Kentucky Derby 2018 Scouting Report: East Coast Division

December 05, 2018 11:13am
Kentucky Derby 2018 Scouting Report: East Coast Division
Photo: Elsa Lorieul/NYRA

The East Coast Division of the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail includes prep races which will be run in New York and Florida. That means stakes that will be run at Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, and Tampa Bay Downs.

In total there are 697 qualifying points available from the 11 official Derby qualifying races that happen at the East Coast tracks. Thus far, two races have been run: The Champagne, which was won by Complexity, who trainer Chad Brown is likely to remain at shorter distances, and more recently Maximus Mischief remained unbeaten in the Remsen.

RELATED: West Coast Division and
Central Division reports

(Sire – Trainer – Owner)

The Leader
Maximus Mischief
[Into Mischief – R. Reid Jr. – Cash is King and LC Racing]: The son of one of the hottest sires in the country answered every question thus far with two speedy wins at Parx followed by a stretch out to nine furlongs in the Remsen (G2), which is no easy task for a 2-year-old. Trainer Butch Reid said, “To go from seven-eighths to a mile and an eighth, especially the way he did it, is a pretty good accomplishment.” Maximus Mischief holds the two fastest Beyer Speed Figures of any juvenile runner this year. He will head to Gulfstream Park and could appear next in the Fountain of Youth (G2).

First Tier

Code of Honor
[Noble Mission – S. McGaughey – William Farish]: Since showing a great deal of promise in his Saratoga maiden victory and then a second-place finish in the Champagne (G1), he has encountered some bad luck. A fever kept Code of Honor out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and then below-par training counted him out of the Remsen. Still, he has the look of a horse who can handle the distance, and has backing, bet down to sixth choice in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. No doubt he’ll continue prepping in Florida.

[Cairo Prince – J. Jerkens – Centennial Farms]: He’s one of a few sons of first crop sire Cairo Prince that look Derby trail-bound. Third behind Nashua (G3) winner Vekoma and next-out open lengths winner Epic Dreamer in his debut, Mihos returned to break his maiden at Aqueduct in impressive fashion and was geared down at the finish. His connections match those of the 2014 Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong.

[Blame – B. Mott – Dilschneider and Claiborne]: A well-bred product of owners Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farms, who are known to breed horses that can run long and tend to need more time to develop, Mucho is in capable hands. Trainer Bill Mott entered Mucho for his initial win at Saratoga, and Mucho then ran second in the Hopeful (G1). Since then, he has been given time to get ready for 2019.

[Candy Ride – G. Weaver – R. A. Hill and Gatsas Stables]: Perfect in two career starts, Vekoma burst on the New York scene with a September maiden win at Belmont Park and then a speedy win in the Nashua which earned a 97 Beyer, the second-highest of the year in the juvenile ranks. Trainer George Weaver opted to go to Florida and train there for his 3-year-old campaign. He was bet to 36-1 in the first Derby Future Pool.

Second Tier

[Curlin – T. Pletcher – Eclipse Thor., R. LaPenta, Dixiana Farms]: There are not as many Todd Pletcher runners in this year’s scouting report as in other years, at least thus far. He seems to be running more horses on the turf, and Current is one of them. His two wins both came on the grass including the Bourbon (G3) at Churchill Downs. He did try the dirt and finished seventh in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Current's dam produced a graded stakes winner on the dirt, so Current may take another try on the Derby trail.

Epic Dreamer
[Orb – K. Breen – Epic Racing]: He debuted in a salty maiden special weight at Belmont, finishing second between two others on this list, Vekoma and Mihos. It was no surprise that he came back to win his next maiden start. That win was impressive enough to get him into the Derby Future Wager, and qualifying points are possible for him in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 16.

Frosted Ice
[Bellamy Road – R. Moquett – Rialto Racing]: This New York-bred has impressed in the state-bred ranks with his victories in a maiden and then a stakes race. Those open-length scores may have earned him a shot on the Derby trail in 2019.

