Fourteen Elite Sophomores Line Up in Midsummer Derby

The Travers, Purse $1,250.000, Grade 1, One and 1/4 miles, Dirt for 3 Year Old’s

Today at Saratoga there are 14 horses with 2 on the also eligible list signed on to do battle in the mid summer derby. This Grade 1 field is well represented and has both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness winner signed on. You also have the Queen’s Plate winner as well as last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner. Every which way you look you see graded stakes winners who are looking to take that next step toward becoming 3 year old horse of the year and the Breeders Cup. Take a good close look at this field as I feel that there will be a Breeders Cup winner that comes out of this bunch   Let’s take a look at the field:

1-Fumble (MB Stables)- He comes into the race winning 5 out of 9 lifetime starts, all 5 of those wins have come at a mile or less and he rattled off 4 wins in a row. Going into his last race MB Stables had to wonder if there was distance limitation on this horse however he had to be pleasantly surprised with his ability to go longer and put up a serious challenge to the Preakness winner in A One in the Jim Dandy. Will adding another 1/8th of a mile to his trip help him even more in this race? We will see but he for sure showed that he belongs in this race and I feel is one of the horses on the improvement who may be hitting his best stride come late October…..will it be in the dirt mile or the classic? This race will help determine that.

2-Captin General (Jerry Garcia Racing)- He comes into the race winning 3 out of 7 lifetime starts and all of those wins have come between a mile and a mile an 1/16th. He won an overnight stake 2 races back then decided to step up into graded company when he entered the Jim Dandy where he was a longer shot in the race. He was a pleasant surprise in that race where he finished 3rd behind 2 tough horses in this race in A One and Fumble. He appears primed and ready to roll in this race after his 110 and 1 6 furlong dirt work on the 23rd, which was 2nd fastest of the day at Saratoga. Much like the horse to his inside this one looks to be on the improve at the right time.


3-Conquest (D J C Racing Stables)- He has won 4 out of 13 career starts however he is riding a nice 2 race win streak heading into this race. Both of those wins have come at a mile and 1/16th and the times are only .10 seconds off each other. He has stepped up the ladder winning a Grade 3 then a Grade 2 race and now is stepping all the way up to face the big boys in the division. He is also a horse who has seemed to get better as time has gone along and fired a very nice 110 and 1 6 furlong dirt work in his last public work at Saratoga on the 20th which was the fastest of 22 on that day. In his last 5 races it should also be noted that he has not finished further then 2 lengths behind the leaders so this one has to be given a look.


4-Siberian Slew (AML Racing)- He has won 2 out of 9 lifetime starts and has finished 2nd 3 times. He was purchased in May 2015 for $375.000 off his nice dead heat for 2nd place finish in the Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes. Since then he was dropped in class where we won an N1x race and finished 2nd in an OC both going 1 mile. He looks as if he has been prepping for this race trying to get him to run for the big purse. He also appears to have come out of those allowance races well. This was evident by his 136 an 1 dirt mile work at MTH on July 27th which best out of 7 on that day. This one will have to take a very large step up today to beat this field but does show me that he looks to be better now than he was earlier this year.


5-King Cobra (Aer Stables) To Start 2015 he was on fire and rattled off 4 wins in a row which are all 4 of his lifetime wins. These wins were progressive in nature that started with a MSW victory and ended up with winning the Kentucky Derby. Since that race he has yet to find the winner circle in 3 tries and has hit the board just one time and that was a 3rd in the Queen’s Plate. He has been facing tough company in the 3 races he has entered and all of the winners of those races have come back to race here. He has not posted a public work since his race in the Haskell so its hard to tell if he is ready to peak again in this race. He is a nice horse that has won a huge race, can he make it 2 huge wins on the year?


6-A One (Eastern Equine) He has won 3 out of 12 lifetime starts but has really hit his stride in the last 3 races winning 2 of them and finishing 2nd in the other. This 3 race stretch included wins in the Preakness and Jim Dandy and a 2nd in the Belmont Stakes. After his 2nd in the Belmont Stakes Eastern Equine decided that he wanted him and paid $1,400.000 in hopes that his best running was still in front of him. He responded and won in the Jim Dandy which Easter Equine had to feel makes him the favorite to win this race. He appears to have come out of the Jim Dandy well and fired off a nice 57 and 2, 5 furlong dirt work at Saratoga on the 22nd which was fastest of 31 for the day. If this work doesn’t scream I’m ready to roll I don’t know what does.


7-Rail Slide (Alydar Stables) He has won 3 out of 14 lifetime starts but his most recent win was almost 9 months ago in his first start of his 3 year old campaign. Since then he has raced in 5 stakes race and has hit the board in 2 of those race, but his running lines have been a bit inconsistent when he faces some of the elite 3 year olds in the game which is what he is doing today. He did fire off a nice work out on the 19th at Saratoga going 6 furlongs on the dirt with was 2nd fastest of 26 that day. This is a very tough spot for him to come back and race in so I feel a lot would have to go his way for him to beat this tough field.


