2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview

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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 Travers Stakes Preview

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August 21st 2018 – Updated August 25th 2018 3:45 PM CST

Below are the post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 149th Travers Stakes. As expected, Good Magic is the morning line odds favorite at 2/1. The filly Wonder Gadot is third favorite at 5/1. The race will be televised Saturday between 4pm and 5pm CST on NBC. 

***Update: The track seems to have an inside bias today which will bode well for Wonder Gadot and Gronkowski

Note: I have linked every horse in the field to their Equibase profiles so you can see their recent results and workouts.

The 149th Travers Stakes 

1 1/4th Mile – Race #11 at Saratoga – Post-Time: Saturday August 26th 4:45 PM CST. Televised by NBC

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds/Last Start
1. Trigger Warning – Rosendo/Rone – 30/1 – 2nd in Indiana Derby
2. Wonder Gadot – I.Ortiz Jr./Casse – 5/1 – 1st in Prince of Wales  
3. Gronkowski – Rosario/Brown – 4/1 – 2nd in Belmont Stakes 
4. Bravazo – Saez/Lukas – 12/1 – 2nd in Haskell Invitational
5. Vino Rosso – Velazquez/Pletcher – 10/1 – 3rd in Jim Dandy Stakes 
6. Meistermind – Franco/Asmussen – 30/1 – 5th in allowance race (SCRATCHED)
7. King Zachary – Albarado/Romans – 15/1 – 4th in Indiana Stakes
8. Mendelssohn – Moore/O’Brien – 12/1 – 3rd in Dwyer Stakes 
9. Good Magic – J.Ortiz/Brown – 2/1 – 1st in Haskell Invitational  
10. Tenfold – Santana Jr./Asmussen – 8/1 – 1st in Jim Dandy Stakes 
11. Catholic Boy – Castellano/Thomas – 8/1 – 1st in Belmont Derby (turf)

Race Analysis: Although I would love to see the filly Wonder Gadot beat the boys and pull off the upset, I think Gronkowski is primed for a big win this Saturday. Just watching video of him and Good Magic schooling in the paddock today (Click HERE), Gronkowski looks noticeably bigger and more physically impressive. He got out of the gates poorly in the Belmont Stakes, but ran some of the best fractions in the race after that. 

I calculate that Gronkowsi ran the last 4 furlongs in 49.01 (36.72mph). That is bringing it and more impressive than anything Good Magic or Tenfold did in the Haskell Invitational and Jim Dandy Stakes.

As far as Wonder Gadot, she is a bit of a tough read as her two most more recent starts, both impressive wins, were run on a synthetic surface at Woodbine and over a sloppy dirt track at Fort Erie. However, she did run very well in a second place finish in the 8 furlong Kentucky Oaks. For this reason, I think she has a shot to hit the board and a slight chance of pulling off an upset. But my money will be on Gronkowski.

I like Win and Place bets on Gronkowski. I will make a small $10 straight 3-9 Exacta bet (Gronkowski over Good Magic) but I could see several horses finishing second in this race such as Wonder Gadot, Vino Rosso and Catholic Boy. For my $1 Trifecta, 3,5 over 3,5,9 over 3,5,9–total cost $4. For Superfecta betting, I like a 50 cent Superfecta of 3 over 9 over 2,4,5,11 over 2,4,7, 5,11 would cost $8.

I have a feeling that this Superfecta will be hard to hit as this field has a number of horses who are very close in talent and ability. One horse who may surprise everyone is King Zachary if he runs as well as he did in the Matt Winn Stakes. So I decided to add him in my 4th sport of my Superfecta.

–Michael

Who’s my 2018 Kentucky Derby Favorite? I see a Bad Moon a-rising

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May 3rd 2018 – Updated May 5th 2018 4:15 PM EST (see bottom of page, U-Oh RAIN!)

