Kentucky Derby contender profile: Thousand Words

December 9th, 2019

Thousand Words knows how to win a driving finish—that much is certain.

Whether he can give trainer Bob Baffert a sixth Kentucky Derby (G1) victory is another question entirely, but the colt took a big step toward that goal when he prevailed in a hard-fought edition of the $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2).

With his victory in the December 7 test at Los Alamitos, Thousand Words picked up 10 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Just as importantly he demonstrated his determination and talent to defeat more experienced rivals.

Thousand Words has long been considered an exciting prospect. A son of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pionneerof the Nile, out of the three-time graded stakes-winning mare Pomeroys Pistol, Thousand Words boasts a classy pedigree and sold for $1 million as a yearling, a testament to his perceived quality.

So far Thousand Words has lived up to those lofty expectations. Owners Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm sent the colt to Baffert, who famously conditioned Pioneerof the Nile’s Triple Crown-winning son, American Pharoah.

Under Baffert’s tutelage Thousand Words rallied to victory in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden dash October 26 at Santa Anita, where he gamely ran down the capable Thunder Code to win by a half-length. This performance was impressive enough to make Thousand Words an individual betting interest in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1, and bettors priced him at 34-1.

His odds figure to drop for Pool 2. In the Los Alamitos Futurity, Thousand Words stepped up sharply in class and distance. He covered 1 1/16 miles and faced Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Anneau d’Or and third-place finisher Wrecking Crew, as well as his Bob Hope Stakes (G3)-winning stablemate High Velocity.

With Flavien Prat in the saddle, Thousand Words flashed speed from the start. He tracked and then pressed quick fractions of :22.47, :45.87 and 1:10.43 over a rain-inundated and sealed track. This testing pace left Thousand Words leg weary for the run down the homestretch, but despite drifting through the stretch, the colt gamely reeled in High Velocity and held off a determined challenge from Anneau d’Oro to win by a neck in 1:43.19.

From a pedigree perspective it’s unclear whether Thousand Words has the stamina to handle the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby. While he figures to receive a sturdy dose of long-distance durability from Pioneerof the Nile, Pomeroys Pistol was strictly a sprinter and hails from a speed-oriented pedigree.

Then again, Baffert isn’t concerned.

"When (Thousand Words) came back after the race,  he wasn’t even blowing hard. ... Distance isn’t going to be a problem. ... I told (Prat) before he ran that I found a good one for him for the Kentucky Derby next year," the trainer said.

Considering Baffert’s long history of success under the Twin Spires, his high opinion of Thousand Words is a scary proposition for rivals on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.