TDN Top-to-Bottom Derby Rundown

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Authentic | Horsephotos

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This week’s TDN Triple Crown feature examines the GI Kentucky Derby runners in detail from first to last.

1) AUTHENTIC (c, Into Mischief–Flawless, by Mr. Greeley)
O-Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC & Starlight Racing. B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds LLC (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $350,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 6-5-1-0, $2,871,200.

Front-running Authentic bested 14 Derby foes in admirable, take-the-heat fashion. But it was the way this $350,000 KEESEP Into Mischief bay overcame a long season’s worth of focusing issues to finally put forth a polished, seasoned effort that truly stands out. Although Authentic might have given his connections an anxious moment or two when he came away flat-footed at the break from the outermost 15 stall, jockey John Velazquez didn’t rush the colt at all. In fact, the bent-necked Authentic had his head cocked out to the near-empty grandstand while ranging up widest to attain a prominent early placement. Ridden with restraint, Authentic hit the top just past the finish wire the first time, but he still had to safely clear three inside rivals through the first turn, costing him some ground. Onto the backstretch Velazquez maintained a margin of about a length while remaining several paths off the rail. Authentic really only had to put away one serious “first run” bid off the far turn, but that one challenger loomed menacingly in the form of legit Derby fave Tiz the Law (Constitution). Tiz got his nose in front at the quarter pole, but that affront only emboldened Authentic, who dug in determinedly and responded to left-handed stick work (this per trainer Bob Baffert’s instructions, Velazquez later said) despite shifting out for several strides before finishing with purpose inside the sixteenth pole. The Preakness now awaits the 5-for-6 Derby champ.

2) TIZ THE LAW (c, ConstitutionTizfiz, by Tiznow)
O-Sackatoga Stable. B-Twin Creeks Farm (NY). T-Barclay Tagg. Sales History: $110,000 yrl ’18 FTNAUG. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 8-6-1-1, $2,615,300.

If you had your crystal ball fired up and had been able to correctly predict that Tiz the Law would enjoy a primo, trouble-free Derby stalking trip in third for most of the race while zeroing in with metronomic precision on a lone leader who had worked hard to attain that top spot, most backers would have jumped at the proposition that Tiz was more likely than not to have blown right by Authentic at the quarter pole. Yet despite having everything his own way, that’s not how it worked out for this $110,000 SARAUG Constitution colt. Although Tiz briefly seized the lead, he came figuratively unglued when Authentic punched back with authority, and that battle represented the first time in his career that Tiz encountered any serious resistance inside the eighth pole. You can parse this performance all you want, but trainer Barclay Tagg summed it up best in just a few words: “He ran a good race today. He got beat.” Jockey Manny Franco even admitted that “the trip was perfect–no excuse.” Tiz’s only two lifetime losses have now come at Churchill Downs nearly 10 months apart, but the track surface isn’t the likely culprit. Rather, having only four weeks between races (his shortest layoff yet) and the extreme difficulty of maintaining elite-level form for over a year now both look like the more legitimate toll-taking factors. Here’s hoping Tiz rebounds in his training and that a Preakness rematch is in the cards.

3) MR. BIG NEWS (c, Giant’s CausewayUnappeased {Ire}, by Galileo {Ire}) O-Allied Racing Stable LLC; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY); T-Bret Calhoun. Sales History: $95,000 Ylg ’18 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: SW & GISP, 8-2-1-1, $468,553.

At 46-1, Mr. Big News outran his odds while running true to his distance-centric pedigree (by Giant’s Causeway out of a Galileo mare). He broke alertly and settled willingly, and when the main body of eight runners peeled off from the pack into the first turn, jockey Gabriel Saez was content to track the action behind that bunch well in the clear and without being covered up. He edged closer into the far turn, and in several rapid strides just prior to the five-sixteenths pole blew by five fading horses all at once (although this move was legit on its own, it did appear more explosive than it actually was because of the backpedaling of the spent horses). In the stretch Mr. Big News couldn’t close the gap on the top two, who were unquestionably in a different league. His projected Beyer Speed Figure of 101 means that Mr. Big News has now topped his previous Beyer every single time out over eight career starts, which is something you don’t often see.

4) HONOR A.P. (r, Honor CodeHollywood Story, by Wild Rush)
O-C R K Stable LLC. B-George Krikorian (KY). T-John Shirreffs. Sales History: $850,000 yrl ’18 FTSAUG. Lifetime Record: GISW, 6-2-3-0, $532,200.

Honor A.P. was never in it to win it last Saturday. Yet considering how tactically adrift he was for the first mile of the race, his fourth-place effort is better than it might seem. “He spun out from the word go. Really did,” said jockey Mike Smith, who cited this $850,000 FTSAUG Honor Code ridgling’s inability to grab hold of the “deeper, cuppier” track as the chief obstacle to a better placing. He broke hesitantly and was allowed to lag near last for most of the trip before unwinding with a long-striding move through the far turn that left him parked way out in the 10 path for the home straight. But he didn’t pass a single horse in mid-stretch who was not already backing up. Honor A.P.’s Derby has a “too bad to be true” aura to it, and as the only horse to ever finish in front of Authentic (in the GI Santa Anita Derby), it’s reasonable to think he’s capable of a more spirited showing if and when they meet again.

