Kentucky Oaks Report for April 5
Kentucky Derby 2020 Report (4-10-20)
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Kentucky Derby 2020 will no longer be run on the first Saturday in May. The new date for the Derby is Saturday, Sept. 5. More points races will be added to the schedule in the near future. Let’s recap the Florida Derby and preview the Oaklawn Stakes.
The next big race for the sophomore set is the $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes at a mile and an eighth on Saturday, April 11. The top three finishers will receive automatic berths into the rescheduled Arkansas Derby (May 2). A baker’s dozen will line up, and the pace should be honest with Basin, Sir Rick, Taishan, and Gold Street vying for early position.
Bob Baffert always seems to have a live California shipper in these big Oaklawn Park sophomore routes, and this race is no exception. His $1 million purchase Thousand Words is the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Thousand Words lost for the first time in the San Felipe Stakes (G2), and he used up too much early energy chasing his talented stablemate Authentic that day. He figures to be patiently handled on Saturday under his new rider Joe Talamo.
Farmington Road adds blinkers for Todd Pletcher. He exits an encouraging 4th in the first division of the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, and he raced wide throughout from an outer post in that event. Martin Garcia takes the call and he might be the value play if the 6-1 morning line holds up.
Steve Asmussen has three runners (Basin, Shoplifted, Gold Street), and Basin might be the most interesting of the three. The son of Liam’s Map can move forward in his second start after a long layoff, but there is a good chance that he is better around one turn.
Kentucky Derby 2020 Points Race Recaps
Florida Derby (G1) Recap (3-28-20) – Winner: Tiz the Law ($4.80)
Shivaree, the longest shot on the board at 80-1, took advantage of his inner draw and dueled with Ete Indien from the outset. Those two battled hard throughout, and Tiz the Law was perched in a perfect stalking spot outside. The latter took over in the stretch and cruised to a very easy 4-1/4 length victory under Manny Franco. Shivaree came again to secure the place over Ete Indien, and Gouverneur Morris was slowly gaining on those two while well clear of the rest in 4th. Independence Hall found a mile and an eighth out of reach in a disappointing 5th place finish, and he was 11+ clear of Candy Tycoon. My First Grammy was next, followed by As Seen On Tv and Rogue Element. Forwardly placed runners dominated this event, and Gouverneur Morris was the only runner making up any ground in the stretch. Tiz the Law was clearly best and always puts himself in a favorable spot with his tactical speed. Independence Hall will get a break and target one turn races when he returns to action.
Hot Prospects: Dr Post
Dr Post went to the sidelines after finishing 4th in his career debut at Belmont Park on 7-4-19. He resurfaced in an extended sprint on dirt at Gulfstream Park on March 29, and he stalked the pace from post 12 and drew clear in the stretch for John Velazquez and Todd Pletcher. The later Derby date puts many promising, lightly raced 3-year-olds back in the frame.
Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2020 Contenders (4-10-20)
(1) HONOR A. P. (Honor Code – Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush) – Previous Ranking (#2)
Trainer (John Shirreffs) – Owner (C R K Stable LLC)
Latest Workout: 4f in 49.00 (26/69) at Santa Anita Park April 5.
Comments: He was definitely one of the big winners when the Derby was moved to September. He was a facile two turn maiden winner second time out, and had a minor setback after that, which forced him to miss the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park Jan. 4. The $850k purchase got back on the worktab at the Great Race Place Jan. 20, and finally made his stakes debut in the San Felipe (G2). His effort was rock solid and John Shirreffs has to be encouraged. The San Felipe was his first start in more than four months, and he stalked outside and was clearly second best in the deepest Derby prep of the year. He finished in front of BC Juvenile hero Storm the Court and 2-time graded winner Thousand Words, and both of those runners had preps this year and should have been fitter than the Shirreffs trainee. I like his running style versatility and there is nothing but upside here. I am expecting him to get better as the year progresses. He was targeting the SA Derby (G1), but that race is in limbo because Santa Anita is temporarily shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is no rush at this stage. He could wait and see if the SA Derby will be rescheduled, or he could ship to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby on the first Saturday in May.
