©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” takes us to California, Saturday, where a small field of seven two-year-old Thoroughbreds will go to the starting gate of the $350,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Formerly known as the CashCall Futurity and Hollywood Futurity, the Los Alamitos Race Course became the beneficiary of the Futurity (G1) when Hollywood Park closed its doors, forever.
The Futurity has traditionally been the last stakes race of the season for young horses on the Kentucky Derby Trail. For Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whose trainees have won this race a record seven times, it has been a key race on the Kentucky Derby Trail. Here’s a look at Baffert’s previous Futurity winners: Dortmund (2014), Liaison (2011), Lookin at Lucky (2009), Pioneerof the Nile (2008), Point Given (2000), Captain Steve (1999) and Real Quiet (1997).
So, it’s no surprise that Baffert will send the number one, morning-line favorite, Mor Spirit (8-5), and the 9-5 second choice, Toews On Ice, to the starting gate this Saturday.
Mor Spirit comes into this race with a 1-2-0 record in three starts, including a second-place finish to Airoforce in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on November 28. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
MOR SPIRIT tracked the pace early, shifted into the three path in the far turn while taking over command, was under a long drive in the stretch and gave in under pressure in the final stages.
Mor Spirit took the lead at the top of the stretch while Gun Runner pulled alongside of him. Despite the advantage, Mor Spirit was only able to maintain his position throughout the stretch and was passed in the final yards by Airoforce.
Mor Spirit has a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and that shows he should be competitive in this race. However, to date, Mor Spirit has yet to show the same “spirit” on the racetrack as that of his sire, Eskendereya, who has an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®.
The difference in the grade rating between Mor Spirit and Eskendereya is a good example of how the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® can be a powerful tool showing horse owners when a mare [Im a Dixie Girl] upgrades or downgrades the stallion [Eskendereya] through the profile score, grade rating of the foal [Mor Spirit] from that mating.
Eskendereya, the sire of Mor Spirit, was my 2010 Kentucky Derby favorite until an injury took him off the trail. During his career, Eskendereya compiled a 4-1-0 record in six starts which culminated in a 9¾ length romp in the 2010 Wood Memorial Stakes (G1).
Other key stakes wins include a runaway win by 8½ lengths in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and an impressive 7¼ length victory Pilgrim Stakes.
Hall of Fame Jockey Gary Stevens returns to the irons and a sharp work out on December 15 could have Mor Spirit ready to run a good race.
Toews On Ice comes into this race with a 3-0-2 record in five starts and he’s yet to run in a route race. In his first two starts, Toews On Ice finished a respectable third in both races. He finally broke his maiden in his third race on September 20 here are at Los Alamitos in the Barrett’s Juvenile Stakes. He followed that win with victories in the Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita Park and the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. Here’s the video and chart call of his win in the Bob Hope:
TOEWS ON ICE had good early speed and dueled inside, took a short lead on the backstretch, responded when headed into the stretch, fought back along the rail under urging to regain the advantage a sixteenth out and inched away late.
Toews On Ice has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®. But his Behavior Index indicates that he has the potential to be tough competitor in this race.
Archarcharch, the sire of Toews On Ice, ran in two races as a two year old finishing second in his maiden debut at Churchill Downs and winning the six furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at the Fair Grounds by 1¾ lengths.
As a three year old racing at Oaklawn Park, Archarcharch won both the Southwest Stakes (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G1). He finished third in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and he was fourth in the Smarty Jones Stakes. He finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
A mild long shot I like in this race is Hollywood Don (6-1). He comes into this race with a 2-0-1 record in five starts for trainer Peter Miller whose lone win in this race was with Comma to the Top in 2010.
In his last two races, Hollywood Don has struggled finishing third in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) and ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G1). His best race to date is his 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.
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, Hollywood Don has the breeding to be competitive in this race, especially if he turns to his previous form in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf.
High profile jockey Victor Espinoza gets the mount and I look for the pair to run a good race.
A long shot I like in this race is Urlacher (10-1). He comes into this race with a 0-3-1 record in four starts for trainer Eoin Harty. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
URLACHER stalked outside a rival, bid between foes on the backstretch and alongside the pacesetter on the second turn, took the lead a quarter mile out, inched clear into the stretch, drifted out despite right handed urging in the final furlong and just held.
Urlacher won but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the final strides of the race.
Discreet Cat, the sire of Urlacher, was a late bloomer winning his only start as a 2-year-old in a 6-furlong sprint at Saratoga Racecourse. At the age of three, Discreet Cat was a speedy colt whose best distance was at a mile but was able to stretch out and win the 8½-furlong UAE Derby.
Urlacher has an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, but he will need to improve his game significantly if he is going to secure the win.
Under the tiered-point system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine Kentucky Derby eligibility the winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity 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.
2015/2016 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Rank, Horse, Points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Nyquist, 30, Doug O’Neill, $1,580,000
2. Exaggerator, 16, Keith Desormeaux, $940,000
3. Brody’s Cause, 14, Dale Romans, $500,000
4. Swipe, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $597,130
5. Airoforce, 10, Mark Casse, $444,080
6. Greenpointcrusader, 10, Dominick Schettino, $300,000
7. Mohaymen, 10, Kiaran McLaughlin, $300,000
8. Cocked and Loaded, 10. Larry Rivelli, $280,840
9. Riker, 10, Nicholas Gonzalez, $182,375
10. Sunny Ridge, 8, Jason Servis, $355,600
11. R Rated Superstar, 6, Ken McPeek, $80,200
12. Flexibility, 4, Chad Brown, $100,000
13. Mor Spirit, 4, Bob Baffert, $36,800
14. Kasseopia (GB), 4, Charlie Fellowes, 22,809
15. Harlan Punch, 2, Tom Amoss, $138,000
16. Hollywood Don, 2, Peter Miller, $96,000
17. Mo Tom, 2, Tom Amoss, $68,326
18. Sail Ahoy, 1, Claude “Shug” McGaughey, $60,000
19. Portfolio Manager, 2, Chad Brown, $50,000
20. Tizarunner, 2, Mark Casse, $44,948