TDN Derby Top 12, Presented by WinStar Farm


Catholic Boy I Sarah Andrew

By T. D. Thornton

This late January edition of the TDN Derby Top 12 represents the calm before the early February stakes storm. The national docket for sophomore stakes races has been on the quiet side for the past several weekends, but two new horses managed to crack the rankings with eye-opening efforts since the last Top 12 update was published. Feb. 3 now looms as the next shakeup date on the calendar, when Road to the GI Kentucky Derby points races will be carded in New York, Florida and California.

1) CATHOLIC BOY (c, More Than ReadySong of Bernadette, by Bernardini)
O-Robert V. LaPenta. B-Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding (KY). T-Jonathan Thomas. Sales History: $170,000 RNA yrl KEEJAN ’16. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 4-3-0-0, $314,000.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 1
Last Start: 1st, GII Remsen S., AQU, Dec. 2.
Accomplishments Include: 1st, GIII With Anticipation S., SAR, Aug. 30.
Next Start: Possible for GIII Sam F. Davis S., TAM, Feb. 10
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 10
Training out of the public spotlight at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, the versatile, game, unafraid-to-mix-it-up Catholic Boy has the Feb. 10 GIII Davis S. at Tampa Bay Downs targeted for his 2018 debut. His 3-for-4 juvenile season stood out because of his ability to win around two turns right off the bat, his getting faster in each race numbers-wise on the Beyer scale, and (perhaps most importantly) his willingness to fight his way out of trouble and to seemingly make his own breaks when faced with in-race adversity. His breakout win in the GII Remsen S. went a long way toward answering the question about whether he can handle the turf-to-dirt transition, but winning at nine furlongs in December isn’t the same as being able to beat graded stakes peers at that same distance in March or April. On paper, the Remsen projects to be a better-than-it-looks key race in the making, as several talented colts who ran behind Catholic Boy also endured less-than-ideal trips and have yet to run back. But the traditional final distance stakes of the year for top-level 2-year-olds in New York hasn’t been a great historical indicator of Kentucky Derby prowess over the last half-century or so: Only three horses in the last 54 years–Thunder Gulch, Go For Gin and Pleasant Colony–have successfully parlayed the Remsen into a blanket of roses on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

2) GOOD MAGIC (c, CurlinGlinda the Good, by Hard Spun)
O-e Five Thoroughbreds & Stonestreet Stables. B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings (KY). T-Chad Brown. Sales History: $1,000,000 yrl KEESEP ’16. Lifetime Record: GISW, 3-1-2-0, $1,216,600.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 2
Last Start: 1st, GI Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, SA, Nov. 4.
Accomplishments Include: 2nd, GI Champagne S., BEL, Oct. 7.
Next Start: Possible for GII Fountain of Youth S., GP, Mar. 3
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 24
Good Magic’s first published workout of 2018 was a bullet three-eighths breeze at Palm Meadows Training Center on Sunday timed in: 36.95 (1/10). This million-dollar KEESEP son of Curlin (Smart Strike) has the Mar. 3 GII Fountain of Youth S. targeted for his sophomore debut, but he has a chance to get an off-the-track victory before then as a finalist for 2-year-old juvenile champ in Thursday’s Eclipse Awards. It will be intriguing to see how this colt’s tactics evolve with a four-month maturity break under his belt. Stretching out in distance over the course of three 2017 races, Good Magic already has proven stalking speed, but could be an up-front pace-pressing force if he hones an aggressive edge that puts him closer to the lead earlier in his races. By the time he hits the entries, we’ll already have an advance look at the sophomore stakes competition in Florida based on the results of the GII Holy Bull S. coming up on Feb. 3, and that lineup is likely to include a couple of Derby Top 12 contenders who blossomed after Good Magic shellacked the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile field.

