Sunday, January 31, 2010

Road To The Kentucky Derby

For a Kentucky Derby fan, January is the dark night of the soul. It’s the in between time, shoveling snow, salting sidewalks and driveways, while dreaming of tulips and the smell of roses on the first Saturday in May.

One is encouraged by hope that happier days lie ahead and it’s comforting to know that the road to the Kentucky Derby is officially opened when Turf Writer Jennie Rees of The Courier-Journal writes her scouting report.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Derby Trail Stakes Racing Roundup

Turfway Park’s $50,000 WEBN Stakes to be contested at one mile highlight stakes racing action today for 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby Trail. The WEBN is ungraded and does not count in earnings for the Kentucky Derby.

Fish, trained by Philip Sims, heads a full field of 12 juveniles as the 3-1 morning line favorite. But, in my opinion, the race looks wide open and there are a number of horses in this race that could win. Fish has never run in a route race and in his last race Fish finished second in the 6 ½ - furlong Turfway Prevue Stakes, beaten 4 ¼ -lengths by Z.I. Zipp.

A couple of intriguing long shots are Patti’s Kitten (10-1) and Big Bruin (12-1). Patti’s Kitten is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and he narrowly lost his debut by a half-length last October in a 7-furlong maiden claiming race at Keeneland. In December, Patti’s Kitten broke his maiden by 2-lengths in a mile race at Turfway. In comparison to the rest of the field, Patti’s Kitten’s Brisnet Speed Figures are pretty good and he could be competitive.

Earlier this month, Big Bruin won by an impressive three-lengths to break his maiden in a 6 ½ - furlong sprint at Turfway. A change in riding style may have made the difference in that race as jockey Dean Mernagh kept Big Bruin well off the pace and had him in fifth-place going into the stretch. In his previous two races at Hawthorne Park, Big Bruin was close to the lead in his first race and he had the lead in his second race but faded badly in both. Big Bruin earned an 81 speed figure in his last race for trainer Anthony Mitchell. Mernagh retains his mount on Big Bruin for today’s race and the two of them may be ready to make another good effort.

Proud Of Midway (15-1) is owned and trained by John McKee and he steps up in stakes competition for the first time. In five starts, Proud Of Midway has never been off the board and his speed figures are on par with the rest of this field. Proud Of Midway has never run in a route race but his pedigree suggests that the mile should be no problem. His recent bullet work January 28 indicates that he could be ready for a good effort.

Mickejoe (12-1) finally broke his maiden after the 10th try but he did it in impressive style winning by 14 ¾ -lengths in a 1-mile maiden race at Mountaineer last December. Mickejoe earned a 90 speed figure for that effort. In 10 starts, Mickejoe has been on the board seven times (1-2-4). He has been working good and could be competitive in this race.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Derby Trail Stakes Racing Roundup

It’s been quite a while since trainer Nick Zito won Gulfstream Park’s $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3). Zito won the Holy Bull in 1994 and 1995 and he hopes to earn his third win today when he sends Jackson Bend to the starting gate as the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Jackson Bend steps up into graded stakes competition for the first time and makes his first start for Zito who took over as his trainer last October. In his previous six starts, Jackson Bend raced exclusively at Calder Race Course and ships to Gulfstream with a 5-1-0 record. Jackson Bend last raced in October and since then he has recorded several bullet work outs. Despite his impressive record at Calder, I don’t like Jackson Bend as the favorite but he could be competitive and should be used in the bottom of the exotics.

Winslow Homer (6-1) really impressed me when he posted a 12 ½ - length romp in an allowance race last November on a muddy track at Philadelphia Park. Winslow Homer, trained by Tony Dutrow, earned a 106 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort and comes in to the race with 2-0-1 record in three starts. Winslow Homer has never run in a stakes race and steps up into graded stakes competition. However, I believe he has the pedigree and class to be competitive at this level.

