Mohaymen and the Fountain of Youth Stakes

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Mohaymen – photo by NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography

February 27th 2016

Today at Gulfstream Park, three Derby Trail horses put their undefeated records on the line in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes : race favorite Mohaymen (4 starts, 4 wins), Awesome Banner (3 wins in 3 starts) and Todd Pletcher’s Zulu (2 wins in 2 starts). Awesome Speed has won his last three starts and Fellowship finished 3rd to Mohaymen in the Holy Bull Stakes back on January 30th. The race will award 50-20-10-5 points to the 1st-2nd-3rd-4th place finishers. Click HERE to see the current leaderboard.

Fountain of Youth – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #12 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time: 4:30 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. Fellowship (116) Lezcano/Gold – 20/1
2. Zulu (116) Velazquez/Pletcher – 3/1
3. Golden Ray (116) Vasquez/Rodriquez – 30/1
4. Awesome Speed (120) Ortiz/Goldberg – 4/1
5. Awesome Banner (120) Caraballo/Gold – 7/2
6. Mohaymen (120) Alvarado/McLaughlin – 6/5

Commentary: Overall, I expect another win by Mohaymen but I don’t have a good feel for who will finish 2nd. Zulu has only raced in two sprint races (7 furlongs or less) and his last start was on a sloppy sealed track. So I am not sure how he will respond on a dry, fast track stretching out another 1 1/2 furlongs. Awesome Speed has won at Gulfstream at a 1-Mile distance in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes back on January 2nd.

My Superfecta pick would be 6-2-1-5 but don’t make a huge wager on this one as I see this race as wide-open and unpredictable from positions 2nd through 4th. If Fellowship’s odds stay around 20-1, it would be tempting to place a 6-1 straight Exacta. I think the pace will be faster than the Holy Bull Stakes, so I expect Mohaymen to win this one with a time under 1:42.

–Michael

 

California Chrome Wins in Dubai. Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Watch List

February 26th 2016

California Chrome won his prep race for the Dubai World Cup yesterday with ease (shown below). He produced a final time of 2:04.32 in the Trans Gulf Electromechanical Trophy Handicap carrying 16 1/2 pounds more than the rest of the field. Overall, this was a good performance and his time is about what I expected under the circumstances.

Trainer Art Sherman has California Chrome right where he needs to be for the upcoming Dubai World Cup. However, the competition for this year’s Dubai World Cup will be even stiffer than last year’s. Both Frosted and Keen Ice (two horses in my top 10 Breeders’ Cup Classic watch list below) are in Dubai and are expected to be entered in the world’s richest horse race.


Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Watch List

1) Beholder  Her 114 Beyer Speed Figure in the TVG Pacific Classic was the 2nd best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015 for distances 1 1/4 mile or greater. A disappointing scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to a fever and irritated lungs. Her next start will be the Vanity Handicap at Santa Anita Park on June 4th.

Career: 20 Starts 15-3-0-2, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Earnings: $4,436,600

2) California Chrome –  He has looked good in two starts thus far in 2016 with a win in the San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita on January 9th and his win at Meydan on February 25th discussed above. His next start will be the Dubai World Cup on March 26th.

Career: 20 Starts 11-3-1-1, Win Pct: 55%, Top 3 Pct: 75%, Top 4 Pct: 80%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $6,532,650

3) Effinex – A 2nd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a win in the Clark Handicap made him one of the top returning handicap division horses in 2016. His next start is rumored to be the Santa Anita Handicap on March 12th if he isn’t shipped to Dubai for the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 20 Starts 7-2-3-4, Win Pct: 35%, Top 3 Pct: 60%, Top 4%: 80%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 110 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $2,112,950

4) Frosted – The Pennsylvania Derby winner finished a disappointing 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but followed up this effort by setting a track record for a 1900 meter race at Meydan with a time of 1:56.67. His next start will be the Al Maktoum Challenge Rd 3 race on March 5th as a prep race for the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 14 Starts 4-6-1-2, Win Pct: 28.5%, Top 3 Pct: 78.6%, Top 4 Pct: 92.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Earnings: $2,212,800

5) Keen Ice – The only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion. He has had two disappointing finishes in his last two starts–as 4th place finish in the Clark Handicap and a 6th place finish in the Donn Handicap. Remember that he likes distance and both of these races were 1 1/8th mile. Like Frosted, his next start will be at Meydan on March 5th in the Al Maktoum Challenge Rd 3 as a prep race for the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 14 Starts 2-1-3-4, Win Pct: 14.3%, Top 3 Pct: 42.9%, Top 4 Pct: 71.4%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,819,645

