©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Aqueduct Racetrack this Saturday where Shagaf has been tagged as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the 63rd running of the $400,000 Gotham Stakes (G3). Post time is 4:50 p.m. ET.
Undefeated in two starts, Shagaf has yet to run in stakes competition and this will be a class test for the young Bernardini colt, who’s trained Chad Brown. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
SHAGAF broke well and vied for the lead heading out of the chute, raced just a bit off the front end then edged back up and vied with rivals racing four deep at the half mile marker, moved away from crowded quarters leaving the backstretch and continued with slight lead over BAR NONE, shook off rival shortly after and established clear lead leaving the three eighths pole, came under a ride at the head of the lane and continued clear on top under steady right handed encouragement.
The finish time of 1:37.21 is slower than what I like to see a young colt run on the Kentucky Derby Trail and Shagaf will need to improve on that going forward.
I wrote about Shagaf in my 2016 Kentucky Derby Outlook and with an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, he has the best breeding of all the horses in this race.
Bernardini, the sire of Shagaf, did not race as a 2-year-old but at the age of three, he was a fast colt that won races from a mile to 10-furlongs.
He broke his maiden on his second start running a mile at Gulfstream Park in 1:35.57. That’s the kind of time I like to see a young colt run in a mile. Bernardini went on to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred, compiling a 6-1-0 record in eight starts with $3,060,480 in career earnings.
Notable races won by Bernardini in route to becoming the 2006 Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Male include: Withers Stakes (G3, 8-furlongs), Preakness Stakes (G1, 9½-furlongs), Jim Dandy Stakes (G2, 8½ furlongs), Travers Stakes (G1, 10 furlongs), Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1, 10 furlongs) and he finished second, a length behind Invasor, winner of the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1, 10 furlongs).
It remains to be seen if Brown has Shagaf ready to step up in class. Regular jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. returns to the irons and I look for the pair to run a good race.
One never knows if a young Thoroughbred, like Shagaf, will live up to his breeding and there can be many factors that contribute to a horse not running to his Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® – Effinex is a good example of that. And, sometimes horses with a low profile score can win races that are shorter than the classic 10 furlong distance.
Both Rally Cry (5-1) and Mo Power (6-1) are trained by Todd Pletcher and they have low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® scores. However, their Behavior Index and other Data Mining variables, potentially makes them competitive. Both colts, have run a mile faster than any horse in this race, and, if they can carry their speed to 8½ furlongs, they could be factors in the Gotham.
Rally Cry comes into this race with a 1-0-2 record in three starts including a third-place finish to Shagaf in his last race. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
RALLY CRY was brushed back a bit at the start then moved up off the top flight and settled nicely into stride, began to move up near the lead along the rail at the half mile marker, denied access and forced to steady back leaving the backstretch, made a rebid along the outside in the far turn, forced to move out further and raced five wide at the furlong marker, moved back in finished well and gained show.
If Rally Cry had not been pushed back at the half, I think he would have given Shagaf a run for his money and that Shagaf would have responded to that challenge. Rally Cry ran much better in his maiden win last December and he has room to improve in his second start of the season. Here’s the video and chart of his maiden win.
Mo Power is stepping up in class and comes into the Gotham off of a maiden win at Gulfstream Park on January 30. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
MO POWER pressed the pace of DIXIE RUNNER while racing three-wide, moved up to engage that foe nearing the three-sixteenths pole, vied into deep stretch and edged away late.
Mo Power has room to improve in his second start of the season and another move forward makes him competitive in this race.
Conquest Big E (6-1) comes into this race with a 2-1-0 record in five starts for trainer Mark Casse. He’s yet to win a stakes race and he comes into this race off of a fourth-place finish to Mohaymen in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
CONQUEST BIG E was bumped at the start, settled off the leaders early, moved four-wide through the second turn, angled out further nearing the eighth pole and finished evenly late.
Conquest Big E is a long-striding, talented son of Tapit and he has a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®. He lacks early speed, but, he’s been facing tougher competition and has room to improve in his second start of the season. If Conquest Big E makes a move forward, he could be competitive.
Honorable mention goes to Sunny Ridge (7-2) and Adventist (4-1) who finished first and third in the Withers Stakes (G3). Adventist was my long shot pick in that race and he ran well to finish third in just his second career start.
However, the time of 1:40.08 for the mile in the Withers and final time of 1:46.99 was dreadfully slow and both colts will need to pick up the pace in order to secure the win in the Gotham.
The winner of Gotham Stakes (G2) 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 the Championship 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. Mohaymen, 70, Kiaran McLaughlin, $760,350
2. Gun Runner, 51, Steve Asmussen, $249,200
3. Nyquist, 30, Doug O’Neill, $1,700,000
4. Mor Spirit, 24, Bob Baffert, $336,800
5. Mo Tom, 22, Tom Amoss $288,326
6. Forevamo, 20, All Stall, Jr., $210,000
7. Zulu, 20, Todd Pletcher, $79,200
8. Sunny Ridge, 18, Jason Servis, $505,600
9. Exaggerator, 16, Keith Desormeaux, $980,000
10. Flexibility, 15, Chad Brown, $232,500
11. Brody’s Cause, 14, Dale Romans, $500,000
12. Greenpointcrusader, 14, Dominick Schettino, $369,300
13. Swipe, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $597,130
14. Fellowship, 12, Stanley Gold, $115,590
15. Collected, 11, Bob Baffert, $105,000
16. Airoforce, 10, Mark Casse, $444,080
17. Suddenbreakingnews, 10, Donnie Von Hemel, $410,000
18. Cocked and Loaded, 10, Larry Rivelli, $280,840
19. Discreetness, 10, William “Jinks” Fires, $246,153
20. Frank Conversation, Doug O’Neill, $199,000