04/12/2016 7:51AM

Road to the Derby: Blue Grass Stakes

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Grade 1, $1 million Blue Grass Stakes; 1 1/8 miles; Keeneland; April 9, 2016
(100 Derby qualifying points for a win, 40 for second, 20 for third, 10 for fourth)

 Winner: Brody’s Cause, by Giant’s Causeway

Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Luis Saez

Owner: Albaugh Family Stable

Beyer Speed Figure: 91

This was an odd lineup, for of the 14 runners, only one – BRODY’S CAUSE – owned a stakes win. That victory, significantly, came in Keeneland’s premier race for 2-year-olds, the Breeders’ Futurity, and Brody’s Cause returned to his winning ways in this, Keeneland’s premier race for 3-year-olds.

This was an important step for Brody’s Cause, who was dreadful in his only other start this year, the Tampa Bay Derby. He adds his name to the long list of stakes-class horses who find that surface difficult to navigate. This year’s Tampa Bay Derby is proving to be a key race, as both Brody’s Cause, who was seventh, and Outwork, who was second, returned to win a major Kentucky Derby prep in their next start, with Outwork capturing the Wood Memorial. Tampa Bay Derby winner Destin, who got a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 that day, will not race again until the Kentucky Derby.

Brody’s Cause obviously loves Keeneland. In addition to his two Grade 1 victories there, he also was third last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He also won his lone start at Churchill Downs, against maidens last fall, which bodes well for the Derby. Less encouraging is that Brody’s Cause got only a 91 in this race, and that represents his career best. He will need better than that to win the Derby. But at least he’s headed in the right direction as the first Saturday in May approaches.

In the Blue Grass, Brody’s Cause had no speed and raced between horses, near the back of the pack, around the first turn, where he was jostled between CHERRY WINE and GOATS TOWN. He made a sharp rally between horses while four paths wide on the far turn, was fanned about five paths wide into the lane, closed resolutely and won going away.

MY MAN SAM, who was second, had no speed away from the gate and was last, in the three path, into the first turn. He had just one horse beat with three furlongs to go, started about three paths wide on the turn but was fanned about six or seven wide entering the lane, and made a nice late run down the center of the track to touch out Cherry Wine for second.

Cherry Wine, who finished third, raced near the back of the pack along the rail into the first turn, bumped with Brody’s Cause going around that turn, had to wait for a moment in traffic three furlongs out, angled outside – just inside of My Man Sam – midway on the turn, was fanned about five or six wide into the stretch, got separation from My Man Sam in upper stretch, but was nailed by that rival in the closing yards while unable to reel in Brody’s Cause.

The first three finishers were all far back in the early going, so the race shape certainly was in their favor.

By contrast, the maiden LAOBAN, who finished fourth, was part of the speed brigade. After a slight hop at the start, he took the lead into the first turn and had a clear lead by the time the field turned into the backstretch. He was challenged by CARDS OF STONE and STAR HILL entering the far turn, but fought off those two, was passed by Brody’s Cause a furlong out, then tired in the final sixteenth. Of those nearest the lead, he ran best.

Star Hill, who was fifth, was caught about four or five paths wide into the first turn while racing mid-pack, advanced in the middle of the track down the backstretch, continued his progress while still wide on the far turn, was lapped on Laoban entering the lane, but never could get past him and was engulfed by the top three through the lane. This was a better-than-looked effort, considering the ground loss and extended mid-race move.

Goats Town, who was sixth, was squeezed back between rivals leaving the gate, bumped with Brody’s Cause around the first turn, had to check entering the backside, had to wait in traffic for a bit early on the far turn, was tipped to the three path for room, then continued to make steady progress all the way to the wire. Not bad at all for a maiden.

LOOKIN FOR A KISS, who was seventh, was forwardly placed along the inside into the first turn, remained on the rail to the far turn, was aggressively urged beginning about three furlongs from home, made a mini-rally in upper stretch, but could not sustain his bid.

DONEGAL MOON, who finished eighth, was hustled away from the gate but was outrun nearing the first turn and wound up mid-pack, toward the inside. He was outfooted entering the backside, made good progress while four paths wide early on the far turn and got up to fourth, but could not make any impact down the lane and had several late runners overtake him.

CRESCENT DRIVE, who was ninth, lacked speed leaving the gate and was in front of only My Man Sam into the first turn while racing inside. He remained on the rail the rest of the way – on the far turn, in the stretch – and never made any impact. Pity such a nice ride by James Graham went for naught. This was his first try on dirt after finishing in the money in all his prior starts on synthetic or turf.

Cards of Stone, who was 10th, was hustled away from the gate but wound up caught four wide into the first turn. He tracked Laoban down the backstretch, moved with Star Hill to engage Laoban three furlongs out, was the first of those three to yield nearing the top of the stretch, then emptied out while swapping leads a couple of times through the lane.

ZAPPERINI, who was 11th, was toward the rear of the field while four paths wide around the first turn, lost ground into the backstretch and fell back to 13th, was outrun into the far turn while wide, dropped back to last, then passed a few weary rivals in the stretch.

