California Chrome and Dortmund set to clash in the upcoming San Diego Handicap. Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings

July 17th 2016 – Updated July 21st 2016

California Chrome is at the Del Mar Fairgrounds working out in preparation for the San Diego Handicap this coming Saturday July 23rd. His most recent workout is shown below. 

Although the San Diego Handicap only carries a $200,000 purse, California Chrome will receive some stiff competition. Below is the starting field, post-positions and the mornign line odds.

San Diego Handicap – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #9 at Del Mar – Post-Time: Saturday July 23rd 8:10 PM CST

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer
1. Hard Aces (118) – Gonzalez/Sadler – 8-1
2. Dortmund (121) – Stevens/Baffert – 2-1
3. Soi Phet (115) – Desormeaux/Powell – 12-1
4. Crittenden (114) – Garcia/Harty – 20-1
5. Follow Me Crev (116) – Quinonez/Cerin – 20-1
6. California Chrome (126) – Espinoza/Sherman – 4-5
7. Win the Space (116) – Smith/Papaprodromou – 8-1

Chrome’s stiffest competition may come from Dortmund who has won 8 out of 10 career starts and was originally in my 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic watch list. However, Dortmund hasn’t raced since November 28th of last year. He may be a bit rusty coming off a long layoff but will have Gary Stevens as his jockey instead of Martin Garcia.

I will post a blog by Friday analyzing the race. Below is my updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings.


Updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup next January. He is training extremely well and is set to return to racing in the San Diego Handicap.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Frosted  He has set two track records thus far as a 4 year old. The first came at Meydan in the 1900 meter Al Maktoum Challenge in February. His most recent came in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. So now the question becomes, should he be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or The Classic? He was always viewed as a horse who like distance and never a “miler” prior to his stunning performance in the Met Mile. His next start appears to be in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 6th.

Career: 16 Starts 5-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: William Buick
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

3) Melatonin– The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. 

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

4) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Beholder was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes. But her last effort, although a win in the Vanity Stakes, may indicate that she has slipped a bit off her 2015 form because she seemed to labor to produce a winning of 1:35.97 in this one mile race. Her next start will come in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 31st.

Career: 22 Starts 17-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

5) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a win in the Oaklawn Handicap, a head-scratching 6th place finish in the Stephen Foster but bounced back with a big win in the Suburban Handicap (shown below).

Career: 24 Starts 9-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>6th–>1st
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.04 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

6) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner missed the Belmont Stakes due to spiking a fever shortly after the Preakness Stakes. He is doing fine, back in training and probably will be an entry in the Haskell Invitational on July 31st.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

7) Exaggerator His disappointing 11th place finish in the Belmont Stakes was a head-scratcher. Trainer Keith Desormeaux believes that Exaggerator didn’t take well to the sandy Belmont surface. His future plans are the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30th as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on August 27th. But since he excels on a sloppy, off-track, I would love to see him entered in a turf race because usually these type of horses make great turf runners. And his closer style would fit well there too.

Career: 12 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

8) Win the Space  He has bounced between dirt and turf and finally has found a home on dirt. His 2nd place Gold Cup performance proved that this 4 year-old colt was a diamond in the rough and is extremely talented. He produced a 2 minute mile and a quarter (very uncommon) and did so in 90 degree heat. In his start previous to the Gold Cup, he produced a lightning quick 8 1/2 furlong (1 1/16th mile) time of 1:41.55 as a closer. But in the Gold Cup race, Gary Stevens pressed him up on the pace and it paid off. So he proved that he is versatile in running style as well as fast. 

Career: 11 Starts 3-1-2-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: George Papaprodromou
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:00.03 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 

9) Hoppertunity – He finished 4th in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Bob Baffert admitted before the race that he wasn’t sure that he had him completely ready. Previous to this start, he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and probably would finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field because he has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race. 

Career: 20 Starts 5-6-4-4 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-1-2
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>4th
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

10) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April. He opened up his US racing campaign in 2016 with a 3rd place finish in the Suburban Handicap.

Career: 13 Starts 4-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.28 (calculated) – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – 2016 Suburban Handicap

11) Bradester* – Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a win in the Stephen Foster Handicap. He is 2-for-2 in 2016. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 5 of his career 9 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. So one wonders if he is better suited to for the 1 1/8th mile Pegasus World Cup than the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 23 Starts 9-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 9th>1st>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A (Estimate from Stephen Foster projected out: 2:01.53)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes

12) Hard Aces – Still competitive as a 6 year-old. He finished 6th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic after qualifying with a win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He is a closer and performs best when the opening fractions are fast. And he is running well this year at Santa Anita–producing a 2nd place finish in both the Santa Anita Handicap and California Stakes to go with his most recent 3rd place finish in the Gold Cup race. The 105 Beyer he received in the Gold Cup was a career best. He will throw a clunker in along the way and is not an early Vegas favorite to win The Classic but he has “hit the board” potential if the race sets up well for his closing style.

Career: 32 Starts 8-6-5-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  1-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 7th>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Hard Spun
Trainer: John Sadler 
Jockey: Mario Pino
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.15 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita


Dropping out of my Top 12 rankings:

Songbird – Songbird drops out of my rankings, not due to performance reasons, but due to the fact that her ownership no plans to race her against the boys this year. Right now, she is being pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Distaff this fall. She is expected to be an entry in the 1 1/4 mile Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on August 20th. A great performance in that race may change their minds but it appears to be highly unlikely. The good news, they do plan on her racing next year. And if she performs well, they will probably take a shot at the boys somewhere along the way. Her next start will come in the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Sunday July 24th.

Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

Below are the key upcoming races with “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Classic races in bold font:

July 23rd – San Diego Handicap – Del Mar – 1 1/16th Mile – Purse: $200,000
July 30th – Jim Dandy Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000
July 31st – Haskell Invitational* – Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 27th – Travers Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000 – NBC
September 3rd – Woodward Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000 – NBCSN
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000 – NBCSN
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
*****

November 5th – Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita  – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $6,000,000 – NBC

* – 3 year olds only


–Michael

Melatonin Wins The Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Standings

MelatoninBigCap

June 26th 2016

Back in March when I attended the Santa Anita Handicap, there was some grumbling how this year’s Big ‘Cap had a dearth of talent since many of the top horses had traveled to Dubai for the Dubai World Cup. Then the 16-1 longshot Melatonin won the prestigious race and a number of bystanders groaned “Melatonin?”

Let’s just say, the lines for returning winning tickets that afternoon was rather short. But nobody is saying “Melatonin?” today or feeling shorted by their Big ‘Cap attendance because you can make a strong case that Melatonin is top horse in the world on dirt at the Classic distance of a a mile and a quarter. Why?

