Melatonin Wins The Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Standings

MelatoninBigCap

June 26th 2016

Back in March when I attended the Santa Anita Handicap, there was some grumbling how this year’s Big ‘Cap had a dearth of talent since many of the top horses had traveled to Dubai for the Dubai World Cup. Then the 16-1 longshot Melatonin won the prestigious race and a number of bystanders groaned “Melatonin?”

Let’s just say, the lines for returning winning tickets that afternoon was rather short. But nobody is saying “Melatonin?” today or feeling shorted by their Big ‘Cap attendance because you can make a strong case that Melatonin is top horse in the world on dirt at the Classic distance of a a mile and a quarter. Why?

First, Melatonin’s winning Gold Cup time of 1:59.79 (shown below) is a time that California Chrome has never eclipsed at that distance. The only active horse who has produced a better time through 1 1/4 mile is Beholder who whose winning time in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last August was 1:59.77. And Melatonin didn’t have the mild, near perfect San Diego weather to run in. He ran in extreme 90 degree heat yesterday at Santa Anita Park.

Secondly, Melatonin has consistently produced three 100+ Beyer Speed figures in a row: 107 in the Santa Anita Handicap, 104 in the Oaklawn Handicap and a 109 for his Gold Cup winning performance. That is a 106.67 average and only two other horses thus far this year (Noble Bird 110, Mexikoma 107) have produced a 107 or better Beyer in races more than a mile.

So this explains why he rocketed up from 9th to 3rd in my Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings below.

Here are my updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse on dirt in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup. He is training extremely well and is expected to be an entry in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23rd.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Frosted  He has set two track records thus far as a 4 year old. The first came at Meydan in the 1900 meter Al Maktoum Challenge in February. His most recent came in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. So now the question becomes, should he be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or The Classic? He was always viewed as a horse who like distance and never a “miler” prior to his stunning performance in the Met Mile. His next start appears to be in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 6th.

Career: 16 Starts 5-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: William Buick
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

3) Melatonin– The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He proved his Big ‘Cap performance was no fluke by finishing 2nd behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap and completing the Big ‘Cap-Gold Cup Double. His win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita assures him a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. 

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 2 Starts  2-0-0-0 (107.5 average Beyer)
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  1:59.79 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita

4) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner missed the Belmont Stakes due to spiking a fever shortly after the Preakness Stakes. He is doing fine and probably will be a candidate for the Haskell Invitational on July 31st.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Kentucky Derby

5) Songbird – Undefeated in 8 career starts. Songbird missed the Kentucky Oaks due to a fever but proved in the Summertime Oaks that she is back and better than ever. She produced career her best time of 1:42.63 in a 1 1/16th mile race and traveled through the mile in 1:35.71. These times indicate to me that Songbird is a tenth or two faster than Beholder right now on the same Santa Anita track. And note that she is coasting home in her victories, so she has plenty more left in the tank. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She has #1 in the world potential. Her next start will come in the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Sunday July 24th. It appears her schedule after this will be the 1 1/4 mile Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on August 20th and the 1 1/16th mile Cotillion Stakes at PARX on September 17th. An entry in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff entry seems more likely this year than The Classic.

Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

6) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Beholder was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes. But her last effort, although a win in the Vanity Stakes, may indicate that she has slipped a bit off her 2015 form because she seemed to labor to produce a winning of 1:35.97 in this one mile race. Her next start will come in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 31st.

Career: 22 Starts 17-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

7) Exaggerator His disappointing 11th place finish in the Belmont Stakes was a head-scratcher. Trainer Keith Desormeaux believes that Exaggerator didn’t take well to the sandy Belmont surface. His future plans are the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30th as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on August 27th. But since he excels on a sloppy, off-track, I would love to see him entered in a turf race because usually these type of horses make great turf runners. And his closer style would fit well there too.

Career: 12 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 101 – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

8) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a win in the Oaklawn Handicap (shown below) and a head-scratching 6th place finish in the Stephen Foster Handicap. Reviewing his disappointing run in the Stephen Foster, Effinex got off to a poor start and had a bad trip being forced wide that mostly due to his poor start. He is a temperamental horse who has produced a few clunkers but is able to bounce back.  He had Gary Stevens as his jockey in the Stephen Foster but Mike Smith seems to have more magic on him.

Career: 23 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>6th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Win the Space  He has bounced between dirt and turf and finally has found a home on dirt. His 2nd place Gold Cup performance proved that this 4 year-old colt was a diamond in the rough and is extremely talented. He produced a 2 minute mile and a quarter (very uncommon) and did so in 90 degree heat. In his start previous to the Gold Cup, he produced a lightning quick 8 1/2 furlong (1 1/16th mile) time of 1:41.55 as a closer. But in the Gold Cup race, Gary Stevens pressed him up on the pace and it paid off. So he proved that he is versatile in running style as well as fast. No word as to where his next start will be. 

Career: 11 Starts 3-1-2-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Pulpit
Trainer: George Papaprodromou
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:00.03 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 

10) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April. He has been working out at Belmont Park and is expected to be entered in the Suburban Handicap on July 9th. He’ll be the race favorite in that field.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

11) Hoppertunity – He finished 4th in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Bob Baffert admitted before the race that he wasn’t sure that he had him completely ready. Previous to this start, he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and probably would finish in the top 4 in any race no matter the talent in the field because he has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race. No word on when or where his next start will be.

Career: 20 Starts 5-6-4-4 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-1-1-2
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>4th
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.16 (calculated) – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita 
Best Beyer in 1 1/4 Mile Race: 104 – 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes

12) Bradester* – Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a win in the Stephen Foster Handicap. He is 2-for-2 in 2016. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 5 of his career 9 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. So one wonders if he is better suited to for the 1 1/8th mile Pegasus World Cup than the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 23 Starts 9-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 9th>1st>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A (Estimate from Stephen Foster projected out: 2:01.53)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes


Dropping out of my Top 12 rankings:

Creator – He proved that his Arkansas Derby win wasn’t a fluke with a surprise win in the Belmont Stakes. His next start appears to be in the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 10 Starts 3-4-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>13th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.58 (calculated) – 2016 Belmont Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Belmont Stakes


Keep an eye on….

Gun Runner He came within 0.08 seconds from setting a track record at Churchill Downs this past Saturday in the Matt Winn Stakes (shown below). His next start will come in the Travers Stakes on August 27th. This 1 1/8th mile distance seems to fit his running style the best. Gun Runner was 2nd and about a length or so from Nyquist at the 1 1/8th pole in the Kentucky Derby. He may be a better Pegasus World Cup contender

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Matt Winn Stakes


Below are the key upcoming races with “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Classic races in bold font:

July 9th – Suburban Handicap# – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000 – NBC
July 23rd – San Diego Handicap – Del Mar – 1 1/16th Mile – Purse: $200,000
July 30th – Jim Dandy Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000
July 31st – Haskell Invitational* – Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 27th – Travers Stakes* – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000 – NBC
September 3rd – Woodward Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000 – NBCSN
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000 – NBCSN
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
*****

November 5th- Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita  – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $6,000,000 – NBC

* – 3 year olds only
#- 4 year olds and up


–Michael

Updated Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

June 19th 2016

Bradester became the first horse to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his surprise win in the Stephen Foster Handicap yesterday (shown below).

Coming this Saturday is another “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park. This race will be shown live on NBC Sports Network with coverage starting at 7PM CST. Rumored entries are: Melatonin, Hard Aces, Imperative and Second Summer. The 2016 Santa Anita Handicap winner Melatonin should be the race favorite.

Below are the key upcoming races with “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Classic races in bold font:

June 25th – Gold Cup at Santa Anita – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 9th – Suburban Handicap – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 30th – Jim Dandy Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000
July 31st – Haskell Invitational – Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – TVG Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 27th – Travers Stakes – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup Invitational – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
*****
November 5th- Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $6,000,000

Here are my updated Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse on dirt in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup. He is rumored to be an entry in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23rd.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.93 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 –2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Frosted  He has set two track records thus far as a 4 year old. The first came at Meydan in the 1900 meter Al Maktoum Challenge in February. His most recent came in the 124th running of the Metropolitan Handicap with a time of 1:32.73 that resulted in the highest Beyer Speed Figure (123) of his career and the highest of any thoroughbred thus far in 2016. So now the question becomes, should he be entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or The Classic? He was always viewed as a horse who like distance and never a “miler” prior to his stunning performance in the Met Mile. His next start appears to be in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on August 6th.

Career: 16 Starts 5-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: William Buick
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 123 2016 Metropolitan Handicap

3) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner missed the Belmont Stakes due to spiking a fever shortly after the Preakness Stakes. He is doing fine and probably will be a candidate for the Haskell Invitational on July 31st.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 –2016 Kentucky Derby

4) Songbird Now undefeated in 8 career starts, Songbird proved in the Summertime Oaks that she is back and better than ever. She produced career her best time of 1:42.63 in a 1 1/16th mile race and traveled through the mile in 1:35.71. These times indicate to me that Songbird is a tenth or two faster than Beholder right now on the same Santa Anita track. And note that she is coasting home in her victories, so she has plenty more left in the tank. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She developed a low grade fever and unfortunately wasn’t entered in the Kentucky Oaks. She has #1 in the world potential. Her next start will come in the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on Sunday July 24th.

Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

5) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. Beholder was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. She is the only horse in this group to have won with a sub 2 minute mile and a quarter. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes. But her last effort, although a win in the Vanity Stakes, may indicate that she has slipped a bit off her 2015 form because she seemed to labor to produce a winning of 1:35.97 in this one mile race. Her next start will come in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 31st.

