2015 Kentucky Derby Prep Horses To Watch
Bridget's Big Luvy:
This son of Tiz Wonderful emerged as a potential candidate for the classics with a gate-to-wire victory in the Private Terms S. on March 21 at Laurel Park. Racing with blinkers on for the first time, Bridget's Big Luvy gunned it from the gate under new pilot Angel Cruz and was never threatened in winning the 1 1/8m contest by 2 ½ lengths. The Jeremiah Englehart trainee crossed the wire in 1:51.92 and was awarded a career best 87 Beyer Speed Figure. It was first route race for Bridget's Big Luvy, who entered off a drubbing in the 7F G3 Hutcheson S. at Gulfstream Park, where the colt never handled the South Florida heat well during the winter. Bridget's Big Luvy raced three times in New York as a juvenile, debuting at Saratoga before moving to Belmont and breaking his maiden in an off-the-turf contest to close out his season on October 24. Bred in Maryland by Dark Hollow Farm, the bay is out of Memories of Mystic, a daughter of Dixie Union, and was foaled on May 17, 2012. Cary Frommer signed a $175,000 ticket to purchase him at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2013 Eastern Fall Yearling Sale then tried to sell him at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2014 Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, where Bridget's Big Luvy failed to meet his reserve. He has banked $125,605 for owner Tom O'Grady, who paid the $6,000 fee by the March 23 deadline to make the colt a late nominee to the Triple Crown. Englehart said he and O'Grady will look for a Kentucky Derby prep race to earn qualifying points to run for the roses.
This son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver earned a shot on the Triple Crown trail with his second straight victory, a Parx allowance contest on March 15. Settling well off the early pace under jockey Frankie Pennington, Unrivaled once again displayed a big closing kick and pulled away late for a five-length score over six foes. The colt covered the 1 1/16m on a track labeled good in 1:46.69 and earned a 92 BRIS Speed Rating, two points below the career best 94 he was given in his maiden-breaker. Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, LLC, the bay is out of the Unbridled mare Safely and was foaled on April 9, 2012. WinStar campaigned the colt through his first three races with trainer Kellyn Gorder. Unrivaled was off the board in his career debut in muddy sprint at Indiana Downs last July. He improved when stretched out to a mile there the following month and collected the show check. His connections then decided to enter him for a $30,000 tag at Keeneland in October and David Wright's Waldorf Racing Stables, LLC claimed him off of a nose loss in which he dwelt at the gate and spotted the field 14 lengths. In his first start with conditioner Marya Montoya, Unrivaled settled for second in the slop at Parx on December 9. Coming back just 14 days later, the colt put it all together and romped by 15 lengths against seven overmatched rivals. His sophomore debut was delayed when Parx cards were cancelled due to weather and Team Valor International acquired him privately in early March with the intention of running him in Laurel Park's Private Terms S. on March 14. When that stakes was pushed back a week, Unrivaled was rerouted to the Parx allowance, which increased his earnings to $69,520. He will remain in Montoya's care for the time being and is likely to make his stakes debut in the G1 Blue Grass S. on April 4 at Keeneland.
The connections of Verraco likely didn't have Kentucky Derby dreams when they entered the colt twice for a tag as a juvenile, but this son of Old Fashioned looks poised to jump on the Triple Crown trail after defeating four other nominees to the spring classics in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on February 27. With Elvis Trujillo aboard for the fourth straight time, Verraco closed from last to take the 1 1/16m contest by a neck over 7-10 favorite Cyrus Alexander. Timed in 1:43.66, the James Cassidy trainee was given a career best 88 BRIS Speed Rating. The colt began his career by running sixth of nine on synthetic in a Del Mar maiden race last July while under the care of conditioner Jeff Mullins. After moving to Cassidy's barn, Verraco was off the board in a MC 62500 at Del Mar in late November then won a MC 50000 over Santa Anita's main track on December 28. He began his sophomore season January 23 with a close runner-up effort when carried out in the stretch of an optional claimer on the Santa Anita turf. Bred in Kentucky by Sarawin Stable and Joe Mroz, the gray/roan is out of the Friends Lake mare N. Y. Friend and was foaled on March 11, 2012. Verraco failed to meet his reserve when offered as a weanling at the Keeneland 2012 November Breeding Stock Sale. Kings Equine purchased the colt for $10,000 the following summer at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Yearling Sale and subsequently sold him for $40,000 at the Barretts Equine Limited 2014 Paddock Sale at Del Mar. The DP Racing, LLC color-bearer has exceeded his purchase price with $65,910 in earnings for owner Deron Pearson, who indicated that the G3 Spiral S. at Turfway Park on March 21 and the G3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park are under consideration for Verraco's stakes debut.
