Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Carpe Diem

Let’s continue with our video review of top 2015 Kentucky Derby contenders with Carpe Diem, who has been targeting this race since being purchased for $1.6 million as a 2YO.

Breeders’ Futurity

After debuting with an impressive win over future Swale winner Ready for Rye at 5.5 furlongs, hopes were high for Carpe Diem’s first attempt at a route of ground. He was the 5/2 favorite against a decent field on Keeneland’s new dirt track.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

With the scratch of American Pharoah, Carpe Diem went off favored in the Juvenile. A wide trip, but an impressive rally. Still a very clear second to Texas Red, but race watchers almost universally came away impressed with Carpe Diem’s efffort in the stretch.

Tampa Bay Derby

Carpe Diem returned from his winter layoff with a sharp performance in the Tampa Bay Derby. At even money, he again showed that he had more in the stretch and won easily. His stock was extremely high after this performance. Eventual Lexington winner Divining Rod finished third.

Blue Grass Stakes

A return to Keeneland and another strong performance from Carpe Diem. On paper, Carpe Diem dominated over the field on paper. Danzig Moon improved on track to prevent the blowout.  Race watchers were mixed with their reviews; some wanted to see a strong distancing in the stretch, but others were pleased with the stamina building for Louisville.

Carpe Diem is a extremely well-bred horse who has been destined for the Derby for a while. He possesses the talent to win the Derby, and his pressing style will give him first run on fading frontrunners at Churchill. He’ll need to move forward just a bit — and of course work out a trip in the Derby (easier said than done) — but very well could take the roses home come Saturday.

Kentucky Derby Top 5, as of March 23

Kentucky Derby Top 5

Written on March 23.

We’ve seen some impressive performances over the past couple of weeks, most notably watching American Pharoah return and dominate in the Rebel.  Firing Line, off his loss to Dortmund in amazing fashion in the Robert B. Lewis, shipped to Sunland Park and dominated — although his speed figure came back low. Still, his win was incredibly flattering to Dortmund.

So, here is my top 5.  I’ve also included a picture. I’ve placed them in order of finish, with lengths representing the distance between them. Currently, Dortmund is the clear leader, with a second group bunched behind. Bolo, who was ultra-impressive in his dirt debut, just might make a crazy charge and get them all by the end.

1. Dortmund

2. American Pharoah

3. Carpe Diem

4. Upstart

5. Bolo

Top 5


The Rebel (GII)

All eyes toward Oaklawn this weekend with the Rebel featuring the anticipated return of 2YO male champion, American Pharoah.  He’s the second top contender to return to the track in the last two weeks; Carpe Diem made a successful return to the races with an impressive performance winning the Tampa Bay Derby last Saturday:

Looking back at American Pharoah, he was lights out last summer in Southern California, cruising to victory in two straight Grade I races — the Del Mar Futurity and the Frontrunner:

Reports are that he was been training aggressively for this return and that he has looked sharp doing so. On paper, if he returns to last season’s sharp form (or better) on his return, he shouldn’t have too many problems with today’s field. He’s significantly faster than anyone else in the field, and it’s difficult to see someone improving to his level. He still has to favor the quirky Oaklawn surface — not a given and something that raises the risk.

It’s a small field compartively, with only 7 horses going forward. If American Pharoah is a bit shaky, look to Gulfstream shipper Madefromlucky. Its tough to tell much from his last race, but he may have more than shown here:

The final to watch is The Truth or Else, who either loved the wet track last out in the Southwest or improved off the layoff. If he improved, he should be a strong factor, but only for the top if American Pharoah isn’t at his best.

Enjoy the Rebel!

Image: Sandwich, Copyright 2014.

Recap: From the Swale to the Big Cap, a Great Day of Racing

I kept a live diary of the big races today, including the Big Cap and the Kentucky Derby points races. I’ve added in the videos as well — scroll down for a list and embedded videos.

1:10 P.M. MT: Ready for Rye upsets odds-on Daredevil in the Swale. Ready for Rye ran within a head of Carpe Diem in his debut and a solid second to Barbados last out. Had more than Daredevil in the end; perhaps too short for him, although pedigree would seem to suggest otherwise. You never know how a horse is going to come back between 2YO and 3YO.

Speaking of the layoff, Carpe Diem from Tampa in a couple of hours.

1:50 PM: Here’s the workspace. Kentucky Derby whiteboard is coming this week.


Here’s what’s on tap:

  • Gotham, 2:50 MT
  • Gulfstream Park Handicap, 3:00 MT
  • Tampa Bay Derby, 3:23 MT
  • San Felipe, 3:57 MT
  • Santa Anita Handicap, 6:17 MT

In order of most anticipated:

  1. Santa Anita Handicap — anytime Shared Belief runs, it’s a must watch.
  2. Tampa Bay Derby — Excited for Carpe Diem, huge performance today, puts him possibly ahead of Dortmund.
  3. San Felipe — does Dortmund do something spectacular again?
  4. Gulfstream Park Handicap: Only a field of 6, but quite a top 4. Many familiar names, including Wicked Strong.
  5. Gotham — Should tell us more about the Withers. Competitive field.

2:50 P.M.: El Kabeir just changed my opinion of the Withers. I really liked him in the fall, but thought he was plateauing. But he ran great right there — looked great moving up the track, never seemed to be in doubt. May not have beaten anyone, and Secretariat is the only horse to pull the Gotham/Derby double. Muddy track wasn’t an issue, which bodes well for the possibility of a rainy day in Louisville. Very good looking horse and he deserves his place at Churchill Downs in May.

3:15 PM: Honor Code! That was thrilling — maybe the best thing in racing when a horse comes barreling down the stretch. That’s one serious animal and certainly deserves place at or near top in the handicap division.

3:30 PM: Tampa Bay post times are always late. Approaching the post for the Tampa Bay Derby. Danzig Moon is big potential. Ocean Knight could be the best of these now. Carpe Diem was just awesome last year. If he’s improved, watch out.

3:35 PM:  Carpe Diem! Sensational. He is a push-button horse — jockey just told him when he go. Loved what I saw. Depending on what Dortmund does, he possibly could be the new number #1 on the Top 5 next week.

4:15 PM: Dortmund was very solid and just won’t lose. He’s a stamina machine. Bolo really took to the dirt — I was impressed and think he will continue on to the Santa Anita Derby. Prospect Park really closed in nicely and continues to improve. He’s likely to be the new #5 with Bolo close behind.

6:30 PM: Shared Belief is an amazing animal. I actually think he’s getting better. He was best on paper; wow on track.

Nothing like a great day of racing! Have a great week.