Tuesday, April 28, 2015

141st Kentucky Derby Preview

The week of the Kentucky Derby has arrived. A full field of 20 unpredictable three-year-olds look to capture one of the most historical sporting events in history and be talked about for years to come. On the first Saturday in May you need fight, stamina and just a little bit of luck to emerge from the 1 1/4-mile test on top. That luck begins on Wednesday with the post position draw.

Derby Hi-5

8 Dortmund 3-1

This big colt has the looks of a Derby winner and has backed it up on the track to this point in his career. He is undefeated in six starts. Has won on the lead, come from off the pace and had to fight back after losing the lead in the stretch. Improved his BRIS Speed ratings with each start. One of his wins comes over the Churchill Downs track in an allowance race back in November. Baffert doesn't ship a two-year-old across the country without a reason. There is not much to knock about him. As long as he doesn't get stopped in traffic, this son of Big Brown will mimic his dad and be crowned the Kentucky Derby champ. 

2 Carpe Diem 8-1
The way he put away the Breeders' Futurity field at Keeneland last fall was an indication that he might be a star in the making. Closed to get runner-up in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile in his next start, while having a wide trip, is his only loss to date. Received triple-digit BRIS Speed and Late Pace ratings in his Blue Grass Stakes win last time out, which is what you want to see heading into the Derby. This sophomore has answered all the questions and will have no problem with the classic distance. Count on him being there at the end to hit the board and possibly coming away wearing the roses. 

15 Frosted 15-1

There were a lot of questions surrounding the gray colt this spring, but he answered them in the Wood Memorial just a few weeks ago. He was on the right path until his debacle in the Fountain of Youth, where he looked like the sure winner until stopping at the top of the stretch. After a minor throat surgery, Kiaran McLaughlin has a three-year-old that could pull off the upset and give him his first Derby victory. Enters with the highest BRIS Speed rating, 107. 

14 Keen Ice 50-1

You either love him or hate him and I'm one of those on the Keen Ice bandwagon. He's not fast, but is a colt that can run all day and has shown to be a powerful closer. I was hooked after watching him break his maiden at Churchill. He was eight lengths off the lead in the stretch that day and had another gear, where he surged to win at the wire by a head. There should be a decent pace on the front that he can close into, it is just a matter of how much ground he leaves himself to make up. A lot would need to go his way to have a chance to shock this field, but it is not out of the question for him to hit the board. 

18 American Pharoah 5-2

Some have called him a freak. He has even been compered to Michael Jordan and Seattle Slew. That is some tough company being thrown his way. Only loss came in his debut, over polytrack, back in August. This is the type of horse that may win by 4-5 lengths or finish off the board. I choose the latter, as he has yet to really be tested and 10 furlongs in a 20-horse field may be a stretch for this colt. He might be the real deal and we find out on Saturday. 

Don't Count Out...

5 Danzig Moon 30-1
If the race was run on pedigree alone, he would take the cake. Didn't break his maiden until February, but did finish second over this track in his second career start back in October. Enters in here off a runner-up finish in the Blue Grass, where he got a 102 BRIS Late Pace figure. Distance won't be an issue and he has a chance to fill out the exotics. 
10 Firing Line 12-1

Never finished worse than second in five career starts. Only got beat by a head in both races against Dortmund. Tough to gauge since he opted for the Sunland Derby instead of staying at Santa Anita. Would have liked to see him take on the son of Big Brown going 1 1/8 miles to have a stronger opinion. The 1 1/4 distance worries me, but he is also one that can't be overlooked.  
*This year's Derby has the potential to be one of those races that you look back on and are impressed with the talent that was in the field. 2007? You could make a case for many of the these three-year-olds entered this year. The draw on Wednesday should help finalize predictions. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Championship Series

The stakes are raised this weekend as the "Kentucky Derby Championship Series" kicks off with the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park and the Risen Star at Fairgrounds. Points are elevated from 10-4-2-1 to 50-20-10-5 for the top four finishers. There is also the Southwest at Oaklawn Park on Sunday, the last race of the "Prep Season", which had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather last week.

Fountain of Youth (G2) 1 1/16m
2/21 Gulfstream Park 5:30 EST

4 Gorgeous Bird 6-1

- Upstart and Frosted will be tough to upstage in here, but the Marylou Whitney Stables homebred has a shot. Looked very impressive picking off horses in his allowance win over the track last month and should enjoy his first start around two turns. Has to handle the class test, but is primed to breakout on Saturday.

