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R8: 4 - 5 - 8 - 11

R9: 2 - 4


R11: 2 - 3 - 8 - 18

32 lines

R8: 5 - 8

R9: 2 - 4


R11: 2 - 3 - 8 - 18

16 lines

Newmarket Previews

2,000 Guineas & 1,000 Guineas

Kentucky Derby winners 2014: California Chrome & Victor Espinoza Photo: Reed Palmer


Churchill Downs previews,

selections & betting plans



Churchill Downs 2 May – 1 ¼ miles dirt

125p AMERICAN PHAROAH (Pioneerof The Nile) B Baffert / V Espinoza

123p MATERIALITY (Afleet Alex) T Pletcher / J Castellano

120 UPSTART (Flatter) R Violette Jr / J L Ortiz

119p DORTMUND (Big Brown) B Baffert / M Garcia

117p CARPE DIEM (Giant's Causeway) T Pletcher / J Velazquez

117p MUBTAAHIJ (Dubawi) M de Kock / C Soumillon

113 FROSTED (Tapit) K McLaughlin / J Rosario

111p FIRING LINE (Line Of David) S Callaghan / G stevens

110 INTERNATIONAL STAR (Fusaichi Pegasus) M Maker / M Mena

110 DANZIG MOON (Malibu Moon) M Casse / J Leparoux

109p FAR RIGHT (Notional) R Moquett / M Smith

109p TENCENDUR (Warrior's Reward) G Weaver / M Franco

109 EL KABEIR (Scat Daddy) J Terranova / C Borel

108 OCHO OCHO OCHO (Street Sense) J Cassidy / E Trujillo

107p BOLO (Temple City) C Gaines / R Bejarano

106 MR. Z (Malibu Moon) D Wayne Lukas / R Vazquez

104 ITSAKNOCKOUT (Lemon Drop Kid) T Pletcher / L Saez

101 FRAMMENTO (Midshipman) N Zito / G Stevens

100 WAR STORY (Northern Afleet) T Amoss / J Talamo

100 KEEN ICE (Curlin) D Romans / K Desormeaux




His Arkansas Derby win was most impressive, and if he can run to that level of form over 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs he will be hard to beat. My first reaction was that he outclassed a bunch of rivals that many of the other Kentucky Derby contenders could have treated in the same way, but a closer examination of the form – not least a comparison of his time and Race Day's time in the Oaklawn Handicap - convinced me; American Pharoah is a top class colt, and he has trained on at three after a set back that ruled him out of last year's Breeders' Cup, which was a strong edition and won by Texas Red, who American Pharoah had beaten so easily a few weeks prior. Back to the Arkansas Derby; he won comfortably at Oaklawn, and must have had at least a couple of lengths in hand passing the winning post. Formwise, the race is not absolutely rock solid though, it does have one weak point, namely the fact that all but two of the runners were well below G1 standard. All but these two were slowing down badly through the last three furlongs. Far Right stayed on past them to take second, 8 lengths behind American Pharoah. Interestingly, Far Right was 8 lengths behind the winner also after the the first six furlongs. He ran the last three furlongs as fast as American Pharoah did, and Far Right did it the hard way.

I am not saying I believe Far Right is a potential Kentucky Derby winner but these are still interesting observations.

American Pharoah enjoyed a dream trip at Oaklawn. Mr Z, who is in the same ownership, took a pull and handed him the rail on the first turn. That was very nice of Mr. Z's rider, particularly on a day when rail runners had done well. He assisted the winner once more as they were halfway through the home bend, when Mr. Z was sent up to American Pharoah's outside, without putting any pressure on the 1-10 favorite, This way, any horse coming from the back would have to fan three to four wide to mount a challenge. Now, nothing did emerge from the back at this stage, so it did not matter much, but how Mr. Z's rider waited until coming into the lane to ask his horse is still a factor. It was hardly the best way to try and beat a possible non-stayer. How far will American Pharoah stay? He ran on strongly here, and the way he won suggested another furlong would be within his compass.

He is quite speedy, however, and he is a half-brother to the sharp filly Misty Rosette (Stormin Fever), who won the 6.5-furlong Old Hat Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park and ran third in the 7-furlong Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga as a 3yo. Her brother Storm Wolf won the Barrera Memorial (G2) over 7 furlongs at Hollywood Park at three. Their sire, the Storm Cat son Stormin Fever, did well in Graded stakes over 8 and 9 furlongs but he was better in sprints and twice runner-up in the Vosburgh (G1). He has not been a very successful stallion, and his best runners have been effective at up to a mile. American Pharoah's sire, Pioneerof the Nile, is a far better influence for both class and stamina. He is a so of Belmont winner Empire Maker.

