Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mr. Prospector "No Shows", Nasrullah, Northern Dancer Descendants Impact Derby 137

Since Unbridled won the 116th running of the Kentucky Derby in 1990, descendants of the Mr. Prospector sire line have dominated the classic race. In 2009, a record 10 Mr. Prospector sire line descendants competed in the Derby.

But this year, with
Master of Hounds and Watch Me Go as the only potential starters from that sire line, Derby 137 will have the fewest contenders of Mr. Prospector descendants since 1994 when Powis Castle finished 8th and Mahogany Hall finished 9th.

Premier Pegasus appeared to be the most promising colt from the Mr. Prospector sire line to have a good chance in Derby 137 but he was taken off of the trail with an injury. Brethren, Elite Alex and Sway Away were the other promising colts from that sire line but their poor showing in the Arkansas Derby knocked them out of contention when they failed to get the graded earnings necessary to get into the Derby starting gate.

Since 1990, a total of 374 horses have competed in the Kentucky Derby and 106 (28%) of them have been descendants of Mr. Prospector. Of those 106 horses, 25 (24%) finished in the top four and 10 won the Derby.

Here’s a look at the yearly total of Mr. Prospector sire line competitors since 1990 and the horses that finished in the top four:

2010 – 8

2009 – 10. Mine That Bird 1st; Pioneerof The Nile 2nd; Papa Clem 4th

2008 – 5. Eight Belles 2nd

2007 – 7. Street Sense 1st; Curlin 3rd

2006 – 7. Jazil dh-4th

2005 – 6. Afleet Alex 3rd

2004 – 8. Smarty Jones 1st; Limehouse 4th

2003 – 6. Funny Cide 1st; Empire Maker 2nd; Peace Rules 3rd

2002 – 6. War Emblem 1st; Proud Citizen 2nd

2001 – 5. Invisible Ink 2nd

2000 – 6. Fusaichi Pegasus 1st

1999 – 4

1998 – 6. Real Quiet 1st; Victory Gallop 2nd; Hallory Hunter 4th

1997 – 3

1996 – 6. Grindstone 1st; Prince Of Thieves 3rd

1995 – 3. Thunder Gulch 1st; Timber Country 3rd

1994 – 2

1993 – 3

1992 – 1

1991 – 1

1990 – 3. Unbridled 1st


Since 1990, the Nasrullah sire line (including Bold Ruler) has had 61 (16%) descendants compete in the Kentucky Derby. This year’s Derby field has a record number of seven potential runners from the Nasrullah sire line and a record four of those are from the A.P. Indy/Bold Ruler line.

Here are the Nasrullah sire line horses in Derby 137:

Horse, Sire, Sire Line

Animal Kingdom, Leroidesanimaux-Blushing Groom line

Nehro, Mineshaft-A.P. Indy line

Dialed In, Mineshaft-A.P. Indy line

Pants On Fire, Jump Start-A.P. Indy line

Stay Thirsty, Bernardini-A.P. Indy line

Uncle Mo, Indian Charlie-Caro line

Comma To The Top, Bwana Charlie/Indian Charlie-Caro line

No horse from the Nasrullah sire line has won the Kentucky Derby since 1990. But 11 (18%) of those 61 descendants have finished in the top four.

The A.P. Indy line has had 25 runners in the Derby since 1990 and six (24%) of those finished in the top four:

2010: Ice Box 2nd

2006: Steppenwolfer 3rd

2005: Don’t Get Mad 4th

2003: Atswhatimtalknbout 4th

2000: Aptitude 2nd

1997: Pulpit 4th

The Blushing Groom sire line, which is the line of Animal Kingdom, has had eight runners in the Derby since 1990 and two (25%) of them finished in the top four:

2009: Musket Man 3rd

2001: Congaree 3rd

The Caro sire line, which is the line of Uncle Mo and Comma To The Top, has had five runners in the Derby since 1990 and two (40%) of them finished in the top four:

1998: Indian Charlie 3rd

1995: Tejano Run 2nd

Indian Charlie, the sire of Uncle Mo and grandsire of Comma To The Top, has sent two runners to the Derby and both finished out of the money:

2010: Conveyance 15th

2003: Indian Express 14th


Since 1990, the Northern Dancer sire line has had 93 (25%) runners in the Kentucky Derby. This year’s field, with seven potential runners, is tied with the 2002 field of Derby entrants as the second largest showing of Northern Dancer descendants in the Kentucky Derby. In 1993, there were eight Northern Dancer descendants entered in the Derby.

