Churchill Downs’ weekly Derby Dispatch: Hidden Scroll Fla. Derby favorite

HIDDEN SCROLL FAVORED TO MAKE AMENDS IN FLORIDA DERBY

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, March 28, 2019) – The fact Hidden Scroll only lost last month’s Fountain of Youth (Grade II) by three lengths to more experienced rivals after setting a scorching pace following a troubled start was, by any measure, an admirable performance. On Saturday, in the $1 million Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park, the lightly-raced Juddmonte homebred will try again to get himself qualified for the Kentucky Derby (GI).

Hidden Scroll winning his racing debut by 14 lengths at Gulfstream Park. Adam Mooshian/Coglianese Photography

Hidden Scroll drew post No. 1 in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby and was installed the 5-2 morning-line choice against 10 rivals. Favored in the Fountain of Youth off a 14-length debut win in the slop in late January, Hidden Scroll will have a new rider, Javier Castellano, for Saturday’s race.

“I think this horse is fine behind horses; he’s fine on the lead if the pace is such that he needs to be on the lead. That’s the rider’s decision. They have to make that choice when they leave the starting gate,” said trainer Bill Mott, who is seeking his first win in both the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby.

The other pace elements in the field are Maximum Security, who has won all three starts by a combined margin of more than 34 lengths, albeit in maiden claiming and starter allowance company, and the rank outsider Hard Belle.

Benefiting from the hot pace of the Fountain of Youth was Code of Honor, who scored the first stakes win of his career after throwing in a clunker in the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man in his season opener. He’s trained by Shug McGaughey, who saddled Orb to a Fountain of Youth-Florida Derby-Kentucky Derby sweep in 2013.

“I think I have a little bit more confidence (going into the Florida Derby) because I was a little bit shook after the Mucho Macho Man,”McGaughey said. “I kind of changed my strategy and that worked, so I’ve kept on with it and I think he’s progressing the right way.”

A hard-charging second in the Fountain of Youth was Bourbon War, who should appreciate the additional ground on Saturday. The margin between him and Code of Honor was just three-quarters of a length, and two starts back the son of Tapit defeated subsequent Sunland Park Derby (GIII) winner Cutting Humor in an allowance.

“I thought his gallop-out was much stronger than the rest of the field,” trainer Mark Hennig said of Bourbon War’s effort past the Fountain of Youth finish line. “It really gave us some confidence.

“His daily gallops, he’s putting a lot into them, which is great to see. He’s matured a lot. He’s eating tremendously right now. He’s a horse that’s needed to fill out and grown up as the spring comes on, and he’s doing that.”

Harvey Wallbanger took a pass on the Fountain of Youth after registering a 29-1 upset of the Holy Bull (GII) in early February, but needs a strong showing Saturday to qualify for the Churchill Downs classic with only 10 Derby qualifying points accrued so far.

Todd Pletcher has won the Florida Derby a record five times, including the last two editions, and will rely on longshot Current. A Grade III winner on turf last year and third in the Dania Beach (GIII) in his lone start this year, he finished seventh of 14 in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) in his only previous try on the dirt, which was contested in the slop.

Completing the field of 11 are the stakes-placed EverfastUnion’s Destiny, and Garter and Tie, as well as the maiden Bodexpress.

The Florida Derby will award Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers. – Vance Hanson/Brisnet.com

GODOLPHIN FILLY DIVINE IMAGE DRAWS POST 6 IN UAE DERBY – The only filly to win the UAE Derby (GII) so far, Khawlah(2011), sported the Godolphin colors, and Divine Image will be well-backed to emulate her in Saturday’s $2.5 million renewal on the Dubai World Cup card.

Much has changed in the interim – Meydan’s transition from Tapeta to dirt, the advent of Charlie Appleby as a Godolphin trainer, and the Kentucky Derby (GI) points system that awards 100 points to the UAE Derby winner – but Divine Image does have elements in common with Khawlah. Both are UAE Oaks (GIII) winners who came along during Carnivals that lacked a standout among the locally-based three-year-old males.

Unlike Khawlah, Divine Image ran only once at two, romping in a Chelmsford novice in December, and needed the Carnival to hone her racing wits. The Appleby pupil did well to recover from a disastrous start to finish second in the UAE 1000 Guineas. She absorbed the lesson to break better in the UAE Oaks, but still looked a little green before getting up in time.