6) Dortmund – He is two-for-two since his comeback after the long layoff after the Kentucky Derby: A win in the Big Bear Stakes in October and Native Diver Handicap in November. He wasn’t training well in January and trainer Bob Baffert decided gave him the month of February off due to a hoof issue (quarter crack suffered prior to Clark Handicap). His return to racing is expected to be late Spring/early Summer.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1, Win Pct: 80%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4%: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby
Career Earnings: $1,712,480

7) Texas Red  A fifth place finish in the Travers was disappointing but prior to this race, he earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the Jim Dandy Stakes. So he may have needed time to build up endurance after his long layoff. He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two year old and was my early Kentucky Derby favorite before his injury. He has been training during the month of February at Santa Anita Park. So I expect a tune-up race at Santa Anita like the 7 furlong San Carlos Stakes on March 12th.

Career: 9 Starts 3-3-1-1, Win Pct: 33.3%, Top 3 Pct: 77.8%, Top 4 Pct: 88.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.45 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,767,300

8) Firing Line – A promising horse that finished 2nd behind American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby. He also set a track record in the Sunland Derby. He sat out the rest of 2015 after his 7th place finish in the Preakness Stakes due to foot problems. He is expected to return to racing in late March/early April and is reportedly doing light workouts now. With a year layoff, it will be interesting to see if he bounces back and displays the talent he displayed as a 3 year-old.

Career: 7 Starts 2-4-0-0, Win Pct: 28.6%, Top 3 Pct: 85.7%, Top 4 Pct: 85.7%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.18 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Earnings: $974,800

9) Hoppertunity – This Bob Baffert-trained 5 year-old has never finished below 4th in a graded stakes race in his career. That is 15 graded stakes races, so he has always been a quality horse. He earned a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 104 in San Pasqual Stakes in January with his 3rd place finish behind California Chrome. Then in his next start (shown below), he won the San Antonio Handicap and earned another triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure of 100. His next start will be the Santa Anita Handicap March 12th where he will likely be the race favorite.

Career: 18 Starts 5-6-3-3, Win Pct: 27.8%, Top 3 Pct: 77.8%, Top 4 Pct: 94.4%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.33 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,872,650

10) Smooth Roller  – A scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to a tendon in his left foreleg. His Awesome Again Stakes win was impressive and perhaps a sign of better things to come if he can stay healthy. He has yet to work out in 2016 and there has been no news as to when he will resume training. So he drops to 10th on my list but too talented to disappear from my watch list.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-1, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 75%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2015 Awesome Again Stakes
Career Earnings: $261,810


Notes: Mshawish really impressed me in the Donn Handicap and is rumored to be a potential entry in the Dubai World Cup but is more likely pegged to be a dirt miler if he isn’t moved back to turf.

–Michael

 

 

California Chrome to race February 25th as prep for Dubai World Cup

February 23rd 2016 (Updated February 25th)

California Chromethe 2014 Horse of the Year–has been in Dubai since January 22nd in preparation for the $10 million Dubai World Cup race on March 26th. This coming Thursday, February 25th, he will be put to test in a handicap race at Meydan as a prep for the richest horse race in the world. California Chrome finished 2nd in last year’s Dubai World Cup to Prince Bishop. The hope is that having more time to adapt and a prep race in Dubai will be the prescription for victory this time around.

Chrome has been working out at Meydan (see video above) and training well according to trainer Art Sherman. He will have his usual jockey, Victor Espinoza, but will have to race with 7.5 kilogram more (16 1/2 pounds) than any other horse in the field. The Post Time will be 9:55 PM Dubai time which is 11:55 AM CST (12:55 PM EST/9:55 AM PST).

Meydan Race 6 for Thursday, Feb. 25 – 2000 meters (about 1 1/4-mile)
Purse: $150,000

Horse (weight in kilograms) – Official Rating 
California Chrome (60) –  121
Think Ahead (52.5) – 105
Storm Belt (52.5) – 105
Hunting Ground (51.5) – 102
Good Contact (50.5) – 101
El Tren (50.5) – 100
Success Story (50.5) – 100
Jeeeraan (50) – 99
Plantagenet (49.5)  – 98
Pit Stop (48) – 95

