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Unanswered Questions From The 2015 Kentucky Derby

American Pharoah (#18 forefront furthest left) defeats Firing Line and Dortmund in the 2015 Kentucky Derby (Elsa/Getty Images North America)
American Pharoah (#18 forefront furthest left) defeats Firing Line and Dortmund in the 2015 Kentucky Derby (Elsa/Getty Images North America)

Unanswered Questions From The 2015 Kentucky Derby

The 2015 Kentucky Derby was an exciting race that saw American Pharoah defeat Firing Line by one length. There were even some lessons learned that could be applied in the future.

While the dust settles and the Preakness contenders are considered, there are still some questions that need to be answered even if it will not happen for many months (or possibly years).

Below are unanswered questions from the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

1. Were the Top Four Finishers that much Better than the Rest?

The top four finishers in the Kentucky Derby were American Pharoah, Firing Line, Dortmund, and Frosted. Those four were separated by 3 1/4 lengths while the rest were at least another 3 1/4 lengths behind.

It was an easy pace for the top three as they went around the track basically as the top three throughout the running of the Kentucky Derby. Frosted was the only one of the top four horses who had to close late and he barely missed third by a shortening head.

But were they really that much better than the rest of the field? Perhaps they are just head and shoulders above the rest of the horses in the Kentucky Derby, but that is probably not the case.

We will see over the next few months if the top four really were better than every other horse.

2. How Good is this Crop as a Whole?

Coming into the race, we had a pretty good idea about Dortmund and American Pharoah, as well as several other horses such as Materiality, Carpe Diem, Upstart, and Frosted.

It turned out that American Pharoah and Dortmund were better than nearly everyone else in the Kentucky Derby.

The caveat here is that we will not be able to answer this question for many months because these horses are still going to face fellow three year olds for the next few months. If we want to compare crops, we will not be able to do so for a few years when most of these horses will no longer be competing.

Many have said this is one of the more talented and deep three year old crops in the last decade and Saturday’s Kentucky Derby results may just prove how good they are if the top four continue to dominate. The real question then becomes how the fringe horses, those who are considered good, but not yet at the same level as the top four, do later this year.

It will be an intriguing journey to watch, that is for sure and there will be plenty of opportunities in the fall for the three year olds to match up against older horses.

3. Is American Pharoah a Legitimate Threat to Win the Triple Crown?

In the immediate aftermath of the Kentucky Derby (literally the first 10 or 15 minutes after the conclusion of the race), many opinions are thrown around about whether or not a horse can go on and win the elusive Triple Crown.

Well, that is only going to intensify with the advent of social media to get opinions out there within mere second of the conclusion and there are usually only two camps; one that is adamant he will win the Triple Crown and another that is adamant he will not win the Triple Crown.

This author falls in the latter camp that does not think he will win the Triple Crown. Of course, that is hardly an inclination of whether or not he will.

First, he must win the Preakness before even having a shot at winning the Triple Crown, but he is quite likely to win the Preakness shortening up a half furlong.

Secondly, he had a dream trip in the Kentucky Derby just off of Dortmund and Firing Line, but he did not have that huge burst of speed at the top of the stretch to pull away from his foes. Then again, maybe he was being saved by Victor Espinoza.

Third, the Belmont is called the Test of Champions for a reason. It is the third race in five weeks and it will be American Pharoah’s fourth race in eight weeks. There is a reason 13 horses have tried since 1978 and failed to win the Triple Crown. The grueling mile and a half journey will not be kind to him.

Again, none of this is a guarantee American Pharoah will not win the Triple Crown, but history is against him.

4. What do we do with the horses that finished well?

Given the slow pace of the Kentucky Derby, it is hardly a shock that few horses were able to close in the final quarter of a mile. On Saturday, there were only three horses that were really identified as being able to make up ground in the stretch.

Below is an image (courtesy of Blood-Horse) of the horses turning for home to provide an idea of where each horse was.

2015 Derby Final Turn

The three horses we will focus on are #3 Materiality (near the top of the photo) #14 Keen Ice (to the left of Materiality) and #15 Frosted (middle of the photo to the left).