Hence instead of training up to the Derby as Khawlah did after her more emphatic Oaks display, Divine Image wheeled back to face the boys in the Al Bastakiya over this same about 1 3/16-mile trip. The proverbial light bulb had switched on, for she dusted a big field including Superior and Al Bastakiya Trial winner Manguzi.

Divine Image’s 7 ¼-length smasher on Super Saturday does prompt the question of whether she can duplicate that on three weeks’ rest, and in her fourth start of the Carnival. Appleby had indicated that the Kentucky Oaks (GI) could be in play as well before committing her to World Cup night. At least one variable is removed from the equation: the daughter of Scat Daddy landed a fine post No. 6 in the 14-horse field. She also gets a five-pound weight break from the boys.

Khawlah won her UAE Derby by denying Aidan O’Brien’s Master of Hounds in a photo. O’Brien has since won three runnings of the UAE Derby, most recently with last year’s track record-breaker Mendelssohn, and returns with Van Beethoven. By Scat Daddy like both Mendelssohn and Divine Image, Van Beethoven doesn’t bring the same sort of résumé. Winless since last summer’s Railway (GII), he’s gone unplaced in four straight. Yet there’s a suspicion that the Triple Crown nominee is a fair bit better than we’ve seen. His even fourth in the March 6 Patton under top weight, the same European Road race that launched Mendelssohn, should bring him on a lot. Less encouraging is his post 11.

Another hopping over from the European Road is Sheikh Hamdan’s Jahbath, who extended his winning streak to four in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions race at Kempton. The William Haggas trainee steps out from the confines of the British all-weather circuit for a bigger test on the international stage. His immediate pedigree suggests he’ll handle the stretch-out from a mile, but it doesn’t scream dirt. Not an early Triple Crown nominee, Jahbath is engaged in the Derby (GI) at Epsom, and it would be no surprise if turf classics have more appeal. Still, he’s well drawn in post 2, and sire Mukhadram led a long way in the 2014 World Cup (on Tapeta) before settling for second.

Arriving via the Japan Road is Derma Louvre, a Triple Crown nominee coming off back-to-back placings in points races at home. After a near-miss in the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki in December, the Pyro colt was an underwhelming third in the Feb. 17 Hyacinth S. at Tokyo. Perhaps Derma Louvre needed the prep since he had looked potentially smart during a three-race winning spree last fall. And Lani(2016), the only Japan-based winner of this race, stepped up from a modest effort in the Hyacinth. Post 5 is also a plus for Derma Louvre with regular pilot Christophe Lemaire.

No U.S. shipper has captured the UAE Derby, with the top Kentucky Derby hopefuls remaining stateside, but the trio of Plus Que Parfait,Gray Magician, and Stubbins aim to buck that stat. The form of Plus Que Parfait’s neck second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) has taken its lumps in the interim. While his fifth in the Lecomte (GIII) could be excused on account of a troubled passage, his 13th in the Risen Star (GII) called for going back to the drawing board. Trainer Brendan Walsh prescribes the dramatic change in venue, as well as the addition of blinkers and Jose Ortiz, and he’s gotten a plum post 4.

Gray Magician, the lone router in trainer Peter Miller’s sprint-oriented party, takes the blinkers off after chasing home Maryland kingpinAlwaysmining in the Miracle Wood. Previously fourth to Gunmetal Gray in the Sham (GIII), Gray Magician is joined by fellow California-based Stubbins, who aired in the off-the-turf Pasadena. Both have stamina questions, and the speedy Stubbins has a tough task from post 12.

Despite the lack of clarity among the Dubai-based colts, trainer Ahmad bin Harmash has a real shot with his entrants for the Phoenix Ladies SyndicateWalking Thunder shaped as the next big thing earlier in the Carnival when hacking up in three straight, only to lose his luster with a second to Estihdaaf in the UAE 2000 Guineas (GIII). The Triple Crown nominee didn’t have the best of trips that day, but drawing the rail here, and picking up Frankie Dettori, signal rebound candidate.

Stablemate Golden Jaguar turned heads in a terrific debut at Jebel Ali, and again on the switch to turf at Meydan, but lost his perfect mark narrowly in the Meydan Classic Trial. The son of Animal Kingdom has massive upside, and a great post 3 with Oisin Murphy, if he doesn’t cost himself by repeating rookie mistakes. He’s the only of the Phoenix Ladies trio not nominated to the Triple Crown, but he was given an entry in the 2000 Guineas (GI) at Newmarket. The aforementioned Superior, best of the rest behind Divine Image in the Al Bastakiya, addscheekpieces and keeps stable rider Connor Beasley.

