Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby preview

by TCI 4 years ago

The TCI guys briefly recap the Spiral Stakes and Sunland Derby before moving on full bore to this Saturday’s first major weekend of final preps for the Run for the Roses with the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby. Can you believe it’s that close? Many of the colts that will seriously impact this year’s Kentucky Derby are in action, and the guys opine on which of the two races will produce – and which one likely will not.

Watch it. Comment.

TCI Top 10

Rank Name Bris Comments
1 Cairo Prince 100 Can stamp himself as the clear Derby favorite this Saturday; Darley’s investment shows McLaughlin’s confidence.
2 Social Inclusion 106 Will get a stiff class test in Wood Memorial with the likes of Uncle Sigh and other quality pace presence.
3 Constitution 96 Showed his promise while crushing a good Gulfstream allowance field, but the water gets much deeper in FL Derby.
4 Samraat 99 Still lugging in and not putting away his competition in the stretch, but also still winning; Wood Memorial will tell all.
5 Tonalist 93 Would be a very live contender in the Wood if conservative trainer runs him; Physically looks tailor-made for the Classics.
6 Candy Boy 97 Another fast developer suited for Classic distances; Could now be California’s top hopeful with Shared Belief out.
7 California Chrome 102 Improved his Kentucky Derby chances with the recent decision to have a needed final prep in the Santa Anita Derby.
8 Conquest Titan 93 Flat finish at Tampa can be forgivable over that surface, but could he just be going the wrong direction? Must bounce back.
9 Tapiture 99 Horse for Churchill’s course keeps running well and is in great hands; Distance, not quality, could be the main hurdle.
10 Intense Holiday 99 Vastly improved and the La. Derby looks like his to lose; Needs another step forward to be a serious KY Derby contender.

OFF: Honor Code
through 3/27/2014


  • JR

    Hello Joel,
    Long time since we had a conversation, but I have been following what you and Jon are doing. I know you will have a lot to say about Cairo Prince. You really can’t say he bounced, since he hasn’t had a race recently. I was surprised he didn’t hit the board. Will be interested in your thoughts in the re-cap. Also Joel, Cairo has a DI of 7.00 your thoughts on that?

    This year all the horses I really liked are out, it’s such a bummer.

    Joel, my crazy uncle in Calif. wants to know are there any statical facts on which race tacks has the least amount of leg injuries. This year there seemed to be a lot breakdowns of these beautiful young fillies and colts be it turf, syn. or dirt. Also, my uncle being from Calif. he hears well” this horse is a Cal bred,”
    he says what difference does it make whether they are Cal bred or Kentucky bred. Sorry for the questions, but as you know you are my go to guy when it comes to these off the wall questions from my uncle.

    Take Care my friend.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey JR, great to hear from you!

      Cairo Prince was disappointing, and contrary to how well his connections had said he was training, I had heard from a good source I trust who told me he has not been training very well the last couple weeks leading into this race. I felt good about Constitution yesterday, but I still expected Cairo Prince to be a lot tougher than he was over a track he freaked over in the Holy Bull. I think it’s clear now that there was some credence to what kind of form CP was/is currently in. Very discouraging now heading to Louisville, especially with the fact that he may not have the points to get in. Perhaps Kiaran’s recent complaints about the points system to the media may have been because he realized his colt may be losing some form and at risk in the FL Derby, which played out that way. Just speculation. But I agree with you about his high Dosage number…that, coupled by the fact his dam was a crack sprinter, made me feel very skeptical about his chances at a classic distance…the competition didn’t seem as good this year after everybody started falling by the wayside with injuries, and his talent when in form would have made him dangerous. But now that he isn’t in his best form I have serious doubts about May 4th.

      As far as injury stats by track, I have not seen any numbers this year. Sorry I can’t help there. Ray Paulick reported yesterday that there is strong speculation that Keeneland will be dropping the Polytrack and reinstalling dirt. It appears like the synthetic experiment didn’t have the expected returns and tracks are losing confidence in them. Personally, I have always been in favor of a well-maintained dirt track, however I do understand winter meets at places like Turfway are very difficult with a natural surface. Losing race days for them is devastating.

      As for state-bred programs, I am a big fan of them and my family participates in them. A runner can come from anywhere, and while it’s unquestionable that the best mares and stallions reside in KY, that doesn’t mean that individual state-bred racehorses are inferior. Purely on numbers, you will always have plenty of top-level talents like California Chrome that can compete with anyone. Saying “Cal-bred” for me is just a way of identification. I think these horses are the underdog, and I think people like that about them. I’m from Louisiana and one of my favorite fillies of all time was Happy Ticket, who I proudly dubbed the “La-bred” when she was racing. Just a fun and distinctive way to label a horse for me. Absolutely not disrespectful.

      Good to hear from you again!

