Friday, March 29, 2013

Derby Day in Florida & Louisiana


FLDerbyTrophyThe roster of Florida Derby (G-1) winners who made an impact on the Triple Crown races reads like a who’s who of racing. In the last twelve years, seven horses who hit the board in the Florida Derby won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes.

The Florida Derby naturally figures prominently on the Kentucky Derby trail. This year takes on new significance with the implementation of Derby Points. In previous Derby preps, the winners earned 50 points. With only 36 days before the run for the roses, the last remaining prep races up the ante with the winner scoring 100 points. The top three threats, ITSMYLUCKYDAY, ORB and SHANGHAI BOBBY need only to finish in the money to be assured of a trip to Kentucky in May. But the Florida Derby isn't all about them. There are a few new shooters that may have a say in the outcome of the race.

There's a lot of buzz surrounding PICK OF THE LITTER ( Kitten's Joy - Eagle Sound, by Fusaichi Pegasus). The last time out maiden winner blew the doors off of an off the turf 1 1/8 mile race, devastating his three competitors by 7 ½ lengths in a very sharp 1:49.35. The Dale Romans trainee followed up with two post race bullet works. Looking at Pick of the Litter's pedigree one would expect that he'd prefer turf to dirt. However, Kitten's Joy has sired eight dirt winners and Pick of the Litter's dam and half brother were both dirt sprinters.

INDY'S ILLUSION (A.P. Indy- Miss Illusion, by Mr. Prospector) has raced three times at 1 1/8 miles, improving his position each time. He was recently second by a neck after traveling three wide. Indy's Illusion has a classy pedigree. His dam is an unraced half sister to the stakes winning sprinter Apprehender (by Posse) Indy's Illusion's second dam is the multiple G1 winner Missys Mirage, a winner from 6 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. She beat the well-bred multiple G-1 winner Versailles Treaty three times. Missys Mirage's half sister half sister Classy Mirage bore Hopeful Stakes winner Dublin.

FRAC DADDY (Scat Daddy - Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away)was one-paced in the Holy Bull Stakes in his first start of the season. He's picked it up in his morning training and has posted two consecutive bullet works. The colt has plenty of stamina in his distaff line, as his second dam Power Play won the Delaware Handicap at 1 ¼ miles. Read his pedigree profile here.

PONTIFF (Giant's Causeway - Preach, by Mr. Prospector) is a well-bred maiden who was second by a neck going 1 1/8 miles over a sloppy track last time out. A produced of careful Claiborne Farms breeding, Pontiff is a half brother to the recently deceased international sire Pulpit. Nine other half siblings have raced with only two of them earning blacktype. His dam and second dam are multiple graded stakes winners. Other members of this distaff family include Champion Johannesburg and his dam Champion Juvenile Minardi, plus popular sire Tale of the Cat and multiple stakes winner Fed Biz. Pontiff's works haven’t been spectacular and he's giving away experience in the Florida Derby.

MERIT MAN (With Distinction - Precise Strike, by Precise End) won the Spectacular Bid Stakes in January, but was a non-threatening fourth in the Hutcheson after being steadied. The Robert Hess, Jr. trainee's pedigree is light on stamina. His sire was a sprinter with moderate ability at the G-3 level. He won at a mile and was beaten 1/2 a length at 1 1/8 miles in an allowance race. Merit Man's dam was a sprinter. She won between 5 1/2F - 7F, but could do no better than third when stretched out to 1 mile 70 yards in 3 attempts. Damsire Precise End won at 1 1/6 miles and shorter. He has only two stakes winners as a broodmare sire. Neither have won past a mile. Adding more speed to the pedigree is the 2nd damsire Phone Trick.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME (Run Away and Hide - Sweet Awakening, by Street Cry (IRE)) experiments on dirt for the first time in his career. He made his first start of the season 21 days ago in a turf mile race at Tampa, where he was nipped by a nose at the wire. His sire was a very precocious speedball who won all three starts before becoming injured. So far, his offspring are doing well as sprinters, but have failed to win past a mile. Are You Kidding Me carries some stamina on his distaff side. His dam failed to win in two starts. She's a half sister to Illinois Derby (G-2) victor Recapturetheglory. The second dam Cold Awakening was stakes placed as a juvenile. She's a half sister to the popular stakes veteran Chilly Rooster. Are You Kidding Me posted two post-race breezes at Payson Park.

NARVAEZ (Holy Bull - Miss Lulu, by Unbridled) was up in time to dead heat in a 7 ½ furlong allowance race 21 days ago. Both his sire and damsire won their respective Florida Derbies and his damsire went on to capture the Kentucky Derby, so there's no shortage of stamina in Narvaez's pedigree. There's little blacktype in the first two generation's of his female family, although his dam is a half sister to a stakes placed runner and his second dam Miss Margi won the Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Handicap.



69% of the pace setters/pressers have won at 1 1/8 miles this meet. Outside posts are a distinct disadvantage as there are literally six steps to the first turn.