Career: 22 Starts 17-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 10

Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

6) Exaggerator His disappointing 11th place finish in the Belmont Stakes was a head-scratcher. Trainer Keith Desormeaux believes that Exaggerator didn’t take well to the sandy Belmont surface. His future plans are the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30th as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 12 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>11th
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

7) Hoppertunity – After winning the 2016 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, he was shipped to Dubai where he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and somehow seems to always hit the board no matter the race and the competition. He has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race. No word on when or where his next start will be.

Career: 19 Starts 5-6-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st>3rd
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.33 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 –2016 San Antonio Stakes

8) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. For 2016, he has a 3rd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a win in the Oaklawn Handicap (shown below) and a head-scratching 6th place finish in the Stephen Foster Handicap. Reviewing his disappointing run in the Stephen Foster, Effinex got off to a poor start and had a bad trip being forced wide that mostly due to his poor start. He is a temperamental horse who has produced a few clunkers but is able to bounce back. 

Career: 23 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>6th
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 112 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Melatonin – The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He is trained by David Hofmans who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup. He should be the race favorite for the upcoming Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

Career: 12 Starts 4-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:02.01 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap

10) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April. He has been working out at Belmont Park and is expected to be entered in the Suburban Handicap on July 9th.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97* estimated from Dubai World Cup

11) Bradester* – Although he has never raced beyond 1 1/8th mile, Bradester has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic as noted above. He competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and had a disappointing 9th place finish. 5 of his career 9 wins have come at the 1 1/16th mile distance. So one wonders if he is better suited to for the 1 1/8th mile Pegasus World Cup than the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career:23 Starts 9-6-2-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 9th>1st>1st
Sire: Lion Heart
Trainer: Eddie Kenneally
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 109 – 2015 Salvator Mile Stakes

12) Creator – He proved that his Arkansas Derby win wasn’t a fluke with a surprise win in the Belmont Stakes. His next start appears to be in the Travers Stakes on August 27th.

Career: 10 Starts 3-4-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>13th–>1st
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.58 (calculated) – 2016 Belmont Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Belmont Stakes


Dropping out of my Top 12 rankings:

Dortmund  – The 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner drops out of my Top 12 due to the fact that he hasn’t raced since his Native Diver Handicap win in late November of last year. However, he is back in training at Los Alamitos and his next start is rumored to be in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20th.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2014 Breeders’ Cup Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby

Noble Bird – After an impressive win in the Pimlico Special (shown below), Noble Bird followed up this effort with a disappointing 6th place finish in the Metropolitan Handicap. Although he qualified for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, he still hasn’t raced at the Classic 1 1/4 mile distance.

Career: 16 Starts 5-4-0-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>1st–>6th
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special


Keep an eye on….

Gun Runner He came within 0.08 seconds from setting a track record at Churchill Downs this past Saturday in the Matt Winn Stakes (shown below). His next start will come in the Travers Stakes on August 27th. This 1 1/8th mile distance seems to fit his running style the best. Gun Runner was 2nd and about a length or so from Nyquist at the 1 1/8th pole in the Kentucky Derby. He may be a better Pegasus World Cup contender

Career: 7 Starts 5-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st>3rd–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.03 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Matt Winn Stakes

–Michael

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contender Rankings

May 25th 2016

With the Breeders’ Cup Classic “Win and You’re In” challenge races starting in less then 4 weeks, it is time to look ahead to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders. I expect this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to be the deepest in talent thus far. This is largely due to the creation of the $12 million dollar Pegasus World Cup scheduled in January of 2017 that will keep many of the top thoroughbreds in action. Below are my Top 12 Contender Rankings and the “Win and You’re In” race schedule.

June 18th – Stephen Foster Handicap – Churchill Downs – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $500,000
June 25th – Gold Cup at Santa Anita – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $500,000
July 31st – The Haskell Invitational– Monmouth Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
August 6th – Whitney Handicap – Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,250,000
August 20th – TVG Pacific Classic – Del Mar – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
October 1st – Awesome Again Stakes – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $300,000
October 8th – Jockey Gold Cup Invitational – Belmont Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000
November 5th- Breeders’ Cup Classic – Santa Anita Park – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $5,000,000

Here are my Top 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders:

1)  California Chrome – The #1 ranked race racehorse in the world by Longines (source). With his Dubai World Cup win in March, he became the all-time leader in race earnings with $12.5 million dollars. He returned to California to train under Art Sherman and is expected to be an entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup.

Career: 21 Starts 12-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 –2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Beholder After a stunning performance in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (shown below), she was #1 in many Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings last year. She was entered in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic but was unfortunately scratched due to a fever. Otherwise she would have been 2nd favorite in that race behind American Pharoah and probably would have given him a great battle. She is the only horse in this group to have run a sub 2 minute mile and a quarter. After a long layoff, she bounced back with an impressive win in the Adoration Stakes.

Career: 21 Starts 16-3-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 9
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Henny Hughes
Trainer: Richard Mandella (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic

3) Nyquist  – The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner spiked a fever after his 3rd place finish in the Preakness Stakes and will not be entered into the Belmont Stakes. But his fever is gone and he is expected to make a full recovery after treatment with antibiotics. I generally feel that he would have won the Preakness on a dry, fast track. Unlike American Pharoah (Rebel Stakes) and Exaggerator (Santa Anita Derby) who both had experience racing in the slop before their sloppy Preakness Stakes races, Nyquist had never raced on a muddy or sloppy surface. And if you notice, he was somewhat reluctant to be loaded in the starting gate at Pimlico. Expect this 3 year-old, who already ranks in the top 50 all-time in race winnings, to bounce back.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill 
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 –2016 Kentucky Derby

4) Exaggerator Ranked by Longines as the 3rd best dirt racehorse in the world before his Preakness Stakes win, a win in the Belmont Stakes will likely move him to #2 behind California Chrome. He is my early Belmont Stakes race favorite.

Career: 11 Starts 5-3-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux 
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – 2016 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2016 Santa Anita Derby

5) Effinex – He finished 2nd to American Pharoah in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He followed up the performance with a win in the 2015 Clark Handicap, a disappointing 3rd place finish in the 2016 Santa Anita Derby and then a winning performance in the Oaklawn Handicap in April. The most recent Longines poll ranked him as the 11th best racehorse in the world and the 4th best on dirt.

Career: 22 Starts 8-2-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 6 Starts  2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Mineshaft
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens 
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 110 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic

6) Hoppertunity – After winning the 2016 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, he was shipped to Dubai where he finished 3rd (and just a neck from 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup. He is extremely consistent and somehow seems to always hit the board no matter the race and the competition. He has never finished below 4th place in a graded stakes race.

Career: 19 Starts 5-6-4-3  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st>3rd
Sire: Any Given Saturday
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.33 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 –2016 San Antonio Stakes

7) Melatonin – The surprise winner of the 2016 Santa Anita Handicap. He is trained by David Hofmans who won a Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1996 with Alphabet Soup.

Career: 12 Starts 4-3-3-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Kodiak Kowboy
Trainer: David Hofmans (1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Joe Talamo
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:02.01 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2016 Santa Anita Handicap

8) Frosted The 2015 Penn Derby winner finished 7th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and then set a track record (1:56.67) for 1900 meter race at Meydan with his win in the Al Maktoum Challenge in February. He followed up this effort with a disappointing 5th place finish in the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 15 Starts 4-6-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 4 Starts  0-0-1-1
Last 3 starts: 7th–>1st–>5th
Sire: Tapit
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: William Buick
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Pennsylvania Derby

9) Mubtaahij His 2nd place finish in the Dubai World Cup was a surprise performance for this enigmatic 4 year old colt who has yet to win a Grade 1 stakes race on US soil. He was transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin for his US campaign in April.

Career: 12 Starts 4-2-0-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>2nd
Sire: Dubawi
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin (2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  2:03:15* (estimated 1 1/4 mile time from 2016 Dubai World Cup)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97* estimated from Dubai World Cup

10) Dortmund  – The 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner hasn’t raced since his Native Diver Handicap win in late November of last year. However, he is back in training at Los Alamitos. He has never finished below 4th in 10 career starts.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 1 Start  0-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Big Brown
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2014 & 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia (2014 Breeders’ Cup Winner)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby

11) Noble Bird With his win in the 2015 Stephen Foster Handicap, Noble Bird actually qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year but was not entered. With his most recent win in the Pimlico Special (shown below), he currently has the highest Beyer Speed Figure (110) of any horse thus far in 2016 (source). He will likely be entered in the Stephen Foster Handicap June 18th to defend his title.

Career: 15 Starts 5-4-0-1  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>8th–>1st
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special

12) Songbird Although her ownership has shied away from the thought of racing this electrifying filly against the boys thus far, I still have to find a place for her in my rankings. As a 2 year-old, she proved to be faster in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships than Nyquist or Exaggerator on the same Keeneland track, same 1 1/16th mile distance, on the same day. She developed a low grade fever and wasn’t entered in the Kentucky Oaks. It appears that she will be entered into the Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita Park on June 18th.

Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 4
Career in 1 1/4 Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith (1997, 2009, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Best 1 1/4 Mile Time:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies


–Michael

Analyzing Exaggerator’s win over undefeated Nyquist in the Preakness Stakes

May 21st, 2016

The 141st Preakness Stakes (shown below) will be viewed by many as an upset with Exaggerator finally beating undefeated Nyquist after 5 attempts.

But in reality, this was a confluence of talent and opportunity. Coming into the Preakness Stakes, Exaggerator had the highest average Beyer Speed figure for 3 year-olds in 2016. He had a 98 Beyer Speed Figure in the San Vicente Stakes in February, a 96 Beyer in the San Felipe in March, a 103 Beyer in the Santa Anita Derby in April and a 101 Beyer in the Kentucky Derby.

Exaggerator excelled on a sloppy track in the Santa Anita Derby, so today’s win should have been no surprise. Credit Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who did a masterful job placing Exaggerator right where he needed to be to have a chance to run down Nyquist.