First, Melatonin’s winning Gold Cup time of 1:59.79 (shown below) is a time that California Chrome has never eclipsed at that distance. The only active horse who has produced a better time through 1 1/4 mile is Beholder who whose winning time in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last August was 1:59.77. And Melatonin didn’t have the mild, near perfect San Diego weather to run in. He ran in extreme 90 degree heat yesterday at Santa Anita Park.

Secondly, Melatonin has consistently produced three 100+ Beyer Speed figures in a row: 107 in the Santa Anita Handicap, 104 in the Oaklawn Handicap and a 109 for his Gold Cup winning performance. That is a 106.67 average and only two other horses thus far this year (Noble Bird 110, Mexikoma 107) have produced a 107 or better Beyer in races more than a mile.

So this explains why he rocketed up from 9th to 3rd in my Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings below.

Here are my updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse on dirt in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup. He is training extremely well and is expected to be an entry in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23rd.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Frosted  He has set two track records thus far as a 4 year old. The first came at Meydan in the 1900 meter Al Maktoum Challenge in February. His most recent came in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. So now the question becomes, should he be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or The Classic? He was always viewed as a horse who like distance and never a “miler” prior to his stunning performance in the Met Mile. His next start appears to be in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 6th.

Career: 16 Starts 5-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: William Buick
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

3) Melatonin– The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. 

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0 (107.5 average Beyer)
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

4) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner missed the Belmont Stakes due to spiking a fever shortly after the Preakness Stakes. He is doing fine and probably will be a candidate for the Haskell Invitational on July 31st.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

5) Songbird – Undefeated in 8 career starts. Songbird missed the Kentucky Oaks due to a fever but proved in the Summertime Oaks that she is back and better than ever. She produced career her best time of 1:42.63 in a 1 1/16th mile race and traveled through the mile in 1:35.71. These times indicate to me that Songbird is a tenth or two faster than Beholder right now on the same Santa Anita track. And note that she is coasting home in her victories, so she has plenty more left in the tank. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She has #1 in the world potential. Her next start will come in the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Sunday July 24th. It appears her schedule after this will be the 1 1/4 mile Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on August 20th and the 1 1/16th mile Cotillion Stakes at PARX on September 17th. An entry in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff entry seems more likely this year than The Classic.

Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

6) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Beholder was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes. But her last effort, although a win in the Vanity Stakes, may indicate that she has slipped a bit off her 2015 form because she seemed to labor to produce a winning of 1:35.97 in this one mile race. Her next start will come in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 31st.

Career: 22 Starts 17-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

7) Exaggerator His disappointing 11th place finish in the Belmont Stakes was a head-scratcher. Trainer Keith Desormeaux believes that Exaggerator didn’t take well to the sandy Belmont surface. His future plans are the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30th as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on August 27th. But since he excels on a sloppy, off-track, I would love to see him entered in a turf race because usually these type of horses make great turf runners. And his closer style would fit well there too.

Career: 12 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

8) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a win in the Oaklawn Handicap (shown below) and a head-scratching 6th place finish in the Stephen Foster Handicap. Reviewing his disappointing run in the Stephen Foster, Effinex got off to a poor start and had a bad trip being forced wide that mostly due to his poor start. He is a temperamental horse who has produced a few clunkers but is able to bounce back.  He had Gary Stevens as his jockey in the Stephen Foster but Mike Smith seems to have more magic on him.

Career: 23 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>6th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Win the Space  He has bounced between dirt and turf and finally has found a home on dirt. His 2nd place Gold Cup performance proved that this 4 year-old colt was a diamond in the rough and is extremely talented. He produced a 2 minute mile and a quarter (very uncommon) and did so in 90 degree heat. In his start previous to the Gold Cup, he produced a lightning quick 8 1/2 furlong (1 1/16th mile) time of 1:41.55 as a closer. But in the Gold Cup race, Gary Stevens pressed him up on the pace and it paid off. So he proved that he is versatile in running style as well as fast. No word as to where his next start will be. 

Career: 11 Starts 3-1-2-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: George Papaprodromou
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:00.03 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 

10) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April. He has been working out at Belmont Park and is expected to be entered in the Suburban Handicap on July 9th. He’ll be the race favorite in that field.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

11) Hoppertunity – He finished 4th in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Bob Baffert admitted before the race that he wasn’t sure that he had him completely ready. Previous to this start, he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and probably would finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field because he has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race. No word on when or where his next start will be.

Career: 20 Starts 5-6-4-4 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-1-2
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>4th
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

12) Bradester* – Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a win in the Stephen Foster Handicap. He is 2-for-2 in 2016. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 5 of his career 9 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. So one wonders if he is better suited to for the 1 1/8th mile Pegasus World Cup than the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 23 Starts 9-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 9th>1st>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A (Estimate from Stephen Foster projected out: 2:01.53)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes


Dropping out of my Top 12 rankings:

Creator – He proved that his Arkansas Derby win wasn’t a fluke with a surprise win in the Belmont Stakes. His next start appears to be in the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 10 Starts 3-4-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>13th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.58 (calculated) – 2016 Belmont Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Belmont Stakes


Keep an eye on….

Gun Runner He came within 0.08 seconds from setting a track record at Churchill Downs this past Saturday in the Matt Winn Stakes (shown below). His next start will come in the Travers Stakes on August 27th. This 1 1/8th mile distance seems to fit his running style the best. Gun Runner was 2nd and about a length or so from Nyquist at the 1 1/8th pole in the Kentucky Derby. He may be a better Pegasus World Cup contender

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Matt Winn Stakes


Below are the key upcoming races with “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Classic races in bold font:

July 9th – Suburban Handicap# – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000 – NBC
July 23rd – San Diego Handicap – Del Mar – 1 1/16th Mile – Purse: $200,000
July 30th – Jim Dandy Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000
July 31st – Haskell Invitational* – Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 27th – Travers Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000 – NBC
September 3rd – Woodward Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000 – NBCSN
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000 – NBCSN
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
*****

November 5th- Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita  – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $6,000,000 – NBC

* – 3 year olds only
#- 4 year olds and up


–Michael

Updated Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

June 19th 2016

Bradester became the first horse to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his surprise win in the Stephen Foster Handicap yesterday (shown below).

Coming this Saturday is another “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park. This race will be shown live on NBC Sports Network with coverage starting at 7PM CST. Rumored entries are: Melatonin, Hard Aces, Imperative and Second Summer. The 2016 Santa Anita Handicap winner Melatonin should be the race favorite.

