Texas Red back in action in The San Vicente Stakes

If you are tired of “I’m only here so I won’t get fined” and Deflate-Gate talk ad nauseam, good news, you have a sports alternative for Super Bowl Sunday if you have HRTV or TVG. Should I remind everyone that my blog centers on the Kentucky Derby trail and that Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuous sporting event in US that draws a larger attendance than the Super Bowl?

This Sunday February 1st at 3:30 CST, Texas Red will compete in the San Vincente Stakes at Santa Anita Park. This 7 furlong race is not a point paying race for entry into the Kentucky Derby. However, it does carry a decent $200,000 purse that has attracted some promising 3 year olds. Texas Red’s main competition will come from Bob Baffert’s duo of Lord Nelson and Punctuate

Others notable entries include:

1) The Peter Miller trained Serbian Syclone who has won his last two starts. The last being a 6 furlong claiming race at Santa Anita Park.

2) John Sadler’s Bench Warrant, who was unimpressive in the Los Alamitos Futurity, but won his last start less than 3 weeks ago (January 15th) at Santa Anita Park. He beat Jazzy Josh (also entered in the San Vicente) by a nose.

Texas Red is my early favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am not putting much stock in his performance this Sunday. In fact, as someone who wants to place another bet on him in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) Pool #2, I hope he finishes in 3rd and fairly close to the winner to turn off bettors. This race is nothing more than tune-up for Texas Red. He is not a sprinter and his racing style and closing speed is better suited for distance races. If he wins this race that he is not well-suited for, his KDFW Pool #2 odds will lower from the 14-1 final odds he had in Pool #1.

Texas Red will still undoubtedly be the race favorite but I think Lord Nelson is a speed horse–the “horse for course”–in this one. However, he drew the dreaded rail and has speed next to him Serbian Syclone in post #2. And Texas Red, Lord Nelson and Punctuate haven’t raced in over two months. In fact, it has been over four months since Punctuate last raced.

There are a lot of unknowns on this one so I don’t recommend placing any big wagers. I don’t want to pick a winner, but if I had a gun to my head and had to, it would be Lord Nelson.  I would probably be more inclined to place some small Boxed Trifectas or Superfectas using the above named horses for entertainment value.

If I had to predict a finishing order, it would be: 1) Lord Nelson, 2) Texas Red, 3) Punctuate, 4) Serbian Syclone, 5) Bench Warrant, 6) Jazzy Josh, 7) Sir Samson and 8) Magic Taste.

–Michael

Seven Sensational Horses to consider for your Kentucky Derby Future Wagers Pool #2

With the Kentucky Future Wagers Pool #2 coming up February 6th, here are seven horses to consider. There are always a few sleepers that emerge every March. However, I feel this list represents your best 2015 Kentucky Derby potential winners provided that they remain healthy.

Last year, California Chrome wasn’t listed in Pool #1 but was included in Pool #2 and all subsequent pools. So I feel pretty confident that the eventual 2015 Kentucky Derby winner will be in this upcoming Pool #2. If you had the foresight to bet $25 in each of the four pools on California Chrome last year (by betting $25 on “All other 3 year olds” in Pool #1), your $100 would have paid out $1,942.50–a $1842.50 profit. Whereas, betting $100 Win bet on California Chrome on race day would have paid out $350.

The profile of a typical Kentucky Derby winner is that 75.7% are Kentucky bred. California Chrome was the exception and not the norm last year being a California bred horse. California has produced only four Kentucky Derby winners with the last (before California Chrome) being Decidedly who won in 1962.  Florida is the next best state at producing Kentucky Derby winners with six.

Another stat to consider is that the roughly 70% of Kentucky Derby winners won their first race in their first or second start–which California Chrome accomplished. As long as a horse wins in his first four starts and gets hot in February and March, I am fine with it. Also, probably a more important stat, thirteen out of the last fifteen Kentucky Derby winners broke their maiden by December 1st of their 2-year-old campaign. All the horses in my top seven won their first race by December 1st.

