2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview

Breeders_Cup_Churchill_Downs_2018

October 31st 2018 – Updated November 3rd 2018 4:40 PM CST

Below is the starting field for the 2018 Breeders Cup Classic with post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds. The race will be aired live by NBC. Post time is 4:44 PM CST/5:44 PM EST.

Breeders’ Cup Classic

Post Position/ Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Thunder Snow – Soumillon/Suroor – 12-1
2. Roaring Lion – Murphy/Gosden – 20-1
3. Catholic Boy – Castellano/Thomas – 8-1
4. Gunnevera – Ortiz Jr/Sano – 20-1
5. Lone Sailor – Graham/Amoss – 30-1
6. McKinzie – Smith/Baffert – 6-1
7. West Coast – Velazquez/Baffert – 5-1
8. Pavel –  Gutierrez/O’Neill – 20-1
9. Mendelssohn – Moore/O’Brien – 12-1
10. Yoshida – Ortiz/Mott – 10-1
11. Mind Your Biscuits – Gaffliaone/Summers – 6-1
12. Axelrod – Bravo/McCarthy – 30-1
13. Discreet Lover – Franco/Lewis – 20-1
14. Accelerate Rosario/Sadler – 5-2

Also Eligibles:
15. Collected – Trainer Bob Baffert – 30-1
16. Toast of New York – Trainer Jamie Osborne – 20-1

Race Commentary:  Overall, I feel that this is one of the weaker Breeders’ Cup Classic fields we have had in awhile. But this race carries a $6 Million dollar purse and I still think this will be an exciting race that could produce a surprise winner. There is no horse in this field that I think is a lock to win it this year.

My feeling right now is that Accelerate is really the class of this field. Usually the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic has had a Beyer Speed Figure (BSF) greater than 115. Only two horses in this field have met or exceeded this standard this year: West Coast in Pegasus World Cup way back in January with a 117 BSF and Accelerate in the Pacific Classic in August with a 115 BSF. For any other horse in this field, this means that they will have to run way better than they have ever had in their career. 

Please note that Accelerate beat West Coast in their most recent race, the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita (shown below), despite Accelerate having to travel the greater distance since he beat him coming from the outside.

Also note that jockey Mike Smith opted to ride McKinzie over West Coast. That tells me all I need to know. That Smith likes his chances better on a 3 year-old (McKinzie) vs the 4 year-old (West Coast).

Accelerate really has the tougher post-position starting from gate 14. If he drew an inside post or a post in the middle of the field, I would key Accelerate to win in my exotic bets. However, also note that trainer John Sadler has never won a Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trainer Bob Baffert, who trains McKinzie and West Coast, has won three.

Overall, I like big Win bets on Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race on Friday than any win bet on a horse in this Breeders’ Cup Classic field. So what I would do is place smaller Boxed Exactas on Accelerate-McKinzie (6,14 over 6,14) and Boxed Trifectas on Accelerate, McKinzie and West Coast (6,7,14 over 6,7,14 over 6,7,14). A $1 Boxed Trifecta would cost $6. 

If I had to pick one horse who I think could surprise everyone, it would be Mind Your Biscuits who won the Lukas Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs in late September and earned a 108 BSF. However, note that Mind Your Biscuits has never raced further than 9 furlongs but he has finished 1st or 2nd in his last six starts.

Updates

Click on Hyperlink for each race to see Brisnet Past Performances

Breeders’ Cup Mile (Turf Race #8): This race is too wide-open for my tastes. But if you want a selection for a Pick 4, I’d go with the Chad Brown trained Analyze It from post position #12. However, there are a number of unknowns in this field. So if you are playing a Pick 4 and like another horse in the field, throw them in. You might want to throw in Next Shares and Oscar Performance. So 2-5-12.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Race #9)I like Mike Smith riding on Abel Tasman from post-position #2. This one is no lock but I will take my chances with Mike Smith and the better inside post-position.

Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf (Race #10): I like Enable from post position #2. Enable has won eight straight, including two prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe races. Career: 10 starts, 9 wins. This is as much of a lock as you will find for a turf race and a European shipper. But bet cautiously as Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners haven’t fared well in this Longines Turf race.

Breeders’ Cup Classic (Race #11): You have got to be concerned with trainer John Sadler’s record in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and especially with how Catalina Cruiser bombed in the Dirt Mile earlier. So Sadler’s trainee Accelerate, the morning line favorite, may end up the third or fourth favorite by post-time. I am warming up to McKinzie a bit more as my race winner. However, note that Catholic Boy was the early betting favorite for this race on Friday. I still think this race is wide-open and will be must-see TV. I still like Accelerate.

My advice, on the Breeders’ Cup Classic: Bet Small and Enjoy. It will be a fun race.

–Michael

2018 Pegasus World Cup Preview

Pegasus

January 24th 2018 – Updated January 27th 4:30 PM CST

Below are the official entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the upcoming 2018 Pegasus World Cup scheduled for Saturday January 27th at Gulfstream Park. Post time for the richest horse race in the world is 4:45 PM CST.  The race will be televised on NBC with coverage beginning at 3:30 PM CST. All horses will carry 124 lbs weight except for the mare Stellar Wind who will carry 121 lbs.

2018 Pegasus World Cup – 1 1/8th mile – Purse: $16.3 Million

1) Singing Bullet (30/1) – One of the last official entries for the Pegasus World Cup. Dale Romans is a great trainer but I think this field is way too much of a step-up in class for this 4 year-old colt. In his last start, he finished 4th in an Allowance Optional Claiming race at Gulfstream Park on December 29th (shown below).

Career: 10 Starts 3-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>4th
Sire: Hard Spun
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  95 – 2017 AllowOC race at Churchill Downs 11/26/17

2) West Coast (8/1) – The winner of the Pennsylvania Derby.  He finished 3rd in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. His Travers Stakes win still ranks as his most impressive performance. There have only been seven other horses who posted a faster time in the Travers at the 10 furlong distance than West Coast’s 2:01.91.  One of which was track record holder Arrogate in 2016 (1:59.36).

Career: 9 Starts 6-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.65 – 2017 Los Alamitos Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 107 – 2017 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – Breeders’ Cup Classic 

3) Stellar Wind (30/1) – The only filly/mare to be entered into the Pegasus World Cup. She’s coming off a very disappointing 8th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Does she have a chance of winning against this field? Sure but she will have to get out of the gate well and bring her “A” game and run the best race of her career. It’s a tall order but should make this race more interesting.

