As 2012 draws to a close its time to take a look at the 2-year-old Thoroughbreds to see which ones may have the potential to be a factor on the trail next year leading to the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
The Derby Outlook has been a staple of this blog since I started it in 2009. Analyzing pedigrees and reviewing the races of as many 2-year-olds as possible is always a daunting task and this year seems especially difficult.
Overall, there have been some good races but I’m not overly impressed with any of the competitors in this crop of Derby qualifiers. The implementation by Churchill Downs of a point system to determine the eligibility of horses entering Derby starting gate could also be a factor making it more difficult to evaluate this crop.
I like the new system but the points earned next year are higher and a lot of owners and trainers may wait until then to enter their lightly-raced horses in hope of earning enough points necessary to get into the Derby starting gate.
So far, Trainer Todd Pletcher tops the leaderboard with three colts – Shanghai Bobby, Violence and Overanalyze – in the top five of the list of 2013 Kentucky Derby qualifiers. Pletcher also has a fourth colt – Capo Bastone – in the top twenty. Here’s a look at the Churchill Downs top twenty Derby qualifiers:
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer
1 = Shanghai Bobby, 20, Todd Pletcher
2 = Goldencents, 14, Doug O’Neill
3 = Violence, 10, Todd Pletcher
4 = Joha, 10, Mike Maker
5 = Overanalyze, 10, Todd Pletcher
6 = Uncaptured, 10, Mark Casse
7 = Power Broker, 10, Bob Baffert
8 = Steeler, 10, Mark Johnson
9 = River Seven, 10, Nick Gonzalez
10 = Tesseron, 5, Josie Carroll
11= Bern Identity, 4, Kelly Breen
12 = He’s Had Enough, 4, Doug O’Neill
13 = Capo Bastone, 4, Todd Pletcher
14 = Know More, 4, Doug O’Neill
15 = Fury Kapcori, 4, Jerry Hollendorfer
16 = Dynamic Sky, 4, Mark Casse
17 = Artigiano, 4, Mahmood Al Zarooni
18 = Normandy Invasion, 4, Chad Brown
19 = Frac Daddy, 4, Kenny McPeak
20 = Fortify, 3, Kiaran McLaughlin
Whether Pletcher continues to dominate the trail next year remains to be seen. Of his current Derby quaifiers, I like Shanghai Bobby and Violence the most and I think that they have the potential to be competitive on the 2013 Derby Trail.
Shanghai Bobby is undefeated in five starts and he most likely will be selected as the 2012 champion 2-year-old colt.
The success of Shanghai Bobby is somewhat similar to that of his sire, Harlan’s Holiday, who was 4-2-0 in six starts as a two year old winning the Iroquois Stakes (G3), Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes, Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes and the Hoover Stakes.
As a 3-year-old, Harlan’s Holiday finished second in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1). He followed up with a win in the Florida Derby (G1) and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and went into the 2002 Kentucky Derby as the 6-1 favorite but finished seventh in a field of 18.
The distaff pedigree of Shanghai Bobby is not as strong as I’d like to see in a potential Derby prospect and that was evident in his narrow win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes to He’s Had Enough.
The damsire of Shanghai Bobby, Orientate, was a champion sprinter that won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) as well as the graded stakes Forego Handicap (G1), the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G2) and the Aristides Handicap (G3). Orientate was also able to stretch out his speed to win the 8½-furlong Indiana Derby. Carson City, the sire of the second dam Steel Band, also adds speed influence to the distaff pedigree.
I’ll be watching to see how well Shanghai Bobby performs at 9-furlongs.
Violence is undefeated in three starts including a 2-length win in the Nashua Stakes (G2) and a 1¼-length win in the CashCall Futurity Stakes (G1). Violence, my pick in the CashCall, has a nice turn of foot and speed that I like to see in a young colt I believe may have classic potential.
Violence’s sire, Medaglia d’Oro, was a pretty good middle-distance runner with seven wins and five second-place finishes in 14 route races. He finished second in his only start as a 2-year-old but as a 3-year-old he won the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) en route to the 2002 Derby where he finished in fourth place.
Gone West, the damsire of Violence, also was a competitive middle-distance runner. As a 2-year-old, he won a 7-furlong maiden race at Belmont Park and finished the season with a 1-1-1 record in four starts.
As a 3-year-old, Gone West won the one-mile Gotham Stakes (G2) and Withers Stakes (G2). He finished second in the 7-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G3) and finished third in the 8½-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G3).
If Violence continues to improve as a 3-year-old, he should be competitive on the Derby Trail.
