©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to the Empire State Saturday where AVERY ISLAND will go to the starting gate as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the 103rd running of the $250,000 Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack. Post time is 3:45 ET.
Avery Island comes into this race for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin with a 2-0-0 record in three starts including a 4¾ length win in the Nashua Stakes (G2) last out. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
AVERY ISLAND shook off being bumped from between at the start to assume a prominent position, vied for control rated along in the two path, went at it head to head with UNDER THE GRAYDAR for the opening half, gradually cleared that foe during the run around the bend, settled in upper stretch before having the rider go to work, responded well and kicked clear, kept to encouragement to the end.
Despite the early challenge from Under the Graydar, Avery Island appeared to be in control throughout the race and he pulled away in the stretch to easily win by 4¾ lengths.
Street Sense, the sire of Avery Island, was a multiple graded stakes winner that compiled a 6-4-2 record in 13 starts with $4,383,200 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Street Sense finished third in both the Arlington-Washington Breeders’ Cup Futurity (G3) and the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (G1). He followed that with a win in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and was tabbed as the Eclipse Champion Two Year Old.
Street Sense won his season debut as a three year old in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) en route to a 2¼ length win over Hard Spun in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, Avery Island has good breeding and he should appreciate the stretch out to nine furlongs.
Jockey Joe Bravo has ridden Avery Island in his three previous starts and he retains the mount. I look for the pair to be tough in this race.
ALKHAATAM (7-2) steps up in class and comes into this race off a third-place finish in his maiden debut for trainer Chad Brown. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
ALKHAATAM four wide down the backstretch, tucked inside half a mile from home, came under a ride three furlongs out, angled out six wide a the quarter pole, closed well knocking heads with the aforementioned foe [TRIPLE DOG DARE] through the final eighth latching on the winner as that rival hit the finish while just being bested for the place honors.
Alkhaatam ran in dead last until the far turn and made up good ground in the stretch to finish just three quarters of a length shy of victory.
Tapit, the sire of Alkhaatam, 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.
With an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, Alkhaatam is the best bred colt in this race and a recent bullet work out could have him ready to earn graded stakes honors.
CATHOLIC BOY (5-1) comes into this race with a 2-0-0 record in three starts for trainer Jonathan Thomas including a win in the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) and a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
CATHOLIC BOY in tight into the first turn, saved ground stalking the pace, came a bit off the rail in the stretch and edged for third between horses late.
Catholic Boy finished a respectable fourth and was only beaten by one and one-half lengths. The final time of 1:35.97 is what I like to see young horses run on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
More Than Ready, the sire of Catholic Boy, was a multiple graded-stakes winner that compiled a 7-4-1 record in 17 starts with $1,026,229 in earnings. He won the WHAS-11 Stakes, Flash Stakes, Tremont Stakes (G3), Sanford Stakes (G2), Hutcheson Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) in route to a fourth-place finish in the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1).
At stud, More Than Ready made quite a mark with in Australia with his sons Phelan Ready and Sebring who were champion 2-year-colts with over $2 million in career earnings. Some of his best runners in America have been the turf-sprinter Regally Ready with over $1 million in career earnings and Pluck, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G2) and Summer Stakes (G3) with $727,290 in career earnings, and Verrazano.
Catholic Boy has a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® but his Behavior Index makes him competitive and I look for him to run a good race.
A long shot I like is TAP RAP STRIKE (8-1) who comes into this race off a win in his maiden debut for trainer John Servis. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
TAP RAP STRIKE saved ground, bided his time waiting for racing room on the final turn, swung out in early stretch, drifted out under left handed pressure and then drifted in when his rider switched to right handed pressure and was along in time.
The fractions in this race were slower than what I like but Tap Rap Strike was also sired by Tapit and with an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, he has the breeding to be competitive in this race. However, he’ll need to step up his game in order to earn graded stakes honors.
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, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. +Good Magic, 24, Chad Brown, $1,200,000
2. Bolt d’Oro, 14, Mick Ruis, $540,000
3. +Solomini, 12, Bob Baffert, $400,000
4. Enticed, 12, Kiaran McLaughlin, $213,880
5. Firenze Fire, 10, Jason Servis, $407,500
6. +Free Drop Billy, 10, Dale Romans, $400,000
7. The Tabulator, 10, Larry Rivelli, $126,750
8. Bravazo, 4, D. Wayne Lukas, $109,913
9. +Hollywood Star, 4, Dale Romans, $68,500
10. Tiz Mischief, 4, Dale Romans, $36,800
11. Givemeaminit, 2, Dallas Stewart, $152,000
12. Lone Sailor, 2, Tom Amoss, $71,347
13. Take the One O One, 2, Brian Koriner, $36,345
14. Promises Fulfilled, 2, Dale Romans, $18,400
15. Kowboy Karma, 1, Larry Jones, $70,000
16. Lionite, 1, Steve Asmussen, $25,000
17. Ayacara (GB), 1, Keith Desormeaux, $18,000
18. High North, 1, Brad Cox, $9,200
19. Ebben, 1, Steve Margolis, $7,875
+ = Horses picked as yearlings on my 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sales list.
EUROPEAN ROAD LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. f-Happily (IRE), 10, Aidan O’Brien, $543,648
2. Saxon Warrior (JPN), 10, Aidan O’Brien, $84,592
3. Roaring Lion (USA), 10, John Gosden, $75,986
4. Olmedo (FR), 4, Jean-Claude Rouget, $113,505
5. Nelson (IRE), 4, Aidan O’Brien, $99,826
6. Delano Roosevelt (IRE), 4, Aidan O’Brien, $38,074
7. Masar (IRE), 2, Aidan O’Brien, $91,264
8. Mildenberger (ENG), 2, Mark Johnston, $64,634
9. Warm the Voice (IRE), 2, Brendan Duke, $12,904
10. Kew Gardens (IRE), 1, Aidan O’Brien, $28,605
11. Woodmax (GER), 1, Nicolas Clement, $23,610
12. Petrus (IRE), 1, Brian Meehan, $7,182
JAPAN ROAD LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer
1. Ruggero (JPN), 10, Y. Shikato
2. Mic Ben Hur (JPN), 4, Y. Hatakeyama
3. Meiner Yukitsubaki 2, N. Takagi
4. Bronze Kay, 1, K. Tsunoda