Kentucky Derby cheat sheet

With the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs, it’s time to brush up on this year’s field for the first jewel of the Triple Crown. Whether you are interested in making a couple of bucks on the race or just want to know a little bit about this year’s runners, we’ve got you covered with our 2016 Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet.

Post positions will be drawn on Wednesday.

Gun Runner (151 points on Road to Kentucky Derby Leaderboard)

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm

Career record: 5 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $906,920

Earnings per start: $181,384

Pedigree: Candy Ride –€“ Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Gun Runner won the first two starts of his career before finishing fourth on a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in his stakes debut. He surged to the top of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Veterans Ford Risen Star Stakes and Grade 2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, the latter a 4½-length runaway. Gun Runner is out of the Grade 2-winning Giant’s Causeway mare Quiet Giant, a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam.

Nyquist (130 points)

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Owner: Reddam Racing

Career record: 7 starts – 7 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $3,322,600

Earnings per start: $474,657

Pedigree: Uncle Mo –€“ Seeking Gabrielle, by Forestry

Color: Bay

Running style: Front-runner/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Perhaps no 3-year-old in recent memory rolled into the Kentucky Derby with as impressive a resume as Nyquist’s. He’s won all seven of his races, including four Grade 1s. He was named champion 2-year-old male after a season capped by a win in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Nyquist enters the first jewel of the Triple Crown after dominating previously undefeated Mohaymen in a much-anticipated showdown in the Xpressbet.com Florida Derby. Nyquist and his sire, Uncle Mo, are the first father/son duo to win champion 2-year-old male honors since Seattle Slew and Vindication in 2002. He shares the same connections as 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another.

Exaggerator (126 points)

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Owner: Big Chief Racing, Head of Plains Partners, Rocker O Ranch, et al.

Career record: 9 starts – 4 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,671,120

Earnings per start: $185,680

Pedigree: Curlin – Dawn Raid, by Vindication

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Exaggerator has faced elite competition since early in his 2-year-old season, winning the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes in his third start before a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and a fourth-place finish in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He delivered a visually stunning victory in his final prep for the Kentucky Derby, when he closed from last to first in the Santa Anita Derby and powered clear to win by 6¼ lengths. Consistency is perhaps his best attribute as Exaggerator has run a 103, 104, 105 and 103 Equibase Speed Figures in his last four races, respectively. If you’re looking for a horse that you can feel confident will fire on the big stage, Exaggerator is a great pick.

Outwork (120 points)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Repole Stable

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $701,800

Earnings per start: $175,450

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – Nonna Mia, by Empire Maker

Color: Bay

Running style: Front-runner

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Outwork was the first runner and first winner for 2015 leading freshman sire Uncle Mo. He is owned, trained and ridden by the same connections as his sire. Outwork had some serious ground to make up on his peers this year with only a debut win at 4½ furlongs in April 2015 to his credit until he made his second start in February. But after a 4 1/2-length victory in a sprint race, a runner-up finish in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and a Grade 1 win in the Wood Memorial Stakes, Outwork has shown that natural ability often trumps all in horse racing. His natural cruising speed figures to be a valuable asset in the Kentucky Derby, but with only four lifetime starts he’s a little short on experience and foundation.

Brody’s Cause (114 points)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Albaugh Family Stable

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,123,138

Earnings per start: $187,190

Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway –€“ Sweet Breanna, by Sahm

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Brody’s Cause returned to the site of his greatest triumph for the Blue Grass Stakes and delivered another terrific effort at Keeneland Race Course, closing from 11th to take command in the stretch before pulling away to win by 1¾ lengths. He won the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last October and also finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland later that month. A $350,000 auction purchase, Brody’s Cause is out of 2006 Labatt Woodbine Oaks runner-up Sweet Breanna. He figures to be doing his best running late in the Kentucky Derby.

Creator (110 points)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: WinStar Farm

Career record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 4 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $768,320

Earnings per start: $96,040

Pedigree: Tapit – Morena, by Privately Held

Color: Gray or Roan

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Creator was a $440,000 purchase as a yearling and is out of Morena, Peru’s champion 2-year-old filly, 3-year-old filly and older female in 2006, 2007 and 2008. After finishing second in four of his first five races, Creator broke through with a powerful 7¼-length win. He then finished third in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes in his stakes debut before winning the $1-million Arkansas Derby by 1¼ lengths. Creator is clearly a Derby hopeful on the rise and this is a race that often is won by a horse who is maturing and getting good at the right time. Having improved his Equibase Speed Figure from a 96 to a 101 to a 103 in his last three starts, Creator looks like a very dangerous closer. He is, however, a high-strung individual, which could be a factor in front of a massive Kentucky Derby crowd.

