|Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Last Race||Next Race||Comments|
|1||Game Winner||Bob Baffert||Joel Rosario||1st in Breeders’Cup Juvenile||G2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19||Looking forward to Saturday|
|2||War of Will||Mark Casse||Tyler Gaffalione||1st in the G2 Risen Star||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||He Has Been Impressive on Dirt|
|3||Improbable||Bob Baffert||Drayden Van Dyke||1st in Cash Call Futurity||G2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19||Can He Push Game Winner?|
|4||Instagrand||Jerry Hollendorfer||Drayden Van Dyke||1st in Best Pal Stakes||Gotham Stakes on 3/9/19||Shipping East to Avoid Monsters|
|5||Roadster||Bob Baffert||Mike Smith||1st in SA Allowance||Undecided||Mike Smith Says “He’s Back!”|
|6||Bourbon War||Mark Hennig||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||2nd in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3-30/19||He Ran Super & Galloped Out Great|
|7||Mucho Gusto||Bob Baffert||Joe Talamo||1st in G3 Robert B. Lewis||Undecided||What’s Next?|
|8||Gunmetal Gray||Jerry Hollendorfer||Mike Smith||2nd in Robert B. Lewis Stakes||G2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19||Has the guts & metal|
|9||Country House||Bill Mott||Luis Saez||2nd in the G2 Risen Star||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||Green, but Talented|
|10||Dream Maker||Mark Casse||Florent Geroux||1st in FG Allowance||G2 Tampa Bay Derby on 3/9/19||Maintenance Work At FG|
|11||Code of Honor||Shug McGaughey||John Velazquez||1st in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Perfect Trip Renders Perfect Finish|
|12||Galilean||Jerry Hollendorfer||Flavien Pratt||1st in California Cup||Undecided||Wow Time in Cal Cup|
|13||Long Range Toddy||Steve Asmussen||Richard Eramia||3rd in G3 Southwest Stakes||G2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19||Nice work at OP on 3/2/19|
|14||Sparky Ville||Jeff Bonde||Joel Rosario||1st in G2 San Vicente Stakes||G2 San Felipe Stakes on 3/9/19||Interesting Week Coming Up|
|15||Harvey Wallbanger||Ken McPeek||Brian Hernandez||1st in G2 Holy Bull Stakes||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Has Moved Ahead of Stablemate For Now|
|16||Well Defined||Kathleen O’Connell||Pablo Morales||1st in Sam F. Davis Stakes||G2 Tampa Bay Derby on 3/9/19||Speedy Type|
|17||Hidden Scroll||Bill Mott||Joel Rosario||4th in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Speed & Fade / Has Does He Respond to Defeat?|
|18||Signalman||Ken McPeek||Brian Hernandez||7th in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Looked Very Dull in 2019 Debut / Drawing Board|
|19||Standard Deviation||Chad Brown||Irad Ortiz||2nd in GP Allowance||Undecided||Has To Take Giant Step Forward in Next Out|
|20||Knicks Go||Ben Colebrook||Albin Jimenez||5th in G3 Sam F.Davis Stakes||Gotham Stakes on 3/9/19||What Happened?|
|1||Anothertwistafate||Blaine D. Wright||Juan Hernandez||1st in El Camino Real Derby||Undecided||Won by 7. Son of Scat Daddy|
|2||Roiland||Tom Amoss||James Graham||3rd in the G2 Risen Star||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||If Breaks Better? Watch Out|
|3||Our Braintrust||Mark Casse||Jose Lezcano||3rd in G3 Withers Stakes||G2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19||Worked at Casse TC on 2-23|
|4||Tax||Danny Gargan||Junior Alvarado||1st in G3 Withers Stakes||Gotham Stakes on 3/9/19||Guts|
|5||Dessman||Bob Baffert||Flavien Pratt||2nd in G2 San Vicente Stakes||SA Allowance on 3/1/19||Victor Espinoza Rides|
|6||Vekoma||George Weaver||Manny Franco||3rd in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Passed Late / Tiring?|
|7||Mr. Money||W. Bret Calhoun||Gabriel Saez||7th in G2 Risen Star Stakes||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||Dull. Maybe Needed a Race?|
|8||Kingly||Bob Baffert||Drayden Van Dyke||2nd in El Camino Real Derby||Undecided||Beaten 7 lengths. Ouch|
|9||Aquadini||Dallas Stewart||Corey Lanerie||2nd in FG Allowance||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||Well Bred / Developing Late / Enough Time?|
We had some mixing and matching of the top horses in “The Pressbox’s” Kentucky Derby Rankings this week. The biggest reason for the tussle for the top came before, during and after the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes held at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
For the past several weeks, we have been touting the emergence of Bourbon War — a 3YO colt by Tapit and trained by the affable and credible Mark Hennig.
We noted his victory on debut last year. We called attention to his fourth place finish in the Remsen Stakes to end the 2018 campaign, and remarked that it was much better than it looked. And, we blared about Bourbon War’s impressive win in an allowance event at Gulfstream Park to start the 2019 year.
In short, we have gone long on Bourbon War. Just think that he is a horse getting better and better and that he should be considered a real contender on this year’s Kentucky Derby road.