One colt trained by Pletcher that I’m very interested in is Revolutionary. He’s yet to run in a stakes race or earn any Derby points but he recently broke his maiden, after his fourth attempt, by an impressive 8½-lengths.
Revolutionary is a descendant of the Cherokee Run sire line and in my July 3 blog of 2009 I noted the importance of keeping track of colts from that line when they stretch out to route racing.
Over the years, the Cherokee Run sire line has produced a lot of good middle- distance runners such as War Pass, the sire of Revolutionary. Other good runners from that line include: Yonaguska, Kafwain, Sir Cherokee, During, Chelokee, Zanjero, Recapturetheglory, Musket Man and The Pamplemousse.
In addition, the distaff pedigree of Revolutionary is very strong and the tail-female line is reinforced with the stallions A.P. Indy, Hoist The Flag, Herbager and Court Martial.
The tail-female line descends from the outstanding foundation mare La Troienne (Family 1-x) and that line has produced eight Classic Champion Thoroughbreds: Super Saver (2010), Smarty Jones (2004), Go For Gin (1994), Sea Hero (1993), Prairie Bayou (1993), Easy Goer (1989), Personality (1970) and Bimelech (1940).
Whether Revolutionary has any classic potential remains to be seen. But, if he continues to improve as a 3-year-old he could be competitive on the Derby Trail.
Trainer Doug O’Neill has three colts in the top twenty list of Derby qualifiers – Goldencents, He’s Had Enough and Know More. Of those three, Goldencents (ranked second) is the best performer and I like him the most.
Goldencents won his maiden debut with an impressive 7¼-length romp at Del Mar on September 2. He followed that performance with a respectable second-place finish in the Champagne Stakes (G1) to Shanghai Bobby who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). Goldencents capped off his 2-year-old racing season with a 1¾-length win in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3).
The sire of Goldencents, Into Mischief, finished second as a 2-year-old in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) and won the 8½-furlong CashCall Futurity (G1) in a time of 1:40.82 – just a few ticks off of the record time of 1:40.74 set by Afternoon Deelites and the second fastest time of 1:40.78 set by Valiant Nature.
Banker’s Gold, the sire of Goldencents’ dam Golden Works, was a pretty good sprinter that was able to carry his speed to victory in the 9-furlong Peter Pan Stakes (G2).
Goldencents has the breeding and turn of foot to be competitive but I’m not sure if he has the ability to be a classic 10-furlong horse. The distance of the Preakness Stakes may be more to his liking.
At the present, Goldencents is the best competitor for O’Neill and if he continues to improve as a 3-year-old, he should be competitive on the Derby Trail.
Pletcher’s other horse, Overanalyze, and trainer Mark Casse’s Uncaptured could, perhaps, be competitive as 3-year-olds but I’m not too keen on them as Derby prospects. He’s Had Enough (ranked 12th) was my long shot pick in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) but he’s very immature and he’ll have to improve quite a bit to be a factor.
Of the current Derby qualifiers, Shanghai Bobby, Violence and Goldencents are the three that I like the most. The other qualifiers may have an impact on the 2013 trail but they will have to improve considerably.
Revolutionary has not qualified as a Derby horse but I’m very interested to see how well he fares as a 3-year-old. Let’s take a look at some other horses that I’m very interested in but they have not earned any Derby points yet.
Trainer Bret Calhoun’s Tour Guide is a fast son of Broken Vow who’s yet to run in a route race but in five starts he’s posted a 3-1-0 record including a 3½-length win in the Sugar Bowl Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
Whether Tour Guide has classic potential remains to be seen. But he has good speed and his breeding suggests that he should be able to stretch out in distance and be competitive on the Derby Trail.
Broken Vow, the sire of Tour Guide, did not race as a 2-year-old but he was a pretty good middle-distance runner that only finished out of the money once in 14 starts and compiled an 8-2-2 record in 12 route starts.
At the age of three, Broken Vow won the Sir Barton Stakes. As a 4-year-old, Broken Vow won the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G2), Ben Ali Stakes (G3), R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial Stakes and the Skip Away Stakes.
Broken Vow’s best runners to date on the Derby trail have been Interactif, Private Vow and Done Talking.
Tour Guide’s damsire, Came Home, was a pretty good sprinter and router that compiled a 9-0-0 record in 12 lifetime starts. He was a perfect four wins in four starts sprinting while he won five of eight route races.
As a 2-year-old, Came Home won the Hopeful Stakes (G1) and Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G3). At the age of three, Came Home won the San Vicente Stakes (G2), San Rafael Stakes (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) en route to a sixth-place finish in the 2002 Kentucky Derby.
