Friday, April 11, 2014

Toyota Blue Grass Stakes Racing Roundup

© 2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

The “Road To The Kentucky Derby” comes to Keeneland racetrack Saturday where an overflow field of 15 horses has been drawn for the 90th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1). Only 14 horses are allowed to run the Blue Grass and Divine Oath is the also eligible entrant. Bobby’s Kitten, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is the 3-1 morning line favorite.
Trained by Chad Brown, Bobby’s Kitten comes into the Blue Grass with a 3-0-2 record in five starts, all on the turf, including victories last fall with a 6¼-length romp in the Pilgrim Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park and a third-place finish in the blistering-fast Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Jockey Javier Castellano has ridden Bobby’s Kitten in his last three races and he retains the mount for the Blue Grass. I look for them to be competitive.
The young colt that interests me most in this race is Gala Award (5-1) who was a $1.5 million purchase at the Keeneland 2012 September Yearling Sale for the connections of Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Gala Award comes into the Blue Grass with a 2-1-0 record in three starts, all on the turf. His last prep coming into this race was the 9-furlong Palm Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park which he won, defeating another colt I liked, Mr. Speaker, by a half-length in the blistering time of 1:46.19.
If Gala Award runs anywhere near that time on Saturday, he’s most likely the winner of the Blue Grass Stakes (G1).
And he has the breeding to do that. I still have yet to finalize my research numbers, but Gala Award’s Tesio Index is 155.00 and his Ancestral Herd Index is 162.50 giving him a Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile of 317.50 which is one of the highest profiles of the horses on the Derby Trail.
In last year’s Derby blog, I introduced the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profileand, overall, I was pleased with its debut. Since then, I’ve been working on refining it and the numbers for this year’s Derby are producing some interesting results. The Tesio Index and his Ancestral Herd Index are proprietary key puzzle pieces that comprise the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile which is tool I use to measure potential and it does not take into account other factors such as the horse’s will to win. Another thing to keep in mind is that horses, for many different reasons, sometimes fail to live up to their potential.
Time will tell if Gala Award lives up to his breeding. But, if he wins the Blue Grass Stakes (G1), he’ll be at least a superfecta bet in the Kentucky Derby.
I haven’t analyzed Bobby’s Kitten yet, but he’ll probably have a high profile. It’s a shame that Mr. Speaker, who as a possible for the Blue Grass, was not entered in this race as he had a very high profile, too.
Pablo Del Monte (12-1) is a long shot I like in this race. I wrote about him in my 2014 Kentucky Derby Outlook and ranked him 10th on my Derby Wish List. However, overall, he’s been disappointing. But, both of his only wins were at Keeneland and he comes into this race with a 2-0-1 record in five starts.
I don’t know what Pablo Del Monte’s profile is as I haven’t calculated it. But he has the breeding to be competitive in this race.
Pablo Del Monte is a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with the Nasrullah Ancestral. His nick is very similar to that of Creative Cause who finished fifth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. However, at the end of his 2-year-old racing season, Creative Cause was farther along in his development than Pablo Del Monte.
Giant’s Causeway, the sire of Pablo Del Monte, was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old (all at 7-furlongs) – winning the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes. As a 3-year-old, Giant’s Causeway was 6-4-0 in 10 starts, winning from 7- to 10-furlongs, and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.
Bring the Heat, the damsire of Pablo Del Monte, was stakes-placed in the Real Good Deal Stakes and had a 3-1-1 record in seven starts with $121,260 in earnings. In Excess, the second damsire of Pablo Del Monte, was a good router and multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled an 11-2-3 record in 25 starts with $1,736,733 in career earnings. In 1991, In Excess set a new track record of 1:58.33 in the 10-furlong Suburban Handicap (G1), earning a 120 Beyer Speed Figure for that performance.
The stretch out to 9-furlongs is the farthest that Pablo Del Monte has ever run but he has the breeding to handle the distance. He’s been working out good at Keeneland and he could be a big sleeper in this field.
Medal Count (9-2) comes into the Blue Grass for trainer Dale Romans with a 3-0-0 record in six starts including a 1¼-length win in the Transylvania Stakes (G3) at Keeneland last weekend. Of Medal Count’s three wins, two have been since January and it looks like he could be getting good at the right time of year.
If Medal Count repeats his form in winning the Transylvania, I look for him to be competitive in the Blue Grass.
Honorable mention goes to So Lonesome (50-1) who finished ninth to Gala Award in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3). His finish time in that race would make him competitive in this field and a recent bullet work out, his only bullet, could have him ready to run a good race at a nice price.


The winner of the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) 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:


Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1. California Chrome, 150, Art Sherman, $782,250
2. Vicar’s In Trouble, 120, Mike Maker, $760,000
3. Wicked Strong, 102, Jimmy Jerkens, $640,000
4. Samraat, 100, Rick Violette, Jr., $650,000
5. Constitution, 100, Todd Pletcher, $600,000
6. Hoppertunity, 95, Bob Baffert, $576,000
7. Intense Holiday, 93, Todd Pletcher, $527,500
8. Wildcat Red, 90, Jose Garrofalo, $665,000
9. We Miss Artie, 60, Todd Pletcher, $544,000
10. Chitu, 54, Bob Baffert, $440,000
11. Midnight Hawk, 52, Bob Baffert, $320,000
12. Ring Weekend, 50, Graham Motion, $260,000
13. Tapiture, 42, Steve Asmussen, $420,738
14. General A Rod, 40, Mike Maker, $240,000
15. Albano, 34, Larry Jones, $190,000
16. Candy Boy, 30, John Sadler, $380,000
17. Cairo Prince, 24, Kiaran McGlaughlin, $520,000
18. Uncle Sigh, 24, Gary Contessa, $150,000
19. Vinceremos, 20, Todd Pletcher, $190,000
20. Harry’s Holiday, 20, Mike Maker, $150,596

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