©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby will span two continents this Saturday with the $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park and the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 2) at the Newmarket Racecourse Rowley Mile in Suffolk, England. On Sunday, the European road to Derby glory continues with the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère (Group 1) at Chantilly Racecourse in Chantilly, France.
Let’s take a look at the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) which is the first Grade One race on the Kentucky Derby Trail and a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race.
Bolt d’Oro heads a herd of nine runners as the 2-1 morning line favorite which is scheduled to run at 7 p.m. ET. Undefeated in two starts, Bolt d’Oro comes into this race with a narrow win over Zatter (5-2) in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
BOLT D’ORO broke a bit slowly and was squeezed some, settled off the rail, advanced four wide on the turn and into the stretch, bid outside the runner-up under urging past mid-stretch, gained the lead in deep stretch and gamely prevailed.
Bolt d’Oro trailed at the back of the herd gradually making up ground on the leaders. Despite the narrow win, Bolt d’Oro appeared to be in control and will probably improve as the races get longer.
Medaglia d’Oro, the sire of Stradivari, was a good middle-distance runner that compiled an 8-7-0 record in 17 starts with $5,754,720 in career earnings. Overall, he had seven wins and five second-place finishes in 14 route races.
Medaglia d’Oro finished second in his only start as a two year old but as a three year old he won the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to the 2002 Derby where he finished in fourth place.
In the Preakness Stakes (G1), Medaglia d’Oro finished eighth but rebounded from that run to finish second in the Belmont Stakes (G1). He went on to complete his racing season as a three year old with wins in the nine-furlong Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and the 10-furlong Travers Stakes (G1).
As a four year old, Medaglia d’Oro won the nine-furlong Strub Stakes (G2), Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and Whitney Handicap (G1). In addition, he finished second in the 10-furlong Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
At the age of five, Medaglia d’Oro won the nine-furlong Donn Handicap (G1) and finished second in the 10-furlong Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (G1
Bolt d’Oro has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and I look for him to run a good race.
Zatter, the 5-2 morning line second choice, is trained by Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert who also has Solomini (4-1) entered in this race.
Of the pair, I like Solomini the best. He comes into this race off of a maiden debut win at Del Mar on September 2 and he was a yearling (Hip 662) I liked in session four at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
SOLOMINI stalked five wide early then four wide into the turn, continued three deep into the stretch, lugged in some in mid-stretch, went after the runner-up under left-handed urging, collared that one in deep stretch and inched clear.
Solomini showed promise in winning his debut and should improve off of that race.
Curlin, the sire of Solomini, 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.
Solomini is taking a big step up in class but with an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, he’s the best bred colt in this herd. I look for him to run a good race and if he lives up to his breeding he could be a factor on the Derby Trail.
Encumbered (8-1) is undefeated in his last two starts on the turf and he comes into this race with a 2-0-0 record in three starts for trainer Simon Callaghan including a win by a half-length in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
ENCUMBERED angled in and chased three deep then outside a rival, came four wide into the stretch, gained the advantage outside foes in mid-stretch, inched away in deep stretch and held gamely under urging.
Encumbered has shown good speed in his two wins on the turf and if he can perform that well on a dirt surface he could be a factor in this race.
Violence, the sire of Encumbered, showed promise as a two year old on the Kentucky Derby Trail winning his first three starts including the Nashua Stakes (G2) and the CashCall Futurity (G1).
In his debut as a three year old, Violence finished second in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) but had suffered a fractured sesamoid bone which ended his career.
Encumbered has a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® but his Behavior Index can make him competitive and I look for him to run a good race.
A long shot I like is Ayacara (10-1) who comes into this race with a 1-0-0 record in two starts for trainer Keith Desormeaux including a maiden win in his second start. Here’s the video and chart call:
AYACARA chased between horses then a bit off the rail, split rivals on the second turn, bid between foes in mid-stretch, gained the advantage nearing the sixteenth pole and held on gamely under urging.
His final time of 1:38.34 is slower than what I like to see in young colts on the Derby Trail. However, he gets a jockey switch to Kent Desormeaux and if he picks up the pace he could be competitive.
Ayacara has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and he also was sired by Violence.
Honorable mention goes to Zatter and Take the One O One (15-1).
This is the sixth consecutive year for Churchill Downs to use a point system to determine eligibility to get into the Kentucky Derby starting gate. A total of 36 races comprise the Road to the Kentucky Derby and a significant change to the schedule is the addition of the Springboard Mile at Remington Park on December 17.
In addition to the Japan road to the Derby which features the Cattleya Sho Stakes (November 25), Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushan Stakes (December 13) and Hayacinth Stakes (February 2018), Churchill Downs has added a European road to Derby glory consisting of seven races: Juddmonte Beresford (September 24), Juddmonte Royal Lodge (September 30), Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère (October 1), Racing Post Trophy (October 28, Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition Stakes (March 1), Patton (March 2) and the Burradon (March 30).
2017/2018 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer
1. The Tabulator, 10, Larry Rivelli
2. Hollywood Star, 4, Dale Romans
3. Ten City, 2, Ken McPeek
4. Ebben, 1, Steve Margolis
EUROPEAN ROAD LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer
1. Saxon Warrior (JPN), 10, Aidan O’Brien
2. Delano Roosevelt (IRE), 4, Aidan O’Brien
3. Warm the Voice (IRE), 2, Brendan Duke
4. Kew Gardens (IRE), 1, Aidan O’Brien