Still a lot to look forward to in 2016 horse racing fans


November 20th 2016

2017 is going to be a dynamite year starting out for horse racing with the return of Songbird, the looming potential rematch of California Chrome vs Arrogate in the world’s richest horse race–the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on January 28th. However, with less than 6 weeks left in 2016, there is still a lot to look forward in the sport of horse racing before we bring in the new year.

We have three Kentucky Derby prep races left with a very talented and deep 2 year-old class. A class that is much better and deeper than last year’s and one that rivals any in recent years in terms of depth of talent. That is, so long as it stays relatively healthy. This will bode well for the 2017 Triple Crown season and then the older Handicap division in 2018. Plus, it is looking very promising that California Chrome may have a prep race for the Pegasus World Cup at Los Alamitos on December 17th. Below is the schedule for the Kentucky Derby prep races and I am expecting some new stars to be born along the way.

November 26th – The Remsen Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Purse: $300,000
November 26th – The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Purse: $150,000
December 10th – The Los Alamitos Futurity – 1 1/16th Mile – Purse: $500,000

I will preview all of these races and produce a new 2017 Kentucky Derby contender rankings list on November 28th after the Remsen and the Kentucky Jockey Club races.

New Derby Contenders

This past weekend, we saw two new 2017 Kentucky Derby contenders emerge: Mastery in the Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar and Gunnevera in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes. I have profiled them below. 

Mastery  He is trained by Bob Baffert. His jockey is Mike Smith. He is a half brother to the late Shared Belief. He received a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in his very first start, the best Beyer Speed Figure for a first-time starter in this 2 year old class. He followed this impressive maiden victory at Santa Anita Park with another win at Del Mar in the Bob Hope Stakes (shown below) this past Saturday. He received an 86 Beyer Speed Figure. Bob Baffert is very high on this colt. He will just need to prove himself past 7 furlongs. I suspect we might see him race next in the Los Alamitos Futurity on December 10th. Historically, the majority of Kentucky Derby winners have had at least 3 starts as a 2 year-old.  

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: N/A–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Candy Ride
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Santa Anita Park MSW – 10/22/16

Gunnevera  The 2016 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes winner (shown below). His sire Dialed In won the 2011 Holy Bull Stakes, the 2011 Florida Derby and then finished 8th in the Kentucky Derby and 4th in the Preakness Stakes. Gunnevera’s winning time of 1:45.15 was the 4th fastest Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes in thirteen runnings at the 8 1/2 furlong distance. Exaggerator won last year’s Delta Downs Jackpot in sloppy track conditions with a time of 1:46.48.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.51 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  87 – Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes

Older Horse Division Races 

November 25th – The Clark Handicap – 1 1/8th Mile – Purse: $500,000
December 17th – Los Alamitos Handicap – 1 1/16th Mile – Purse: $100,000* (purposed)



  1. Joseph Donnelly · November 21, 2016

    Mr. Michael Cox

    Hi Michael::::::: Wanted to take a moment; and thank you; for: MIKE’s DERBY PICKS. I try to read it whenever; I can. It is my 5th years betting racehorses. Hope to meet you at a thoroughbred event; I will sponsor and host lunch or brunch for everyone!!!! Joe Donnelly, Massachusetts


    • Michael J. Cox · November 21, 2016

      Thanks Joe! I am liable to be at any big race and usually let my readers know where I will be. Right now, I may go to the Pegasus World Cup in January. Also possibly the Belmont Stakes this coming year and the Breeders Cup World Championships at Del Mar in 2017 is high up on my list. Stay tuned.


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