Here’s a look at the Northern Dancer descendants in Derby 137:

Decisive Moment, With Distinction-Storm Cat line

Santiva, Giant’s Causeway-Storm Cat line

Shackleford, Forestry-Storm Cat line

Twinspired, Harlan’s Holiday-Storm Cat line

Midnight Interlude, War Chant-Danzig line

Soldat, War Front-Danzig line

Toby’s Corner, Bellamy Road-Danzig line

Since 1990 there have been 20 (22%) of the 93 Northern Dancer descendants finish in the top four of the Kentucky Derby. Of those 20 horses, seven are descendants of Storm Cat:

2010: Make Music For Me 4th

2008: Denis of Cork 3rd and Tale Of Ekati 4th

2006: Bluegrass Cat 2nd

2004: Lion Heart 2nd

1999: Menifee 2nd and Cat Thief 3rd

Four of those 20 horses are descendants of Danzig:

2008: Big Brown 1st

2007: Hard Spun 2nd

2004: Imperialism 3rd

1993: Sea Hero 1st


Since 1990, the Royal Charger sire line has had 36 (10%) runners in the Kentucky Derby. Of those 36 horses, 13 (36%) finished in the Derby top four and five (38%) of those 13 are out of the line of Roberto who is the grandsire of Brilliant Speed and and great grandsire of Archarcharch.

Dynaformer, the sire of Brilliant Speed, has a good record in the Kentucky Derby. He has only sent three runners to previous Derbies and they all finished in the money:

2006 – Barbaro: 1st

2002 – Perfect Drift: 3rd

1994 – Blumin Affair: 3rd

That statistic is how I focused on Brilliant Speed and after studying his past performances I made him my pick to win the Blue Grass Stakes (G1).

In my opinion, the best runner from the Mr. Prospector sire line is Master of Hounds; the best runners from the Nasrullah line are Animal Kingdom, Nehro, Uncle Mo and Comma To The Top; The best runner from the Northern Dancer line is Midnight Interlude and I like Brilliant Speed from the Royal Charger sire line.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finish In Final Prep Race Crucial To Win, Exotics In Kentucky Derby

After the running of the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Blue Grass Stakes (G1), I had a pretty good idea of the horses I would use in my Kentucky Derby wagers.

Animal Kingdom has been my favorite since I wrote about him in my 2011 Kentucky Outlook last December. Midnight Interlude was my pick to win the Santa Anita Derby. I also picked Brilliant Speed to win the Blue Grass and I tagged Nehro as a possible upset candidate in the Arkansas Derby.

Of course each race is different but I like the chances of the previously mentioned horses and I’ll use them in my Derby wagers.

Between now and the Derby, I’ll also be looking at the rest of the field to see if there are any others that I like before making my final selections. Two colts I especially like are
Archarcharch and Master of Hounds.

Archarcharch was my longshot
pick in the Southwest Stakes but I did not use him in the Arkansas Derby after his performance in the Rebel Stakes. Master of Hounds is one of the best bred colts on the trail.

In addition, I’m going to take another look at
Toby’s Corner, Uncle Mo, Comma To The Top, Mucho Macho Man, Pants On Fire and Dialed In before making a final pick.

I’ll also be taking a look at some statistics that may help to narrow down our Derby selections.

A recent discovery I made while researching the history of the final 9-furlong prep races – Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, Arkansas Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Florida Derby, Illinois Derby and Sunland Derby – shows that since 2000, the top four finishers of the Kentucky Derby (with a few exceptions) finished in the top three of their final prep race. Only seven horses that finished worse than third in their final prep race have finished in the Derby top four.

No horses coming out of the Louisiana Derby and UAE Derby as a final prep race have finished in the Derby top four since 2000. There were no horses coming out of this year’s Illinois Derby with enough graded stakes earnings to get into the Derby starting gate.

