BabyTalk #19

by Tom Carley

 


 

This week’s column is being written as we finish a weekend that was highlighted by three 50-point races. The Derby picture is becoming clearer. Not only because of good performances by horses in the prep races, but also by horses dropping off the Derby Trail because of injuries. These will be the two talking points of this week’s column. These races were pretty exciting, so I added a link to a Bloodhorse.com video of each race for those of you who missed them over the weekend, as well as included their winning photos from the same site.

This week’s Featured Three:

I. Stakes Recap    There were three 3-year-old stakes races over the past weekend.  

   
  
 
  
   El Kabeir Victorious in Gotham Stakes

El Kabeir Victorious in Gotham Stakes

GOTHAM STAKES                                                                  

50 Points

VIDEO: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/race/USA/AQU/2015/3/7/9/gotham-s-gr-iii

This $400k Grade 3 Stakes, hosting 10 juniors to run at 11/16 mile on the inner dirt track, was the third Aqueduct prep in the series of four races. Because of the spacing of the races in New York, some horses that we have seen at the two prior Aqueduct preps took this race off to rest, train and prepare for the WOOD MEMORIAL that will be held April 4. Among those that sat this race out were Far From Over (winner of the WITHERS STAKES) and General Bellamy. In the GOTHAM, El Kabeir sat behind the quick early pace of Blame Jim. When the field turned for home, he made a visually impressive fast final 3/8ths of a mile to get the win. Tiz Shea D (not currently nominated for the Triple Crown races and would require a $6,000 supplemental nomination) did make an impressive closing stretch run to get 2nd. Classy Class (a contender I expected much more from) labored in the stretch and ran third. Horses that caught my eye: 

El Kabeir did a lot to erase questions that I had about whether or not he could handle a distance farther than a mile, and  ade one really professional-looking run at this bunch to win. I just don’t know how competitive this particular group of Derby contenders really was.

POSITIVES for El Kabeir:

  1. Rated well and made one run to get to the wire first.
  2. Made me somewhat forgive his fatigue-induced collapse in the stretch in the WITHERS STAKES. 

NEGATIVES for El Kabeir:

  1. How good of a group of other horses did he beat?
  2. CC Lopez – El Kabeir’s 54-year-old jockey with little experience in big time races- represents a question mark for me in the Derby. You have to ride the Derby race, especially turning into the final stretch, contending as well with the noise of 154,000 people. This is definitely different than any other race Lopez has ridden in.

Tis Shea D entered this race as an untested and non-Triple-Crown-nominated horse. I really did not consider him as I previewed the race. But another good performance in the WOOD MEMORIAL could get this horse a spot in the Derby.

POSITIVES for Tis Shea D:

  1. Showed distance is no question: he looked strong in the last quarter mile.
  2. Jockey Taylor Rice will not give an inch. As the field sizes increase, this will become an important factor because Tis Shea D will need to grab early position due to the way he likes to come from the rear of the field.

NEGATIVES for Tis Shea D:

  1. Not yet Triple Crown nominated. This will become the $6,000 question.

TAMPA BAY DERBY                                                                                        

50 Points

VIDEO:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/90520/carpe-diem-returns-a-tampa-bay-derby-winner

This $400k Grade 3 Stakes, hosting 10 juniors to run at 11/16 mile on the inner dirt track, was the third Aqueduct prep in the series of four races. Because of the spacing of the races in New York, some horses that we have seen at the two prior Aqueduct preps took this race off to rest, train and prepare for the WOOD MEMORIAL that will be held April 4. Among those that sat this race out were Far From Over (winner of the WITHERS STAKES) and General Bellamy. In the GOTHAM, El Kabeir sat behind the quick early pace of Blame Jim. When the field turned for home, he made a visually impressive fast final 3/8ths of a mile to get the win. Tiz Shea D (not currently nominated for the Triple Crown races and would require a $6,000 supplemental nomination) did make an impressive closing stretch run to get 2nd. Classy Class (a contender I expected much more from) labored in the stretch and ran third. Horses that caught my eye: 

El Kabeir did a lot to erase questions that I had about whether or not he could handle a distance farther than a mile, and  ade one really professional-looking run at this bunch to win. I just don’t know how competitive this particular group of Derby contenders really was.

POSITIVES for El Kabeir:

  1. Rated well and made one run to get to the wire first.
  2. Made me somewhat forgive his fatigue-induced collapse in the stretch in the WITHERS STAKES. 

NEGATIVES for El Kabeir:

  1. How good of a group of other horses did he beat?
  2. CC Lopez – El Kabeir’s 54-year-old jockey with little experience in big time races- represents a question mark for me in the Derby. You have to ride the Derby race, especially turning into the final stretch, contending as well with the noise of 154,000 people. This is definitely different than any other race Lopez has ridden in.

