2017 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

November 28th 2016

With one more Derby Trail points paying race left in 2016, below is my latest Top 10 Kentucky Derby contender rankings. Right now, as long as these 10 horses stay healthy, they look the part of a Kentucky Derby runner as a 2 year-olds. As 3 year-olds, they either make improvements by leaps and bounds or tail off into obscurity. A few new contenders will come out of the woodwork next year. Overall, I feel that this is a very talented 2 year-old class and better than last year’s at this point of their careers.

The next big race for this 2 year-old class will be the Los Alamitos Futurity on December 10th. That race should attract the Bob Baffert-trained Mastery who at 10/1 odds was the 3rd favorite in the most recent Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool behind All Others (6/5) and Classic Empire (6/1).

I will preview the Los Alamitos Futurity as well as the recently announced Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos on December 17th that will feature California Chrome in a prep race for the Pegasus World Cup.

Now onto my rankings…

2017 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings 

1) Classic Empire – My early 2017 Kentucky Derby favorite due to the unexpected retirement of Not This Time. He is American Pharoah’s half-brother. I have been very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and wrote about him back in July (SEE). Note that very few Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners go on to win the Kentucky Derby. Street Sense and Nyquist accomplished this rare feat. Will Classic Empire? We will see. He is not a slam dunk. However, Classic Empire is at the head of the field and the rest are playing catch-up.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: DNF–>1st–>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile  (Finished 2nd in 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.60 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

2) Practical Joke The Chad Brown-trainee has two Grade 1 stakes wins. Practical Joke is the son of Into Mischief. I have some pedigree concerns and especially beyond 9 furlongs. But for now, he is the best after Classic Empire.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.84 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

3) Gormley He comes from the same owner/trainer combination that produced Zenyatta. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the 2nd start of his career–the FrontRunner Stakes (shown below)–beating the race favorite Klimt. He followed this effort with a disappointing 7th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Since this was only his 3rd start, he deserves a mulligan because we know he can do better.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:1st–>1st–>7th
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: John Shirreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.57 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes

4) Klimt  Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert–the same combination that produced Bayern and Dortmund. Klimt’s sire Quality Road won the Florida Derby, Met Mile, Donn Handicap, Woodward Stakes. Quality Road suffered two quarter cracks that prevented him from competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown. Like Gormley in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, a disappointing effort with an 8th place finish. Concerning is the fact that he has finished behind Gormley two races in a row.

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>8th
Sire: Quality Road
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.05 (calculated) – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Del Mar Futurity

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

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

6) Mastery  He is trained by Bob Baffert. His jockey is Mike Smith. He is a half brother to the late Shared Belief, the two sharing the same sire in Candy Ride. Mastery received a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in his very first start, the best Beyer Speed Figure for a first-time starter in this 2 year old class. He followed this impressive maiden victory at Santa Anita Park with another win at Del Mar in the Bob Hope Stakes (shown below). Bob Baffert is very high on this colt. He will just need to prove himself past 7 furlongs. Hopefully we will get to see this in the Los Alamitos Futurity.

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

7) McCraken –  Undefeated in 3 starts, the son of Ghostzapper stretched out to 8 1/2 furlongs for the first time in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and passed with flying colors. As long as he stays healthy, pencil him in for the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs.

Career:3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Ghostzapper
Trainer: Ian Wilkes
Jockey: Brian Hernandez
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.15 – 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

8) Three Rules – He finished 6th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Previously, he was undefeated in five starts at Gulfstream Park. His sire Gone Astray never raced further than 9 furlongs and his biggest win was the 2009 Pennsylvania Derby. I believe he will be one of the early favorites for the Florida Derby.

Career: 6 Starts 5-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>6th
Sire: Gone Astray
Trainer: Jose Pinchin
Jockey: Cornelio Velasquez
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.63 – 2016 Florida In Reality Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Florida Dr Fagar Stakes

9) Mo Town – The son of Uncle Mo, so that makes him Nyquist’s half-brother. The recent winner of the 9 furlong Remsen Stakes (shown below). His winning time of 1:51.58 was way off of what Mohaymen produced last year in this race at 1:50.69. However, he did display a decent closing speed of 36.09 mph in the final 3 furlongs. For comparison purposes, Classic Empire had a closing speed of 35.02 mph in the final 2 1/2 furlongs of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. So keep a close eye on this one as a 3 year-old.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st

Sire: Uncle Mo
Trainer: Anthony Dutrow
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.23 (estimated) – 2016 Remsen Stakes
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.58 – 2016 Remsen Stakes

Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – 2016 Remsen Stakes

10) Lookin At Lee – Much like Steve Asmussen’s Gun Runner was this year, a very consistent horse thus far. He finished 2nd behind Not This Time in the Iroquois Stakes, 2nd behind Classic Empire in the Breeders’ Futurity and then 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Perhaps he will improve as a 3 year-old. His sire Looking At Lucky, finished 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Then as a 3 year old, he won the Rebel Stakes, finished 3rd in the Santa Anita Derby, finished 6th in the Kentucky Derby, then won the Preakness Stakes, the Haskell Invitational, the Indiana Derby and finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 6 Starts 2-2-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>4th
Sire: Lookin At Lucky
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.52 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 83 – 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

-Michael

Not This Time Retired. 2017 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 Odds

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Not This Time (#10) battles Classic Empire (#9) in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 

November 21st 2016 (Updated November 26th 2016 @12:30PM CST)

Unfortunate news, the extremely promising Dale Romans-trained 2 year old colt, Not This Time, was retired today due to a soft tissue injury to his right front leg. The good news is that he will be fine and will begin a stud career next year at Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Kentucky. His stud fee was set at $15,000. A very reasonable price.

Not This Time was my early Kentucky Derby favorite. I will add that I correctly named Nyquist as my way too early 2016 Kentucky Derby favorite seven months in advance of the Derby. So this a huge blow. Not This Time shared 8-1 odds with Classic Empire in the recently released 2017 Kentucky Derby Future Wagers Pool #1. This pool can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Not This Time and Classic Empire had a wonderful battle in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race shown below. Classic Empire won by a neck but I feel that if this race had been 9 or 10 furlongs, Not This Time would caught and passed him for the win. When you rewatch the race, Not This Time got hemmed in a little behind the lead pack around the three-quarter pole and was forced to go wide to the outside. This is disappointing and unfortunate news but part of thoroughbred racing.

With the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 coming up in three days, below are six horses to consider for your future wager. The Pool will run from Thursday, November 24th at 11 AM CST until Sunday, November 27th at 5 PM CST. You can access the live odds starting on Thursday afternoon by clicking HERE.

Six horses to consider for you 2017 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1

Next to their name, I have included each horse’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager Morning Line Odds and their sire odds in the Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager Pool in parenthesis. You can see the the Sire Future Wager Odds by clicking HERE.

1) Classic Empire (8/1)  – American Pharoah’s half-brother. Looks like his gate issues are behind him. I have been very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and wrote about him back in July (SEE). With Not This Time’s unfortunate and unexpected early retirement, Classic Empire becomes my early Kentucky Derby favorite by default.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: DNF–>1st–>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile  (12/1) (Finished 2nd in 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.60 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

2) Gormley (20/1) – He comes from the same owner/trainer combination that produced Zenyatta. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the 2nd start of his career–the FrontRunner Stakes (shown below)–beating the race favorite Klimt. He followed this effort with a disappointing 7th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Since this was only his 3rd start, he deserves a mulligan because we know he can do better. I like the owner/trainer and jockey combination here and especially at 20/1 morning line odds.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st->7th
Sire: Malibu Moon (20/1)
Trainer: John Sherreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.57 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes

3) Practical Joke (15/1) The Chad Brown-trainee has two Grade 1 stakes wins. Practical Joke is the son of Into Mischief. I have some pedigree concerns and especially beyond 9 furlongs. But he is probably the most accomplished 2 year old after Classic Empire since Not This Time has been retired.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Into Mischief (8/1 – ALL Others)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.84 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

4) Mastery (12/1)   He is trained by Bob Baffert. His jockey is Mike Smith. He is a half brother to the late Shared Belief. He received a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in his very first start, the best Beyer Speed Figure for a first-time starter in this 2 year old class. He followed this impressive maiden victory at Santa Anita Park with another win at Del Mar in the Bob Hope Stakes (shown below) this past Saturday. He received an 86 Beyer Speed Figure. Bob Baffert is very high on this colt. He will just need to prove himself past 7 furlongs. I suspect we might see him race next in the Los Alamitos Futurity on December 10th. 

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: N/A–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Candy Ride (15/1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Santa Anita Park MSW – 10/22/16

5) Klimt (15/1)  Like Gormley in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, a disappointing effort with an 8th place finish. Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert–the same combination that produced Bayern and Dortmund. Klimt’s sire Quality Road won the Florida Derby, Met Mile, Donn Handicap, Woodward Stakes. Quality Road suffered two quarter cracks that prevented him from competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown. So Buyer Beware when it comes to your future wager.

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd->8th
Sire: Quality Road (8/1 – ALL Others)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.05 (calculated) – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Del Mar Futurity

6) Gunnevera (15/1) – The 2016 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes winner (shown below). His sire Dialed In won the 2011 Holy Bull Stakes, the 2011 Florida Derby and then finished 8th in the Kentucky Derby and 4th in the Preakness Stakes. Gunnevera’s winning time of 1:45.15 was the 4th fastest Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes in thirteen runnings at the 8 1/2 furlong distance. Exaggerator won last year’s Delta Downs Jackpot in sloppy track conditions with a time of 1:46.48.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Dialed In (8/1 – ALL Others)
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.51 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  87 – Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes

Three other horses that are on my radar if their live odds are greater than 30-1 or if they entered as expected and perform well this weekend in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes: McCraken and Just Move On

Takaful is expected to be an entry in the Remsen Stakes and was impressive in his first and only start thus far.