Career: 16 Starts 10-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.02 (estimated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Zenyatta Stakes

4) Sharp Azteca (6/1) – The Cigar Mile winner with a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 115. Sharp Azteca has pretty much raced 7 and 8 furlong (1 mile) races during his career. It is not a stretch for him to race an extra furlong which is the beauty of this 9 furlong Pegasus World Cup race.

Career: 16 Starts 8-5-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Freud
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115  – 2017 Cigar Mile Handicap

5) Collected (8/1) – Although he had a disappointing third place finish in his last start–the 2017 San Antonio Stakes–Collected will probably be the 2nd race favorite behind Gun Runner in the Pegasus. He finished 2nd behind Gun Runner in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 8-2-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Jockey)
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.73 – 2017 California Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 California Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

6) Gunnevera (15/1)  – Although he is not likely to win against this level of competition, he has a chance of hitting the board. He’s a closer and I would like his chances better in a 10 furlong race. He finished tied for 5th with Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>5th
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Luis Saez
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.51 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

7) Fear the Cowboy (30/1) – The Harlan’s Holiday Stakes winner at Gulfstream Park back in mid December. He will be one of the longshots

Career: 27 Starts 9-7-2-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Cowboy Cal
Trainer: Efran Loza Jr.
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.59 (estimated) – 2016 Lukas Classic Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  105 – 2017 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes

8) War Story (25/1) – In his last three starts, all Grade 1 races, he has finished 4th each time including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He finished 5th in last year’s Pegasus World Cup. He’s not likely a contender for the win but a horse to include in your Supefecta bets.

Career: 25 Starts 5-3-3-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>4th–>4th
Sire: Northern Afleet
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.95 (estimated) – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Toast of New York (20/1) – Although Toast of New York has never won a Grade 1 race, the recently turned 7 year-old does have two career 2nd place finishes in Grade 1 races: the 2014 Pacific Classic and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (shown below). After a three year layoff due to a soft tissue injury, Toast of New York was entered and won the Condition Stakes in the UK at Lingfield Park back in early December. It is good to see him back racing.

Career: 9 Starts 4-3-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Thewayyouare
Trainer: Frankie Dettori
Jockey: Lanfranco Dettori
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

10) Gun Runner (4/5) – He’s extremely consistent and the top racehorse in the world on dirt. He produced his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 117 in his last start–the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Unfortunately for race fans, Gun Runner will be retired at the conclusion of the Pegasus World Cup race where he will undoubtedly be the race favorite.

Career: 18 Starts 11-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.43  – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 117 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

11) Seeking the Soul (25/1) – The Dallas Stewart-trained surprise winner in the Clark Handicap. He earned a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 103 with the win.

Career: 17 Starts 5-3-5-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Perfect Soul
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: John Velazquez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.88 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap

12) Giant Expectations (30/1) – The surprise winner of the 2017 San Antonio Stakes in a small but talented five horse field that included Collected, Accelerate and Hoppertunity.

Career: 13 Starts 4-3-1-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>6th–>1st
Sire: Frost Giant
Trainer: Peter Eurton
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2017 San Antonio Stakes

Also Eligible: Game Over, Jorge Navarro, Jose Ortiz

Race Analysis: I didn’t like the post-position draw for Gun Runner. I don’t think that trainer Steve Asmussen was thrilled with #10 post either. But Gun Runner is still the horse to beat in this field. However, with his post-position draw I expect his odds to move from 4/5 to up to 1/1 or higher. I like Collected, West Coast, Sharp Azteca and Gunnevera to round out the Trifecta. 

So right now, my gut feeling is that I like 10 over 2,4,5,6 over 2,4,5,6 over 2,4,5,6. But I may key two horses to win. I will have to do some more research and think about it. I am fighting off flu remnants so my energy level is a bit drained. So check back later as I will update this blog with any scratches and more analysis.

Update:  Here’s what I am doing for the Pegasus World Cup: $1 Superfecta that costs $24: Keying Gun Runner to win – 10 over 2,4,5,6 over 2,4,5,6 over 2,4,5,6. That’s Gun Runner winning with any combination of West Coast, Sharp Azteca, Collected and Gunnevera finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Then a $1 Trifecta that costs $7: 2,10, over 2,5,10 over 2,5,6. That’s Gun Runner or West Coast finishing 1st or 2nd with Collected as a candidate to finish 2nd or 3rd and Gunnevera as an option for 3rd. Then a $3 Boxed Exacta of #2 West Coast and #10 Gun Runner that costs $6. So $37 total wagered.


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Holy Bull Stakes scheduled for February 3rd as well as the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers scheduled for the followingweekend.

–Michael

2018 Pegasus World Cup Contenders

pegasus-world-cup-logo

January 15th 2018

We are 12 days away from the richest horse race in the world–the 2018 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. The total purse was raised from $12 million for the inaugural race last year to $16 million dollars this year. The field will be limited to 12 entries. Below are profiles on 10 of the 12 that are expected to be entered.

1) Gun Runner – He’s extremely consistent and the top racehorse in the world on dirt. He produced his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 117 in his last start–the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Unfortunately for race fans, Gun Runner will be retired at the conclusion of the Pegasus World Cup race where he will undoubtedly be the race favorite.

Career: 18 Starts 11-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.43  – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 117 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Collected – Although he had a disappointing third place finish in his last start–the 2017 San Antonio Stakes–Collected will probably be the 2nd race favorite behind Gun Runner in the Pegasus. He finished 2nd behind Gun Runner in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

Career: 13 Starts 8-2-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Jockey)
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.73 – 2017 California Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 California Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

3) West Coast – The winner of the Pennsylvania Derby.  He finished 3rd in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. His Travers Stakes win still ranks as his most impressive performance. There have only been seven other horses who posted a faster time in the Travers at the 10 furlong distance than West Coast’s 2:01.91.  One of which was track record holder Arrogate in 2016 (1:59.36).

Career: 9 Starts 6-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.65 – 2017 Los Alamitos Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 107 – 2017 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – Breeders’ Cup Classic 

4) Sharp Azteca – The Cigar Mile winner with a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 115. Sharp Azteca has pretty much raced 7 and 8 furlong (1 mile) races during his career. It is not a stretch for him to race an extra furlong which is the beauty of this 9 furlong Pegasus World Cup race.

Career: 16 Starts 8-5-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Freud
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115  – 2017 Cigar Mile Handicap

5) Seeking the Soul – The Dallas Stewart-trained surprise winner in the Clark Handicap. He earned a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 103 with the win.

