San Felipe Stakes & Tampa Bay Derby preview

by TCI 4 years ago

The TCI guys recap Samraat’s win in the Gotham S. (G3) before diving into this Saturday’s San Felipe S. (G2) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Can this weekend’s pair of Grade 2 preps produce some new shooters on the Kentucky Derby trail? And can a top contender like Conquest Titan score a breakthrough win to affirm his status in the TCI Top 10?

Watch it. Comment.

TCI Top 10

Rank Name Bris Comments
1 Top Billing 98 FOY performance was as good of a third as you’ll see in a Derby prep, considering that nobody wins from last at Gulfstream.
2 Cairo Prince 100 Recent bullet work puts the FL Derby squarely in his crosshairs; Darley’s investment shows McLaughlin’s confidence.
3 Honor Code 98 Plenty of talent & foundation to make up for lost time, and could easily remind us of that with a big run in the Rebel.
4 Shared Belief 102 Getting a strong sense now that the champ’s Derby dreams are waning rapidly, and he’s likely to drop on this list soon.
5 Strong Mandate 97 Becoming a hard-luck colt like last year’s stablemate Oxbow, but he ran well in the Southwest despite all of the miscues.
6 Conquest Titan 93 Tampa Derby contender is one of many on this list in need of Derby points; Form of his last two races has held up well.
7 Constitution 96 Showed his promise while crushing a good Gulfstream allowance field, but the water only gets deeper; Big test likely next.
8 Samraat 99 Still lugging in and not putting away his competition in the stretch, but also still winning; Wood Memorial will tell all.
9 Tonalist 93 Ran well behind a loose Constitution over a track that didn’t favor his running style; Physically looks tailor-made for the Classics.
10 Candy Boy 97 Another fast developer who now looks like California’s No. 2 behind Shared Belief, but he’ll likely run further than the champ.

through 3/7/2014


  • 1JoeP

    Hi Joel – Sorry to hear of Top Billings injury. He was a real talent. Very impressed with California Chrome’s victory in the S. Felipe. He is no longer flying under the radar. He crushed the field in the S. Felipe, running straight as an arrow in the stretch, which I really like, and seemed to have plenty left in the tank at the wire. He is in good hands with Art Sherman and Victor Espinoza. Candy Boy labored to put away M. Hawk. California Chrome put him away and distanced himself from the field at the top of the stretch, just like in the Cal Cup Derby. I asked you previously and you believe he has the pedigree to get the 1 1/4. He has the ability to stalk, or like Oxbow in the Preakness, if he inherits the lead, you have to go and get him, not an easy task to reel in this horse. His trainer Art Sherman joked that he hopped out of the gate because he has been training at Los Alamitos. Refreshing to see an under the radar colt develop into a dangerous contender. He has the points to get in, 50, reading between the lines of what Art Sherman said, you wonder if California Chrome will bypass the SA Derby and train up to the KY Derby. I know it would almost be a 2 month layoff, but he would be fresh and dangerous and doesn’t need the points to run in the SA Derby. He had a 6 wk. layoff from his Cal Cup victory and the time off served him well. I was dissapointed that Conquest Titan only got 4th in TB Derby. He only has 9 derby points and will need a 3rd or better to get in. They may be looking at the Fla. Derby with him next. He ran a good 2nd in the Holy Bull. The added distance in the Fla. Derby should enhance his chances to hit the board. Hoping he can get in, we know he loves CD. Here’s my top 2 on my list Joel: #1 California Chrome – looking forward to his next start in the SA Derby or in the KY Derby, love his tactical speed. #2 Strong Mandate – with H. Code out of the Rebel, he has a big chance at 2nd or 1st. This would get him in the Derby. If he wins the Rebel maybe he could bypass AK Derby and rest, and train up to the race. Either way, I really like Strong Mandate, even when he loses he creates major seperation from the field.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Joe! Congrats on C-Chrome! Hope you made a nice score on the colt or have a nice future wager on him!