The most impressive of the three horses mentioned was Materiality, who came from way back in the field as seen in the photo. He did well to go from nearly last to sixth in the final quarter of a mile and he ran the final two furlongs in :25.61, according to the Daily Racing Form. None of that even mentions the poor start he had.

Frosted was the only horse to be shown during the live running of the race to have closed well. He just missed third place from Dortmund, but he was closing even prior to the final quarter of a mile. Between the six furlong and one mile calls, Frosted went from 15th to 7th and ran that quarter of a mile in :23.97.

He slowed down in the stretch, but still did well to make up the ground he did into such a slow pace. His final quarter was timed in :25.98.

The only other horse to make up ground was Keen Ice. Coming into the Kentucky Derby, most knew he would make one run and needed some pace to have a chance to hit the board. That proved to be the case.

He was immediately brought to the fence at the start of the race and continued to race near the back of the field throughout. At the top of the stretch he had five horses beaten and then closed to to finish seventh, losing by 8 3/4 lengths.

The obvious thinking here is that these horses will be prime candidates at Belmont going a mile and a half in the Belmont Stakes.

Just last year, Wicked Strong and Commanding Curve (the fourth and second place finishers in the Kentucky Derby respectively), were considered possibilities to win. The former finished in a dead heat for fourth and the latter was eighth.

In 2013, the second and third place finishers from the Derby, Golden Soul and Revolutionary, were the deep closers who hit the board in Kentucky. They finished ninth and fifth respectively in the Belmont Stakes.

In 2012, Dullahan closed to finish third in the Derby, but failed to do so at Belmont. He finished seventh as the 5/2 favorite that day.

Ice Box in 2010 was expected to do well in the Belmont Stakes. He ran fast closing second in the Derby, but failed at the 9/5 favorite in the Belmont by finishing ninth.

A lot of people think back to a deep closer winning the Belmont in Jazil (2006). That was nearly a decade ago. The problem with deep closers is two-fold. First, the pace of the race needs to be somewhat fast for a mile and a half. Second, they need to be able to get a mile and a half.

Deep closers can win the Belmont, they just need a lot of things to break their way in order to do it.

5. Is the Kentucky Derby Points System Working?

This is a tricky question because everyone has a different idea of how it should work. 2015 marks the third year of the Kentucky Derby points system. Coincidentally, it also marks the third straight year that a favorite won the Kentucky Derby. Make of that what you will.

It is probably not a mistake that the fractions have slowed down dramatically since the inception of the points system. 2013 saw an opening quarter go in 22.57 and the opening half mile in 45.33. In 2014, it was 23.04 and 47.37 while 2015 was 23.24 and 47.34.

The reason for this is simple. There is no more cheap speed in the Kentucky Derby. In 2012, the last year without a points system, a horse named Trinniberg entered the Kentucky Derby. His prep racing coming into the Derby was the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes at 7 furlongs on the main track. He ended 2012 by winning the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

There can still be unexpected speed in the race. Take 2013, for example, when Palace Malice shocked nearly everyone when he went straight to the lead under Mike Smith and tried to go gate-to-wire though he tired on the far turn.

It is clear that the Kentucky Derby points system is keeping sprinters out of the Kentucky Derby and that is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it has led to slower fractions and favorites winning the last three years. It is up to you to decide if that means the system is working.

Perhaps, and this is simply conjecture, is that more horses will be bred to go the classic distance of a mile and a quarter. It is still possible to have speed going 10 furlongs, though stamina will be needed to allow a horse to last the distance.

The Kentucky Derby points system will be fun to keep an eye on for the future and how it affects those who enter in Derby prep races. We may continue to see favorites or we may start to see a parade of long shots.

2015 Kentucky Derby Preview

2015 Kentucky Derby Preview

The 141st Kentucky Derby is almost here. A field of 20 is expected to run and it is a loaded race. The field of three year olds will be going a mile and a quarter (10 furlongs) over the main track.

Post time is scheduled for 6:34 PM Eastern Time and the Derby is carded as the eleventh of thirteen races on the afternoon. The purse for the race is $2,000,000.

#11 Stanford has scratched out of the race allowing in #21 Frammento to draw in. Free past performances can be found here.

