From KSR: “If the Kentucky Derby horses were wildcats”

Originally written for Kentucky Sports Radio May 2, 2014

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Editor’s note: I think it’s safe to say that we here at KSR are not horse racing experts. I’d like to say I choose horses by their jockeys, but honestly, it’s by which one is prettiest. Drew Franklin is slightly more scientific, choosing horses by which one takes a dump in the paddock (it makes them lighter!). So, we called horse racing expert John Cox (aka Fern Daddy Dollas) to help out scout the Derby. Take it away, John…

If the Kentucky Derby horses were Wildcats…

By John Cox

The 140th Running of the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday and when I am not writing raps and making videos about UK basketball, I have actually  been working as a staff writer at the world renowned Churchill Downs in the communications department. I am a big fan of the Cats, and also a huge horse racing fan. I have had a Twinspires account since 2011 and have found it the most effective way to play the ponies, especially on Derby Day.

If you’re going to a party and/or planning on consuming a few too many adult beverages to make smart bets, then you can do your handicapping earlier in the week, bet on Twinspires and party on. Twinspires is also doing a promo for KSR customers only, where if you open an account with them and deposit $20, you get a free $20 bet on the Derby. Use the promo code KSR20.

I’ve put together a list of the 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders, along with a few interesting points about each horse and their connections. I also am going to make some rather loose connections in comparing each horse to a Wildcat in the Calipari era. Some may be a bit of a stretch, but I am sure KSR will let their voice be heard if I’m off on something! Here you go:

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CALIFORNIA CHROME (CA)

  • Won the Santa Anita Derby by 5 ½ lengths over Hoppertunity
  • Total Points: 150; Ranked No. 1 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin

  • The two men then formed the partnership “DAP,” for when they decided to purchase Love The Chase, a groom walked by and said, “anyone who decides to buy this horse is a dumbass.” Hence the name ‘Dumbass Partners.”

Trained by Art Sherman

  • Moved to Southern California in 1953 and began working under trainer Rex Ellsworth, who is known for campaigning 1955 Kentucky Derby winner Swaps, one of only 3 California-breds to win the Kentucky Derby

Ridden by Victor Espinoza

  • Won the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on War Emblem for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, but fell short of the Triple Crown in the 2002 Belmont Stakes finishing eighth. 

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Comparison: John Wall

  • Although John Wall is no California-bred, he was probably the most heralded recruit coming into Kentucky that I can remember. Similar to John Wall coming to Kentucky, there hasn’t been this big of a favorite entering the Kentucky Derby since Big Brown in 2008. 

3

VICAR’S IN TROUBLE (LA)

  • Won $1 million Louisiana Derby by 3 ½ lengths over Intense Holiday
  • Attempting to become first Louisiana-bred in history to win the Kentucky Derby
  • Total Points: 120; Ranked No. 2 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey   

  • Own Ramsey Farm near Lexington, KY
  • All-time leading owner at Churchill Downs and winner of a record 18 owners’ titles 

Trained by Mike Maker

  • Served as an assistant trainer under Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas
  • Won 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs with Hansen
  • Seeking first Kentucky Derby win 

Ridden by Rosie Napravnik 

  • Became the first female rider to win the Kentucky Oaks when she guided Believe You Can to victory in 2012
  • Finished fifth in the 2013 Kentucky Derby aboard Mylute, the best finish in the Derby for a female jockey

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Comparison: Perry Stevenson

  • Perry Stevenson is the only Louisiana player we’ve had in the Calipari era (although Perry was at UK before Cal) and Vicar’s In Trouble is the only Louisiana-bred horse since 1997.

 4

DANCE WITH FATE (FL)

  • Won Blue Grass Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths over Medal Count
  • Seeking to become 7th Florida-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby and first since Silver Charm in 1997
  • Total Points: 108; Ranked No. 3 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable, and Ciaglia Racing LLC

  • First graded stakes winner was Weemissfrankie, named after deceased partner Frank Alesia, who won the Del Mar Debutante in 2011.
  • Joe Ciaglia of Ciaglia Racing is the owner of California Skateparks, one of the premier designers of action sports facilities in the world, designing skateboard parks and facilities for the X Games. 

