This Saturday, the Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where the final prep race worth 100 points to the victor will be ran at Oaklawn Park. A field of eleven Thoroughbreds has been drawn for the 83rd running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) with IMPROBABLE tagged as the 8-5 morning-line favorite. Post time is 7:43 ET.
Improbable comes into this race with a 3-1-0 record in four starts for trainer Bob Baffert including a second-place finish last out in Division I of the Rebel Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
IMPROBABLE stalked the pace in the five path, bid at the three-eighths pole, was clear in the stretch and caught at the wire.
Improbable took the lead at the top of the stretch but came up a neck shy of victory to a fast closing Long Range Toddy.
City Zip, the sire of Improbable, ran mostly in sprint races, compiling a 9-5-4 record in 31 starts with $818,225 in career earnings.
As a two year old, City Zip won the Tremont Stakes (G3), Sanford Stakes (G2), Saratoga Special (G2) and the Hopeful Stakes (G1). However, as a three year old on the 2001 Kentucky Derby Trail, his best finish was a third place to Songandaprayer in the 8½-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1).
Despite his propensity for sprinting, at stud City Zip has sired his share of numerous, good, sprinters as well as several middle-distance runners such as Collected, Get Serious, Alert Bay, Acting Zippy, Dayatthespa, With a City, Unzip Me, City to City, Workin for Hops and Personal Diary.
Improbable has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and that makes him competitive in this field. However, I’m not too keen on him for the win.
A long shot I like is COUNTRY HOUSE (12-1). He comes into this race with a 1-2-0 record in five starts for trainer Bill Mott including a fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) last out. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
COUNTRY HOUSE broke a step slow, went four wide on the first turn, settled on the outside, was urged along midway down the backstretch, advanced six wide under urging on the far turn, chased under the whip into upper stretch and tired.
Country House could not close the gap to claim victory but finished a respectable fourth in his stretch out to nine furlongs.
Lookin at Lucky, the sire of Country House, was a multiple graded-stakes winner that compiled a 9-1-1 record in 13 starts with $3,307,278 in career earnings.
Undefeated in four starts, Lookin at Lucky scored impressive stakes victories as a two year old in the Best Pal Stakes (G2), Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Norfolk Stakes (G1), before suffering his first loss by a neck to Vale of York in the 2009 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). He came back from that loss to close the season with a win in the CashCall Futurity Stakes (G1).
As a three year old, Lookin at Lucky won the Rebel Stakes (G2) and he finished third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) en route to a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Lookin at Lucky went on to earn Classic Champion Thoroughbred honors with a three-quarter length victory in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Country House has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and he’s a yearling (Hip 2203) we profiled at the 2017 Keeneland September sale. However, the only yearlings I mentioned in my blog post were ones with an A+ or A grade ranking.
Country House is an improving colt and I look for him to take another step forward in his third start of the season.
OMAHA BEACH (2-1) comes into this race with a 2-3-1 record in six starts for trainer Richard Mandella including a win in Division II of the Rebel Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that division:
OMAHA BEACH broke sharply, raced in touch with the leaders three deep into the first turn attending to the pace, pressed the issue midway through the backstretch to gain a narrow advantage, went clear leaving the far turn under some prompting, then gamely held the challenge of GAME WINNER to the end under hand urging and some left handed pressure despite being bumped approaching the wire.
War Front looked good in the stretch out to 8½ furlongs to win his first graded stakes race and upset Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and Eclipse Two Year Old Champion Colt, Game Winner.
War Front, the sire of Omaha Beach, was a graded-stakes winner of the 8½-furlong Princelet Stakes which he won by 8-lengths in a final time of 1:41.79. However, most of War Front’s other races were in sprints where he had a penchant for finishing second. However, he did win the 6-furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2) by 2½-lengths.
At stud, War Front sired Soldat, winner of the 2010 With Anticipation Stakes (G2) and second-place finisher in the 8-furlong Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G2), and 8½-furlong Pilgrim Stakes (G3). Soldat went on as a three-year-old to win the 9-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).
He also sired The Factor, a speedy colt who as a two-year-old won the 7-furlong San Vicente Stakes (G2) and went on as a three-year-old to win the 8½-furlong Rebel Stakes (G2).
War Front’s lifetime top runners include: Lines of Battle, Departing, Declaration of War, Warning Flag, Lancaster Bomber, Summer Front, War Dancer, Roly Poly, Avenge, Jack Milton, Air Force Blue, Data Link and Hit it a Bomb.
Omaha Beach has an D Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® but his Behavior Index makes him potentially competitive in this race.
LONG RANGE TODDY (5-1) comes into this race for trainer Steve Asmussen with a 4-1-1 record in seven starts including a narrow win in Division I of the Rebel Stakes (G2) last out. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
LONG RANGE TODDY dueled early, settled off the pace inside, angled four wide at the quarter pole, rallied at the eighth pole and was up in time under steady handling.
Long Range Toddy settled just off the leaders and made a huge move in the stretch to run down Improbable and claim victory by a neck.
Take Charge Indy, the sire of Long Range Toddy, was a multiple graded-stakes winner that compiled a 3-4-2 record in 14 starts with $1,103,496 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Take Charge Indy was 1-1-0 in four starts with a second-place finish in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3).
At the age of three, Take Charge Indy won the Florida Derby (G1) en route to a nineteenth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He went to the finish the season with a third-place finish in the Fayette Stakes (G3) and a second-place finish in the Clark Handicap (G1).
Take Charge Indy made five starts as a four year old with a win in the Alysheba Stakes (G2), a second-place finish in the Skip Away Stakes (G3) and a third-place finish in the Donn Handicap (G1).
Long Range Toddy has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile and I look for him to be competitive.
A total of 35 prep races comprise the USA Road to the Kentucky Derby. In addition, there are seven races on the European road and four races on the Japan road to Derby glory.
2019 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Tacitus, 150, Bill Mott, $610,000
2. Vekoma, 110, George Weaver, $747,600
3. Plus Que Parfait, 104, Brendan Walsh, $1,540,400
4. Roadster, 100, Bob Baffert, $636,000
5. By My Standards, 100, Bret Calhoun, $600,000
6. Maximum Security, 100, Jason Servis, $582,800
7. Game Winner, 85, Bob Baffert, $1,810,000
8. Code of Honor, 74, Shug McGaughey, $432,070
9. Haikal, 50, Kiaran McLaughlin, $247,500
10. War of Will, 60, Mark Casse, $440,840
11. Long Range Toddy, 53.5, Steve Asmussen, $830,000
12. Taxs, 52, Danny Gargan, $307,500
13. Cutting Humor, $50, Todd Pletcher, $462,467
14. Win Win Win, 50, Mike Trombetta, $462,467
15. Gray Magician, 41, Peter Miller, $526,000
16. Spinoff, 40, Todd Pletcher, $224,000
17. Bodexpress, 40, Gustavo Delgado, $188,000
18. Signalman, 38, Ken McPeek, $496,840
Japan Road to Kentucky Derby
19. Master Fencer, 19, Koichi Tsunoda $234,392
European Road to Kentucky Derby
20. Bye Bye Hong Kong, 30, Andrew Balding, $16,792