Spiral Stakes and Sunland Derby preview

by TCI 4 years ago

Jon and Joel make big changes to the top 3 colts in the TCI Top 10 based on last weekend’s results, and preview what to watch for in this weekend’s Spiral S. and Sunland Derby. Can either one of these Grade 3 events produce legitimate Kentucky Derby contenders?

Watch it. Comment.

TCI Top 10

Rank Name Bris Comments
1 Cairo Prince 100 Recent bullet work puts FL Derby squarely in his crosshairs; Darley’s investment shows McLaughlin’s confidence.
2 Social Inclusion 106 Even though he’s likely been helped by the Gulfstream speed bias this winter, there’s no denying he’s a freakish talent.
3 Honor Code 98 Not overly disappointed with his allowance loss, but it seems like they’re pressing; Could he skip the Derby now?
4 Constitution 96 Showed his promise while crushing a good Gulfstream allowance field, but the water gets much deeper in FL Derby.
5 Samraat 99 Still lugging in and not putting away his competition in the stretch, but also still winning; Wood Memorial will tell all.
6 Tonalist 93 Ran well behind a loose Constitution over a track that didn’t favor his style; Physically looks tailor-made for the Classics.
7 Candy Boy 97 Another fast developer suited for Classic distances; Could now be California’s top hopeful with Shared Belief out.
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 California Chrome 102 Cal-bred has clearly improved, but he did get an ideal trip and ran away from an uninspiring group in the San Felipe.
10 Tapiture 99 Horse for Churchill’s course keeps running well and is in great hands; Distance, not quality, could be the main hurdle.

OFF: Strong Mandate
through 3/20/2014


  • CRD777

    Honor Code didn’t run in the Southwest…

    • Joel Cunningham

      Thank you! I have corrected…Strong Mandate’s old comment got in there some how. Bad editing by me 🙂

  • 1JoeP

    Hi Joel – With the loss of Honor Code, the derby loses another quality contender. I thought his comeback race against Social Inclusion was a solid one, and he was tailor made for 1 1/4. Shug has to be dissapointed because earlier in the year he lost Top Billing. Shug probably realizes how fortunate he was to win with Orb last year, no matter how good these horses are, if you don’t make it to the starting gate on the first Saturday in May, you have no chance for the roses. My list is interesting with all of the deletions due to injuries. My clear #1 is California Chrome. Glad to see him pointing for the SA Derby with a match vs. Candy Boy and possibly Bayern. Crossing my fingers that he can stay healthy, Joel, I believe that CC has a big shot. If I can get reasonable win odds on him in KDFW pool 4, around 15-1, I will take that. If he is overbet, I will pass and wait for Derby day, and see what his post position is and how he is training at CD. My next 5 on my list would be: Ring Weekend,Social Inclusion,Conquest Titan,Strong Mandate,Hoppertunity. Strong Mandate dissapointed in the Rebel, but I am hoping that this time he can stalk a horse, and with the added distance, have the staying power in the stretch. I don’t know for sure, but the AK derby could have Tapiture, Strong Mandate, Hoppertunity, and Conquest Titan. I’d love to see Conquest Titan run big in his final prep, he loves CD track and with his closing style, and all of the speed that will be in this years derby, he could mow all of them down late with his pedigree, racing style, and the fact that he likes CD. I am not sold on Cairo Prince, theres alot of speed in the Fla. Derby and he is no shoe in to win there. His pedigree seems very suspect at 1 1/4. Last years superhorse was Verrazano, who at 1 1/4 flopped in the derby. I think the 2 winners this weekend are tosses on derby day. We Miss Artie has horrible dirt form, and Chitu seems like no 1 1/4 horse being by sprinter Henny Hughes. Finally Joel, do you think that the bad press that Steve Asmussen has been getting could affect Tapiture in a negative way?

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Joe!

