©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” rolls west Saturday to Santa Anita Park where eight young Thoroughbreds have been entered in the $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes (G1) which is the first Grade One race on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
Nyquist is undefeated in three starts and he comes into this race for trainer Doug O’Neill as the 6-5 morning line favorite. On the road to the FrontRunner, Nyquist has earned the most stakes victories with wins in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) and Del Mar Futurity (G1). Here’s a look at the video and chart call of his last race:
NYQUIST stalked the pace off the rail, bid between horses into the turn, took a short lead between foes past midway on the turn, drifted out some into the stretch, inched away in upper stretch and kicked clear under a crack of the whip and some hand urging then a long hold late.
The fractions in that race were fast and Nyquist cruised to an easy 3¾-length win with Swipe (5-1), who is also entered in this race, coming home second.
Uncle Mo, the sire of Nyquist, also was a fast colt who was undefeated in three starts as a two year old, including wins in the Champagne Stakes (G1) and the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
Jockey Mario Gutierrez has ridden Nyquist in all his races and I look for the pair to be competitive.
Mt Veeder (6-1) is another fast colt and he should give Nyquist a good run. He’s trained by Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert, who’s won the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) a record seven times. Mt Veeder comes into this race with a 4¾-length win in the Contender Stakes. Here’s a look at the video and chart call of that race:
MT VEEDER had good early speed and dueled outside a rival, inched away leaving the turn and into the stretch and won clear under a left handed crack of the whip, some strong handling and a snug hold late
Mt Veeder led from the start of the Contender Stakes and if he repeats that form in the FrontRunner, he’ll put a lot of pressure on Nyquist.
Ghostzapper, the sire of Mt Veeder, was a fast, multiple graded-stakes winner of the 6½ furlong Vosburgh Stakes (G1), the 7 furlong Tom Fool Handicap (G2) and the 8 furlong Metropolitan Handicap (G1). In addition, Ghostzapper was a versatile colt who was able to carry his brilliant speed to win the 9 furlong Woodward Stakes (G1), Philip H. Iselin Handicap (G1) and the 10 furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Nyquist and Mt Veeder are two talented colts and they should be able to easily stretch out to the added distance in the FrontRunner. The only reservation I have is that if they go too hard, too fast, they won’t have much energy left to secure the win.
The two horses in this race I’m most interested in are Hollywood Don (4-1) and Go Long (20-1). They both have the best pedigrees in this herd and if they live up to their breeding they can be competitive. Hollywood Don comes into this race off of a win in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. Here’s a look at the video and chart call of that race:
HOLLYWOOD DON chased a bit off the rail then outside a rival, came three deep into the stretch, took the lead alongside the runner-up in mid-stretch and inched clear late under some urging.
The fractional splits in this race were fast and Hollywood Don’s finish time of 1:35.46 is what I like to see in a young colt on the Derby Trail.
Tapit, the sire of Hollywood Don, was undefeated in two starts as a two year old, including a win in the 8½ furlong Laurel Futurity (G3). As a three year old, Tapit finished sixth in the Florida Derby (G1) and rebounded to win the Wood Memorial (G1) in route to a ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Go Long comes into the FrontRunner off of a sixth-place finish in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. He has the best breeding of all in this race and I’m willing to throw out his last effort. However, Go Long will need to improve his game considerably to score the win.
Honorable mention goes to Swipe who finished second to Nyquist in the Del Mar Futurity (G1).