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Sophomore Sinkhole

El Padrino was impressive on the Triple Crown trail, but has been MIA since the Run for the Roses.

Who wants some stats? Everybody loves stats, probably as much as they love Raymond. We saw one of the most talented crops of juvenile take the stage in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (I), and while a whopping 10 out of 13 of them won stakes leading up to the Derby, we’ve since seen one of the worst injury/retirement rates hit the sophomore male crop:

  • Out of 20 Derby runners, 6 of them have been pronounced retired.
  • Out of the top 5 finishers of the Derby, only Dullahan is still currently active.
  • Out of all 20, only Alpha is being [definitively] considered for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (I).
  • 5 of them suffered some type of injury ranging from minor to career-ending between the 3 TC races.
  • Trinniberg is a possible for the BC Sprint, Dullahan a probable for Turf or possibly Classic.
  • Daddy Nose Best, Optimizer, and Dullahan are now career turf/synth horses.
  • 5 of the 20 runners have not made a start since the Triple Crown wrapped.
  • Post-Triple Crown stakes winners: Optimizer (G3 Kent on grass), Dullahan (G1 Pacific Classic on synthetic), Alpha (G2 Jim Dandy and G1 deadheat in Travers), Prospective (G3 Ohio Derby), and Trinniberg (G2 Woody Stephens, sprint).
  • The only horses to have raced against older horses so far this year: Dullahan, Prospective, Daddy Long Legs. Only Dullahan has won against them, and by a nose.

Looking back, was this one of the best years or one of the worst years for three-year-old talent, or should we blame the temptations the breeding industry offers?

Daddy Nose Best, you are one gorgeous underrated thing

Daddy Nose Best, you are one gorgeous underrated thing

Derby Dozen #9/12: Daddy Nose Best

Daddy Nose Best

(Scat Daddy x Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen (Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, Pyro)

Jockey: Garrett Gomez (An earnings champion as well as a two-time Eclipse winner, while Gomez has won a near-record breaking 12 Breeders’ Cup races, he has yet to brush with success on the Triple Crown trail. He holds the record for most stakes wins in a single year with his 2007 season in which he won 76 stakes including 2 Breeders’ Cup victories. His Derby history: Master of Hounds in 2011 [5th], Lookin at Lucky in 2010 [6th], Pioneerof the Nile in 2009 [2nd], Court Vision in 2008 [13th], Any Given Saturday in 2007 [8th], Bob and John in 2006 [17th])

Owned by: Cathy and Bob Zollars

Record: 10-4-2-1

Earnings: $633,623

Summary: Part of Scat Daddy’s freshman crop, Daddy Nose Best is one of the surprises to the Derby hopeful scene. Thought of as more of a turf or synthetic specialist, he wasn’t a whole heap of impressive finishing off his juvenile year with a 6th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (II), but has since really turned things around as a worthy underdog player in this year’s Run for the Roses.

Prep Schedule: Only 2 starts have prepared D.N.B. as a three-year-old, and both were stakes wins with clout. He was part of a very balanced El Camino Real Derby (III) prep, and triumphed over a very game Lucky Chappy [IRE] dueling down to the wire— an early race on synthetic but still at 1 1/8 miles. He switched to dirt next in the Sunland Derby (III), where he was again the underdog who turned the tables on favorite Isn’t He Clever to win by nearly 2 lengths. He has been stationed at Churchill longer than most, gearing up for the Derby there with Asmussen.

Running Style: Off-the-pace

Pros: Undefeated in his two starts this year, D.N.B. is the only horse to have logged 2 wins at 1 1/8 miles. Even better than that, he has shown shipping and jockey changes don’t faze him and he has that dueling determination that can be the deciding factor in the Derby. With his works at Churchill being some of the best visually and his Sunland Derby being excellent, he’s set to peak right on time.

Cons: Mike Smith abandoned a commitment to ride D.N.B. for the blossoming Bodemeister, which does make Daddy look that good. Pair that with both of his wins this year being only G3s, and he also has a big class test to submit.

Final Word: Despite liking Asmussen’s other Derby colt, Sabercat, a lot in the beginning, Daddy Nose Best has whittled away at me enough to believe he is a live longshot. He hasn’t the numbers some of the others do, but he has been run conservatively this year with two races I think he squeezed a lot out of with both being good performances over 1 1/8 miles. With Gomez in the irons, an ideal pace scenario shaping up, and some awesome-looking works at Churchill, he’s my #1 pick among the longer odds.

Weekend Stake Tip: Flash Flood

I slept/worked through the weekend basically, leaving me no time or energy to do much handicapping. Frustratingly enough, all the races I would have bet on were won by horses I anticipated would win, including back-to-back Sunland features (Daddy Nose Best in the Derby, Miss Arabella in the Oaks), the Pan Am (Newsdad), the Rushaway (Flashy Dresser), and a couple other minor races I was looking forward to. I did place two small wagers in the Spiral on Tizanexpense and Mr. Prankster, and obviously was a bit disappointed by those two efforts. Next weekend, for sure, I’ll be around more with that nice Gulfstream card, especially since it’s one of my better tracks.