3) MCKINZIE (c, Street SenseRunway Model, by Petionville)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Karl Watson, Michael Pegram & Paul Weitman. B-Summer Wind Farm (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $170,000 yrl KEESEP ’16. Lifetime Record: GISW,
3-3-0-0, $270,000.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 3
Last Start: 1st, GIII Sham S., SA, Jan. 6
Accomplishments Include: 1st, GI Los Alamitos Futurity, LRC, Dec. 9
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. Caulfield on McKinzie.
KY Derby Points: 20
‘TDN Rising Star’ McKinzie put in a half-mile maintenance breeze in :49 flat (45/87) at Santa Anita on Sunday, two weekends after a solid 3 1/2-length win in the GIII Sham S. His form received a flattering when Instilled Regard (Arch) emerged as a power player with his GIII Lecomte S. win in New Orleans Jan. 13, because when McKinzie ran second in a three-way photo in the Dec. 9 GI Los Alamitos Futurity (and was elevated to a win via disqualification), Instilled Regard was only a head behind him (and 29 1/2 lengths clear of the rest of the field). McKinzie is progressing incrementally as a comfortable stalker, but it’s also worth noting this colt has swished his tail in the stretch runs of all three of his races–twice when he was urged along with the whip and again in he Sham when shaken up by jockey Mike Smith to motor away from his rival. Is it a “tell” that the colt is not yet comfortable with being aggressively put into a drive or just a quirk that will smooth over with maturity? Trainer Bob Baffert traditionally is flexible with next-race commitments for his emerging Derby candidates, and he said on “At the Races with Steve Byk” last week that, “What we’re doing now is we’re just going to nominate [3-year-olds] everywhere, and whoever’s doing well that week, he goes.”

4) BOLT D’ORO (c, Medaglia d’OroGlobe Trot, by A.P. Indy)
O-Ruis Racing. B-WinStar Farm (KY). T-Mick Ruis. Sales History: $630,000 yrl FTSAUG ’16. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 4-3-0-1, $576,000.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 4
Last Start: 3rd, GI Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, SA, Nov. 4
Accomplishments Include: 1st, GI Del Mar Futurity, DMR, Sept. 4; 1st GI FrontRunner S., SA, Sept. 30.
Next Start: Aiming for GII San Felipe S., SA, Mar. 10
Equineline PPs. Caulfield on Bolt d’Oro.
KY Derby Points: 14
The top two favorites for Thursday’s juvenile champion Eclipse Award, Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic, are the only two contenders within the Derby Top 12 rankings to have 2018 debuts scheduled as late as March. In previous decades, that might be cause for concern. But considering American racing’s general shift toward fewer starts and greater spacing between races for top-tier horses, this might be one of those historical trends that is not as relevant as it once was. After all, being fashionably late worked out pretty well for American Pharoah (Pioneeerof the Nile) in 2015, especially considering he had a 5 1/2-month gap between his last 2-year-old race and 3-year-old debut Mar. 14. “Bolt” has been galloping steadily at Santa Anita after a stiffness/soreness issue caused him to miss some training earlier this month. Mick Ruis, owner/trainer of the $630,000 son of Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado {Ire}) said last week he’ll now have to “get him into race shape here by working him in company before the [GII] San Felipe” S. Mar. 10. One thing that is out of Ruis’s control though, is the relative strength of this year’s southern California-based sophomore contingent, meaning that the 1 1/16-mile prep is likely to feature a cast of characters that already has an established recent edge in afternoon experience.

5) INSTILLED REGARD (c, Arch--Enhancing, by Foresty)
O-OXO Equine LLC. B-KatieRich Farms (KY). T-Jerry Hollendorfer. Sales history: $110,000 RNA yrl KEESEP ’16, $1,050,000 2yo OBSMAR ’17. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 5-2-2-1, $228,000.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: NA
Last Start: 1st , GIII LeComte S., FG, Jan. 13
Accomplishments: 2nd, GI Los Alamitos Futurity, LRC, Dec. 9
Next Start: Uncommited
Equineline PPs. Caulfield on Instilled Regard.
KY Derby Points: 14
Instilled Regard took an assertive step forward by winning the Lecomte S. in authoritative fashion. His professional 3 3/4-length score not only extended the colt’s own development arc (while imparting the sense that there’s even more progression in his pipeline), but the win also provided underpinning to the argument that SoCal sophomores as a whole stack up pretty good so far, with Santa Anita-based trainees this week occupying one-third of Derby Top 12 spots. In that Jan. 13 prep, Instilled Regard broke running, settled willingly behind 28-1 and 29-1 dueling pacemakers, and was always in the hunt while giving the impression he could have pounced at will in the middle stages of the race. He got first run on the tiring leaders at the quarter pole, effortlessly found an extra gear one furlong out, then bounded away under mild encouragement and galloped out strongly after the wire. The colt shipped back to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Santa Anita training base following the race, and while a trip back to New Orleans for a subsequent stakes hasn’t been ruled out, no definitive plans have yet to be announced for Instilled Regard’s next start.

