The Los Alamitos Cashcall Futurity at Los Alamitos Race Course is the marquee Kentucky Derby 2018 prep race this week and two of my top four contenders square off.
Solomini and McKenzie, both trained by Bob Baffert, knock heads in the marquee event at Los Alamitos and it looks like a match race on paper. The former exits back-to-back place finishes in grade one routes and the latter looked great in his winning extended sprint debut.
My Los Alamitos Futurity video can be found at the bottom of this post. Solomini capture above and speed figures below courtesy of Today's Racing Digest.
Let’s look back at a couple of recent graded Derby preps:
Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (11-25-17)
Enticed stalked, pounced, and held off late runner Tiz Mischief by a head. Promises Fulfilled set the pace and held the show, 2.5 lengths in front of 4th place finisher High North. The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes has not been a strong Kentucky Derby prep in recent years and prior experience at Churchill Downs has not been a big plus on the first Saturday in May.
Remsen Stakes (12-2-17)
Catholic Boy switched to dirt and loved the new footing in an easy 4+ length victory over Avery Island. The winner looked okay visually but the Remsen has not been a strong Derby prep in recent years and that trend will probably continue.
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)
Comments: He improved his Today’s Racing Digest Final Ratings (140, 132, 128) + CPR Ratings (141, 126, 120) in his first three starts (all wins) including back-to-back grade one wins in the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner. He was hung out to dry in the the BC Juvenile (149 CPR + 131 Final) and ended up a good 3rd considering the lost ground. I still think that he deserves the Eclipse Award for top 2-year-old and he remains my number one ranked Derby contender. He is expected to have two Derby preps next year at Santa Anita Park (San Felipe, SA Derby).
Derby Points (14)
(2) GOOD MAGIC (Curlin - Glinda the Good, by Hard Spun)
Trainer (Chad Brown) - Owner (e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables)
Comments: What a time to break his maiden! I thought he ran the most complete race in his place finish in the G1 Champagne (138 Final Rating) and his Today’s Racing Digest numbers went through the roof (153 Final Rating) in a visually impressive score in the BC Juvenile. He has been part of my Derby list all along and will spend the winter in South Florida.
Derby Points (24)
(3) SOLOMINI (Curlin - Surf Song, by Storm Cat)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Zayat Stables)
Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.80 (14.55) at Santa Anita on Dec 3.
Comments: The Baffert trainee continues to improve without winning and was hardly disgraced finishing 2nd behind my top two Derby contenders in the G1 FrontRunner (116 Final) and G1 BC Juvenile (140 Final). He smartly scored as the even money favorite in his Del Mar sprint debut Sept 2 (132 Final) and goes next in the CashCall Futurity at Los Alamitos Race Course on Dec 9 (7-5 second choice on the morning line).
Derby Points (12)
(4) MCKINZIE (Street Sense - Runway Model, by Petionville)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, Paul Weitman)
Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.80 (1/6) at Santa Anita on Dec 3.
Comments: In his seven furlong debut at Santa Anita on Oct 28, he stalked outside, took the lead in the stretch, and pulled away to win by 5+ lengths in 1:22.70 (131 Final Rating). His sire won the 2007 Kentucky Derby and his dam was a multiple graded winner as a juvenile (won G2 Alcibiades and G2 Golden Rod in 2004). The CashCall Futurity is next and he is the 6-5 morning line favorite.
(5) MONTAUK (Medaglia d’Oro - Indian Vale, by A. P. Indy)
Trainer (Todd Pletcher) - Owner (LaPenta, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables)
Comments: The even money chalk made a smashing debut on the Champagne Stakes undercard in the 6th race on Oct 7 (155 Pace + 141 Final). In his aforementioned seven panel bow, he stalked from post 10 after a 1/4, moved up to dispute the pace after a 1/2, and keep pulling away to win by 11+ lengths while in hand under Johnny V. They made the smart move and skipped the BC Juvenile but he has not worked since his debut. He is currently with Pletcher’s string in South Florida.
(6) HOLLYWOOD STAR (Malibu Moon - Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush)
Trainer (Dale Romans) - Owner (Albaugh Family Racing)
Comments: Followed up a debut maiden win at CD June 28 (120 Final) with back-to-back place finishes in the G2 Saratoga Special (123 Final) and G3 Iorquois (134 Final). 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. Romans says that he has yet to put everything together in the morning and afternoon (physically and mentally) and he has every right to improve next year.
Derby Points (4)
(7) FREE DROP BILLY (Union Rags - Trensa, by Giant’s Causeway)
Trainer (Dale Romans) - Owner (Albaugh Family Stables)
Comments: His TRD Final Ratings were on the rise (140, 138, 129, 126) and he stalked from midpack from an outer post handled two turns as expected in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity (1st by 4 lengths) on Oct 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 and will probably resurface in South Florida next year.
Derby Points (10)
(8) FIRENZE FIRE (Poseidon’s Warrior - My Every Wish, by Langfuhr)
Trainer (Jason Servis) - Owner (Mr Amore Stables)
Comments: Grade 3 Sanford (132 Final) and Grade 1 Champagne (140 Final) winner made a bit of a middle move before flattening out to finish 7th in the BC Juvenile. Heading into the Juvenile, I stated that he had a sprint oriented pedigree and I was concerned about two turns. After that race, I am still not sure how far he wants to go and I have a feeling that he will ultimately be best as a sprinter.
Derby Points (10)
(9) SHIVERMETIMBERS (Shanghai Bobby - Sealaunch, by Unbridled’s Song)
Trainer (Jerry Hollendorfer) - Owner (Mark DeDomenico, West Point Thoroughbreds)
Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.20 (8/41) at Santa Anita on Dec 7.
Comments: Finished 3rd in his first two outings (McKinzie beat him Oct 28) and he dueled from start to finish and nipped outside stalker Peace by a head in a flat mile maiden race at Del Mar on Nov 23. The top two finishers were 8+ lengths in front of troubled show finisher He’s Stylish.
(10) NOBLE INDY (Take Charge Indy - Noble Maz, by Storm Boot)
Trainer (Todd Pletcher) - Owner (WinStar Farm)
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. Look for him to show up in an allowance or stakes event early next year.
(11) NERO (Pioneerof The Nile - Ocean Goddess, by Stormy Atlantic)
Trainer (Bob Baffert) - Owner (Tabor, Magnier, Smith, Stonestreet Stables)
Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.20 (14/70) at Santa Anita on Dec 2.
Comments: In his career debut at Del Mar on Aug 27, he dueled, opened up, and was caught on the line by subsequent Speakeasy Stakes winner Beautiful Shot. He returned to the worktab on Oct 4 and should be getting close to his second start.
THE NEXT NINE: (12) Principe Guilherme, (13) Catholic Boy, (14) Tiz Mischief, (15) Analyze It, (16) Enticed, (17) Greyvitos, (18) Vision, (19) He’s Stylish, (20) Peace