by Jon White
February 15, 2018
Instilled Regard, who has the look of a rising 3-year-old star, has been installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite in this Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds.
A $1,050,000 auction purchase, Instilled Regard returns to Louisiana from his Southern California base after winning the Grade III Lecomte at the Fair Grounds by a convincing 3 3/4 lengths as a 2-1 shot on Jan. 13. Javier Castellano, who rode the Kentucky-bred Arch colt for the first time in the Lecomte, will be back aboard Instilled Regard this Saturday for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Principe Guilherme is the 7-2 second choice on the Risen Star morning line. The Kentucky-bred Tapit colt, conditioned by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, raced wide as the 6-5 favorite in the Lecomte and finished second for his first defeat in three career starts. Florent Geroux rode Principe Guilherme in the Lecomte. They will again team up this Saturday.
I think Noble Indy is an intriguing Risen Star entrant. He is 5-1 on the morning line. Hall of Famer John Velazquez rides the Kentucky-bred Take Charge Indy colt for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Noble Indy is two for two. He won a seven-furlong maiden special weight race by 8 3/4 lengths and recorded a 77 Beyer Speed Figure at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 3 in his debut. The colt then won a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claiming contest by three-quarters of a length on Jan. 11 at Gulfstream when assigned an 84 Beyer.
The 84 Beyer Speed Figure recorded by Noble Indy does not come close to measuring up to Instilled Regard’s back-to-back 92 Beyers. Instilled Regard recorded a 92 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity when he finished third and was moved up to second through the disqualification of Solomini. Instilled Regard then posted another 92 Beyer in the Lecomte.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again that I think Thoro-Graph figures are superior to Beyer Speed Figures. In terms of a Thoro-Graph figure, the lower it is the better.
No doubt Thoro-Graph disciples will be taking a very serious look at Noble Indy in the Risen Star. That’s because the 1 3/4 Thoro-Graph figure for his Jan. 11 victory is considerably better than any of Instilled Regard’s figs. Instilled Regard recorded Thoro-Graph figures of 4 1/4 in the Los Al Futurity and 4 in the Lecomte.
I will not be surprised if Noble Indy -- with that excellent 1 3/4 Thoro-Graph figure to his credit -- attracts substantial support from Risen Star bettors. I think there is a good chance he will exit the starting gate at a shorter price -- perhaps even a much shorter price -- than his 5-1 morning line, especially with Velazquez and Pletcher adding to the colt’s appeal.
It will be interesting to see what kind of performance we see Saturday from Noble Indy in his stakes debut. If he does not run better than his 84 Beyer Speed Figure, a victory is extremely doubtful. But if he runs anywhere close to his 1 3/4 Thoro-Graph figure, it will be no surprise to see him posing in the winner’s circle after the Risen Star.
I have a very high opinion of Instilled Regard. I consider him to be a strong Kentucky Derby contender. But with that scary 1 3/4 Thoro-Graph figure in Noble Indy’s holster, Instilled Regard had better show up with his A game this Saturday. And if Instilled Regard fails to get the job done in the Risen Star, you can bet that I will be moving him down on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 list next week.
Here is my Kentucky Derby Top 10 for this week:
2. Instilled Regard
3. Good Magic
4. Bolt d’Oro
7. Avery Island
8. Sporting Chance
9. Free Drop Billy
10. Catholic Boy
BOLT D’ORO AND GOOD MAGIC 8-1 IN FUTURE WAGER
As expected, the “All Others” option was the 5-2 favorite when wagering in Pool Two of the 2018 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) closed last Sunday. In terms of individual horses, Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic were the co-favorites at 8-1, with McKinzie next at 9-1.
In Pool One of the KDFW that closed on Nov. 26, the “All Others” option was the 6-5 favorite. Bolt d’Oro was the 7-1 choice at that time among individual horses, with Good Magic next at 11-1 and McKinzie at 12-1.
Here were the final odds for Pool Two of the KDFW:
5-2 All Others
8-1 Bolt d’Oro
8-1 Good Magic
16-1 Catholic Boy
18-1 Instilled Regard
27-1 Avery Island
30-1 Principe Guilherme
33-1 Sporting Chance
36-1 Free Drop Billy
40-1 Strike Power
41-1 Untamed Domain
43-1 Copper Bullet
63-1 Firenze Fire
67-1 Retirement Fund
71-1 Tiz Mischief
Montauk had been one of the individual horses, but betting on him was suspended before wagering on KDFW Pool Two began last Friday. The Kentucky-bred Medaglia d’Oro colt has not raced since he won a seven-furlong maiden special weight race at first asking by 11 1/4 lengths last Oct. 7 at Belmont Park. Montauk recorded three workouts in Florida at Palm Beach Downs, but it was announced last Friday that the Kentucky Derby no longer is a possibility for him due to a minor throat issue.
