©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us this Saturday to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where American Anthem heads a field of 11 young Thoroughbreds as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the 57th running of the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2). Post time is 7:06 p.m. ET.
American Anthem has yet to earn graded stakes honors and he comes into this race with a 1-1-0 record in two starts for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert including a second-place finish in the one mile Sham Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
AMERICAN ANTHEM sped to the early lead, set the pace inside then dueled along the fence, came out a bit into the stretch, fought back along the rail in the final furlong and went on gamely to the end.
In just his second start, American Anthem looked good dueling with Gormley in the stretch and the final time of 1:35.89 is in the neighborhood of what I like to see young colts run on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
Baffert must have a lot of faith in this young son of Bodemeister to ship him to Arkansas in hopes of earning graded stakes honors. Baffert also trained Bodemeister, however, he raced twice in the maiden ranks before finishing second in his third start, the San Felipe Stakes (G2).
In his fourth start, Baffert shipped Bodemeister to Oaklawn Park where he was my pick to win the Arkansas Derby (G1). Bodemeister trounced the field, winning by an outstanding 9½ lengths. He then went on to finish second in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, American Anthem is the best bred colt in this race and he has room to improve in his third career start.
Petrov (9-2) comes into this race with a 1-3-0 record in four starts for trainer Ron Moquett including a second-place finish in both the Smarty Jones Stakes and the Southwest Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of the Southwest:
PETROV closest to the leader off the inside, pounced on that rival in the second turn, clear into the lane, continued to hold the advantage past the furlong marker, proved no match for the victor in the final sixteenth, drifted in late, well clear of the others.
Petrov has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® but his Behavior Index moves him up and he’s a proven, consistent competitor on the Derby trail.
Flatter, the sire of Petrov, was a decent middle-distance horse who competed, mostly, in maiden and allowance races and in his only stakes start he finished third in the 8½-furlong Washington Park Handicap (G2). But in six starts, Flatter compiled a 4-0-1 record and was a winner from 7½-furlongs to 9-furlongs.
Petrov was clearly the best of the other the Southwest runners that are entered in this race and I look for him to run another good race in the Rebel Stakes (G2).
A long shot I like in this race is Silver Dust (15-1) who comes into this race with a 1-0-0 record in four starts for trainer Randy Morse including a fourth-place finish in the Southwest Stakes (G3. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
SILVER DUST back off the pace, pulled firmly onto the backstretch, two path second turn, traffic quarter out, continued to be covered up through the stretch, between rivals at the wire.
Despite the three month layoff and the step up in class, Silver Dust finished a respectable fourth and with B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating Silver Dust is one of the best bred colts in this race.
Tapit, the sire of Silver Dust, was a multiple graded stakes winner that compiled a 3-0-0 record in six starts with $557,300 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Tapit was undefeated in two starts including a win in the Laurel Futurity (G3). Tapit was troubled by a lung infection for much of his three year old season but he did win the nine-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to a ninth-place finish in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
At stud, Tapit has been America’s leading sire for the past three years and he’s the sire of the Belmont Stakes (G1) winners Tonalist and Creator.
Jockey Corey Lanerie retains the mount on Silver Dust and if he’s kept in the clear he has room to improve off of his fourth-place finish in the Southwest Stakes (G3).
Untrapped (8-1) comes into this race with a 1-3-0 record in four starts for trainer Steve Asmussen including a second-place finish in both the LeComte Stakes (G3) and Risen Star Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of the Risen Star:
UNTRAPPED raced in the two path on the first turn, settled in the front half of the field, was urged along in the two path early on the far turn, angled to the four path at the five sixteenths, spun five wide into the stretch and finished willingly for the place.
Untrapped finished a respectable second in his second start of the season and with a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating, he has the breeding to be competitive in the Rebel.
Trappe Shot, the sire of Wild Shot, raced mostly in sprints from the age of two to four, compiling a 6-2-0 record in 12 starts with $703,884 in career earnings. His best stakes victories were in the six furlong Waldoboro Stakes, True North Handicap (G2) and he did stretch out to win the 8½ furlong Long Branch Stakes. In other route races, Trappe Shote finished second in the nine-furlong Izod Haskell Invitational (G1) and ninth in the Travers Stakes (G1).
To date, Trappe Shot’s best runner on the Kentucky Derby Trail has been My Man Sam who finished second in the nine furlong 2016 Toyota Blue Grass (G1) stakes.
In four starts, Untrapped has never finished worse than second and it remains to be seen if he is talented enough to earn graded stakes honors.
Honorable mention goes to Malagacy (4-1) and Lookin At Lee (15-1) who could potentially be factors in the exotics. Malagacy is a fast colt and if he can carry his speed to a route of ground he could be tough in this 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 Rebel 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.
Next weekend, the UAE Derby (G2) is the first 100 point race on the Derby trail while the Spiral Stakes (G3) and Sunland Derby (G3) are 50 point races. On April 1, the points earned in prep races 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. Gunnevera, 64, Antonio Sano, $1,042,800
2. Tapwrit, 54, Todd Pletcher, $295,570
3. J Boys Echo, 53, Dale Romans, $255,000
4. Girvin, 50, Joe Sharp, $249,800
5. Practical Joke, 34, Chad Brown, $766,000
6. Classic Empire, 32, Mark Casse, $1,493,820
7. El Areeb, 30, Cathal Lynch, $330,000
8. Gormley, 25, John Sherriffs, $284,000
9. Untrapped, 24, Steve Asmussen, $120,000
10. State of Honor, 22, Mark Casse, $119,564
11. McCraken, 20, Ian Wilkes, $285,048
12. Iliad, 20, Doug O’Neil, $200,000
13. Cloud Computing, 20, Chad Brown, $60,000
14. Wild Shot, 17, Rusty Arnold II, $132,200
15. Guest Suite, 15, Neil Howard, $144,040
16. Lookin At Lee, 12, Steve Asmussen, $325,600
17. Term of Art, 11, Doug O’Neill, $119,000
18. Uncontested, 11, Wayne Catalano, $100,729
19 One Liner, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
20. Irish War Cry, 10, Graham Motion, $272,660
x-Not This Time, retired to stud at Taylor Made Farm. Mastery is off the trail with a condylar fracture.
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, $451,195
2. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki, $90,154
3. Adirato (JPN), 20, Naosuke Sugai, $155,278
4. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara, $35,850
5. Foggy Night (JPN), 5, Noriyuki Hori, $23,922