Below are the key upcoming races with “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Classic races in bold font:

June 25th – Gold Cup at Santa Anita – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 9th – Suburban Handicap – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 30th – Jim Dandy Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000
July 31st – Haskell Invitational – Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – TVG Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 27th – Travers Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup Invitational – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
*****
November 5th- Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $6,000,000

Here are my updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse on dirt in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup. He is rumored to be an entry in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23rd.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 –2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Frosted  He has set two track records thus far as a 4 year old. The first came at Meydan in the 1900 meter Al Maktoum Challenge in February. His most recent came in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. So now the question becomes, should he be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or The Classic? He was always viewed as a horse who like distance and never a “miler” prior to his stunning performance in the Met Mile. His next start appears to be in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 6th.

Career: 16 Starts 5-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: William Buick
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

3) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner missed the Belmont Stakes due to spiking a fever shortly after the Preakness Stakes. He is doing fine and probably will be a candidate for the Haskell Invitational on July 31st.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 –2016 Kentucky Derby

4) Songbird Now undefeated in 8 career starts, Songbird proved in the Summertime Oaks that she is back and better than ever. She produced career her best time of 1:42.63 in a 1 1/16th mile race and traveled through the mile in 1:35.71. These times indicate to me that Songbird is a tenth or two faster than Beholder right now on the same Santa Anita track. And note that she is coasting home in her victories, so she has plenty more left in the tank. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She developed a low grade fever and unfortunately wasn’t entered in the Kentucky Oaks. She has #1 in the world potential. Her next start will come in the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Sunday July 24th.

Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

5) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Beholder was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. She is the only horse in this group to have won with a sub 2 minute mile and a quarter. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes. But her last effort, although a win in the Vanity Stakes, may indicate that she has slipped a bit off her 2015 form because she seemed to labor to produce a winning of 1:35.97 in this one mile race. Her next start will come in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 31st.

Career: 22 Starts 17-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

6) Exaggerator His disappointing 11th place finish in the Belmont Stakes was a head-scratcher. Trainer Keith Desormeaux believes that Exaggerator didn’t take well to the sandy Belmont surface. His future plans are the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30th as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 12 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

7) Hoppertunity – After winning the 2016 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, he was shipped to Dubai where he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and somehow seems to always hit the board no matter the race and the competition. He has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race. No word on when or where his next start will be.

Career: 19 Starts 5-6-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st>3rd
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.33 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 –2016 San Antonio Stakes

8) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a win in the Oaklawn Handicap (shown below) and a head-scratching 6th place finish in the Stephen Foster Handicap. Reviewing his disappointing run in the Stephen Foster, Effinex got off to a poor start and had a bad trip being forced wide that mostly due to his poor start. He is a temperamental horse who has produced a few clunkers but is able to bounce back. 

Career: 23 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>6th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Melatonin – The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He should be the race favorite for the upcoming Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

Career: 12 Starts 4-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:02.01 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap

10) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April. He has been working out at Belmont Park and is expected to be entered in the Suburban Handicap on July 9th.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97* estimated from Dubai World Cup

11) Bradester* – Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic as noted above. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 5 of his career 9 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. So one wonders if he is better suited to for the 1 1/8th mile Pegasus World Cup than the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career:23 Starts 9-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 9th>1st>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes

12) Creator – He proved that his Arkansas Derby win wasn’t a fluke with a surprise win in the Belmont Stakes. His next start appears to be in the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 10 Starts 3-4-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>13th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.58 (calculated) – 2016 Belmont Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Belmont Stakes


Dropping out of my Top 12 rankings:

Dortmund  – The 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner drops out of my Top 12 due to the fact that he hasn’t raced since his Native Diver Handicap win in late November of last year. However, he is back in training at Los Alamitos and his next start is rumored to be in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2014 Breeders’ Cup Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby

Noble Bird – After an impressive win in the Pimlico Special (shown below), Noble Bird followed up this effort with a disappointing 6th place finish in the Metropolitan Handicap. Although he qualified for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, he still hasn’t raced at the Classic 1 1/4 mile distance.

Career: 16 Starts 5-4-0-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>1st–>6th
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special


Keep an eye on….

Gun Runner He came within 0.08 seconds from setting a track record at Churchill Downs this past Saturday in the Matt Winn Stakes (shown below). His next start will come in the Travers Stakes on August 27th. This 1 1/8th mile distance seems to fit his running style the best. Gun Runner was 2nd and about a length or so from Nyquist at the 1 1/8th pole in the Kentucky Derby. He may be a better Pegasus World Cup contender

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Matt Winn Stakes

–Michael

2016 Belmont Stakes Entries, Odds and Analysis

June 10th 2016

Below are the entries, post-positions and morning line 0dds for the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes. Exaggerator is the morning line favorite at 9/5 odds. Expect his live race odds to lower. Suddenbreakingnews picks up Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith for this race.

As far as Triple Crown races, Suddenbreakingnews finished the closest to Exaggerator in terms of distance in lengths of any horse in the field with his 5th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Next closest would be Cherry Wine.

The only horse (in this field) who has beaten Exaggerator is Brody’s Cause who finished ahead of him twice as a 2 year-old in the Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile races at Keeneland.

Overall, there isn’t a lot of speed in this field. Trainer Todd Pletcher has two entries: Stradivari (4th place finisher in the Preakness Stakes) and Destin (6th place finisher in the Kentucky Derby). Todd Pletcher is the only trainer in this year’s Belmont Stakes to have won multiple Belmont Stakes races. He is one of the best at training horses for this 1 1/2 mile distance. Pletcher got a 2nd place finish out of a very average Derby trail horse in Commissioner in the 2014 Belmont Stakes.

So Destin, who hasn’t raced since the Kentucky Derby, and Stradivari should be two horses to watch out for and consider in your Trifectas. Stradivari’s sire Medaglia d’Oro finished 2nd in the 2002 Belmont Stakes by 1/2 length after a disappointing 8th place finish in the Preakness Stakes. Exaggerator’s sire Curlin lost by a head in the 2007 Belmont Stakes. I am predicting another win by Exaggerator. The Preakness Stakes was Stradivari’s first race in the slop and I feel that he is a big strong horse that will probably run better on a dry, fast track. So how about a Exaggerator-Stradivari Exacta?

Unless it is a wet race, I wouldn’t bother putting these three horses in your Superfectas: #7 Seeking The Soul, #8 Forever d’Oro and #9 Trojan Nation. They are all 30-1 for a reason because they aren’t fast enough to race with this caliber of competition. Jockey Paco Lopez is riding #6 Gettysburg and he is a very underrated jockey who sometimes can get surprise finishes out of longshots.

Betting Advice: This depends on if the race if run on a dry, fast track or in wet, sloppy conditions. If it is run on a wet, sloppy track, I would place win, place and show bets on Exaggerator and forget trying to come up with any combinations. Even on a dry, fast track, there are many unknowns so I wouldn’t recommend placing large sums of money on this race. I will probably play a $25 Exacta that would cost $50 that keys Exaggerator to win with two horses (4-Suddenbreakingnews and 5-Stradivari). So 11 over 4,5. Then take another $50 and make a Win bet on Exaggerator. But this depends on his live odds. I like win bets on Exaggerator at 4/5 or higher.