LIVE ODDS COMMENTARY – Updated 11/27/16 12:30 PM CST

Links to Live Future Wager Odds: Derby Horses and Sires

Generally speaking for these future wager pools, you try to get at least 3 times the Morning Line Odds for the Kentucky Derby favorite on Derby Day. Morning Line Odds for the last three Kentucky Derby favorites were: Nyquist 3-1, American Pharoah 5-2 and California Chrome 5-2. So question betting on any horse right now when their live odds are less than 7-1. A lot can happen over the next 23 weeks.

Currently, Classic Empire is at 5-1 and his sire Pioneerof the Nile is at 5-1. I would suggest watching Pioneerof the Nile‘s Sire odds vs Classic Empire‘s over the weekend. If they are about the same, you might as well place your bet on Pioneerof the Nile and pick up a few more prospects (ie. Irish Freedom who should be coming back from a pastern injury in late December).

“ALL Others” live odds–For Derby horses is 5-2. For Sires it is 6-1. All Others for Sires picks up some decent Derby contenders in Practical Joke, Klimt, Gunnevera, Lookin At Lee and Three Rules. That is a lot of eggs in the basket. You can usually hedge your way to a profit in these pools if you play it right.

Mastery at 8-1 is getting too much money thrown his way for a horse that has yet to run past 7 furlongs or compete in a two-turn race. Gormley at 26-1 and Klimt at 27-1 are more attractive hedge bets for my Kentucky Derby favorite (Classic Empire) at this point.

I would forget placing any bets on horses with 50-1 Morning Line Odds. None of them really entice me to waste one dollar on at this stage. Syndergaard at 15/1 Morning Line Odds will get a significant amount of money bet on him because he is trained by Todd Pletcher. Right now he is at 28-1. But note that he his sire Majesticperfection was a sprinter and Syndergaard’s speed figures have gone down as he has stretched out past 6 1/2 furlongs.

Also, I recommend placing a few Boxed Exacta bets using Classic Empire and his sire Pioneerof the Nile. Pairing them with “All Others” might be a good option here.

I watched the Remsen and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes today and I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the horses that ran in these races. Takaful had a disappointing, fading effort for third. McCraken seems to be the best of the horses in the future wager pool that ran today but his winning time of 1:44.15 wouldn’t elevate him into my Top 5. And Mo Town’s time of 1:51.58 was way off of what Mohaymen produced last year in this race at 1:50.69. He did display a nice closing speed that times out better than Gunnevera’s time in the Delta Downs Jackpot. McCraken, Wild Shot, Mo Town and No Dozing are probably Derby runners next May but none of them appear to be “hit the board” potential with these efforts.

–Michael

2017 Kentucky Derby Contenders and Review of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

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November 9th 2016

The 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships provided some stellar racing and the Juvenile race (shown below) arguably was the 2nd best race of the event behind the Beholder-Songbird battle in the Distaff race. In my race preview, I thought this year’s  BC juvenile would come down to Not This Time and Classic Empire. However, what I didn’t expect, is that these two would finish so far ahead of the rest of the field. Classic Empire won by a neck and Practical Joke galloped home to finish third and 7 1/2 lengths behind 2nd place finisher Not This Time.

Gormley and Klimt enjoyed the home-track advantage over the East Coast and Midwest horses. Yet both had very puzzling and unexpected poor performances finishing 7th and 8th respectively. I am not alarmed. Two year-olds often throw a mulligan in along the way and I expect both horses to bounce back in the future. However, it is now very clear entering 2017 that Classic Empire and Not This Time are the early co-Kentucky Derby favorites, much like we had with American Pharoah and Dortmund two years ago.

Below are my current 2017 Kentucky Derby contender rankings. I have only ranked five horses because I don’t feel that any other 2 year-olds thus far are on the radar of the top 2. The knee-jerk reaction would be to rank Classic Empire #1 after his big win. He would get my vote for 2 year-old Horse of the Year. But he only won by a neck and I feel that if this race had been 9 or 10 furlongs, Not This Time would caught and passed him for the win. When you rewatch the race, Not This Time got hemmed in a little behind the lead pack around the three-quarter pole and was forced to go wide to the outside. 

2017 Kentucky Derby Contenders 

1) Not This Time  Dale Romans is very high on this Giant’s Causeway colt, calling him “spooky good”. He is Liam’s Map half-brother, the two sharing the same dam (mother) in Miss Macy Sue.  I feel he will get better as he stretches out past 8 1/2 furlongs.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Giant’s Causeway
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.64 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1022016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

2) Classic Empire – American Pharoah’s half-brother. Looks like his gate issues are behind him. I have been very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and wrote about him back in July (SEE).

