Kentucky Derby 2019 Scouting Report: East Coast Division II

January 10, 2019 09:36am

Early action on the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail started this new year on the East Coast with the running of Aqueduct's Jerome Stakes and Gulfstream Park's Mucho Macho Man Stakes.

In the Jerome, Mind Control returned to races with a win that reinforced his place in the First Tier of the region's Derby hopefuls. Mihos then stepped up from his maiden victory to take the Mucho Macho Man, looking every bit a division leader.

Here's an updated look at all the East Coast contenders...


The Leader
[Cairo Prince – J. Jerkens – Centennial Farms – 0]: Mihos stepped up from his maiden victory at Aqueduct to win the Mucho Macho Man with a decisive closing run that earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. Although there were no Derby qualifying points involved, Mihos more importantly made it clear that he belongs on the Derby trail. Trainer Jimmy Jerkins said the colt will stay in Florida with the Fountain of Youth (G2) a possible next start.

First Tier
Maximus Mischief
[Into Mischief – R. Reid Jr. – Cash is King and LC Racing -10]: With his win in the Remsen (G2) back on Dec. 1, he did what others have not done yet, which was win a stakes race at a mile and an eighth. Maximus Mischief recorded two of the highest Beyer Speed Figures in the 2-year-old ranks last year and, after staying unbeaten with the Remsen win, trainer Butch Reid said that the Holy Bull (G2) is likely next.

Mind Control
[Stay Thirsty – G. Sacco – Red Oak and Medakat Stables – 10]: Mind Control answered questions which had popped up since his summer win in the Hopeful and then his subsequent seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Trainer Greg Sacco figured out that his colt does not ship well, so he decided to stay at his New York winter base. The result was a victory in the Jerome that earned an 88 Beyer. Sacco said that the nine-furlong Withers (G3) would be an appropriate next start.

[Candy Ride – G. Weaver – R. A. Hill and Gatsas Stables - 0]: Vekoma made a big impression on the Derby trail with his September maiden victory at Belmont and then in the Nashua (G3) at the beginning of November. We're awaiting his first published breeze since then with the colt now in Florida for his next start.

Second Tier
Code of Honor
[Noble Mission – S. McGaughey – William Farish – 4]: His second-place finish in the Champagne (G1) made Code of Honor a buzz horse on the Derby trail before a fever forced him to be scratched from the Breeders’ Cup, and then sub-par workouts caused further delays in his campaign. Woes continued when Code of Honor ran fourth in the Mucho Macho Man while never posing any threat in that start at Gulfstream.

[Maclean’s Music – C. Brown – Klaravich Stables -10]: The Champagne winner has not returned to the work tab since his disappointing 10th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he was the 5-2 second choice. It's likely trainer Chad Brown keeps him sprinting, but with 10 Derby qualifying points already earned, this one remains relevant to the trail.

Epic Dreamer
[Orb – K. Breen – Epic Racing – 0]: His debut on the Derby trail in the Springboard Mile ended with a sixth-place finish after he was soundly bumped at the eighth pole and had to steady. Trainer Kelly Breen felt Epic Dreamer's chances were compromised by the troubled trip. On Jan. 4, he registered a speedy five-furlong work in 58.75 at Palm Meadows in Florida.

Frosted Ice
[Bellamy Road – R. Moquett – Rialto Racing – 0]: This New York-bred impressed in the state-bred ranks with his victories in a maiden and then a stakes race. That stakes win was back in September, and he has not had a workout since then with trainer Ron Moquett electing for patient handling hoping this one can target the big prep races this spring at his Oaklawn Park base.

King for a Day
[Uncle Mo – T. Pletcher – Red Oak Stable -1]: Last seen when he ran a promising fourth in Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), this colt rallied to take the lead in the stretch only to be passed by late runners. He is another one that has not yet returned to the work tab.

[Blame – B. Mott – Dilschneider and Claiborne – 0]: Given time to mature since his second-place finish in the Hopeful behind Mind Control, Mucho just returned to the work tab with a three-furlong breeze at Bill Mott’s Payson Park Florida training base.

Network Effect
[Mark Valeski – C. Brown – Klaravich Stables – 4]: 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. Brown has kept him in training in Florida since the Remsen with two works at Palm Meadows.

Our Braintrust
[Freud – C. Lynch – Stanton Smith Jr., Lynch Racing LLC – 4]: This Maryland-bred gets a mention based on his second-place finish in Jerome and his victory in the Tremont at Belmont in the summer. He hasn't run worse than second in four career starts.

Standard Deviation
[Curlin – C. Brown – Klaravich Stables – 2]: This Brown runner was the buzz horse in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he was the third choice in the betting but finished last after a less than desirable trip. Since then, he has relocated to Florida where he has been training steadily with six workouts.

[Tapit – B. Mott – Juddmonte Farms – 0]: This Juddmonte homebred has a royal pedigree with Tapit as the sire and multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Close Hatches as the dam. He gives Mott another chance to win his first Kentucky Derby and is back in training since his Nov. 10 maiden victory with a Jan. 6 breeze at Payson Park.

Others to Watch

[Daaher – K. McLaughlin – Shadwell – 0]: This Shadwell homebred is one a few impressive maiden winners to join this round of East Coast report. He broke his maiden in a six-furlong sprint at Aqueduct with a big closing move up the rail. It is worth noting that he is a half-brother to the speedy Takaful.

Global Campaign
[Curlin – S. Hough – Sagamore Farm, WinStar – 0]: This half-brother of Bolt d’Oro was an impressive debut winner of a seven-furlong maiden special weight flight last Saturday at Gulfstream Park. He drew off to win by nearly six lengths and was geared down in the final 100 yards or so while earning an 84 Beyer.

Kentucky Wildcat
[Tapit – T. Albertrani – Godolphin – 0]: This regally-bred son of Tapit comes from the Godolphin barn. His dam is the millionaire multiple graded stakes winner Better Lucky. He broke his maiden on the Remsen undercard against a strong field in his third start. He recently made his first breeze since his initial win at Palm Meadows on Sunday.

[Medaglia d’Oro – T. Pletcher – Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbreds – 0]: This $900,000 Saratoga yearling purchase broke his maiden in his second career start on Dec. 20 by almost four lengths while running 1 1/8 miles on a deep Aqueduct track. He had been training in New York all along and is aiming for the Withers.

Uncle Benny
[Declaration of War – Jason Servis – Beach Haven Thoroughbreds – 0]: The runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf broke his maiden on the dirt at Monmouth Park. A start in the Mucho Macho Man had been possible, but he has not had a published work since Dec. 1.

Remaining East Coast preps

• Withers (G3) – February 2, 2019 [10-4-2-1]

• Holy Bull (G2) – February 2, 2019 [10-4-2-1]

• Sam F Davis (G3) – February 9, 2019 [10-4-2-1]

• Fountain of Youth (G2) – March 2, 2019 [50-20-10-5]

• Gotham (G3) – March 9, 2019 [50-20-10-5]

• Tampa Bay Derby (G2) - March 9, 2019 [50-20-10-5]

• Florida Derby (G1) – March 30, 2019 [100-40-20-10]

• Wood Memorial (G2) – April 6, 2019 [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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