The Kentucky Derby may be derailed until the first Saturday in September but the road to the Bluegrass Derby makes its first major stop this weekend in Louisiana. The All Saints Derby – a Lock Prep race has attracted a salty field of three year old males looking to secure a spot in the big race. Aside from being the first Lock Prep the All Saints Derby is unique in that it is the only one to be run at a mile and a sixteenth. The rest are all nine furlong runs. It makes it difficult to analyze the runners coming out of this race when they try the classic mile and a quarter on the first Saturday in May.
#1 Onyx Exchange 11/1
Onyx Exchange likely needs a win or a place in this spot to qualify for the Bluegrass Derby. He does not currently possess a graded stakes win and will need the points awarded here to make the field. He did win a one mile listed last fall and run third in a Breeders’ Bowl grade one prep so he has some route stakes points but if he only places here he will likely be on the bubble to get into the big race. On top of that his two races this year have been disasters. He was seventh in a listed and ninth in a grade two. The well bred Curlin x Danzig x Seattle Slew scratchbred needs to turn around his form big time.
#2 Deed I Do 18/1
Deed I Do is another scratchbred, this one is Will Take Charge x Scat Daddy x Quality Road. He has a grade three win going a mile last fall but he was off the board in two grade one entries after that. He does enter this race off an interesting training pattern. He was given a three month holiday after the Breeders’ Bowl last year and returned in a one mile turf allowance in February. That was his first time on the lawn and he did not care for it at all. That said horses can often run big races when they return to their preferred surface and again will improve second time off a layoff. This guy does have some route stakes points with that grade three win but again without a win here he may not have enough to make the big race. If he does win he’ll enter the Bluegrass Derby with just two races this year which might bode well if he moves on to the Middle Jewel two weeks later.
#3 The Road To Vaes 11/1
Trainer given has four runners in this field, including this blueblooded son of Quality Road out of the graded placed / stakes winning Distorted Humor x A.P. Indy mare Vaes Dothrak. He is her seventh foal and she has yet to produce a graded winner. The Road To Vaes came pretty close to changing that with a hard charging run in the Grade One North Fork Stakes last fall where he ran second beaten less than a length. He followed that up with a next to last finish in the Breeders’ Bowl. He’s had two starts this year, both in listed stakes races and he has not hit the board in either. Interestingly given has both the horse with the most and second most career starts and this colt is the latter. It may be that a tough schedule is catching up to this colt.
#4 Coagulate Hide 18/1
Coagulate Hide has the fewest number of starts for the horses in this field with just five. He’s won three times including a grade three route in December with a late running style. The son of Runaway and Hide out of a Symboli Kris S. x Nijinsky II mare was next seen running eighteen lengths behind the winner of the Grade Two Fountain of Ute. That was his only off the board finish in his career and only his trainer has a clue as to what caused the uncharacteristic race. That race came at a mile and an eighth whereas his grade three win was a mile and a sixteenth. If that is what made the difference it could indicate a better chance here but a worse one if he makes the Bluegrass Derby field.
#5 Old Enemy 9/1
Old Enemy enters off two listed stakes wins. The first came in December at six furlongs and the more recent in January at a mile and a sixteenth, an interesting feat. The scratchbred son of Uncle Mo x Danzig x A.P. Indy ran a 101 speed in that race which was interesting because in two route races as a two year old he hadn’t shown a particular fondness for routing. Obviously with only one listed win in a route he needs to win this race to make the Bluegrass Derby starting gate. His races have been spaced out pretty well though, it’s been two months since his January race and he’ll have six weeks til the Derby.
#6 Var Reaching 7/1
Var Reaching is a co-favorite here and he comes from the same connections that brought you last year’s Bluegrass Derby and Horse of the Year winner Giant’s Kash. He is a son of Var, a South African sire who has already produced a two year old champion on dirt but his Awesome Again x A.P .Indy dam was just a so-so runner and he is only her second foal. This colt has run seven times, five times in stakes races and he’s never been off the board but in his five stakes starts he has never found the winner’s circle which is concerning. His two races this year have come at nine and a half furlongs, first in a listed where he ran a massive 105 speed and most recently in a grade one where he dropped a bit to a 99. The closest he’s ever been to winning a stakes race did come going a mile and a sixteenth so maybe the drop back in distance will help him put it all together.
#7 Sippin On The Tap 9/1
Sippin On The Tap is a son of Tapit who descends from the legendary Hall of Fame broodmare Mama Forty. If he wins here it could be a big year for the Mama Forty line in the Classics as she also has descendant Cadet of Thrace prepped for the turf Classics with a grade one win last month. Sippin On The Tap himself is based on the grade two winning Awesome Again x Street Cry hemare Sippin Again who did his best running in sprints. Sippin On The Tap has run triple digit speeds in his last two starts, both listed wins at a mile and a sixteenth. He debuted last year in a Blazing Saddles residency restricted race, part of a series of which that has produced champions and grade one winners throughout the years. It would not be surprising if this colt becomes another gem in the Blazing Saddles crown.
