By Calvin L. Carter and Dallas Carter
©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
For the past eight months, we’ve travelled down the Road to the Kentucky Derby which, now, brings us to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky where this Saturday a field of 20 young Thoroughbreds will enter the starting gate in Kentucky Derby 142.
Knowing as much as possible about the Thoroughbred and what it takes to produce a classic champion has been a passion of mine since the early 1990s and my research and study led to the creation of the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® which is an analytical tool I use to measure the graded stakes and classic potential of young horses.
In 2014, the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® was developed into a software program by my brother, Dallas, and it assigns each horse a numerical score which is the indicator of that horse’s potential. The higher the score, the more potential that horse has to become a quality stakes horse or classic champion.
Since the debut of the software in last year’s Derby, Dallas and I have continued to refine the profile, and, this is the first time that I’ve been able to use it to track the progress of horses in the prep races leading up to the 2016 Derby.
Along the trail, we’ve had good success beginning with the Derby, Preakness and, especially, in the Belmont Stakes (G1) where blog readers that used my picks cashed in on the Exacta ($13.60), Trifecta ($109.50) and Superfecta ($570.00).
The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) also proved profitable as a two dollar wager on the exotics netted handicappers the Exacta ($37.80), Trifecta ($320.20) and Superfecta ($1,474.00). My Smarty Jones Stakes selections netted handicappers the Exacta ($264.20) and Trifecta ($1,003.20). The UAE Derby (G2) selections netted $13.60 for the win and $42.20 for the Exacta. And, my Wood Memorial (G1) selections Outwork ($6.80, 4.80, 3.90) and Trojan Nation ($40.60, 13.40) netted handicappers $319.50 for the Exacta.
One of the biggest changes that have been made to the software is the addition of the Behavior Index which I wrote about in my wrap up for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
The Behavior Index is proving to be a very valuable analytical tool, and, with its addition to the software, Dallas and I are now able to add behavioral analysis to the final equation of what it takes to produce a Classic Champion Thoroughbred or top quality graded stakes competitor.
Like an intricate puzzle, the pedigree contains many secrets of what champions are made of and everything one needs to know about the horse, from the physical conformational characteristics to the emotional and behavioral traits, can be found in the pedigree if one knows the families, Ancestral Herd that formed the foal.
For the first time in the history of the Thoroughbred, the empirical evidence gathered through the robust power of the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® software shows that the pedigree is the only true standard, indicator of horse performance, especially of their classic potential.
In this year’s Derby, there are three horses with high profile scores that should be solid competitors if they life up to their breeding. And there are three horses with low profile scores that could, perhaps, be competitive because their Behavior Index and Data Mining variables move them up into contention.
Let’s take a look at the profiles for the horses in Kentucky Derby 142.
As you can see in the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® chart above, there are five horses with an A+ grade ranking. Three of those – Suddenbreakingnews, Lani and Brody’s Cause – should be solid competitors if they live up to their breeding. Trojan Nation and Destin also have an A+ ranking but they have yet to show the same competitiveness as the other three.
Shagaf has an A ranking while Mohaymen and Creator have B profile rankings. Oscar Nominated, Exaggerator, Tom’s Ready and Mor Spirit have C profile rankings while the rest of the herd has low profile scores.
In the Behavior Index chart, of all the horses with low profile scores, Nyquist is the only one that pops into the top four. Nyquist and Outwork (now ranked ninth) were sired by Uncle Mo and like their sire they both have low profile scores. However, their profile scores are higher than Uncle Mo’s score and that makes them upgrades to the Ancestral Herd.
In addition, Gun Runner is now ranked eighth in the Behavior Index chart while Danzing Candy is ranked eleventh and My Man Sam is ranked thirteenth.
Some horses that have low profile scores, like Nyquist, Outwork, Gun Runner, Danzing Candy and My Man Sam can be moved up because their Behavior Index makes them competitive, enabling them to sometimes win races that are shorter than the classic 10 furlong distance.
For example, in my blog about the nine-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (G1), I noted that Outwork was a horse I liked because his Behavior Index showed me he had the potential to be competitive, and, indeed, he went on to win the race.