Note: blue bold fonts are linked to race videos or references

1) Texas Red  (Kentucky Bred – Won in 3rd start) – Derby Points: 12

Current Vegas Odds: 12-1 – Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 Final Odds: 14-1
5 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 40%, Graded Stakes Pct: 50%
Last Three Starts:  1st, 3rd (93 Beyer), 1st (104 Beyer)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts: 98.5

Best Performance: 11/1/2014 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st  1:41:91


Next Race: San Vincente Stakes – February 1st        Texas Red’s Equibase Profile


2) Dortmund (Kentucky Bred- Won in 1st start) – Derby Points:10

Current Vegas Odds: 9-1 – Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 Final odds: 9-1
3 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 100%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 100%
Last Three Starts: 1st, 1st (97 Beyer), 1st (91 Beyer)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts:  94

Best Performance: 12/20/2014 – Los Alamitos Futurity –  1 1/16 mile race – 1st  1:40.86

Next Race: Robert B. Lewis Stakes – February 7th        Dortmund’s Equibase Profile


3) American Pharoah (Kentucky Bred – Won in 2nd start) – Derby Points: 10

Current Vegas Odds: 12-1 – Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 Final Odds: 12-1
3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 100%
Last Three Starts: 5th, 1st (101 Beyer), 1st (101 Beyer)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts: 101

Best Performance: 9/27/2014 – FrontRunner Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st 1:41.95


Next Race: Rebel Stakes – March 14th        American Pharoah’s Equibase Profile


4) Carpe Diem (Kentucky Bred – Won in 1st start) – Derby Points: 14

Current Vegas Odds: 22-1 – Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 Final Odds: 15-1
3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%
Last Three Starts: 1st, 1st (91 Beyer), 2nd (93 Beyer)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts: 92

Best Performance: 11/1/2014 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 mile race – 2nd 1:42.95 (calculated)

Next Race: Unknown        Carpe Diem’s Equibase Profile


5) Upstart (New York Bred – Won in 1st start) – Derby Points: 16

Current Vegas Odds: 20-1 – Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 Final Odds: 53-1
5 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 60%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 33%
Last Three Starts: 2nd (102 Beyer), 3rd (93 Beyer), 1st (106 Beyer)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts: 99

Best Performance: 1/24/2015 – Holy Bull Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st 1:43.61

Next Race: Fountain of Youth Stakes – February 21st        Upstart’s Equibase Profile


6)  El Kabeir (Florida Bred – Won in 2nd start) – Derby Points: 21

Current Vegas Odds: 18-1 – Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 Final Odds: 74-1
6 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 50%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%
Last Three Starts:  2nd, 1st (94 Beyer), 1st (95 Beyer)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts: 94.5

Best Performance: 11/29/2014 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st 1:44.82

Next Race: Withers Stakes – February 7th       El Kabeir’s Equibase Profile


7) Daredevil (Kentucky Bred – Won in 1st Start) – Derby Points: 10

Current Vegas Odds: 60-1 – Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 Final Odds: 48-1
3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%
Last Three Starts: 1st (85 Beyer), 1st (107 Beyer), 11th

Best Performance: 10/4/2014 – Champagne Stakes – 1 mile race – 1st 1:36.62 (wet, sloppy track)

Next Race: Swale Stakes – February 28th        Daredevil’s Equibase Profile


Ranking By Average Beyer Speed Figures of Last Two Starts:
1) American Pharoah 101
2) Upstart 99.5
3) Texas Red  98.5
4) El Kabeir  94.5
5) Dortmund  94
6) Carpe Diem 92
7) Daredevil —

Overall, I think a good strategy is to wait until the results of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on February 7th to see how Dortmund performs against rumored entries Calculator and Firing Line. Texas Red will run in the San Vincente Stakes February 1st, but I am not putting much stock in this 7 furlong race that I view as a 2015 tune-up race. I would feel confident in placing a bet on Texas Red provided that he finishes near the front because he is not a sprinter and is better suited for distance races.