All week, friends and co-workers have been asking me: “Mike, who’s your Derby favorite?” This year’s Kentucky Derby is so wide-open that I almost feel like going into hiding. I thought I had this figured out after the San Felipe Stakes, McKinzie or Bolt d’Oro. But McKinzie was taken off the Derby trail due to an injury. The Bolt d’Oro was beaten by Justify in the Santa Anita Derby.

If you read my “Who’s your Daisy in the 2018 Kentucky Derby?” article on US Racing, I don’t feel too confident that I’m your ‘Huckleberry’ this year. There are about 6-7 horses that I think can win it this year.

Folks, I think this is a far better race for 10 cent Superfectas and 50 cent Trifectas than placing big win bets. When I can narrow the potential Derby winner down to two horses like I can most years, I like to make big win bets on my two favorites. For example, Horse A is 3-1 and Horse B is 4-1. I’d take $100 and bet $55 of it on Horse A and $45 on Horse B. The payouts for each would be as follows: Horse A $220 and Horse B $225. So if you can narrow it down to two horses, you can more than double your money (120-125% Return on Investment). The higher the odds for the two favorites, the better the pay out. Last year I tripled my money playing a combination of Always Dreaming and Classic Empire. But this becomes less profitable and inadvisable with a three-horse or more combination.

Still everyone wants to know who I favor the most in this year’s Derby?

Drumroll….

If it is a wet race, I like My Boy Jack and Justify as both have proven that run well in the slop. I go into more detail of why I like My Boy Jack in a Derby profile I wrote for US Racing. Update: The weather forecast looks good for Louisville, 5% chance of chance.

If it is a dry race, it becomes more difficult since this field has a lot of fast colts. As I stated earlier, I think there are 6 to 7 horses that can win this year’s Derby on a dry fast track. These colts are: Justify, Magnum Moon, Mendelssohn, Audible, Bolt d’Oro, Vino Rosso and My Boy Jack.

All of these colts have a few things that they can be dinged on when looking for a prototype Derby winner. I will discuss below:

Justify (3/1) – Only one horse since WWII that has won the Kentucky Derby while never facing 10 or more starters in a prep race (American Pharoah in 2015). The largest field Justify has faced has been six. And then the Curse of Apollo to boot: No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby having not raced as a 2-year-old. Justify is inexperienced, having only 3 career starts, all during his 3-year-old campaign. Plus he has never raced outside the state of California.

Magnum Moon (6/1) – Same as Justify, the Curse of the Apollo works against him. However, he did face 10 starters in the Rebel Stakes. Admittedly, I didn’t think there was a serious Derby contender in the Arkansas Derby when I made my Future Wager picks the week before. I was humbled. The concern with Magnum Moon, is that he has already raced 4 times this year. Was the Arkansas Derby his peak performance? 

Mendelssohn (5/1) – No UAE Derby winner has ever won the Kentucky Derby. Plus, he had to be shipped overseas. I generally like shippers-over to get one more start under their belt on US soil before a big graded stakes race like the Kentucky Derby. But Mendelssohn was able to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf race without a prep race in the US. 

Audible (8/1) – The Florida Derby winner drew an excellent post-position (#5). Five out of the last twenty-five Derby winners started from post #5. The Florida Derby has produced the last two Kentucky Derby winners and three out of the last five. Concerning is that jockey John Velazquez opted for Vino Rosso as his mount in this year’s Derby.

Bolt d’Oro (8/1) – A very talented colt as a 2-year-old. He won the FrontRunners Stakes which has produced three out of the last four Kentucky Derby winners. Expectations were high for this son of Medaglia d’Oro entering 2018. However, he has yet to cross the wire first in his 3-year-old campaign, winning the San Felipe Stakes due to a Stewards Inquiry and disqualification to McKinzie. I sort of get the feeling that he may be this year’s version of Classic Empire. Classic Empire finished 3rd in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

Vino Rosso (12/1) – The Wood Memorial winner. I will admit that I was surprised the John Velazquez chose Vino Rosso over Audible for his Derby mount. Audible is a faster colt by times and Speed Figures. But Johnny V thinks that the son of Curlin, Vino Rosso, will like the added distance better. Since Velazquez won the Derby last year, you’ve got to take note of that.