Overall, I feel that this will be another California Chrome victory despite the weight disadvantage. Just don’t expect any track records being broken like Frosted accomplished at Meydan roughly 3 weeks ago in a 1900 meter race. I think a time in the 2:04 second range would be a decent time. Prince Bishop won the Dubai World Cup last year with a time of 2:03.24 at the same 2000 meter distance beating California Chrome by 2 3/4 lengths (roughly 0.44 seconds)

–Michael

Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings

February 19th 2016 (Updated February 21st -76 days away from the Kentucky Derby)

Below is my updated 2016 Kentucky Derby contender list with latest Wynn Las Vegas Kentucky Derby odds. Dropping out of my rankings are three very good horses in Songbird,  Swipe and Matt King Coal. Songbird’s owner Rick Porter has said that he will not enter the sensational 3 year-old filly in the Kentucky Derby. Instead, he will point her towards the Kentucky Oaks where she will be the race favorite and probably pick up an easy $600,000 with a win.

Swipe had a bone spur removed from his ankle and it appears that he may not make his first start in 2016 until early April. That will be too short of an order, with one race in 2016 before the Derby, to really make feel that he would be a threat to win the first leg of the Triple Crown. The Linda Rice-trained Matt King Coal has been working out of late but has had his scheduled first start of 2016 moved back a few times due to spiking a fever.

Also dropping out of my previous rankings is Airoforce who had a disappointing 10th place finish in the Risen Star Stakes.

Right now what I envision in the 2016 Kentucky Derby is Nyquist being mowed down by Mohaymen in the final furlong and closer Brody’s Cause making a valiant effort on the outside to take third. Last year I hit a $10 Boxed Trifecta (American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund) and a $20 win bet on American Pharoah that paid back $1088.

But with 11 weeks before the Derby, new stars can emerge from the woodworks. Remember what Firing Line did last year when he set a track record in the Sunland Derby and finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby behind American Pharoah and ahead of Dortmund who had beaten him twice. So don’t give up on the scrappy horses who have finished 2nd in some of the Derby prep races thus far.

My Top 10 Kentucky Derby Contenders:

1) Mohaymen (8/1) The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt is undefeated in 4 starts and posted an impressive time of 1:42.07 in the Holy Bull Stakes. His sire was Tapit so his pedigree suggests that he will like stretching out past 1 1/16th mile. His next start will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 27th at Gulfstream Park.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Projected Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes

Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Nyquist (12/1) – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year. The first of the 2016 Kentucky Derby crop to produce a 100+ Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the San Vicente. He is being pointed for the Florida Derby on April 2nd. Trainer Doug O’Neill is following the same “2 races as a 3 year-old” strategy that he used with I’ll Have Another to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Sire: Uncle Mo 
Projected Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – San Vicente Stakes

The Top 2 are really the cream of the crop thus far so here are challengers to keep an eye on.

3) Brody’s Cause (22/1) Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. This colt has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated in the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He is being pegged for the Tampa Bay Derby March 12th. 

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Sire: Giant’s Causeway 
Projected Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

4) Exaggerator (20/1) – The Desormeaux brothers colt finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and then followed this effort with a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure and giving Mohaymen a good battle in the San Vicente. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). His next start is expected to be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th.

Career: 7 Starts 3-2-0-1 
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Projected Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97 – San Vicente Stakes

5) Greenpointcrusader (25/1)  A second place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes was a good return to form performance. The Champagne Stakes winner has an excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His next start appears to be in the Louisiana Derby at the Fairgrounds on March 26th.

Career: 5 Starts 2-2-0-0
Sire: Bernardini 
Projected Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.63 (calculated) – Holy Bull Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

6) Mor Spirit (9/1) – Bob Baffert’s best 2 year-old colt. Winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity  and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (winning time of 1:43.21). His times are way off what Dortmund produced last year in these two races. His next start will be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th.

Career: 5 Starts 3-2-0-0
Sire: Eskendereya 
Projected Jockey: Gary Stevens (1988, 1995 and 1998 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.48 – Santa Anita Park MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.21 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes

7) Smokey Image (40/1) – He is undefeated in six starts, but five of his wins were at the 7 furlong distance or shorter. His win in the California Cup Derby (shown below) was impressive but only generated an 82 Beyer Speed Figure. This Cal-bred might prove to be a better dirt-miler than a Derby horse. His next start is pegged to be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th.

Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Sire: Southern Image 
Projected Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.49 – California Cup Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85

8) Suddenbreakingnews (20/1) – An impressive win in the Southwest Stakes (shown below) has put this 3 year-old gelding onto many Kentucky Derby contender lists. May I suggest a name change? How about “Blue Bayou” because the Donnie von Hemel-trained colt blew by the Southwest Stakes field. His sire was Mineshaft–2003 Horse of the Year. He’s a closer and they always have a chance in the Derby when the opening fractions are fast.

