©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” takes us to Louisiana, Saturday, where Mo Tom will go to the starting gate as the lukewarm, 7-2 morning-line favorite in the 78th running of the $200,000 LeComte Stakes (G3) at the Fair Grounds Race Course.
In four starts, Mo Tom has always finished in the money and he comes into this race with a 2-0-2 record for trainer Tom Amoss, including a win in the Street Sense Stakes and a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). Here’s a look at the video and chart call of the Jockey Club:
MO TOM was back early, on the inside entering the lane, rallied in the stretch and was gaining late.
Mo Tom trailed in 12th place for most of the race. At the top of the stretch, he found room at the rail and was gaining late. At about the mile marker, it looks like Mo Tom may have lost his footing but recovered and finished in third a head behind the second-place finisher, Mor Spirit, who later went on to win the Los Alamitos Futurity Stakes (G1).
Mo Tom is a sire-line descendant of the Nasrullah Ancestral Herd and he has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®. Despite the low score, his Behavior Index makes him competitive in this race.
Uncle Mo, the sire of Mo Tom, was undefeated in three starts as a two year old with wins in the Champagne Stakes (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and he was picked as the 2010 Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Colt.
As a three year old, Uncle Mo won the Timely Writer Stakes and finished third in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1). The Friday before the Kentucky Derby, Uncle Mo was scratched from the race with a mysterious ailment which was later diagnosed as a liver disease called cholangiohepatitis.
Mo Tom has not raced since November, however, Jockey Corey Lanerie returns to the irons and a recent bullet work out at the Fair Grounds could have the pair ready to run a good race.
Destin (6-1) is a young colt I wrote about in my 2016 Kentucky Derby Outlook. He’s a full brother to Creative Cause who finished fifth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1). That Derby was one of my best as picked the top five finishers.
Destin comes into this race for trainer Todd Pletcher with a 1-1-0 record in two starts. Here’s a look at the video and chart call his second-place finish in his last race:
DESTIN pressed the pace of the winner while racing three-wide, dropped back slightly through the turn, re-bid with a furlong to run but could not gain on that rival late.
Destin lost to Golden Ray by 1¼ lengths and he did not seem to have the same determination he had in winning his maiden debut last October at Belmont Park. Also, the finish time of 1:38.53 is not what I like to see in a potential Derby horse.
Despite that performance, Destin has room to improve in his first start as a three year old and, with an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, he has the breeding to be competitive.
Giant’s Causeway, the sire of Destin, 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 raced 10 times and won five Group One races including the Irish Champion Stakes, International Stakes, Sussex Stakes, St. James’s Palace Stakes, Eclipse Stakes and he won the Group 3 Gladness Stakes. He also finished second in four races: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 2,000 Guineas Stakes, Irish 2,000 Guineas and he finished second by a narrow neck to Tiznow in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Overall, Giant’s Causeway compiled a 9-4-0 record in 13 starts, winning from 7- to 10-furlongs, and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.
Pletcher adds blinkers and a recent bullet work out could have Destin ready to make another move forward.
A long shot I like is Tarpon Bay Road (20-1) who comes into this race with a 0-1-0) record in two starts. He finished off the board in his maiden debut last August and came back three months later to finish a nice second for new trainer, James Baker, in a maiden race at Churchill Downs. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
TARPON BAY ROAD tracked the pace early three wide, shifted into the four path in the turn while taking over the lead but was no match for the winner in the stretch run.
That was a nice run off of the layoff and Tarpon Bay Road has room to improve in his first start as a three year old for Baker.
Like, Destin, Tarpon Bay Road will need to make another move forward and, with an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, he has the breeding to be very competitive in this race.
Tapit, the sire of Tarpon Bay Road, was undefeated in two starts as a 2-year-old including a win in the Laurel Futurity (G3). As a 3-year-old, Tapit was troubled by a lung infection for much of the season but did win the nine-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to a ninth-place finish in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
It remains to be seen as to whether Tarpon Bay Road can make another move forward. But, I look for him to run a good race.
Z Royal (15-1) is another long shot who could be a factor in this race. He comes into the LeComte with a 1-0-0 record in two starts for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Here’s the video and chart call of his maiden win at Churchill Downs last November:
Z ROYAL was unhurried early, fanned into the five path in the turn, made a bid in the stretch with a long drive and held off rival in the final stages.
Z Royal trailed about six lengths off the leaders in sixth place at the half and gradually closed the gap to be 2½ lengths off the lead at the top of the stretch. His inexperience seemed to show at that point, but he maintained his focus and made a nice run to win by a narrow neck over Zapperini.
With only two starts, Z Royal will have to make another big move forward and he has the breeding to be competitive in this race.
Eskendereya , the sire of Z Royal was a competitive colt, and my favorite, on the 2010 Kentucky Derby Trail until he was sidelined with an injury. 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.
Z Royal picks up the services of veteran jockey Victor Espinoza and I look for the pair to run a good race.
Honorable mention goes to Dolphus (10-1), Tom’s Ready (5-1) and Fish Trappe Road (6-1), but, I’m not took keen on them for the win.
Under the points system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine which horses will qualify to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the winner of the Sham Stakes (G3) will receive 10 points, the second-place finisher will receive 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive one point. Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
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. Mor Spirit, 14, Bob Baffert, $246,800
5. Flexibility, 4, Chad Brown, $220,000
6. Swipe, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $597,130
7. Airoforce, 10, Mark Casse, $444,080
8. Greenpointcrusader, 10, Dominick Schettino, $300,000
9. Mohaymen, 10, Kiaran McLaughlin, $300,000
10. Cocked and Loaded, 10, Larry Rivelli, $280,840
11. Riker, 10, Nicholas Gonzalez, $182,375
12. Collected, 10, Bob Baffert, $80,000
13. Sunny Ridge, 8, Jason Servis, $355,600
14. Rated R Superstar, 6, Ken McPeek, $80,200
15. Toews On Ice, 4, Bob Baffert, $228,400
16. Vorticity, 4, James Lawrence II, $100,000
17. Kasseopia (GB), 4, Charlie Fellowes, 22,809
18. Let’s Meet in Rio, 4, Bob Baffert, $20,000
19. Harlan Punch, 2, Tom Amoss, $138,000
20. Found Money, 2, Doug O’Neill, $135,000