Below are post-positions and morning line odds for the 148th Belmont Stakes:

1) Governor Malibu (12/1) – He will assume a stalking position in this race. I consider him a serious play in Trifectas and Superfectas with the same trainer and jockey who propelled Tonalist to a 2014 Belmont Stakes victory. 

Career: 7 Starts 2-4-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire:  Malibu Moon
Trainer:  Christopher Clement (2014 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario (2014 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 83, 94 – 88.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Peter Pan Stakes

2) Destin (6/1) – A rested Todd Pletcher-trained horse could be dangerous in the Belmont. I like him for Superfecta plays. But he faded a bit down the stretch in the Kentucky Derby that is worrisome.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>6th
Sire: Giant’s Causeway  
TrainerTodd Pletcher (2007 & 2013 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 100, 93 – 96.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – 2016 Tampa Bay Derby

3) Cherry Wine  (8/1) – Although he finished 2nd in the Preakness Stakes, I would be concerned how he will perform on a dry, fast track.

Career: 9 Starts 2-2-2-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>3rd–>2nd
Sire:  Paddy O’Prado 
Trainer: Dale Romans 
Jockey:  Corey Lanerie
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 88, 96 – 92 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  97 – 2016 Preakness Stakes

4) Suddenbreakingnews (10/1) – With Mike Smith as his jockey and his penchant for making up considerable ground as a closer, he should be a candidate for your Trifectas and Superfectas. I really don’t understand why his morning line odds were set at 10/1 versus Destin’s at 6/1 when he finished ahead of him in the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby.

Career: 9 Starts 3-4-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>2nd–>5th
Sire: Mineshaft 
Trainer: Donnie Von Hemel
Jockey: Mike Smith  (2010 & 2013 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 94, 96 –  95 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 –  2016 Kentucky Derby

5) Stradivari (5/1) – I think he is a serious threat to win this race so long as it is on a dry, fast track. A candidate for your Exactas, Trifectas and Superfectas.

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-0-2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 2nd in 2002 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2007 & 2013 Belmont Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2007 & 2012 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 100, 95 – 97.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100Keeneland Allowance Race 4/17/16

6) Gettysburg (30/1) – A longshot who is viewed as the potential pacesetter in the Belmont. He has very underrated Paco Lopez as his jockey. I like him best of all the 30/1 longshots for a Superfecta.

Career: 7 Starts 1-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>5th–>3rd
Sire:  Pioneerof the Nile
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 87 – 87 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 87 – 2016 Arkansas Derby

7) Seeking The Soul (30/1) – The better of the two Dallas Stewart-trained horses but neither will hit the board on a dry, fast track.

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>5th–>1st
Sire: Perfect Soul (IRE)
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79, 88 – 83.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  88 – Churchill Downs MSW 5/29/201

8) Forever d’Oro (30/1) – 30/1 for a reason, see above. But he does have the pedigree to go long.

Career: 3 Starts 1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>5th–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 2nd in 2002 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 71, 81 – 76 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  81 – Belmont MSW 5/29/16

9) Trojan Nation (30/1) – He has yet to win a race and it won’t be this either. Don’t bother using him in Superfectas unless it is a wet race.

Career: 7 Starts 0-1-3-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>16th
Sire:  Street Cry
Trainer:  Patrick Gallagher
Jockey: Aaron Gryder
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 93, 63- 78 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  93 – 2016 Wood Memorial

10) Lani (20/1) – A temperamental Japanese-trained horse who improved in his last start in the Preakness. A Superfecta candidate but not a threat to win.

Career: 8 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>9th–>5th
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Mikio Matsunaga 
Jockey:  Yukata Take
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 93 – 90 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Preakness Stakes

11) Exaggerator (9/5)  – He has never finished below 3rd as a 3 year-0ld. He has never finished below 2nd in his last three Grade 1 Stakes races. His live odds will go lower than 9/5. I think he will win but he is beatable. 

Career: 11 Starts 5-3-1-1 
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 2nd in 2007 Belmont Stakes)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (2009 Belmont Stakes Winner)
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 101, 101 – 101 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

12) Brody’s Cause (20/1) – The only horse in this field who has beaten Exaggerator but this came as a 2 year-old. I haven’t been impressed with his 3 year-old campaign thus far. A candidate for your Superfecta.

Career: 7 Starts 3-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 7th–>1st–>7th
Sire: Giant’s Causeway 
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Luis Saez
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 91, 89 – 90 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – 2016 Blue Grass Stakes

13) Creator (10/1) – At 10/1, I expect his odds to go higher. Will he bounce back after a disappointing 13th place finish in the Kentucky Derby? He is a big roll of the dice.

Career: 9 Starts 2-4-1-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>13th
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 96, 76 – 86 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2016 Arkansas Derby


–Michael

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

May 25th 2016

With the Breeders’ Cup Classic “Win and You’re In” challenge races starting in less then 4 weeks, it is time to look ahead to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders. I expect this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to be the deepest in talent thus far. This is largely due to the creation of the $12 million dollar Pegasus World Cup scheduled in January of 2017 that will keep many of the top thoroughbreds in action. Below are my Top 12 Contender Rankings and the “Win and You’re In” race schedule.

June 18th – Stephen Foster Handicap – Churchill Downs – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $500,000
June 25th – Gold Cup at Santa Anita – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 31st – The Haskell Invitational– Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – TVG Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup Invitational – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
November 5th- Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $5,000,000

Here are my Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 –2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. She was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. Otherwise she would have been 2nd favorite in that race behind American Pharoah and probably would have given him a great battle. She is the only horse in this group to have run a sub 2 minute mile and a quarter. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes.

Career: 21 Starts 16-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 9
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

3) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner spiked a fever after his 3rd place finish in the Preakness Stakes and will not be entered into the Belmont Stakes. But his fever is gone and he is expected to make a full recovery after treatment with antibiotics. I generally feel that he would have won the Preakness on a dry, fast track. Unlike American Pharoah (Rebel Stakes) and Exaggerator (Santa Anita Derby) who both had experience racing in the slop before their sloppy Preakness Stakes races, Nyquist had never raced on a muddy or sloppy surface. And if you notice, he was somewhat reluctant to be loaded in the starting gate at Pimlico. Expect this 3 year-old, who already ranks in the top 50 all-time in race winnings, to bounce back.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 –2016 Kentucky Derby

4) Exaggerator Ranked by Longines as the 3rd best dirt racehorse in the world before his Preakness Stakes win, a win in the Belmont Stakes will likely move him to #2 behind California Chrome. He is my early Belmont Stakes race favorite.

