Looking ahead to the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile and early 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Updated: 10/25/2015

With the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile race coming up in less than two weeks on October 31st, it is time to take a closer look at the favorites for that race as well as next year’s Kentucky Derby contenders. Yours truly will be there. Here are eleven 2-year-old colts to keep an eye on. I don’t feel that they can really be ranked at this point but I generally feel that Nyquist and Brody’s Cause are the top two thus far. Greenpointcrusader if you want a third.

In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, this appears to be the worst crop since 2006 because we have yet to see a 2 year-old colt or filly eclipse the 100 Beyer Speed mark thus far. But the 2006 2 year-old class eventually produced Curlin who didn’t race until his 3 year-old campaign but generated $10.5 million dollars in career earnings. So this could be the late-bloomer class and some of these horses race to their level of competition. I bet we see a horse produce a 100 Beyer in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Below are short bios on the top 2 year-olds who have been pre-entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. My pick to win the race is Greenpointcrusader:

Nyquist* – Winner of two Grade 1 Stakes: The Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner Stakes. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt Nyquist is undefeated. However, it is concerning that his Beyer Speed Figures are on a descending plain (89->82->79). But his stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. Definitely, a 1st Saturday in May horse provided he isn’t on the downward spiral. He will likely win the Eclipse Top 2 Year Old Male Horse award provided he finishes in the top 3.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.89 – FrontRunner Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79,82  Average: 80.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Best Pal Stakes

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. On closer inspection, this horse has excellent closing speed. No matter what happens in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he looks to be a 1st Saturday in May horse.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down Maiden Special Weight – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 88,74  Average: 81
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

Greenpointcrusader* Winner of Champagne Stakes where he received a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. Curiously enough, his time was 0.37 seconds faster than last year’s Champagne Stakes winner Daredevil (who received a 107 Beyer) on a similar sloppy sealed track. 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. Greenpointcrusader’s 94 Beyer Speed figure in the Champagne Stakes is the top Beyer Speed figure for a 2 year-old colt for a distance 1 mile or greater. And it appeared that he will have no problems stretching out a couple more furlongs. He is my pick to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile provided that he doesn’t draw the rail.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyers: 94,82 Average: 88
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

Riker – The Canadian colt is undefeated after wiring the Grey Stakes field. But note that he has only competed at Woodbine which uses a synthetic surface. His grand sire Candy Ride still holds the track record (1:59.11) for the Pacific Classic. His sire Twirling Candy had a decent career, winning 7 out 11 races.

Career: 4 starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.31 – Grey Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 84,79  Average: 81.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – Colin Stakes

Exaggerator – A Desormeaux brothers colt, Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). Exaggerator finished 2nd in the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes and won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-0-0 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 86,85  Average: 85.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

Ralis – Another promising colt from Doug O’Neill’s stable, winner of the Hopeful Stakes with a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. However, he had a disappointing 6th place finish in the sloppy Champagne Stakes. I won’t judge him too harshly for that.

Career: 6 Starts 2-1-0-1
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:38.65 (calculated) – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 66,93  Average: 79.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 Hopeful Stakes

Conquest Big E – A Mark Casse trained colt, his sire was Tapit (champion sire in 2014 and leading sire in 2015). A half-brother to Tonalist and Frosted, he will like distance. He was purchased as a yearling for $700,000.

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.42 – Keeneland Maiden Special Weight – Race #3
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 75,72  Average: 73.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 75 – Keeneland Maiden Special Weight – Race #3

Cocked and Loaded* – Winner of the Iroquois Stakes and the Tremont Stakes. He has Seattle Slew in his bloodlines on both the sire and dam side.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.94 – Iroquois Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 82,61  Average: 71.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 82 – Iroquois Stakes

Swipe – Finished 2nd in the FrontRunner Stakes. He has finished 2nd to Nyquist in his last 3 starts but gave him his best battle in the FrontRunner Stakes.

Career: 6 Starts 1-4-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.01 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 78,74  Average: 76
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 78 – FrontRunner Stakes

In addition to these horses, the following 2 year-olds have been pre-entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Fellowship, Rated R Superstar, Sticksstatelydude, Tale of S’avall, Tom’s Ready and Unbridled Outlaw.

Hollywood Don, Isotherm, Siding Spring, and Waterloo Bridge have also been pre-entered into both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Juvenile Turf with 1st preference for the turf race.

Two horses not entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that you should keep an eye on:

Gift Box – Consider 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. Call me curious to see what this colt will do in his next start on a dry, fast track at a distance of a mile or more. As was his challenger in his last start, Matt King Coal.

Career: 2 Starts 1-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.00 – Belmont Maiden Special Weight- Race #11
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 93,?  Average: ?
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Belmont Maiden Special Weight- Race #11

Sudden Surprise – This Todd Pletcher-trained colt is undefeated in 3 starts. However, he has yet to stretch out past 7 furlongs.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: ?,?
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Saratoga Maiden Special Weight – Race #3

* indicates a horse who has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Sentient Jet) race.


Super Saturday Review: Nyquist, Beholder and Smooth Roller Advance to Breeders’ Cup World Championships

A lot can change between now and the 1st Saturday in May but here is your early 2016 Kentucky Derby favorite. Nyquist, named after Detroit Red Wings hockey player Gustav Nyquist, won the FrontRunner Stakes and demonstrated a willingness to fight for the win in extreme heat at Santa Anita Park. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is perfect thus far, 4 starts, 4 wins.

