Undefeated Songbird makes it 6 in a row in the Santa Ysabel

March 5th 2016

Today at Santa Anita Park, Songbird churned out another familiar winning tune, extending her undefeated streak to six with a dominant performance in the 1 1/16th mile Santa Ysabel Stakes (shown below). What was most impressive is that she produced a final winning time of 1:43.02 so effortlessly.

It has been extremely clear since last October that this filly was as talented as any of the 2 year-old colts but her owner Rick Porter has insisted that he will not enter her in the Kentucky Derby stating: “Running in the Derby would just be for ego, and I’m over that. I would love to win the Derby, but with a really good colt.”

Instead, Songbird will be pointed towards the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6th. However, don’t be surprised if she eventually contests the boys at some point in the fall if she continues to dominate the filly fields. But after the Kentucky Oaks, her owner stated in December that he is looking ahead and eyeing the Filly Triple Crown (aka the New York Filly Triple Tiara). Over the years, this has involved three of these four races: The 1-mile Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park June 11th, the 1 1/16th mile Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont on July 2nd, the 1 1/8th mile Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on July 24th and the 1 1/4th mile Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on August 20th.

One thing that is certain, there is a ton of Girl Power talent to look forward to watching this year with three-year-olds Songbird, Rachel’s Valentina and Cathryn Sophia. Then the older division stars like Beholder, Lady Eli, Tepin and Stopchargingmaria.

–Michael

 

Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings

February 19th 2016 (Updated February 21st -76 days away from the Kentucky Derby)

Below is my updated 2016 Kentucky Derby contender list with latest Wynn Las Vegas Kentucky Derby odds. Dropping out of my rankings are three very good horses in Songbird,  Swipe and Matt King Coal. Songbird’s owner Rick Porter has said that he will not enter the sensational 3 year-old filly in the Kentucky Derby. Instead, he will point her towards the Kentucky Oaks where she will be the race favorite and probably pick up an easy $600,000 with a win.

Swipe had a bone spur removed from his ankle and it appears that he may not make his first start in 2016 until early April. That will be too short of an order, with one race in 2016 before the Derby, to really make feel that he would be a threat to win the first leg of the Triple Crown. The Linda Rice-trained Matt King Coal has been working out of late but has had his scheduled first start of 2016 moved back a few times due to spiking a fever.

Also dropping out of my previous rankings is Airoforce who had a disappointing 10th place finish in the Risen Star Stakes.

Right now what I envision in the 2016 Kentucky Derby is Nyquist being mowed down by Mohaymen in the final furlong and closer Brody’s Cause making a valiant effort on the outside to take third. Last year I hit a $10 Boxed Trifecta (American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund) and a $20 win bet on American Pharoah that paid back $1088.

But with 11 weeks before the Derby, new stars can emerge from the woodworks. Remember what Firing Line did last year when he set a track record in the Sunland Derby and finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby behind American Pharoah and ahead of Dortmund who had beaten him twice. So don’t give up on the scrappy horses who have finished 2nd in some of the Derby prep races thus far.

My Top 10 Kentucky Derby Contenders:

1) Mohaymen (8/1) The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt is undefeated in 4 starts and posted an impressive time of 1:42.07 in the Holy Bull Stakes. His sire was Tapit so his pedigree suggests that he will like stretching out past 1 1/16th mile. His next start will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 27th at Gulfstream Park.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Projected Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.01 – Nashua Stakes

Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Nyquist (12/1) – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year. The first of the 2016 Kentucky Derby crop to produce a 100+ Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the San Vicente. He is being pointed for the Florida Derby on April 2nd. 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: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Sire: Uncle Mo 
Projected Jockey: Mario Gutierrez (2012 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – San Vicente Stakes

The Top 2 are really the cream of the crop thus far so here are challengers to keep an eye on.

3) Brody’s Cause (22/1) Dale Roman’s winner of the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. This colt has excellent closing speed that he demonstrated in the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with his 3rd place finish. He is being pegged for the Tampa Bay Derby March 12th. 

Career: 4 Starts 2-0-1-0
Sire: Giant’s Causeway 
Projected Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.64 – Churchill Down MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.27 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

4) Exaggerator (20/1) – The Desormeaux brothers colt finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and then followed this effort with a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure and giving Mohaymen a good battle in the San Vicente. Exaggerator’s sire was Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner). His next start is expected to be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th.

