©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby rolls west Saturday to Santa Anita Park where seven young Thoroughbreds have been entered in the $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes (G1) which is the first Grade One race on the Kentucky Derby Trail and a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race. Post time is 3 p.m. ET.
Klimt, conditioned by Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert, has been tabbed as the 6-5 morning line favorite. He comes into this race with a 3-0-0 record in four starts including wins in the Best Pal (G2) and Del Mar Futurity (G1) stakes. Here’s the video and chart call of the Futurity:
KLIMT stalked outside then alongside a rival, bid outside the pacesetter nearing and into the stretch, took a short lead in midstretch and drew clear under left handed urging.
Klimt settled about 2½ lengths off the leaders who set fast fractions and took over in the stretch to pull away and win by an easy 4¼ lengths.
Quality Road, the sire of Klimt, easily won his maiden debut, and only race as a two year old, in November of 2008. In his debut as a three year old, he finished second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in January. He followed that in February with a 4¼ length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and in March, Quality Road ran to a 1¾ length win over Dunkirk in the Florida Derby (G1).
In late April, Quality Road developed a quarter crack on his right front foot and that prevented him from running in the Kentucky Derby. After a three month break, Quality Road returned to racing to win the Amsterdam Stakes (G2).
Quality Road completed his racing career with wins in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3), Donn Handicap (G1), Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and Woodward Stakes (G1). He finished third in the Travers Stakes (G1) and second in both the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) and Whitney Handiciap (G1).
Since his debut in June, Klimt has been perfect in three sprint starts and I look for him to be competitive in the stretch out to 8½ furlongs.
Gormley (8-1) won his maiden debut last month with ease and it appears that his trainer John Shirreffs and jockey, Victor Espinoza, are confident that he will be able to step up in graded stakes competition. Here’s the video and chart call of his maiden win:
GORMLEY dueled between horses, took the lead outside a rival into the stretch and drew clear under a steady hand ride while being shown the whip.
Gormley looked like he had a lot more left and that he should be able to handle the stretch out in distance. With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he’s one of the best bred colts in this race and, if he lives up to his breeding, he has the potential to be competitive and, perhaps, upset at a nice price.
Malibu Moon, the sire of Gormley, made only two starts as a two year old, compiling a 1-1-0 record, before a slab fracture ended his racing career.
At stud, Malibu Moon sired the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. In addition, he’s sired several horses that have been competitive on the Derby trail such as Danzig Moon, Mr. Z and Stanford. Other nice runners sired by Malibu Moon include Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Declan’s Moon, Ask the Moon, Prospective, Kauai Katie, Moon Catcher and Malibu Mint.
Espinoza retains the mount and I look for the pair to be competitive.
Plum Dandy (6-1) comes into this race with a 1-0-0 record in two starts for trainer Simon Callaghan. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
PLUM DANDY had good early speed and dueled inside, took the lead leaving the backstretch, inched away nearing the quarter pole, came a bit off the rail into the stretch and drew clear under urging.
Plum Dandy also has an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and he should get better as the races get longer.
Medaglia d’Oro, the sire of Plum Dandy, was a good middle-distance runner that compiled an 8-7-0 record in 17 starts with $5,754,720 in career earnings. Overall, he had seven wins and five second-place finishes in 14 route races.
Medaglia d’Oro finished second in his only start as a two year old but as a three year old he won the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to the 2002 Derby where he finished in fourth place.
In the Preakness Stakes (G1), Medaglia d’Oro finished eighth but rebounded from that run to finish second in the Belmont Stakes (G1). He went on to complete his racing season as a three year old with wins in the nine-furlong Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and the 10-furlong Travers Stakes (G1).
As a four year old, Medaglia d’Oro won the nine-furlong Strub Stakes (G2), Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and Whitney Handicap (G1). In addition, he finished second in the 10-furlong Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
At the age of five, Medaglia d’Oro won the nine-furlong Donn Handicap (G1) and finished second in the 10-furlong Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (G1).
Plum Dandy picks up the services of jockey Mike Smith and a return to the form of his maiden win will make him competitive in the FrontRunner (G1).
Honorable mention goes to Straight Fire (6-5) and Vibe (20-1). Straight Fire is 9-5 morning line second choice and he’s a fast, talented colt. However, I don’t like him for the win and if jockey Flavien Pratt can slow him down he may factor in the exotics wagering.
This is the fifth consecutive year for Churchill Downs to use a point system to determine eligibility to get into the Kentucky Derby starting gate. A total of 35 races comprise the Road to the Kentucky Derby and a significant change to the schedule is that the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) will replace the Grey Stakes (G3) as a qualifying race.
In addition, Churchill Downs has partnered with the Japan Racing Association to feature the Cattleya Sho Stakes and Hayacinth Stakes as two qualifying races in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Under the tiered-point system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine Kentucky Derby eligibility, the winner of the Frontrunner will receive 10 points while the second-place finisher will receive 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and 1 point will be awarded to the fourth-place finisher.