Form, Pedigree, Speed, & Red Flag Analysis of Derby Contenders; Part 2 of 3

While we wait for more two-year-old racing to start, pedigree handicapper and blogger Doug Salvatore will profile each of the expected Kentucky Derby starters in terms of classic breeding and current form/speed.

The second installment looks at the top contenders ranked eighth through 14th by points on the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. For FREE Ultimate Past Performances with comments of probable Derby entrants ranked by points, CLICK HERE. For the same type of file for Kentucky Oaks fillies, CLICK HERE. For the first installment of Doug’s profiles (horses ranked 1-7), CLICK HERE.

8. Intense Holiday:

Form: Intense Holiday is the only horse you'll find among this year’s Derby prospects who has made six or more starts in Graded Stakes route races. He's a throwback in that regard, and he's certainly provided handicappers with plenty of route form to asses him with.

In his most recent start, Intense Holiday was a soundly beaten second in the Louisiana Derby as the 9/5 favorite. The BRIS pace figures suggest that he may have been taken out of his game on that day.

As you can see by the Early Pace ratings, Intense Holiday was positioned much closer than usual, to an early pace rated much faster than he had seen in his previous starts. Indeed, Intense Holiday was always close to the pace and made an eye catching turn move to confront pacesetter Vicar's In Trouble. However, as he entered the stretch, Intense Holiday was out of gas and ducked in to the rail. Even stern left-handed whipping by Mike Smith didn't help much, as you can see on this time-specific clip (YouTube link).

In order for Intense Holiday to be a factor in the Kentucky Derby, he needs to be taken back early and make one clean run. He tried to run a very enterprising race in the Louisiana Derby, and he still was good enough to finish second despite diving in to the rail in the stretch and finishing like a drunken sailor.

Pedigree: A son of Harlan's Holiday out of a well bred mare who never hit the board in five career starts. Intense Holiday brought $380,000 as a yearling, and was the most expensive of 70 Harlan's Holiday yearlings offered at public auction in 2012. That fact is a great compliment to his looks and conformation. Intense Holiday has had only one sibling to race, and she is a Forestry filly who sold for just $18,000 as a yearling and is winless in seven career starts, failing for $7,500 maiden claiming tags at Turfway Park and Presque Isle Downs.

Speed: Despite his stretch antics, Intense Holiday ran a career best Speed Rating of 100 in the Louisiana Derby. He also ran a 99 while winning the Risen Star by closing wide into a slow pace.

Red Flags: I don't mind that he finished punch drunk in the Louisiana Derby and came home empty in the stretch. I've seen many horses with a similar running style, and even less ability come into the Kentucky Derby off of a similar looking final prep, and run extremely well. The biggest concern I have is that he's never run a speed figure faster than 100 and trainer Todd Pletcher is 1-for-56 lifetime in all races at Churchill Downs at distances of ten furlongs or further.

9. Wildcat Red:

Form: In his most recent start, Wildcat Red finished second beaten a neck to Constitution in the Florida Derby. Had he won, he'd have pulled off a sweep of the Hutcheson, Fountain of Youth, and Florida Derby. Something that hasn't been done since two-year-old champion Fly So Free last did it in 1991.

Pedigree: This is quite an interesting pedigree. His sire D' Wildcat was a brilliant sprinter who failed in all four career route attempts. However, his dam Racene was a stoutly bred deep closer who once won at ten furlongs. Indeed, Racene is sired by Miner's Mark, a horse who outdueled Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair to capture the Jockey Club Gold Cup at a mile and a quarter. Wildcat Red's pedigree is slanted to extreme speed on top and extreme stamina on bottom.

Speed: Wildcat Red owns a career best Speed Rating of 100. That came in his Fountain of Youth victory.

Red Flags: Tactical versatility. He's been on the pace in all of his route attempts. There are several other expected pace rivals in the Derby, and Wildcat Red has never run a speed figure faster than 100 in spots where his good early speed is far more advantageous than it will be in this spot.

10. We Miss Artie:

Form: This synthetic track specialist captured the Spiral by a nose with a last gasp lunge in the final stride. He wasn't exactly flattered when the second, third, and fourth place finishers of the Spiral stakes came back to finish 13th, 10th, and 8th in the Blue Grass Stakes. All of them were defeated at least 12 lengths by the mighty Dance With Fate. To the credit of We Miss Artie, he is a Grade 1 winner, but that win came over Keeneland's Polytrack. His dirt form is quite mediocre. Indeed, he was beaten 17 lengths in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in his most recent dirt start.

Pedigree: Sired by grass specialist Artie Schiller, and out of the grass specialist mare Athena's Gift. We Miss Artie is bred for turf on top and bottom. Indeed, even his second dam Russian Bride moved up a lot on grass. She captured her first grass try at 27/1 odds and never missed the board in four career turf starts.

Speed: We Miss Artie has never run a Speed Rating better than a 94, and his best Speed Rating on dirt is just an 88.

Red Flags: They're countless. Unless Polytrack is installed at Churchill Downs in the next two weeks, or the Derby is moved to the grass course, I can't imagine We Miss Artie being any kind of factor at all. There are a few people on Twitter who portend that he is an Animal Kingdom or Dullahan type horse. Perhaps the result of last Saturday's Blue Grass did enough to dispel such a notion.

11. Ride On Curlin:

Form: Winless in six career stakes attempts, five of which at the Graded Stakes level, Ride On Curlin has at least been a dependable piece getter. In his four most recent graded stakes tries, he's been second or third each time at odds of 7-, 11-, 8-, and 17-to-1 starting with the most recent Arkansas Derby.