Trained by Peter Eurton

  • Eurton trained Wemissfrankie for the same owners and Rob Dyrdek also had a minority interest in the horse
  • Dance With Fate is Eurton’s first Kentucky Derby starter. 

Ridden by Corey Nakatani

  • Won the 1991 Kentucky Oaks with Lite Light and the 1996 Kentucky Oaks with Pike Place Dancer
  • Lite Light was owned by MC Hammer
  • Best Derby finish was 2nd in 2011 with Nehro

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Comparison: Jon Hood

  • Dance With Fate enjoyed great success in Kentucky when he won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, much like Jon Hood achieved great success in Kentucky while playing with the reserves. I’m not knocking on Hoodie, in fact, I love the guy, but I don’t see Dance With Fate being the best of this bunch, and think his talent will be overshadowed by the better horses.

5

WICKED STRONG (KY)

  • Won the $1 million Twinspires Wood Memorial by 3 ½ lengths over previously undefeated Samraat
  • Named in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, a portion of Wicked Strong’s earnings go towards a charity started for the victims and their families
  • Total Points: 102; Ranked No. 4 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Centennial Farms

  • Established in 1982 by Boston Investment Banker Donald Little, who used his horse racing knowledge combined with business mindset to create racing partnerships to open the door for many people to get involved in the excitement of horse racing.
  • This is the first Kentucky Derby start for Centennial Farms

Trained by Jimmy Jerkins

  • Jimmy Jerkens is the son of Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens, who worked with his father for more than 20 years before taking on his own stable
  • This is his first Kentucky Derby starter.

Ridden by Rajiv Maragh

  • Best finish in the Derby was 2011 with Mucho Macho Man where he finished second

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Nerlens Noel

  • It’s mainly the Boston thing. Wicked Strong hasn’t suffered any injuries, and Nerlens wasn’t born in Kentucky, but I think Wicked Strong has a shot, and think Nerlens Noel has a shot to go on to a great career in the NBA.

6

SAMRAAT (NY)

  • Suffered his first defeat in a second-place finish behind Wicked Strong in the $1 million Twinspires Wood Memorial
  • Winner of the Withers Stakes and Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct
  • Total Points: 100; Ranked No. 5 on Leaderboard 

Owned by My Meadowview Farm

  • Owned by Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, Inc., the world’s largest bookseller
    • Only other Derby horse was Samraat’s sire, Noble Causeway, who ran 14thin the 2005 Kentucky Derby 

Trained by Rick Violette Jr.

  • Finished seventh in the 2004 Kentucky Derby with Read the Footnotes

Ridden by Jose Ortiz

  • Samraat is the first Kentucky Derby mount for Ortiz, who is only 21. His older brother Irad is also on his first Derby mount with Uncle Sigh, marking the first time since 1984 that two brothers have ridden against each other in the Kentucky Derby.

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Doron Lamb

  • I chose Doron Lamb because like Samraat, he was born in New York. Unlike Doron Lamb, I don’t think Samraat has a shot. But I promise you I’ve been wrong before.

 7

DANZA (KY)

  • Won the Arkansas Derby at odds of 41-1 defeating Ride On Curlin, and Tapiture
  • Named after actor Tony Danza, star of long-running sitcom “Who’s the Boss?”
  • Total Points: 100; Ranked No. 6 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners

  • Launched in October 2011 with offices in Springboro, OH and Del Mar, CA
  • In its first full season on the racetrack, Eclipse lead all public partnerships in number of North American stakes wins
  • This is the first Kentucky Derby for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners 

Trained by Todd Pletcher 

  • Worked as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas for seven years prior to opening his own stable
  • Seven-time Breeders’ Cup winner; Leading trainer by earnings in 2004-07 and 2010-13
  • Since 2000, Pletcher has had 36 Kentucky Derby starters but has only won once, in 2010 with Super Saver 

Ridden by Joe Bravo 

  • “Jersey Joe” has dominated the New Jersey racing circuit since the early 1990s, winning numerous riding titles at Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands
  • Also rides at Gulfstream Park in Florida, and in 2009 he appeared in the Rick Ross featuring John Legend music video “Magnificent,” which was shot at Gulfstream Park
  • Seeking first Kentucky Derby win