Below is a table that summarizes the entries for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1Ocho Ocho OchoElvis TrujilloJames Cassidy50-1
2Carpe DiemJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher8-1
3MaterialityJavier CastellanoTodd Pletcher12-1
4TencendurManuel FrancoGeorge Weaver30-1
5Danzig MoonJulien LeparouxMark Casse30-1
6MubtaahijChristophe SoumillonMike de Kock20-1
7El KabeirCalvin BorelJohn Terranova30-1
8DortmundMartin GarciaBob Baffert3-1
9BoloRafael BejaranoCarla Gaines30-1
10Firing LineGary StevensSimon Callaghan12-1
11 (SCRATCHED)StanfordFlorent GerouxTodd PletcherSCRATCHED
12International StarMiguel MenaMike Maker20-1
13ItsaknockoutLuis SaezTodd Pletcher30-1
14Keen IceKent DesormeauxDale Romans50-1
15FrostedJoel RosarioKiaran McLaughlin15-1
16War StoryJoe TalamoTom Amoss50-1
17Mr. ZRamon VazquezD. Wayne Lukas50-1
18American PharoahVictor EspinozaBob Baffert5-2
19UpstartJose OrtizRick Violette15-1
20Far RightMike SmithRon Moquett30-1
21FrammentoCorey NakataniNick Zito50-1
22 (Also-eligible)Tale Of VerveBrian Hernandez Jr.Dallas Stewart50-1


1. Ocho Ocho Ocho – He had the misfortune of drawing the rail here. He won the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot at two, but his rider for that race, Mike Smith, saw fit to jump over to Far Right afterwards. He is a cut below these horses and will need a lot to go his way. Pass on his chances in this race.

2. Carpe Diem – He is still listed as one of the morning line favorites for this race despite the poor draw. He has been solid in his career with four wins and a second in five career races. He was second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two year old after he broke slowly compared to the others. That may be the case again here and it is hard to endorse him from the win angle. He could still hit the board, but he will need to work out a trip from this spot.

3. Materiality – Another Todd Pletcher horse that got a poor draw though not nearly as bad as his stablemate directly to his inside. He is three for three in his career and has been very good in every start. He ran a slow mile and one eighth at Gulfstream in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, but received a huge Beyer Speed Figure of 110. The worry here is his lack of foundation with just three career starts and also the crush of horses that will come over on top of him. He will need to be used hard to avoid the crush of horses and that may compromise his chances. It is tough to decide what to do with him…

4. Tencendur – It took him a few races to get going after breaking his maiden on January 15, but he came up with a solid second place finish in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. He did have a good trip and that race and he reunites with his maiden breaking rider Manuel Franco. The question about him is can he repeat that Wood Memorial performance and will he be good enough? The feeling here is probably not.

5. Danzig Moon – He broke his maiden in his third start and his three year old debut on February 7. He then ran fourth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby behind Carpe Diem and then ran second to him again in the Grade 1 Blue Grass by three lengths. There is some buzz about this horse having a chance, but he will need to run a bit faster to get in the picture.

6. Mubtaahij – He is what most would consider the wild card. He has not raced in the US and we know little about the depth behind him in his victories. He won the Group 2 UAE Derby by 8 lengths in a visually impressive manner and his connections are bullish about his chances. He has two wins at a mile and a sixteenth so the distance should not be a problem. How good is he? We will see on Saturday and is must use on top.

#7 El Kabeir has SCRATCHED from the race due to foot issues.

7. El Kabeir – He has been consistent this year hitting the board in all four starts. He showed more tactical speed in his first two starts in 2015 before coming from off the pace in his latter two. He did not have much of an excuse in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial when he finished third and he will need to step up here. He will need to closer as well if he wants a chance of getting a piece.

8. Dortmund – He is an undefeated six for six and he has been impressive in each race. He has won easily and he has also won in dogfights (twice over Firing Line). He can rate off the speed or take them gate-to-wire while the former is more conducive in a race like the Kentucky Derby. There is lots to like about him and he is a must use on top.

9. Bolo – He began his career on turf finishing fifth in before back-to-back wins on the turf. He was switcher over to dirt for the Grade 2 San Felipe where he ran a solid third behind Dortmund and Firing Line. His Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby produced another third place effort, but he will need to step up big time to have a chance in this race.