This son of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic champ Tiznow stamped himself as one to watch when he whipped 10 rivals in a 1 1/16m maiden race at Oaklawn Park on February 21. With Channing Hill in the saddle, California Coast settled off the pace early, moved to the outside and launched his bid on the far turn before kicking clear and withstanding a late challenge from the more experienced Perfectly. Wayne Catalano's charge hit the wire 1 ¾ lengths in front in a final time of 1:47.87 and was awarded an 83 BRIS Speed Rating, a 19 point improvement from his January 22 career debut at Fair Grounds. California Coast flashed early speed in that race then stopped after trouble and a wide trip. Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, LLC, the bay is out of McVictory, a daughter of Victory Gallop, and was foaled on March 17, 2012. Owners Gary and Mary West purchased California Coast for $220,000 at the Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale, and the colt earned $36,600 of that back with his maiden score. He is nominated to the Triple Crown if his connections decide to put him on the trail.
After a string of morning bullets, bettors were in love with this son of Concord Point when he was sent to post as the 2-5 favorite for his debut in a 6F Santa Anita maiden race on Valentine's Day. And Power Jam delivered a powerful performance by stalking pacesetter Bold Bid through the first quarter mile, taking charge entering the turn and drawing off for a 4 ½-length victory under a hand-ride from Martin Garcia. The Bob Baffert trainee covered the distance in a speedy 1:08.68, which earned him a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Bred in Kentucky by owner Kaleem Shah, Inc., the gray/roan is out of Smart Strike dam Musical Rhythm and was foaled on January 26, 2012. The ridgling is a son of another Baffert charge, the multiple graded stakes-winning Concord Point. Power Jam banked $33,600 for his winning debut, and his connections were undecided afterwards about where the Triple Crown nominee might race next.
With a couple of solid efforts already on his resume, this son of Malibu Moon was sent to post as the 3-2 favorite in a February 7 Gulfstream Park maiden race that was loaded with five fellow Triple Crown nominees in the 12-horse field. Danzig Moon not only rewarded the confidence of his backers but also delivered a stellar performance with a stalk and pounce trip before drawing off to win by 4 ¾ lengths. Under Julien Leparoux, who took over from Shaun Bridgmohan, the colt was wide from post position 10 through the early stages of the 1m contest, but it made no difference. Once the Mark Casse trainee took control nearing the quarter pole, Danzig Moon quickly spurted away from his rivals and stopped the clock in 1:38.09. His 92 BRIS Speed Rating equaled the previous best he earned when closing from the clouds to finish a close second in a Churchill Downs maiden race in late October. Danzig Moon debuted 23 days before that contest in a Keeneland sprint race and completed the superfecta while beaten just 4 ¾ lengths for top honors. Bred in Ontario by William D. Graham, the bay is out of Leaveminthedust, by Danzig, and was foaled on March 24, 2012. Casse signed a $160,000 ticket at the Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale to purchase him for owner John C. Oxley. With his 3-1-1-0 record, the colt has amassed career earnings of $33,620. On the day after Danzig Moon's maiden-breaker, assistant trainer Norm Casse said the G2 Tampa Bay Derby across the state on March 7 followed by Keeneland's G1 Blue Grass S. on April 4 would most likely be the plan to try to earn him a spot in the gate on the first Saturday in May.
