Updated 2017 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings – Classic Empire still #1

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

January 31st 2017

The 2017 Kentucky Derby trail is in full swing with a new major contender added to the fray and Derby trail points leader, Classic Empire, set to race this coming Saturday in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. As I have said multiple times in my previous blogs, the 2017 Kentucky Derby class is a very talented and deep one despite the unexpected early retirement of Not This Time due to injury. So 2017 is going to be an exciting season for 3 year-olds and then we have two dynamic stars in Songbird and Arrogate in the older horse division. 

Below are my early favorites for the final Derby prep races. A lot can change over the next couple of months but these horses appear to be the front-runners right now. Note that Klimt, now under the training of Art Sherman, will not be pointed  towards the Kentucky Derby as he will be given time off :

Louisiana Derby – Lookin At Lee
Florida Derby – Classic Empire
Wood Memorial – Practical Joke
Santa Anita Derby – Mastery
Blue Grass Stakes – McCraken
Arkansas Derby – Uncontested

Below is my updated Top 10 Kentucky Derby Contender rankings. A few horses have moved up or down due to how they have been training:

2017 Kentucky Derby Contenders

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. But it can be done. Street Sense and Nyquist accomplished this rare feat. Next Start: The Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 4th.

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) Mastery 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 with wins in the Bob Hope Stakes (87 Beyer Speed Figure) and the Los Alamitos Futurity (91 Beyer Speed Figure). His 8 1/2 furlong time of 1:41.56 is the best so far from this class. Bob Baffert is very high on this colt.  Next Start: The San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 11th

Career:3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:1st–>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: 1:41.562016 Los Alamitos Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Santa Anita Park MSW – 10/22/16

3) Gormley He comes from the same owner/trainer combination that produced Zenyatta. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in the 2nd start of his career–the FrontRunner Stakes–beating the race favorite Klimt. He followed this effort with a disappointing 7th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He is a talented horse and bounced back like I thought he would with a nice win and 94 Beyer Speed Figure in the Sham Stakes on January 7th. Next Start: The San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 11th

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>7th–>1st
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: 94 – 2017 Sham Stakes

4) Uncontested   My early Arkansas Derby favorite. The winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes produced a record-breaking time of 1:36.32 in sloppy conditions over this two-turn 1 Mile race at Oaklawn Park. He received a 96 Beyer Speed Figure. Add another half furlong of his prorated final fraction time of 12.84 and his time would have been 1:42.74 through 8 1/2 furlongs. For comparison, American Pharoah ran a 1:45.78 in the sloppy 8 1/2 furlong Rebel Stakes in 2015 at Oaklawn Park. Uncontested has a good pedigree. As a 2 year old, his sire Tiz Wonderful was undefeated in 3 starts and produced Beyer Speed Figures of 99 and 101 before taken off the Derby trail in January of his 3 year-old campaign due to injury. His grand sire Tiznow won two Breeders’ Cup Classics. His grandsire on his dam’s side, Lil E. Tee, won the 1992 Kentucky Derby. So he should like added distance and be one to watch closely going forward. I would rank him higher, just need a dry, fast track win for confirmation. Next Start: The Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 20th.

Career:3 Starts 2-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:1st–>4th–>1st
Sire:  Tiz Wonderful
Trainer: Wayne Catalano 
Jockey: Channing Hill
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.97 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2016 Smarty Jones Stakes

5) 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. Next Start: The Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on February 11th.

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

6) 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 really the most proven 2 year-old after Classic Empire. Next Start: The Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 4th.

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

7) Three Rules – Surprisingly he was left off Mike Battaglia’s 2nd Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he ran 3rd in the early portion of the race and finished 6th after getting off to poor start out of the gate. 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. Next Start: Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 4th.

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

8) 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. Next Start: The Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 4th.

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

9) Lookin At Lee – Much like Steve Asmussen’s Gun Runner was last 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 and he is training well at the Fair Grounds. 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. Next Start: An educated guess, the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on February 25th.

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

10) 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. Next Start: Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 4th.

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


 On the docket…

My next blog will preview the Holy Bull Stakes and the San Antonio Handicap. The Holy Bull Stakes is expected to include three of my top 10 Derby contenders in Classic Empire, Three Rules, Gunnevera. Expected entries in the San Antonio Handicap are Melatonin, Hoppertunity, Dalmore, Mor Spirit and Accelerate.

–Michael

2017 Kentucky Derby Contenders – Final 2 year old rankings

2017 Kentucky Derby Logo

December 22nd 2016

As we head into the new year, below is my Top 10 2017 Kentucky Derby contenders. This my final ranking of the 2 year-old class of 2016. A snapshot in time of where I think the 2017 Kentucky Derby class is currently. As history suggests, things can change. Horses who had spotty success as 2 year-olds can mature and elevate into greatness as 3 year-olds. Even if they have a mediocre pedigree. Just review California Chrome’s career as one shining example. Nothing California Chrome did as a 2 year-old suggested the greatness that would follow. So you just never know, predicting future Kentucky Derby winners by their 2 year-old career is not an exact science.