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: DNF–>1st–>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile  (Finished 2nd in 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.60 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

3) Practical Joke The Chad Brown-trainee has two Grade 1 stakes wins. Practical Joke is the son of Into Mischief. I have some pedigree concerns and especially beyond 9 furlongs. But for now, he is the best after the top 2.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.84 (calculated) – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

4) Gormley He comes from the same owner/trainer combination that produced Zenyatta. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the 2nd start of his career–the FrontRunner Stakes (shown below)–beating the race favorite Klimt.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:1st–>1st–7th
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: John Shirreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.57 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes

5) Klimt  Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert–the same combination that produced Bayern and Dortmund. Klimt’s sire Quality Road won the Florida Derby, Met Mile, Donn Handicap, Woodward Stakes. Quality Road suffered two quarter cracks that prevented him from competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown. 

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Quality Road
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.05 (calculated) – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Del Mar Futurity

–Michael

2016 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Post-Positions, Odds and Analysis

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November 3rd 2016

Below are the post-positions and morning line odds for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race, a sneak preview of the 2017 Kentucky Derby Trail contenders. Post time is 4:43 PM CST this Saturday and the race will be televised on NBC Sports.

Overall, this is an extremely talented field and a much better crop of 2 year-olds than last year. I feel that the race could be won by as many as four horses: Not This Time, Classic Empire, Gormley and Klimt. I think Klimt will be challenged by drawing the rail. If he has the stamina, he could end up wiring this field. But I feel that the most likely winner will be either Classic Empire or Not This Time. There should be enough skepticism about both of these two horses since Classic Empire had starting gate issues two races back and Not This Time’s last race was run in muddy conditions. And starting in the 7 hole, Gormley won’t have a ground-saving trip like he had in the FrontRunner Stakes where he wired the field from #1 post  I would will probably make a boxed Trifecta bet with 4 horses: 1-5-7-10. A Boxed Superfecta or Boxed Exacta bet will be hard to hit or not pay out very much unless your outlay is large.

2016 Breeders Cup Juvenile Post-Positions and Odds

1) Klimt (6/1)  Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert–the same combination that produced Bayern and Dortmund. He lost to Gormley in the FrontRunner Stakes but gained valuable experience sitting off the pace as a stalker. Klimt’s sire Quality Road won the Florida Derby, Met Mile, Donn Handicap, Woodward Stakes. Quality Road suffered two quarter cracks that prevented him from competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown. 

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Quality Road
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:37.51* – estimated time from 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.05 (calculated) – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Del Mar Futurity

2) Syndergaard (6/1)  He lost by a nose to Practical Joke in the Champagne. This Todd Pletcher-trainee has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 88 in 3 starts. However, I am concerned that he will like distance. His sire Majesticperfection was a sprinter that didn’t race until he was 4 years old but won 5 out of 6 sprint races.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Majesticperfection
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:34.69 (calculated) – 2016 Champagne Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2016 Funny Cide Stakes

3) Term of Art (30/1) – The Doug O’Neill-trained 2 year-old will be the 2nd longshot in this race by bettors. His times are pedestrian for this very talented field. However, he is a Tiznow colt so expect him to improve as he stretches out.

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Tiznow (Finished 16th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Doug O’Neil (2012 and 2016 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joe Talamo
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  1:38.39 (calculated) – Del Mar MSW 8/25/16
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  Unknown

4) Theory (12/1) When it comes to the pedigree, trainer and jockey combination, Theory is probably the most attractive 2 year-old colt. Trained by Todd Pletcher who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver. Ridden by jockey John Velazquez who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby on Animal Kingdom. Theory has raced twice at the 6 furlong distance and received 85 Beyer Speed Figures for both races. His sire Gemologist went undefeated in five starts heading into the 2012 Kentucky Derby where he finished 16th. 

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Sire: Gemologist (Finished 16th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano 
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  N/A
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85 – 2016 Futurity Stakes

5) Classic Empire* (4/1) – American Pharoah’s half-brother. Looks like Blinkers On helped him through his gate issues in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. I have been very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and wrote about him back in July (SEE). He is right where I thought he would be after his hiccup in the Hopeful Stakes.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>DNF–>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile  (Finished 2nd in 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  1:36.89*  – time from 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.412016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

6) Three Rules (8/1) – He has owned the 2 year-old races at Gulfstream Park thus far and is the current winnings leader for 2 year-old colts at $680,640. His sire Gone Astray never raced further than 9 furlongs and his biggest win was the 2009 Pennsylvania Derby. He appears to be the early favorite for the Florida Derby.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Gone Astray
Trainer: Jose Pinchin
Jockey: Cornelio Velasquez
Fastest Mile Time: 1:37.81 – 2016 Florida In Reality Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.63 – 2016 Florida In Reality Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Florida Dr Fagar Stakes

7) Gormley* (5/1) He comes from the same owner/trainer combination that produced Zenyatta. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the 2nd start of his career–the FrontRunner Stakes (shown below)–beating the race favorite Klimt. So far, this is the highest Beyer Speed Figure for a 2 year-old at more than a mile distance. My only concern is, he probably won’t be able to run like he did in FrontrRunner Stakes and win a 10 furlong race. But give him credit, he used the rail post to his advantage and didn’t tire at the end. Expect many more Gormley vs Klimt battles on the west coast in the future.