As far as American Pharoah, bettor beware as he is coming off an injury.  Daredevil had a poor run in his last start but keep in mind that he produced a 107 Beyer Speed Figure on a wet sloppy track at Belmont. So if it rains this year at the Kentucky Derby like it did in 2013, Daredevil could be a great wild card. Upstart received a 105 Beyer Speed figure for his win in the Holy Bull Stakes but I wasn’t that impressed his run. His time of 1:43.61 was slower than the previous two Holy Bull winners (Itsmyluckyday 1:41.81 and Cairo Prince 1:42.16)

You can see the full Kentucky Derby points standings by clicking HERE.

The Holy Bull Stakes & My Top 12 Derby Contenders

The Holy Bull Stakes will be run this Saturday January 24th at 3:34 PM CST (race #9) at Gulfstream Park. This 1 & 1/16th mile race carries a $400,000 purse and will feature two of my top twelve Kentucky Derby contenders in Frosted (6th) and Upstart (8th). Other notable contenders include the Dale Romans trained Keen Ice and Bluegrass Singer. Keen Ice finished in 3rd and 8 lengths behind 2nd place finisher Frosted in the Remsen Stakes. Bluegrass Singer has won his last two starts at Gulfstream Park at 1 mile distances.

Some sleepers could be Dom the Bomb and Decision Dayboth have won their last two starts. With a race where so many in the field are coming off significant layoffs, this will be a hard race to handicap. So small wagers on this one for entertainment value. I would want to see the live odds right up until post time but the four I would be willing to bet on to win (depending on their odds) would be Frosted, Upstart, Bluegrass Singer and Dom the Bomb as a potential upset. But please note that Dom the Bomb and Bluegrass Singer are cross-entered in the 7 furlong Hutcheson Stakes so either could be scratched.


 My Top 12 Kentucky Derby Contenders 

Below is an updated list of my Top Twelve 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders. There has been no change at the top because the “Big 3” won’t race until February. However, two new horses break into my Top Twelve and I have added several new horses to keep an eye on.

With this new ranking, I have added Kentucky Derby points. Based upon reviewing the final point standings the past two years, 21 points should get a horse into the Kentucky Derby but 40 points should assure it. You can see the full points standings by clicking HERE.

As of January 21, 2015 (Note: blue bold fonts are linked to race videos or references)

1) Texas Red – Current Vegas Odds: 12-1 – Derby Points: 12

5 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 40%, Graded Stakes Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 11/1/2014 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st  1:41:91

Comment: Still my Kentucky Derby favorite due to his impressive closing speed and race style. But the big question, will he be consistent? I trust that the Desormeaux brothers will get the most out of this colt. He ran 6 furlongs at Santa Anita Park on January 17th and turned in a lackluster effort (1:17.8) but this horse is not a speed horse that runs fast out of the gate. He likes competition and he’s a closer who turns it on in the later part of a race.

Next Race: San Vincente Stakes – February 1st        Texas Red’s Equibase Profile


2) Dortmund – Current Vegas Odds: 7-1 – Derby Points: 10

3 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 100%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 100%

Best Performance: 12/20/2014 – Los Alamitos Futurity –  1 1/16 mile race – 1st  1:40.86

Comment: Although he demonstrated great fighting spirit and broke a track record in the Los Alamitos Futurity, I expected a more comfortable win against that field. My big question: How will he handle a large field if he doesn’t get a clean trip like he got in the LA Futurity? His size, pedigree (sire Big Brown) and trainer (Bob Baffert) is what had made him Vegas’s favorite but I think 7-1 is too short of odds for him at this point. He worked out January 14th at Santa Anita Park running 6 furlongs in 1:20.20.

Next Race: Robert B. Lewis Stakes – February 7th        Dortmund’s Equibase Profile


3) American Pharoah – Current Vegas Odds: 15-1 – Derby Points: 10

3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 100%

Best Performance: 9/27/2014 – FrontRunner Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st 1:41.95

Comment: Another one of Bob Baffert’s stable of great horses but he now appears to be his second best horse behind Dortmund. The burning question: How will he bounce back after a layoff due to a foot bruise? No news of any recent workouts.

