Justify’s Triple Crown Odds

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May 21st 2018

With the 143rd Preakness Stakes now in the books, my focus will be on potential entries and Justify’s odds of pulling off the Triple Crown. Currently, it appears that he has even 1:1 odds which equates to a 50% chance. I think that is about right until we know for certain who is going to be entered.

First the good news, Justify came out of the Preakness in fine shape according to Trainer Bob Baffert. 

In Justify’s corner, he has one of the best trainers in the world who has won a Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah. Plus he is ridden by one of the top jockeys in the world as well in Mike Smith. Both Baffert and Smith have both won the Belmont Stakes twice during their career.

Thus far, it appears that Justify’s competition for the Belmont Stakes will be: Bravazo, Tenfold, Blended Citizen, Hofburg, Vino Rosso and possibly My Boy Jack, Free Drop Billy, Solomini and Audible. The latter is probably doubtful since Audible has the same ownership group (WinStar Farm/China Horse Club) as Justify. Common sense says you don’t try to beat yourself out of a Triple Crown. And the Florida Derby winner Audible is a talented colt who hit the board in the Kentucky Derby.

Winning the Belmont Stakes will be much more difficult than winning the Preakness Stakes as this potential field is much more talented and perhaps better suited for the Mile and a Half at Belmont Park than the Preakness Stakes field had against Justify cutting back a bit on distance in similar sloppy conditions as the Derby.

Bravazo had an impressive late run in the Preakness. You sort of got the feeling that if the Preakness would have been 10 furlongs instead of 9 1/2, Bravazo would have won beaten Justify to the wire. However, if the Preakness Stakes had been run on a dry, fast track, I don’t think this race would have been this close.

Interesting is the fact that despite a Preakness Stakes time (1:55.93) that was faster than American Pharoah’s (1:58.46) and Exaggerator’s (1:58.31) sloppy Preakness Stakes times, Justify only received a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. Justify’s closing speed time from the 3/4th mile mark was also faster in the Preakness Stakes than the Kentucky Derby. However, Pimlico’s track runs a bit faster in sloppy conditions than Churchill Downs.

Stay tuned, I will be monitoring this closely and will provide updates periodically. Since there are 3 weeks between the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, news comes a little slower but I expect to know more by next Monday.

–Michael

The 2018 Kentucky Derby Preview

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May 1st 2018

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

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

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2018 Kentucky Derby Starting Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


On the docket…

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

–Michael

The 2018 Arkansas Derby – Magnum Moon

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April 10th 2018 – Updated April 14th 2018 6:26 PM CST

The last of the major Derby preps are coming up this Saturday at Oaklawn Park. I totally love the Arkansas Derby and Oaklawn Park but won’t be able to preview it accurately as I will be in Las Vegas on vacation until Saturday afternoon.

Overall, from anticipated entries, this is Todd Pletcher’s trainee Magnum Moon‘s race. I don’t feel at this point that this Derby prep that any colt that can beat Justify, Mendelssohn or Bolt d’Oro. I don’t even think that Magnum Moon, who I would make this Arkansas Derby’s favorite, is even Todd Pletcher’s best Derby hopeful at this point. That honor goes to Audible–the Florida Derby winner.

But we will see. I reserved judgement, for the most part, until all Derby preps are run. But barring some unexpected result, your top four Derby hopefuls at this point are: Justify, Mendelssohn, Bolt d’Oro and Audible. I do love Magnum Moon’s pedigree so perhaps I may move him up my rankings with a great performance.

Below are the entries, post-positions, weights, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The Arkansas Derby  – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #11 at Oaklawn Park – Post-Time: 6:18 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Beautiful Shot (122) – Eramia/Desormeaux – 30/1
2. Machismo (118) – Spieth/Quartarolo – 20/1
3. Ten Fold (118) – Espinoza/Asmussen – 4/1
4. Dream Baby Dream (118) –  Contreras/Asmussen – 15/1
5. Solomini (118) – Prat/Baffert – 2/1
6. Magnum Moon (122) – Saez/Pletcher – 8/5
7. Plainsman (118) – McMahon/Van Meter – 30/1
8. Quip (122) – Geroux/Brisset – 9/2
9. Combatant (115) – Santana Jr/Asmussen – 6/1

Update: No scratches to report.  I liked straight Win bets on Magnum Moon but not at 1/2 or 3/5 live odds. A Place bet on Solomini might pay out as much, if not more, than a win bet on Magnum Moon. If this race has taught me anything the last five years, sometimes there are surprise performances. Although I think Magnum Moon will win, I am laying low and making a $2 Place bet on Plainsman at 99-1. And a $2 Exacta keying Magnum Moon over Solomini, Plainsman and Quip. That is 6 over 5,7,8.  So $8 total bet.


