©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This Saturday, with three marquee races on tap, the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” enters the stretch drive taking us to Kentucky, New York and California where winners of those three races will each receive 100 qualifying points and a guaranteed spot in Derby starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
At Aqueduct Racecourse in New York, Daredevil has been tabbed as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the 91st running of the $1 million Twinspires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (G1). Post Time is 5:30 p.m. ET and the race will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network from 5:00-7:00 p.m. ET.
Daredevil is a new horse in this herd and he comes into the Wood with a 2-1-0 record in four starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, including a win in the one mile Champagne Stakes (G1) and a second-place finish in the Swale Stakes (G2). In his only race over a mile, Daredevil finished 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G).
Daredevil is a talented young colt. I look for him to be competitive but I’m not too keen on him for the win.
From day one, Tiz Shea D (8-1) has been a sort of buzz horse.
After winning his maiden debut by an impressive four lengths on February 7, the partnership of Adam Watchel, Nils Brous and Gary Barber purchased him privately for an undisclosed amount. (You can read more about that purchase in the February 14, 2015 edition of the Thoroughbred Daily News Regional Report, page 10.)
TIZ SHEA D rallied around rivals on the turn and into stretch, took the lead near furlong grounds and drew clear.
Bet down from the 6-1 morning line odds to 8-5 favoritism, Tiz Shea D did not disappoint the handicappers as he was all business and looked very professional in his debut win.
In his second start, Tiz Shea D was my long shot pick in the Gotham Stakes (G3) where he finished second, 2¾-lengths behind the seasoned El Kabeir (3-1) who is also entered in the Wood Memorial. Tiz Shea D’s second-place finish in that race was pretty good, for such a lightly-raced colt, and it earned him a late nomination to the Kentucky Derby.
Currently 20th in Derby point standings, Tiz Shea D is a nice-looking bay colt by Tiznow, out of the A.P. Indy mare, Ender’s Sister, and he has the breeding to be competitive. Tiz Shea D has room to improve in his third start of the season and I look for him to run another good race.
To date, El Kabeir has been the dominate horse in this New York herd and he comes into the Wood with a 4-2-1 record in eight starts for trainer John Terranova, including victories in the Kentucky Jockey Cup (G2), Jerome (G3) and Gotham (G3) stakes. With the extra distance and the addition of the speedy Daredevil to this race, El Kabeir could receive his greatest challenge, yet.
However, Terranova is optimistic about his chances.
"All along we've been taking it one race at a time and not getting too far ahead of ourselves, so we're gearing up for an exciting race,” said Terranova in an Aqueduct news story. “We have a lot of confidence in him; he's seasoned, versatile, and all of that bodes well for him. However the race unfolds, we'll be able to adapt."
El Kabeir always brings his game to the racetrack and I look for him to run a good race.
Frosted (5-2), the morning line 5-2 second choice, is the mystery horse in this race. His fourth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) was a disaster and did not reflect the form of his previous races. To date, he’s compiled a 1-4-0 record in six starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Frosted has one of the best pedigrees in this herd but he’s yet to win a stakes race or fully live up to his breeding. Despite his good breeding, the Wood will be his last chance to earn a spot in the Derby starting gate.
Honorable mention goes to Toasting Master (20-1) who also has a good pedigree but, he has yet to fully live up to that breeding. However, he did round out the superfecta in my blog about the Gotham Stakes (G3) and, perhaps, he could be a factor in this race, too.
The winner of the Wood Memorial Stakes (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.
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. Mubtaahij (IRE), 100, Mike de Kock, $1,400,000
3. Materiality, 100, Todd Pletcher, $632,028
4. Upstart, 76, Rick Violette Jr., $807,680
5. El Kabeir, 75, John Terranova II, $620,792
6. Dortmund, 70, Bob Baffert, $630,000
7. Carpe Diem, 64, Todd Pletcher, $870,000
8. American Pharoah, 60, Bob Baffert, $810,000
9. Itsaknockout, 60, Todd Pletcher, $288,560
10. Firing Line, 58, Simon Callaghan, $530,000
11. *Dubai Sky, 50, Bill Mott, $371,780
12. War Story, 44, Tom Amoss, $195,000
13. Maftool, 40, Saeed bin Suroor, $$630,595
14. Ami’s Flatter, 40, Josie Carroll, $195,200
15. Stanford, 40, Todd Pletcher, $151,400
16. Conquest Typhoon, 26, Mark Casse, $430,827
17. Far Right, 22, Ron Moquett, $385,906
18. Keen Ice, 22, Dale Romans, $136,520
19. Madefromlucky, 20, Todd Pletcher, $150,000
20. Prospect Park, 20, Cliff Sise, Jr., $80,000
20. *Tiz Shea D, 20, Bill Mott, $80,000
* Late nominations to the Kentucky Derby.