Manguzi, no match for Walking Thunder in their lone clash, has been hampered by wide draws in every Carnival start except his trial score. The French-bred has found a way to place regardless, but his consistency will be tested from the far outside post 14 Saturday.

The remaining contenders are all fillies trying to turn the tables on Divine Image. Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor, who trained Khawlah, sends out UAE Oaks runner-up Swift Rose. Post 13 implies she has her work cut out to get that close again. Of greater interest is the UAE Oaks third,Razeena, who was positively heroic throughout a wide trip. Trained by dirt maestro Doug Watson, Razeena could engineer a better passage this time, albeit from post 9. Al Hayette has the biggest mountain to climb after a well-beaten fifth in the Oaks and fourth in the Al Bastakiya.

Note that Razeena and Al Hayette were not on the list of probables released last week. There were also two defections from the projected field,Estihdaaf and Grecko.

In addition to the 100-point windfall to the winner, the UAE Derby offers 40 Derby points to the runner-up, 20 to third, and 10 to fourth. –Kellie Reilly/Brisnet.com

JAPAN ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY CLOSES SUNDAY WITH FUKURYU STAKES – The Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby will conclude Sunday with the running of the Fukuryu Stakes at Nakayama – a 1,800 meter (about 1 1/8 miles) event that will award the Top 4 finishers 40-16-8-4 points.

The field of eight 3-year-olds is led by Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun winner Nova Lenda. Trained by Takashi Saito and ridden by ShuIshibashi, Nova Lenda has 20 points on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and should his ownership choose to late nominate for the Triple Crown, he would be the current points leader.

Also entered in the Fukuryu Stakes is Triple Crown nominee Master Fencer who finished fourth in the Hyacinth Stakes on Feb. 17.

The Fukuryu Stakes is carded as Race 10 with a scheduled post time of 1:50 a.m. EDT. – Kevin Kerstein

PAST PERFORMANCES & HISTORY

Brinset.com Triple Crown Past Performances

http://bit.ly/2C701vP

UAE Derby Stakes History

http://bit.ly/2FAP2vF

Florida Derby Stakes History

http://bit.ly/2TLasvm

Florida Derby Past Performances

http://bit.ly/2OwYhBd

 

ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY TOP 25

 

#      Horse                              Trainer                                    Points

1.      By My Standards               Bret Calhoun                            100

2.      War of Will                      Mark Casse                                 60

3.      Code of Honor                 Shug McGaughey III                   54

4.      Long Range Toddy           Steve Asmussen                           53.5

5.      Cutting Humor                  Todd Pletcher                            50

6.      Haikal                              Kiaran McLaughlin                     50

7.      Tacitus                             Bill Mott                                     50

8.      Game Winner                  Bob Baffert                                45

9.      Spinoff                             Todd Pletcher                            40

10.   Omaha Beach                  Richard Mandella                       37.5

11.   Mind Control                   Gregg Sacco                               30

12.   Anothertwistafate              Blaine Wright                             30

13.   Country House                  Bill Mott                                     30

14.   Sueno                               Keith Desormeaux                      28

15.   Improbable                      Bob Baffert                                25

16.   Mucho Gusto                    Bob Baffert                                24

17.   Bourbon War                   Mark Hennig                              21

18.   Somelikeithotbrown          Mike Maker                                20

19.   Outshine                          Todd Pletcher                            20

20.   Knicks Go                        Ben Colebrook                           18

21.   Signalman                        Kenny McPeek                           18

22.   Tax                                  Danny Gargan                           12

23.   Gray Attempt                   Jinks Fires                                  10

24.   Harvey Wallbanger           Kenny McPeek                           10

25.   Well Defined                   Kathleen O’Connell                    10

 

DERBY DETAIL

NBCSN TO BROADCAST FLORIDA DERBY, NEW EPISODE OF ‘ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY’ – As the May 4 running of the 145th Kentucky Derby approaches, NBCSN presents exclusive live coverage of the $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Earlier in the day at 11 a.m. ET, NBC Sports will present exclusive live coverage of the $12 million Group I Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race, on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app from Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Grade I Florida Derby is a key Kentucky Derby prep race, awarding qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale for the top four finishers. Fifteen Florida Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, more than any other prep race. Hidden Scroll is the likely betting favorite, but he’ll face stiff competition from Code of HonorBourbon War, and Maximum Security in one of the strongest prep race fields this year.

Ahmed Fareed hosts Saturday’s Florida Derby coverage on NBCSN, alongside analysts Jerry Bailey, the Hall of Fame jockey who won the Florida Derby three times, and Randy Moss. Coverage will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs.