      Terrible news about Honor Code. Another heavy hitter lost in this division. Makes me think more and more that any horse that can get eligible to make it in the starting gate of 20 on Derby day has a chance in a year like this, regardless of their perceived lack of experience or foundation. But you have to feel for Shug and the Ups and Downs of the sport…he finally gets his elusive Derby win last year, and a year later he looks to be in even better position with two really nice colts who both are lost on the Trail to injury. Tough.

      I was happy to see Sherman decide to run California Chrome in the SA Derby. IMO that’s the right thing to do. It’s just unrealistic to ask a horse to run his best off a 2-month layoff, first time past 1 1/6 miles, first road trip, big crowd, etc all at once. It would not have given him the best chance at winning. I think he needs that progression of a good 9-furlong prep in distance against a tad bit stiffer competition that will challenge him a little more. With 20 horses in the field, you are likely going to have to overcome some adversity in that race, so the ones who are the most battle tested I really do feel like they hold an edge in a race like the Derby. That final prep is a good thing, as opposed to coming off an 8-wk layoff I just don’t feel would be a good thing in this type of race. It’s unique in so many ways and will challenge horses in several ways both mentally and physically.

      The Ark Derby would be a good spot for Conquest Titan IMO. A lot less risky than trying the Polytrack at Keeneland, which is where I figured those connections would try. But the Ark Derby, IMO, is coming up as the lightest final prep race this year. CT would be well-spotted there. I agree, he’s dangerous if he can make his way into the Derby field while rounding back into his top form.

      I do believe Cairo Prince has a better shot at staying than Verrazano did. Verrazano was a big, heavy horse who just looked like a one-turn horse from the start. CP is a legit route horse IMO, the question is how far will his female family take him…I have little doubts about him in a race like the Preakness…but the Derby down that long stretch could flatten his run just enough to get him beat if he’s not a true stayer at the Classic distances.

      I believe the Wood and FL Derby this weekend are going to be the key races to watch, as far as Derby implications. We’ll learn a ton from those two IMO. I just pray that the track at GP is fair the day they run the race so that there aren’t any wacky of skewed results.

      While very serious, I don’t think this Asmussen matter will effect Tapiture. I don’t believe that a horse like Tapiture is getting anything that is an illegal performance enhancer. Steve is a great horseman and the good, sound horses probably get similar medical treatment as any from any barn around the country. Very routine stuff. Don’t expect any sudden changes in the horses performances IMO. Tapiture needs to show more than anything that he can see out the classic trips, much like Cairo Prince IMO. But I think Steve’s filly Untapable has a big big shot to win the KY Oaks this year, regardless of the issues surrounding him right now.

      I agree too about We Miss Artie and Chitu. I do think We Miss Artie could get a piece in the Derby because many turf horses run well over that CD dirt surface (Paddy O’Prado, Dullahan, etc) but I don’t view him as a serious contender to win it at this point. Honestly, he was running with his head in the air and didn’t look like a winner at any time in the stretch Saturday, but somehow got up late..I think they were really slowing down in front of him. They’ll be a lot classier to catch in the Derby.

  • Clint

    Hi Joel- Love all of your information. IMO it looks like we are going to have a ton of speed in this years race and two horses I think will benefit from this is Conquest Titan and Intense Holiday. Why do you not have Intense Holiday on your top 10 list? If he wins this weekend against a larger perhaps better field would that change your mind? Looks like his style would be perfect for the first saturday in May with Mike Smith ridding. Thanks for your input.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Clint!

      I agree with you about some of the capable closers this year. I wasn’t surprised that Intense Holiday ran well coming off of the GP track and on to the FG track where the competition and style suited him a little better. I am interested to see how he follows that performance up this Saturday, although I’m not all that encouraged by the strength of the likely field in this year’s La. Derby. It should set up for him again with In Trouble now potentially adding to the pace scenario with Albano and Vicar’s In Trouble, which should set it up for him to be the horse to beat again. I think he’s an improving colt with some upside, but I’m just not sure how good he is at this point. So I’m taking a guarded approach for now, and hopefully he can take another step forward. Smith is definitely a terrific fit and a major plus. All the best!

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