Photo: Coady Photography
the President’s Day special is in the books and Tapiture was there to answer the
bell. With the win in the G3 Southwest Stakes the Steve
Asmussen trained colt by Tapit and Free Spin officially concluded the opening 2014 Kentucky Derby Prep Season series as your new points leader.
very competitive field of 12 loaded into the gate on Monday yet all eyes were
on the two headliners, Strong Mandate and Tapiture. Both Derby contenders made their
3-yr-old debut but only one was ready to race at a more mature level down the
stretch. As Tapiture took the lead through the final turn and kicked home on
the straight and narrow, Strong Mandate was no match and a little bit squirrely.
However, despite Strong Mandate’s inability to avoid drifting down the stretch, both outside and back in, his approach to closing from a mid stalker position, 4th place at the ½ mile mark, is a step in the right direction. A challenge has been keeping him off the lead early but today may be an indicator that he is developing well in preparation for the Kentucky Derby.
Rebel Stakes on March 15 is shaping up to be a very exciting race. Following
the Southwest, the connections for Strong Mandate and Tapiture as well as Ride on Curlin, who finished third, confirmed they will all likely return to Oaklawn
for this prep next time out.
been a very interesting, but often times not too surprising prep season thus
far. We’ve seen our fare share of everything you normally expect and maybe even
a few surprises along the way. So, before we look ahead to first leg of the
Championship Series and the highly anticipated Fountain of Youth Stakes, let’s
take a quick peek back and get up to speed on a few other details.
Honor Code - While the Fountain of Youth is off the table, Gulfstream Park is still warm and a very nice place to train. On Wednesday Honor Code breezed 3 furlongs in 35.66, his first official work since January 18, and only his 3rd since he scored in the G2 Remsen on November 30.
Overall, it’s a very good sign for the colt trained by Shug McGuaghey. Specifically,
this could mean that Honor Code will be ready to return next month. If so, the
Rebel Stakes may get even more interesting as it has been mentioned as the
for anyone, including myself, that has been too reluctant to remove Honor Code
from their top 5 this may help you to keep him right where you have him. A three
week setback is a tough challenge, but at this stage of the trail, it’s not too
late to get back on track if you’re healthy.
Shared Belief - As for this dominant Juvenile the road to a full recovery hasn’t been
as timely. However, that’s not to say the Kentucky Derby isn’t reachable.
But, you could also say that it does not look as likely as it once did.
he has been training lightly, Shared Belief has not registered an official work
since January 3 at Santa Anita. The cracked quarter has cost him time, just
over 6 weeks in fact, and his return is now gaining more attention. If Shared
Belief can return for an official work in the next two weeks there’s a chance
he will target either of these two races: the Spiral Stakes or Sunland Derby. But,
both Kentucky Derby qualification races are at the end of March. Will it be too
late? I’m not real sure, but I believe his trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will make
the right call.
of Hollendorfer, over the holiday weekend, we also saw Tamarando reappear in impressive fashion. His win in the G3 El Camino Real bumped him up the leader board to 12 points after he notched 2 in the Juvenile Season with a 3rd place finish in the FrontRunner Stakes won by Bond Holder.
Tamarando has only won on Synthetics; G1 Del Mar Futurity, Real Quiet Stakes,
El Camino Real. He was still game on the dirt though, 3rd in the Frontrunner and Golden State Juvenile before finishing runner up to California Chrome in the California Cup Derby, so I’m not over analyzing that too much. Instead, I will probably circle back to it as he continues his march towards the first Saturday in May.
Trainer, Art Sherman confirmed that the San Felipe Stakes is where we
should expect to see the aforementioned California Chrome next (March 8). He's already won on dirt so a nice performance here will tell us more about his chances of winning the Santa Anita Derby.
Points, No Problem
Commissioner and Top Billing, who we will likely see in the FOY this weekend,
there are three other horses fighting for the lead down in zero-point-ville.
because it’s a sprint race there is no qualification points awarded. Although, based
on Kentucky Derby history the San Vicente is still one of the most 10 Important Derby Preps. The question, however, is if Kobe’s Back can make a remarkable run and become the next
Well, he his grey and he sure did look good over the weekend. Facing a small field of 6,
Kobe’s Back made quick work of his challengers after sitting in last place through
the opening half. From there he moved with authority before running away to win
by 5 in 1:21.84.
we’re here, I should also point out that C R K Stable is hot. The owners of Kobe’s
Back returned to the winners circle after Gary Stevens and Candy Boy took them
there just 7 days prior in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.
Gary Stevens is also riding high. Did anyone else see Gary and Baffert hook up with Bayern? Wow, they might have something brewing here. For more on
this late developing contender click HERE.
finally, are we overlooking Vinceremos? Owned by WinStar Farms and trained by
Todd Pletcher, this quiet contender by Pioneerof the Nile and Kettle’s Sister, by
More Than Ready won the Sam F. Davis. No points yet but he could go from zero
to fifty with a win in his next start, the Tampa Bay Derby.
race we’re all looking forward to the most, but the G2 Risen Star is also going
this weekend. What better way to kick off the opening weekend of the Championship
Series then by awarding a total of 170 points!
The biggest news surrounding these two big shows is that Conquest Titan will
skip the G2 Fountain of Youth and instead wait for the Florida Derby. Secondly,
the draw was not so kind to Vicar’s In Trouble. Without any scratches the
winner of the G3 LeComte returns to the Fair Grounds with a sizeable challenge:
Post 14 in a 14 horse field.