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: N/A–>1st–>1st
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: John Sherreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest Mile Time: 1:36.87* – time from 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.57 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes

8) Star Empire (30/1) – The British colt has never raced further than 7 furlongs. He finished 2nd to Theory in the Futurity Stakes shown below. He will be the longshot in this field with live odds greater than 30-1.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins:0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Foxwedge
Trainer: Wesley Ward
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Fastest Mile Time:  N/A
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time:  N/A

9) Practical Joke* (6/1) The Chad Brown-trainee now has two Grade 1 stakes wins. His time of 1:34.68 in the Champagne Stakes was a great time, even considering that this was a one turn race. However, like Syndergaard whom he beat by a nose, neither have competed in a two-turn race thus far. This is why both weren’t ranked higher in my previous rankings. Plus, East Coast colts haven’t fared as well as their West Coast counterparts the past few years on the Derby trail. Practical Joke is the son of Into Mischief. I have some pedigree concerns and especially beyond 9 furlongs. 

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  1:34.682016 Champagne Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – 2016 Champagne Stakes

10) Not This Time* (7/2)  Dale Romans is very high on this Giant’s Causeway colt, calling him “spooky good”. He reminds him of his half-brother Brody’s Cause. He is also Liam’s Map half-brother, the two sharing the same dam (mother) in Miss Macy Sue.  He has won his last two starts by nearly 19 lengths and seems to be able to kick it into a higher gear with great acceleration in the final couple of furlongs. We probably won’t get the full understanding of what he can really do until he races against some stiffer competition.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0

Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>1st

Sire: Giant’s Causeway
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:35.99 – 2016 Ellis Park MSW 8/12/16
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.22 (muddy conditions) – 2016 Iroquios Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – 2016 Iroquios Stakes

11) Lookin At Lee (20/1) – Steve Asmussen’s best 2 year-old colt thus far. He has finished 2nd in his last two starts to Not This TIme and Classic Empire.

Career: 5 Starts 2-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Lookin’ At Lucky
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.89 (calculated) – 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 83- 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

–Michael

Looking ahead to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile and early 2017 Kentucky Derby Contenders

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October 18th 2016

With the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile race coming up in 18 days on November 5th, it is time to take a closer look at the possible entries  for that race which serves as a nice preview of next year’s Kentucky Derby contenders. 

As I have maintained in previous blogs, this is a very deep and talented crop. In terms of Beyer Speed Figures and times, the 2017 Kentucky Derby class appears to be much better than last year’s at this stage of the game and it is probably better than California Chrome’s class three years ago. 

I will be at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships again this year to view this race as well as all the others. Here are eight 2-year-old colts to keep an eye on. Note: An asterisk indicates horses who have won a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Contenders 

1) Not This Time Dale Romans is very high on this Giant’s Causeway colt, calling him “spooky good”. He reminds him of his half-brother Brody’s Cause. He is also Liam’s Map half-brother, the two sharing the same dam (mother) in Miss Macy Sue.  He has won his last two starts by nearly 19 lengths and seems to be able to kick it into a higher gear with great acceleration in the final couple of furlongs. We probably won’t get the full understanding of what he can really do until he races against some stiffer competition.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Giant’s Causeway
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:35.99 – 2016 Ellis Park MSW 8/12/16
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.22 (muddy conditions) – 2016 Iroquios Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – 2016 Iroquios Stakes

2) Classic Empire– American Pharoah’s half-brother. Looks like Blinkers On helped him through his gate issues in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. I have been very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and wrote about him back in July (SEE). He is right where I thought he would be after his hiccup in the Hopeful Stakes.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>DNF–>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile  (Finished 2nd in 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  1:36.89*  – time from 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.412016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

3) GormleyHe comes from the same owner/trainer combination that produced Zenyatta. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the 2nd start of his career–the FrontRunner Stakes (shown below)–beating the race favorite Klimt. So far, this is the highest Beyer Speed Figure for a 2 year-old at more than a mile distance. My only concern is, he probably won’t be able to run like he did in FrontrRunner Stakes and win a 10 furlong race. But give him credit, he used the rail post to his advantage and didn’t tire at the end. Expect many more Gormley vs Klimt battles on the west coast in the future.