ZULU, who was 12th, was in the two path, just behind Laoban while between runners around the first turn. He was squeezed back to fifth just before entering the backstretch, tried to rally while three paths wide on the far turn, but was outrun by stablemate Donegal Moon and was done with a quarter-mile remaining. His performance, coupled with Mohaymen’s fourth in the Florida Derby one week earlier, further calls into the question the quality of the Fountain of Youth, in which Mohaymen and Zulu were one-two.

AMERICAN DUBAI, who was 13th, veered out at the start and then had to check coming under the wire the first time, drifted out around the first turn while racing in mid-pack, remained wide down the backstretch and into the far turn, had no response when Brody’s Cause and Cherry Wine roared past him to his inside at that point, tired, and raced on his wrong lead down the stretch.

TWIZZ, who finished last of 14, was forwardly placed while three paths wide around the first turn, chased Laoban down the backstretch, began to lose ground entering the far turn and tired badly while also racing on his wrong lead in the stretch.

 

George More than 1 year ago
Not to seem like a know-it-all but I had my own track variants and class pars before the DRF had track variants and Beyer was still in knee pants...one of the very first things I learned after extensive study was that figures, especially those that can and are adjusted after the fact, should never be taken from an off track...they mean nothing unless used on the same track with identical conditions..
Nakia Towery More than 1 year ago
Those sloppy tracks makes things a little more intriguing Derby Day.
Pete Gold More than 1 year ago
How the hell does Outwork get a 93 n Brodys Cause n Gun Runner get a 91 it was the slowest n worst prep so far! I mean how the hell can you say its 1 point less than Nyquists 94 in florida derby? Does being in New York add 7-10 points? I mean Outwork woulda lost to Lewis Bay! That 93 is a joke n if Exaggerator got a 103 Nyquist shuda got 98 n if Gun Runner n Brodys Cause got a 91 Outworks WORST WOOD IN HISTORY shuda got an 87 plain n simple this beyer stuff is a good tool but the whole derby prep season it all seems outta wack been kinda light all the way threw n a 93 for Outwork?! 3rd highest 100 point race? JOKE
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
I agree 100%. The 91 by Brody's Cause does not compute. The 2nd place finisher, Sam, was on the upswing, speed figure wise, and his race was solid, none of the top 3 finishers came off their correct leads or ran unprofessionally. Brody is a horse for a course, and that number probably should have been closer to 100. That would be more in-tune to what Sam was likely to run with a good performance. And Sam was working forwardly coming into it. 

The Wood is easily one of the worst prep races EVER. The 83-1 maiden should have won and was best, imo. 
Nakia Towery More than 1 year ago
I dont disagree but Outwork was running the whole race n but did tire on the slop but it was a okay race. Those of u who like Destin must like Outwork. But i think ill pass but did show heart. The track was slow that day. I agree bout the beyers. Im in all that the 3 fastest come home times get low beyers. Nyquist Gun Runner Brody Cause. My Nyquist came home the best. I will say this Gun Runner has shown me the ability to have another gear in which i like. I remember watching his race and looked back to see where Mo Tom was as seen him get checked. Hard and looked back n Gun Runner done left them. Now Brodys Cause im not really impressed with he beat what id say was a nothing field.But the beyers dont work for me but who theyve race against n how others come out later does.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
I'm a believer that the kd is won by 3yos who are in form, not a revolutionary thought I know, but bare with me. We're going to have some relatively well backed interests who were outside the money in their final preps, moyahem, shagaf, and some others (mo tom, too, although I give him an asterisk as he would have been no worse than 2nd to gun runner and imo was best) who may not be well backed but were outside the money. Total throw outs (except mo tom). Look at kd pp and you'll see that 3yos who ran outside the money in their final preps have atrocious records for even hitting the board. A couple have actually won in recent memory, giacamo and mine that bird, giacamo was a closing 4th in the sa derby and mine that bird was probably impossible to pick. To me, those are aberrations although I actually played giacamo because of the connections but everyone knows he only won because of the bad ride on Afleet Alex. It's also true that colts who ran 1-2 in their last prep are the most likely winners. 3yos who had legit trouble while hitting the board can be great value like the ny bred gelding funny code. That is why I can't get mo tom out of my mind, even though his speed figures are terrible. I'm not sure speed figures will be the tale of the tape in this kd, however? This derby is open to all sorts of speculation, many will believe the slowish crop is the perfect fodder for quist or exaggerator, the latter of whom I do like although value is unlikely. He'll still be on all my exotics, he looked too good in sa derby to be dismissed, and an off track would make him the most likely winner imo. Then there is the turnaround time, what's your pleasure? 3 weeks (ark derby)? 4 weeks? 5 weeks? Longer (destin)? Personally, 3 weeks or anything longer than 5 is troubling, to me. And I like Cupid and destin, and even suddenbreakingnews if he bounces back big. He has one of the "wow" races of 2016 imo along with exaggerator's latest and Cupid!s rebel (because of his outstanding gallop out). I throw my man Sam into this list due to a highly pleasing maiden win and subsequent forward moves. And his trainer c brown is going to win the kd sooner or later.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Beyah ain't a muddah!