January has come and gone and we are officially traveling down the road to the Bluegrass Derby with this week’s derby hopefuls making a stop in Vermont to try their hand in the G1 Vermont is 4 Lovers. The field is stacked with top tier talent like stockswami’s ARROGATE’S MALIBU & given12’s BLAME THE CADET both who are set to make their three year old debuts this Saturday. The wildcard in this weekend’s race may not come in the form of any colt racing, but rather the weather. Should the 20% chance of an off-track come to fruition it could change the entire dynamic of the race.
As you’d expect the winner of this race typically continues to pursue a Bluegrass Derby bid most of which earn it. Although the feel good story typically ends there. Looking back at the last 5 years of winners, SLEWGAN AWE owns the best finish in the Bluegrass (6th). Making matters worse SLEWGAN AWE is also the only horse to go on to win another graded event capturing the 2015 Sand Castle Derby. To be fair 2018 & 2019 winners THROUGH THE WOODS & FOREST WHITAKER are currently active, however neither has been especially good and fit the narrative of never having won a graded event since finding the winner’s circle in this race. Does the last 5 years of history lend any type of clues as to how today’s hopefuls will perform in the future? Probably not but it’s fun to speculate!
Meeting the Field:
ARROGATE’S MALIBU (ARROGATE x MALIBU MOON)
He’s the 2nd ranked three year old in the division right now and for good reason. In all three of his G1 attempts as a two year old he finished in the money, most recently winning the Merry Christmas with an impressive 104 speed fig.
BLAME THE CADET (BLAME x FORTY NINER)
Runner up in the G1 Movieland Futurity and currently ranked 11th among colts in his division he’s in a prime spot to make some noise and further his bid for Bluegrass glory. He’s currently missing a standout win, but has shown a great deal of talent early on and could make a huge jump from two to three.
MUSTANG BROOK (NYQUIST x CURLIN)
The 17th ranked colt in the division jumped right into the fray running in the 9.5F Intergalactic Dirt Route to start off his three year old career. It didn’t quite go as planned as he faltered down the stretch finishing 6th by 11 lengths. Despite that hiccup he does own a G2 victory in the 9F Ransom as a two year old and is clearly capable of being competitive in this spot.
KIM THE ANIMAL (ANIMAL KINGDOM x SUMMER SQUALL)
He finished 3rd behind BLAME THE CADET in the G1 Movieland Futurity and like his counterpart has yet to solidify that defining win. Notwithstanding he’s a very talented horse who’s never missed finding the money in any of his 8 races. The added distance in today’s race may do the trick to finally get him that top notch victory.
BUILDS (CONSTITUTION x PULPIT)
All three of his wins have come on an off-surface, so I can only imagine that corza1 is hoping the horse racing gods will open up the skies and grant an off-track for his contender. Even without the off-track he’s clearly skillful with his most recent performance in the G1 Merry Christmas coming in the form of a 3rd place finish.
WAKHARO (WAR FRONT x A.P. INDY)
Another of given’s monsters who’s looking for the crowning victory. He’s shown an ability on both a fast and off-track and is another who in 9 tries has never missed the money. He opened up his three year old season with a 2nd place finish in the G3 Family of Dragons and looks to build upon that performance in this weekend’s event.
TITANIC GHOST (CALIFORNIA CHROME x SMART STRIKE)
He’s 5-5 as a sprinter which included a G3 victory in the Los Angeles Prevue before deciding to stretch his legs in his last start as a 2 year old in the G3 Happy new Year where he’d go on to finish 2nd. All that being said he’s got the breeding to run the classic distances and could give this group a run for its money as he gives routes a 2nd try.
CANDY SLAMMER (CANDY RIDE x DISTORTED HUMOR)
Already with four wins under his belt this guy opened up his 3 year old campaign in the 9.5 Killerzandglitterz Dirt Challenge finishing a game 4th. He certainly looks the part but hasn’t won anything better than an allowance race to this point and will need to bump his game up quite a bit to compete with the likes of these.
CURLIN AP (CURLIN x A.P. INDY)
Of any horse in this race, he probably needs a fast track the most. Putting it nicely his one performance on a sloppy track was flat. His claim to fame thus far was a 3rd place finish in the G3 Sam’s Town Delta Jackpot to close out his 2 year old season.
HOPKINSON FLYER (ARROGATE x A.P. INDY)
He ran exclusively in the ESR Fun City Challenge as a two year old taking out all three fields he faced and winning the tournament with ease. Even though he hasn’t officially raced in a graded field, I feel comfortable saying he’s just as battle tested as any horse in this race due to the ESR tournaments typically putting out some top tier talent.
IRISH WAR BOOTY (IRISH WAR CRY x GIANT’S CAUSEWAY)
Three year old debut was an allowance race at 9F which he won in dominant fashion. The breeding suggests he should fit in well here, but having no experience running against graded company could prove to be a tough spot for him.
DENS CADET (DEN’S LEGACY x DEHERE x MR. PROSPECTOR)
I’m not really sure what to make of this guy. He’s run in graded a few times as a two year old to no avail but performed admirably in the 10.5F Dyna Form Dirt Challenge earning his 3rd place in the debut at three. That race only brought back a 78 speed fig for him and he’s going to need much much more than that to get over on the likes of these.
NEWHOLM (ARROGATE x VARIETY CLUB)
He ran well as a two year old and after his allowance victory made the jump to graded. From there he’s been pretty lackluster finishing 5th in the G3 Sam’s Town Delta Jackpot & 9th in the G3 Family of Dragons. Maybe the added distance helps him out, but I don’t know that it’s going to be enough to get him to the winner’s circle.
MADDENING CROWD (VIOLENCE x TIZNOW)
I guess you got to shoot your shot and that’s exactly what it looks like estreli is doing here. He’s shipping in from Japan after winning an allowance race at 9F scoring a 95 speed fig. He’s clearly talented finishing ITM 5 out of 6 races but this is a much tougher spot then any of his past races.
1. HOPKINSON FLYER
3. ARROGATE’S MALIBU