The KYD (Grade 1)- $2,000.000 Purse
CD- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt
May 6, 2017
We’ve made it! It’s time again for the most anticipated race of the year, the KYD! It may only seem like yesterday that Water Mummy, a truly accomplished horse heading into the race, but was still an afterthought, overall, amongst other names, scored a victory from this race while starting on the rail. It was the first time the winner had come from that post position. Once Water Mummy crossed the finished line first, there were many of us who were surprised, but then we looked again at him, and it made perfect sense. This is the nature of the virtual racing world, and of the KYD. We all have a few names that we think will win the race, or that will be the top choices, but it never fails that we have a full field of horses who are capable of winning the race on their best day.
A lot has happened in a year. Sadly, 2016 winning trainer Downwind Stables had to deal with terrible personal tragedy, and had to sell off much of stable soon after. The 2016 winner, Water Mummy, ended up in the hands of John Henry. Who? Like I said, at lot has happened in year! No one knew who this new trainer was, but everyone could see by the amount of his investment that he would be someone that meant business. Here we are for the 2017 KYD, and John Henry has certainly established himself as one of the best trainers in the game, and it has been impressive how far he has come in such a short period of time.
Since winning the race, Water Mummy had not won again until February, when he took an optional claimer at TAM. Several others from that race faded deep into the distance as well. Phooeys Ideal and Coup de Lyon were essentially never heard from again. The news isn’t all bad of course. Sixth place runner Atomic Twister went on to win the BC Classic! Even an also eligible, Carneyman, had great success a month later in taking the BEL. The best part of the KYD is that regardless of the outcome, we can hit the reset button and try again next year. A year ago today, our KYD runners were nothing but two year olds that were just beginning their careers. We knew who had potential, and who we hoped could get here. Many live up to their billing, and many disappointment. Others fall short during prep race season. It’s been a long road but once again twenty amazing horses have found their way to the KYD. If you have a horse in the field, congratulations! Everyone wants to be here, but only a portion have made it. It is a privilege to be covering this race once again. Rain is a very real concern as there is a high chance of precipitation, but perhaps there will be a vortex over virtual CD and it will be fast, anyway.
Now, I present to you, the field for the 2017 KYD:
#1- Banshee Star (Joseph Racing, ridden by J L Ortiz)- This is where Water Mummy started from last year, so Joseph Racing will certainly be hoping that history repeats itself. Banshee Star has not racked up wins, necessarily, but he has been able to finish consistently well over the course of prep race season, with a pair of seconds in the Grade 3 Southwest (to Shootformthehip, who went on to win the FL Derby), and the Grade 3 SUN Derby, to Bronx Bomber, who is on the other end of the starting gate. With a little more racing luck, those are wins, and if they were wins, then we’re automatically calling him a much stronger favorite. It appears as though Banshee Star prefers to be running near the front, so he can make the most of his starting position here. If it rains, he has one career start on an off track, and it didn’t look like it played a big role in his performance, one way or the other.
Trainer Joseph Racing has always had his eye on him. He points out that he watched him go unsold in the December auction, which also means that all of us would have had a chance to secure him! He worked hard to purchase him from Grimley, and the $80.000 price has proven to be a huge bargain. The trainer feels the AR Derby is a throw out due to an instructions experiment as well as the outside post, and that makes perfect sense.
Projected Odds: 12/1
#2- Niner Forty Niner (Serenity Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The trainer showed his passion for the sport and powerful aura of running in the KYD, even when you’ve already won it, when he returned this year and made this $450.000 purchase from John Henry. His biggest win to date came last fall, when he topped a field of eleven in the Grade 2 Remsen, but it was a race that he did not win that may have been his best career performance. In his last race, he finished third in the Grade 1 SA Derby, a race that I was also able to cover. The pace that day was set by Slither, and Niner Forty Niner stayed in the back most of the way before making an emphatic close. As a prior owner of Slither, I know that he does not back down in the stretch, at all, and he ran well all the way to the wire, so the fact that Niner Forty Niner made up four lengths in the final furlong is a true eye opener. If he had a little more distance in that race, then both race winner Positive Thinking and Slither were likely passed as well, and in the KYD, he gets that distance. In the KYD though, traffic always presents itself to be huge potential issue for a deep closer, but there’s no other way that Niner Forty Niner can be expected to run. Definitely be watching for him in the stretch! Has one off-track start, and it doesn’t look good, but he also ran a different tactical race that day, too.
