©2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” takes us to Santa Anita Park Saturday where a field of 12 young Thoroughbreds will go to the starting gate in the 31st running of the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
The big news earlier this week was the announcement by trainer Bob Baffert that the morning-line favorite, American Pharoah (2-1), would be scratched from the race due to a foot injury.
With the scratch of American Pharoah, the two colts trained by Todd Pletcher – Daredevil (7-2) and Carpe Diem, (4-1) – have been made the morning-line first and second choice. Of those two, I like Carpe Diem the best as a possible win candidate.
In addition to Carpe Diem, two other colts I like in this race are One Lucky Dane (10-1) and Souper Colossal (12-1). All three of those colts won their last race by wide margins and any improvement over their last effort will make them competitive in this race.
Undefeated in two starts, Carpe Diem comes into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile off of an impressive 6¼-length win in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) at Keeneland Race Course on October 4. Here’s the chart call and video of the race:
CARPE DIEM attended the pace four wide, drew even after a half, poked his head in front with five-sixteenths to run, cut clear entering the stretch and widened to score as the rider pleased.
The way Carpe Diem pulled away with ease in the stretch run indicates that there may be more good things to come and he has the breeding to be competitive in this race.
Carpe Diem is a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and his sire, Giant’s Causeway, 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 three 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.
Unbridled’s Song, the damsire of Carpe Diem, finished his racing season as a two year old with a narrow win by a neck over Hennessy in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
As a three year old, Unbridled’s Song finished second in the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). He went on to win the Florida Derby (G1) and Wood Memorial Stakes (G1), and finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby (G1). And, at stud, Unbridled’s Song sired the 2008 Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Colt and Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) winner, Midshipman.
I look for Carpe Diem to run a good race.
One Lucky Dane comes into the Juvenile off of an impressive 9½-length maiden win at Santa Anita on October 4. Here’s the chart call and video of the race:
ONE LUCKY DANE had good early speed and set a pressured pace inside, inched away on the second turn and drew off under some left handed urging and steady handling.
Leading from gate to wire, One Lucky Dane was briefly challenged on two occasions but in the stretch run he pulled away with ease to a smashing victory. His fractional splits were fast and the final time of 1:35.25 is what I like to see in a young colt on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
One Lucky Dane appears to have a high cruising speed with a good turn of foot that could make him an especially formidable opponent in the Juvenile. And he has the breeding to be competitive in this race.
One Lucky Dane is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd. His sire, Lookin at Lucky, was an exceptional two year old who was undefeated in four starts, including victories in the Best Pal Stakes (G2), Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Norfolk Stakes (G1), before suffering his first loss by a neck to Vale of York in the 2009 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
As a three year old, Lookin at Lucky won the CashCall Futurity (G1), Rebel Stakes (G2) and he finished third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Lookin at Lucky finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby and he earned the title Classic Champion Thoroughbred with a three-quarter length victory in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Smart Strike, the grandsire of One Lucky Dane, sired the outstanding Classic Champion Thoroughbred, Curlin, who won the 2007 Preakness Stakes (G1), finished second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and 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.
Boston Harbor, the damsire of One Lucky Dane, was an Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Colt and winner of the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). Capote, the sire of Boston Harbor, also was an Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Colt and winner of the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
I look for One Lucky Dane to be competitive in his first step up to graded stakes competition.
Undefeated in three starts, Souper Colossal comes into the Juvenile off of impressive victories in the Tyro Stakes and Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park. Here’s the chart call and video of his win in the Sapling Stakes:
SOUPER COLOSSAL cleared off entering the clubhouse turn, set the pace, drew away when asked, was ridden out and shown the whip late.
Souper Colossal showed good early speed from the outside post to take the lead early and never relinquish it. His final time of 1:38.44 is not indicative of how he ran as he appeared to be in control throughout the race and drew away with ease in the stretch to a 5½-length victory. Jockey Paco Lopez also appeared to be in control as he was constantly looking about for challengers on the far turn and in the stretch – but none could be found.
And, if Souper Colossal lives up to his breeding, he could be competitive in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
Souper Colossal, like Carpe Diem, is also a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and his sire, War Front, was a graded-stakes winner of the 8½-furlong Princelet Stakes which he won by 8-lengths in a final time of 1:41.79.