Career: 17 Starts 5-3-5-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Perfect Soul
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: John Velazquez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.88 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap

6) Giant Expectations – The surprise winner of the 2017 San Antonio Stakes in a small but talented five horse field that included Collected, Accelerate and Hoppertunity.

Career: 13 Starts 4-3-1-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>6th–>1st
Sire: Frost Giant
Trainer: Peter Eurton
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2017 San Antonio Stakes

7) Toast of New York – Although Toast of New York has never won a Grade 1 race, the recently turned 7 year-old does have two career 2nd place finishes in Grade 1 races: the 2014 Pacific Classic and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (shown below). After a three year layoff due to a soft tissue injury, Toast of New York was entered and won the Condition Stakes in the UK at Lingfield Park back in early December. It is good to see him back racing.

Career: 9 Starts 4-3-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Thewayyouare
Trainer: Jamie Osborne
Jockey: Lanfranco Dettori
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

8) Gunnevera  – Although he is not likely to win against this level of competition, he has a chance of hitting the board. He’s a closer and I would like his chances better in a 10 furlong race. He finished tied for 5th with Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>5th
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Edgard Zayas
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.51 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Stellar Wind – The only filly/mare to be entered into the Pegasus World Cup. She’s coming off a very disappointing 8th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Does she have a chance of winning against this field? Sure but she will have to get out of the gate well and bring her “A” game and run the best race of her career. It’s a tall order but should make this race more interesting.

Career: 16 Starts 10-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Victor Espinoza
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.02 (estimated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Zenyatta Stakes

10) War Story – In his last three starts, all Grade 1 races, he has finished 4th each time including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He’s not likely a contender for the win but a horse to include in your Supefecta bets.

Career: 25 Starts 5-3-3-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>4th–>4th
Sire: Northern Afleet
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.95 (estimated) – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic


Mourinho wins the Smarty Jones Stakes

The Bob Baffert-trained Mourinho picked up 10 Kentucky Derby points with a win in Monday’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park with a nice time of 1:37.25 and 99 Beyer Speed Figure. Finishing second was the Steve Asmussen trained colt Combatant.

Bob Baffert now has three colts with at least 10 Derby points: McKinzie (20), Solomini (14) and Mourinho (10). St Patrick Day, the full brother to American Pharoah, has yet to resume training.

Steve Asmussen’s top 3 year-old point earner thus far is Combatant (8). Perhaps the best colt in Asmussen’s barn is Copper Bullet who resumed training January 5th. Chad Brown’s Good Magic leads the Derby point standings with 24.


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Pegasus World Cup with all confirmed entries and odds.  After this, I will preview the 2018 Holy Bull Stakes scheduled for February 3rd.

–Michael

Looking Forward To 2018

pegasus-world-cup-logo

December 28th 2017

With 2017 coming to a close, its time to look ahead to another interesting season of thoroughbred horse racing. To put it mildly, 2017 wasn’t one of my favorites as it was marred by inconsistency and the retirement of two great stars of the sport: Songbird and Arrogate. And another star, Gun Runner, will be retired after the Pegasus World Cup that is coming up in 5 weeks.

The sport seems to be heading into an era with no huge star. We’ve had a great run the past four years with California Chrome, American Pharoah, Beholder, Arrogate and Songbird.

Where will the next star of the sport come from? Most likely the 2018 Kentucky Derby class that appears to be a better crop than last year. Who are the leading candidates for stardom? Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic, Copper Bullet, McKinzie and St Patrick’s Day.

But perhaps the next star will be born in the Pegasus World Cup. Along with Gun Runner, the confirmed entries are West Coast, Collected, Gunnevera, Toast of New York, Seeking the Soul and the 6 year old mare Stellar WindWest Coast seems to be the most likely candidate to take a huge leap forward.

At any rate, I will preview and provide updates for the Pegasus World Cup as well as major races on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail in weeks ahead. The Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on January 6th will most likely be the next race I preview but I will keep an eye on entries for the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day.  The Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn is scheduled for January 15th. All three of these races are point-paying races for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

Have a great New Year!

–Michael

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview. Will Arrogate go out a winner?

DelMar_2017Logo_RGB_CROP2

November 2nd 2017  – Updated November 3rd 2017 5:15 PM CST

As many already know, this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic will be the last race of Arrogate’s career. The all-time leading money earner in North America with $17.3 Million in career earnings will be retired at the conclusion of the race. Will he go out victorious and ride off into the sunset? That’s the Six Million Dollar question. 

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The Breeders’ Cup Classic – 1 & 1/4th Mile – Race #12 at Del Mar – Saturday November 4th at 7:30 PM CST. Televised by NBC 

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Arrogate – Smithre/Baffert –2/1
2. War Decree – Heffernan/O’Brien – 30/1
3. Win the Space – Talamo/Papaprodromou – 30/1
4. War Story – J.Ortiz/Navarro – 30/1
5. Gun Runner – Geroux/Asmussen – 9/5
6. Mubtaahij – Van Dyke/Baffert – 12/1
7. Churchill – Moore/O’Brien  – 15/1
8. West Coast – Castellano/Baffert – 6/1
9. Gunnevera – Zayas/Sano – 30/1
10. Pavel – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 20/1
11. Collected – Garcia/Baffert –6/1

Race Commentary: From research I have done for previous Breeders’ Cup Classic races, the consensus I came to is that a race winner really needed to have a career Beyer Speed Figure of 112 or better for me to believe that they has a serious chance of winning. Why? Because the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner has raise their game and usually produces a Beyer Speed Figure of 112 or better.

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 113.8.

2016 – Arrogate (120)
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)

With this in mind, here are profiles on the only three horses in this field who have eclipsed a Beyer Speed Figure of 112 during their career:

Gun Runner* (9/5) – He’s extremely consistent and arguably the top racehorse in the world on dirt. In his last two starts in the Whitney Stakes and Woodward Stakes, he produced his two best career Beyer Speed Figures of 112 and 115. The only knock on his resume currently is that he has never won at the Classic distance of 10 furlongs. However, he has an ideal post-position (#5) in the starting gate.

Career: 17 Starts 10-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.76 (estimated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes

Collected* (6/1) – He’s a perfect 4 for 4 in 2017. His surprise win in the Pacific Classic answered any questions you might have had about his ability to stretch out to 10 furlongs. Unfortunately, he drew an outside post (#11) for this race. So he’ll have more traffic to deal with and a longer trip than he had with post-position #2 in the Pacific Classic.

