©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Louisiana, the Pelican State, where Airoforce will go to the starting gate as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in what appears to be a wide open 44th running of the $400,000 Veterans Ford Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds Race Course. Post time is 6:21 PM ET.
Airoforce comes into this race with a 3-1-0 record in four starts for trainer Mark Casse, including a win in the Bourbon Stakes (G3), a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). Here’s a look at the video and chart call of his last race:
AIROFORCE was unhurried early, fanned into the five path in the far turn, made a bid in the stretch three wide then took over command swiftly and cleared the field in the final stages.
Airoforce will be making his debut as a three year old in this race and like many of the other horses on the Kentucky Derby Trail he has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®. However, his Behavior Index and other Data Mining variables have made him competitive.
Colonel John, the sire of Airoforce, was a very competitive colt that compiled a 2-2-0 record in four starts as a two year old including a first-place finish in the Real Quiet Stakes and a second-place finish in the CashCall Futurity Stakes (G1), both at 8½ furlongs.
As a three year old, Colonel John won the Sham Stakes (G3) and Santa Anita Derby (G1), both at nine furlongs, in route to a sixth-place finish in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. He later went on to win the 10 furlong Travers Stakes and closed his three-year-old season with a 3-0-1 record in seven starts.
Regular jockey Julien Leparoux retains the mount on Airoforce and that’s a positive. He’s ridden Airoforce in all four of his previous starts and I look for them to run another good race in the Risen Star Stakes (G2).
A long shot I like in this race is Its All Relevant (15-1). He comes into this race with a 1-2-1 record in six starts for trainer Dominick Schettino including an impressive 8½ length romp in the slop in his last race. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
ITS ALL RELEVANT lead the way heading out of chute, continued to set pace throughout backstretch, opened up on field by clear margins without any urging and finished wrapped up in the end.
This was an impressive maiden win and debut as a three year old for Its All Relevant who struggled as a two year old, compiling a 0-2-1 record in five starts. In November of last year, Its All Relevant showed signs of improvement when he finished second to Shagaf, a young colt I wrote about in my 2016 Kentucky Derby Outlook.
Hard Spun, the sire of Its All Relevant, was undefeated in three starts as a two year old, including wins in the Port Penn Stakes and Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes. As a three year old on the Derby trail, Hard spun was 2-0-0 in three starts including wins in the Le Comte Stakes (G3) and Lane’s End Stakes (G2).
Hard Spun went on to finish second in the Kentucky Derby (G1), third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and rounded out his classic campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, Its All Relevant has the best breeding of all the horses in this race. He has room to improve in his second start of the season and if he makes another move forward he could be very tough in the Risen Star Stakes (G2).
In five starts, Mo Tom (3-1) has always finished in the money and he comes into this race with a 3-0-2 record for trainer Tom Amoss, including a win in the Street Sense Stakes, a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and a win in the LeComte Stakes (G3). Here’s a look at the video and chart call of the LeComte:
MO TOM hit the gate at the start, bumped soundly with FISH TRAPPE ROAD nearing the first turn, raced in the two path early on that bend then dropped to the rail, settled well off the pace, moved closer while inside early on the far turn, shifted three wide at the five-sixteenths, angled out in upper stretch, came under a left-handed whip outside the furlong marker, rallied on the outside and closed strongly to win going away.
Mo Tom is a proven competitor. He’s a sire-line descendant of the Nasrullah Ancestral Herd and, despite his low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, his Behavior Index makes him competitive on the Derby Trail.
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.
Jockey Corey Lanerie retains the mount and that a positive. He’s ridden Mo Tom in his last four races and I look for the pair to run a good race Saturday.
Tom’s Ready (8-1) comes into this race with 1-3-0 record in seven starts for trainer Dallas Stewart. He finished second to Mo Tom in the LeComte and here’s a look at the video and chart call of his last race:
TOM'S READY went three then four wide on the first turn, settled on the outside, was ridden along while four then five wide on the far turn, advanced coming to the quarter-pole, rallied to the lead in upper stretch, led into the final sixteenth under the whip but was overtaken while able to get the place.
Tom’s Ready also has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and, like Mo Tom, he was sired by Uncle Mo. Tom’s Ready has room to improve in his second start of the season and a recent bullet work out could have him ready to run a good race.
Honorable mention goes to Bistraya (15-1). He’s ran a mile faster than any of the horses in this race, however, it remains to be seen if he can carry that speed the added distance in this race and still be competitive.
The pace on the Derby Trail really begins to quicken on February 20 with the Risen Star Stakes (G2) as the debut of the Championship Series, which consists of 16 races. The winner of those races will receive 50 points, the second-place finisher will receive 20 points, the third-place finisher will receive 10 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 5 points.
Halfway through this series beginning with the UAE Derby (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26, the points will increase to 100 points for the winner, 40 points for second place, 20 points for third and 10 points for fourth place.
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, $1,700,000
2. Mor Spirit, 24, Bob Baffert, $336,800
3. Mohaymen, 20, Kiaran McLaughlin, $514,830
4. Sunny Ridge, 18, Jason Servis, $505,600
5. Exaggerator, 16, Keith Desormeaux, $980,000
6. Flexibility, 15, Chad Brown, $232,500
7. Brody’s Cause, 14, Dale Romans, $500,000
8. Greenpointcrusader, 14, Dominick Schettino, $369,300
9. Swipe, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $597,130
10. Mo Tom, 21, Tom Amoss $188,326
11. Collected, 11, Bob Baffert, $105,000
12. Airoforce, 10, Mark Casse, $444,080
13. Suddenbreakingnews, 10, Donnie Von Hemel, $410,000
14. Cocked and Loaded, 10, Larry Rivelli, $280,840
15. Discreetness, 10, William “Jinks” Fires, $246,153
16. Frank Conversation, Doug O’Neill, $199,000
17. Riker, 10, Nicholas Gonzalez, $182,375
18. Vorticity, 8, James Lawrence II, $150,000
19. Rated R Superstar, 6, Ken McPeek, $80,200
20. Kasseopia (GB), 4, Graham Motion, $46,809