Lani (100 points)

Jockey: Yutaka Take

Trainer: Mikio Matsunaga

Owner: Yoko Maeda

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 1 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $1,366,618

Earnings per start: $227,770

Pedigree: Tapit – Heavenly Romance, by Sunday Silence

Color: Gray or Roan

Running style: Press/Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Lani is by two-time leading U.S. sire Tapit out of the elite Japanese racemare Heavenly Romance, by 1989 Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner Sunday Silence. Reports from Churchill Downs indicate he’s a bit of a handful in the mornings, but he showed tremendous ability when winning the United Arab Emirates Derby by three-quarters of a length from highly regarded Polar River. Bred in Kentucky, Lani made the first five starts of his career in Japan, where he won twice. The best performance by a UAE Derby winner in the Kentucky Derby was a fifth-place finish by Master of Hounds in 2011.

Mor Spirit (84 points)

Jockey: Gary Stevens

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Michael Lund Petersen

Career record: 7 starts – 3 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $658,400

Earnings per start: $94,057

Pedigree: Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: From the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah, and with the services of Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, Mor Spirit is in terrific hands entering the Kentucky Derby. After three straight elite performances in graded stakes, Mor Spirit finished second, beaten by 6¼ lengths, in the Santa Anita Derby when racing on a sloppy track. He’s never finished worse than second in seven starts, he’s a Grade 1 winner and he’s run well at Churchill Downs. Out of Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner Im a Dixie Girl, Mor Spirit is a serious threat to win the Kentucky Derby with his best performance.

Mohaymen (80 points)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Owner: Shadwell Stable

Career record: 6 starts – 5 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $852,850

Earnings per start: $142,142

Pedigree: Tapit –€“ Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union

Color: Gray or Roan

Running style: Front-runner/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Mohaymen was a $2.2-million yearling purchase for Shadwell Stable and developed into an early favorite for the Kentucky Derby after reeling off four straight Grade 2 wins. He tasted defeat for the first time when fourth, beaten 8 1/4 lengths by champion Nyquist, in the Xpressbet.com Florida Derby in his final prep for the first jewel of the Triple Crown. The Tapit colt is a half-brother to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day and his dam (mother) is multiple Grade 2 winner Justwhistledixie. Mohaymen is an elite talent with a wonderful pedigree, but it’s extremely difficult for a 3-year-old to rebound in the Kentucky Derby from a dud performance.

Danzing Candy (60 points)

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Clifford W. Sise Jr.

Owner: Halo Farms, Bashor, Jim and Dianne Bashor

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $358,650

Earnings per start: $71,730

Pedigree: Twirling Candy – Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Danzing Candy’s dam (mother), Talkin and Singing, is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2004 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now. Danzing Candy stamped himself one of the leading contenders for the 2016 Kentucky Derby when he defeated highly regarded Mor Spirit by two lengths in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 12 in his stakes debut, but he came up empty in the Santa Anita Derby when racing on a sloppy track for the first time. Up until that race, he had improved his Equibase Speed Figure in each of his four starts. You can probably draw a line through the Santa Anita Derby and toss it out, but it’s fair to wonder if he got enough out of his final prep for the most important start of his career. This is a tough call, but if you liked him before the Santa Anita Derby, now is not the time to jump off Danzing Candy’s bandwagon. You’ll probably get somewhere around 20-1 odds on a very talented Derby entrant.

Destin (51 points)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners

Career record: 5 starts –€“ 3 wins –€“ 1 second –€“ 0 thirds

Career earnings: $390,700

Earnings per start: $78,140

Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway – Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer

Color: Gray or Roan

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After winning one of two races as a 2-year-old, Destin struggled when fourth in his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes in January at Fair Grounds. Destin rebounded in a big way in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes when posting a new career-best 110 Equibase Speed Figure in a 2¼-length win and then followed with a clear win in the Tampa Bay Derby. Destin comes into the Kentucky Derby in fantastic form with eight weeks of rest. Expect him to fire a big shot. He also has a very impressive pedigree: Destin is by three-time leading sire Giant’s Causeway out of Grade 1 winner Dream of Summer, which makes him a full-brother (same sire, same dam) to Grade 1 winner Creative Cause, who finished third in the 2012 Preakness and fifth in that year’s Kentucky Derby.