The tail-female line of Tour Guide traces back to Turk Mare (Family 23-b) and that line produced the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds I’ll Have Another (2012), Mine That Bird (2009), Lil E. Tee (1992), Winning Colors (1988), Affirmed (1978), Tim Tam (1958), Zev (1923). Byrn Mawr (1904) and Kingman (1891).
Tour Guide’s fifth dam, Patelin, is also the fifth dam of I’ll Have Another.
If Tour Guide can carry his speed to 10-furlongs, he’ll be tough on the trail and most likely one of my Derby picks. Time will tell.
Winstar Farm LLC’s colt General Election has only raced twice. He won his maiden debut at Churchill Downs by an impressive 3-lengths and he finished second in his last race going one mile and 70 yards at the Fair Grounds.
His maiden debut was pretty good but his last race, despite the second-place finish, was lackluster and he’ll have to improve in his next start to be a factor on the trail. And he has the breeding to be competitive but I’ve seen a lot of horses fail to live up to their breeding.
General Election’s sire Harlan’s Holiday was a tough competitor on the Derby trail. He also sired Shanghai Bobby and he’s the grandsire of Goldencents.
The tail female line of General Election traces back to Hilarity (Family 1-p) and that line produced the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Pensive (1944). The tail-female line also is reinforced by the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Kingmambo, Spectacular Bid, Northern Dancer and Caro.
Time will tell if General Election is a factor on the trail.
Trainer Bob Baffert’s War Academy looked good in winning his maiden debut at Betfair Hollywood Park and although he’s only raced once, I like his pedigree and if he lives up to his breeding he could be a factor on the Derby trail.
War Academy’s sire, Giant’s Causeway, was an outstanding competitor that won from 7- to 10-furlongs and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.
Giant’s Causeway was undefeated in three starts at 7-furlongs as a 2-year-old winning the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes.
At the age of three, Giant’s Causeway was 6-4-0 in 10 starts and won the 10-furlong Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1), International Stakes (Group 1) and Eclipse Stakes (Group 1). He also won the 8-furlong Sussex Stakes (Group 1), St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1) and the 7-furlong Gladness Stakes (Group 3).
The distaff pedigree of War Academy is pretty strong with the Classic Champion Thoroughbred A.P. Indy as the damsire. I also like it that the tail-female family of War Academy and A.P. Indy are the same tracing to Mayonaise (Family 3-l) and that line produced the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Silver Charm and Triple Crown winner Citation.
In addition, Reine-de-Course mare Missy Baba is the fourth dam of A.P. Indy and the fifth dam of War Academy and that branch of Family 3-l produced, in addition to A.P. Indy, the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Summer Squall and Lemon Drop Kid.
Time will tell if War Academy is a factor on the Derby Trail.
Two Lion Heart colts that I’m interested are the Purple Egg and Falling Sky. The Purple Egg is undefeated in three races, at three separate race tracks, while Falling Sky’s only loss in three races, also at three separate race tracks, came to Purple Egg in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on December 1.
In his maiden debut at Monmouth Park, the Purple Egg: “dueled outside, took over for home, responded when asked and drew clear, driving” in a 5-furlong maiden special weight to win impressively by 4¾-lengths.
In his next race at Parx Racing, Purple Egg: “stalked the pace outside, bid to the front nearing the stretch then drew away handily in an impressive score” to win a 6-furlong sprint by 6¾-lengths.
In the Inaugural Stakes, Purple Egg: “raced well placed for a half [in fourth-place] bid four-wide into the furlong grounds then wore down the leader late” to beat runner up Brave Dave by one length.
Purple Egg has good speed and he’s looked good in all his races. If he can carry that speed to route races he should be tough on the trail. And his breeding suggests that he should be able to stretch out in distance.
Purple Egg’s sire, Lion Heart, was a tough competitor and good middle-distance horse that won the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) and Hollywood Futurity (G1) as a 2-year-old. As a 3-year-old, Lion Heart finished second in the San Rafael Stakes (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) en route to a second-place finish to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
Purple Egg’s form is very similar to that of his sire Lion Heart who also was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old and I look for Purple Egg to be competitive on the Derby trail.
Falling Sky won his maiden debut by an impressive 4-lengths at Calder on November 1. He then followed that with a disappointing fourth-place finish to Purple Egg in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on December 1. Falling Sky rebounded from that loss to win a 6½-furlong sprint by 1¾-lengths at Gulfstream Park on December 15.
Like Purple Egg, if Falling Sky continues to improve, I look for him to be competitive on the Derby trail.
Honorable mention goes to Powerful, Encode and Good Fellowship. All three have yet to race but they have good pedigrees and if they live up to their breeding they could, perhaps, be a factor on the 2013 Kentucky Derby Trail.