Career: 11 Starts 8-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.70 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

Arrogate (2/1) – The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion was upset by Accelerate in the San Diego Handicap and then by Collected in the TVG Pacific Classic. There is no doubt that his has lost some closing speed. Worst yet, he has been prone of late to not getting out of the gate quick enough. He will have to get out of the gate in good order in this race starting from post-position #1. If he does, he has the ability to wire the field if the Arrogate of old shows up. If not, he could get hemmed in along the rail.

Career: 10 Starts 7-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  4-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.36 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 119 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes

My Pick: Although I hope Arrogate wins, I like Gun Runner in this one. He is fast, consistent and has the better starting post in the middle of the starting gate. My feeling is that if Bob Baffert and his ownership group were confident that Arrogate was the Arrogate of late 2016 and early 2017, they wouldn’t announce early retirement before the richest horse race in the world–the Pegasus World Cup.

Collected is a talented horse but he had his own way in the Pacific Classic with a great starting position (post #2). This time he will have to come from the outside post. I just didn’t like that draw for him.

Update: The way front runners and favorites have been going down at Del Mar thus far, I’d stick with win bets on Gun Runner or Collected.

–Michael

Updated 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

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October 11th 2017 – Updated November 1st 2017 4:15 PM CST

This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic appears to be wide-open. Gun Runner will the likely favorite but he does his best work at 9 furlongs (1 1/8th mile). Last year’s Breeders’ Cup champion Arrogate has been less than impressive in his last two starts. Add this up and we may have a surprise winner in The Classic.

Below are my top 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders with the morning line odds.  

2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

1) Gun Runner* (9/5) – He’s extremely consistent and now arguably the top racehorse in the world on dirt. In his last two starts in the Whitney Stakes and Woodward Stakes, he produced his two best career Beyer Speed Figures of 112 and 115. The only knock on his resume currently is that he has never won at the Classic distance of 10 furlongs. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 17 Starts 10-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-2-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.76 (estimated) – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 102 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes

2) Collected* (6/1) – He’s a perfect 4 for 4 in 2017. His surprise win in the Pacific Classic answered any questions you might have had about his ability to stretch out to 10 furlongs. – Next Start: The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 11 Starts 8-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.70 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

3) Arrogate (2/1) – The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion was upset by Accelerate in the San Diego Handicap and then by Collected in the TVG Pacific Classic. There is no doubt that his has lost some closing speed and he has been prone of late to not getting out of the gate quick enough. The most recent news is that the defending Pegasus World Cup champion won’t be defending his title. He will be retired after the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 10 Starts 7-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  4-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.36 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 119 – 2017 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes

4) West Coast (6/1) – The recent winner of the Pennsylvania Derby (107 Beyer Speed Figure).  His Travers Stakes win still ranks as his most impressive performance. There have only been seven other horses who posted a faster time in the Travers at the 10 furlong distance than West Coast’s 2:01.91.  One of which was track record holder Arrogate last year (1:59.36). Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 8 Starts 6-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.19 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Travers Stakes 

5) Mubtaahij* (12/1) – The recent winner of the Awesome Again Stakes (shown below). Mubtaahij has historically been sort of an enigma but appears to have blossomed and matured under the training of Bob Baffert. Although he is not a huge threat to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he does have “hit the board” potential with a 2nd place and 4th place finish in the last two Dubai World Cup races. Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 18 Starts 5-4-1-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>4th–>1st
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014, 2015 & 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.28 (estimated) – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Suburban Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 102- 2017 Awesome Again Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

6) Gunnevera (30/1) – Although he is not likely to win against this level of competition, he has a closer’s chance of hitting the board. There is no doubt that he has improved since his 7th place finish in this year’s Kentucky Derby. – Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Edgard Zayas
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2.01.71 (estimated) – 2017 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes

7) Pavel (20/1)– Coming off a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 104 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race at Belmont. He has just four career starts but could surprise in The Classic. – Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Creative Cause
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2.01.24 (estimated) – 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: 104 – 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup

8) War Decree (30/1) – Primarily a turf horse, he did win a Group 3 (Grade 3) race on a Polytrack surface in Ireland in his last start at distance 150 yards longer than the Classic distance of 10 furlongs (1 1/4 mile). So there are no questions that he can go the distance.  Next Start: The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 3rd or the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 4th.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 6th–>5th–>1st
Sire: War Front
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Donnacha O’Brien?
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2017: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

Other Breeders’ Cup Classic entries: Win the Space (30/1) , War Story (30/1) and Churchill (15/1). Win the Space and War Decree have been cross-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Churchill has also been cross-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (Turf). War Story has been entered in the Breeders’ Cup Turf race.

Keen Ice was pre-entered in the Classic but was retired after suffering an ankle injury

Note: An asterisk * indicates horses who have qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic by virtue of winning a “Win and You’re In’ race.


On the Docket…

My next blog will focus in on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contenders.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

–Michael

2017 Travers Stakes Preview

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August 22nd 2017 – Updated August 26th 4:38 PM CST

The 148th running of 2017 Travers Stakes has the most competitive field of 3-year-olds that we have seen all year. Entries include the Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, the Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing, the Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit and the Haskell Invitational Stakes winner Girvin.

The Travers Stakes is a Grade 1 Stakes race that carries a $1.25 Million dollar purse. It’s not a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic but might as well be as the race winner will probably be viewed as the leading 3-year-old in North America entering the Classic.

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockeys and morning-line odds:

The 148th Travers Stakes

1 1/4th Mile – Race #11 at Saratoga – Post-Time: Saturday August 26th 4:44 PM CST. Televised by NBC

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Cloud Computing – Castellano/Brown – 8/1
2. Giuseppe the Great – Gafflione/Zito – 20/1
3. West Coast – Smith/Baffert – 4/1
4. Tapwrit – J. Ortiz/Pletcher – 7/2
5. Good Samaritan – Rosario/Mott – 5/1
6. Girvin – Albarado/Sharp – 10/1
7. Always Dreaming – Velazquez/Pletcher – 6/1
8. Lookin At Lee – Santana Jr./Asmussen – 30/1
9. McCraken – Hernandez Jr./Wilkes – 12/1
10. Irap – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 8/1
11. Gunnevera – Zayas/Sano – 20/1
12. Fayeq – Saez/McLaughlin – 30/1

Race Analysis: This race is wide-open. There are about six or seven horses in this field that I would not be surprised at all if they won. Right now, I like about three horses for the win: West Coast, Good Samaritan and Gunnevera. So I may try a 10 cent superfecta keying those three horses over 3 others which would cost $18. 

