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Kentucky Derby Update 2018 Feb. 2

Two-time grade one winner Bolt d’Oro, one of the favorites for Kentucky Derby 2018, had his first work of the year for trainer Mick Ruis. He traveled three furlongs at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Jan. 27. It was the second best of eight moves at the distance.

Bolt d’Oro will begin his sophomore campaign in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, March 10. His new rider will be Javier Castellano, who replaces Corey Nakatani.   

Last week, there were no Kentucky Derby points races, but we are back in action with a trio of Derby preps this weekend:

Grade 3 Withers Stakes (Aqueduct, 2-3-18)

My ninth ranked Derby contender, Firenze Fire, is back in action in the Withers Stakes (nine furlongs) at Aqueduct on Feb. 3. His trainer, Jason Servis, originally said he would wait for the Gotham Stakes in March, but he is reportedly doing well following his victory in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 13. Avery Island (5f in 1:00.75 on Jan. 27 at Palm Meadows) ships in from Florida for Kiaran McLaughlin, and the G2 Remsen runner-up is the 8-5 morning line favorite. Marconi (4f in :49 at Belmont Park on Jan. 27) is Todd Pletcher’s top representative, and he is the third choice on the line at 3-1. Pletcher also has Mucho Macho Man runner-up Bal Harbour and Jerome show finisher Coltandmississippi.   

Firenze Fire Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

 Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes (Gulfstream Park, 2-3-18)

G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes hero Enticed (4f in :49.75 at Palm Meadows on Jan. 26) drew the advantageous inside post and will represent trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in the Holy Bull. He will take on Dale Roamns trainees Free Drop Billy, Bandito, Hollywood Star, and Tiz Mischief (5f in 1:00.07 at GP on Jan. 27). Mississippi drew post 11 for Mark Casse and will scratch. He has been rerouted to an allowance race at the Gulf on Feb. 4. In Sunday’s race, he will meet highly regarded Todd Pletcher runner Navistar. 

Grade 3 Robert Lewis Stakes (Santa Anita Park, 2-3-18)

Peace (6f in 1:13.60 on Jan. 27) and Shivermetimbers (5f in 1:01.80 on Jan. 28) figure to talk the bulk of the wagering action in the Lewis Stakes. Inscom switches surfaces for trainer Simon Callaghan, as does Ayacara for Team Desormeaux. Lombo stretches out in distance and looms the target.  

Peace Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

In other Kentucky Derby 2018 contender news, Mucho Macho Man winner Mask will miss two weeks of training (undisclosed setback). He is out of the Risen Star Stakes, and he drops off the bottom of my Derby list as well. He only has two starts (both around one turn) and not much foundation, so any setback for him is a huge deal.  

G3 Lecomte hero Instilled Regard got back to work on Jan. 24. He traveled 4f in :47.80 (4/41) at Santa Anita Park. He worked again on Feb. 1, and is the newest member of the “exceptional eleven.” Welcome aboard!

Mississippi, runner-up to Noble Indy in his last start at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 11, worked a half-mile in :49.65 at Palm Meadows on Jan. 27. As mentioned earlier, he will run in an allowance route at Gulfstream Park on Super Bowl Sunday. If he does well, look for him to show up in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. 

Navistar could not get a plane to Oaklawn Park for the Smarty Jones Stakes, so he had to scratch out of that event. He has worked three times since, including a half-mile breeze in :49.33 at Palm Beach Downs on Jan. 28. He meets Mississippion Feb. 4.

Speaking of the Smarty Jones Stakes, the front running winner of that race, Mourinho, fired a 6f bullet in 1:12.60 at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 1. He is scheduled to return to Oaklawn Park for the Feb. 19 Southwest Stakes.

Smarty Jones runner-up Combatant got back to work with a 5f move in 1:01.40 at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 31. The Southwest is up next.

Montauk finally returned to the work tab for Todd Pletcher. He went 3f in :37.20 (1/2) at Palm Beach Downs on Jan. 28. I put him on my list after his scintillating debut at Belmont Park on 10-7-17, but removed him due to inactivity. The Derby is a real longshot, but he is an interesting long term 3-year-old prospect. 

Another Pletcher runner, Vino Rosso (2-for-2 in 2017), is gearing up for a Derby trail campaign. He worked three times in January, most recently breezing 5f in 1:02.19 at Palm Beach Downs on the 28th. 