With two wins in four starts, Homeboykris (5-1) posted an impressive 1 ½ - length win last October in the 1-mile Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont and earned a 100 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort. In November, Homeboykris stretched out to the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (G2) and finished fifth, beaten 9 ¾ -lengths by Buddy’s Saint. Homeboykris cuts back today in distance to a mile which I believe is his best distance. He’s been working out good since the Remsen and he should be tough in this spot.

At 12-1 morning line odds, Litigation Risk looks like a very nice long shot. Going gate-to-wire, Litigation Risk looked very impressive breaking his maiden two races back in a 7-furlong maiden sprint at Belmont. Litigation Risk earned a 95 speed figure in that effort for trainer Richard Violette. Since then, Litigation Risk has been working out good and his two recent bullet works suggest that he could be ready to make another big move forward.

Lecomte Stakes

Turf Melody heads a field of eleven 3-year-olds today as the 7-2 morning line favorite in the $100,000 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. Trained by Graham Motion, Turf Melody comes into the race with a win in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park. Although Turf Melody is favored, there are others entered in this race I like better.

Despite a troubled trip, Maximus Ruler (4-1) barely missed breaking his maiden in his debut last November 14 finishing third in a 7-furlong sprint at Churchill Downs. He came back two weeks later and won a 1-mile allowance in 1:35.94 and earned a 93 Brisnet Speed Figure. Since then, he’s been working out good and should be ready for another good effort.

In his last race, Citrus Kid (8-1) led for most of the way in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) before giving way and finishing third, beaten 7-lengths by Buddy’s Saint. Today, Citrus Kid cuts back in distance that he is capable of winning with his on-the-lead running style. His recent bullet work January 13 suggests that he could be ready for a good effort.

With a 1-2-1 record in five starts, Worldly (5-1) has yet to win a stakes or graded-stakes race. Worldly broke his maiden on his third attempt November 8 at Churchill Downs. He came back 20 days later and finished third to Super Saver in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill. Earlier this month, Worldly shortened up and finished second in a 1-mile, 40-yard optional claiming racing at Fair Grounds. Worldly always puts in a good effort and repeat could be a factor in the exotics.

Callide Valley, at 10-1 morning line odds, looks like a nice long shot. Callide Valley adds blinkers and cuts back in distance I believe is more suitable. He’s been working out good and could be a factor in the exotics.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Summer Bird Gets My Vote For 3YO Male

I love to study thoroughbred pedigrees and follow the juveniles on the Triple Crown trail. It’s my passion.

Every now and then when I’m studying pedigrees I have a “Wow” moment.

In 2009 my “Wow” moment came in March while studying the pedigree of Summer Bird as he prepared for the Arkansas Derby. I believed back then that Summer Bird he had the potential to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and I’m so glad that he finished his 3-year-old campaign as the recipient of the Eclipse Award for Three-Year-Old Male.

I’m also glad to hear that Summer Bird is recuperating from his injury and will return to racing as a 4-year-old.

You never know if a horse will live up to its breeding. Summer Bird did live up to his breeding and along the way he became a Classic Champion Thoroughbred winning the Belmont Stakes (G1), Travers Stakes (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Easygoer, in 1989, was the last thoroughbred to win those three races.

Summer Bird was my pick to win the Kentucky Derby and shortly before the Derby I interviewed Dr. Kalarikkal K. Jayaraman in hopes of having his story published. I was not able to get it published so I posted it a week before the Derby on Dan Illman’s Daily Racing Form FormBlog which is where I regularly posted before I started my blog.

Here’s my interview with Dr. Jayarman:

FormBlog April 24, 2009Weekend thoughts, Beat the chalk, etc.

The Kentucky Derby is what dreams are made of and if Summer Bird wins the Derby, the owner and breeder team of Doctors Kalarikkal K. Jayaraman and his wife, Valasini D., will be living their dream.

The Jayaraman’s are no strangers to the Kentucky Derby. In 1989 they pursued their dream when they sent forward Irish Actor who finished 7th to Sunday Silence in the Run for the Roses. This year, though, the Jayaraman’s believe they have a better chance at winning the Kentucky Derby with the Arkansas Derby third-place finisher Summer Bird.