Suddenbreakingnews (50 points)

Jockey: Luis Quinonez

Trainer: Donnie Von Hemel

Owner: Samuel Henderson

Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $670,032

Earnings per start: $83,754

Pedigree: Mineshaft – Uchitel, by Afleet Alex

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Of the horses who will be closing from way back in the Kentucky Derby, Suddenbreakingnews boasts arguably the best combination of consistency and racing foundation. He’s finished in the top two in seven of eight races and also has performed well on muddy tracks. The 108 Equibase Speed Figure he earned for winning the Southwest puts him right there with the top contenders and he enters the race off a strong second in the $1-million Arkansas Derby. Suddenbreakingnews’ unraced dam is by 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex and his grandam (maternal grandmother), Party Cited, is a Grade 2 winner who produced multiple Grade 1 winner Composure. There is a lot to like here and you’d better believe he’ll be flying late.

Oscar Nominated (50 points)

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Mike Maker

Owner: Ken and Sarah Ramsey

Career record: 7 wins –€“ 3 firsts –€“ 2 seconds –€“ 0 thirds

Career earnings: $371,860

Earnings per start: $53,123

Pedigree: Kitten’s Joy – Devine Actress, by Theatrical

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After winning two of his first six races on grass, including a stakes victory at Fair Grounds, Oscar Nominated tried the main track for the first time in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Turfway Park. The experiment paid dividends as he launched a sweeping rally to win by a neck and punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby. Oscar Nominated’s pedigree definitely suggests that his long-term future probably will be on the grass, but the current question is: can he be as effective on dirt? The last winner of the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park to go on to win the Kentucky Derby was Animal Kingdom in 2011. Animal Kingdom was the rare racehorse who could dominate on just about any surface; Oscar Nominated would need to show some of that unique versatility and take a significant step forward. It’s a lot to ask, but Oscar Nominated should have the stamina to run well at 1¼ miles.

Shagaf (50 points)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Shadwell Stable

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $328,800

Earnings per start: $82,200

Pedigree: Bernardini – Muhaawara, by Unbridled’s Song

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Shagaf’s dam (mother), stakes winner Muhaawara, is a half-sister (same dam, different sire [father]) to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer and is from the family of 1995 Kentucky Oaks winner Gal in a Ruckus. Shagaf is one of two highly regarded runners who disappointed in their final Kentucky Derby prep race for Shadwell Stables, but unlike Mohaymen, Shagaf had a good excuse for the disappointing effort. After winning the Gotham Stakes in March, Shagaf raced on a muddy track for the first time in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes on April 9. Despite not relishing the track, he fought to the finish line and finished fifth, four lengths behind winner Outwork. Prior to the Wood, Shagaf was unbeaten in three starts, and the 110 Equibase Speed Figure placed him right there with the best of his generation. The big question is whether a horse with only four races in his career got enough out of a disappointing final prep race on a surface he did not care for to fire his best on the first Saturday in May.

Whitmore (44 points)

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Trainer: Ron Moquett

Owner: Robert LaPenta, Harry Rosenblum and Southern Springs Stables

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 thirds

Career earnings: $475,000

Earnings per start: $79,167

Pedigree: Pleasantly Perfect – Melody’s Spirit, by Scat Daddy

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Whitmore has been the bridesmaid of the 2016 Oaklawn prep season, finishing second in both the Southwest and the Rebel Stakes and third in the Arkansas Derby. He will have the services of jockey Victor Espinoza, who has won five of the last six U.S. Triple Crown races as the regular rider of both California Chrome and American Pharoah. Whitmore’s trainer Ron Moquett saddled Far Right in last year’s Kentucky Derby and his co-owner Robert LaPenta won the 2008 Belmont Stakes with Da’ Tara. 

Tom’s Ready (44 points)

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: G M B Racing

Career record: 9 starts – 1 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $302,220

Earnings per start: $33,580

Pedigree: More Than Ready – Goodbye Stranger, by Broad Brush

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running style: Closer 

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Although he has just one win, Tom’s Ready should not be dismissed in the 2016 Kentucky Derby. His trainer, Dallas Stewart, has trained three different runners-up in U.S. Triple Crown races in the last three years — Golden Soul (2013, Kentucky Derby), Commanding Curve (2014, Kentucky Derby), Tale of Verve (2015, Preakness). Tom’s Ready also is stakes-placed at Churchill Downs and enters off a career-best, runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Golden Soul was fourth in the 2013 Louisiana Derby and Commanding Curve ran third in that race in 2014. Tom’s Ready is a deep closer who conserves his energy early for one sustained late run, so while traffic could be an issue, he should have plenty left in the fuel tank in the Churchill stretch. If you are looking for a longshot for your exactas and trifectas, Tom’s Ready is a live one.