6) ENTICED (c, Medaglia d’OroIt’s Tricky, by Mineshaft)
O-Godolphin Racing. B-Godolphin (KY). T-Kiaran McLaughlin. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 3-2-0-1, $213,880.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 5
Last Start: 1st, GII Kentucky Jockey Club S., CD, Nov. 25.
Accomplishments Include: 3rd, GI Champagne S., BEL, Oct. 7.
Next Start: Aiming for GII Holy Bull S., GP, or GIII Withers S., AQU, both Feb. 3
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 12
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has Feb. 3 circled as a next-race starting point for each of the two Godolphin-owned and -bred Derby hopefuls, and although it’s not etched in stone, it’s likely that Enticed remains in Florida for the GII Holy Bull S. at Gulfstream while Avery Island (Street Sense) returns to Aqueduct for the GIII Withers S. (based on his previous win and a second in stakes races there). Both are big-bodied, robust colts, and McLaughlin has expressed confidence that both want every inch of the 10-furlong Derby distance should they earn their way into the first leg of the Triple Crown. Enticed blossomed a bit earlier than his stablemate, establishing himself as a legit Classics contender by barreling to contention early and uncorking a solid, six-wide, length-of-stretch rally that put him a head bob in front at the finish of the 14-horse GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. on Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs. He breezed three-eighths in 1:01 at Palm Meadows (3/11) Friday.

7) MOURINHO (c, Super Saver-Sandi’s Ready, by More Than Ready)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Phoenix Thoroughbred III. B-WinStar Farm (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales history: $30,000 yrl KEESEP ’16; $625,000 2yo OBSMAR ’17. Lifetime Record: 4-2-2-0, $154,360.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: NA
Last Start: 1st, Smarty Jones S., OP, Jan. 15
Next Start: Uncommited
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 10
There is little doubt that sleek ‘TDN Rising Star’ Mourinho’s wire job in the Jan. 15 Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn was good enough to crack the Top 12, but figuring out exactly where to rank him was a challenge. Sure, on a who-beat-whom basis, you could argue he deserves a berth ahead of number five Instilled Regard. But that Sep. 30 maiden sprint win they both competed in is now light years away in the rear view mirror in terms of Derby development, and even though Mourinho’s 2018 debut was faster numbers-wise than Instilled Regard’s (99 versus 92 Beyer), Mourinho’s win came under everything-his-own way circumstances. Still, the 3 1/4-length victory was a meaningful step forward, as the re-blinkered Mourinho easily outsprinted a sent-for-the-lead challenger to his inside, allowed jockey Drayden Van Dyke to throttle back the pace, quickened again into the third quarter, and was well clear when sailing solo off the far turn. Mourinho needed a stride or two to make a smooth transition when roused in the short (for the mile configuration) Oaklawn stretch, but otherwise looked focused, putting together successive quarters in :23.33, :24.76, :24.18 and :24.98. Trainer Bob Baffert said the colt is candidate to return to Hot Springs for the GIII Southwest S. Feb. 19. But the way Baffert calls audibles with his deep bench of Triple Crown nominees, mark it down in pencil, not ink.