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 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.43 (calculated) Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97 – San Vicente Stakes

5) Greenpointcrusader (25/1)  A second place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes was a good return to form performance. The Champagne Stakes winner has an excellent pedigree: sire Bernardini (Rachel’s Valentina’s sire), grand sire A.P. Indy, great-grand sire Seattle Slew. His next start appears to be in the Louisiana Derby at the Fairgrounds on March 26th.

Career: 5 Starts 2-2-0-0
Sire: Bernardini 
Projected Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.25 – Champagne Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.63 (calculated) – Holy Bull Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 Champagne Stakes

6) Mor Spirit (9/1) – Bob Baffert’s best 2 year-old colt. Winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity  and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (winning time of 1:43.21). His times are way off what Dortmund produced last year in these two races. His next start will be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th.

Career: 5 Starts 3-2-0-0
Sire: Eskendereya 
Projected Jockey: Gary Stevens (1988, 1995 and 1998 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.48 – Santa Anita Park MSW – Race #5
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.21 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes

7) Smokey Image (40/1) – He is undefeated in six starts, but five of his wins were at the 7 furlong distance or shorter. His win in the California Cup Derby (shown below) was impressive but only generated an 82 Beyer Speed Figure. This Cal-bred might prove to be a better dirt-miler than a Derby horse. His next start is pegged to be the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 12th.

Career: 6 Starts 6-0-0-0
Sire: Southern Image 
Projected Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: N/A
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.49 – California Cup Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85

8) Suddenbreakingnews (20/1) – An impressive win in the Southwest Stakes (shown below) has put this 3 year-old gelding onto many Kentucky Derby contender lists. May I suggest a name change? How about “Blue Bayou” because the Donnie von Hemel-trained colt blew by the Southwest Stakes field. His sire was Mineshaft–2003 Horse of the Year. He’s a closer and they always have a chance in the Derby when the opening fractions are fast.

Career: 6 Starts 3-3-0-0
Sire: Mineshaft 
Projected Jockey: Luis Quinonez
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:39.17 (calculated) – Remington Springboard Mile
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.14 – Southwest Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Southwest Stakes

9) Gift Box (40/1) –  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. He finished a respectable 3rd in the Remsen Stakes behind Mohaymen and Flexibility. His next start appears to be the Gotham Stakes on March 5th at the Fairgrounds.

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

10) Mo Tom (45/1) – The Lecomte Stakes winner and half brother of Nyquist got a bad trip in the Risen Star Stakes (shown below) by getting hemmed-in along the rail. Otherwise I feel he would have beaten Gun Runner (who received a 90 Beyer Speed Figure for the win). He demonstrated excellent closing speed and appears will like added distance. There is no worries about how he take to the Churchill Downs surface as he won the Street Sense Stakes there last November. His next start is rumored to be the Louisiana Derby March 26th at the Fairgrounds.

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-3-0
Sire: Uncle Mo 
Projected Jockey: Corey LanerieBest 1 Mile Time: 1:36.78 – Street Sense Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.18 (calculated) – Risen Star Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – Lecomte Stakes


Upcoming Derby Trail Races

Fountain of Youth Stakes – Gulfstream Park – Feb 27, 2016
Gotham Stakes- Aqueduct – Mar 5, 2016
Tampa Bay Derby – Tampa Bay Downs – Mar 12, 2016
San Felipe Stakes – Santa Anita Park – Mar 12, 2016
Rebel Stakes – Oaklawn Park – Mar 19, 2016
Sunland Derby – Sunland Park – Mar 20, 2016

For updated Kentucky Derby Point Standings, click HERE.

–Michael

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Songbird and Keen Ice highlight a Big Day of Racing

February 5, 2016

Tomorrow–Saturday February 6th–there are four key races to watch. Three of which are at Santa Anita Park in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes that features Bob Baffert’s Mo Spirit, the Las Virgenes Stakes with the star filly Songbird and the San Antonio Stakes that has many quality repeat runners from the San Pasqual Stakes that was won by California Chrome last month. And then “The Donn” at Gulfstream Park that includes Keen Ice and a few potential budding older horse division stars.

