©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Empire State, Saturday, where El Areeb will go the starting gate as the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the 137th running of the $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
El Areeb comes into this race for trainer Cathal Lynch with a 3-1-0 record in five starts including an 11-length blowout win in the Jerome Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
EL AREEB broke a step out at the start bumping WIN WITH PRIDE, was forwardly placed tracking TAKAFUL from the two path, advanced to latch on that rival seven-sixteenths from home put to light coaxing, overhauled the leader three furlongs out and widened away through the latter portion of the turn, spun just off the inside for home, went clear under a drive to prevail comfortably at the end.
El Areeb, a long striding colt and with an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, has the breeding to be competitive on the Kentucky Derby Trail and it will be interesting to see if he continues to move forward.
Exchange Rate, the sire of El Areeb, was a graded stakes winner who compiled a 6-2-2 record in 15 starts with $479,803 in career earnings. He fared best mostly in sprint races finishing second in both the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G3) and Best Pal Stakes (G3) as a two year old.
At the age of three, Exchange Rate was able to stretch out and win the 8½-furlong Risen Star Stakes (G2) en route to a fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2), a ninth-place finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) and a 12-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
His only stake win came as a five year old in the seven furlong, Tom Fool Handicap (G2).
El Areeb has been working well at Aqueduct and I look for him to run a good race.
J Boys Echo (4-1) comes into this race with a 1-1-0 record in three starts for trainer Dale Romans, including a 5½ length maiden win at Keeneland (video) on October 27 and a fourth-place finish in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
J BOYS ECHO pressed the early pace from the outside, responded and was gaining late.
With an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, J Boys Echo has nice breeding and should have run much better.
When horses like J Boys Echo fail to run close to their Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score, then the issue[s] preventing them from reaching their full potential needs to be investigated. And there can be many contributing factors for a horse not running to his profile score – Effinex is a good example of that.
Mineshaft, the sire of J Boys Echo, 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).
Jockey Robby Albarado rode J Boys Echo in his first two starts and he picks up the mount in this race. I like the jockey change and J Boys Echo has room to improve in his first start of the season as a three year old.
True Timber (8-1) comes into this race for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin with a 1-0-1 record in three starts including a third-place finish in the Jerome Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
TRUE TIMBER saved ground in pursuit from mid pack, came under coaxing at the seven-sixteenths, spun just off the inside for home, improved position for the show honors.
True Timber was gaining ground late but it was only good enough for the show. I think that he could move up with the increased distance in this race.
Bonus Points (12-1) finished second in the Jerome Stakes (G3) and just edged True Timber by a half a length. Here’s the video and chart call:
BONUS POINTS bobbled at the break, settled just off the inside near the rear, came under coaxing at the three-eighths, swung three wide into upper stretch, proved no match for the top one while besting to rest to secure the place honors at the finish.
Bonus Points has room to improve in his second start of the season as a three year old and he should be competitive.
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 Withers 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. Gormley, 20, John Sherriffs, $260,000
3. Practical Joke, 14, Chad Brown, $690,000
4. Uncontested, 11, Wayne Catalano, $99,300
5. Gunnevera, 10, Antonio Sano, $738,600
6. Lookin At Lee, 10, Steve Asmussen, $275,600
7. Mastery, 10, Bob Baffert, $240,000
8. Mo Town, 10, Tony Dutrow, $180,000
9. McCraken, 10, Ian Wilkes, $165,048
10. El Areeb, 10, Cathal Lynch, $150,000
11. Guest Suite, 10, Neil Howard, $128,040
12. Wild Shot, 6, Rusty Arnold, II, $87,200
13. No Dozing, 5, Arnaud Delacour, $85,000
14. Klimt, 4, Art Sherman, $380,000
15. Hot Sean, 4, Bob Baffert, $180,000
16. Dangerfield, 2, Doug O’Neill, $168,500
17. Syndergaard, 4, Todd Pletcher, $160,000
18. Irap, 4, Doug O’Neill, $60,000
19. Petrov, 4, Ron Moquett, $50,000
20. Bonus Points, 4, Todd Pletcher, $40,000
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