DERBY TOP QUALIFIERS...INTRODUCTORY PROS AND CONS

DERBY DOINGS 2016
VOL. 16 - NUMBER 6
Friday 4/22/16

DERBY TOP QUALIFIERS...INTRODUCTORY PROS AND CONS (Part 1)

With 15 days until the 2016 Kentucky Derby (May 7, Churchill Downs) it is time to gear up DERBY DOINGS and we'll start today with Part 1 of the "CLIFF NOTES" version of our Top Qualifier Outline.

Saturday's edition will publish the remaining 10 on the Top List as well as the also eligible and subsequent editions of DERBY DOINGS will go into much more detail and will be published on a regular basis...every other day is the plan.

So let's begin by producing a brief PROS and CONS segment for each of the current TOP 10 OF THE TOP 20 POINTS QUALIFIERS in order of amassed points.

GUN RUNNER
PROS - Knows how to win with 4 victories from 5 career starts. More than well-bred for the distance as a son of Candy Ride (tactical distance speed) out of a Giant's Causeway mare (foundation and classic distance. Has been working well at CD since early April. Has improved his speed number in very race for trainer Steve Asmussen.
CONS - Tactical speed horses exiting the Fair Grounds prep cycle have been a liability in recent years and the colt will have a 6 week break between the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby.

NYQUIST
PROS
- Has not had a hiccup yet in his undefeated career. Hails from the I'll Have Another (2012 Derby Winner) connections (trainer Doug O'Neill/jockey Mario Gutierrez.) Running style indicates he should continue his speed a distance of ground and has shown he can come off the pace if necessary. One of the contingency of Southern California based 3-year olds that have been dominant in recent years.
CONS - Despite the success as a young sire there are still questions as to Uncle Mo's ability to get a classic distance progeny. The Grand sire and Dam Sire are both mile speed runners. Of late (although it may be by design) his works have been much slower over the CD surface than they were at SA.

EXAGGERATOR
PROS
- His Santa Anita sweep-to-victory win the Derby was eye catching. He is coming to hand at the right time for trainer/jockey combo Keith & Kent Desormeaux. A son of Curlin, like many of that sire's progeny, he has gotten better with racing. No contender in the projected field has come close to duplicating his 4 straight triple digit BRIS Speed Numbers and he has shown an ability to stalk the paced or rally from well off it.
CONS - Has to show that the success he has had on an off race track (3-2-1-0) can be repeated on a fast dirt track (6-2-1-1.)

OUTWORK
PROS
- Another of the sons of rapidly impressing young sire Uncle Mo. He has come to hand quickly for trainer Todd Pletcher and has shown resilient tactical speed, especially when he dug in the win the Wood Memorial in his final prep. Dam sire Empire Maker provides plenty of foundation and distance blood.
CONS - Is lightly raced, with only 4 career starts and will have plenty of speed competition early in the Derby. Had an easy lead vs Destin in the Tampa bay derby and could not hold that one at bay and in the Wood...which has not produced much in recent Derbies...was all out to beat the maiden Southern California shipper Trojan Nation. Still has much to prover.

BRODY'S CAUSE
PROS
- Has won over the surface as a juvenile and put it all together in winning the Blue Grass with a well-timed rally to draw clear. Was a sharp closing third behind Nyquist in the BC Juvenile in his 2-year old finale and the Blue Grass dismissed his poor Tampa bay performance.
CONS - His overall speed figures don't come close to meeting the best in here (he has never reached triple digits) and his style of running from well off the pace has never wavered, which means he'll need the perfect trip...something that few closers get in the Derby.

CREATOR
PROS
- Through his hat in the ring big time by upsetting the field in the Arkansas Derby with a determined stretch long drive. The son of leading sire Tapit not only gets that one's distance excellence but the dam Privately Held won at an average distance in her career of 8 ½ furlongs which means classic distance is strong on both sides. Trainer Steve Asmussen looks for a repeat of Curlin's late development to win the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
CONS - The colt needed 6 tries to break his maiden and though he has won 2 of his last 3 they have all been at Oaklawn. In addition, it has been speed runners and stalkers such as Danza, Bodemeister and Super Saver who gone on from the Arkansas Derby to perform well in Louisville while closer such as Overanalyze and Archarcharch have not fared well the first Saturday in May.

LANI
PROS
- Was on the wise guy list even before his convincing UAW Derby win. His breeding is of course Kentucky Derby-centric, being a sun of Tapit out of a winning Sunday Silence mare. The female line has been the bellwether of recent Derby success, not just winners but those who place and this colt has a dam line that averaged a n 8 ½ furlong average winning distance.
CONS - There have not been many, but the significantly successful Desert winners that have tried the Derby, most recently the well-enough-regarded Mubtaahij (8th last year) have not fared well.

MOR SPIRIT
PROS
- The ultra-consistent colt has never been worse than second in his 7 race career with 3 wins and 4 placings. The Bob Baffert trained son of Eskendereya has the kind of tactical speed and stretch staying power that has served him well in his last 5 races...all Graded Stakes. He beat Exaggerator in the San Felipe and was second to that one in the Santa Anita derby so measures well in the Southern California hierarchy.
CONS - His female line is a bit short on stamina and in both the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby he ran on but made up no ground or gave ground through the lane so 10 furlongs is a meaningful question mark.

