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2019 Kentucky Derby update (4-28-19)

Most of the Kentucky Derby 2019 final works are in the books and the next big piece of business is the post position draw on Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. I will be back later next week with my final “Exceptional Eleven” before the Derby.


Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven" Kentucky Derby 2019 Contenders (4-28-19)


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


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


Derby Jockey (Joel Rosario)


Latest Workout: 7f in 1:27 (1/1) at Santa Anita Park on April 26.


Derby Points (85)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 149


The Good: 2-year-old champion won three grade one races in 2018. Baffert has won the Derby five times, and Joel Rosario has ridden one Derby winner (Orb in 2013). He always finishes 1st or 2nd, owns running style versatility, and won the BC Juvenile (G1) at CD last fall. He is training well and is right on schedule with four weeks between starts.   


The Not So Good: Lost both starts this year and may not have progressed all that much from age 2 to 3. His Derby prep schedule was altered due to cancellation of San Felipe Stakes.


 


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


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


Derby Jockey (Irad Ortiz Jr.)


Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.60 (9/25) at Churchill Downs on April 28.


Derby Points (65)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 134


The Good: 3-for-3 in 2018 including a stakes win at Churchill Downs and a grade one route win. He looked good working April 28 at CD and Baffert has won the Derby five times.


The Not So Good: Lost both starts this year. His Derby prep schedule was altered due to cancellation of San Felipe Stakes. Blinkers on/off and Irad Ortiz Jr. will be his third rider in his last three starts. Seems to lose focus this year.


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(3) OMAHA BEACH (War Front - Charming, by Seeking the Soul)


Trainer (Richard Mandella) - Owner (Fox Hill Farms, Inc.)


Derby Jockey (Mike Smith)


Latest Workout: 5f in 59.00 (2/43) at Churchill Downs on April 27.


Derby Points (137.5)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 137


The Good: Won last 3 starts (2 points race wins over Baffert’s top runners). Fine tactical speed, working well, and Mike Smith chose him over Roadster.


The Not So Good: 2 of his last 3 wins over a wet track. Perfect trips last 2 wins. Only fast track win by a nose. Not many negatives at all.


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(4) ROADSTER (Quality Road - Ghost Dancing, by Silver Ghost)


Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Speedway Stable LLC)


Derby Jockey (Florent Geroux)


Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13.80 (1/3) at Santa Anita Park on April 26.


Derby Points (100)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 150 (new top)


The Good: 2-for-2 in 2019 and finished up with gusto in SA Derby. The versatile runner has upside.


The Not So Good: Smith jumps off. Might be light on seasoning with only four starts (only two routes). All starts in California.


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(5) TACITUS (Tapit - Close Hatches, by First Defence)


Trainer (William Mott) - Owner (Juddmonte Farms, Inc.)


Derby Jockey (Jose Ortiz)


Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00 (4/25) at Churchill Downs on April 28.


Derby Points (150)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 147


The Good: 2-for-2 in graded routes this year. Excellent connections, top notch pedigree, strong finishing kick. Not a great worker but Derby morning activity has been solid.


The Not So Good: Wood Memorial winner has not won Derby since 2000. Needs pace help in Derby.


 


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


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


Derby Jockey (John Velazquez)


Latest Workout: 4f in 46.80 (2/76) at Churchill Downs on April 28.


Derby Points (74)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 137


The Good: Overcame bad start to finish 2nd in Champagne (G1) last year, and won Fountain of Youth (G2) in 2019. Got no pace help in Florida Derby (G1) and finished an okay 3rd. Like his Derby-winning connections (McGaughey and Velazquez). April 28 move at CD was rock solid.


The Not So Good: I am not sure about him at a mile and a quarter, and his most effective running style is still unknown. He needs a career best effort to win Derby.


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(7) SPINOFF (Hard Spun - Zaftig, by Gone West)


Trainer (Todd Pletcher) - Owner (Werthheimer and Frere)


Derby Jockey (Manny Franco)


Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.77 (3/8) at Palm Beach Downs on April 26.


Derby Points (40)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 149 (new top)


The Good: Ran extremely well in both dirt routes this year including wide runner-up finish in LA Derby (G2). I like his tactical speed and he is getting better.


The Not So Good: Has yet to win a stakes race and Pletcher’s longtime money rider John Velazquez chose to ride Code of Honor in the Derby.


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(8) WIN WIN WIN (Hat Trick - Miss Smarty Pants, by Smarty Jones)


Trainer (Michael Trombetta) - Owner (Live Oak Plantation)


Derby Jockey (Julian Pimentel)


Latest Workout: 4f in 47.60 (4/76) at Churchill Downs on April 28.


Derby Points (50)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 138


The Good: Top 3 finishes in all six starts and can route or sprint. Working well for the Derby and overcame some trouble and a speed favoring oval to finish 2nd in Blue Grass Stakes (G2).


The Not So Good: Has yet to win over a route of ground and has had trouble at the gate multiple times. Not fast enough to win the Derby at this stage.


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


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


Derby Jockey (Javier Castellano)


Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 59.95 (1/8) at Palm Beach Downs on April 26.