Himself a winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Pioneerof the Nile was runner-up in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Now, that did not happen in a vintage year of course, as Mine that Bird won the Kentucky Derby and Chocolate Candy was Pioneerof the Nile's main rival at Santa Anita.

2015 seems to be a vintage year though, with a very talented group of five to six horses heading the Kentucky Derby field. Therefore, the Run for The Roses is unlikely to be won by a horse who does not have all the right attributes for the race.

American Pharoah needs the class (yes he's got it), the required stamina (looks likely, but not yet confirmed) and the toughness (this might be his weak point, as he has never been in a real fight) to win again on the first Saturday in May.

As of today, the best odds about him is 11-4 and that looks short enough to me. We will probably get about the same on raceday, when we know the exact field, the track conditions, and the post positions.


This is my future bet horse and probably the main reason I have been looking for weak points in American Phaoroah. I fear the Baffert horse of course, as I'm sure everybody with an interest in the race do, but I still like Materiality. Yes, he was unraced at two and he had had just three runs, but his Florida Derby (G1) win was impressive (underrated by many in my opinion) and a race giving a strong indication that he will stay the 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs. He produced top class form to beat Upstart by 1 ½ lengths, with Ami's Flatter beaten 14 lengths into third and Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Itsaknockout 7 lengths further back in fourth. The latter had been awarded 'FOY' after taking a minor bump from Upstart, who had outclassed subsequent Wood Memorial (G1) winner Frosted in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) four weeks earlier. Ami's Flatter's position also gives the Florida Derby form a boost.

He was coming off a second in the Tampa Bay Derby, 5 lengths behind Carpe Diem and well ahead of Divining Rod and Danzig Moon. Carpe Diem went on to an easy win in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1), where he beat Danzig Moon by 3 lengths, and Divining Rod was a comfortable winner of the Lexington Stakes (G3) on his next outing (hard held 3 lengths in front of the favorite Donworth). If these are not solid formlines, well, then what is? But for the 'Apollo jinx', Materiality would be half the price he is (14-1), and it will be interesting to see how he figures in the betting at Churchill. Don't forget, this is one of the two unbeaten colts in the mix.


Baffert is loaded. Dormund, who has won all of his six races, is no mean back-up to American Pharoah. And he is quite a different horse to look at, very big,massive, and seemingly a runner with plenty of scope for improvement. Horses of his size seldom blossom in the first half of their 3yo season. All the more reason to be impressed with what he has achieved to date. He won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) without much fuss, beating his barnmate One Lucky Dane by over four lengths. The runner-up had been sixth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), passing the post 9 ½ lengths behind Texas Red, and won his seasonal debut in a canter.

So far so good, but a closer examination of the Santa Anita Derby makes the form look hard to assess. Bolo (third) simply failed to stay and Prospect Park (fourth), who was second to Dortmund in the San Felipe (G2), was found to be ill. Are any of these a future Grade One winner? Probably not. But, the old saying “no horse can do more than win” certainly applied when we talk about Dortmund. He is a serious contender.


Carpe Diem stayed on really well when runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) last November, and he ran like a colt who will appreciate a step up in distance also when landing the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland this spring. The BC Juvenile is Carpe Diem's only defeat in five starts. He beat Ami's Flatter (see Materiality) by 5 lengths in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), when subsequent Lexington Stakes (G3) winner Divining Rod was third, and he broke little sweat when following up in the Blue Grass, a race he won by 3 lengths from Danzig Moon (who was fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby). Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) winner Ocho Ocho Ocho, who failed to stay the 9-furlong trip, finished third. Carpe Diem will be facing much tougher rivals at Churchill Downs, but we knew already last year that he was up to that, and he holds a good chance.


He was way too good for Frosted in the Holy Bull (G2), then robbed of another nice win when clearly the best in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and ran a game race in defeat against Materiality in the Florida Derby (G1). Upstart, third behind Texas Red and Carpe Diem in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) last fall, is a solid performer. Though how will he handle the stamina test at Churchill Downs? Carpe Diem came past him late on at Santa Anita and Materiality outstayed him at Gulfstream Park. Both races indicated that 9 furlongs is as far as Upstart wants to go. A moderate pace would be most welcome for his connections.