Robert Lewis Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #4 at Santa Anita – Post Time: 4:00 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. Let’s Meet in Rio (119) Desormeaux/Baffert – 6/1
2. I Will Score (119) Smith/Hollendorfer – 5/2
3. Dressed in Hermes (121) Bejarano/Armstrong – 6/1
4. Laoban (119) Baze/Guillot – 12/1
5. Mor Spirit (124) Stevens/Baffert – 8/5
6. Path of David (119) Talamo/Mulhall – 8/1
7. Uncle Lino (119) Perez/Sherlock – 5/1

Prediction: I like a 5/1 Boxed Exacta. Let’s Meet in Rio is a closer who should make this an exciting finish. I Will Score is undefeated in two starts but has never raced longer than 6 1/2 furlongs. Maybe you place a 5-1-2 (Mor Spirit-Let’s Meet in Rio-I Will Score) Straight Trifecta.

Las Virgenes Stakes – 1 Mile – Race #5 at Santa Anita – Post Time: 4:30 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. She’s a Warrior (118) Prat/Eurton – 20/1
2. Land Over Sea (118) Guterrez/O’Neill – 8/1
3. Street Fancy (123) Espinoza/D’Amato – 6/1
4. Jade Princess (118) Garcia/Baffert – 10/1
5. Decked Out (118) Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 20/1
6. Songbird (123) Smith/Hollendorfer – 1/5
7. Merirosvo (118) Van Dyke/Gallagher – 30/1

Prediction: Songbird will wire this field. It will be interesting to see if she wins this with a sub 1:36 time. You won’t win very much money on a win bet with Songbird so try a 6-3 Straight Exacta.

Donn Handicap – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #13 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time: 4:53 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. Madefromlucky (116) Rosario/Pletcher – 5/1
2. Closing Bell (114) Lezcano/Mott – 15/1
3. Mshawish (117) Velazquez/Pletcher – 7/2
4. Valid (117) Juarez/Vitali – 6/1
5. Mexikoma (115) Lanerie/Dilger – 8/1
6. Keen Ice (121) Castellano/Romans – 5/2
7. Itsaknockout (118) Saez/Pletcher – 4/1
8. Financial Modeling (115) Ortiz Jr./Brown – 6/1

Prediction: With a $500,000 purse, this is always attracts good older horses. Keen Ice headlines the field and is the morning line favorite. But he doesn’t excel at this distance. This is probably the toughest race of the four to predict. Mexikoma has the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any horse thus far at 107 that he received at Gulfstream Park in the Sunshine Millions Classic. Mshawish made the transition from turf quite well and should factor in the money. Itsaknockout, Valid and Madefromlucky are all good horses.

San Antonio Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile- Race #7 at Santa Anita – Post Time: 5:30 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. Cat Burglar (119) Bejarano/Baffert – 4/1
2. Donworth (119) Gutierrez/O’Neill – 6/1
3. Cyrus Alexander (119) Garcia/Hollendorfer – 6/1
4. Hard Aces (121) Talamo/Sadler – 10/1
5. Hoppertunity (119) Prat/Baffert – 3/1
6. Blingo (119) Solis/Sheriffs – 20/1
7. Imperative (119) Smith/Baltas – 5/2
8. El Kabeir (119) Stevens/Terranova – 6/1

Prediction: Another race for older horses with a $500,000 purse, a Hoppertunity Place bet is pretty safe here. I also like a 5/7 Straight Exacta.


Check back tomorrow for an update.

–Michael

My Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Mohaymen mows down the Holy Bull – Photo: Kenny Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the best of the rest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Airoforce Kentucky Jockey Club 615 X 400

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

 

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

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

-Michael

Songbird – Could she be the next Kentucky Derby winning filly?

Last year, American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought by becoming 12th Triple Crown Champion. A far rarer feat in horse racing is a filly winning the Kentucky Derby. It has only happened 3 times in 141 Kentucky Derbies. Regret became the first in 1915. Then Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winning Colors in 1988 (video shown below).

So it has been 28 years since the last filly–Winning Colors–won the Kentucky Derby. This year’s crop of fillies headlined by Songbird and Rachel’s Valentina is the best in recent memory.

Entering 2016, I felt that Songbird was the best 2 year-old in 2015 regardless of gender and she showed me enough to warrant racing against the boys. Her performance and winning time in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race (shown below) compared to Nyquist‘s winning time at the same distance, same track on the same day in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race is what sold me on this filly. Songbird won with a time of 1:42.73  (Mike Smith never had to use the whip) vs Nyquist’s time of 1:43.79.  A full second faster and good for over 6 lengths. I was there at Keeneland that weekend and her race that day was the earlier one (race #3) and generally the track got faster over the course of the day.
 