My Derby Pick (dry, fast track)

When faced with so many unknowns, my feeling that if I am going to put my reputation on the line and get beat, I am going to down with the ship with the fastest colt in the field.

So, I am leaning towards Magnum Moon as my dry, fast track Derby favorite. There is an old saying in basketball, you can’t teach height. Well in horse racing, you can’t teach late speed. In the chart below, Magnum Moon’s final 3 furlong time in the Arkansas Derby was the fastest in this class in the major 9 furlong Derby prep races.

KY-Derby-3f-Times

Plus his last furlong in the Arkansas Derby (shown below) was in under 12 seconds (11.99). 11.99!<—- Find me any colt in this field who has run the last furlong that fast. You won’t. And it was a hand ride in the final 1/16th. Note that American Pharoah’s final furlong time in the 2015 Arkansas Derby was 12.58 but he coasted home with an 8 length lead.

And if you watch the race above, Magnum Moon seemed to lug out for no apparent reason coming onto the stretch. Otherwise his final 3 furlong time would have been faster. The shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line. Jockey Luis Saez is going to have to keep him straight as possible coming onto the stretch. One thing that I liked though, when Quip came up next to him and looked him in the eye, Magnum Moon said it was Go-Time and left the field in the dust. His jockey did nothing. Magnum Moon wants to be first. He has been in 4 career starts.

Another factor I like with Magnum Moon, he has a historically winning post-position, Post #16. Five horses in the last 25 years have won from this post, including his paternal half-brother: Orb (2013), Animal Kingdom (2011); Monarchos (2001); Charismatic (1999); Thunder Gulch (1995).

Overall, this is why I am leaning towards the undefeated Magnum Moon. I see a Bad Moon a-rising, I see trouble on the way…if it rains and the track is slop, My Boy Jack becomes my Derby favorite.

Betting Advice (U-Oh, its raining at Churchill Downs)

CANCEL ALL BETS!

The secret of My Boy Jack is out as he was at 5-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby advance and still sitting at 5/1. I have been singing his praises for weeks and my US Racing is getting a ton of views: “If you are looking for a Kentucky Derby sleeper. This is your horse!” https://www.usracing.com/news/kentucky-derby-road-to-the-roses/youre-looking-kentucky-derby-sleeper-horse

Maybe I should keep my mouth shut. That is too short of odds for a colt I identified early on as a “Derby sleeper.” He’s no sleeper now.  I still think My Boy Jack has “Hit the Board” potential but at 5-1 vs 30-1, its not going to make your exotics pay back as well. But now it is a wet race so he shoots up my board.

 

 

Overall, I am not betting big on this race as it is too up-in-the air for my tastes and that was before it rained. One thing I have learned over the years is that sometimes better to wait it out for a “lock” further on down the line and then bet big on it.

I will be monitoring the live odds clear up until post-time if I have a change of mind due to how the live odds shake out.There haven’t been much change in the odds. You can check on them by clicking here: https://www.kentuckyderby.com/wager/kentucky-derby-live-odds

–Michael

The 2018 Kentucky Derby Preview

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May 1st 2018

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. The race will be aired live on NBC this coming Saturday around 5:45 PM CST.

As I have said in previous blogs, I think this is going to be one of the most exciting Derby’s we have seen in a long while.

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2018 Kentucky Derby Starting Field

1) Firenze Fire (50/1) – The Jerome Stakes winner (shown below). His  career best Beyer Speed Figure of 90 was accomplished as a 2-year-old in the Champagne Stakes. He will be one of the longershots in the field but has a very underrated jockey in Paco Lopez.

Career: 9 Starts 4-1-0-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>4th->4th
Sire: Poseiden’s Warrior
Trainer: Jason Servis (2004 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.59 (estimated) – 2018 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2017 Champagne Stakes

2) Free Drop Billy (30/1) – The Dale Romans-trained Breeders’s Futurity winner. He had a disappointing 9th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. He has been consistent but unspectacular since. Not a huge threat to win in this field.

