In the Money

Horse racing insight that's loose on the lead

ANALYSIS: Kentucky Derby workouts through April 27

April 27th, 2014

The most important thing to note is that there is a substantial amount of rain predicted throughout the next 3-4 days in Louisville. This will change up a track that was on the heavy side over the weekend and it will be crucial to see how these horses adjust.

Intense Holiday

Intense Holiday

Intense Holiday

He was helped by an unenthused work mate (We Miss Artie), but no doubt this was the best work of Sunday’s lot. Trainer Todd Pletcher called it the best work from Intense Holiday he’s seen yet. John Velazquez, aboard for the first time, had to keep him reigned in at the start of the work. When he asked for some acceleration, Intense Holiday, on the outside, blew past We Miss Artie and galloped out with strength. This is a colt who is currently thriving on this track.

Grade: A+

Final time: 4f, 48.60, out 1:00.80 & 1:16.80

Splits: 13.00, 25.00

Danza/Vinceremos

Danza

Danza

Danza’s been the picture of fitness since arriving. Although his work was not as flashy as Intense Holiday’s, he did show good energy working with Vinceremos, who was on the inside. Danza eventually accelerated late and did inch away, but once clear, Vinceremos was stronger on the gallop out. Danza does show a bit of high leg action.

Grade: B

Final time: 4f, :48.80 out 5f 1:01.80 & 6f 1:16

Splits: 12.80, 25.

Medal Count

Medal Count

Medal Count

The top work of Saturday’s group. He looks fantastic getting over this track, which he’s trained on since he was 2 years old. He boasts a smooth, effortless, stride and shows no signs of fatigue despite two races in the past month. Also, I like the longer work as opposed to four furlongs. When he came off the track he was barely taxed. Very interesting from CD press notes: “Romans assistant Tammy Fox said she hasn’t galloped Medal Count since prior to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile because the colt proved too strong for her to handle.”

Grade: A+

Final time: 6f, 1:13, out 7f in 1:26.60 & 1 mile in 1:42.20.

Splits: 12.60, 24.40, 36.20, 48.20, 1:00.20

Candy Boy

Candy Boy

Candy Boy

Mixed feelings about this work. He’s a fit horse who looks comfortable in his new surroundings. Jockey Gary Stevens loves the way he gets over the track and trainer John Sadler was very pleased with the work. He certainly outworked his mate and appeared energetic, but I wasn’t blown away. Will keep an eye on how he handles the track with moisture.

Grade: B

Final time: 5f, 1:00.80, out 1:13.80

Splits: 12.40, 24.40, 36.20.

Chitu

Chitu

Chitu

Chitu lost the special shoe he’s been wearing on the right hind hoof in the middle of his workout and that likely affected his ability to accelerate. He seemed to be picking up the pace at the end of his workout and passed his work mate with ease. Note he worked from the gate, which is interesting preparation. He is showing some improvement since he was outworked by Bayern in his previous trip over the track.

Interesting from Baffert in CD notes: “Chitu is being treated for seedy toe, a rare but potentially dangerous fungus condition. Baffert said the colt is recovering nicely and that the shoe protects the hoof. “He runs in regular shoes,” Baffert said. “It’s a little fungus that gets in the toe and eats the front of the wall. It’s not painful or anything. He’s never been sore. It’s growing out. The fungus is under control, but we just took a lot of the wall in the front of hoof off. It’s not inside the foot. It’s nothing painful. We always have it covered up, but right now we have it open so it can get air and dry out. He’s fine.”

Grade: B

Final time: 6f, 1:13.20 from the gate

Splits: 24.40, 36.20, 47.80 1:00.20, out 1:27.20.

Wildcat Red

Wildcat Red

Wildcat Red

He hasn’t looked comfortable over this surface since he arrived. The work over the track was an improvement over how he’s looked in his gallops, but doesn’t appear up to par with others. He looks a bit fatigued when coming off the track. Will watch him over the next few days as the track changes. Trainer Jose Garoffalo: “The track seemed a little bit heavy. He has never been on a track like this.”

Grade: C

Final time: 5f, 1:04.20

Splits: 13.20, 25.80, 38.80 and 51.20, out in 1:20.60.