In summary–Exaggerator is an extremely talented thoroughbred. Entering the Preakness Stakes, Exaggerator was ranked as the 7th best racehorse in the world in Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings and the 3rd best on dirt (Source). His winning time of 1:58.31 on a similar sloppy track was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 1:58.46 in the 2015 Preakness Stakes. Admittedly, American Pharoah coasted home in last year’s Preakness, winning by 7 lengths. But last year’s race had faster fractions through 1 mile and I feel that Exaggerator would have given American Pharoah a run for his money if nothing else.

Nyquist 

Although many are disappointed that we won’t have a Triple Crown candidate entering Belmont this year, REJOICE! The sport has two great 3 year-old thoroughbreds. Despite the loss, Nyquist is still a great race horse. He is 8-1 and has won five Grade 1 stakes races. His $5.1 million dollars in race earnings ranks him in the top 50 all-time.

Some may question jockey Mario Gutierrez’s decision to get hooked up in a battle for the lead with Uncle Lino so early but it is hindsight vision. Nyquist was right where he needed to be but just didn’t have the final kick down the stretch that he had in the Kentucky Derby. I feel this was due to the track conditions. Nyquist had only run once on a wet track that was rated as “good” in the Florida Derby. I generally feel that he would have won today had the track surface been rated as fast or good. But Mother Nature intervened.

The Belmont Stakes on June 11th will hopefully offer a rematch of these two great thoroughbreds. And don’t forget about Dale Romans’ Cherry Wine who took a huge leap in improvement today with his surprise 2nd place finish. He looks like a horse who will excel in races 1 1/4 mile or longer.

–Michael

The 2016 Preakness Stakes Starting Lineup, Post Positions, Odds and Analysis

May 14th 2016 – Updated 5/21/2017 at 3:15 PM CST

Below are the entries, post-positions and morning line odds for the 2016 Preakness Stakes along with detailed profiles of each horse. I have also included projected order of finish if run on a dry, fast track. Note that a bold font text is hyperlinked to either a horse’s Equibase profile or a race video from Youtube. This is to aid in your own research.

Weather Report:  The track right now is rated as “Muddy” which is between “Good” and “Sloppy” More rain is expected but it seems as if it will be light showers right around race time. Overall, the track conditions currently thus far don’t seem to be affecting much. There is more speed in this race than the Kentucky Derby. So this helps closers who seem unaffected by the track conditions so long as they stay in the clear and out of the splatter from horses ahead of them. I am not concerned how Nyquist will handle these off track conditions.

***Horses who have raced on a sloppy track include: Exaggerator (1st – Santa Anita Derby), Uncle Lino (3rd – Santa Anita Derby), Abiding Star (1st – race at Parx 4/12/16), Cherry Wine (1st – race at Churchill Downs 11/28/15) and Fellowship (7th – Florida Sire Affirmed Stakes 9/5/15).

141st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico – Race #13 – Post Time: 5:45 PM CST – NBC

1) Cherry Wine  (20/1) – My projected finish – 8th place
Career: 8 Starts 2-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>3rd
Sire:  Paddy O’Prado (Finished 6th in the 2010 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Dale Romans (2011 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Corey Lanerie
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:50.50 (calculated) – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 88  – 87.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  88 – Blue Grass Stakes

2) Uncle Lino  (20/1) –  My projected finish – 6th place
Career: 7 Starts 2-2-2-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Gary Sherlock 
Jockey: Fernando Perez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:51.02 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 95  – 92.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  95 – California Chrome Stakes

3) Nyquist   (3/5) –  My projected finish – 1st place
Career: 8 Starts 8-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo  
Trainer: Doug O’Neill (2012 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.11 – Florida Derby
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.31Kentucky Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 94, 103  – 98.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 –Kentucky Derby

4) Awesome Speed (30/1) –  My projected finish – 11th place
Career: 6 Starts 4-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th–>1st
Sire:  Awesome Again 
Trainer: Alan Goldberg
Jockey: Jevian Toledo
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:53.31 – Federico Tesio Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 74, 83  – 78.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  87 – Mucho Macho Man Stakes

5) Exaggerator (3/1) –  My projected finish – 3rd place (1st place if sloppy wet track)
Career: 10 Starts 4-3-1-1 
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998 & 2008 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.66 – Santa Anita Derby
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:01.51 (calculated) – Kentucky Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 103, 101  – 102 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – Santa Anita Derby

6) Lani (30/1) –  My projected finish – 9th place
Career: 7 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>9th
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mikio Matsunaga 
Jockey:  Yukata Take
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A – 1:52.84 (estimated time from 1900 Meter UAE Derby)
Best 1 1/4th Mile Time: 2:03.02 (calculated) – Kentucky Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 83 (est), 87 – 85 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 87 –  Kentucky Derby

7) Collected (10/1) –  My projected finish – 4th place
Career: 6 Starts 4-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2010 & 2015 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2006 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.90 – Sunland Park Festival of Racing
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 90  – 90 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – Lexington Stakes

8) Laoban (30/1) –  My projected finish – 10th place
Career: 4 Starts 0-2-1-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>2nd–>4th
Sire:  Uncle Mo 
Trainer: Eric Guillot
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:50.98 (calculated) – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 85, 84  – 84.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  85 – Gotham Stakes

9) Abiding Star (30/1) –  My projected finish – 7th place
Career: 11 Starts 5-1-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire:  Uncle Mo 
Trainer: Edward Allard
Jockey: J.D. Acosta
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 83, 91 – 87 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  91 – Parx Derby

10) Fellowship (30/1) –  My projected finish – 5th place
Career: 12 Starts 2-3-3-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>4th
Sire: Awesome of Course
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.79 – Florida Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 86  – 86.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  87 – Florida Derby

11) Stradivari (8/1) –  My projected finish – 2nd place
Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 8th in 2002 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher 
Jockey: John Velazquez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.64Keeneland Allowance Race 4/17/16
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79, 100  – 89.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100Keeneland Allowance Race 4/17/16


New Shooters

Todd Pletcher’s Stradivari represents the biggest new threat to Nyquist. Even though he has only raced three times, he proved to be exceptionally fast in his last start–an allowance race at Keeneland. He produced a very nice time of 1:48.64 in this 1 1/8th mile race and received a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his win. With that time, he would have blown away the Blue Grass Stakes field. Below is a video of the 2nd start of his career, a win at Gulfstream Park where he ran away from the field in a 1 1/16th mile race.

But we have been down this road before last year when Pletcher’s Materiality received a 109 Beyer Speed Figure in his 3rd start and win in the Florida Derby. Materiality went on to finish 6th in the Kentucky Derby and 8th in the Belmont Stakes. But note a couple of things. That Materiality’s time in the 1 1/8th mile 2015 Florida Derby was 1:52.30. Stradivari’s time of 1:48.64 in a 1 1/8th mile race at Keeneland was faster than Spectacular Bid and Holy Bull’s time of 1:50 flat in the Blue Grass Stakes. When comparing Materiality to Stradivari, nobody would say that Keeneland is a faster track than Gulfstream Park. Stradivari is a real threat to Nyquist.

Bob Baffert’s Collected is another new shooter than could hit the board. I felt he was good enough to be ranked in my top 10 Kentucky Derby Contenders but he failed to secure enough points to make the field.

Betting Advice

Rain is being forecasted for the Baltimore area on Saturday with an 80% chance of showers. Click HERE for weather updates. This will affect handicapping as it did last year. Right now for a dry race,  I would lean towards a Trifecta bet of four horses keying Nyquist to win. So Nyquist over Exaggerator, Stradivari and Collected–3 over 5, 7, 11. A $10 bet of this type would cost $60.

Here is a $1 Superfecta bet I made that costs $24: 3, 5, 11, with 3, 5, 11, with 5, 7, 11, with 1, 2, 7

Interesting fact: 23 out of the last 26 Preakness Stakes winners ran in the Kentucky Derby, this makes Exaggerator a little more attractive betting option and especially so if the race turns out to be wet, sloppy one.

If the race is run on a sloppy track, then I like this order of finish: 1st – Exaggerator, 2nd – Nyquist, 3rd – Stradivari, 4th – Uncle Lino–5-3-11-2

–Michael

Nyquist Still Unbeaten! Back to back Triple Crown Winners? A real legitimate possibility

Kentucky_Derby_Horse_Racing-0e70f (1)

May 7th, 2016

GET EXCITED horse racing fans! We had a blast last year watching American Pharoah win a Triple Crown and then the very first Grand Slam of thoroughbred racing with his win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Nyquist’s winning time in the Kentucky Derby of 2:01.31 (shown below) was faster than American Pharoah’s time of 2:03.02 and the fastest since Funny Cide’s winning time of 2:01.19 in 2003. The opening fractions were fast which set up the race well for closers but Nyquist was simply too strong to beat.

We had back to back Triple Crown winners in the 1970s with Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. Can lightning strike twice like it did in the 1970s?

It is a real, legitimate possibility. Remember that I correctly identified Nyquist as the Kentucky Derby favorite 241 days ago in this blog. And I had 1st and 2nd place Kentucky Derby finishers ranked 1-2 in my last Kentucky Derby Contenders blog.

How well did Nyquist run in the Kentucky Derby? He earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Last year, American Pharoah received a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his Kentucky Derby win. But the revealing fact is that Nyquist would have beaten the 2015 Kentucky Derby version of American Pharoah by 5 1/4 lengths when you look at the final quarter mile fractions. The pace was faster this year than last (2015: 23.24, 47.34, 1:11.29 & 1:36.45 vs 2016: 22.58, 45.72, 1:10.40 & 1:35.61). Nyquist should have been a little more tired having gone through a mile 0.84 seconds faster than American Pharoah had to in 2015. But the final 1/4th mile fraction of this year’s Kentucky Derby was 25.70 vs last year’s time of 26.57. That is 0.87 seconds faster for Nyquist which equates to at least 5 1/4 lengths.

