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Kentucky Derby 2019 Blog: Jerome Recap + Sham Stakes Preview

Mind Control wired the field in the first Kentucky Derby 2019 points race of the year in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day, and Coliseum is favored to win the next Derby points race (Sham Stakes) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, January 5.

Coliseum is one of several exciting Derby trail prospects for trainer Bob Baffert, and he looked outstanding in his front running debut at Del Mar last fall. He might have to relax and pounce this time because speedy Peter Miller trainee Savagery puts blinkers back on and will probably go to the front. American Pharoah Stakes (G1) runner-up Gunmetal Gray needs a fast pace and might get it.


Sham Stakes (G3) Analysis (1-5-19)

SA 9 (G3 Sham, 8f)
Primary - #2 GRAY MAGICIAN, #5 Coliseum
Secondary - #6 Gunmetal Gray
Wagers: #2 to win, Exacta 2/5-6, Exacta 5-6/2

Comments: #1 Sueno (20-1) won his last two vs. $80k maiden claimers and all-weather stakes rivals. He meets tougher and will have to step up to be competitive here for Team Desormeaux. #2 GRAY MAGICIAN (4-1) moved to the Miller barn, stretched out, and rolled to a 9+ length victory as the heavy favorite under Pray Nov 24 (improved FIRE + CPR). He figures to save ground stalking the pace and can compete for the win with another forward move. #3 Savagery (10-1) puts blinkers back on after blowing the first turn in his first route try in the Los Al Futurity (G1). He is probably the one to catch but might not want to go this far. #4 East Shot (30-1) exits an $80k maiden claiming sprint win at DMR for Keith D. He will probably stalk the pace and he gets tested for distance/class today. #5 Coliseum (1-1) looked great in his romping front running debut win at seven panels Nov 17 (field-best FIRE, CPR, Final Rating). He has multiple bullets in his holster and could easily score again for Talamo/Baffert. He tries two turns and will probably have to rate today. #6 Gunmetal Gray (5-2) stretched out and cruised in his maiden win Aug 22. He hooked Game Winner in his last two grade one starts (American Pharoah, BC Juvenile - 2 next-out stakes winners) and has been in steady training since Nov 11. Smith hops aboard and he can make some noise late if the pace heats up. #7 Much Better (6-1) easily won his dirt sprint bow and followed that up with a 2nd on turf in the Zuma Beach and a last place finish in the BC Juvenile Turf (G1). The other Baffert projects an outside stalking trip.

Kentucky Derby 2019 Point Race Recaps

Jerome Stakes 2019 Recap (1-1-19) - Winner: Mind Control - 138 Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating

Mind Control was able to get out there and pretty much control the pace. He received token outside pressure from Souper Jackpot but the pace was very controlled. The 3-2 favorite put away his pace rival early and my 9-1 value top choice Our Braintrust made a run at the leader in the stretch, but Mind Control had more than enough left to turn him back and win by a length and a half. Family Biz saved ground and edged outside pace chaser Gates of Dawn for the show. Super Jackpot faded to 5th and Direct Order trailed throughout. I doubt that any of these runners will turn into strong two turn runners in the big graded Derby preps in the coming months. The winner is a decent front running sprinter at seven furlongs and a mile, and he might go next in the Withers (G3) at nine furlongs at Aqueduct on Feb. 2.


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)

Comments: Smartly captured his first two Del Mar starts in a 16-day span including a quality score in the Del Mar Futurity. He had much better race spacing in the American Pharaoh Stakes (G1) and easily passed that two turn test at Santa Anita Park Sept. 29. He shipped to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and rallied to win that one by 2+ lengths. Bob Baffert’s talented colt is 4-for-4 and is a lock to be named 2-year-old champion.  

Derby Points (30)

(2) CODE OF HONOR  (Noble Mission, Reunited, by Dixie Union)

Trainer (Shug McGaughey) - Owner (William S. Farish)

Latest Workout: 4f in :48.00 (1/15) at Payson Park on Dec. 29.

Comments: Flashed sharp early speed right out of the gate in his winning debut at Saratoga Aug. 18. He made his second career start in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, and he ran a big race after stumbling badly at the start. In that event, he made a sustained run from last and rallied five-wide in the stretch to finish a clear 2nd. He got sick and missed the BC Juvenile, and patient trainer McGaughey was not happy with his training and decided to skip the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 1. He is spending the winter at Payson Park in Florida and returned to the work tab Dec. 9. He will get his first 3-year-old assignment in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes (one mile) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Jan. 5, and he is the 7-5 morning line favorite in that heat.

Derby Points (4)


(3) IMPROBABLE (City Zip - Rare Event, by A. P. Indy)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, SF Racing)

Comments: Followed up a debut sprint win at Santa Anita with a runaway score in the Street Sense at Churchill Downs on the Breeders’ Cup undercard (one mile around one turn). Baffert’s talented runner was the strong favorite in the CashCall Futurity (G1) at Los Alamitos Race Course on Dec. 8, and he won for fun from the inside post. He has been finishing like he wants more ground and is a very promising player on the Derby trail.

