- Story talking points:
- Enforceable’s Lecomte S. performance analysis
- Smarty Jones S. preview analysis
- 3-year-olds of interest by state and region
- Kentucky Derby top 10
Enforceable Performance Analysis
Enforceable rallied boldly from 11th to prove best by a 1 1/2-length margin in Saturday’s Lecomte (G3), improving significantly upon his juvenile form in the first of three Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifiers at Fair Grounds. The Mark Casse-trained colt concluded last year with a pair of non-threatening efforts, finishing third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs.
Owned by John Oxley, who campaigned 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, Enforceable is a regally bred gray son of Tapit. He became the fourth graded winner out of the multiple Grade 2-winning Dixie Union mare Justwhistledixie. Enforceable counts multiple Grade 2 victor Mohaymen, fourth in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, as a full brother; and 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner New Year’s Day, sire of Maximum Security (disqualified after finishing first in 2019 Kentucky Derby), as a half-brother.
“He trained beautifully down here, he’s starting to fill out and mature…He makes our job very easy,” assistant trainer David Carroll said. “He has a terrific attitude and having him be so talented makes it even more enjoyable. Hopefully as the distances get longer, he’ll continue to get better.”
Enforceable earned 10 points toward a Kentucky Derby berth with the win, moving to second on the Leaderboard with 13 total points.
“He broke like he usually does, not as fast as others,” jockey Julien Leparoux said. “We traveled well the whole race and down the backside he was just dragging me. When we got around the second turn, I got out in the clear and he had a big run. He’s a horse that I am very excited about.”
Tapit has not had the right horse for the Kentucky Derby yet, with Tacitus (placed third via disqualification last year) being his best result, but the three-time leading sire has produced three winners of the Belmont Stakes (Tapwrit, Creator and Tonalist). Enforceable looked like another late-developing type entering 2020, but the Lecomte suggests otherwise.
Enforceable registered a career-best 94 BRIS Speed rating, an encouraging figure for his 3-year-old opener, and a solid 99 Late Pace number. Fair Grounds extended the distances of its prep races this year, with the Lecomte held at 1 1/16 miles; the February 15 Risen Star (G2) at 1 1/8 miles; and the March 21 Louisiana Derby (G2) at 1 3/16 miles, and that’s certainly eligible to benefit Enforceable.
Runner-up Silver State appears to have upside for Steve Asmussen. He stumbled at the start and didn’t corner as well as the winner while racing from off the pace in his third career start, but rallied well after negotiating himself clear from traffic in midstretch.
“I think he ran pretty good,” Ricardo Santana Jr. said of the runner-up. “It was his first time going two turns and he handled it well. We expect a lot from that horse in the future.”
After breaking his maiden in a dead-heat with Relentless Dancer, Silver State posted a nose second in a salty one-turn mile allowance at Churchill, out-bobbed by Necker Island on the wire. He possesses the pedigree and build for longer distances.
Mr. Monomoy enjoyed an ideal stalking trip before coming up a little short in the stretch, winding up a neck back of Silver State in third. A half-brother to 2018 champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl, he remains a fine prospect for Brad Cox, but it’s fair to question whether Mr. Monomoy will be suited for longer distances this spring. It was more than five lengths back to Finnick the Fierce in fourth.
Smarty Jones Preview
Oaklawn Park opens Friday with the Smarty Jones at a two-turn mile. It’s the first of four qualifiers at the Hot Springs, Arkansas track, with the Feb. 17 Southwest (G3), March 14 Rebel (G2) and April 11 Arkansas Derby (G1) to follow.
Here is a preview of the nine-horse Smarty Jones:
#1 Lykan (20-1): Keeneland maiden winner not a serious factor in a pair of allowance attempts at Churchill Downs.
#2 Silver Prospector (5-2): Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner heads Steve Asmussen foursome. Gray son of Declaration of War has won 2-of-3 starts since switching from turf to the main track, and Ricardo Santana Jr. opts for him over Shoplifted.
#3 Shared Sense (12-1): Connections extremely bullish on his potential, entering Godolphin homebred son of Street Sense in this spot despite being winless from three starts. Second in his last two at Churchill, Brad Cox trainee tuned up with 5-furlong bullet drill over track. Will be interesting to see if he’s bet.
#4 Nucky (10-1): Del Mar Futurity (G1) upsetter needs major turnaround after pair of dull showings, losing American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita and Heft at Laurel Park by a combined 65 lengths.
#5 Jungle Runner (20-1): Remington stakes winner must improve upon a career-best 79 BRIS Speed rating.
#6 Gold Street (5-1): Asmussen pupil tries two turns following sharp score in 6-furlong Sugar Bowl over a sloppy track, and Street Boss colt is bred to handle added ground.
#7 Shoplifted (3-1): Registered career-best BRIS Speed (93) and Late Pace (105) numbers gamely winning Springboard Mile on Dec. 15. A serious win contender for Asmussen, $800,000 son of Into Mischief will add Tyler Gaffalione.
#8 Lynn’s Map (6-1): Posted triple-digit BRIS Late Pace ratings winning his last two outings, digging in to edge Mr. Monomoy by a head in a Dec. 21 allowance at Fair Grounds most recently. From the same female family of three-time champion and turf star Gio Ponti, Mark Casse runner will try to emerge from the second tier of contenders like stablemate Enforceable did in the Lecomte.
#9 Three Technique (9-2): BRIS Speed numbers (field-best 94) put him in the mix, and he makes the stakes and two-turn debut for Jeremiah Englehart following a pair of convincing wins over maiden and allowance foes in New York. An $180,000 2-year-old purchase, dark bay colt was the top seller for freshman sire Mr. Speaker in 2019.