Girvin is one horse I am sure that I would include underneath because he has shown me a willingness to battle. I also like a rested Tapwrit’s possibility of hitting the board. And Always Dreaming has proven that he has won at the 10 furlong distance and he usually puts himself in striking distance. The question will be, will Always Dreaming  fade out like he did in the Jim Dandy?

Last year, when Arrogate won the Travers in a 14 horse field at 11.7 to 1 final odds and race favorite Exaggerator finished out of the money, a 10 cent superfecta paid out $1,045.60. It’s not likely to pay as much this year with a 12 horse field even if a longshot wins. But if Gunnevera or some other longer shot wins, it should still pay out nice.

I am really warming up to Gunnevera in my exotics because I loved his last start in the Tangelo Stakes at Gulfstream Park (shown below). It was nearly 3 weeks ago, so a tune-up for the Travers. Yes, it was against a weak field but he absolutely smoked this field in the final 2 1/2 furlongs. I calculated his final 2 1/2 furlong speed at 38.08 mph. He’s a closer but he had no early speed to run at in this race to aid his closing style.

Betting Advice: When bettingI prefer races where I feel that there are one or two clear favorites from my research and this isn’t one of them. I don’t think this is a great betting race for Win bets and Exacta bets, it’s just too unpredictable.

However, there will be a lot of money plunked down on this race and there is money that can be made. I normally don’t like Superfecta bets as they are too hard to hit. I can usually hit three out of four horses but one horse usually surprises me. That being said, a superfecta bet appears to be the way to go for this race. Over the last ten years, a 10 cent superfecta in the Travers, on average, paid out between $450-$500.

So I am going with a smaller outlay/big reward approach. I am going to place a 10 cent Superfecta keying 3 horses to win: West Coast, Good Samaritan and Gunnevera. So 3,5,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11. This 10 cent super will cost $36. If it hits, you should cover your bet at the minimum for a potential $1000 payback if a longer odds horse like Gunnevera wins. If it doesn’t, well it’s just $36 lost–nothing to cry about.

Final Update: I see nothing new to wager on but I am liking how the odds are shaking out thus far. My superfecta bet above was edited, earlier edit didn’t take. 3,5,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11 over 3,4,5,6,7,8,11. This 10 cent super will cost $36.


On the Docket…

My next blog will be updated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings. I decided that the Travers Stakes deserved more attention, so I decided to wait until after the Travers to post my next updated Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings. A big hint, it won’t have Arrogate #1.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

–Michael

2017 Preakness Stakes Preview

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May 18th 2017 – Updated May 20th 2017

Below are the entries, post-positions and morning line odds for Saturday’s 142nd Preakness Stakes. Rain doesn’t appear to be in the forecast so that is a handicapping aspect we fortunately won’t have to worry about.

This should be a great race that will be won by either Always Dreaming or Classic Empire. Classic Empire had a really bad trip in the Kentucky Derby but he won’t in this 10-horse Preakness field. There are a few “new shooters” that could finish in the money in Conquest Mo Money and Multiplier but neither are a huge threat to win.

The Preakness Stakes – 9 1/2 furlongs. Race #13 at Pimlico. Post-time: 5:48 PM CST. Televised by NBC.

1) Multiplier (30/1) – The Illinois Derby winner. He laid down an impressive sub 1:48 time in this 9 furlong race. So I don’t understand the 30-1 odds here.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st
Sire:  The Factor
Trainer: Brandon Walsh
Jockey:  Joel Rosario
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.98 – 2017 Illinois Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  882017 Illinois Derby

2) Cloud Computing (12/1) – He ran an impressive 2nd in the Gotham Stakes but finished 3rd in a slow Wood Memorial. Judging how Wood Memorial winner Irish War Cry fared in the Kentucky Derby (10th place finish), I don’t see Cloud Computing figuring in my Preakness Superfecta.

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Maclean’s Music
Trainer:  Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2006 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.03 (estimated) – 2017 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  962017 Gotham Stakes

3) Hence (20/1)   He is probably a much better horse than his 11th place finish in the Kentucky Derby suggests. He is a deep closer and they typically don’t fare well in the Preakness.

Career: 7 Starts 2-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  7th–>1st-->11th
Sire:  Street Boss
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.10 – 2017 Sunland Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 932017 Sunland Derby

4) Always Dreaming  (4/5) – Always Dreaming is the fastest horse in the Preakness field and the deserved favorite. The son of Bodemeister has a stalking race style and late speed that should put him on or near the lead. I wrote a Derby profile on Always Dreaming for US Racing which can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Career: 6 Starts 4-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Bodemeister (Finished 2nd in the 2012 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher 
Jockey: John Velazquez 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:47.472017 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1022017 Kentucky Derby

5) Classic Empire (3/1) The 2-year-old Male Champion had a bad trip in the Kentucky Derby and really should be commended for salvaging a fourth place finish. He should be more of a factor in the smaller Preakness field. I was very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and first wrote about him back in July (SEE). I see him stalking Always Dreaming in the Preakness but will he have enough to mow him down in the stretch? He is capable and we will see.

Career: 8 Starts 5-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Last 3 starts: 3rd—>1st–>4th
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile (Finished 11th in the 2009 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.93 – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 

6) Gunnevera (15/1) – His closer style of racing makes him less of a factor in the Preakness unless he is pressed up more on the pace. 

Career: 8 Starts 3-1-1-1   
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>7th
Sire: Dialed In (Finished 4th in 2011 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Mike Smith (1993 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.51 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 972017 Fountain of Youth Stakes

7) Term of Art (30/1) – The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is looking to bounce back from a 7th place finish in Santa Anita Derby. He is justifiably 30/1.

Career: 9 Starts 2-1-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>3rd–>7th
Sire:  Tiznow
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.16 (estimated) – 2017 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 922017 San Felipe Stakes 

8) Senior Investment (30/1) – He is coming off a win in the Lexington Stakes but at best, I see him as a mid-pack finisher in the Preakness.

Career: 8 Starts 3-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>6th–>1st
Sire:  Discreetly Mine
Trainer:  Ken McPeek
Jockey: Channing Hill
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.69 (estimated) – 2017 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  89 2017 Lexington Stakes

9) Lookin At Lee (10/1)  A deep closer whose racing style, like Hence & Gunnevera, doesn’t match up well for the Preakness. I wrote an article on his longshot chances in the Kentucky Derby for US Racing (SEE). I don’t see a win or 2nd place finish here.

