Friday, March 24, 2017

Sunland Derby Stakes Racing Roundup

©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

We’ve logged a lot of miles this weekend on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Sunday the road rolls southwest to Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino where Bronze Age will go to the starting gate as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the 15th running of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3). Post time is 7:28 p.m. ET.
Bronze Age comes into this race for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert with a 1-0-0 record in three starts including a maiden-breaking win at Santa Anita Park on February 18. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

BRONZE AGE sped to the early lead, angled in and set the pace inside, inched clear on the second turn, opened up in the stretch and held sway under a late left handed tap of the whip and steady handling.

Bronze Age led from gate to wire and the final time of 1:35.29 is what I like to see young colts run on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
Mineshaft, the sire of Bronze Age, was an outstanding route racer who compiled a 10-3-1 record in 18 lifetime starts. He began his racing career in England at the age of three, winning a maiden weight for age race at Newmarket. In November, Mineshaft was shipped to America where he won two more races to close out the season with a 3-1-1 record in nine starts.
As a four year old, Mineshaft really proved himself as a champion and compiled a 7-2-0 record in route to earning Horse of the Year and Champion Older Horse honors. In nine starts, Mineshaft won the New Orleans Handicap (G2), Ben Ali Stakes (G3), Pimlico Special Handicap (G1), Suburban Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1) and the Jockey Club Gold Club Stakes (G1).
Bronze Age has room to improve in his third start of the season. A recent bullet work out could have him ready to run a good race in the stretch out to nine furlongs.
Hedge Fund (6-1) comes into this race with a 1-0-0 record in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher including a win in a maiden race last out. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

HEDGE FUND was sent from the gate and quickly angled in to save ground in the first turn, applied pressure to DIVINE AMI then raced on equal terms, continued to duel leaving the backstretch, edged away approaching the quarter pole then pulled away in the lane.

The fractions were moderate in this race. But Hedge Fund won impressively by four lengths in just his second start and he should get better with more seasoning.
Super Saver, the sire of Hedge Fund, was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and my pick to win the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
As a two year old, Super Saver was 2-1-0 in four starts and finished his racing season with a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) making him, along with Street Sense and Nyquist, among a select group of two year olds to win a major end-of-year prep race that went on to victory in the Derby.
As a three year old, Super Saver compiled a 1-1-1 record in six starts with a third-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and a gutsy second-place finish to Line of David in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in route to victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Hedge Fund is lightly raced but that’s how Pletcher brings along many of the young colts in his stable.
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® I’m curious to see how Hedge Fund handles the step up in class and stretch out in distance. He was one of colts on my shortlist for the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. However, the owner and breeder WinStar Farm took him out of the sale.
A long shot I like is Balandeen (10-1) who comes into this race with a 2-1-1 record in seven starts for trainer Chris Hartman including a third-place finish in his debut as a three year old in the six-furlong Gazebo Stakes. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

BALANDEEN broke with the main pack while lightly bumped, settled off the pace in the three path, dropped in a bit midway on the turn, roused for the drive, managed little in the way of closing response to finish up evenly, galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24-4 while being shown the whip intermittently.
The fractions were fast in this race and Balandeen stalked the pace about two lengths off the leaders. I like the way he galloped out and, while he has good speed, his breeding indicates that he should run better in route races.
Bernardini, the sire of Balandeen, did not race as a 2-year-old but at the age of three, he was a fast colt that won races from a mile to 10-furlongs.
He broke his maiden on his second start running a mile at Gulfstream Park in 1:35.57. That’s the kind of time I like to see a young colt run in a mile. Bernardini went on to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred, compiling a 6-1-0 record in eight starts with $3,060,480 in career earnings.
Notable races won by Bernardini in route to becoming the 2006 Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Male include: Withers Stakes (G3, 8-furlongs), Preakness Stakes (G1, 9½-furlongs), Jim Dandy Stakes (G2, 8½ furlongs), Travers Stakes (G1, 10 furlongs), Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1, 10 furlongs) and he finished second, a length behind Invasor, winner of the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1, 10 furlongs).
Balandeen has room to improve in his second start of the season with an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®, he probably will run better in the stretch out to nine furlongs.
Honorable mention goes to Hence (12-1), Kim Bear (15-1), Conquest Mo Money (9-2) and Irap (6-1) who I’m not keen on for the win but could be factors in the exotics.


*****

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
Sunland Derby (G3) 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
(Updated: Saturday, March 18, 2017)
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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

UAE Derby Racing Roundup

©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

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 Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, UAE, a field of 16 young Thoroughbreds has been drawn for the 17th running of the $2 million UAE Derby (G2), and Thunder Snow will go to the starting gate as the Twinspires.com 8-5 morning line favorite.
Live television coverage of Dubai World Cup Day can be seen on TVG with the first post at 7:45 a.m. ET. The NBC Sports Network will also have live coverage from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.
Thunder Snow comes into this race with a 3-2-0 record in seven starts for trainer Saeed bin Suroor including a win by 5¾ lengths in the UAE 2000 Guineas. Here’s the video of that race.




