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HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

2014 Kentucky Derby: Trending vs. Descending

Bob Baffert - In two weeks the Hall of Fame trainer concluded the first leg of the Championship Series with two important wins and a significant runner-up finish. On March 15 the aspiring colt Hoppertunity brought Baffert his 4th Rebel Stakes victory. Then, this past weekend Chitu held off his training partner Midnight Hawk down the stretch in the G3 Sunland Derby. The win is Baffert’s 3rd all time in the Sunland Derby (the most by any trainer) and second in a row.

 

Amid the conclusion of the 50-20-10-5 point series here is where these three stand:

  • Chitu, 54 
  • Midnight Hawk, 52
  • Hoppertunity, 55     

 

So, if Baffert wishes, all three can start in the 2014 Kentucky Derby. But will they? This excellent question is also trending.

 

The final furlong in the Sunland Derby between Chitu and Midnight Hawk wasn’t breath taking; it was a bit of a struggle. The Kentucky Derby distance is what everyone is talking about and they did not impress many in that category. There’s still time but I can’t help but wonder if Baffert will move them towards the first Saturday in May.


We Miss Artie, once on the prowl then forgotten, is back. The margin of victory in the G3 Spiral Stakes was only a nose but that is all the Todd Pletcher trained and Ken Ramsey owned colt needed to re-enter the Kentucky Derby conversation.

 

He first came onto the scene in impressive fashion when he scored in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last October. From there he was on to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile where a 7th place finish wasn’t his best effort. A 2nd place in the Kitten’s Joy seemed to have him ready for the G2 Fountain of the Youth but that wasn’t his finest race either.

 

So, it was all or nothing in the Spiral and We Miss Artie delivered. Add those 50 points to the 10 he scored as a Juvenile and you’re looking at the new points leader and a Kentucky Derby qualifier. But, as I always like to do, here's another trending question: Can We Miss Artie win on dirt? He hasn’t thus far so expect to hear this question from now until we reach the first Saturday in May.

 

Harlan’s Holiday is an easy way to combine: Intense Holiday and Harry’s Holiday.

 

With a few Kentucky Derby contenders no longer on the trail, Intense Holiday has quickly moved up and into the majority of top 5 rankings. If you disagree, look no further than his resume or pedigree and you might also agree. Still not sold? No problem, he’s scheduled to follow up on his win in the Risen Star very soon in the Louisiana Derby this weekend.

 

As for the other son of Harlan’s Holiday, Harry’s Holiday still has some work to do. Will a runner-up finish in the Spiral be enough? Harry’s owners paid the late Triple Crown nomination fee after the Spiral but are undecided if he will race again before the Kentucky Derby. And that’s going to be fun to watch. 20 points gets you in right now but how likely will it be enough after the major preps conclude.

 

Speaking of major preps they round out what’s trending. The second leg of the Championship Series kicks off this weekend with the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby. As of Saturday and until April 12, all prep races will be scored at 100-40-20-10.

 

As for who is descending we begin with two horses that failed to make an important move over the weekend.

 

Tamarando went into the Spiral Stakes with 12 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. A win or runner-up finish would qualify him for the Kentucky Derby and a third place finish would put him on the bubble. But, anything worse would create a challenge.

 

That is what Tamarando faces now. No injuries have been reported so I don’t really know how to describe the performance of the post time favorite without calling it a bust. His eighth place finish put his qualification in jeopardy and there are very few options for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. If they give it another try Keeneland is the likely choice, but which race will it be: the Blue Grass Stakes or Lexington Stakes?

 

Commissioner has made headway since he was first on the descending list even though his position has changed very little. Commissioner improved in the points department, but 10 points this late in the season and a third place finish in the Sunland Derby isn’t promising.

 

Just like any horse that ran this past weekend but didn’t qualify, their connections are left with a tough decision. Send him back in three weeks for the Arkansas Derby or Blue Grass Stakes or hold out for the final qualifier, the Lexington Stakes on April 19?  If you choose the latter you have to win. Then, if you earn enough points you’ll have to send your horse back out in two weeks for the Derby. 

 

Tapiture – We conclude with the elephant in the room. Although a proper investigation is underway and will need to be completed before Steve Asmussen is either absolved and/or reprimanded in connection with the PETA allegations there’s more to it than that.

 

For starters, an investigation of this magnitude can take time. Secondly, the owners of Tapiture are not required to dismiss Asmussen as trainer. So, he could remain on the job and handle the day to day operations of the Southwest Stakes winner and Rebel Stakes runner-up. Then there’s the possibility that Tapiture could start in the Kentucky Derby with Steve Asmussen as the trainer.

 

Despite what your opinion on the case is, Tapiture being there on Derby day will not be popular due to the bad publicity behind the trainer. Furthermore, if Tapiture starts in the Kentucky Derby you can guarantee yourself the coverage you’re going to see on NBC prior to the race. Will that be good for the sport? No chance. So, even though some are sticking with Tapiture and his chances of winning may remain strong, he is listed as descending this week because many may no longer support his bid to wear the roses.

