Kentucky Derby contender profile: Pneumatic
Although Pneumatic has always shown potential, maturity has done wonders for this Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, who emerged as an intriguing contender for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and/or Preakness (G1), following a resounding victory in the Pegasus S.
A son of juvenile champion and hot sire Uncle Mo, Pneumatic was produced by the stakes-placed Tapit mare Teardrop. From top to bottom, this is a pedigree geared toward success running long on dirt, which is why it was noteworthy to see Pneumatic win his Feb. 15 debut sprinting 6 furlongs at Oaklawn Park.
Pneumatic really shouldn’t have had the speed to factor in a hotly contested sprint, yet the Steve Asmussen-trained youngster rallied gamely down the lane to win by a neck, over next-out winners Skol Factor and Liam’s Pride.
Two months later, Pneumatic stretched out for a 1-mile allowance at Oaklawn and rolled to victory by 2 1/2 lengths, over stakes winner Captain Bombastic.
Pneumatic joined the expanded Road to the Kentucky Derby with a gallant, third-place effort in the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs. After he dueled for the early lead, Pneumatic was beaten just 1 3/4 lengths at the finish by Grade 1 winner Maxfield and future Haskell (G1) runner-up Ny Traffic.
A return to mid-pack, stalking tactics carried Pneumatic to a respectable fourth-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Belmont Stakes (G1), after which Asmussen gave the maturing colt a breather. He skipped the toughest Kentucky Derby preps in July and early August, so Pneumatic wasn’t seen under colors again until the Aug. 15 Pegasus at Monmouth Park, an easier spot where Pneumatic started as the 4-5 favorite against seven rivals.
Any way you slice it, Pneumatic delivered on expectations. After he tracked modest fractions of :24.17, :48.28, and 1:12.80, the colt pounced decisively to the lead on the far turn, then stayed on strongly down the stretch to score by 2 1/4 lengths.
In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Pneumatic isn’t the fastest colt in the prospective Kentucky Derby field. His career-best 103 from the Pegasus is solid, but still 12 points shy of the 115 posted by Derby favorite Tiz the Law in the Travers (G1).
But with his strong pedigree and improving profile, Pneumatic is clearly heading in the right direction as the first Saturday in September approaches. Even if his connections choose to pass on the challenge of the Kentucky Derby, a run in the Oct. 3 Preakness looms as a prestigious alternative for this talented youngster.