Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes Previews

April 6th 2016

This coming Saturday April 9th are three big Derby Trail races–the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby. All three have $1 Million dollar purses and offer 170 Derby points. The winner and 2nd place finishers in these races will qualify for the Kentucky Derby as they pay out 100 points for 1st and 40 points for 2nd. 40 points will be enough to get a horse into the Kentucky Derby. 3rd place and 4th place pay out 20 and 10 points respectively. You can follow the Kentucky Derby point standings by clicking HERE.

Below are the post-positions and morning line odds for all three races. Please note that all three races will be televised in NBC Sports between 4 and 6 PM Central Standard Time.

Wood Memorial Stakes – 1 1/8th Mile at Aqueduct- Race #10 Post Time: 4:30 PM CST

Post Position/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Shagaf – Ortiz Jr./Brown 2-1
2. Adventist – Carmouche/Gyarmati 10-1
3. Trojan Nation – Gryder/Gallagher 30-1
4. Tale of S’avall – Velasquez/Tagg 20-1
5. Flexibility – Franco/Brown 8-1
6. Matt King Coal – Ortiz/Rice 3-1
7. Dalmore – Alvarado/Desormeaux 12-1
8. Outwork – Velazquez/Pletcher 5-2

Commentary: My projected order of finish 8-6-1 (1st: Outwork, 2nd: Matt King Coal and 3rd Shagaf). I would probably recommend an 6-8 Boxed Exacta. Matt King Coal is a horse that has shown a lot of promise but has zero Derby points. So he must finish 1st or 2nd to make the Kentucky Derby field. Flexibility has 15 Derby points and needs to a top 3 finish to make the Derby.


Blue Grass Stakes 1 1/8th Mile at Keenland- Race #10 Post Time: 5:00 PM CST

Post Position/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/Odds
1. Lookin for a Kiss – Gaffalione/Tomlinson 50-1
2. Donegal Moon – Garcia/Pletcher 5-1  
3. Cherry Wine – Lanerie/Romans 12-1
4. Zulu – Castellano/Pletcher 5-2
5. Crescent Drive – Graham/Amoss 20-1
6. Brody’s Cause – Saez/Romans 4-1
7. Laoban – Lezcano/Guillot 12-1
8. Twizz – Murrill/Maker 12-1
9. Goats Town – Albarado/Lukas 20-1
10. American Dubai – Landeros/Richards 20-1
11. Cards of Stone – Lopez/Pletcher 20-1
12. Zapperini – Torres/Foley 30-1
13. Star Hill – Jaramillo/Arnold 10-1
14. My Man Sam – Leparoux/Brown 10-1
AE. Pinson – Bravo/Maker 30-1
AE. Hint of Roses – Geroux/Maker 30-1

Commentary: Zulu is the class of this large field. I like his post position draw so I think he wins this one. It is difficult to project who will finish 2nd through 4th because we don’t know which Brody’s Cause will show up. The one who was a non-factor and finished 7th in the Tampa Bay Derby or the who showed great promise as a closer as a 2 year-old? He has 14 Derby points so he will need to finish in the top 3 to make the Kentucky Derby field. So my advice is to stick to win bets for Zulu or key him to win over Donegal Moon, Star Hill, My Man Sam and Brody’s Cause in Trifectas and Superfectas.


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Santa Anita Derby 1 1/8th Mile at Santa Anita Park- Race #8 Post Time: 5:30 PM CST

Post Position/Horse/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Denman’s Call – Bejarano/O’Neill 15-1
2. Exaggerator – Desormeaux/Desormeaux  4-1
3. Danzing Candy – Smith/Sise 9-5
4. Mor Spirit – Stevens/Baffert 8-5
5. Smokey Image – Espinoza/Gaines 15-1
6. Iron Rob – Elliott/Papaprodromou 12-1
7. Dressed in Hermes – Prat/Armstrong 15-1
8. Rare Candy – Talamo/Hofmans 30-1
9. Diplodocus – Baze/Baltas 30-1
10. Uncle Lino – Perez/Sherlock 20-1

Commentary: Danzing Candy benefited from getting out into the lead on a semi-damp track at Santa Anita to win the San Felipe Stakes back on March 12th. I watched the San Felipe live that day and my thought was that day that Mor Spirit will bounce back and win a rematch. So I would key #4 Mor Spirit to win in your Trifectas and Superfectas.

