©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This Saturday, the Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where the final prep race worth 100 points to the victor will be ran at Oaklawn Park. A field of 12 has been drawn for the 80th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) with Cupid tagged as the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Post time is 7:18 ET.
To date, Cupid has compiled a 2-1-0 record in four starts for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert, including a 1¼ length win in the Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 19. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
CUPID broke behind the leaders, used to secure inside position up front into the first turn, pace, given a breather into the far turn when maintaining daylight advantage, dipped in when straightened for home, continued to hold a daylight edge past the furlong marker, responded when the runner up challenged late, kicked clear again in the waning strides in finding more.
Setting fast early fractions, Cupid led from gate to wire and crossed the finish line in the final time of 1:43.84.
Like many horses on this year’s trail, Cupid has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®. However, his Behavior Index makes him competitive and it will be interesting to see he can carry his speed to nine furlongs and still be victorious.
Tapit, the sire of Cupid, 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.
Baffert won this race in 2015 with American Pharoah and Bodemeister in 2012. But, Cupid does not appear to be in league with them and time will tell if he can get Baffert to the winners circle.
Suddenbreakingnews (5-1) is a horse I liked last fall and I wrote about in my 2016 Kentucky Derby Outlook. With an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, he’s the best bred horse in this race and time will tell if he lives up to his breeding.
To date, Suddenbreakingnews has compiled a 3-3-0 record in seven starts including a troubled trip in the Rebel Stakes (G2) where he finished a disappointing fifth to Cupid. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS raced well back early, in some traffic while still back far turn, briefly lost action inside of a rival, steadied, moved out for the drive then mounted a mild rally down the middle of the strip.
Suddenbreakingnews has good speed but he’ll need to be closer to the pace in this race if he’s going to be the victor.
Mineshaft, the sire of Suddenbreakingnews, was an outstanding route racer who compiled a 10-3-1 record in 18 lifetime starts. He began his racing career in England at the age of three, winning a maiden weight for age race at Newmarket. In November, Mineshaft was shipped to America where he won two more races to close out the season with a 3-1-1 record in nine starts.
As a four year old, Mineshaft really proved himself as a champion and compiled a 7-2-0 record in route to earning Horse of the Year and Champion Older Horse honors. In nine starts, Mineshaft won the New Orleans Handicap (G2), Ben Ali Stakes (G3), Pimlico Special Handicap (G1), Suburban Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1) and the Jockey Club Gold Club Stakes (G1).
Suddenbreakingnews has the breeding to wear the “Roses in May.” However, it remains to be seen if he has classic potential.
Gettysburg (6-1) ships in from Keeneland where he been training for Todd Pletcher and he comes into this race with a 1-1-1 record in five starts including a second-place finish in the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
GETTYSBURG chased the early leader, went four wide into the stretch to vie and sustained a mild gain.
Gettysburg broke from the far outside post and got into position in second place but was unable to pass Collected who led throughout the race. The time for the mile of 1:35.94 and final time of 1:48.90 is what I like to see a young colt run on the Derby trail.
Gettysburg is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and his C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® makes him competitive in this race.
Pioneerof the Nile, the sire of Gettysburg, was a pretty good middle-distance runner and multiple graded-stakes winner that compiled a 2-0-1 record as a two year old including a win in the CashCall Futurity (G1) and a third-place finish in the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
As a three year old, Pioneerof the Nile was 3-0-1 in five starts with wins in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), San Felipe Stakes (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) in route to a second-place finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Gettysburg has yet to win a stakes race and he has room to improve off of his second-place finish in his last race.
Jockey John Velazquez gets the mount and I look for the pair to run a good race.
A long shot I like in this race is American Pioneer (8-1) who’s lightly raced with a 1-1-0 record in two starts and stepping up to in class for trainer Wayne Catalano. He comes into this race off of a 3¾-length maiden win last out. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
AMERICAN PIONEER forwardly placed, dropped to the inside second turn, slipped through in challenging turning for home, quickly clear, ridden out.
American Pioneer looked good in his maiden win and was wrapped up at the end of the race. However, his final time of 1:44.46 and 1:38.25 for the mile is slower than I like and he’ll have to improve on that.
American Pioneer is a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and he also has a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®.
Awesome Again, the sire of American Pioneer, did not race as a two year old. But he was a good router and multiple graded-stakes winner that ran his best from a mile to 10 furlongs, and was selected as the 2001 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee.
At the age of three, Awesome Again compiled a 3-0-2 record in six starts with wins in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and the Canadian classic Queen’s Plate Stakes.
As a four year old, Awesome Again was undefeated in six starts with wins in five stakes races including the Stephen Foster Handicap (G2) and Whitney Handicap (G1), both at nine furlongs, and the 10 furlong Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (G3), Saratoga Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2) and the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic where he defeated the 1997 Kentucky Derby winner, Silver Charm.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano gets the mount and American Pioneer has room to improve in his third start of the season.
Honorable mention goes to Whitmore (9-2) and Creator (10-1) who have been competitive on the Arkansas trail and could be factors in this race.
The Arkansas Derby (G1) winner will receive 100 points, second-place finishers will receive 40 points, third-place finishers will get 20 points and fourth-place finishers will get 10 points. Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
2016 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Rank, Horse, Points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Gun Runner, 151, Steve Asmussen, $849,200
2. Nyquist, 130, Doug O’Neill, $2,289,000
3. Exaggerator, 126, Keith Desormeaux, $1,628,000
4. Outwork, 120, Todd Pletcher, $600,000
5. Brody’s Cause, 114, Dale Romans, $1,100,000
6. Lani, 100, Mikio Matsunaga, $1,300,119
7. Mor Spirit, 84, Bob Baffert, $616,800
8. Mohaymen, 80, Kiaran McLaughlin, $807,850
9. Danzing Candy, 60, Cliff Sise, Jr., $290,000
10. Destin, 51, Todd Pletcher, $338,000
11. Cupid, 50, Bob Baffert, $540,000
12. *Oscar Nominated, 50, Mike Maker, $321,360
13. Shagaf, 50, Chad Brown, $270,000
14. Tom’s Ready, 44, Dallas Stewart, $270,670
15. Majesto, 40, Gustavo Delgado, $190,000
16. Trojan Nation, 40, Paddy Gallagher, $190,000
17. My Man Sam, 40, Chad Brown, $200,000
18. Mo Tom, 32, Tom Amoss $328,326
19. Fellowship, 32, Stanley Gold, $210,590
20. Adventist, 32, Leah Gyarmati, $155,000
*Will be supplemented to Derby.