Tis Shea D entered this race as an untested and non-Triple-Crown-nominated horse. I really did not consider him as I previewed the race. But another good performance in the WOOD MEMORIAL could get this horse a spot in the Derby.

POSITIVES for Tis Shea D:

  1. Showed distance is no question: he looked strong in the last quarter mile.
  2. Jockey Taylor Rice will not give an inch. As the field sizes increase, this will become an important factor because Tis Shea D will need to grab early position due to the way he likes to come from the rear of the field.

NEGATIVES for Tis Shea D:

  1. Not yet Triple Crown nominated. This will become the $6,000 question.

 

    Carpe Diem takes Tampa Bay Derby
  Carpe Diem takes Tampa Bay Derby

TAMPA BAY DERBY                                                                                        

50 Points

VIDEO:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/90520/carpe-diem-returns-a-tampa-bay-derby-winner

Trainer Todd Pletcher used this Grade 2, 11/16 mile $350K race to make a comeback with Carpe Diem, who was dominant in the way that he drew off in the stretch. Ami’s Flatter ran second and could be the biggest sleeper of this division. Ocean’s Knight showed very little and ran 6th after winning the local prep for this race at the SAM DAVIS STAKES. Horses that caught my eye:                            

Carpe Diem had an outstanding return to the racetrack, answering all of the questions and reservations anyone could have. I agree with the Bloodhorse post that “Carpe Diem made his 2015 debut in style March 7, taking the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at Tampa Bay Downs by five lengths to claim his third victory from four starts.”One more prep and Carpe Diem should be good to go.

POSITIVES for Carpe Diem:

  1. Showed the same dominance he had as a 2year-old.
  2. Showed no effects of the layoff since BREEDER’S CUP JUVENILE.
  3. Should only get better as he continues to train.

NEGATIVES for Carpe Diem:

  1. I was concerned at the hesitancy this horse showed while loading into the gate. I noticed few gate works on the work tab in the past performances.
  2. Is 2 preps as a 3- year-old enough of a foundation to run 10 furlongs?

Ami’s Flatter Made up for the poor SAM DAVIS STAKES showing by running a strong 2nd, but still needs some Derby points to find his way into the starting gate in Louisville.

  Dortmund wins San Felipe Stakes
 Dortmund wins San Felipe Stakes

SAN FELIPE STAKES                                                                                     

50 points

VIDEO:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/race/USA/SA/2015/3/7/7/san-felipe-s-gr-ii

This stakes featured nine three-year-olds competing for $400,000 over 11/16 mile on dirt. Dortmund takes this group gate to wire in this Grade 2 competition. While he ran some quick fractions, he did appear more dominant today than he has in the past. Horses that caught my eye: 

Dortmund continued to show that he is the best horse on the West Coast, and will make his return in the SANTA ANITA DERBY at 9 furlongs, then on to Louisville.

POSITIVES for Dortmund:

  1. Is a very large & muscular horse.
  2. Improves every race.
  3. Is now 5 for 5 and has found a way to win two of those races when he appeared beaten.
  4. Has already won a race at Churchill Downs.

NEGATIVES for Dortmund:

  1. Due to his large size, he might have trouble working his way through Kentucky Derby traffic.
  2. Does not show a killer instinct and does not put horses away; simply edges them out at the wire.

 

Prospect Park Lived up to the “wise guy hype” and remained close to the winner. Still needs to step his game up a notch to contend with this group of 3-year-olds.

POSITIVES for Prospect Park:

  1. Ran well in his first stakes race.

NEGATIVES for Prospect Park:

  1. Not experienced against seasoned 3-year-olds.

II. Horses Are Dropping off of the Derby Trail – As is seen every year, horses are succumbing to injuries as the races get longer, and dropping off of the Derby Trail. Two notable injuries this week have led me to look at the horses that have suffered an injury and are no longer among those competing for the Derby. 


Horse          

Khozin                     

The Great War                

Calculator   

Leave the Light On                       

Eagle

Injury

Right hind ankle. At Rood & Riddle for evaluation.

Bleeding, trainer has taken off the Derby Trail.

Undisclosed injury

Ankle

Undisclosed Injury


III. Jockey Shuffle Continues – As the calendar gets closer to late April, you are seeing jockeys begin to align themselves with the horses that they feel will give them the best shot to win the Derby. Some updates to jockey assignments:

Kent Desormeaux won the BREEDER’S CUP JUVENILE on Wildcat Red and flew to New Orleans to ride War Story in the RISEN STAR at the Fairgrounds. Last Saturday he rode Prospect Park in the SAN FELIPE STAKES and said of the winning horse, “We will get him next time” implying to me that he will choose to ride Prospect Park over Wildcat Red in the SANTA ANITA DERBY.

CC Lopez is the 54-year-old who has ridden El Kabeir in three straight races. Since he has no other mounts on Derby prospects, he will ride El Kabeir in the KENTUCKY DERBY.



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