Thunder Snow looked impressive but the time of the race was slow and he’s never run farther than a mile so he's an unknown factor at this distance.
Helmet, the sire of Thunder Snow, was a multiple group winner in Australia that compiled a 6-0-4 record in 14 starts. He raced two seasons and also never ran farther than a mile.
As a two year old, Helmet won the Sires’ Produce Stakes (G1) and Champagne Stakes (G1).
As a three year old, Helmet won the Caulfield Guineas Prelude (G3) and the Caulfield Guineas (G1). He finished third in the Run To The Rose Stakes (G3) and the Golden Rose Stakes (G1).
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Thunder Snow should be competitive in this race but he’ll need to pick up the pace in order to secure the win.
Undefeated in four starts, Epicharis (5-1) comes into this race for trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara as the top qualifier with 50 points in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Here’s the video of his Derby qualifying race, the one mile Hyacinth Stakes, and here’s the video of his win in the nine-furlong Hokkaido Nisai Yushun.




I like the way Epicharis won with ease in the Hokkaido Nisai Yushun. He appears to be a true route horse that will only get better as the races get longer.
Gold Allure, the sire of Epicharis, was a multiple graded stakes winner in Japan that compiled an 8-1-1 record in 16 starts. As a two year old, he was 1-1-0 in three starts with a fourth-place finish in the Hopeful Stakes.
As a three year old, Gold Allure was 5-0-1 in 10 starts with wins in the Tango Stakes, Japan Dirt Derby (G1), Derby Grand Prix (G1), Japan Cup Dirt (G1), Tokyo Daishoten (G1) and he finished fifth in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).
At the age of four, Gold Allure was 1-1-0 in three starts with wins in the February Stakes (G1) and Antares Stakes (G1).
Epicharis is the Twinspires.com morning line second choice and if he runs true to his previous form he’ll be a tough competitor in the UAE Derby (G2).
A long shot I like is Vettori Kin (50-1) who comes into this race for trainer Ken McPeek with 3-0-1 record in seven starts including a ninth-place finish in his last race, the Carlos Pellegrini (G1) and a win in the Grande Premio Derby Paulista (G1). Here’s the video of his win.




Vettori, the sire of Vettori Kin, was lightly raced and compiled a 2-1-0 record in five starts with his most notable win in French Dubai Poule D’essai Des Poulains (Group 1).
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Vettori Kin is the best bred colt in this race. However, he has yet to fully live up to his breeding and it will be interesting to see if he can step up to win the UAE Derby.
Cosmo Charlie (12-1) comes into this race with a 2-1-0 record in four starts for trainer Doug Watson including a win in the Emirates Skyward Al Bastakiya. Here’s the video of that race.




Cosmo Charlie led from gate to wire setting moderate fractions but I don’t think he will have it that easy in this race.
Stay Thirsty, the sire of Cosmo Charlie, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled a 5-5-1 record in 17 starts with $1,936,000 in career earnings.
In four starts as a two year old, Stay Thirsty compiled a 1-2-0 record with a win in the Hopeful Stakes.
As a three year old, Stay Thirsty compiled a 3-1-1 record in eight starts and his most notable wins were in the Gotham Stakes (G3), Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and Travers Stakes (G1). He also finished third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1).
Stay Thirsty was 1-2-0 in five starts as a four year old and his only stakes win was in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1). He also finished second in the Vanlandingham Stakes and the TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (G1).
Cosmo Charlie has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, but his index makes him competitive.
Honorable mention goes to He Runs Away (50-1) and Qatar Man (30-1).


*****

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 UAE Derby (G2) will receive 100 points, the second-place finisher will receive 40 points, the third-place finisher will receive 20 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 10 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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spiral Stakes Racing Roundup

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rebel Stakes Racing Roundup

©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us this Saturday to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where American Anthem heads a field of 11 young Thoroughbreds as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the 57th running of the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2). Post time is 7:06 p.m. ET.
American Anthem has yet to earn graded stakes honors and he comes into this race with a 1-1-0 record in two starts for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert including a second-place finish in the one mile Sham Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

AMERICAN ANTHEM sped to the early lead, set the pace inside then dueled along the fence, came out a bit into the stretch, fought back along the rail in the final furlong and went on gamely to the end.