King for a Day
[Uncle Mo – T. Pletcher – Red Oak Stable]: Only 20 horses have earned Derby qualifying points, and this son of Uncle Mo is one of them. He ran a promising fourth in Kentucky Jockey Club as the fourth betting choice and rallied to take the lead in the stretch only to be passed by late runners. That effort means we should see this one in future Derby preps.

Mind Control
[Stay Thirsty – G. Sacco – Red Oak and Medakat Stables]: The Monmouth Park-based runner broke his maiden at the Jersey Shore track and then moved on to win the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga at odds of 10-1. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he had a rough beginning and fell back in the field, which made it difficult for a horse that prefers to be on the pace. Red Oak Stable has sold a share in the horse to Sol Kumin’s Medakat Stable syndicate. Next in the cards is the Springboard Mile.

Network Effect
[Mark Valeski – C. Brown – Klaravich Stables]: This one chased two of the top horses from this division in his last two starts when he ran second to Vekoma in the Nashua and to Maximus Mischief in the Remsen. He was a bit of a bargain having sold for $95,000 as a 2-year-old.

Standard Deviation
[Curlin – C. Brown – Klaravich Stables]: He picked up a couple of Derby points when he finished third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. He was bothered at the start of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and never got into contention in the race finishing last, which was unexpected for the Chad Brown runner. No doubt he will take another shot on the Derby trail.

[Tapit – B. Mott – Juddmonte Farms]: This Juddmonte homebred sports a royal pedigree with Tapit as the sire and multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Close Hatches as the dam. He gives Bill Mott another chance to win his first Kentucky Derby. Progeny of Tapit often need time and patience to reach their full potential, and Mott is known as a trainer who is willing to do that.

U S Navy Cross
[Curlin – C. Brown – Peter Brant and Allen Stables]: This $550,000 yearling was a debut winner at Aqueduct. Chad Brown brought him right back in the Nashua, when he ran fourth behind two quality runners in Vekoma and Network Effect. Expect to see this one on the trail.

Others to Watch

[City Zip – T. Pletcher – WinStar, China Horse Club, and SF Racing – 0]: The winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint comes from the owners of Justify, and even though both of his starts were turf sprints, you have to wonder if there is a chance that he might try the dirt. He is by City Zip and has a female side that has plenty of dirt distance pedigree. His dam, Sue’s Good News, won a stake at nine furlongs and also produced the millionaire Tiz Miz Sue who won the Ogden Phipps (G1) and the Azeri (G3) twice, all going a distance of ground.

Uncle Benny
[Declaration of War – Jason Servis – Beach Haven Thoroughbreds]: The runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf broke his maiden on the dirt at Monmouth Park. He made an impressive run in the Breeders' Cup that left him second after a stewards' inquiry. The connections have a plan to run him on the dirt in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park in January as a preliminary to the Derby trail.

Kentucky Wildcat
[Tapit – T. Albertrani – Godolphin – 0]: Here is yet another Tapit, and this one comes from the Godolphin barn. His dam is the millionaire multi-graded stakes winner Better Lucky. He broke his maiden on the Remsen undercard against a very strong field in his third start. Here is a horse that is figuring things out on the racetrack. After his victory, Godolphin racing manager Jimmy Bell was very happy with the horse’s progress, but didn't reveal what could be next.

Remaining East Coast preps

Jerome (G3) – Aqueduct - Jan. 1 [10-4-2-1]

Withers (G3) – Aqueduct – Feb. 2 [10-4-2-1]

Holy Bull (G2) – Gulfstream Park – Feb. 2 [10-4-2-1]

Sam F Davis (G3) – Tampa Bay Downs – Feb. 9 [10-4-2-1]

Fountain of Youth (G2) – Gulfstream Park – March 2 [50-20-10-5]

Gotham (G3) – Aqueduct – March 9 [50-20-10-5]

Tampa Bay Derby (G2) – Tampa Bay Downs - March 9 [50-20-10-5]

Florida Derby (G1) – Gulfstream Park 
– March 30  [100-40-20-10]

Wood Memorial (G2) – Aqueduct – April 6 [100-40-20-10]


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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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