The 2017 Pegasus World Cup Field Is Set

pegasus-world-cup-logo

January 17th 2017

UPDATE January 21st 2017 :  Gun Runner, who was rumored to take War Envoy’s spot in the Pegasus World Cup field, is likely not going to be cleared by Gulfstream Park in time to be an entry in the Pegasus World Cup. Gun Runner is currently stabled at the Fairgrounds who has had quarantine in place since December 26th due to an outbreak of equine herpesvirus.

We are now 11 days away from the newly created richest horse race in the world–the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational–set for Saturday January 28th. The race winner will receive $7 million of the $12 million dollar purse. The race be aired on NBC with coverage beginning at 4:30 PM EST. Below are the expected entries. If a horse is scratched in this race, they can be replaced by a”B” horse that is entered in the undercard Poseidon Stakes that will be run at the same 9 furlong (1 1/8th mile) distance.

Overall, with California Chrome and Arrogate entered, this will be an interesting rematch and must-watch TV. However, color me a bit disappointed in the quality of depth in the field and the lack of compelling support races for this event. This is a great concept that is perfectly situated between the NFL Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl and right before the thoroughbred breeding season begins in February.

The Pegasus World Cup is getting a huge boost this year due to the inclusion of the most popular horse in North America currently in California Chrome in a Breeders’ Cup Classic rematch at 9 furlongs vs Arrogate. However, for this race to take off in the future, it is going to require more involvement from the top owners in the sport. This means, stop retiring horses in their prime after the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. And it will need better quality support races, namely Derby trail races for 3 year-old fillies and colts.

2017 Pegasus World Cup Entries & Projected Odds

1) California Chrome (1/1) – He will win the 2016 Horse of the Year Eclipse award to go along with his 2014 Horse of Year honors. I like his chances in a rematch with Arrogate if he draws an inside post position. His win in the 2016 Winter Challenge was against a weak field, but you can’t ignore the fact that he still set a track record. Chrome was ready to rumble no matter who showed up. I think he will fare better against Arrogate at 9 furlongs than he did at 10 furlongs.

Career: 26 Starts 16-4-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 7
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts  3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit  
Trainer: Art Sherman 
Jockey: Victor Espinosa 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.52 – 2014 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 119 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 119 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Arrogate (7/5) – Arrogate is ranked #1 in the world in the most recent Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings. He will carry the torch for the older horse division in 2017 when California Chrome is retired. The sport is in good hands. It appears that he may potentially get a tuneup at Santa Anita Park before the Pegasus World Cup as he is rumored to be entered in San Pasqual Stakes on January 1st.

Career: 6 Starts 5-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 0 Starts  0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st   
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert 
Jockey: Mike Smith 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.44* (estimated from 2016 Travers Stakes)
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1222016 Travers Stakes

3) Keen Ice  (15/1) – After a significant layoff and with just one prep race, Keen Ice finished a very surprising 3rd in the 2016 Breeders Cup Classic. In his most recent start, he finished 2nd behind Stanford in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes. He is still a quality horse. He finished 4th in last year’s Breeders Cup Classic. He is the only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion when he shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in last year’s Travers Stakes (shown below). 

Career: 19 Starts 2-2-5-4   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts  0-1-1-2
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>2nd
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.31 (calculated) – 2015 Haskell Invitational
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes

4) Shaman Ghost (20/1) – Owned by Stonach Stables, it has been a foregone conclusion that Shaman Ghost would be an entry in Pegasus World Cup which was created by Frank Stonach. However, this has yet to be confirmed. The 2016 Woodward Stakes winner finished a disappointing 3rd in the 2016 Clark Handicap. I am not sure he was 100% having been scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to spiking a fever. I expect him to develop further under the training of Jimmy Jerkens and be a major stakes winner in 2017 as a 5 year-old. 

Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 2 Starts  1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>3rd   
Sire: Ghostzapper
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey:  Jose Ortiz Jr.
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.92 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes

5) Noble Bird (25/1)  Noble Bird has been hit-or-miss this year. He has nice wins in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special (110 Beyer Speed Figure) and the Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (106 Beyer Speed Figure). His time of 1:47.75 in the Hagyard Fayette Stakes set a new track record at Keeneland for 9 furlongs. But he hasn’t fared well in Grade 1 events this year: 6th in the Met Mile, 5th in the Whitney Handicap and 7th in the Clark Handicap.