Career: 11 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

5) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He followed up the performance with a win in the 2015 Clark Handicap, a disappointing 3rd place finish in the 2016 Santa Anita Derby and then a winning performance in the Oaklawn Handicap in April. The most recent Longines poll ranked him as the 11th best racehorse in the world and the 4th best on dirt.

Career: 22 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 110 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

6) Hoppertunity – After winning the 2016 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, he was shipped to Dubai where he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and somehow seems to always hit the board no matter the race and the competition. He has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race.

Career: 19 Starts 5-6-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st>3rd
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.33 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 –2016 San Antonio Stakes

7) Melatonin – The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He is trained by David Hofmans who won a Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup.

Career: 12 Starts 4-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:02.01 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap

8) Frosted The 2015 Penn Derby winner finished 7th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and then set a track record (1:56.67) for 1900 meter race at Meydan with his win in the Al Maktoum Challenge in February. He followed up this effort with a disappointing 5th place finish in the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 15 Starts 4-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 7th–>1st–>5th
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: William Buick
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Pennsylvania Derby

9) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97* estimated from Dubai World Cup

10) Dortmund  – The 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner hasn’t raced since his Native Diver Handicap win in late November of last year. However, he is back in training at Los Alamitos. He has never finished below 4th in 10 career starts.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2014 Breeders’ Cup Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby

11) Noble Bird With his win in the 2015 Stephen Foster Handicap, Noble Bird actually qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year but was not entered. With his most recent win in the Pimlico Special (shown below), he currently has the highest Beyer Speed Figure (110) of any horse thus far in 2016 (source). He will likely be entered in the Stephen Foster Handicap June 18th to defend his title.

Career: 15 Starts 5-4-0-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>8th–>1st
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special

12) Songbird Although her ownership has shied away from the thought of racing this electrifying filly against the boys thus far, I still have to find a place for her in my rankings. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same Keeneland track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She developed a low grade fever and wasn’t entered in the Kentucky Oaks. It appears that she will be entered into the Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita Park on June 18th.

Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies


–Michael

Analyzing Exaggerator’s win over undefeated Nyquist in the Preakness Stakes

May 21st, 2016

The 141st Preakness Stakes (shown below) will be viewed by many as an upset with Exaggerator finally beating undefeated Nyquist after 5 attempts.

But in reality, this was a confluence of talent and opportunity. Coming into the Preakness Stakes, Exaggerator had the highest average Beyer Speed figure for 3 year-olds in 2016. He had a 98 Beyer Speed Figure in the San Vicente Stakes in February, a 96 Beyer in the San Felipe in March, a 103 Beyer in the Santa Anita Derby in April and a 101 Beyer in the Kentucky Derby.

Exaggerator excelled on a sloppy track in the Santa Anita Derby, so today’s win should have been no surprise. Credit Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who did a masterful job placing Exaggerator right where he needed to be to have a chance to run down Nyquist.

In summary–Exaggerator is an extremely talented thoroughbred. Entering the Preakness Stakes, Exaggerator was ranked as the 7th best racehorse in the world in Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings and the 3rd best on dirt (Source). His winning time of 1:58.31 on a similar sloppy track was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 1:58.46 in the 2015 Preakness Stakes. Admittedly, American Pharoah coasted home in last year’s Preakness, winning by 7 lengths. But last year’s race had faster fractions through 1 mile and I feel that Exaggerator would have given American Pharoah a run for his money if nothing else.

Nyquist 

Although many are disappointed that we won’t have a Triple Crown candidate entering Belmont this year, REJOICE! The sport has two great 3 year-old thoroughbreds. Despite the loss, Nyquist is still a great race horse. He is 8-1 and has won five Grade 1 stakes races. His $5.1 million dollars in race earnings ranks him in the top 50 all-time.

Some may question jockey Mario Gutierrez’s decision to get hooked up in a battle for the lead with Uncle Lino so early but it is hindsight vision. Nyquist was right where he needed to be but just didn’t have the final kick down the stretch that he had in the Kentucky Derby. I feel this was due to the track conditions. Nyquist had only run once on a wet track that was rated as “good” in the Florida Derby. I generally feel that he would have won today had the track surface been rated as fast or good. But Mother Nature intervened.

The Belmont Stakes on June 11th will hopefully offer a rematch of these two great thoroughbreds. And don’t forget about Dale Romans’ Cherry Wine who took a huge leap in improvement today with his surprise 2nd place finish. He looks like a horse who will excel in races 1 1/4 mile or longer.

–Michael

The 2016 Preakness Stakes Starting Lineup, Post Positions, Odds and Analysis

May 14th 2016 – Updated 5/21/2017 at 3:15 PM CST

Below are the entries, post-positions and morning line odds for the 2016 Preakness Stakes along with detailed profiles of each horse. I have also included projected order of finish if run on a dry, fast track. Note that a bold font text is hyperlinked to either a horse’s Equibase profile or a race video from Youtube. This is to aid in your own research.

Weather Report:  The track right now is rated as “Muddy” which is between “Good” and “Sloppy” More rain is expected but it seems as if it will be light showers right around race time. Overall, the track conditions currently thus far don’t seem to be affecting much. There is more speed in this race than the Kentucky Derby. So this helps closers who seem unaffected by the track conditions so long as they stay in the clear and out of the splatter from horses ahead of them. I am not concerned how Nyquist will handle these off track conditions.

***Horses who have raced on a sloppy track include: Exaggerator (1st – Santa Anita Derby), Uncle Lino (3rd – Santa Anita Derby), Abiding Star (1st – race at Parx 4/12/16), Cherry Wine (1st – race at Churchill Downs 11/28/15) and Fellowship (7th – Florida Sire Affirmed Stakes 9/5/15).

141st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico – Race #13 – Post Time: 5:45 PM CST – NBC

1) Cherry Wine  (20/1) – My projected finish – 8th place
Career: 8 Starts 2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>3rd
Sire:  Paddy O’Prado (Finished 6th in the 2010 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Dale Romans (2011 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Corey Lanerie
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:50.50 (calculated) – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 88  – 87.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  88 – Blue Grass Stakes

2) Uncle Lino  (20/1) –  My projected finish – 6th place
Career: 7 Starts 2-2-2-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Gary Sherlock 
Jockey: Fernando Perez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:51.02 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 95  – 92.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  95 – California Chrome Stakes

3) Nyquist   (3/5) –  My projected finish – 1st place
Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill (2012 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.11 – Florida Derby
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31Kentucky Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 94, 103  – 98.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 –Kentucky Derby

4) Awesome Speed (30/1) –  My projected finish – 11th place
Career: 6 Starts 4-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>1st
Sire:  Awesome Again 
Trainer: Alan Goldberg
Jockey: Jevian Toledo
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:53.31 – Federico Tesio Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 74, 83  – 78.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  87 – Mucho Macho Man Stakes