Next Race: Rebel Stakes – March 14th        American Pharoah’s Equibase Profile


4) Firing Line – Current Vegas Odds: 25-1 – Derby Points: 4

Firing Line above center

3 Starts, 1 Win, Win Pct: 33%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 0%

Best Performance: 12/20/2014 – Los Alamitos Futurity – 1 1/16 mile race – 2nd 1:40.88 (calculated)

Comment: Consider the fact that the Los Alamitos Futurity was just this horse’s third career start and how he battled Dortmund and you can envision a bright future for this colt. His next race in a bigger field will tell us a lot about whether his Los Alamitos Futurity performance was a fluke or not. He has yet to win a graded stakes race but I am betting that he will very soon. He worked out at Santa Anita Park running 5 furlongs in 59.80 seconds.

Next Race:  Robert B. Lewis Stakes – February 7th        Firing Line’s Equibase Profile


5) Carpe Diem – Current Vegas Odds: 20-1 – Derby Points: 14

3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 11/1/2014 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 mile race – 2nd 1:42.95 (calculated)

Comment: Appears now to be Todd Pletcher’s top Derby contender. That should tell you enough as Pletcher is considered the best trainer in North America. He worked out January 17th at Palm Beach Downs running 3 furlongs in 37.40 seconds.

Next Race: Unknown        Carpe Diem’s Equibase Profile


6) Frosted – Current Vegas Odds: 35-1 – Derby Points: 4

4 Starts, 1 Win, Win Pct: 25%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 0%

Best Performance: 11/29/2014 – Remsen Stakes – 1 1/8 mile race – 2nd 1:51.14 (calculated)

Comment: Frosted has yet to win a graded stakes race but I liked his run in the Remsen. I also think he likes distance and has a good pedigree. His sire Tapit has produced some good offspring in last year’s crop: Tonalist, Untappable and Tapiture. He worked out at Palm Springs Training Center on January 17th and will compete in this weekend’s Holy Bull Stakes.

Next Race: Holy Bull Stakes – January 24th        Frosted’s Equibase Profile


7)  El Kabeir –  Current Vegas Odds: 20-1 – Derby Points: 21

6 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 50%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 11/29/2014 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st 1:44.82

Comment:  He has won his last two starts in graded stakes races (Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and Jerome Stakes). Many consider him the best East Coast horse. Might have distance limitations, we will see when he stretches out on the 1 1/8 mile races. He worked out at Belmont Park January 18th running 4 furlongs in 49.55 seconds.

Next Race: Withers Stakes – February 7th       El Kabeir’s Equibase Profile


8) Upstart – Current Vegas Odds: 40-1 – Derby Points: 6

4 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 50%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 0%

Best Performance: 11/1/2014 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 mile race – 3rd 1:42.96 (calculated)

Comment: Proven that he is fast but has yet to win a graded stakes race. All eyes will be on the Holy Bull Stakes where he is entered along with Frosted. He worked out at Palm Springs Training Center on January 18th running 6 furlongs in 1:12.30.

Next Race: Holy Bull Stakes – January 24th        Upstart’s Equibase Profile


9) Imperia –  Current Vegas Odds: 25-1 – Derby Points: 4

4 Starts, 1 Win, Win Pct: 25%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 33%

Best Performance: 11/29/2014 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race –  2nd 1:44.84 (calculated)

Comment: His first three races were on grass and then he was switched to dirt where lost by a head to El Kabeir in the Kentucky Jockey Club stakes (posting a 94 Beyer Speed Figure). He worked out Palm Meadows Training Center on January 17th running 4 furlongs in 49 flat.

Next Race: Risen Star Stakes – Febuary 21st        Imperia’s Equibase Profile


10) Daredevil – Current Vegas Odds: 30-1 – Derby Points: 10

3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 10/4/2014 – Champagne Stakes – 1 mile race – 1st 1:36.62 (wet, sloppy track)

Comment: One of the fastest horses in Todd Pletcher’s stable, but had a disappointing performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. There was concern that he developed health issues in that race the way he dropped anchor. Good news, he worked out January 17th at Palm Beach Downs. This is why he moves up a couple of notches and back into my top ten. This news prompted Vegas to move him from 40-1 to 30-1 odds. I am still not sure if he is a sprinter better suited for a mile.