Career: 10 Starts 2-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 6th–>3rd–>2nd
Sire:  Lookin at Lucky (Won the 2010 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 & 2009 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.17 (estimated) – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2017 Kentucky Derby

10) Conquest Mo Money (15/1) – He earned enough points to start in the 143rd Kentucky Derby but he wasn’t Triple Crown nominated. Conquest Mo Money has never finished below second in five career starts and beat some quality horses in the Arkansas Derby. His Beyer Speed Figures are ascending.

Career: 5 Starts 3-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Uncle Mo
Trainer: Miguel Hernandez 
Jockey:  Jorge Carreno
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.01 (estimated) – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 932017 Arkansas Derby


Handicapping Advice

The Pimlico straight is 80 feet shorter than Churchill Downs and the Preakness is 1/2 furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby. The turns at Pimlico have less banking so it is more difficult for horses to accelerate through the turns. All of this works against deep closers.

My gut instinct tells me that Always Dreaming is going to win this race, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Classic Empire pulls the upset. So I think Always Dreaming’s 4/5 morning line odds are a bit too short. These odds are shorter than the live odds (9/10) American Pharoah had for the sloppy 2015 Preakness Stakes.

The Preakness exotic bets usually don’t pay out well unless longshots finish in the top 3 or the favorite gets beat. I generally feel that the best Superfecta candidates are: Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, Conquest Mo Money and Multiplier. You can usually count on one of the speed horses having an off day so you will want to throw in one closer. It is difficult to figure out which closer will come out ahead of the others. I generally feel that the closer who gets pressed up a bit on the pace will have the best chance of finishing in the money.  I feel that Gunnevera is the most likely candidate of this group.

Overall, I don’t see this a big payout race unless the totally unexpected happens. So I would play it conservative.


UPDATE:

Superfecta betting: I like #4 over 1,5,6,10

Trifecta Betting: I like 4,5 & 10 Boxed

–Michael

2017 Kentucky Derby Preview

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

May 3rd 2017

Below are the entries, post-positions and morning-line odds for the 2017 Kentucky Derby. I will write another blog by Saturday with my with Derby picks but Classic Empire and Always Dreaming will be the only two horses I will lay money on to win provided it is a dry race. If the odds stay 4/1 for Classic Empire and 5/1 for Always Dreaming, you could bet $56 on Classic Empire and $44 on Always Dreaming and double your $100 investment ($226-$220) if either of these two horses win.

Be sure to check out my feature article for US Racing titled “Is there a Mine That Bird in the 2017 Kentucky Derby Field?”

2017 Kentucky Derby Starting Field

1) Lookin At Lee (20/1)  Like Gunnevera and Sonneteer, he is a deep closer who raced against some of the best in this class. He didn’t win but acquitted himself well. While he is not a huge threat to win on a dry, fast track, he certainly has a chance on a wet track. I wrote an article on his chances in the Kentucky Derby for US Racing which can be accessed HERE

Career: 9 Starts 2-2-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>6th–>3rd
Sire:  Lookin at Lucky (Finished 6th in the 2010 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.17 (estimated) – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – 2017 Arkansas Derby

2) Thunder Snow (20/1) – Godolphin Racing’s UAE Derby winner. UAE Derby winners haven’t fared all that well in the Kentucky Derby but I generally feel the Irish-bred colt’s chances are better than last year’s UAE Derby winner Lani. Lani finished 9th in last year’s Derby.

Career: 8 Starts 4-2-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Helmet
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:52.21 (estimated) – 2017 UAE Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: Unknown

3) Fast and Accurate (50/1) – A 50/1 longshot. The Spiral Stakes winner has won his last three starts. His sire Hansen finished 9th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Hansen was definitely better than his son. So I don’t see an above 10th place finish in this year’s Derby on a dry, fast track as a realistic probability.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Hansen (Finished 9th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Michael Maker
Jockey: Channing Hill
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.96 – 2017 Spiral Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 82 – 2017 Spiral Stakes

4) Untrapped (30/1) – Here is another horse that hasn’t won since his maiden. I generally feel that Untrapped is the weakest of the three Steve Asmussen-trained Derby entries. However, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr rode all three Asmussen Derby entries and probably could have had his choice of any of the three mounts. He chose Untrapped. I always take notice of this.

Career: 6 Starts 1-3-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Trappe Shot
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.53 – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 922017 Withers Stakes

5) Always Dreaming (5/1) – Always Dreaming is the fastest horse in this Kentucky Derby field. His 1:47.47 in the Florida Derby is the best 9 furlong time in this class. The son of Bodemeister has a stalking race style and late speed that will bode well in the Kentucky Derby. I wrote a Derby profile on Always Dreaming for US Racing which can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Bodemeister (Finished 2nd in the 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:47.472017 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 972017 Florida Derby

6) State of Honor (30/1) – Always the bridesmaid, never the bride is the best way to describe this Mark Casse-trained Canadian bred colt. He hasn’t won a race in four starts during his 3-year-old campaign. However, he had 2nd place finishes in the Tampa Bay Derby and Florida Derby. I am not sure that he will like the 10 furlong distance as his sire To Honor and Serve seemed to excel more at 8 and 9 furlongs.

Career: 10 Starts 1-4-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  3rd–>2nd–2nd
Sire:  To Honor and Serve
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.27 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  90 – 2017 Florida Derby

7) Girvin (15/1) – The Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby winner. His sire, Tale of Ekati, won the 2008 Wood Memorial and finished 4th in the Kentucky Derby. He has excellent closing speed. His Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby times were both faster than what Gun Runner accomplished the previous year. And Gun Runner finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. The only concern now is a quarter-crack that they are trying to heal before the Derby. 

Career: 4 Starts 3-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd>1st–>1st
Sire: Tale of Ekati (Finished 4th in the 2008 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.77 – 2017 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  93 – 2017 Risen Star Stakes

8) Hence (15/1) – If you read my blog a few weeks ago on Kentucky Derby sleepers, you will understand why I like this Steve Asmussen-trained colt. His 9 furlong time, speed figures and final 3 furlong fraction time in his last race put him squarely in the top 5 of this class. He probably won’t get this same respect from bettors or other national handicappers. But if you are looking for a Derby Day sleeper in what has been a chaotic and unpredictable Derby trail season thus far, Hence and Gunnevera are probably your two best choices. With the way that Conquest Mo Money ran in the Arkansas Derby, Hence’s 3 3/4th length win over Conquest Mo Money in the Sunland Derby looks better and better.

