We’re about a month away from the Run for the Roses! The 2016 Kentucky Derby promises to be an incredibly competitive event. This past Saturday we saw some horses take big steps up into Derby contention. Two of the horses returned to glory after so-so performances while the other proved that his last run wasn’t a fluke. I take a look at a few contenders in this Saturday’s Arkansas Derby towards the end of the blog.
1. Exaggerator – The son of Curlin out of a Vindication mare was the talk of the town after winning the Delta Downs Jackpot last year. Then, he ran into Nyquist in the 7 furlong San Vicente. Danzing Candy freaked in the 1 1/16 San Felipe Stakes. No such craziness occurred this past Saturday as Exaggerator followed way behind fast fractions set by Danzing Candy before mounting a rally along the backstretch that carried him all the way to the finish line first.
There are some knocks. Exaggerator’s best 2 races have occurred over muddy tracks. Also, closing so far from off the pace is much easier in an 8 horse field than it will be in a 20 horse field. But, nobody can deny that the move Exaggerator made well before the final turn was impressive!
2. Brody’s Cause – The Giant’s Causeway sired, Dale Romans trainee made amends for a terrible 7th place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby by winning the Bluegrass Stakes this past Saturday. Brody’s Cause found another gear in the stretch and won handily. He looked great. But, the field wasn’t all that strong. Plus, the final time of 1:50.20 wasn’t particularly fast. Another issue might be that Brody’s Cause is a horse for course. His 3 best races all occurred over the Keeneland dirt. He did break his maiden under the Twin Spires. So, there is hope that he’ll run just as well on May 7.
3. Outwork – The Todd Pletcher trainee won the Wood Memorial in only his 4th lifetime race. It was also the first time that Outwork had ever run over a muddy track. Still, like with Brody’s Cause and Exaggerator, there are a couple of knocks. The 2016 Wood Memorial field left a lot to be desired. None of the horses in the field were really proven. Not only that, but the favorites, including Shagaf and Matt King Coal, got beat by Trojan Nation, a maiden who almost ran up and passed Outwork on the rail. The Wood Memorial was a tough race for Outwork. I’m not sure he’ll have recouped enough to give Nyquist a run for his money near the lead on the First Saturday in May.
Arkansas Derby Horses to Watch
Dazzling Gem – Trainer Brad Cox has done an excellent job with the son of Misremembered who finished 3rd in the Louisiana Derby. Dazzling Gem broke his maiden before winning an allowance race. The Louisiana Derby was only his third lifetime race. It’s going to be interesting to see if he improves in the Arkansas Derby this Saturday.
Cupid – I love how Cupid relaxes so well on the front end. He got the first quarter in the Rebel in :22.4. He relaxed enough to get the second quarter in :24. It’s hard to find that kind of professionalism in a three-year-old. Plus, he was sired by Tapit and he’s trained by Bob Baffert.
Whitmore – The second place finisher in the Rebel Stakes made a menacing move but couldn’t get by Cupid in the stretch in the Rebel Stakes. The Pleasantly Perfect, Ronald Moquett trainee, has every right to turn the tables on his rival this Saturday.
Creator – Out of all of the Arkansas Derby contenders, this is the horse that I’m excited to watch on April 16. The Steve Asmussen trainee went about 6 wide around the final turn. In the stretch, it appeared as if he had all of the momentum. Yet another horse sired by Tapit, he runs as if the longer he goes the better. Asmussen might have this guy ready to show his best in the Arkansas Derby.
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