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: N/A–>1st–>1st
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: John Shirreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest Mile Time: 1:36.87* – time from 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.57 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes

4) Klimt  Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert–the same combination that produced Bayern and Dortmund. He lost to Gormley in the FrontRunner Stakes but gained valuable experience sitting off the pace as a stalker. Klimt’s sire Quality Road won the Florida Derby, Met Mile, Donn Handicap, Woodward Stakes. Quality Road suffered two quarter cracks that prevented him from competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown. 

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Quality Road
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:37.51* – estimated time from 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.05 (calculated) – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Del Mar Futurity

5) Practical JokeThe Chad Brown-trainee now has two Grade 1 stakes wins. His time of 1:34.68 in the Champagne Stakes was a great time, even considering that this was a one turn race. However, like Syndergaard whom he beat by a nose, neither have competed in a two-turn race thus far. This is why both aren’t ranked higher. Plus, East Coast colts haven’t fared as well as their West Coast counterparts the past few years on the Derby trail. Practical Joke is the son of Into Mischief. I have some pedigree concerns and especially beyond 9 furlongs. 

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  1:34.682016 Champagne Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – 2016 Champagne Stakes

6) Syndergaard  He lost by a nose to Practical Joke in the Champagne. This Todd Pletcher-trainee has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 88 in 3 starts. However, I am concerned that he will like distance. His sire Majesticperfection was a sprinter that didn’t race until he was 4 years old but won 5 out of 6 sprint races.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Majesticperfection
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:34.69 (calculated) – 2016 Champagne Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2016 Funny Cide Stakes

7) Three Rules – He has owned the 2 year-old races at Gulfstream Park thus far and is the current winnings leader for 2 year-old colts at $680,640. His sire Gone Astray never raced further than 9 furlongs and his biggest win was the 2009 Pennsylvania Derby. He appears to be the early favorite for the Florida Derby.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Gone Astray
Trainer: Jose Pinchin
Jockey: Cornelio Velasquez
Fastest Mile Time: 1:37.81 – 2016 Florida In Reality Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.63 – 2016 Florida In Reality Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Florida Dr Fagar Stakes

8) Theory When it comes to the pedigree, trainer and jockey combination, Theory is probably the most attractive 2 year-old colt. Trained by Todd Pletcher who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver. Ridden by jockey John Velazquez who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby on Animal Kingdom. Theory has raced twice at the 6 furlong distance and received 85 Beyer Speed Figures for both races. His sire Gemologist went undefeated in five starts heading into the 2012 Kentucky Derby where he finished 16th. 

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Sire: Gemologist (Finished 16th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  N/A
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85 – 2016 Futurity Stakes

In addition to the above horses, here are three more talented 2 year-olds that could be entries in the Juvenile race: Royal Copy, Big Gray Rocket and Lookin At Lee.

–Michael

2016 Awesome Again, FrontRunner and Zenyatta Stakes Previews. Will California Chrome be awesome again? Plus updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

challenge

September 27th 2016 – Updated October 1st 2016

Three very key “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships are coming up this Saturday at Santa Anita Park with the FrontRunner Stakes for the Sentient Jet Juvenile race, the Awesome Again Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Zenyatta Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. This block of races will be televised live on NBC Sports.

Below are the post-positions and morning line odds for all three races. 

The FrontRunner Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday October 1st – Race #6 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 5:00 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports.

Post Position/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Gormley – Espinosa/Shirreffs – 8/1
2. Plum Daddy  – Smith/Callaghan – 6/1
3. Secret House  – Gonzalez/O’Neill – 20/1
4. Midnight Pleasure – Garcia/Ruis  – 6/1
5. Straight Fire  – Prat/Desormeaux – 9/5   
6. Klimt – Bejarano/Baffert – 6/5
7. Vibe – Desormeaux/Desormeaux  – 20/1    

Race analysis: This should be a battle between Klimt and Straight Fire. Straight Fire has the highest average Beyer Speed Figure (90) in his 3 starts of any 2 year-0ld thus far. However, he couldn’t stay with Klimt through 7 furlongs in the Del Mar Futurity so I don’t expect much will be different in 3+ weeks. But with 2 year-olds, you never know. Plum Daddy has won at 8 furlongs (1 mile). So if I were betting, I would probably place a small 6 over 2,5 over 2,5 Trifecta. But betting on 2 year-olds is risky due to their inconsistency.


The Awesome Again Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile – Saturday October 1st – Race #7 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 5:30 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports.

