Kentucky Derby 2019 Blog: Champagne, Breeders’ Futurity Recap

Complexity takes over the second spot on my Kentucky Derby 2019 contenders list after a stellar front running victory in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, Oct. 6. Chad Brown’s fleet colt was strong throughout in the Champagne, and he will try to stretch his speed around two turns in the BC Juvenile.

The other points race on Oct. 6 was the Breeders’ Futurity from Keeneland, and Knicks Go pulled off a front running stunner. It sure did not seem like this two turn event at Keeneland was a strong race.

Kentucky Derby 2019 Point Race Recaps

Grade 1 Champagne Stakes Recap (10-6-18) – Winner: Complexity

This race was over early after Complexity sped away through rapid splits of 22.51 and 45.31. Chad Brown’s fleet colt opened up by 2-1/2 lengths after six panels in 1:09.40, and he was clear by a commanding five lengths in the stretch. He ended up winning by a very comfortable three lengths over a troubled Code of Honor. The latter figured to be forwardly placed, but those plans went out the window after he stumbled badly at the start. He made a sustained run to finish a clear second in a very good effort considering the circumstances. Call Paul edged Aurelius Maximus by a nose for 3rd, and was followed by Trophy Chaser, a very disappointing Endorsed, Casa Creed, Listing, Successful Zip, and Achilles Warrior. As for the Today’s Racing Digest numbers, he earned a preliminary 170 Pace Rating (very strong number), and a 141 Final Rating.

Complexity Horse Racing Past Performances

Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes Recap (10-6-18) – Winner: Knicks Go

Knicks Go grabbed an uncontested lead and kept on finding in a $142 shocker. I do not know where that effort came from, and he figures to impact the pace in the BC Juvenile next month at Churchill Downs. Signalman did not have the smoothest journey from the inside post, but he was able to hold off Standard Deviation for the place. The latter raced wide throughout from post 13 and rallied from 11th place in a solid effort for trainer Chad Brown. Sombeyay finished an even 4th and has distance limitations. Derby Date was an okay 5th from post 12 for D. Wayne Lukas. The order of finish was complete by Mr. Ankeny, Fluminese, Everfast, Tobacco Road, Moonster, Borracho, post time favorite Dream Maker, and Unionizer. Mind Control may have been the big winner in this one. The G1 Hopeful hero was the morning line favorite, but scratched after coming down with a temperature. He will live to fight another day, and you have to think that he would have been a major pace player in this event. The early Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating seems a bit inflated for this affair. The winner received a 140 Pace Rating and 146 Final Rating.

Knicks Go Horse Racing Past Performances

Endorsed drops five spots following a very disappointing run in the G1 Champagne. Game Winner takes over the top spot, and Champagne 1-2 finishers Complexity and Code of Honor move up the ladder as well. Multiple horses from my list have been removed due to inactivity, and have been replaced by some impressive recent maiden winners, along with Florida Sire In Reality hero Well Defined.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven" Kentucky Derby 2019 Contenders

(1) GAME WINNER (Candy Ride – Indyan Giving, by A. P. Indy)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Gary and Mary West)

Latest Workout: 4f in 47.20 (2/49) at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 12.

Comments: Easily captured both of his Del Mar starts in a 16-day span, including a sharp score in the G1 Del Mar Futurity. He had better race spacing in the G1 American Pharaoh, and he easily passed that two turn test at Santa Anita Park on Sept. 29. He got back on the work tab Oct. 12 and is the early favorite for the BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs next month.

Derby Points (10)

Game Winner Horse Racing Past Performances

(2) COMPLEXITY (Maclean’s Music – Goldfield, by Yes It’s True)
Trainer (Chad Brown) – Owner (Klaravich Stables, Inc.)

Comments: Was much the best in his six furlong debut at Saratoga Sept. 3. The $375k purchase rolled straight to the lead after breaking a step slow, and he steadily increased his winning margin while under a hand ride. Jose Ortiz rode him back in the G1 Champagne Oct. 6 (one turn mile), and he ran his rivals off their feet in an impressive display of speed. There is not doubt that he is fast and talented, but I am not sure he wants to go beyond a mile and a sixteenth. He looks like a strong pace player in the BC Juvenile.

Derby Points (10)

(3) CODE OF HONOR (Noble Mission, Reunited, by Dixie Union)
Trainer (Shug McGaughey) – Owner (William S. Farish)

Comments: Showed good speed right out of the box in his front running debut win at Saratoga Aug. 18. He made his second career start in the Champagne, and he ran a big race after stumbling badly at the start. He made a sustained run from 10th and last and rallied five-wide in the stretch while clearly second best. He has plenty of upside for Derby-winning trainer Shug McGaughey.