 

As the owner, long time friend and partner of Steve Asmussen, Winchell Thoroughbreds find themselves in a very difficult situation.

 

Off the Derby Trail

As of this week Honor Code has now been removed from Kentucky Derby consideration after a tear in his right hind upper suspensory was discovered. He will be evaluated in 60 days and his connections are confident that the injury will heal. If so, expect the colt, trained by Shug McGaughey, to return to racing.

 

Mexikoma was also ruled out of the Derby this past week after a lung infection caused him to miss too much valuable training time. He is now be pointed towards the Peter Pan Stakes the following weekend, May 10. 

 

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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Trending vs. Descending...

Like i told Amino last week,i was told about Byern last week. No matter where he runs next out,Empty your wallet on him,he is doing that good. Apparently Baffs already has 3 locked into the Derby,so he is sending Bayern to Arkansas to run with the 2nd stringers to secure points.
Latest word is that HOP is going to go SA Derby and let Bayern take down the Ark Derby a la Bodemeister. This way stevens stays aboard Bayern.
Doctor, why would Mike Smith ever jump of of the probable ML betting favorite in Hoppertunity. A horse trained by his meal tiket Bob Baffert just to ride an Allowance horse at best. I know he rides for Todd,but if you look at his mounts from Todd. They are basically the mounts Castellano and Johhnny V. had first call on,only to jump off for the higher profile horses.
Good news Doc.
the commish to arkansas. mike smith to ride.
That is like Awesome Agains. They are late developers. If you push them when theyre young, they will break down quick (Oxbow). Wait on them and their legs are steonger than iron.
Love your loyalty to the breed Doctor. To me the right racetrack might be one that includes only 3 other horses. I sure Hope that they do not push this guy just to get him in the Derby.As i said in another thread,they can only hurt the horse. If the M.O. of Indys sons is to be late developers. Hold the line and show patience.Honor Code in my mind,something went amiss with him between the Champagne and the Remsen. People lauded his Remsen as a gritty and gutsy race due to his coming back on the rail) I thought the race was awful.Pedestrian time and the fact that basically 4 horses were within a length of each other was proof to me. Going that long distance as a 2yo and running against a sprinter in Cairo and subpar horses. He should of drawn away with authority. When he did not,i said he is either hurting or is not that good as advertised. Fast forwarding to his 3yo career,my first preminision became true. He was hurting,never came back to the race track. Honestly i seriously doubt if you will ever see this guy on the track again. Sometimes that is the problem with horses that over develop to soon. They will dominate their lesser developped foes at the age of 2. But then at 3,when the others are starting to grow up,you are basically the same horse.
well i agree that the ap indy colts are usually slow to mature and this guy might be better at 4 a la Mineshaft. But of the last two indy's with a chance to win the derby i thought commissioner had a better shot than honor code. i have a sneaking suspicion that HC will never want a mile and a quarter. he always looked like a stretch running sprinter/miler to me. so i think TAP enters commish in the blue grass where he tries to pick up enough points to get in. if he does i agree with dan ilmann over at DRF in that he has a punchers chance given the right track, pace and trip.
Doctor,with a bit of sarcasm,i think i have a better shot of winning the Derby than The Commish. His last 3 races have been worse than slow.Oh yeah,he had the shoe excuse. He can have all the Bloodlines in the world. He is just not that good of a racehorse yet.
commissioner has a better shot at winning the derby than he does the Preakness. He'd be one of the few that would appreciate that last 1/8 of a mile.
I think Cairo Prince has faced 32 horses in his career and beat 31. But for a nose he's undefeated. But it will be 9 weeks Saturday since we've seen him. I detest this " No Races " training method used for Derby horses nowadays.
Only Hoppertunity from this group could win the Derby and he didn't race as 2 yr. old.
Commissioner's connections should forget the Derby and aim for the Preakness. I would not throw out a decent chance for a Classic win for a bad chance at THE Classic race. Go for the Illinois Derby as a prep then if he looks good there send him to Pimlico nice and fresh.
It sure seems like a horse will need more points to qualify this year than in 2013. Can't wait to see what happens in these last preps when it's 100 and 40 to the top two finishers.

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL

 

Growing up I spent a lot of days in the Bluegrass State. Although I was born and raised north of the mighty Ohio River in Southwest Indiana, I was still next door to thoroughbred racing; Ellis Park, Henderson, KY 

 

Likewise, the first Saturday in May was always a celebrated family event. As my two brothers and I got older the battle for picking the next winner began to heat up. In 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance. Since then I’ve made it an annaual tradition because there’s no other city or weekend in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 

 

Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, following a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when the 2-yr-old preps commence but it does not quit racing until all results are official, the field is set, the picks are made and the roses are worn. But that’s not all because the road doesn’t stop on the First Saturday in May. The elusive quest for the next Triple Crown has reached 35 years so I invite my readers to remain in the saddle through all three legs as we await the next Champion of Champions. Cheers.

 

 

Kentucky Derby 2014

2013 Kentucky Derby