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 

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