©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby express will log a lot of miles this Saturday with qualifying races on the east and west coast. At Santa Anita Park, Mor Spirit has been tagged as the 2-1 morning line favorite in what could be a very contentious 79th running of the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2).
Many of the horses in this race appear to be evenly matched and it’s shaping up to be one of the most interesting qualifying race, so far, on the trail. Post time is 6:00 p.m. ET.
Baffert has had good fortune in the San Felipe, previously winning it a record five times with Dortmund (2015), Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Preachinatthebar (2004), Point Given (2001) and Prime Timber (1999).
Whether Mor Spirit can bring Baffert more good fortune remains to be seen. He comes into this race with a 3-2-0 record in five starts, including a second-place finish to Airoforce in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and wins in the Los Alamitos Futurity Stakes (G1) and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
MOR SPIRIT stalked outside a rival then off the rail on the second turn, came three deep into the stretch, bid three wide past mid-stretch under some left-handed urging, gained the advantage in deep stretch and inched away late.
His finish time of 1:43.21 was okay and the times of his other races have been slower that what I like to see a young colt run on the Derby trail.
Mor Spirit has a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, which makes him competitive on the trail. But, he’s yet to show the same “spirit” on the racetrack as that of his sire, Eskendereya, who has an A profile rating.
The return of Hall of Fame Jockey Gary Stevens to the mount is a positive. However, there are several horses in this race that have good speed and Mor Spirit will need to pick up the pace in order to secure the win.
Smokey Image (4-1) is undefeated in six starts and he is one of the more intriguing horses in this race. In January, with Carla Gaines as his new trainer, Smokey Image romped to an 8½ length win in the California Cup Derby. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
SMOKEY IMAGE pulled between horses then along the inside to the early lead, set the pace along the rail, kicked clear a bit off the fence on the second turn, was mildly ridden along for several strides to widen in mid-stretch and drew off then remained clear without further encouragement.
Smokey Image won with ease and his split time of 1:36.49 is what I like to see a young colt run on the Derby trail.
Danzing Candy (4-1) comes into this race with a 2-0-0 record in three starts for trainer Clifford Sise. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race which he won by 5¾ lengths:
DANZING CANDY had speed between horses then outside a rival, inched away on the backstretch, set the pace a bit off the rail and drew off in the stretch under a moderate hand ride and a long hold late.
Like Smokey Image, Danzing Candy is a fast colt and he won this race with ease. His time for the mile was 1:36.73 and if he can carry that speed to 8 ½ furlongs, he’ll be a tough competitor in the San Felipe (G2).
The winner of San Felipe 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. Shagaf, 50, Chad Brown, $240,000
4. Nyquist, 30, Doug O’Neill, $1,700,000
5. Mor Spirit, 24, Bob Baffert, $336,800
6. Sunny Ridge, 23, Jason Servis, $505,600
7. Mo Tom, 22, Tom Amoss $288,326
8. Laoban, 22, Eric Guillot, $92,000
9. Forevamo, 20, All Stall, Jr., $210,000
10. Zulu, 20, Todd Pletcher, $79,200
11. Exaggerator, 16, Keith Desormeaux, $980,000
12. Flexibility, 15, Chad Brown, $232,500
13. Brody’s Cause, 14, Dale Romans, $500,000
14. Greenpointcrusader, 14, Dominick Schettino, $369,300
15. Swipe, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $597,130
16. Fellowship, 12, Stanley Gold, $115,590
17. Adventist, 12, Leah Gyarmati, $65,000
18. Collected, 11, Bob Baffert, $105,000
19. Airoforce, 10, Mark Casse, $444,080
20. Suddenbreakingnews, 10, Donnie Von Hemel, $410,000