Career: 8 Starts 2-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>3rd
Sire: Union Rags (Finished 7th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.70 (estimated) – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2018 Holy Bull Stakes

3) Promises Fulfilled (30/1) – The Fountain of Youth Stakes winner led 6 furlongs in the Florida Derby but faded down the stretch with a 9th place finish. Not a good sign when you are jumping up from 9 furlongs to 10.

Career: 5 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>9th
Sire:  Shackleford (Finished 4th in the 2011 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Corie Lanerie
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:55.12 (estimated) – 2018 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes

4) Flameaway (30/1) – The Sam F. Davis winner at Tampa Bay Downs. He finished 2nd in the Blue Grass Stakes (shown below).

Career: 9 Starts 5-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd—>2nd
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.42 (estimated) – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes

5) Audible (8/1) Last year, the Florida Derby winner who was trained by Todd Pletcher–Always Dreaming–went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Can lightning strike twice? Apparently last year’s Always Dreaming rider doesn’t think so as John Velazquez has chosen to ride Vino Rosso on Derby Day.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st->1st–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.48 – 2018 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2018 Florida Derby

6) Good Magic (12/1) – The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and the Eclipse 2-year-old Male Champion. He had a somewhat disappointing 3rd place finish in the 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes but bounced back to win the Blue Grass Stakes.

Career: 5 Starts 2-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:  1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.18 – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

7) Justify (3/1) – The race favorite. He is fast but inexperienced. However, he has 100+ Beyer Speed Figures in all three career starts. He’ll be up against the Curse of Apollo. But if had to pick a trainer-jockey combo to break the Curse, it would be Baffert-Smith.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:  1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997,1998, 2003, & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.72 – 2018 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2018 Santa Anita Derby

8) Lone Sailor (50/1) – The Tom Amoss-trained colt is a deep closer who briefly took the lead in the Lousiana Derby only to lose by a neck to Noble Indy (shown below). I question whether he really wants the 10 furlong distance.

Career: 8 Starts 1-3-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 9th–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Majestic Warrior 
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Jockey: James Graham
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.32 (estimated) – 2018 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

9) Hofburg (20/1) – A second place finisher in the Florida Derby. He’s talented but very inexperienced with only 3 career starts under his belt. However, he should like the added distance as a son of Tapit.

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: William Mott
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.96 (estimated) – 2018 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Florida Derby

10) My Boy Jack (30/1)   While he is not a huge threat to win on a dry, fast track in this field, he certainly has a chance and his chances improve exponentially on a wet track. I wrote an article on his chances in the Kentucky Derby for US Racing which can be accessed HERE. And for movie buffs, no he is not named after Jack Kipling who the “My Boy Jack” movie is based on. Great movie though.

Career: 10 Starts 3-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Creative Cause (Finished 5th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.40 (estimated) – 2018 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

11) Bolt d’Oro (8/1) – Much like Classic Empire was last year, a star as a 2-year-old who hasn’t seemed to take it to the level we expected as a 3-year-old. He’s has an excellent pedigree and I generally feel we have yet to see him run his best race. He’ll have two-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza as his jockey.

Career: 6 Starts 4-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 4th in 2002 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Ruis
Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.20 (estimated) – 2018 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2017 FrontRunner Stakes

12) Enticed (30/1) – The other son of Medaglia d’Oro in the field. He won the Gotham Stakes and then finished 2nd in the Wood Memorial behind Vino Rosso.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-1-1   
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 4th in 2002 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.27 (estimated) 2018 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Gotham Stakes

13) Bravazo (50/1) – After opening up his 3-year-old campaign with two wins, most notably the Risen Star Stakes, he had a disappointing 8th place finish in his final Derby prep at Fair Grounds in the Louisiana Derby.