“He’s a pretty nice colt. He looked like a horse that could run,” said Jayaraman who, along with his wife, have bred and raised thoroughbreds at their Tiffany Farms near Ocala, Fla. since 1982.

“He broke his maiden very impressively,” said Jayaraman, commenting on Summer Bird’s first-place finish in only his second start on March 19th in a 1 1/16 mile race at Oaklawn Park. It was that performance that motivated the Jayaraman’s to pay the $6,000 late nomination fee to nominate Summer Bird to the Triple Crown. Two weeks later, Summer Bird did not disappoint the Jayaraman’s when he rallied from dead last to finish a fast-closing third-place in the Arkansas Derby and brought home a $100,000 paycheck.

The Jayaraman’s spend a lot of time studying pedigrees and planning matings. Thoroughbreds that the Jayaraman’s have bred include G2 Stakes Winner Royal Spy and G3 Stakes Winner Comic Truth. Their biggest success to date is the G1 Stakes Winner Dearest Trickski. It’s that kind of research and planning that led to the breeding of Summer Bird (Birdstone-Hong Kong Squall by Summer Squall).

At first glance, with only three life-time starts and $100,000 in Graded Stakes earnings, Summer Bird would not appear to be a likely Kentucky Derby winner. His Dosage Profile – a numbering system created by Dr. Steven A. Romans to measure the number of Chef-de-Race stallions in the first four generations of a horse’s pedigree – is a modest 16. Summer Bird’s great grandsire, Unbridled, is the only Chef-de-Race to be found in the first three generations. Dear Birdie and Weekend Surprise are the only Reines-de-Course (Queens of the Turf) mares found in the first three generations.

So, there is not a lot of Blue Blood up close in the pedigree of Summer Bird. But, appearances can be deceiving and upon further inspection, the pedigree of Summer Bird appears to be a who’s who of Classic Champions and important sires.

In the first generation of Summer Bird’s pedigree is his sire Birdstone – the Classic Champion Belmont winner who upset Smarty Jones’ bid to be the second undefeated thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown.

In the second generation are the Classic Champions Grindstone and Summer Squall. Grindstone was a strong closer and in the 1996 Kentucky Derby he rallied for the win – trailing by 15 lengths at the half-mile mark – to edge Cavonnier by a nose in the final stride. Summer Squall finished second in the 1990 Kentucky Derby losing by three and one-half lengths to his rival Unbridled. However, in the Preakness Summer Squall turned the tables on Unbridled beating him by two and one-quarter lengths in a near-record time of 1:53 3/5. Summer Squall did not race in the Belmont because of bleeding issues and Unbridled finished third. Also in the second generation is the Reine-de-Course mare Dear Birdie – the dam of Birdstone and 2006 broodmare of the year.

In the third generation are the Classic Champions Unbridled and Alysheba; two strains of the important sire Storm Bird and the Reine-de-Course mare Weekend Surprise. In addition to being the sire of Summer Squall, Storm Bird was also the sire of the influential sire Storm Cat; the grandsire of the 1994 Preakness and Belmont winner Tabasco Cat and the damsire of the 1995 Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Thunder Gulch. Dubbed “America’s Horse” by racing fans, Alysheba won the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness enroute to an 11-8-2 career record in 26 starts and $6,679,242 in earnings. The outstanding broodmare Weekend Surprise was the dam of Summer Squall and 1992 Belmont winner and sire of sires A.P. Indy.

In the fourth generation is one of the most outstanding sons of Mr. Prospector and important sire Fappiano; the important sire Drone – damsire of the 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone and 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic; two strains of the sire of sires and Classic Champion Northern Dancer – winner of the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness; the Classic Champion Secretariat – winner of the 1973 American Triple Crown and the Classic Champion Nijinsky – undefeated winner of the 1970 English Triple Crown. In addition to being a Classic Champion, Nijinsky was an outstanding stallion who sired the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand; Epsom Derby winners Golden Fleece (1982), Shahrastani (1986) and Lammtarra (1995); Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Lammtarra (1995) and Prix du Jockey Club winner Caerleon (1983). Nijinksy was also the grandsire of the Epsom Derby winners Kahyasi (1988) and Generous (1991); Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Marienbard (2002) and Belmont winner Bet Twice (1987).