5) Exaggerator (3/1) –  My projected finish – 3rd place (1st place if sloppy wet track)
Career: 10 Starts 4-3-1-1 
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998 & 2008 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.66 – Santa Anita Derby
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – Kentucky Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 103, 101  – 102 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – Santa Anita Derby

6) Lani (30/1) –  My projected finish – 9th place
Career: 7 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>9th
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mikio Matsunaga 
Jockey:  Yukata Take
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A – 1:52.84 (estimated time from 1900 Meter UAE Derby)
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:03.02 (calculated) – Kentucky Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 83 (est), 87 – 85 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 87 –  Kentucky Derby

7) Collected (10/1) –  My projected finish – 4th place
Career: 6 Starts 4-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2010 & 2015 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2006 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.90 – Sunland Park Festival of Racing
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 90  – 90 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – Lexington Stakes

8) Laoban (30/1) –  My projected finish – 10th place
Career: 4 Starts 0-2-1-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>4th
Sire:  Uncle Mo 
Trainer: Eric Guillot
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:50.98 (calculated) – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 85, 84  – 84.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  85 – Gotham Stakes

9) Abiding Star (30/1) –  My projected finish – 7th place
Career: 11 Starts 5-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Uncle Mo 
Trainer: Edward Allard
Jockey: J.D. Acosta
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 83, 91 – 87 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  91 – Parx Derby

10) Fellowship (30/1) –  My projected finish – 5th place
Career: 12 Starts 2-3-3-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>4th
Sire: Awesome of Course
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.79 – Florida Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 86  – 86.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  87 – Florida Derby

11) Stradivari (8/1) –  My projected finish – 2nd place
Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 8th in 2002 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher 
Jockey: John Velazquez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.64Keeneland Allowance Race 4/17/16
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79, 100  – 89.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100Keeneland Allowance Race 4/17/16


New Shooters

Todd Pletcher’s Stradivari represents the biggest new threat to Nyquist. Even though he has only raced three times, he proved to be exceptionally fast in his last start–an allowance race at Keeneland. He produced a very nice time of 1:48.64 in this 1 1/8th mile race and received a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his win. With that time, he would have blown away the Blue Grass Stakes field. Below is a video of the 2nd start of his career, a win at Gulfstream Park where he ran away from the field in a 1 1/16th mile race.

But we have been down this road before last year when Pletcher’s Materiality received a 109 Beyer Speed Figure in his 3rd start and win in the Florida Derby. Materiality went on to finish 6th in the Kentucky Derby and 8th in the Belmont Stakes. But note a couple of things. That Materiality’s time in the 1 1/8th mile 2015 Florida Derby was 1:52.30. Stradivari’s time of 1:48.64 in a 1 1/8th mile race at Keeneland was faster than Spectacular Bid and Holy Bull’s time of 1:50 flat in the Blue Grass Stakes. When comparing Materiality to Stradivari, nobody would say that Keeneland is a faster track than Gulfstream Park. Stradivari is a real threat to Nyquist.

Bob Baffert’s Collected is another new shooter than could hit the board. I felt he was good enough to be ranked in my top 10 Kentucky Derby Contenders but he failed to secure enough points to make the field.

Betting Advice

Rain is being forecasted for the Baltimore area on Saturday with an 80% chance of showers. Click HERE for weather updates. This will affect handicapping as it did last year. Right now for a dry race,  I would lean towards a Trifecta bet of four horses keying Nyquist to win. So Nyquist over Exaggerator, Stradivari and Collected–3 over 5, 7, 11. A $10 bet of this type would cost $60.

Here is a $1 Superfecta bet I made that costs $24: 3, 5, 11, with 3, 5, 11, with 5, 7, 11, with 1, 2, 7

Interesting fact: 23 out of the last 26 Preakness Stakes winners ran in the Kentucky Derby, this makes Exaggerator a little more attractive betting option and especially so if the race turns out to be wet, sloppy one.

If the race is run on a sloppy track, then I like this order of finish: 1st – Exaggerator, 2nd – Nyquist, 3rd – Stradivari, 4th – Uncle Lino–5-3-11-2

–Michael

Nyquist Still Unbeaten! Back to back Triple Crown Winners? A real legitimate possibility

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May 7th, 2016

GET EXCITED horse racing fans! We had a blast last year watching American Pharoah win a Triple Crown and then the very first Grand Slam of thoroughbred racing with his win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Nyquist’s winning time in the Kentucky Derby of 2:01.31 (shown below) was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 2:03.02 and the fastest since Funny Cide’s winning time of 2:01.19 in 2003. The opening fractions were fast which set up the race well for closers but Nyquist was simply too strong to beat.

We had back to back Triple Crown winners in the 1970s with Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. Can lightning strike twice like it did in the 1970s?

It is a real, legitimate possibility. Remember that I correctly identified Nyquist as the Kentucky Derby favorite 241 days ago in this blog. And I had 1st and 2nd place Kentucky Derby finishers ranked 1-2 in my last Kentucky Derby Contenders blog.

How well did Nyquist run in the Kentucky Derby? He earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Last year, American Pharoah received a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his Kentucky Derby win. But the revealing fact is that Nyquist would have beaten the 2015 Kentucky Derby version of American Pharoah by 5 1/4 lengths when you look at the final quarter mile fractions. The pace was faster this year than last (2015: 23.24, 47.34, 1:11.29 & 1:36.45 vs 2016: 22.58, 45.72, 1:10.40 & 1:35.61). Nyquist should have been a little more tired having gone through a mile 0.84 seconds faster than American Pharoah had to in 2015. But the final 1/4th mile fraction of this year’s Kentucky Derby was 25.70 vs last year’s time of 26.57. That is 0.87 seconds faster for Nyquist which equates to at least 5 1/4 lengths.

It is time to get REAL excited again. Nyquist has a better resume thus far than American Pharoah. The Preakness Stakes will be another difficult test but I am confident that Nyquist can handle the competition.

So now I leave you with the #1 hit in 1978–Andy Gibb’s Shadow Dancing–the last year we had back-to-back Triple Crown winners. It is time to get dancing again! Nyquist will undoubtedably be in the shadow of American Pharoah but that is a very good shadow to be in.

–Michael

 

The 2016 Kentucky Derby Starting Lineup, Post Positions, Odds and Analysis

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May 4th, 2016 – Updated May 7th, 2016

The “most exciting 2 minutes in sports” is less than 3 days away and the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby promises to live up to the hype. We have a talented horse in Nyquist who is trying to join a “Who’s Who in Thoroughbred Racing” of horses who entered the Kentucky Derby undefeated and came away with the Roses. Previous undefeated Derby horses who went on to win the Kentucky Derby are Regret in 1915, Morvich in 1922, Majestic Prince in 1969, Seattle Slew in 1977, Smarty Jones in 2004, Barbaro in 2006 and Big Brown in 2008.

