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The Kentucky Derby Post

2014 Kentucky Derby: Trending vs. Descending

Samraat after Gotham 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Sue Kawczynski


In this the first edition of an ongoing series we take a closer look at the 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders and analyze their chances of winning the Kentucky Derby or missing the field all together.


As the prep season heats up there will be a whole slew of horses trending in the right direction. And, that’s where we’ll begin.


Samraat |  R. Violette  |  J. Ortiz  |  My Meadowview Farm     Noble Causeway - Little Indian Girl by Indian Charlie             Last: G3 Gotham Stakes - 1st    Next: G1 Wood Memorial  


Introducing your new Kentucky Derby points leader. If you didn’t know too much about Samraat before the Gotham Stakes that’s acceptable. But now, I won’t be able to be so lenient because Samraat is a horse in which you need to pay attention.


After getting the best of Uncle Sigh by a length in the Withers Stakes, the two returned to Aqueduct to battle it out once again. It was much closer this time but Samraat got a neck in front to remain undefeated. Between the two races Samraat has now scored 60 points and has qualified for the Kentucky Derby.


 Uncle Sigh  |  C. Contessa  |  C. Nakatani  |  A. Robertson    Indian Charlie - Cradlesong by Pine Bluff                              Last: G3 Gotham Stakes - 2nd    Next: G1 Wood Memorial


Regardless of the fact that he didn’t win the Gotham, he too should be considered a Kentucky Derby qualifier and contender. The pair of runner-up finishes to Samraat scored him 24 points and by all accounts that should be enough to earn him a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.


And that’s not even with consideration to what Uncle Sigh might do next time out in the Wood Memorial. These two will have to hook up on the lead again and gut it out all the way to wire for me to dub them the second coming of Free House vs. Silver Charm, but it’s trending in that direction.


 Cairo Prince | K. McLaughlin | L. Saez | GoDolphin Racing    Pioneerof the Nile - Holy Bubbette by Holy Bull                  Last G2 Holy Bull - 1st    Next: G1 Florida Derby


The Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 closed on Saturday. While All Other 3-yr-olds is the overwhelming favorite at 3-1, Cairo Prince (9-1) edged both of trainer Shug McGaughey’s derby contenders, Honor Code (11-1) and Top Billing (11-1), to close as the individual favorite.


Outside of the futures, Cairo Prince is also doing well on the track. We won’t see him in action again until the G1 Florida Derby on March 29, but his workouts since his win in the G3 Holy Bull prove he’s trending towards being ready. Here are his last 3 Saturday morning workouts at Palm Meadows Training Center; 4F 48.75, 4F 49.90, 5F 59.95.


Gala Award  |  T. Pletcher  |  J. Velazquez  |  M. Tabor         Bernardini - Wilshewed by Carson City                                 Last: G3 Palm Beach Stakes - 1st    Next: Undecided 


This potential contender has been nowhere near the Kentucky Derby trail. However, after Saturday’s performance the conversation can now begin. In only his 3rd career start Gala Award made a bold statement about his potential with a strong win in the G3 Palm Beach Stakes. After finishing 2nd in his debut last December, Gala Award scored his next MSW start on January 20th. What’s interesting about all three of his races is that they have all been raced at distance of at least 1 1/16.


But, they have also all been raced on the turf at Gulfstream Park. If he’s a turf horse then why has he only been training on the dirt at Palm Meadows Training Center? Only TP can answer that question but based on his post race comments, the dirt has not been ruled out nor has the G1 Blue Grass Stakes. Regardless of the surface, Gala Award is trending towards a start in an official Kentucky Derby qualification race next time out.


A few others that are currently trending: Wildcat Red, General a Rod, Intense Holiday, Albano, Top Billing, Bayern


Unfortunately the Derby trail can also be a very tough road to travel. With all the success and heavy duty scores comes the agony of setbacks and defeat. And so, for some derby hopefuls their status is now descending


Havana  |  T. Pletcher  |  G. Stevens  |  M. Tabor                 Dunkirk - Missy Turtle by Kyle's Our Man                               Last: G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile - 2nd    Next: Undecided


The G1 Champagne Stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up was scratched on the morning of the Swale Stakes due to a quarter crack that was discovered in his right front foot. Prior to being scratched Havana was the 9-5 favorite on the morning line. His injury was discovered after a gallop that was noted as nothing more than routine.

The 7F stakes was going to be his first start of the year for the 2013 graded stakes winner. So, the derby hopes would be put back into play after a solid effort in the Swale. Now, those hopes may have just ended. At the moment it’s day to day and there could be a long shot chance but I don’t see how a horse that hasn’t raced since the first week in November can get back to form after missing this much time. His five works in February were solid but again, this injury will need to heal quickly and Havana will then need to score more points very soon (14 points).