Career: 6 Starts 3-3-0-0
Sire: Mineshaft 
Projected Jockey: Luis Quinonez
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:39.17 (calculated) – Remington Springboard Mile
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.14 – Southwest Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Southwest Stakes

9) Gift Box (40/1) –  In just his 2nd start, this Chad Brown-trained colt produced a time of 1:43:00 on a sloppy track at Belmont–good for a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. He finished a respectable 3rd in the Remsen Stakes behind Mohaymen and Flexibility. His next start appears to be the Gotham Stakes on March 5th at the Fairgrounds.

Career: 3 Starts 1-0-2-0
Sire: Twirling Candy
Projected Jockey: Javier Castellano
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.00 – Belmont MSW- Race #11
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.17 (calculated) – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Belmont MSW- Race #1

10) Mo Tom (45/1) – The Lecomte Stakes winner and half brother of Nyquist got a bad trip in the Risen Star Stakes (shown below) by getting hemmed-in along the rail. Otherwise I feel he would have beaten Gun Runner (who received a 90 Beyer Speed Figure for the win). He demonstrated excellent closing speed and appears will like added distance. There is no worries about how he take to the Churchill Downs surface as he won the Street Sense Stakes there last November. His next start is rumored to be the Louisiana Derby March 26th at the Fairgrounds.

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-3-0
Sire: Uncle Mo 
Projected Jockey: Corey LanerieBest 1 Mile Time: 1:36.78 – Street Sense Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.18 (calculated) – Risen Star Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Lecomte Stakes


Upcoming Derby Trail Races

Fountain of Youth Stakes – Gulfstream Park – Feb 27, 2016
Gotham Stakes- Aqueduct – Mar 5, 2016
Tampa Bay Derby – Tampa Bay Downs – Mar 12, 2016
San Felipe Stakes – Santa Anita Park – Mar 12, 2016
Rebel Stakes – Oaklawn Park – Mar 19, 2016
Sunland Derby – Sunland Park – Mar 20, 2016

For updated Kentucky Derby Point Standings, click HERE.

–Michael

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Nyquist looks strong in the San Vicente

February 15th 2016 (82 days away from the Kentucky Derby)

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Nyquist wins the San Vicente – photo Credit: http://www.santaAnita.com

We are less than 12 weeks away from the Kentucky Derby and Nyquist solidified his position today as one of the top 2 Kentucky Derby contenders with an impressive win in the San Vincente Stakes at Santa Anita Park (shown below).

This was just a tune-up race to start Nyquist’s 3 year-old campaign, so I wasn’t expecting much. But Nyquist staved off Exaggerator to produce a final time was 1:20.71–third fastest time for this race and faster than Silver Charm’s time of 1:21.07 back in 1997. Silver Charm went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness before narrowly losing the Belmont Stakes and a Triple Crown by a half-length.

With Songbird’s owner Rick Porter stating that he will not enter the sensational 3 year-old filly in the Kentucky Derby,  Mohaymen (undefeated in 4 starts) and Nyquist (undefeated in 6 starts) are the top two Kentucky Derby contenders as bettors affirmed yesterday in the most recent Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool. Mohaymen finished with 4/1 odds compared to Nyquist at 7/1. If bettors in the pool had this performance to judge from, I am sure that Nyquist would have finished at 5/1 or 9/2. These are extremely short odds for this early in the Derby prep season.

So where does Nyquist rank now in my opinion?

Right now, I would still rank Mohaymen ahead of Nyquist for the simple fact that Mohaymen has stretched out to 9 furlongs (1 1/8 mile) already and won. However, if you prorate Nyquist’s time in the 7 furlong San Vincente Stakes out to 1 mile (8 furlongs) using the slowest fraction of the race between the 4 furlong to 6 furlong distance (24.07), his time probably would have been below 1:33 (1:32.75). Keep in mind that the world record for 1 mile is 1:32.2. Mohaymen’s time through 1 mile in the last start in the Holy Bull Stakes was 1:36.04. So it will come down to whether Nyquist has developed stamina to stretch out to the Kentucky Derby distance of 10 furlongs (1 1/14 mile). There are a few critics who feel he is better suited as a Miler.

1) Mohaymen 
Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Nyquist 
Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – San Vicente Stakes

–Michael

 

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2

February 7th 2016 
Updated February 14th 2016 4:15 PM CST (see below)

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) Pool #2 will be active this coming Friday February 12th at 11 AM CST through Sunday February 14th at 5PM CST. There are 13 new horses in this pool (shown with an asterisk).