Career: 20 Starts 7-4-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 7 Starts  3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>7th
Sire: Birdstone
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:47.75 – 2016 Hagyard Fayette Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special

6) Neolithic (25/1) – Another Todd Pletcher-trainee. He finished 2nd in the 2016 Discovery Stakes (shown below) in mid November but won an 8 1/2 furlong allowance race on December 14th at Gulfstream Park with a nice time of 1:41.58.  This was just 0.61 seconds off the track record. He received a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.  His jockey in that race was Javier Castellano who will most likely be the rider for Keen Ice. So perhaps Jose Lezcano, who was his jockey in the Discovery Stakes, will pick up this ride.

Career: 7 Starts 2-3-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 1 Starts  0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire:  Harlan’s Holiday
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.78 (calculated) – 2016 Discovery Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 104 – Gulfstream Park Allowance Race 12/14/16
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – Gulfstream Park Allowance Race 12/14/16

7) Breaking Lucky (30/1) The 5 year-old won the Seagram’s Cup at Woodbine last August (shown below) and finished 2nd to Gun Runner in his most recent start, the 2016 Clark Handicap.

Career: 16 Starts 3-4-3-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts  0-1-2-1
Last 3 starts: 4th–>8th–>2nd
Sire: Lookin At Lucky
Trainer: Reade Baker
Jockey: Luis Contreras
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  1:48.94 (calculated) – 2016 Clark Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: Unknown
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: Unknown

8) War Story (40/1) The 5 year-old gelding has raced against top competition over his career with very little success. He finished 16th in the 2015 Kentucky Derby, 7th in the 2016 Pacific Classic and 8th in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. In his last two starts, he finished 4th in the 2016 Cigar Mile and then won the 9 furlong Queens County Stakes at Aqueduct on December 17th.

Career: 17 Starts 6-4-5-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 3 Starts  0-2-0-0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>4th–>1st
Sire: Northern Afleet
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Antonio Gallardo
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.39 (calculated) – 2015 Louisiana Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016:  99 – 2016 Queen County Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Queen County Stakes

9) Eragon (40/1) – The Argentinian horse was purchased by James McIngvale who had originally purchased a spot in the Pegasus World Cup for Runhappy. Runhappy was retired after the Breeders’ Cup so McIngvale went to South America to find a horse to fill his spot. The recently turned 6 year-old has won three Grade 1 races in South America.  He has raced on turf and dirt and appears to be a better Miler.

Career: 20 Starts 10 wins, 3 Grade 1 wins in South America
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: N/A
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire:  Offlewild
Trainer: Laura Wohlers
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016:  N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure:  N/A

10) Ralis (50/1) The Doug O’Neill-trained colt started off his career racing on dirt and showed plenty of promise as a 2 year-old after winning the 2015 Hopeful Stakes (shown below). He then bombed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race finishing 14th and the 2016 Rebel Stakes where he finished 14th. He was taken off the Derby trail and entered into in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day where he finished 10th. He was then switched to turf where the best he could muster were three second place finishes before a 9th place finish in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf race won by Highland Reel.

Career: 16 Starts 2-4-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: None on Dirt, 4 on Turf
Last 3 starts:  2nd–>6th–>9th
Sire: Square Eddie
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  N/A on Dirt  – Turf  1:47.49 – 2016 Rainbow Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 97 – 2016 Del Mar Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97 – 2016 Del Mar Derby

11) War Envoy (50/1) – Primarily a European turf runner throughout his career, War Enjoy did compete in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile finishing last and the 1 mile Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar (shown below) last August where he finished 5th.

Career: 21 Starts 2-3-4-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: N/A
Last 3 starts: 5th–>8th–>6th
Sire: War Front
Trainer: Craig Dollase
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time:  
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: Unknown
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: Unknown

12) Prayer For Relief (60/1) –  A way past his prime 9 year-old who has never won a Grade 1 race. He finished 9th in his last start, the 2016 Clark Handicap. His last win came in December 2013 in the Tenacious Handicap at The Fairgrounds.

Career: 45 Starts 8-6-10-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 21 Starts  4-1-4-3
Last 3 starts: 6th–>5th–>9th
Sire: Jump Start
Trainer: Dale Romans
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.60 (calculated) – 2012 Strub Stakes  
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: Unknown
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2012 Tenacious Handicap


On the docket…

What was the most exciting horse race in 2016? There were many great ones but in my next blog, I will unveil my vote for most exciting race in 2016 with corresponding unpublished photos and video that I captured of this race. Plus I’ll give my picks for the Eclipse Award winners that are coming up Saturday January 21st.