Nyquist drew post #13 but before anybody views this as unlucky, this is the same position he won from in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race (shown below). And Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby in 2004 from post 13:

And now for the analysis…

Since 1990, the lowest Kentucky Derby winning Beyer Speed Figure was 97 when California Chrome won in 2014. All other winners eclipsed a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. I generally feel that if a horse wants to “be the part”–a Kentucky Derby winner, he should at least “look the part” and have produced a 97 or higher Beyer Speed Figure thus far. Only 6 horses in the 2016 Kentucky Derby field meet this criteria: Exaggerator, Nyquist, Destin, Danzing Candy, Outwork and Mor Spirit.

Danzing Candy will likely be the pacesetter and I don’t believe that he has the stamina to be able to hang on for the win. Outwork had to struggle to beat a 81-1 odd horse in Trojan Nation in the Wood Memorial. Destin is a fast horse but he has never raced further than 1 1/16th mile. Will he have the stamina to go an extra 1 1/2 furlongs?

Mor Spirit has never finished below 2nd in 7 career starts but I view him more as a horse to round out a Trifecta. So I think the 2016 Kentucky Derby will come down to Nyquist, Exaggerator and Destin. Although it didn’t happen last year, usually one 20-1 or greater odds horse finishes in the Top 4. So keep an eye on the odds for Suddenbreakingnews. Majesto and Whitmore.

Generally, I don’t see a lot of early speed in this field so this doesn’t bode well for closers. This is one of the factors that I think will aid Nyquist. Nyquist has won several different ways: as a pacesetter, as a stalker and coming off the pace and from mid pack like he demonstrated in the 15 horse Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. He is the deserved race favorite and my pick to win the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

Handicapping Advice: Large win bets on Nyquist if his live odds are 5/2 or greater. Right now his live odds are 2-1. I placed two $10 Boxed Exactas that cost $60 each. The first was 9-11-13 (Destin, Exaggerator and Nyquist) because these are the three fastest horses in the field by times and Beyer Speed Figures. The second Boxed Exacta I placed was 11-13-17 (Nyquist, Exaggerator and Mor Spirit).

I like Majesto as a longshot for Superfectas and his current live odds are 62-1. A $10 win bet here seems inviting but I expect these odds to lower. I always like to place ten to twenty $1 straight Superfectas with various combinations and throwing in a few longshots. It is tough to hit a Superfecta in the Kentucky Derby. Usually you are doing real good to hit 3 out of 4 horses. But “you can’t win if you don’t play” as they say and hitting a Superfecta in the Kentucky Derby usually pays out nicely.

Here are a few of the Straight Superfectas I have placed: (11-13-17-9), (11-9-3-13), (11-9-13-17), (13-9-18-11), (13-11-9-17), (18-13-17-11). I placed a $1 Super High Five bet of (13-11- 9-17-15).

Below are the 2016 Kentucky Derby Post Positions, Jockeys and Morning Line Odds by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia. Note that a bold font text is hyperlinked to either a horse’s Equibase profile or a race video from Youtube. This is to aid in your own research:

The 142nd Kentucky Derby – Churchill Downs Race #12 – Post Time 5:34 PM CST (NBC)

1) Trojan Nation (50/1) – Has never won a race, draws dreaded rail
Career: 6 Starts 0-1-3-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Street Cry  
Trainer: Patrick Gallagher
Jockey: Aaron Gryder
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.96 (calculated) – Wood Memorial
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures:  74, 93  – 83.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Wood Memorial

2) Suddenbreakingnews (20/1) – A closer to consider for your Superfecta
Career: 8 Starts 3-4-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>2nd
Sire: Mineshaft 
Trainer: Donnie Von Hemel
Jockey: Luis Quinonez
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.30 (calculated)Arkansas Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 86, 94  – 90 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – Arkansas Derby

3) Creator (10/1) – Arkansas Derby winner, a closer
Career: 8 Starts 2-4-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.14 – Arkansas Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 96  – 93 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 –Arkansas Derby

4) Mo Tom (20/1) – Lecomte Stakes winner who has regressed in 2 consecutive starts
Career: 7 Starts 3-0-3-1
Last 3 starts: 1st->3rd–>4th
Sire: Uncle Mo  (Finished 10th in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Thomas Amoss
Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.02 (calculated) – Louisiana Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 82  – 84.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Lecomte Stakes

5) Gun Runner (10/1) – Louisiana Derby winner, meager Beyer Speed Figures
Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st

Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.06 – Louisiana Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 91  – 90.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Louisiana Derby 

6) My Man Sam (20/1) – Surprise 2nd place finisher in Blue Grass Stakes
Career: 4 Starts 1-2-0-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Trappe Shot 
Trainer: Chad Brown 
Jockey:  Irad Ortiz Jr
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.48 (calculated) – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 88  – 91.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – Aqueduct Opt Claiming Race 3/6/16

7) Oscar Nominated (50/1) – A turf horse who has never raced on real dirt
Career: 7 Starts 3-2-0-2
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kitten’s Joy
Trainer: Michael Maker 
Jockey:  Julien Leparoux
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.82 – Spiral Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79, 82  – 81.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 82 – Spiral Stakes

8) Lani (30/1) – Japanese trained horse who displayed great fight in winning the UAE Derby
Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mikio Matsunaga 
Jockey:  Yukata Take
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A – 1:52.84 (estimated time from 1900 Meter UAE Derby)
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: ?, 83 (estimated)
Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

9) Destin (15/1) – Set track record at Tampa Bay Derby, never raced further than 1 1/16th mile
Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Giant’s Causeway  (Finished 2nd in 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A – 1:49.37 (projected time from 1 1/16 mile Tampa Bay Derby)
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 100  – 99 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – Tampa Bay Derby

10) Whitmore (20/1) – A closer with a favorable post position & new jockey Victor Espinoza
Career: 6 Starts 2-2-1-0 
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Pleasantly Perfect (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Ron Moquett 
Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.89 (calculated)
 – Arkansas Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 92, 92  – 92 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 –Arkansas Derby

11) Exaggerator (8/1) – A closer & most likely threat to Nyquist. Best Beyer average in 2016
Career: 9 Starts 4-2-1-1 
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby, 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.66 – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 96, 103  – 99.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – Santa Anita Derby

12) Tom’s Ready (30/1) – Not sure what he is ready for
Career: 9 Starts 1-4-0-1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd

Sire: More Than Ready
Trainer: Dallas Stewart 
Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr 
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.74 (calculated) – Louisiana Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 69, 85  – 77 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85 – Louisiana Derby 

