• La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 4 days ago
  • Rubilinda (6-5) finds the wire just in time to take the Pebbles Stakes.Posted 4 days ago
  • Engage (1-2) rolls home from last to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes.Posted 4 days ago
  • Bolt d'Oro is the 12-1 favorite in the current Las Vegas line for Kentucky Derby 2018.Posted 7 days ago
  • Romantic Vision (6-1) takes the sloppy Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.Posted 10 days ago
  • Unique Bella (1-5) returns with a clear victory in the L. A. Woman (G3) at Santa Anita.Posted 10 days ago
  • Flameaway (5-1) wins a three-horse photo finish in the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at a wet Keeneland.Posted 10 days ago
  • War Flag (9-1) wins the stretch battle in Belmont's Flower Bowl (G1).Posted 10 days ago
  • Separationofpowers (9-5) impresses in the Frizette at Belmont Park.Posted 10 days ago
  • Roy H (4-5) lives up to favoritism in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.Posted 11 days ago
Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

Will We Know More After the FrontRunner Stakes?

If you could pick anywhere in the thoroughbred racing world to be this weekend Santa Anita has to be the choice. Talk about opening up the first weekend of the fall meet with a bang. The card on Super Saturday alone includes four Breeders’ Cup Series Qualifier races. Fall has arrived, we’re just over 30 days out and it’s time for things to begin heating up.