      You had to be impressed with the way he ran. That track is so lightening fast right now that I’m not sure what to make of anything there right now, but he certainly dominated. I was disappointed with the scratch of Bayern, and while I do not believe Bayern could have beaten that performance by C-Chrome, I do think he would have been on the lead and made things more interesting from a pace perspective. So mainly, I’m not sure we learned a whole lot other than that C-Chrome is much better than that field he beat, but I do believe he beat a bad field. I do think horses like Midnight Hawk, but he sort of proved to me last time that he was not a two-turn horse. I am not real bullish on the California 3yos this year, especially with Shared Belief on the sidelines…that’s why it took a long time for me to work Candy Boy into the Top 10. So the question now becomes this: Will we learn anything more from the Santa Anita Derby? If nobody ships out West, it will be Candy Boy vs. C-Chrome, and we’ll likely only get to gauge those 2 against each other. The problem I still have with both is that they have both been beaten multiple times when they faced top competition. I know they have both clearly improved with experience and added ground, but how much? Can they now compete with the best 3yos in the country? We may not know that answer until May 3rd.

      C-Chrome clearly looks like a two-turn horse with plenty of size and scope to go on. His pedigree is a regional one so it’s harder to figure, but the stamina influences top and bottom look present to me. Let’s see how he runs at 1 1/8 miles next time before I get a good feel about it — IF he runs in the SA Derby, which I think they will. It’s very very hard to turn away a G1 for that kind of money in your own backyard when you will be the favorite. Just my opinion.

      Conquest Titan ran poorly, but the race obviously didn’t set up well for the closers when you had a longshot go 46 and change for the opening half mile and still spurt away to an open-lengths win. Impressive race for the winner, but that Tampa track is notoriously so quirky that I have to take those results with a grain of salt. It will be interesting to see if Casse takes Conquest Titan to the Blue Grass or to Fair Grounds…I would bet he shows up at Keeneland, which is another risky proposition. You are right, he’s in jeopardy of not acquiring enough points now, but these things usually work themselves out IMO. I had heard from a clocker down at Palm Meadows that CT’s last workout coming into the Tampa Bay Derby was not a very good work….so the bigger concern for me is whether something is wrong with the colt or if he’s possibly going the wrong direction right now. We’ll have to pay very close attention to him going forward.

      Terrible news for Top Billing. He never was the smoothest of movers and he ran so hard the last couple months that things like this are no surprise..just terrible timing, and obviously always horrible news any time it does happen. He had a legit profile to be a top-shelf Triple Crown contender. Disappointing for he and his connections that the horse won’t get that chance.