The trainer would have preferred a post more to the outside then the one he has been given as Niner Forty Niner seems to be best when getting by everyone to the outside. He is concerned about how the trip might play out for his horse and is considering his options. Nonetheless, he sees similarities with his 2006 winner, Dani Dauntless. When he won, also on May 6th, specifically, he came from well off the pace to get the win.
Projected Odds: 15/1
#3- Withdrawn (John Henry, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- One of three entries in the field for John Henry, in the trainer’s overall KYD debut. After a solid two year old season, Withdrawn started 2017 well with a steady third place run in the Smarty Jones at OP. After a disappointing run in the Gotham, where coming from off the pace did not seem to suit him, Withdrawn bounced back quite nicely to win the LA Derby at FG on the first of April. Thanks to that win, he earned a spot in the starting gate. Withdrawn has run different tactical styles over the course of his career, but looks to have his better performances when he finds himself stalking the pace. In the event of an off track, Withdrawn has raced once, on a “good” track in the aforementioned Smarty Jones.
The trainer acknowledges that Made To Sin and Lord High Admiral represent his best chances to win the race, but feels that we have not seen the best of Withdrawn quite yet and that a race such as the Gotham is a throw out.
Projected Odds: 30/1
#4- Winged Feeney (Four Winds Racing, ridden by G L Stevens)- Back in December, Four Winds Racing picked up this gelding in the auction for just $15.010. At the time, I would venture to guess that he did not realize he was picking up a KYD runner. Up to that point, there past performances were fine, as he ran mainly on the PA-bred circuit, but it didn’t seem like he was heading to the KYD. An allowance win in January led to the trainer taking a shot in the Grade 3 El Camino, and Winged Feeney sacked his competition to finish second! From there, the chase was on, and Winged Feeney responded with another second place run, this in the AR Derby to secure his spot in this field! The wins might not be there, as he has only won twice, but you have to like his consistency as he has finished in the top four in nine of his ten career starts. More then likely, we can expected Winged Feeney to be hanging out in the back in the Niner Forty Niner as he too likes to come from well off the pace. Might need to be ahead of that one though, moving into the stretch, to have a chance here.
The trainer points out that not only has Winged Feeney never raced an off track, he’s never been worked on one, so it will be a complete toss up as to how he handles it! Conformation does say, “ilium shortest”, so there’s hope! Four Winds is very confident about the distance and really likes the progress that he is showing in recent works!
Projected Odds: 25/1
#5- Made To Sin (John Henry, ridden by R Bejarano)- Made To Sin also made an impression during the prep race season, picking up two very noteworthy victories. In February, he captured the Grade 2 Holy Bull, while running for Downwind Stables. In the interim of the races, he was sold to John Henry in private sales for $450.000 and immediately stepped up for his new trainer with a two length win in the Fountain of Youth. Those victories led us to get very excited for the showdown between he and Profound Connection in the FL Derby, but both of them seemed to want to save up their best effort for this race instead of doing it in April. There’s a lot more to Made To Sin then just those two wins though, as he just missed by a nose to be a BC Juvenile champion, a race won by Ginger Haggis. Another thing to like about him is that he seems to adapt well to any running style, whether it be up on the lead as it was in the Juvenile, or coming from within the pack. He’s probably not a deep closer, but I wouldn’t rule that out either. This is a horse to like, and he will generate a lot of interest on race day. Three races on off tracks in his career, and while none have been his best performances, they were not poor runs, either.
John Henry is excited about Made To Sin’s versatility on the race track, and really likes his chances. Also, he loves having Bejarano aboard and is currently formulating his game plan for his entry.
