Nyquist looks strong in the San Vicente

February 15th 2016 (82 days away from the Kentucky Derby)

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Nyquist wins the San Vicente – photo Credit: http://www.santaAnita.com

We are less than 12 weeks away from the Kentucky Derby and Nyquist solidified his position today as one of the top 2 Kentucky Derby contenders with an impressive win in the San Vincente Stakes at Santa Anita Park (shown below).

This was just a tune-up race to start Nyquist’s 3 year-old campaign, so I wasn’t expecting much. But Nyquist staved off Exaggerator to produce a final time was 1:20.71–third fastest time for this race and faster than Silver Charm’s time of 1:21.07 back in 1997. Silver Charm went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness before narrowly losing the Belmont Stakes and a Triple Crown by a half-length.

With Songbird’s owner Rick Porter stating that he will not enter the sensational 3 year-old filly in the Kentucky Derby,  Mohaymen (undefeated in 4 starts) and Nyquist (undefeated in 6 starts) are the top two Kentucky Derby contenders as bettors affirmed yesterday in the most recent Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool. Mohaymen finished with 4/1 odds compared to Nyquist at 7/1. If bettors in the pool had this performance to judge from, I am sure that Nyquist would have finished at 5/1 or 9/2. These are extremely short odds for this early in the Derby prep season.

So where does Nyquist rank now in my opinion?

Right now, I would still rank Mohaymen ahead of Nyquist for the simple fact that Mohaymen has stretched out to 9 furlongs (1 1/8 mile) already and won. However, if you prorate Nyquist’s time in the 7 furlong San Vincente Stakes out to 1 mile (8 furlongs) using the slowest fraction of the race between the 4 furlong to 6 furlong distance (24.07), his time probably would have been below 1:33 (1:32.75). Keep in mind that the world record for 1 mile is 1:32.2. Mohaymen’s time through 1 mile in the last start in the Holy Bull Stakes was 1:36.04. So it will come down to whether Nyquist has developed stamina to stretch out to the Kentucky Derby distance of 10 furlongs (1 1/14 mile). There are a few critics who feel he is better suited as a Miler.

1) Mohaymen 
Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Nyquist 
Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – San Vicente Stakes

–Michael

 

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2

February 7th 2016 
Updated February 14th 2016 4:15 PM CST (see below)

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) Pool #2 will be active this coming Friday February 12th at 11 AM CST through Sunday February 14th at 5PM CST. There are 13 new horses in this pool (shown with an asterisk).

Derby Wager Pool 2

1. Airoforce 20-1
2. Awesome Banner* 30-1
3. Brody’s Cause 30-1
4. Cherry Wine* 50-1
5. Cocked and Loaded 50-1
6. Collected* 30-1
7. Danzing Candy* 30-1
8. Discreetness* 50-1
9. Exaggerator 20-1
10. Gettysburg* 50-1 <–raced in Sam F. Davis Stakes 2/13/16 & finished a disappointing 5th
11. Gift Box 30-1
12. Greenpointcrusader 20-1
13. Gun Runner 50-1
14. Mo Tom* 50-1
15. Mohaymen 8-1
16. Mor Spirit 15-1
17. Nyquist 12-1
18. Shagaf* 30-1
19. Smokey Image* 30-1
20. Tom’s Ready* 50-1
21. Vorticity* 50-1
22. Whitmore* 50-1
23. Zulu* 30-1
24. Mutuel Field (All Others) 4-5

*Wagering interest not included in KDFW Pool 1

At this point in the future wager pool, I believe that the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner is somewhere in this pool so I would not place any bets on “All Others.” I expect that the bettors two favorites will be Mohaymen and Nyquist. I would give the nod to Mohaymen over Nyquist right now. However, I feel that 8-1 odds for Mohaymen is too short at this stage of the future wager pools. I still like Brody’s Cause and Exaggerator.

Overall, I was surprised that Mike Battaglia dropped Swipe, Flexibility and Sunny Ridge from Pool #1.  I was also surprised by the inclusion of these three horses: Whitmore, Tom’s Ready and Cherry Wine. I wouldn’t waste any money on these three nor would I place any money on Vorticity and Gun Runner.

Two horses that I feel will be liked too much by bettors and have final odds much lower than their on-track accomplishments warrant are: Mor Spirit and Zulu. Mor Spirit is a Bob Baffert-trained horse and his times and Beyer Speed Figures in the Los Alamitos Futurity and Robert B. Lewis Stakes aren’t even close to what Dortmund’s were last year. Zulu is a Todd Pletcher horse who is undefeated in 2 starts but has never raced further than 7 furlongs. He might be a “Miler” in the mode of Liam’s Map but I am skeptical of him being a threat in the Kentucky Derby at this point.

So below are five key horses to consider for your future wager.  Below these five are some other horses to consider if you can get a “price.”

1) MohaymenMorning Line Odds: 8-1

The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt is undefeated in 4 starts and posted an impressive time of 1:42.07 in the Holy Bull Stakes. When you watch that race and realize that he didn’t get off to the best start—yet he dealt with some traffic and then mowed down the field without being shown the whip–you have to be impressed. He is easily a sub 1:42 sec horse at the 1 1/16th mile race distance. Mohaymen is a half brother to the horse Frosted but he is way ahead of him at this stage of his career. His sire was Tapit so his pedigree suggests that he will like stretching out past 1 1/16th mile. His next start will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 27th at Gulfstream Park.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Nyquist – Morning Line Odds: 12-1

The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year. Winner of three Grade 1 Stakes races: The Del Mar Futurity, the FrontRunner Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite proved that his declining Beyer Speed Figures wasn’t a concern with an impressive win in the Juvenile. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is still undefeated in five starts. His stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. Just remember the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile curse–the last horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that went on to win the Kentucky Derby was Street Sense in 2007. He is being pointed for the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park on February 15th and then the Florida Derby on April 2nd.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

3) Brody’s Cause – Morning Line Odds: 30-1

Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. This colt has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated above in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity as well as in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He looks to be a First Saturday in May horse. I think his 30-1 Morning Line Odds are a bit too long with his closing speed (I expected 20/1 M/L odds). He is being pegged for the Tampa Bay Derby March 12th. 