On the Docket…

I am planning a big article for US Racing. Last year, one of my articles  was the top viewed article on that site during Derby month. I hope to duplicate that accomplishment this year and I think you will enjoy it. 

–Michael

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

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February 9th 2018

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

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

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

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

2018 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2

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

My Top Five Kentucky Derby Contenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


On the Docket…

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

–Michael

2018 Pegasus World Cup Contenders

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January 15th 2018

We are 12 days away from the richest horse race in the world–the 2018 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. The total purse was raised from $12 million for the inaugural race last year to $16 million dollars this year. The field will be limited to 12 entries. Below are profiles on 10 of the 12 that are expected to be entered.

1) Gun Runner – He’s extremely consistent and the top racehorse in the world on dirt. He produced his career best Beyer Speed Figure of 117 in his last start–the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Unfortunately for race fans, Gun Runner will be retired at the conclusion of the Pegasus World Cup race where he will undoubtedly be the race favorite.

Career: 18 Starts 11-3-2-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 5
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Candy Ride
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey:  Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.43  – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 115 – 2017 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 117 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

2) Collected – Although he had a disappointing third place finish in his last start–the 2017 San Antonio Stakes–Collected will probably be the 2nd race favorite behind Gun Runner in the Pegasus. He finished 2nd behind Gun Runner in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

Career: 13 Starts 8-2-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Jockey)
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.73 – 2017 California Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 California Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115 – 2017 Pacific Classic

3) West Coast – The winner of the Pennsylvania Derby.  He finished 3rd in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. His Travers Stakes win still ranks as his most impressive performance. There have only been seven other horses who posted a faster time in the Travers at the 10 furlong distance than West Coast’s 2:01.91.  One of which was track record holder Arrogate in 2016 (1:59.36).

Career: 9 Starts 6-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Flatter
Trainer: Bob Baffert (2016 Pegasus World Cup Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.65 – 2017 Los Alamitos Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 107 – 2017 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 112 – Breeders’ Cup Classic 

4) Sharp Azteca – The Cigar Mile winner with a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 115. Sharp Azteca has pretty much raced 7 and 8 furlong (1 mile) races during his career. It is not a stretch for him to race an extra furlong which is the beauty of this 9 furlong Pegasus World Cup race.

Career: 16 Starts 8-5-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Freud
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 115  – 2017 Cigar Mile Handicap

5) Seeking the Soul – The Dallas Stewart-trained surprise winner in the Clark Handicap. He earned a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 103 with the win.

Career: 17 Starts 5-3-5-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>1st
Sire: Perfect Soul
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: John Velazquez
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.88 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2017 Clark Handicap

6) Giant Expectations – The surprise winner of the 2017 San Antonio Stakes in a small but talented five horse field that included Collected, Accelerate and Hoppertunity.

Career: 13 Starts 4-3-1-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>6th–>1st
Sire: Frost Giant
Trainer: Peter Eurton
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2017 San Antonio Stakes

7) Toast of New York – Although Toast of New York has never won a Grade 1 race, the recently turned 7 year-old does have two career 2nd place finishes in Grade 1 races: the 2014 Pacific Classic and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (shown below). After a three year layoff due to a soft tissue injury, Toast of New York was entered and won the Condition Stakes in the UK at Lingfield Park back in early December. It is good to see him back racing.

Career: 9 Starts 4-3-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Thewayyouare
Trainer: Jamie Osborne
Jockey: Lanfranco Dettori
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic

8) Gunnevera  – Although he is not likely to win against this level of competition, he has a chance of hitting the board. He’s a closer and I would like his chances better in a 10 furlong race. He finished tied for 5th with Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Career: 13 Starts 5-3-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>5th
Sire: Dialed In
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Edgard Zayas
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.51 (estimated) – 2017 Florida Derby
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 104 – 2017 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic

9) Stellar Wind – The only filly/mare to be entered into the Pegasus World Cup. She’s coming off a very disappointing 8th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Does she have a chance of winning against this field? Sure but she will have to get out of the gate well and bring her “A” game and run the best race of her career. It’s a tall order but should make this race more interesting.

Career: 16 Starts 10-2-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 6
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Curlin
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Victor Espinoza
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:49.02 (estimated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Zenyatta Stakes

10) War Story – In his last three starts, all Grade 1 races, he has finished 4th each time including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He’s not likely a contender for the win but a horse to include in your Supefecta bets.

