Scouting the Individual Interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager
The first of four Kentucky Derby Future pools begins its four-day run on Thanksgiving and I’ll give my thoughts on the individual interests below.
Bet down to 3-5 the past two years, the mutuel field (#24), or “All Others,” always gets hammered in Pool 1 and will be an overwhelming favorite once again despite being listed at 5-2 morning line odds. However, the last two Kentucky Derby winners (American Pharoah and Nyquist) were each listed as individual interests in Pool 1.
Here are my thoughts (#16 Not This Time has been withdrawn due to a career-ending injury):
#1 BEACH BUM: One of three individuals trained by four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, Beach Bum stamped himself as a live prospect when impressively capturing his career debut at Santa Anita on November 6, registering a 94 BRIS Speed rating for the 5 ¼-length decision. By Arch and out of a Storm Cat mare, $400,000 yearling purchase appears well-suited for longer distances as a close relative of Grade 1 winners Point of Entry and Pine Island.
#2 CLASSIC EMPIRE: With well-regarded Not This Time being removed due to a career-ending injury, Classic Empire looms as a standout and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner will try to become the third straight 2-year-old champion to wear the Roses (joining American Pharoah and Nyquist). Mark Casse-trained colt registered an outstanding 108 BRIS Speed rating in the Juvenile and has shown an affinity for Churchill Downs (2-for-2). And he’s bred for the 1 ¼-mile distance. Classic Empire is simply very imposing.
#3 FACT FINDING: A runaway winner in two career starts, Fact Finding is the first of two individuals trained by Todd Pletcher. He’s displayed a solid finishing kick in a pair of sprints, rallying to take his debut at Saratoga before returning 2 ½ months later with a smart off-the-pace allowance tally at Keeneland and while he’s bred for speed on top as a son of The Factor, the gray colt does figure to receive a dose of stamina from broodmare sire Deputy Commander. The Kentucky-bred sold for $523,000 at April’s 2-year-old Tattersalls sale in England.
#4 GORMLEY: Won his first two starts on the front end in nice fashion, including a three-length, wire-to-wire victory in the Frontrunner (G1), but Gormley didn’t show the same early speed and never fired in a disappointing seventh-place outing as the 5-1 third choice in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Malibu Moon colt possesses plenty of pedigree for longer distances and a Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner in John Shirreffs, and Gormley remains one of the leading California-based contenders entering 2017.
#5 GUNNEVERA: Confirmed closer offered an eye-catching turn of foot in recent $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (G3), rallying boldly from last to first in a 5 ¾-length victory, and Gunnevera also showed fine class winning the Saratoga Special (G2) during the summer. In 2015, Exaggerator won the same races before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby the following spring and the Antonio Sano-trained Gunnevera rates as an intriguing late runner as well.
#6 HEMSWORTH: Broke his maiden making his third start in the November 4 Nashua (G2) at Aqueduct, leading every step of the way in a 9 ½-length decision, but Hemsworth didn’t appear to be facing much in a four-horse field. Bernardini colt still did it the right way for trainer Tom Albertrani and he’s closely related to 2-year-old champion and sire Vindication. Eligible to develop into a nice one for owner/breeder Godoplhin.
#7 HOOKUP: Overlooked at 23-1 in lone start, Hookup rolled from off the pace to a four-length win in a one-turn maiden race at Aqueduct November 6. David Cannizo-trained son of Union Rags registered a 102 BRIS Late Pace rating and counts Grade 3 winner American Freedom, runner-up in the Travers (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1), as a half-brother. He’ll try to carry his momentum forward in Saturday’s Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct.
#8 IRISH WAR CRY: Looked the part of a big-time talent when making debut at Laurel Park November 11, striding away powerfully in the latter stages to a 4 ½-length win. Irish War Cry missed the break in the 6-furlong race and traveled extremely wide on the far turn and into the stretch before racing greenly with his head cocked sideways in the final furlongs, but it made little difference. Trained by Kentucky Derby winner Graham Motion, Curlin colt is built to appreciate much more ground and if he improves as expected off debut, New Jersey-bred chestnut can develop into a serious contender.
#9 JUST MOVE ON: Turf maiden winner exits convincing allowance score on main track at Churchill Downs. Just Move On was no factor in lone stakes attempt and while it came in the mud, Street Boss colt still has much to prove for trainer Patrick Byrne.
#10 KLIMT: Ended 2016 on a sour note, checking in a well-beaten eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), but Klimt displayed fine class earlier in his 2-year-old campaign, recording wins in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Best Pal (G2) and a runner-up in the FrontRunner (G1). With a favorable pedigree for longer distances and four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert plotting his development, Quality Road colt will be one to watch for next year.