It is time to get REAL excited again. Nyquist has a better resume thus far than American Pharoah. The Preakness Stakes will be another difficult test but I am confident that Nyquist can handle the competition.

So now I leave you with the #1 hit in 1978–Andy Gibb’s Shadow Dancing–the last year we had back-to-back Triple Crown winners. It is time to get dancing again! Nyquist will undoubtedably be in the shadow of American Pharoah but that is a very good shadow to be in.

–Michael

 

The 2016 Kentucky Derby Starting Lineup, Post Positions, Odds and Analysis

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May 4th, 2016 – Updated May 7th, 2016

The “most exciting 2 minutes in sports” is less than 3 days away and the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby promises to live up to the hype. We have a talented horse in Nyquist who is trying to join a “Who’s Who in Thoroughbred Racing” of horses who entered the Kentucky Derby undefeated and came away with the Roses. Previous undefeated Derby horses who went on to win the Kentucky Derby are Regret in 1915, Morvich in 1922, Majestic Prince in 1969, Seattle Slew in 1977, Smarty Jones in 2004, Barbaro in 2006 and Big Brown in 2008.

Nyquist drew post #13 but before anybody views this as unlucky, this is the same position he won from in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race (shown below). And Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby in 2004 from post 13:

And now for the analysis…

Since 1990, the lowest Kentucky Derby winning Beyer Speed Figure was 97 when California Chrome won in 2014. All other winners eclipsed a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. I generally feel that if a horse wants to “be the part”–a Kentucky Derby winner, he should at least “look the part” and have produced a 97 or higher Beyer Speed Figure thus far. Only 6 horses in the 2016 Kentucky Derby field meet this criteria: Exaggerator, Nyquist, Destin, Danzing Candy, Outwork and Mor Spirit.

Danzing Candy will likely be the pacesetter and I don’t believe that he has the stamina to be able to hang on for the win. Outwork had to struggle to beat a 81-1 odd horse in Trojan Nation in the Wood Memorial. Destin is a fast horse but he has never raced further than 1 1/16th mile. Will he have the stamina to go an extra 1 1/2 furlongs?

Mor Spirit has never finished below 2nd in 7 career starts but I view him more as a horse to round out a Trifecta. So I think the 2016 Kentucky Derby will come down to Nyquist, Exaggerator and Destin. Although it didn’t happen last year, usually one 20-1 or greater odds horse finishes in the Top 4. So keep an eye on the odds for Suddenbreakingnews. Majesto and Whitmore.

Generally, I don’t see a lot of early speed in this field so this doesn’t bode well for closers. This is one of the factors that I think will aid Nyquist. Nyquist has won several different ways: as a pacesetter, as a stalker and coming off the pace and from mid pack like he demonstrated in the 15 horse Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. He is the deserved race favorite and my pick to win the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

Handicapping Advice: Large win bets on Nyquist if his live odds are 5/2 or greater. Right now his live odds are 2-1. I placed two $10 Boxed Exactas that cost $60 each. The first was 9-11-13 (Destin, Exaggerator and Nyquist) because these are the three fastest horses in the field by times and Beyer Speed Figures. The second Boxed Exacta I placed was 11-13-17 (Nyquist, Exaggerator and Mor Spirit).

I like Majesto as a longshot for Superfectas and his current live odds are 62-1. A $10 win bet here seems inviting but I expect these odds to lower. I always like to place ten to twenty $1 straight Superfectas with various combinations and throwing in a few longshots. It is tough to hit a Superfecta in the Kentucky Derby. Usually you are doing real good to hit 3 out of 4 horses. But “you can’t win if you don’t play” as they say and hitting a Superfecta in the Kentucky Derby usually pays out nicely.

Here are a few of the Straight Superfectas I have placed: (11-13-17-9), (11-9-3-13), (11-9-13-17), (13-9-18-11), (13-11-9-17), (18-13-17-11). I placed a $1 Super High Five bet of (13-11- 9-17-15).

Below are the 2016 Kentucky Derby Post Positions, Jockeys and Morning Line Odds by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia. Note that a bold font text is hyperlinked to either a horse’s Equibase profile or a race video from Youtube. This is to aid in your own research:

The 142nd Kentucky Derby – Churchill Downs Race #12 – Post Time 5:34 PM CST (NBC)

1) Trojan Nation (50/1) – Has never won a race, draws dreaded rail
Career: 6 Starts 0-1-3-1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Street Cry  
Trainer: Patrick Gallagher
Jockey: Aaron Gryder
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.96 (calculated) – Wood Memorial
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures:  74, 93  – 83.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Wood Memorial

2) Suddenbreakingnews (20/1) – A closer to consider for your Superfecta
Career: 8 Starts 3-4-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>2nd
Sire: Mineshaft 
Trainer: Donnie Von Hemel
Jockey: Luis Quinonez
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.30 (calculated)Arkansas Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 86, 94  – 90 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – Arkansas Derby

3) Creator (10/1) – Arkansas Derby winner, a closer
Career: 8 Starts 2-4-1-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.14 – Arkansas Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 96  – 93 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 –Arkansas Derby

4) Mo Tom (20/1) – Lecomte Stakes winner who has regressed in 2 consecutive starts
Career: 7 Starts 3-0-3-1
Last 3 starts: 1st->3rd–>4th
Sire: Uncle Mo  (Finished 10th in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Thomas Amoss
Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.02 (calculated) – Louisiana Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 82  – 84.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Lecomte Stakes

5) Gun Runner (10/1) – Louisiana Derby winner, meager Beyer Speed Figures
Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st

Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.06 – Louisiana Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 91  – 90.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Louisiana Derby 

6) My Man Sam (20/1) – Surprise 2nd place finisher in Blue Grass Stakes
Career: 4 Starts 1-2-0-0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Trappe Shot 
Trainer: Chad Brown 
Jockey:  Irad Ortiz Jr
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.48 (calculated) – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 88  – 91.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – Aqueduct Opt Claiming Race 3/6/16

7) Oscar Nominated (50/1) – A turf horse who has never raced on real dirt
Career: 7 Starts 3-2-0-2
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Kitten’s Joy
Trainer: Michael Maker 
Jockey:  Julien Leparoux
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.82 – Spiral Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79, 82  – 81.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 82 – Spiral Stakes

8) Lani (30/1) – Japanese trained horse who displayed great fight in winning the UAE Derby
Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>1st
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mikio Matsunaga 
Jockey:  Yukata Take
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A – 1:52.84 (estimated time from 1900 Meter UAE Derby)
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: ?, 83 (estimated)
Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A

9) Destin (15/1) – Set track record at Tampa Bay Derby, never raced further than 1 1/16th mile
Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Giant’s Causeway  (Finished 2nd in 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A – 1:49.37 (projected time from 1 1/16 mile Tampa Bay Derby)
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 100  – 99 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – Tampa Bay Derby

10) Whitmore (20/1) – A closer with a favorable post position & new jockey Victor Espinoza
Career: 6 Starts 2-2-1-0 
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Pleasantly Perfect (2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Ron Moquett 
Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.89 (calculated)
 – Arkansas Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 92, 92  – 92 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 –Arkansas Derby

11) Exaggerator (8/1) – A closer & most likely threat to Nyquist. Best Beyer average in 2016
Career: 9 Starts 4-2-1-1 
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby, 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.66 – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 96, 103  – 99.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – Santa Anita Derby

12) Tom’s Ready (30/1) – Not sure what he is ready for
Career: 9 Starts 1-4-0-1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>1st–>2nd

Sire: More Than Ready
Trainer: Dallas Stewart 
Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr 
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.74 (calculated) – Louisiana Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 69, 85  – 77 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85 – Louisiana Derby 

13) Nyquist (3/1) – Undefeated race favorite, my projected winner
Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo  (Finished 10th in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Doug O’Neill (2012 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.11 – Florida Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 101, 94  – 97.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – San Vicente Stakes

14) Mohaymen  (10/1) – Coming off disappointing 4th place finish in Florida Derby
Career: 6 Starts 5-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.43 (calculated) – Florida Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 80  – 87.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – Holy Bull Stakes

15) Outwork  (15/1) –  Might be Pletcher’s best Derby horse
Career: 4 Starts 3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo (Finished 10th in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.92 – Wood Memorial
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 93  – 95.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – Tampa Bay Derby

16) Shagaf (20/1) – Coming off disappointing 5th place finish in the Wood
Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>5th
Sire: Bernardini (Finished 2nd in 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Chad Brown 
Jockey:  Joel Rosario (2013 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:56.73 (calculated) – Wood Memorial
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 87  – 87 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Aqueduct MSW 11/22/15

17) Mor Spirit (12/1) – No horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby from post #17
Career: 7 Starts 3-4-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Eskendereya 
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Gary Stevens (1988, 1995 and 1998 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.66 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 97, 94  – 95.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97San Felipe Stakes

18) Majesto (30/1) – Coming off his career best performance
Career: 6 Starts 1-2-2-0
Last 3 starts:  3rd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Tiznow (2000 and 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner)
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado
Jockey: Emisael Jaramillo
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.63 (calculated) – Florida Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 84, 89  – 87.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Florida Derby 

19) Brody’s Cause (12/1) – Blue Grass Stakes winner, a closer to consider for your Superfecta
Career: 6 Starts 3-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>7th–>1st
Sire: Giant’s Causeway (Finished 2nd in 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Luis Saez
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.20 – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 80, 91  – 85.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Blue Grass Stakes

20) Danzing Candy  (15/1) –  A speed horse who is viewed as the most likely pacesetter 
Career: 5 Starts 3-0-0-1 
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
Sire: Twirling Candy
Trainer: Clifford Sise
Projected Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.78 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 100, 83  – 91.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100San Felipe Stakes


RANKINGS

Since the Kentucky Derby is usually won by the horse that gets to the 1 1/8th pole first, below is the Kentucky Derby field ranked by time in their last race (1 1/8th mile) along with Beyer Speed Figures. Destin and Lani’s times are projected since their last race wasn’t at 1 1/8th mile.