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

4) Exaggerator – Morning Line Odds: 20-1

A Desormeaux brothers colt, they feel that he is more talented than Swipe. He finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and then followed this effort with a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). Remember, his jockey Keith Desormeaux is a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. His next start is expected to be the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita February 15th. 

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Delta Downs Jackpot

5) Smokey ImageMorning Line Odds: 30-1

He is undefeated in six starts, but five of his wins were at the 7 furlong distance or shorter. He might prove to be a better dirt-miler than a Derby horse. His next start is pegged to be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th. That race will probably be a great litmus test to determine if this horse is for real as a Derby contender–or one who has just raced against inferior competition. However, a horse who has a nose for the finish line in 6 starts should not be ignored. I like him right around 30-1 or longer odds.

Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.49 – California Cup Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85


Other horses to consider if you can get a “price” (live odds greater than 50-1)

Discreetness – winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes, undefeated in 4 starts. He has yet to race further than 1 mile.
Gift Box – Chad Brown’s colt resumed training January 19th. He finished 3rd behind Mohaymen and Flexibility in the Remsen Stakes.

Pay close attention to Exacta betting in this pool. This is where you can reap big rewards for just a few bucks.

Update February 13th 4:15 PM CST

Here are the top ten horses based upon current live odds:

  1. #24 – All Others – 3/1
  2. #15 – Mohaymen – 4/1
  3. #17 – Nyquist – 7/1
  4. #16 – Mo Spirit – 12/1
  5. #3 – Brody’s Cause – 14/1
  6. #1 – Airoforce – 15/1
  7. #19 – Smokey Image – 18/1
  8. #9 – Exaggerator – 22/1
  9. #23 – Zulu – 23/1
  10. #14 – Mo Tom – 30/1

My thoughts thus far–too much money is chasing Mohaymen (4/1 live odds) and Nyquist  (7/1 live odds) right now. We are still roughly 12 weeks out from the Kentucky Derby and a lot can happen between now and the first Saturday in May. To give you a perspective, American Pharoah had 5/1 final odds in the Kentucky Derby Pool #4 last year and he was given 5/2 Morning Line Odds for the Kentucky Derby when his live odds ended up at 2.9/1.

Right now, Exacta bets using these two and taking some flyers on a few other horses with Win bets look to be the best betting options. Brody’s Cause is 14-1 at the time of this update, so a $20 Win bet in this pool would pay back around $300. He offers more value at this point. Gift Box at 57-1 is very intriguing. Remember that he ran a 1:43 flat in a 1 1/16th mile race on a sloppy track at Belmont on October 3rd as a 2 year-old. See race HERE

Todd Pletcher’s Gettysburg (half brother to American Pharoah) was an intriguing prospect until when he ran a disappointing 5th in the Sam F. Davis Stakes today (see below)

Danzing Candy at 29-1 looks like a good option in this pool since he ridden by Mike Smith.

“All Others” currently at the time of this update is 3/1. Don’t forget that “All Others” in this pool includes Swipe who is supposed to resume training February 16th, Bob Baffert’s Cupid (half brother to Mohaymen due sharing the same sire Tapit) and Linda Rice’s Matt King Coal who resumed  training February 7th.

-Michael

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My Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Mohaymen mows down the Holy Bull – Photo: Kenny Martin

February 1st, 2016 (96 days away from the Kentucky Derby)
Updated: February 6, 2016 

Last year at this time, my top three Kentucky Derby Contenders were Texas Red, Dortmund and American Pharoah (See 1/27/15 article). Texas Red suffered an injury and wasn’t entered in the 2015 Kentucky Derby but American Pharoah and Dortmund both finished in the money-1st and 3rd respectively.

I generally feel that the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner will be a horse in my current Top 5 rankings: Mohaymen, Songbird (if the filly is entered), Nyquist, Swipe and Brody’s Cause. With more emphasis on the Top 3 since Swipe is rebounding from injury and Brody’s Cause apparently resuming racing as a 3 year-old somewhat later than typical. And my top 3 are all undefeated thus far.

1) Mohaymen – The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt is undefeated in 4 starts and posted an impressive time of 1:42.07 in the Holy Bull Stakes. When you watch that race and realize that he didn’t get off to the best start—yet he dealt with some traffic and then mowed down the field without being shown the whip–you have to be impressed. He is easily a sub 1:42 sec horse at the 1 1/16th mile race distance. Mohaymen is a half brother to the horse Frosted but he is way ahead of him at this stage of his career. His sire was Tapit so his pedigree suggests that he will like stretching out past 1 1/16th mile. His next start will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 27th at Gulfstream Park.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Songbird – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Female Horse of the Year, she was the top 2 year-old regardless of gender. Undefeated Nyquist was the Eclipse-winning 2 year-old colt and all Songbird did is run a full second faster than him at the same distance, same track and on the same day at the Breeders Cup World Championships. That would be equivalent to 6 1/2 lengths. She dominated the Las Virgenes Stakes, winning by 6 1/2 lengths and producing a time of 1:36.84. It is hard to say how good she really is when she has yet to be challenged. She is being pointed towards the Santa Anita Oaks on April 9th and then the Kentucky Oaks on May 6th. Her owner Rick Porter said he will not enter her into the Kentucky Derby. How about the Preakness Stakes?

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.84 – Las Virgenes Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.73 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

3) Nyquist – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year. Winner of three Grade 1 Stakes races: The Del Mar Futurity, the FrontRunner Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite proved that his declining Beyer Speed Figures wasn’t a concern with impressive win in the Juvenile. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is still undefeated in five starts. His stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. He is being pointed for the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park on February 15th and then the Florida Derby on April 2nd.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

4) Swipe – This Desormeaux brothers colt has finished 2nd to Nyquist four times in his last four starts. However, he kept narrowing the gap each time. I like his future in races 1 1/8th mile or greater. His sire was Birdstone who won the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes in 2004. Swipe had surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle in November and is expected to resume training soon (February 16th is the rumored date).

Career: 7 Starts 1-5-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.87 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

5) Brody’s Cause Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. This colt has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He looks to be a First Saturday in May horse. He is being pegged for the Tampa Bay Derby March 12th. 