The Wood Memorial Stakes and Blue Grass Stakes tied at nine each have produced the most finishers in the Derby top four since 2000. The Arkansas Derby has had seven; the Santa Anita Derby had five; the Florida Derby had 4; the Illinois Derby had three and the Sunland Derby had one finish in the Derby top four.

Hard Spun won the Lane’s End (Vinery) which was his final prep in 2007. Perfect Drift won the 2002 Lane’s End as a final prep.

Here’s a look at the statistics:

Wood Memorial - 9

2008: 1st - Tale of Ekati ; 3rd in Derby

2006: 2nd - Jazil; dh-4th in Derby

2003: 1st - Empire Maker; 2nd in Derby

2003: 2nd - Funny Cide; 1st in Derby

2002: 2nd - Medaglia D’Oro ; 4th in Derby

2001: 1st – Congaree; 3rd in Derby

2001: 2nd – Monarchos; 1st in Derby

2000: 1st – Fusaichi Pegasus; 1st in Derby

2000: 3rd – Aptitude; 2nd in Derby

Blue Grass - 9

2010: 2nd – Paddy O’Prado; 3rd in Derby

2007: 2nd – Street Sense; 1st in Derby

2006: 4th - Bluegrass Cat; 2nd in Derby

2005: 3rd – Closing Argument; 2nd in Derby

2004: 2nd – Lion Heart; 2nd in Derby

2004: 3rd – Limehouse; 4th in Derby

2003: 1st – Peace Rules; 3rd in Derby

2001: 4th - Invisible Ink; 2nd in Derby

2000: 2nd – More Than Ready; 4th in Derby

Arkansas Derby - 7

2010: 2nd – Super Saver; 1st in Derby

2009: 1st – Papa Clem; 4th in Derby

2007: 1st – Curlin; 3rd in Derby

2006: 2nd – Steppenwolfer; 3rd in Derby

2005: 1st – Afleet Alex; 3rd in Derby

2004: 1st – Smarty Jones; 1st in Derby

2000: 3rd – Impeachment; 3rd in Derby

Santa Anita Derby - 5

2009: 1st – Pioneerof The Nile; 2nd in Derby

2008: 1st – Brother Derek; 4th dh in derby

2005: 4th – Giacomo; 1st in Derby

2004: 3rd – Imperialism; 3rd in Dreby

2003: 4th – Atwhatimtalknbout; 4th in Derby

Florida Derby – 4

2010: 1st – Ice Box; 2nd in Derby

2008: 1st – Big Brown; 1st in Derby

2007: 6th – Imawildandcrazyguy; 4th in Derby

2006: 1st – Barbaro; 1st in Derby

Illinois Derby – 3

2009: 1st – Musket Man; 3rd in Derby

2008: 5th – Denis of Cork; 3rd in Derby

2002: 1st – War Emblem; 1st in Derby

Sunland Derby – 1

2009: 4th – Mine That Bird; 1st in Derby

Based on the history of final prep races since 2000, here’s a look at the top finishers in this year’s final prep races.

Wood Memorial Stakes: Toby’s Corner – 1st; Uncle Mo – 3rd

Blue Grass Stakes: Brilliant Speed – 1st; Twinspired – 2nd

Arkansas Derby: Archarcharch – 1st; Nehro – 2nd

Santa Anita Derby: Midnight Interlude – 1st; Comma To The Top – 2nd

Florida Derby: Dialed In – 1st; Shackleford – 2nd

Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes: Animal Kingdom – 1st; Decisive Moment – 2nd

Sunland Derby: Twice The Appeal – 1st

Pants On Fire finished first in the Louisiana Derby; Nehro finished second and Mucho Macho Man finished third but no horses coming out of this race since 2000 have finished in the Derby top four. Master of Hounds finished second in the UAE Derby but not horses coming out of this race have finished in the Derby top four.

