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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

2014 Kentucky Derby Report: Tapiture Climbs to the Top

Tapiture Southwest2 615 X 400
Photo: Coady Photography


So, the President’s Day special is in the books and Tapiture was there to answer the bell. With the win in the G3 Southwest Stakes the Steve Asmussen trained colt by Tapit and Free Spin officially concluded the opening 2014 Kentucky Derby Prep Season series as your new points leader.


A very competitive field of 12 loaded into the gate on Monday yet all eyes were on the two headliners, Strong Mandate and Tapiture. Both Derby contenders made their 3-yr-old debut but only one was ready to race at a more mature level down the stretch. As Tapiture took the lead through the final turn and kicked home on the straight and narrow, Strong Mandate was no match and a little bit squirrely.


However, despite Strong Mandate’s inability to avoid drifting down the stretch, both outside and back in, his approach to closing from a mid stalker position, 4th place at the ½ mile mark, is a step in the right direction. A challenge has been keeping him off the lead early but today may be an indicator that he is developing well in preparation for the Kentucky Derby.


The Rebel Stakes on March 15 is shaping up to be a very exciting race. Following the Southwest, the connections for Strong Mandate and Tapiture as well as Ride on Curlin, who finished third, confirmed they will all likely return to Oaklawn for this prep next time out.


It’s been a very interesting, but often times not too surprising prep season thus far. We’ve seen our fare share of everything you normally expect and maybe even a few surprises along the way. So, before we look ahead to first leg of the Championship Series and the highly anticipated Fountain of Youth Stakes, let’s take a quick peek back and get up to speed on a few other details.

Injury Report


Honor CodeWhile the Fountain of Youth is off the table, Gulfstream Park is still warm and a very nice place to train. On Wednesday Honor Code breezed 3 furlongs in 35.66, his first official work since January 18, and only his 3rd since he scored in the G2 Remsen on November 30. 


Overall, it’s a very good sign for the colt trained by Shug McGuaghey. Specifically, this could mean that Honor Code will be ready to return next month. If so, the Rebel Stakes may get even more interesting as it has been mentioned as the likely target.


So, for anyone, including myself, that has been too reluctant to remove Honor Code from their top 5 this may help you to keep him right where you have him. A three week setback is a tough challenge, but at this stage of the trail, it’s not too late to get back on track if you’re healthy.


Shared Belief - As for this dominant Juvenile the road to a full recovery hasn’t been as timely. However, that’s not to say the Kentucky Derby isn’t reachable. But, you could also say that it does not look as likely as it once did.


Although he has been training lightly, Shared Belief has not registered an official work since January 3 at Santa Anita. The cracked quarter has cost him time, just over 6 weeks in fact, and his return is now gaining more attention. If Shared Belief can return for an official work in the next two weeks there’s a chance he will target either of these two races: the Spiral Stakes or Sunland Derby. But, both Kentucky Derby qualification races are at the end of March. Will it be too late? I’m not real sure, but I believe his trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will make the right call.


No Dirt


Speaking of Hollendorfer, over the holiday weekend, we also saw Tamarando reappear in impressive fashion. His win in the G3 El Camino Real bumped him up the leader board to 12 points after he notched 2 in the Juvenile Season with a 3rd place finish in the FrontRunner Stakes won by Bond Holder.


However, Tamarando has only won on Synthetics; G1 Del Mar Futurity, Real Quiet Stakes, El Camino Real. He was still game on the dirt though, 3rd in the Frontrunner and Golden State Juvenile before finishing runner up to California Chrome in the California Cup Derby, so I’m not over analyzing that too much. Instead, I will probably circle back to it as he continues his march towards the first Saturday in May. 


Trainer, Art Sherman confirmed that the San Felipe Stakes is where we should expect to see the aforementioned California Chrome next (March 8). He's already won on dirt so a nice performance here will tell us more about his chances of winning the Santa Anita Derby. 


No Points, No Problem


Besides Commissioner and Top Billing, who we will likely see in the FOY this weekend, there are three other horses fighting for the lead down in zero-point-ville.


Probably because it’s a sprint race there is no qualification points awarded. Although, based on Kentucky Derby history the San Vicente is still one of the most 10 Important Derby Preps. The question, however, is if Kobe’s Back can make a remarkable run and become the next Silver Charm.


Well, he his grey and he sure did look good over the weekend. Facing a small field of 6, Kobe’s Back made quick work of his challengers after sitting in last place through the opening half. From there he moved with authority before running away to win by 5 in 1:21.84.


While we’re here, I should also point out that C R K Stable is hot. The owners of Kobe’s Back returned to the winners circle after Gary Stevens and Candy Boy took them there just 7 days prior in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.


Next, Gary Stevens is also riding high. Did anyone else see Gary and Baffert hook up with Bayern? Wow, they might have something brewing here. For more on this late developing contender click HERE.


And finally, are we overlooking Vinceremos? Owned by WinStar Farms and trained by Todd Pletcher, this quiet contender by Pioneerof the Nile and Kettle’s Sister, by More Than Ready won the Sam F. Davis. No points yet but he could go from zero to fifty with a win in his next start, the Tampa Bay Derby.


Fountain of Youth


The race we’re all looking forward to the most, but the G2 Risen Star is also going this weekend. What better way to kick off the opening weekend of the Championship Series then by awarding a total of 170 points!


The biggest news surrounding these two big shows is that Conquest Titan will skip the G2 Fountain of Youth and instead wait for the Florida Derby. Secondly, the draw was not so kind to Vicar’s In Trouble. Without any scratches the winner of the G3 LeComte returns to the Fair Grounds with a sizeable challenge: Post 14 in a 14 horse field.




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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby Report: Tapiture Climbs to the Top...

Last year I thought the new Derby point system would encourage trainers to run their horses more often, but it looks like the opposite has happened, they seem to be running less. As someone who believes that running so few times is not only bad for the sport but also bad for the horse, this is disappointing. Although it is still better than the old system, in my opinion, at least it is keeping out the pure sprinters.

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park, Henderson, KY. 


In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance and the tradition continues because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when Juvenile season starts and continues until the field is set, the picks are in and the roses are awarded. 



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