Kentucky Derby Contenders Emerge From 3 Big Preps - Super Screener
Super Screener

Kentucky Derby Contenders Emerge From 3 Big Preps

G3 LeComte Stakes

Instilled Regard, in winning the G3 LeComte with authority, validated the strength of the CA-based colony lead by Solomini, McKinzie, Bolt D’oro and now, Instilled Regard.  He was wide throughout while tracking the pace and then drew away with authority and in-hand.  A quite impressive victory as the Super Screener Top Win pick beating the favorite, Principe Guilherme, who proved that his blow away win on this track was no fluke and he deserves to continue on the Derby trail.  Here’s what the Super Screener said about Instilled Regard prior to the race:


“#10 Instilled Regard just finished on even terms with the two of the top 3 CA Kentucky Derby prospects, Solomini and McKinzie. Possesses brilliant tactical speed which plays well into the win profile for this distance. Javier Castellano gets the call for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.”


The Super Screener Top Long Shot pick, Snapper Sinclair, showed that dirt may be his preferred surface giving Principe Guilherme everything he could take as that pair hooked up in their own match race down the lane with the latter prevailing.  Snapper Sinclair completed the Trifecta at monster odds of 28-1.

The big disappointment in the race was the other Screener Top Long Shot pick, Lone Sailor.  All signals indicated he was sitting on a big race but he ran anything but.  Not being able to capitalize on what should have been a great set up for a big effort tells us this horse just doesn’t belong on the Derby trial despite some earlier hints of promise.

Suggested wagers hit for about $330 thanks to the 3rd place finish by the Super Screener Top Long Shot pick, Snapper Sinclair.

  • Race Flow: Moderate/Fast
  • Track Bias: None
  • Troubled Trips: None
  • Impressive Performance: Instilled Regard
  • Super Screener ECR (Early Contender Rating): Instilled Regard = 78
  • Super Screener EPR (Early Prep Rating) Score = B+
  • Comments: Instilled Regard validated the strength of the west coast brigade of Derby contenders. He was wide throughout tracking a moderately fast pace but then ran on in hand to win impressively with plenty of energy in reserve proving his last race was no fluke. Principe Guilherme ran well enough in just his third lifetime race running extremely wide into the first turn from that 12 post draw. He clearly wasn’t going to catch Instilled Regard but he deserves to continue to test the Derby trail waters. Snapper Sinclair is a tough little colt that really put up a fight and showed some grit down the stretch. Distance may be a limitation for this one but we’ll see how he handles the next test.


Jerome Stakes

In this early season prep, Firenze Fire won this one-turn mile affair as he was expected to though Seven Trumpets, stretching out to the route distance for the first time, gave him everything he could handle proving tough to put away and now yet another Derby trial candidate for trainer, Dale Romans.


Coltandmississippi got that rail post and caught an off track which was, once again, not to his liking though he did manage to get up for 3rd but well defeated by the top pair.  It will be interesting to see what this Todd Pletcher colt can do on a fast track but he is looking for like a minor stakes player for the barn.


The Super Screener Top Long pick, Regalian at 30-1 just got edged out for 3rd after doing all the dirty work up front pressing Seven Trumpets.


The sealed, muddy track played slow all day long but there was no bias in play as horses won on the lead or coming from far back.


  • Race Flow: Slow/Fast
  • Track Bias: None
  • Troubled Trips: None
  • Impressive Performance: Seven Trumpets
  • Super Screener ECR (Early Contender Rating): Firenze Fire = 67; Seven Trumpets = 67
  • Super Screener EPR (Early Prep Rating) Score = C
  • Comments: Firenze Fire didn’t really face much in the way of competition in this race though Seven Trumpets was clearly 2nd best. This was a useful “shake off the rust” race for the colt that won the G1 Champagne Stakes which continues to come back as a key race. Firenze Fire still has to prove that he’ll be able to handle two turns and we won’t find that out until the Wood Memorial as the Gotham Stakes is also a 1-turn mile affair. Seven Trumpets breeding screams sprinter so let’s see how he does in his next race when he tries a 2-turn route for the first time and hopefully on a fast track with some pace pressure for a true test.