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Jodie Meeks

  • Had to go just a year past the Cal era for this one, because no Wildcat under Cal has won in Arkansas! Jodie dropped 45 on the Hogs back in 2009. Danza lit up the tote board in the Arkansas Derby at odds of 41-1

8

INTENSE HOLIDAY (KY)

  • Won the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds defeating Vicar’s In Trouble
  • Total Points: 93; Ranked No. 8 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Starlight Racing

  • One of the first horses owned by Starlight was Harlan’s Holiday, the sire of Intense Holiday who won the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes before finishing seventh in the 2002 Kentucky Derby
  • Starlight’s owner, Jack Wolf, is seeking to become the first Kentucky Derby winner owned by a Louisville-native since Bashford Manor’s Sir Huon won the 1906 Derby.

Trained by Todd Pletcher

  • Worked as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas for seven years prior to opening his own stable
  • Seven-time Breeders’ Cup winner; Leading trainer by earnings in 2004-07 and 2010-13
  • Since 2000, Pletcher has had 36 Kentucky Derby starters but has only won once, in 2010 with Super Saver

Ridden by John Velazquez

  • Won 2011 Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom
  • Two other Triple Crown wins came on Rags to Riches (2007 Belmont) and Union Rags (2012 Belmont)
  • Inducted into Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2012

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Anthony Davis

  • I’m sure people are going to have plenty of things to say about this one because of the Louisville connections in the ownership, but I linked this horse to the Brow because I think he has one of the best chances to take home a trophy.

9

WILDCAT RED (FL)

  • Winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes, defeating General a Rod, Medal Count and We Miss Artie
  • Like Dance With Fate, attempting to become 7th Florida-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby and first since Silver Charm in 1997
  • Total Points: 90; Ranked No. 9 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Honors Stable Corp.

  • Owned by Venezuelan Salvatore Delfino, a wine importer/exporter, and his wife Josie Martino Delfino
  • Josie Delfino is heavily involved with animal rescue and adoption in Venezuela
  • This is their first Kentucky Derby.

Trained by Jose Garoffalo

  • A native of Venezuela grew up working with racehorses on a farm owned by his father.
  • Graduated from law school in Venezuela and also the Venezuelan Academy of Thoroughbred Trainers, but decided that the track was where he wanted to be.
  • This is his first Kentucky Derby starter

Ridden by Luis Saez

  • Regular rider of 2013
  • First and only Derby mount was Falling Sky, who finished 19th in last year’s “Run for the Roses”

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Ryan Harrow

  • Horses who make it to the Derby are like recruits who make it to Kentucky. They have to have some level of talent to get there. I just see Wildcat Red becoming one of those we will probably forget about after this year, or probably this race.

 10

WE MISS ARTIE (ON)

  • Won the Spiral Stakes by a nose over Harry’s Holiday
  • Total Points: 60; Ranked No. 10 on Leaderboard

Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey

  • Own Ramsey Farm near Lexington, KY
  • All-time leading owner at Churchill Downs and winner of a record 18 owners’ titles 

Trained by Todd Pletcher

  • Worked as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas for seven years prior to opening his own stable
  • Seven-time Breeders’ Cup winner; Leading trainer by earnings in 2004-07 and 2010-13
  • Since 2000, Pletcher has had 36 Kentucky Derby starters but has only won once, in 2010 with Super Saver

Ridden by Javier Castellano 

  • Won 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic on eventual Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and 2006 Preakness aboard Bernardini
  • Seeking his first Kentucky Derby win in his 8th try

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Darnell Dodson

  • See Wildcat Red/Ryan Harrow

11

RIDE ON CURLIN (KY)

  • Runner-up behind Danza in the Arkansas Derby
  • Finished third in the Rebel Stakes behind Hoppertunity and Tapiture
  • Total Points: 55; Ranked No. 11 on Leaderboard

Owned by Daniel Doughtery

  • Louisville businessman who formally owned a string of furniture stores in the Louisville area, but has since sold them off and turned his attention solely to his horses
  • According to various sources, Doughtery turned down a $1 million offer on Ride On Curlin earlier in the colt’s career 