Also in the fourth generation is the legendary Alydar and if Affirmed had not been his rival, Alydar would have been the 1978 Triple Crown winner. Alydar was also an important stallion who sired the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba (1987); Kentucky Derby winner Strike The Gold (1991) and the Belmont winner Easy Goer (1989).

After the Arkansas Derby, Summer Bird only had $100,000 in Graded Stakes earnings and it looked like he would not make into the field for the Kentucky Derby. But when the news broke that Giant Oak would bypass the Kentucky Derby, the Jayaraman’s were excited to hear that Summer Bird would draw-in to the Derby field.

“I hope he does well,” said Jayaraman. “That’s all we can hope for.”

The Jayaraman’s know that a good pedigree does not guarantee success on the racetrack. But if Summer Bird lives up to his breeding, the Jayaraman’s are hopeful that he will bring them closer to living their dream.

Summer Bird did not race as a two-year old and he will have only raced three times as a three-year-old when he enters the Derby starting gate. The last horse to win the Kentucky Derby with only three starts was the filly Regret (1915). Apollo won the Derby in 1882 without having raced as a two-year-old.

On May 2nd, Summer Bird will make his bid to have his name entered into the Derby history book. However, when it comes to making history, Summer Bird might have the slight advantage – his ancestors were history makers.

Posted by: Calvin Carter on April 25, 2009 at 10:53 PM

Summer Bird finished a respectable 6th in the Kentucky Derby and that performance made him my favorite Belmont long shot bet.

Derby Trail Stakes Racing Roundup

On today’s racecard of stakes prep races for 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby Trail is the third edition of the $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack. Both races are ungraded and do not count in earnings for the Kentucky Derby.

The Smarty Jones Stakes drew a full field of 12 horses and five have been entered in the Jimmy Winkfield, but, in my opinion, neither field appears to be that strong.

Dryfly, the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Smarty Jones Stakes, steps up in class and comes into race with two wins in three starts. With Calvin Borel in the saddle, Dryfly posted a 1 ½ -length win last November in a 7-furlong sprint at Churchill Downs and earned a 102 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort. Since then, Dryfly has been working out good posting three bullet works. Borel retains the mount for today’s race and Dryfly should be competitive in this spot.

At 8-1 morning line odds, Pleasant Storm looks like an interesting prospect. Undefeated in two starts, Pleasant Storm ships to Oaklawn from Remington Park off a 2-length win in the Oklahoma Classics Juvenile Stakes last November.

Both of Pleasant Storm’s wins have been at 6-furlongs but I believe he will have no problem going farther. His sire is the versatile, multiple graded-stakes champion Pleasant Tap who, just to name a few, won the 7-furlong Malibu Stakes (G2) and the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Pleasant Storm also gets stamina influence from the dam’s pedigree as well.

Pleasant Storm’s speed figures have improved with each race and a recent bullet work January 6 indicates that he could be ready to move forward with another good effort.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has Crider (8-1) and Prince Rooney (6-1) entered in the Smarty Jones. Crider also ships in from Remington Park where he posted two wins in three starts. Crider has never run in a route race and this is his first effort in stakes competition. However, Crider won his last two races and his speed figures have improved with every race.

Prince Rooney comes into the race off a four-month layoff after being pulled up in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last September. Prior to that race, Prince Rooney appeared to be on the fast track last July when he broke his maiden by three-lengths and earned a 95 Brisnet Speed in a 4 ½ -furlong sprint at Arlington Park. In August, Prince Rooney earned a 98 speed figure enroute to a 15-length romp of the 6-furlong Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes at Mountaineer Park.

Since the layoff, Prince Rooney’s works have not been that good but Asmussen must think that he is ready. If Prince Rooney returns to his previous form he could be competitive.

