Wood Memorial & Santa Anita Derby preview

by TCI 4 years ago

Jon and Joel talk about whether or not the Florida and Louisiana Derbies delivered, as well as how they impacted the TCI Top 10. They also tell you why this weekend will be the most important to date on the 2014 Derby Trail.

Watch it. Comment.

TCI Top 10

Rank Name Bris Comments
1 Social Inclusion 106 Boom or bust? It’s boom for us; His lethal cruising speed should be tough to catch in the Wood.
2 Constitution 97 Showed class and ability to stay perfect in the Florida Derby, and got some needed education in the process.
3 Samraat 99 Does not need to stay undefeated in the Wood, just needs to be finishing well to set him up for May 3rd.
4 Candy Boy 97 Like Samraat, a win isn’t necessary, but he has to be going the right way in the SA Derby, which should get him needed points.
5 California Chrome 102 Razor sharp right now and gets a big stage in the SA Derby to prove he can be among the best of his class.
6 Conquest Titan 93 A strong closing run under Borel in the Arkansas Derby would put him right back in the thick of things.
7 Cairo Prince 100 Zero punch in the FL Derby raises serious concerns about him being over the top, and his chances to draw in.
8 Tapiture 99 Horse for Churchill’s course keeps running well and is in great hands; Distance, not quality, could be the main hurdle.
9 Hoppertunity 99 Rebel win punched his ticket, so Baffert now keeping him home for SA Derby, where he’ll get measured for class.
10 Intense Holiday 99 The track & race didn’t favor his style in La. Derby, but the KY Derby will favor his style; Still needs a big forward step.

OFF: Tonalist
through 4/4/2014


  • 1JoeP

    Hi Joel – Sure to be an exciting weekend of Derby preps. Really looking for a solid performance from California Chrome in the SA Derby. I really like his derby chances. Coming off of short rest, I believe Hoppertunity has a big shot to finish 2nd in the race. Candy Boy is good, but I believe a bit overated. I really like the comments by Art Sherman, California Chrome’s trainer, saying he has no doubt that the colt can get the 1 1/4 in the KY Derby. I agree with your assesment of Social Inclusion. I believe he has a big chance to win the Wood Memorial. He needs points, so you know he won’t be holding anything back to win the race. I will be eager to see how Ring Weekend does in the Calder Derby. I view him as a live longshot on Derby Day. Glad to see you moving California Chrome up on your list, with a good performance in the Calder, maybe Ring Weekend could crack your lineup. Joel – you mentioned that General A Rod is a grinder. A horse like this can be dangerous in the kentucky derby at 1 1/4. He is a horse that always seems to give a good effort, he likes CD, and he will be coming in very fresh after a 5 wk. layoff from the Fla. Derby. Likely he will be at least 20-1 in the Derby. I will be including him in my exotics. Joel – what are your views of Ring Weekend, and General A Rod? Here’s my current top 7. #1 California Chrome – keeps getting better and runs straight as an arrow in the stretch. #2 Social Inclusion – Could be a CC/SI exacta in the Derby. #3 Ring Weekend – This horse could catch them all off guard on Derby day, and at a price. Calder Derby will tell us alot about him. #4 Hoppertunity – I like him alot, although I am concerned that he has so many races in 2014. He will need the 4 wk. rest leading up to the derby, so the Mike Smith/Bafffert team can get him ready. #5 Conquest Titan – Really like the move of adding Borel as the jockey. the AK Derby field looks like a good one. #6 Strong Mandate – he needs more points just like Conquest Titan. He fits the profile of your comment that as long as a horse can get into the Derby field this year, they have a chance. I am not giving up on him yet. Maybe that Tiznow pedigree will kick in. #7 General A Rod – this horse is rweally growing on me, he is a must use on my exotic bets. Predictions for this weekend. Cal. Chrome by open lengths in the SA derby, I believe he is much the best, Social Inclusion in the Wood. ring Weekend in the Calder.

    • Joel Cunningham

      Hey Joe!

      Your colt California Chrome keep rolling and rolling! Had to be pleased that the rider saved something when he appeared to shut it down at the 16th pole. He certainly is the best of that group in California now and deserves Derby favoritism off of his recent meteoric rise. Congrats!

      Much can and probably will happen this weekend with the Ark Derby, Blue Grass, etc. but it’s getting to be the type of year that I will really want to see the likely field of 20 after these preps so that I can sort of hit the proverbial “reset button” and concentrate on two key things: (1) How the Derby is likely to be run on paper based on the likely field of 20, and (2) Which 3yos are training well and looking well at Churchill, as to understand who is sitting on a big race — and which 3yos maybe are going the wrong direction from a hard winter campaign. I know we say this every year — and it is an important part of it for me — but this year will really really be one that I will use that information to try and find the Derby winner. Pure handicapping of pace, stamina, style.. coupled with how these horses are talking to my eyeballs in their training leading up to May 3rd. Because I frankly still think that the playing field is very level this year, and if that’s the case then I think I have a better shot at finding the winner by going back to the basics and forgetting the past 3-4 months to a degree. Find the horse(s) that is doing good, and find the horse that can get the trip and will have the right style. Easier said than done though!