Career: 6 Starts 2-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>7th–>1st
Sire:  Street Boss
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.10 – 2017 Sunland Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 932017 Sunland Derby

9) Irap (20/1) – The son of Tiznow has the same trainer/jockey combination of two previous Kentucky Derby winners in I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016). Since jockey Julian Leparoux will opt for his Classic Empire mount, trainer Doug O’Neil hired Mario Gutierrez. The two hope for back-to-back Kentucky Derby wins. Irap appears to be peaking at the right time and his Beyer Speed Figures (73,79,93) are ascending in his 3-year-old campaign.

Career: 8 Starts 1-3-1-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>4th–>1st
Sire: Tiznow
Trainer: Doug O’Neill (2012 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.39 – 2017 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  93 2017 Blue Grass Stakes

10) Gunnevera  (15/1) – The 2016 Delta Downs Jackpot and 2017 Fountain of Youth Stakes winner. 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. His closer style of racing, late speed and the additional furlong he’ll get in the Kentucky Derby should make him more of a factor at the end than he was in the Florida Derby. Having finished third in the Florida Derby should keep him a bit under the radar on Derby Day. I would recommend putting a closer or two in your Superfecta bets and Gunnevera has the most upside of any of the closers in this class.

Career: 7 Starts 3-1-1-1   
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Dialed In (Finished 8th in 2011 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.51 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 972017 Fountain of Youth Stakes

11) Battle of Midway (30/1) – He finished 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby. However, I don’t feel that the talent on the West Coast this year is anywhere near where it has been the last three years. He will win a Graded Stakes race somewhere down the line but I generally don’t like his chances in the Derby. Just like Patch, he didn’t race as a 2-year-old and no horse has won the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Smart Strike
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.24 (estimated) – 2017 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  88 – 2017 Santa Anita Derby

12) Sonneteer (50/1) – The Desormeaux brothers colt has yet to break his maiden and will try to become the first maiden to win the Kentucky Derby since Brokers Tip in 1933. He is a deep closer and well deserving of his 50/1 odds.

Career: 10 Starts 0-4-2-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>4th
Sire: Midnight Lute
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux 
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.52 (estimated) – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2017 Arkansas Derby

13) J Boys Echo (20/1) – The Dale Romans-trained Gotham Stakes winner. He received a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for the Gotham Stakes win which ranks near the top of the best Beyers for this class.

Career: 6 Starts 2-1-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>4th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Luis Saez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.99 (estimated) – 2017 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1022017 Gotham Stakes

14) Classic Empire (4/1) – My Derby favorite. The 2-year-old Male Champion proved he is back with his brilliant run in the Arkansas Derby (94 Beyer Speed Figure). Classic Empire is American Pharoah’s half-brother. I was very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and first wrote about him back in July (SEE).  He will try to join Street Sense and Nyquist as Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champions who went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd—>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile (Finished 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.93 – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 

15) McCraken (5/1) The son of Ghostzapper was undefeated in 4 starts before his disappointing 3rd place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes. One of his big wins came in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. So there are no concerns of how he will take to the track surface at Churchill Downs. I personally think 5/1 odds are way too short for this colt.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire:  Ghostzapper
Trainer: Ian Wilkes
Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.99 (estimated) – 2017 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 952017 Sam F. Davis Stakes 

16) Tapwrit (20/1) – The Tampa Bay Derby winner. He finished 2nd to McCraken in the Sam F. Davis Stakes back in February. But disappointed in his last start in the Blue Grass Stakes with a 6th place finish. His pedigree suggests that he will like added distance but you can’t ignore the performance drop when he went from 8 1/2 to 9 furlongs.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd>1st–>6th
Sire:  Tapit (Finished 9th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.23 (estimated) – 2017 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2017 Tampa Bay Derby

17) Irish War Cry (6/1) – The son of Curlin bounced back with a big win in the Wood Memorial. He earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort. Irish War Cry is a talented colt and I like his pedigree. However, I am concerned that he had a drop-off 6th place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes after winning the Holy Bull at the same distance and same track. Are we now due for another drop-off? I don’t think he will win the Derby but he still deserves strong consideration to round out your exotic bets. And I like his future in the other big races down the line.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in the 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Graham Motion (2011 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.91 – 2017 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  1012017 Wood Memorial

18) Gormley (15/1) – The Santa Anita Derby winner. Same owner/trainer combination (Moss/Shirreffs) as Zenyatta, 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and Royal Mo. If it rains on Derby Day, Gormley’s career best speed figure came in the sloppy Sham Stakes.

Career: 6 Starts 4-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>1st
Sire:  Malibu Moon
Trainer:  John Shirreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.16 – 2017 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  942017 Sham Stakes

19) Practical Joke (20/1) The Chad Brown-trainee has two Grade 1 stakes wins but both came as a 2-year-old. Practical Joke is the son of Into Mischief. I have some pedigree concerns and especially beyond 9 furlongs. 

Career: 6 Starts 3-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.51 (estimated) – 2017 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

20) Patch (30/1) – The one-eyed Pletcher-trained colt will be a fan favorite on Derby Day.  I wrote an article on him that can be accessed by clicking HERE. Just remember that he failed to race as a 2-year-old due to the eye issue and no horse has won the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Union Rags (Finished 7th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Tyler Gafflione
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.97 (estimated) – 2017 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  892017 Louisiana Derby


On the docket…

My next blog will provide handicapping advice for the Derby.

–Michael

The Kentucky Derby Points System – Does it provide us a clue who the Derby winner will be? Updated 2017 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

April 25th 2017

The Kentucky Derby points system for entry into the Derby was created in 2012 and first used for the 2013 Derby trail season. Although we have a small of sample size with just four Derby prep seasons where this has been used, I thought it would be interesting to see if this points system is beginning to give us analytics that can be used to predict future Kentucky Derby winners.

Below are the top 3 finishers in the Kentucky Derby from 2013 through 2016 and where they ranked in the final Kentucky Derby points system along with the number of points they earned.

2013 – 1st – Orb (1st with 150 pts),  2nd – Golden Soul (39th with 14 pts), 3rd – Revolutionary (6th with 110 pts).

2014 – 1st – California Chrome (1st with 150 pts), 2nd – Commanding Curve (28th with 20 pts), 3rd – Danza (7th with 100 pts).

2015 – 1st – American Pharoah (4th with 160 pts), 2nd – Firing Line (12th with 58 pts), 3rd – Dortmund (2nd with 170 pts).