5) MAX PLAYER (c, Honor CodeFools in Love, by Not For Love)
O-George E. Hall & SportBLX Thoroughbreds Corp. B-K&G Stables (KY). T-Steve Asmussen. Sales History: $150,000 RNA yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW & MGISP, 6-2-1-2, $463,500.

Max Player inherited the dreaded one hole after a scratch, and this first-crop Honor Code colt ($150,000 KEESEP RNA) got a decent schooling out of the experience while rallying nicely through traffic to snag fifth with a late spurt. Even before the field completed the first furlong, you could see Max was getting pelted with kickback while down inside, and jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. guided him to the back of the pack to save ground through the first turn and onto the backstretch. As the field tightened up entering the far turn, Santana opted to move out rather than try to weave through traffic at the fence. But even being eight paths wide into the lane Max could still not avoid shifting off heels and having to maneuver for better positioning. When a clear hole did finally materialize, Max dove through with interest. That could be the “Ah-ha!” moment that signals advancement into the upper echelon of the sophomore ranks might not be as far off as it seems for this colt.

6) STORM THE COURT (c, Court Vision–My Tejana Storm, by Tejano Run) O-Exline-Border Racing LLC & David A Bernsen LLC; B-Stepping Stone Farm (KY); T-Peter Eurton. Sales History: $5,000 Ylg ’18 FTKFEB; $60,000 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo, GISW, 10-2-1-3, $1,310,451.

If there’s a such thing as a sneaky-good sixth, Storm the Court ran it in the Derby. He was actually the between-calls leader first time through the homestretch, and although jockey Julien Leparoux opted not to slug it out on the front end with Authentic, he didn’t concede an inch at the fence positionally while transitioning to stalk mode. On the far turn, this $60,000 OBSAPR Court Vision bay (previously a $5,000 FTKFEB yearling) had four horses parked directly to his outside and one just behind him ratcheting up the mid-pack pressure, but Storm the Court still didn’t crack. By virtue of saving so much ground, the juvenile champ was able to re-bid and briefly fight for a share of third as the field swung for home, but he could not sustain that momentum and ran on respectably despite being spent. Ten furlongs on dirt is probably not his thing, but this was still a better-than-it-looks performance.

7) ENFORCEABLE (c, TapitJustwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)
O-John Oxley. B-Clearsky Farm (KY). T-Mark Casse. Sales History: $775,000 RNA yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 11-2-2-2, $397,150.

Stout-pedigreed Enforceable made his early-career mark as a deep closer who didn’t mind taking the overland route, and he was bet down to 22-1 in the Derby primarily on the angle that he’d be motoring late when many others would be struggling with the final furlong. Thus it was a surprise to see him involved in the early jostling for the lead, mixing it up in the front vanguard. He essentially followed Storm the Court’s rail trip while looking comfortable covered up, and he vacated the fence turning for home only to be dropped back down inside after finding neither the running room nor the spark to sustain a serious deep-stretch bid.

8) NY TRAFFIC (c, Cross Traffic–Mamie Reilly, by Graeme Hall)
O-John Fanelli, Cash is King LLC, LC Racing & Paul Braverman. B-Brian Culnan (NY). T-Saffie Joseph, Jr. Sales History: $27,000 RNA 2yo ’19 EASMAY. Lifetime Record: GISP, 10-2-3-2, $565,470.

Ny Traffic veered out at the break and then was sent for speed, cutting back inward in front of five other rivals in jockey Paco Lopez’s all-costs zeal to have this gray near the head of affairs. This $27,000 EASMAY RNA by Cross Traffic attended the pace outside of Authentic, but at no time did he ratchet up the pressure to the point where it made the frontrunner uncomfortable. Ny Traffic briefly sparred with Tiz the Law when the favorite engaged him three-eighths out, but Tiz swatted Ny Traffic away handily, and this colt backpedaled out of contention while shifting outward and contributing to the logjam of fading horses in the wider paths of the upper stretch. In the aftermath of the race, trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. reported Ny Traffic lost a front shoe and had some cuts on his legs.

9) NECKER ISLAND (c, Hard SpunJenny’s Rocket, by Mr. Greeley) O-Raymond Daniels, Wayne Scherr & Will Harbut Racing LLC; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Chris Hartman. Sales history: $250,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSP, 11-2-0-3, $199,730.

The game plan for blinkers-off Necker Island was to be close to the pace along the inside. Instead he was next to last for most of his Derby trip and made a belated far-turn run while 10 wide into the stretch. “Outclassed” was trainer Chris Hartman’s post-race summation.

10) MAJOR FED (c, GhostzapperBobby’s Babe, by Smart Strike) O-Lloyd Madison Farms IV LLC; B-Lloyd Madison IV (KY); T-Greg Foley. Lifetime Record: MGSP, 7-1-2-1, $215,600.