8-Greek Poet (Hawaiian Shirt Guy) Comes in to the race winning 4 out of 12 career starts with 2 of those winning coming in the 2 largest dirt races in Canada in his past 2 starts. This was a smart $50.000 claim by Hawaiian Shirt Guy just prior to putting those back to back wins in Canada. He seems to thrive on the classic distance races as he dominated both the fields in the Queens Plate and the Prince of Wales. He appears to have come out of his last race well and is breezing well at both Woodbine and at Saratoga. Even with that he is taking a huge step up going against racing against Canada’s top 3 year olds to the best 3 year olds in the game. Can he make that ultimate step up?


9- Skeleton Balle (MB Stables) Comes into the race winning 5 of 11 career starts including one just over 2 weeks ago. He has really stepped up as a 3 year old winning 5 of his 7 career starts with all of these coming at one mile or longer. What is possibly more impressive is that this horse has yet to miss the board in any of his 3 year old races which includes 2 wins in Grade 3 races and 2 3rds in Grade 2 races. He seems to do better the longer the races go with his most impressive win being his last start going a mile and 3/8th. The big concern with this one is how it will do on short rest. For me its one of the dark horse types that could jump up and surprise this field.


10- Generals Companion (Maxamillion Farm) Comes in winning 3 of 12 lifetime starts with a few nice 2nd place finishes. He is 2 for 7 this year and his wins have come in an allowance race and the Santa Anita Derby. His 2nd place finishes have been just as impressive which include a close 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and a close 2nd in his most recent start in the Haskell. He seems to be getting better like many others as the year is going along and has raced against some of the best 3 year olds in the game and has held his own, which to me makes him one of the best in the game himself. He has 2 public 7 furlong dirt works out of the Haskell and both were solid and make me think that he is still in good form and one that you have to watch out for in this race.


11- Divine And Broke (Sanny Village) He has won 4 of 11 lifetime starts but has not won since he has turned 3 years old and has only managed to hit the board in one of those starts. With that said he has run in 3 Grade 1 races and 2 Grade 2 races against some very tough horses so its nothing to be ashamed about. Plus he boasts something that the others in this race cant….he is a Breeder’s Cup winner. When this race runs he will have been off for almost 3 months and I’m sure owner Sanny Village is hoping that this break will wake him back up and get him back to his winning ways. He posted a solid mile dirt work on August 3rd but it isn’t as flashy as some of the others in this race. We will find out if his best running is behind him.


12-Chrystal Pip (Chili King Stables) He comes into the race winning 4 out of 13 career starts but has really caught fire in his last 2 races which come in the form of back to back Grade 1 victories. What is more impressive to me is that one was on turf and the other was on dirt. His last win was in the Haskell and I remember watching that race and thinking that he had the worst trip of the bunch but still managed to power away from the field, for me it was most impressive run by a 3 year old I have seen all year. He also proved that drawing a little outside doesn’t bother him as he was in the 8 hole in the Haskell and won and in the same 12 hole as today when he won the Belmont Derby 2 races back. He looks very tough to me in this race.


13- Mach Nights (Eastern Equine) He comes into the race winning 3 of 11 lifetime starts and 1 out of 5 starts as a 3 year old. That win came in his first race as a 3 year old at Golden Gate which gave him a head start on the derby trail. He then ran in 4 graded stakes races and missed the board in all 4 of those starts. He last raced in early July in the LA Derby. Since that race he has posted some solid works however they have not been as flashy as some of the others. I have the same questions about him as I do Divine And Broke and wonder if their best racing is behind them?


14- Kelly Rycroft (Nakamura Stables) He has won 2 out of 8 lifetime starts with 1 win coming in his 3 year old year. That win came 3 back in an N1x race, and out of that win he was stepped up. He was stepped up into the Queen’s Plate where he held the lead at the mile mark but faded and finished 2nd. He then ran in the Jim Dandy where he finished 7th. Since that race he has posted a nice 110 and 2 6 furlong dirt work at Saratoga which shows he may still be sharp. He will have to make a huge step up to beat this field based upon his runs in the Jim Dandy and the Queen’s Plate.


15- One Above All (Mshot Stables)* ALSO ELIGIBLE* He has won 1 of 7 lifetime starts and that was a win 5 races back in a MSW. He has tried graded company one time and that was in February where he finished 8th. In his most recent start he got back to Stakes Company in an overnight stake where he finished 2nd after holding the lead at the mile marker going a mile and 1/8th. His public works since that race are solid but not spectacular. If this one draws in I feel he will have a lot of work to do.


16- Royal Prodigy (MB Stables) *Also ELIGIBLE* He has won 2 of 8 lifetime starts with both of his wins going the distance of 1 mile. He has won a MSW race and an N1x race and has tried Stakes Company a few times finishing 3rd in a Grade 3 race for his best finish in stakes company. His most recent start was a 6th place finish in the West Virginia Derby, but he appeared to have come out of that race well. His last 2 public works have been very very fast for him which makes me think he is coming into his own. If he draws in he could cause a few problems but feel this field is probably a bit over his head.


The midsummer derby is here and the best of the 3 year old crop are here at Saratoga. There are several horses here that I feel will be onto bigger and better things and several I hope to see in the Breeders’ Cup Classic later this year.  Here is my prediction. 12-10-6-1


Categories: Grade I

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