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:


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.


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

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