Jimmy Winkfield Stakes

Todd Pletcher sends even-money favorite Citizen’s Arrest to the starting gate of the Jimmy Winkfield, but, in my opinion, the race looks wide open and there others in here that I like better than Pletcher’s entry.

Red Bengal (3-1) comes into the race with two wins and two seconds in five starts for trainer Steve Klesaris. In his last race, Red Bengal won an allowance race in a 9 ¾ -length romp in the slop at Penn National December 26. Red Bengal’s speed figures have improved with each race and a sharp work out January 15 suggest that he will be competitive.

Love Who (5-1) has steadily improved with each race and comes into the Jimmy Winkfield with a 10 ¾ - length romp in the New Jersey Juvenile at the Meadowlands.

Deputy Daney (4-1) is undefeated in two starts for trainer Cathal Lynch. Deputy Daney has not raced in more than two months and comes into the race with a win by a head in an allowance race at Philadelphia Park October 24.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Derby Trail Stakes Racing Roundup

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has several promising 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail this year and today he sends Conveyance to the starting gate as the 3-5 morning-line favorite in the $100,000 San Rafael Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.

Conveyance will be stretching to a route race and stepping up into stakes competition for the first time but he should be able to handle that with no problem. In his previous two starts, both 6-furlong sprints, Conveyance showed plenty of speed and led from gate-to-wire to win his maiden race by 1 ½ - lengths last October. In November, Conveyance, leading all the way, came back and won an allowance race in a 7-length romp and earned a 101 Brisnet Speed Figure.

Despite being lightly raced, Conveyance has been working out good since last November and looks like the horse to beat.

Of the five horses entered in the San Rafael, Via Verde is the one I am most interested in. Via Verde was sired by Cherokee Run and he is a three-quarter brother to Musket Man who won several prep races on this year’s Derby Trail enroute to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

With the impressive performance of Musket Man and The Pamplemousse, winner of last year’s San Rafael, I wrote in my July 3 blog that I was going to keep track to see if a trend was emerging of Cherokee Run sire line colts stepping up to become good middle-distance stakes winners.

Via Verde is the most promising that I have seen so far and if he lives up to his breeding, he could, perhaps, have an impact on the Triple Crown Trail.

Only time will tell.

Pasco Stakes

Uptowncharlybrown became the buzz horse for many after breaking his maiden in a 6 ½ -furlong sprint at Tampa Bay Downs by an impressive 9-length margin December 26. Uptowncharlybrown heads a field of eight 3-year-olds as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Musket Man won the Pasco last year and New Jersey-based trainer Alan Seewald has high hopes that Uptowncharlybrown will follow in those footpints.

“"He's the main reason we decided to come to Tampa," Seewald said in an Daily Racing Form news story. Uptowncharlybrown "showed us early he was a colt with a lot of talent and potential, and we wanted to have a place to develop his skills where we knew we wouldn't have weather problems and he would have a good surface to train over.”

Uptowncharlybrown is sired by Limehouse who won the 7-furlong Hutcheson Stakes and 8 ½ -furlong Tampa Bay Derby so the 7-furlong Pasco should not be a problem.

Silver Craft (9-2) looks like he could be tough in this race. If you throw out his November 25 attempt to run in a route race at Churchill Downs, Silver Craft has two nice wins coming into this race and one of those was a 6 ¼ -length romp in a 7-furlong sprint. Silver Craft earned a 91 and a 90 Brisnet Speed Figure for those two wins. He’s been working out good at Tampa Bay and he starts from the number three hole for trainer Anthony Reinstedler.

In his last race, Gesu (4-1) shipped in from Calder enroute to a half-length victory in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay. In his previous attempt at 7-furlongs Gesu finished sixth, beaten by 9-lengths, in the Jack Price Juvenile Stakes at Calder.

Leading all the way, Big Looie won his maiden debut over a field of 10 at Hawthorne December 27 and at 5-1 morning line odds he looks like an interesting prospect. His sire, Military, won several races at over 10 furlongs and his damsire, Cryptoclearance, won the Florida Derby enroute to a third-place finish in the Preakness and a second in the Belmont Stakes.