Projected Odds: 9/2
#6- Profound Connection (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- I have been calling Profound Connection my derby favorite for months, so I can’t just change my mind now. The thing that really attracts me to him is the way he can take command of a race when he is on top of his game. He knows how to get it done, with four wins in eight career starts, and only failing to hit the board twice in his career. Unfortunately, when he does not finish well, it shows as he has two 10th place runs on his past performances which also stand out. I was able to watch him pretty well in the FL Derby, and I could find no excuses for why he had such a disappointing run. He simply did not show up. Perhaps there is a silver lining in that, because he is unlikely to have two bad races in a row, one would think. He can also do well regardless of whether or not he is in the front, or the rear, to start, but from an outsider’s perspective, it looked like his best race came while stalking. He’s never raced on an off-track.
The trainer is not calling the FL Derby a throw out, necessarily, but is doing a little “Positive Thinking” with him and points out that his efforts from other races would be able to get the job done, and I have to agree with that. Mb Stables also notes that an off-track work gives him confidence that he will be able to handle any inclement weather on raceday.
Projected Odds: 4/1
#7- Shootfromthehip (Nakamura Stables, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Shootfromthehip stole the show in the FL Derby when he topped Made To Sin and Profound Connection, and now he won’t have to look very far in the starting gate to find them again. This Knowledge Geek gelding is hitting his best form right now with three wins in his last four starts, so there is far more then the FL Derby triumph on his resume. In February, he was victorious in the Grade 3 Southwest at OP, over the likes of Lord High Admiral and Banshee Star. Another thing to like, is that in all nine of his career races, the trainer has picked up some sort of earnings with him, as he has never done worst then 4th, and even that only came once. It does not matter where he is at the start of the race, as three of his were wire to wire victories, but then two came from off the pace. I could see him sitting just off the lead here, about three or four lengths off, and then waiting for his time to strike. He has never raced on an off-track.
Projected Odds: 6/1
#8- Farley On Wheels (Tiratzo, ridden by J J Hernandez)- This Charley Farley colt has been very consistent over the course of his seven races, and four of them have ended with a trip to the winner’s circle. Additionally, Farley On Wheels has never failed to finish outside the top three in his career. So far, his career has been an even pattern of winning every other race that he partakes in, but the trainer would be happy to see that trend end here in favor of a victory. His best runs were up at AQU, with the first graded win being the Withers in February, and then two months later he won the Wood Memorial. In between, he was third in the Fountain Of Youth at GP, but the trainer is confident that he knows how things could have been different for his entry that may have resulted in a victory there. Farley On Wheels seems to capable of winning from anywhere on the track to start off with, so the key will just be to stay out of trouble.
The trainer does have some concern about an off-track, because Farley On Wheels has not been raced or worked on one in his career. Tiratzo is pondering his tactical options at this time, but is very grateful that he has a horse to gives him the option to explore different strategies. He is excited for what should be a thrilling race, and feels he has a legitimate shot to win.
Projected Odds: 10/1
#9- Mancini (Our Athletes, ridden by C S Nakatani)- One of two entries that Our Athletes proudly saddles for the race, and there is plenty of reason to be excited about Mancini on Saturday. To clinch his spot in the race, Mancini came from well off the pace to win the Grade 2 BG Stakes last month, an extra-special win for the trainer. It was his first graded win, but he had been knocking on the door up to the point with a pair of second place finishes, one in the shorter Hutcheson (Grade 3), then in the Grade 3 Lewis where he was narrowly beaten by Positive Thinking, but was still able to finish ahead of the likes of Bronx Bomber. Prior to that, he was doing well on the NY-bred circuit, including a win in the $100.000 Notebook at AQU, and a couple more runner up performances. Recently, Mancini has been favoring a strategy of coming from off the pace, and it did work well in the BG Stakes. Other times, he has situated himself in the middle of the field, however those were in sprints. Raced once on an off-track, but it was too far back to have much relevance to looking at him here.
