Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Sue Kawczynski
In this the
first edition of an ongoing series we take a closer look at the 2014 Kentucky Derby
contenders and analyze their chances of winning the Kentucky Derby or missing
the field all together.
As the prep
season heats up there will be a whole slew of horses trending in the right direction. And, that’s where we’ll begin.
Samraat | R. Violette | J. Ortiz | My Meadowview Farm Noble Causeway - Little Indian Girl by Indian Charlie Last: G3 Gotham Stakes - 1st Next: G1 Wood Memorial
your new Kentucky Derby points leader. If you didn’t know too much about
Samraat before the Gotham Stakes that’s acceptable. But now, I won’t be able to
be so lenient because Samraat is a horse in which you need to pay attention.
getting the best of Uncle Sigh by a length in the Withers Stakes, the two returned to
Aqueduct to battle it out once again. It was much closer this time but Samraat
got a neck in front to remain undefeated. Between the two races Samraat has now
scored 60 points and has qualified for the Kentucky Derby.
Uncle Sigh | C. Contessa | C. Nakatani | A. Robertson Indian Charlie - Cradlesong by Pine Bluff Last: G3 Gotham Stakes - 2nd Next: G1 Wood Memorial
of the fact that he didn’t win the Gotham, he too should be considered a
Kentucky Derby qualifier and contender. The pair of runner-up finishes to
Samraat scored him 24 points and by all accounts that should be enough to earn
him a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
not even with consideration to what Uncle Sigh might do next time out in the Wood
Memorial. These two will have to hook up on the lead again and gut it out all
the way to wire for me to dub them the second coming of Free House vs. Silver Charm, but it’s trending in that direction.
Prince | K. McLaughlin | L. Saez | GoDolphin Racing Pioneerof the Nile - Holy Bubbette by Holy Bull Last G2 Holy Bull - 1st Next: G1 Florida Derby
Derby Future Wager Pool 3 closed on Saturday. While All Other 3-yr-olds is the
overwhelming favorite at 3-1, Cairo Prince (9-1) edged both of trainer Shug
McGaughey’s derby contenders, Honor Code (11-1) and Top Billing (11-1), to
close as the individual favorite.
the futures, Cairo Prince is also doing well on the track. We won’t see him in
action again until the G1 Florida Derby on March 29, but his workouts since his
win in the G3 Holy Bull prove he’s trending towards being ready. Here are his
last 3 Saturday morning workouts at Palm Meadows Training Center; 4F 48.75, 4F
49.90, 5F 59.95.
Gala Award | T. Pletcher | J. Velazquez | M. Tabor Bernardini - Wilshewed by Carson City Last: G3 Palm Beach Stakes - 1st Next: Undecided
potential contender has been nowhere near the Kentucky Derby trail. However,
after Saturday’s performance the conversation can now begin. In only his 3rd
career start Gala Award made a bold statement about his potential with a strong
win in the G3 Palm Beach Stakes. After finishing 2nd in his debut
last December, Gala Award scored his next MSW start on January 20th.
What’s interesting about all three of his races is that they have all been
raced at distance of at least 1 1/16.
But, they have
also all been raced on the turf at Gulfstream Park. If he’s a turf horse then why has he only been training on the dirt at Palm Meadows Training Center?
Only TP can answer that question but based on his post race comments, the dirt
has not been ruled out nor has the G1 Blue Grass Stakes. Regardless of the
surface, Gala Award is trending towards a start in an official Kentucky Derby
qualification race next time out.
A few others that are currently trending: Wildcat Red, General a Rod, Intense Holiday, Albano, Top Billing, Bayern
the Derby trail can also be a very tough road to travel. With all the
success and heavy duty scores comes the agony of setbacks and defeat. And so,
for some derby hopefuls their status is now descending
Havana | T. Pletcher | G. Stevens | M. Tabor Dunkirk - Missy Turtle by Kyle's Our Man Last: G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile - 2nd Next: Undecided
The G1 Champagne
Stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up was scratched on the morning
of the Swale Stakes due to a quarter crack that was discovered in his right
front foot. Prior to being scratched Havana was the 9-5 favorite on the morning
line. His injury was discovered after a gallop that was noted as nothing more
stakes was going to be his first start of the year for the 2013 graded stakes
winner. So, the derby hopes would be put back into play after a solid effort in
the Swale. Now, those hopes may have just ended. At the moment it’s
day to day and there could be a long shot chance but I don’t see how a horse
that hasn’t raced since the first week in November can get back to form after
missing this much time. His five works in February were solid but again, this
injury will need to heal quickly and Havana will then need to score more points
very soon (14 points).
Belief | J. Hollendorfer | C. Nakatani | Jungle Racing Candy Ride - Common Hope by Storm Cat Last: G1 Cash Call Futurity - 1st Next: Undecided
his closing odds in the KDFW Pool 3, some might argue that Shared Belief is
trending. I give a lot of credit to his fans and those that played him but I’ll
admit it; I was shocked to see him close at 15-1. Those odds made him the 5th individual choice behind Cairo Prince, Honor Code, Top Billing and Candy
Boy and better than 18 other individual horses.
Juvenile champion and Eclipse Award winner has made it back to Golden Gate where
training is scheduled to resume. However, since his quarter crack no official
work has been registered making his 5F work on January 3 his only one in 2014.
I do not doubt what this horse is made of and how good he may become but I can’t
yet describe his Kentucky Derby chances any other way. There’s a long way to go
with very little time so I doubt we’ll get to see him make a bid for the roses.
Commissioner | T. Pletcher | J. Velazquez | WinStar Farms A.P. Indy - Flaming Heart by Touch Gold Last: G2 Fountain of Youth - 6th Next: Undecided
under the radar without a start in any official Kentucky Derby qualification races
Commissioner was considered a legitimate sleeper with a solid pedigree. However, his first shot at a
breakthrough performance fell flat. The G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes was a
perfect place to get the ball rolling but Commissioner just didn’t have it. Not
only did he fail to make an early impression he also tired down the stretch
leaving me to question his ability to compete at the Kentucky Derby distance of
1 ¼ Mile.
Rise Up | T. Amoss | G. Melancon | P. Van Doren Rockport Harbor - Apenzell by Johannesburg Last: G2 Risen Star - 7th Next: G1 Louisiana Derby
has 10 Kentucky Derby points that he earned with a win in the G3 Delta Downs
Jackpot, there’s two races on his resume that stand out to me even more; G3
Iroquois Stakes (6th) – G2 Risen Star (7th). The reason
is pretty simple; I’m not convinced that any horse in the G3 Delta Downs
Jackpot will be racing in the Kentucky Derby. It was a dominant win (6 lengths)
but where was that drive in the Risen Star, a race like the Iroquois which will
send starters to the derby. Granted it was his 3-yr-old debut but it concerns
me that he weakened from 2nd place behind modest fractions set by
the pace setter and eventual runner up Albano; 24.30, 48.14, 1:13.
credit, he also scored in the Mountaineer Juvenile and Jean Lafitte. So, Rise Up can
rebound and quickly force me to move him back to a trending status but for now,
I don’t see that happening.
A few others that are (or are in jeopardy of) Descending: We Miss Artie, Almost Famous, Gold Hawk, Walt