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

And the best of the rest:

Greenpointcrusader  A second place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes was a good return to form performance. The Champagne Stakes winner has an excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His sire Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes, Travers Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished 2nd in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic. His next start appears to be in the Louisiana Derby at the Fairgrounds on March 26th.

Career: 5 Starts 2-2-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.63 (calculated) – Holy Bull Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

Exaggerator – Another Desormeaux brothers colt, he finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and then followed this effort with a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). I am expecting him to improve and his Delta Downs Jackpot win was a step in the right direction. His next start is expected to be the San Vincte Stakes at Santa Anita Park February 15th.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Delta Downs Jackpot

Gift Box – In just his 2nd start, this Chad Brown-trained colt produced a time of 1:43:00 on a sloppy track at Belmont–good for a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. That was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 1:45.78 in the sloppy Rebel Stakes at the same 1 1/16th mile distance. And American Pharoah was a 3 year-old in the Rebel. He finished a respectable 3rd in the Remsen Stakes. So it is still up in the air if this colt is just a good slop-track runner or if he will excel on dry, fast tracks. His next start appears to be the Risen Star Stakes on February 20th at the Fairgrounds.

Career: 3 Starts 1-0-2-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.00 – Belmont MSW- Race #11
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.17 (calculated) – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Belmont MSW- Race #11

Mor Spirit – Bob Baffert’s best 2 year-old colt. His win in the Los Alamitos Futurity was a solid effort and I liked how he rallied off the pace for the win. In Mor Spirit’s next start, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on February 6th, he produced a winning time of 1:43.21. His times are way off what Dortmund produced last year in these two races. So I see him as an above average Derby horse but not one who will finish in the money.

Career: 5 Starts 3-2-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.48 – Santa Anita Park MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.21 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Santa Anita Park MSW – Race #5

Airoforce – This Mark Casse-trained colt made the transition from turf to dirt with ease by winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes race on a wet track at Churchill Downs. An impressive effort but I will need to see how he performs on a dry fast track. His next start will be the Risen Star Stakes February 20th at the Fairgrounds.

Airoforce Kentucky Jockey Club 615 X 400

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A (on dirt)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.48 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

Matt King Coal – The Linda Rice-trained colt has put up back-to-back 90+ Beyer Speed Figures in his last two starts, breaking his maiden in his last start while posting a 96 Beyer Speed Figure–the best for a 2 year-old colt this year. I thought enough of this colt to place $10 on him in the 1st Kentucky Derby Future Wagers Pool that will pay back $889 if he wins. His pedigree (sire: Cool Coal Man) suggests that he might be better suited for a 1 mile to 1 1/8th mile distances. His next start was supposed to be the Jerome Stakes January 2nd but he developed an illness and wasn’t entered. He resumed training February 7th.

Matt King Coal runs 1st Place @ Belmont On 10/29/2015

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.68 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #6
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.02 (calculated) – Belmont Park MSW – Race #11
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #6

Smokey Image – He is undefeated in six starts, but five of his wins were at the 7 furlong distance or shorter. He might prove to be a better dirt-miler than a Derby horse. His next start is pegged to be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th. That race will probably be a great litmus test to determine if this horse is for real as a Derby contender.

Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.49 – California Cup Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85


 

 

Here are rankings by time for the most common denominator distance of 1 1/16th mile:

  1. Mohaymen – 1:42.07
  2. Greenpointcrusader – 1:42.63 (calculated)
  3. Songbird – 1:42.73
  4. Gift B0x – 1:43.00
  5. Matt King Coal – 1:43.02 (calculated)
  6. Fellowship – 1:43.03 (calculated)
  7. Mor Spirit – 1:43.21
  8. Brody’s Cause – 1:43.27
  9. Exaggerator – 1:43.43 (calculated)
  10. Smokey Image – 1:43.49
  11. Nyquist – 1:43.79
  12. Swipe – 1:43.87

-Michael

Two Kentucky Derby Contenders Put Their Undefeated Records On The Line

Today, Saturday January 30th, two Kentucky Derby Contenders will put their undefeated records on the line with Mohaymen (3 starts, 3 wins) in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park and Smokey Image (5 starts, 5 wins) in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita Park.

California Cup Derby – Race #5 at Santa Anita Park – 1 1/16th Mile – Post Time 4:01 CST

PP/Horse (weight)/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds

1. Tough It Out (119) Gonzalez/D’Amato 6-1
2. Smokey Image (123) Espinosa/Gaines 4-5
3. Record Highs (119) Talamo/Gaines 10-1
4. Demonslayer (119) Bejarano/Baltas 8-1
5. Glory Bound (119) Maldonado/Dollase 4-1
6. Xingontothebone (121) Pedroza/Solis 8-1
7. Loyalist (119) Pratt/Koriner 12-1

My Prediction: I feel that Smokey Image is vulnerable stretching out past his longest distance win at 7 furlongs. And he hasn’t raced since last October. Glory Bound came up short in the King Glorious Stakes on December 12th against Found Money at a mile distance. Play a 2,5 Boxed Exacta to be safe.

Holy Bull Stakes –  Race #11 at Gulfstream Park – 1 1/16th Mile – Post Time 4:05 CST

PP/Horse (weight)/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Perfect Saint (116) Lanerie/Romans 20-1
2. Mohaymen (120) Alvarado/McLaughlin 6-5
3. Fellowship (116) Caraballo/Gold 20-1
4. Conquest Big E (116) Smith/Casse 7-2
5. Greenpointcrusader (122) Velazquez/Schettino 8-5
6. Frontier Ranger (116) Zayas/Pellgrini 15-1

My Prediction: Mohaymen extends his winning streak. I like Conquest Big E and Greenpointcrusader to round out the trifecta. It is tough to split them so I would recommend keying Mohaymen to win in a Trifecta (2 over 4,5 over 4,5).

In the other key race of the day, the Withers Stakes (race #4) at Aqueduct at 12:50 PM CST, I like a Flexibility-Sunny Ridge (2,7) Straight Exacta.

–Michael

My Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Updated: January 7th, 2016 

With 2015 in the books, it is time to look ahead to the 2016 Kentucky Derby and the key contenders. Overall, I say this was a much weaker than average 2 year-old crop as we didn’t have one colt or filly eclipse a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. The filly Songbird has the highest Beyer Speed Figure thus far at 99 and she is still #1 in my rankings. Matt King Coal had the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any 2 year-old colt with a speed figure of 96.

But there is plenty of good raw talent and this may be a late-bloomer class. Horses will improve by leaps and bounds going forward at this stage. If you remember a couple of years ago, California Chrome was a mediocre 2 year-old (7 starts, 3 wins) before reeling off five straight wins as a 3 year-old.  We won’t have a good idea how good the 2016 class is until the early April. But if I am trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, I am reaching into the other cookie jar and entering Songbird against the boys in a Derby prep race somewhere down the line.

Here is my my updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contender list:

1) Songbird – Although she will likely be pegged for the Kentucky Oaks, she is the top 2 year-old regardless of gender and she would be my Kentucky Derby favorite. Undefeated Nyquist is the top 2 year-old colt and my early Kentucky Derby favorite and all Songbird did is run a full second faster than him at the same distance, same track and on the same day at the Breeders Cup World Championships. That would be equivalent to 6 1/2 lengths. She will win the 2015 Eclipse Top 2 Year Old Female Horse award. Her next start will be the 1 Mile Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita Park February 6th.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.73 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

2) Nyquist – Winner of three Grade 1 Stakes races: The Del Mar Futurity, the FrontRunner Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite proved that his declining Beyer Speed Figures wasn’t a concern with impressive win in the Juvenile. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is still undefeated in five starts. His stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. He will win the 2015 Eclipse Top 2 Year Old Male Horse award. He is being pointed for the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park on February 15th and then the Florida Derby on April 2nd.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

3) Mohaymen – The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt posted an impressive 94 Beyer Speed Figure in the Remsen Stakes  and a 89 Beyer Speed Figure in the Nashua Stakes on November 4th. For those who loved the horse Frosted on the Kentucky Derby trail last year, he is his half brother and is a striking resemblance. However, he is better than Frosted at this stage of his career. His time of 1:50.69 was faster than Honor Code’s in 2013 and Frosted and Keen Ice’s time last year in the Remsen. He is undefeated in 3 starts and the new dark horse to win the 2016 Kentucky Derby. His sire was Tapit so that makes him a half-brother to Tonalist too. His next start appears to be the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park January 30th.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.69 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Remsen Stakes

4) Swipe – This Desormeaux brothers colt has finished 2nd to Nyquist four times in his last four starts. However, he keeps narrowing the gap each time. I like his future in races 1 1/8th mile or greater. His sire was Birdstone who won the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes in 2004. Swipe had surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle in November and is expected to resume training in early February.

Career: 7 Starts 1-5-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.87 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

5) Brody’s Cause Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. This colt has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He looks to be a First Saturday in May horse.

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

6) Exaggerator – Another Desormeaux brothers colt, he finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and then followed this effort with a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). I am expecting him to improve and his Delta Downs Jackpot win was a step in the right direction. His next start is expected to be the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park February 15th.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Delta Downs Jackpot

7) Flexibility – Winner of the Jerome Stakes on January 2nd, the Chad Brown-trained colt just needed a race without Mohaymen in the field. He had finished 2nd to Mohaymen in his previous two starts. His time in the Jerome Stakes was 1:42.98 which was faster than El Kabeir’s 1:44.69 in last years race. His sire Bluegrass Cat finished 2nd in the 2006 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, then won the Haskell Invitational that year.

Career: 4 Starts 2-2-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.29 (calculated) – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.93 (calculated) – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93- Remsen Stakes

8) Gift Box – In just his 2nd start, this Chad Brown-trained colt produced a time of 1:43:00 on a sloppy track at Belmont–good for a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. That was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 1:45.78 in the sloppy Rebel Stakes at the same 1 1/16th mile distance. And American Pharoah was a 3 year-old in the Rebel. He finished a respectable 3rd in the Remsen Stakes. So it is still up in the air if this colt is just a good slop-track runner or if he will excel on dry, fast tracks.

Career: 3 Starts 1-0-2-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.00 – Belmont MSW- Race #11
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.17 (calculated) – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Belmont MSW- Race #11

9) Matt King Coal – The Linda Rice-trained colt has put up back-to-back 90+ Beyer Speed Figures in his last two starts, breaking his maiden in his last start while posting a 96 Beyer Speed Figure–the best for a 2 year-old colt this year. I thought enough of this colt to place $10 on him in the 1st Kentucky Derby Future Wagers Pool that will pay back $889 if he wins. His pedigree (sire: Cool Coal Man) suggests that he might be better suited for a 1 mile to 1 1/8th mile distances. His next start was supposed to be the Jerome Stakes January 2nd but he developed an illness and won’t be entered.

Matt King Coal runs 1st Place @ Belmont On 10/29/2015

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.68 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.02 (calculated) – Belmont Park MSW – Race #11
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #5

10) Greenpointcrusader  Although he finished 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, I generally liked his movement up through the field. He should do well in longer distance races.  The winner of Champagne Stakes where he received a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. His time was 0.37 seconds faster than last year’s Champagne Stakes winner Daredevil (who received a 107 Beyer) on a similar sloppy sealed track. Excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His sire Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes, Travers Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished 2nd in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.48 (calculated) – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

11) Mor Spirit – Bob Baffert’s best 2 year-old colt. His win in the Los Alamitos Futurity was a solid effort and I liked how he rallied off the pace for the win. But his time of 1:43:54 was 2.68 seconds off Dortmund’s time last year. I generally haven’t been that impressed with what the two best trainers in the business–Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher–have in their stables this year as far as 2 year-old colts.

Career: 4 Starts 2-2-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.48 – Santa Anita Park MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.54 – Los Alamitos Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Santa Anita Park MSW – Race #5

12) Airoforce – This Mark Casse-trained colt made the transition from turf to dirt with ease by winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes race on a wet track at Churchill Downs. An impressive effort but I will need to see how he performs on a dry fast track.

Airoforce Kentucky Jockey Club 615 X 400

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A (on dirt)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.48 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

Here are some other horses to keep an eye on are:

Smokey Image who is undefeated in five starts. However, he has yet to race further than 7 furlongs. He might prove to be a better Dirt-Miler than a Derby horse.