–Michael

2016 Rebel Stakes Preview – Suddenbreakingnews the morning line favorite

March 18th 2016
Coming up tomorrow at Oaklawn Park is the highly anticipated Rebel Stakes with a $900,000 purse that has attracted a full field of 14 horses. Four of these 3 year-olds were in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #3: American Dubai (99-1), Cupid (36-1), Suddenbreakingnews (14-1) and Whitmore (42-1). Cherry Wine was absent in the last pool but was in Pool #2 at 31-1 final odds. Below are the post-positions and morning line odds.

Post Position/Horse (weight)/Jockey/Trainer
1. Creator (115) – Santana Jr./Asmussen – 6/1
1A. Madtap (117) – Nakatani/Asmussen – 6/1
2. Z Royal (115) – Vazquez/Lukas – 20/1
2X. Gray Sky (115) – Geroux/Lukas – 20/1
3. Ralis (117) – Gutierrez/O’Neill – 12/1
4. Cupid (115) – Garcia/Baffert – 7/2
5. Discreetness (122) – Court/Fires – 12/1
6. Siding Spring (115) – Rocco/Casse – 20/1
7. Spikes Shirl (115) – Castanon/Stewart – 30/1
8. American Dubai (115) – Landeros/Richards – 12/1
9. Cutacorner (117) – Birzer/Van Berg – 30/1
10. Whitmore (117) – Ortiz Jr./Moquett – 7/2
11. Cherry Wine (115) – Lanerie/Romans – 12/1
12. Suddenbreakingnews (122) – Quinonez/Von Hemel – 3/1


Overall, this will be an exciting race if the Southwest Stakes (shown below) was any indication. I think this race will come down to a battle between four horses: Cupid, Suddenbreakingnews, Madtap and Cherry Wine. Cupid was a scratch from the San Felipe last week at Santa Anita and shipped to Oaklawn Park for this race instead. Madtap raced at Oaklawn Park two weeks ago on March 5th and won with a very good time of 1:43.85 at the same 1 1/16th mile distance. Both of the horses may wear down in the stretch due to tiredness. So I feel that this race may set up well for another win by Suddenbreakingnews. I think this is a better race to watch than bet.

–Michael

 

Looking ahead to the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile and early 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Updated: 10/25/2015

With the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile race coming up in less than two weeks on October 31st, it is time to take a closer look at the favorites for that race as well as next year’s Kentucky Derby contenders. Yours truly will be there. Here are eleven 2-year-old colts to keep an eye on. I don’t feel that they can really be ranked at this point but I generally feel that Nyquist and Brody’s Cause are the top two thus far. Greenpointcrusader if you want a third.

In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, this appears to be the worst crop since 2006 because we have yet to see a 2 year-old colt or filly eclipse the 100 Beyer Speed mark thus far. But the 2006 2 year-old class eventually produced Curlin who didn’t race until his 3 year-old campaign but generated $10.5 million dollars in career earnings. So this could be the late-bloomer class and some of these horses race to their level of competition. I bet we see a horse produce a 100 Beyer in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Below are short bios on the top 2 year-olds who have been pre-entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. My pick to win the race is Greenpointcrusader:

Nyquist* – Winner of two Grade 1 Stakes: The Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner Stakes. My way too early Kentucky Derby favorite. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt Nyquist is undefeated. However, it is concerning that his Beyer Speed Figures are on a descending plain (89->82->79). But his stalking racing style reminds me of a young American Pharoah. Definitely, a 1st Saturday in May horse provided he isn’t on the downward spiral. He will likely win the Eclipse Top 2 Year Old Male Horse award provided he finishes in the top 3.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.89 – FrontRunner Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 79,82  Average: 80.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Best Pal Stakes

Brody’s Cause* Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. His sire was Giant’s Causeway who had a great career on the other side of the pond and finished 2nd in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic. On closer inspection, this horse has excellent closing speed. No matter what happens in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he looks to be a 1st Saturday in May horse.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down Maiden Special Weight – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 88,74  Average: 81
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

Greenpointcrusader* Winner of Champagne Stakes where he received a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. Curiously enough, his time was 0.37 seconds faster than last year’s Champagne Stakes winner Daredevil (who received a 107 Beyer) on a similar sloppy sealed track. Excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His sire Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness Stakes, Travers Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished 2nd in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Greenpointcrusader’s 94 Beyer Speed figure in the Champagne Stakes is the top Beyer Speed figure for a 2 year-old colt for a distance 1 mile or greater. And it appeared that he will have no problems stretching out a couple more furlongs. He is my pick to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile provided that he doesn’t draw the rail.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyers: 94,82 Average: 88
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

Riker – The Canadian colt is undefeated after wiring the Grey Stakes field. But note that he has only competed at Woodbine which uses a synthetic surface. His grand sire Candy Ride still holds the track record (1:59.11) for the Pacific Classic. His sire Twirling Candy had a decent career, winning 7 out 11 races.

