this Todd Pletcher horse to bounce back. Equibase Profile

5) Frosted – With a better post position, he would have won the Remsen Stakes. Decent pedigree, his sire was Tapit (who also sired Tonalist, Tapiture and Untapable). Equibase Profile

6) Carpe Diem – Another Todd Pletcher trained horse. He finished 2nd to Texas Red in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile while posting a 93 Beyer Speed Figure and displayed nice closing speed. Equibase Profile

7) Upstart – Posted the 3rd highest Beyer Speed Figure of 102 of all 2 year olds with his 2nd place finish to Daredevil in the 1 mile Champagne Stakes at Belmont. He also finished 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Equibase Profile

8) Eagle – I was impressed with his closing speed in the 1 1/16th mile Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes where he finished 3rd and received a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. Strikes me as a horse that likes distance, which should bode well in the 2nd leg of derby prep races in late March/early April which are all 1/8th mile or longer. Equibase Profile

9) El Kabeir – Winner of the 2014 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. Has posted a 94 and a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. Might have distance limitations. Equibase Profile

10) Imperia –  Lost by a head to El Kabeir in Kentucky Derby Jockey Club Stakes and posted a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. Decent pedigree–his sire was Medaglia Doro (who finished 2nd twice in the Breeders’ Cup Classic) and his dam was Cocoa Beach who was Horse of the Year in Chile in 2008. Equibase Profile

11) Blofeld – Yet another Todd Pletcher trained horse. Blofeld has started 3 races and won all 3. He posted a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in the 1 mile race Nashua Stakes race at Aqueduct, beating El Kabeir by 5 lengths. He would rank higher if he had competed in anything longer than a mile. I expect him to move back up the lists in the future. Equibase Profile

Dropped from my Exceptional Eleven: Lucky Player, Lord Nelson, Calculator

Next Update: Jan 15th, 2015

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool

Since the creation of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool in 1999, 50% of the time the eventual Kentucky Derby winner was listed in Pool #1. Since this year’s crop of 2 year olds are posting faster times in the big races than last year in the early derby prep races, I feel that this will be the year that they have the 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner pegged in Pool #1. Betters didn’t agree, making “All Other 3 YOs” the most popular bet of the pool. All the horses listed in my Exceptional Eleven were listed in Pool #1.

Profiling A Kentucky Derby Winner

Stat: 13 out of the last 15 Kentucky Derby winners broke their maiden in the 1st or 2nd start. Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome broke his maiden in his 2nd start. And it is also 13 out of the last 13. As far as my Exceptional Eleven, every horse except Texas Red and Frosted broke their maiden in their 1st or 2nd start. Both Texas Red and Frosted won in the 3rd start.

Another stat to chew on, 13 of 15 Kentucky Derby winners maiden win came before December 1st in their 2 year old campaign. All of my Exceptional Eleven broke their maiden before December 1st.

 The Kentucky Oaks

My the early Kentucky Oaks favorite is Condo Commando. The 2 year old filly that probably should race against the boys. Most of the top 2 year colts and fillies are racing 1 mile to 1 1/16 mile races right now. But her time in the 1 1/8 mile Demoiselle Stakes race at Aqueduct was very impressive at 1:50.40 seconds (the fastest in that last 8 years and just 0.23 seconds off the track record for a filly). She won by 11 1/2 lengths.

To put her time into perspective, Wicked Strong won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct (same 1 1/8th mile distance) in the spring with a time of 1:49.31 seconds. So she is just 1.09 seconds off that time right now and she had no other filly pressing her in this race. She left them like they were all tied to a pole and her jockey brought her home on cruise control. Very impressive and she won her previous race–The Spinaway Stakes race–on a wet, sloppy track. Condo Commando’s Equibase Profile

 Keep An Eye On…

The 2 year old colt Nasa who won the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes on Dec 6th, thus producing the 2nd fastest Equibase Speed Figure (109) for a 2 year old male this year. His sire is Smarty Jones (who narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown in 2004) and is paired with the same trainer John Servis. It will be interesting to see if they enter him into any derby prep races in January. How about Oaklawn Park where his father swept the Southwest Stakes (now called the Smarty Jones Stakes), Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby? Nasa’s Equibase Profile

–Michael

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