On Saturday, Bourbon War ran second to W. S. Farish’s Code of Honor, another very talented runner who has had his share of setbacks and stumbles over the past few months. But truth be known?
For my money, the most impressive runner was none other than Bourbon War. He fell off a rather strong pace, and found himself wide throughout much of the race. In fact, at one time, he was 6 wide as he started to make his run in and out of the final turn. At the wire, though, he was beaten less than a length, and a few strides after the real running was over, the son of Tapit had swooped past them all.
He was impressive.
As in, very impressive.
And, as a result, he vaults to #6 in our Kentucky Derby Rankings. Some will say that lofty position is too exaggerated and too optimistic.
I will say exactly what I have written the past three editions — of all the horses that are making a splash and a run into consideration, this Bourbon War may be the best.
I stay bullish.
The horse that beat Bourbon War is Code of Honor. Comes from the famed connections of William Stamps Farish and his storied Lane’s End Farm in Versailles. I liked this horse going into the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. But, for whatever reason, he was scratched from the 2YO’s main event the day of the race. And, that was just the beginning.
He was schooled to run next in the Remsen Stakes. Once again, Code of Honor was scratched.
Then, there was some speculation where this son of Noble Mission would appear.
He showed up Saturday. And, he really showed up.
He got a perfect trip from HOF rider John Velazquez, and he did the rest — running down the speedsters and running away from everyone else other than Bourbon War.
As a result, Code of Honor jumps from the list of the unranked to No. 11. A hefty jump. A spirited lift. We shall see if he warrants such a move in the weeks to come, as he probably heads next to either the Florida Derby or the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
My questions are still many for Code of Honor, though. The biggest just may be the horse’s sire — Noble Mission.
Noble Mission certainly has the pedigree. He is he son of the great Galileo. His mom, Kind, is by the great stallion Danehill. That makes him a full brother to a horse that you may have heard of — Frankel.
Noble Mission certainly could run, too. He was a three-time Group 1 winner in Europe, and finished his brilliant racing career with a win in the G1 Champion Stakes.
And, Noble Mission could certainly get the distance. After all, he won at 11/2 miles on more than one occasion.
But, isn’t this supposed to be a pedigree built for the grass?
Just like our #2 pick — War of Will — isn’t Code of Honor supposed to be better suited for sod?
Well, we shall see as we see more.
The biggest “droppers” this week:
Signalman, who was a dull and non-impactful 7th in the G2 Fountain of Youth. He falls behind his stablemate Harvey Wallbanger after that performance on Saturday. Signalman goes to #18 on the rankings, just a slot behind the over-hyped and over-bet Hidden Scroll. Hidden Scroll ran 4th after setting spirited fractions in the early going, but the real questions still are unsolved. Does this speedster have the endurance to last? Does he have the experience to rate? Can he catch up enough to learn before the Big Day?
You may say that Justify did it a year ago.
I would say that it took 135 years to break the “Apollo Curse.” And, it may take another 135 to do it again.
(Game Winer worked recently at Santa Anita / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)
We have another big week on tap as the racing world, as well as the best 3-year-olds, starts to gear up for the First Saturday in May. On Saturday, March 9, we will get to watch, wager, analyze, critique and decipher two of the biggest and most promising races on the circuit this year.
On the West Coast, we will get the highly-anticipated and dramatic G2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. The field is scheduled to include the likes of 2YO Champ and undefeated winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in Game Winner. We are supposed to see his teammate Improbable, another undefeated runner from the super barn of Bob Baffert, load into the starting gate, as well. In addition, we may get the salty Gunmetal Gray, from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer. And, is it possible that Sparky Ville, who won the G2 San Vicente Stakes in his last outing, will also give the heavy hitters a fastball?
No matter, the San Felipe Stakes is shaping up to be a race that could share a lot of light on who may be headed in the right direction and towards Louisville, KY. And, it may also separate the big boys from the other boys. We will wait a little longer to see whom can become “men.”
(Instagrand winning at Del Mar last summer / Photo Courtesy of Del Mar)
In addition, the Gotham Stakes will be contested on the East Coast, at Aqueduct. It promises to be another interesting race to watch and another stepping stone towards the “Road to the Kentucky Derby.”
But although this is definitely an East Coast event, it will have a decided West Coast flair to it. Last week, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer announced that he would be sending his outstanding and undefeated 3YO Instagrand to New York for this event, rather than taking his youngster up against the head-bangers at Santa Anita. Since the first day he stopped hoof on the dirt in California, Instagrand has been proclaimed as the “Next Coming.”
Well, we know now where the next time to view the “Next Coming.” And, we all will get to see if the anointed one will take a giant step forward, or suddenly become the “Next Going.”
In addition, Turfway Park will host its’ lone major race of the Winter Meet — the Jeff Ruby Steaks. (Yes, it is spelled right. The naming rights were sold to a restauranteur who specializes in the meaty treat.) It will be interesting to see who turns up for this two-turn event, which will be contested over the poly track and synthetic surface. It has been a long time since the winner of this one has had any impact on the Triple Crown trail, but you will remember that Animal Kingdom did come through this route.
Interesting week ahead.
Sure to be full of drama.