It is difficult to access if Smokey Image bounces back after a lackluster performance in the San Felipe. So I would recommend Trifectas 4 over 2,3 over 2,3. Exaggerator could excel with an additional furlong so don’t be surprised if he finishes 2nd. I am also perplexed how the Santa Anita handicapper could assign Uncle Lino 20-1 morning line odds when he finished 4th in the San Felipe and 2nd in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Denman’s Call and Iron Rob have never raced further than 7 furlongs. Iron Rob will probably be the early pacesetter in this race.

–Michael

My Top 12 Kentucky Derby Contender List

kentucky derby contenders

April 2nd, 2016

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

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

My Top 12 Kentucky Derby Contenders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to keep an eye on include:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

For updated Kentucky Derby Point Standings, click HERE.


Upcoming Derby Trail Races

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

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

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

–Michael

Updated 2016 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings

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2016 San Felipe Stakes winner Danzing Candy, ridden by Mike Smith – Credit: Michael J. Cox

March 15, 2016
(Updated March 28th 2016)

Below is my updated 2016 Kentucky Derby contender rankings. Mohaymen and Nyquist are still 1-2 and the notch above the rest of the pack. Dropping out of my Top 10 are: Smokey Image who was previously undefeated but demonstrated no fight in the San Felipe Stakes, Brody’s Cause who is a closer than didn’t close in the Tampa Bay Derby and finished a disappointing 7th, Gift Box and Mo Tom who was edged out due to the performances of other horses. Suddenbreakingnews and Greenpointcrusader drop out due to disappointing finishes in the Rebel Stakes and Louisiana Derby.

I feel we won’t have a Triple Crown contender heading into the Belmont Stakes this year. It seems to be a wide open, weird kind of year. We will have a clearer picture of what to expect the rest of the year after the Florida Derby on April 2nd when matchup of Mohaymen vs Nyquist is expected to take place.

My Top 10 Kentucky Derby Contenders:

1) Mohaymen  – The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt is undefeated in 5 starts. In the Fountain of Youth Stakes, I was initially disappointed that he didn’t lower the time he produced in the Holy Bull Stakes. But after review, this was a good prep race for him as he rallied off the pace and had to go wide and deal with traffic to get the win. His sire was Tapit so his pedigree suggests that he will like stretching out past 1 1/16th mile. His next start will be a showdown vs Nyquist in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2nd.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Projected Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.07 – Holy Bull Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.92 – Remsen Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95- Holy Bull Stakes

2) Nyquist – The 2015 Eclipse 2 Year Old Male Horse of the Year is undefeated in 6 starts. He was 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 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.79 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101 – San Vicente Stakes

3) Destin – The Todd Pletcher-trained colt breaks into my Top 10 and all the way to #3 by virtue of his performance in the Tampa Bay Derby (shown below) where he set a track record with a time of 1:42.82–good for a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. He is the full brother to Creative Cause who finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby and 3rd in the Preakness Stakes in 2012. It remains to be seen if he just likes Tampa Bay Downs track. Hopefully his next start will come elsewhere.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Sire: Giant’s Causeway  
Projected Jockey: Javier Castellano
Best Mile Time: 1:38.73 (calculated) – Gulfstream Allowance Opt. Claiming Race – 12/18/15
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.82 – Tampa Bay Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – Tampa Bay Derby

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

Career: 6 Starts 3-3-0-0
Sire: Eskendereya 
Projected Jockey: Gary Stevens (1988, 1995 and 1998 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:37.48 – Santa Anita Park MSW – 10/23/15
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.21 – Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97 – San Felipe Stakes

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

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0 
Sire: Twirling Candy
Projected Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:36.73 – Santa Anita Allowance Opt Claiming Race – 2/4/16
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.04 – San Felipe Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100San Felipe Stakes

6) Cupid  –  Another Bob Baffert-trained 3 year -old who moves into my Top 10 after a solid win in the 14 horse field of Rebel Stakes. His winning time was 1:43.84 which is a very good time at Oaklawn Park and resulted in a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. He displayed the necessary fight in this race when challenged by Whitmore. He is a half-brother to Mohaymen having shared the same sire Tapit. His next start will be the Arkansas Derby April 16th.

