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Kentucky Derby 2019 Blog: G1 Champagne & G1 Breeders' Futurity Preview

My top ranked Kentucky Derby 2019 contender Endorsed makes his much anticipated second lifetime start in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Endorsed, owned by Godolphin Racing and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, looked good graduating by a neck in his six furlong debut at Saratoga on a good track Aug. 18, and he was 8-1 that day. The exciting son of Medaglia d’Oro, out of stakes winning Tapit mare Dance Card, should continue to get better as distances increase.

Endorsed Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 
Two of my other “exceptional eleven” members are also entered in the Champagne, starting with morning line favorite Complexity. Chad Brown’s $375k purchase easily won his six furlong debut at Saratoga and might have the edge in a one-turn mile.

Code of Honor is also on my Derby list, and he gamely dug in and went all the way in his Saratoga debut Aug. 18. He fired a local Champagne bullet Sept. 23, and he has Derby-winning Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey in his corner.

The Champagne field also includes romping Gulfstream maiden winner Trophy Chaser, Saratoga debut winner Achilles Warrior, G2 Saratoga Special hero Call Paul, I’m Smokin winner Listing, Sappling runner-up Successful Zip, sharp local maiden winner Aurelius Maximus, and Saratoga extended sprint maiden winner Casa Creed.

The Champagne is a Kentucky Derby 2019 points race, and so is the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 6.

None of my Top 11 Derby contenders are entered in the Breeders’ Futurity, but there are plenty of promising runners in the 14-horse field.

G1 Hopeful hero Mind Control is the 7-2 morning line favorite, and the front running son of Stay Thirsty tries to navigate a route of ground from post 13. He fired a Monmouth Park bullet for this engagement Sept. 29.

Dream Maker was my live longshot in the Hopeful, and he was a green 5th of 8 off a layoff that day. He looked good circling the field and blasting home as the even money favorite in his Churchill debut June 7, and the promising son of Tapit fired a best of 113 local bullet for this Sept. 29. He figures to improve over a route of ground.

Moonster improved to graduate in a one-turn mile second time out at Churchill Downs for Dale Romans, and the $80k son of Malibu Moon should be able to handle a mile and a sixteenth. He is owned by Calumet Farm.

Signalman adds lasix and stretches out for Ken McPeek, and those are both winning barn moves. He ran well in both sprint starts and earned an improved number in his second time out maiden win off a layoff at Saratoga Sept. 1.

The Breeders’ Futurity field also includes G3 Sanford hero Sombeyay, Soaring Free show finisher Fluminese (blinkers on), Sappling winner Unionizer, G3 Iroquois 5th place finisher Everfast, Arlington-Washington Futurity show finisher Knicks Go, G3 Iroquois 4th place finisher Tobacco Road, Ellis Park maiden winner Mr. Ankeny, flat mile Churchill Downs maiden winner Borracho, maiden Derby Date, and Chad Brown’s Saratoga debut winner Standard Deviation.

Kentucky Derby 2019 Point Race Recaps

G3 Iroquois Stakes Recap (9-15-18) - Winner: Cairo Cat

This was the first Kentucky Derby 2019 points race, and 17-1 long shot Cairo Cat wore down front running favorite Tight Ten to win by a 1/2 length. The latter fought hard throughout while clearly second best, and surface switcher Pole Setter was best of the rest in 3rd. Tight Ten’s stablemate Tobacco Road was along to complete the superfecta, and was followed by Everfast, Synthesis, Manny Wah, Royal Urn, My Sixth Sense, Hog Creek Hustle, Mr Wrench It, and Drunk as a Skunk. This did not seem like a strong race on the road to the Derby, but some of these could be decent runners at shorter distances, specially Tight Ten. None of the Iroquois runners made my updated Derby list. 

Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes Recap (9-29-18) - Winner: Game Winner

Rowayton got the early lead as expected, but Game Winner and Joel Rosario never allowed him any breathing room. The latter finally inched clear by a 1/2 length in the lane, and he was more than four to the good on the line in a solid effort throughout. Gunmetal Gray was in a good spot in third from the outset, and he got past Rowayton by a length in the late stages. Jefe and Sigalert trailed throughout. The pace was contested but controlled, and final time for the 8.5f trip was 1:43.77.

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.79 (13/26) at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.

Comments: In his career debut at Saratoga on Aug. 18, he broke slow, raced inside, moved out, and surged late to win by a neck in 1:11.22 for six furlongs (137 Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating). He drew the rail in the G1 Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 6, and he is listed at 7-2 on the morning line.   

(2) GAME WINNER (Candy Ride - Indyan Giving, by A. P. Indy)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Gary and Mary West)

Comments: Easily captured both of his Del Mar starts in a 16-day span, including a sharp score in the G1 Del Mar Futurity (140 Final Rating). 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 looks like the early favorite for the BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs next month.

Derby Points (10)

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

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 (132 Final Rating). He resurfaced in the American Pharaoh Stakes, and he caught his front running stablemate Rowayton in late stretch to earn the place.

Derby Points (4)

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.10 (53/57) at Belmont Park Sept. 30.

Comments: Showed good speed right out of the box in his front running debut win at Saratoga Aug. 18 (134 Final Rating). He could end up being a good one for Derby-winning trainer Shut McGaughey. He is entered in the Champagne Stakes on Oct. 6, and he will break from post 8 at 6-1 on the morning line.

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

Latest Workout: 4f in 47.89 (6/141) at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.

Comments: Was much the best in his six furlong debut at Saratoga Sept. 3 (137 Final Rating). 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 will ride him back in the Champagne Stakes, and he is the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Complexity Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 
(6) 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.

(7) 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.

(8) INSTAGRAND (Into Mischief - Assets of War, by Lawyer Ron)
Trainer (Jerry Hollendorfer) - Owner (OXO Equine LLC)

Comments: Ran away and hid in his first two starts, including the G2 Best Pal at Del Mar Aug. 11. His connections decided to pass on the Del Mar Futurity and point to the G1 American Pharaoh Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Sept. 29, but owner Larry Best called another audible. He will not run again this year.  

(9) ROADSTER (Quality Road - Ghost Dancing, by Silver Ghost)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Speedway Stable LLC)

Comments: Overcame the often intimidating inside post in his professional debut at Del Mar July 29, and was made the strong favorite in the G1 Del Mar Futurity at that same venue Sept. 3. In the latter event, he did not show the same brilliance in an even show finish. He was originally expected to stretch out in the G1 American Pharaoh, but will now get 60 days off and won’t run again this year.

(10) AHEAD OF PLAN (Big Drama - Daisy Dukes, by Ghazi)
Trainer (Chad Brown) - Owner (Klaravich Stables, Inc.)

Latest Workout: 4f in 49.19 (16/63) at Saratoga on Sept. 1.

Comments: He showed good speed in his debut, but Endorsed was a bit better in a neck victory (135 Final Rating). He was well clear of show finisher Principled and probably won’t be a maiden much longer. He has no published works since Sept. 1.

(11) PRINCIPLED (Medaglia d’Oro - Teen Pauline, by Tapit)
Trainer (Todd Pletcher) - Owner (Cheyenne Stables and Robert LaPenta)

Comments: Chased Ahead of Plan around the track in an even show finish in his bow (122 Final Rating), and both were passed by Endorsed. His connections and pedigree are top notch, and he figures to improve with experience and added ground. He has not worked since his debut.

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Dream Maker, (13) Aurelius Maximus, (14) Mind Control, (15) Call Paul, (16) Spin Lightning, (17) U S Navy Cross, (18) King for a Day, (19) Magic On Tap, (20) Vekoma

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