This colt was by far the best in the classic division in Dubai this winter, winning the UAE Derby (G2) in great style on World Cup night at Meydan. Stepping up to 9.5 furlongs, the son of Dubawi slammed his arch rival Maftool by 8 lengths in the $2 million event. That was some turnaround in form compared to the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) back in February, when Maftool beat Mutaahij by a head over a mile. In between these classics, Mubaahij gained an easy win in the Al Bastakiya (LR), a race he won by 2 ½ lengths from Uruguayan champion Sir Fever (who ran sixth in the Derby). Mubtaahij has improved really well with each start this year, he is coming off a solid dirt track win, gained in a way suggesting stamina is no problem, and he should not be underestimated. Taking Globeform 117p into the battle, he does have a shot – but he will be facing much tougher opposition at Churchill Downs. Also note that he was trained to peak with a big performance in late March. UK bookmakers offer around 12-1 about this colt. I suspect he will be much bigger at Churchill Downs.


Upstart proved much too god for him in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) back in January, and again in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), when Itsaknockout and Frammento beat him, then came the improvement giving hope for a big run at Churchill Downs; his solid 2-length win over Tencendur in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct in early April. Trainer Kirana McLaughlin added blinkers for that race, contested over 9 furlong on a fast track, and they seemed to make all the difference. Frosted came from off the pace to lead a furlong out, and he ran on well to the line. It was quite different to his run in the Fountain of Youth, when he opened up impressively in front turning for home only to tire badly in the closing stages. He definitely went too soon that day, and he is better judged on his Wood form, when he had the in-form New Yorker El Kabeir almost six lengths beaten into third. Frosted can't be fancied as one of the most likely winners of this Kentucky Derby but he can't be written off either. He's coming off his best run to date and could improve.


Winning your final prep for the Kentucky Derby by over 14 lengths is not exactly common, but that's what Firing Line did when cantering home in the Sunland Derby (G3) over 9 furlongs at Sunland Park in March. He went off as the 2-5 favorite and had little to beat but could not have made the job look any easier. His wide margin win over Where'sthemoon was also a major boost to Dormund's form – as the Baffert colt had beaten beaten Firing Line twice, on both occasions by a head. Dortmund may have been a bit fortunate to hit the line first when they met in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) last fall, but there was no fluke about it when he beat Firing Line in the Robert Lewis Memorial (G3) in February. He was spotting Firing Line six pounds that day, and Simon Callaghan's colt will have to improve quite a bit to turn the tables. He probably has improved, but then so has Dortmund.


Coming off three straight wins at the Fair Grounds, International Star will make some appeal to longshot players, and there is no doubt he is a solid, reliable performer, but is he classy enough? He beat War Story by 2 ½ lengths in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) in January, had the same rival a length behind when they filled the exacta once more in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) in February, and outstayed Stanford to win the 9-furlong Louisiana Derby (G2) in late March. Stepping up to 1 ¼ miles is unlikely to bother International Star. His running style suggests he will relish a test of stamina. Though note that Stanford – albeit improved in the Louisiana Derby – was slammed by almost six lengths by Materiality at Gulfstream Park four weeks earlier. Materiality stepped right up to win the Florida Derby (G1), where he beat the well connected Upstart. These formlines indicate that International Star will be up against it at Churchill.


This is an improving colt worth a glance by Trifecta and Superfecta players. Haviung raced just twice as a juvenile, Danzig Moon broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park this winter, before stepping up in class in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in March. He could manage only fourth, beaten 12 ½ lengths by the impressive Carpe Diem, and a trip to Louisville dis seem unlikely. That all changed after the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keenalnd a month later though, as Danzig Moon ran a much better race to take second, this time 3 lengths behind Carpe Diem. Ocho Ocho Ocho, another Derby hopeful, was a non-staying third, while Frammento finished fourth. Danzig Moon stayed on gamely from the middle of the field. He was never a threat to Carpe Diem but he was a clear third and there was a lot to like about this performance.