Sunny Ridge a gelding (sire: Holy Bull) who is trained by John Servis. Sunny Ridge has finished 2nd in his last two starts that were both wet track races. In his last start he received a 92 Beyer Speed Figure finishing 2nd to Exaggerator in the Delta Downs Jackpot. He could excel on dry fast tracks which he hasn’t run on since his win in the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park on September 6th.

Todd Pletcher’s Zulu and Sudden Surprise are intriguing prospects. Zulu (sire: Bernardini) broke his maiden in his first start at Gulfstream Park on December 5th. He is pegged to start in the 1 Mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes January 2nd. Sudden Surprise had won 5 of 6 starts but has yet to race further than a mile. And his only loss was at the 1 mile distance (a 4th place finish). So he could be more of sprinter than a Derby candidate.


Here are rankings by time for the most common denominator distance of 1 1/16th mile:

  1. Songbird – 1:42.73
  2. Gift B0x – 1:43.00
  3. Matt King Coal – 1:43.02 (calculated)
  4. Brody’s Cause – 1:43.27
  5. Exaggerator – 1:43.43 (calculated)
  6. Mor Spirit – 1:43.54
  7. Nyquist – 1:43.79
  8. Swipe – 1:43.87
  9. Greenpointcrusader – 1:44.48 (calculated)
  10. Airoforce – 1:45.48 (wet race)

Here are the key Derby prep races coming in the month of January:

  • January 2nd -The Jerome Stakes (1 Mile 70 Yards) at Aqueduct
  • January 9th – The Sham Stakes ( 1 Mile) at Santa Anita Park
  • January 16th – The Lecomte Stakes (1 Mile 70 Yards) at The Fairgrounds
  • January 18th – The Smarty Jones Stakes (1 Mile) at Oaklawn Park
  • January 30th – The Holy Bull Stakes ( 1 1/16th Mile) at Gulfstream Park
  • January 30th – The Withers Stakes (1 1/16th Mile) at Aqueduct

-Michael

My Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders and 2016 Breeders’ Cup Watch List

UPDATED  12/9/2015  4:30 PM CST

Here are my updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders. The filly Songbird is still my #1. Mohaymen moves way up the list with his performance in the Remsen Stakes.

1) Songbird – Although she will likely be pegged for the Kentucky Oaks, she is the top 2 year-old regardless of gender and she would be my Kentucky Derby favorite. Undefeated Nyquist is the top 2 year-old colt and my early Kentucky Derby favorite and all Songbird did is run a full second faster than him at the same distance, same track and on the same day at the Breeders Cup World Championships. That would be equivalent to 6 1/2 lengths. She will win the 2015 Eclipse Top 2 Year Old Female Horse award.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.73 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

2) Nyquist – Winner of three Grade 1 Stakes races: The Del Mar Futurity, the FrontRunner Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite proved that his declining Beyer Speed Figures wasn’t a concern with impressive win in the Juvenile. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is still undefeated in five starts. His stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. He will win the 2015 Eclipse Top 2 Year Old Male Horse award.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

3) Mohaymen – The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt posted an impressive 94 Beyer Speed Figure in the Remsen Stakes on Saturday and a 89 Beyer Speed Figure in the Nashua Stakes on November 4th. For those who loved the horse Frosted on the Kentucky Derby trail last year, he is his half brother and is a striking resemblance. However, he is better than Frosted at this stage of his career. His time of 1:50.69 was faster than Honor Code’s in 2013 and Frosted and Keen Ice’s time last year in the Remsen. He is undefeated in 3 starts and the new dark horse to win the 2016 Kentucky Derby. His sire was Tapit so that makes him a half-brother to Tonalist too.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.69 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94- Remsen Stakes

4) Swipe – This Desormeaux brothers colt has finished 2nd to Nyquist four times in his last four starts. However, he keeps narrowing the gap each time. I like his future in races 1 1/8th mile or greater. His sire was Birdstone who won the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes in 2004.

Career: 7 Starts 1-5-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.87 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

5) Brody’s Cause Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. On closer inspection, this horse has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He looks to be a First Saturday in May horse.

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

6) Exaggerator – Another Desormeaux brothers colt, he finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and then followed this effort with a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). I am expecting him to improve and his Delta Downs Jackpot win was a step in the right direction.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Delta Downs Jackpot

7) Gift Box – Consider in just his 2nd start, this Chad Brown-trained colt produced a time of 1:43:00 on a sloppy track at Belmont–good for a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. That was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 1:45.78 in the sloppy Rebel Stakes at the same 1 1/16th mile distance. And American Pharoah was a 3 year-old in the Rebel. He finished a respectable 3rd in the Remsen Stakes.

Career: 3 Starts 1-0-2-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.00 – Belmont MSW- Race #11
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.17 (calculated)
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Belmont MSW- Race #11

8) Greenpointcrusader  Although he finished 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, I generally liked his movement up through the field where he was 12th at the three quarter pole and finished 7th and a couple of “necks” from finishing 5th. He should do well in longer distance races.  The winner of Champagne Stakes where he received a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. His time was 0.37 seconds faster than last year’s Champagne Stakes winner Daredevil (who received a 107 Beyer) on a similar sloppy sealed track. Excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His sire Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes, Travers Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished 2nd in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

9) Matt King Coal – The Linda Rice-trained colt has put up back-to-back 90+ Beyer Speed Figures in his last two starts and broke his maiden in his last start while posting a 96 Beyer Speed Figure–the best for a 2 year-old colt this year.

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.68 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.02 (calculated) – Belmont Park MSW – Race #11
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #5

10) Airoforce – This Mark Casse-trained colt made the transition from turf to dirt with ease by winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes race on a wet track at Churchill Downs on Saturday. An impressive effort but I will need to see how he performds on a dry fast track.

Airoforce Kentucky Jockey Club 615 X 400

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A (on dirt)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.48 – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

 

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Watch

And now for my updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic watch list. Unbelievable and very sad news that Shared Belief passed away December 3rd due to a bout with colic. Also, Honor Code and Tonalist have been retired to the stud farm. The Breeders’ Cup Classic contender picture will get a little clearer after the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

1) Beholder  It would have been nice to see her race in The Classic but nobody was going to beat American Pharoah that day. Her 114 Beyer Speed Figure in the TVG Pacific Classic was the 2nd best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015 for distances 1 1/4 mile or greater.