Commanding Curve

This was tough to gauge because Commanding Curve veered out, appearing to shy at something, and had to regain his stride at a crucial point in the work. His previous work was much better, and he’s another one who was possibly hampered by the dry, heavy track. He boasts a lot of parallels to Golden Soul, but this work wasn’t Golden Soul-esque.

Grade: B-

Final time: 5f, 1:02. 60

Splits: 12.60, 25.20, 37.20, out 6f 1:18.20.

Ride on Curlin

Ride on Curlin

Ride on Curlin

They’re putting a lot of stamina gallops and works into this colt leading up to the race. He looks like the type who needs a target to get the most out of his work; going solo he appears to occasionally lose interest, but that’s not a negative. A bit of a high head carriage on this colt. This work over CD track was significantly slower than his works at Oaklawn. Exercise rider Bryan Beccia: “The track’s a little off. It was a little dead this morning. It’s not as fast as it was last night or anything like that.”

Grade: B-

Final time: 7f, 1:29.00

Splits: 14, 27.20, 39.40, 51.60, 1:16, out 1 mile 1:43.20

Harry’s Holiday

Say what you will about this little longshot, but I really like the way he moved over the track Saturday. He covers a lot of ground with his stride, is very focused in blinkers and was very professional. He’s a stakes winner and graded stakes-placed who won over this track in his debut; glad he’ll het a shot at the roses.

Grade: A

Final time: 5f, 1:02.60

Splits: 14, 27.20, 39.40, 51.60, 1:16, out 6f in 1:16.20

Harry's Holiday

Harry’s Holiday

We Miss Artie

This is a curious colt who loves to show off in the mornings. You’ll see him with his head always bowed, trotting. He appeared totally disinterested in his work with Intense Holiday and began the work with the head bowed. He had nothing left when the rider began urging him. Todd Pletcher said the colt normally works well on dirt, but that this was “the worst he’s ever worked” over it and said he was disappointed with the effort. Don’t know if it’s so much the surface as a horse who is not comfortable in this environment. Reports are he appears to have come back from the work in good health, so he will move forward to the Derby.

Grade: D

Final time: 4f, :49.20

Vicar’s In Trouble

Talented colt didn’t appear to take to the surface when working in company Saturday, and he didn’t accelerate and pass like you’d want to see. Don’t be dismayed by the slow time, however; this colt is known for working casually, so it’s tough to gauge.

Grade: B-

Final time: 5f, 1:03.80

Splits: 13.20, 25.80, 38.20, out 6f 1:17.20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANALYSIS: Kentucky Oaks contenders through April 25

April 25th, 2014

A look at who has stood out through April 25:

Untapable

Untapable made a favorable impression in her work last Sunday. Photo credit: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer

Untapable made a favorable impression in her work last Sunday. Photo credit: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer

As a handicapper, you want to go against the favorite, but that’s going to be tough to do after seeing this filly motor through the Churchill Downs stretch. If her top-notch work is any indication, she hasn’t lost a step since moving from Fair Grounds and, if anything, looks to be even more dangerous at her home track. She left her work mate in the dust. You get the feeling you’re watching a superstar in the making, and only an unfavorable post or stumble at the start could stop this freight train. Grade: A+ Final time: 5f, 1:00 Splits: 12.40, 24.40, 36.40 & galloped out 6f in 1:13.60. Finished 9 lengths in front.

Unbridled Forever

I’ve liked this filly from Day One, and she’s done nothing to change my mindset. She was soundly beaten by Untapable in the Fair Grounds Oaks, but she is certainly a Horse for Course at Churchill Downs and has trained exceptionally well here. If any filly can turn the tables on Untapable, I think she’s the one. Keep in mind her dam, Lemons Forever, won the Oaks at 47-1. We won’t get anywhere near that, but she’s a viable option if you’re looking to take a chance against Untapable, who should be a heavy favorite.

Grade: A

Final time: 5f, 1:00.80

Splits: :12.20, :24.40, :36.80, :48.80 and galloped out 6f in 1:14.