This colt's profile is quite similar to Danzig Moon's. And he is getting good at the right time. The son of Warrior's Reward left previous form behind him when second, 2 lengths behind Frosted in the Wood Memorial (G1) over 9 furlongs at Aqueduct on April 4. A big, strong and attractive runner with plenty of scope for improvement, Tencendur displayed good stamina at Aqueduct, where he has made all of his five starts to date. He had finished behind El Kabeir both in the Withers Stakes (G3) and Gotham Stakes (G3), but passed the winning post 3 ¾ lengths in front of him in the Wood. A clear indication that George Weaver's contender is on the upgrade.


Having been busy making money at Aqueduct through the winter months, El Kabeir seemed to have his limitations exposed when a non-threatening third behind Frosted and Tencendur in the Wood Memorial (G1), where the 9-furlong trip also stretched his stamina. He had previously won the Jerome Stakes (G3) and Gotham Stakes (G3), and been second in the Withers Stakes (G3) in between those wins, and he is a typical miler.


Another contender with a lot more speed than stamina, Ocho Ocho Ocho is likely to be found out at Churchill Downs. He was very sharp when winning the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita (which was off-the-turf) last November, and stretched successfully out to 8.5 furlongs to beat Mr Z by a nose in the Delta Jackpot (G3) three weeks later, but that is probably as far as he likes to go. Ocho Ocho Ocho eared points when he was a non-staying third behind Carpe Diem and Danzig Moon in the Blue Grass (G1) though, and he takes his chance in the big race.


Yet to produce a Globeform rating making him worthy of consideration at the top level, Bolo has run two interesting races in defeat at Santa Anita this spring. Dormund won them both, and Bolo finished third in both. He was beaten 1 ¾ lengths in the 8.5-furlong San Felipe (G2) and 6 ½ lengths in the 9-furlong Santa Anita Derby (G1). Dormund is one of the two Baffert trained favorites, so perhaps Bolo can come away with a slice of the purse money too.


American Pharoah was in a class of his own in the Arkansas Derby (G1), winning the race by 8 lengths, but note that his runner-up, Far Right, ran the last three furlongs about as fast as the winner. Far Right, who had come from off the pace to win his two preceding races, was at the back early on in the important Oaklawn prep, and the chart showed that he passed the 6-furlong pole 8 lengths behind the big favorite. While American Pharoah enjoyed the run of the race and saved ground close to a speedy rail strip, Far Right passed all the others doing it the hard way. He used the same running style to win the one-mile Smarty Jones (LR) and the 8.5-furlong Southwest Stakes (G3). Ten furlongs at Churchill Downs can be a grueling test, and there is always something coming through from off the pace, rolling past tiring legs and hitting the board.

Far Right fits the bill.


MATERIALITY had no luck when landing in stall 3 at the post position draw but he is still my narrow pick. Not many horses run to Globeform 122p on his third career start, and he must have a good chance - despite the post and despite the 'Apollo jinx' If he gets a clean run, he should go very close. He is open to improvement and I am confident he will stay the distance.

AMERICAN PHAROAH may be the most talented colt but he is not sure to stay - and stay he must, as breaking from stall 18 means he will be wide at least around the first turn. DORTMUND is the solid, reliable one, and he drew well in post 8. Perhaps logic now says he should be the pick, but he is such poor value compared to Materiality.

CARPE DIEM (stall 2) finished strongly when second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and again when winning the Blue Grass Stakes, and he looks like a runner that will relish this stamina test. But, like his barnmate, he was handed a tricky post. One good thing is that the two Pletcher horses are drawn side by side - and can help each other early on in the race. Ocho Ocho Ocho has no options, he must go forward from stall 1. Tencendur (stall 4) raced prominently in the Wood Memorial, while Danzig Moon (6) has not been particularly speedy in his races.

Perhaps the two Pletcher trainees will get running room after all.










Bayern, set to meet Private Zone

in the Churchill Downs Stakes.

Photo: Benoit




Churchill Downs 2 May – 8.5 furlongs turf

Top ranked horse on 100, with others ranked down in pounds.

