Erie Feeling: Doug Salvatore Continues Deep Dive Into 2016 Kentucky Derby

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TwinSpires Staff

May 4th, 2016

Doug Salvatore is back with part 2 of his Kentucky Derby profiles looking at each perspective starter along with their recent form through the eyes of and other performance figures.

CLICK HERE to read Part 1, which featured the winners of the 180-point races.

Mor Spirit

BRIS (94, 102, 99) TimeformUS (113, 111, 108) Beyer (94, 97, 93) Thoro-Graph (4.5, 1.25, 3)

Originally purchased for $85,000 as a yearling in October of 2014, Mor Spirit thrived when put to training and brought a bid of $650,000 at the Fasig Tipton Florida March 2-year-old sale, six months later. Never worse than second in seven career starts, Mor Spirit has been a beaten favorite in his two recent starts. In the Santa Anita Derby, he was placed in Mid-Pack off of a sizzling early pace set by Danzing Candy, and had no response at all for the proven wet-track lover Exaggerator, who took advantage of the pace setup and catapulted past everyone to win going away. Two starts back, Mor Spirit ran a good second in the San Felipe, this time unable to catch the uncontested early leader Danzing Candy. Mor Spirit did outfinish Exaggerator in that race, though Exaggerator made a ridiculously pre-mature move and ran into some traffic trouble.

This is an honest horse for a great trainer in Bob Baffert. He's a tactically versatile type who appears better suited for a fast track. In a spot like this, he's the kind of horse you want to use if the betting public ignores him. Let the odds dictate your view of Mor Spirit.


BRIS (87, 102, 97) TimeformUS (106, 113, 109) Beyer (80, 95, 95) Thoro-Graph (5, 1, 2.5)

This $2.2 million yearling purchase was undefeated going into the Florida Derby and bet to 4/5 favoritism over last seasons 2-year-old champion Nyquist. I'm of the opinion that Mohaymen ran a much better than looked race in the Florida Derby. Catching a wet-track for the first time, Moyhaymen was hung out 4-wide the entire way through the first turn and 5-wide the entire way through the far turn. The more naturally talented horse Nyquist enjoyed an easy front-end trip and Mohaymen had the daunting task of moving pre-maturely to try and pressure the juvenile champion. The tactics understandably failed and Mohaymen sputtered home through the stretch and finished a dismal fourth.

I was very impressed with Mohaymen's Remsen win as a two-year-old. His series of prep races at Gulfstream didn't impress me a whole lot, but he managed to win two out of three and he had already accumulated the necessary points to get into the Kentucky Derby before the Florida Derby. We've seen trainer Kiaran McLaughlin get a horse to peak in the Kentucky Derby before. That was Closing Argument, who was beaten nine lengths while sputtering home after a wide trip in the 2005 Blue Grass Stakes. He returned to run 2nd beaten just a half length at 71/1 odds in the Derby.

Danzing Candy

BRIS (87, 104, 98) TimeformUS (110, 114, 102) Beyer (83, 100, 92) Thoro-Graph (8.5, 1, 4)

The speed ball in the field, Danzing Candy ran a sizzling opening quarter of 22-seconds flat in the slop, last time out, before proving unable to see out the nine furlong distance in the Santa Anita Derby. Two starts back, he wired some very good competition on a fast track in the San Felipe Stakes. Lone speed is always dangerous in dirt racing. A front-runner like Danzing Candy is always capable of getting brave on a loose lead and running a hole in the wind, but he's certainly much more likely to fade out of contention. This is another horse whose appeal from a betting standpoint will depend on the odds he's being offered at. In exotic wagers, you should only consider him for the top slot and not the underneath slots. As soon as he gets put away, he'll start to quit. And horses who finish in underneath positions in the Derby, especially 3rd or 4th, tend to almost always be grinding types or closers from off the pace.

Danzing Candy is a pace factor with a punchers chance. Don't use underneath in exotic wagers, even if you happen to really like this horse.


BRIS (97, 100, 88) TimeformUS (111, 109, 94) Beyer (100, 98, 80) Thoro-Graph (-0.75, 7, 9)

Destin is full brother to Creative Cause, who finished second beaten only a nose to I'll Have Another in the 2012 Santa Anita Derby. This Pletcher trainee ran a gigantic Thoro-Graph figure of negative 0.75 last time out. However, his Tampa Bay Derby figure looks nowhere near as impressive as it does on other brands of speed figures. Part of the reason why Destin's Thoro-Graph figure is so fast, is because they take ground loss into consideration, and he raced 4-wide through both turns. Looking over the dirt races on the Tampa Bay Derby card, I'm of the opinion that the outside paths may have offered better footing that day. Later on in the card, the jockeys seemed to think so, as they were avoiding the inside paths. Still, Destin ran an excellent race in victory. He tracked the next-out Wood Memorial winner Outwork and wore him down through the lane.

I'm not sold on Destin. He had relatively dismal form prior to those two Tampa races and Tampa can be a peculiar surface. The case for this horse is that he's clearly starting to mature and he comes into the race as the freshest horse, with the fastest last-out Thoro-Graph figure. Yes, there's upside potential and things to like about his pedigree, but I'm not sold on his recent performances being quite as good as advertised. I'm also not one of those people who is sold on the idea that coming into the Derby off of an eight week layoff is a positive thing.


BRIS (99, 93, 94) TimeformUS (112, 103, 105) Beyer (94, 86, 93) Thoro-Graph (1.25, 4.25, 3)

This gelded son of Mineshaft is bred to run all day. In the Arkansas Derby, he benefited from a pace collapse up front, but he also made a nicely sustained run while getting hung up extremely wide. This horse won the Southwest Stakes after racing in 14th position while 15 lengths off of the early lead at the first call. I certainly don't think the talent is there to be a factor for the top slot in the Derby, but this horse has the look of the prototypical longshot who outruns their odds in the Derby and often land in the exotics at a big price. This is because there really is no quit to a horse like Suddenbreakingnews. He's just going to continue to grind away while his more talented rivals will start to quit as they're put away.

If you're interested in a more in-depth look at the pedigree of Suddenbreakingnews, You can click here:

Oscar Nominated

BRIS (91, 87, 73) TimeformUS (96, 90, 88) Beyer (82, 79, 76) Thoro-Graph (5, 9, 12)

This Kitten's Joy colt, out of a Theatrical mare, is bred for turf and synthetic surfaces and has raced on nothing but grass or synthetic. Last time out, he managed to prevail at 23/1 odds in a blanket finish in the Spiral Stakes. Oscar Nominated has never raced on dirt before and he rates a lousy projection to handle the surface based on his pedigree. The bottom line is that even his grass and synthetic form doesn't make him competitive in here. The odds of him improving markedly on dirt have to be astronomical. He's a toss out.