Flameaway, not one of the individual horses in Pool Two of the KDFW, won last Saturday’s Grade III Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs by a half-length at 10-1. Catholic Boy, sent away as a 3-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile event, finished second. Vino Rosso came in third at 2-1.
A Canadian-bred Scat Daddy colt trained by Mark Casse, Flameaway was assigned a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure for his Tampa triumph.
In Flameway’s only previous 2018 start, he won Gulfstream’s Kitten’s Joy at about 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass Jan. 6. He also was a Grade III winner on the dirt last year. He won the off-the-turf Grade III Bourbon at 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy track Oct. 8 at Keeneland (71 Beyer).
I checked the KDFW Pool Two odds for Catholic Boy just before he started last Saturday. He was 13-1 at that time. Not surprisingly, his price did drift up some to 16-1 after he lost.
LATEST ODDS AT THE WYNN
For comparison purposes, these were the prices at the Wynn Race Book in Las Vegas as of Monday for the individual horses in Pool Two of the KDFW:
7-1 Bolt d’Oro
12-1 Good Magic
20-1 Instilled Regard
25-1 Catholic Boy
25-1 Principe Guilherme
30-1 Avery Island
40-1 Free Drop Billy
40-1 Sporting Chance
40-1 Strike Power
50-1 Firenze Fire
50-1 Untamed Domain
60-1 Tiz Mischief
75-1 Copper Bullet
75-1 Retirement Fund
UNIQUE BELLA’S VICTORY ELICITS RAVE REVIEWS
Pounded down to 1-10 favoritism, Unique Bella won Santa Anita’s Grade II Santa Maria by nine ridiculously easy lengths last Saturday in her 2018 debut. It was her first start since her initial Grade I score in the La Brea at the Great Race Place on Dec. 26.
Unique Bella now has won seven of nine lifetime starts. The 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred Tapit filly, who resides in the Hollendorfer barn, had not recorded a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure prior to the Santa Maria.
Not only was Unique Bella assigned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure for her Santa Maria performance, it was the highest Beyer in this race since India Divina recorded a 114 in 1999. Beyer Speed Figures for the Santa Maria go back to 1991. The only Santa Maria winner besides India Divina to post a bigger Beyer than Unique Bella was Exotic Wood, who was credited with a 114 in 1998.
THE LATEST NTRA POLLS
This is this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 393 West Coast (20)
2. 328 World Approval
3. 243 Gun Runner (20)
4. 225 Roy H (1)
5. 217 Unique Bella (1)
6. 214 Forever Unbridled
7. 137 Gunnevera
8. 131 Abel Tasman
9. 100 Sharp Azteca
10. 75 Beach Patrol
Here is this week’s NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 398 Good Magic (28)
2. 344 Bolt d’Oro (11)
3. 309 McKinzie (1)
4. 228 Audible
5. 201 Instilled Regard
6. 194 Solomini
7. 147 Avery Island
8. 76 Flameaway
9. 75 Catholic Boy
10. 67 Mask
MY ANNUAL HALL OF FAME PLEA
Will this be the year that Rags to Riches finally makes it onto the Hall of Fame ballot?
Rags to Riches won the Grade I Belmont Stakes in 2007. Despite stumbling at the start, she won the 1 1/2-mile classic when defeating no less than Curlin, who subsequently would be voted Horse of the Year not once, but twice. Curlin was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.
Owned by Michael Tabor and Derek Smith and trained by Todd Pletcher, Rags to Riches became the first filly to win the Belmont in 102 years. Of course, no other filly has won the Belmont since Rags to Riches did so a decade ago.
Only three fillies have ever won the Belmont. Ruthless and Tanya were the other two besides Rags to Riches. Ruthless won the inaugural Belmont in 1867. Tanya won it in 1905.
Rags to Riches registered a total four Grade I victories during her career. In addition to the Belmont, she won the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, Grade I Santa Anita Oaks and Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes on her way to being voted an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly of 2007.
It is true that Rags to Riches made only seven career starts. But while some may regard that as justification for keeping her off the Hall of Fame ballot, it is to Rags to Riches’ credit that despite not having raced more than she did, she won more Grade I races during her career, as short as it was, than both Winning Colors (three) and Genuine Risk (two).
Genuine Risk and Winning Colors, like Rags to Riches, won a Triple Crown race. And both Genuine Risk and Winning Colors are in the Hall of Fame, as they should be. Genuine Risk won the 1980 Kentucky Derby. Winning Colors captured the Run for the Roses in 1988.
You would think a filly who achieved something of such historic magnitude in the sport as the first filly to win the Belmont in more than a century would be a slam-dunk to at least get on the Hall of Fame ballot. Rags to Riches became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013. But she did not appear on the ballot in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The fact that Rags to Rich has yet to even get on the Hall of Fame ballot is beyond absurd. I can only hope that the Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee sees the error of its ways and finally puts Rags to Riches on the ballot this year. But my guess is she will get a raw deal again in 2018.