This Saturday, we’ll log a lot of miles on the Road to the Kentucky Derby which will take us to Florence, Kentucky and the nation of the United Arab Emirates.
At Florence, Kentucky Kitten’s Kat will go to the starting gate as the 4-1 morning line favorite in the 46th running of the $500,000 Jack Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park. Post time is 5:55 p.m. ET.
Kitten’s Kat comes into this race with a 3-1-2 record in seven starts for trainer Joe Sharp including a second-place finish in the one mile Palm Beach Stakes (G3) on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
KITTEN’S KAT bumped lightly with SNAP DECISION at the start, pressed the pace outside SAILING HOME for six furlongs, battled for the lead outside that one from the quarter pole to deep stretch and held well while no match for the winner late.
Kitten’s Kat looked good in the stretch run that recorded 1:34.62 for the mile and 1:40.38 for the 8½ furlongs.
Kitten’s Joy, the sire of Kitten’s Kat, was an outstanding router and multiple graded stakes winner who, in three racing seasons, compiled a 9-4-0 record in 14 starts with $2,075,791 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Kitten’s Joy was 2-1-0 in four starts with wins at 8½ and nine furlongs.
At the age of three, Kitten’s Joy was 6-2-0 in eight starts with wins in the Tropical Park Derby (G3), Palm Beach Stakes (G3), Crown Royal American Turf Stakes (G3), Virginia Derby (G3), Secretariat Stakes (G1) and the 12 furlong Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (G1).
As a four year old, Kitten’s Joy was 1-1-0 in two starts with a win in the Firecracker Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2) and a second-place finish in the Arlington Million Stakes (G1).
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Kitten’s Kat has the breeding to be competitive in the Spiral Stakes (G3) and I look for him to run a good race.
A long shot I like in this race Giant Payday (8-1) who comes into the Spiral with a 1-2-1 record in six starts for trainer Ian Wilkes including a respectable fifth-place finish in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
GIANT PAYDAY saved ground in the second flight for six furlongs, moved three to four wide late on the far turn and rallied mildly outside without threatening.
Giant Payday only lost by three lengths and was closing at the end chasing racehorse fractions of 1:34.62 for the mile and 1:40.38 at the finish.
Giant’s Causeway, the sire of Giant Payday, was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old, including wins in the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes, all at 7-furlongs.
As a three year old, Giant’s Causeway raced 10 times and won five Group One races including the Irish Champion Stakes, International Stakes, Sussex Stakes, St. James’s Palace Stakes, Eclipse Stakes and he won the Group 3 Gladness Stakes. He also finished second in four races: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 2,000 Guineas Stakes, Irish 2,000 Guineas and he finished second by a narrow neck to Tiznow in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Overall, Giant’s Causeway compiled a 9-4-0 record in 13 starts, winning from 7- to 10-furlongs, and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.
Jockey Chris Landeros picks up the mount and in three previous starts the pair has never finished worse than second. With an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Giant Payday is the best bred colt in this race and I look for him to run good in the stretch out to nine furlongs.
Soglio (6-1) has yet to earn stakes or graded-stakes honors and he comes into this race with a 1-2-2 record in six starts for trainer Graham Motion including a third-place finish in Allowance Optional Claiming race at Santa Anita on February 5. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
SOGLIO chased a bit off the rail down the backstretch, angled out on the second turn, came into the stretch three wide, could not match the top pair in the final furlong but held third.
I like the way Soglio was making up ground in the final furlong to only be beaten by 1¼ lengths and the finish time of 1:35.20 is what I like to see young colts run a mile on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
Scat Daddy, the sire of Soglio, was a multiple graded stakes winner who compiled a 5-1-1 record in nine starts with $1,334,300 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Scat Daddy was 3-0-1 in five starts with wins in the Sanford Stakes (G2) and Champagne Stakes (G1), and he finished second in the Hopeful Stakes (G1).
In his season debut as a 3-year-old, Scat Daddy finished third in the one mile Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and followed up with wins in the 9 furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) in route to a eighteenth-place finish in the Derby.
Soglio has room to improve in his second start of the season and with an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he should run better in the stretch out to nine furlongs.
Parlor (5-1) comes into this race with a 2-1-0 record in three starts for trainer Eddie Kenneally including a win in his debut as a three year old at Tampa Bay Downs on February 22. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
PARLOR was off a bit slow, content to trail while saving ground, moved into contention passing the quarter pole, split foes in upper stretch, responded willingly when asked and pulled away in hand.
The early fractions were slow but Parlor, closed well to win the mile contest in 1:35.57.
Lonhro, the sire of Isotherm, was a champion racehorse in Australia that compiled a 26-3-2 record in 35 starts with $5,790,510 (AUS) in earnings.
Some more notable races won by Lonhro include 11 Group One races: the Australian Cup (2004), C F Orr Stakes (2004) George Ryder Stakes (2003, 2004), Caulfield Stakes (2002, 2003), George Main Stakes (2003), Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2003), Chipping Norton Stakes (2003), LKS MacKinnon Stakes (2002) and the Caulfield Guineas (2001).
Lonhro was selected as the 2002 Australian Champion, the 2004 Australian Middle Distance Champion, Australian Racehorse of the Year and World Champion Miler. In addition, Lonhro led the 2011 Australian Leading Sire List and in 2014 he was inducted in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
Parlor has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® but his Behavior Index makes him competitive. Parlor has room to improve in his second start of the season and I look for him to run a good race.
Honorable Mention goes Fast and Accurate (15-1) and Convict Pike (8-1) who have room to improve in the second start of their three year old racing 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 Spiral 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.
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. Malagacy, 50, Todd Pletcher, $540,000
5. Girvin, 50, Joe Sharp, $249,800
6. Practical Joke, 34, Chad Brown, $766,000
7. Untrapped, 34, Steve Asmussen, $210,000
8. Classic Empire, 32, Mark Casse, $1,493,820
9. El Areeb, 30, Cathal Lynch, $330,000
10. Gormley, 20, John Sherriffs, $284,000
11. State of Honor, 22, Mark Casse, $119,564
12. McCraken, 20, Ian Wilkes, $285,048
13. Iliad, 20, Doug O’Neill, $200,000
14. Cloud Computing, 20, Chad Brown, $60,000
15. Wild Shot, 17, Rusty Arnold, II, $132,200
16. Guest Suite, 15, Neil Howard, $144,040
17. Petrov, 13, Ron Moquett, $195,000
18. Lookin At Lee, 12, Steve Asmussen, $328,600
19. Term of Art, 11, Doug O’Neill, $119,000
20. Uncontested, 11, Wayne Catalano, $103,729
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, $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