Unbridled Forever

Unbridled Forever

 

My Miss Sophia

The Gazelle winner is a sight to behold. She’s the definition of fit and athletic, and appears happy and aware when galloping on the track. She is a very appealing mover who can carry her speed. Since she likes to be the pace or close to it, a lot will depend on post position and the design of the field. As far as training goes, she’s been passing the test in the mornings.

My Miss Sophia

My Miss Sophia

Rosalind

If there is a “Wise Guy” Oaks horse developing, Rosalind might be it. She’s been the talk of the backside with her dominating presence on the track in the mornings. When she comes out onto the strip, she struts like she owns the track, and does not look the least bit intimidated when foes get close to her in the lane. She’s a late closer who should have a suitable pace scenario. She’s likely to work this weekend.

 

 

ANALYSIS: Kentucky Derby workouts through April 25

April 25th, 2014

Here’s a look at initial inpressions of Kentucky Derby contenders through Friday, April 25. The work tab will really pick up starting April 26 and 27.

Hoppertunity 

Hoppertunity

Hoppertunity

Hoppertunity’s work in tandem with stablemate Drill is one of the best of the Derby contenders so far. Granted, Drill “lost interest” as trainer Bob Baffert described it, but it was still impressive. Hoppertunity passed Drill in a solid effort, drew away from that running mate and came back with good energy. Also notable is the colt’s calm demeanor. He appears very professional, business-like. He handles the surface well.

Grade: A

Final time: 5f, 1:00.20

Splits: 12.40, 24.40, 36.20, out 6f in 1:13.20, 7f 1:26.20, 1 mile 1:41.60

Hoppertunity (outside) eventually passed Drill and drew off

Hoppertunity (outside) eventually passed Drill and drew off

General a Rod

General a Rod

General a Rod

General a Rod’s “pedestrian” work didn’t draw rave reviews, but it wasn’t notably bad. He worked alone and without blinkers and loped along leisurely, steadily. The slow work was a stark contrast to his five furlongs in :59.80 on April 17 at Churchill Trackside. He returned to the track in blinkers the next time out, and Mike Maker said he was still deciding about whether or not General a Rod will wear them for the Derby. My guess is if he wears them during a possible work next Wednesday, you’ll see him much sharper. I gave him an edge on rating because I believe the work’s final time wasn’t indicative of his ability.

Grade: B

Final time: 5f, 1:03.40

Splits: 13, 26.20, 39. out 6f in 1:17.60.

General a Rod post-work

General a Rod post-work

Tapiture

Tapiture during his five furlong work Monday (Photo credit: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer)

Tapiture during his five furlong work Monday (Photo credit: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer)

It can be tough to judge solo works, and it would be a better gauge if Tapiture had a work mate, but there’s no doubt that this colt loves this surface. He just glides over it effortlessly. This is a nice-moving horse who is very athletic and agile. He’s proven he can handle a tussle. He doesn’t appear to be skittish or easily rattled, as is the case with some Tapit progeny. His stride is impressive.

Grade: A-

Final time: 5f, 1:02.80

Splits: 13.40, 25.80 & 38, galloped out 6f in 1:16.40.

 

Wicked Strong (at Belmont)

I did not see this work at Belmont firsthand, but by video analysis this effort looked stellar. Wicked Strong cruised over the track, looked very focused yet didn’t overextend. He looked a picture of health before and after the work; he is a lightweight colt but appears to have emerged from his Wood Memorial win in good shape. He will van to Louisville Saturday, which is expected to be a 14-hour trip, but apparently he’s vanned to Florida more than once with no problem.

Grade: A

Final time: 7f, 1:27.11

Splits: 13.30, 25.47, 49.91, 1:02.26, 1:14.51

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A7DBTnSvj4&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

Standouts at Churchill Downs

Who caught the eye this week? Definitely Intense Holiday tops the list. He covers a lot of ground in his gallops and appears very comfortable on this track.

Intense Holiday

Intense Holiday

 

Medal Count looks indifferent back at the barn, but as soon as he gets on the track, he perks up and appears to be a happy-go-lucky horse. He hasn’t lost any weight from running two races in the past month. Works this weekend by these two contenders should help answer questions.

Medal Count

Medal Count

 

Danza is one of the most stunning Derby contenders and he does fine on leisurely gallops, but we need to see his work Sunday before giving a stamp of approval.

Danza

Danza