©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The much anticipated journey on the 2017-2018 Road to the Kentucky Derby begins Saturday at Churchill Downs with the 36th running of the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes (G3). In addition to the Japan road to the Derby, Churchill Downs has also added a European road to Derby glory.
Post time for the Iroquois is 5:20 p.m. ET., and Hollywood Star, a Thoroughbred Daily News Rising Star, has been tabbed as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Owned by Albaugh Family Stables, LLC and trained by Dale Romans, Hollywood Star comes into this race with a 1-1-0 record in two starts including a second-place finish in the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct on August 13. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
HOLLYWOOD STAR off a step slow albeit without incident, chased two to three wide from near the rear, began to advance into the turn and came under coaxing three furlongs from home, spun just off the inside into upper stretch, rallied with good energy to chase the winner home proving no match for that one on this day while along clear for the place honors second best.
Hollywood Star looked good earning his second-place finish in graded stakes competition and I look for him to improve as the races get longer.
Malibu Moon, the sire of Hollywood Star, 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 Gormley, 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, Moonshine Memories, Ransom the Moon, and Malibu Mint.
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, Hollywood Star was a yearling (Hip 395) I liked in session two at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and if he lives up to his breeding he could be a factor on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
Undefeated in two starts, The Tabulator (6-1) comes into this race for trainer Larry Rivelli off of a 2¼ length win in the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes at Prairie Meadows on July 28. Here’s the video and chart call:
THE TABULATOR forwardly placed while four wide early, moved closer on the turn, responded when given his cue nearing the furlong marker and was gradually going away at the finish.
The Tabulator showed good speed chasing blistering fractions before taking the lead in the stretch. If he can carry that speed to a route of ground, then he could be a factor in this race.
In his only start as a two year old, The Tabulator’s sire, Dialed In, won 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).
On the Derby Trail, Dialed In’s best runner to date is Gunnevera who won the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2), Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3), Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and the Tangelo Stakes. In addition, Gunnevera finished second in the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (G2), third in the Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) and second in the Travers Stakes (G1).
The Tabulator, like Gunnevera, has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and I look for him to be competitive.
A long shot I like in this race is Big Gemmy (15-1) who broke his maiden by 3¾ lengths in his second start at Saratoga on August 28. Here’s the video and chart call:
BIG GEMMY broke out at the start bumping GOLDEN SEAL solidly, chased two to three wide just off the pace coming under coaxing seven-sixteenths from home, angled out five wide into upper stretch, rallied to issue a challenge inside the final eighth taking command just outside the eighth pole, edged clear under a drive to the finish.
Big Gemmy recovered from the start, chased fast fractions, and showed good determination to rally for the win.
Gemologist, the sire of Big Gemmy, was a multiple graded stakes winner who compiled a 5-0-0 record in seven starts with $794,855 in career earnings.
Undefeated in his first five starts, Gemologist won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) as a two year old and the Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) at the age of three en route to a 16th place finish in the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1).
A leading first-crop sire in 2016, Gemologist’s best stakes runners to date include Golden Diamond, Mind Reader, Rose to Fame, Xerxes Avenue, Yellow Agate and Theory.
Big Gemmy also has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and I look for him to be competitive.
Flameaway (4-1) is also undefeated in two starts and he comes into this race for trainer Mark Casse off of a victory in the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga on August 18. Here’s the video and chart call:
FLAMEAWAY bumped lightly with a rival at the start then dropped back, was urged along off the pace, went around most of the turn in the two path, dropped to the rail late on that bend, steadied behind a rival outside the quarter pole, cut the corner into the stretch, was roused while moving to the two path at the three-sixteenths, rallied under a right-handed whip, closed well to make a bid at the sixteenth pole and proved best under good handling.
Flameaway has a D Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score so I’ll be watching to see how well he handles the stretch out in distance.
Scat Daddy, the sire of Flameaway, 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.
His best runners on the Derby Trail include Daddy Long Legs, Daddy Nose Best, El Kabeir, Frac Daddy, Azar and Dice Flavor who was my long shot pick to win the 2013 El Camino Real Derby (G3).
In the overall Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Flameaway has a low score and is ranked fifth but his Behavior Index potentially moves him into the top four and makes him competitive in this race.
Honorable mention goes to Ten City (3-1), who I’m not too keen on for the win but could figure in the bottom exotics.
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).