2016 – 1st – Nyquist (2nd with 130 pts), 2nd – Exaggerator (3rd with 126 pts), 3rd – Gun Runner (1st with 151 pts).

Conclusion

What the point system has taught us thus far is that the eventual Kentucky Derby winner was ranked 4th or better in the final point standings and accumulated at least 130 points. So let’s take a look at this year’s final Kentucky Derby points standings.

The top 4 are:

  1. Girvin – 150 points
  2. Classic Empire – 132 points
  3. Gormley – 125 points
  4. Irap – 113 points

Classic Empire and Girvin are the only two horses who fit perfectly into the previous Derby winner/points system mode with at least 130 points and a 4th or better placement in the standings. The 2015 points leader International Star did not compete in the Kentucky Derby so this means that the overall points champion won the Derby twice and finished 3rd in the other. So in three attempts, the overall points champion finished no worse than third. It will be interesting to see if this holds to form in this year’s Kentucky Derby and perhaps something to consider for your Trifecta wagering.

Below are my Top Six Kentucky Derby Contenders. I feel rather strongly that the Kentucky Derby winner will be one of these six horses provided that the Derby is run on a dry, fast track. This group of six has speed horses and closers.

Top Six Kentucky Derby Contenders

1) Always Dreaming   Always Dreaming is #1 in my rankings because he is the fastest horse in this Kentucky Derby field. His 1:47.47 in the Florida Derby is the best 9 furlong time in this class. The son of Bodemeister has a stalking race style and late speed that will bode well in the Kentucky Derby. I wrote a Derby profile on Always Dreaming for US Racing which can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Bodemeister (Finished 2nd in the 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:47.472017 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 972017 Florida Derby

2) Classic Empire  – The 2-year-old Male Champion proved he is back with his brilliant run in the Arkansas Derby (94 Beyer Speed Figure). He ran a great race and showed me something I hadn’t seen from him before dealing with traffic. For a brief moment, I didn’t think he was going to win. Somewhere between the 1/2 mile and 3/4th mile mark, he got boxed into group of horses. However, he managed to get clear, and when he did, he started making his move and then mowed down the field in the stretch. Classic Empire is American Pharoah’s half-brother. I was very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and first wrote about him back in July (SEE).  He will try to join Street Sense and Nyquist as Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champions who went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 3
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd—>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile (Finished 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.93 – 2017 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 102 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 

3) Girvin – The Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby winner. His sire, Tale of Ekati, won the 2008 Wood Memorial and finished 4th in the Kentucky Derby. He has excellent closing speed. His Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby times were both faster than what Gun Runner accomplished the previous year. And Gun Runner finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby.  He has moved up in my rankings because he fits every analytic I like in a Derby winner.

Career: 4 Starts 3-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd>1st–>1st
Sire: Tale of Ekati (Finished 4th in the 2008 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.77 – 2017 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  93 – 2017 Risen Star Stakes

4) Gunnevera  – The 2016 Delta Downs Jackpot and 2017 Fountain of Youth Stakes winner. 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. His closer style of racing, late speed and the additional furlong he’ll get in the Kentucky Derby should make him more of a factor at the end than he was in the Florida Derby. Having finished third in the Florida Derby should keep him a bit under the radar on Derby Day. I would recommend putting a closer or two in your Superfecta bets and Gunnevera has the most upside of any of the closers in this class.

Career: 7 Starts 3-1-1-1   
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Dialed In (Finished 8th in 2011 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.51 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 972017 Fountain of Youth Stakes

5) Hence – If you read my blog a few weeks ago on Kentucky Derby sleepers, you will understand why I like this Steve Asmussen-trained colt. His 9 furlong time, speed figures and final 3 furlong fraction time in his last race put him squarely in the top 5 of this class. He probably won’t get this same respect from bettors or other national handicappers. But if you are looking for a Derby Day sleeper in what has been a chaotic and unpredictable Derby trail season thus far, Hence and Gunnevera are probably your two best choices. With the way that Conquest Mo Money ran in the Arkansas Derby, Hence’s 3 3/4th length win over Conquest Mo Money in the Sunland Derby looks better and better.

Career: 6 Starts 2-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>7th–>1st
Sire:  Street Boss
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Alfredo Juarez 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.10 – 2017 Sunland Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 932017 Sunland Derby

6) Irap – The son of Tiznow has the same trainer/jockey combination of two previous Kentucky Derby winners in I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016). Since jockey Julian Leparoux will opt for his Classic Empire mount, trainer Doug O’Neil hired Mario Gutierrez. The two hope for back-to-back Kentucky Derby wins. Irap appears to be peaking at the right time and his Beyer Speed Figures (73,79,93) are ascending in his 3-year-old campaign.

Career: 8 Starts 1-3-1-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>4th–>1st
Sire: Tiznow
Trainer: Doug O’Neill (2012 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.39 – 2017 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  93 2017 Blue Grass Stakes


Who’s in the Kentucky Derby? Girvin (150), Classic Empire (132), Gormley (125), Irap (113), Irish War Cry (110), Always Dreaming (100), Thunder Snow (100), Gunnevera (84), Practical Joke (74), J Boys Echo (63), State of Honor (62), Tapwrit (54), Malagacy (50), Hence (50), Fast and Accurate (50), McCraken (40), Battle of Midway (40), Patch (40), Battalion Runner (40) and Untrapped (34).

Lookin At Lee (32), Sonneteer (30), Royal Mo (30) and Local Hero (30) are on outside looking in and hoping for defections or scratches.  


Projected Kentucky Derby Odds 

Below are my early projected Kentucky Derby morning line odds that Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia will set.  Battaglia has gone on record stating that he saw enough from Classic Empire to make him the favorite.

Classic Empire (3/1), Always Dreaming (4/1), Irish War Cry (10/1), Girvin (10/1), Irap (10/1), Gormley (12/1), Gunnevera (12/1), McCraken (15/1), Hence (15/1), Patch (15/1), Malagacy (20/1), State of Honor (20/1), Thunder Snow (20/1), Practical Joke (20/1), Battalion Runner (20/1), Battle of Midway (30/1), Tapwrit (30/1), J Boys Echo (30/1), Untrapped (30/1) and Fast and Accurate (50/1).


On the docket…

My next blog will provide a more in-depth look at the projected Kentucky Derby field.

My next contribution to the Cyberworld is going to be a food, wine and cooking blog. I am a big fan of Anthony Bourdain and my travels to Italy left me with a desire to recreate the same awesome dishes I had there but can’t get here in the US in Italian restaurants. Stay tuned!

–Michael