Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

2014 Kentucky Derby: Trending vs. Descending

California Chrome win circle 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers


Kentucky – The Men’s NCAA Basketball team is on fire. The Blue Grass Stakes is coming up on Saturday and the 2014 Kentucky Derby is right around the corner. Other than the obvious there’s something else about the Bluegrass State that got my attention in the Wood Memorial.


Wicked Strong – Coming into the G1 Wood Memorial there was a lot of talk about the recent success and duels between the most well known NY breds. While Samraat will likely start in the Kentucky Derby, his win streak at the Big A came to end. Wicked Strong was back at Aqueduct for the first time since he finished 3rd behind Honor Code and Cairo Prince in the G3 Remsen. Although he is not as regular at Aqueduct compared to the NY Breds he was ready over the weekend. And why not, he was bred in the state that's trending right now. 


That’s what leads to me another discovery; KY breds own the Kentucky Derby. I figured as much but the stats were surprising. In last 40 years only 10 Champions were bred outside of Kentucky. In the last 20 years it’s only happened 3 times.


2004 Smarty Jones (PA)   1990 Unbridled (FL)
2003 Funny Cide (NY)   1983 Sunny’s Halo (ON)
1997 Silver Charm (FL)   1981 Pleasant Colony (VA)
1993 Sea Hero (VA)   1978 Affirmed (FL)
1992 Lil E Tee (PA)   1975 Foolish Pleasure (FL)



California Chrome – No doubt about it with this colt, his performance in the G1 Santa Anita Derby was top notch. The way he eased to the front of pack after getting squeezed out of the starting gate was impressive. The way he jumped from a high cruising speed to another gear around the final turn was something else. Much the best by 5 lengths but that stat is not an accurate depiction of the win. If you saw the race you should recall that it was hand ride by Victor Espinoza down the stretch and he began galloping him out before the wire. By all accounts California Chrome is trending big time and will likely be your Kentucky Derby favorite.


But, here is something interesting about California Chrome, bred in CA. Can he shut down the KY breds in the Derby? It has been a long, long time but is he the one that will become the first CA bred to win since Decidedly in 1952 and only the fourth all time? (Swaps ’55, Morvich ’22).


Candy Boy - The biggest sigh of relief had to come from the connections of Candy Boy. Prior to the Santa Anita Derby he only had 10 points and thus was in a very similar situation to what we saw with Cairo Prince in the Florida Derby; one big win in the early part of the season then switching to training in preparation for a major prep race.


So, fourth place or worse was not an option. Gary Stevens had him settled nicely through the first turn in 3rd, a position he would hold into the stretch. By then Hoppertunity had got by him on the inside and Candy Boy was faced with the possibility of missing the top three. But, he rallied gamely down the stretch to get by Dublin Up to finish 3rd. That effort was awarded with 20 points. Add it to the 10 he scored with a win in the Robert B. Lewis and his spot in the Kentucky Derby should be safe.


Now to the horses that are descending after the weekend. To be falling at this stage of the trail means one of two things; you won’t qualify or, in my opinion, you won’t win if do you start.  


Toast of New York – According to Michael Buckley, owner of the UAE Derby winner, the idea of shipping him across the Atlantic to race on dirt is not very ideal. No decision has been made but it’s safe to assume that Toast of New York is off the derby trail.


Social Inclusion – Points are precious and that is especially true for any 3-yr-old that had 0 coming into the final leg of the Championship Series. His 3rd place effort in the Wood Memorial put things in perspective for this colt who grabbed our attention after he dominated Honor Code in only his second career race last time out. For now, his derby hopes have him on the outside looking in. 20 points secures the final spot but graded stakes earnings are the tie breaker. Given that Social Inclusion has only raced in one is why he is listed behind other horses with 20 points (Vinceremos, Harry’s Holiday, Commanding Curve) and his currently ranked at #22.


Uncle Sigh – Right now Uncle Sigh is in with 24 points (Rank #18). After a disappointing 5th place finish in the Wood Memorial trainer Gary Contessa confirmed that he intends to enter him in the Kentucky Derby with blinkers should he still have enough points. However, I’m listing him as descending because even if 24 points does get him in I don’t think he has any shot at winning. Uncle Sigh is the type of horse I recognize as good but not good enough to contend for the Kentucky Derby.


Kristo – After respectable finishes in the G3 Sham (2nd) and G2 San Felipe (3rd) Kristo was considered a potential qualifier. However, his lack luster performance in the Wood ended his chances of making it to the Kentucky Derby. 14 points will not be enough so you can rule Kristo out or off the derby trail.


comments powered by Disqus

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

Decidedly won in 1962, not 1952
Decidedly won in 1962, not 1952
As Cali Chrome crossed the line, I told my better half that we were looking at the Derby winner. But, after a night's sleep I've become more reserved. Hoppertunity is no slouch, so Chrome's performance is very legit IMO, but I'm tempering myself until the Ark Derby is over. I'm leaning more and more that the toughest competition may come from there.
Decidedly won in 1962, not 1952
I wouldn’t say that Candy Boy’s spot is safe at 30 points. He’s 16th now, and if you do the math as many as 7 horses could pass him up this weekend. More realistically though, I’d say maybe 4 or 5, which would put him in a position to be right on the bubble or need at least 1 more defection to run in the Derby. It sounds like John Sadler has resigned himself to the fact that he won’t make it, but he still has a shot.
Last year's group that showed they had made the grade that first Saturday in May were: Golden Pool, Mylute, Palace , Will Take Charge Overanalyze and Orb.
the MUCH more accurate question would be IS this colt maturing to the point they he can apportion his speed to the demanding distance of 10 furlongs under 126 pounds. Only 6 could last year
Good question Sally. He's not descending but not ascending any more than last time I wrote about him. He's in good shape, made a nice move in the SA Derby and should be ready come Derby day.
Is Hoppertunity not ascending?

Related Pages



     Connect With Bryan

Me On Facebook
Follow Me On Twitter



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. 



American Pharoah

Racing's 12th Triple Crown Winner

First Grand Slam Champion

Bob Mayberger / Eclipse Sportswire

Related Stories

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories