Friday, May 19, 2017

Always Dreaming Makes Bid To Win Preakness Stakes

©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

The classic trail to Triple Crown glory takes us Saturday to Pimlico Race Couse in Baltimore, Maryland, where Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming will attempt to win the second jewel of the crown as the prohibitive 4-5 morning-line favorite in the 142nd running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1).
Prerace television coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network with race coverage beginning at 5 p.m. on NBC. You can also watch a live stream of the races at the Preakness Stakes website link.
Always Dreaming is the deserving favorite and he’ll be tough to beat. He’s undefeated in his last four starts with a combined win margin of 22¾ lengths. Here’s a look his win via the Bloodhorse 2017 Kentucky Derby Race Sequence.
In addition to Always Dreaming, Lookin at Lee (10-1) and Classic Empire (3-1) also ran in the Kentucky Derby and they are two horses that should be solid in this race. Another horse I like is Hence (20-1). He also ran in the Derby and he’s better than his eleventh-place finish (G1).
Other horses that could, perhaps, be factors are Multiplier (30-1) and Conquest Mo Money (15-1). Cloud Computing (12-1) is a colt I’ve liked in previous races and he’s the best bred colt in this race. However, he’ll need to improve his game considerably in order to score the win.
Knowing as much as possible about the Thoroughbred and what it takes to produce a classic champion has been a passion of mine since the early 1990s and my research and study led to the creation of the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®  which is an analytical tool I use to measure the graded stakes and classic potential of young horses.
In 2014, the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® was developed into a software program by my brother, Dallas, and it assigns each horse a numerical score which is the indicator of that horse’s potential. The higher the score, the more potential that horse has to become a quality stakes horse or classic champion.
Let’s take a look at the profiles of the horses in Preakness 142:




Our research which is documented in my numerous blogs and website, shows that a majority of horses run close to their Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score which is a measurement of the breeding influences found in the five-generation pedigree. In addition to the profile score, the Behavior Index and Data Mining are important tools I use to determine horse potential.
In the Behavior Index chart, some horses that have a profile grade rating of B or lower like Always Dreaming, Hence, Classic Empire, Conquest Mo Money and Multiplier can be moved up because their Behavior Index makes them competitive, enabling them to sometimes win races that are shorter than the classic 10 furlong distance.
For example, in my blog about the nine-furlong 2016 Wood Memorial Stakes (G1), I noted that Outwork, who had an E grade rating, was a horse I liked because his Behavior Index showed me he had the potential to be competitive. Indeed, he went on to win the Wood. However, in the Kentucky Derby (G1) Outwork’s grade rating had him ranked sixteenth and he finished fourteenth.
Multiplier has an E profile and he comes into this race off of a narrow win the nine-furlong Illinois Derby (G3). His Behavior Index made him competitive in that race (here’s the video) and time will tell how far it will take in Preakness Stakes 142.
In addition to moving some horses up, the Behavior Index can also move down horses like Cloud Computing. If he doesn’t live up to his breeding, Cloud Computing could potentially finish out of the top four.
When horses fail to run close to their profile score, then the issue[s] preventing them from reaching their full potential needs to be investigated. And there can be many contributing factors for a horse not running to his profile score – Effinex is a good example of that.
Data Mining variables are another tool for analyzing potential and when added to the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and Behavior Index, they can also move some horse up or down like Always Dreaming and Lookin at Lee.
Always Dreaming will be tough to beat but any of the top four horses listed in the Data Mining chart above have the potential to win Preakness 142.
Let’s take a look at the horses I like in this race:


ALWAYS DREAMING (4-5) is also a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he comes into this race with 4-1-1 record in six starts including a 2¾ length win in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

ALWAYS DREAMING was sent up between rivals to secure a forward position in the opening furlong, dropped to the rail soon after to track the leader, angled back out approaching the backstretch to take aim, drew alongside STATE OF HONOR five furlongs out, gained a slim advantage a sixteenth later, briefly cleared then was met by a pair of rivals with three furlongs remaining maintained command while nursed to the quarter pole, opened up a daylight advantage after being shaken up soon into the lane, extended his margin under repeated right hand rousing near the sixteenth marker then comfortably held. 

Always Dreaming remained undefeated in four straight starts to easily win Kentucky Derby 143 in a final time of 2:03.59 on a sloppy track compared to Bodemeister’s approximate time of 2:01.83 on a fast track.
Bodemeister, the sire of Always Dreaming, did not race until the age of three when he made six starts for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert, compiling a 2-4-0 record in six starts with $1,304,800 in career earnings.
He raced twice in the maiden ranks before finishing second in his third start, the San Felipe Stakes (G2). In his fourth start, Baffert shipped Bodemeister to Oaklawn Park where he was my pick to win the Arkansas Derby (G1). Bodemeister trounced the field, winning by an outstanding 9½ lengths. He then went on to finish second in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® Always Dreaming has the breeding to win this race and he looms as the horse to beat in Preakness Stakes 142.


LOOKIN AT LEE (10-1) is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he comes into this race for trainer Steve Asmussen with a 2-3-2 record in ten starts including a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Here’s the chart call of that race:

LOOKIN AT LEE settled well back while saving ground, picked up the pace leaving the far turn, continued skimming the rail advancing past the five sixteenths, continued his run to mid-stretch, altered out and kept on gamely.

Lookin at Lee likes run at the back of the herd and that running style enabled him to close with good energy and finish third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and second in the Kentucky Derby (G1). A repeat of those runs in Preakness 142 should put him in the money and, perhaps, the winners circle.
Lookin at Lucky, the sire of Lookin at Lee, was an exceptional two year old who was undefeated in four starts, including victories in the Best Pal Stakes (G2), Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Norfolk Stakes (G1), before suffering his first loss by a neck to Vale of York in the 2009 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
As a three year old, Lookin at Lucky won the CashCall Futurity (G1), Rebel Stakes (G2) and he finished third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Lookin at Lucky finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby and he earned the title Classic Champion Thoroughbred with a three-quarter length victory in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Corey Lanerie retains the mount on Lookin at Lee who’s a proven competitor on the classic trail.
I look for the pair to run a good race.


CLASSIC EMPIRE (3-1) is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd. He comes into this race for trainer Mark Casse with a 5-0-1 record in eight starts off of a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Here’s the chart call of that race:

CLASSIC EMPIRE bobbled soon after the break then was hammered off stride between rivals when forced down, regrouped to rate off the inside, picked up steam leaving the far turn, swung five wide for the drive, had his run briefly interrupted when bumped and carried out mid-stretch, regrouped and churned on.

Classic Empire had a rough trip in this race but rallied in the stretch to finish a respectable fourth. His gritty performance showed why he is the 2016 two year old champion and a proven competitor on the trail.
Pioneerof the Nile, the sire of Classic Empire, was a pretty good middle-distance runner and multiple graded-stakes winner that compiled a 2-0-1 record as a two year old including a win in the CashCall Futurity (G1) and a third-place finish in the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
As a three year old, Pioneerof the Nile was 3-0-1 in five starts with wins in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), San Felipe Stakes (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) in route to a second-place finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Regular jockey Julien Leparoux retains the mount on Classic Empire and he’s a proven competitor on the Triple Crown trail. If he has a better trip than he had in the Kentucky Derby, Classic Empire has the potential to finish much better and, perhaps, win Preakness Stakes 142.


HENCE (20-1) is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he comes into this race for trainer Steve Asmussen with a 2-1-1 record in seven starts including an eleventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Here’s the chart call of that race:

HENCE in tight at the break, settled well back, steadied off heels leaving the five sixteenths, swung wide for the drive but failed to muster up the needed kick.

On overall profile score, Hence is ranked third in this herd but his Behavior Index ranks him eighth. Why he did not run better is not known but trainer Steve Asmussen said in a Bloodhorse article that the track conditions and kickback could have been a factor.
Street Boss, the sire of Hence, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled a 7-3-1- record in 13 starts with $831,800 in earnings.
Street Boss did not race until he was a three year old compiling a 1-1-0 record in for starts. At the age of four, Street Boss was 6-2-1 in nine starts with wins in the Bing Crosby Handicap (G1), Triple Bend Invitational Handicap (G1) and the Los Angeles Handicap (G3). He ran second in the Ancient Title Stakes (G1) and third in the Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
Like Always Dreaming, Hence also has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating and he has the potential to be competitive in this race.
Jockey Florent Geroux retains the mount on Hence and if improves off the Derby, he could be a big factor in the exotics at a nice price.
Honorable mention goes to CLOUD COMPUTING (12-1) who comes into this race for trainer Chad Brown with a 1-1-1 record in three starts including a third place finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes. Here’s the video of that race.
Cloud Computing has the breeding to win this race. But he is lightly raced and will need to make a big step forward to advance to the classic winner’s circle.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® Unlocks Secret Of Ancestral Herd, Pedigree, To Determine Outcome of Kentucky Derby 143

By Calvin L. Carter and Dallas Carter
©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

For the past eight months, we’ve travelled down the Road to the Kentucky Derby which, now, brings us to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky where this Saturday a field of 20 young Thoroughbreds will enter the starting gate in Kentucky Derby 143.
Knowing as much as possible about the Thoroughbred and what it takes to produce a classic champion has been a passion of mine since the early 1990s and my research and study led to the creation of the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®  which is an analytical tool I use to measure the graded stakes and classic potential of young horses.
In 2014, the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® was developed into a software program by my brother, Dallas, and it assigns each horse a numerical score which is the indicator of that horse’s potential. The higher the score, the more potential that horse has to become a quality stakes horse or classic champion.
Since the debut of the software, Dallas and I have continued to refine the profile. One of the biggest changes that have been made to the software is the addition of the Behavior Index which I wrote about in my wrap up for the 2015 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
The Behavior Index is proving to be a very valuable analytical tool, and, with its addition to the software, Dallas and I are now able to add behavioral analysis to the final equation of what it takes to produce a Classic Champion Thoroughbred or top quality graded stakes competitor.
Let’s take a look at the profile grade ratings for the horses in Kentucky Derby 143.




As you can see in the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® chart above there is a lot of parity in this herd of horses. Of the 20 horses entered, 20% have a grade rating of A or higher, 40% have a B rating and 20% have a C rating. So 80% of this year’s entrants have a grade rating of C or higher making this one of the better Derby fields in recent history.
In the Behavior Index chart, some horses that have a B or C profile grade rating like Hence, Always Dreaming, Irish War Cry, Classic Empire and Girvin can be moved up because their Behavior Index makes them competitive, enabling them to sometimes win races that are shorter than the classic 10 furlong distance.
For example, in my blog about the nine-furlong 2016 Wood Memorial Stakes (G1), I noted that Outwork, who had an E grade rating, was a horse I liked because his Behavior Index showed me he had the potential to be competitive. Indeed, he went on to win the Wood. However, in the Kentucky Derby (G1) Outwork’s grade rating had him ranked sixteenth and he finished fourteenth.
In addition to moving some horses up, the Behavior Index can also move down horses like J Boys Echo, Gormley, Tapwrit and Untrapped. I’ve liked Gormley since last fall and he was my upset pick in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1). Since then, he’s had issues and has not fully lived up to his breeding.
When horses like Gormley, J Boys Echo, Tapwrit and Untrapped fail to run close to their profile score, then the issue[s] preventing them from reaching their full potential needs to be investigated. And there can be many contributing factors for a horse not running to his profile score – Effinex is a good example of that.
Data Mining variables are another tool for analyzing potential and when added to the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and Behavior Index, they can also move some horse up or down like Hence, Always Dreaming, Sonneteer, Lookin at Lee, Practical Joke, State of Honor, Battle of Midway and Gunnevera.
Any of the top five horses listed in the Data Mining chart above have the potential to win this year’s Derby. In addition to the top five, honorable mention goes to Girvin, Sonneteer, Gormley and Lookin at Lee who could be considered for a few exotic wagers.
Let’s take a look at the horses I like in Kentucky Derby 143:


HENCE (15-1) is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he comes into this race for trainer Steve Asmussen with a 2-1-1 record in six starts including a win in the Sunland Derby (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

HENCE was void of early speed, was gaining steadily along the backstretch, loomed five wide into the second turn, made a bid on CONQUEST MO MONEY at the three sixteenths pole, took the lead at that point and edged clear for the win.

Going into the far turn, Hence made a nice move that I like to see in young Thoroughbreds and moved up to take the lead from Conquest Mo Money to win by an easy 3¾ lengths. The time of 1:35.71 for the mile and 1:48.10 is pretty good and makes Hence competitive in Kentucky Derby 143.
Street Boss, the sire of Hence, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled a 7-3-1- record in 13 starts with $831,800 in earnings.
Street Boss did not race until he was a three year old compiling a 1-1-0 record in for starts. At the age of four, Street Boss was 6-2-1 in nine starts with wins in the Bing Crosby Handicap (G1), Triple Bend Invitational Handicap (G1) and the Los Angeles Handicap (G3). He ran second in the Ancient Title Stakes (G1) and third in the Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating, Hence is competitive in this field and when you add Data Mining variables he’s ranked slightly above Always Dreaming.
Jockey Florent Geroux picks up the mount on Hence. He’s been working well at Churchill Downs and a recent bullet work on April 17 could have him ready to run another good race and, perhaps, pull the upset at a nice price.


ALWAYS DREAMING (5-1) is also a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he comes into this race with 3-1-1 record in five starts.
I like how Always Dreaming was given a five month rest after his first two races as a two year old for trainer Dominick Schettino. He made his three year old debut for new trainer Todd Pletcher and since then he’s won his last three races by a combined 20 lengths. And he won his final Derby prep, the Florida Derby (G1), by five lengths. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

ALWAYS DREAMING steadied between rivals in the first turn, raced up close under slight restraint off pacesetter, steadily inched way up to lead in hand in far turn, moved up on equal terms with THREE RULES turning for home, responded willingly when shaken up for the drive, kicked clear four wide then angled in couple paths under right handed urging, pulled away to clear lead with amount of victory determined by the rider.

Always Dreaming’s split for the mile of 1:34.94 and final time of 1:47.47 is racehorse time and what I like to see a young colt run on the Derby Trail. His final time is just a few ticks off the track record of 1:46.83 set by Arrogate in January this year. It also is the sixth fastest time in the history of the Florida Derby (G1) and second fastest behind Alydar who won in 1978.
Bodemeister, the sire of Always Dreaming, did not race until the age of three when he made six starts for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert, compiling a 2-4-0 record in six starts with $1,304,800 in career earnings.
He raced twice in the maiden ranks before finishing second in his third start, the San Felipe Stakes (G2). In his fourth start, Baffert shipped Bodemeister to Oaklawn Park where he was my pick to win the Arkansas Derby (G1). Bodemeister trounced the field, winning by an outstanding 9½ lengths. He then went on to finish second in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® Always Dreaming has the breeding to win this race and if he makes another move forward he’ll be tough to beat on Saturday.


PATCH (30-1) is a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and he comes into this race for trainer Todd Pletcher with 1-2-0 record in three starts including a nice second-place finish to Givin in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

PATCH bumped with a rival at the start, settled on the inside, was urged along passing the half-mile pole, raced inside early on the far turn, moved to the two path near the five sixteenths, spun three wide into the stretch, chased into the final furlong, was carried in near the sixteenths-pole and finished with good courage to get the place.

Patch was my long shot pick in this race and, despite only having one eye, he “finished with good courage” just 1¼ lengths shy of victory. I like how he handled himself in this race and in his previous races he also appeared to run with no fear.
Union Rags, the sire of Patch, was a competitive colt on the trail to the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1), compiling an overall 5-1-1 record in eight career starts with $1,798,800 in earnings.
As a two year old, he won the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special (G2) and Champagne (G1) stakes and finished second in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) stakes.
At the age of three, Union Rags won the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) stakes and finished third in the Florida Derby (G1) en route to a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He finished his career with a narrow win by a neck over Paynter in the Belmont (G1) stakes.
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione rode Path in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and he retains the mount in this race.
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Patch is one of the best bred horses in this field and he has the breeding to win. Another move forward off of his performance in the Louisiana Derby (G2) will make him competitive and I like him as a potential upset candidate at a nice price.


IRISH WAR CRY (6-1) is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector herd and he comes into this race for trainer Graham Motion with a 4-0-0 record in five starts including wins in the Marylander Stakes, the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

IRISH WAR CRY strung out three wide on the first turn, worked out a tuck closer to the rail after making it onto the backstretch, drew up and latched on to the runner up as the half was being completed, chiseled away at the deficit, arrived at the three-eighths pole on nearly even terms, inched his way to the top to lead the field into the stretch by a narrow margin, was almost at the eighth pole before asked for his best, gave it and kicked away.

Irish War Cry rebounded nicely off of his seventh-place, mystery finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).  Despite that race, Irish War Cry has been nearly perfect on the trail.
Curlin, the sire of Irish War Cry, was an outstanding racehorse that compiled an 11-2-2 record in 16 career starts with $10,501,800 in career earnings.
Curlin did not start as a two year old. But, at the age of three, Curlin was 6-1-2 in nine starts with $5,102,800 in earnings including wins in the Rebel Stakes (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G2) en route to a third-place finish in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1). He went on to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) and he finished second in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Other important stakes wins include the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), twice, Dubai World Cup (G1), Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1), and the UAE Jaguar Trophy Handicap.
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® Irish War Cry has the breeding to be competitive in this race and it remains to be seen if he can take another step forward and earn classic stakes honors.


CLASSIC EMPIRE is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he’s been tabbed as the 4-1 morning line favorite.
He comes into this race for trainer Mark Casse with a 5-0-1 record in seven starts including wins as a two year old in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3), the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
As a three year, Classic Empire has had some issues. With a third-place finish in the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and a win in his final Derby prep race, the Arkansas Derby (G1), he’s yet to show the same form he flashed as a two year old. Here’s the video and chart call of the Arkansas Derby:

CLASSIC EMPIRE bobbled slightly at the start but broke in mid pack, steadied nearing the wire the first turn, moved out in the three path while a bit keen in the first turn, in some traffic approaching the far turn, patiently handled three out to four wide through that bend, asked for run when straightened for home, finished with good resolve to be up in time.

Classic Empire needed to win this race in order to qualify for the Derby and, despite his previous issues he showed his true class to get up for the win by one half of a length over Conquest Mo Money.
Pioneerof the Nile, the sire of Classic Empire, was a pretty good middle-distance runner and multiple graded-stakes winner that compiled a 2-0-1 record as a two year old including a win in the CashCall Futurity (G1) and a third-place finish in the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
As a three year old, Pioneerof the Nile was 3-0-1 in five starts with wins in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), San Felipe Stakes (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) in route to a second-place finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1).
An interesting historical statistic to consider is that horses like Classic Empire, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) or other major end-of-year prep stakes races, do not usually go on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1).
In my December 26, 2014 blog, I took a look at the major end-of-year prep races going back to 2000: the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Hollywood Futurity (G1), Remsen (G2), Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Boyd Gaming’s Delta Jackpot (G3).
Analysis of those prep races showed that only a few runners from those races went on to compete in the Kentucky Derby. And only five horses that competed in those prep races went on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Street Sense won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1); Super Saver won the 2009 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and the 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Nyquist won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Giacomo finished second in the 2004 Hollywood Futurity (G1) and won the 2005 Kentucky Derby (G1). Mine That Bird finished 12th (dead last) in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and won the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Since 2000, there have been no winners of the Remsen Stakes (G2) that went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the same is true for the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) which began racing in 2002.
So, it will be interesting to see if Classic Empire can buck that historical trend.
Regular jockey Julien Leparoux retains the mount on Classic Empire and this Saturday, Classic Empire will have been racing for over one year. When he finished third in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2), it’s possible that he reached is limit.
However, Classic Empire is a proven competitor on the Derby trail and he rebounded nicely in Arkansas Derby (G1). He has room to improve in his third start of the season.


2017 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD

Final Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1. Girvin, 150, Joe Sharp, $849,800
2. Classic Empire, 132, Mark Casse, $2,093,820
3. Gormley, 125, John Sherriffs, $884,000
4. Irap, 113, Doug O’Neill, $760,000
5. Irish War Cry, 110, Graham Motion, $676,660
6. Thunder Snow, 100, Saeed bin Suroor, $1,621,063
7. Always Dreaming, 100, Todd Pletcher, $589,000
8. Gunnevera, 84, Antonio Sano, $1,137,800
9. Practical Joke, 74, Chad Brown, $966,000
10. J Boys Echo, 63, Dale Romans, $305,000
11. State of Honor, 62, Mark Casse, $310,364
12. Tapwrit, 54, Todd Pletcher, $325,570
13. Hence, 50, Steve Asmussen, $401,429
14. *Fast and Accurate, 50, $320,712
15. McCraken, 40, Ian Wilkes, $385,048
16. Battle of Midway, 40, $224,000
17. Patch, 40, Todd Pletcher, $200,000
18. Untrapped, 34, Steve Asmussen, $212,858
19. Lookin at Lee, 32, Steve Asmussen, $428,600
20. Sonneteer, 30, Keith Desormeaux, $236,000
*Owner Kendall Hansen has indicated that the late supplemental nomination fee of $200,000 will be paid. Not This Time, retired to stud at Taylor Made Farm. Mastery is off the trail with a condylar fracture. El Areeb is off the trail with an injury to his right knee.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Arkansas Derby Stakes Racing Roundup

©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

This Saturday, the Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where the final prep race worth 100 points to the victor will be ran at Oaklawn Park. A field of 12 has been drawn for the 81st running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) with Classic Empire tagged as the 8-5 morning-line favorite. Post time is 7:18 ET.
Classic Empire has had training issues and he’s not raced since February. Ranked 21st in Kentucky Derby point standings, he’s on the bubble and comes into this race with a 4-0-1 record in six starts for trainer Mark Casse including wins in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3), the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1), the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and a third-place finish in the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

CLASSIC EMPIRE was washy behind the gate and briefly balked at loading, raced between horses into the first turn and wound up five wide outside IRISH WAR CRY and TALK LOGISTICS into the backstretch, had little response when put to pressure a quarter-mile out and gave way.

Classic Empire has a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and his Behavior Index helped to make him competitive as a two year old. But, so far as a three year old, he’s yet to show the same competitiveness.
Pioneerof the Nile, the sire of Classic Empire, was a pretty good middle-distance runner and multiple graded-stakes winner that compiled a 2-0-1 record as a two year old including a win in the CashCall Futurity (G1) and a third-place finish in the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
As a three year old, Pioneerof the Nile was 3-0-1 in five starts with wins in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), San Felipe Stakes (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) in route to a second-place finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Regular jockey Julien Leparoux retains the mount on Classic Empire and how far his Behavior Index will take him remains to be seen.
A long shot I like is Conquest Mo Money (15-1) who comes into this race with a 3-1-0 record in four starts for trainer Miguel Hernandez including a second-place finish in the Sunland Derby (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

CONQUEST MO MONEY was allowed to settle early, went three wide into the second turn, made a bid at the quarter pole, took a short lead, couldn’t hold off the winner and finished a game second.

Conquest Mo Money was clearly second best and only lost by three and three quarters of a length. The mile split of 1:35.71 and final time of 1:48.10 is what I like to see in the final prep race for the Derby.
Uncle Mo, the sire of Conquest Mo Money, was undefeated in three starts as a two year old with wins in the Champagne Stakes (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and he was picked as the 2010 Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Colt.
As a three year old, Uncle Mo won the Timely Writer Stakes and finished third in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1). The Friday before the Kentucky Derby, Uncle Mo was scratched from the race with a mysterious ailment which was later diagnosed as a liver disease called cholangiohepatitis.
Conquest Mo Money has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking. But, so far his Behavior Index has helped make him competitive and I’ll be watching to see if he can step up to earn graded stakes honors.
Undefeated in three starts, Malagacy (2-1) comes into this race off of a two length win in the Rebel Stakes (G2) for trainer Todd Pletcher. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

MALAGACY closest to the leader off the inside, asked along late in the final turn, took over soon after, kicked clear the final furlong under firm right handed urging and while drifting in a bit late.