Career: 20 Starts 15-3-0-2, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.77 – 8/22/15 (2015 Pacific Classic)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Earnings: $4,436,600

2) Effinex – A 2nd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a win in the Clark Handicap make him a strong candidate to win the 2015 Eclipse Older Dirt Male Horse of the Year award.

Career: 20 Starts 7-2-3-4, Win Pct: 35%, Top 3 Pct: 60%, Top 4%: 80%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 10/31/15 (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Career Best Beyer Speed: 110 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $2,112,950

3) California Chrome – I am glad he is coming back, the sport needs him. Looks like he is being pegged for the San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita January 9th and eventually for the Dubai World Cup once again.

Career: 18 Starts 9-3-1-1, Win Pct: 50%, Top 3 Pct: 72.2%, Top 4 Pct: 77.8%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 11/1/14 (2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $6,322,650

4) Dortmund – He is two-for-two since his comeback after the long layoff after the Kentucky Derby: A win in the Native Diver Handicap this past Saturday and the Big Bear Stakes in October. I am expecting big things next year from this Bob Baffert-trained colt provided he is 100% healthy. His next start appears to be the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on December 26th.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1, Win Pct: 80%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4%: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 5/2/15 (2015 Kentucky Derby)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby
Career Earnings: $1,712,480

5) Keen Ice – The only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion. His 4th place finish in the Clark Handicap was a bit disappointing but he likes 1 1/4 mile distances.

Career: 13 Starts 2-1-3-4, Win Pct: 15.3%, Top 3 Pct: 46.1%, Top 4 Pct: 76.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 8/29/15 (2015 Travers Stakes)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,814,645

6) Frosted – He has a bright future in the sport and should improve as a 4 year-old. His Pennsylvania Derby win was the biggest of his career.

Career: 13 Starts 3-6-1-2, Win Pct: 23%, Top 3 Pct: 69.2%, Top 4 Pct: 92.3%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 8/29/2015 (2015 Travers Stakes)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Earnings: $2,062,800

7) Smooth Roller  – A scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Was his Awesome Again Stakes win a fluke or a sign of bigger and better things to come? We will find out.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-1, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 75%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2015 Awesome Again Stakes
Career Earnings: $261,810

8) Firing Line – A promising horse that finished 2nd behind American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby. He also set a track record in the Sunland Derby. He sat out the year after his 7th place finish in the Preakness Stakes due to foot problems. He is expected to return to racing in late March/early April.

Career: 7 Starts 2-4-0-0, Win Pct: 28.6%, Top 3 Pct: 85.7%, Top 4 Pct: 85.7%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.18 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Earnings: $974,800

9) Catch A Flight – The Argentinian horse has never finished below 3rd in his North American career thus far. He finished 3rd in the Santa Anita Handicap in March behind Shared Belief and Moreno. Then he finished 2nd behind Beholder in the TVG Pacific Classic. He is recovering from body soreness that prevented him from entering the Awesome Again Stakes

Career (North America) : 8 Starts 4-1-3-0, Win Pct: 50%, Top 3 Pct: 100%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.09 (calculated) – 8/22/15 (2015 TVG Pacific Classic)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106- 2015 California Stakes
Career Earnings: $773,239

10) Texas Red  – A fifth place finish in the Travers was disappointing but he is still recovering. He earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the Jim Dandy Stakes. He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two year old and was my early Kentucky Derby favorite before his injury. .

Career: 9 Starts 3-3-1-1, Win Pct: 33.3%, Top 3 Pct: 77.8%, Top 4 Pct: 88.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.45 (calculated) – 8/29/2015 (2015 Travers Stakes)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,767,300


In Memoriam

Shared Belief – RIP. Unbelievable news that he passed away December 3rd after a bout with colic. He posted Beyer Speed Figures of 107 and 111 in two of his three starts in 2015.

Career: 12 Starts 10-0-0-1, Win Pct: 83.3%, Top 3 Pct: 83.3%, Top 4 Pct: 91.7%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.38 (calculated) – 8/24/14 (2014 Pacific Classic)
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 1152014 Pacific Classic
Career Earnings: $2,932,200

–Michael

Black Friday Special-Effinex & Keen Ice duel in the Clark Handicap. Plus 2016 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1

 

Updated: 11/28/15 11:30AM CST

If you have been suffering from horse racing withdrawal after the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, then you will have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Holiday weekend as there are several intriguing races for your viewing pleasure.

On tap for Black Friday will be one of the oldest horse races in North America (1875)–The Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs–that will include Effinex, Keen Ice, Hoppertunity and Race Day. If Effinex wins, he makes a great case to win Champion Older Male of the Year.

Saturday at Aqueduct will have two interesting races, the Cigar Mile with entries Tonalist, Private Zone  and Red Vine. And the Remsen Stakes for 2 year-olds that has two of my top 10 2016 Kentucky Derby Favorties: Mohaymen and Gift Box.

At Del Mar, Dortmund is entered in the Native Diver Handicap and will be competing against the 5 year old Mare Yahilwa, Iron Fist who finished 2nd in the Penn Derby this past September behind Frosted and Imperative who finished 4th in this year’s Awesome Again Stakes.

Plus the 2016 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #1 kicks off this weekend.

I will update this for all of these races once post positions and Morning Line Odds are known.

The Clark Handicap (Race #11) at Churchill Downs
Friday Nov 27th. Post time: 4:35 PM CST. Purse: $500,000. Distance: 1 1/8 miles. TV: TVG

Post Position/Horse (weight)/Jockey/Trainer/ML Odds
1. Keen Ice (120) Lanerie/Romans – 3/1
2. Looks to Spare (113) Lebron/Umarov – 30/1
3. Mr. Z (114) Santana Jr./Lukas – 15/1
4. Frivolous (115) Court/Oliver – 15/1
5. Protonico (117) Leparoux/Pletcher – 8/1
6. Hoppertunity (121) Garcia/Baffert – 7/2
7. Shotgun Kowboy (113) Berry/Trout – 20/1
8. Effinex (122) Smith/Jerkens – 5/2
9. Race Day (122) Velazquez/Pletcher – 7/2

My prediction: Effinex can be temperamental but surprisingly finished 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I am not sure 1 1/8th mile is his or Keen Ice’s best distance. So this is a tough race to handicap. Right now, I like a $10 straight Supefecta with 9-6-8-1 and a $5 Boxed Exacta with three horses 6-8-9 that would cost $30. That is $40 and all that I would plunk down on this race that will have more spectator value as race just to watch.