Derby Wager Pool 2

1. Airoforce 20-1
2. Awesome Banner* 30-1
3. Brody’s Cause 30-1
4. Cherry Wine* 50-1
5. Cocked and Loaded 50-1
6. Collected* 30-1
7. Danzing Candy* 30-1
8. Discreetness* 50-1
9. Exaggerator 20-1
10. Gettysburg* 50-1 <–raced in Sam F. Davis Stakes 2/13/16 & finished a disappointing 5th
11. Gift Box 30-1
12. Greenpointcrusader 20-1
13. Gun Runner 50-1
14. Mo Tom* 50-1
15. Mohaymen 8-1
16. Mor Spirit 15-1
17. Nyquist 12-1
18. Shagaf* 30-1
19. Smokey Image* 30-1
20. Tom’s Ready* 50-1
21. Vorticity* 50-1
22. Whitmore* 50-1
23. Zulu* 30-1
24. Mutuel Field (All Others) 4-5

*Wagering interest not included in KDFW Pool 1

At this point in the future wager pool, I believe that the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner is somewhere in this pool so I would not place any bets on “All Others.” I expect that the bettors two favorites will be Mohaymen and Nyquist. I would give the nod to Mohaymen over Nyquist right now. However, I feel that 8-1 odds for Mohaymen is too short at this stage of the future wager pools. I still like Brody’s Cause and Exaggerator.

Overall, I was surprised that Mike Battaglia dropped Swipe, Flexibility and Sunny Ridge from Pool #1.  I was also surprised by the inclusion of these three horses: Whitmore, Tom’s Ready and Cherry Wine. I wouldn’t waste any money on these three nor would I place any money on Vorticity and Gun Runner.

Two horses that I feel will be liked too much by bettors and have final odds much lower than their on-track accomplishments warrant are: Mor Spirit and Zulu. Mor Spirit is a Bob Baffert-trained horse and his times and Beyer Speed Figures in the Los Alamitos Futurity and Robert B. Lewis Stakes aren’t even close to what Dortmund’s were last year. Zulu is a Todd Pletcher horse who is undefeated in 2 starts but has never raced further than 7 furlongs. He might be a “Miler” in the mode of Liam’s Map but I am skeptical of him being a threat in the Kentucky Derby at this point.

So below are five key horses to consider for your future wager.  Below these five are some other horses to consider if you can get a “price.”

1) MohaymenMorning Line Odds: 8-1

The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt is undefeated in 4 starts and posted an impressive time of 1:42.07 in the Holy Bull Stakes. When you watch that race and realize that he didn’t get off to the best start—yet he dealt with some traffic and then mowed down the field without being shown the whip–you have to be impressed. He is easily a sub 1:42 sec horse at the 1 1/16th mile race distance. Mohaymen is a half brother to the horse Frosted but he is way ahead of him at this stage of his career. His sire was Tapit so his pedigree suggests that he will like stretching out past 1 1/16th mile. His next start will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 27th at Gulfstream Park.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Nyquist – Morning Line Odds: 12-1

The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year. Winner of three Grade 1 Stakes races: The Del Mar Futurity, the FrontRunner Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite proved that his declining Beyer Speed Figures wasn’t a concern with an impressive win in the Juvenile. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is still undefeated in five starts. His stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. Just remember the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile curse–the last horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that went on to win the Kentucky Derby was Street Sense in 2007. He is being pointed for the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park on February 15th and then the Florida Derby on April 2nd.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

3) Brody’s Cause – Morning Line Odds: 30-1

Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. This colt has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated above in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity as well as in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He looks to be a First Saturday in May horse. I think his 30-1 Morning Line Odds are a bit too long with his closing speed (I expected 20/1 M/L odds). He is being pegged for the Tampa Bay Derby March 12th. 

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

4) Exaggerator – Morning Line Odds: 20-1

A Desormeaux brothers colt, they feel that he is more talented than Swipe. He finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and then followed this effort with a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). Remember, his jockey Keith Desormeaux is a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. His next start is expected to be the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita February 15th. 

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Delta Downs Jackpot

5) Smokey ImageMorning Line Odds: 30-1

He is undefeated in six starts, but five of his wins were at the 7 furlong distance or shorter. He might prove to be a better dirt-miler than a Derby horse. His next start is pegged to be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th. That race will probably be a great litmus test to determine if this horse is for real as a Derby contender–or one who has just raced against inferior competition. However, a horse who has a nose for the finish line in 6 starts should not be ignored. I like him right around 30-1 or longer odds.

Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.49 – California Cup Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85


Other horses to consider if you can get a “price” (live odds greater than 50-1)

Discreetness – winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes, undefeated in 4 starts. He has yet to race further than 1 mile.
Gift Box – Chad Brown’s colt resumed training January 19th. He finished 3rd behind Mohaymen and Flexibility in the Remsen Stakes.

Pay close attention to Exacta betting in this pool. This is where you can reap big rewards for just a few bucks.

Update February 13th 4:15 PM CST

Here are the top ten horses based upon current live odds:

  1. #24 – All Others – 3/1
  2. #15 – Mohaymen – 4/1
  3. #17 – Nyquist – 7/1
  4. #16 – Mo Spirit – 12/1
  5. #3 – Brody’s Cause – 14/1
  6. #1 – Airoforce – 15/1
  7. #19 – Smokey Image – 18/1
  8. #9 – Exaggerator – 22/1
  9. #23 – Zulu – 23/1
  10. #14 – Mo Tom – 30/1

My thoughts thus far–too much money is chasing Mohaymen (4/1 live odds) and Nyquist  (7/1 live odds) right now. We are still roughly 12 weeks out from the Kentucky Derby and a lot can happen between now and the first Saturday in May. To give you a perspective, American Pharoah had 5/1 final odds in the Kentucky Derby Pool #4 last year and he was given 5/2 Morning Line Odds for the Kentucky Derby when his live odds ended up at 2.9/1.

Right now, Exacta bets using these two and taking some flyers on a few other horses with Win bets look to be the best betting options. Brody’s Cause is 14-1 at the time of this update, so a $20 Win bet in this pool would pay back around $300. He offers more value at this point. Gift Box at 57-1 is very intriguing. Remember that he ran a 1:43 flat in a 1 1/16th mile race on a sloppy track at Belmont on October 3rd as a 2 year-old. See race HERE

Todd Pletcher’s Gettysburg (half brother to American Pharoah) was an intriguing prospect until when he ran a disappointing 5th in the Sam F. Davis Stakes today (see below)

Danzing Candy at 29-1 looks like a good option in this pool since he ridden by Mike Smith.

“All Others” currently at the time of this update is 3/1. Don’t forget that “All Others” in this pool includes Swipe who is supposed to resume training February 16th, Bob Baffert’s Cupid (half brother to Mohaymen due sharing the same sire Tapit) and Linda Rice’s Matt King Coal who resumed  training February 7th.

-Michael

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Songbird and Keen Ice highlight a Big Day of Racing

February 5, 2016

Tomorrow–Saturday February 6th–there are four key races to watch. Three of which are at Santa Anita Park in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes that features Bob Baffert’s Mo Spirit, the Las Virgenes Stakes with the star filly Songbird and the San Antonio Stakes that has many quality repeat runners from the San Pasqual Stakes that was won by California Chrome last month. And then “The Donn” at Gulfstream Park that includes Keen Ice and a few potential budding older horse division stars.

Robert Lewis Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #4 at Santa Anita – Post Time: 4:00 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. Let’s Meet in Rio (119) Desormeaux/Baffert – 6/1
2. I Will Score (119) Smith/Hollendorfer – 5/2
3. Dressed in Hermes (121) Bejarano/Armstrong – 6/1
4. Laoban (119) Baze/Guillot – 12/1
5. Mor Spirit (124) Stevens/Baffert – 8/5
6. Path of David (119) Talamo/Mulhall – 8/1
7. Uncle Lino (119) Perez/Sherlock – 5/1

Prediction: I like a 5/1 Boxed Exacta. Let’s Meet in Rio is a closer who should make this an exciting finish. I Will Score is undefeated in two starts but has never raced longer than 6 1/2 furlongs. Maybe you place a 5-1-2 (Mor Spirit-Let’s Meet in Rio-I Will Score) Straight Trifecta.

Las Virgenes Stakes – 1 Mile – Race #5 at Santa Anita – Post Time: 4:30 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. She’s a Warrior (118) Prat/Eurton – 20/1
2. Land Over Sea (118) Guterrez/O’Neill – 8/1
3. Street Fancy (123) Espinoza/D’Amato – 6/1
4. Jade Princess (118) Garcia/Baffert – 10/1
5. Decked Out (118) Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 20/1
6. Songbird (123) Smith/Hollendorfer – 1/5
7. Merirosvo (118) Van Dyke/Gallagher – 30/1

Prediction: Songbird will wire this field. It will be interesting to see if she wins this with a sub 1:36 time. You won’t win very much money on a win bet with Songbird so try a 6-3 Straight Exacta.