Career: 25 Starts 5-3-3-5   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>4th–>4th
Sire: Northern Afleet
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.95 (estimated) – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Best Beyer in 1 1/8 Mile Race: 99 – 2016 Pegasus World Cup
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic


Mourinho wins the Smarty Jones Stakes

The Bob Baffert-trained Mourinho picked up 10 Kentucky Derby points with a win in Monday’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park with a nice time of 1:37.25 and 99 Beyer Speed Figure. Finishing second was the Steve Asmussen trained colt Combatant.

Bob Baffert now has three colts with at least 10 Derby points: McKinzie (20), Solomini (14) and Mourinho (10). St Patrick Day, the full brother to American Pharoah, has yet to resume training.

Steve Asmussen’s top 3 year-old point earner thus far is Combatant (8). Perhaps the best colt in Asmussen’s barn is Copper Bullet who resumed training January 5th. Chad Brown’s Good Magic leads the Derby point standings with 24.


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Pegasus World Cup with all confirmed entries and odds.  After this, I will preview the 2018 Holy Bull Stakes scheduled for February 3rd.

–Michael

2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Race Preview. Will Bolt d’Oro stay undefeated?

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November 1st 2017 

With the impending retirement of Arrogate after the Breeders’ Cup Classic, I feel that more eyes will be on the future stars of the 2018 Kentucky Derby class in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Overall, this 2-year-old class appears to be better than last year’s crop at this same time.

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 1 & 1/16th Mile –  Race #10 at Del Mar – Saturday November 4th at 5:58 PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports Network

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. U S Navy Flag – Moore/O’Brien – 8/1
2. Solomini – Prat/Baffert – 6/1
3. Firenze Fire – I.Ortiz Jr/Servis – 6/1
4. Givemeaminit – Castellano/Stewart – 20/1
5. Free Drop Billy – Albarado/Romans -5/1
6. Good Magic – J.Ortiz/Brown – 8/1
7. The Tabulator – Valdivia Jr/Rivelli – 20/1
8. Bahamian – Gutierrez/Callaghan – 30/1
9. Hazit – Velazquez/Pletcher – 20/1
10) Golden Dragon – Roman/Yanakov – 30/1
11) Bolt d’Oro – Nakatani/Ruis – 9/5
12. Hollywood Star – Rosario/Romans – 15/1

Race Commentary: Overall, this is a weaker field than I anticipated for a prestigious Breeders’ World Champion race with a $2 Million Dollar purse. Bolt d’Oro and The Tabulator are the only two undefeated colts in this field, both having won in each of their 3 starts. There are three colts who have yet to break their maiden: Givemeaminit, Good Magic, Bahamian. The Aidan O’Brien-trained U S Navy Flag is a European horse who has only raced sprints on turf. 

As far as Speed Figures, here are the only horses in the field who have eclipsed an 85 Beyer Speed Figure:

Bolt d’Oro – 100        
Firenze Fire – 90
Good Magic – 89
Solomini – 87

My Pick: 2-year-olds are inconsistent and unpredictable.  So I would steer away from difficult to hit exotics. I like win bets on Bolt d’Oro and Firenze Fire. The only exotic bet I would consider is a Boxed Exacta 3-11 (Bolt d’Oro and Firenze Fire). Bolt d’Oro is the class of this field and my early favorite for the 2018 Kentucky Derby. However, he is going to be hindered somewhat with a far outside starting post in a 12 horse field. This could put Bolt d’Oro in the cross-hairs of a closer like Firenze Fire coming down the stretch.

Firenze Fire displayed excellent closing speed in the Champagne Stakes (shown below).

The only concern with Firenze Fire is that he will be making his first start in a two-turn race. However, this may not hurt his closing style that much. So a Boxed Exacta of Firenze Fire-Bolt d’Oro might be a wiser bet if Bolt D’Oro’s live odds move closer to 1/1.