Note: Effinex won and $40 advice would have paid back $72.50.

Remsen Stakes (Race #5) at Aqueduct
Saturday Nov 28th. Post time: 12:50 PM CST. Purse: $300,000. Distance: 1 1/8 miles. TV: TVG

Post Position/Horse (weight)/Jockey/Trainer/ML Odds
1. Donegal Moon (116) Velazquez/Pletcher – 15/1
2. Sail Ahoy (116) Rosario/McGaughey – 6/1
3. Mohaymen (122) Alvarado/McLaughlin – 8/5
4. Flexibility (116) I.Ortiz/Brown – 3/1
5. Ravenheart (116) Carmouche/Abbott – 30/1
6. Gift Box (116) Castellano/Brown -4/1
7. Hunter O’Riley (116) L.Saez/Sharp – 15/1
8. Runaway King (116) G.Saez/Ice – 20/1
9. Marengo Road (116) J.Ortiz/Trombetta – 12/1

My prediction: 2 year-old races can be unpredictable. I never bet more than $50 on them unless it is a huge win bet that I feel confident about. So I would probably place a $15 Boxed Exacta 3-6 that would cost $30.

Cigar Mile Handicap (Race #9) at Aqueduct
Saturday Nov 28th. Post time: 2:50 PM CST. Purse: $500,000. Distance: 1 mile. TV: TVG

Post Position/Horse (weight)/Jockey/Trainer/ML Odds
1. Marking (116) J.Ortiz/McLaughlin – 15/1
2. Mshawish (116) Castellano/Pletcher – 10/1
3. Red Vine (118) Rosario/Clement – 8/1
4. Matrooth (116) I.Ortiz/Brown – 6/1
5. Tonalist (124) Velazquez/Clement – 2/1
6. Full of Mine (108) Rodriquez/Chatterpaul – 50/1
7. Private Zone (123) L.Saez/Sharp – 6/5

My Prediction: Another tough race to handicap. Tonalist appeared to tire down the stretch in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and he is better in distance races. Private Zone, last year’s Cigar Mile winner, is the horse to beat in this field once again.  Marking has been scratched so Superfectas are out of play. Not sure how much trifectas would pay out in a 6 horse field. So you might opt for a large Boxed Exacta with 3 horses (3,5,7).

Native Diver Stakes (Race #8) at Del Mar
Saturday Nov 28th. Post time: 6:00 PM CST. Purse: $150,000. Distance: 1 1/8 miles. TV: TVG

Post Position/Horse (weight)/Jockey/Trainer/ML Odds
1. Cat Burglar (118) Espinosa/Baffert -12/1
2. Majestic City (120) Puglisi/Baltas – 20/1
3. Dortmund (124) Stevens/Baffert – 6/5
4. Iron Fist (115) Smith/Hollendorfer – 2/1
5. Big Cazanova (120) Velazquez/Miller – 10/1
6. Yahilwa (117) Graham/Cassidy – 12/1
7. Imperative (120) L.Saez/Baltas – 4/1

My Prediction: Dortmund wins this one with ease. He will probably have 2/5 final odds. He is coming off a win in his last race-the 1 mile Big Bear Stakes on October 24th-where he posted a 105 Beyer Speed Figure. The only question is who will finish 2nd. My guess is that it will be Iron Fist ridden by Mike Smith. So a 3-4 Straight Exacta is how I would bet.

2016 Derby Future Wager Pool 1 (Thursday Nov 26th-Sunday Nov 29th)

Morning line odds by Mike Battaglia.

1. Airoforce 20-1
2. Annual Report 30-1
3. Brody’s Cause 15-1
4. Cocked and Loaded 30-1
5. Conquest Big E 50-1
6. Drefong 30-1
7. Exaggerator 30-1
8. Flexibility 30-1
9. Gift Box 30-1
10. Greenpointcrusader 30-1
11. Gun Runner 30-1
12. Matt King Coal 20-1
13. Mohaymen 15-1
14. Mor Spirit 20-1
15. Nyquist 10-1
16. Rated R Superstar 50-1
17. Riker 30-1
18. Sail Ahoy 30-1
19. Sunny Ridge 50-1
20. Swipe 15-1
21. Synchrony 30-1
22. Toews On Ice 30-1
23. Unbridled Outlaw 30-1
24. All Others 7-5

Bold Font represents horses in my most recent Early Kentucky Derby Favorite Rankings which you can read by clicking HERE

My advice, take #24 All Others as no colt has really emerged as an overwhelming favorite in my opinion when looking at historical Beyer Speed Figures. Nyquist is the best 2 year-old colt thus far but I feel that this may be a late bloomer class like 2007. The filly Songbird is the best 2 year-old regardless of gender.

–Michael

Looking ahead – My Early 2016 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders

It is never too late to start thinking about another exciting year of thoroughbred racing. Now that the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships are over, who are the horses to keep an eye on for next year’s Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic?

For the 2016 Kentucky Derby, here’s my early Top 10 contenders thus far. And a surprise–I have a filly ranked #1:

1) Songbird – Although she will likely be pegged for the Kentucky Oaks, she is the top 2 year-old regardless of gender and she would be my Kentucky Derby favorite. Undefeated Nyquist is the top 2 year-old colt and my early Kentucky Derby favorite and all Songbird did is run a full second faster than him at the same distance, same track and same day at the Breeders Cup World Championships. That would be equivalent to 6 1/2 lengths.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.73 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

2) Nyquist – Winner of three Grade 1 Stakes races: The Del Mar Futurity, the FrontRunner Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite proved that his declining Beyer Speed Figures wasn’t a concern with impressive win in the Juvenile. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt Nyquist is still undefeated in five starts. His stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. He will win the Eclipse Top 2 Year Old Male Horse award.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

3) Swipe – This Desormeaux brothers colt has finished 2nd to Nyquist four times in his last four starts. However, he keeps narrowing the gap each time. I like his future in races 1 1/8th mile or greater. His sire was Birdstone who won the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes in 2004.

