Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 12
A weekly look at under the radar 3-year-olds who could step up and make an impact on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby.
Though Shooters Shoot was beaten in his first four starts, he wasn’t disgraced against tough competition on the California circuit, where he finished behind the likes of Charlatan, Eight Rings, and Express Train. Perhaps the son of Competitive Edge just needed time to mature, because Shooters Shoot has turned things around in recent weeks.
Under the care of trainer Peter Eurton, Shoots Shoot graduated in a 1-mile maiden special weight March 15 at Santa Anita, where he led all the way to pull clear and score by 3 1/4 lengths. Shipped to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, Shooters Shoot showed speed again in a 1-mile optional-claiming allowance Saturday, when he dueled from start to finish with heavy favorite Blackberry Wine (through fast fractions of :45.87 and 1:09.94) to win by a neck in 1:36.66.
Though Competitive Edge was a sprinter/miler, the bottom half of Shooters Shoot’s pedigree is a bit stouter. Damsire Bernardini won the 1 3/16-mile Preakness (G1) and 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1). Clearly a mile is within Shooters Shoot’s comfort zone, and given how quickly he is improving, even longer distances could be in his wheelhouse down the road.
Could Pneumatic be the latest star for trainer Steve Asmussen and Winchell Thoroughbreds? The son of Uncle Mo is certainly off to a promising start.
He showed grit and determination in his debut Feb. 15 at Oaklawn, where he rallied from mid-pack to win the 6-furllng test by a neck, in the quick time of 1:09.83. Both the runner-up (Skol Factor) and third-place finisher (Liam’s Pride) returned to win their next starts.
With this promising debut under his belt, Pneumatic stretched out in distance for a 1-mile allowance race Saturday at Oaklawn. Once again reserved in the middle of the field early, Pneumatic produced a strong rally down the homestretch to wear down stakes winner Captain Bombastic and score by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:36.70.
Produced by the stakes-placed Tapit mare Teardrop, Pneumatic is bred to relish racing two turns and could prove even more formidable over classic distances, a scary proposition for his rivals.