El Gran Jet May Fly High in American Derby

American Derby (Grade 3)- $150.000 Purse
AP- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Eighth on the Turf
July 11, 2015

The weekend at AP, three year old turf distance horses will have a chance to shine in the eleventh running of the American Derby, another race that seems like it should have run last week based on its name.   This will be the lowest purse the race has ever run for, debuting for $200.000, and in 2009 actually seeing that increase to $300.000.  Until 2012, the race had been classified as a Grade 2, before being moved down to its Grade 3 status.  Additionally, this will be the first time the race has been run at 1 1/8, having been at 1 3/16 since its inception.  No trainer has won this race more then once, and two jockeys are tied with two wins in the stake.  R Bejarano was seen here with higher purses, and has won it twice, as well as regular AP jockey E E Perez.  Seven go to the gate, and here is our field!

#1- Panther Cat (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by S Russell)- This three year old colt by Pink Panther has shown promise, but has not yet been able to step up when the trainer has asked him too.  He has won just two of his eleven career starts, though has completed exactas four other times.   Early in his career, Panther Cat tried a couple graded stakes but was not a factor in the G2 Summer Stakes at WO nor the G2 Bourbon at KEE.  He looked good in an optional claimer in April, but didn’t follow it up in his next start when he didn’t have blinkers.  Maxmillion puts them back on here.  Today he has a tough assignment, and while he should be in the mix, I am not sure he can beat a couple others here.

#2- Laffin Chino (Aml Racing, ridden by C A Emigh)- Purchased by his current trainer in the December 2014 auction for $159.000, Laffin Chino has yet to finish in the top three for Aml Racing.   His career got off to a good enough start, taking two of his first three races, but after winning the second race, his old trainer decided he didn’t want him anymore and sold him in private sales that day to Alegria.  He spent six weeks there not doing a thing on the race track, and went to the auction.  Two more months later, he was in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes, and was 6th, then about a month later was 4th by a length on soft Transylvania Stakes (G3) turf.   Heading into this race, he is working quite well and seems poised for a strong race.   If he can, then he has a shot to get a win here.

#3- Praetorian (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E T Baird)-  As a two year old, he had a level of success that may have been a little bittersweet, winning two of his seven races, and only finishing out of the top three once.   However, those races occurred at bottom level tracks, with three of them claimers at FP.  Thankfully for Nakamura Stables, no one claimed him when they had an opportunity, and Praetorian has been an improving horse.  That progression sent him to the ungraded $75.000 Alcatraz Stakes in his last start, and he would emerge victorious with a career high 96 SRF.  Just looking at things on paper, it would appear that Praetorian would come up a little short, but at the rate in which he is getting better, its conceivable to think that he can step up just as he needs to do here.  I wish I could see a few more public works on him within the last couple months for a better look at him as it could have led to a little more confidence in him today.  We’ll see how he does Saturday!

#4- Sandor Clegame (Smithtown Stables, ridden by C Hill)–  Back in March, Smithtown Stables purchased this  Model American gelding for a mere $8.770 in the auction, and that’s turning in to quite a steal for the trainer.   Other bidders would have been forgiven if they clicked past Sandor Clegame without paying too much attention as up to that point, he hadn’t shown much.  That’s because he hadn’t gone long on the turf yet.  He’s gone from SRF figures from the upper 70’s to the mid 90’s while running long in the Smithtown silks and is coming off a second place finish in the NY Stallion Series- Bid stakes on soft BEL turf last month.  He doesn’t have any other stake experience, though those Stallion Series races are just as tough as unrestricted Grade 3’s most of the time.  His works are continuing to show that he is an improving horse, and he will provide a good opportunity for his trainer, who has been around for over ten years, to get just their third graded stake win.

#5- El Gran Jet (Eastern Equine, ridden by J Graham)-  Like Sandor Clegame, it took a change in ownership for the horse to showcase its best ability.   This colt by El Gran Senor raced his initial two starts for breeder Swaffordbarn as a two year old, but in that second race, he was claimed by Eastern Equine for $30.000.  The new trainer noticed his potential to go long, and given his router conformation, wasted no time putting him in a MSW at SA.  He was rewarded with a win in that race, and it started a winning streak of three that culminated with victory in the Grade 3 Last Tycoon Stakes at SA in April.  In that race, he beat some very good company including Turon Warrior and Copper Clappers to name a couple.  His last start, which is also the race that ended the streak was a strong second in the Grade 2 Whittingham Stakes over Memorial Day weekend, where he was beaten by Dance Charm, but did top the likes of Bald And Beautiful.    This brings us here, back to a distance that seems to be his bread and butter, and without having to run against older horses.   El Gran Jet is at the top of his game right now, and that should continue here.  He is the horse to beat.

#6- Southern Time (Canning Vale Racing, ridden by F Geroux)-  Thanks to a successful two year old campaign, Southern Time is the highest earner to date with earnings of $252.000.  As a two year old, he won three of his five career races, highlighted by an impressive score in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at KEE.  Thanks to that win, he earned a berth in the BC Juvenile Turf, and while he only finished sixth in that race, he only missed by a length.  Southern Time has not won this year, but he has been very effective, turning in a pair of strong finishes: a third in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) at GP in February and a second at the G2 American Turf at CD in May.  Canning Vale Racing has done well to stay patient with his talent, and it is very possible he will break through today as I feel he is the one with the best chance to top El Gran Jet in this field.

#7- Spirited Intern (Blushing Meadows, ridden by E E Perez)-  Having had the pleasure to race Spirited Intern for his first three career races, I knew he would be at his best going long.  He was sold to Blushing Meadows for $45.000 during the Nynl Stables clearout in August with confidence that the new trainer could get the most out of him.  Blushing Meadows has not let his breeder down and the Kinzys Spirit gelding is currently in good form, winning his last two races.  Those two wins came at GG; not in stakes, but in an allowance and in an optional claimer.   This will be a step up for him, having not raced at the stake level before, and his SRF figures do show that he will probably have to pick it up.  While my heart wants to pick him, my head says otherwise.

Prediction: 5-6-3-2

 

— NS



Categories: Grade III

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