My Man Sam (40 points)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Sheep Pond Partners, Newport Stables and Jay Bligh

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 2 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $251,200

Earnings per start: $62,800

Pedigree: Trappe Shot – Lauren Byrd, by Arch

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: My Man Sam needed a huge performance in the Grade 1, $1-million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes — he had zero points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby point system entering the race — and he delivered a determined runner-up finish in his stakes debut to punch his Kentucky Derby ticket. From the first crop of graded-stakes winning sprinter Trappe Shot out of stakes-placed winner Lauren Byrd, by Arch, My Man Sam is lightly raced but showed a glimpse of his potential in an eight-length win in January that earned him a 108 Equibase Speed Figure and a runner-up finish in March that earned a 110. He’s fast and improving and the odds will be enticing.

Majesto (40 points)

Jockey: Emisael Jaramillo

Trainer: Gustavo Delgado

Owner: Grupo 7C Racing Stable

Career record:  5 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $49,500

Earnings per start: $9,900

Pedigree: Tiznow – Unacloud, by Unaccounted For

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

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Notable achievements and interesting facts: It took Majesto until his fifth career race to earn his first win, but he showed potential when rallying to finish second behind undefeated champion Nyquist in his stakes debut in the Grade 1, $1-million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby. Majesto has the pedigree to be effective at 1¼ miles –€” he’s by 2000 Horse of the Year and two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow and is a half-brother (same dam, different sire [father]) to Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze and Grade 1 winner Meadow Breeze –€” as well as a solid foundation and a very good trainer who should not be underestimated. Gustavo Delgado has trained four Triple Crown winners in his native Venezuela. Don’t sleep on this one.

Trojan Nation (40 points)

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Trainer: Patrick Gallagher

Owner:  Julie Gilbert and Aaron Sones

Career record: 6 starts – 0 wins – 1 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $213,290

Earnings per start: $35,548

Pedigree: Street Cry – Storm Song, by Summer Squall

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Trojan Nation’s dam is champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Song, who also is the grandam (maternal grandmother) of Irish classic winner Order of St George. Based in California, Trojan Nation made his first trip outside of California for the Wood Memorial Stakes a very profitable one, finishing second at 81.50-1 odds in his stakes debut to earn $190,000. The runner-up finish gave him sufficient points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard to qualify for the Derby despite not having a single victory on his resume. Trojan Nation would be the first maiden (a horse without a win to his or her credit) to win the Kentucky Derby since Brokers Tip in 1933. Sir Barton (1919), who swept the Triple Crown, and Buchanan (1884) also won the Kentucky Derby as maidens. The most recent maiden to start in the first jewel of the Triple Crown was Nationalore, who finished ninth in 1998.

Mo Tom (32 points)

Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Trainer: Tom Amoss

Owner: G M B Racing

Career record: 7 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $291,526

Earnings per start: $41,647

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – Caroni, by Rubiano

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running style: Closer 

Notable achievements and interesting facts: If it wasn’t for bad luck, Mo Tom would have no luck at all (Is that how the saying goes?). Mo Tom hit the gate and was bumped early in the Lecomte Stakes, but still managed to win. He then was basically stopped when making his bid in the stretch of both the Grade 2 Veterans Ford Risen Star Stakes and Grade 2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby. He’s a very talented horse whose record does not indicate his ability, but I have a hunch he’ll be a buzz horse who generates a ton of interest during the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He’s a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Beautician. Like Tom’s Ready, the colt is owned by the racing stable of Gayle Benson, wife of Tom Benson who owns the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

Fellowship (32 points)

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Jacks or Better Farm

Career record: 11 starts – 2 wins – 3 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $563,340

Earnings per start: $51,213

Pedigree: Awesome of Course – Go Girlfriend Go, by Demidoff

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Fellowship has won at distances ranging from 4½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, but he’s winless in his last six starts. He enters the Kentucky Derby off of three straight third-place finishes in graded stakes, most recently in the Grade 1 Xpressbet.com Florida Derby. A stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles as a 2-year-old, Fellowship is a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to multiple stakes winner Johnny Handsome.

Adventist (32 points)

Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche

Trainer: Leah Gyarmati

Owner: Treadway Racing Stable

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 0 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $101,000

Earnings per start: $33,667

Pedigree: Any Given Saturday – Sharp Minister, by Deputy Minister

Color: Bay

Running style: Front-runner/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Adventist won his first start by 11¼ lengths before finishing third in both the Grade 3 Withers and Gotham Stakes. He also ran third in his final prep race for the Kentucky Derby when he finished 2¼ lengths behind Outwork in the Wood Memorial Stakes on April 9. Adventist was purchased for $100,000 as a yearling in Kentucky. He is out of the Deputy Minister mare Sharp Minister, who also produced stakes winners Isn’t He Clever, Dijeerr and Sharp Writer.

 

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