©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to sunny Florida, Saturday, where Irish War Cry, winner of the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (G2), will go the starting gate as the mild 5-2 morning-line favorite in the 71st running of $400,000 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Irish War Cry comes into this race for trainer Graham Motion undefeated in three starts including a narrow win by a nose in the Marylander Stakes and a three and three quarter length win in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
IRISH WAR CRY quickly sprinted clear but stayed well off the rail three wide into the backstretch, remained off the inside around the far turn, lengthened the advantage into the stretch still well out in the track and bounded away while only shown the whip left-handed late.
Irish War Cry was my long shot pick in the Holy Bull and he showed his class to extend his winning streak to three in a row. He showed the same class and grit to prevail over a determined O Dionysius in the Marylander and that foundation should have him prepared for the Fountain of Youth.
Curlin, the sire of Irish War Cry, was an outstanding racehorse that compiled an 11-2-2 record in 16 career starts with $10,501,800 in career earnings.
Curlin did not start as a two year old. But, at the age of three, Curlin was 6-1-2 in nine starts with $5,102,800 in earnings including wins in the Rebel Stakes (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G2) en route to a third-place finish in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1). He went on to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) and he finished second in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Other important stakes wins include the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), twice, Dubai World Cup (G1), Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1), and the UAE Jaguar Trophy Handicap.
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, Irish War Cry is one of the best bred colts in this race. He has the breeding to be competitive and I look for him to run a good race.
However, Irish War Cry could, perhaps, get some stiff competition from my long shot Lookin for Eight (20-1) who comes into this race off of a maiden win on January 28. Here’s the video and chart call of that win.
LOOKIN FOR EIGHT vied three deep for the early lead, took command leaving the turn without much asking, tapped few times, pulled away to clear lead and finished wrapped up in the end.
The chart call pretty much tells the tale of Lookin for Eight who impressively took command and broke his maiden in his second start.
Lookin at Lucky, the sire of Lookin for Eight, was an exceptional two year old who was undefeated in four starts, including victories in the Best Pal Stakes (G2), Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Norfolk Stakes (G1), before suffering his first loss by a neck to Vale of York in the 2009 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1).
As a three year old, Lookin at Lucky won the CashCall Futurity (G1), Rebel Stakes (G2) and he finished third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Lookin at Lucky finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby and he earned the title Classic Champion Thoroughbred with a three-quarter length victory in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Lookin for Eight is stepping up in class and stretching out to a route for new trainer Mark Casse. However, with a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he has the breeding to competitive and room to improve in his second start of the season.
Made You Look (10-1) comes into this race for trainer Todd Pletcher with a 3-1-1 record in six starts including a third-place finish in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
MADE YOU LOOK was unhurried two wide after being bumped by CLYDE’S IMAGE at the start, remained reserved toward the rear into the far turn, came three wide at the top of the stretch and had nowhere to go behind and between horses, altered course toward the inside and finished well too late.
Made You Look only lost by one length and, perhaps, if he had clear running room he could have won. The finish time of 1:36.41 is in the neighborhood of what I like to see in young colts on the Derby trail.
More Than Ready, the sire of Made You Look, was a multiple graded-stakes winner that compiled a 7-4-1 record in 17 starts with $1,026,229 in earnings. He won the WHAS-11 Stakes, Flash Stakes, Tremont Stakes (G3), Sanford Stakes (G2), Hutcheson Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) in route to a fourth-place finish in the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1).
At stud, More Than Ready made quite a mark with in Australia with his sons Phelan Ready and Sebring who were champion 2-year-colts with over $2 million in career earnings. Some of his best runners in America have been the turf-sprinter Regally Ready with over $1 million in career earnings and Pluck, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G2) and Summer Stakes (G3) with $727,290 in career earnings, and Verrazano.
Made You Look has room to improve in his third start of the season. The jockey switch to John Velazquez and a recent bullet work out could have him ready to run a good race in his debut on the dirt.
Gunnevera (7-2) comes into the race for trainer Antonio Sano with a 3-2-0 record in seven starts including a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) and a second-place finish in the Holy Bull. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
GUNNEVERA raced within striking range along the rail to the far turn, steadied attempting to get through inside TALK LOGISTICS with five sixteenths to go and altered course to the outside, rallied willingly into the stretch and would up back toward the rail clearly besting the others.
With a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® Gunnevera continues to show that he is a competitor on the Derby trail and his rally in the stretch is what I like to see in young colts.
Dialed In, the sire of Gunnevera, won his only start as a two year old – a 6½ furlong maiden special weight by a half a length at Churchill Downs in November 2010. As a three year old, Dialed In won the one mile Holy Bull Stakes, finished second in a 9-furlong Allowance Optional Claiming race at Gulfstream Park, and won the Florida Derby (G1) by a head over Shackleford en route to an eighth place-finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Gunnevera has been training well and he has room to improve in his second start of the 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 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) will receive 50 points, the second-place finisher will receive 20 points, the third-place finisher will receive 10 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive five points.
Beginning with the UAE Derby (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2), the points will increase to 100 points for the winner, 40 points for second place, 20 points for third and 10 points for fourth place.
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
2017 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Girvin, 50, Joe Sharp, $249,800
2. Classic Empire, 32, Mark Casse, $1,493,820
3. Untrapped, 24, Steve Asmussen, $120,000
4. El Areeb, 20, Cathal Lynch, $300,000
5. McCraken, 20, Ian Wilkes, $285,048
6. Gormley, 20, John Sherriffs, $260,000
7. Guest Suite, 15, Neil Howard, $144,040
8. Gunnevera, 14, Antonio Sano, $807,200
9. Practical Joke, 14, Chad Brown, $690,000
10. Lookin At Lee, 12, Steve Asmussen, $325,600
11. Uncontested, 11, Wayne Catalano, $100,729
12 One Liner, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
13. Irish War Cry, 10, Graham Motion, $272,660
14. Mastery, 10, Bob Baffert, $240,000
15. Mo Town, 10, Tony Dutrow, $188,000
16. Royal Mo, 10, John Sherriffs, $90,000
17. Local Hero, 10, Steve Asmussen, $40,000
18. Petrov, 8, Ron Moquett, $150,000
19. Irap, 8, Doug O’Neill, $90,000
20. Wild Shot, 7, Rusty Arnold, II, $97,200
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. Here’s the video of the Cattleya Sho Stakes. Here’s the video of the Hayacinth Stakes.
2017 JAPAN ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Epicharis (JPN), 50, Kiyoshi Hagiwara, $450,374
2. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki, $90,154
3. Adirato (JPN), 20, Naosuke Sugai, $154,951
4. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara, $35,850
5. Foggy Night (JPN), 5, Noriyuki Hori, $23,801