Next Race: Unknown        Daredevil’s Equibase Profile


11) Calculator – Current Vegas Odds: 25-1 – Derby Points: 14

5 Starts, 1 Win, Win Pct: 20%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 33%

Best Performance: 9/27/2014 – FrontRunner Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race – 2nd 1:42.47 (calculated)

Comment: His win in the Sham Stakes was the first of his career. I prefer horses who have won in their first two starts as the majority of previous Kentucky Derby winners. Otherwise, he would rank higher,

Next Race:  Robert B. Lewis Stakes – February 7th     Calculator’s Equibase Profile


12) International Star – Current Vegas Odds: 40-1 – Derby Points: 21

7 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 42.9%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 40%

Best Performance: 1/17/2015 – Lecomte Stakes – 1 mile 70 yards – 1st 1:43.82

Comment: He answered my questions as to whether he was a horse better suited on turf or all-weather surfaces with his impressive win in the Lecomte Stakes. I still would like to see him race in a 1 1/8 mile race on dirt against better competition.

Next Race: Unknown     International Star’s Equibase Profile


Dropped from my Top 12: Mr. Z (100-1 odds – Derby Points: 12), Eagle – (85-1 odds- Derby Points: 2 Points)

Mr. Z and Eagle dropped out of my top twelve for performance reasons. Mr Z had an erratic run in the Smarty Jones Stakes where he drifted out coming out of the turn and lost the lead, finishing third. Very unexpected of such an experienced horse and “The bridesmaid” once again. Vegas increased his odds from 40-1 to 100-1 with this performance. Overall, he strikes me as a horse who will make it into the Kentucky Derby and finish near the top but not win.

Eagle had an uninspiring 7th place finish in the Lecomte Stakes as the race favorite. Another dud performance like this and I will take him off my watch list. I still think he likes distance.

Others horses to keep an eye on: Itsaknockout (30/1 Odds- Derby Points: 0), Far Right (100/1 Odds – Derby Points: 12), Leave the Light On (75/1 Odds – Derby Points: 10), Ocho Ocho Ocho (40/1 Odds – Derby Points: 10), Nasa (125/1 Odds – Derby Points: 4), Blofeld (30/1 Odds – Derby Points: 0), Punctuate (25/1 Odds – Derby Points: 0), and Runhappy (200/1 Odds – Derby Points: 0)

To see the full list of Wynn Las Vegas’ 2015 Kentucky Derby Odds, click HERE

.—Michael 

Eagle & the Lecomte Stakes

Today, another good Derby prep race at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans–the Lecomte Stakes. Post time is 5:24 pm CST for this 1 mile and 70 yard race. The winner of the Lecomte Stakes the past two years went on to compete in the Kentucky Derby.

2013 winner Oxbow finished 6th in the Kentucky Derby, won the Preakness Stakes and finished 2nd in the Belmont Stakes.

2014 winner Vicar’s in Trouble won the Louisiana Derby but had a disappointing last place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

This year’s Lecomte Stakes field lacks starpower but makes up for it in depth. There is speed on the inside, in the middle and on the outside. There are as many as seven horses that I can see winning this race but here is my top four:

1) Eagle – 3/1 Morning Line Odds. He ranked 10th in my Twelve Terrific 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders. 4 starts, 2 wins. He will have to overcome a bad outside post draw and I think he likes distance.

2) International Star – 8/1 Morning Line Odds. 6 starts, 2 wins. I think this horse likes turf better than dirt. He drew the dreaded rail  (inside post) but if he gets out to a great start, he has the speed to wire this field.

3) Tiznow R J – 5/1 Morning Line Odds. 3 starts, 1 win. This Steve Asmussen trained horse won in his last start at the Fairgrounds at the same 1 Mile and 70 yard distance with a time of 1:43.71

4) Runhappy – 8/1 Morning Line Odds. 1 start, 1 win. This is a horse to keep an eye on the rest of the year because he is raw but has great speed. With more training and experience, he could be a Kentucky Derby surprise contender. Check out the video below of his first and only start in which he earned an 83 Beyer Speed figure. He is charges towards the front from seemingly nowhere, he is sloppy in form, drifts out wide going around the turn and runs erratically coming down the stretch.