Trained by Billy Gowan

  • “Bronco” Billy Gowan attended Louisiana Tech for an equine degree, and in order to fulfill a required internship for the program, worked under Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg
  • Attended the Kentucky Derby Trainers’ Dinner at the downtown Louisville Hyatt wearing a cowboy hat and a black leather blazer.
  • This is his first Kentucky Derby

Ridden by Calvin Borel 

  • Three-time Kentucky Derby winner: Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009) and Super Saver (2010)
  • Calvin “Bo-rail” was inducted to racing’s Hall of Fame in 2013

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Jarrod Polson

  • No one really gave this horse much of a chance early on, but he has fought hard throughout his career, much like Polson and earned his place among the best talent in the country. He might not be the best horse, but like Polson, he’s consistent and you know what you’re getting with him.

12

CHITU (KY)

  • Winner of the $800,000 Sunland Derby, defeating Midnight Hawk by 2 ¼ lengths
  • Runner-up to Candy Boy in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes
  • Total Points: 54; Ranked No. 12 on Leaderboard

Owned by Tanma Corporation

  • Based in North Andover, MA, President is Susan Chu
  • Chu was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States 15 years ago
  • This is the first Kentucky Derby for Tanma Corporation 

Trained by Bob Baffert

  • Three-time Kentucky Derby winner: Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002)
  • Five-time Preakness winner and also won the Belmont in 2001
  • Inducted into Thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame in 2009

Ridden by Martin Garcia

  • Moved to the San Francisco-area from his native Mexico in 2003 and began working at a delicatessen in Pleasanton, CA
    • The deli owner introduced him to former jockey Mark Hanna, who got him additional work as an exercise rider, although Garcia had little experience riding horses.
  • Won 2010 Preakness Stakes on Lookin At Lucky; Seeking first Kentucky Derby win

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Archie Goodwin

  • There’s been a lot of fuss and drama over whether Chitu was going to run in the Derby or not. Basically it’s a lot of attention on someone who’s not going to make too lasting of an impact. Sorry Archie.

13

TAPITURE (KY)

  • Won his debut start of his 3-year-old campaign in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn
  • Finished second behind Hoppertunity in the Rebel Stakes, and finished fourth in the Arkansas Derby
  • Total Points: 52; Ranked No. 13 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds

  • Partnership of Joan Winchell and her son Ron, who are continuing the racing venture of the late Verne Winchell who was Joan’s husband and Ron’s  father
  • Ron also is involved with gaming bars/restaurants, construction and real estate development in Las Vegas
  • Seeking first Kentucky Derby win

Trained by Steve Asmussen

  • Trained Curlin, back-to-back Horse of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and also the top American earner in history, winner of the Preakness Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee
  • Trained Rachel Alexandra, winner of the 2009 Preakness Stakes who was also the 2009 Horse of the Year
  • Seeking first Kentucky Derby win 

Ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr.

  • Panama native, came to the U.S. in 2009 where he began riding at Delaware Park
  • This is his first start in the Kentucky Derby

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Marquis Teague

  • Both were very good early in their careers and both are at a crossroads where they need to decide if they are going to emerge into elite competitors or just blend in with their peers.

14

GENERAL A ROD (KY)

  • Dark bay or brown colt by Roman Ruler, out of the Dynaformer mare Dynamite Eyes. Foaled Feb. 26, 2011.
  • Placed third behind Constitution and Wildcat Red in the Florida Derby and second behind Wildcat Red in the Fountain of Youth
  • Total Points: 40; Ranked No. 14 on Leaderboard

Owned by Starlight Racing and Skychai Racing LLC

  • Starlight Racing and Skychai Racing partnered to purchase General a Rod on April 28, 2014 

Trained by Mike Maker  

  • Served as an assistant trainer under Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas
  • Won 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs with Hansen
  • Seeking first Kentucky Derby win

Ridden by Joel Rosario

  • Winner of riding titles at Del Mar, Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Keeneland
  • Won 2013 Dubai World Cup aboard Animal Kingdom; won 2013 Kentucky Derby on Orb

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Alex Poythress

  • General A Rod has shown flashes of talent and is starting to come around as a consistent contender. I like his chances. Alex is a bit further along than General a Rod, but both are likable figures in my eyes.