Our Athletes pointed out to me that six of the 13 prior winners of the KYD have been grey, so that will be a good omen for his horse in this race. Thought that was an interesting stat, that will get a couple others in here excited, too! He’s happy with the way that Mancini is working leading up to the race, and feels that he will be ready to run a big one. He knows that above all else, the trip will mean everything.
Projected Odds: 12/1
#10- Rebel Force (South Beach Racing, ridden by R Santana Jr)- Picked up in February from Sccj Stables in private sales for $120.000, and was able to get into the KYD thanks mainly to a second place finish in the Wood Memorial, behind Farley On Wheels. His run that day was a little unexpected, as his 18/1 odds will indicate as he had been on a streak of three straight fifth place finishes. He had always been showing potential, but just seemed to be missing that one thing that was keeping him from fulfilling it. Trainer South Beach Racing may have discovered the secret in the Wood Memorial as he removed the lasix prior to the race, and the result was his best race of his career, and by quite some margin. The 99 SRF he earned that day was considerably better then his previous career-high of 93. That’ll be the game plan again, and R Santana Jr will return to the saddle again. His only race an off track was quite early in his career and doesn’t hint at him favoring or disliking such a surface.
The trainer is thrilled to be in the KYD for the first time! Prior to the Wood, he was experimenting without lasix in his works and points out that what he had discovered gave him full confidence that he would run well in the Wood Memorial. After the race, he has continued to show that progress. Right now, he is currently contemplating his tactical strategy. I will say though, that up to the removal of lasix, it looked like he just a little bit off from where the top horses were. That could be all it takes, and Rebel Force could be a sleeper here. Likely a longshot, but one that could light up the board.
#11- They All Laughed (Mb Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- The decision process for Mb Stables to come up with three runners for this race out of several that were eligible must have been very difficult. They All Laughed won his spot in the top three for the trainer by virtue of finishing second in the FL Derby, in what was truly a star-studded field. Not only did he defeat his talented stablemate Profound Connection, but he showed a lot of heart in the stretch in his effort to wire the field, and just come up short to Shootfromthehip. His results showed a lot of consistency prior to that, and he ran second in a pair of top two year old graded stakes: the Iroquois and the Futurity. Early in his career, he seemed to like coming from behind, but started becoming a frontrunner in his last two races, with it being particularly noticeable in the FL Derby. In that race, he earned a career high SRF of 100. His lone race on an off track was the Smarty Jones in January, a race that he won!
Mb Stables is high on the overall ability level of They All Laughed, and likes that he will always give him 100% on the track. He is a bit concerned, however, about the distance with him.
Projected Odds: 8/1
#12- Lord High Admiral (John Henry, ridden by G Franco)- There’s a lot to like about Lord High Admiral, but we’ll start with the recent results. He was the winner of the OP prep race season, taking the Grade 2 Rebel with a thrilling stretch run to catch the speedy Slither, which is never an easy thing to do, to draw even with Jolly Be Native at the end. A month later, he would win the AR Derby, beating Winged Feeney and Banshee Star, and this time being well ahead of Jolly Be Native. Those were the results that got him here, but he becomes even more appealing going the tenth furlong here, as it seems like he is really going to enjoy that extra furlong. He is also consistent, with five wins in twelve career starts, and only failing to hit the board a single time. Not only that, he might also be doing a rain dance in the paddock, because he is 2-for-2 on off-tracks, winning them by a combined 13 lengths! It’s been a while, but that is a stat to love. I am very high on Lord High Admiral here, and will be making him one of my picks.
John Henry is excited about Lord High Admiral, starting with his pure speed. He is very confident, as he should be, about him not just getting the extra distance, but thriving with it. He wouldn’t mind an off track for him, but reminds us that he is just as capable of winning when it is a fast track.