When it rains, it apparently pours at Santa Anita, where on Sunday the turf-bound Santa Ana surprisingly stayed on grass despite a driving rainstorm fuzzing up the visuals. It served as the next graded turn for the promising turf specialist City to City, the spry youngster Cambina [IRE], and the up-and-coming Arch daughter, Bauble Queen. It was a pretty textbook grass race with Strawberrydaiquiri (GB) playing follow the leader through steady fractions that lasted through to the final turn for home, where several fillies began to strong-arm their way to the front. City to City made her bid, but it was an open race all the way down the stretch among five horses trying to stick their nose out in front: the Chilean entry Vamo a Galupier, Wild Mia, City to City, Hard Seven, and Camelia Rose [FR] all rushing gamely in the final sixteenth. In the waning yards, it was Vamo a Galupier who had the most horsepower, making a dramatic leap ahead while others behind her were separated by mere noses. It was the first American graded win for the mare ridden expertly by Mike Smith, but it just added to a star-powered weekend for the sire Proud Citizen, whose son Went the Day Well won the Spiral Stakes (III) the day before. Watch replay below

The Rushaway Stakes was an ungraded, softer race for late-blooming three-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles on Turfway’s synthetic track, but was by no means a snoozer for nice horses. Gung Ho, a son of the top Turfway sire Kitten’s Joy, was sent off as the favorite against the returning Gold Megillah, both nominated to the Triple Crown. Despite a little gate issue and a subsequent stumble, Gung Ho was able to get up toward the front end, sitting second side-by-side with second-choice Dynamic Host. Catching up with those two on the backstretch ribbon was Flashy Dresser, making his move early to duel with Gung Ho coming down the stretch. It looked like Luis Contreras was having a little trouble getting Flashy Dresser to swap leads coming for home, and it was funny to see how much bigger this colt was than the stubborn Gung Ho, who took advantage of Flashy Dresser’s lead change to poke back into the lead. But, Contreras prevailed and the son of Flashy Bull leapt back into a duel with Gung Ho to win by a short 1/2 length margin. A great race to watch, it gave its big brother the Spiral Stakes (III) a run for its money in excitement. Watch the replay

Spiral ‘N Sunland

If statistics matter to you, you might not want to miss this weekend’s Derby prep races.

While the $800,000 Sunland Derby (III) in New Mexico and the $500,000 Vinery Spiral Stakes (III) in Kentucky are not part of the “big races” everyone wants to win being mere G3s, recent history shows they have been pretty important preps despite their placement and their surfaces. Can you say Animal Kingdom? How about Mine That Bird? Belmont winner Ruler On Ice and Preakness placer Astrology? And let’s not forget the Sunland Oaks, which produced Plum Pretty's confidence booster last year.

The horses have been announced for the Sunland Derby, and I think those entries are giddy about earning a big hefty slice of earnings against such a small field. Bob Baffert is worth a look as always with Southwest Stakes (II) division winner Castaway, but serious consideration is also due to El Camino Real (II) winner Daddy Nose Best. That Scat Daddy colt was a relative underdog, but man did he run like a champ against Lucky Chappy [IRE], who I consider to be a real top shelf kind of horse. Those two will be tough to beat, but I’m going to roll consideration toward a Pletcher horse (I know!) I’ve had my eye on for a while: Ender Knievel. Really nice pedigree, and his maiden win last out was just a sign of things to come. You might say he’s going to be a short horse in comparison, but this is not a loaded stakes race so he might be up to the class test. And we totally cannot forget the Spartan of the lot defending his home track from the invading army of contenders: the feisty gelding Isn’t He Clever, who will pick up top local rider Luis Contreras in hopes of making enough earnings to justify a late Triple Crown nomination.

1) Daddy Nose Best 2) Castaway 3) Isn’t He Clever

The preceding race is the $200,000 Sunland Oaks, which is now officially a big deal for Oaks contenders after Plum Pretty hammered out an incredible, awe-inspiring 25-length romp last year. While only 7 answered the call, Bob Baffert is rolling up his sleeves for an inevitable blow-out with Miss Arabella, the undefeated daughter of Any Given Saturday who has been impressive at every career checkpoint thus far. I honestly don’t see much of a chance for upset here, though the winner of the local Island Fashion Stakes, Glinda the Good, will aim to brush shoulders with the favorite. Trained by Steve Asmussen with Conteras aboard, this Hard Spun gal is just clawing her way up the ladder to Oaks Day.

1) Miss Arabella 2) Glinda the Good 3) Sophisticated

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Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.

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