©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This Saturday, the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” takes us to Hot Springs, Arkansas where American Pharoah will go to the starting gate as the 1-2 morning-line favorite in the 79th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park. Post time is 7:18 ET. and you can watch the race on TVG from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
American Pharoah comes into this race with a 3-0-0 record in four starts for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert, including wins in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), FrontRunner (G1) and Rebel (G2) stakes.
Last month, American Pharoah looked impressive winning the Rebel Stakes (G2) by 6¼-lengths. Baffert previously won the Rebel with Lookin at Lucky (2010), The Factor (2011), Secret Circle (2012) and Hoppertunity (2014). Most of those competitors were fast, like American Pharoah, but none of them went on to win at nine furlongs.
American Pharoah is the deserving favorite and I look for him to run a good race. I’ll be watching closely to see how he handles the stretch out to nine furlongs.
A long shot I like in this race is Win the Space (30-1) who’s yet to break his maiden and comes into this Derby with two third-place finishes. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
WIN THE SPACE broke a bit slowly, chased outside a rival or off the rail, came out into the stretch, angled to the inside approaching mid-stretch and just missed the place.
WIN THE SPACE a bit slow to begin, pulled his way along off the rail then between foes on the backstretch, went up four wide on the turn, bid three deep into the stretch and held third.
In both races, Win the Space chased fast fractions and closed from dead last to finish a respectable third. That’s pretty good considering that his pedigree indicates Win the Space should run his best as the races get longer.
Win the Space earned a 95 Brisnet Speed figure in his last race and he has room to improve in his third start of the season. The blinkers come off and veteran Hall of Fame Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who rode Win the Space in his maiden debut, picks up the mount in this race.
I know it’s a big step up in class. But, Win the Space has the best pedigree in this herd and if he lives up to his breeding, he, perhaps, could pull off the upset at a nice price.
Madefromlucky (6-1) comes into this race for trainer Todd Pletcher with a 2-2-1 record in six stars. He finished first in his debut as a three year old at Gulfstream Park and followed that up with a second-place finish to American Pharoah in the Rebel Stakes (G2).
He’s yet to win a stakes race, but Madefromlucky has room to improve in his third start of the season and his pedigree indicates that he should be more competitive stretching out to nine furlongs.
I look for him to run a good race.
Bold Conquest (20-1) also has room to improve in his third start of the season and he comes into the Arkansas Derby (G1) with a 1-2-2 record in six starts for trainer Steve Asmussen.
In his debut as a three year old in the Southwest Stakes (G3), Bold Conquest finished a respectable fourth, beaten by only 3½-lengths, off of a four month layoff. He followed that run with a third-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2).
Another move forward off of his last run will make him competitive in this race.
Honorable mention goes to Mr. Z (10-1), The Truth or Else (15-1) and Far Right (9-2) who are proven competitors but they’ll need to improve their game considerably in order to secure the win.
The winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) will receive 100 points, second-place finisher will receive 40 points, third-place finisher will get 20 points and fourth-place finisher will get 10 points.
Dubai Sky, ranked 12th in Derby point standings, fractured a cannon bone in training and is off the trail. Maftool, ranked 15th in point standings, will not run in the Derby. Ami’s Flatter, ranked 17th, will not run in the Kentucky Derby but will be trained for a run in the Canadian Queen’s Plate. Prospect Park, ranked 19th, will skip the Derby due to an elevated white blood cell count.
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers
2015 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. International Star, 171, Mike Maker, $940,979
2. Dortmund, 170, Bob Baffert, $1,230,000
3. Carpe Diem, 164, Todd Pletcher, $1,470,000
4. Frosted, 113, Kiaran McLaughlin, $776,200
5. Mubtaahij (IRE), 100, Mike de Kock, $1,400,000
6. Materiality, 100, Todd Pletcher, $632,028
7. El Kabeir, 95, John Terranova II, $720,792
8. Upstart, 76, Rick Violette Jr., $807,680
9. American Pharoah, 60, Bob Baffert, $810,000
10. Itsaknockout, 60, Todd Pletcher, $288,560
11. Firing Line, 58, Simon Callaghan, $530,000
12. Danzig Moon, 45, Mark Casse, $217,500
13. War Story, 44, Tom Amoss, $195,000
14. Tencendur, 41, George Weaver, $224,500
15. One Lucky Dane, 40, Bob Baffert, $200,000
16. Stanford, 40, Todd Pletcher, $151,400
17. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 30, Jim Cassidy, $760,250
18. Bolo, 30, Carla Gaines, $214,980
19. Far Right, 22, Ron Moquett, $385,906
20. Keen Ice, 22, Dale Romans, $136,520