Holy Bull, Robert B. Lewis and San Antonio Stakes Previews

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

February 3rd 2017

If you are sick of all the pre-Super Bowl shows and interviews, then tomorrow the sport of horse racing offers three interesting races, two of which are points-paying races on the Kentucky Derby trail. And the other, a very competitive race on paper in the older horse division.

I have arranged them by their scheduled post times with the first two, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and Holly Bull Stakes, are 3 year-old races for 2017 Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Points will be awarded as follows: 1st place – 10 points, 2nd place – 4 points, 3rd place – 2 points and 4th place – 1 point.

The Robert B. Lewis Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #2 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 3:00 PM CST.  Televised by TVG

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Royal Mo (120) – Espinoza/Shirreffs – 5/2
2. Irap (120) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 3/1
3. Dangerfield (122) – Desormeaux/O’Neill – 7/2
4. Term of Art (124) – Baze/O’Neill – 9/2
5. Sheer Flattery (120) – Smith/Hollendorfer – 2/1

Race Commentary: This race should come down to Royal Mo and Sheer Flattery and their respective jockeys Victor Espinoza and Mike Smith. Royal Mo is quicker and should get out into the early lead. Whether he can hold off Sheer Flattery is very questionable. Sheer Flattery has already raced at this 8 1/2 furlong distance and is the more accomplished distance runner. So I like Sheer Flattery in this one. So weigh a straight win bet of Sheer Flattery versus a straight 5-1 exacta (Sheer Flattery over Royal Mo). Or how split the difference and make both bets?

The Holy Bull Stakes  – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #12 at Gulfstream Park – Post-Time: 4:35 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Gunnevera (122) – Castellano/Sano -9/2 
2. Perro Rojo (116) – Juarez/Zito – 30/1   
3. Classic Empire (122) – Leparoux/Casse – 3/5 
4. Talk Logistics (116) – Lopez/Plesa – 12/1
5. Irish War Cry (120) – Rosario/Motion – 15/1
6. Fact Finding (120) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 6/1  
7. Shamsaan (116) – Saez/McLaughlin – 20/1
8. Cavil (116) – Lezcano/McLaughlin – 15/1
9. Fire for Effect (116) – Lanerie/Romans – 20/1

Race Commentary:  The 2 year-old Eclipse Award winner Classic Empire should win this one. Who rounds out the Superfecta is anybody’s guess in this 9 horse field. Gunnevera, Fact Finding and Irish War Cry seem to be the best bets here. However, I think Gunnevera will be hurt by drawing the rail. So I like an Exacta keying Classic Empire to win over two horses: Irish War Cry and Fact Finding. That is 3 over 5,6.

And finally, an older division horse race with a few horses that would have been ideal candidates for the Pegasus World Cup. Expect the top finishers in the San Antonio Stakes to be entries in the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

The San Antonio Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #8 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 6:00 PM CST.  Televised by TVG.

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Hoppertunity (125) – Prat/Baffert – 2/1
2. Avanti Bello (120) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 12/1
3. Prospect Park (120) – Arroyo/Sise – 10/1
4. El Huerfano (120) – Espinoza/Miller – 12/1
5. Mor Spirit (122) – Smith/Baffert – 3/1
6. Dalmore (122) – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 8/1
7. Accelerate (125) – Baze/Sadler – 5/2
8. Hard Aces (122) – Gonzalez/Sadler – 6/1

Race Commentary: This will be a very interesting race since Melatonin wasn’t entered as previously expected. I have no idea who will win this one but I expect Hoppertunity and Mor Spirit to land somewhere in the Superfecta. Both Accelerate and Dalmore have put in good times in their workouts leading up to this race. Concerning with Dalmore was the fact that he petered out towards the end of the 8 1/2 furlong San Pasqual Stakes and lost 2nd place to Accelerate. And this race will be 9 furlongs. Victor Espinoza is riding El Huerfano but I don’t expect him to be much of a factor judging from his race history and recent workouts.

