Oaklawn ... Aqueduct ... Santa Anita ... They will all host KYD148 Points races on New Year's Day! Have a look at this preview below!
10-4-2-1 ... those are the Kentucky Derby Points for 3-yr-old colts that will be claimed at a triad of different tracks on New Year's Day. To be all raced at 1 Mile ... Aqueduct hosts the $150k Jerome Stakes ... Oaklawn cards the $250k Smarty Jones Stakes ... and Santa Anita Park puts on the $100k Grade 3 Sham Stakes. Each is a different test, with conditions possibly being everything from cold to fast to wet. As we watch winter eventually turn to spring, it will be a long "Road to the Twin Spires," but one thing is for sure ... it's going to be a ton of fun! Here are some of the horses to watch for in each race ...
Aqueduct: Jerome S.
This race came up with a pretty well-balanced field in 2022 ... isn't that odd to say, '22. Out of the 8 that have assembled here, most will be swayed to bet on Kelly Breen's Courvoisier #6. The Tapit colt sold at the Keeneland November Sale back in 2019 for the hefty price of $600k. His conditioner started him at Monmouth in a MSW58k event in early September, before moving him on to Delaware Park. Those short-priced efforts were solid, but the real test came at Aqueduct in early December. A win by a neck in a MSW80k at 14/1 was a signature score. Now, Hill 'n' Dale's colt gets Jose Ortiz, and is hoping to handle this field. All sorts of opposition exists, namely in Ruddy Rodriguez's Hagler #8 and Mike Trombetta's Mr Jefferson #7. Both look promising, as the former went coast-to-coast @AQU in an OC80k with Jorge Vargas; while the latter was 4th in the Remsen (G2). He is the only alum from that race that is running back. As for a couple of others, look for Kendrick Carmouche's mount to take money ... George Weaver trains Ohtwoohthreefive #3. He was nailed last out at the "Big A" in a $100k "Non-G." The O'Dwyer Barn play was 2nd in the Nashua (G3). Cooke Creek #1 kept on steadily against 5 others, this time Manny Franco rides. As for Jim Ryerson's Unbridled Bomber #2, here is a colt by Upstart who could make some noise. He surprised most punters back at Belmont in early November. The aggressive Dylan Davis gets the call. Rounding out the field will be longer shots Rumble Strip Ron #4 and Smarten Up #5. What a field that has drawn in for the Jerome!
Oaklawn: Smarty Jones S.
Our second KYD148 Points race is this tough contest going 1 Mile on the Oaklawn dirt. Now this is a full field ... 14 will go forth. Major trainers that are nationally known have brought some of their best colts into this race. Brad Cox has an uncoupled entry in Home Brew #3 and Vivar #8 ... Steve Asmussen starts 3, All in Sync #2, Cairama #11, and Cool Papa #12 ... local guy Ron Moquett has Bureau #6 and Ruggs #7 entered ... and Kenny McPeek tries with Dash Attack #1. As for other conditioners who are hardly slouches, how about Chris Hartman's Kavod #4, HOF-er D. Wayne Lukas' Ignitis #5, Phil D'Amato's Don'tcrossthedevil #9, the hot John Oritz and his Barber Road #10, and last but not least, the Puhich Barn's Immoral #13, and Ben Diesel #14 from Dallas Stewart's stock. A number of these are making the jump from MSW Co./or OC contests, McPeek's #1, Asmussen's #2, and Cox's #3 look best. However, we do have runners that have contested key preps at both Oaklawn and Churchill Downs. Of these, the Advent S. alums like #4, #7, and #11 have the "horse-for-the-course" angle, since they have been around OP before. I like Hartman's colt especially ... Running under the Twin Spires does not automatically equal success in Hot Springs, but it can be a litmus test nonetheless. Graduates of the Lively Shively S. include Lukas' #5, Ortiz's #10, and Asmussen's #12; while a pair of racers from the celebrated KY Jockey Club (G2) include the #5 and the #14. Of these, I think Stewart's Ben Diesel #14 gets my vote. With veteran rider Jon Court in the saddle, it will be interesting to see how this tactical runner handles the outside post position. What a race this edition of the "Smarty" is going to be. It's namesake, the "Little Horse That Could," would be proud back in PA!
Santa Anita: Sham S. (G3)
With Los Angeles being inundated with rain this past week, we shall see what the Saturday track conditions look like once the weekend arrives. Of course, we have yet another KYD Points race in which Bob Baffert can enter, and win, but cannot collect any of the coveted 10-4-2-1, as he still faces a ban by CDI. He has 2 of the 5 entries for the Sham S., a contest named for Secretariat's old rival. The pair includes SF Racing's Newgrange #3, a young untested colt by Violence ridden by Johnny V, and from the same ownership group, Rockefeller #4, who is by Medaglia d'Oro and guided by Flavien Prat. The former exhibited some power down the lane back at Del Mar in a MSW70k affair. HOF jock Velazquez coasted to victory, and this one could be poised for a score. His class does not compare to his stablemate, since that talented runner shipped to Belmont for the Nashua S. (G3) on BC weekend. The then 2-yr-old won nicely out on the frontend, and he is sure to try the same tactic once again. Opposing the "Bafferts," is his old adversary, Doug O'Neill and Keith Desormeaux. These conditioners bring MacKinnon #1 and Oviatt Class #2 to the post, respectively. The former is a tough one who ended up 3rd in the strange debacle at the Breeders' Cup in the Juvenile Turf (G1). Now, switching to the dirt, the well-bred son of American Pharoah could be the pick with JJ Hernandez in the irons. As for Keith D., he has his Bernardini colt looking to use his BC Juvenile S. (G1) experience to his advantage after a 5th place finish behind Baffert's ace, Corniche. The Desormeaux's are back together again, as Kent rides for his brother. One other entry that is not be left out, is Eoin Harty's Godolphin homebred that has travelled well from Arlington to Woodbine to Del Mar, and most recently to Golden Gate. Each time Degree of Risk #5, a son of Cairo Prince, shows up, he seems to game with whomever he faces. The accomplished Umberto Rispoli gets the call. It is a compact field, but it should be a good one, however the track surface plays ... golden rail ... outside late speed ... etc. We shall see!
* Don't forget to catch all of J.N. Campbell's selections on Saturday for the entire cards at Aqueduct, Oaklawn, and Santa Anita! It is a good time to be on the "Derby Trail," isn't pardners! Do not forget to follow us on Twitter ... Horseracing_USA !!!