The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Gulfstream Park Saturday where Cairo Prince heads a field of eight 3-year-old Thoroughbreds as the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the 28th running of the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes.
Cairo Prince comes into this race with a 2-1-0 record in three starts including a win in the Nashua Stakes (G2) and a narrow loss by a nose to Honor Code in the Remsen Stakes (G2).
Cairo Prince has shown that he’s competitive at this distance and, despite the two-month layoff, two recent bullet work outs could have him ready to run a good race.
Mr. Speaker (5-1) is a young colt I wrote about in my 2014 Kentucky Derby Outlook and I’m eager to see how he performs in his debut as a three year old. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote about him:
Pulpit, the sire of Mr. Speaker, did not race as a two year old. But, he was competitive on the trail as a three year old, compiling a 4-1-0 record en route to the 1997 Kentucky Derby where he finished in fourth place, 6½-lengths and a head behind the victor, Silver Charm. Pulpit’s most notable stakes wins were in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
A.P. Indy, grandsire of Mr. Speaker and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, the great grandsire of Mr. Speaker, were Classic Champion Thoroughbreds. (See notes, below, about A.P Indy and Seattle Slew in analysis of Honor Code.) Unbridled, the damsire of Mr. Speaker, was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and he’s the damsire of Orb, winner of the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
Mr. Speaker is bred on a nick of the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd over the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and that nick has been very successful producing the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Orb and Bernardini, winner of the 2006 Preakness Stakes (G1). In addition, that nick also produced Orb’s sire, Malibu Moon, as well as Pulpit, Mineshaft and Tapit.
Mr. Speaker comes into the Holy Bull with a 2-0-1 record in four starts including a win in the Dania Beach Stakes (G3). All of his previous four starts have been on the turf, but Mr. Speaker has the breeding to be a good dirt horse and he’s been working out good at Payson Park Thoroughbred Training Center.
One never knows how these young colts will fare on the Derby Trail. However, Mr. Speaker is one of the best-bred colts in this field and if he lives up to his breeding he’ll be tough in the Holy Bull.
Undefeated in two starts, Coup de Grace is moving up in class and he’s a young colt I selected as an honorable mention in my Derby Outlook. With Tapit as his sire and Storm Cat as his damsire, Coup de Grace has similar Ancestral Herd breeding as that of Honor Code.
Coup de Grace picks up the services of jockey John Velazquez and a sharp bullet work out on January 19 could have him ready to run a good race. If Coup de Grace improves off of his previous two stars, he’ll be competitive in the Holy Bull.
Conquest Titan comes into this race with a 2-0-0 record in five starts and he looked sharp winning his last race at Churchill Downs last November.
Conquest Titan has a good pedigree and his breeding indicates that he should be competitive on the Derby Trail. However, it remains to be seen if Conquest Titan will live up to his breeding.
Wicked Strong finished a respectable third in the Remsen and if he improves off of that performance, he could be a factor in the exotics.
2014 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Havana, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
2. Honor Code, 14, Shug McGaughey, $340,000
3. Tapiture, 12, Steve Asmussen, $120,738
4. Bond Holder, 11, Doug O’Neill, $333,000
5. Rise Up, 10, Tom Amoss, $782,633
6. We Miss Artie, 10, Todd Pletcher, $242,000
7. Noble Moon, 10, Leah Gyarmati, $145,000
8. Ami’s Holiday, 10, Josie Carrroll, $136,145
9. Vicar’s in Trouble, 10, Mike Maker, $120,000
10. Cleburne, 10, Dale Romans, $102,044
11. Tanzanite Cat, 10, Code Autrey, $90,000
12. Midnight Hawk, 10, Bob Baffert, $60,000
13. Casigaupo, 5, Mario Morales, $271,050
14. Cairo Prince, 4, Kiaran McGlaughlin, $230,000
15. Dance With Fate, 4, Peter Eurton, $110,000
16. Smarty’s Echo, 4, Anne Smith, $82,000
17. Albano, 4, Larry Jones, $70,000
18. Classic Giacnroll, 4, Lisa Guerrero, $50,000
19. Walt, 4, Chris Hartman, $45,000
18. Laddie Boy, 4, Chuck Perry, $39,719
19. Smart Cover, 4, Dale Romans, $32,918
20. Big Bazinga, 4, Sandra Dominguez, $29,139