Back in my September 8th blog titled2017 Kentucky Derby Watch List–Klimt leads the pack,I listed ten 2 year-old Kentucky Derby hopefuls to watch. Towards the end of the blog, I wrote the following: “Especially keep an eye on any 2 year-old that jockey Mike Smith chooses to ride. A Hall of Fame jockey, Mike magically seems to find his way on some of the best horses.”

I am not Nostradamus but POOF, the Bob Baffert-trained, Mike Smith-ridden Mastery became the 2nd favorite behind Classic Empire in the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool in November after winning the Bob Hope Stakes. Then Mastery laid down a very impressive time of 1:41.56 in the 2016 Los Alamitos Futurity (shown below) a couple of weeks ago. This is the best 8 1/2 furlong (1 1/16 mile) time of any 2 year-old in this class. 

I still believe rather strongly that Not This Time would have been the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner had his career not been cut short by injury. That being said, I have been very high on Classic Empire and now I am very impressed with Mastery who appears to be his chief rival. In fact, I think this is your very early 2017 Kentucky Derby Exacta Box provided they both stay healthy. It will be hard to bet against Bob Baffert and Mike Smith with Mastery. 

Even though Mastery’s time through 8 1/2 furlongs is a full second faster than Classic Empire has run to date, I will add that Classic Empire’s run at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was more taxing due to the warm weather they had in the LA area that day. And given another month and cooler temperatures, I am confident that Classic Empire would be able to cut down his time.

And also note that Dortmund produced a time of 1:40.86 in the 2014 Los Alamitos Futurity and he finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. Had Mastery eclipsed Dortmun’s time, I would have ranked him #1.

So without further adieu, here is my final 2017 Kentucky Derby rankings for the 2 year-old class:

2017 Kentucky Derby Contenders

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. But it can be done. Street Sense and Nyquist accomplished this rare feat. 

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) Mastery   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 with wins in the Bob Hope Stakes (87 Beyer Speed Figure) and the Los Alamitos Futurity (91 Beyer Speed Figure). His 8 1/2 furlong time of 1:41.56 is the best so far from this class. Bob Baffert is very high on this colt. 

Career:3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:1st–>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: 1:41.562016 Los Alamitos Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Santa Anita Park MSW – 10/22/16

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 really the most proven 2 year-old 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

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. 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

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. 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

6) 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

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


On the docket…

What was the most exciting horse race in 2016? There were many great ones but in my next blog, I will unveil my vote for most exciting race in 2016 with corresponding unpublished photos and video that I captured of this race. Plus I’ll give my picks for the Eclipse Award winners.

After this, I will preview the 2017 San Pasqual Stakes scheduled for New Year’s Day that is expected to be a Pegasus World Cup tune-up for Arrogate. Stay tuned!

-Michael

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

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

The 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup Preview

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October 6th 2016 – Updated October 8th 2016 at 1:45 PM CST

This coming Saturday, we have three important “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The Champagne Stakes and Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity are automatic qualifiers for the Sentient Jet Juvenile race and also a preview of next year’s Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Then the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational, which is an auto-qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a date with California Chrome on November 5th.

Below are the post-positions and morning line odds for all three races. I have a feeling that all three will wide-open and highly contested races. I will probably update this blog on Saturday.


Champagne Stakes – 1 Mile – Saturday October 8th – Race #8 at Belmont Park – Post-Time: 3:13 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/ Horse/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Practical Joke  – Rosario/Brown – 4/1
2. Thirst for Victory – Franco/Pletcher – 15/1
3. Syndergaard – Velazquez/Pletcher – 9/5
4. Lookin At Blessing – I. Ortiz Jr/Zito – 12/1
5. Favorable Outcome – Castellano/Brown – 2/1
6. Big Gray Rocket – Smith/Baffert – 6/1

Race Commentary: Although this field is small, it has talent and some of the top trainers in the world behind them. I am very curious to see how the Tapit-colt–Big Gray Rocket–performs. I really feel that any of these horses have a realistic shot at winning.  So watch the live odds and if a couple of these horses odds grow long, perhaps box the entire field in a Superfecta bet. But maybe a boxed Trifecta (3,5,6) would be a better play.


Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday October 8th – Race #8 at Keeneland – Post-Time: 4:10 PM CST. Televised by NBC

Post/ Horse/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Bitumen  – Lanerie/Kenneally – 9/2
2. Gunnerva – Rios/Sano – 4/1
3. Singing Bullet – Lezcano/Romans – 8/1
4. Perro Rojo – Saez/Zito – 20/1
5. Tiz Trevor – Kennedy/Cook – 50/1
6. Blame Will – Albarado/Lukas – 12/1
7. Holiday Bonus – Ortiz/Motion – 8/1
8. Wild Shot – Hernandez/Arnold – 15/1
9. No Dozing – Bravo/Delacour – 12/1
10. Honor Thy Father – Borel/McPeek – 15/1
11. Classic Empire – Leparoux/Casse – 5/2
12. Lookin At Lee – Santana/Asmussen – 6-1

Race Commentary: Has Classic Empire gotten over his gate issues? He did an about-face after leaving the gate in the Hopeful Stakes and dumped his rider. I am still a believer in his talent but 5/2 odds seem too short on him right until we know for sure that he has matured. Plus this is a large field and he is starting on one of the outside posts. I would steer clear of laying any larges amounts of money on this race as the chances are high that we could have a surprise winner. If there is a surprise winner, I think it will be Gunnevera or Lookin At Lee.


The Jockey Club Gold Cup – 1 1/4th Mile – Saturday October 8th – Race #10 at Belmont Park – Post-Time: 4:23 PM CST. Televised by NBC

Post Position/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Protonico (126) – Castellano/Pletcher – 12/1
2. Mubtaahij (126) – I.Ortiz/McLaughlin – 8/5
3. Hoppertunity (126) – Velazquez/Baffert – 7/2
4. War Story (126) – Gallardo/Serey Jr. – 30/1   SCRATCHED
5. Watershed (126) – Rosario/Mclaughlin – 10/1
6. Effinex (126) – Smith/Jerkens – 7/5

Race Commentary:  Surprisingly, Jimmy Jerkens did not enter Shaman Ghost. He is going to train him up to the Breeders Cup Classic. So this appears to be an interesting battle between Effinex, Hoppertunity and Mubtaahij. Effinex ridden by Mike Smith is probably the winner in this one because Effinex runs well at Belmont Park and seems to like the 10 furlong distance. But one horse who might surprise and bust up your Trifectas is Protonico. He ran a mile in his last start at Belmont Park with a very nice time of 1:34 flat. He is a fresh horse having just raced once this year. Todd Pletcher always seems to produce a surprise new star every year.

Update: There is now a 70% chance of rain at Belmont Park for this race. I feel that this favors inside runners who can get off to good starts.


–Michael

The Road to 2017 Kentucky Derby begins – Iroquois Stakes Preview

 

 

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September 16th 2016

The road to the 2017 Kentucky Derby officially begins this Saturday where it ends–at Churchill Downs with the Iroquois Stakes. This is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile race and the winner also gets 10 points in the Kentucky Derby standings.

The race is named after the horse Iroquois–the first American horse to win the Epson Derby. Four years ago this race was increased from one mile to 8 1/2 furlongs (1 1/16th mile). The past three years, this race has spawned just three Kentucky Derby starters: Tapiture and Ride On Curlin in 2013 and Mr. Z in 2014. 

Overall, I feel the field for this year’s race–at this point in these 2 year-olds careers–appears to be better than the last three Iroquois Stakes fields. I also feel that there is at lease one future 2017 Kentucky Derby starter in this field. Perhaps even two or three. Five horses to watch closely are Not This Time, Blame Will, Recruiting Ready, Lookin At Lee and Thirstforlife.

I generally avoid trying to handicap 2 year-old races since they are often inconsistent. However, I really like two horses in this field: Not This Time and Blame Will.

Dale Roman’s Not This Time ran a sub 1:36 mile at Ellis Park back on August 12th. He won by 10 lengths with a winning time of 1:35.99. Consider that American Pharoah’s first recorded mile time came in the 1 1/16th mile 2014 FrontRunner Stakes where he ran the mile in 1:35.77 and a 1:41.95 final time.

D. Wayne Lukas’s Blame Will earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure in his last start at Saratoga. He was purchased as a yearling for $600,000, so there are high expectations for this colt. His sire Blame won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

If this is run on a dry, fast track, I expect the winning time to be 1:42 to 1:43 range. Below are the post-positions, jockeys and morning line odds:

The Iroquois Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday September 17th – Race #8 at Churchill Downs – Post-Time: 5:59 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post Horse/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Lookin At Lee – Castellano/Asmussen – 6-1
2. Honor Thy Father Lucky – Lanerie/McPeek – 8-1    
3. Skinflint – Castanon/Kobiskie – 20-1
4. Thirstforlife – Geroux/Casse – 7-2 
5. Blame Will – Saez/Lukas – 4-1
6. Just Move On (118) – Valdiva/Byrne – 10-1
7. Recruiting Ready (118) – Stevens/DePaz – 3-1
8. Not This Time (118) – Albarado/Romans – 4-1  


–Michael