Todd Pletcher Preps for Belmont Stakes

The 2017 Triple Crown gamut is close to completion, with only the Belmont Stakes (G1) left on the docket. Trainer Todd Pletcher has a couple of charges he will most likely send in an attempt to snag the last slice of the Triple Crown pie in Tapwrit and Patch. He sent them both out to work on May 27.

Patch is coming off a 14th place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and did not run in the Preakness Stakes (G1). Tapwrit, the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner, also skipped out on the Preakness after finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher, as we know, trained Always Dreaming to a win in the Kentucky Derby, but they finished eighth in the Preakness.

During the 9:30 AM work, Tapwrit was timed running five furlongs in 1:02.25 under jockey Jose Ortiz. Patch worked out earlier than Tapwrit, hitting the track at 7:45 AM with jockey John Velazquez, who rode Always Dreaming to Kentucky Derby glory last month. They ran four furlongs in :50.24.

“I thought Tapwrit worked well; he’s not an overzealous workhorse but we got a good solid five-eighths into him on what I’d describe as a relatively slow training track,” said Pletcher. “I thought it served its purpose and he seemed to work as he normally does. (Patch) worked fine. Neither horse are ones that overachieve in the mornings but they have that solid, grinding style that could suit the Belmont.”

Tapwrit is definite to start in the Belmont Stakes, according to Pletcher, but he has yet to make a decision on Patch.

2017 kentucky derby odds

2017 Kentucky Derby Odds Announced

An interesting thing happened this time last year at Churchill Downs. The race went chalk. The top four finishers were the first four choices on the betting board. With the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds being released this morning, are we in for the same fate on Saturday?

I’m not quite so sure. The oddsmakers have inserted four horses as clear cut favorites with the top option being Classic Empire, who has earned a 4/1 mark since winning the Arkansas Derby. The long time preference of horse players in the futures market is also the reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, so he’s a familiar face with a lot of experience under his saddle.

The main threats according to the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds are McCraken and Always Dreaming who share 5/1 odds. Essentially the difference boils down to what we know about each horse. McCraken has appeared vindictive since his first loss in the Blue Grass, where he finished third, and that’s the response you want from a competitor.

Always Dreaming is a different story. The colt simply seems to have mercurial talent. He won the Florida Derby without needing any urging from his jockey. The problem is that this was his only stakes race. That he wont he race so convincingly is awesome, but the fact that he’s never been challenged is a bit concerning. The benefit with Always Dreaming is that he seems destined for the longer distances.

Irish War Cry is the last of the favorites according to the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds, and he is coming off a strong performance in the Wood Memorial. There are doubts about whether he has the legs to go the 1 1/8th miles.

The full list of entrants are below and you’ll notice that the longshots start at a distant 15/1. There’s no middle ground. That’s very telling of the talent in this race. As a note, Royal Mo and Master Plan are alternates for this race but are being given 2017 Kentucky Derby odds regardless.

 

2017 Kentucky Derby – Saturday, May 6th at 6:46pm EST
1 1/8th Miles – 3 Year Olds – $2,000,000

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Lookin At Lee Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 20-1
2 Thunder Snow Christophe Soumillion Saeed bin Suroor 20-1
3 Fast and Accurate Channing Hill Mike Maker 50-1
4 Untrapped Ricardo Santana Jr. Steve Asmussen 30-1
5 Always Dreaming John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 5-1
6 State of Honor Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 30-1
7 Girvin Mike Smith Joe Sharp 15-1
8 Hence Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 15-1
9 Irap Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill 20-1
10 Gunnevera Javier Castellano Antonio Sano 15-1
11 Battle of Midway Flavien Prat Jerry Hollendorfer 30-1
12 Sonneteer Kent Desormeaux Keith Desormeaux 50-1
13 J Boys Echo Luis Saez Dale Romans 20-1
14 Classic Empire Julian Leparoux Mark Casse 4-1
15 McCraken Brian Hernandez Jr. Ian Wilkes 5-1
16 Tapwrit Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 20-1
17 Irish War Cry Rajiv Maragh Graham Motion 6-1
18 Gormley Victor Espinoza John Shirreffs 15-1
19 Practical Joke Joel Rosario Chad Brown 20-1
20 Patch Tyler Gaffalione Todd Pletcher 30-1
AE Royal Mo Gary Stevens John Shirreffs 20-1
AE Master Plan John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 50-1

Stakes Records Fall

Tapwrit Part of Stakes-Record Races over Weekend

Racing continues coast to coast, and while many fans focus on the Kentucky Derby trail and Triple Crown races, there are plenty of exciting and meaningful races with more stakes records being set last weekend.

Tapwrit (6/5, pictured) wowed fans in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), showing his Triple Crown potential as he gathered up his competitors on the far turn and galloped home an easy 4 ½ length winner for jockey Jose Ortiz. The gray son of Tapit covered 1 1/16 miles in a record time of 1:42.36 to break the stakes race record set by Destin last year.

Also at Tampa Bay Downs, Stanford (2/5) led from the start to win Saturday’s $100,000 Challenger, covering 1 1/16 miles in a track-record time of 1:41.75 with John Velazquez riding home the winner by 3 ¼ lengths.

A third record nearly fell at Tampa Bay Saturday when new York-bred Fifty Five (4/1) came rallying from the back of the pack to roll past the leaders in the deep stretch and win the $200,000 Grade III Florida Oaks by a neck over the odds-on favorite, La Coronel.