Derby Points (4)

Code Of Honor Horse Racing Past Performances

(4) GUNMETAL GRAY (Exchange Rate – Classofsixtythree, by Include)
Trainer (Jerry Hollendorfer) – Owner (West Point Thoroughbreds and Jerry Hollendorfer)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.60 (43/67) at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 7.

Comments: Ended up 5th behind highly regarded Baffert runner Roadster in his debut, and that learning experience paid dividends second time out. In his second start at one mile, he stalked, pounced, and won by 6+ lengths under Drayden Van Dyke at Del Mar Aug. 22. He resurfaced in the American Pharaoh Stakes, and he caught his stablemate Rowayton for the place.

Derby Points (4)

(5) WELL DEFINED (With Distinction – Fru Fru, by Medaglia d’Oro)
Trainer (Kathleen O’Connell) – Owner (Stonehedge, LLC)

Comments: Two wins, a 2nd, and a 3rd in four starts at Gulfstream Park. The race that really stands out is the Florida Sire In Reality Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth. In that event, he controlled the pace and pulled clear to win by 7+ lengths, and runner-up Garter and Tie was more than fourteen lengths ahead of the rest. This one is shooting for the BC Juvenile, and he figures to spend the winter in Florida after that.

(6) ENDORSED (Medaglia d’Oro – Dance Card, by Tapit)
Trainer (Kiaran McLaughlin) – Owner (Godolphin, LLC)

Comments: He broke slow, raced inside, moved out, and surged late to win by a neck in his winning Saratoga bow six furlongs (137 Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating). He drew the rail in the G1 Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 6, and he sat inside behind strong fractions in midpack before working his way up to 2nd in the stretch. He weakened in the final furlong to finish a disappointing 6th. Based on his strong connections, pedigree, and sharp debut, it is too early to give up on him, but his Champagne effort was not pretty. He is bred to excel over a route of ground, and we may see a much better effort around two turns in the near future.

(7) TALE OF THE UNION (Union Rags – Tanglewood Tale, by Tale of the Cat)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Michael Lund Petersen)

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.60 (1/4) at Santa Anita Park on Sept. 18.

Comments: His 5.5f debut at Del Mar on Aug. 26 was strong. He dueled, put away eventual runner-up Stubbins, and rolled to a 6+ length victory under Drayden Van Dyke. He has not worked since Sept. 18.

(8) MUCHO (Blame – Extent, by Pulpit)
Trainer (Bill Mott) – Owner (Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider)

Comments: Followed up an okay 2nd in his June 10 debut at Belmont Park with a runaway maiden victory at Saratoga Aug 4. He was the strong favorite in the G1 Hopeful on closing day at the Spa, but he was unable to catch Mind Control while clearly second best (129 Final Rating). He figures to enjoy the two turn game and is definitely worth following.

(9) U S NAVY CROSS (Curlin – Honor Bestowed, by Honor Grades)
Trainer (Chad Brown) – Owner (Allen Stable, Inc. and Peter M. Brant)

Comments: Nice winning debut at seven panels on Sept. 29. In that maiden special weight affair at Belmont Park, he bided his time in 6th place before producing a nice turn of foot to prevail by a bit more than a length as the betting favorite under Jose Ortiz. Jonathan Thomas first timer Till Then set the pace and was clearly second best. This was a professional effort at a tricky debut distance, and this one has plenty of upside for quality connections.

(10) KING FOR A DAY (Uncle Mo – Ubetwereven, by French Deputy)
Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Red Oak Stable)

Comments: Had a wide, troubled trip when checking in 3rd behind Complexity in his six furlong debut at Saratoga Sept. 18. He got a chance to stretch his legs at a mile and a sixteenth at Belmont second time out, and he set a pressured pace and kept on going in a 2-1/4 length tally on Oct. 4. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers (Felix the Fox, Kentucky Wildcat, Tacitus) could end up being decent runners as well.

(11) FORTIN HILL (Mucho Macho Man – Dusty Rose, by Cherokee Run)
Trainer (Chad Brown) – Owner (OXO Equine LLC)

Comments: One of a handful of newcomers to my list, the $575k purchase made a sparkling debut on Oct. 12 at Belmont Park. The first timer broke smoothly from the outside post under Irad Ortiz Jr. He tracked the pace outside, took over, and rolled home by 5+ lengths.

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mind Control, (13) Instagrand, (14) Roadster, (15) Ahead of Plan, (16) Principled, (17) Felix the Fox, (18) Kentucky Wildcat, (19) Tacitus, (20) Vekoma