California Derby

As usual, trainer Todd Pletcher has a full stable of promising 3-year-olds on the Derby Trail and he sends Connemara to the starting gate as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

Connemara is undefeated with a win in a maiden and allowance race and Pletcher is looking to add to that scorecard with a win in the California Derby.

"We want to see continued development," said Pletcher in a Daily Racing Form news story. "We'd like to see him be a little more professional early and get a stalking position."

Ranger Heartley (3-1) has already lost to Connemara an 8 ½ -furlong allowance but he rebounded off of that defeat to win an 8 ½ -furlong race at Hollywood Park in final time of 1:43 2/5 seconds. Ranger Heartley has been working out good and looks to be competive in this spot.

Trainer Doug O’Neill takes European invader Thomas Baines (7-2) off the turf to give him a shot in the California Derby. In his two previous U.S. starts, Thomas Baines earned an 87 and 90 Brisnet Speed Figure and improved off both those races. I like his progression and if he contines to improve, he could be a factor in the exotics.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spectacular Bid Stakes Racing Roundup

When I’m following a thoroughbred on the Kentucky Derby Trail, one of the things that I do not like to see is a trainer cut their horse back in distance. But that is exactly what Todd Pletcher who has taken over as the new trainer of Discreetly Mine plans to do when he sends him as the 5-2 morning line favorite to the starting gate of the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes today at Gulfstream.

"He was in very good condition when we got him," said Pletcher in a Mike Welsch Daily Racing Form news story. "He's trained forwardly since coming to our barn and we're just looking to get the season started on Saturday. I'm not sure what his best distance is so we'll just get started at six furlongs and see from there."

Since Pletcher does not know what is the best distance for Discreetly Mine, neither do I and the Spectacular Bid Stakes has shaped up to be a race that I most likely would pass.

I like Discreetly Mine and believe that he has a lot of potential. But, so far, Discreetly Mine has not done as well as I thought he would and I hope that Pletcher can improve on that.

Trainer Tony Dutrow has entered a pair of nice horses in Westover Wildcat and A Little Warm and they could be a factor in the Spectacular Bid. Westover Wildcat (6-1) appears to be the fastest of nine thoroughbreds entered in the race. In his last race, Westover Wildcat recorded a 101 Brisnet Speed Figure in winning the Bold Lad Stakes by 2 ¾ - lengths last October at Belmont. Since then, Westover Wildcat has been working out well posting two bullet works and he should be tough in this race.

At 8-1 morning line odds, Dutrow’s other entry, A Little Warm, looks interesting. In his last race, A Little Warm broke his maiden by 10 ¾ - lengths in a 6-furlong sprint at Philadelphia Park. He won that race in a keen 1:09 4/5 and he recorded a bullet work on December 17. A Little Warm looks like he could be ready to step up into stakes competition.

Wildcat Frankie (7-2) comes into the race with a debut win in 15 ½ - length romp December 12 at Calder. Wildcat Frankie recorded a 104 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort and he posted a bullet work on January 3.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Count Fleet, Turfway Prevue Racing Roundup

Ibboyee, the 8-5 morning line favorite, heads a field of eight 3-year-old thoroughbreds today in the $65,000 Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Ibboyee comes into the race with four wins in five starts, finishing off the board in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes last October at Belmont. In his last effort, Ibboyee drew clear in the 1 mile, 70-yard Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct to win by 2 ½ -lengths and posted a 100 Brisnet Speed Figure. So Ibboyee should be tough in this spot today.

Turbo Speed, trained by Thomas Houghton, is the 7-2 second choice. Undefeated in three starts, Turbo Speed comes into the race with a 1 ½-length victory in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes at Philadelphia Park. Turbo Speed has never run in a route race but he gets plenty of stamina from his sire Louis Quatorze who won the 1996 Preakness and his damsire, Proud Truth, who won the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The 5-1 third choice, Peppi Knows has never been out of the money in five starts (5, 3-1-1) and he comes into the race with a second-place finish to Buddy’s Saint in the Remsen Stakes (G2). Peppi knows also has a nice pedigree. His sire, Stephen Got Even, sired the G3 winner Don't Get Mad and 2005 Eclipse champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy.