In Saturday’s turf sprint at Gulfstream, Pay any Price (5/1) led from the start in the $75,000 Silks Run Stakes and got home by 3 1/4 lengths in front of odds-on favorite Power Alert. The 7-year-old Pay Any Price set a turf course-record time of 53.61 seconds over 5 furlongs.

And the sad news of the racing weekend happened in the other Road to the Roses qualifying race when one of the top Kentucky Derby favorites, Mastery, sustained a fracture of his left front leg following his victory in the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes. Jockey Mike Smith unsaddled Mastery shortly after his 6 ½-length win, and the Candy Ride colt was loaded into an ambulance.

Trainer Bob Baffert said, “You see what he did today was just incredible and puts him as the best 3-year-old in the nation.”

Unfortunately, we won’t see Mastery on the Triple Crown trail following the injury and surgery.

2017 Tampa Bay Derby Preview

2017 Tampa Bay Derby Has No Favorites

Originally, McCraken was supposed to headline the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby but he is dealing with what people are calling a “minor injury”. As such, the odds for this Kentucky Derby prep race have been blown wide open. There are six viable contenders who will attempt to assert themselves amongst their three-year-old colleagues.

The official favorite on the morning line is Tapwrit, a son of Tapit who lost to McCraken in the 2017 Sam F. Davis Stakes. He is a very interesting prospect who is working with Todd Pletcher. Known as a late charging runner, Tapwrit could definitely tip the scales in his favor at the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby on a fast track.

There are several horses who will return to Tampa Bay Downs after the Sam F. Davis. Most noted in the field is Wild Shot who looked strong on the inside before falling to fourth in the aforementioned race. He is a front running specialist who needs to prove that he can close a race before you invest fully in him. Wild Shot is 5/1 to win the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby.

State of Honor will also try to defeat Tapwrit after finishing 3rd in the Sam F. Davis. He boasts 4/1 odds as the second choice. Also in the running is No Dozing, a 6/1 outside shot who fell to 6th at the Sam F. Davis. To shed light on what 6/1 odds look like in this race, consider that Sonic Mule has similar odds but fell to 3rd at the Swale Stakes recently.

Beasley is the great unknown in the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby. This will be his stakes debut but everything coming out of his camp is overtly positive. If you’re looking for a dark horse play in a wide open race, then this is your colt.

Rounding out the field are Tale of Silence, The Money Monster, Basha and Zion Valley.

2017 Tampa Bay Derby – Saturday, March 11th at Tampa Bay Down
1 1/16th Miles – Three Year Olds – $350,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Tale of Silence (KY) Paco Lopez 116 Barclay Tagg 15/1
2 The Money Monster (KY) Joel Rosario 116 William I. Mott 15/1
3 Basha (KY) Emisael Jaramillo 116 Gilberto Zerpa 12/1
4 No Dozing (KY) Daniel Centeno 116 Arnaud Delacour 6/1
5 Tapwrit (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 116 Todd A. Pletcher 3/1
6 Beasley (KY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 116 Mark A. Hennig 9/2
7 Sonic Mule (KY) John R. Velazquez 118 Todd A. Pletcher 6/1
8 State of Honor (ON) Julien R. Leparoux 116 Mark E. Casse 4/1
9 Wild Shot (KY) Robby Albarado 116 George R. Arnold, II 5/1
10 Zion Valley (NY) Huber Villa-Gomez 116 Kevin Rice 50/1

McCraken Makes His Move to Win Sam F. Davis Stakes

McCraken Rallies in Track Record Time to win Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs

McCraken made another stride towards the Kentucky Derby Saturday. The rising, talented Kentucky-bred made a magnificent move down the stretch to win the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes in a track record time at Tampa Bay Down.

McCraken, the undefeated son of Ghostzapper, won his fourth straight race with a winning time of 1 minute 42.45 seconds. He picked up $120,000 as the top prize and broke Destin’s track record from last year which is the best 1 1/16 mile time in the Downs’ 91 year history.

Jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. settled McCraken behind the pack five lengths off the pacesetter State of Honor, who set fractions of 23.63, :47.15 and 1:10.90 through six furlongs. When Hernandez asked McCraken to go, the strapping colt unleashed his big stride and flew home to win by 1 ¼ lengths over a late charging Tapwrit.

“Riding a horse like (McCraken) puts a lot of confidence in you, and you’ve got to go out there and ride him with the confidence we do … and he gets us there,” Hernandez said. “When I first got to the half-mile pole, I asked him for a run and he hesitated a bit. But I think it was him telling me, ‘Hey, jock, don’t worry. We’re going to get there when it’s my time.’ And he did.”

State of Honor held on for 3rd, while Wild Shot finished fourth after briefly taking the lead by a head in the stretch. Fact Finding, No Dozing, Six Gun Salute, Chance of Luck and King and His Court completed the finish.

McCraken went to post as the 3-2 favorite and paid $5, $3.60 and $2.80. Tapwrit returned $8.20 and $5.20, and State of Honor paid $6.20. The top four finishers received Kentucky Derby points on a sliding scale of 10-4-2-1.

Trainer Ian Wilkes knows has a special horse in his barn, and has been trying to downplay all the Derby talk about McCraken.

“If he’s good enough, he’ll take us there,” Wilkes said. “I don’t know how good (he is). But there have been some nice horses that have run a mile-and-a-sixteenth here.

“We’ve got a long way to go. This is not a one-race program. I want two more races for him, then the Derby. This is just one stepping stone, and we keep building.”

McCraken will build on his latest victory and success in his next race, the March 11 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).