$15 FOY Bankroll

$5 WPS: 4

Risen Star (G2) 1 1/16m
2/21 Fairgrounds 6:24 EST

8 Keen Ice 8-1

- Powerful closer ships to the Bayou after not being able to make up much ground in the short stretch at GP in the Holy Bull (G3) last time out. His gallop out in that race was promising and the longer stretch will benefit this son of Curlin. Has improved BRIS Speed figures in each start and could capture his first stakes here.

$15 Risen Star Bankroll

$5 WPS: 8
*Keen Ice couldn't get up to complete the TRI in the Holy Bull, but I'm giving him another shot in the Risen Star. Will play it safe and put him across the board as he will likely drift up to double-digit odds once again. Going with Gorgeous Bird to WPS in the FOY as it will take a big effort to pull off the upset. 

2015 KY Derby Bankroll: $43.60

Friday, January 23, 2015

Holy Bull Preview

There have been 14 Kentucky Derby point races run so far, but on Saturday the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park is the prep race that truly starts to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Derby nominations are on the horizon and the countdown is on until that first Saturday in May.
Holy Bull (G2) 1 1/16m
1/24 Gulfstream Park 4:34 EST
1 Frosted 5-2
Improved speed figures in each start. Only lost by a 1/2-length in his stakes debut while running wide the entire race. Been training down at Palm Meadows and is making his first start outside of NY. Should sit just behind the leaders and be ready to pounce turning for home.

2 Keen Ice 6-1
Got up to finish third in the Remsen (G2), but wasn't catching the leaders on that track that day. Son of Curlin cuts back to 1 1 1/16 miles which might be a little short for his liking, but he is working great over the track for trainer Dale Romans. There is more speed lined up in here and he has a shot to run them down on Saturday.
8 Upstart 2-1
Multiple Grade 1-placed ridgling will likely be the post time favorite after his rough trip in the BC Juvenile. Should definitely be in the mix on Saturday, but I'm taking a wait and see approach before I jump on his bandwagon.
$24 Holy Bull Bankroll
$12 Win: 1

$2 TRI BX: 1, 2, 8

*First post since the Breeders' Futurity, so we will get the Derby bankroll going again. Landed on Frosted for the win, as I think he fits perfectly in here. Will put him in a TRI with Keen Ice and Upstart.

2015 KY Derby Bankroll: $67.60


Friday, January 2, 2015

Kentucky Derby 20

It's that time... Juveniles graduate to sophomores. 1982 and Apollo are relevant again. Fantasy stables get drafted. Derby dreams become reality. Below is a list of 20 Kentucky Derby hopefuls I could see making the starting gates in May.

Kentucky Derby 20

American Pharaoh (Pioneerof The Nile)
- Had one of the most impressive juvenile performances of the year.

Blofeld (Quality Road)
- Multiple Grade 2 winner, undefeated in three starts on three separate tracks.

Calculator (In Summation)
- Multiple Grade 1-placed, still looking to break maiden. 

Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway)
- Only loss was a runner-up finish in the BC Juvenile, 10 furlongs won't be an issue.

Conquest Bigluck E (Lookin At Lucky) 
- Looked good in winning first two starts around one turn. 

Dortmund (Big Brown)
- Los Alamitos Futurity winner still without a loss. 

El Kabeir (Scat Daddy)
- KYJC winner, just not sure how far he wants to go. Jerome up next.

Far Right (Notional)
- Broke maiden at Churchill, closed to get in the money last two times out against stakes co.

Frosted (Tapt)
- Remsen runner-up, keeps improving with each start. 

Imperia (Medaglia d'Oro)
- Runner-up by a head in dirt debut in KYJC. 

Keen Ice (Curlin) 
- 3rd in the Remsen, powerful closer. 

Money Multiplier (Lookin At Lucky) 
- Half-brother to Intense Holiday, makes debut Saturday at Aqueduct. 

Mr. Z (Malibu Moon)
- Game competitor, experience won't be a problem for this colt out of Lukas' barn.

Nasa (Smarty Jones)
- PA Nursery winner trying to follow in dad's footsteps, lots of work left to do. Starts Sat. in Jerome.

Ocho Ocho Ocho (Street Sense)
- Perfect in three starts, posted back-to-back triple digit BRIS Speed ratings.

One Lucky Dane (Lookin At Lucky)
- Disappointing stakes debut in BC Juvenile, may bounce back for Baffert as a 3 yo.

Spring Quality (Quality Road)
- Debut winner at Keeneland. PA-bred entered in alw race at Parx on Sunday.

Texas Red (Afleet Alex)
- BC Juvenile winner, odds are against.

Toasting Master (Congrats)
- ALW winner at Churchill, entered in Spectacular Bid S. at Gulfstream Park on Sat. 

Upstart (Flatter)
- Multiple Grade 1-placed, figures have declined in each start since stakes win.