Donn Handicap – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #13 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time: 4:53 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. Madefromlucky (116) Rosario/Pletcher – 5/1
2. Closing Bell (114) Lezcano/Mott – 15/1
3. Mshawish (117) Velazquez/Pletcher – 7/2
4. Valid (117) Juarez/Vitali – 6/1
5. Mexikoma (115) Lanerie/Dilger – 8/1
6. Keen Ice (121) Castellano/Romans – 5/2
7. Itsaknockout (118) Saez/Pletcher – 4/1
8. Financial Modeling (115) Ortiz Jr./Brown – 6/1

Prediction: With a $500,000 purse, this is always attracts good older horses. Keen Ice headlines the field and is the morning line favorite. But he doesn’t excel at this distance. This is probably the toughest race of the four to predict. Mexikoma has the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any horse thus far at 107 that he received at Gulfstream Park in the Sunshine Millions Classic. Mshawish made the transition from turf quite well and should factor in the money. Itsaknockout, Valid and Madefromlucky are all good horses.

San Antonio Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile- Race #7 at Santa Anita – Post Time: 5:30 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. Cat Burglar (119) Bejarano/Baffert – 4/1
2. Donworth (119) Gutierrez/O’Neill – 6/1
3. Cyrus Alexander (119) Garcia/Hollendorfer – 6/1
4. Hard Aces (121) Talamo/Sadler – 10/1
5. Hoppertunity (119) Prat/Baffert – 3/1
6. Blingo (119) Solis/Sheriffs – 20/1
7. Imperative (119) Smith/Baltas – 5/2
8. El Kabeir (119) Stevens/Terranova – 6/1

Prediction: Another race for older horses with a $500,000 purse, a Hoppertunity Place bet is pretty safe here. I also like a 5/7 Straight Exacta.


Check back tomorrow for an update.

–Michael

My Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Mohaymen mows down the Holy Bull – Photo: Kenny Martin

February 1st, 2016 (96 days away from the Kentucky Derby)
Updated: February 6, 2016 

Last year at this time, my top three Kentucky Derby Contenders were Texas Red, Dortmund and American Pharoah (See 1/27/15 article). Texas Red suffered an injury and wasn’t entered in the 2015 Kentucky Derby but American Pharoah and Dortmund both finished in the money-1st and 3rd respectively.

I generally feel that the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner will be a horse in my current Top 5 rankings: Mohaymen, Songbird (if the filly is entered), Nyquist, Swipe and Brody’s Cause. With more emphasis on the Top 3 since Swipe is rebounding from injury and Brody’s Cause apparently resuming racing as a 3 year-old somewhat later than typical. And my top 3 are all undefeated thus far.

1) Mohaymen – The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt is undefeated in 4 starts and posted an impressive time of 1:42.07 in the Holy Bull Stakes. When you watch that race and realize that he didn’t get off to the best start—yet he dealt with some traffic and then mowed down the field without being shown the whip–you have to be impressed. He is easily a sub 1:42 sec horse at the 1 1/16th mile race distance. Mohaymen is a half brother to the horse Frosted but he is way ahead of him at this stage of his career. His sire was Tapit so his pedigree suggests that he will like stretching out past 1 1/16th mile. His next start will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 27th at Gulfstream Park.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Songbird – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Female Horse of the Year, she was the top 2 year-old regardless of gender. Undefeated Nyquist was the Eclipse-winning 2 year-old colt and all Songbird did is run a full second faster than him at the same distance, same track and on the same day at the Breeders Cup World Championships. That would be equivalent to 6 1/2 lengths. She dominated the Las Virgenes Stakes, winning by 6 1/2 lengths and producing a time of 1:36.84. It is hard to say how good she really is when she has yet to be challenged. She is being pointed towards the Santa Anita Oaks on April 9th and then the Kentucky Oaks on May 6th. Her owner Rick Porter said he will not enter her into the Kentucky Derby. How about the Preakness Stakes?