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. California Chrome (125) – Espinoza/Sherman -2/5
2. Dortmund (121) – Bejarano/Baffert -5/2
3. Hoppertunity (121) – Pratt/Baffert – 6/1  SCRATCHED
4. Win the Space (121) – Stevens/Papaprodromou -20/1
5. Soi Phet (121) – Desormeaux/Powell -30/1
6. El Huerfano (121) – Pedroza/Miller – 50/1  SCRATCHED
7. Hard Aces (124) – Gonzalez/Sadler  – 15/1

Race analysis: Dortmund is training well and I expect him to give California Chrome a better battle than he did in the Pacific Classic. The 9 furlong distance puts Chrome more in his crosshairs. However, this is California Chrome’s race to lose and exotics will payout next to nothing like they did in the San Diego Handicap if Chrome wins. So this is a better race to watch and than wager on. Especially with the two scratches.


beholder-distaff-2013

The Zenyatta Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday October 1st – Race #9 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 6:30 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports.

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Off the Board (121) – Pereira/Mandella – 30/1
2. Beholder (125) – Stevens/Mandella – 3/5
3. Vale Dori (121) – Bejarano/Baffert – 10/1
4. Tara’s Tango (123) – Garcia/Hollendorfer – 6/1
5. Stellar Wind (125) – Espinosa/Sadler  – 8/5

Race analysis: There are handicappers out there who believe that Beholder is prime to be upset again by Stellar Wind like she was in the Clement L Hirsch Stakes back on July 30th. I tend to believe that Beholder and Gary Stevens were caught off guard by that performance and will bounce back. That being said, you are better off laying down a large 2,5 Boxed Exacta. It seems very safe with this field.

If you want to try a Trifecta bet and are looking for a horse to round one out, I like Vale Dori better than Tara’s Tango. Vale Dori has raced against the boys in the UAE Derby back in March and finished 4th.


2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic

After a very weird Pennsylvania Derby, with Nyquist and Exaggerator finishing 6th and 7th and behind Wild About Deb and My Man Sam, the 2016 Kentucky Derby class has faded down the stretch to new shooters. The only 3 year-old who is a serious threat to win “The Classic” this year is Arrogate. And note that 3 year-olds have won the Breeders Cup Classic only 9 times in 32 runnings of the race. That is only 28%. 

One thing I have been keeping an eye on is Beyer Speed Figures. Below is the Beyer Speed Figures for the last ten runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The average Beyer Speed Figure for this 10 year period was 113.4.

2015       American Pharoah (120)
2014       Bayern (113)
2013       Mucho Macho Man (112)
2012       Fort Larned (117)
2011       Drosselmeyer (104)
2010       Blame (111)
2009       Zenyatta (112)
2008       Raven’s Pass (110)
2007       Curlin (119)
2006       Invasor (106)

I think it is going to take a 112+ Beyer Speed Figure to win this year’s Classic. This was the Beyer Speed Figure that Effinex received for his 2nd place finish behind American Pharoah in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (BCC). American Pharoah’s highest Beyer Speed Figure entering last year’s classic was 109 before he reeled off a 120 to become the first Grand Slam winner of Thoroughbred racing. Bayern’s highest was 111 before he produced a career high 113 in the 2014 edition of the BCC. So a 109 Beyer Speed Figure could be a benchmark for 3 year-olds to be viewed as serious threats to win The Classic. The highest Beyer Speed Figure a 3 year-old has produced thus far at more than a mile distance is the 122 by Arrogate.

After the Awesome Again Stakes this Saturday, there is only one more “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders Cup Classic. The Jockey Gold Cup at Belmont Park on October 8th which will be shown on NBC.

And now onto the rankings. I have only ranked contenders through the Top 7 and separated them into different categories. I don’t think any of the horses outside of my Top 7 are serious threats to win at this point. Perhaps the Awesome Again Stakes and Jockey Gold Cup races may change my mind.

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

The Big Three – West Coast Triumvirate

1)  California Chrome* – He’s undefeated in five starts in 2016. The all-time North American leader in race earnings with $13.25 million dollars. His win in the Pacific Classic was arguably the best performance of his career. Next Start:  The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park this Saturday October 1st.

Career: 23 Starts 14-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  4-1-1-0
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 & 2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 113 – 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic & 2016 Pacific Classic

2) Arrogate – There is no doubt that Bob Baffert has a star colt in Arrogate who set a Travers Stakes and Saratoga track record (1:59.36) for a 1 1/4 mile race. His final quarter mile fraction was 23.84. American Pharoah’s final fraction in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was 24.60. Here are the best career final fractions of his competition in mile and a quarter races: California Chrome 24.44 2016 Pacific Classic, Melatonin 24.27 2016 Gold Cup race at Santa Anita, Beholder  24.65 2015 Pacific Classic. Arrogate will get a 4 pound advantage over California Chrome and older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I just need more than one great performance to elevate him higher over Chrome who is undefeated in 2016. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will get that. Next Start: Bob Baffert indicated that he is going to train Arrogate up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic like he did with American Pharoah. 

