Labor Day Special – 2016 Hopeful Stakes and Del Mar Futurity Previews. 2017 Kentucky Derby Contender Watch

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

September 5th 2016

The 2017 Kentucky Derby contender watch officially kicks off today with two very presitigious races for 2 year old colts on the Derby trail. The Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga dates back to 1903 and has been won by some of the greatest thoroughbreds of all-time: Man o’War, Secretariat, Native Dancer and Affirmed. The Del Mar Futurity was first run in 1948 and the last two winners (Nyquist and American Pharoah) went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Below are post-position draws, weights, jockeys and morning line odds.

The Hopeful Stakes – 7 Furlongs – Monday September 5th – Race #10 at Saratoga – Post-Time: 4:44 PM CST. Televised by Fox Sports 2

Post Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Everybodyluvsrudy (116) – Arroyo/Rodriguez – 20-1
2. Practical Joke (118) – J.Ortiz/Brown – 3-1    
3. Runaway Lute (122) – Santana/Contessa – 9-2  
4. Bitumen (122) – Castellano/Kenneally – 2-1 
5. Royal Copy (118) – Saez/Lukas – 8-1
6. Classic Empire (120) – I.Ortiz/Casse – 5-2 
7. Pretty Boy Flash (116) – Velazquez/Asmussen – 15-1

Race Commentary: This race appears to be an interesting battle between American Pharoah’s half-brother Classic Empire, Bitumen, Practical Joke and Runaway Lute. Classic Empire, Bitumen and Runaway Lute are all are undefeated in two starts. Here are the top Beyer Speed Figures achieved by this group: Classic Empire 87, Bitumen 86, Practical Joke 83.

Classic Empire has proven to be the fastest in this field through 6 furlongs. I think he will be the fastest through 7 furlongs. My projected race winner: Classic Empire. Superfecta pick 6 over 2,4 over 2,4 over 3,5.


The Del Mar Futurity – 7 Furlongs – Monday September 5th – Race #5 at Del Mar – Post-Time: 6:03 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Chasing Aces (120) – Baze/Miller – 9-5
2. Straight Fire (120) – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 8-5    
3. Midnight Pleasure (120) – Garcia/Ruis – 10-1  
4. Vegas Itch (118) – Theriot/Papaprodromou – 20-1 
5. Dynamic Ruler (118) – Prat/Belvoir – 20-1
6. Klimt (123) – Bejarano/Baffert – 2-1 

Race Commentary: This field has no undefeated horses but has higher Beyer Speed Figures as a group than the Hopeful Stakes field. Chasing Aces achieved a Beyer Speed Figure (BSF) of 101 in a 5 furlong race at Del Mar in mid July. This is the highest BSF achieved by a 2 year-old this year. Straight Fire is owned by Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing and has produced Beyer Speed Figures of 98 and 87. 

The Bob Baffert trained Klimt produced an 82 BSF in a 6 1/2 furlong race at Del Mar on August 13th. There is a lot of inside speed in this race with Chasing Aces and Straight Fire in post-positions 1 and 2. This may play in favor of Bob Baffert’s Klimt. I like a 2-6 (Straight Fire, Klimt) Boxed Exacta.

–Michael

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