Sunday, June 26, 2011
The Queen’s Plate is Canada's oldest horse race and the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown which is followed by the Prince Of Wales Stakes and Breeder’s Stakes. A win by Check Your Soul would give trainer Roger Attfield a record nine wins in the Canadian Classic.
Since breaking his maiden at Keeneland in April, Check Your Soul has won three in a row and looks to be the solid favorite. His win in the Plate Trial was especially impressive when he took the lead at the top of the stretch and pulled away to win by 3¼-lengths over runner-up Bowman’s Causeway and third-place finisher Strike Oil, another 2½-lengths back, who are both entered in the Queen’s Plate.
Check Your Soul is a descendant of the Northern Dancer sire line and since 1990 that line has dominated the Queen’s Plate producing nine winners.
Perfect Soul, the sire of Check Your Soul, was a champion turf horse in Canada and the sire of Canadian Classic Champion Thoroughbred Perfect Shower – winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Stakes. The grandsire of Check Your Soul is the Classic Champion Thoroughbred and internationally important sire Sadler’s Wells. And the great grandsire of Check Your Soul is Northern Dancer who won the 1964 Queen’s Plate Stakes, Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
On the distaff side of the pedigree, 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled is the damsire of Check Your Soul.
So, I like the breeding and the past performances make Check Your Soul my top pick.
Queensplatekitten, the 7-2 morning line second choice and Inglorious, the 9-2 third choice, both appear to be tough in this race and should be considered in the wagering.
If you throw out the Bluegrass Stakes (G1), Queensplatekitten has never finished worse than second and overall his record is 3-2-0 in six starts. The same goes for Inglorious whose only off-the-board finish came in the Fair Ground Oaks (G2) at the Fair Grounds in March. Overall, Inglorious is 4-1-0 in six starts and a bullet work out June 16 indicates that she is ready to run a good race.
A long shot I like is Maple Leaf Kitten (50-1).
Maple Leaf Kitten struggled as 2-year-old but seems to be quickly improving as a 3-year-old and at 50-1 he is worth a play in the exacta and trifecta with Check Your Soul and Inglorious. Whether he is improved enough to be a factor in the Queen’s Plate remains to be seen but he has the breeding to perform much better than his past performances would indicate.
Kitten’s Joy, the sire of Maple Leaf Kitten, was a multiple Grade 1 winner and the 2004 Eclipse Champion Turf Horse who was competitive racing from 9- to 12-furlongs. The sire line of Maple Leaf Kitten is the same Sadler’s Wells, Northern Dancer line as Check Your Soul.
E Dubai, the damsire of Maple Leaf Kitten, won the 10-furlong Suburban Handicap (G2) and finished second in the 10-furlong Travers Stakes (G1) and Super Derby (G1).
Unbridled, the sire of the second dam Miss Lulu, won the 1990 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Private Account, the sire of the third dam Ms. Margi, also sired the undefeated multiple Grade 1 winner Personal Ensign. Tom Rolfe, the sire of the fourth dam Trestle, won the 1965 Preakness Stakes (G1).
Good luck with your Queen's Plate picks.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Earlier this month, Carlton House lost a shoe while running in the Investec Derby at Epsom Downs and finished third – barely beaten by three-quarters of a length by a fast closing Pour Moi. To view the Derby click here.
The last British-trained horse to win the Irish Derby was Balanchine in 1994. Sir Michael Stoute, the trainer of Carlton House, has won the Irish Derby three times with Shahrastani (1986), Shareef Dancer (1983) and Shergar (1981).
A win in the Irish Derby by Carlton House, a talented Street Cry colt and a descendant of Mr. Prospector, would be the first by a descendant of that sire line. Since Nijinsky won in 1970, the Northern Dancer sire line has dominated the Irish classic producing 26 Derby winners.
Other horses returning from the Epsom Derby for another chance at classic ranking include runner up Treasure Beach (3-1), fourth-place finisher Memphis Tennessee (12-1), fifth-place finisher Native Kahn (8-1) and Seville (6-1) who finished 10th.
Aidan P. O’Brien, who has won the Irish Derby a record eight times, will send four of the eight horses entered in the race to the post: Memphis Tennessee, Roderic O’Connor (10-1), Seville and Treasure Beach.
Memphis Tennessee was the pacesetter in the Epsom Derby and he most likely will repeat that performance which would set the race up nicely for a rallying run in the final strides by Carlton House and Treasure Beach who appear to be the class of the field.
Treasure Beach and Carlton House are two horses I like in this race and I will use them with 20-1morning line long shot Notable Graduate in my exotic wagers.