However, most of War Front’s other races were in sprints where he had a penchant for finishing second. But, he did win the 6-furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2) by 2½-lengths.
War Front’s leading runners – Declaration of War, Departing and Lines of Battle – have proven to be capable middle-distance runners. In addition, his tail-female line is reinforced with the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Kingmambo, A.P. Indy, Caerleon and Top Ville.
So, Souper Colossal should not have a problem stretching out in the Juvenile and I look for him to be competitive.
Whether Souper Colossal has any classic potential remains to be seen.
Other horses that could, perhaps, be a factor in the Juvenile include: Daredevil, Blue Dancer (30-1), One Lucky Player (30-1) and Calculator (15-1). I’m not looking at them for the win, but they could spice up the exotics.
Since 1984, sire-line descendants of the Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer and Bold Ruler, Nasrullah Ancestral Herds have won the most Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Races.
Sire-line descendants of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd have won eight Juveniles: Tasso (1985), Rhythm (1989), Timber Country (1994), Unbridled’s Song (1995), Anees (1999), Street Sense (2006), Midshipman (2008) and New Year’s Day (2013). Descendants of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd in this year’s race include: One Lucky Dane, Lucky Player and Texas Red (20-1).
Sire-line descendants of the Bold Ruler, Nasrullah Ancestral Herd have won eight races: Capote (1986), Is It True (1988), Arazi (1991), Boston Harbor (1996), Vindication (2002), War Pass (2007), Uncle Mo (2010) and Hansen (2011). Competitors in this year’s Juvenile who are descendants of the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd include: Mr. Z (20-1) and Upstart (8-1).
Sire-line descendants of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd have won five Juveniles: Chief’s Crown (1984), Johannesburg (2001), Wilko (2004), Vale of York (2009) and Shanghai Bobby (2012). Competitors in this year’s Juvenile who are descendants of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd include: Carpe Diem, Souper Colossal, Blue Dancer, Private Prospect (30-1) and The Great War (12-1).
Daredevil is a sire-line descendant of Royal Charger Ancestral Herd. That line has produced three Juvenile winners: Brocco (1993), Answer Lively (1998) and Action This Day (2003).
Calculator is a sire-line descendant of the Man O War Ancestral Herd and no descendants of that herd have won the Juvenile.
Under the tiered-point system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine Kentucky Derby eligibility the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) 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. Here’s a look at the current leaders.
2014/2015 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. American Pharoah, 10, Bob Baffert, $360,000
2. Carpe Diem, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
3. Daredevil, 10, Todd Pletche, $300,000
4. International Star, 10, Mike Maker, $120,000
5. Lucky Player, 10, Steve Asmussen, $94,151
6. Bold Conquest, 6, Steve Asmussen, $72,176
7. Mr. Z, 4, D. Wayne Lukas, $173,326
8. Conquest Typhoon, 4, Mark Casse, $161,827
9. Calculator, 4, Peter Miller, $120,000
10. Upstart, 4, Rick Violette Jr., $100,000
11. Hashtag Bourbon, 2, Kellyn Gorder, $74,117
12. The Truth Or Else, 2, Kenny McPeek, $50,000
13. Texas Red, 2, Keith Desormeaux, $36,000
14. Hollywood Critic, 2, Barbara Minshall, $13,338
15. Danny Boy, 1, Dale Romans, $55,544
16. El Kabeir, 1, John Terranova II, $25,000
17. Tough Customer, 1, Wayne Catalano, $25,000
18. Lord Nelson, 1, Bob Baffert, $18,000
19. Flashaway, 1, Mark Casse, $6,669
BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC
Two long shots I like in this race are Footbridge (30-1) and Toast of New York (12-1). Footbridge has only been out of the money in three previous races and he comes into the classic with a 3-4-3 record in 13 starts.
While Footbridge has been competitive at middle distances, I think his best range is 10-furlongs or farther. And, jockey, Rafael Bejarano, earlier this year guided Footbridge to victory in a 10-furlong optional claiming race at Santa Anita.
Toast of New York was coming on strong at the top of the stretch in the TVG Pacific Classic when he was checked by Shared Belief who won by 2¾-lengths. We’ll never know if Toast of New York could have won that race, but his gutsy performance earned him a tag as a live long shot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Both, Footbridge and Toast of New York have the breeding to be competitive and with some good fortune, they could, perhaps, pull off a victory at a nice price.