The $12 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup is expected to feature 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Gunnevera, 2018 Florida Derby winner Audible, and 2018 Belmont Stakes second-place finisher Gronkowski.

Also streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app from Meydan Racecourse will be the $6 million Group 1 Dubai Turf and the $6 million Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.

Following Saturday’s coverage of the Florida Derby, NBC Sports, in partnership with Churchill Downs, presents a new episode of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Beginning at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, the second of four 30-minute episodes highlights the story of Chuck Zacney, owner of 2005 favorite Afleet Alex, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The episode also features a behind-the-scenes visit with veteran jockey Mike Smith, who won the Triple Crown last year on Justify. Produced by Churchill Downs, the episodes provide viewers with an inside look at the extensive preparations for the first leg of the Triple Crown. – NBC SPORTS

BY MY STANDARDS ARRIVES AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (Grade II) winner By My Standardsarrived at Churchill Downs early Wednesday morning via van from his winter base at Fair Grounds and became the first Kentucky Derby contender to reach the grounds of the historic Louisville racetrack.

Owned by Madisonville, Ky.-native Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable and trained by Bret Calhoun, By My Standards pulled off a 22-1 upset in the Louisiana Derby to earn 100 points and ultimately guaranteed his spot in the starting gate for the Grade I, $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve on Saturday, May 4.

“We’re very excited to have him back in Louisville,” said assistant trainer Dennis “Peaches” Geier, who is overseeing the shedrow at Churchill Downs for Calhoun. “It should be fun.”

By My Standards is stabled in Barn 23 at Churchill Downs and is expected to begin training for the Derby starting Thursday morning, according to Calhoun.

Meanwhile, Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) hero Street Band arrived at Churchill Downs by van on Wednesday from Fair Grounds. Trained by multiple Kentucky Oaks winning conditioner Larry Jones, Street Band is stabled in Barn 28.

Also arriving on Wednesday was Louisiana Derby third-place finisher Sueno. He joined trainer Keith Desormeaux’s Barn 24 at Churchill Downs to begin training for a possible start in the Lexington Stakes (GIII).

As of Thursday, there were approximately 500 horses on the backstretch of Churchill Downs, according to senior director of the stable area Steve Hargrave. – Kevin Kerstein

LATE TRIPLE CROWN NOMINATIONS DUE MONDAY – A late nomination payment of $6,000 is due Monday to compete in the races of the 2019 Triple Crown.

For information on late nomination forms and contact information, visit www.thetriplecrown.com.

ADDITIONAL TRIPLE CROWN NEWS – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported Rebel Stakes runner-up Improbable will now be ridden by Jose Ortiz in the April 13 Arkansas Derby (GI). … Owner Samantha Siegel reported via Twitter that Rebel Stakes fourth-place finisher Extra Hope would be ridden by Drayden Van Dyke in the Santa Anita Derby.

THE RUNDOWN

 

UAE DERBY (GII)

Saturday, March 30, $2.5 million, 3yo, 1 3/16 M, Meydan Racecourse (R5), Post time: 10:05 a.m. EDT, Dubai, UAE, Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10. TV: TVG

  # Horse (Points)       Jockey                      Trainer                  ODDS

1. Walking Thunder (0)                                Frankie Dettori           Ahmad bin Harmash            5-1

2. +Jahbath (0)            Jim Crowley             William Haggas            6-1

3. +Golden Jaguar (0)  Osin Murphy            Ahmad bin Harmash  15-1

4. Plus Que Parfait (4)  Jose Ortiz                 Brendan Walsh           15-1

5. Derma Louvre (0)    Christophe Lemaire  Hirofumi Toda           12-1

6. +Divine Image (0)   William Buick           Charlie Appleby           2-1

7. Superior (0)             Connor Beasley        Ahmad bin Harmash  12-1

8. Gray Magician (1)    Joel Rosario             Peter Miller                15-1

9. +Razeena (0)           Pat Dobbs                Doug Watson             50-1

10. +Al Hayette (0)        Fabrice Veron          Ismail Mohammed     50-1

11. Van Beethoven (0)   Ryan Moore             Aidan O’Brien            10-1

12. +Stubbins (0)           Flavien Prat              Doug O’Neill             10-1

13. +Swift Rose (0)        Pat Cosgrave             Saeed bin Suroor        30-1

14. +Manguzi (0)           Fernando Jara          Ali Rashid Al-Rayhi    15-1

 

FLORIDA DERBY (GI)

Saturday, March 30, $1 million, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Gulfstream Park (R14), Post time: 6:36 p.m. EDT. Hallandale Beach, Fla.., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10. TV: NBCSN, TVG.