Horse – Time (track condition) Finishing Position/Race – Beyer Speed Figure
1) Nyquist – 1:49.11 (good) 1st Florida Derby – 94 BSF
2) Destin – 1:49.37# (fast) 1st Tampa Bay Derby – 100 BSF
3) Majesto – 1:49.63* (good) 2nd Florida Derby – 89 BSF
4) Exaggerator – 1:49.66 (sloppy) 1st Santa Anita Derby – 103 BSF
5) Creator – 1:50.14 (fast) 1st Arkansas Derby – 96 BSF
6) Brody’s Cause – 1:50.20 (fast) 1st Blue Grass Stakes – 91 BSF
7) Suddenbreakingnews – 1:50.30* (fast) 2nd Arkansas Derby – 94 BSF
8) Mohaymen – 1:50.43* (good) 4th Florida Derby – 80 BSF
9) My Man Sam – 1:50.48* (good) 2nd Blue Grass Stakes – 88 BSF
10) Mor Spirit – 1:50.66* (sloppy) 2nd Santa Anita Derby – 94 BSF
11) Gun Runner – 1:51.06 (fast) 1st Louisiana Derby – 91 BSF
12) Tom’s Ready – 1:51.74* (fast) 2nd Louisiana Derby – 85 BSF
13) Danzing Candy – 1:51.78* (sloppy) 4th Santa Anita Derby – 83 BSF
14) Oscar Nominated – 1:51.82 (fast, synthetic) 1st Spiral Stakes – 82 BSF
15) Mo Tom – 1:52.02* (fast) 4th Louisiana Derby – 82 BSF
16) Lani – 1:52.84@ (fast) 1st UAE Derby – 83 BSF
17) Whitmore – 1:52.89* (fast) 3rd Arkansas Derby – 92 BSF
18) Outwork – 1:52.92 (muddy) 1st Wood Memorial Stakes – 93 BSF
19) Trojan Nation – 1:52.96* (muddy) 2nd Wood Memorial Stakes – 93 BSF
20) Shagaf – 1:56.73* (muddy) 5th Wood Memorial Stakes – 87 BSF

* – Estimated time from 1 1/8th mile race
# – Projected time from 1 1/16th mile race
@ – Projected time from 1900 Meter race

Ranking by Average Beyer Speed Figure of Last 2 Races:

1) Exaggerator (8/1)  Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 96, 103  – 99.5 avg
2) Destin (15/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 100  – 99 avg
3) Nyquist (3/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 101, 94  – 97.5 avg
4) Mor Spirit (12/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 97, 94  – 95.5 avg
5) Outwork  (15/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 93  – 95.5 avg
6) Creator (10/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 96  – 93 avg
7) Danzing Candy  (15/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 100, 83  – 91.5 avg
8) Whitmore (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 92, 92  – 92 avg
9) My Man Sam (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 88  – 91.5 avg
10) Gun Runner (10/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 91  – 90.5 avg
11) Suddenbreakingnews (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 86, 94  – 90 avg
12) Majesto (30/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 84, 89  – 87.5 avg
13) Mohaymen  (10/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 80  – 87.5 avg
14) Shagaf (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 87  – 87 avg
15) Brody’s Cause (12/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 80, 91  – 85.5 avg
16) Mo Tom (20/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 87, 82  – 84.5 avg
17) Trojan Nation (50/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures:  74, 93  – 83.5 avg
18) Oscar Nominated (50/1) Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79, 82  – 81.5 avg
19) Tom’s Ready (30/1) Derby Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 69, 85  – 77 avg


ODDS

Below are the Kentucky Derby Morning Line Odds and the direction I think the Live Odds will go:

Nyquist – 3/1 – a bit lower but not below 5/2
Exaggerator – 8/1 – lower
Mohaymen – 10/1 – lower
Creator – 10/1 – higher
Gun Runner – 10/1 – higher
Mor Spirit – 12/1 –  same
Brody’s Cause – 12/1 – higher
Outwork – 15/1 – lower
Destin – 15/1 – lower
Danzing Candy- 15/1 – higher
Suddenbreakingnew – 20/1 – lower
Mo Tom – 20/1 – higher
Whitmore – 20/1 – lower
My Man Sam – 20/1 – higher
Shagaf – 20/1 – higher
Lani – 30/1 – lower
Tom’s Ready – 30/1 – much higher
Majesto – 30/1 – lower
Trojan Nation – 50/1 – much higher
Oscar Nominated – 50/1 – much higher

***You can follow the live Kentucky Derby odds by clicking HERE

Stay tuned for updates and more handicapping advice.

–Michael

Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings

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April 18th 2016 – Updated April 28th 2016

The Kentucky Derby prep season is officially over and it went out with a bang in the Arkansas Derby this past Saturday when Creator (11.6-1 odds) surprised the Oaklawn crowd with the win. This has been a theme for the big point paying final Derby prep races this season as none of the race favorites found victory lane. Not a single one. Let’s review: Mo Tom (Louisiana Derby), Mohaymen (Florida Derby), Shagaf (Wood Memorial), Zulu (Blue Grass Stakes), Mor Spirit (Santa Anita Derby) and Cupid (Arkansas Derby).

Who won these races? Gun Runner the bettors 3rd favorite in the Louisiana Derby. Nyquist the bettors 2nd favorite in the Florida Derby. Outwork the bettors 2nd favorite in the Wood Memorial. Brody’s Cause–2nd favorite in the Blue Grass Stakes. Exaggerator–3rd favorite in the Santa Anita Derby. And Creator, the bettors 4th favorite in the Arkansas Derby.

The Kentucky Derby favorite only wins roughly 1/3rd of the time. So when you are alone in your thoughts at the Churchill Downs window and ready to place a Win bet for the Kentucky Derby, you might opt for the 2nd favorite among bettors. Right now that appears to be Exaggerator and if the Derby is a wet, sloppy race this year, he should be your race favorite. Remember how the Desormeaux brother’s colt Swipe gave Nyquist a run for his money last year? Keith and Kent Desormeaux felt all along that Exaggerator was their most talented Derby trail colt with the most upside.

Overall, the unpredictability of the big Derby prep races says quite a bit about this 2016 Kentucky Derby class. We were spoiled by the 2014 and 2015 classes. The 2016 class as a lot are INCONSISTENT, their times are slow and they have failed to produce any eye-popping Beyer Speed Figures. Note that we didn’t have a 2 year-old in this class eclipse the 100 mark for a Beyer Speed Figure. This was the first time this has happened going back to the records I have from 1993.

So this is why I think the 2016 Kentucky Derby will be wide open and an exciting race. Nyquist undoubtedly is the cream of the crop. And the filly Songbird is the best 3 year-old regardless of gender and a superstar in the making. Unfortunately, she will miss the Kentucky Oaks due to a fever but she will be back.

Getting back to Nyquist, he has impressively gone undefeated in 7 starts. He should be the Kentucky Derby favorite around 5/2 or 3/1 odds. He has proven that he can win several different ways as pacesetter, as a stalker and coming off the pace like he did in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that I alluded to in my last blog.

If you need a visual reminder, rewatch Nyquist (horse #13) in this video below. This is a 15 horse Breeders’ Cup Juvenile field (just 5 less than the Kentucky Derby field) and Nyquist displays impressive talent moving mid pack through traffic to cross the wire first. He didn’t have the greatest trip and was forced wide:

We will have to wait to see who officially gets entered into the Kentucky Derby and post-position draws. However, right now, I see Nyquist assuming a stalking position behind Danzing Candy in the Kentucky Derby. I see Destin and Mor Spirit in the same stalking group. Then I think these three will battle it out for the lead coming into the stretch and then the leader will have to ward off late chargers Exaggerator, Brody’s Cause, Suddenbreakingnews and Creator. Right now as far as betting strategies, I would probably key Nyquist to win in a Trifecta with 3 horses: Exaggerator, Destin and Mor Spirit.

Below is my Top 10 Kentucky Derby contenders along with projected Kentucky Derby morning line odds in parentheses. As you will see, I don’t have the Arkansas Derby winner Creator in my Top 10 as I feel Steve Asmussen’s most talented Derby horse is Gun Runner. Why is that? It took Creator six attempts to break his maiden. I think the race that 2nd place finisher Suddenbreakingnews ran in the Arkansas Derby will translate better to the Kentucky Derby with an additional furlong of distance.

I also moved Mohaymen up a few spots as I feel that I may have been a bit too harsh on his 4th place finish in the Florida Derby. Note that in the past 20 years, only two horses (Giacomo and Mine That Bird) finished 4th in their final prep race (the Santa Anita Derby) and went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

***I originally had Outwork 4th and Mor Spirit 5th in my rankings but after reviewing times from the final 3/8ths of a mile in the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby, Mor Spirit had a significantly faster stretch run. So I moved Mor Spirit up one and Outwork down one. I also switched Brody’s Cause and Danzing Candy because I feel that a closer will fare better than a pacesetter in this year’s Derby.