Smarty Jones Stakes

With the scratch of Navistar and Lone Rock, this race became a cake walk for Mourinho who had everything his own way throughout.  He established the clear lead, no one could really run with him early, he stayed on or near the rail and was pretty much hand ridden throughout.  He raced against nothing which is why this prep earns a Super Screener Prep Grade of a “D”.  As a “B” player among the Baffert Derby hopefuls, he’ll probably continue to prep here at Oaklawn Park as he tries to keep all his contenders as separated as possible during the preps run.

  • Race Flow: Moderate/Moderate
  • Track Bias: None
  • Troubled Trips: None
  • Impressive Performance: None
  • Super Screener ECR (Early Contender Rating): Mourinho = 78
  • Super Screener EPR (Early Prep Rating) Score = D
  • Comments: With the scratches of Navistar and Lone Rock, this became a public workout for Mourinho. He had the perfect rail trip with no significant early pressure. He was not tested here.


Other Stakes Action

Marshua’s River

In the scratch-shortened G2 Marshua’s River Stakes field, the Super Screener Top Win pick, Ultra Brat, scored at generous odds of 9-2 in the scratch-shortened field tracking the predicted soft pace and then running on with energy to spare to hold off Dream Dancing. That exacta resulted in a $440 payoff from the suggested wagers despite the abbreviated field.

Louisiana Stakes

The Louisiana Stakes produced yet another #1 ranked Super Screener winner on the day and it was an impressive draw away win for this up and coming star who will only get better in the months ahead.  He got that perfect trip stalking the speed and holding off the big late run of both the Super Screener Top Long Shot pick, Scuba, and the grizzled veteran, Hawaakom.  Here’s what the Super Screener had to say about Cedartown and Scuba:


“The Super Screener projects that this field will be very bunched as no one “needs the lead” and the splits are anticipated to be slightly under par.  The advantage then would go to horses that show very strong early and mid pace numbers with the ability to stay some in the final furlong.  The horse that fits that profile perfectly is #4 Cedartown out of the always dangerous Michael Stidham barn and ridden by his go-to jock, Joe Bravo.  #4 Cedartown is a late bloomer that only started his 3 yr.-old campaign last June. Since then, every race was better than the last culminating in a lifetime top and an easy win over Untrapped. Connections wisely rested him and when he returned to training every work was better than the last ending with the eye-popping bullet work on 1/6. He possesses that superior interior speed and given the pace set up, he should enjoy a perfect trip just 2 lengths behind the pace leaders throttling back through much easier fractions than he has negotiated in his recent races.  Anything close to 8-1 is a steal as this colt is sitting on a big, big race.  Very strong win contender and Super Screener Top Value pick in a very tough, deep race.”


The Super Screener suggested Trifecta wager paid a “thin” $239 considering that the odds-on favorite, The Player, was the off the board and the 2nd and 3rd place finishers were 12-1 and higher.

Silverbulletday Stakes:

This was yet another race that was hit with multiple scratches resulting in a 9-horse versus the very attractive 13-horse field that was the original formation. Stronger Than Ever, a deep closer we recommended using for the bottom of Exotics did even better than that at monster odds of 33-1 going from last to first on a track surface that was favoring those that were more forwardly placed.  However, while the fractions of the race weren’t crazy fast, the pressure up front was heavy as three horses dueled for the lead in the early stages.  Stronger Than Ever just nipped a very game Wonder Gadot who fought tenaciously down the entire length of the stretch but could not resurge after having the lead at the 3/4 ‘s pole.  She’ll continues to be one of the top fillies in training and it will be very interesting to see her prepare for the G1 Kentucky Oaks over these next few months.


Heavenly Love is beginning to look like a fraud who may have just excelled that one time on the quirky Keeneland surface (as so many horses do) in winning the G1 Breeders’ Futurity back in October.   


Blonde Bomber did what was expected and closed into the bottom of the Superfecta as the Super Screener Top Board Hitter.



There is a break in the action now for Derby preps until February 3rd when the Robert B. Lewis and Withers Stakes will be held. However, there is plenty of stakes action this weekend including the Sunshine Millions races at Gulfstream Park featuring multiple stakes races.  In addition, Santa Anita will feature the G3 Las Ciengas which is a turf sprint race that is likely to draw a big field.  Tampa, Laurel and Aqueduct also have stakes action to choose from this Saturday so we’ll find the races with the highest Super Screener Playability Score to include in this week’s release.

Until then, Go Fast and Win!