MOHAYMEN
PROS
- Was almost invincible as he began his career with 5 straight victories, including dominant wins in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct to conclude his juvenile campaign and in the Grade 2 Holy Bull and Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream to begin his 3-year old campaign. Another son of the brilliant sire Tapit he has a stalking style that serves well in the Kentucky Derby and his sharp works since failing in the Florida derby indicate he is on his toes.
CONS - Like Mor Spirit, his female line is short on distance and stamina (out of the Dixie Union mare Justwhistledixie...average win distance less than 7 furlongs) his late fade at 9 furlongs in the Florida Derby might indicated difficulty getting 10 panels.

DANZING CANDY
PROS
- He has displayed brilliant speed in winning three straight, including a 7 furlong MSW triumph, one mile allowance win and a wire-to-wire dominance in the mile and a sixteenth Grade 2 San Felipe, indicating that he would stretch out that speed. He showed that good speed again in the Santa Anita Derby in his final prep but weakened late and backed up in the lane...although it was his first off-track try.
CONS - While his Southern California roots might be a positive it is worth considering that his failure in the Santa Anita Derby was not just due to the slop but a product of speed breeding that has both his sire Twirling candy and dam sire Songandaprayer having average winning distances of well less than 7 furlongs. No duel breeding lines of less than 7 furlongs have come close in the Derby in recent history.

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DERBY TOP QUALIFIERS...INTRODUCTORY PROS AND CONS (Part 2)

With 13 days until the 2016 Kentucky Derby (May 7, Churchill Downs) it is time to gear up DERBY DOINGS and we'll start today with Part 2 of the "CLIFF NOTES" version of our Top Qualifier Outline.

In today's edition we publish numbers 11 through 20 of the current Top Qualifiers' List. In subsequent editions of DERBY DOINGS will go into much more detail and will be publishing on a regular basis…every other day is the plan.

So let's finish the "CLIFF NOTES" by producing a brief PROS and CONS segment for each of the current SECOND 10 OF THE TOP 20 POINTS QUALIFIERS in order of amassed points.

DESTIN
PROS - The Todd Pletcher trained son of Giants Causeway has plenty of stamina and class from his sire line. The colt has come to hand very nicely with victories in both the Grade 3 Sam F Davis and Grade 2 Tampa bay derby in his final two preps. The colt has also shown the kind of stalking power that is helpful in gaining position in a crowded Derby field. Also in his favor is the decision by Javier Castellano to ride here rather than Majesto, who the jockey piloted to a good second behind Nyquist in the Florida Derby.
CONS - It will be 56 days since his last race in the Tampa Bay Derby and that race has not been a great bell weather for Kentucky Derby success in recent memory. It is also problematic that he has never been tested at further than 8 ½ furlongs and that the average winning distance of his dam side is just 6.4 furlongs…in an age when female distance has become as important if not more so than male.

SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS
PROS
- The late closing son of Mineshaft (A.P. Indy) out of the Afleet Alex mare Uchitel has more than enough Triple Crown success lineage flowing through his bloodlines. His consistency (3 wins and 2 seconds from 8 starts with his lone off-the-board performance trip troubled) gives his connections and supporters much optimism. With a clean trip from the back of the pack he is expected to come calling at some point.
CONS - His trainer has won only 2 of 36 career graded stakes races. In addition, those 3-year olds who ran well on the Oaklawn prep series but did so from off the pace have not factored in the Kentucky Derby (see the next edition of DERBY DOINGS)

OSCAR NOMINATED
PROS - The Mike Maker trained son of Kitten's Joy got the trainer and the Ramsey's what they wanted…a Derby runner…wanted enough to supplement him after he won the Spiral Stakes in his last and garnered the necessary qualifying points. Out of the Theatrical mare Divine Actress the colt brings a 9.1 furlong winning average from his female line so there is no question he is bred to run 10 panels. He has turned in a pair of solid breezes over the CD training track since the Spiral so at least indicates he can handle traditional dirt…and interestingly the last Spiral winner to go from that race ro capture the derby was Animal Kingdom, who like Oscar Nominated ran on turf prior to the Spiral
CONS - Among the leading candidates for Derby prospects his speed numbers are well below the average of winners and even those that have placed. In fact his 91 BRIS speed number in winning the Spiral is the highest of his career whereas 10 of the top 20 qualifiers have one or more Triple Digit BRIS numbers on their resume.