  • JR

    Hi Joel,
    Thank you for the information appreciate it. I saw the interview with Kiaran about the points system. This is a quote from Horse Racing Nation after the Holy Bull by Kiaran

    most important thing is he doesn’t have to improve. He doesn’t have to
    do anything but stay the way he is, and that’s all we hope for is for
    him to stay healthy and happy.” Joel, I can only imagine how he feels now. If the derby was still based on money standings he would probably be in.

    Joel, Wildcat Red, looked at his pedigree it certainly looks like he has some staying power, with Secretariat, Mr. Prospector, and Terlingua. His DI 5.67 is a question, but Joel, he is gusty, no one has told him he can’t win the derby. Maybe this year is the year the least expected, jumps up and surprises us.

    I like Constitution, but then I liked Revolutionary last year also. Calif. Chrome has my interest however. maybe it’s time for a Cal.bred. What do you think my friend.
    Kind Regards,

    • Joel Cunningham


      Speaking of state-bred programs, Wildcat Red’s sire D’wildcat is in my opinion the best sire in Louisiana. I felt that way about him prior to WR’s emergence this winter. I do agree he’s a running machine with a very athletic stride, but I have my doubts about him carving out a good Derby trip. His pedigree and style in a race that’s sure to be loaded with speed going 1 1/4 miles just makes it very hard for me to like him. He’s been great at Gulfstream and had a hard campaign, I’m not sure if he’s going to now go away from South Florida and have success against 19 other horses in Louisville. We’ll see.

      About Cairo Prince: The reason I think the points system works is that I believe that if you’re in good enough form to compete in the Derby then things will play out well for you. Unless Kairan comes back and says that CP threw a shoe and had a lung infection (or something along the line of a minor excuse), then my argument would be that CP isn’t good enough to be in the Derby by running 4th in the FL Derby. He got a pretty short field and had a very fair trip, yet he still finished middle of the pack. I know some people will not agree with me and feel that I’m being harsh, but I really believe that Cairo Prince is in serious trouble of making an impact in the Derby even if he were to get in. I just cannot give him a pass for that performance in his final prep to now believe he can still win a race like the Derby…just can’t do it…not unless I hear some legit excuses. That’s why I think the recency of the points given by the Derby points system works better than anything we’ve ever had as a qualifier…I think it’s best to reward horses that are in form going into a race like the Derby, as opposed to horses that were in form back in January but no longer running as well. For me, horses like Cairo Prince are not going to win…the Derby winners of the past that have been off the board in their final preps (there have not been many) like Giacomo and Thunder Gulch were at least running over tracks (SA and KEE) that were unsuitable to their styles. I didn’t see that with CP. Just my opinion.

      As for California Chrome, I’m very happy to see them decide to give him a final prep in the SA Derby, because I would nto have liked him much at all trying to win the Derby off an 8-week layoff and an easy win in the San Felipe where he did not get much from a competition standpoint. I am not as bought into him as others are, but it has nothing to do with the state he was bred in. It has more to do with the fact that he finished 5th and 6th the two times he finished top horses…now, I do understand that was sprinting at two, and I do understand that those races were on synthetic. There is no doubt he has improved leaps and bounds going long as a 3yo, and his figs have been very good. With other top horses on the Trail coming up injured or disappointing, you have to view CC as a contender. But I want to see how he runs at 1 1/8 miles against Candy Boy before I can get a true read on him, because I truly feel like his race in the San Felipe was very easy from the standpoint that he had the ideal trip against a bad field. So…to be continued!

      • Joel Cunningham

        *faced top horses (not finished). Oops!

  • Owen

    Tonalist is nominated to The Blue Grass Stakes. Probably his last chance to make the Derby.

    • Joel Cunningham


      For a colt who only has a maiden win to his credit and was beat in an entry-level allowance in his last race, I actually thought he is a very live Derby prospect a month out from the big race, as counter-intuitive as that may sound. But it’s just that kind of unique year and circumstance IMO.

      I was really really looking forward to him in the Wood, so I hated to hear the news of his lung infection. I know it could be minor and I know Christophe is very conservative, but that conservative nature now has me believing this horse will not run in the Derby. It’s difficult to see Clement shipping him to Lexington for the Blue Grass a week or 10 days after a lung infection was discovered. Unfortunately, I think his Derby dream is over. Clement even sounded like he was waffling on whether or not to run him in the Wood, and by all reports I’ve gotten from Payson the horse looks great and has been training great.

      So I’m not optimistic about the Blue Grass. My hope now is that he’ll recover soon and maybe show up in the Peter Pan in May, which would give him a real chance to make the Belmont Stakes. I know longer see the Derby as realistic, and it’s hard for me to see the Preakness unless he comes back and looks really good in an allowance race in the next 2-3 weeks. We’ll see!

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