Career: 8 Starts 3-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Awesome Again
Trainer: D.Wayne Lukas (1988,1995,1996 & 1999 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Contreras
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:53.68 (estimated) – 2018 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2018 Risen Star Stakes

14) Mendelssohn (5/1) – The 2018 UAE Derby winner. UAE Derby winners haven’t fared all that well in the Kentucky Derby but Mendelssohn should be viewed as a serious contender setting a UAE Derby track record and winning by 18 1/2 lengths.

Career: 7 Starts 4-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Aidan O’Bryan
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2018 UAE Derby

15) Instilled Regard (50/1) – A consistent colt. In seven career starts, he has never finished out of the Superfecta.

Career: 7 Starts 2-2-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th->4th
Sire: Arch 
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.24 (estimated) – 2018 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – 2018 Lecomte Stakes

16) Magnum Moon (6/1) – The 2018 Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby winner. His final 3 furlong time in the Arkansas Derby is the fastest in the class. Like Justify, he will be vying to break the Curse of Apollo.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st>1st–>1st
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Saez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.86 – 2018 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Arkansas Derby 

17) Solomini (30/1) – The Bob Baffert-trainee was yet to win since his first start as a 2-year-old. However, noteworthy that he finished 2nd in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race behind Good Magic (shown below). His 3-year-old campaign has been a bit disappointing with a 2nd place finish in the Rebel Stakes and a 3rd place finish in the Arkansas Derby. And he draws post-position #17, a post that no colt has ever won the Derby from.

Career: 6 Starts 1-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  3rd–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997,1998, 2003, & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.54 (estimated) 2018 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

18) Vino Rosso (12/1) – His name in Italian means “Red Wine” and he’s moving up my board. The Wood Memorial winner will get last year’s Derby winning jockey John Velazquez. His reasoning? He thinks he has more potential than Audible at getting the distance (SEE). I was a bit surprised Churchill Downs handicapper gave him 12/1 morning line odds. I think he will be well south of that number on Derby Day. So many love Italian red wine.

Career: 5 Starts 3-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.79 – 2018 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Wood Memorial

19) Noble Indy (30/1) – The surprise winner of the 2018 Louisiana Derby winner and yet another Derby horse trained by Todd Pletcher. Noble Indy is an above average colt in this field, but I don’t feel that he has the speed of the other Pletcher trainees. 

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Take Charge Indy (Finished 19th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.28 – 2018 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

20) Combatant (50/1) – The lone Steve Asmussen Derby entry. Combatant is yet another son of Scat Daddy in this field. He’s a quality horse but not a serious threat to win in this very talented field. He’s only win came in a Maiden Special Weight race as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs. He’s a deep closer who you might consider in your superfectas

Career: 7 Starts 1-3-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>4th
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.56 (estimated) 2018 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Smarty Jones Stakes

Note: In a rush to get this out early as possible, I caught and already corrected a few minor errors and typos. If you see any more, let me know.


On the docket…

My next blog will provide handicapping advice for the Derby. I should have this out by Thursday evening.

–Michael

7 Days before the Kentucky Derby

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April 28th 2018 – Updated April 30th 2018

The anticipation is growing. We are officially seven days away from the 2018 Kentucky Derby. I feel that this year’s Derby is going to be one of the most exciting we have witnessed in a long while. I generally feel that there are 5 or 6 horses that can win this year and the dreaded Curse of Apollo is in huge danger.

Here are the six that I think can win:

Justify
Magnum Moon
Bolt d’Oro
Mendelssohn
Audible
My Boy Jack

All of these contenders have the necessary closing speeds. As I noted in my last US Racing article which can be accessed by clicking HERE, my Kentucky Derby favorite must have a final 3 furlong time in their last 9 furlong Derby prep under 38 seconds with a few exceptions. Here is why. Below are the estimated final 3-furlong times in the last Derby prep race for the last six Kentucky Derby winners:

2017-Always Dreaming (36.56 in Florida Derby)
2016-Nyquist (37.64 in Florida Derby)
2015-American Pharoah (37.82 in Arkansas Derby)
2014-California Chrome (36.69 in Santa Anita Derby)
2013-Orb (37.74 in Florida Derby)
2012-I’ll Have Another (36.42 in Santa Anita Derby)

All of my contenders this year have eclipsed this 38 second mark:

Magnum Moon – 36.47 in Arkansas Derby (1st)
Justify – 36.87 in Santa Anita Derby (1st)
My Boy Jack  – 37.21 in Louisiana Derby (3rd)
Mendelssohn – 37.34* in UAE Derby (1st)
Bolt d’Oro – 37.35 in Santa Anita Derby (2nd)
Audible – 37.48 in Florida Derby (1st)

Magnum Moon and Justify will be vying to break the Curse of Apollo by winning the Kentucky Derby having never raced as a 2-year-old. Both are fast and undefeated in 3 starts. Will their inexperience come back to haunt them on Derby Day?

My Boy Jack is a deep closer who has a fighter’s chance in this one due to the early speed. See my latest US Racing article for why I feel he is a Derby Sleeper:  https://www.usracing.com/news/kentucky-derby-road-to-the-roses/youre-looking-kentucky-derby-sleeper-horse

Mendelssohn is a great unknown. I am always skeptical about “shippers-in” from overseas. However, Mendelssohn won by a tractor-trailer length in the UAE Derby–18 1/2 lengths. That was back in late March. You can question his competition but he produced a track record for that event. And what if he had been pressured at the wire?

The Florida Derby has produced the last two Kentucky Derby winners and three out of the last five. So, you have to consider Todd Pletcher’s 2018 Florida Derby winner Audible.

I have always loved Bolt d’Oro and his pedigree. I generally feel that he has yet to produce his best race. He’s the FrontRunner Stakes winner from last year as a 2-year-old. Two out of the last three FrontRunner Stakes winners (American Pharoah and Nyquist) went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

With the news that John Velazquez has chosen Vino Rosso as his mount in the Derby over Audible, add another serious contender.

So the above are all reasons why I feel that this year’s Derby is wide-open and will be one of the best in recent memory.

–Michael

 

Who’s your “Daisy” in the 2018 Kentucky Derby?

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April 24th 2018

If you really want to know why I think this year’s Kentucky Derby is going to be one of the most exciting we have witnessed in a long while, I tell all in my latest article for US Racing. The link is provided below.

https://www.usracing.com/news/kentucky-derby-road-to-the-roses/whos-daisy-2018-kentucky-derby

My Great Uncle Joe is mentioned in the above US Racing article. For those who are interested, here is a link to the The New Yorker magazine article where my Great Uncle and my Abruzzi Italians descendants are chronicled by distant cousin Richard Severo “FORTE E GENTILE” (Italian for Strong and Kind) The Annals of Immigration. A highly entertaining read. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1979/09/03/forte-e-gentile

Also for US Racing, I am also working on a profile for my Derby sleeper “My Boy Jack” which should be out next week. I think this article may be better the last. Stay tuned!

-Michael

2018 Kentucky Derby Contenders and Pool #2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers

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February 9th 2018

Opening up today is Pool #2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers. The pool is open from Friday February 9th at Noon EST until Sunday February 11th at 6 PM EST. Below are Morning Line Odds along with each horse’s highest Brisnet Speed Figure. Horses with an asterisk are newcomers that were not in Pool #1. Horses in bold font are colts who I had in my Top 25 Kentucky Derby contender watch list.

Colts who were in my Top 25 watch list that didn’t make this Future Wager pool are (with the highest Brisnet Speed Figure): Dak Attack (94), Marconi (94), Paved, Noble Indy (97), Vino Rosso (90) and World of Trouble (101).

The problem with this pool is that there are a few really great colts who have yet to race this year. So it is hard to extrapolate how they might have improved vs some of the most recent new stars like Audible and Mourinho.