Breaking news today that The Factor and J P’s Gusto will skip the Derby bumps Shackleford, ranked 21st on the graded stakes list, and Twinspired, 22nd in graded stakes earnings, into the Derby starting gate if the connections decide to run. Only the top twenty horses with the most graded stakes earnings are eligible to get into the Derby starting gate.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Arkansas Derby Racing Roundup

The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park is one of the richest races on the Derby trail and the $600,000 first-place purse is the last opportunity that many thoroughbred owners will have to acquire the graded stakes earnings necessary to get their horse into the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

Only the top 20 horses with the most graded stakes earnings will get into the Derby starting gate and of the 13 horses entered in the Arkansas Derby, J P’s Gusto with $541,500 in earnings and The Factor with $270,000 in earnings, are the only two with enough earnings (see chart at end of story).

Of all the stakes races trainer Bob Baffert has won, he has never won the Arkansas Derby (G1) but that could change today when he sends The Factor to the starting gate as the 7-5 morning line favorite.

Since breaking his maiden by 8 1/4-lengths last December in a 6-furlong sprint at Santa Anita Park, The Factor has been brilliant in winning the San Vicente Stakes (G3) and Rebel Stakes (G2).

I liked The Factor in both of those races and the ease in which he won the 8½-furlong Rebel Stakes (G2) showed me that the stretch out to 9-furlongs should be well within his scope. His pedigree also indicates that The Factor should be able to handle 9-furlongs.

War Front, the sire of The Factor, was a champion sprinter but he has a proven middle-distance runner on this year’s trail in Soldat who won the 9-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

Danzig, the grandsire of The Factor, sired Danzig Connection (1986 Belmont Stakes), Pine Bluff (1992 Preakness Stakes) and Dance Smartly (1991 Canadian Triple Crown winner); and his sire line, mostly through his son Danehill, has produced numerous Classic Champion Thoroughbreds worldwide.

Miswaki, the damsire of The Factor, was mostly a sprinter but he sired Urban Sea – winner of the 1993 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Factor could get some pace pressure early from Dance City (15-1) and Saratoga Red (30-1). But if The Factor runs like he has in previous races he should begin to edge clear at the half.

I think the Factor will win the Arkansas Derby but with the upset of Uncle Mo in the Wood Memorial last weekend, anything is possible in horse racing.

Jockey Calvin Borel has struggled all season trying to find the right time to pull the trigger on Elite Alex (8-1) who likes to close from the back of the pack and today is the last opportunity to punch their ticket to Churchill Downs.

Elite Alex only has $65,000 in graded stakes money so he will need to finish at least second, which is worth $200,000 and a spot in the Derby starting gate.

In all of their races the duo has never been that far out of it but first place is what counts. Trainer Tim Ritchey adds blinkers and maybe that will help Elite Alex to stay closer to the pace.

Brethren (10-1) is a horse I’ve liked for some time and I wrote about him in my 2011 Kentucky Outlook. He has the breeding to carry on the family tradition and join half-brother Super Saver in the Derby history book. But sometimes, for one reason or another, these young colts do not live up to their breeding.

Brethren’s third place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) was disappointing but with the addition of blinkers he could turn things around and I like the recent two bullet work outs.

A third-place finish ($100,000) might get Brethren, who has $155,000 in earnings, into the Derby starting gate.

Nehro (5-1) suffered and narrow loss by a neck to Pants On Fire in the 9-furlong Louisiana Derby and he’s an improving colt who could be a candidate to pull off an upset.

Currently, Nehro is ranked 22nd on the graded stakes list with $200,000 in earnings and a fourth-place finish ($50,000) may get him to the into the Derby starting gate but a third-place finish ($100,000) will guarantee him a spot.

Graded Stakes earnings of Arkansas Derby entrants

Guaranteed start in Kentucky Derby

J P’s Gusto, $541,500

Insurance money could help

The Factor, $270,000

Need at least 2nd place purse – $200,000

Caleb’s Posse, $71,504

Elite Alex, $65,000

Sway Away, $61,500

Need at least 3rd place purse – $100,000

Nehro, $200,000 (may get in with 4th place purse $50,000)

Archarcharch, $180,000

Brethren, $155,000

Need 1st place purse – $600,000

Saratoga Red, $15,000

Alternation, $0

Dance City, $0

Truman’s Commander, $0

J W Blue, $0