  • 1JoeP

    Hi Joel – Near miss for 2nd by Social Inclusion in the Wood, 20 pts. probably doesn’t get him in. Gusty 2nd for Saamrat. Very impressed by Wicked Strongs big kick in deep stretch to roll by Saamrat and Social Inclusion. Wicked Strong looks like a mid pack horse in the derby who could be a major threat. California Chrome continues to shine. Joel , you had to be impressed by the way he crushed Candy Boy and Hoppertunity in the SA Derby. I did think that Hoppertunity looked much better than Candy Boy, and the Derby distance could make Hoppertunity a major threat. I am very happy for Art Sherman. A California Horse hasn’t won the KY Derby since 1962, a colt named Decidedly. The stars are alligning for me Joel, I was born in 1962 and got California Chrome in an exacta box with the field in KDFW pool 2 at 30-1. This horse keeps getting better. He broke poorly and was mid pack early, the jockey got him quickly in a stalking position. By the time they hit the top of the stretch, California Chrome was rolling. I don’t think the distance will be a problem with him in the derby. There will be lots of early speed in the derby, California Chrome can zero in on a target and stalk until the top of the stretch, then attempt to pull away, similar to Bodemeister a few years ago. I believe that it will take a special horse to reel him in. I believe that Hoppertunity and Wicked Strong could have a chance with a big late kick. It would be nice to see you zoom California Chrome up to #1 on your list Joel. He has passed all of the derby prep tests with flying colors. Here’s my top 3. #1 California Chrome – hoping for good weather on Derby Day and a good PP draw. #2 Wicked Strong – Big late kick in the W. Memorial was very visually impressive. Rajiv Maragh is very high on this horse, he also rode him in the Remsen. #3 Hoppertunity – He has a big chance on derby Day. Go Chrome!

    • Joel Cunningham

      Yeah Joe, Social Inclusion is clearly a top talent among this class of 3yos, but the risk with him was there was no margin for error and this was all learning on the fly for him. Well, you may have seen that he was not acting like you want to see a horse like him act in the paddock and post parade before the race, especially a lightly-raced colt making just his 3rd start – and first on the road – against a big field of top colts. I considered and was afraid of how he would mentally handle it all, but you hope he takes everything in stride. Clearly, you had to be worried before the race after seeing that, and it caused me not to bet on the horse and just watch instead (He was a short price, but I was ready to bet him to Win if he showed me all the signs I wanted to see going to the gate. He obviously did not, which was disappointing to see).

      With that said, the colt ran a terrific race. He broke out (another fear you have with a young horse breaking from the far outside in
      a big field with a big crowd), and his wide run around the first turn certainly
      cost him some ground. I thought he settled well and was on some very fair
      fractions, and when he opened up multiple lengths on the field turning for home
      my hair started to raise on the back of my neck lol. But the
      Bellamy-Road-performance wasn’t to be. You could see him hit a wall when he
      straightened completely for home and didn’t go on with it. He was still moving
      well (and he galloped out well after the wire), but I think everything that he’d
      been through physically and mentally just took some of his punch away. I wouldn’t
      suggest he bounced from his Gulfstream race, but he wasn’t as sharp as he
      needed to be, and had just enough of a wide trip that it cost him 2nd
      for sure. That’s ok though, because not every horse is ready for the
      Derby…some like him will actually benefit from not being in it. Having seen
      that performance from the paddock to the finish line, I am totally fine with
      him missing the Derby and pointing for the Preakness, where I think he is a big
      time contender to spoil the Derby winner’s Triple Crown chances. But that’s too
      far down the road to talk about, let’s stick to Derby!

      Samraat ran ok IMO. He’s not a big colt and I would have
      liked to seen his acceleration from further back. I still don’t like the fact
      that he’s finishing on his wrong lead…and it’s hard to suggest a horse that’s
      now 5-for-6 lacks some professionalism, but I really do think he still lacks
      that killer instinct. I do not believe we’ve seen Samraat be efficient early
      and then drop his belly and run his best the final 3/8ths of a mile. Could we
      see that on May 3rd? I hope so, but enter in the crowd, new venue,
      etc and who knows. But he’s a contender for sure.

      I wasn’t completely surprised to see Wicked Strong run well,
      but I was surprised to see him run that well. The Wood was a race that didn’t make
      complete sense to me when you realized that Shivarelli was setting the pace and
      running on, however Wicked Strong was able to come around and close from the
      back. If I had to guess, the inside part of the track was better than the
      outside…Shivarelli and Wicked Strong tracked inside for most of the race.
      Wicked Strong clearly likes AQU and didn’t handle GP, but never mind
      Constitution in that GP allowance race, Wicked Strong still got out-finished by
      both a defeated Tonalist and Mexicoma. Is WS for real now? Can he put two big
      races like that together? Especially getting away from Aqueduct? I am very
      suspect of that at the moment.

      Cal-Chrome was awesome again, no question. He’s your
      favorite now and deserves it. Like Wicked Strong, it will be a road test. I
      will be very anxious to see how he looks in Louisville and how he trains over
      that track. I do have some distance concerns because he’s a heavier, muscley
      colt, but I think he’ll handle it…may not thrive at it, but I’m not sure at
      this point who will thrive at it. Can’t wait to see them all in person!

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