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.
the conclusion of the 50-20-10-5 point series here is where these three stand:
- Chitu, 54
- Hoppertunity, 55
if Baffert wishes, all three can start in the 2014 Kentucky Derby. But will
they? This excellent question is also trending.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
– 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
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.
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.
the owner, long time friend and partner of Steve Asmussen, Winchell Thoroughbreds
find themselves in a very difficult situation.
the Derby Trail
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.
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.