Please note that Catholic Boy is entered into tomorrow’s Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. So you may want to wait and see how her performs in that race before putting any money down on him. I had originally hoped to preview that race but I have been battling Bronchitis. I’m sure many can relate because its been a very bad cold and flu season this year. However, looking over that field, Catholic Boy is the deserved 8/5 morning line favorite and would be my choice to win over Vino Rosso and Hollywood Star.

2018 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2

  1. Audible* 12-1 – 105 
  2. Avery Island 20-1 – 94
  3. Bolt d’Oro 10-1 – 105
  4. Catholic Boy* 20-1 – 98
  5. Combatant* 50-1 – 95
  6. Copper Bullet 50-1 – 94 —-> The best longshot in this pool
  7. Enticed 30-1 – 93
  8. Firenze Fire 30-1 – 96
  9. Free Drop Billy 20-1 – 99
  10. Good Magic 10-1 – 105
  11. Instilled Regard* 30-1 – 100
  12. Mask 12-1 – 100
  13. McKinzie 8-1 – 104
  14. Mendelssohn 30-1 – 91 —-> Better Beware: Turf Horse
  15. Montauk 20-1 – 88
  16. Mourinho* 12-1 – 99
  17. Principe Guilherme 30-1 – 92
  18. Retirement Fund* 30-1 – 94
  19. Solomini 20-1 – 101 
  20. Sporting Chance 50-1 – 98 —-> Another longshot worthy of consideration
  21. Strike Power* 20-1 – 103
  22. Tiz Mischief 30-1 – 93
  23. Untamed Domain 30-1 – 89
  24. Mutuel Field/All Others 7/2

My Top Five Kentucky Derby Contenders

Below are detailed profiles on my Top 5 Kentucky Derby contenders:

1) Bolt d’Oro – Although he won two Grade 1 races and produced the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any 2-year-colt last year, he lost the Eclipse Award for 2 Year Old Male Champion to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic. I was a little surprised by this. He is the paternal half brother to Songbird and Rachel Alexandra out of an A.P. Indy mare so I love the pedigree. He picks up four time Eclipse Jockey of the Year Javier Castellano as his rider. His Next Start:  The 2018 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park on March 10th.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 4th in 2002 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mick Ruis
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.54 – 2017 FrontRunner Stakes
Closing Speed Estimate: 35.62 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 103 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 109 Equibase

2) McKinzie – He is the Top 3 year-old in Bob Baffert’s barn thus far. He is undefeated in three starts. He has plenty of winners behind him. His sire (Street Sense), trainer (Bob Baffert) and jockey (Mike Smith) are all former Kentucky Derby winners. His Next Start:  Like Bolt d’Oro, it appears to be the 2018 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park on March 10th. Oh what a race that will be. Mark your calendars.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby winning trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.69 (estimated) – 2017 Los Alamitos Futurity
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.99 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 104 Brisnet, 110 Equibase

3) Good Magic – The 2018 Eclipse Award 2 Year Old Male Champion and 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Champion. He is also trained by the 2018 Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown. His Next Start:  The Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 3rd.

Career: 3 Starts 1-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in the 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.34 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.31 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 100 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 109 Equibase

4) Audible – The 2018 Holy Bull Stakes winner and probably the early Florida Derby favorite. The only question mark is his pedigree and whether he will like the 10 furlong distance. His sire Into Mischief never raced further than 8 1/2 furlongs. His Next Start:  The Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 31st.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief 
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 and 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.92 – 2018 Holy Bull Stakes
Closing Speed Estimate: 37.60 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 99 Equibase

5) Mourinho – The recent Smarty Jones Stakes winner. Remember last year when Bob Baffert didn’t have a 3 year-old that qualified for the Kentucky Derby? It’s not happening this year, his barn is loaded. Mourinho is Baffert’s next best Derby contender based upon performance thus far. His Next Start:  The Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 19th.

Career: 4 Starts 2-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Super Saver (2010 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby winning trainer)
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.03 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 99 Brisnet, 107 Equibase


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn scheduled for Monday February 19th.

–Michael