Two pounds equals one length over this distance. “p” = plus

Horses presented with sire, best Globeform, jockey / post position

100 - LUCK OF THE KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) GF 112 / J Rosario / 1

..96 - DIVISIDERO (Kitten's Joy) GF 106p / R Hernandez / 11

..96 - A LOT (Tapit) GF 106p / J Velazquez / 6

..92 - CONQUEST TYPHOON (Stormy Atlantic) GF 107 / M Smith / 8

..92 - WIRELESS FUTURE (Scat Daddy) GF 102 / F Geroux / 2

..92 - ROYAL SON (Tiznow) GF 102 / G Stevens / 4

..91 - FIRESPIKE (Flower Alley) GF 103 / J Castellano / 9

.…? - WORLD APPROVAL (Northern Afleet) GF ?p / J Leparoux / 14

..90 - NUN THE LESS (Candy Ride) GF 100p / J Lezcano / 7

.…? - GRANNY'S KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) GF ?p / J Ortiz Jr / 3

.…? - INDIANAUGHTY (Indian Charlie) GF ? / R Bejarano / 10

..89 - TUBA (Magna Graduate) GF 99 / J Mojica Jr / 13

..88 - ANOTHER LEMON DROP (Lemon Drop Kid) GF 98 / S Rocco Jr / 5

..84 - MAJESTICO (Majesticperfection) GF 94 / L Saez / 12


LUCK OF THE KITTEN was a good runner-up to his very smart barnmate Hootenanny in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last year, and he produced an improved performance on his seasonal debut at Keeneland in April; going down by jut a neck to the in-form Night Prowler while conceding 5lb was no mean feat. This Wesley Ward trained colt likes to go to the lead and post one should be ideal. He can save ground all the way and prove hard to beat. He broke form the rail also at Keeneland, and had post three at the Breeders' Cup. Luck of the Kitten will most likely be the clear favorite here, and deservedly so, but he is up against a handful of lightly raced and talented young turf runners – and this is by no means a given.

DIVISIDERO in one of the most interesting ones, even with just two races under his belt. He came form a seemingly impossible position when winning at 25-1 on his debut at Gulfstream Park in February, and did not get the run of the race when finishing well for third in the Palm Beach (G3) at the same venue a month later. There is enough speed here to suggest the race will set up well for Divisidero, who is much too big on the morning line. 20-1 really is tempting. He has a wise post but that's not such a worry. He will probably want to drop in behind the field anyway.

A LOT, who was a comfortable winner over a mile at Gulfstream Park in February, comes here fresh – as he steps back up to stakes company. The Bill Mott trainee ran a fine race when second to Night Prowler in the Dania Beach (G3) – also at Gulfstream – back in January, and he is a progressive type with an obvious chance.





1-6-11 exacta box

WPS (EW) Divisidero




Churchill Downs 2 May – 7 furlongs dirt

Top ranked horse on 100, with others ranked down in pounds.

Two pounds equals one length over this distance. “p” = plus

Horses presented with sire, best Globeform, jockey / post position

100 - SWEET REASON (Street Sense) GF 116 / I Ortiz Jr / 1

..98 - JUDY THE BEAUTY (Ghostzapper) GF 119 / M Smith / 8

..96 - THANK YOU MARYLOU (Birdstone) GF 112 / J Rosario / 2

..93 - YOU BOUGHT HER (Graeme Hall) GF 109 / C Lanerie / 5

..92 - DAME DOROTHY (Bernardini) GF 110 / J Castellano / 3

..90 - CLEARLY CONFUSED (Successful Appeal) GF 108 / J Leparoux / 4

.…? - MOONLIT STROLL (Stroll) GF ? / B Hernandez Jr / 6


JUDY THE BEAUTY is the obvious favorite, having won the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) on her last start in 2014. This is her first start back but she was an easy 4 1/2-length winner of the Las Flores (G3) first time up last year, and her Breeders' Cup win also came after a break. She goes well fresh, and she likes this distance. What could beat her is a Sweet Reason back to in form, combined with the weights.

SWEET REASON is also making her seasonal bow. She was a well beaten eighth behind Judy the Beauty at the Breeders' Cup but that was nowhere near her best form. The daughter of Derby winner Street Sense produced excellent performances to win the one-mile Acorn (G1) at Belmont Park and 7-furlong Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last summer, and was solid also when second to champion filly Untapable over 8.5 furlongs in the Cotillon Stakes (G1). Sweet Reason gets 5lb from Just the Judge, and that is a big advantage, but she is an off-the-pace runner and post one thus not ideal. It is hard to split these two here.

SWEET WHISKEY, trained by Todd Pletcher, is a big filly who might improve with age. She has one performance in the book suggesting she could win a big sprint one day; her half-lengths second to Sweet Reason in last year's Acorn Stakes (G1), when the pair drew well clear of the third placed Unbridled Forever. Sweet Whiskey ran okay also in the Test (G1), where she was beaten 1 ½ lengths in fifth, but she has failed to build on these runs since.