Career: 4 starts 4-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.31 – Grey Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 84,79  Average: 81.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – Colin Stakes

Exaggerator – A Desormeaux brothers colt, Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). Exaggerator finished 2nd in the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes and won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.

Career: 4 Starts 2-1-0-0 
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 86,85  Average: 85.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

Ralis – Another promising colt from Doug O’Neill’s stable, winner of the Hopeful Stakes with a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. However, he had a disappointing 6th place finish in the sloppy Champagne Stakes. I won’t judge him too harshly for that.

Career: 6 Starts 2-1-0-1
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:38.65 (calculated) – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 66,93  Average: 79.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 Hopeful Stakes

Conquest Big E – A Mark Casse trained colt, his sire was Tapit (champion sire in 2014 and leading sire in 2015). A half-brother to Tonalist and Frosted, he will like distance. He was purchased as a yearling for $700,000.

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.42 – Keeneland Maiden Special Weight – Race #3
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 75,72  Average: 73.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 75 – Keeneland Maiden Special Weight – Race #3

Cocked and Loaded* – Winner of the Iroquois Stakes and the Tremont Stakes. He has Seattle Slew in his bloodlines on both the sire and dam side.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.94 – Iroquois Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 82,61  Average: 71.5
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 82 – Iroquois Stakes

Swipe – Finished 2nd in the FrontRunner Stakes. He has finished 2nd to Nyquist in his last 3 starts but gave him his best battle in the FrontRunner Stakes.

Career: 6 Starts 1-4-1-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.01 (calculated) – FrontRunner Stakes
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: 78,74  Average: 76
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 78 – FrontRunner Stakes

In addition to these horses, the following 2 year-olds have been pre-entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Fellowship, Rated R Superstar, Sticksstatelydude, Tale of S’avall, Tom’s Ready and Unbridled Outlaw.

Hollywood Don, Isotherm, Siding Spring, and Waterloo Bridge have also been pre-entered into both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Juvenile Turf with 1st preference for the turf race.

Two horses not entered into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that you should keep an eye on:

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

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

Sudden Surprise – This Todd Pletcher-trained colt is undefeated in 3 starts. However, he has yet to stretch out past 7 furlongs.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Last Two Beyer Speed Figures: ?,?
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89 – Saratoga Maiden Special Weight – Race #3

* indicates a horse who has qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Sentient Jet) race.


 –Michael

Super Saturday at Belmont Previews

Another Super Saturday at Belmont Park with two big “Win and You’re In” Breeders Cup races. Plus the Kelso Handicap that features Honor Code who is ranked #3 in my 2015 Breeders’ Cup Contenders:

UPDATE 10/3/15 2PM: Wet sloppy track today at Belmont. Throw out all handicapping advice. This should favor pace-setters. I am liking Coach Inge more and more in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race.

1) Kelso Handicap. Belmont Race #5. Post time: 1:33PM CST – this isn’t a “Win and You’re In’ race but high profile with race with Honor Code in the field.

Post Position/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/M/L Odds
1. Appealing Tale – Talamo/Miller – 6/1
2. Honor Code – Castellano/McGaughey – 3/5
3. Scarly Charly – Oriz/Hushion – 20/1
4. Tamarkuz – Ortiz/McLaughlin – 8/1
5. Red Vine – Rosario/Clement – 5/1
6. Mylute – Velazquez/Pletcher – 12/1
7.  Matterhorn – Bravo/Pletcher – 15/1

I like a $25 straight 2-5 Exacta (Honor Code-Red Vine). Honor Code is going to wire this field.