Treasure Beach was my long shot pick in the Epsom Derby and I used him with Pour Moi in my exotic wagers. Going into the race, Treasure Beach was the only horse that had raced 12-furlongs and he looked impressive winning his 3-year-old debut when he squeezed through horses to win by a head in the Chester Vase Stakes (G3) on May 5.You can watch video of Treasure Beach in the Chester Vase Stakes (G3) here.
Not only was I impressed by the performance of Treasure Beach in the Chester Vase Stakes (G3), but his breeding impressed me too.
The type of breeding pattern in the pedigree of Treasure Beach where all the stallions on the tail-female line, the damsire line, and the sire line forms what I refer to as a “W” pattern and it’s a powerful influence I look for in the pedigree.
His sire, Galileo, won the 2001 Epsom and Irish Derbies and sired the Irish Derby winner Soldier of Fortune (2007) and Cape Blanco (2010). Sadler’s Wells, the grandsire of Treasure Beach, won the Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) and sired six Irish Derby winners: Old Vic (1989), Salsabil (1990), Dream Well (1998), Montjeu (1999), Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002).
Northern Dancer, the great grandsire of Treasure Beach, won the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) and sired four Irish Derby winners: Nijinsky (1970), The Minstrel (1977), Shareef Dancer (1983) and El Gran Senor (1984).
Mark Of Esteem, the damsire of Treasure Beach, won the 1996 edition of the English 2000 Guineas Stakes (G1) and he is the sire of Sir Percy winner of the 2006 Epsom Derby.
Darshaan, the second damsire of Treasure Beach, won the Prix Du Jockey Club Stakes (G1) and he is a descendant of one of the best sire lines of Nasrullah Darshaan sired Dalakhani, winner of the 2003 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and he is the grandsire of Sir Percy, winner of the 2006 Epsom Derby.
Shirley Heights, the third damsire of Treasure Beach, won the 1978 Irish and Epsom Derbies and he sired Slip Anchor, winner of the 1985 Epsom Derby. Shirley Heights is also the grandsire of High Rise, winner of the 1998 Epsom Derby and he is the great grandsire of Sir Percy.
Mill Reef, the fourth damsire of Treasure Beach, won the 1971 Epsom Derby and he sired the Irish and Epsom Derby winner Shirley Heights.
In addition, the stallions Bering, Riverman and Blakeney on the tail-female line of the pedigree of Treasure Beach were all Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.
While the pedigree of Carlton House and Notable Graduate are not sterling like the pedigree of Treasure Beach, Carlton House is a proven classic contender and I believe that Notable Graduate has the potential to be competitive in the classic ranks.
The sire of Notable Graduate is Galileo who won the Irish Derby and sired Derby winner Soldier of Fortune and Cape Blanco. Gulch, the damsire of Notable Graduate, sired Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Thunder Gulch.
Notable Graduate has not run in a Group race but in five starts, he has never finished worse than second. While stepping up in class, Notable Graduate is trained by Dermot Weld who is one of the most successful trainers in Ireland.
Weld twice won the Irish Derby with Zagreb (1996) and Grey Swallow (2004). In 2008, Weld teamed up with Moyglare Stud Farm (the owner of Notable Graduate) to send Casual Conquest to a runner up performance in the Irish Derby.
So while Notable Graduate has not run in a Group race, Weld knows what it takes to be competitive at the classic level and I look for Notable Graduate to run a good race and, perhaps, upset at a nice price.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Animal Kingdom didn’t disappoint when he made a powerful stretch run in Kentucky Derby 137 to win by 2 ¾ - lengths over runner-up Nehro.
In the Preakness Stakes, Animal Kingdom broke slowly and was settled by Jockey Johnny Velazquez in 13th place, far back off of a quick pace set by Flashpoint and Shackleford. Velazquez began moving Animal Kingdom up at the three-quarter pole and the pair made another powerful move in the stretch but came up one-half length short of victor Shackleford.
Velazquez made the move too late but that was only the second time he had ridden Animal Kingdom and he still was learning how to best ride him.
Tomorrow, Velazquez and Animal Kingdom will go to the starting gate as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the 143rd running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park and this time, I believe that Velazquez will have Animal Kingdom closer to the pace. (In early wagering, Animal Kingdom is the 5-2 favorite.)
Animal Kingdom has a good cruising speed and he has shown that he can be competitive and win from off the pace and even from dead last – just now as far back, though, as he was in the Preakness.
Animal Kingdom has the breeding and mental toughness to easily handle the demanding 12-furlongs of the Belmont Stakes and he’s my pick to reign supreme in the Belmont – he’s always reigned supreme on my list.
Trainer Dale Romans said he will send Shackleford to the front and use the same winning strategy that worked in the Preakness Stakes.
