There are only four major 9-furlong prep races left on the ‘Road To The Kentucky Derby.” On April 6, Derby hopefuls will line up in the starting gate of the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) and Santa Anita Derby (G1). The Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes (G1) will the following weekend on April 13.
The 9-furlong races are key as they give me a good perspective as to how well these young colts may fare running 10-furlongs on the first Saturday in May. There are several factors I look at when measuring classic potential. But, most importantly, I look at the pedigree and the horse’s will to win.
So far, Govenor Charlie has all the goods to be a solid superfecta horse. Whether he has classic potential remains to be seen. But, on the first Saturday in May, if he is forwardly placed early in the race, Govenor Charlie has the potential to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby since Regret won the 1915 Derby off of only three career starts. And Govenor Charlie has the potential to be the first Derby winner that did not race as a 2-year-old since Apollo won the Derby in 1882.
War Academy is a colt I profiled in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook as a horse that could have classic potential, and he may make his next start in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He’s trained by Bob Baffert and has yet to earn any Derby points. But, he has the breeding to be competitive in the Kentucky Derby
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 has classic potential.
Team Valor British Isle import, Infinite Magic, was a late nomination to the Triple Crown trail and he is an interesting under-the-radar Derby prospect. If they go for the Derby, my guess is that Team Valor may run Infinite Magic in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) in an attempt to get him into the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Infinite Magic is an interesting colt by More Than Ready out of a Danehill Dancer mare and he’s a sire-line descendant of Royal Charger. As a 2-year-old, Infinite Magic compiled a 1-2-0 record in four starts – all on all-weather tracks. In his debut as a 3-year-old, I like it that Infinite Magic won running 10-furlongs on the all-weather track at Lingfield, boosting his record to 2-2-0 in five starts. Here’s a look at his Lingfield victory: http://bit.ly/102EXfM.
Infinite Magic has room to improve in his second start of the season which could be in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1). The Blue Grass is an eighth of a mile shorter than his last race. So, we’ll see if Infinite Magic has the turn of foot to be competitive at the shorter distance and make it into the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Let’s take a look at some statistics:
Sunland Derby (G3)
Winner – Govenor Charlie
Fractional Times – 22.74, 46.22, 1:09.96, 1:34.96, 1:47.54
Split Times – 23.48, 23.74, 25.00, 12.58
GOVENOR CHARLIE vied three wide, dueled three wide on the far turn, responded when asked approaching the quarter pole, shook clear in upper stretch and pulled away under a drive [to win by a commanding five lengths].
Louisiana Derby (G2)
Winner – Revolutionary
Fractional Times – 22.84, 46.34, 1:11.84, 1:37.76, 1:50.28
Split Times – 23.50, 25.50, 25.92, 12.52
REVOLUTIONARY was last away then asked a bit before being taken in hand, raced inside early on the first turn, shifted four wide late on that bend, raced on the far outside on the backstretch, moved closer with a half-mile to run, circled five wide on the far turn, rallied to the lead in upper stretch, battled with MYLUTE in the final furlong and gamely prevailed under strong urging [to defeat Mylute by a neck].
Florida Derby (G1)
Winner – Orb
Fractional Times – 24.74, 48.56, 1:12.89, 1:37.79, 1:50.87
Split Times – 23.82, 24.33, 24.90, 13.08
ORB taken in hand to stalk the pace, advanced into contention four wide around the far turn, responded to pressure in the drive and rallied to catch ITSMYLUCKYDAY inside the eighth pole, then drew clear [defeating Itsmyluckyday by two and three-quarters lengths].
Spiral Stakes (G3)
Winner – Black Onyx
Fractional Times – 23.74, 48.30, 1:13.00, 1:38.36, 1:51.98
Split Times – 24.56, 24.70, 25.36, 13.62
BLACK ONYX tracked five wide, moved up to join the vanguard with three furlongs to run, struck the front entering the stretch, shook off TAKEN BY THE STORM inside the furlong marker and edged clear [to defeat Uncaptured by one a half lengths.]