Other horses that could win: Another Lemon Drop (6/1 Odds riden by Calvin Borel), Todd Pletchr’s Savoy Stomp (8/1 Odds) and War Story (9/5 Odds). This race is so wide-open that I would probably just make small wagers on a couple of my top four to win depending on their odds and just enjoy the race.
—Michael

Twelve Terrific 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Below is a list of my top twelve 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders.

As of January 11, 2015 (Note: blue bold fonts are linked to race videos or references)

1) Texas Red – Current Vegas Odds: 12-1

5 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 40%, Graded Stakes Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 11/1/2014 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st  1:41:91

Comment: Still my Kentucky Derby favorite due to his impressive closing speed and race style. But the big question, will he be consistent? I trust that the Desormeaux brothers will get the most out of this colt. He ran 6 furlongs today at Santa Anita and turned in a lackluster effort (1:17.8) but this horse is not a speed horse that runs fast out of the gate. He likes competition and he’s a closer who turns it on in the later part of a race. .

Next Race: San Vincente Stakes – February 1st        Texas Red’s Equibase Profile


2) Dortmund – Current Vegas Odds: 7-1

3 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 100%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 100%

Best Performance: 12/20/2014 – Los Alamitos Futurity –  1 1/16 mile race – 1st  1:40.86

Comment: Although he demonstrated great fighting spirit and broke a track record in the Los Alamitos Futurity, I expected a more comfortable win against that field. My big question: How will he handle a large field if he doesn’t get a clean trip like he got in the LA Futurity? His size, pedigree (sire Big Brown) and trainer (Bob Baffert) is what had made him Vegas’s favorite but I think 7-1 is too short of odds for him at this point..

Next Race: Robert B. Lewis Stakes – February 7th        Dortmund’s Equibase Profile


3) American Pharoah – Current Vegas Odds: 15-1

3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 100%

Best Performance: 9/27/2014 – FrontRunner Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st 1:41.95

Comment: Another one of Bob Baffert’s stable of great horses but he now appears to be his second best horse behind Dortmund. The burning question: How will he bounce back after a layoff due to a foot bruise?

Next Race: Rebel Stakes – March 14th        American Pharoah’s Equibase Profile


4) Firing Line – Current Vegas Odds: 25-1

3 Starts, 1 Win, Win Pct: 33%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 0%

Best Performance: 12/20/2014 – Los Alamitos Futurity – 1 1/16 mile race – 2nd 1:40.88 (calculated)

Comment: Consider the fact that the Los Alamitos Futurity was just this horse’s third career start and how he battled Dortmund and you can envision a bright future for this colt. His next race in a bigger field will tell us a lot about whether his Los Alamitos Futurity performance was a fluke or not. He has yet to win a graded stakes race but I am betting that he will very soon.

Next Race:  Robert B. Lewis Stakes – February 7th     Firing Line’s Equibase Profile


5) Carpe Diem – Current Vegas Odds: 20-1

3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 11/1/2014 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 mile race – 2nd 1:42.95 (calculated)

Comment: Appears now to be Todd Pletcher’s top Derby contender. That should tell you enough as Pletcher is considered the best trainer in North America. I expect Carpe Diem to move up this list in the future.

Next Race: Unknown        Carpe Diem’s Equibase Profile


6) Mr. Z – Current Vegas Odds: 40-1

8 Starts, 1 Win, Win Pct: 12.5%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 0%

Best Performance: 12/20/2014 – Los Alamitos Futurity – 1 1/16 mile race – 3rd 1:40.89 (calculated)

Comment: This ranking may be higher than most handicappers would hand out because he has mostly been the bridesmaid and not the bride thus far. However, I expect this D. Wayne Lukas trained colt to be a starter in the Kentucky Derby. He is showing improvement and is very battle-tested and experienced with seven graded stakes races under his belt. He is also the only horse who has competed against Dortmund, Texas Red, Firing Line and Carpe Diem (four out of my top five). And he has usually finished near the front against these horses. So when start stretching out to 1 1/8 mile and longer races, I like a battled tested, experienced horse who has raced against the cream of the crop.