Projected Odds: 6/1
#13- Out On A Limb (Smokey Stover, ridden by M E Smith)- Three weeks ago, Out On A Limb needed to come big in the AR Derby in order to get enough points to qualify for the KYD, and thanks to his third place finish, he was able to do just that. That race was a must to get him in, so naturally, the trainer has had no choice but to now run him for the third time in five weeks. The KYD only comes once a year, after all. He knows how to finish near the front, and if you look beyond the LA Derby, you’ll see a pair of wins and a pair of seconds against good company. One of the runner up performance was the Gotham, and among those he defeated were Ginger Haggis and Withdrawn. He likes to come from behind, so if he is ready to hit the track again, the distance should be fine for him. Only once has he raced on an off-track, and it was in his two-year old April debut race, so it’s not really relevant here.
Smokey Stover knows he is asking a lot of horse to come back on short rest, but believes in him. He also mentions that the LA Derby is a complete throw out, so we should make note of that. It is no secret, he says, that Out On A Limb will be saving ground and looking to run late, but feels he can get the job one. Smokey Stover is simply going to enjoy being in the race, regardless.
Projected Odds: 30/1
#14- Atletico (Our Athletes, ridden by V Espinoza)- The second of the two entries for Our Athletes, Atletico was able to get in this race by virtue of winning the LA Derby at the beginning of April. He looks to be an inconsistent horse, who is capable of firing off a big race at any time. The LA Derby is his only win other then his maiden score, and he has had some disappointing performances in other stakes he has attempted, such as the Breeder’s Futurity or the Smarty Jones. We know he has the talent, but he is going to have to show that he can put multiple good races together before we can have more confidence in him winning a race likes this. He’s beautifully conformed and perhaps he is just going to need to take some time before he can fulfill his potential with far greater frequency. He did not like his lone run on an off track.
Our Athletes is very high on Atletico and loves the way that he is working heading into the race, and may even feel that he gives him a better chance at victory then Mancini. There’s no doubting that the talent is there, but it’s just going to need to be more consistent.
Projected Odds: 30/1
#15- Warrior Chant (Sccj Stables, ridden by P Husbands)- A very consistent racehorse that has only failed to hit the board once in his career, and there is likely good reason for that race to be a throw out. He has won twice, with the biggest score being a thriller over Noble Crusader, a victory of the Mb numbers game, in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the end of February. They All Laughed, Mr C, and Bronx Bomber were among those he defeated that day that he will see again here. Prior to that, he also ran second in the Grade 3 Lecomte, which was also at FG. He may have only won twice, but he is always near the front. Seems to like to sit a few lengths off the lead, so may find himself in the middle of the pack here and will have to be mindful of not being hung out on the outside for too long. He has never raced on an off track.
Trainer Sccj Stables is excited to be in the race, and feels that Warrior Chant’s consistent nature will make him a strong contender in the race. He tells us that the FL Derby is a throw out since he was already safely in the race, and was experimenting with an instruction in that race.
Projected Odds: 8/1
#16- Positive Thinking (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This is the most lightly raced horse in the field, with just five races to his credit. He’s a bit of an interesting story as well because after two tries at maiden coming up short, Mb Stables decided he was going to put him in a prep race anyway, and that bit of positive thinking led to Positive Thinking winning the Grade 3 Lewis Stakes. He showed it wasn’t a fluke with a good run in the San Felipe after that, and then scored a victory in the SA Derby last month to convince his trainer to make him one of his three allowed entries for the race. Positive Thinking seems to like to sit a couple lengths off the lead and wait for his time to strike, but this post position could cause an alteration to the strategy or he may end up with a wide trip. He has also never raced on an off track.
Mb Stables considers Positive Thinking to be an unknown for the race, due to not having as much experience. He believes in him, but also would not be surprised if he finished 20th. I don’t think he has to worry about that part.
Projected Odds: 10/1
#17- Ginger Haggis (The Sidley Stud, ridden by J R Leparoux)- Looking to break the curse of the BC Juvenile winner. Sure, to some Carneyman may have broke that last year, but he won the BEL, and not the KYD. He had a fantastic two year old season with six wins in eight starts, many of which were convincing victories. That culminated when he nipped front running Made To Sin at the wire to get the BC Juvenile win. This year, he has not been the standout name of the division, but has remained quite competitive, running well in the Gotham before returning to the winner’s circle in his last start, the Grade 3 Spiral. Perhaps this will be the year that the BC Juvenile winner steps up and wins the KYD, and his work times seem to be strong. His lone race on an off track was the Grade 1 Champagne, and he would win the race, so The Sidley Stud will not mind seeing it pour on race day.