Malagacy took the lead at the top of the stretch and continued to move forward, winning by two lengths at the wire.
Shackleford, the sire of Malagacy, was a multiple graded-stakes winner and Classic Champion Thoroughbred that compiled a 6-5-1 record in 20 starts with $3,090,101 in career earnings.
Shackleford made two starts as a two year old and in his second start he won a seven furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs.
As a three year old, Shackleford won his debut race and went on to finish fifth in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). He recovered from that race and finished second in the Florida Derby (G1) en route to a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
His best race as a three year old was in the Preakness Stakes (G1) where he defeated Animal Kingdom by half of a length. Shackleford’s next best was a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1), Indiana Derby (G2) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
As a four year old, Shackleford won the Churchill Downs Stakes (G2), Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and Clark Handicap (G1). He finished second in the Kelso Handicap (G2) and third in the Carter Handicap (G1).
With a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking Malagacy’s Behavior Index has made him competitive but it remains to be seen how far his Behavior Index will take him. I’ll be watching to see how well he handles the stretch out to nine furlongs.
Untrapped (6-1), ranked 20th in point standings, is also on the bubble and he comes into this race with a 1-3-1 record in five starts for trainer Steve Asmussen including a second-place finish in both the LeComte Stakes (G3) and Risen Star Stakes (G2) and a third-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

UNTRAPPED in some early traffic off the inside, settled the middle half, three out to four wide in the lane, slight drift, missed the place.

With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating Untrapped is a solid competitor and he’s never finished out of the money in five starts.
Trappe Shot, the sire of Untrapped, raced mostly in sprints from the age of two to four, compiling a 6-2-0 record in 12 starts with $703,884 in career earnings. His best stakes victories were in the six furlong Waldoboro Stakes, True North Handicap (G2) and he did stretch out to win the 8½ furlong Long Branch Stakes. In other route races, Trappe Shote finished second in the nine-furlong Izod Haskell Invitational (G1) and ninth in the Travers Stakes (G1).
To date, Trappe Shot’s best runner on the Kentucky Derby Trail has been My Man Sam who finished second in the nine furlong 2016 Toyota Blue Grass (G1) stakes.
Jockey Mike Smith picks up the mount on Untrapped who will be wearing blinkers for the Arkansas Derby (G1). Whether Untrapped is talented enough to earn graded stakes honors remains to be seen.
Another long shot I like is Sonneteer (15-1) who is still a maiden and comes into this race for trainer Keith Desormeaux with a 0-4-2 record in nine starts including a second-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

SONNETEER shuffled back at the start, raced well back early as a result, began a steady advance after five furlongs off the inside, dropped to the rail late in the final turn and rallied up the inside up the inside to gain the nod for place, no real threat to the winner.

Sonneteer looked good in his step up to graded stakes company and beat the locals to finish a respectable second.
Midnight Lute, the sire of Sonneteer, was an Eclipse champion male sprinter and two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). During his career, Midnight Lute compiled a 6-3-1 record with $2,690,600 in earnings.
Because of breathing problems, Midnight Lute ran mostly in sprint races and it is unknown if he could have had any classic potential.
As a three year old, Midnight Lute won the Perryville Stakes (G3) and finished third in the Malibu Stakes (G1).
At the age of four, Midnight Lute won the TVG Breeders’ Cup (G1) and Forego Stakes (G1). He finished second in the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) and San Fernando Breeders’ Cup Stakes.
Midnight Lute raced twice as a five year old and his most notable win was in the Sentient Flight Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
Jockey Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount on Sonneteer who appears to be improving at the right time of year and could, perhaps, make another big move forward.
Honorable mention goes to Silver Dust (20-1), Petrov (12-1) and Lookin At Lee (15-1).
Let’s take a look at the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® for the horses entered in this race:


Classic Champion
Thoroughbred Profile®
Entries                           Rank
1. Silver Dust                  B
2. Untrapped                   B
3. Grandpa’s Dream         B
4. Lookin at Lee               C
5. Malagacy                     C
6. Classic Empire             C
7. Petrov                          D
8. Sonneteer                    D
9. Conquest Mo Money     E
10. Rowdy the Warrior      F
11. One Dreamy Dude      F
12. Rockin Rudy              F

As you can see in the model above, horses like Malagacy, Classic Empire and Conquest Mo Money have a low profile ranking. However, the Behavior Index can, perhaps, move some horses up or down and here’s a look at the potential ranking of the Arkansas Derby (G1) entries when you factor in the Behavior Index variable.
Silver Dust is a young colt I’ve liked in previous races. He’s the best bred horse in this race and an honorable mention, but, so far he’s yet to live up to his breeding.
He’s been working well since the Rebel. A recent bullet work out and addition of blinkers could have him ready to run a good race.


Classic Champion Thoroughbred
Profile® & Behavior Index
Rank
1. Conquest Mo Money
2. Classic Empire
3. Malagacy
4. Untrapped        
5. Sonneteer
6. Silver Dust
7. Lookin at Lee
8. Petrov
9. Rockin Rudy
10. Grandpa’s Dream
11. Rowdy the Warrior
12. One Dreamy Dude    


As you can see in the Behavior Index Model, Conquest Mo Money, Classic Empire, Malagacy, Sonneteer and Rockin Rudy can potentially move up in the ranking while Silver Dust and Grandpa’s Dream could perhaps drop in ranking.
A lot will depend on if Classic Empire returns to his previous form as a two year old that made him so successful. If he doesn’t run well then Sonneteer could perhaps crack the top four and be a factor in the exotics and, perhaps, even an exacta play.
Time will tell if it was justifiable applying the Behavior Index to those horses.


*****

Under the points system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine which horses will qualify to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) will receive 100 points, the second-place finisher will receive 40 points, the third-place finisher will receive 20 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 10 points.
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:

2017 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD

Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1. Girvin, 150, Joe Sharp, $849,800
2. Gormley, 125, John Sherriffs, $884,000
3. Irap, 113, Doug O’Neill, $744,000
4. Irish War Cry, 110, Graham Motion, $672,660
5. Thunder Snow, 100, Saeed bin Suroor, $1,621,063
6. Always Dreaming, 100, Todd Pletcher, $$589,000
7. Gunnevera, 84, Antonio Sano, $1,137,800
8. Practical Joke,74, Chad Brown, $966,000
9. J Boys Echo, 63, Dale Romans, $305,000
10. State of Honor, 62, Mark Casse, $309,564
11. Tapwrit, 54, Todd Pletcher, $295,570
12. Malagacy, 50, Todd Pletcher, $540,000
13. Hence, 50, Steve Asmussen, $$481,129
14. **Fast and Accurate, 50, $320,712
15. McCraken, 40, Ian Wilkes, $385,048
16. Battle of Midway, 40, $224,000
17. Patch, 40, Todd Pletcher, $200,000
18. Battalion Runner, 40, Todd Pletcher $140,000
19. Cloud Computing, 40, Chad Brown, $115,000
20. Untrapped, 34, Steve Asmussen, $210,000
**Owner Kendall Hansen has indicated that the late supplemental nomination fee of $200,000 will be paid. Not This Time, retired to stud at Taylor Made Farm. Mastery is off the trail with a condylar fracture. El Areeb is off the trail with an injury to his right knee.

In addition to the current top 20, Churchill Downs has partnered with the Japan Racing Association to feature the Cattleya Sho Stakes and Hayacinth Stakes as two qualifying races in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. The horse with the most points from those races will receive an invitation to compete in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Here’s the video of the Cattleya Sho Stakes. Here’s the video of the Hayacinth Stakes.


2017 JAPAN ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD

Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1. Epicharis (JPN), 50, Kiyoshi Hagiwara, $450,374
2. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki, $90,154
3. Adirato (JPN), 20, Naosuke Sugai, $154,951
4. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara, $35,850
5. Foggy Night (JPN), 5, Noriyuki Hori, $23,801


The connections of Epicharis have stated that they will skip the Kentucky Derby (G1) and may go to the Preakness (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1).