8) PRINCIPE GUILHERME (c, Tapit–Aubby K, by Street Sense)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O/B-Three Chimneys Farm (KY). T-Steve Asmussen. Sales History: $600,000 wlg FTKNOV ’15. Lifetime Record: 3-2-1-0, $101,800.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 6
Last Start: 2nd, GIII Lecomte S., FG, Jan. 13
Next Start: Possible for GII Risen Star S., FG, Feb. 17.
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 4
While two winners of stakes winners over the past several weeks leapfrogged Principe Guilherme for spots on the Top 12 list, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that his GIII Lecomte S. second behind Instilled Regard still represents encouraging advancement in his overall progression, even though he was the beaten favorite. Going into that Jan. 13 stakes try, trainer Steve Asmussen’s stated goal was “to get him to relax and use [the speed he displayed in his first two wins] effectively with his acceleration and his quickness.” This $600,000 Tapit (Pulpit) yearling broke well from post 10, rated willingly while five wide on the first turn, appeared unfazed by mild backstretch jostling, then launched a four-wide move on the far turn that resulted in him beating 11 other rivals while finishing 3 3/4 lengths behind much-the-best second favorite Instilled Regard. The lost ground on both bends cost this colt a little bit, but the overall experience benefited Principe Guilherme, and he remains a viable work-in-progress proposition as the distances stretch out to suit his stamina- centric pedigree.

9) MASK (c, Tapit–Hidden Expression, by Yonaguska)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Lane’s End Racing. B-Gainesway Thoroughbreds (KY). T-Chad Brown. Sales History: $685,000 yrl KEESEP ’16. Lifetime Record: SW, 2-2-0-0, $105,760.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 8
Last Start: 1st, Mucho Macho Man S., GP, Jan. 6
Next Start: Possible for GII Risen Star S., FG, Feb. 17
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 0
Mask has shown flashes of brilliance in his two-for-two career. We already know this $685,000 KEESEP colt possesses sharp enough early speed to put himself in control of races early on, and both trainer Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano went on record praising this ‘TDN Rising Star’s’ poise and focusing ability after his 6 1/4-length, one-turn mile romp in the Jan. 6 Mucho Macho Man S. at Gulfstream. The next box to check off on Mask’s Derby development list will be a two-turn race, and Brown confirmed to the Fair Grounds press team earlier this month that he’s considering the Tapit colt for the 1 1/16-mile GII Risen Star S. Feb. 17. Mask’s dam, the stakes-winning sprinter Hidden Expression (Yonaguska), also began her career with a pair of wins around one turn, but she did not attempt a route race in three subsequent starts before retirement. Her only other two foals to race remain maidens.

10) FIRENZE FIRE (c, Poseidon’s Warrior–My Every Wish, by Langfuhr)
O-Mr. Amore Stables. B-Mr. Amore Stables (FL). T-Jason Servis. Lifetime Record: GISW, 6-4-0-0, $539,100.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 7
Last Start: 1st, Jerome S., AQU, Jan. 13
Accomplishments Include: 1st, GI Champagne S., BEL, Oct. 7; 1st, GIII Sanford S., SAR, July 22.
Next Start: Possible for GIII Gotham S., AQU, Mar. 10
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 20
Firenze Fire had to work quite a bit harder than a 4-5 favorite might be expected to in order to prevail over a six-horse wintertime Aqueduct stakes field, but his grind-it-out rally in the Jan. 13 Jerome S. at least stamps him as the type of colt who can wind up in the winner’s circle even when things don’t go his way. Perhaps overcoming adversity will be the sophomore theme for the powerful winner of the key-race GI Champagne S. (Good Magic, Enticed) back in October. His 2018 debut was delayed by nearly two weeks because adverse weather kept causing the Jerome to be pushed back, and Firenze Fire missed six days of training during that time. When the gates finally flew open for the rescheduled Jerome, the :25.01, :50.81 and 1:16.72 splits did not exactly favor this last-to-first closer, but he motored home methodically a half-length in front after wresting control from a pesky pacemaker in the shadow of the wire.
“Heading into the race, I thought he might be up against it,” said trainer Jason Servis. “It looked like there was a speed bias…. He didn’t have the easiest of trips; he didn’t break on top and had to deal with some traffic.”