While there is a lot to talk about, there is only one race that I am interested in the most. The 1 1/16-mile FrontRunner, formerly known as the Norfolk Stakes, is the seventh race on the card and is scheduled for 4:07 pm PDT. The race has always been an important prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. So significant, it is almost guaranteed to remain a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race for many more years to come. But not only does a win in the FrontRunner Stakes now earn you an automatic qualification into the Juvenile, it is now a stakes race that awards qualification points for the Kentucky Derby. Those points are minimal (10-4-2-1) but the road has to begin somewhere and so it does. Buckle up, this train is moving.
We begin with the horse that everyone is talking about. Know More is an unusual talent. Yes, he is the only the Graded Stakes winner in the field but a résumé like his is almost unheard of. 2-yr-olds can be very immature sometimes. Other times they can be full of energy and very surprising when they make strides much sooner than anticipated. Despite rapid gains, most every 2-yr-old still needs a race or two before they are ready to dip their hooves into the Graded Stakes waters. Know More on the other hand, he did not.
On August 5 at Del Mar Know More began his racing career in the G2 Best Pal Stakes (6½F). The only thing Know More had going for him in the racing form that day was his connections. Son of Lion Heart (that 2nd place in the '04 Derby still hurts) the 2-yr-old colt is owned by Paul Reddam and Trained by Doug O’Neil, the winning tag team of I’ll Have Another. Sure the silks looked familiar to the betting public but it was hard to disregard that he had never raced.
I tip my cap to anyone that had him; $19.20 to win is a very comfortable payout. So the buzz began and he kept it going with a 2nd place finish to another highly regarded West Coast 2-yr-old, Rolling Fog. The G1 Del Mar Futurity (7F) pace set up nicely for Rolling Fog and he was just too tough for Know More to track down in the stretch.
This leads me to what I like the most about this young colt. In his two races Know More has shown the style of a two-turn horse. In both, Garrett Gomez placed him nicely just off the pace in close stalking position. Together it led to beautiful moves in the final turn and very nice finishes down the stretch.
Don’t expect to see anything different in the FrontRunner on Saturday. Know More has shown there should be fuel in the tank when Gomez calls on him. With a clean break from the gate and no trouble through the first turn, I expect him to be in prime position for another bold effort down the lane.
Following Know More to the FrontRunner after also racing in the Del Mar Futurity are Capo Bastone (4th), Gabriel Charles (6th) and The Whole Deal (8th). Breaking from the gate next to Know More is the second choice on the Morning Line, Capo Bastone. Victor Espinoza will be in the saddle for the first time for Trainer John Sadler. He has trained well over the dirt at Santa Anita twice this month – 5F 1:00.80; 6F 1:13.60 – so don’t expect the switch from the synthetics at Del Mar to be too much of a concern.
Like father like son? Gabriel Charles is the son of Street Hero, winner of the 2008 Norfolk Stakes. It’s a tall order to repeat his dad but don’t count him out without a good look. The Whole Deal on the other hand is really up against it. Unlike the other two this colt, son of Holy Bull, did not win in his MSW debut. In fact, he failed to finish in the top three again in his second attempt before the Del Mar Futurity. So here’s a horse that needs to show what his trainer knows that we don’t. Finishing three times without hitting the board before this stakes race is not a good spot but that can change with a big jump on Saturday.
Watch out, Bob Baffert is here! Rolling Fog was given a 60 day recovery by Baffert after his win in the Del Mar Futurity due to bucked shins. But while his best 2-yr-old is on the side lines until late December it doesn’t mean that Baffert isn’t coming to play. In fact, he brought three others with him in attempt to extend his record 5 Wins in this stakes race.
Leading his effort on the ML is Power Broker. His last time out was a 2nd place finish to Dry Summer on the turf in the Oak Tree Juvenile. What’s curious about this horse is that even though he has yet to win in three attempts and he lost to Dry Summer, he was still given the slight advantage on the ML – 4/1 vs. 5/1. But maybe it’s not so curious. Baffert always has his mind on the big races and he likes keeping his young horses on the home front in California. Because the winner’s circle wasn’t visited doesn’t mean that his crop won’t perk up on the dirt at Santa Anita.
His long shot of the three is Den’s Legacy but Carving is an intriguing contender. He enters a perfect 2 for 2 with a Maiden Claiming win at Del Mar followed by a non-graded stakes win in the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes. Fairplex Park isn’t a common stop en route to Super Saturday at Santa Anita but maybe the $50k purse was just easy money. The other attractive feature to this horse are his owners; Bob Baffert’s wife Jill and Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller. That’s a big trio here so I’m not sure which direction Carving is headed. Since it’s Baffert I guess I won’t be surprised if he shows on Saturday that it’s a pretty good path.
While the horses mentioned above don’t round out the field, I’ll let you decide for yourself if any of the unmentioned earns your live long shot.
Race 7 | G1 $250,000 FrontRunner Stakes | 1 1/16 Mile | Dirt
1CarvingM. GarciaB. Baffert6-1
2Gabriel CharlesJ. TalamoJ. Mullins6-1
3Dirty SwaggD. FloresM. Cho12-1
4The Whole DealE. MaldanadoS. Knapp50-1
5Dry SummerR. NapravnikJ. Mullins5-1
6ImperativeA. GryderE. Harty20-1
7Know MoreG. GomezD. O'Neill3-1
8Capo BastoneV. EspinozaJ. Sadler7/2
9Den's LegacyA. QuinonezB. Baffert12-1
10Power BrokerR. BejaranoB. Baffert4-1
11Wild StudentI. PuglisiP. Aguire50-1
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby Winners
Since its inaugural edition in 1970 the Norfolk Stakes has had a much more prominent role in determining the result of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile than the Kentucky Derby. I will stand corrected but I believe my data is accurate: Five Norfolk Stakes entries have gone on to win the BC Juvenile. Sure the majority of them were in the first four years of the Breeders’ Cup (Chief’s Crown ’84, Capote ’85, Success Express ’87) but let’s not discount Anees in ’99 and Midshipman in ’08.
As for its role in the Kentucky Derby the race needs a little attention. By my accounts there is only one Derby winner that ever raced in the Norfolk Stakes – Gato Del Sol 1982. As you can see the points won on Saturday have a long road to travel before finding the winners circle at the Kentucky Derby. But trends have a way of ending from time to time so it’s never a good idea to dismiss the first “FrontRunner Stakes” winner. 


comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about Will We Know More After the FrontRunner Stakes?...

Im standing by my pick
I have to stick by Know More for now. His first two starts have been impressive.
i think goldenscents may be the better oneil horse who he is sending east to champagne. atleast at this point. his maiden win was lights out. ill wait till after champagne to have my opinion on the top two year old.
The first test of two turns will be telling...I believe this is wide open race. Breeding is important.
With the shift back to dirt, not to mention two-turns, this becomes a wide-open affair and the first true test for the BC Juvenile.

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

Top Stories