Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blue Grass Stakes Racing Roundup

©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This Saturday, with three marquee races on tap, the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” enters the stretch drive taking us to Kentucky, New York and California where winners of those three races will each receive 100 qualifying points and a guaranteed spot in Derby starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
At Keeneland Racecourse in Kentucky, Carpe Diem been tabbed as the even money morning-line favorite in the 91st running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1). Post Time is 6 p.m. ET. Television coverage of the race will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network from 5-7 p.m. ET.
Carpe Diem comes into this race for trainer Todd Pletcher with a 3-1-0 record in four starts including wins in the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) and the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Both of those races were won by open lengths and his five-length win in the Tampa Bay Derby was especially nice as he did that off of a four-month layoff.
In my 2015 Kentucky Derby Outlook top ten list, Carpe Diem was ranked eighth and he was one of the few two year olds, I thought, who could be competitive on the trail as a three year old. I’m looking forward to see how he will handle the stretch out to nine furlongs.
He’s the deserving favorite and I look for him to be competitive.
Ocho Ocho Ocho (6-1) is another young colt I wrote about in my 2015 Kentucky Derby Outlook and I’m looking forward to see if he can get into the Derby starting gate.
He comes into this race for trainer James Cassidy with a 3-0-0 record in four starts including wins in the Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes and the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3). However, Ocho Ocho Ocho’s three-year-old debut last month in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) was a disaster and he finished off the board in eighth-place.
When I look at that race, it appears that Ocho Ocho Ocho, and jockey Mike Smith, were caught off guard from the get go. Right out of the gate they were cut off when Dortmund moved in toward the rail and then they were steadied by The Gomper going into the first turn. Also, Ocho Ocho Ocho came into that race off of a four-month layoff and that may have been a factor.
Whatever the reason for his lackluster performance in the San Felipe, Ocho Ocho Ocho has the breeding to be competitive, and, I’ll be watching to see if he lives up to that breeding.
Unrivaled (12-1) has one of the best pedigrees in this herd of horses and He comes into this race for owner Team Valor International with a 2-2-1 record in six starts. His last two races at Parx Racing were blowouts but the final times very slow and he’ll need to improve his game if he’s going to secure the win.
 Danzig Moon (8-1) also has good breeding and he comes into this race with a 1-1-0 record in four starts for trainer Mark Casse. In his last, Danzig Moon crawled home to fourth-place in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and he, too, will need to improve his game considerably.
Finally, honorable mention goes to a couple of horses I liked in their last race. Classy Class (6-1) finished third in the Gotham Stakes (G3) and Gorgeous Bird (8-1) finished fifth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), and, if they can improve off of that performance, they could, perhaps, be a factor in this race.

The winner of the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) will receive 100 points, second-place finisher will receive 40 points, third-place finisher will get 20 points and fourth-place finisher will get 10 points.
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers


Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1. International Star, 171, Mike Maker, $940,979
2. Mubtaahij (IRE), 100, Mike de Kock, $1,400,000
3. Materiality, 100, Todd Pletcher, $632,028
4. Upstart, 76, Rick Violette Jr., $807,680
5. El Kabeir, 75, John Terranova II, $620,792
6. Dortmund, 70, Bob Baffert, $630,000
7. Carpe Diem, 64, Todd Pletcher, $870,000
8. American Pharoah, 60, Bob Baffert, $810,000
9. Itsaknockout, 60, Todd Pletcher, $288,560
10. Firing Line, 58, Simon Callaghan, $530,000
11. *Dubai Sky, 50, Bill Mott, $371,780
12. War Story, 44, Tom Amoss, $195,000
13. Maftool, 40, Saeed bin Suroor, $$630,595
14. Ami’s Flatter, 40, Josie Carroll, $195,200
15. Stanford, 40, Todd Pletcher, $151,400
16. Conquest Typhoon, 26, Mark Casse, $430,827
17. Far Right, 22, Ron Moquett, $385,906
18. Keen Ice, 22, Dale Romans, $136,520
19. Madefromlucky, 20, Todd Pletcher, $150,000
20. Prospect Park, 20, Cliff Sise, Jr., $80,000
20. *Tiz Shea D, 20, Bill Mott, $80,000
          * Late nominations to the Kentucky Derby.

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