In The Handicapper’s Edge news story Romans said "I think if he [Shackleford] can get a nice, slow, rhythmic pace, it would be perfect. But we don't want to go too slow. Going 1 1/2 miles, fast or slow, they're going to be getting tired at the end.
"We may have gone too slow in the Derby, because everyone came home so fast and we couldn't hang on. The Preakness was different and they struggled a little bit at the end, and we had the stamina to finish," added Romans.
That strategy almost worked last year when Romans sent First Dude to the front in the Preakness and he finished second, beaten by only three-quarters of a length, to Lookin At Lucky. Romans wheeled First Dude back in the Belmont where he finished third - beaten by only three-quarters of a length, to Drosselmeyer.
That strategy worked this year in the Preakness but it did not work in the Kentucky Derby and I don’t believe that it will work in the Belmont either. In regard to my wagering strategy, I will use Shackleford in the fourth spot of the exotics and maybe in the third spot.
Three horses I like and will use in the exacta and trifecta wagers with Animal Kingdom are Master Of Hounds (10-1), Brilliant Speed (15-1) and Mucho Macho Man (10-1). (In early wagering, Brilliant Speed, who was 15-1 on the morning line, offers the best value at 9-1. Master Of Hounds is 5-1 and Mucho Macho Man is 6-1 in the early wagering.)
With the shorter Belmont field, I believe that all three of those horses will get a better trip than they did in the Kentucky Derby.
Master Of Hounds, along with Animal Kingdom, made the most improvement in the Kentucky Derby. Animal Kingdom, in 10th place at the three-quarter pole, passed 10 horses to finish first and Master Of Hounds, in 14th place at the three-quarter pole, also passed 10 horses to finish fifth. If Master Of Hounds is closer to the pace, I believe that he has a good chance of finishing in the money.
Master Of Hounds also has a pedigree that is well-suited to the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes. Kingmambo, the sire of Master Of Hounds, is a Chef-de-Race and well-known classic influence. His damsire, Sadler’s Wells, is also a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and sire of the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Montjeu and Galileo.
Lyphard, the sire of the second dam Danilova, also sired the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Dancing Brave and Three Troikas.
Brilliant Speed also has a pedigree that is well-suited to the Belmont Stakes. Dynaformer, the sire of Brilliant Speed, sired the Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. But the distaff side of the pedigree is loaded with a lot of stallions and mares that have had an impact on the Belmont Stakes.
Gone West, the damsire of Brilliant Speed, sired the Belmont winner Commendable. Deputy Minister, the sire of the second dam Daijan is also the sire of Belmont winner Touch Gold. In addition, Deputy Minister is the damsire of Belmont winners Jazil, Rags To Riches, Sarava and Belmont runner-up Curlin.
Passing Mood, the third dam of Brilliant Speed, is also the dam of Belmont winner Touch Gold.
Mucho Macho Man is hard-luck, hard-knocking colt on this year’s trail who lost a shoe in the Louisiana Derby and Preakness Stakes. But, despite the luck, Mucho Macho Man is 2-3-3 in 10 career starts and I look for him to be competitive in the Belmont Stakes.
And when Barry Irwin, President of Team Valor International, says that Mucho Macho Man is the horse that poses the biggest threat to Animal Kingdom, I take notice.
In the Kentucky Derby, Mucho Macho Man was in 8th place at the three-quarter pole and he passed five horsed to finish third – a neck behind Nehro.
From the mile post in the Kentucky Derby, Nehro ran in second place tracking Shackleford and he barely held on for second to a closing Mucho Macho Man and I don’t look for him to improve much off of that performance.
In the early wagers, Nehro is 5-1and I most likely will play him in the third and fourth spot of the exotic wagers. I might play Nehro in a small exacta ticket as well.
Good luck with your Belmont wagers.
Friday, June 3, 2011
But if Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II has her way Saturday there could be a changing of the guard as trainer Sir Michael Stoute, looking for his sixth win in the Epsom Derby, sends jockey Ryan Moore and Carlton House, a talented Street Cry colt and a descendant of Mr. Prospector, to the starting gate as the 2-1 Twinspires morning line favorite in the 232nd running of the Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs.
Stoute and Moore won the Derby last year with the King’s Best colt Workforce who is the only descendant of Mr. Prospector to win the Epsom Derby. Workforce set a new course record of 2:31.33 which was nearly one second faster than the previous best set in 1995 by Lammtarra who was sired by Nijinsky.
Whether Carlton House wins remains to be seen but if he does win it would be the second year in a row that a descendant of Mr. Prospector won the Derby. You can watch a video of Carlton House in the Dante Stakes (G2) here. Carlton House is the sentimental favorite to win but at 2-1 morning line odds I’ll be looking elsewhere.