Career: 7 Starts 1-5-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.87 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

4) Brody’s Cause Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. On closer inspection, this horse has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He looks to be a 1st Saturday in May horse.

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down Maiden Special Weight – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

5) Greenpointcrusader  Although he finished 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, I generally liked his movement up through the field where he was 12th at the three quarter pole and finished 7th and a couple of “necks” from finishing 5th. He should do well in longer distance races.  The winner of Champagne Stakes where he received a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. His time was 0.37 seconds faster than last year’s Champagne Stakes winner Daredevil (who received a 107 Beyer) on a similar sloppy sealed track. Excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His sire Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes, Travers Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished 2nd in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

6) Exaggerator – Another Desormeaux brothers colt, he finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). I am expecting him to improve.

Career: 5 Starts 2-1-0-1 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

7) Matt King Coal – The Linda Rice-trained colt has put up back-to-back 90+ Beyer Speed Figures in his last two starts and broke his maiden in his last start while posting a 96 Beyer Speed Figure–the best for a 2 year-old colt this year.

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.68 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.02 (calculated) – Belmont Park MSW – Race #11
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – Belmont Park MSW – Race #5

8) Mohaymen – The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt posted an 89 Beyer Speed Figure in the Nashua Stakes on November 4th. His sire is Tapit so that means that he will like distance. A Frosted clone in the making?

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Nashua Stakes

9) Gift Box – Consider in just his 2nd start, this Chad Brown-trained colt produced a time of 1:43:00 on a sloppy track at Belmont–good for a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. That was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 1:45.78 in the sloppy Rebel Stakes at the same 1 1/16th mile distance. And American Pharoah was a 3 year-old in the Rebel. Call me curious to see what this colt will do in his next start on a dry, fast track at a distance of a mile or more.

Career: 2 Starts 1-0-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.00 – Belmont Maiden Special Weight- Race #11
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Belmont Maiden Special Weight- Race #11

10) Sakara – This ranking is probably a bit premature but he is American Pharoah’s half brother from the same Zayat Stables. He broke his maiden in his first start on the turf at the Meadowlands October 24th and he looked quite “Pharoahish” doing it.

Career: 1 Starts 1-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.48 (turf) – Meadowlands Maiden Special Weight – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A


2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Watch

And now for a look ahead at the top Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders for next season. Both Shared Belief and California Chrome are set to return to racing. Below are my Top 10 contenders entering 2016. The picture will get a little clearer after the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

1) Beholder  It would have been nice to see her race in The Classic but nobody was going to beat American Pharoah that day.

Career: 20 Starts 15-3-0-2, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.77 – 8/22/15 (2015 Pacific Classic)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Earnings: $4,436,600

2) Shared Belief – It will be interesting to see how he does in 2016 after sitting out most of this year.

Career: 12 Starts 10-0-0-1, Win Pct: 83.3%, Top 3 Pct: 83.3%, Top 4 Pct: 91.7%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.38 (calculated) – 8/24/14 (2014 Pacific Classic)
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 1152014 Pacific Classic
Career Earnings: $2,932,200

3) Honor Code – He will be a 5 year old in 2016 like Shared Belief and California Chrome. He could emerge as the better horse of the three when all is said and done.

Career: 11 Starts 6-2-2-0, Win Pct: 54.5%, Top 3 Pct: 90.9%, Top 4 Pct: 90.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.83 (calculated) – 10/31/15 (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2015 Whitney Handicap
Career Earnings: $2,518,260

4) California Chrome – I am glad he is coming back, the sport needs him. Looks like he is being pegged for the Dubai World Cup once again.

Career: 18 Starts 9-3-1-1, Win Pct: 50%, Top 3 Pct: 72.2%, Top 4 Pct: 77.8%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 11/1/14 (2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $6,322,650

5) Tonalist – Still one of the top horses in North America. The lesson I took away from his Breeders’ Cup Classic run is don’t enter him in the TVG Pacific Classic next year. Give him a 2 month layoff like American Pharoah had and see how he responds to the rest because he tired down the stretch in the Classic.

Career: 15 Starts 6-4-2-1, Win Pct: 40%, Top 3 Pct: 80%, Top 4 Pct: 86.7%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.69 (calculated) – 11/1/14 (2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 111 – 2015 Westchester Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed 111 – 2015 Westchester Stakes
Career Earnings: $3,197,000

6) Effinex – A temperamental horse with a lot of talent. A 2nd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic–Jimmy Jerkens has done wonders with him.

Career: 19 Starts 6-2-3-4, Win Pct: 31.6%, Top 3 Pct: 57.9%, Top 4%: 78.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 10/31/15 (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Career Best Beyer Speed: 110 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $1,812,250

7) Keen Ice – The only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion.

Career: 12 Starts 2-1-3-3, Win Pct: 16.7%, Top 3 Pct: 50%, Top 4 Pct: 75%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 8/29/15 (2015 Travers Stakes)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,790,395

8) Dortmund – I am expecting big things next year from this Bob Baffert-trained colt provided he is 100% healthy.

Career: 9 Starts 7-0-1-1, Win Pct: 77.8%, Top 3 Pct: 66.9%, Top 4%: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 5/2/15 (2015 Kentucky Derby)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby
Career Earnings: $1,622,480

9) Frosted – He has a bright future in the sport and should improve as a 4 year-old.

Career: 13 Starts 3-6-1-2, Win Pct: 23%, Top 3 Pct: 69.2%, Top 4 Pct: 92.3%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 8/29/2015 (2015 Travers Stakes)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Earnings: $2,062,800

10) Smooth Roller  – A scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Was his Awesome Again Stakes win a fluke or a sign of bigger and better things to come? We will find out.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-1, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 75%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2015 Awesome Again Stakes
Career Earnings: $261,810

–Michael