Next Race: Smarty Jones Stakes – January 19th        Mr. Z’s Equibase Profile


7) Frosted – Current Vegas Odds: 35-1

4 Starts, 1 Win, Win Pct: 25%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 0%

Best Performance: 11/29/2014 – Remsen Stakes – 1 1/8 mile race – 2nd 1:51.14 (calculated)

Comment: Frosted has yet to win a graded stakes race but I liked his run in the Remsen. I think he likes distance and has a good pedigree. His sire Tapit has produced some good offspring in last year’s crop: Tonalist, Untappable and Tapiture.

Next Race: Holy Bull Stakes – January 24th        Frosted’s Equibase Profile


8)  El Kabeir – Current Vegas Odds: 20-1

6 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 50%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 11/29/2014 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race – 1st 1:44.82

Comment:  He has won his last two starts in graded stakes races (Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and Jerome Stakes). Many consider him the best East Coast horse. Might have distance limitations.

Next Race: Withers Stakes – February 7th       El Kabeir’s Equibase Profile


9) Upstart – Current Vegas Odds: 40-1

4 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 50%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 0%

Best Performance: 11/1/2014 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1 1/16 mile race – 3rd 1:42.96 (calculated)

Comment: Proven that he is fast but has yet to win a graded stakes race. All eyes will be on the Holy Bull Stakes where he is rumored to be an entry along with Frosted.

Next Race: Holy Bull Stakes – January 24th        Upstart’s Equibase Profile

10) Eagle – Current Vegas Odds: 60-1

4 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 50%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 11/29/2014 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race –  3rd 1:44.96 (calculated)

Comment: I think this horse likes distance and I was impressed with his closing speed in the Kentucky Jockey Club race. At 60-1 odds, for the price of a 16 ounce soft drink with sales tax, you can place a $2 bet on him to win the Kentucky Derby that would pay back $120. I need to drink less soft drinks anyway.

Next Race: Lecomte Stakes – January 17th        Eagle’s Equibase Profile


11) Imperia –  Current Vegas Odds: 35-1

4 Starts, 1 Win, Win Pct: 25%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 33%

Best Performance: 11/29/2014 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes – 1 1/16 mile race –  2nd 1:44.84 (calculated)

Comment: His first three races were on grass and then he was switched to dirt where lost by a head to El Kabeir in the Kentucky Jockey Club stakes (posting a 94 Beyer Speed Figure). Has been working out at Palm Meadows Training Center.

Next Race: Risen Star Stakes – February 21st        Imperia’s Equibase Profile


12) Daredevil – Current Vegas Odds: 40-1

3 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 67%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 50%

Best Performance: 10/4/2014 – Champagne Stakes – 1 mile race – 1st 1:36.62 (wet, sloppy track)

Comment: One of the fastest horses in Todd Pletcher’s stable but had a disappointing performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Did he develop health issues as some have speculated the way he dropped anchor in that race? No recent workouts have been reported and he has yet to run a race longer than a mile. That is why he plummets way down my list.

Next Race: Unknown        Daredevil’s Equibase Profile


Others horses to keep an eye on: Leave the Light On (75/1 Odds), Ocho Ocho Ocho (45/1 Odds), Calculator (50/1), Nasa (125/1 Odds), Blofeld (30/1 Odds) and Punctuate (30/1 Odds)

To see the full list of Wynn Las Vegas’ 2015 Kentucky Derby Odds, click HERE

This list will undoubtedly change over the next few months with new horses making the list and others dropping off due to performance reasons or the development of health issues. Most Kentucky Derby winners will have raced in 3-4 races by this date and pay close attention to any horse who goes on a winning streak at tracks like Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park and Aqueduct. These tracks offer the most potential points for entry into the Kentucky Derby, so the top trainers bring their best horses to tracks.

Probably about five or six horses will end up being entered into the Kentucky Derby but this list serves as a good barometer to gauge the new horses who seemingly come out of the woodworks every year and turn in great performances.