Hard Aces is a quality horse but I like him better at 10 furlongs or longer. Avanti Bello finished 5th in the Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos against California Chrome in a weak field. He finished 3rd in his last start, a claiming race at Santa Anita Park. Prospect Park finished behind Accelerate and Dalmore in the San Pasqual Stakes in his last start.

So perhaps a $5 boxed Trifecta of Hoppertunity, Mor Spirit and Accelerate (1,5,7) might be your best bet. This would cost $30. 

 On the docket…

One of my next blogs might be a preview the Sam F. Davis Stakes on February 11th that is expected to include McCraken and/or updated Kentucky Derby contender rankings if I feel that they need to be updated after this weekend’s results. Stay tuned!


The 2016 Los Alamitos Futurity Preview


December 8th 2016

Previously known as the Hollywood Futurity and raced at Hollywood Park, the Los Alamitos Futurity is a late-December high profile race for 2 year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail. Six Futurity starters have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby: Gato Del Sol (1982), Ferdinand (1986), Alysheba (1987), Thunder Gulch (1995), Real Quiet (1998) and Giacomo (2005). Real Quiet also won the Preakness in 1998 and entered the Belmont with a shot at the Triple Crown. He lost by a nose to Victory Gallop.

In 2013, the Futurity had Shared Belief and Candy Boy as runners. Since 2014, this race has been run at Los Alamitos Race Course and had as runners the 2nd and 3rd place finishers in the 2015 Kentucky Derby in Dortmund and Firing Line. Last year’s winner, Mor Spirit finished 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby and 10th in the Kentucky Derby. 

Trainer Bob Baffert has won this race five out of the last 8 times. And I wouldn’t bet against him winning it 6 out of the last 9 times. He has the 1/2 morning line odds favorite in Mastery. Mastery will be stretching out to 8 1/2 furlongs for the very first time. Baffert is very high on this progeny from Candy Ride. Baffert also has the 2nd morning line favorite in Show Me Da Lute at 7/2 odds.

The Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity  – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday  December 10th – Race #6 at Los Alamitos Race Course – Post-Time: 4:58 PM CST. Televised by TVG

1. Dangerfield – Van Dyke/O’Neill – 6-1  
2. Bobby Abu Dhabi – Arroyo/Miller – 4-1    
3. Mastery – M.Smith/Baffert – 1-2  
4. Show Me Da Lute – Garcia/Baffert – 7-2  
5. Irap – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 20-1  

Race Commentary: Mastery *should* win this race. But Baffert’s other entry, Show Me Da Lute, has speed. Show Me Da Lute has also stretched out to 8 1/2 furlongs in his maiden race at Santa Anita Park back in October, winning with a time of 1:45.32. He had Victor Espinoza as his rider, this time he has Martin Garcia. The race winner will definitely need to have a wining time well south of 1:45. Dortmund’s winning time in 2014 was 1:40.86. Mor Spirt’s winning time last year was 1:43.54.

This race should be a good tool to access how much of a threat Mastery is to Classic Empire on the 2017 Kentucky Derby Trail. Classic Empire’s winning time in the 8 1/2 furlong Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park was 1:42.60. Los Alamitos is an equally fast track. I don’t expect Mastery will match or surpass this time. But we will see, won’t we?


The Road to the 2017 Kentucky Derby continues with the Delta Downs Jackpot

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

November 16th 2016

Just when you thought the sport of horse racing had little to offer after the Breeders’ Cup World Championships until next season…comes the Delta Downs Jackpot. For 2 year-0ld thoroughbred colts, the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes carries the 2nd largest purse after the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at $1 Million dollars. Races on the Kentucky Derby Trail don’t carry this large of a purse until the final leg of the Derby Championship series in late March/early April.

