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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Across the Board with Mike B

2014 Kentucky Derby: Sham & Jerome – Post Race Thoughts

The Sham

After watching the Sham a few times, it is hard to know what to take away from this race. It ended up being only a field of 4 after a few scratches and that definitely changed the complexion of the race. One of the scratches, Top Fortitude, had a shot to win in my opinion, or at the very least affect the pace scenario. But, as they entered the gate it was pretty obvious this was just a 2 horse race. Kristo verses Midnight Hawk. Here are my key takeaways…


Midnight Hawk – What can you say, he got the job done. He pressed a quick pace and put away his foe at the top of the lane. Going forward, I am not sure what to make of him. But, today he did the job a favorite should and that is he won. Overall, I wasn’t super impressed with his effort though, but it was only a 4 horse field so it is hard to know what to make of this race. We will keep our eye on him, but I’m not that high on him as of right now.


Kristo – He set a swift pace while being pressed tightly from the eventual winner, but then crumbled at the top of the lane as the winner took over. He also did not switch leads in the stretch. Overall, I was not that impressed with him but there is room for improvement. He did hold on for 2nd after a tough trip where he was pressured the whole way. We will know more after his next start.


Ontology – I was not impressed with this one at all. He sat behind the top 2 going head to head and he could not get by either of them. I do not think I want any part of him moving forward at this time.


As I stated previously, this is a hard race to take any solid opinions away from. It was a 4 horse field, you cannot put too much weight behind the winner in such a case. My overall impression is that this race wasn’t that impressive, but time will tell. I guess if we take away anything, it is to keep our eyes on Midnight Hawk and see how he progresses. As for the others, I don’t think I want any part of them moving forward at this time.


The Jerome 

On paper, the Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct didn’t seem like a very interesting race. The favorite, Noble Moon, seemed legit enough, but I didn’t trust him. He proved me wrong today, but in the future I do not think I will be jumping on his bandwagon. He pressed a very average pace in the Jerome and eventually took over the lead a half mile in and did not look back. I believe that spoke more about his foes, than his own talent. I will say that there were a few interesting trips, and horses that may be good bets when they come back. But the class of the field, at least at this time, is very suspect in my opinion. Here are my key takeaways...


Noble MoonHe did the job, but like I said, it may have been the field was just suspect and a few of them had trouble trips. As I stated, he pressed, then took over a very average pace. He was pressured a bit, and if there is something to be said of that. He did turn back his foes. But, I think that had more to do with the field and the trouble a few horses had. I thought he was in danger in the lane, and if Classic Giacnroll could have swapped leads in the stretch, he would have went right on by in my opinion. Going forward, I am against this one. He will have to prove me wrong.


Classic Giancnroll This guy had a very interesting trip. He was forced way wide into the first turn, 5-6 wide maybe. Then he was 3-4 wide on the backstretch and into the turn. And in the stretch he did not switch leads. If he had done so, I think he would have gone right on by the favorite for the win. Now, those that like him going forward will state the facts I just stated and bet him next out. Those who are against him, me included, will say maybe he didn’t switch leads in the stretch because he wants no part of the distance. It’s a tricky proposition when interpreting horses not swapping leads. From my understanding, it can either mean fatigue, injury, or a horse not caring for the surface. I was dead wrong last year interpreting Palace Malice’s Bluegrass when he did not swap leads in the stretch. I took that as he was distance challenged. Well, I was obviously wrong there as he took down the Belmont. As for Classic Giacnroll, I am against him for now with the understanding that could change in a heartbeat. 


Master Lightning – I am way against this Pletcher trainee. He pressed a soft pace then had no response in the lane and no excuse I could find. Until he shows a spark, I will have to pass going forward.


Scotland This was my choice this afternoon on the win end. I wasn’t that high on Noble Moon, so I threw a tiny wager on him for some action. This maiden for Tony Dutrow may be one to watch going forward. Whether he is classy enough to continue on the Derby Trail remains to be seen, but he is one to keep an eye on I believe. He had a really tough start in the Jerome. He got whacked when the 4 horse, Pin and Win, bore in and impeded himself and Lawmaker. He went a little wide into the first turn and was a little bit rank while pressing from the inside. In the lane he did show some interest. He got through on the inside and looked as though he may have a shot to win briefly, but he eventually flattened out. Going forward, if he is in against maidens I consider him to probably be a lead pipe lock. If he comes back in the Withers, I will give him a long hard look. He’s interesting in my opinion.


Lawmaker This Chad Brown charge had the same trouble at the start as Scotland, he was also affected by the horse boring in. He then went very wide into the first turn, 5-6 maybe, and was actually the one who forced Classic Giacnroll out so wide. He raced at the back of the pack, showed a little bit of interest late but never looked like a winner. Going forward, I am torn on this guy. He does have excuses, but I am just not sold as of yet. I will keep him on the backburner and take a wait and see approach.


My overall impression and initial gut reaction is this race wasn’t very good. I am not too high on anyone coming out of this race and I am almost definitely against the winner Noble Moon. I am also against the runner up, Classic Giacnroll, but he may prove me wrong. As for the other troubled trip horses, Scotland and Lawmaker may be worth a look, depending on where they end up.    



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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Sham & Jerome – Post Race Thoughts...