13) Nyquist (3/1) – Undefeated race favorite, my projected winner
Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo  (Finished 10th in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Doug O’Neill (2012 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.11 – Florida Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 101, 94  – 97.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – San Vicente Stakes

14) Mohaymen  (10/1) – Coming off disappointing 4th place finish in Florida Derby
Career: 6 Starts 5-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.43 (calculated) – Florida Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 80  – 87.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – Holy Bull Stakes

15) Outwork  (15/1) –  Might be Pletcher’s best Derby horse
Career: 4 Starts 3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo (Finished 10th in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.92 – Wood Memorial
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 93  – 95.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – Tampa Bay Derby

16) Shagaf (20/1) – Coming off disappointing 5th place finish in the Wood
Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>5th
Sire: Bernardini (Finished 2nd in 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Chad Brown 
Jockey:  Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:56.73 (calculated) – Wood Memorial
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 87  – 87 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Aqueduct MSW 11/22/15

17) Mor Spirit (12/1) – No horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby from post #17
Career: 7 Starts 3-4-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Eskendereya 
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (1988, 1995 and 1998 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.66 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 97, 94  – 95.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97San Felipe Stakes

18) Majesto (30/1) – Coming off his career best performance
Career: 6 Starts 1-2-2-0
Last 3 starts:  3rd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Tiznow (2000 and 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Jockey: Emisael Jaramillo
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.63 (calculated) – Florida Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 84, 89  – 87.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Florida Derby 

19) Brody’s Cause (12/1) – Blue Grass Stakes winner, a closer to consider for your Superfecta
Career: 6 Starts 3-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>7th–>1st
Sire: Giant’s Causeway (Finished 2nd in 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Luis Saez
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.20 – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 80, 91  – 85.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Blue Grass Stakes

20) Danzing Candy  (15/1) –  A speed horse who is viewed as the most likely pacesetter 
Career: 5 Starts 3-0-0-1 
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
Sire: Twirling Candy
Trainer: Clifford Sise
Projected Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.78 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 100, 83  – 91.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100San Felipe Stakes


RANKINGS

Since the Kentucky Derby is usually won by the horse that gets to the 1 1/8th pole first, below is the Kentucky Derby field ranked by time in their last race (1 1/8th mile) along with Beyer Speed Figures. Destin and Lani’s times are projected since their last race wasn’t at 1 1/8th mile.

Horse – Time (track condition) Finishing Position/Race – Beyer Speed Figure
1) Nyquist – 1:49.11 (good) 1st Florida Derby – 94 BSF
2) Destin – 1:49.37# (fast) 1st Tampa Bay Derby – 100 BSF
3) Majesto – 1:49.63* (good) 2nd Florida Derby – 89 BSF
4) Exaggerator – 1:49.66 (sloppy) 1st Santa Anita Derby – 103 BSF
5) Creator – 1:50.14 (fast) 1st Arkansas Derby – 96 BSF
6) Brody’s Cause – 1:50.20 (fast) 1st Blue Grass Stakes – 91 BSF
7) Suddenbreakingnews – 1:50.30* (fast) 2nd Arkansas Derby – 94 BSF
8) Mohaymen – 1:50.43* (good) 4th Florida Derby – 80 BSF
9) My Man Sam – 1:50.48* (good) 2nd Blue Grass Stakes – 88 BSF
10) Mor Spirit – 1:50.66* (sloppy) 2nd Santa Anita Derby – 94 BSF
11) Gun Runner – 1:51.06 (fast) 1st Louisiana Derby – 91 BSF
12) Tom’s Ready – 1:51.74* (fast) 2nd Louisiana Derby – 85 BSF
13) Danzing Candy – 1:51.78* (sloppy) 4th Santa Anita Derby – 83 BSF
14) Oscar Nominated – 1:51.82 (fast, synthetic) 1st Spiral Stakes – 82 BSF
15) Mo Tom – 1:52.02* (fast) 4th Louisiana Derby – 82 BSF
16) Lani – 1:52.84@ (fast) 1st UAE Derby – 83 BSF
17) Whitmore – 1:52.89* (fast) 3rd Arkansas Derby – 92 BSF
18) Outwork – 1:52.92 (muddy) 1st Wood Memorial Stakes – 93 BSF
19) Trojan Nation – 1:52.96* (muddy) 2nd Wood Memorial Stakes – 93 BSF
20) Shagaf – 1:56.73* (muddy) 5th Wood Memorial Stakes – 87 BSF

* – Estimated time from 1 1/8th mile race
# – Projected time from 1 1/16th mile race
@ – Projected time from 1900 Meter race

Ranking by Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last 2 Races:

1) Exaggerator (8/1)  Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 96, 103  – 99.5 avg
2) Destin (15/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 100  – 99 avg
3) Nyquist (3/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 101, 94  – 97.5 avg
4) Mor Spirit (12/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 97, 94  – 95.5 avg
5) Outwork  (15/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 93  – 95.5 avg
6) Creator (10/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 96  – 93 avg
7) Danzing Candy  (15/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 100, 83  – 91.5 avg
8) Whitmore (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 92, 92  – 92 avg
9) My Man Sam (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 88  – 91.5 avg
10) Gun Runner (10/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 91  – 90.5 avg
11) Suddenbreakingnews (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 86, 94  – 90 avg
12) Majesto (30/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 84, 89  – 87.5 avg
13) Mohaymen  (10/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 80  – 87.5 avg
14) Shagaf (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 87  – 87 avg
15) Brody’s Cause (12/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 80, 91  – 85.5 avg
16) Mo Tom (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 82  – 84.5 avg
17) Trojan Nation (50/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures:  74, 93  – 83.5 avg
18) Oscar Nominated (50/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79, 82  – 81.5 avg
19) Tom’s Ready (30/1) Derby Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 69, 85  – 77 avg


ODDS

Below are the Kentucky Derby Morning Line Odds and the direction I think the Live Odds will go:

Nyquist – 3/1 – a bit lower but not below 5/2
Exaggerator – 8/1 – lower
Mohaymen – 10/1 – lower
Creator – 10/1 – higher
Gun Runner – 10/1 – higher
Mor Spirit – 12/1 –  same
Brody’s Cause – 12/1 – higher
Outwork – 15/1 – lower
Destin – 15/1 – lower
Danzing Candy- 15/1 – higher
Suddenbreakingnew – 20/1 – lower
Mo Tom – 20/1 – higher
Whitmore – 20/1 – lower
My Man Sam – 20/1 – higher
Shagaf – 20/1 – higher
Lani – 30/1 – lower
Tom’s Ready – 30/1 – much higher
Majesto – 30/1 – lower
Trojan Nation – 50/1 – much higher
Oscar Nominated – 50/1 – much higher

***You can follow the live Kentucky Derby odds by clicking HERE

Stay tuned for updates and more handicapping advice.

–Michael