11) TIZ MISCHIEF (c, Into Mischief–Indivia, by Tiznow)
O-Frank L. Jones, Jr. B-T/C Stable (KY). T-Dale Romans. Sales History: $55,000 yrl KEESEP ’16. Lifetime Record: GSP, 4-1-2-0, $88,000.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 9
Last Start: 2nd, GII Kentucky Jockey Club S., CD, Nov. 25.
Next Start: Aiming for GII Holy Bull S., GP, Feb. 3
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 4
This $55,000 KEESEP Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday) colt is getting serious, works-wise, for his expected sophomore debut in the Holy Bull S. His five Gulfstream Park breezes since Dec. 16 have all been the first-, second- or third-fastest morning moves of the day for the half-mile and five-eighths distances, and his most recent race, the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S., gets my vote for the “sleeper” prep of 2017 to come up as highly productive Derby indicator for 2018. In that Nov. 25 try, Tiz Mischief displayed maturity in the form of targeting and dispatching with rivals from well back in a 14-horse field, knifing between rivals with decisiveness when cued to quicken, cornering efficiently into the lane, and not backing down from a fight while finishing with determination. He was ahead in the jumps before and after the wire, and his rivalry with number five-ranked Enticed could be one of the better grudge rematches within the division if they hook up again through the winter and spring in Florida.

12) AVERY ISLAND (c, Street Sense-Kinda Spicy, by A.P. Indy)
O-Godolphin Racing. B-Godolphin (KY). T-Kiaran McLaughlin. Lifetime Record: GSW, 4-2-1-0, $215,332.
Jan. 9 TDN Top 12 Rank: 10
Last Start: 2nd, GII Remsen S., AQU, Dec. 2.
Accomplishments Include: 1st, GII Nashua S., AQU, Nov. 5.
Next Start: Aiming for GII Holy Bull S., GP, or GIII Withers S., AQU, both Feb. 3
Equineline PPs.
KY Derby Points: 4
His pedigree resonates distance top and bottom, but his naming is the result of some hot stuff: Playing off his dam, Kinda Spicy (A.P. Indy), Avery Island takes his name from the Louisiana Gulf Coast salt dome that is known as the home of the Tabasco brand pepper sauce. As a racemare in 2011, Kinda Spicy retired undefeated at two-for-two, winning on debut at a Belmont mile by 8 3/4 lengths and in a nine-furlong Saratoga allowance by 3 1/2 lengths. After his beaten-favorite sprint debut when unveiled at the Spa last summer, Avery Island has thrived since stretching out, winning a pair of one-turn route races by 10 combined lengths at Belmont and Aqueduct prior to an even-effort second as the beaten fave behind Catholic Boy in the nine-furlong Remsen S. He is on target to return to New York for the Feb. 3 Withers S. (although those plans could change depending on winter weather, quarantines, and who knows what else) and Avery Island has been working on Friday mornings this month at Palm Meadows to prepare for his 2018 debut. His most recent timed workout was a 1:00.75 five-eighths breeze (4/31) on Jan. 19.

On the Bubble (in alphabetical order)
Arrival (Tapit): Yet to resurface in works after wide trip CD stakes.
Ax Man (Misremembered): San Vicente S. likely next for Baffert MSW monster.
Choo Choo (English Channel): Calumet colorbearer won Cal Derby as fave on Sat.
Combatant (Scat Daddy): Second in Smarty Jones S. for Asmussen.
Free Drop Billy (Union Rags): Kee GSW breezing at GP.
High North (Midnight Lute): Cox trainee aims for GIII Southwest S.
Hollywood Star (Malibu Moon): Better-than-looked sixth in BC Juvenile.
Marconi (Tapit): ‘TDN Rising Star’ Pletcher trainee aims for Withers S.
Montauk (Medaglia d’Oro): ‘TDN Rising Star’ yet to work since blowout Oct. win.
Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy): Now two-for-two after two-turn GP ALW win.
Retirement Fund (Eskendereya): Two-for-two Asmussen colt considered for Risen Star S.
Solomini (Curlin): Baffert trainee lost Top 12 spot after sidelined by fever.
Sporting Chance (Tiznow): ‘TDN Rising Star’ GI Hopeful S. winner breezed OP bullet last week.
Tricks to Doo (Into Mischief): Breezing at Tam after winning stakes by 7 1/4.
Vouch (Yes It’s True): Breezing at Classic Mile since Remsen third.
World of Trouble (Kantharos
Zulfikhar (Bodemeister): Baffert ‘TDN Rising Star’ nears stakes debut.

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