In the Data Mining chart, Nyquist, Gun Runner and Creator are ranked in the top four when you add data mining to them and they, perhaps, have the best potential to run good races, in addition to the other three I like with an A+ ranking. However, in most of his races Gun Runner has had good trips and, for the most part, he’s not been tested on the same level as some of the other horses that I like in this race.
Other horses that are moved up when you add data mining to them include: Exaggerator, Mor Spirit, Whitmore and Mo Tom. Time will tell if it was justifiable to add data mining to any of these horses.
Also, in two of the charts I’ve noted that Trojan Nation and Oscar Nominated may have the potential to finish in two separate spots. If either of them finishes high up like they’re listed in the Behavior Index, they could, perhaps, be a factor in the High Five wager.
To recap, the three that are potentially solid include Suddenbreakingnews, Lani and Brody’s Cause while the three that could, perhaps, run good races because their Behavior Index and data mining variables makes them competitive are Nyquist, Creator and Gun Runner.
Others that receive honorable mention and should be considered for a few exotic wagers because they have high profile scores include Trojan Nation and Destin. Of those two, Trojan Nation has the best breeding and in addition to exotic wagers, I’ll also use him for a win and place wager because he’s going to have high odds.
Let’s take a look at the horses I like in this year’s Derby field:
SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS is sire-line descendant of the A.P. Indy, Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd and with an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he’s the best-bred horse in this race.
I’ve liked Suddenbreakingnews since last fall and I wrote about in my 2016 Kentucky Derby Outlook. At that time, he was ranked number one on my list of horses that had yet to qualify for the Derby.
To date, Suddenbreakingnews has compiled a 3-4-0 record in eight starts including a troubled trip in the Rebel Stakes (G2) where he finished a disappointing fifth to Cupid. Suddenbreakingnews improved off of that run to finish second in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS also outrun for five furlongs, six wide into the lane, shifted out further to be widest for the drive, closed well to be clear for the place.
Suddenbreakingnews was running in “race horse” time at the end of the Arkansas Derby (G1) and he will like the added distance of 10-furlongs in Kentucky Derby (G1).
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 is bred on the nick of the A.P. Indy, Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd over the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd which is the same nick as Nehro who finished second in the 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) to Animal Kingdom.
However, Suddenbreakinnews has much better breeding than Nehro and he also has the potential to wear the “Roses in May.”
LANI is also a sire-line descendant of the A.P. Indy, Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd and with an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he has the potential to run better than what some people might think.
Lani and Polar River were the two horses I liked in the UAE Derby (G2) and his victory in that race earned him a spot in the starting gate of Kentucky Derby 142. Here’s the video and Racing Post chart call of his run in the UAE Derby:
[LANI] broke awkwardly, chased leaders 4f out, led 110yds out, ran on well.
Lani recovered well after the horrible start to get up and secure the win over a very good Polar River who was undefeated in four starts going into that race.
To date, Lani has compiled a 3-1-0 record in six starts for trainer Mikio Matsunaga. His other significant races include a win in the Cattleya Sho Stakes and a fifth-place finish in the one mile Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse. Here’s the video of Hyacinth Stakes.
Despite the fifth-place finish in the Hyacinth Stakes, Lani only lost by 2¾ lengths and the final time of 1:35.40 is what I like to see colts run on the Derby Trail.
Tapit, the sire of Lani, 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.
Despite his lackluster works at Churchill Downs the past couple of weeks, Lani has room to improve in his third start of the season and he should like the added distance in the Kentucky Derby.
I look for him to be competitive.
BRODY’S CAUSE is a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and with an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he also is one of the best-bred horses in this race.
In six starts, Brody’s Cause has compiled a 3-0-1 record for trainer Dale Romans and he comes into this race off of 1¾ length victory in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
BRODY'S CAUSE was reserved early, swung into the six path entering the lane, made a bid in the stretch, took over command swiftly and cleared the field in the final stages.
Except for his maiden debut and the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Brody’s Cause is battle tested and he knows how to fight through a herd of horses to score the win or finish in the money. That’s what I like to see in young colt on the Derby Trail.
Giant’s Causeway, the sire of Brody’s Cause, was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old, including wins in the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes, all at 7-furlongs.