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is really high on this filly and he had contemplated retiring at age 50 until he rode Songbird. He has fallen in love all over again (I don’t blame him). Smith has ridden some great horses and especially great fillies over his career with the best being Zenyatta (see highlight video below).

Could Songbird be the best filly since Zenyatta? Zenyatta had a different style. She was a closer which matched up well on faster synthetic track surfaces that she primarily ran on. But Zenyatta did race on a dirt surface as a 4 year-old in the 2008 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Her winning time in this 1 1/16th mile race? 1:42.64. Songbird has already came within a tenth of a second (0.09 seconds to be exact) of that time as a 2 year-0ld racing against the best fillies in the world. And Mike Smith never had to show or use the whip on Songbird like he had to with Zenyatta. Songbird’s racing style is get out in front early and WIRE THE FIELD.

Songbird is undefeated in 4 starts. So what is the plan for her? Songbird’s next race is pegged to be the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes against the girls at Santa Anita Park on February 6th. I feel that trainer Jerry Hollendorfer could follow a similar schedule that Winning Colors had in 1988 when she raced the following races:


Unfortunately, the Santa Anita Oaks and the Santa Anita Derby are on the same day this year so Songbird would have to be entered in the San Felipe Stakes against the boys on March 12th or the Santa Ysabel Stakes against the girls on March 5th before the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th.

If jockey Mike Smith is excited about this filly and she kept him from retirement, that is good enough for me. She is special. Keep a close eye on her in the coming months. A filly in the Kentucky Derby would be exciting for the sport. A filly with a chance at winning a Triple Crown would be pandemonium.

–Michael

My Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Updated: January 7th, 2016 

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

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

Here is my my updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contender list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Airoforce Kentucky Jockey Club 615 X 400

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

-Michael

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

UPDATED  12/9/2015  4:30 PM CST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Airoforce Kentucky Jockey Club 615 X 400

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

 

2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In Memoriam

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

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

–Michael

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Michael

2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships Preview

UPDATED 10/31/2015 4PM CST – Biggest news Beholder will be scratched from the Classic

Below are what I feel are the really key “starpower” races during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this coming weekend at Keeneland. I will be there in attendance both days and will provide updates as time permits. I will also edit this blog with more detail and insight later. And remember that if any of these races are a wet races, you can throw most of this advice out the window.

Friday October 30th – All races televised on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) 2 to 5 PM CST

Race #5 – Hagyard Fayette – 1 1/8 Mile – $200,000 – 1:47 PM CST
This is not a Breeders’ Cup race but a good race to open the day since it has some decent horses like Hoppertunity, Commissioner, V.E. Day, Protonico, Race Day and Departing.

My Projected Winner: I like Hoppertunity but would only make a Show or Place bet here. He has never finished below 4th in a Graded Stakes race in 11 career starts. I see no reason why he would finish below 3rd in this field.

Race #7 – Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile – 1 Mile – $1,000,000 – 3:10 PM CST
A race for the fastest 3 year-olds and up through One Mile.

My Projected Winner: #3 Liam’s Map. I think Liam’s Map wires this field. He is 1/1 Morning Line Odds. Red Vine is 6/1 Morning Line odds and Wicked Strong is 5/1 Morning Line odds. I like a Straight Exacta (#3 Liam’s Map-#1 Red Vine) in this one. I like Wicked Strong but not at this short of distance.  Tapiture is another good horse. So consider both for rounding out your Trifectas and Superfectas. I am not sure how much a Trifecta would pay out in this scenario with Liam’s Map on top as I expect his odds to lower from 1/1, so you may have to key him to win in a Superfecta over Red Vine, Wicked Strong and Tapiture. I think I am going to key Liam’s Map to win #3 over 1,5,8,9 (Red Vine, Lea, Wicked Strong and Tapiture). This $1 Superfecta would cost $24. I may place $50 on Liam’s Map to win.

Race #9 – Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff –  1 1/8 Mile – $2,000,000 4:35 PM CST
Formerly known as the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, this is the top race for fillies and mares.

My Projected Winner:  #7 Wedding Toast. She is best horse in the field. Last year’s Champion, Untapable, has already been scratched due to spiking a fever. Sheer Drama, Got Lucky, Stopchargingmaria and I’m a Chatterbox are all really good horses. So I am going to place $50 on Wedding Toast to Place. if I have done well in the other races, I may change this to a Win bet.