  • 1JoeP

    Hi Joel – The Derby Trail is realy heating up now, thats for sure. Can’t wait for Saturdays Rebel Stakes. My #2 horse Strong Mandate is running. A 2nd place finish would get him in the derby, but I believe he has a big chance to gain redemptin and win this race. No excuses for him this time. He drew the #4 post, outside of the favorite #3 post Tapiture. Strong Mandate raced very wide in the BC Juvenile and wide in the Southwest, losing ground in both races. Tapiture will be carrrying top weight and J. Rosario , sittting on Strong Mandate, needs a good break and I am expecting him to either stalk Tapiture or be in the first flight of horses in a perfect spot going into the first turn. I like his chances in the Rebel. I agree with you about California Chrome, hoping he goes in the SA derby to square off with Candy Boy, I really like California Chromes Derby chances, he is my #1. Alot of people are down on Honor Codes race vs. Social Inclusion. As it saw Honor Codes 3yr. old debut, I thought he ran a good 2nd. He has a good pedigree for the KY Derby, maybe Shug will ship him to the Wood Memorial as his final prep to pick up some more points. Joel – what are your views of Social Inclusion. We know he is very fast, he set a track record at speed favoring Gulfstream park vs. Honor Code. Being unraced at 2 is a concern for Social Includion, they may try the Fla. Derby, and he could be the one to catch. A 2nd for him in his next 100 point race would get him in the derby, the owner said he wants to go to the derby with Social Inclusion. Do you believe that Social inclusion has a suspect pedigree for 1 1/4, similar to Cairo Prince?
    I still hope that Conquest Titan gets in the Derby Joel, like you said he was flat in his last start, but did pick up 5 derby points, he will need a 3rd or better in his next start to get in. I see that as a 2 yr. old he won the Swynford Stakes at Woodbine, on Polytrack. Maybe the connections will try the Bluegrass with him at Keeneland. The 1 1/8 would be right uphis ally and he seems to do ok on polytrack. I do have a few live KDFW, as these are the horses that I often mention to you, my rooting interest. I’ve got Strong Mandate at 27-1 in pool 1, California Chrome at 30-1 in pool 2, conquest Titan in pool 2 at 29-1. I did exacta boxes with all of them with each other as well as boxing them with the field. I got a nice price on California Chrome in pool 2 and boxing him with the field should give me at least 10 horses along with hopefully Strong Mandate and Conquest Titan on Derby Day. Can’t wait to see where you rank California Chrome in your rankings, and your prevue of the pivitol Rebel with Strong Mandate, hopefully it will be his coming out party race. Finally Joel , what are your views on Tamarando. He is an under the radar horse that is pointing towards the Spiral Stakes next weekend, a race that put Animal Kingdom on the map. Tamarando seems to have a good 1 1/4 pedigree. If you watch his race in 2013 in the frontrunner at SA, he closed well after missing the break. He seems to consistently close well, and the 1 1/4 at CD could be just what the doctor ordered for Tamarando.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Joe! Things are getting a bit wacky on the Derby Trail, I must say. I agree that I wasn’t worried about Honor Code losing to a track-record performance over that speed-favoring track, but it was a big margin and to me he didn’t seem sharp regardless of if he had won, barely lost, or got blown out like he did. No shame in finishing second behind that breakout performance by Social Inclusion, you probably could not count on one hand the number of closers around the world at any age that could have run down SI yesterday. Impossible task. But as warm as Honor Code was in the post parade, and as antsy as he was at the gate, it makes you wonder about him at this stage of the game. He certainly didn’t look ready, and Shug even admitted he wished he had a couple more weeks before he had to run him. Just seems very unsettled in that barn, and i would not at all be shocked to see those conservative connections back off of him and slow down and point for a campaign this summer in NY. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

      I agree with you that this is step-up-or-go-home time for Strong Mandate. He does not necessarily have to win, but he has to fire big and be right there at the wire IMO. I do believe it’s a match race between he and Tapiture, and you have to give the edge to Rosario in that type of setting. I expect him to bounce back, but you never can tell when Lukas’s horses will fire. No excuses Saturday.

      The more and more we see things blow up, the more I think this will be a year where you can throw out the old Derby rules. You mentioned Social Inclusion, who just ran off the charts around two turns. Granted, he controlled the pace and had things his own way over a track that really played to his style, but there is no question that he’s immensely talented. I do like his pedigree better than Cairo Prince’s in terms of stretching out to classic trips, although it’s certainly not stockpiled with classic influences. Horses like Constitution can be lumped right into this conversation and young up-and-comers very capable of blossoming much like Bodemeister did a couple years back. It just feels like things are unsettled enough for one or two to emerge like this in the next month.

      Conquest Titan concerns me a bit because I heard he didn’t breeze well coming into the Tampa Bay Derby. Casse hinted at the same thing when he decided to bypass the FOY. So while I give any horse a pass for not taking to the Tampa surface, I will remain a bit concerned that he could be going the wrong way. Perhaps he was just sitting on a bounce and can now move forward? Let’s hope so…I do agree that based on timing and his connections and Poly background that the Blue Grass appears his likely next target, which is very risky obviously because he needs the points.

      I think Tamarando is a runner, but I will regard him as a synthetic horse as long as his connections keep campaigning him as if they believe he’s the same thing. To me, he’s an outsider against the best dirt horses at this point….but…it has be WACKY 🙂

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