  # Horse (Points)         Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

1. Hidden Scroll (5)       Javier Castellano       Bill Mott                     5-2

2. Current (0)                 Manny Franco          Todd Pletcher          15-1

3. Harvey Wallbanger (10)    Brian Hernandez Jr.  Kenny McPeek         15-1

4. Bourbon War (21)      Irad Ortiz Jr.            Mark Hennig              7-2

5. Everfast (4)                Chris Landeros         Dale Romans           20-1

6. +Hard Belle (0)         Jose Bautista             Jaime Mejia              50-1

7. Maximum Security (0) Luis Saez                  Jason Servis                9-2

8. Bodexpress (0)           Nik Juarez                Gustavo Delgado      30-1

9. Code of Honor (54)   John Velazquez         Shug McGaughey        3-1

10. Union’s Destiny (0)    Leonel Reyes            Juan Carlos Avila      30-1

11. Garter and Tie (0)     Jeffrey Sanchez        Ralph Nicks             15-1

 

FUKURYO STAKES

Sunday, March 31, $126.400, 3yo, 1800 meters, Nakyama Racecourse (R10), Post time: 1:50 a.m. EDT. Japan RTKD Top 4 Points: 40-16-8-4.

  # Horse                       Jockey                      Trainer                   

1.  +Cameron                Takuya Ono             Teiichi Konno

2.  +Gold Lagoon          Yoshihiro Furukawa  Takashi Saito

3.  +Der Flug                 Akihide Tsumura      Nobuhiro Suzuki

4.  +Nanyo Izayoi          Yoshitomi Shibata    Mikio Matsunaga

5.  +Nova Lenda            Shu Ishibashi            Takashi Saito

6.  +Black Warrior         Kosei Miura              Masayuki Nishimura

7.  Master Fencer           Hiroyuki Uchida       Koichi Tsunoda

8.  +Rhein Carina          Miyabi Muto             Yoshinori Muto

+Not Triple Crown Nominated

 

GULFSTREAM PARK OAKS (GII)

Saturday, March 30, $250,000, 3yo fillies, 1 1/16 M, Gulfstream Park (R8), Post time: 3 p.m. EDT. Hallandale Beach, Fla.., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10. TV: TVG

#  Horse (Points)          Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

1.  ++Safta (0)                 Manny Franco          Dermot Magner        20-1

2.  ++Shacklette (0)          Nik Juarez                Dale Romans           20-1

3.  Point of Honor (10)    Javier Castellano       George Weaver          9-5

4.  ++Bella Ciao (0)         Luis Saez                  Antonio Sano           15-1

5.  Champagne Anyone (13)    Chris Landeros         Ian Wilkes                  6-1

6.  ++Dunbar Road (0)    Irad Ortiz Jr.            Chad Brown               8-5

7.  $-Cookie Dough (20)   Jeffrey Sanchez        Stan Gold                   7-2

 

++Not Kentucky Oaks Nominated

$ Notified Churchill Downs officials that they will late nominate to the Kentucky Oaks

 

UPCOMING ROAD TO THE DERBY RACES

 

Date         Race                                        Track           Top 4 Points

March 30  UAE Derby                              Meydan        100-40-20-10

March 30  Florida Derby                          GP               100-40-20-10

March 31  Fukuryu#                                  Nakyama      40-16-8-4

April 6      Wood Memorial                       Aqu              100-40-20-10

April 6      Blue Grass                                Kee              100-40-20-10

April 6      Santa Anita Derby                    SA                100-40-20-10

April 11    Cardinal Condition*                 Chelmsford  30-12-6-3

April 13    Arkansas Derby                        OP               100-40-20-10

April 13    Lexington                                 Kee              20-8-4-2

 

# Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby

* European Road to the Kentucky Derby

 

ROAD TO DERBY VIDEO SERIES

·        Episode 7: A Big Race for an Intimate Track

http://bit.ly/RTKDEP7

·        Episode 6: A Potential Super Star

https://bit.ly/2SUlYYC

·        Episode 5: Follow Trainer Kelly Breen as he trains Son of Orb

https://bit.ly/2SwgeF3

·        Episode 4 :Kenny McPeek – The Underdog Trainer

https://bit.ly/2tl1fyM

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Jennie Rees