Saturday October 31st – NBC will televise from 3-5 PM CST. NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will televise from Noon to 3 PM CST

Race #3 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – 1 1/16 Mile – $2,000,000 11:05 AM CST
The top race for 2-year-old fillies. Points are awarded for entry into the 2016 Kentucky Oaks. This is a great crop of fillies this year.

My Projected Winner:  I am a fan of #9 Rachel’s Valentina (7/2 Morning Line odds) and hopes she wins. But #10 Songbird (7/5 Morning Line odds) is the better horse right now. I may place a 10-9-2 (Songbird, Rachel’s Valentina and Tap to It) Straight Exacta.

Race #7 – Twinspires Breeders’ Cup Sprint – Six Furlongs – $1,500,000 – 1:50 PM CST

My Projected Winner: #5 Runhappy. He is 3/1 Morning Line odds while Morning Line race favorite Private Zone is 5/2. I think Runhappy is on a roll and like his post position better than Private Zone.

Race #9 – Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile – 1 1/16 Mile – $2,000,000 3:10 PM CST
The top race for 2 year-old colts and geldings. These horses are a part of the Kentucky Derby Trail and will earn points for entry into the 2016 Kentucky Derby. Points awarded to this year’s top four finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile have been doubled and will be 20-8-4-2.

My Projected Winner:  Nyquist, who is undefeated in four starts and my early 2016 Kentucky Derby favorite, will probably be the live race favorite. Brody’s Cause is the Morning Line Favorite at 7/2 odds. However, I like Greenpointcrusader at 4/1 Morning Line odds in this race. I generally feel that Greenpointcrusader is the fastest horse in the field but Brody’s Cause is a tremendous closer. If this pace is fast, this will play right into Brody’s Cause strength. If you want to play this one safe, place a Boxed Exacta with 3 horses (#3 Greenpointcrusader, #7 Brody’s Cause and #13 Nyquist). But remember my personal rule, never bet more than $50 on a race for 2 year-olds.

Race #10 – Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf – 1 ½ Mile – $3,000,000 3:50 PM CST
The best turf race in North America, that carries a $3 Million Dollar purse. It routinely draws some of the top turf horses from Europe.

My Projected Winner: The British-bred Golden Horn will probably be the race favorite. #10 The Pizza Man is a tremendous closer and I think this distance (1 1/2 mile) suits his running style the best. He has 15-1 Morning Line odds so I may make a big Place bet on him. The turf should be softer than normal due to the rain and this works against the European horses who like firmer surfaces.

Race #11 – Breeders’ Cup Classic – 1 ¼ mile = $5,000,000 4:35 PM CST
The Super Bowl of Thoroughbred Racing as this race draws the very best horse 3 years-old and older.

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2015 Post Positions & Morning Line Odds

1. Tonalist – Jockey John Velazquez – 6/1
2. Keen Ice – Jockey Irad Ortiz 12/1
3. Frosted Jockey Joel Rosario – 15/1
4. American Pharoah – Jockey Victor Espinoza – 6/5
5. Gleneagles – Jockey Ryan Moore – 20/1
6. Effinex – Jockey Mike Smith – 30/1
7. Smooth Roller – Jockey Tyler Baze – 15/1
8. Hard Aces Jockey Joe Talamo – 50/1
9. Honor Code – Jockey Javier Castellano – 6/1
10. Beholder 3-1 – Jockey Gary Stevens -3/1 SCRATCHED

My Projected Winner:  I correctly predicted Bayern would win last year’s Classic but I feel less confident about the outcome of this one. Now that Beholder has been scratched, I think this race comes down to Tonalist and American Pharoah but Honor Code and Keen Ice all have the ability to win this race. If Tonalist runs like he did in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race, and he is pressed up on the pace, I think he wins this one. So I am leaning towards Tonalist but my question is: will he be tired and be able to repeat his last performance? He will have to be pressed up on the pace as opposed to his normal closing style or he won’t win. Will drawing the dreaded rail hurt his trip? I don’t think this is a race sets up well for closers like #9 Honor Code. As far as betting, I am liking a big Boxed Exacta of  (#1 Tonalist and #4 American Pharoah). I also like a $10 Boxed Trifecta of (1,4,9) that would cost $60.

–Michael