• Blackjackcat (8-1) holds off Vyjack to win the Del Mar Mile.Posted 7 hours ago
  • Dak Attack (2-1) is an impressive winner of the Ellis Park Juvenile.Posted 10 hours ago
  • Channel Maker (8-5) wins the photo and survives multiple objections to win the Breeders' Stakes.Posted 11 hours ago
  • Kelly's Humor (11-1) rolls late to win Ellis Park Debutante.Posted 11 hours ago
  • Dream Dancing (6-1) nips Beau Recall in the Del Mar Oaks.Posted 1 day ago
  • Collected (3-1) holds off Arrogate in the TVG Pacific Classic.Posted 1 day ago
  • Hunt (3-1) scores his second graded stakes win of the meet, this time in the Del Mar Handicap.Posted 1 day ago
  • Elate (4-1) rolls home a big winner in the Alabama.Posted 1 day ago
  • Money'soncharlotte (5-2) holds off Martini Glass in the Lady Jacqueline.Posted 1 day ago
  • Proctor's Ledge (2-1) kicks home a winner in the Lake Placid.Posted 1 day ago

Ranking California's 2014 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Shared Belief close 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers


The 2014 Kentucky Derby is less than four months away, and the first California prep race for newly-turned 3-year-olds is set for Saturday at Santa Anita. Six sophomores will go postward in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, with the winner set to earn 10 Kentucky Derby points.

Therefore, it's as good a time as any to see how the West Coast 3-year-old picture looks. The top spot on these lists is not in dispute, especially with the retirement of New Year's Day, but once one gets past that imposing presence, the next several spots are wide-open.

1) Shared Belief

Jerry Hollendorfer has had rotten luck with his Kentucky Derby hopefuls, but so far, Shared Belief is doing all the right things. He's 3-for-3, has never been challenged, and his most recent work on dirt was excellent. He's preparing for the Robert Lewis Stakes next month, and he should be a heavy favorite to take down the 10 Derby points that will go to that race's winner.

2) Bond Holder

Some might say I have the Doug O'Neill trainee a few spots too high. My counter has two parts. Firstly, Bond Holder leads all West Coast 3-year-olds with 11 Kentucky Derby points, and is roughly halfway to a spot in that race's starting gate already. Secondly, his best races have come on conventional dirt. Bond Holder became a Grade I winner last October, when he won the FrontRunner, and his fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was deceptively good. He should only improve now that he's shipped to Santa Anita for the winter/spring meet.

3) Tamarando

A consistent sort, Hollendorfer's less-hyped trainee hasn't finished worse than third since his debut. He's also a Grade I winner, but what gives Bond Holder a slight nod over this son of Bertrando is that Tamarando's biggest efforts have come on synthetic surfaces. He's Grade I-placed on dirt, though, and consistency is a big plus this time of year.

4) Midnight Hawk

It seems like Bob Baffert has an endless string of talented 3-year-olds who may be ready to take major leaps forward. Midnight Hawk is the likely favorite in the Sham off of an extremely impressive win at first asking last month at Betfair Hollywood Park. Add in back-to-back bullets at Santa Anita since then, and the son of the speedy Midnight Lute looks very imposing heading into Saturday's co-feature in Arcadia.

5) Candy Boy

This one's only problem may be not liking Del Mar. After two off-the-board finishes there to start his career, he ran second behind Tap It Rich (an honorable mention for this list) at Santa Anita before breaking his maiden in Inglewood and running second in the CashCall Futurity. As a son of Candy Ride, more distance should not be an issue, and he seemed to get better with each start away from Del Mar.

Honorable mentions: Tap It Rich (tons of talent, very immature), Chitu (2-for-2 Baffert trainee, may be best around one turn), Kobe's Back (nightmare trip in the CashCall)


Candy Boy  |  Shared Belief  |  Bond Holder  |  Tamarando  |  Midnight Hawk  |  Bob Baffert  |  Doug F. O'Neill  |  Jerry Hollendorfer  |  Santa Anita Park  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |  Kentucky Derby Trail
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Older Comments about Ranking California's 2014 Kentucky Derby Contenders...

i dig shared belif and really like candy boy
Until Shared Belief translates his talents to the dirt,i will leave him as an Undesided. History is against him,but one never knows. An open mind is all i can say about him now. Personally,i think Baffert has the top 2 contenders in Tap it Rich and Indianapolis. Baffert is also loaded with many others. Probably the strongest hsnd that Baffert has had in recent history going into the Classic preps.
Chitu?? Watch out!!!!
Not sure what to think of this bunch. do know that Shared Belief is the best 3-year-old Jerry has had since Event of the Year. Midnight Hawk looks very good and thats about it. I think the best three year old is stabled at Oaklawn Park, and his name is Strong Mandate.
It's a pretty weak Classic distance 3yo group out of CA, so far.
That's good to know, thanks tony.mcgrath.9883;P
Shared belief was a brilliant 2 year old but like many before him will not win a triple crown
so far Shared Belief, Tamarando and Candy Boy seem to lead the pack but anticipating some new prospects to throw their "hats" in the game such a Indianapolis, Kristo, Midnight Hawk, etc.
Finally some respect for Bond Holder
Shared Belief has been crazy good...but I'm waiting to see if that's because he's truly brilliant or just the best of a mediocre California bunch.
Tamarando looks strong!
Paladin,Indianapolis ran and won.
Baffert has another nice one in unraced Indianapolis, one to keep your eye on.
Candy Boy looks real good cosidering that Stevens (atypically) moved him far too early last time and burned him up far turn.
Nice list. At around 5:35pm PST on Saturday, you'll need to add Kristo.

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