©2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” takes us to Churchill Downs Saturday where California-shipper, Lord Nelson, heads a field of 12 young Thoroughbreds as the 5-2, morning-line favorite in the 88th running of the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
Lord Nelson comes into this race for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert with a 2-0-0 record in three starts, including a 6¾-length win, last time out, in the Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita Park on October 13.
Early on, Lord Nelson showed promise winning his maiden debut by a half a length on July 19 at Del Mar racetrack and, on September 27, he finished fourth in the Frontrunner Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, 6½-lengths behind stable mate, American Pharoah. The third-place finisher in that race, Texas Red, would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) for trainer Keith Desormeaux, who also owns a percentage of Texas Red, along with the Brehm Family and partners Dr. Gene Voss, Wayne Detmar and Lee Michaels.
With Pulpit as his sire and Seeking the Gold as his damsire, Lord Nelson has the breeding to be competitive and I look for him to run a good race. But two other young colts I’m looking forward to see run are Sky Hero (6-1) and Moonlight Bandit (30-1).
Sky Hero comes into this race for trainer Mark Casse with a 2-0-0 record in three starts. While he’s stepping up in class and has yet to win a stakes race, Sky Hero has already run 8½-furlongs and he has the breeding to be competitive in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
By Sky Mesa, out of the Danzig mare, Vision of Beauty, Sky Hero hails from the same tail-female family (Family 9-f) that produced War Pass who was a competitive two-year-old colt on the 2007 Kentucky Derby Trail.
With only two starts, Moonlight Bandit is stepping up in class and comes into this race off a 4¼-length maiden win at Churchill Downs on October 26.
Moonlight Bandit is a sire-line descendant of the A.P. Indy-Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd and that herd has produced numerous Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.
Malibu Moon, the sire of Moonlight Bandit, is the sire of Orb, winner of the 2013 Kentucky Derby. In addition, the tail-female line of Moonlight Bandit is reinforced by the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Fusaichi Pegasus, Sadler’s Wells and Blushing Groom.
While it remains to be seen if Moonlight Bandit has any classic potential, he has the breeding to be competitive on the Derby trail and his win last time out was a step in the right direction.
Another move forward off of his maiden win could make Moonlight Bandit a factor, and potential up-setter, in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at a nice price.
Other young runners that could round out the exotics include: Eagle (12-1), Flashway (15-1), Lucky Player (6-1), International Star (8-1) and Imperia (8-1).
Under the tiered-point system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine Kentucky Derby eligibility the winner of The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) 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. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 10, Jim Cassidy, $660,000
4. American Pharoah, 10, Bob Baffert, $360,000
5. Daredevil, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
6. International Star, 10, Mike Maker, $120,028
7. Lucky Player, 10, Steve Asmussen, $94,151
8. Mr. Z, 8, D. Wayne Lukas, $413,326
9. Upstart, 6, Rick Violette Jr., $300,000
10. Bold Conquest, 6, Steve Asmussen, $72,176
11. Conquest Typhoon, 4, Mark Casse, $221,827
12. Calculator, 4, Peter Miller, $120,000
13. Far Right, 2, Ron Moquett, $115,906
14. The Truth Or Else, 2, Kenny McPeek, $75,000
15. Hashtag Bourbon, 2, Kellyn Gorder, $74,117
16. Hollywood Critic, 2, Barbara Minshall, $35,528
17. The Great War, 1, Aidan O’Brien, $170,702
18. Lord Nelson, 1, Bob Baffert, $78,000
19. El Kabeir, 1, John Terranova II, $75,000
20. Danny Boy, 1, Dale Romans, $55,544
21. Saratoga Heater, 1, Al Stall, $50,000
22. Tough Customer, 1, Wayne Catalano, $25,000
23. Flashaway, 1, Mark Casse, $6,669