The mad scramble for Derby points continues today as the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” travels to bayou country where trainer Todd Pletcher will send Revolutionary, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, and Palace Malice (5-1) to the starting gate in the 100th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds racetrack.
I like both colts in this race. But, of the two, I’m especially interested to see how well Revolutionary runs. I profiled him in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook as a colt to watch on the Derby trail, and so far, he’s met my expectations.
Revolutionary comes into today’s race with a 2-1-2 record in five starts including a narrow win in the Withers Stakes (G3) last month at Aqueduct. Stuck in traffic in the stretch, it looked like Revolutionary would get shut out of the money. But, he found a hole and split horses in the final strides to get up for the win by a neck.
Any improvement off of his Withers Stakes win should make Revolutionary competitive, and he has the breeding to perform well in today’s race.
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).
It remains to be seen if Revolutionary has any classic potential. However, I’m looking for him to run a good race today.
This is the time of year when 3-year-old colts can make big improvements in a short period of time and Palace Malice looks like he could be ready to make a big step forward.
After a four-month layoff, Palace Malice returned to racing in January, finishing second in a 7-furlong sprint in the slop at Gulfstream Park. Pletcher wheeled him back a month later where he finished third in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), one-half length shy of victory.
Palace Malice and the winner, Ive Struck a Nerve, were the only two in that four-horse blanket finish that rallied from off the pace, and that race was a good conditioning for a young colt that has room to improve in his third start off of the layoff.
Palace Malice, with a 1-2-1 record in four starts, has been close to victory in all of his previous starts. But he appears to be behind the form of his sire, Curlin, who was undefeated in three starts, including a win in the Rebel Stakes (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G2), en route to a third-place finish in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Curlin went on to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) by a head and he lost the Belmont Stakes (G1) by a head. He won numerous Eclipse awards, compiled an 11-2-2 record in 16 career starts and earned over $10.5 million dollars.
Palace Malice’s grandsire, Smart Strike, has proven to be an outstanding sire of champions and classic champions. He sired the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Curlin and Lookin at Lucky and he’s the damsire of the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.
In addition, Smart Strike is the sire of numerous Canadian Sovereign Award winners: Soaring Free, Portcullis, Added Edge, Eye of the Sphynx, Gold Strike; and Smart Strike is the sire of the American Eclipse Award winner English Channel.
Royal Anthem, the damsire of Palace Malice, was an outstanding turf horse who did his best racing at 10-furlongs and further winning the Fairway Stakes, King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) and Juddmonte International Stakes (Group 1) in England as well as the Canadian International Stakes (G1), then, Palace Malice should run better as the races get longer.
Another move forward will make Palace Malice competitive in today’s race.
Two long shots I like in this race are Departing (8-1) and Sunbean (12-1) who will go to the starting gate for trainer Al Stall.
Departing is undefeated in three starts including a win in the Texas Heritage Stakes on March 2 and another move forward will make him competitive. Sunbean comes into today’s race with a 3-1-0 record in four starts and he especially looked good winning his last race, the Gentilly Stakes, by an impressive 4¾-lengths.
The winner of the Louisiana Derby (G2) will receive 100 points while second-place will yield 40 points, the third-place finisher will receive 20 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 10 points. Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated March 29, 2013)
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Will Take Charge, 60, D. Wayne Lukas, $512,971
2 = Vyjack, 50, Rudy Rodriguez, $405,000
3 = Govenor Charlie, 50, Bob Baffert, $400,000
4 = Black Onyx, 50, Kelly Breen, $317,130
5 = Orb, 50, Shug McGaughey III, $240,000
6 = Verrazano, 50, Todd Pletcher, $210,000
7 = Hear The Ghost, 50, Jerry Hollendorfer, $195,400
8 = Oxbow, 36, D. Wayne Lukas, $316,000
9 = Uncaptured, 30, Mark Casse, $394,674
10 = Flashback, 30, Bob Baffert, $180,000
11 = Goldencents, 29, Doug O’Neill, $758,000
12 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000
13 = Java’s War, 22, Ken McPeek, $201,772
14 = Den’s Legacy, 20, Bob Baffert, $325,000
15 = Falling Sky, 20, John Terranova II, $157,500
16 = West Hills Giant, 20, John Terranova II, $89,000
17 = Code West, 20, Bob Baffert, $80,000
18 = Dynamic Sky, 13, Mark Casse, $289,168
19 = Speak Logistics, 11, Eddie Pleasa, Jr., $52,500
20 = Itsmyluckyday, 10, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $393,600