1) Nyquist (3/1 Odds) – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year. Undefeated in 7 starts, he has 4 Grade 1 stakes wins and has already earned $3.3 million dollars. He was the first of the 2016 Kentucky Derby crop to produce a 100+ Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the San Vicente in January. Trainer Doug O’Neill is following the same “2 races as a 3 year-old” strategy that he used with I’ll Have Another to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo  (Finished 10th in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Doug O’Neill (2012 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.11 – Florida Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 101, 94  – 97.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – San Vicente Stakes

2) Exaggerator (6/1) – The only Derby trail horse to produce three 95+ Beyer Speed Figures in 2016: San Vicente Stakes 98, San Felipe Stakes 96, Santa Anita 103. His 103 Beyer Speed Figure earned in the Santa Anita Derby is the top speed figure for this year’s Kentucky Derby crop. His pedigree (Sire: Curlin) suggests that he should excel in races as the distances gets longer. If anybody is going to upset Nyquist, Exaggerator seems to be the most likely. He lost to Nyquist in the San Vicente but he will have 3 more furlongs to work with at Churchill Downs. 

Career: 9 Starts 4-2-1-1 
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby, 1st in 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Projected Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.66 – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 96, 103  – 99.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – Santa Anita Derby

3) Destin (12/1) – He set track record of 1:42.82 in the Tampa Bay Derby (shown below)–good for a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. He is the full brother to Creative Cause who finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby and 3rd in the Preakness Stakes in 2012. Todd Pletcher bypassed a final Derby prep race, instead opting for some rest and 8 weeks of training. A fast, fresh horse could be very dangerous in the Kentucky Derby.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Giant’s Causeway  (Finished 2nd in 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.82Tampa Bay Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 100  – 99 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – Tampa Bay Derby

4) Mor Spirit (12/1) – After his Robert B. Lewis Stakes win, he has two 2nd place finishes in the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby. I think his running style is best suited for dry, fast tracks. Note that he has never finished below 2nd place in all seven of his career starts.

Career: 7 Starts 3-4-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Eskendereya 
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: Gary Stevens (1988, 1995 and 1998 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.21 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.66 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 97, 94  – 95.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97San Felipe Stakes

5) Outwork  (15/1) – Winner of the Wood Memorial, he is a half brother to Nyquist. Prior to the Tampa Bay Derby, he had never raced further than 6 furlongs. He broke his maiden way back in April of 2015 at Keeneland but didn’t resume racing until this past February. He has never finished below 2nd in 4 career starts. He seems to be peaking at the right time.

Career: 4 Starts 3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Uncle Mo (Finished 10th in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.98 (calculated) – Tampa Bay Derby
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.92 – Wood Memorial
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 93  – 95.5 avg
Beyer Speed Average for 2016: 989.3Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – Tampa Bay Derby

6) Mohaymen  (8/1) – He finished a disappointing 4th in the Florida Derby and didn’t seem to have the necessary kick and stamina down the stretch to make me feel that he will be in the mix in the Kentucky Derby. 

Career: 6 Starts 5-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Projected Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.43 (calculated) – Florida Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 95, 80  – 87.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – Holy Bull Stakes

7) Brody’s Cause (15/1) Dale Roman’s winner of the Blue Grass Stakes and the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. He has excellent closing speed which may make him a factor in the Kentucky Derby if the opening fractions are fast. 

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-1-0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>7th–>1st
Sire: Giant’s Causeway (Finished 2nd in 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Projected Jockey: Luis Saez
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.20 – Blue Grass Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 80, 91  – 85.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Blue Grass Stakes

8) Danzing Candy  (20/1) – The San Felipe Stakes  winner (shown below) finished a disappointing 4th in the Santa Anita Derby. He may be a one-trick pony, limited to getting out early into the lead for wins. This won’t translate well to the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby distance.

Career: 5 Starts 3-0-0-1 
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>4th
Sire: Twirling Candy
Trainer: Clifford Sise
Projected Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.04 – San Felipe Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.78 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 100, 83  – 91.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100San Felipe Stakes

9) Gun Runner (15/1) – Since the creation of the Derby point system in 2013, every Kentucky Derby winner had 150 or more Derby points. Gun Runner is the only horse that will fit this description this year (151 points). I generally don’t see him as a serious threat to win the Kentucky Derby. The last Louisiana Derby winner that went on to win the Kentucky Derby was Grindstone in 1996. I see Gun Runner more as a horse who could round out a superfecta. 

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>1st

Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen 
Projected Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Keeneland Allowance Race 10/17/15
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.06 – Louisiana Derby 
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 90, 91  – 90.5 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Louisiana Derby 

10) Suddenbreakingnews (20/1) – He will join Exaggerator and Brody’s Cause as closers that will try to mow down Nyquist in the final furlong. 

Career: 8 Starts 3-4-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>5th–>2nd
Sire: Mineshaft 
Trainer: Donnie Von Hemel
Projected Jockey: Luis Quinonez
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.64 (calculated) – Rebel Stakes 
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.30 (calculated)Arkansas Derby
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 86, 94  – 90 avg
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Southwest Stakes


These 20 horses have qualified for the Kentucky Derby: Gun Runner 151, Nyquist 130, Exaggerator 126, Outwork 120, Brody’s Cause 114, Creator 110, Lani 100, Mor Spirit 84, Mohaymen 80, Danzing Candy 60, Destin 51, Cupid 50, Shagaf 50, Oscar Nominated 50, Suddenbreakingnews 50, Whitmore 44, Tom’s Ready 44, My Man Sam 40, Majesto 40 and Trojan Nation 40.

There are always horses every year who qualify for the Derby but aren’t entered for various reasons. It was announced last week that Bob Baffert won’t enter Cupid into the Derby. So these six horses will be next in line in case any horse listed above isn’t entered or they can become one of the two alternates in case of scratches: Mo Tom 32, Fellowship 32, Adventist 32, Laoban 32, Dazzling Gem 30, Cherry Wine 25.

For updated Kentucky Derby Point Standings, click HERE.


FWIW – Beyer Speed Figures in the Kentucky Derby

Since 1990, the lowest winning Beyer Speed Figure for the Kentucky Derby came in 2014 when California Chrome won with a 97 Beyer. The only horses projected to start in this year’s Kentucky Derby that have produced a 97 or higher Beyer Speed Figure are: Exaggerator (103, 98), Nyquist (101), Destin (100, 98),  Danzing Candy (100), Outwork (98) and Mor Spirit (97).    


 I would also like to remind everyone that many handicappers have various predictive analytics they like to use to forecast the Kentucky Derby winner. I have a few I like, such as raced as a 2 year-0ld, broke his maiden in his first 3 starts, produced a sub 1:50 time in a 1 1/8th mile race, finished first or second in his last start, etc.

However, remember that occasionally there will be a horse like Mine That Bird where you can just throw every conventional analytic out the window. Mine that Bird finished 4th in the 2009 Sunland Derby–his last derby prep race. Most of his success came as a 2 year old on synthetic surfaces at Woodbine in Canada. He finished dead last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. Consequently, he was a 50-1 longshot but scored one of the biggest upsets in sports history by winning the 2009 Kentucky Derby (shown below).

–Michael

Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings

April 11th 2016

After a huge weekend on the Derby trail, below is my updated Kentucky Derby contender rankings. The undefeated Nyquist is the standout in this year’s crop and my favorite entering the Derby. He’s #1 in my rankings not simply because he is undefeated. He’s #1 due to the fact that unlike most of his peers, he has won several different ways: as a pacesetter (Florida Derby & San Vicente), as a stalker (Del Mar Futurity & FrontRunner Stakes) and coming off the pace, midpack and manoeuvring through traffic like he did in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (see horse #13 below).

Plus, he is battle tested and has shown a willingness to fight for a win like he did against Swipe in the FrontRunner Stakes. He is about as complete of a horse you can have at this point.

But just as American Pharoah proved to be beatable last year, Nyquist can be beaten as well.

I think the 2016 Kentucky Derby will be more wide open than the past two Derbys. This year’s 3 year-old crop have produced slower times, lower Beyer Speed figures and have been more inconsistent than I can remember. Last year, American Pharoah and Dortmund were consistent, produced some great times and speed figures and went into the Derby as the consensus 1-2. We don’t have a consensus 1-2 this year. The wet tracks at Aqueduct and Santa Anita produced a few surprises this past Saturday, most notably 81-1 longshot Trojan Nation finishing 2nd to Outwork in a photo finish in the Wood. So I am not sure how much useful information the wet races provided.

Exaggerator bounced back from a so-so third place finish in San Felipe and ran a huge race to win the Santa Anita Derby. But is he just a horse that excelled on a wet, sloppy track? I think he would have ran a huge race on any track condition, so he moves to #2 in my rankings.

Brody’s Cause bounced back from a lackluster 7th place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby to win the Blue Grass Stakes. Mohaymen believers may point to this performance as hope that their favorite Tapit-colt will re-emerge on Derby day after a disappointing 4th place finish in the Florida Derby. But the Tampa Bay Derby was Brody’s Cause first start as a 3 year-old. The Florida Derby was Mohaymen’s third start as a 3 year-old and he was right where he needed to be but seemed to lack stamina and the final kick to press Nyquist. Mohaymen could bounce back but history proves way more often that a disappointing effort in a horse’s final Derby prep race doesn’t usually translate into Roses.

Also adding to the mystery and wide-openness of this year’s Derby is a horse like Destin who set a track record in the Tampa Bay Derby and will skip the final Derby prep races, opting for rest and 8 weeks of training under Todd Pletcher. Destin has proven to be fast. And a fresh, fast horse could be extremely dangerous in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher used the same strategy of skipping prep races with Liam’s Map and Stopchargingmaria last year and was successful with it in the Breeders’ Cup World Championship.