10. Firing Line – This colt has done little wrong in his career. He has run second to Dortmund twice with both losses by a head, which enhances his chances here. His last race was an impressive gate to wire score by 14 lengths in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby. He is a speedy horse, but can be rated and has Gary Stevens in the irons. There is a lot to like here.

11. Stanford – Scratched. He will point to the Peter Pan at Belmont or the Preakness in two weeks.

#12 International Star has SCRATCHED from the Derby due to a quarter crack.

12. International Star – He spent the winter at the Fair Grounds and he made the most of that by winning all three of the stakes races there. He will be flying late here, which will probably mean traffic problems in the stretch, but he can certainly close. He is also by a Kentucky Derby winner in Fusaichi Pegasus. He is a must include underneath with his ability to close.

13. Itsaknockout – He had a great start to his career by going two for two and then was put up to first in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth to make it three for three. His last race was atrocious when he was fourth by 21 lengths in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. It is hard to endorse him off an effort like that.

14. Keen Ice – He has been sub par in his three year old season. He started with a fifth place finish in the Grade 2 Holy Bull before closing to finish third in the Grade 2 Risen Star behind International Star and War Story. He then ran fourth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby with a wide trip, but was never a threat to the winner. He does a win over the main track at Churchill and will be closing late, but will it be too late?

15. Frosted – He started the winter down in Florida with a second place and then ran a surprisingly bad fourth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth despite holding the lead into the stretch. He supposedly had breathing problems in that race, which led to a throat operation. He came back in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial to win from off the pace. It has been a while since the Wood Memorial produced a Kentucky Derby winner (2000 with Fusaichi Pegasus), but he has the look of a contender.

16. War Story – He has not done a lot wrong in his 5 career starts and he has never missed the board. He raced down in Louisiana where he ran up against International Star finishing second twice and third once. He is taking the blinkers off for this race and he owns a win over the main track at Churchill. This is a typical horse that this author gets sucked into betting, but not this year.

17. Mr. Z – He is the most experienced runner by far with 12 races (next closest is 9), but his form has been declining since the start of the year. He was demolished in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby by 20 lengths and then ran third behind the morning line favorite American Pharoah in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. It is very difficult to endorse his chances here.

18. American Pharoah – The morning favorite has been spectacular in his two starts in 2015. He cruised against his foes in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes in the slop by 6 1/4 lengths and then demolished the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby field by 8 lengths. He has worked well, he has been brilliant, and he should not have too much in the way of traffic trouble out here. However, can he win when a horse looks him in the eye? Will he get too close to a hot pace? Can you take a short price in a 20 horse field? He is a must use on top in multi-race wagers.

19. Upstart – He is another consistent horse in here. After running a solid third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he won the Grade 2 Holy Bull and was disqualified (controversially) from the win spot in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. He was unable to run by Materiality last time out. He should have a good spot in the Kentucky Derby, but if he could not run by Materiality at 9 furlongs last time, can he do it against better at 10 furlongs? Tough decision on him in this spot.

20. Far Right – He has run at Arkansas for the Derby prep season. He won the Smarty Jones Stakes with a nice closing kick near the rail and then did the same in the Grade 3 Southwest. He was no match for American Pharoah last time out and he still retains the services of Mike Smith, who has done will with closers in the past (Zenyatta and Giacomo in the 2004 Derby). If there is a complete meltdown in the pace, he could win, but at big odds he is a must include underneath in the exotics.

21. Frammento – The lucky recipient of Stanford’s scratch, he will breaking from post 20. He did little in the Grade 2 Holy Bull when he finished sixth by 18 lengths, but had a strong rally in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth when he came from more than 15 lengths out of it to finish third by 4 1/2 lengths. He tried the same thing in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, but he could only muster a fourth place finish. He may have a chance to close in this race, but he will need to be quicker if he is to blow up the tote board.

22. Tale Of Verve (Also-eligible) – SCRATCHED.


This race really can come down to a few horses though there are plenty that have a chance to shake up the exotics. The top choice here is #6 Mubtaahij who will come from off the pace here. #8 Dortmund is hard to discredit here and has a big chance as does #18 American Pharoah. A few others to consider in the multi-race wagers are #10 Firing Line, #15 Frosted, and #19 Upstart.

