© 2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This weekend, the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” enters into the stretch drive at Oaklawn Park where Tapiture heads a field nine young Thoroughbreds as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the 78th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). However, as of this writing, Dick Downey at the Downey Profile reported that trainer Donnie K. von Hemel would scratch Knock Em Flat from the Derby reducing the field to eight.
In six starts, Tapiture has never been out of the money and comes into the Derby for trainer Steve Asmussen with a 2-2-2 record which includes a first-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and the Southwest Stakes (G3). In his last race, Tapiture was a tough, half-length runner up to Hoppertunity in the Rebel Stakes (2).
No doubt, Tapiture is a talented young colt, and I look for him to be competitive in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Of all the horses entered in this race, Conquest Titan (10-1) is the one I’m interested in the most. He comes into the Arkansas Derby (G1) with a 2-1-0 record in seven starts for trainer Mark Casse. Despite his record, I’ve always liked the pedigree of Conquest Titan.
He was my long shot pick in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last October where he finished a dismal fifth and he was 13th (dead last) in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He showed some promise winning his last race of the season running a mile in 1:35.27 at Churchill Downs on November 30. Overall, as a two year old, Conquest Titan was disappointing.
In his debut as a three year old in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2), Conquest Titan finished second to Cairo Prince and he followed that with a fourth-place finish to Ring Weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
My blogging friend J.J. Hysell who writes about the young Thoroughbreds at her In The Money blog has always been keen on Conquest Titan and he tops her top ten list. And, I see that “The Commish” (Greg Johnson) at the Downey Profile also likes Conquest Titan in this race.
Conquest Titan is the best bred colt in this race and his Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile™ is 320.63 making him one of the best bred horses on the Derby Trail. The Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile™ is a tool I use to measure potential and it does not take into account other factors such as the horse’s will to win. Another thing to keep in mind is that horses, for many different reasons, sometimes fail to live up to their potential.
It remains to be seen as to whether Conquest Titan will live up to his breeding. However, if Conquest Titan wins the Arkansas Derby (G1), as a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd, he could be very dangerous on the first Saturday in May.
A bullet work out at Churchill Downs could have Conquest Titan ready to run a good race.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert ships Bayern (2-1) in from California in an effort to earn 100 qualifying points and a spot in the Derby starting gate for owner Kaleem Shah Inc.
The Arkansas Derby (G1) will be the first serious class test for Bayern who’s undefeated in two starts by a combined winning margin of 18¼-lengths. Baffert has used this spot before to test his horses. In 2012, he sent Bodemeister to the starting gate with a 1-2-0 record in three starts and he romped across the finish line, a winner by 9½-lengths. Bodemeister went on to finish second to I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
Bayern has been impressive in his previous two starts but, it remains to be seen if he is a good a horse as Bodemeister was coming into this race. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens rode Bayern in his previous two starts and he retains the mount in this race.
A recent bullet work could have Bayern ready to run a good race and I look for him to be competitive.
Honorable mention goes to Strong Mandate (9-2) and Ride On Curlin who filled out the exotics in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and they could be a factor in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
The winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) will receive 100 points while second-place will yield 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 20 list:
2014 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. California Chrome, 150, Art Sherman, $782,250
2. Vicar’s In Trouble, 120, Mike Maker, $760,000
3. Wicked Strong, 102, Jimmy Jerkens, $640,000
4. Samraat, 100, Rick Violette, Jr., $650,000
5. Constitution, 100, Todd Pletcher, $600,000
6. Hoppertunity, 95, Bob Baffert, $576,000
7. Intense Holiday, 93, Todd Pletcher, $527,500
8. Wildcat Red, 90, Jose Garrofalo, $665,000
9. We Miss Artie, 60, Todd Pletcher, $544,000
10. Chitu, 54, Bob Baffert, $440,000
11. Midnight Hawk, 52, Bob Baffert, $320,000
12. Ring Weekend, 50, Graham Motion, $260,000
13. Tapiture, 42, Steve Asmussen, $420,738
14. General A Rod, 40, Mike Maker, $240,000
15. Albano, 34, Larry Jones, $190,000
16. Candy Boy, 30, John Sadler, $380,000
17. Cairo Prince, 24, Kiaran McGlaughlin, $520,000
18. Uncle Sigh, 24, Gary Contessa, $150,000
19. Vinceremos, 20, Todd Pletcher, $190,000
20. Harry’s Holiday, 20, Mike Maker, $150,596