©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
Monday, the Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas where Uncontested will go to the starting gate as the 2-1 morning-line favorite in what appears to be a wide open 10th running of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. Most of the horses have yet to live up to their full potential and they come into this race off of lackluster performances last time out.
With a 1-0-0 record in two starts for trainer Wayne Catalano, Uncontested comes into this race off of a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs last November. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
UNCONTESTED set the pace early, shifted into the three path in the far turn and faltered late in the stretch run.
Uncontested has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score but his Behavior Index makes him competitive and the drop in distance to a mile should be more to his liking.
Tiz Wonderful, the sire of Uncontested, was a multiple graded stakes winner that compiled a 3-1-0 record in five starts with $254,672 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Tiz Wonderful was undefeated in three starts including wins in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
Early in his racing season as a three year old, Tiz Wonderful suffered a minor tendon injury and he was taken out of contention for the Derby. After his recovery, Tiz Wonderful resumed racing and finished sixth in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and second in the More Than Ready Stakes.
Uncontested should be competitive in this race but I’m not too keen on him for the win.
Two long shots I like are Unbridled Eagle (8-1) and Love That Lute (20-1). Both have yet to live up to their potential but if they stake a step forward as a three year old they could, perhaps, be factors in this race.
Unbridled Eagle struggled as a two year old compiling a 1-0-1 record in seven starts and he debuts as a three year old for new trainer Steve Asmussen. With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, Unbridled Eagle is the best bred horse in this race and, perhaps, the switch to Asmussen will help him run closer to his profile score.
Here’s the video of his last race last November. To date, his best race was in a seven furlong sprint at Saratoga Racecourse last November. Here’s the video of that race and here’s a video of his third-place finish on the turf race at Saratoga.
Mineshaft, the sire of Unbridled Eagle, 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).
Unbridled Eagle has room to improve in his first start as a three year old and if he runs close to his profile score he should be competitive in this race.
Love That Lute comes into this race with a 1-0-0 record in two starts for trainer Jack Van Berg. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
LOVE THAT LUTE sent clear to dictate terms, dug in to meet the bid of MOUNTAIN WARRIOR a furlong out and kicked away.
The chart call pretty much tells the story of Love That Lute who set fast fractions to “dictate terms” and lead from gate to wire.
Midnight Lute, the sire of Midnight Hawk, was an Eclipse champion male sprinter and two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). During his career, Midnight Lute compiled a 6-3-1 record with $2,690,600 in earnings.
Because of breathing problems, Midnight Lute was raced mostly in sprint races and it is unknown if he could have had any classic potential.
Love That Lute has been training well at Oaklawn Park and he’s the only horse in this race with a win last out. A repeat of his maiden win performance will make him competitive in the Smarty Jones Stakes.
Honorable mention goes to Warrior’s Club (7-2) and Petrov (5-2) who look like they could be factors in this race.
Warrior’s Club comes into this race with a 1-1-3 record in seven starts for trainer D. Wayne Lukas including a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). With a sixteenth left in that race, Warrior’s Club eased past Uncontested and beat him by a head at the wire. Here’s the video of the Jockey Club.
Petrov comes into this race with a 1-1-0 record in two starts for trainer Ron Moquett including a second-place finish in the Kings Swan Stakes. Here’s the video of that race.
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 Smarty Jones 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. Gormley, 20, John Sherriffs, $260,000
3. Practical Joke, 14, Chad Brown, $690,000
4. Gunnevera, 10, Antonio Sano, $738,600
5. Lookin At Lee, 10, Steve Asmussen, $275,600
6. Mastery, 10, Bob Baffert, $240,000
7. Mo Town, 10, Tony Dutrow, $180,000
8. McCraken, 10, Ian Wilkes, $165,048
9. El Areeb, 10, Cathal Lynch, $150,000
10. Wild Shot, 6, Rusty Arnold, II, $87,200
11. No Dozing, 5, Arnaud Delacour, $85,000
12. Klimt, 4, Art Sherman, $380,000
13. Hot Sean, 4, Bob Baffert, $180,000
14. Dangerfield, 2, Doug O’Neill, $168,500
15. Syndergaard, 4, Todd Pletcher, $160,000
16. Irap, 4, Doug O’Neill, $60,000
17. Bonus Points, 4, Todd Pletcher, $40,000
18. American Anthem, 4, Bob Baffert, $20,000
19. Straight Fire, 2, Keith Desormeaux, $96,000
20. Favorable Outcome, 2, Chad Brown, $50,345
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, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki, $90,154
2. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara, $35,850
3. Blane Eclat, 8, Ryo Takei, $22,340
4. Lavapies (JPN), 4, Ryuji Okub, $52,163