#11 LOOKIN AT LEE: Hasn’t been a serious win threat at the graded level but respect how Lookin at Lee always gives a fine account of himself, finishing second in the Iroquois (G3) and Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). We’ll see whether Lookin at Lucky colt can make up ground on top rivals with further development at age 3.
#12 MASTERY: Has caught the eye out west, easily winning his first start at Santa Anita in late October before posting a 1 ¼-length tally in the recent Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar, and we’ll continue to learn more when Mastery tries two turns next time. Easy to admire his commendable BRIS Speed ratings (98 and 93) and dark bay is in the right hands with four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, but longer distances are at least a minor concern for the speedy Candy Ride colt.
#13 MCCRAKEN: With big wins in his first two starts at Churchill Downs, McCraken established himself as a major player for Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). And the Ian Wilkes-trained colt will take plenty of action in Pool 1 if he continues to shine under the Twin Spires. He rallied to win going away by 2 ¼ lengths when making his debut on October 2 and followed with a 3 ¾-length romp in the October 30 Street Sense. By Ghostzapper and out of a Seeking the Gold mare, McCraken is bred to handle additional ground.
#14 MO TOWN: A fast-closing second in a salty Saratoga maiden race, Mo Town stamped himself as one to watch when posting a seven-length romp the second-time out at Belmont Park on September 24. The well-regarded Uncle Mo colt will try stakes rivals in Saturday’s Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct and if the Tony Dutrow trainee continues to impress at two turns, Mo Town promises to be bet down before Pool 1 closes at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.
#15 NO DOZING: Easily captured his first two starts sprinting at Delaware Park and Laurel Park before recording a troubled fourth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. We’ll have a better gauge where the Union Rags colt fits after Saturday’s Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct.
#17 PRACTICAL JOKE: Ultimately proved no match for Classic Empire and Not This Time in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) but Practical Joke gave a respectable account of himself in third, finishing nearly five lengths clear of fourth. Chad Brown trainee showed class and determination winning his first three outings, including a nose decision in the Champagne (G1) following a dreadful start, and he’ll add quality to the Florida division of 3-year-olds. My only question right now surrounds longer distances for the Into Mischief colt.
#18 RUNNING MATE: Looked the part streaking to a six-length debut win at Delaware Park on October 5 and Larry Jones-trained Running Mate is down at Fair Grounds readying for his 3-year-old campaign. The top half of the pedigree is no issue (by Creative Cause) but a number of speed influences figure prominently in the female line.
#19 SAINT’S FAN: Owned and bred by trainer Dallas Stewart, Saint’s Fan accelerated nicely to win his career debut at Churchill Downs on November 4. He wouldn’t be the first 3-year-old to outrun pedigree concerns, but sire Tale of Ekati inspires little confidence for classic distances and the Louisiana-bred colt counts noted sprint producer Meadowlake as his second broodmare sire.
#20 SYNDERGAARD: Longer distances have always been a concern with his pedigree but thought Syndergaard would handle the 1 1/16-mile trip of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) following a commendable nose second in the Champagne (G1). But the Todd Pletcher-trained colt was through by the midway point of the far turn, weakening to be a well-beaten fifth after setting the pace on a short lead. Won’t be surprised to see him run well in some early-season preps but impossible to envision him thriving at 1 ¼ miles on the first Saturday in May.
#21 TAKAFUL: With his breeding, Takaful will always have the opportunity to shine on turf but the Bernadini colt established himself as a Kentucky Derby prospect with a smashing eight-length debut win over Belmont Park’s maiden track on October 29. Conditioned by Kiaran McLaughlin, the Shadwell Stable homebred registered an excellent 99 BRIS Speed rating leading wire to wire and I’m excited to see him square off against Mo Town in Saturday’s Remsen (G2).
#22 UNCONTESTED: Impressive debut winner flashed to the front at the break and extended his margin at every call scoring by six lengths at Keeneland on October 19. Uncontested was flattered when runner-up Untrapped came back to crush maiden foes and the Wayne Catalano trainee figures to take some betting action if he starts in Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs. The talent appears there but let’s see if he can carry his speed two turns.
#23 WILD SHOT: A Churchill Downs maiden winner two starts back, Wild Shot has displayed good early speed in his last two starts but weakened to third when trying two turns in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). The Trappe Shot colt will get the opportunity to redeem himself in Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).
Seven debut winners are listed among the 22 individual interests and I’m interested in a pair of them, #1 Beach Bum and #8 Irish War Cry. Barring an unexpected odds drop, I will play both on Sunday afternoon.