©2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” takes us to Louisiana Saturday where an overflow field of 12 two-year-old Thoroughbreds has been drawn for the 12th running of the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) at Delta Downs racetrack. Only 10 of those young horses, headed by Mr. Z as the lukewarm 5-2 morning-line favorite, are eligible to run in the jackpot.
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Mr. Z comes into the jackpot with a 1-3-0 record in six starts, including three second-place finishes in the Sanford Stakes (G3), Saratoga Special (G2 and the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). In his last race, Mr. Z finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1), 8¼-lengths behind the winner, Texas Red.
Mr. Z showed promise last June breaking his maiden by half a length. Since then, he hasn’t shown me that “will to win” which is so necessary to be competitive on the Kentucky Derby Trail. If I use Mr. Z in my wagers, it will be in the bottom the exotics.
A mild, long shot I like in this race is Ocho Ocho Ocho (6-1) who ships in from Santa Anita Park for trainer James Cassidy. Undefeated in two starts, Ocho Ocho Ocho looked impressive on Breeders’ Cup weekend, cruising to a 5¾-length victory in the Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes which was taken off the turf. Here’s the chart call and video:
OCHO OCHO OCHO had good early speed and dueled inside, inched away under urging in midstretch and won clear in hand late.
The ease in which Ocho Ocho Ocho won indicates that he should not have a problem stretching out to the 8½-furlong distance of the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) and he has the breeding to be competitive as the distance gets longer.
Ocho Ocho Ocho is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a cross of Mr. Prospector over Northern Dancer which is the most successful nick on the American Triple Crown Trail, producing 12 Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.
Street Sense, the sire of Ocho Ocho Ocho, won the 2007 Kentucky Derby, and, his damsire, Horse Chestnut, the South African Horse of the Year and Champion Three Year Old Colt, won the 1999 South African Triple Crown.
I look for Ocho Ocho Ocho to run a good race.
Local challenger, Golden Actor, is the 7-2 morning-line second choice, and he comes into the jackpot with a 2-1-0 record in three starts, including a 4¼-length win in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs on October 25. Here’s the chart call and video:
GOLDEN ACTOR well placed early from the inside, steadily advanced up the backstretch, reached a striking position entering the second turn, gained the margin and was well clear in a solid effort.
Golden Actor also has the breeding to be competitive in the jackpot. Curlin, the sire of Golden Actor, is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with Deputy Minister who’s an influential descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd.
Curlin was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred who won the 2007 Preakness Stakes (G1), finished second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and he was third in the Kentucky Derby (G1). In addition, Curlin won the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), twice, Dubai World Cup (G1), Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1), and the UAE Jaguar Trophy Handicap.
Theatrical, the damsire, of Golden Actor, was an impressive, Irish-bred turf horse, who, during his racing season as a three year old, won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes (Group 2) and finished second in the Joe McGrath Irish Sweeps Derby (Group1).
After that season, Theatrical was shipped to America and during his career he placed in multiple graded stakes races and won the Breeders' Cup Turf Stakes (G1), Turf Classic Stakes (G1), Man O' War Stakes (G1), Bowling Green Handicap (G1), Sword Dancer Handicap (G1), Hialeah Turf Cup Handicap (G1) and Red Smith Handicap (G2).
Golden Actor has been working out good at Delta Downs and two back-to-back bullet works could have him ready to run a good race.
Another long shot I like in this race is Prime Engine (8-1) who ships in from Emerald Downs for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Prime Engine broke his maiden on September 13 by an impressive 10 lengths, and, two weeks later, he followed that performance with another blowout win by 5½-lengths in the Gottstein Futurity Stakes. Here’s the chart call and video:
PRIME ENGINE broke sharply to stalk the pace of TRACKATTACKER from the outside, moved up to take command nearing the five-sixteenths pole, quickly opened a widening lead and was ridden out to the wire to be kept to task.
I like it that Prime Engine showed versatility by breaking his maiden in a sprint race and then he stretched out to win the Gottstein Futurity Stakes at 8½-furlongs. After his win in the Gottstein, owner Dr. Mark DeDomenico transferred Prime Engine to Hollendorfer for training.
“He might be special,” said Hollendorfer in a sfgate.com sports article. “I watched tape of his races and I’m feeling quite lucky that Dr. DeDomenico let me train him. He’s 8-to-1, so the odds makers aren’t picking him, but we think he’s good enough to try for the big purse.”
Northern Afleet, the sire of Prime Engine, also sired the 2005 Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner, Afleet Alex.
Unbridled’s Song, the damsire of Prime Engine, was a competitive two year old that won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). As a three year old, Unbridled’s Song won the Florida Derby (G1) and Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) in route to a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Whether Prime Engine has any classic potential remains to be seen, but I look for him to run a good race in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3). He’s been working out good, recently, at Santa Anita Park and a bullet work on November 2 could have Prime Engine “primed” to run a career best at nice odds.
Under the tiered-point system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine Kentucky Derby eligibility the winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) will receive 10 points while the second-place finisher will receive 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and 1 point will be awarded to the fourth-place finisher.
2014/2015 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Carpe Diem, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
2. Texas Red, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $1,136,000
3. American Pharoah, 10, Bob Baffert, $360,000
4. Daredevil, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
5. International Star, 10, Mike Maker, $120,028
6. Lucky Player, 10, Steve Asmussen, $94,151
7. Upstart, 6, Rick Violette Jr., $300,000
8. Bold Conquest, 6, Steve Asmussen, $72,176
9. Mr. Z, 4, D. Wayne Lukas, $233,326
10. Conquest Typhoon, 4, Mark Casse, $221,827
11. Calculator, 4, Peter Miller, $120,000
12. Hashtag Bourbon, 2, Kellyn Gorder, $74,117
13. The Truth Or Else, 2, Kenny McPeek, $50,000
14. Hollywood Critic, 2, Barbara Minshall, $35,528
15. The Great War, 1, Aidan O’Brien, $170,702
16. Lord Nelson, 1, Bob Baffert, $78,000
17. Danny Boy, 1, Dale Romans, $55,544
18. El Kabeir, 1, John Terranova II, $25,000
18. Tough Customer, 1, Wayne Catalano, $25,000
19. Flashaway, 1, Mark Casse, $6,669