So here it is…

My Top 10 Kentucky Derby Contenders:

1) Nyquist (130 Derby Points) – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year put on a dazzling display to win the Florida Derby (shown below). That was all Nyquist, his jockey Mario Gutierrez never had to show him the whip. Undefeated in 7 starts, he now has 4 Grade 1 stakes wins and has already earned $3.3 million dollars. He has answered any criticism you may have had that his times and Beyer Speed Figures weren’t impressive or that he is better suited as a miler. He just wins. He was the first of the 2016 Kentucky Derby crop to produce a 100+ Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the San Vicente. His next start will be the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Doug O’Neill is following the same “2 races as a 3 year-old” strategy that he used with I’ll Have Another to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0
Sire: Uncle Mo 
Trainer: Doug O’Neill (2012 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.11 – Florida Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – San Vicente Stakes

2) Exaggerator (126 Derby Points) – The surprise winner of the Santa Anita Derby. He simply blew away the field to pick up the biggest win of his career. Breaking the 1:50 mark in a 1 1/8th mile race on a sloppy track was an impressive feat. He earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort–the best Beyer Speed Figure of 3 year-old colt thus far. His pedigree (Sire: Curlin) suggests that he should excel in races as the distances gets longer. 

Career: 9 Starts 4-2-1-1 
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Projected Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.66 – Santa Anita Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103Santa Anita Derby

3) Destin (51 Derby Points) – The Todd Pletcher-trained colt broke into my contender list by virtue of his performance in the Tampa Bay Derby (shown below) where he set a track record with a time of 1:42.82–good for a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. He is the full brother to Creative Cause who finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby and 3rd in the Preakness Stakes in 2012. His next start will be the Kentucky Derby as Todd Pletcher is bypassing another Derby prep race and focusing on 8 weeks of training instead. I would have liked to see how he fared stretching out to 1 1/8th mile on a track other than Tampa Bay Downs. However, it is hard to fault a move from one of the top trainers in the business.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Sire: Giant’s Causeway  
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.82Tampa Bay Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – Tampa Bay Derby

4) Outwork  (120 Derby Points) – Winner of the Wood Memorial, he earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort. Outwork is a half brother to Nyquist. Prior to the Tampa Bay Derby, he had never raced further than 6 furlongs. He broke his maiden way back in April of 2015 at Keeneland but didn’t resume racing until this past February. He seems to be peaking at the right time.

Career: 4 Starts 3-1-0-0
Sire: Uncle Mo
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.98 (calculated) – Tampa Bay Derby
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:52.92 – Wood Memorial
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – Tampa Bay Derby

5) Mor Spirit (84 Derby Points) – After his Robert B. Lewis Stakes win, he has two 2nd place finishes in the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby. I think his running style is best suited for dry, fast tracks. Note that he has finished 1st or 2nd in all seven of his career starts.

Career: 7 Starts 3-4-0-0
Sire: Eskendereya 
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: Gary Stevens (1988, 1995 and 1998 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.21 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.66 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97San Felipe Stakes

6) Danzing Candy  (60 Derby Points) – The San Felipe Stakes  winner (shown below) finished a disappointing 4th in the Santa Anita Derby. He may be a one-trick pony, limited to getting out early into the lead for wins. This won’t translate well to the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby distance.

Career: 5 Starts 3-0-0-1 
Sire: Twirling Candy
Trainer: Clifford Sise
Projected Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.04 – San Felipe Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.78 (calculated) – Santa Anita Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100San Felipe Stakes

7) Cupid  (50 Derby Points) –  Another Bob Baffert-trained 3 year-old who moved into my contender list after a solid win in the 14 horse field of Rebel Stakes. His winning time was 1:43.84 and resulted in a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. He displayed the necessary fight in this race when challenged by Whitmore. He is a half-brother to Mohaymen having shared the same sire Tapit. His next start will be the Arkansas Derby April 16th.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-0-1
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Martin Garcia
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.78 – Maiden Special Weight at Santa Anita Park 2/7/16
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  95 Rebel Stakes

8) Brody’s Cause (114 Derby Points) Dale Roman’s winner of the Blue Grass Stakes and the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. I would have ranked him higher but on a dry fast track at Keeneland, his time of 1:50.20 wasn’t that impressive in the Blue Grass Stakes. However, he has excellent closing speed which may make him a factor in the Kentucky Derby if the opening fractions are fast. 

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-1-0
Sire: Giant’s Causeway 
Trainer: Dale Romans
Projected Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.20 – Blue Grass Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Blue Grass Stakes

9) Mohaymen  (80 Derby Points) – Some may be surprised to find Mohaymen this far down the list. But the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt finished a disappointing 4th in the Florida Derby and didn’t seem to have the necessary kick down the stretch to make me feel that he could be a Kentucky Derby winner. He couldn’t even hold off Fellowship for third place, a horse that finished third behind him in his last two wins. Was it the wet track that he didn’t like? Whatever the reason, after the Holy Bull Stakes win in January–Mohaymen has regressed. A more relevant question: Who has Mohaymen beaten? No horse that will make the Kentucky Derby field.

Career: 6 Starts 5-0-0-1
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Projected Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.43 (calculated) – Florida Derby 
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – Holy Bull Stakes

10) Gun Runner (151 Derby Points) – The Steve Asmussen-trained horse has secured his spot in the Kentucky Derby with a Louisiana Derby win. He has won his 2 starts as a 3-year-old but has failed to put up impressive times or Beyer Speed Figures. I generally don’t see him as a serious threat to win the Kentucky Derby. The last Louisiana Derby winner that went on to win the Kentucky Derby was Grindstone in 1996. I see Gun Runner more as a horse who could round out a superfecta. He will be well-rested and have plenty of time to train up to the Derby.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-1
Sire: Candy Ride

Trainer: Steve Ausmussen 
Projected Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.94 – Risen Star Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.06 – Louisiana Derby 
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Louisiana Derby 

Others to keep an eye on include:

Suddenbreakingnews (10 Derby Points) – The Southwest Stakes winner finished 5th in the Rebel Stakes. This was a disappointing finish as the race seemed to set up well for his closer running style with fast opening fractions from Cupid. However, this performance was not enough to drop him off the Derby radar. He seemed to get blocked a bit and if this was a 1 1/8th mile race like the Arkansas Derby will be, he seemed to have plenty of steam left to hit the board. His sire was Mineshaft–2003 Horse of the Year. Closer’s always have a chance in the Derby when the opening fractions are fast. His next start will be the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 16th.

Career: 7 Starts 3-3-0-0
Sire: Mineshaft 
Trainer: Donnie Von Hemel
Projected Jockey: Luis Quinonez
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.64 (calculated) – Rebel Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Southwest Stakes

Swipe (12 Derby Points) – This Desormeaux brothers colt finished 2nd to Nyquist four times in his last four starts and narrowed the gap each time. He had surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle in November and has been back in in training since February 27th. He has been rumored to be an entry in the Lexington Stakes on April 16th but this race only pays out 10 points to the winner. His next start will have to come in the Arkansas Derby if he wants a shot at the Kentucky Derby. He has 12 Kentucky Derby points and will need a 3rd place finish or better to have a chance at the Run for the Roses.

Career: 7 Starts 1-5-1-0
Sire: Birdstone (Finished 8th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Projected Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (if he doesn’t ride Exaggerator)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.87 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Collected (11 Derby Points)Yet another Bob Baffert-trainee, the Sham Stakes winner collected his biggest win and best Beyer Speed Figure (90) in the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes on March 20th. No word yet as to where his next start will be but it will have to be the Arkansas Derby on April 16th if he wants to get into the Kentucky Derby field.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Sire: City Zip

Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Projected Jockey: Martin Garcia 
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.98 (calculated) – Southwest Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.90Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes


Horses who currently have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby include: Gun Runner 151, Nyquist 130, Exaggerator 126Outwork 120, Brody’s Cause 114Lani 100, Mor Spirit 84, Mohaymen 80Danzing Candy 60, Destin 51, Cupid 50, Shagaf 50, Oscar Nominated 50, Tom’s Ready 44, My Man Sam 40Majesto 40, Trojan Nation 40, Fellowship 32, Mo Tom 32, Adventist 32 and Laoban 32.

Note that there 21 horses above and the Kentucky Derby field is 20 with two alternates in case of scratches. There is another big points-paying race in the Arkansas Derby this coming Saturday. However, every year there are always a few horses who qualify for the Derby but aren’t entered for various reasons.

For updated Kentucky Derby Point Standings, click HERE.


Upcoming Derby Trail Races

Arkansas Derby – Oaklawn Park – April 16th, 2016 (Cupid, Suddenbreakingnews)
Lexington Stakes – Keeneland – April 16th, 2016 (Swipe)

Interesting Fact: 70% of the Kentucky Derby winners the past 20 years raced in one of these three final Derby prep races: The Santa Anita Derby (6), The Florida Derby (4) and the Arkansas Derby (4).

The other Derby Prep races to produce Kentucky Derby winners: Louisiana Derby (2), Wood Memorial (2), Blue Grass Stakes (1) and the Lexington Stakes (1).

–Michael

My Top 12 Kentucky Derby Contender List

kentucky derby contenders

April 2nd, 2016

Five weeks away from the Kentucky Derby and with the Nyquist vs Mohaymen battle now behind us, below is my updated Kentucky Derby Contender list. With the impressive Florida Derby win, Nyquist moves back into the #1 spot that I originally had him in during the fall of last year when I named him my “way too early Kentucky Derby favorite” on September 9th. Mohaymen free falls to 6th after an unexplained disappointing 4th place finish in the Florida Derby. Everything seemed to set up well for Mohaymen but he just didn’t fire when he had to coming down the stretch.

Please note that next Saturday April 9th will be a huge day on the Derby Trail with three Derby prep races scheduled: the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby. So I will have an updated contender list on Sunday April 10th.