#8 Avenue of Clouds 12/1
Avenue of Clouds is a scratchbred son of Cloud Computing x Rock Hard Ten x Midshipman. Cloud Computing is in just his second year as a sim sire and so far this is his only graded winner. Avenue of Clouds earned that distinction in the Grade Three Sam’s Town Delta Jackpot in December. He ran a 99 speed winning that race which came over the same track and distance as this spot. He returned two months later to this track and distance to run fifth in the local prep for this race, the Grade Three Risen Star Stakes. He came back and ran a 98 speed so he didn’t regress but he also didn’t move forward in his first start as a three year old.
#9 Ready For A Strike 7/1
The co-favorite here is one of two grade one winners in the field but Ready For A Strike earned that distinction while running on the grass by winning the Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Turf last season. It was his third win in a row and second in a graded stakes. He ran a 99 speed that day going one mile. He made his 2020 debut in the Grade One Vermont Is 4 Lovers at a mile and an eighth and ran a 100 speed but only mustered a fifth place finish, fading in the stretch. He debuted in a dirt sprint but didn’t hit the board there. He is a son of More Than Ready out of a Smart Strike x Danehill mare who has produced two older foals, one of which is a stakes winner on the grass. It’s possible that this colt has matured into a horse who wants to run a distance on dirt but it is rare the sim horse who can be a dual surface grade one winner.
#10 Oldmoon’s Mine 12/1
Grade two winner Oldmoon’s Mine earned that distinction going seven furlongs but he was second by a head in a grade two at a mile and a sixteenth last November. He returned in January in a grade three at the same distance and tried to wire the field but tired to finish third. He did run a career best 98 speed there but others in here have run faster and he returned to finish off the board in a grade two at the same distance where he faded after being pressed early. The son of Mean Season is a local bred here in Louisiana out of a Mineshaft x Summer Squall mare. He’s four for four sprinting and that may be where he needs to be.
#11 Titanic Ghost 8/1
Titanic Ghost has an impressive record of five wins and a second from seven starts. If there is a flaw to that it is that all five of his wins – including a listed and grade three score all came in sprints. He made his first route start in a grade three at the end of December where he came flying from twelfth to finish second, only a length behind the winner Bef who won a grade one last weekend. That race was at a mile and a sixteenth, he returned in the Grade One Vermont is 4 Lovers at nine furlongs and dropped a bit further back early on and didn’t kick as well in the stretch. He was sixth in that spot and his speed dropped from a 102 to a 100. He’s another that will have a question mark if he wins here. Will he be able to be as effective going longer? He’s a son of California Chrome out of a stakes winning Smart Strike x Ghosztapper mare.
#12 Wakharo 8/1
The horse with the most starts in this field at ten is given’s Wakharo. A son of War Front out of the grade three winning A.P. Indy x Storm Cat mare Rakharo he is a grandson of the Hall of Fame mare Mother of Dragons. Rakharo has only produced one graded winner from eleven foals by some of the best sires in the game but Wakharo did come within two lengths of winning a grade three back in January at this distance. He came into that race off a listed win at the same distance where he closed from midpack to win by a neck. In the grade three he was last early and had too much left to do in the stretch. His most recent start saw him stretch out to nine furlongs in a grade one and while he was midpack throughout the early stages he was farther back from the leaders than he had been in his previous start. He did close that distance but so did most of the other runners in the race and he finished tenth.
#13 Big Dome LV 12/1
The only gelding in the field is Big Dome LV, the son of Dome, a New Mexico based sire out of a Big Brown x Seattle Slew mare. Big Dome LV was available for a $12,500 tag in his debut but his most recent start came in the local prep for this race, the Grade Three Risen Star Stakes which he won. He battled for the early lead and took over the top spot at the second call maintaining the lead throughout the stretch. He ran a 104 speed that day, one of the highest of any horse in this field and obviously has an affinity for the track and distance. Whether he can repeat that performance against what is a much tougher field remains to be seen.
#14 A Tiny Bit 9/1
All the way on the outside is given’s fourth entry, A Tiny Bit. He’s a scratchbred son of Arrogate x Danzig x Dynaformer and the second grade one winner in the field (and the only one to do it on the dirt). Starting in August he put together a three race win streak once he started routing, taking an allowance a listed and a grade one. The grade one came back in November at a mile and a sixteenth where he ran wire to wire and held on to win by three quarters of a length. He’s been seventh in his two subsequent starts, the first a grade one in December where he failed to make the early lead and the second a grade three at nine furlongs in February where he did grab the early lead but couldn’t hold on and faded badly.
Good luck to all!