©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby will log a lot of miles this Saturday with qualifying races in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on the east coast and the San Felipe Stakes (G2) on the west coast. At Santa Anita Park, Mastery has been tagged as the 6-5 morning line favorite in what could be a very contentious running of the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2).
Undefeated in three starts, Mastery has not raced since last December and he comes into this race for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert with wins in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) and a 7¼ length romp in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity Stakes (G1). Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
MASTERY had good early speed and dueled outside a rival, was fanned out some into the stretch, inched away under left handed urging then drifted in and drew off under steady handling late.
In his stretch out to a route, Mastery looked good setting racehorse time of 1:35.04 for the mile and 1:41.56 for the finish. Like a lot of horses on the Kentucky Derby Trail, Mastery has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, however, his Behavior Index makes him competitive.
Candy Ride, the sire of Mastery, was bred in Argentina and during his racing career he was undefeated in six starts.
In his maiden debut as a three year old, Candy Ride won the Premio El Quimico, a six furlong sprint, by 12 lengths. He went on to finish the season with a win in the one mile Gran Premio San Isidro (G1) by eight lengths and another win by eight lengths in the one mile Joaquin S de Anchorena (G1).
As a four year old, Candy Ride was shipped to America where won his U.S. debut in an 8 ½ furlong Allowance Optional Claiming race at Hollywood Park on June 7, 2003. A month later, he ran on the turf winning the 9 furlong American Handicap (G2) and in August, Candy Ride was able to carry his speed to a 3¼-length victory in the 10 furlong Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) in a record time of 1:59.11.
Despite the layoff, Mastery has been training well and two recent bullet work outs could have him ready to run a good race in his debut as a three year old.
Gormley (9-5) is a young colt I liked early on and he was my upset pick in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1). He comes into the San Felipe for trainer John Sherriffs with a 3-0-0 record in four starts, including wins in the FrontRunner and Sham Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of the Sham:
GORMLEY a bit washy at the gate, was between horses early, stalked off the rail, bid outside the runner-up to duel for the lead, took a short advantage into the stretch, fought back outside that one through a stiff drive and gamely prevailed under urging.
Gormley rebounded nicely from his performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) last November and looked good in his stretch duel with American Anthem to prevail by a head. The fractions were fast and the finish time of 1:35.89 is what I like to see young colts run on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
Malibu Moon, the sire of Gormley, made only two starts as a two year old, compiling a 1-1-0 record, before a slab fracture ended his racing career.
At stud, Malibu Moon sired the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. In addition, he’s sired several horses that have been competitive on the Derby trail such as Danzig Moon, Mr. Z and Stanford. Other nice runners sired by Malibu Moon include Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Declan’s Moon, Ask the Moon, Prospective, Kauai Katie, Moon Catcher and Malibu Mint.
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® Gormley is the best bred colt in this race and he has room to improve in his second start of the season as a three year old.
Iliad (5-2) comes into this race with a 2-0-0 record in three starts including a 3½ length win in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) for new trainer Doug O’Neil. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
ILIAD had speed outside the dueled three deep, battled alongside a rival leaving the turn, took a short lead approaching the stretch, drifted to the inside in upper stretch, inched away in mid-stretch and won clear under urging.
Iliad also has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking but his Behavior Index makes him competitive.
Ghostzapper, a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee and the sire of Iliad, and McCraken, was an incredibly talented, multiple graded stakes winner that compiled a 9-0-1 record in 11 starts with $3,466,120 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Ghostzapper won his maiden special weight debut by nine lengths and was 1-0-0 in two starts. At the age of three, Ghostzapper won the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) and finished third in the King’s Bishop (G1), compiling a 3-0-1 record in four starts.
As a four year old, Ghostzapper was undefeated in four starts winning the Tom Fool Handicap (G2), Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G3), Woodward Stakes (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (G1). In addition, Ghostzapper was selected as the 2004 Eclipse Horse of the Year and Eclipse Champion Older Horse.
In his only start as a five year old, Ghostzapper was a 6¼ length winner of the one mile Metropolitan Handicap (G1).
Iliad has been training well and a recent bullet work out could have him ready to run a good race in his stretch out to a route of ground.
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 San Felipe 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) on March 25, 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. Gunnevera, 64, Antonio Sano, $1,042,800
2. J Boys Echo, 53, Dale Romans, $255,000
3. Girvin, 50, Joe Sharp, $249,800
4. Practical Joke, 34, Chad Brown, $766,000
5. Classic Empire, 32, Mark Casse, $1,493,820
6. El Areeb, 30, Cathal Lynch, $330,000
7. Untrapped, 24, Steve Asmussen, $120,000
8. McCraken, 20, Ian Wilkes, $285,048
9. Gormley, 20, John Sherriffs, $260,000
10. Cloud Computing, 20, Chad Brown, $60,000
11. Guest Suite, 15, Neil Howard, $144,040
12. Lookin At Lee, 12, Steve Asmussen, $325,600
13. Uncontested, 11, Wayne Catalano, $100,729
14 One Liner, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
15. Irish War Cry, 10, Graham Motion, $272,660
16. Mastery, 10, Bob Baffert, $240,000
17. Mo Town, 10, Tony Dutrow, $188,000
18. Three Rules, 10, Jose Pinchin, $142,240
19. Royal Mo, 10, John Sherriffs, $90,000
20. Local Hero, 10, Steve Asmussen, $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. 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