This Ghostzapper homebred out of a Smart Strike mare was boxed and blocked the first time through the stretch and into the first turn, and thereafter held a mid-pack stalking position well enough to be fourth between calls at the five-sixteenths pole. He’d had enough by the final furlong, though. “He had no business being up there where he was,” trainer Greg Foley said Sunday. “Bumper cars going into that first turn. I mean, he was a length off the lead. I don’t know if he was too fresh and broke like that and was down in there. That was the end of our chances. Everything had to go good for us. It didn’t. He came back good. He looks fine. He ate up. We’ll regroup in a little bit. He’s eligible for a [NW1X] allowance. That’s about where he’ll show up next. Go from there. He’ll look pretty good in that.”

11) SOLE VOLANTE (g, Karakontie {Jpn}Light Blow, by Kingmambo) O-Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone & Limelight Stables Corp. B-Flaxman Holdings Limited (KY). T-Patrick Biancone. Sales History: $6,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP; $20,000 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 8-4-1-1, $323,310.

Sole Volante was guided down to the inside shortly after the break but he ate quite a bit of kickback when he should have been settling. He rode the rail in last for most of the trip and was picking off stragglers late with 13 Derby horses all parked to his outside in the stretch. “He obviously took a lot of dirt in his face, but he scoped clean,” said co-owner Andie Biancone, who is also the assistant to her father, trainer Patrick Biancone, and the regular exercise rider for the gelding. “He’ll probably get a break now and maybe go back to the turf.”

12) WINNING IMPRESSION (g, PaynterUnbridled Sonya, by Unbridled’s Song) O-West Point Thoroughbreds & Pearl Racing; B-WinStar Farm LLC (KY); T-Dallas Stewart. Sales History: $17,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $77,000 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GISP, 10-1-1-2, $98,552.

Winning Impression got hustled straight from the gate but quickly had Ny Traffic and Tiz the Law blow by him with better bursts of speed. This Paynter gray opted out of the early crush into the far turn, settling willingly at the rail to lead the second flight as the Derby broke into eight tightly packed horses in the first group and seven others scattered behind with a bit more breathing room between them. But Winning Impression was having trouble holding his spot into the far turn, and he dropped back to last before passing three laggards late in the lane.

13) MONEY MOVES (c, Candy Ride {Arg}Citizen Advocate, by Proud Citizen) O-Robert V LaPenta & Bortolazzo Stable; B-Whitehall Lane Farm (KY); T-Todd Pletcher. Sales history: $975,000 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: 4-2-1-0, $67,400.

This $975,000 OBSAPR Candy Ride (Arg) colt was the surprise bet-down in the Derby, going off at 13-1 while light on experience (just three career races) but long on potential. He kicked out of the gate well from post five, but fought an early rating hold as jockey Javier Castellano scrambled to get good position within the top tier. Money Moves raced well despite being hemmed in between rivals for most of his backstraight journey, and was never more than four or five lengths out of the hunt. But he was punchless on the far turn and had called it a day before the quarter pole. Given the ambitious placement at this early juncture of his career, you can expect Money Moves got quite a bit of valuable experience out of his Derby journey.

14) ATTACHMENT RATE (c, Hard SpunAristra, by Afleet Alex) O-Jim Bakke & Gerald Isbister; B-Mr & Mrs C Oliver Iselin (VA); T-Dale Romans. Sales History: $100,000 Wlg ’17 KEENOV; $200,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSP, 9-1-3-1, $143,732.

This Virginia-bred ($100,000 KEENOV, $200,000 KEESEP) broke with the pace but immediately had to adjust outward to stay off the heels of the inward-swerving Ny Traffic and (to a lesser extent) Tiz the Law. Shifting outside, he was four wide through the first bend and onto the backstretch. Although he didn’t lose touch, Attachment Rate never truly fired either, and when it was obvious he would wind up well beaten jockey Joe Talamo did not hammer on him for more run late in the lane.

15) SOUTH BEND (c, AlgorithmsSandra’s Rose, by Old Trieste) O-Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch & Pantofel Stable LLC; B-Highclere Inc (KY); T-Bill Mott. Sales History: $47,000 RNA Ylg ’18 FTKJUL; $70,000 2yo ’19 OBSMAR. Lifetime Record: SW & MGSP, 13-3-2-2, $390,114.

South Bend couldn’t find a tactical spot to settle the first time through the stretch. This $70,000 OBSMAR Algorithms bay (RNA’d for $47,000 at FKTJUL) backed off a bit, and then had the most uncovered trip of anyone in the Derby through the first turn and onto the backstretch, with no one directly in front, behind, or to his sides. He rallied a bit three-eighths out, but jockey Tyler Gaffalione had to go five wide to try and gain any ground with this brief burst of momentum. South Bend was actually making mild headway toward a minor placing in deep stretch when the hit a figurative wall at the eighth pole, capitulating to last.

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