Shared Belief Wins Rematch – Updated Top Six Kentucky Derby Contenders

The much-anticipated rematch of California Chrome vs. Shared Belief this past Saturday in the San Antonio Stakes, highlighted an exciting weekend of horse racing. Shared Belief beat California Chrome to establish himself as arguably the top 4 year-old in the North America along with Bayern.

Overall, California Chrome ran well. He was right where he needed to be coming down the stretch but he did not run up to his capabilities. Historically, California Chrome was a full second faster than Shared Belief at Santa Anita Park at this 1 1/8th mile distance. Chrome ran 1:47.52 in Santa Anita Derby last April while Shared Belief ran 1:48.58 in the Awesome Again Stakes back in September. Shared Belief’s winning time in the San Antonio Stakes was 1:48.45. I am looking forward to a rematch and I believe that California Chrome will have an edge in 1 1/4 mile races in the future.


 The Donn Handicap – “The Donn”

Todd Pletcher’s Constitution held off reigning champion Lea to win the Donn Handicap. This win will boost Constitution up the ranks of many analysts “4 Year-Old and Up” lists. However, I still think Lea is the better horse. As you can see in the video, he got hemmed along the rail too long to make up the necessary ground to edge Constitution. Give credit to Constitution and his jockey Javier Castellano for not getting hemmed in along the rail from the first post.


Here is my Top Six 4 Year-Olds & Up (on Dirt):

1) Bayern
2) Shared Belief
3) California Chrome
4) Palace Malice*
5) Tonalist
6) Lea

* Note: Palace Malice was initially retired in September of 2014. But after getting a clean bill of health, he is planning to race again in 2015. He suffered a minor injury January 28th after throwing a shoe.


The Kentucky Derby Trail

The Withers Stakes and Robert B, Lewis Stakes races gave us more information for separating the contenders from the pretenders on the Derby trail. Dropping out of my top six is El Kabeir due to his second place finish in the Withers Stakes. There were concerns that he had distance limitations, but he was generally regarded as the top East Coast horse at the end of 2014. But now that temporary honor goes to Upstart.

Dortmund’s impressive refuse-to-lose performance in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (video below) did much to confirm to me that he is now the top Kentucky Derby contender. He has the size, tactical speed, stamina, fighting spirit and pedigree of a Kentucky Derby winner. At this point, I think the only thing that can beat Dortmund is a bad post position draw in a large field. The bad news for his competition, I think he will really shine in races longer than a mile and 1/16th.


Far From Over – Another Serious Kentucky Derby Contender

The most impressive performance this past weekend came from the Todd Pletcher-trained horse Far From Over shown below. This aptly named horse gave us a brilliant performance in the Wither Stakes beating highly favored El Kabeir while posting a 96 Beyer Speed Figure. Had he not stumbled out of the gate and got six lengths behind, I am sure his Beyer Speed Figure would have broken the century mark.

 

His winning time of 1:43.93 was faster than Samraat, Revolutionary and Alpha’s time in the three previous Withers Stakes. All three of those horses went on to compete in the Kentucky Derby (Samraat finished 5th, Revolutionary finished 3rd and Alpha finished 12th). Far From Over’s time was impressive since he probably lost a second due to the gate stumble and the fact that Aqueduct is not considered one of the most speed favoring tracks.

Far From Over now has two career starts and two wins. His sire Blame won the 2010 Stephen Foster Handicap, the 2010 Whitney Handicap and the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic and is the only horse to ever beat Zenyatta.


My Updated Top Six 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders

1) Dortmund (Kentucky Bred- Won in 1st start) – Trainer: Bob Baffert

Derby Points: 20
Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool: Pool #1 Final odds 9-1, Pool #2 Final Odds 10-1

4 Starts, 4 Wins, Win Pct: 100%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 100%

Last Three Starts: 1st (97 Beyer), 1st (91 Beyer), 1st (103)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts:  97

Best Performance: 2/7/2015 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes – 1 1/16 mile – 1st  1:42.20

Next Race: San Felipe Stakes – March 7th or Santa Anita Derby – April 4th     Dortmund’s Equibase Profile


2) Texas Red  (Kentucky Bred – Won in 3rd start) – Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Derby Points: 12
Kentucky Derby Future Wager: Pool #1 Final Odds 14-1, Pool #2 Final Odds 9-1

6 Starts, 2 Wins, Win Pct: 33%, Graded Stakes Pct: 33%

Last Three Starts:  3rd (93 Beyer), 1st (104 Beyer), 2nd (90 Beyer)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts: 97

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

Next Race: Santa Anita Derby – April 4th or Arkansas Derby – April 11th      

Texas Red’s Equibase Profile


3) American Pharoah (Kentucky Bred – Won in 2nd start) – Trainer: Bob Baffert

Derby Points: 10
Kentucky Derby Future Wager: Pool #1 Final Odds 12-1, Pool #2 Final Odds 10-1

2014 Eclipse 2 Year Old Champion Male

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: San Felipe Stakes – March 7th or Rebel Stakes – March 14th     

American Pharoah’s Equibase Profile


4) Carpe Diem (Kentucky Bred – Won in 1st start) – Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Derby Points: 14
Kentucky Derby Future Wager: Pool #1 Final Odds 15-1, Pool #2 Final Odds 12-1

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: Tampa Bay Derby – March 7th or Rebel Stakes – March 14th      

Carpe Diem’s Equibase Profile


5) Upstart (New York Bred – Won in 1st start) – Trainer: Rick Violette

Derby Points: 16
Kentucky Derby Future Wager: Pool #1 Final Odds 53-1, Pool #2 Final Odds 12-1

5 Starts, 3 Wins, Win Pct: 60%, Graded Stakes Win Pct: 33%

Last Three Starts: 2nd (102 Beyer), 3rd (93 Beyer), 1st (105 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 or Gotham Stakes – March 7th      

Upstart’s Equibase Profile


6) Firing Line – (Kentucky Bred – Won in 2nd Start) – Trainer: Simon Callaghan

Derby Points: 8
Kentucky Derby Future Wager: Pool #1 Final Odds N/A (3-5), Pool #2 Final Odds 35-1

635589982052892455-firingline

Firing Line #5

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

Last Three Starts: 1st, 2nd (91 Beyer), 2nd (103 Beyer)
Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last Two Starts: 97

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

Next Race:  Sunland Derby – March 22nd     Firing Line’s Equibase Profile


Keep an eye on…

The Todd Pletcher-trained Khozan who posted a 103 Beyer Speed Figure in his very first start in a 7 furlong race at Gulfstream Park January 24th.

Kentucky Derby Points

Who has enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby right now? El Kabeir with 25 and International Star with 21. Dortmund probably has enough at 20.

See the Derby Points Standings by clicking HERE

For Kentucky Derby Pool #2 Final Odds, click HERE

—Michael

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