MERIT MAN takes the blinkers off, perhaps in an effort to get him to relax. He does his best running on the front end and his outside post guarantees that he'll have to be used early to grab that lead. His stamina challenged pedigree suggests that he'll be running out of steam around the second turn. He may also have to contend with SHANGHAI BOBBY on the front end with ITSMYLUCKYDAY, INDY'S ILLUSION and FRAC DADDY chasing in hot pursuit. ORB and ARE YOU KIDDING ME will do their best running late.

#6 ORB



#7 INDY'S ILLUSION – longshot pick

Louisiana Derby

Louisiana Derby trophyIn the last three years, three colts who hit the board in the Louisiana Derby (G-1) also had a say in the outcome of the Triple Crown races. In 2010, Drosselmeyer was third in Louisiana’s premiere event and later won the Belmont Stakes. In 2011, the second and third place finishers in Louisiana also placed second and third in the Kentucky Derby.

This year, five colts who exited the Risen Star face one-another and nine new faces in the Louisiana Derby. Like the Florida Derby, the Louisiana Derby is worth 100 points to the winner, granting a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

CODE WEST and PALACE MALICE finished second and third in the Risen Star just missing in a blanket finish. Both have been training well and have the pedigrees to handle 1 1/8 miles.

GOLDEN SOUL, PROUD STRIKE and MYLUTE all tired after chasing the pace in the Risen Star. Of the three, Golden Soul have been working the best. Mylute may improve in his second start off of a layoff.

REVOLUTIONARY (War Pass - Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy) is getting a ton of attention after his courageous neck win in the Withers Stakes (G-3) in January. The well-bred colt has a speed over stamina pedigree. His works are average and trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race twice in the last six years. Read his Revolutionary's in-depth pedigree profile here.

Stablemates Departing and Sunbean scratched out of the Risen Star to race in the Texas Heritage Stakes and Gentilly Stakes.

DEPARTING (War Front - Leave, by Pulpit) is undefeated in three starts. Departing's distaff family is filled with Claiborne-bred stakes winners. His unraced dam is a full sister to the stakes winner Laity. She's a half sister to multiple G-3 winner Trip and also a half sister to the dam of multiple G-1 winning sprinter Zensational. Departing fired a very quick bullet in his last breeze.

SUNBEAN (Brahms - X Strawdnair, by Malagra) is a nose away from being undefeated in four starts. He takes a huge class jump from state-bred ranks into graded stakes company. Five of six of Sunbean's half siblings are Louisiana stakes veterans, including Mean Butterbean, Miss Bean Wah, Brother Bean, Good Human Bean, and Beanwah'smachine.

TITLETOWN FIVE (Tiznow - D' Wildcat Speed, by Forest Wildcat) jumps from 6F to 1 1/8 miles and takes a huge step up in company. He has a stamina over speed pedigree. Titletown Five's dam D' Wildcat Speed was a stakes winner in Puerto Rico and his second dam Velvet Panther was a Champion mare in Puerto Rico. D' Wildcat Speed is a half sister to the Calder stakes placed runners D' Broken Speed and D'Court Speed. Titletown Five has been breezing has been breezing well at Oaklawn.

Six colts are coming into the race at 20-1 odds or higher. The two best appear to be Ground Transport and Brazilian Court.

GROUND TRANSPORT (Big Brown - Extry, by Broad Brush) has won his last two races at the Fairgrounds and owns the highest late pace speed figure. His dam has yet to produce a blacktype runner, but she is a half sister to two Grade/Group 1 winners, the popular top turf mare Fire The Groom (dam of Group 1 winner and sire Stravinsky) and the English Group 1 sprinter Dowsing. Ground Transport has fired three consecutive bullets since his last win.

BRAZILIAN COURT (Harlan's Holiday - Devotedness, by Anet) has been stuck in maiden claiming races for much of his career, but suddenly turned the corner when he freaked in a 1 mile race, finishing in a different realm than his competition, over 19 lengths in front in a very sharp 1:36.83. He returned with a very strong second place finish, beaten ½ a length in the OBS Championship Stakes, a race his half brother Devoted Wildcat won last year. Brazilian Court's unraced dam is a half sister to the multiple stakes winner Join Effort. His damsire Anet was a multiple graded stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles.


Only three races have been held at 1 1/8 miles this meet. Two were won by pace setters, while the third was won by a closer. All broke from posts 4 – 7.

In a full field of 14 horses, anything and everything can happen. The best horse may receive the worst trip. This race will be a good lesson for those horses entering the Kentucky Derby. Titletown Five may be used early from his outside post to grab the lead. Code West and Proud Strike might be right there with him, along with Departing. Revolutionary will make his best run from the back of the pack and may wind up going wide. Sunbean can settle and come with a late run and Palace Malice may do the same. The last two editions of the Louisiana Derby were won by longshots. Let's go with a price for the win.

#7 Departing

#3 Revolutionary

#6 Sunbean

#13 Ground Transport – longshot pick