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race two weeks ago attracts the majority of the best 2-year-old colts in North America. However, this year, the Delta Downs Jackpot is two weeks after the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile instead of three weeks like it was last year. So some owners probably opted to skip the 14 horse field Breeders Cup Juvenile for this race unless they were overly confident of their chances of winning. Why? Because 1st place in the Delta Downs Jackpot payouts $600,000 and 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points vs 2nd place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile which pays out $340,000 and 8 Derby qualifying points.

Exaggerator shot up the Kentucky Derby contender charts last year after his Delta Downs Jackpot win in the slop. He went on to win the Santa Anita Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Haskell Invitational. 2012 Delta Downs Jackpot winner Goldencents went on to win the 2013 Santa Anita Derby and two Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile championships in 2013 and 2014. The Delta Downs Jackpot has produced five Kentucky Derby runners the past two years: Exaggerator and Whitmore in 2015 and Ocho Ocho Ocho, Mr. Z and Far Right in 2014. That is just one less Derby runner than the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has produced that last two years. Yes, injuries played in role in this but a fact is a fact.

Money. Yes there is some big money horses in this field. Hot Sean was purchased as a yearling for $550,000, J Boys Echo for $485,000 as a yearling and Dangerfield for $450,00 as a yearling.

So needless to say with entries from trainers like Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen, Doug O’Neill, Dale Romans and Mark Casse (who has two entries), the 2016 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes is a race you should tune into and watch. I think there are probably three potential Kentucky Derby horses in this race. At present, none of them are close to my Fab Five (Not This Time, Classic Empire, Practical Joke, Gormley and Klimt) but a new star is born often along the way on the Derby trail.

Below are the post-positons, weights, jockeys and morning line odds.

The Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes  – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday November 19th – Race #7 at Delta Downs – Post-Time: 4:45 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Pat On the Back (122) – Albarado/McPeek – 15-1
2. Line Judge (122) – McMahon/Sharp – 6-1    
3. Thirstforlife (117) – Geroux/Casse- 8-1 
4. Our Stormin Norman (117) – Leparoux/Casse – 8-1 
5. Dangerfield (119) – Prat/O’Neill – 12-1  
6. Gunnevera (122) – Castellano/Sano -5-2 
7. Balandeen (117) – Hill/Hartman – 10-1
8. Hot Sean (117) – Pedroza/Baffert – 7-2  
9. J Boys Echo (117) – Desormeaux/Romans – 8-1 
10. Tip Tap Tapizar (119) – Melancon/Asmussen – 10-1  

Race Commentary: Gunnevera is the deserved race favorite having placed 5th in Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland against Classic Empire and Lookin At Lee. However, you never really know about 2 year-olds and how they will take to a track surface. Hot Sean is the 2nd morning line favorite and he has won his last two starts at Santa Anita Park. Dale Roman’s J Boys Echo broke his maiden in his last start at Keeneland and he picks up last year’s Delta Downs Jackpot winning jockey Kent Desormeaux. Mark Casse’s Our Stormin Norman has the highest career Beyer Speed (88) in the field accomplished in his maiden win in a 7 furlong race at Keenland. Overall, I think the race will come down to Gunnevera, Hot Sean, Thirstforlife and J Boys Echo

Thirstforlife ran 3rd in the Best Pal Stakes and 5th in the Iroquois Stakes before winning by a neck in his last start in an 1 1/16th mile allowance race at Keeneland (SEE). He ran the last 2 1/2 furlongs in 30.38 seconds which translates to a very good closing speed of 37 mph. And the track conditions that day was rated as “good” after some rain earlier in the day. Thirstforlife, J Boys Echo and Hot Sean are all racing 5 pounds lighter than Gunnevera. A lot of money will be on Gunnevera, Bob Baffert’s Hot Sean and Dale Roman’s J Boys Echo with Kent Desormeaux on board. So I like betting against the shorter odds horses and would bet on Mark Casse’s Thirstforlife. Casse is very high on this 2 year-0ld who is a half brother to Cavorting.