This ridgling son of Midshipman showed much determination and heart when he started slowly in a 5 ½F Santa Anita maiden race on January 31, rushed up between rivals to gain the lead and battled through the stretch to prevail by a nose over stubborn fellow firster Gimme Da Lute. With Joe Talamo aboard, the John Sadler-trained Yiannis hit the wire in 1:03.97 and was given a 92 BRIS Speed Rating. Bred in Kentucky by Thorobeam Farm, the bay is of out of the unraced Montbrook mare Eye'll Be Fine and was foaled on April 17, 2012. He first sold as a weanling for $65,000 at the Keeneland 2012 November Breeding Stock Sale then the following year for $120,000 at the Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale and again for $560,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2014 Selected Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. The Hronis Racing LLC color-bearer collected a $33,600 check for his winning debut and is nominated to the Triple Crown.
Overshadowed on the January 24 undercard of Upstart's sensational G3 Holy Bull S. triumph at Gulfstream Park was a dazzling debut by this son of Distorted Humor. Under Javier Castellano, Khozan broke from the far outside post against 13 rivals and quickly settled into a stalking position in the 7F contest. The Todd Pletcher trainee then made a sweeping move on the turn to take control and cruised to a 3 ¾-length score in front of the highly-regarded fellow first-time starter Wisecracker. Khozan completed his assignment in 1:23.63 and was awarded a 103 BRIS Speed Rating, second best for the week in the division to Upstart's 105. Bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs, the dark bay is out of Delta Princess, a daughter of A.P. Indy. Khozan was foaled on March 13, 2012, and is a half brother to three-time Eclipse champion and two-time G1 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Royal Delta. Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds purchased the colt for $350,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale and later sold him to Al Shaqab Racing for a whopping $1,000,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2014 Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. With just $24,000 banked in his winning debut, Khozan has a long way to go to earn back his purchase price. Pletcher said after the victory that his charge would like stretch out in allowance race for his next start.
J S Bach:
Expectations were high when this son of Tale of the Cat launched his career against fellow Florida-breds in a 5 1/2F maiden special weight contest last December 19 at Gulfstream Park. But J S Bach settled for a non-threatening second to new stablemate R Limo Joe while eight lengths ahead of the show finisher that day. Trainer Todd Pletcher brought his charge back at Gulfstream 30 days later to stretch out to 1 1/16m against open company and the colt delivered a romping 8 ½-length victory as the odds-on favorite against 11 overmatched rivals. With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard for the return engagement, J S Bach covered the distance in 1:44.61 and was given a 90 BRIS Speed Rating, three points below the 93 earned in his debut. A homebred for owner Donald R. Dizney's Double Diamond Farm, the bay of out of the Pulpit mare Ten Carat Lady and was foaled on March 10, 2012. J S Bach's maiden-breaker boosted his earnings to $33,960 and Pletcher will decide between and allowance race or stakes attempt for the colt's next start.
Kiaran McLaughlin nearly won the Kentucky Derby in 2055 when Closing Argument took command in the stretch only to be passed by the late-running Giacomo, and the conditioner has been trying to get to the elusive winner's circle under the Twin Spires ever since. He may have his best chance in 2015 with Frosted, a son of red-hot sire Tapit and the Deputy Minister mare Fast Cookie. Campaigned by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Godolphin Racing LLC, Frosted was highly-regarded in the barn before finishing a distant runner-up to subsequent Kip Deville S. champ Bayerd in a 6F Saratoga maiden race on August 23. The colt improved in his next outing, a 6 ½F Belmont Park contest for non-winners four weeks later, when he again settled for second but was beaten less than a length. His breakthrough effort came when Frosted finally stretched out to a mile and romped by 5 ¼ lengths on October 30 at Aqueduct. With Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard for the first time, the colt hit the wire in 1:36.19 and was given a career-best 94 BRIS Speed Rating. Bred by in Kentucky by Darley, Sheikh Mohammed's global thoroughbred breeding operation, the aptly-named gray/roan was foaled on April 18, 2012. Frosted has banked $70,600 in his three starts, and McLaughlin said he may try to increase that total and earn Derby qualifying points in the prestigious $400,000 G2 Remsen S. on November 29 at Aqueduct.