3-year-olds of interest
I’ve highlighted a pair of prospects by region (last start) to watch for in future qualifiers:
Nadal aced the competition when launching his career in a Jan. 19 maiden at Santa Anita, stamping himself as one to watch for five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert. A $700,000 2-year-old purchase, the Blame colt overcame a slow start to post a front-running decision in the 6 ½-furlong event, drawing away sharply in deep stretch, and registered a 94 BRIS Speed rating. His pedigree is loaded with stamina influences, and Nadal smoked the opening quarter-mile in :21.88.
Tizamagician needed six starts to break his maiden before breaking through in fine fashion at Santa Anita on New Year’s Day. The Tiznow colt tracked the pace from the start, took a short lead into the stretch, and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over a two-turn mile. He registered a 90 BRIS Speed rating. The Richard Mandella pupil improved upon three consecutive second-place efforts and if Tizamagican’s pattern seems familiar, you may recall that Omaha Beach recorded three straight runner-up finishes for Mandella before breaking his maiden at Santa Anita in early February last year.
Premier Star remained unbeaten with a convincing gate-to-wire tally for Jorge Navarro on Jan. 15. The Tapiture colt has registered solid BRIS Speed numbers (97-93), taking a pair of 7-furlong races at Gulfstream this winter, and he will stretch out in distance for a qualifier next time. Premier Star did get a little tired late, drifting out in deep stretch. He is from the same female family of multiple Grade 1-winning router Harlan’s Holiday, who is probably best known for siring Into Mischief.
Untitled was sold privately and transferred to Mark Casse after crushing Florida-bred rivals the first time out at Gulfstream Dec. 14. From the first crop of Khozan, a half-brother to three-time champion and $4.8 million earner Royal Delta, Untitled widened his advantage at every pole leading wire-to-wire in the 6-furlong maiden test, and the bay colt registered a whopping 105 BRIS Speed rating. His pedigree appears geared toward longer distances, and Untitled will bring his speed to the Holy Bull (G3).
Little Menace did not disappoint as the 1-2 favorite when making his second start at Churchill on Dec. 1, rolling to a 7 ¾-length decision in a 6-furlong maiden. A $460,000 juvenile purchase, the son of Into Mischief has shown high speed in both starts for Asmussen, registering an 88 BRIS Speed rating last time, and the son of Into Mishief is working at Oaklawn Park in preparation for his 3-year-old bow.
Third to Three Technique in his debut, Necker Island graduated stylishly in late September and concluded his juvenile season with an excellent nose tally at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30, digging in gamely to repel Silver State in one-mile allowance over a sloppy track. By Hard Spun, the Stanley Hough-trained colt has shown speed from the start in both wins and garnered a 93 BRIS Speed last time. The Holy Bull could be next.
An exciting Louisiana-bred for Mike Maker. After dead-heating with Silver State at Churchill Downs, Relentless Dancer shipped to Delta Downs and romped by 10 ½ lengths in the Oct. 19 Louisiana Legacy three weeks later. He’s posted 88 BRIS Speed ratings in the last two starts, and the Midshipman colt has posted a pair of consecutive 5-furlong bullet works at Gulfstream in advance of the Holy Bull.
Taraz generated a buzz recording an 11 1/4-length thrashing in the Dec. 21 Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds, and Brad Cox stoked Kentucky Derby enthusiasm by saying they planned to give the sensational filly a start in a Kentucky Derby qualifier. By Into Mischief, Taraz rolled to a 7 1/2-length maiden triumph the first time out at Churchill in mid-November, and she earned a 98 BRIS Speed rating taking the Letellier at 6-furlongs. Taraz hails from a classic-type female family. Out of the Empire Maker mare Silk Route, she counts Slightly Dangerous, the 1997 Broodmare of the Year, as the third maternal dam.
Basin has returned to the worktab working for Asmussen, posting a pair of half-mile works at Fair Grounds this month, and is readying for his first appearance since a 6 1/2-length romp in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. He easily defeated impressive next-out winner Three Technique when breaking his maiden in late July, and the son of Liam’s Map came back to capture the Hopeful over a sloppy track six weeks later. Basin has posted 96 BRIS Speed figures in the last two starts.
Country Grammer received a nice trip switching to dirt and stretching out to 1 1/8 miles in a Nov. 11 maiden at Aqueduct, tracking a slow pace in second to the top of the stretch, and won going away by 3 1/4 lengths. By Tonalist, the $450,000 2-year-old purchase finished fourth when debuting in a mile turf test for Chad Brown, and turf will always be an option given his female family. However, Country Grammer earned a shot at a Kentucky Derby qualifier after garnering 94 BRIS Speed and 104 Late Pace ratings for his maiden win.
Kentucky Derby Top 10
- Independence Hall: Improved to 3-for-3 in Jerome; Feb. 8 Sam F. Davis next
- Thousand Words: Los Alamitos Futurity winner headed to Robert B. Lewis
- Maxfield: Sidelined after impressive Breeders’ Futurity win
- Anneau d’Or: BC Juvenile & Los Alamitos Futurity runner-up working at Golden Gate
- Dennis’ Moment: Talented 2yo performer targeting Feb. 29 Fountain of Youth
- Tiz the Law: Champagne hero readying for Holy Bull
- Enforceable: Displayed sharp turn of foot in Lecomte win
- Silver State: Lecomte runner-up could have upward trajectory
- Nadal: Eye-catching debut winner for Baffert
- Storm the Court: BC Juvenile upsetter to return in 2/9 San Vicente at 7f
A flurry of qualifiers will take place Feb. 1 with the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park, Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita and Withers (G3) at Aqueduct. I will preview all three, and recap the Smarty Jones next week.