Derby Points (20)
(2) CHARLATAN (Speightstown, by Authenticity, by Quiet American) – Previous Ranking (#3)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (SF Racing, Starlight, Madaket, Stonestreet, Golcanda Stables)
Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12.60 (2/8) at Santa Anita Park April 5.
Comments: He is clearly one of the big winners of the later Derby date. He easily won both starts this year and ran fast throughout in each race. Now they can take their time and patiently choose the right stakes path for this talented colt. He has speed but showed that he could relax on the lead over a route of ground at Santa Anita March 14. The sky is the limit for this one. The biggest question at this stage is how far he wants to go against top company. He might ship to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby if Santa Anita does not resume live racing in the coming weeks.
(3) NADAL (Blame – Ascending Angel, by Pulpit) – Previous Ranking (#4)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Stronach Stables)
Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:11.60 (1/8) at Santa Anita Park April 5.
Comments: I was happy to see him pass his graded route test in the Rebel Stakes (G2). He gamely captured his first two dirt sprints including the San Vicente (G2), and he had to run hard throughout in the Rebel. He ran huge at Oaklawn Park. He faced pace pressure throughout and showed real determination in his first start around two turns. He proved that he could ship and win, and he handled a wet track as well. He is now 3-for-3, and the unraced 2-year-old has accomplished much in a very short time. He might return to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby.
Derby Points (50)
(4) MAXFIELD (Street Sense – Velvety, by Bernardini) – Previous Ranking (#5)
Trainer (Brendan P. Walsh) – Owner (Godolphin, LLC)
Latest Workout: 4f in 49.20 (12/47) at Keeneland April 10.
Comments: He almost certainly was not going to make the Derby on the first Saturday in May. The first Saturday in September is a much more realistic target, and he is suddenly back in the Derby chase. He broke slow and rallied strongly to capture both of his 2019 starts from off the pace including the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. He was supposed to run in the BC Juvenile (G1), but an untimely leg injury forced him to scratch. He had surgery to remove an ankle chip on Nov. 18 and started galloping again earlier this year. He returned to the worktab Feb. 17 and is no longer on a tight schedule. He recently left Florida and had his first move in Kentucky on April 10. They have plenty of time to map out his sophomore campaign.
Derby Points (10)
(5) AUTHENTIC (Into Mischief – Flawless, by Mr. Greeley) – Previous Ranking (#6)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stable)
Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12.40 (1/4) at Santa Anita Park March 29.
Comments: He was up on the pace and cruised in all three of his starts as the favorite. He easily beat subsequent El Camino Real Derby hero Azul Coast in the Sham Stakes (G3) Jan. 4, but was all over the place in the stretch. That erratic run second time out had everything to do with lack of experience. He wore ear plugs and was much more professional in the San Felipe (G2). The $350k purchase loves to get into the race early, and he crushed his foes with speed in his first three starts. Look how he discouraged his stablemate Thousand Words in the San Felipe. That one showed heart in his three wins but Authentic’s speed overwhelmed him on March 7. He was targeting the SA Derby but his plans are up in the air now, just like almost every other sophomore in the country. I am concerned that he will not helped by the later Derby. He appears to be peaking now, and they are going to back off and take their time with him.
Derby Points (60)
(6) TIZ THE LAW (Constitution – Tizfiz, by Tiznow) – Previous Ranking (#7)
Trainer (Barclay Tagg) – Owner (Sackatoga Stable)
Comments: The later Derby date might hurt this one the most. He would have been one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby if it was run on the first Saturday in May, but the coronavirus pandemic has turned everything upside down. He could not have been more impressive in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby. He stalked the pace and took over in the stretch in both of those races, and now he has nothing to target after a very strong winter at Gulfstream Park. I had him ranked higher earlier this year, but started dropping him a bit after the Sept. 5 Derby date was announced. He is clearly peaking now.
Derby Points (122)
(7) THOUSAND WORDS (Pioneerof the Nile – Pomeroys Pistol, by Pomeroy) – Previous Ranking (#9)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable & Spendthrift Farm)
Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.40 (1/12) at Santa Anita April 4.
