©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The first qualifying race of the season for three year old Thoroughbreds on the Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to the Empire State, Monday, January 2, where Takaful will go the starting gate as the even money, morning-line favorite in the 147th running of the $150,000 Jerome Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack. Post time for the race will be 3:50 p.m. ET.
Takaful comes into this race with a 1-0-1 record in two starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin including a third-place finish in the Remsen Stakes (G2) last November. Here’s the video and chart call of the Remsen:
TAKAFUL spurted away from the competition after the start, cut over to the rail, held his largest advantage between calls on the backstretch, was joined up by the top one at midpoint, continued to be rated along showing the way, with the winner in attendance two wide, had that rival close in after more than halfway around the second bend, made a stern bid shortly after stepping into the stretch, succumbed then weakened into the show slot.
Despite his third-place finish, Takaful ran pretty good in just his second start, leading all rivals almost to the eighth pole until giving way for the show. With an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he should get better during his three year old racing season.
Bernardini, the sire of Takaful, 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).
Takaful has room to improve in just his third start. He’s been training well at Belmont Park since the Remsen and a recent bullet work could have him ready to earn graded stakes honors.
Win With Pride (6-1) is one of two young colts trainer Todd Pletcher has in this race. Pletcher also trains Bonus Points. Win With Pride also has an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and he comes into this race with a 1-0-1 record in three starts including a fourth-place in the Remsen. Here’s the video and chart call of the Remsen:
WIN WITH PRIDE, raced three wide on both turns, altered course towards the center of the strip in mid-lane, made no headway.
Win With Pride was in the race until the stretch and he may not have been ready for the increased nine furlong distance. The cut back in distance may help him in his effort to earn black type.
Distorted Humor, the sire of Win With Pride, made his first start in February of his three-year-old racing season and he did not run in the Kentucky Derby. Overall, he compiled an 8-5-3 record in 23 starts and his most notable stakes wins were in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2), Salvator Mile Handicap (G3), Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G3), Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) and the Ack Ack Handicap (G3).
As a stallion, Distorted Humor has sired numerous graded stakes winners, including the classic champions Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) and Drosselmeyer, winner of the 2010 Belmont Stakes (G1). Distorted Humor also is the grandsire of I’ll Have Another, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Another step forward can make Win With Pride competitive in this race.
A long shot I like is Everybodyluvsrudy (8-1) who broke his maiden in his last race and comes into the Jerome with a 1-3-0 record in five starts for trainer Rudy Rodriquez. Here’s the video and chart call of his maiden win:
EVERYBODYLUVSRUDY broke out at the start and was corrected, chased three to four wide down the backstretch in mid pack, advanced into the turn stacking out five wide between foes moving into contention, ranged up under light coaxing to take command near the quarter pole and swung three wide at that station, edged away under a drive shying out a bit under a near side stick inside the eighth pole and held clear kept to task to the wire.
Union Rags, the sire of Everybodyluvsrudy, was a competitive colt on the trail to the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1), compiling an overall 5-1-1 record in eight career starts with $1,798,800 in earnings.
As a two year old, he won the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special (G2) and Champagne (G1) stakes and finished second in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) stakes.
At the age of three, Union Rags won the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) stakes and finished third in the Florida Derby (G1) en route to a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He finished his career with a narrow win by a neck over Paynter in the Belmont (G1) stakes.
Everybodyluvsrudy has room to improve as a three year old and I look for him to be competitive.
Honorable mention goes to El Areeb (3-1) who’s stepping up in class and has yet to run in route race. Here’s the video of his last race, the James F Lewis III Stakes. With an A profile, he has the potential to be a factor in the exotics.
The Jerome Stakes (G3) is the first qualifying race of the 2017 racing season. Under the points system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine which horses will qualify to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the winner of the Jerome Stakes (G3) will receive 10 points, the second-place finisher will receive 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive one point. Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
2017 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Classic Empire, 30, Mark Casse, $1,459,520
2. Practical Joke, 14, Chad Brown, $690,000
3. Gunnevera, 10, Antonio Sano, $738,600
4. Lookin At Lee, 10, Steve Asmussen, $275,600
5. Mastery, 10, Bob Baffert, $240,000
6. Gormley, 10, John Sherriffs, $200,000
7. Mo Town, 10, Tony Dutrow, $180,000
8. McCraken, 10, Ian Wilkes, $165,048
9. Wild Shot, 6, Rusty Arnold, II, $87,200
10. No Dozing, 5, Arnaud Delacour, $85,000
11. Klimt, 4, Bob Baffert, $380,000
12. Hot Sean, 4, Bob Baffert, $180,000
13. Dangerfield, 2, Doug O’Neill, $168,500
14. Syndergaard, 4, Todd Pletcher, $160,000
15. Irap, 4, Doug O’Neill, $60,000
16. Straight Fire, 2, Keith Desormeaux, $96,000
17. Favorable Outcome, 2, Chad Brown, $50,345
18. Recruiting Ready, 2, Horacio DePaz, $43,750
19. Takaful, 2, Kiaran McLaughlin, $30,000
20. Warrior’s Club, 2, D. Wayne Lukas, $18,600
x-Not This Time, retired to stud at Taylor Made Farm.
In addition to the current top 20, 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. The horse with the most points from those races will receive an invitation to compete in the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
2017 JAPAN ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer
1. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki
2. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara
3. Blane Eclat, 8, Ryo Takei
4. Lavapies (JPN), 4, Ryuji Okub