 15

MEDAL COUNT (KY)

  • Finished 2nd behind Dance With Fate in the Blue Grass Stakes
  • Won the Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland
  • Total Points: 40; Ranked No. 16 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Spendthrift Farm  

  • Historic stud farm located in Lexington, KY; Owned and operated by successful businessman B. Wayne Hughes
  • Founded Public Storage in 1972 and turned it into a billion-dollar company; Net worth as of April 2014 is estimated at $2.1 billion by Forbes
  • Owner of champions Action This Day and Beholder

Trained by Dale Romans  

  • Grew up on the Churchill Downs backstretch working for his late father and trainer Jerry Romans
  • Winner of 3 Breeders’ Cup races and also won the 2011 Preakness Stakes with Shackleford
  • Best finishes were third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Paddy O’Prado and third in the 2012 Derby with Dullahan 

Ridden by Robby Albarado

  • Regular rider of two winners of Horse of the Year: Mineshaft (2003) and Curlin (2007-08)
  • Lone Triple Crown victory came aboard Curlin in the 2007 Preakness
  • Has finished third in the Kentucky Derby twice

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Darius Miller

  • I’ve liked the way Medal Count has looked on the track. He performed well in Lexington when he ran second in the Blue Grass Stakes. Like Darius, he has a big shot to bring a trophy home to his home state.

 16

CANDY BOY (KY)

  • Won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes by a half-length over Chitu, also defeating Midnight Hawk
  • Finished third behind California Chrome and Hoppertunity in the Santa Anita Derby 

Owned by C R K Stable LLC   

  • Owned by Lee and Susan Searing, residents of Arcadia, CA.
  • Lee owned several horses in partnership with his late father, starting in 1968.
  • Candy Boy is the first Kentucky Derby contender campaigned by C R K Stable 

Trained by John Sadler   

  • After leaving the University of Oregon, Sadler worked as a veterinary assistant to Dr. Jack Robbins. Still credits much of his ability to detect early problems in a horse to his time with Dr. Robbins.
  • Scored nine training titles on the Southern California circuit from 2007-11 at Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita 

Ridden by Gary Stevens 

  • Three-time Kentucky Derby winner: Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995) and Silver Charm (1997)
  • 10-time Breeders’ Cup winner; Inducted into Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1997
  • Retired 2005; Came out of retirement in January 2013, won the Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2013 at age 50

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

  • Basically just the name. MKG loves Candy.

17

UNCLE SIGH (NY)

  • Runner-up to Samraat in the Withers Stakes and also runner-up to Samraat in the Gotham Stakes
  • Finished fifth in the Wood Memorial
  • Total points: 24; ranked No. 18 on Leaderboard 

Owned by Wounded Warrior Stables and Anthony Robertson 

  • George “Chip” McEwen III races under Wounded Warrior Stables and has been racing horses for the last 17 years
  • Wounded Warrior Stables donates 10% of purses and sales to the Wounded Warrior Project
  • McEwen is a fan of the TV show “Duck Dynasty” and named the horse after the character in the show. Spelled the name differently to avoid any complications in the naming process 

Trained by Gary Contessa    

  • Describes himself as being someone who can pick out a winning horse that owners can afford
  • Ranked second among the all Thoroughbred trainers worldwide in the past 15 years in return on investment (ROI) for his Thoroughbreds purchased at 2-year-olds in training sales in the 2012 BloodHorse publication “MarketWatch”
  • Uncle Sigh is the first Kentucky Derby contender for Contessa

Ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr.

  • A native of Puerto Rico, the only rider younger than Ortiz (22) in the 2014 Kentucky Derby is his younger brother Jose (21)
  • Uncle Sigh is the first Kentucky Derby mount for Ortiz. His younger brother Jose is also on his first Derby mount with Samraat, marking the first time since 1984 that two brothers have ridden against each other in the Kentucky Derby

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Willie Cauley-Stein

  • Both Poythress and Willie will be considered old men as juniors in the upcoming season. I am more linking Willie to the character from the show, because he’s wise and obviously pretty goofy.

