©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This Saturday, with three marquee races on tap, the Road to the Kentucky Derby enters the stretch drive taking us to Kentucky, New York and California where winners of those races will each receive 100 qualifying points and a guaranteed spot in Derby starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
At Aqueduct Racecourse in New York, Shagaf will head a field of eight young Thoroughbreds as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the 92nd running of the $1 million Twinspires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (G1). Post Time is 6 p.m. ET., and television coverage of the race will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network from 5-7 p.m. ET.
Undefeated in three starts for trainer Chad Brown, Shagaf comes into this race off of a win in the Gotham Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
SHAGAF, rated along the inside to the quarter pole, was given his cue angling sharply three wide into the stretch, came out slightly after some left side pressure to meet an incoming ADVENTIST, himself after being given some right side pressure, in the vicinity of the eighth pole, lost no momentum from that fleeting incident, continued onward, forging to the front well inside the sixteenth marker, went across the wire sufficiently in the clear but having drifted out into the five path.
Shagaf is a young colt I wrote about in my 2016 Kentucky Derby Outlook and with an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, he’s one of the best-bred horses in this race.
However, his finish time of 1:45.90 in the Gotham is much slower than what I like to see a young colt run on the Derby Trail and he’ll need to improve on that going forward.
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).
Regular jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. returns to the irons and a recent bullet work out could have Shagaf ready to take another move forward. I look for the pair to run a good race.
A huge long shot I like in this race is Trojan Nation (30-1) who ships in from California for trainer Patrick Gallagher. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
TROJAN NATION between foes early, settled off the rail, continued outside leaving the second turn and four wide into the stretch, drifted in some and bested the others.
Trojan Nation is yet to break his maiden and he comes into this race with a 0-0-3 record in five starts. Gallagher must like what he sees in this improving colt and, perhaps, the Wood is an easier spot for him than the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Indeed, with an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, Trojan Nation is the best-bred colt in this herd. But, he’s yet to live up to that breeding.
Street Cry, the sire of Trojan Nation, was an outstanding, multiple graded stakes winner who finished in the money in all 12 of his lifetime starts, compiling a 5-6-1 record with $5,150,837 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Street Cry lost out on graded stakes honors by the narrowest of margins with second-place finishes in both the Del Mar Futurity (G2) and Norfolk Stakes (G2) and a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
As a three year old, Street Cry won the UAE 2,000 Guineas and finished second in both the UAE Derby (G2) and Discovery Handicap (G3).
Street Cry’s best season was as a four year old when he compiled a 3-1-0 record in four starts with victories in the Maktoum Challenge-Round 3 (G2), Dubai World Cup (G1) and Stephen Foster Handicap (G1). Street Cry finished his racing career with a second-place finish in the Whitney Handicap (G1).
One never knows if a young Thoroughbred, like Trojan Nation, 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.
Trojan Nation has room to improve in his third start of the season, and a recent bullet work out might have him ready to make another step forward and, perhaps, a payoff at a nice price.
Outwork (5-2) is an improving colt who comes into this race with a 2-1-0 record in three starts for trainer Todd Pletcher including a second-place finish to Destin in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Here’s the video and chart of that race:
OUTWORK set the pace on the inside, dueled on the far turn, dug in gamely inside and battled the winner through the lane.
After leading throughout the race, Outwork finally gave up the lead and was a one length, runner up to Destin who set a new track record time of 1:42.82 in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
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.
Outwork is one of several Uncle Mo colts on this year’s trail and he has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score. However, his Behavior Index makes him competitive, and, sometimes, horses with a low profile score can win races that are shorter than the classic 10 furlong distance.
It will be interesting to see if Outwork can finish better in this race than his sire, Uncle Mo, who finished third in the 2011 Wood Memorial Stakes (G1).
Matt King Coal (3-1) is becoming a buzz horse for some and he comes into this race with a 2-1-1 record in four starts for trainer Linda Rice. His most recent win was in an Allowance Optional Claiming race at Aqueduct on March 6. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
MATT KING COAL coaxed from the gate, established the front shortly after the break and showed the way just off the inside in hand, settled into a comfortable rhythm down the backstretch, began to shake away midway on the turn remaining patiently handled as the remainder of the field got busy in behind, spun just off the inside for home roused into upper stretch, drew clear under a drive to the eighth pole, got a bit leg weary inside the final furlong shying a bit from the stick when employed both to the off side and near side showing some greenness, dug in under late threat and held safe to prevail.
Matt King Coal, like many horses on this year’s trail, has low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score. However, his Behavior Index makes him competitive.
Cool Coal Man, the sire of Matt King Coal, was a multiple graded stakes winner that raced to the age of five and compiled 10-6-2 record in 30 starts with $929,728 in earnings.
In five starts as a two year old, Cool Coal Man compiled a 2-1-0 record with a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
At the age of three, Cool Coal Man won the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and finished 9th in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) in route to a 15th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Later in the season, he won the Spend a Buck Stakes.
As a four year old, Cool Coal Man won the Albert The Great Stakes and Lord of the Night Stakes. And, at the age of five, he won the Skip Away Stakes.
Regular jockey Jose Ortiz returns to the irons and I look for the pair to run a good race.
Honorable mention goes to Tale of S’vall (20-1) who is a young colt I’ve had my eye on for some time.
The Wood Memorial Stakes (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, 51, Steve Asmussen, $849,200
2. Nyquist, 130, Doug O’Neill, $2,289,000
3. Lani, 100, Mikio Matsunaga, $1,300,119
4. Mohaymen, 80, Kiaran McLaughlin, $807,850
5. Destin, 51, Todd Pletcher, $338,000
6. Cupid, 50, Bob Baffert, $540,000
*. Oscar Nominated, 50, Mike Maker, $321,360
7. Danzing Candy, 50, Cliff Sise, Jr., $240,000
8. Shagaf, 50, Chad Brown, $240,000
9. Mor Spirit, 44, Bob Baffert, $416,800
10. Tom’s Ready, 44, Dallas Stewart, $270,670
**. f-Polar River, 40, Doug Watson, $700,000
11. Majesto, 40, Gustavo Delgado, $190,000
12. Mo Tom, 32, Tom Amoss $328,326
13. Fellowship, 32, Stanley Gold, $210,590
14. Exaggerator, 26, Keith Desormeaux, $1,028,000
15. Whitmore, 24, Ron Moquett, $300,000
16. Laoban, 22, Eric Guillot, $92,000
17. Azar, 20, Todd Pletcher, $273,800
18. Forevamo, 20, All Stall, Jr., $210,000
19. Dazzling Gem, 20, Brad Cox, $100,000
20. Zulu, 20, Todd Pletcher, $79,200
*Will be supplemented to Derby. **Not nominated to Derby