Projected Odds: 20/1
#18- Bronx Bomber (Aer Stables, ridden by J Alvarado)- As a Yankees fan, it will be easy for me to throw support behind Bronx Bomber for the KYD. In order to get here, he went down to New Mexico for the SUN Derby, and ran a near perfect race, saving ground, and timing his move just right, and to win while pulling away, all at long odds. He earned a 98 SRF for that win, and will be fresh and ready to go for this race. It does not seem as though he is the most consistent racehorse, however, as neither the Lewis or the Risen Star saw him finish in the money, though at the same time he was not too far out either. He is not a deep closer to the extent of a couple others here, but he will be looking to come from behind as well. If there is rain, Bronx Bomber foregoes the tarp and actually runs well with a win and a second in two career
The trainer felt that Red Sox fans did the PP draw, and was disappointed to have to start from this spot.
Projected Odds: 25/1
#19- Slither (Night Mare Racing, ridden by J J Castellano)- This is my unofficial entry for this race, having been his trainer for most of his career. In that time, I have seen Slither become a terrific racehorse, who likes to get out on or near the lead, and will give it his all to try and hang on. It’s not impossible to pass him in the stretch by any means, but he makes any closer have to work very hard to complete that pass, and we saw a very good example of that in the SA Derby. Positive Thinking was able to complete the pass, but Slither showed that type of heart in order to hang on to second over Niner Forty Niner and to get himself into this race. He has run well in the two races since my sale to Night Mare Racing, and while it seems like each extension of distance might be ill-advised, Slither continues to answer the bell. Unfortunately, he drew an awful post that might not be conducive to the race that he wants to run. He has never raced on an off track.
Slither’s former trainer, the writer of this article, is proud of him for making it this far and also believed in him as his sale was not in any way due to a lack of confidence in his ability. I do take a sense of pride as well in his being able to make the field. At the same time, I would be pulling my hair out right now trying to figure out the best strategy because this post simply is not a fit for him. I do not envy the decision that Night Mare has to make here.
Projected Odds: 20/1
#20- Mr C (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- This post position was originally assigned to How To Laff, from Kopites, but that trainer opted to scratch out of the race at least in some part to this starting post. It’s a post that D J C Racing Stables becomes happy to get since it now means he is in the race. Winning from this post is not impossible, as Fusion showed us back in 2007. Mr C has not won since September, but being able to hang around the front has enabled him to pick up just enough points to sneak in. He would run third in the Risen Star, then get those very valuable 4th place KYD points from the FL Derby. He tried to add to that a couple weeks later in the Coolmore Lexington, but only placed fifth, but as it turns out, he didn’t need them anyway. If you are curious, Mr C was 26th overall on the KYD points list with 24 total.
Trainer D J C Racing Stables knows Mr C is a longshot, but thinks he can pull of a stunner.
Projected Odds: 50/1
Consensus: As there is a lot of uncertainty about the weather for the race, it is not easy to make predictions. In the real KYD, it is probable that the track will be wet in some capacity if the current trend holds up (as of press time), but no one ever really knows what the weather will be in our virtual world. We have seen torrential rain in the real world and a fast/firm virtual equivalent, and have seen the opposite also hold true. Most feel that this is a very balanced field, so the impact of rain can play a huge role in determining the outcome. Even without the rain, this is a tough race to pick due to traffic concerns, something that is prevalent in our virtual world since the horses are very close in overall ability. For much of the prep race season, Profound Connection and Made To Sin have been considered the top two horses, but some of that hype died off after the FL Derby. Now, we look to the added distance, and horses like Lord High Admiral start to get pegged as a top favorite.
What everyone can agree on is that this should be an exciting race, so enjoy it. Good luck to everyone!