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven" Kentucky Derby 2018 Contenders

(1) BOLT D’ORO (Medaglia d’Oro - Globe Trot, by A.P. Indy)

Trainer (Mick Ruis) - Owner (Ruis Racing)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 140 (FrontRunner Stakes, SA, 9-30-17)

Latest Workout: 3f in :36.80 (2/10) at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 27.

Comments: His 3-for-4 juvenile campaign included grade one tallies in the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes. In his final 2-year-old start, he experienced a very wide trip from an outer post in the the BC Juvenile and ended up a respectable 3rd considering the lost ground. I thought he was robbed of the Eclipse Award for top 2-year-old in the US. He was originally slated to return in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Feb 10, but a muscle pull altered those plans. He will now have two Kentucky Derby preps, beginning with the San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 10, followed by the Santa Anita Derby. He returned to the work tab on Jan. 27, and jockey Javier Castellano will replace Corey Nakatani when he runs in the San Felipe.       

Derby Points (14)

 

(2) GOOD MAGIC  (Curlin - Glinda the Good, by Hard Spun)

Trainer (Chad Brown) - Owner (e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 153 (BC Juvenile, 11-4-17)

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in :48.45 (1/37) at Palm Meadows on Jan 28.

Comments: He ran the best overall race in his place finish in the G1 Champagne, and his Today’s Racing Digest numbers went through the roof in a visually impressive score in the BC Juvenile. In a close call, he got the Eclipse Award over Bolt d’Oro, even though the latter had a more impressive overall campaign last year. He has been part of my Derby list all along, and following a training stint at Stonestreet Farm in Ocala, he headed to Palm Meadows to join the rest of Brown’s Florida string in mid-December. He returned to the work tab with a three furlong bullet on Jan. 21, and  fired another bullet on Jan. 28. He is expected to begin his 3-year-old campaign in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 3.     

Derby Points (24) 

(3) SOLOMINI (Curlin - Surf Song, by Storm Cat)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Zayat Stables)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 140 (BC Juvenile, 11-4-17)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (19/36) at Santa Anita Park on Dec 28.

Comments: The G1 FrontRunner and G1 BC Juvenile runner-up crossed the line first in the G1 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (137 Final Rating) but was disqualified and placed 3rd. He was clearly best at Los Al and it was nice to see him relax and finish strong. McKinzie exited that heat to win the G3 Sham on Jan. 6, and Instilled Regard came out of that race to capture the G3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 13. He recently got sick and has yet to work this year (last published work on 12-28-17). He is reportedly on the road to recovery, and at this stage, it looks as though he will have two Derby preps, and they will most likely occur at Oaklawn Park and/or Santa Anita Park.    

Derby Points (14)

(4) MCKINZIE (Street Sense - Runway Model, by Petionville)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, Paul Weitman)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 149 (Sham Stakes, SA, 1-6-18)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49 (45/87) at Santa Anita Park on Jan 21.

Comments: He is technically 3-for-3 (placed first via DQ in Los Al Futurity), but let there be no doubt that his stablemate Solomini was best at Los Alamitos Race Course on 12-9-17. He removed blinkers for his 2018 debut and was a strong stalk and pounce winner of the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan 6. He is expected to race two more times at Oaklawn Park (Rebel, Arkansas Derby) and/or Santa Anita (San Felipe, SA Derby) prior to the first Saturday in May.     
 
Derby Points (20)

(5) NOBLE INDY (Take Charge Indy - Noble Maz, by Storm Boot)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) - Owner (WinStar Farm)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 141 (OC, GP, 1-11-18)

Latest Workout: 4f in :50.03 (9/14) at Palm Beach Downs on Jan. 27.

Comments: He made his career debut at Gulfstream Park on Dec 3, and in that seven panel affair, he went straight to the front and cruised home by 8+ lengths. He returned in an entry level allowance route at Gulfstream on Thursday, January 11, and in that exciting event, he hooked up with promising Mark Casse runner Mississippi from start to finish. John Velazquez confidently handled Noble Indy through the stretch and he gamely prevailed by 3/4ths of a length. Mississippi was 6+ lengths clear of the show, and the final time was 1:42.52. He is on the upswing for Pletcher and appears ready for stakes company.   