 Shared Belief | J. Hollendorfer | C. Nakatani | Jungle Racing  Candy Ride - Common Hope by Storm Cat                             Last: G1 Cash Call Futurity - 1st    Next: Undecided


Based on his closing odds in the KDFW Pool 3, some might argue that Shared Belief is trending. I give a lot of credit to his fans and those that played him but I’ll admit it; I was shocked to see him close at 15-1. Those odds made him the 5th individual choice behind Cairo Prince, Honor Code, Top Billing and Candy Boy and better than 18 other individual horses.


The Juvenile champion and Eclipse Award winner has made it back to Golden Gate where training is scheduled to resume. However, since his quarter crack no official work has been registered making his 5F work on January 3 his only one in 2014. I do not doubt what this horse is made of and how good he may become but I can’t yet describe his Kentucky Derby chances any other way. There’s a long way to go with very little time so I doubt we’ll get to see him make a bid for the roses.


 Commissioner | T. Pletcher | J. Velazquez | WinStar Farms    A.P. Indy - Flaming Heart by Touch Gold                            Last: G2 Fountain of Youth - 6th    Next: Undecided


Flying under the radar without a start in any official Kentucky Derby qualification races Commissioner was considered a legitimate sleeper with a solid pedigree. However, his first shot at a breakthrough performance fell flat. The G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes was a perfect place to get the ball rolling but Commissioner just didn’t have it. Not only did he fail to make an early impression he also tired down the stretch leaving me to question his ability to compete at the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 ¼ Mile.


 Rise Up  |  T. Amoss  |  G. Melancon  |  P. Van Doren            Rockport Harbor - Apenzell by Johannesburg                        Last: G2 Risen Star - 7th    Next: G1 Louisiana Derby


Although he has 10 Kentucky Derby points that he earned with a win in the G3 Delta Downs Jackpot, there’s two races on his resume that stand out to me even more; G3 Iroquois Stakes (6th) – G2 Risen Star (7th). The reason is pretty simple; I’m not convinced that any horse in the G3 Delta Downs Jackpot will be racing in the Kentucky Derby. It was a dominant win (6 lengths) but where was that drive in the Risen Star, a race like the Iroquois which will send starters to the derby. Granted it was his 3-yr-old debut but it concerns me that he weakened from 2nd place behind modest fractions set by the pace setter and eventual runner up Albano; 24.30, 48.14, 1:13.  


To his credit, he also scored in the Mountaineer Juvenile and Jean Lafitte. So, Rise Up can rebound and quickly force me to move him back to a trending status but for now, I don’t see that happening.


A few others that are (or are in jeopardy of) Descending:  We Miss Artie, Almost Famous, Gold Hawk, Walt


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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Trending vs. Descending...

I think Bond Holder is another that is descending right now.
Sammrat had a handride in Ny. He's done everything asked of him so far. He will not let anyone past him. What more could you ask? Rocky
Don,the distance is not the issue with the Commish. His problem is a 6 letter word called TALENT,to run against the very best. He is just not fast enough.Against the right horses,he could probably win a 2 mile Marathon.
Wow! You don't think Commissioner can get distance? What 2 yr old on KD trail has run and won @ 1 1/8 & how many KD trail horses have run and won 1 1/8 race? Ooh, Commissioner! That's who! Ever here of a bounce back race!
I agree Marylandgq. I am not giving up on Commissioner either.
In the FOY, Commissioner got "tired" of running on the GP speedway, not because he is "Derby distance challenged". Prior to the FOY, he won 2 races @ 1 1/8 miles, including one over Top Billing. As long as he's sound and TAP allows him to escape from GP, Commissioner COULD be a force in one of the 9f Derby preps other than FL Derby.
  • geldedridgling · Great point. Plus, it didn't seem like Johnny V knew what he wanted to do with the horse out of the 1 hole. It also seems like it would have made more sense to run him at Aqueduct in the Gotham or Tampa next weekend instead of speed favoring Gulfstream. The Risen Star would have been another good choice and on the same weekend if he wanted to keep him on a certain schedule. I guess Todd didn't want to ship him for some reason. · 1359 days ago
Drayton.nay - good point because yes, he is on the rise. 10 points with a chance to qualify next time out. We'll see then just how good he is or can be
In Trouble gave everyone all they could handle first time going 2 turns and he loses by a 1/2 length and he isn't the one rising ?
  • GregRiessland · i think in trouble is the best of the top three in the gotham. great run after layoff and ths distance is on his side compared to the other two. · 1360 days ago
Andy it is called being loyal fans. I would of rather taken 5-1 that he does not make it into the gate on Derby day
Don't understand how anybody could make a futures bet on Shared Belief and 15-1 no less???



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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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