In just his second start, American Anthem looked good dueling with Gormley in the stretch and the final time of 1:35.89 is in the neighborhood of what I like to see young colts run on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
Baffert must have a lot of faith in this young son of Bodemeister to ship him to Arkansas in hopes of earning graded stakes honors. Baffert also trained Bodemeister, however, he raced twice in the maiden ranks before finishing second in his third start, the San Felipe Stakes (G2).
In his fourth start, Baffert shipped Bodemeister to Oaklawn Park where he was my pick to win the Arkansas Derby (G1). Bodemeister trounced the field, winning by an outstanding 9½ lengths. He then went on to finish second in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, American Anthem is the best bred colt in this race and he has room to improve in his third career start.
Petrov (9-2) comes into this race with a 1-3-0 record in four starts for trainer Ron Moquett including a second-place finish in both the Smarty Jones Stakes and the Southwest Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of the Southwest:

PETROV closest to the leader off the inside, pounced on that rival in the second turn, clear into the lane, continued to hold the advantage past the furlong marker, proved no match for the victor in the final sixteenth, drifted in late, well clear of the others.

Petrov has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® but his Behavior Index moves him up and he’s a proven, consistent competitor on the Derby trail.
Flatter, the sire of Petrov, was a decent middle-distance horse who competed, mostly, in maiden and allowance races and in his only stakes start he finished third in the 8½-furlong Washington Park Handicap (G2). But in six starts, Flatter compiled a 4-0-1 record and was a winner from 7½-furlongs to 9-furlongs.
Petrov was clearly the best of the other the Southwest runners that are entered in this race and I look for him to run another good race in the Rebel Stakes (G2).


A long shot I like in this race is Silver Dust (15-1) who comes into this race with a 1-0-0 record in four starts for trainer Randy Morse including a fourth-place finish in the Southwest Stakes (G3. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

SILVER DUST back off the pace, pulled firmly onto the backstretch, two path second turn, traffic quarter out, continued to be covered up through the stretch, between rivals at the wire.

Despite the three month layoff and the step up in class, Silver Dust finished a respectable fourth and with B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating Silver Dust is one of the best bred colts in this race.
Tapit, the sire of Silver Dust, 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.
Jockey Corey Lanerie retains the mount on Silver Dust and if he’s kept in the clear he has room to improve off of his fourth-place finish in the Southwest Stakes (G3).
Untrapped (8-1) comes into this race with a 1-3-0 record in four starts for trainer Steve Asmussen including a second-place finish in both the LeComte Stakes (G3) and Risen Star Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of the Risen Star:

UNTRAPPED raced in the two path on the first turn, settled in the front half of the field, was urged along in the two path early on the far turn, angled to the four path at the five sixteenths, spun five wide into the stretch and finished willingly for the place.

Untrapped finished a respectable second in his second start of the season and with a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating, he has the breeding to be competitive in the Rebel.
Trappe Shot, the sire of Wild Shot, raced mostly in sprints from the age of two to four, compiling a 6-2-0 record in 12 starts with $703,884 in career earnings. His best stakes victories were in the six furlong Waldoboro Stakes, True North Handicap (G2) and he did stretch out to win the 8½ furlong Long Branch Stakes. In other route races, Trappe Shote finished second in the nine-furlong Izod Haskell Invitational (G1) and ninth in the Travers Stakes (G1).
To date, Trappe Shot’s best runner on the Kentucky Derby Trail has been My Man Sam who finished second in the nine furlong 2016 Toyota Blue Grass (G1) stakes.
In four starts, Untrapped has never finished worse than second and it remains to be seen if he is talented enough to earn graded stakes honors.
Honorable mention goes to Malagacy (4-1) and Lookin At Lee (15-1) who could potentially be factors in the exotics. Malagacy is a fast colt and if he can carry his speed to a route of ground he could be tough in this race.


*****

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 Rebel 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.
Next weekend, the UAE Derby (G2) is the first 100 point race on the Derby trail while the Spiral Stakes (G3) and Sunland Derby (G3) are 50 point races. On April 1, the points earned in prep races 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. Tapwrit, 54, Todd Pletcher, $295,570
3. J Boys Echo, 53, Dale Romans, $255,000
4. Girvin, 50, Joe Sharp, $249,800
5. Practical Joke, 34, Chad Brown, $766,000
6. Classic Empire, 32, Mark Casse, $1,493,820
7. El Areeb, 30, Cathal Lynch, $330,000
8. Gormley, 25, John Sherriffs, $284,000
9. Untrapped, 24, Steve Asmussen, $120,000
10. State of Honor, 22, Mark Casse, $119,564
11. McCraken, 20, Ian Wilkes, $285,048
12. Iliad, 20, Doug O’Neil, $200,000
13. Cloud Computing, 20, Chad Brown, $60,000
14. Wild Shot, 17, Rusty Arnold II, $132,200
15. Guest Suite, 15, Neil Howard, $144,040
16. Lookin At Lee, 12, Steve Asmussen, $325,600
17. Term of Art, 11, Doug O’Neill, $119,000
18. Uncontested, 11, Wayne Catalano, $100,729
19 One Liner, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
20. Irish War Cry, 10, Graham Motion, $272,660
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, $451,195
2. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki, $90,154
3. Adirato (JPN), 20, Naosuke Sugai, $155,278
4. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara, $35,850
5. Foggy Night (JPN), 5, Noriyuki Hori, $23,922