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

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

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

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

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

9) Matt King Coal – The Linda Rice-trained colt returned to racing as a 3 year-old on March 6th at Aqueduct and produced a win with a time of 1:44.92 (good for a 97 Beyer Speed Figure). In his last three starts he has produced Beyer Speed Figures of 93, 96 and 97. I like the upward progression. His next start will be the Wood Memorial on April 9th.

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

Projected Jockey: Jose Ortiz 
Best  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: 97 – Aqueduct Allowance Optional Claiming Race– 3/6/16

10) Collected – Yet another Bob Baffert-trainee, the Sham Stakes winner collected his biggest win and best Beyer Speed Figure (90) in the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes. No word yet as to where his next start will be.

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

Projected Jockey: Martin Garcia 
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:38.00 – Sham Stakes
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.98 (calculated) – Southwest Stakes
Best 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.90 – Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes 
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes

Others to keep an eye on include:

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

Career: 7 Starts 3-3-0-0
Sire: Mineshaft 
Projected Jockey: Luis Quinonez
Best 1 Mile Time: 1:39.17 (calculated) – Remington Springboard Mile
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.64 (calculated) – Rebel Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – Southwest Stakes

Outwork – A Todd Pletcher-trained horse and a half brother to Nyquist. Prior to the Tampa Bay Derby, he had never raced further than 6 furlongs. He broke his maiden way back in April of 2015 at Keeneland but didn’t resume racing until this past February.

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

Swipe – This Desormeaux brothers colt finished 2nd to Nyquist four times in his last four starts and narrowed the gap each time. He had surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle in November and has been back in in training for the past 3 weeks. His most recent work was 1:12.80 in 6 furlongs at Santa Anita Park on March 19th. No word on when his next start will be but entries in the Louisiana Derby (March 26th) and Arkansas Derby (April 16th) would give him two great preps before the Kentucky Derby.

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


Horses who currently have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby include: Gun Runner 151, Lani 100 and Mohaymen 70.

Other horses who likely have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby:  Destin 51, Cupid 50, Danzing Candy 50, Shagaf 50, Mor Spirt 44, Tom’s Ready 44 and Mo Tom 32.

For updated Kentucky Derby Point Standings, click HERE.


Upcoming Derby Trail Races

Florida Derby – Gulfstream – April 2nd, 2016
Spiral Stakes – Turfway Park – April 2nd, 2016

–Michael

2016 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #3

March 8th 2016

Below is the latest Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #3 that opens this Friday March 11th at 11 AM CST and closes Sunday March 13th at 5 PM CST. There are eight horses making their first appearance in a Future Wager pool. The only two that I find mildly appealing right now are Suddenbreakingnews and Cupid.

Overall, you will want to wait to see how the San Felipe Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby races unfold before making any wagers because ten of the horses in this pool are expected to be in action in one of the aforementioned races. At 7-2 and 9-2 odds for Mohaymen and Nyquist respectively, these odds are too short for my taste and I would rather wait until Derby day to wager on them to assure they make the field. I like to get 3X the expected Derby day odds for a win bet in a future wager pool. I think you would be better served playing Exacta combinations with these two horses or making small win bets on undervalued horses such as Matt King Coal.