2) The Champagne Stakes (1 1/16 Mile). Belmont Race #8. Post time: 3:18PM CST. This race for 2 year-olds that guarantees entry into the Breeders Cup Juvenile (Sentient Jet)

Post Position/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/M/L Odds
1. Magna Light – Ortiz/Rodriguez – 6/1
2. Greenpointcrusader – Bravo/Schettino – 5/1
3. Ready Dancer – Velazquez/Pletcher – 5/1
4. Sail Ahoy – Rosario/McGaughey – 12/1
5. Ralis – Castellano/O’Neill – 3/1
6. Rafting – Ortiz/Motion – 8/1
7. Tale of S’avall – Velasquez/Tagg 7/2
8. Sunny Ridge – Alvarado/Servis – 20/1
9. Portfolio Manager – Franco/Brown – 12/1

Doug O’Neill’s Ralis is the best horse in this field but he is not as consistent as his stable mate Nyquist. I would only make a Place bet on Ralis but if you are feeling aggressive, I do *think* he will win. With 2 year-olds, they can be unpredictable and there could be a new star emerge in this race.

3) The Jockey Club Gold Cup (1 1/4 Mile). Belmont Race #10. Post time: 4:28PM CST. This guarantees entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic that has four of my top 14 Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders: #5 Tonalist, #8 Effinex, #9 Coach Inge, #14 Wicked Strong. As well as the Todd Pletcher-trained Constitution who has been in my Top 14 in the past.

Post Position/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/M/L Odds
1. Wicked Strong – Rosario/Jerkens – 6/1
2. Coach Inge – Ortiz/Pletcher – 5/1
3. Constitution – Castellano/Pletcher- 3/1
4. Effinex – Alvarado/Jerkens- 6/1
5. Looks to Spare – Parker/Dipima – 30/1
6. Tonalist – Velazquez/Clement – 6/5

In a six horse field, Trifectas and Superfectas won’t pay out much unless you make bigger bets. The only way to make money on this one is a large Exacta bet. I like a $25 Exacta 2 over 4,6 (Tonalist over Coach Inge and Effinex) which would cost $50. If you are willing to potentially lose $100, make it a $50 Exacta bet. Coach Inge is my potential upset favorite here. My prediction: Tonalist, Coach Inge, Effinex, Wicked Strong, Constitution and Looks to Spare.

–Michael

My Way Too Early 2016 Kentucky Derby Watch List

With the Kentucky Derby Prep Season kicking off this coming Saturday at Churchill Downs with the Iroquois Stakes, it’s time to take a look at next year’s Kentucky Derby contenders. Right now, my way too early Kentucky Derby favorite is the Doug O’Neill-trained colt Nyquist. O’Neill trained 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another and it appears O’Neill has a great stable of horses this year.

Nyquist won the Del Mar Futurity on Monday (shown below) and is unbeaten in three starts. Nyquist won this 7 furlong race with a time of 1:23.28. American Pharoah got the first win of his career in last year’s Del Mar Futurity, posting a time of 1:21.48.


With the win, Nyquist is assured a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race in October–a race that his sire Uncle Mo won in 2010. I was more impressed with Nyquist’s win in the Best Pal Stakes (shown below) where he posted a 89 Beyer Speed Figure. He stalked the pace and BOOM he was gone.


Although Doug O’Neill believes his top 2-year-old is Nyquist, he’s got another great horse in Ralis who rallied for a win in the Hopeful Stakes race Monday at Saratoga and posted a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.


And every year, you have to look to see what Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have in their stables. Todd Pletcher’s top 2 year-old right now appears to be Sudden Surprise. Sudden Surprise won the Funny Cide Stakes on August 28th and posted an 89 Beyer Speed Figure in this 5 1/2 furlong race.


From the Bob Baffert Stable, Justin Squared broke his maiden at Del Mar on Saturday and produced an 86 Beyer Speed Figure. Mt Veeder has an excellent pedigree in whose sire was Ghostzapper (whose sire was Awesome Again).

A lot talent will rise to the surface in the coming months. There are quite a few great pedigree colts that have yet to race, including some half-brothers to American Pharoah in the Zayat Stables in Sakara and Nile Brewery. Another half brother to American Pharoah, trained by Linda Rice, is Championofthenile who broke his maiden and posted 94 Beyer Speed Figure at Saratoga September 4th.

Here are some other horses to keep an eye one:

Ziconic (the offspring of Tapit and Zenyatta), Cocked and Loaded, Magna Light, Swipe, The Zip Zip Man, Exaggerator (sire was Curlin) and Uncle Vinny


“Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Sentient Jet):

Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs – September 12th
FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita – September 26th
Champagne Stakes at Belmont – October 3rd
Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland – October 3rd

–Michael