Derby Points (110 points)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 149 (new top)


The Good: 3-for-4 lifetime with a show finish in his needed Fountain of Youth (G2) return. Blue Grass (G2) hero likes to be forwardly placed and still has upside.


The Not So Good: Does not look like a ten furlong horse (suspect late speed) and is one of several runners with the same tactical style. Strike the Gold in 1991 was last Blue Grass winner to capture Kentucky Derby (that is a very long drought).


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(10) COUNTRY HOUSE (Lookin At Lucky - Quake Lake, by War Chant)


Trainer (William Mott) - Owner (Shields and McFadden)


Derby Jockey (Flavien Prat)


Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.00 (4/25) at Churchill Downs on April 28.


Derby Points (50)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 116


The Good: Usually puts in decent late run. Sire won Preakness, Mott is a Hall of Fame trainer, and Prat is the top rider in California.


The Not So Good: 0-for-3 in graded races. Usually breaks slow and makes mistakes during his races.


Country House Kentucky Derby Prep Race Past Peformance 


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(11) HAIKAL (Daahar - Sablah, by Distorted Humor)


Trainer (Kiaran McLaughlin) - Owner (Shadwell Stable)


Derby Jockey (Rajiv Maragh)


Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.21 (7/11) at Belmont Park on April 25.


Derby Points (70)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 135


The Good: Gotham (G3) winner has three victories, a 2nd, and a 3rd after five starts. Always put in a nice late run for sharp trainer McLaughlin.


The Not So Good: Gotham fell into his lap and he did not show the same late kick in Wood Memorial (G2) show finish. Might be best as a late running sprinter.


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THE NEXT NINE:


(12) By My Standards (Bret Calhoun/Gabriel Saez)


Latest Workout: 4f in 48.40 (12/76) at Churchill Downs on April 28.


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 152 (new top)


The Good: Numbers jumped up in maiden win and LA Derby (G2) score. Tactical speed and training extremely well.


The Not So Good: LA Derby winners never win the Kentucky Derby. Might not want to go 10f yet.


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(13) Maximum Security (Jason Servis/Luis Saez)


Latest Workout: 3f in 42.00 (15/15) at Palm Meadows on April 21.


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 158 (new top)


The Good: 4-for-4 record including easy front running victory in Florida Derby (G1).


The Not So Good: Pace Ratings are weak. Former claimer needs to run faster throughout in Derby.


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(14) Tax (Danny Gargan/Junior Alvarado)


Latest Workout: 4f in 47.80 (4/79) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on April 25.


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 143


The Good: Never out of trifecta in 5 starts (placed in all three 9f stakes starts). Tactical speed and strong route pedigree.


The Not So Good: Former claimer had perfect trip from rail but could not beat Tacitus last time. Seems cut below the best.


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(15) War of Will (Mark Casse/Tyler Gaffalione)


Latest Workout: 4f bullet in 47.60 (1/79) at Churchill Downs on April 27.


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 116


The Good: Love his tactical speed and long distance turf-oriented pedigree. He is training well and won two graded routes at FG over the winter.


The Not So Good: Terrible final prep in LA Derby (may have pulled muscle that day). Derby is first start in six weeks.


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(16) Cutting Humor (Todd Pletcher/rider TBA)


Latest Workout: 4f bullet in 48.01 (1/15) at Palm Beach Downs on April 26.


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 150 (new top)


The Good: Ran best career race in Sunland Derby (G3). Tactical speed and Pletcher has won the Derby twice.


The Not So Good: Did not run well in Southwest (G3) and needs to improve again to contend on Derby.


Cutting Humor Kentucky Derby Prep Race Past Peformance 


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(17) Long Range Toddy (Steve Asmussen/Jon Court)


Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.60 (29/35) at Churchill Downs on April 22.


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 92


The Good: Top 3 finishes in first five stakes tries. Tactical speed and tries hard.


The Not So Good: Flopped from outside post in Arkansas Derby (first wet track start). Light on numbers.


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(18) Plus Que Parfait (Brendan Walsh/Ricardo Santana Jr.)


Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.00 (28/43) at Churchill Downs on April 27.


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 84 (Fair Grounds)


The Good: Qualified for Derby with win in UAE Derby (G2). Hit the board in both CD starts.


The Not So Good: 0-for-3 in USA stakes races. Dismal effort in Risen Star (G2). Shipping back from Dubai.


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(19) Gray Magician (Peter Miller/Drayden Van Dyke)


Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (8/37) at San Luis Rey Training Center on April 27.


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 126 (Laurel Park)


The Good: Wide 2nd in UAE Derby (G2). Tactical speed.


The Not So Good: Only 1 win in 8 starts and 0-for-3 in stakes races. Shipping back from Dubai.


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(20) Master Fencer (K. Tsunoda/Julien Leparoux)


Most Recent Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: Unknown (Japan shipper)


The Good: Ran well in all three 9f dirt races and has 10f experience.


The Not So Good: Lost last 3 starts and this is an ambitious placement for the Japanese shipper.


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Need Defections: (21) Bodexpress, (22) Signalman, (23) Sueno, (24) Bourbon War
 

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