Churchill Downs 2 May – 1 mile turf

Top ranked horse on 100, with others ranked down in pounds.

Two pounds equals one length over this distance. “p” = plus

Horses presented with sire, best Globeform, jockey / post position

100 - SANDIVA (Footstepsinthesand) GF 115 / J Castellano / 8

100 - COFFEE CLIQUE (Medaglia d'Oro) GF 115 / J Velazquez / 5

..98 - PERSONAL DIARY (City Zip) GF 113 / J Rosario / 1

..95 - LADY LARA (Excellent Art) GF 112 / J Alvarado / 4

..95 - I'M ALREADY SEXY (Ready's Image) GF 110 / F Geroux / 6

..95 - SOLID APPEAL (Successful Appeal) GF 110 / R M Hernandez / 7

..93 - WATER HOLE (Oasis Dream) GF 108p / G Stevens / 11

..93 - KISS MOON (Malibu Moon) GF 108 / C Lanerie / 13

..91 - STRIKE CHARMER (Smart Strike) GF 106 / I Ortiz Jr / 9

..90 - KITTY WINE (Lemon Drop Kid) GF 105 / J L Ortiz / 12

..89 - TEPIN (Bernstein) GF 104 / J Leparoux / 3

…? - MAID ON A MISSION (Stategic Mission) GF 101 / D A Osorio / 10

…? - GRAND ELMENDORF (A.P. Indy) GF ? / J Graham / 2


SANDIVA was giving the winner 4lb when running second to LADY LARA in the Honey Fox (G2) over this distance at Gulfstream Park in late March. These two ex-English fillies are likely to make an impact again, but Sandiva must have a great chance of revenge. She now gets 2lb from Lady Lara and thus has a 6lb pull at the weights. That equals 3 lengths.

COFFEE CLIQUE won this event in 2014 and she is good enough to repeat. After winning the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (G1) she went on to take the Just A Game Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park - a difficult double to achieve. She was sidelined from early June last year up to Florida Derby Day this March, when she ran third behind the two mentioned above in the Honey Fox. Coffee Clique was greatly favored by the weights that day, but she performed very much like a runner in need of the race. Most likely, she will have come of a great deal for that outing - and for three nice works since.

WATER HOLE, making her first start for Chad Brown and her first start since last October, is an interesting contender. She was trained by John Gosden last year, when she won a decent handicap of soft ground at Newmarket and improved again when third to the Andre Fabre trained Fintry (third in G1 next time out) in a G3 on good to soft at Sandown Park. Water Hole failed to progress after these two runs.

Note that she gets Lasix for her US debut.








Churchill Downs 2 May – 7 furlongs dirt

Top ranked horse on 100, with others ranked down in pounds.

Two pounds equals one length over this distance. “p” = plus

Horses presented with sire, best Globeform, jockey / post position

100 - PRIVATE ZONE (Malibu Moon) GF 125 / M Pedroza / 4

..99 - BAYERN (Offlee Wild) GF 114 / M Garcia / 2

..98 - GENTLEMEN'S BET (Half Ours) GF 117 in 2013 / 2015: GF 108 / R Santana Jr / 6

..95 - PANTS ON FIRE (Jump Start) GF 114 / P Lopez / 5

..94 - C. ZEE (Elusive Bluff) GF 114 / I Ortiz Jr / 1

...? - NATES MINSHAFT (Mineshaft) GF ?

...? - BREWING (Maimonides) GF ? / R Vazquez / 3


PRIVATE ZONE produced a top class performance to capture the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct last November, when taking full advantage of a speed favoring track to slam Secret Circle by 5 lengths. Bourbon Courage finished third, and all thre principals were coming out of the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), where Secret Circle ran second, Private Zone third and Bourbon Courage finished fourth. The Aqueduct main track was very fast on Cigar day, so Private Zone's Globeform 125 must be taken with a pinch of salt. Still, he had returned GF 120 when winning the 6-furlong Vosburgh Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park, today's 7-furlong trip may well be his optimum, and who's to say Churchill Downs won't have a super fast track on Derby day. It's happened before. Private Zone was not up to his very best last time out, though a half-length second to Honor Code (who runs on Friday) while conceding 5lb was a solid start to a new campaign. Private Zone has a good chance here.