Comments: His below par effort in the San Felipe (G2) is much less of a big deal now that the Derby won’t be run until Sept. 5. Remember, they paid a $1 million for this one, and he is a lightly raced 2-time graded winner. I am nowhere near ready to give up on him. Before the San Felipe, he was a versatile street fighter with a nose for the wire. He is the 5-2 favorite for the Oaklawn Stakes April 11, and should have every opportunity to return to sharp form. Bob Baffert always seems to have his 3-year-olds ready to roll at Oaklawn Park.
Derby Points (25)
(8) GOUVERNEUR MORRIS (Constitution – Addison Run, by Unbridled’s Song) – Previous Ranking (#1)
Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Team Valor International & WinStar Farm LLC)
Comments: Both of his juvenile races were good including a runner-up finish from the outside post in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). His winning two turn optional claiming return at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 14 was solid, and after Keeneland scrapped their spring meet because of the coronavirus pandemic, he was rerouted to the Florida Derby (G1). He stalked the pace and ended up an okay 4th. He was grinding away in the stretch and was slowly gaining on the 2-3 finishers. The Gulfstream main track was speed favoring and he was the only one finishing. He definitely has ability but is not quite up to the top players in this division at this stage. At least the Derby is more than four months away, and I have not completely give up on him. Does he really want to go a mile and an eighth or beyond? The jury is still out. He is possible for the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on May 2.
Derby Points (14)
(9) EIGHT RINGS (Empire Maker – Purely Hot, by Pure Prize) – – Previous Ranking (#20)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables)
Latest Workout: 7f in 1:27.80 (1/2) at Santa Anita Park April 4.
Comments: Original “exceptional 11” member is back on the list. He looked like the real deal dusting sharp next-out winner Express Train in his 5.5f debut at DMR Aug. 4. The Del Mar Futurity (G1) should have been a stroll in the park, but he ducked in sharply while bumping into Storm the Court, and both tossed their riders. He returned with a vengeance in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) Sept. 28. In that event, he went straight to the front and was never seriously threatened in an easy two turn victory. He failed to put his best foot forward in the BC Juvenile (G1), and it looked like he would not make it back in time for the Derby. Now that the Derby has been moved from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday is September, he is back in the running. He has been working fast in his eight moves this year between Feb. 13 and April 4.
Derby Points (10)
(10) MAX PLAYER (Honor Code – Fools in Love, by Not for Love) Previous Ranking (#14)
Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (George E. Hall)
Latest Workout: 6f in 1:16.44 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on April 1.
Comments: The later Derby date really helps this one. He was 2nd in his Parx debut at one mile last fall, and finished up his juvenile campaign with a nice maiden victory at that same venue and distance. He made his stakes debut in the Withers (G3) at a mile and an eighth at the Big A Feb. 1, and he raced wide throughout and came running down the stretch to score by a rather easy 3-1/4 lengths. He set his sights on the Wood Memorial (G2) after that, but that race has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. He appears to have plenty of stamina and room to develop, and we will see if he can step up and get faster as the year progresses.
Derby Points (10)
(11) FARMINGTON ROAD (Quality Road – Silver La Belle, by Langfuhr) – Previous Ranking (unranked)
Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Chrysalis Stables, Robert LaPenta)
Latest Workout: 4f in 49.94 (12/21) at Palm Beach Downs on April 3.
Comments: Has been steadily improving as distances increase. He graduated around two turns in his third career start at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 12, and was a wide 4th from an outer post in the first division of the Risen Star (G2) at nine furlongs on Feb. 15. He stayed on nicely at Fair Grounds last time, and will add blinkers for the Oaklawn Stakes April 11. He figures to get better as the year progresses.
Derby Points (5)
THE NEXT NINE: (12) Wells Bayou, (13) Modernist, (14) Anneau d’Or, (15) Ete Indien, (16) Sole Volante, (17) Enforceable, (18) Candy Machine, (19) Or’effice, (20) Dr Post