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009 & 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.362016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Melatonin–  The Rodney Dangerfield of thoroughbreds because he gets no respect. At the Classic distance of a miler and a quarter, he is undefeated in two starts and has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 108. 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. He was originally pegged to start in the Pacific Classic but he wasn’t entered due to coming off a persistent illness. Next Start: He will train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

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 Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

Slim chance of winning, top picks for your Superfecta

4) Beholder Her 2nd place finish in the Pacific Classic was a commendable performance. However, she has slipped a bit off of her 2015 form where she had the stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below) that put her #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Her trainer Richard Mandella said that he may opt for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff instead of The Classic. Until this decision is made, Beholder will stay in my rankings. Next Start:  The Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Park this Saturday October 1st.

Career: 24 Starts 17-5-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
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 Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

5) Dortmund Nice performances in the San Diego Handicap (2nd) and Pacific Classic (3rd), but he still needs to prove himself beyond 9 furlongs. He has the pedigree for distance. His sire Big Brown won the 2008 Kentucky Derby. The rumor mill suggests that he might be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile over The Classic. if Beholder and Dortmund are entered in The Classic, Gary Stevens will most likely be Beholder’s rider. Next Start: The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park this Saturday October 1st.

Career: 12 Starts 8-1-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.29 (calculated) – 2016 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 110 –2016 San Diego Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 –2016 San Diego Handicap

6) Frosted  I moved Frosted back up 3 spots because I feel that the added rest after his disappointing Woodward performance will do him good. I still think he would be better suited for the Dirt Mile but that will be a tough race as well. He set the track record 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. As he has stretched out past a mile, his Beyer Speed Figures have declined (107 in the Whitney Stakes and 105 in the Woodward Stakes). But he got off to a bad start in the Woodward Stakes and that may have cost him a win. Next Start: He will train up to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Career: 18 Starts 6-6-2-2    Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
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
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 123 – 2016 Metropolitan Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

7) Effinex – His 4th place finish in the Whitney Stakes was a disappointment. He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, it is very clear that he has slipped a bit, only capturing wins in the Oaklawn and Suburban Handicaps. The Jimmy Jerkens-trained 5 year old can be enigmatic at times and prone to get off to bad starts (see 2016 Stephen Foster Handicap). But then he can bounce back with a nice performance like he had in the Suburban Handicap in July. Jockey Mike Smith seems to get the best out of him but Smith will ride Arrogate in The Classic. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 25 Starts 9-2-4-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 6th–>1st–>4th
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 Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Oaklawn Handicap

Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

Not a serious threat to win but ‘hit the board’ potential

Hoppertunity – He kept his streak alive of finishing 4th or better in every graded stakes race in his career with a 4th place finish in the Pacific Classic. He is extremely consistent and you get the feeling that he would probably finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field. Next Start:  The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park this Saturday October 1st.

Career: 21 Starts 5-6-4-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-1-3
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>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:  105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 105 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

Shaman Ghost – After rewatching his Woodward Stakes performance and also learning that had a post-race cough after his disappointing 5th place finish in the Suburban Handicap, I am once again a believer in this Jimmy Jerkens-trained son of Ghostzapper. When you watch the Woodward Stakes race (shown below), Shaman Ghost ran one helluva race. He displayed a willingness to fight for a win and also an ability to go wide and snake through traffic. This is a very talented 4 year-old with a bright future. His jockey Javier Castellano won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic on his father. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.12 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: ? – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

Mubtaahij – This once enigmatic colt has been a fairly consistent in his last three starts. He finished 2nd in the Dubai World Cup behind California Chrome, 3rd in the Suburban Handicap and finished 2nd in a photo finish for the win in the Woodward Stakes. He appears to be a rail-runner which limits his options down the stretch and he has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race. Next Start: The Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont Park on October 8th.

Career: 14 Starts 4-3-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.28 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

Qualified for ‘The Classic’ but would be longshots

Exaggerator The Slopmeister is dependent on a fast pace and an off track. If it rains in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, his odds will shorten.

Career: 15 Starts 6-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>11th–>7th
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 Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

Bradester*  Rumored to be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He has never raced further than 9 furlongs.

Career: 25 Starts 10-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016:  101 – Stephen Foster Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes

3 Year-Olds who could be big Classic contenders next year

American Freedom  He will be entered in either Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Las Vegas Dirt Mile.

Career: 6 Starts 3-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.52 (calculated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2016 Travers Stakes

Connect  The surprise winner of the Pennsylvania Derby. He makes up for a disappointing 6th place finish in the Travers Stakes.

Career: 6 Starts 4-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>6th–>1st
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.84 (calculated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: ?? – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Pennsylvania Derby

Gun Runner  – A very consistent runner who could star as a 4 year-old. He is rumored to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Career: 10 Starts 5-1-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Start  0-0-2-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Candy Ride  
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Fastest 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes

Nyquist  – Probably a better fit for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at this point since he has faded down the stretch in two 9 furlong races.

Career: 11 Starts 8-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>6th
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

–Michael