BAYERN is the high profile horse, the younger horse, and the possible improver. That he is the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner also counts for a lot, and he is sure to start favorite, probably odds-on. Don't forget that he is also the one coming back after a set back, which ruled him out of a strip to the Dubai World Cup, and he might just need this run. He has plenty of speed, and won the Woody Stephens (G2) over this distance at Belmont Park last summer – taking the race from start to finish he won by 7 ½ lengths from Albano, and returned GF 119p in the process. His B Cup win was better but his highest Globeform rating to date actually came in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), when he ran to GF 124 over 9 furlongs (again setting his own pace). One question this time is how will Bayern react if Private Zone runs a step or two faster than him in the early stages of the race?

Bayern and Private Zone are given a joint A-ranking.

It's hard to see any of the others in with a winning chance. At least one of the two principals will run close to his previous best, and win the Churchills Downs Stakes. Trifecta players should consider the back-to-form PANTS ON FIRE and GENTLEMEN'S BET, who was capable of GF 117 in 2013 (third in the B Cup Sprint) and ran a good race to win a minor stakes at Oaklawn Park two starts back.






Seek Again

Photo: Benoit



Churchill Downs 2 May – 1 1/8 miles turf

Top ranked horse on 100, with others ranked down in pounds.

Two pounds equals one length over this distance. “p” = plus

Horses presented with sire, best Globeform, jockey / post position

100 - STEPHANIE'S KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) GF 117 / J Velazquez / 8

..98 - SEEK AGAIN (Speightstown) GF 118 / J Rosario / 9

..94 - GRAND ARCH (Arch) GF 114 / R Hernandez / 12

..93 - UMGIYO (Danehill Dancer) GF 113 / F Geroux / 3

..93 - FINNEGANS WAKE (Powerscourt) GF 115 / V Espinoza / 5

..92 - SLUMBER (Cacique) GF 112 / I Ortiz Jr / 11

..90 - JACK MILTON (War Front) GF 116 / J Castellano / 7

..90 - CHOCOLATE RIDE (Candy Ride) GF 112 / J Talamo / 10

..89 - OPTIMIZER (English Channel) GF 109 / C Lanerie / 1

..88 - SKY CAPTAIN (Sky Mesa) GF 110 / S Bridgemoham / 2

..87 - COALPORT (Kitten's Joy) GF 109 / M Mena / 6

...? - SCRUMPDILICIOUS (Northern Afleet) GF ? / J S Rocco Jr / 4


STEPHANIE'S KITTEN is hard to oppose here, as he gets weight from the boys (many of them inferior to her), is coming here in great form, is 3-for-3 over this course and, last but not least, looks likely to get a truly run race. Winner of the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont Park last year – when one could argue she was unlucky not to win another two Grade Ones – Stephanie's Kitten was second in a slowly-run Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), and her reappearance win at Tampa Bay in March showed that he has retained all of her ability and enthusiasm for the game. She was a strong favorite to win the Hillsborgh (G3) but note that she beat Ball Dancing with ease – and that the latter went on to win the Jenny Wiley (G1) on her next start, beating Filimbi (who was fifth at Tampa Bay).

Stephanie's Kitten is capable of Globeform 117. If she runs to that mark here, horses like Seek Again, Finnegans Wake, not to mention all the others, will need to improve to beat her. Good as they are, these horses are all quite exposed – not likely to improve.

SEEK AGAIN appears the most likely danger. He took second behind Wise Dan in this event twelve months ago, and ran a notch better on ratings when winning the Fourtsardave (G2) at Saratoga in August. Seek Again's advantage is that he is versatile, he is not a horse that needs to be ridden in a certain way. He can adapt to the pace. This is his first outing since he was below par at the Breeders' Cup, though coming off the shelf is hardly a worry; Seek Again came off a layoff also last year, and again when winning at Saratoga.

GRAND ARCH (second to Wise Dan in a G1 last year), FINNEGANS WAKE (winner of three G2 events on the trot in California but set with a tough weight here), Derby runner Mubtaaahij's shipping companion UMIGIYO (third in a G3 in Dubai but likely to find this trip a bit sharp) and Kilroe Mile (G1) winner JACK MILTON are all in with a chance of finishing in the top four. The latter was well suited by a slowly-run mile event at Santa Anita, however, and he has been burdened with top weight here. Perhaps SLUMBER and the front-running CHOCOLATE RIDE have just as good a chance.

Picking the top two is easy in this turf race, separating the rest is rather hard.