SHAGAF
(PROS) - The son of Bernardini is out of an Unbridled's Song mare so is bred well enough to get the distance. If you forgive gis bad trip in the Wood memorial an concentrate on the first three races of his career, all wins that included the Grade 3 Gotham prior to the Wood troubles he appeared to make progress in each. Trainer Chad Brown, usually very conservative and not given to hyperbole has been very vocal in how well the colt has trained, including a good half mile breeze over the CD surface Sunday morning.
CONS - Like a number of the lightly raced runners…only 4 career starts, his speed numbers have not matched the better half of qualifiers. It is also noteworthy that it has been since 2003 and Funny Cide since a Woof Memorial runner has shown well in the Derby and in recent years only one of 10 runners have managed a 4th place finish

WHITMORE
PROS
- Another of the consistent performers that hails from the Oaklawn Park derby Prep series the Ron Moquett trained son of Pleasantly Perfect was second in the Southwest, second in the Rebel and third in the Rebel with a determined late run in each. His only off the board performance in a six race career was over a muddy surface at Delta Downs in the Delta jackpot last fall.
CONS - Trainer Moquett is only 2 for 44 with Graded Stakes starters. Also, as mentioned above regarding Suddenbreakingnews, confirmed closers exiting the Oaklawn circuit have not fared well in the Kentucky derby and Jose Ortiz, who rode him in his last two has chosen to remain with Blue Grass Stakes runner up My Man Sam.

TOM'S READY
PROS
- Solid tracking trip in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in his final prep yielded a strong close for runner up honors. Prior to a rough trip two back in the Grade 2 Risen Star he ran a similar tracking and rally for third in the Grade 3 LeComte at Fair Grounds. The son of More Than Ready has good mile speed and gets stamina from his Broad Brush mare plus broke his maiden and ran second in a stakes at CD as a juvenile and has turned in 3 solid breezes over the CD surface since the Louisiana Derby. It must also be mentioned that it was trainer Dallas Stewart who had longshots Commanding Curve in 2014 an Golden Soul in 2013 each run second in the Derby after tracking and rallying for placing in the Louisiana Derby.
CONS - While he has had success with the above-mentioned longshots, Stewart is only at 6% overall with a sizable sample of Graded Stakes tries and the 99 BRISS number in the LAD is the only one above 91 in a 9 race career and the colt is still eligible for non-winners of two lifetime

MY MAN SAM
PROS
- The second of the Chad Brown entries the colt began his career with a trio of races over the Inner Dirt track at Aqueduct and then stepped up big time in rallying for second in the Grade 2 Blue grass in his first career stakes try. He continued on well despite being fanned very wide in the lane at Keeneland and has improved with added distance. Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. who has won at a 22% clip and has been in the money on 61% of his mounts from over 400 rides chooses to remain here.
CONS - Despite his improvement in the 9 furlong Blue grass the colt is a son of Trapp Shot who was a confirmed sprinter and whose progeny have an average winning distance of only 6.6 furlongs and along with Danzing Candy is the only sire average under 7 furlongs.

MAJESTO
PROS
- The Gustavo Delgado trained son of Tiznow took a big step forward when flattered by his strong second behind Nyquist in the Florida derby. The colt has come to hand nicely in his last two races and has continued to work forwardly at his home base of Gulfstream West (previously known as Calder.) Bred on both sides to likely get the extra furlong…out of the Unaccounted For mare Unacloud…he settled nicely in the Florida Derby and kicked on late.
CONS - The place run in his final prep was his first since he broke his maiden in career start number five, making him still eligible for non-winners of two lifetime. And his trainer is not a regular on the Derby trail and has won only 7% of his Graded Stakes tries.

TROJAN NATION
PROS
- Though still a maiden, trainer Patrick Gallagher thought enough to ship him east for his first race outside Southern California and he almost pulled off the upset of the year when he made a resolute rail rally in the Grade 1 Wood memorial and lost by a head at 81-1. Despite still a maiden after 6 tries the son of Street Cry out of the Summer Squall mare Storm Song has improved with added distance and should gt even better with the extra furlong and he has continued to train well at his SA base both before and after the Wood.
CONS - As romantic as it might seem tp speculate that he could, a maiden in the Kentucky derby is not the kind of possibility one should consider an investment strength. The colt will also be making a second trip back and forth from the west coast in less than a month and that is often tough on young horses. Plus as noted, the Wood has not exactly been a springboard for derby success in recent years and his (& BRIS speed number in the Wood was his first ever above 87.

MO TOM
PROS
- The Mike Maker trained son of the rapidly impressing young sire Uncle Mo was lucky to get just enough points to be the last qualifier…and maybe that means his race luck will change as well. The colt has been all but stood up when bad stretch runs have compromised what looked like winning ruins in both the Grade 2 Risen Star and grade 2 Louisianan Derby in his last pair. As mentioned with Tom's Ready above, closers of his type have run well in the Derby exiting the Fair Grounds prep circuit and this one also ran well at CD as a Juvenile, winning the Street sense Stakes and running a close third in the Grade 2 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes and has two sharp half mile breezes over the surface since the LAD.
CONS - Horses that continue to find trouble and are closers have much to overcome negotiating the huge pack that runs in the Derby. Corey Lanerie, who has a great spring but was aboard Mo Tom and responsible for both questionable rides retains the mount and one has to wonder if he will be pressured at decision time.
Make certain to check back Tuesday as we discuss how the running style (pace setters, pressers, stalkers, trackers, closers) has historically played into Kentucky Derby success depending on what circuits and what final preps these contenders exit. 

 

 

 

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