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.84 – Las Virgenes Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.73 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

3) Nyquist – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year. Winner of three Grade 1 Stakes races: The Del Mar Futurity, the FrontRunner Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite proved that his declining Beyer Speed Figures wasn’t a concern with impressive win in the Juvenile. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is still undefeated in five starts. His stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. He is being pointed for the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park on February 15th and then the Florida Derby on April 2nd.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

4) Swipe – This Desormeaux brothers colt has finished 2nd to Nyquist four times in his last four starts. However, he kept narrowing the gap each time. I like his future in races 1 1/8th mile or greater. His sire was Birdstone who won the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes in 2004. Swipe had surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle in November and is expected to resume training soon (February 16th is the rumored date).

Career: 7 Starts 1-5-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.87 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

5) Brody’s Cause Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. This colt has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He looks to be a First Saturday in May horse. He is being pegged for the Tampa Bay Derby March 12th. 

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

And the best of the rest:

Greenpointcrusader  A second place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes was a good return to form performance. The Champagne Stakes winner has an excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His sire Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes, Travers Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished 2nd in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic. His next start appears to be in the Louisiana Derby at the Fairgrounds on March 26th.

Career: 5 Starts 2-2-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.63 (calculated) – Holy Bull Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

Exaggerator – Another Desormeaux brothers colt, he finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and then followed this effort with a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). I am expecting him to improve and his Delta Downs Jackpot win was a step in the right direction. His next start is expected to be the San Vincte Stakes at Santa Anita Park February 15th.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Delta Downs Jackpot

Gift Box – In just his 2nd start, this Chad Brown-trained colt produced a time of 1:43:00 on a sloppy track at Belmont–good for a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. That was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 1:45.78 in the sloppy Rebel Stakes at the same 1 1/16th mile distance. And American Pharoah was a 3 year-old in the Rebel. He finished a respectable 3rd in the Remsen Stakes. So it is still up in the air if this colt is just a good slop-track runner or if he will excel on dry, fast tracks. His next start appears to be the Risen Star Stakes on February 20th at the Fairgrounds.

Career: 3 Starts 1-0-2-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.00 – Belmont MSW- Race #11
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.17 (calculated) – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Belmont MSW- Race #11

Mor Spirit – Bob Baffert’s best 2 year-old colt. His win in the Los Alamitos Futurity was a solid effort and I liked how he rallied off the pace for the win. In Mor Spirit’s next start, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on February 6th, he produced a winning time of 1:43.21. His times are way off what Dortmund produced last year in these two races. So I see him as an above average Derby horse but not one who will finish in the money.

Career: 5 Starts 3-2-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.48 – Santa Anita Park MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.21 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Santa Anita Park MSW – Race #5

Airoforce – This Mark Casse-trained colt made the transition from turf to dirt with ease by winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes race on a wet track at Churchill Downs. An impressive effort but I will need to see how he performs on a dry fast track. His next start will be the Risen Star Stakes February 20th at the Fairgrounds.

Airoforce Kentucky Jockey Club 615 X 400

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A (on dirt)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.48 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

Matt King Coal – The Linda Rice-trained colt has put up back-to-back 90+ Beyer Speed Figures in his last two starts, breaking his maiden in his last start while posting a 96 Beyer Speed Figure–the best for a 2 year-old colt this year. I thought enough of this colt to place $10 on him in the 1st Kentucky Derby Future Wagers Pool that will pay back $889 if he wins. His pedigree (sire: Cool Coal Man) suggests that he might be better suited for a 1 mile to 1 1/8th mile distances. His next start was supposed to be the Jerome Stakes January 2nd but he developed an illness and wasn’t entered. He resumed training February 7th.

Matt King Coal runs 1st Place @ Belmont On 10/29/2015

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.68 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #6
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.02 (calculated) – Belmont Park MSW – Race #11
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #6

Smokey Image – He is undefeated in six starts, but five of his wins were at the 7 furlong distance or shorter. He might prove to be a better dirt-miler than a Derby horse. His next start is pegged to be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th. That race will probably be a great litmus test to determine if this horse is for real as a Derby contender.

Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.49 – California Cup Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85


 

 

Here are rankings by time for the most common denominator distance of 1 1/16th mile:

  1. Mohaymen – 1:42.07
  2. Greenpointcrusader – 1:42.63 (calculated)
  3. Songbird – 1:42.73
  4. Gift B0x – 1:43.00
  5. Matt King Coal – 1:43.02 (calculated)
  6. Fellowship – 1:43.03 (calculated)
  7. Mor Spirit – 1:43.21
  8. Brody’s Cause – 1:43.27
  9. Exaggerator – 1:43.43 (calculated)
  10. Smokey Image – 1:43.49
  11. Nyquist – 1:43.79
  12. Swipe – 1:43.87

-Michael