The race played out exactly as I had predicted in my preview blog, a Nyquist-Swipe 1-2 finish. American Pharoah won this race last year with a time that was almost a full 3 seconds faster than Nyquist’s time of 1:44.89 (the 2nd slowest in 27 years). But I am not concerned, they were moving up post times and throwing buckets of water on winning horses due to the heat. With the win, Nyquist has assured himself of a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Sentient Jet) along with Cocked and Loaded on October 31st.

The Zenyatta Stakes

Beholder won the Zenyatta Stakes (shown below) in easy fashion. Jockey Gary Stevens said in a post-race interview that he never asked her to run. She has now won six straight races and three straight Zenyatta Stakes. My Sweet Addiction, ridden by Mike Smith, finished 2nd. Beholder secured herself a starting spot in the Longines Distaff but her owner has committed to entering her in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The Awesome Again Stakes

Smooth Roller was the surprise winner in the Awesome Again Stakes (shown below). Just who is Smooth Roller and how does a horse, who had three career starts entering this event, find himself qualified to race against the top thoroughbreds in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in October?

He beat race favorite and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern, who finished 3rd. The 4 year-old gelding’s winning time of 1:48.08 in the extreme heat condition was very impressive as this tops the time of three great horses who had won this event the past three years: Shared Belief in 2014 (1:48.58), Mucho Macho Man in 2013 (1:48.30) and Game On Dude in 2012 (1:48.98). He received a 111 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance.

Smooth Roller will likely be one of the longer shots in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but he proved yesterday that he deserves a chance against racing’s best.

Coming on Wednesday, my updated Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings.


Super Saturday: Awesome Again, FrontRunner and Zenyatta Stakes Previews

Zoe Metz/Eclipse Sportswire

This coming Saturday, September 26th, is “Super Saturday” at Santa Anita Park that has five “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup races.

The three really key races Saturday are:

The FrontRunner Stakes (1 1/16 mile) for 2 year-olds that guarantees entry into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Post Time is 4:32 CST. Remember, last year that American Pharoah won this race–need I say more? Headlining this field is Nyquist, my way too early Kentucky Derby favorite, who has won 3 straight races. I have got to go with the hot horse Nyquist in this one and I forsee another Nyquist-Swipe 1-2 finish like we had in the Del Mar Futurity (shown below). Swipe looked like he could handle the added distance in the Del Mar. But with 2 year-olds, they are unpredictable at this stage.

From the Bob Baffert stable, Mt Veeder, whose sire was Ghostzapper, is undefeated and is ridden by Martin Garcia. He has never raced longer than 6 furlongs but he would be my surprise pick to upset Nyquist.

PP horse/Weight/Jockey/Odds

  1. Go Long (122) Desormeaux – 20/1
  2. On Fire (122) Callaghan – 12/1
  3. Blameitonthelaw (122) Sadler – 5/1
  4. Nyquist (122) Gutierrez – 6/5
  5. Hollywood Don (122) Blance – 5/1
  6. Rare Candy (122) Talamo – 15/1
  7. Swipe (122) Desormeaux 5/1
  8. Mt Veeder (122) Garcia 6/1

The Zenyatta Stakes (1 1/16 mile) for 3 year-old fillies and mares that guarantees entry into the Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff. Post Time is 5:40 CST. Highlighting the field is Beholder–who I have ranked #1 in my Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings. Warren’s Veneda is probably the second biggest name horse in this field. I expect My Sweet Addiction’s 8/1 odds to lower come post time. At any rate, Beholder will win this race comfortably.You may want to consider placing a $25 “9 over 6,8” Exacta which would cost $50.

PP horse/Weight/Jockey/Odds

  1. Oscar Party (119) Graham – 30/1
  2. Savings Account (119) Van Dyke – 15/1
  3. My Monet (119) Gonzalez – 15/1
  4. Big Book (116) Desormeaux -15/1
  5. Kyriaki (119) Gutierrez – 20/1
  6. MySweet Addiction (124) Smith – 8/1
  7. Wild in the Saddle (119) Bejarano -12/1
  8. Warren’s Veneda (121) Baze – 6/1
  9. Beholder (124) Stevens – 2/5

The Awesome Again Stakes (1 1/8 mile) for 3 year-olds and up that guarantees entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Post Time is 7:14 CST. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern is entered as well as Hoppertunity and Hard Aces–who are ranked 11th and 13th respectively in my Breeders Cup Classic rankings.

PP horse/Weight/Jockey/Odds

1. Hard Aces (124) Espinoza – 4/1
2. Sammy Mandeville (119) Bejarano – 10/1
3. Point Piper (119) Gutierrez – 8/1
4. Global View (119) Van Dyke 12/1
5. Hoppertunity (121) Smith 3/1
6. Imperative (119) Nakatani 6/1
7. Smooth Roller (119) Baze 6/1
8. Bayern (121) Garcia 5/2

Overall, this is a difficult race to handicap. Bayern has been training well and may be showing signs that he could be getting back on track. Hard Aces had a disappointing 6th place finish in his last start in the TVG Pacific Classic. Hoppertunity is probably the safer pick here with a Place bet. Too many unknowns to make any exotic bets and an 8 horse field probably means that superfectas won’t pay out big unless longshots finish near the top.


In other news, Shared Belief has begun light workouts and will return to racing in 2016 as will California Chrome.