Besides, I think this edition of the Epsom Derby is wide open and there are several who could win.
Three long shots I like are Masked Marvel (20-1), Treasure Beach (20-1) and Ocean War (15-1). I’ll play them with the 3-1morning line second choice Pour Moi.
Pour Moi, making his 3-year-old debut, finished third in the Prix La Force Stakes (G3) in April and came back in May to win the 10-furlong Greffulhe Stakes (G2). Pour Moi came from dead last and made an explosive move in the stretch of the Greffulhe Stakes to win by 1 ½-lengths. You can watch the video of Pour Moi in the Greffulhe Stakes (G2) here.
Pour Moi also has very good breeding. His sire is the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Montjeu who also sired the Epsom Derby winners Motivator (2005) and Authorized (2007). Whenever you find Montjeu in the pedigree you also have the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Sadler’s Wells and Northern Dancer. Multiple generations of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds is one of the things I look for when studying pedigrees.
Darshaan, the damsire of Pour Moi, won the Prix Du Jockey Club Stakes (G1) and he is a descendant of one of the best sire lines of Nasrullah Darshaan sired Dalakhani, winner of the 2003 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and he is the grandsire of Sir Percy, winner of the 2006 Epsom Derby.
Shirley Heights, the second damsire of Pour Moi, won the 1978 Epsom Derby and he sired Slip Anchor, winner of the 1985 Epsom Derby. Shirley Heights is also the grandsire of High Rise, winner of the 1998 Epsom Derby and he is the great grandsire of Sir Percy.
Mill Reef, the third damsire of Pour Moi, won the 1971 Epsom Derby and he sired the Epsom Derby winners Shirley Heights and Reference Point (1987).
In addition the tail-female line stallions Conquistador Cielo and Northern Dancer are also Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.
The type of breeding pattern in the pedigree of Pour Moi where all the stallions on the tail-female line, the damsire line, and the sire line forms what I refer to as a “W” pattern and it’s a powerful influence I look for in the pedigree.
Treasure Beach has the same “W” pattern in his pedigree and he’s the only horse that has raced 12-furlongs. He looked pretty impressive in winning his 3-year-old debut when he squeezed through horses to win by a head in the Chester Vase Stakes (G3) on May 5.You can watch video of Treasure Beach in the Chester Vase Stakes (G3) here.
His sire, Galileo, won the 2001 Epsom Derby and sired New Approach, winner of the 2008 Epsom Derby. Mark Of Esteem, the damsire of Treasure Beach, won the 1996 edition of the 2000 Guineas Stakes (G1) and he is the sire of Sir Percy winner of the 2006 Epsom Derby.
Masked Marvel finished fifth in the Classic Trial (G3) in April and came back in May to win the Iba Cocked Hat Stakes by three lengths. Masked Marvel should improve in his third start for the year and he has the breeding to be a factor in the Epsom Derby.
His sire is Montjeu and his damsire, Mark Of Esteem, is the same damsire of Treasure Beach and a descendant of one of the most important sire lines of Nasrullah.
One of the most impressive influences in the pedigree of Masked Marvel comes from the legendary Classic Champion Thoroughbred and German Derby winner Acatenango – three-time Horse of The Year in Germany and champion sire in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001.
Acatenango is also the damsire of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and when he is present in the pedigree, there are several generations of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds. I followed the line back to the foundation Stallion Darley Arabian and found that 11 of the stallions going back 15 generations were Classic Champion Thoroughbreds – that’s pretty impressive.
Here’s a look at the sire line of Acatenango. The Classic Champion Thoroughbreds are in all capital letters:
ACATENANGO/SURUMU/LITERAT/BIRKHAHN/ALCHEMIST/HEROLD/Dark Ronald/Bay Ronald/Hampton/LORD CLIFDEN/NEWMINSTER/TOUCHSTONE/Camel/WHALEBONE/WAXY/Pot-8-O's/Eclipse/Marske/Squirt/Bartlet’s Childers/Darley Arabian
Ocean War is stepping up in class but he is undefeated in two starts this year. He looked very impressive coming from dead last to win the Makfi Newmarket Stakes by 2 ¼-lengths on April 30. You can watch video of Ocean War in the Makfi Newmarket Stakes here.
Dalakhani, the sire of Ocean War, is a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and a descendant of one of my favorite Nasrullah sire lines. Ocean War almost has a perfect “W” pattern pedigree like Pour Moi and Treasure Beach. Royal Academy, the damsire of Ocean War, never won a classic race and his biggest win was in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Good luck with your Derby picks.