As a three year old, Giant’s Causeway raced 10 times and won five Group One races including the Irish Champion Stakes, International Stakes, Sussex Stakes, St. James’s Palace Stakes, Eclipse Stakes and he won the Group 3 Gladness Stakes. He also finished second in four races: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 2,000 Guineas Stakes, Irish 2,000 Guineas and he finished second by a narrow neck to Tiznow in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Overall, Giant’s Causeway compiled a 9-4-0 record in 13 starts, winning from 7- to 10-furlongs, and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.
Brody’s Cause has been training well at Churchill Downs and he has room to improve in his third start of the season.
NYQUIST is a sire-line descendant of the Grey Sovereign, Nasrullah Ancestral Herd and Nasrullah sired Bold Ruler. As such, Nasrullah is the sire-line foundation stallion for many of the horses running in Kentucky Derby 142.
Undefeated in seven starts for trainer Doug O’Neill, Nyquist is the deserving morning-line favorite. Since breaking his maiden last June, Nyquist has won two G2 races and four G1’s including a 3¼ length victory in the Florida Derby (G1). Here’s a look at the video and chart call of that race:
NYQUIST broke well at the start then raced two wide in the first turn, had a slight lead entering the backstretch and continued on top under pressure from both sides, vied for the lead racing along the outside of TAKEITTOTHEEDGE throughout the backstretch, took slight lead three furlongs out then took on the challenge of MOHAYMEN midway in the far turn, drifted out five wide in the final turn, carried out aforementioned rival, vied with rival in upper stretch then roused for more, responded gamely, took over then drifted out but remained clear and proved best.
Nyquist is one of several colts on this year’s Derby trail that were sired by Uncle Mo and, like his sire, he has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score. However, Nyquist’s profile score is higher than Uncle Mo’s score and that makes him an upgrade to the Ancestral Herd.
In addition, the Behavior Index of some horses with a low profile score, like Nyquist, can move them up and make them competitive, enabling them to win races that are shorter than the classic 10 furlong distance.
Uncle Mo 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.
The best Uncle Mo could run nine furlongs was third in the Wood Memorial Stakes and it will be interesting to see if Nyquist can extend his competitiveness to 10 furlongs.
Another interesting tidbit is that, historically, horses like Nyquist that have won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) or other major end-of-year prep stakes races do not usually go on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1).
In my December 26, 2014 blog, I took a look at the major end-of-year prep races going back to 2000: the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Hollywood Futurity (G1), Remsen (G2), Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Boyd Gaming’s Delta Jackpot (G3).
Analysis of those prep races showed that only a few runners from those races went on to compete in the Kentucky Derby. And only four horses that competed in those prep races went on to win the Kentucky Derby.
Street Sense won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2007 Kentucky Derby; Super Saver won the 2009 Kentucky Jockey Club and the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
Giacomo finished second in the 2004 Hollywood Futurity and won the 2005 Kentucky Derby. Mine That Bird finished 12th (dead last) in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and won the 2009 Kentucky Derby.
Since 2000, there have been no winners of the Remsen Stakes (G2) that went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the same is true for the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) which began racing in 2002.
So, it will be interesting to see if Nyquist can break that historical trend.
CREATOR is a sire line descendant of the A.P. Indy, Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd and he appears to be improving at the right time of year for trainer Steve Asmussen. He comes into this race with a 2-4-1 record in eight starts including a win in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
CREATOR completely devoid of speed, began to move into the far turn, strong gain through traffic into the lane, brushed, bit of some tight quarters past the furlong marker, powered clear.
Creator is one of several sons sired by Tapit that are competing in this race. I like the energy and determination that he shows in his races and another move forward will make him very competitive in Kentucky Derby 142.
GUN RUNNER is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd. He has a low profile score but his Behavior Index has made him competitive in the prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby (G1). He comes into this race with a 4-0-0 record in five starts for trainer Steve Asmussen including a 4½ length win in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
GUN RUNNER was well placed on the inside, came off the rail early on the far turn, advanced to make a bid at the five-sixteenths, edged clear under a left-handed whip in upper stretch, switched to a right-handed whip while racing a bit greenly outside the sixteenth-pole and drew away under steady urging.
Candy Ride, the sire of Gun Runner, was bred in Argentina and during his racing career he was undefeated in six starts.
In his maiden debut as a three year old, Candy Ride won the Premio El Quimico, a six furlong sprint, by 12 lengths. He went on to finish the season with a win in the one mile Gran Premio San Isidro (G1) by eight lengths and another win by eight lengths in the one mile Joaquin S de Anchorena (G1).
