Most of the horses in the dozen are making their final Derby preps this weekend or next and while we will get to how they may fare in a moment, the field is beginning to take shape. Four horses have been entered in the URC Derby which is now only 4 weeks away. Jojos Misadventure leads the group with 8 points. Derekc nominated him after a 94 SP MSW win at 7 furlongs. He went straight into stakes following that and ran a 2nd place 99 SP at a mile. He has tremendous speed taking leads of over 4 lengths in both races. However, he’s faded in the stretch. Does he want more ground or less? Going up 2 furlongs to 10 and in his 3rd career start is a massive challenge. The Pioneerof the Nile colt looks like he has talent, but is it enough? Also with 8 points is Imbil Baleen who debuted in 2020 running 8th in a stake at 9. He dropped down to a mile and ran a 102 winning an allowance. He’s won half his races, but with only two preps we won’t know about him until the race. Did he improve from February to March or is more suited to one turn races? Maclean’s Music x Giant’s Causeway doesn’t really help us either as that can go both ways as well. If you put me to it, I’d guess 10 is too far, but trainer kymar has reason to be cautiously optimistic. It looks like trainer pboy has made his choice with Turkey King going to the URC Derby. He’s been on our dozen and is going to be dangerous despite being only a maiden winner. Finally, History Lives Here who we haven’t heard from before is entered with 4 points. A scratch bred Empire Maker with a fantastic pedigree he gets here based on his last race, a 97 allowance win at 9.5-furlongs that he won by 3. This comes after two poor races so maybe the light finally clicked. Has never tested stakes company before.
- Titanic Ghost (California Chrome x Smart Strike) – I always knew that the horse had talent and he proved it last week winning the Derby Lock All Saints Derby. In a thrilling finish, he got up to win by a head with a 109 SP. Unlike the real Louisiana Derby which is now run at 9.5-furlongs, the All Saints is contested at 8.5. Even so, you have to figure a big California Chrome colt can handle ten. Great job Titanic Ghost and good luck in the Bluegrass Derby!
- Divisidario (Carpe Diem x Pulpit) – Undefeated horse looks to make his final prep. Depending on how the points break down he likely needs to run first or second to make the Bluegrass Derby.
- NYSP Sergeant (More than Ready x Deputy Minister) – Next race in the stretch out will give us more insight on how he may handle 10. He’s a stakes winner with a pedigree.
- Running with Beto (Constitution x Galileo) – Bounced from his G1 draw so he loses his Bluegrass Hail Mary. Shuffled back to next week at 8.5 in a G2. In theory 8.5 to 9 to 8.5 to 10 would be a good training pattern.
- NYSP Trooper (Distorted Humor x Seattle Slew) – Pulled an allowance win at 8.25-furlongs with a 99 winning by 4 1/2. I’m a sucker for high times and large winning margins. Always suggest there is a ton more and this could have been a 105ish. It was a distance cut back and it was a sloppy track but it’s still the type of performance that suggests there is quality under the hood. Perfect pedigree and he’s 5 for 8.
- Jojos Misadventure (Pioneerof the Nile x Forty Niner) – Discussed above if he actually likes 10 I think he may end up winning it. Or I could be seduced by the unlimited potential he hints at. Either way, one to watch.
- Detract (Curlin x War Chant) – Still sitting on that one race in 2020. Everything comes down to his second and final prep. High risk, maybe high reward game plan.
- Allegory of Spring (Cupid x Storm Cat) – Like Running with Beto, he didn’t draw into his G1 prep this weekend. Trainer lindsypark said, “Not enough entry points, so I’ve had to drop him back to a Stakes race over more distance. There were no other suitable Group races at the moment. Think that will cost him his chance at the Bluegrass Derby. Will press on with his campaign and see what happens.” Spring and Beto show the perils and necessity of stake points.
- Turkey King (Daiwa Major x Frankel) – he wins the pboy Highlander style there can be only one competition among his stables. Pancakes and Beer lost by 20 in stakes try with a major regression in SP although it could have been the wet surface. Whatever the reason, the Turkey King gets the nod. He has the distance affinity so he has at least one box checked.
- Antarctika (Astern x Storm Cat) – Tries opens takes at 9. He’s the fall back for me if Beto falls on his face. Or if he continues his progression and blows up at 9 he may take the spot outright. He would be going into the Derby on 2 weeks rest though. Only option for him in 9 furlong open company.
- Always Texas (Texas Red x Awesome Again – I don’t know. Trainer Johnk either knows what he’s doing and I can’t see it, or he doesn’t. Won a starter allowance with triple digits last week. Both he and the 12 here have faced suspect competition all year. Will the softballs pay off? I am actually interested to find out myself.
- Rumaana (Drosselmeyer x Harbinger) – Likely awaiting a final prep. Trainer has gotten great records and BPs out of bargain stallions. Excellent efficiency.
In two weeks when the final preps have been completed we should have most of the field set. At that time I’ll be asking trainers for their thoughts on who they entered and why. After that, I’ll do my preview for this race. It’s sort of crazy, so much has changed since I began following these horses. Hard to believe it’s almost the first weekend in May. Harder to believe most of us are living under quarantine. I’m thrilled that one of our horses made it to the Bluegrass Derby and we have a second with a shot. I hope you all have enjoyed following them as much as I. Stay safe everyone.