 18

VINCEREMOS (KY)

  • Winner of the Sam F. Davis Stakes; Runner-up to Ring Weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby
  • Finished 14th in the Blue Grass Stakes
  • Total points: 20; ranked 19th on Leaderboard

Owned by WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing

  • WinStar Farm is located on 1,450 acres near Versailles, KY the farm is owned by Kenny Troutt with former partner Bill Casner in 2000
  • Won 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver and the 2010 Belmont Stakes with Drosselmeyer
  • Twin Creeks campaigned millionaire and 2010 Louisiana Derby winner Mission Impazible, who finished ninth in the 2010 Kentucky Derby 

Trained by Todd Pletcher

  • Worked as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas for seven years prior to opening his own stable
  • Seven-time Breeders’ Cup winner; Leading trainer by earnings in 2004-07 and 2010-13
  • Since 2000, Pletcher has had 36 Kentucky Derby starters but has only won once, in 2010 with Super Saver

Ridden by Joe Rocco Jr.  

  • Born in Hollywood, FL grew up working on his family’s farm in New Jersey where his grandparents owned some broodmares and trained Thoroughbreds
  • This is his first mount in the Kentucky Derby

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Dominique Hawkins

  • Both Kentucky boys and both fierce competitors. I don’t think Vinceremos liked the polytrack in his last start but I think he should bounce back well on the Churchill dirt. Also the owners here are known Cats fans.

 19

HARRY’S HOLIDAY (KY)

  • Finished 13th in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and was runner-up to We Miss Artie in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park
  • Total Points: 20; Ranked No. 19 on Leaderboard

Owned by Skychai Racing, Sand Dollar Stable, Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner  

  • Skychai Racing was founded by Jim Shircliff and Harvey Diamond nearly 20 years ago
  • Sand Dollar Stable was founded by long time horse owner David Koenig in 2001
  • Terry Raymond owns Thunder Sportswear, a Louisville-based T-shirt company which he has operated for more than 14 years

 Trained by Mike Maker     

  • Served as an assistant trainer under Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas
  • Won 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs with Hansen
  • Seeking first Kentucky Derby win

 Ridden by Corey Lanerie

  • Grandfather was a trainer and owner, father Gerald was a jockey who now trains
  • Winner of the 2014 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, which annually recognizes a jockey whose career and personal character earns esteem for both the individual and for horse racing
  • This is his first Kentucky Derby mount

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Andrew or Aaron Harrison

  • You do the math with this one.

20

COMMANDING CURVE (KY)

  • Finished third behind Vicar’s In Trouble and Intense Holiday in the Louisiana Derby
  • Total Points: 20; Ranked No. 20 on Leaderboard

 Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds

  • West Point Thoroughbreds was founded by Terry Finley, who was born Jan. 3, 1964 in Mt. Laurel, NJ
  • Finley is a graduate of West Point Academy and is a former Army Captain and Airborne Ranger
  • Since 1991, Finley has syndicated nearly 300 horses worth more than $20 million

 Trained by Dallas Stewart 

  • Worked under one of trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ top assistants, Mark Hennig; when Hennig went out on his own, Stewart took over Lukas’ string in Kentucky.
  • Won 2006 Kentucky Oaks with longshot Lemons Forever
  • Best finish in the Kentucky Derby came with Golden Soul, who finished second in 2013

 Ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan 

  • Moved to Florida at age 13 and attended races with his father, who would not let Shaun ride until he graduated from high school
  • Has captured leading rider titles in meets at Churchill Downs, Arlington Park and Fair Grounds
  • Seeking first Kentucky Derby win

Wildcat/Thoroughbred Connection: Dakari Johnson

  • Dakari is a commanding presence in the paint. Commanding Curve is a big horse that has caught my eye as being a sleeper horse for this year’s Derby. Matt told me last night that he won a lot of money on Golden Soul last year who finished second in the Derby as a longshot. With odds of 50-1 and the same trainer, we could have a similar situation in 2014.

MY TOP 3I like Intense HolidayWicked Strong and Danza in no particular order, might make for a nice exacta. None of these because of their UK name comparisons but they’ve just been some of the nicest ones I’ve seen on the track. I also like the fact that they have all shown the ability to close, because I think there will be quite a bit of speed in this race early. If I have to pick one, I’m going with Intense Holiday.

OAKS PICKSI like the heavy favorite, Untapable, but if you are trying to beat her, maybe put her in an exacta or trifecta box with Rosalind and Ria Antonia.

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