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HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

Will We Know More After the FrontRunner Stakes?

If you could pick anywhere in the thoroughbred racing world to be this weekend Santa Anita has to be the choice. Talk about opening up the first weekend of the fall meet with a bang. The card on Super Saturday alone includes four Breeders’ Cup Series Qualifier races. Fall has arrived, we’re just over 30 days out and it’s time for things to begin heating up.

 

While there is a lot to talk about, there is only one race that I am interested in the most. The 1 1/16-mile FrontRunner, formerly known as the Norfolk Stakes, is the seventh race on the card and is scheduled for 4:07 pm PDT. The race has always been an important prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. So significant, it is almost guaranteed to remain a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race for many more years to come. But not only does a win in the FrontRunner Stakes now earn you an automatic qualification into the Juvenile, it is now a stakes race that awards qualification points for the Kentucky Derby. Those points are minimal (10-4-2-1) but the road has to begin somewhere and so it does. Buckle up, this train is moving.
 
 
We begin with the horse that everyone is talking about. Know More is an unusual talent. Yes, he is the only the Graded Stakes winner in the field but a résumé like his is almost unheard of. 2-yr-olds can be very immature sometimes. Other times they can be full of energy and very surprising when they make strides much sooner than anticipated. Despite rapid gains, most every 2-yr-old still needs a race or two before they are ready to dip their hooves into the Graded Stakes waters. Know More on the other hand, he did not.
 
 
On August 5 at Del Mar Know More began his racing career in the G2 Best Pal Stakes (6½F). The only thing Know More had going for him in the racing form that day was his connections. Son of Lion Heart (that 2nd place in the '04 Derby still hurts) the 2-yr-old colt is owned by Paul Reddam and Trained by Doug O’Neil, the winning tag team of I’ll Have Another. Sure the silks looked familiar to the betting public but it was hard to disregard that he had never raced.
 
 
I tip my cap to anyone that had him; $19.20 to win is a very comfortable payout. So the buzz began and he kept it going with a 2nd place finish to another highly regarded West Coast 2-yr-old, Rolling Fog. The G1 Del Mar Futurity (7F) pace set up nicely for Rolling Fog and he was just too tough for Know More to track down in the stretch.
 
 
This leads me to what I like the most about this young colt. In his two races Know More has shown the style of a two-turn horse. In both, Garrett Gomez placed him nicely just off the pace in close stalking position. Together it led to beautiful moves in the final turn and very nice finishes down the stretch.
 
 
Don’t expect to see anything different in the FrontRunner on Saturday. Know More has shown there should be fuel in the tank when Gomez calls on him. With a clean break from the gate and no trouble through the first turn, I expect him to be in prime position for another bold effort down the lane.
 
 
Following Know More to the FrontRunner after also racing in the Del Mar Futurity are Capo Bastone (4th), Gabriel Charles (6th) and The Whole Deal (8th). Breaking from the gate next to Know More is the second choice on the Morning Line, Capo Bastone. Victor Espinoza will be in the saddle for the first time for Trainer John Sadler. He has trained well over the dirt at Santa Anita twice this month – 5F 1:00.80; 6F 1:13.60 – so don’t expect the switch from the synthetics at Del Mar to be too much of a concern.
 
 
Like father like son? Gabriel Charles is the son of Street Hero, winner of the 2008 Norfolk Stakes. It’s a tall order to repeat his dad but don’t count him out without a good look. The Whole Deal on the other hand is really up against it. Unlike the other two this colt, son of Holy Bull, did not win in his MSW debut. In fact, he failed to finish in the top three again in his second attempt before the Del Mar Futurity. So here’s a horse that needs to show what his trainer knows that we don’t. Finishing three times without hitting the board before this stakes race is not a good spot but that can change with a big jump on Saturday.
 
 
Watch out, Bob Baffert is here! Rolling Fog was given a 60 day recovery by Baffert after his win in the Del Mar Futurity due to bucked shins. But while his best 2-yr-old is on the side lines until late December it doesn’t mean that Baffert isn’t coming to play. In fact, he brought three others with him in attempt to extend his record 5 Wins in this stakes race.
 
 
Leading his effort on the ML is Power Broker. His last time out was a 2nd place finish to Dry Summer on the turf in the Oak Tree Juvenile. What’s curious about this horse is that even though he has yet to win in three attempts and he lost to Dry Summer, he was still given the slight advantage on the ML – 4/1 vs. 5/1. But maybe it’s not so curious. Baffert always has his mind on the big races and he likes keeping his young horses on the home front in California. Because the winner’s circle wasn’t visited doesn’t mean that his crop won’t perk up on the dirt at Santa Anita.
 
 
His long shot of the three is Den’s Legacy but Carving is an intriguing contender. He enters a perfect 2 for 2 with a Maiden Claiming win at Del Mar followed by a non-graded stakes win in the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes. Fairplex Park isn’t a common stop en route to Super Saturday at Santa Anita but maybe the $50k purse was just easy money. The other attractive feature to this horse are his owners; Bob Baffert’s wife Jill and Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller. That’s a big trio here so I’m not sure which direction Carving is headed. Since it’s Baffert I guess I won’t be surprised if he shows on Saturday that it’s a pretty good path.
 
 
While the horses mentioned above don’t round out the field, I’ll let you decide for yourself if any of the unmentioned earns your live long shot.
 
 
Race 7 | G1 $250,000 FrontRunner Stakes | 1 1/16 Mile | Dirt
 
PPHorseJockeyTrainerML
1CarvingM. GarciaB. Baffert6-1
2Gabriel CharlesJ. TalamoJ. Mullins6-1
3Dirty SwaggD. FloresM. Cho12-1
4The Whole DealE. MaldanadoS. Knapp50-1
5Dry SummerR. NapravnikJ. Mullins5-1
6ImperativeA. GryderE. Harty20-1
7Know MoreG. GomezD. O'Neill3-1
8Capo BastoneV. EspinozaJ. Sadler7/2
9Den's LegacyA. QuinonezB. Baffert12-1
10Power BrokerR. BejaranoB. Baffert4-1
11Wild StudentI. PuglisiP. Aguire50-1
 
 
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby Winners
 
Since its inaugural edition in 1970 the Norfolk Stakes has had a much more prominent role in determining the result of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile than the Kentucky Derby. I will stand corrected but I believe my data is accurate: Five Norfolk Stakes entries have gone on to win the BC Juvenile. Sure the majority of them were in the first four years of the Breeders’ Cup (Chief’s Crown ’84, Capote ’85, Success Express ’87) but let’s not discount Anees in ’99 and Midshipman in ’08.
 
As for its role in the Kentucky Derby the race needs a little attention. By my accounts there is only one Derby winner that ever raced in the Norfolk Stakes – Gato Del Sol 1982. As you can see the points won on Saturday have a long road to travel before finding the winners circle at the Kentucky Derby. But trends have a way of ending from time to time so it’s never a good idea to dismiss the first “FrontRunner Stakes” winner. 

 

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Older Comments about Will We Know More After the FrontRunner Stakes?...

Im standing by my pick
I have to stick by Know More for now. His first two starts have been impressive.
i think goldenscents may be the better oneil horse who he is sending east to champagne. atleast at this point. his maiden win was lights out. ill wait till after champagne to have my opinion on the top two year old.
The first test of two turns will be telling...I believe this is wide open race. Breeding is important.
With the shift back to dirt, not to mention two-turns, this becomes a wide-open affair and the first true test for the BC Juvenile.

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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.

 

 



 

 


2013 Kentucky Derby