It lasts five months and encompasses 28 trials of varying quality, and it began at Los Alamitos in California last Saturday. The Road to the Kentucky Derby is among the most absorbing storylines in world racing, and watching it play out is never anything but fascinating. Using the tools available to him via the TRC Global Rankings algorithm, James Willoughby will assess each of the trials along the way. Here is his first report.
Trial number: 1 of 28
TRC trial rank: #14
Trial name: Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity
Our grade: 2
Course: Los Alamitos
Date: December 10, 2016
Winner Expected RPR: 111.6
Winner Actual RPR: 114
Winning Trainer: Bob Baffert (TRC Global Ranking #4)
Winning Jockey: Mike Smith (#11)
Winning Owner: Cheyenne Stables (#247)
Winning Sire: Candy Ride (#18)
The Los Alamitos Futurity tends not to be of true Grade 1 standard, as we have mentioned before. Mastery demolished the field by better than seven lengths and achieved an RPR of 114, which is less than stellar.
Runner-up Irap achieved only RPR 98, underlining the dearth of quality facing the unbeaten 1-5 favourite.
Mastery, who had blinkers reapplied, nevertheless figures to improve on his rating, especially given the chance to stretch out in distance. Using data from the current TRC Global Rankings window, his sire Candy Ride is the #2 sire in U.S. dirt races at nine furlongs and beyond, as shown in the table below, behind only the mighty Tapit.
Top ten sires at nine furlongs and over
TRC algorithm applied to U.S. dirt races at nine furlongs and beyond in the current three-year rankings window
Pioneerof The Nile
As you can see from the video below, it isn’t just Mastery’s sire that suggests he will relish the Derby trip of 10 furlongs. When consenting to give his all, he was very strong in the final furlong at Los Alamitos, having been pressed by the runner-up turning for home. This capability, coupled with handy tactical speed, is a dangerous array of weapons for trainer Baffert to work with.
The negatives here are twofold: first, as recorded in the Equibase chart, Mastery was allowed to set up in a good position during an easy opening quarter-mile. Second, he is an idle type for sure and seemed initially to be hanging the latch when first asked to go and win his race. The same attitude will see him caught out in better company.
Even though this was a Grade 1 in name, tougher tasks lie ahead for Mastery, that is for sure, but the first trial of 28 we will be featuring produced a winner who will definitely feature again along the road to Churchill Downs.