—Michael 

Two Fantastic Fillies That Should Race Against The Boys

Two fast fillies that should race against the boys in the Kentucky Derby Prep races this year are Take Charge Brandi and Condo Commando. The last filly to win the Kentucky Derby was Winning Colors in 1988. The last filly to win a Triple Crown race was Rachel Alexandra when she won the Preakness Stakes in 2009. Fillies who score points in the Kentucky Derby Prep races can apply those points to getting into the Kentucky Oaks later if they decide not to enter the Kentucky Derby. So why doesn’t one of these owners give it a shot? The sport could use the added interest and excitement of having a filly competing in The Run for the Roses.

1) Take Charge Brandi

In my previous article, The Five Fastest Kentucky Derby Contenders, Take Charge Brandi’s winning time of 1:41.95 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race would have tied American Pharoah’s time for 5th on that list. She has won her last three races and her assertive name matches her running style–she gets out into the lead early and wires the field. It seems as if she has a “refuse to lose” mentality as you can witness for yourself in the videos below.



2) Condo Commando

Condo Commando demolished the field in the Demoiselle Stakes and won by a tractor-trailer length (11 1/2 lengths). Her time in this 1 1/8 mile 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.

To put her time into perspective, Wicked Strong won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct (same 1 1/8th mile distance) last spring with a time of 1:49.31 seconds. So she was just 1.09 seconds off that time right now and she had no other filly pressuring her for the lead in this race. Her jockey, Joel Rosario, brought her home on cruise control. She won her previous race–The Spinaway Stakes race–in impressive fashion on a wet, sloppy track.

Here is her outstanding performance in the Demoiselle Stakes


If nothing else, this year’s Kentucky Oaks race is setting up to be a compelling must-see matchup.
—Michael

The Five Fastest Kentucky Derby Contenders

Below is a list of the five fastest times posted in races 1 & 1/16th mile for horses on the 2015 Kentucky Derby Trail through January 6th 2015.

Note: The 1 1/16th mile distance was used since it is the longest common denominator race length for these horses.

1) Dortmund – 1:40.86 – Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos on December 20th 2014

2) Firing Line – 1:40.88 (calculated) – Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos on December 20th 2014

3) Mr.Z – 1:40.89 (calculated) – Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos on December 20th 2014

The top three times above were all posted in the Los Alamitos Futurity race. Below is a video of that race.


4) Texas Red – 1:41.91 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park on November 1st 2014

5) American Pharoah – 1:41.95 – FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita September 27th 2014

american pharoah dmr futurity

Conclusion:

Who do I think is the fastest of these five horses? I still give the edge to Texas Red. The Los Alamitos track (where Dortmund posted his fastest time) is considered a faster track than Santa Anita Park and they were setting all kinds of track records that weekend. Also note that Texas Red’s time was just 1.05 seconds off Dortmund’s winning time in the Los Alamitos Futurity and he was never pressed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as you can see in the video below.


–Michael

Nasa & The Jerome Stakes

Nasa, the offspring of Smarty Jones, created a buzz when he won the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes last month. He produced the 2nd fastest Equibase Speed Figure (109) for a 2 year old male in that race. Today, Nasa competed in the 1 mile and 70 yard Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. He finished 2nd, finishing 4 & 3/4th lengths behind El Kabeir–a strong Kentucky Derby contender who was 9th on my Exceptional Eleven 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders list. You can see a video of Jerome Stake race by clicking here.

Overall, this was a solid effort and encouraging performance for Nasa against the best competition he has faced to date. Nasa’s trainer John Servis had this to say about the Pennsylvania colt: “Mentally he’s great. Mentally he’s like an old horse. He’s not a big horse. He’s been training great, really well, really well.”

Servis also went on to say that he is concerned that Nasa’s build could make him unable to handle the rigors of the Triple Crown. On comparing him to his sire Smarty Jones, “Smarty had a lot more scope to him than Nasa,” Servis said.

Overall, Nasa should be a horse to continue to keep and eye on and El Kabeir is cementing his position as the best East Coast Kentucky Derby Contender and early Wood Memorial favorite.

–Michael

Photo: Nasa after winning the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes

Nasa’s Equibase Profile

Photo: El Kabeir winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

El Kabeir’s Equibase Profile