I will update this as we go along this weekend. You can follow the live odds by clicking HERE.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 – March 11 through March 13th
Blue font represents horses who are expected to be in action this weekend in either the San Felipe Stakes or Tampa Bay Derby.
No. Name Trainer Pool 1 Pool 2 Pool 3
1 American Dubai R. Richards ———- ———- 50-1
2 Brody’s Cause D. Romans 21-1 15-1 20-1
3 Cupid B. Baffert ———– ———– 30-1
4 Danzing Candy C. Sisse ———– 28-1 30-1
5 Destin T. Pletcher ———– ———– 30-1
6 Economic Model C. Brown ———– ———– 50-1
7 Exaggerator K. Desormeaux 25-1 22-1 15-1
8 Forevamo A. Stall, Jr. ———– ———– 50-1
9 Greenpointcrusader D. Schettino 28-1 31-1 30-1
10 Gun Runner S. Asmussen 57-1 25-1 20-1
11 Matt King Coal L. Rice 87-1 ———– 50-1
12 Mo Tom T. Amoss ———– 28-1 20-1
13 Mohaymen K. McLaughlin 11-1 4-1 7-2
14 Mor Spirit B. Baffert 31-1 12-1 12-1
15 Nyquist D. O’Neill 9-1 7-1 9-2
16 Riker M. Casse 99-1 ———– 50-1
17 Shagaf C. Brown ———– ———– 20-1
18 Smokey Image C. Gaines ———– 19-1 20-1
19 Suddenbreakingnews D.K. VonHemel ———– ———– 20-1
20 Swipe K. Desormeaux 18-1 ———– 20-1
21 Uncle Lino G. Sherlock ———– ———– 50-1
22 Whitmore R. Moquett ———– 81-1 50-1
23 Zulu T. Pletcher ———– 24-1 20-1
24 Mutuel Field 3-5 5-2 9-2

Mohaymen and the Fountain of Youth Stakes

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Mohaymen – photo by NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography

February 27th 2016

Today at Gulfstream Park, three Derby Trail horses put their undefeated records on the line in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes : race favorite Mohaymen (4 starts, 4 wins), Awesome Banner (3 wins in 3 starts) and Todd Pletcher’s Zulu (2 wins in 2 starts). Awesome Speed has won his last three starts and Fellowship finished 3rd to Mohaymen in the Holy Bull Stakes back on January 30th. The race will award 50-20-10-5 points to the 1st-2nd-3rd-4th place finishers. Click HERE to see the current leaderboard.

Fountain of Youth – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #12 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time: 4:30 PM CST

PP horse (weight) jockey/trainer/Odds
1. Fellowship (116) Lezcano/Gold – 20/1
2. Zulu (116) Velazquez/Pletcher – 3/1
3. Golden Ray (116) Vasquez/Rodriquez – 30/1
4. Awesome Speed (120) Ortiz/Goldberg – 4/1
5. Awesome Banner (120) Caraballo/Gold – 7/2
6. Mohaymen (120) Alvarado/McLaughlin – 6/5

Commentary: Overall, I expect another win by Mohaymen but I don’t have a good feel for who will finish 2nd. Zulu has only raced in two sprint races (7 furlongs or less) and his last start was on a sloppy sealed track. So I am not sure how he will respond on a dry, fast track stretching out another 1 1/2 furlongs. Awesome Speed has won at Gulfstream at a 1-Mile distance in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes back on January 2nd.

My Superfecta pick would be 6-2-1-5 but don’t make a huge wager on this one as I see this race as wide-open and unpredictable from positions 2nd through 4th. If Fellowship’s odds stay around 20-1, it would be tempting to place a 6-1 straight Exacta. I think the pace will be faster than the Holy Bull Stakes, so I expect Mohaymen to win this one with a time under 1:42.

–Michael

 

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2

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

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

Derby Wager Pool 2

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

*Wagering interest not included in KDFW Pool 1

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

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

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

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

1) MohaymenMorning Line Odds: 8-1

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

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

2) Nyquist – Morning Line Odds: 12-1

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

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

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

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

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

4) Exaggerator – Morning Line Odds: 20-1

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

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

5) Smokey ImageMorning Line Odds: 30-1

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

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


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

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

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

Update February 13th 4:15 PM CST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Michael

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