As a four year old, Candy Ride was shipped to America where won his U.S. debut in an 8 ½ furlong Allowance Optional Claiming race at Hollywood Park on June 7, 2003. A month later, he ran on the turf winning the 9 furlong American Handicap (G2) and in August, Candy Ride was able to carry his speed to a 3¼-length victory in the 10 furlong Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) in a record time of 1:59.11.
Since 1990, descendants of the Mr. Prospector herd have produced 30 Classic Champion Thoroughbreds who have won 41 of the past 78 Triple Crown races for a 53% strike rate. Of those champions, 21 of them won the Kentucky Derby.
TROJAN NATION is also a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he was my long shot pick to win the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
TROJAN NATION cut over to the rail soon after the start, was devoid of early speed, picked up the pace after entering the far turn, cut the corner into the stretch and maintained the momentum, gained enough real estate to loom boldly with an eighth to go, got put in tight from pressure originating by the winner in mid-stretch, eventually brushing with MATT KING COAL, forged on ahead with good courage to draw directly alongside the top one, fought valiantly to the end but fell short.
I like the way that Trojan Nation fought his way along the rail and if he had just a little bit more squeeze room, he might have got up for the win.
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, who has an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, will live up to his breeding. And, there can be many contributing factors for a horse not running to his profile score – Effinex is a good example of that.
Trojan Nation is one of the best bred horses in this herd, but with a 0-1-3 record in six starts for trainer Patrick Gallagher he’s yet to break his maiden.
Despite his record, I like what his owner, Aaron Sones, said in a recent Blood Horse article about Trojan Nation’s run in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1):
“Since he got back from New York, he’s been a different horse. It’s Incredible. Trojan Nation thinks that he won the Wood, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s not a maiden anymore.”
Indeed, a good mental attitude is the key to success and maybe Trojan Nation is getting good at the right time of year to be competitive in Kentucky Derby 142 and, perhaps, pull off the upset at a nice price.
DESTIN is a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and with an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he also has good breeding. Like Brody’s Cause, Destin was also sired by Giant’s Causeway and he’s and a full brother to Creative Cause who finished fifth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1).
I also liked Destin last fall and I wrote about him in my 2016 Kentucky Derby Outlook, ranking him fifth on my list of horses that had yet to qualify for the Derby.
To date, Destin has compiled a 3-1-0 record in five starts for trainer Todd Pletcher including a first-place finish in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
DESTIN was bumped at the start, stalked three wide, bid three wide on the turn, gained a short lead in upper stretch and inched away, driving.
This win was a good move forward for the young Giant’s Causeway colt. However, I don’t like it that he has not raced since March and Pletcher has not ran him in a nine furlong prep race.
The last time that was tried was in 2013 when D. Wayne Lukas sent Will Take Charge into the Kentucky Derby off of a win in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and he finished in eighth place. Prior to that, Larry Jones took Friesan Fire to the 2009 Derby off of a win in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and he finished in eighteenth place.
Despite the long layoff and not prepping in a nine furlong race, Destin has good breeding and I will use him in one of my wagers.
Here’s a look at the final point standings of the horses entered in Kentucky Derby 142:
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. Creator, 110, Steve Asmussen, $690,000
7. Lani, 100, Mikio Matsunaga, $1,300,119
8. Mor Spirit, 84, Bob Baffert, $616,800
9. Mohaymen, 80, Kiaran McLaughlin, $807,850
10. Danzing Candy, 60, Cliff Sise, Jr., $290,000
11. Destin, 51, Todd Pletcher, $338,000
12. Suddenbreakingnews, 50, Donnie Von Hemel, $637,000
13. *Oscar Nominated, 50, Mike Maker, $321,360
14. Shagaf, 50, Chad Brown, $270,000
15. Whitmore, 44, Ron Moquett, $400,000
16. Tom’s Ready, 44, Dallas Stewart, $270,670
17. My Man Sam, 40, Chad Brown, $200,000
18. Majesto, 40, Gustavo Delgado, $190,000
19. Trojan Nation, 40, Paddy Gallagher, $190,000
20. Mo Tom, 32, Tom Amoss $328,326
*Will be supplemented to Derby.