I agree acrosstheboard about the frations, but the competition was much higher quality imo than the two most recent derby point races.
Thank you for the kind words IHATC, it means a lot. As for The Remsen, I have no clue what to make of that race. I was on track that day and I am very high on both Cairo Prince and Honor Code. I just don't know what to make of those fractions. Both did show grit that day though
totally agree with Remsen comment
Most impressive Derby prep race to me is still the Remsen. The final time wasn't fantastic, but Honor Code and Cairo Prince both showed grit that day.
Great insight from the author here. I am definately going to keep your posts handy leading up to making my picks.
Guys,i am not talking about gearing a horse down at the sixteenth pole. It is looking at the race from the start. You can see if they are being rushed or not.The horse i was talking about,Noble Moon. He broke sharply then was eased back. He went to the outside and sat comfortably. If Ortiz wanted to,he could of named his margin. But the parameter is not easing up in the stretch. It is how they sre handled around the track.For example,a highly thought of horse Commissioner ran recently. He was awarded a fast final time speed figure. But in watching the race,through slow fractions throughout the race.Lezcano rode him hard from the start.Even the closers were misleading.Some will say they closed into a slow pace. If any of the horses that set the pace were around at the wire to dispute the result. I would buy into that theory. They all caved at the top of the stretch. But all 3 of the top finishers were hard ridden.
Exactly the same. look at Menow in the msscap and god in the big cap
no where the same. NOT EVEN CLOSE
Take a look at Game on Dude
Look at many old runnings of high class stakes and compare them to today: when the winner had the contest in hand, the rider almost eased him at the 1/16th pole. NOT TODAY
To any connections that are pointing not only to the Triple Crown races,but a long ans succesful year. Running hole in the wind speed figures and winning by daylight ,are counter productive at this stage. You only want your horse to go as fast as they need to, to get the job done. Geldedridgling,you say that you were not impressed with the Jerome. This race is exactly what i am talking about, Noble Moon just toyed with the competition. Gyammatti knows exactly what she is training. She will not empty his tank this early in the year. She is not looking to impress the public. Look at the horse i knew very well last year,Vyjack. In the Jerome he beat a 42-1 shot by a length. But if you looked at the race again.Cornelio was always uder wraps. He showed in his next race ,The Gotham. Exactly the speed he needed when the time called for it. You are correct about Itsmyluckyday. He ran incredibly in the aerly stages of the preps. Unfortunately ,that is exactly where they left his races.At the preps, they had an empty horse when the big races came.No one will ever know for sure,but maybe those early eyepopping speed figures he ran,where the reason of his terrible fate at Monmouth Park. Only foolish trainers will allow their horses to peak before the right moment. Unless of course they are looking to sell them. I personally could care less by how much a 3 yo wins by. I look at the way they run the race. You can see it in their mannerisms if they are extended or not. An example is the Remsen. I thought it was an awful and slowly run time. The horses tht were running where being used for about 5 furlongs of the race.That is a reason i personally do not like anyone coming out of that race. Allowance 3yo races will almost always be run faster than the Stakes races. That is because many of the contenders are trying to reach the next level,so their connections ask more of them. The sharp trainers who know they have the goods, They will not waste an Allowance race with their charge. They will go into a Stake. Perfect example,Bob Baffert this weekend in the Sham with Midnight Hawk. He knew exactly what he had,ergo the Stakes race..
IMO the Gulfstream Derby was pretty slow against the clock (about 9 lengths slower than Itsmyluckyday in 2013), and the favorite didn’t fire. The previous winners of that race have had no impact on the Derby. The Commissioner/Top Billing race was good. Race 2 at Aqueduct on 1/10/2014 was far more impressive than the Jerome IMO. I can’t wait to see Baratti on the Derby trail.
I have to watch the GP Derby again, I wasn't that high on it initially, but it deserves another look
The Gulfstream Park Derby looked good
I'm with you, Mike ... I think the best KY Derby prep so far in 2014 was a GP allowance featuring Commissioner and Top Billing.

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 Meet Michael Barry   


 It all started 5 years ago for me after a spur of the moment trip to Saratoga Springs with my future wife.  I had always bet on the Triple Crown races, and made a few trips to Suffolk Downs annually, but not until that journey to The Spa did things get serious for me.  I fell in love with horse racing right then and there and I haven’t looked back since.  The following year I read every handicapping book I could get my hands on.  I became, and still am, a very passionate student of the game. 


Through this blog I hope to take you guys through my favorite aspect of the game, which is breaking down races and doping out winners.  I focus my attention between the NYRA circuit (mostly), Gulfstream Park, and Keeneland.  I also plan to provide very thorough coverage leading up to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup.  I love analyzing the prep races leading up to both of those grand events. 


Wagering wise, I love playing pick 4’s and 5’s, and I have enjoyed some success in the past playing those types of exotics.  In any given race, I try to attack based on strength of opinion and value.  That may be in the form of an exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, pick 3, or by laddering my choice across the board.  Every race is its own animal and must be played accordingly.


Personally, I am a graduate of Boston University and reside on the South Shore of Massachusetts with my beautiful wife Tara and wonderful son Finn.  I work as a technician for a communications company by day. 


I can be found on Twitter @mbarry24 and I’m always up to discuss anything horse racing related.

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