Derby Points (10)

(4) COLISEUM (Tapit - Game Face, by Menifee)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Godolphin, LLC)

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.40 (1/17) at Santa Anita Park on Dec. 30.

Comments: The well-bred colt was outstanding in his seven furlong debut at Del Mar Nov. 17. He went straight to the front from the inside post under Joe Talamo and was quickly in command by four lengths after a half-mile. He was on cruise control throughout and won by 6+ lengths while under a hand ride. He has drilled three bullets since his debut and figures to adore two turns. He is the even money favorite in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Jan. 5.

(5) GUNMETAL GRAY (Exchange Rate - Classofsixtythree, by Include)

Trainer (Jerry Hollendorfer) - Owner (West Point Thoroughbreds and Jerry Hollendorfer) 

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:14.60 (10/19) at Santa Anita Park on Dec. 29.

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 (G1) and caught his stablemate Rowayton for the place. He shipped to Churchill Downs for the BC Juvenile (G1) and rallied from 12th after a half-mile to end up 5th at the finish. The Juvenile field was very strung out and he was beaten more than twelve lengths. He seems to have stamina but not enough quickness in the stakes ranks. He makes his sophomore debut in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita on Jan. 5 and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line under his new rider Mike Smith.  

Derby Points (4)


(6) VEKOMA (Candy Ride - Mona de Momma, by Speightstown)

Trainer (George Weaver) - Owner (R.A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables)

Comments: Followed up a smart six furlong debut win at Belmont Park Sept. 23 with a fairly easy triumph in the Nashua (G3) at one mile Nov. 4. He has some route and sprint influences in his pedigree, and we will see how far he wants to go in the future. He was originally slated to go in the Remsen Stakes but got a break instead and will resume his career in the near future.

(7) NETWORK EFFECT (Mark Valeski - Sandy Key Gal, by Put It Back)

Trainer (Chad Brown) - Owner (Klaravich Stables, Inc.)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.00 (6/38) at Palm Meadows on Dec. 30.

Comments: Followed up a professional win in his seven furlong debut at Saratoga with a clear place finish in the Nashua (G3) second time out. He got no pace help in the Remsen (G2) and came running late for the place in a rock solid effort. He clearly has some talent and seems to have a bit of staying power as well. He is spending the winter in Florida and returned to the work tab at Palm Meadows Training Center on Dec. 30.

Derby Points (4)

(8) SIGNALMAN (General Quarters - Trip South, by Trippi)

Trainer (Ken McPeek) - Owner (Magdalena Racing)

Comments: This one racked up the Derby points last year with top three finishes in the Breeders’ Futurity (2nd), BC Juvenile (3rd), and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (1st). He sure is consistent but I am not sure about him as a long term prospect. He is wintering at Payson Park in Florida and is tentatively scheduled to kick off his sophomore campaign in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Derby Points (18)

(9) MAXIMUS MISCHIEF (Into Mischief - Reina Maria, by Songandaprayer)

Trainer (Robert E. Reid Jr) - Owner (Cash is King LLC)

Comments: There is no question that he is fast and talented, and he stepped up to the big leagues and passed his first graded test around two turns in the G2 Remsen at Aqueduct on Dec. 1. I am not completely sold on him at this point due to his suspect long distance pedigree and soft trip in his stakes debut, but he has done nothing wrong yet. He is wintering in Florida and is expected to have two Derby preps.

Derby Points (10)

(10) BANKIT (Central Banker - Sister in Arms, by Colonel John)

Trainer (Steve Asmussen) - Owner (Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing)

Latest Workout: 4f in 51.80 (20/27) at Oaklawn Park on Dec. 28.

Comments: I have become a fan of the overachieving New York-bred. He was a front runner in his first four sprint starts and was able to win one of those at Saratoga. He turned the corner in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes for state breds at Belmont Park Oct. 20. In that one turn mile on the dirt, he was 8th after the opening quarter and 7th after a half. He made steady progress and crossed the line 5+ lengths in front. That effort earned him a shot at a Kentucky Derby points race, and once again he showed nice late interest to just miss in the Remington Springboard Mile. I do not know how far he will ultimately want to go against top company, but I love his newfound closing kick and they should have fun with this one.

Derby Points (4)

(11) INSTAGRAND (Into Mischief - Assets of War, by Lawyer Ron)

Trainer (Jerry Hollendorfer) - Owner (OXO Equine LLC)

Latest Workout: 3f in :38.80 (16/17) at Santa Anita Park on Dec. 30.

Comments: Back on the list after returning to the work tab Dec. 30. He ran away from his foes in his first two starts including the Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar Aug. 11. His connections decided to pass on the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and point to the American Pharaoh Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Sept. 29, but owner Larry Best called another audible and gave him the rest of the year off. I am not sure how far he wants to go but he certainly showed a lot of promise as a juvenile.
THE NEXT NINE: (12) Mind Control, (13) Kingly, (14) Mucho Gusto, (15) Extra Hope, (16) Long Range Toddy, (17) Our Braintrust, (18) Gray Attempt, (19) Well Defined, (20) Standard Deviation

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