(6) PRINCIPE GUILHERME (Tapit - Aubby K, by Street Sense)

Trainer (Steve Asmussen) - Owner (Three Chimneys Farm)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 143 (Optional Claiming, FG, 12-16-17)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (6/55) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 29.

Comments: Romped in his first two starts including an impressive two turn allowance score at Fair Grounds on Dec 16. He went off as the favorite in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday, January 13, and ended up a grinding 2nd (123 Final Rating) after a wide trip from an outer post. He will have to run faster in his next Derby prep, which will probably come in the Grade 2 Risen Star in New Orleans on Feb. 17.  

Derby Points (4)


(7) HOLLYWOOD STAR (Malibu Moon - Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 134 (Iroquois Stakes, CD, 9-16-17)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.02 (1/18) at Gulfstream Park on Jan 27.

Trainer (Dale Romans) - Owner (Albaugh Family Racing) 

Comments: Followed up a debut maiden win at CD June 28 with back-to-back place finishes in the G2 Saratoga Special and G3 Iorquois. His CPR, FIRE, and Pace Ratings improved in each of his first three starts, and the Romans trainee broke from post 12 and rallied from last to split the field in the BC Juvenile. He has yet to put everything together in the morning and afternoon, and he has every right to improve this year. He had his first work of the year on Jan. 6, and is entered in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Feb. 3.     

Derby Points (4)

(8) FREE DROP BILLY (Union Rags - Trensa, by Giant’s Causeway)

Trainer (Dale Romans) - Owner (Albaugh Family Stables)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 140 (Breeders’ Futurity, KEE, 10-7-17)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in :59.02 (1/18) at Gulfstream Park on Jan 27.

Comments: He stalked from midpack from an outer post handled two turns with ease in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity (1st by 4 lengths) on October 7. He made a bit of a middle move in the BC Juvenile but was basically done after six furlongs in a very disappointing performance (9th of 12). He enjoyed a productive juvenile campaign, returned to work at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 6, and is entered in the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 3. 

Derby Points (10)

 


(9) FIRENZE FIRE  (Poseidon’s Warrior - My Every Wish, by Langfuhr)

Trainer (Jason Servis) - Owner (Mr Amore Stables)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 153 (Jerome Stakes, AQU, 1-13-18)

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.32 (9/23) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Jan. 29.

Comments: He captured the G3 Sanford and G1 Champagne (140 Final Rating) as a juvenile before finishing a flat 7th in the BC Juvenile. He finally was able to make his sophomore debut in the rescheduled Jerome at Aqueduct on Saturday, Jan. 13, and he overcame a layoff, lack of pace, and a wet track to run down lone speed Seven Trumpets. The 3-time stakes winner obviously has ability but all four of his wins were around one turn, and stamina continues to be the main question. The Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 10 was supposed to be his next target, but he is right back in the entry box for the Withers Stakes at the Big A on Feb. 3. He drew the inside post and is the 9-5 second choice on the morning line.     

Derby Points (20)

(10) CATHOLIC BOY (More Than Ready - Song of Bernadette, by Bernardini)

Trainer (Jonathan Thomas) - Owner (Robert V. LaPenta)

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 134 (Remsen Stakes, AQU, 12-2-17)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01 (2/22) at Tampa Bay on Jan. 27.

Comments: Won 3 of his 4 juvenile outings including a smart surface switching tally in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 2. He got back on the work tab on Jan. 12 and is on track to make his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 10.

Derby Points (10)

(11) INSTILLED REGARD (Arch - Enhancing, by Forestry)

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

Top Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating: 135 (Lecomte Stakes, FG, 1-13-18)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.80 (17/25) at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 1.

Comments: Lost his first two sprints and turned the corner over a route of ground in his last three. After earning his diploma at SA on 10-29-17, he was placed 2nd via disqualification in the G1 Los Al Futurity, and followed that up with a decisive score in the G3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. I love his tactical speed, and he proved that he could ship and win last time. He is expected to return to New Orleans for the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 17.

Derby Points (14)

Instilled Regard Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Enticed, (13) Tiz Mischief, (14) Mississippi, (15) Combatant, (16) Avery Island, (17) Peace, (18) Mourinho, (19) Navistar, (20) Vino Rosso
 

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