On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the Breeders’ Cup Classic field. I will have this out late tomorrow (Thursday) evening.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

–Michael

2017 FrontRunner Stakes and Awesome Again Stakes Previews

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September 29th 2017

Coming up tomorrow at Santa Anita Park are key two “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The FrontRunner Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile and the Awesome Again Stakes for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Below are the post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The FrontRunner Stakes

1 & 1/16th Mile – Race #8 at Santa Anita – Post-Time: 6:03 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Zatter – Bejarano/Baffert – 5/2
2. Take the One O One – Talamo/Koriner – 15/1
3. Ayacara – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 10/1
4. Bolt d’Oro – Nakatani/Ruis – 2/1
5. City Plan – Van Dyke/Harty – 20/1
6. Texas Wedge – Roman/Miller – 6/1
7. Encumbered – Gutierrez/Callaghan – 8/1
8. Solomini – Prat/Baffert – 4/1
9. Continental Divide – Espinoza/Cassidy – 15/1

My Pick: I think this race comes down to Bolt d’Oro and the two Baffert entries. I like Bolt d’Oro for the win. With the unpredictability of 2-year-olds, I would make straight win bets on Bolt d’Oro and wouldn’t play trifectas or superfectas. The only exotic bet I would consider is an exacta keying Bolt d’Oro over Solomini and Zatter. That is 4 over 1,8.

I wrote an article a few weeks ago for US racing profiling my three current favorites on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail: Bolt d’Oro, Copper Bullet and St Patrick’s Day. The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.


The Awesome Again Stakes

1 & 1/8th Mile – Race #10 at Santa Anita – Post-Time: 7:05 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Win the Space (122) – Talamo/Papaprodromou – 15/1
2. Dortmund (122) – Stevens/Sherman – 8/1  Scratched
3. Midnight Storm (122) – Baze/D’Amato – 3/1
4. Curlin Rules (122) – Prat/Sadler – 6/1
5. Breaking Lucky (122) – Smith/Baker – 5/1
6. Mubtaahij (122) – Van Dyke/Baffert – 4/1
7. Donworth (122) – Gutierez/O’Neill – 6/1
8. Cupid (126) – Bejarano/Baffert – 2/1

My Pick: Cupid is the only horse in this field coming off a win. He’s my race favorite and should have this field covered. As for exotics, this field is unpredictable and I would stick primarily with straight win bets on Cupid. Any of the remaining six horses could hit the board.


On the Docket…

My next blog will be an updated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender rankings.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

–Michael

The 2018 Kentucky Derby Trail Class – Who will be the stars of tomorrow?

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September 13th 2017

I recently wrote an article for US racing profiling my three current favorites on the 2018 Kentucky Derby trail: Bolt d’Oro, Copper Bullet and St Patrick’s Day. The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Besides these three promising 2-year-olds, there others that are on my radar:

  • Zatter – The Zayat Stables, Bob Baffert-trained colt who finished 2nd in the Del Mar Futurity. He has produced 84 Beyer Speed Figures in his only two starts. The only question I have is how he will like distance since. His sire was Midnight Lute, who was a two-time Breeders’ Cup champion sprinter. 
  • Sporting Chance – The recent winner of the Hopeful Stakes. The son of Tiznow is being trained by D. Wayne Lukas, a three-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer. If his Hopeful Stakes race is any indication, he’s still a bit raw but D. Wayne will get him straightened out.
  • Instilled Regard – This 2 year-old son of Arch is being trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. He comes with high expectations, being purchased for $1,050,000 in the Ocala Breeders’ 2-Year-Old March sale. Instilled Regard’s only start came against St Patrick’s Day at Del Mar on Sept 2nd where he finished 2nd to the full brother of American Pharoah. I normally don’t get too excited about a 2-year-old after one start but it was the manner in which he closed that makes me see that he will like added distance.
  • Solomini Another Zayat Stables’ Bob Baffert-trained colt. His sire is Curlin so he may end up liking distance better than stablemate Zatter. He broke his maiden at Del Mar September 2nd in his very first start. Keep a lazy eye on this one.
  • Dak Attack The Dale Romans-trained son of Ghostzapper. This colt is a sentimental favorite for two reasons. First, I was a big fan of Ghostzapper and his eye-popping Beyer Speed Figures. Secondly, trainer Dale Romans lost promising colt Not This Time last year due to injury. And I will go to my grave believing that Not This Time would have been the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner had he remained healthy. Dak Attack is undefeated in two starts.
  • Run AwayThe Santa Anita Juvenile and Best Pal Stakes winner. He finished 3rd behind Bolt d’Oro and Zatter in the Del Mar Futurity but don’t take him off your radar just yet. The Kaleem Shah owned colt, trained by Simon Callaghan, has won 3 out of 4 career starts.

On the Docket…

My next blog will likely be a preview of the Iroquois Stakes scheduled for September 16th at Churchill Downs. The Iroquois is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.


My new Food, Wine and Travel Blog

Be sure to check out my new food, wine and travel blog: https://mikesfoodwineandtravel.wordpress.com

–Michael