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated March 30, 2013)
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Orb, 150, Shug McGaughey III, $840,000
2 = Revolutionary, 110, Todd Pletcher, $720,000
3 = Lines of Battle, 100, Aidan O’Brien, $1,261,089
4 = Will Take Charge, 60, D. Wayne Lukas, $512,971
5 = Itsmyluckyday, 50, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $593,600
6 = Vyjack, 50, Rudy Rodriguez, $405,000
7 = Govenor Charlie, 50, Bob Baffert, $400,000
8 = Black Onyx, 50, Kelly Breen, $317,130
9 = Verrazano, 50, Todd Pletcher, $210,000
10 = Hear the Ghost, 50, Jerry Hollendorfer, $195,400
11 = Mylute, 42, Tom Amoss, $363,365
12 = Oxbow, 36, D. Wayne Lukas, $316,000
13 = Uncaptured, 30, Mark Casse, $394,674
14 = Flashback, 30, Bob Baffert, $180,000
15 = Goldencents, 29, Doug O’Neill, $758,000
16 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000
17 = Java’s War, 22, Ken McPeek, $201,772
18 = Merit Man, 20, Bob Hess Jr., $357,500
19 = Den’s Legacy, 20, Bob Baffert, $325,000
20 = Falling Sky, 20, John Terranova II, $157,500
Here’s a look at the sire line and damsire line of the current top 20 Kentucky Derby qualifiers:
Mr. Prospector Sire Line
Govenor Charlie, Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer
Will Take Charge, Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer
Mylute, Mr. Prospector/Man O’ War
Northern Dancer Sire Line
Lines of Battle, Northern Dancer/Royal Charger
Uncaptured, Northern Dancer/Royal Charger
Itsmyluckyday, Northern Dancer/Bold Ruler
Falling Sky, Northern Dancer/Northern Dancer
Vyjack, Northern Dancer/Northern Dancer
Den’s Legacy, Northern Dancer/Northern Dancer
Hear the Ghost, Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector
Goldencents, Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector
Merit Man, Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector
Oxbow, Northern Dancer/Man O’ War
Shanghai Bobby, Northern Dancer/Nasrullah
Bold Ruler Sire Line
Orb, Bold Ruler/Mr. Prospector
Flashback, Bold Ruler/Mr. Prospector
Nasrullah Sire Line
Revolutionary, Nasrullah/Bold Ruler
Java’s War, Nasrullah/Nasrullah
Royal Charger Sire Line
Verrazano, Royal Charger/Northern Dancer
Black Onyx, Royal Charger/Mr. Prospector
Since 1990, 413 horses have entered the Derby starting gate.
Of those 413, 37 (9%) were descendants of the Royal Charger sire line. Of those 37, 12 (32%) finished in the top four. Of those 12 top-four finishers, there was one winner – Barbaro (2006).
At 32%, Royal Charger sire-line descendants have a better percentage of finishing in the top four and the colts on this year’s trail that are sire-line descendants of Royal Charger are Verrazano and Black Onyx.
Since 1990, 111 (27%) Mr. Prospector sire-line descendants have competed in the Kentucky Derby. Of those 111, 29 (26%) finished in the top four. Of those 29 top-four finishers, there were 11 (38%) winners: I’ll Have Another (2012), Mine That Bird (2009), Street Sense (2007), Smarty Jones (2004), Funny Cide (2003), War Emblem (2002), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), Real Quiet (1998), Grindstone (1996), Thunder Gulch (1995), Unbridled (1990).
Since 1990, 104 (25%) Northern Dancer sire-line descendants have competed in the Kentucky Derby. Of those 104, 21 (20%) finished in the top four. Of those 21 top-four finishers, there were 3 (14%) winners: Big Brown (2008), Charismatic (1999), Sea Hero (1993).
Since 1990, 75 (18%) Nasrullah sire-line descendants have competed in the Kentucky Derby. Of those 75, 15 (20%) finished in the top four. Of those 15 top-four finishers, there was one winner: Animal Kingdom (2011).