Top selection – #6 Mubtaahij

2nd selection – #8 Dortmund

3rd selection – #15 Frosted

4th selection – #18 American Pharoah

Plays will be:

Win, place, show on #6 Mubtaahij

$1 exacta 6, 8, 15, 18 with 3-5-6-8-10-12-14-15-18-19-20 ($40)

Good luck to everyone betting and be sure to check back on Saturday evening for a recap of the 2015 Kentucky Derby!

Kentucky Derby News For April 21, 2015

Upstart winning the 2015 Holy Bull (Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin)
Upstart winning the 2015 Holy Bull (Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin)

Kentucky Derby News For April 21, 2015

On Monday afternoon it was revealed that WinStar Farm has bought a minority share of Upstart from owner Ralph Evans. He will remain with trainer Rick Violette Jr.

“Upstart has been on our radar since the Breeders’ Cup,” said WinStar president Elliott Walden in a release. “Jerry Brown of Thoro-Graph approached me because he really believes this colt has a big future. We are honored to be partners with such a nice man as Ralph Evans on such an exciting young horse as Upstart.”

Upstart has been ultra consistent since his debut at Saratoga on August 15, 2014. He won his first two races before finishing second in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and then third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to close out his two year old campaign.

At three, he won Grade 2 Holy Bull (pictured above) and was disqualified from first to second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. He then ran second in the Grade 1 Florida Derby behind Materiality.

Mounts Starting To Solidify

There were three rider confirmations made on Monday. The first was that John Velazquez will be riding Carpe Diem in the Derby. That leaves Javier Castellano as the rider for Materiality.

Velazquez has ridden Carpe Diem in all five of his starts, guiding him to four wins and a second place finish. Velazquez also rode Materiality in all three of his starts, which were all victories.

In addition, Mike Smith was confirmed as the rider of Far Right in the Derby. Smith has ridden Far Right in each of the last three races, which has been very good for the connections. In those three races, Far Right has two wins and a second place finish.

Kentucky Derby Works and Notes

It was another slow day for works, but one did take place at Arlington Park for the Dubai shipper Mubtaahij. He went three furlongs in 36.20 over the polytrack.

Going for trainer Mike de Kock, Mubtaahij went a mile around the track before going into his work. He will be shipped from Arlington to Churchill Downs on Monday.

No other Kentucky Derby hopefuls worked, but plenty were on the track. American Pharoah galloped a mile and a half as did Danzig Moon. Pharoah will be breezing on Sunday morning. War Story galloped a mile and a quarter early in the morning and is scheduled to work on Wednesday morning.

Bold Conquest simply walked in the shedrow after Monday’s five furlong workout in 1:02.80. Far Right also walked the shedrow.

International Star galloped a mile and a quarter at the Trackside Training Center while Tencendur galloped a mile back at Churchill Downs. Keen Ice also jogged at Churchill during the morning.

Madefromlucky was vanned over to Churchill Downs from Keeneland on Monday morning with Materiality, Itsaknockout, and Stanford all arriving later on Tuesday at Churchill Downs. All four are trained by Todd Pletcher.

Mr. Z is scheduled to workout on Wednesday morning.

Kentucky Oaks News

On hand to watch his horse work this morning was Bob Baffert. He saw Maybellene work four furlongs in :48.40 with fractions of :12.60, :24.40, :36.80, and a gallop out at five furlongs in 1:01.80. She worked in company with Holiday Camp.

Two Todd Pletcher horses for the Kentucky Oaks also arrived at Churchill Downs in Angela Renee and Eskenformoney.

Birdatthewire jogged on Monday morning as did Condo Commando. Forever Unbridled galloped a mile and a half while Include Betty galloped the same distance. Luminance, Oceanwave, and Puca all galloped a mile and a half as well while Shook Up walked on Tuesday morning after her work on Monday.

Other Stakes Workers

Baffert was on hand to see his filly Maybellene workout, but two of his other horses worked in company. Those two were Callback and Lord Nelson who went four furlongs in a quick 46.80. The internal fractions were :23, :46.80, and a gallop out in 1:14.60 for six furlongs.