In that Arkansas Derby, Ride On Curlin was a “one-paced” second behind startling winner Danza. Perhaps the most exciting thing about Ride On Curlin is that he’s reuniting with Racing Hall of Fame and three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel, though his presence attracts unsophisticated money bet in the straight (win, place, and show) pools.

Pedigree: By Breeders' Cup Classic winner Curlin, the bottom of Ride On Curlin's pedigree is very speed and precocity oriented. His dam Magical Ride was such a dazzling debut winner going five furlongs at Belmont, that she was bet to 4/5 favoritism in a Grade 2 at Saratoga in only her second career start. She faded to third that day, and was still bet to 6/5 favoritism in the Grade 1 Matron in career start number three. Magical Ride again let down her backers and finished a dull fifth in the Matron, only beating one horse. Ride On Curlin’s second dam is the very talented Test winner Victory Ride. She was a tremendously exciting Rusty Arnold sprinter who slayed the mighty Xtra Heat at seven furlongs. However, she wasn't nearly as successful routing and all of her best performances came in the first four starts of her career.

Speed: Ride On Curlin's career best Speed Rating is a 102 and it came in a 5 ½-furlong maiden race at Ellis Park. He ran a 99 in the Arkansas Derby last time out for the second-best number of his career and tops as a three-year-old.

Red Flags: The fact that he’s winless in six career stakes tries and has never run a triple digit Speed Rating beyond 5 ½ furlongs. This horse does at least have some underneath appeal in exotic wagers, and especially if the track is wet. His sire Curlin loved the slop. He's bred well for the slop on the bottom, and no one rides a sloppy Churchill Downs track better than Borel.

12. Chitu:

Form: As a two-year-old, this exciting Baffert colt posted the outright fastest quarter mile at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March two-year-olds in training sale. Ocala's most outstanding two-year-old sale, OBS March. Here's a video clip of a young Chitu drilling a quarter mile in 20.60 seconds.

This promising colt is three-for-four lifetime, his only defeat was a hard-fought second to Candy Boy in the Grade 2 Bob Lewis while making his first route attempt. Most recently, Chitu captured the Sunland Derby drawing away, over stablemate Midnight Hawk and the once highly regarded Commissioner.

Pedigree: Much like with Wildcat Red, this pedigree is extremely speed-oriented on top and very stamina laden on the bottom. Chitu's sire Henny Hughes was a precocious sprinter/miler. Henny Hughes mostly sires precocious sprinter/miler types, though his best daughter Beholder has certainly proven worthy beyond a mile. Still, it is the bottom of Chitu's pedigree that is most interesting. His dam Sea Gift is a daughter of the great dirt stamina influence A. P. Indy. She was owned by Godolphin and only raced one time, winning her career debut in Great Britain at the distance of ten furlongs.  Chitu's second dam Ocean Queen was undefeated in her four career route attempts, all of which on grass. She even captured a Graded 3 stakes over males at nine furlongs.

Speed: Chitu ran a career Speed Rating of 103 in his Sunland Derby victory.

Red Flags: Tactical versatility. Chitu has never demonstrated the ability to come from off the pace. His razor sharp speed is much more of an asset in his prior races than it will be in a speed laden race like the Kentucky Derby. There are a lot of other quick horses in this race, and anytime you have a 20 horse field, some riders are going to be forced to use their horses early in order to gain a suitable position.

13. Tapiture:

Form: An impressive winner of the Southwest, Tapiture was also a good second in the Rebel. In his most recent start, he was taken back further than ever before in the Arkansas Derby, and almost instantly got very rank and seemed to hate taking the dirt in his face. Joel Rosario immediately hit the panic button and steered Tapiture out as wide as possible through the first turn. Rosario was able to get him out in the clear, but Taptiure had to endure a very wide trip on both turns after getting very rank through the early stages. That proved way too much adversity in what was a swiftly run Arkansas Derby from a final time standpoint.

Pedigree: Tapiture is sired by Tapit, and is out of an Olympio mare who was a deep closing sprinter. The second dam of Tapiture was also a deep closing sprinter type. Taptiure's full siblings Retap and Remit were both minor stakes winning miler types. 

Speed: Tapiture has twice run a 99 Speed Rating but has yet to eclipse the triple-digit mark.

Red Flags: His professionalism. They experimented with his running style and tried to take him back in the Arkansas Derby. As soon as he started taking kickback he got very rank and was fighting the stout restraint jockey Joel Rosario put him under. Even on his best day, when he had a perfect up-close trip and romped to victory in the Southwest Stakes, Tapiture was drifting and running erratically. This is a good horse, and I believe he ran sneaky well in his Arkansas Derby prep. I just don't trust him in a race like the Derby.

14. Midnight Hawk:

Form: Soundly beaten in his last three races, Midnight Hawk is scheduled to run in Saturday's Illinois Derby. This colt is 0-for-2 lifetime against his stablemate Chitu and he was absolutely torched by California Chrome in the San Felipe. He will most likely need to win in emphatic fashion on Saturday in order to tempt Baffert to try a two-week turnaround and compete in the Kentucky Derby.

Pedigree: Midnight Hawk owns a sprinter pedigree on top and bottom. His sire Midnight Lute was an absolutely awesome stretch running sprinter. His dam Miss Wineshine was a very speedy Multiple Graded stakes placed sprinter who Baffert trained in the late 1990's. This is not exactly an ideal classic distance pedigree.

Speed: Midnight Hawk ran a career-best 100 Speed Rating in the Sunland Derby last time, albeit in a race where Chitu looked him in the eye and pulled away from him in the stretch.

Red flags: He's been soundly beaten in top preps at Santa Anita and Sunland and his pedigree is sprint oriented on both top and bottom. He's a very nice horse, who always looks absolutely loaded on the far turn and comes up relatively empty in the stretch. His best performances will probably come when he's cutback to seven furlongs.

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