The horse that most intrigues me in this race is Laus Deo (6-1) and I’m watching to see if he moves forward off of his maiden-win in a 7-furlong sprint last out. His trainer, Tony Dutrow, says that Laus Deo has some maturing to do but he is improving with every race.

"He was a big dummy, needed the experience," said Dutrow in a David Grening Daily Racing Form news article. "I wanted to keep him two turns. I reluctantly ran him seven-eighths when the two-turn race didn't fill. He's an improving horse on the come."

Dutrow’s top 3-year-old, Winslow Homer, is on track to run in the the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream. Winslow Homer is also one of my top Kentucky Derby picks but if Laus Deo posts an impressive win and continues to improve, he could become my top pick.

I really like the breeding of Laus Deo but you never know how these youngsters will do until they go to the track. In the past, there have been horses that I really liked but they were mediocre at best on the track. So, today, I will hold off on elaborating on Laus Deo’s breeding until he shows me that he may live up to it.

Stay tuned for more.

Turfway Prevue – Turfway Park

Try as I might, I just could not get excited about this race. At this point on the Derby Trail, it is hard for me to get excited about a sprint race and I’m anxious to see these youngsters stretch out to route races.

Kera’s Kitten, bred and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the field of nine entered in the $50,000 Turfway Prevue at Turfway Park. Kera’s Kitten adds blinkers, cuts back from a route to a 6 ½ -furlong sprint and tries dirt for the first time.

Lucky Chuck and Successful Score are the 3-1 second choice. In his last four races, Lucky Chuck has three impressive wins and a third-place finish. I like that.

Fish (5-1) looks like an interesting horse. With the success in recent years of Musket Man, The Pamplemousse and War Pass I’ve been following the Cherokee Run sire line thoroughbreds. So far I have not found any on the Derby Trail to match the success of the previously mentioned thoroughbreds.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tropical Park Derby Racing Roundup

The $100,000 Tropical Park Derby (G3) today at Calder is the first stakes race of the New Year on the 2010 Kentucky Derby Trail. The Derby is on the grass but the connections of Barbaro (2006) and Cowboy Cal (2008) used it as a Kentucky Derby prep race.

Lost Aptitude, trained by Dale Romans, is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Lost Aptitude has only been out of the money once in five starts (5, 3-0-1) and he comes into the race with an impressive 5 ¼ -length win in 1 1/16 mile Grand Canyon Handicap last November at Churchill Downs.

Becky’s Kitten, bred and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Wesley Ward, is the 4-1 morning line second choice. Becky’s Kitten finished second to Bridgetown last September in the Summer Stakes (G3) at Woodbine and Bridgetown went on to finish a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) race. Becky’s Kitten also ran in that race but encountered trouble when steadied at the three eigths pole. The Summer Stakes and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf were contested at a mile but I belive that Becky's Kitten will do better at the longer distance. Worth noting though, is that regular rider Julien Leparoux switches his mount to Cat Park who finished third last out, beaten seven lengths by Lost Aptitude in the Grand Canyon Handicap.

Cat Park, along with Fly By Phil, is the 6-1 morning line third choice. Cat Park’s speed figures appear to low to me to be a factor and Fly By Phil has never ran on the grass. Regular rider Manoel Cruz switches his mount to Gator Tiger who at 12-1 morning line looks like an interesting long shot.

Gator Tiger is lightly raced with a first and a second in three starts but he has improved with each start. I like his progression and he has been working out great with multiple bullet works at the Calder track.

Another interesting long shot is Our Champion (10-1) who beat Gator Tiger by a neck last out and picks up high percentage jockey Eibar Coa who guided Our Champion to an impressive 6 ¼ -length maiden-breaking win last October. Our Champion also has a couple of bullet works at the Calder track and could be a factor in the exotic wagers.