There were some turf workers as well on the grass labeled as good. Golden Soul went five furlongs in 1:03.60, Good Deed went four furlongs in :49.80, Heitai went four furlongs in :51.60, Chocolate Ride went five furlongs in 1:03.60, and I’m Already Sexy went five furlongs in 1:04.20.

Kentucky Derby News For April 19, 2015

Bolo will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano in the Kentucky Derby (Benoit Photo / Santa Anita)
Bolo will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano in the Kentucky Derby (Benoit Photo / Santa Anita)

Kentucky Derby News For April 19, 2015

It was a quiet day on Sunday morning in terms of Kentucky Derby workouts, but there was one piece of news and that was jockey Rafael Bejarano was named to ride Bolo.

Bolo’s co-owner Keith Brackpool reported the news on Sunday morning.

It has been a whirlwind 24 hours for Bejarano. On Saturday morning, he was aboard One Lucky Dane when he suffered an injury with Bejarano not taking any more chances and pulled him up. It was later revealed that One Lucky Dane suffered the beginning of a condylar fracture and will need surgery by his trainer Bob Baffert. Bejarano was expected to ride One Lucky Dane in the Derby had he not been injured.

Bolo, a three year old son of Temple City out of the Chief Seattle Mare Aspen Mountain, was ridden by Mike Smith in four of his first five career starts. He was ridden by Victor Espinoza two starts back in the Grade 2 San Felipe.

Derby Contenders Gallop

In other news, five horses galloped at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, according to the DRF’s Mike Welsch.

First out was War Story, the second place finisher in both the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes and Grade 2 Risen Star. The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby top three finishers, American PharoahFar Right, and Mr. Z, also galloped over a sloppy track.

One final horse, Bold Conquest, also went over the Churchill Downs track on Sunday morning. Bold Conquest is currently 23rd on the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard of horses who are expected to run.

Kentucky Oaks Contender Works

One of the expected favorites for the Kentucky Oaks, if not the overall favorite, I’m A Chatterbox worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 on Sunday morning at Keeneland.

Jockey Florent Geroux worked the filly in fractions of :12, ;23.60 :36, 1:01.20, and a gallop out of 1:14.80 for six furlongs. The track was listed as fast despite some rain in the area.

“Florent was smiling when he came back and that was good,” trainer Larry Jones said. “She was not blowing hard at all and it was an easy work on her.”

“She worked just like she has prior to her last three races. I had a good hold on her and she got a good feel for the track. She is more mature and stronger,” Geroux said. “She is doing things the right way and she is very versatile (in her running style), which is a good thing.”

Another filly, Shook Up, also had a workout on Sunday at Churchill Downs. She went five furlongs in :59 in what was considered a bullet work.

She set fractions of :12, :34.80, and :59 while working in company with Indian Rocket. Indian Rocket completed the five furlongs in :59.60. Shook Up galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.60 on a fast track.

“She’s a tremendously talented filly,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I feel very good about all the time she’s had here at Churchill and how comfortable she is with the surroundings.”

Shared Belief Crushes Santa Anita Handicap Field

Shared Belief easily beat his 12 foes in the Santa Anita Handicap (The Associated Press)
Shared Belief easily beat his 12 foes in the Santa Anita Handicap (The Associated Press)

Shared Belief Crushes Santa Anita Handicap Field

Shared Belief delivered the performance that he was expected to give on Saturday. Without much urging he won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap by 4 1/4 lengths to push his career record to 10 for 11.

As expected, Moreno went straight to the lead with Catch A Flight (ARG) pressuring him from the outside. Sr. Quisqueyano was third with Shared Belief in great position in fourth only 2 lengths off the lead. Crimson Giant was fifth, Bronzo (CHI) was sixth, Diamond Bachelor was seventh, and Cool Samurai was eighth. Dynamic Sky sat back in ninth position early, Hard Aces was tenth, Patrioticandproud was eleventh, You Know I Know was twelfth by 10 1/4 lengths, and Imperative was last of the thirteen horses.

Moreno continued to lead the field through on the backstretch with Sr. Quisqueyano now pressing his way into second with Crimson Giant into third and Catch A Flight back in fourth. Shared Belief continued to sit two and a half lengths back in fifth. Hard Aces began to move up as well from tenth at the opening quarter to fifth by the one mile marker.

