Two weeks ago, we saw Kentucky Derby futures prospect Mutasaabeq impressively move from the turf to the dirt. The question this week is, can Rock Your World do the same thing?

Hronis Brothers-Derby Futures
California grape farmers Kosta (left) and younger brother Pete Hronis may have harvested a Kentucky Derby prospect in Rock Your World. He is 33/1 at Circa Sports. (Image: Benoit Photo)

The Circa Sports Derby futures book seems to think so. It put 33/1 odds on the Candy Ride colt, placing Rock Your World on the front page of Derby futures contenders. This, after only one race – a 1-¾-length victory over 11 others in a New Year’s Day turf sprint at Santa Anita Park.

That Rock Your World hasn’t rocked a dirt race yet bothers few on the Derby futures front. Largely, because Rock Your World comes to you from the John Sadler-Hronis brothers partnership. One of the most successful trainer-owner partnerships in racing, Sadler-trained/Hronis-owned horses claimed some of the biggest races in American racing.

There’s Accelerate in the Pegasus World Cup, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Santa Anita Handicap, and Pacific Classic. Lady of Shamrock in the American Oaks and Del Mar Oaks. Six-time, Grade 1 winning mare Stellar Wind. And Catalina Cruiser, who went 7-for-9 in his career.

Grape Farmers Turned Horse Maestros

The partnership that began with one $40,000 claimer turned into a wildly successful partnership of nearly 50 horses. Hronis Racing led the Santa Anita owner standings in 2012 and 2014. They captured four Del Mar owner titles in six years and, in 2018, they harvested the Eclipse Award as Owner of the Year.

“John’s the expert. He’s the horseman. We grow grapes for a living,” Kosta Hronis told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “He’s not going to tell me how to grow grapes and I’m not going to tell him how to race horses. We respect him. We’ve built this whole thing around John Sadler, he’s built it.”


2021 Kentucky Derby Futures: Top Contenders

Circa Sports William Hill Nevada
Life Is Good 9/1 8/1
Essential Quality 12/1 8/1
Prime Factor 17/1 22/1
Caddo River 25/1 25/1
Arabian Prince 25/1
Prate 28/1 35/1
Rock Your World 33/1
Mandaloun 40/1 35/1
Amount 40/1 45/1
Classier 45/1 25/1
Jackie’s Warrior 45/1 40/1
Greatest Honour 45/1 45/1
Señor Buscadore 45/1 45/1
Medina Spirit 50/1 25/1
Highly Motivated 50/1 40/1
Keepmeinmind 50/1 40/1
Olympiad 50/1 50/1
Fenway 55/1
Spielberg 55/1 35/1
The Great One 55/1

For his part, Sadler relishes his relationship with the Hronis brothers, who now constitute most of Sadler’s business. He cut his barn back to around 75 horses. Roughly two-thirds of those belong to Kosta and Pete Hronis.

“The main thing is I have a client in Kosta and Pete Hronis that really back me,” Sadler told the Tribune. “They lead by example and they encourage me all the time. It’s fun to reward them.”

Amount’s Derby Futures Partnership Owns One Derby

Now, Sadler will try rewarding them with a horse seeking a spot in America’s most prestigious race. But, another successful trainer-owner partnership is bringing a colt onto the futures boards right behind him. That would be the Todd Pletcher-trained, Mike Repole/Vinnie Viola-owned Amount.

The Curlin progeny checks in at 40/1 on Circa’s board and 45/1 at William Hill. Those odds come after Amount broke his maiden in his December debut, winning a seven-furlong race at Gulfstream Park. The Pletcher-Repole/Viola connection brought you 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso and 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

The third horse worth watching on a generally quiet week on the Derby futures front is a flier from another successful trainer-owner partnership. That’s the John Shirreffs-trained, Jerry Moss-owned Kahuna Magic, who debuts at 200/1 at Circa.

Kahuna Magic Hasn’t Played a Racing Tune Yet

Despite never entering a starting gate, unraced Kahuna Magic casts a spell for a couple of reasons. First, there are the three magic words: By Into Mischief. Yes, Kahuna Magic is a son of the hottest sire in the world. Second, Kahuna Magic comes to you from the Shirreffs-Moss partnership. That tandem brought you the likes of 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Zenyatta, the 2010 Horse of the Year, and 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo.

As for familiar-sounding names, if Moss’ name rings a bell or several, it should. Moss is the “M” in A&M Records. In another wildly successful partnership, he co-founded the iconic music label with bandleader Herb Alpert.

Speaking of familiar, your Derby futures favorites remain familiar names. Life Is Good holds serve at 9/1 at Circa and 8/1 at William Hill. Essential Quality is 12/1 at Circa, the 8/1 co-favorite at William Hill.

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