My Top 12 Kentucky Derby Contenders:

1) Nyquist (130 Derby Points) – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year put on a dazzling display to win the Florida Derby (shown below). That was all Nyquist, his jockey Mario Gutierrez never had to show him the whip. Undefeated in 7 starts, he now has 4 Grade 1 stakes wins and has already earned $2.3 million dollars. He has answered any criticism you may have had that his times and Beyer Speed Figures weren’t impressive or that his smallish build makes him better suited as a miler. He just wins. He was first of the 2016 Kentucky Derby crop to produce a 100+ Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the San Vicente. His next start will be the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Doug O’Neill is following the same “2 races as a 3 year-old” strategy that he used with I’ll Have Another to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0
Sire: Uncle Mo 
Projected Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.11 – Florida Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – San Vicente Stakes

2) Destin (51 Derby Points) – The Todd Pletcher-trained colt broke into my contender list by virtue of his performance in the Tampa Bay Derby (shown below) where he set a track record with a time of 1:42.82–good for a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. He is the full brother to Creative Cause who finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby and 3rd in the Preakness Stakes in 2012. His next start will be the Kentucky Derby as Todd Pletcher is bypassing another Derby prep race and focusing on 8 weeks of training instead. I would have liked to see how he fared stretching out to 1 1/8th mile on a track other than Tampa Bay Downs. However, it is hard to fault a move from one of the top trainers in the business.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Sire: Giant’s Causeway  
Projected Jockey: Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.82 – Tampa Bay Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – Tampa Bay Derby

3) Mor Spirit (44 Derby Points) – Bob Baffert’s best Derby trail horse thus far. I have been somewhat critical of his times since they have been way off what Dortmund produced last year in Los Alamitos Futurity, Robert B. Lewis Stakes and now the San Felipe Stakes. However, what I witnessed in the San Felipe was a horse that came off the pace and made up significant ground to finish 2nd. He is my favorite to win the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th that will be half furlong (1/16th of a mile) further than the San Felipe Stakes.

Career: 6 Starts 3-3-0-0
Sire: Eskendereya 
Projected Jockey: Gary Stevens (1988, 1995 and 1998 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.21 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97 – San Felipe Stakes

4) Danzing Candy  (50 Derby Points) – The surprise winner of the San Felipe Stakes (shown below). He has three wins in his last three starts. He got a perfect trip in the San Felipe by getting out in the lead and then holding on for the win. Give credit to jockey Mike Smith for this win because it was a great strategy because the track wasn’t forgiving to closers that day. His next start will be a rematch against Mor Spirit in the Santa Anita Derby April 9th.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0 
Sire: Twirling Candy
Projected Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.04 – San Felipe Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100San Felipe Stakes

5) Cupid  (50 Derby Points) –  Another Bob Baffert-trained 3 year-old who moved into my contender list after a solid win in the 14 horse field of Rebel Stakes. His winning time was 1:43.84 which is a very good time at Oaklawn Park and resulted in a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. He displayed the necessary fight in this race when challenged by Whitmore. He is a half-brother to Mohaymen having shared the same sire Tapit. His next start will be the Arkansas Derby April 16th.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-0-1
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Jockey: Martin Garcia
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.78 – Maiden Special Weight at Santa Anita Park 2/7/16
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  95 Rebel Stakes

6) Mohaymen  (80 Derby Points) – The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt finished a disappointing 4th in the Florida Derby and didn’t seem to have the necessary kick down the stretch to make me feel that he could be a Kentucky Derby winner. He couldn’t even hold off Fellowship for third place, a horse that finished third behind him in his last two wins. Was it the wet track that he didn’t like? Whatever the reason, after the Holy Bull Stakes win in January–Mohaymen has regressed.

Career: 6 Starts 5-0-0-1
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Projected Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.43 (calculated) – Florida Derby 
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

7) Exaggerator (26 Derby Points) – The Desormeaux brothers colt finished 3rd in the San Felipe Stakes. I expected a better performance in this race from the Delta Downs Jackpot winner who gave Nyquist a good battle in the San Vicente Stakes. However, with his pedigree (Sire: Curlin), I wouldn’t give up on him yet as he should excel in races as the distances gets longer. His next start will be the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on April 9th.

Career: 7 Starts 3-2-0-1 
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Projected Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98San Vicente Stakes

8) Zulu  (20 Derby Points) – Another Todd Pletcher-trainee and half-brother to Greenpointcrusader. He finished 2nd to Mohaymen in Fountain of Youth Stakes (shown below) and answered some questions in that race as to how he would like distance since it was his first past 7 furlongs. He also showed a willingness to battle so this was a performance that can be built on. His next start will be the Blue Grass Stakes on April 9th. 

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Sire: Bernardini 
Projected Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.20 (calculated) – Fountain of Youth Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Fountain of Youth Stakes

9) Matt King Coal  (0 Derby Points)- The Linda Rice-trained colt returned to racing as a 3 year-old on March 6th at Aqueduct and produced a win with a time of 1:44.92 (good for a 97 Beyer Speed Figure). In his last three starts, he has produced Beyer Speed Figures of 93, 96 and 97. I like the upward progression. His next start will be the Wood Memorial on April 9th. He will have to win or finish 2nd in order to obtain enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-1-0
Sire: Cool Coal Man (Finished 15th in the 2008 Kentucky Derby)

Projected Jockey: Jose Ortiz 
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.02 (calculated) – Belmont Park MSW – Race #11
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97 – Aqueduct Allowance Optional Claiming Race– 3/6/16

10) Collected (11 Derby Points)Yet another Bob Baffert-trainee, the Sham Stakes winner collected his biggest win and best Beyer Speed Figure (90) in the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes on March 20th. No word yet as to where his next start will be but the Arkansas Derby on April 16th seems like the most logical.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Sire: City Zip

Projected Jockey: Martin Garcia 
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.98 (calculated) – Southwest Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.90 – Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes

11) Gun Runner (151 Derby Points) – The Steve Asmussen-trained horse has secured his spot in the Kentucky Derby with a Louisiana Derby win. He has won his 2 starts as a 3-year-old but has failed to put up impressive times or Beyer Speed Figures. I generally don’t see him as a serious threat to win the Kentucky Derby. The last Louisiana Derby winner that went on to win the Kentucky Derby was Grindstone in 1996. I see Gun Runner more as a horse who could round out a superfecta. He will be well-rested and have plenty of time to train up to the Derby.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-1
Sire: Candy Ride

Projected Jockey: Florent Geroux 
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.94 – Risen Star Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.06 – Louisiana Derby 
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – Louisiana Derby 

12) Shagaf (50 Derby Points)Like Mohaymen, another Chad Brown trainee from Shadwell Stables. He is undefeated in 3 starts and displayed a fighting spirit to win the Gotham Stakes (shown below). His next start will be the Wood Memorial on April 9th.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0
Sire: Bernardini 
Projected Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.90 – Gotham Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – MSW Aqueduct – 11/22/15

Others to keep an eye on include:

Suddenbreakingnews (10 Derby Points) – The Southwest Stakes winner finished 5th in the Rebel Stakes. This was a disappointing finish as the race seemed to set up well for his closer running style with fast opening fractions from Cupid. However, this performance was not enough to drop him off the Derby radar. He seemed to get blocked a bit and if this was a 1 1/8th mile race like the Arkansas Derby will be, he seemed to have plenty of steam left to hit the board. His sire was Mineshaft–2003 Horse of the Year. Closer’s always have a chance in the Derby when the opening fractions are fast. His next start will be the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 16th.

Career: 7 Starts 3-3-0-0
Sire: Mineshaft 
Projected Jockey: Luis Quinonez
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.64 (calculated) – Rebel Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Southwest Stakes

Outwork  (20 Derby Points) – A Todd Pletcher-trained horse and a half brother to Nyquist. Prior to the Tampa Bay Derby, he had never raced further than 6 furlongs. He broke his maiden way back in April of 2015 at Keeneland but didn’t resume racing until this past February. His next start will be the Wood Memorial April 9th.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Sire: Uncle Mo
Projected Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.98 – Tampa Bay Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – Tampa Bay Derby

Swipe (12 Derby Points) – This Desormeaux brothers colt finished 2nd to Nyquist four times in his last four starts and narrowed the gap each time. He had surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle in November and has been back in in training since February 27th. His most recent work was 6 furlongs at 1:13.00 at Santa Anita Park on April 2nd. His next start will be the Lexington Stakes on April 16th. He has 12 Kentucky Derby points and will have to win this race and pick up the 10 first place points. 22 Derby points may or may not be enough to get him into the Kentucky Derby.

Career: 7 Starts 1-5-1-0
Sire: Birdstone (Finished 8th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Projected Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (if he doesn’t ride Exaggerator)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.87 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile


Horses who currently have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby include: Gun Runner 151, Nyquist 130, Lani 100, Mohaymen 80, Destin 51, Cupid 50, Danzing Candy 50, Shagaf 50, Oscar Nominated 50, Mor Spirit 44, Tom’s Ready 44, Majesto 40, Fellowship 32 and Mo Tom 32.

Horses who are either off the Derby trail or won’t have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby: Gift Box, Greenpointcrusader, Airoforce, Cocked and Loaded, Toews On Ice, Awesome Speed,  Conquest Big E

For updated Kentucky Derby Point Standings, click HERE.


Upcoming Derby Trail Races

Wood Memorial – Aqueduct – April 9th, 2016  (Shagaf, Matt King Coal, Outwork)
Blue Grass Stakes – Keeneland – April 9th, 2016 (Zulu, Brody’s Cause)
Santa Anita Derby – Santa Anita Park – April 9th, 2016  (Mor Spirit, Danzing Candy, Exaggerator)
Arkansas Derby – Oaklawn Park – April 16th, 2016 (Cupid, Suddenbreakingnews)
Lexington Stakes – Keeneland – April 16th, 2016 (Swipe)

Interesting Fact: 70% of the Kentucky Derby winners the past 20 years raced in one of these three final Derby prep races: The Santa Anita Derby (6), The Florida Derby (4) and the Arkansas Derby (4).

The other Derby Prep races to produce Kentucky Derby winners: Louisiana Derby (2), Wood Memorial (2), Blue Grass Stakes (1) and the Lexington Stakes (1).

–Michael