As the horses began their run into the far turn, Moreno was pushed for home by jockey Santiago Gonzalez. Shared Belief was pushed by Mike Smith on the far turn and took over at the top of the stretch. Moreno continued to run on with Catch A Flight also running in third in the stretch. Hard Aces was well back in fourth battling with Bronzo in fifth.

In the final eighth of a mile Mike Smith just hand rode Shared Belief to the wire to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Moreno stayed on for second by a head over Catch A Flight. It was another 2 lengths back to Hard Aces in fourth and Bronzo in fifth.

The remaining order of finish was Dynamic Sky, You Know I Know, Imperative, Sr. Quisqueyano, Cool Samurai, Patrioticandproud, Diamond Bachelor, and Crimson Giant. The Equibase chart can be found here.

Shared Belief went off as the heavy, heavy favorite as expected. He was the 3-10 favorite and paid $2.60 to win. He is by Candy Ride out of the Storm Cat mare Common Hope. He is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and owned by Jungle Racing LLC. Jungle Racing is run by Jim Rome.

Shared Belief ran the one mile and one quarter in 2:00.67.

There are no plans beyond the Santa Anita Handicap for Shared Belief. He earned $600,00 for his win in this Grade 1 race to push is lifetime earnings to $2.932 million.

Far Right Uses Strong Kick To Win Southwest Stakes

Far Right won his second straight stakes race at Oaklawn (Coady Photography)
Far Right won his second straight stakes race at Oaklawn (Coady Photography)

Far Right Uses Strong Kick To Win Southwest Stakes

The sloppy track was not a problem for Far Right as he won his second straight stakes race at Oaklawn Park. Just as he did in the Smarty Jones, Far Right went to the far left on the rail to get up and win by three quarters of a length.

The race started with Mr. Z intent on getting the lead from the far outside post. Pressing him throughout much of the race was Hillbilly Royalty with three lengths back to Kantune, Phenomenal Phoenix, and Bayerd. Behind that trio was Bold Animaux and Private Prospect while the trailing trio was Bold Conquest, Far Right, and Majestico nearly 10 lengths off the lead.

Mr. Z and Hillbilly Royalty continued to duel for the lead through fractions of 23.61 for the opening quarter, 47.90 for the opening half mile, and 1:14.33 for the first six furlongs. The Truth Or Else made a strong, yet wide move on the far turn to get into contention and eventually took the lead by a head at the stretch call.

To his inside were Mr. Z and Hillbilly Royalty, both of whom were still battling on. Not far of the three leaders was Far Right who ducked towards the rail to make his move. Bold Conquest was still in contention while the rest of the field was well out of it and had no chance of making an impact.

It took nearly the length of the stretch, but Far Right was able to close in the slop to win with The Truth Or Else finishing second by a nose over Mr. Z. It was another three lengths to Bold Conquest in fourth and Hillbilly Royalty in fifth. The order of finish for the rest of the field was Majestico, Private Prospect, Bayerd, Phenomenal Phoenix, Kantune, and Bold Animaux.

Far Right is by Notional out of the Vindication mare Zindi. He was ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Ron Moquett. He ran the one mile and one sixteenth in 1:47.50 over a sloppy track. Far Right paid $7.40 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show.

Unlike the Risen Star and Fountain Of Youth Stakes on Saturday, the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes distributed points of 10, 4, 2, and 1 to the top four finishers respectively. Far Right now has 22 points, The Truth Or Else has 6 points, Mr. Z now has 14 points, and Bold Conquest has 7 points. The points are used to determined who will make it into the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby has a break next weekend and returns on March 7 with three stakes races. The Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, the San Felipe at Santa Anita, and the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs will all be run on Saturday, March 7. All three of those races will be at one mile and one sixteenth with each offering 50 points to the winner, 20 points to the runner up, 10 points to the third place finisher, and 5 points to the fourth place finisher.

The next Kentucky Derby prep race at Oaklawn Park is the Rebel Stakes on Saturday, March 14. The Rebel will also feature a 50-20-10-5 point distribution and be run at a mile and one sixteenth.