Gunnevera Antonio Sano
Dialed In—Unbridled Rage, by Unbridled
I asked Sano what was it about Gunnevera that attracted him at the sale and I loved his answer: “His eyes…his eyes were happy.” They obviously still are. Whether he’s winning a grade 2 sprint at Saratoga, a two-turn stakes on a bull ring track in Louisiana, or on a shortened stretch at Gulfstream, he runs like a happy horse who loves what he’s doing. Sano also said he liked the colt’s stride when he saw him at the sale, and two years later he is recognizable by his smooth, efficient action. I have heard the term plodder used to describe him, which is untrue. Not every horse that comes from off the pace is a plodder. This is a horse who won the Fountain of Youth by almost 6 lengths on a track where the finish line was located at the sixteenth pole and who already had the lead turning for home. He also won the Delta Jackpot by almost 6 lengths with a spectacular last to first move, beating the eventual Gotham Stakes winner J Boys Echo by more than 10 lengths on a 6-furlong oval with a mere 660-foot stretch that is used in spring and summer for Quarter-Horse racing. In the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special, the second-place horse finished 14 lengths ahead of the third horse. He also broke his maiden at 5 1/2 furlongs in the slop, so he has done pretty much everything on every kind of racetrack and at various distances, and was able to not only win but romp in the two stakes races in which there were extremely short stretch runs.
McCraken Ian Wilkes
Ghostzapper—Ivory Empress, by by Seeking the Gold
You can’t have a better day without racing than McCraken did on March 11. In the morning he had his first workout since suffering a strained ankle, breezing an easy half in :50 1/5 at Palm Meadows. And then in the afternoon, the quality of his Sam F. Davis Stakes victory skyrocketed when the horse he defeated, Tapwrit, ran off with the Tampa Bay Derby in track-record time, a record he had held briefly in winning the Sam Davis. So, from the uncertainty that surrounded his injury and having to miss the Tampa Derby, has come a strong feeling of optimism that the colt is back on track and headed for the Blue Grass Stakes in good form once again. Not only did Tapwrit come back and win, but the third- and fourth-place finishers in the Sam F. Davis finished second and third. So the form of that race held up perfectly. The Blue Grass Stakes is still a ways off and he has to run his race and get a lot of out of it before you can get too excited. But this certainly was an excellent first step back in the right direction. OK, you can get a little excited.
Tapwrit Todd Pletcher
Tapit—Appealing Zophie, by Successful Appeal
Despite breaking the stakes record in the Tampa Bay Derby, he is on the upswing and just keeps improving with every race. Unlike Destin last year, he in no way has peaked too soon. Everyone loves the Cinderella stories in this sport, such as Gunnevera’s rise from a $16,000 yearling purchase, but those poor $1.2 million yearlings like Tapwrit never get the love they deserve, just because they were born of the blood and someone with deep pockets and money to burn decided to spend a fortune on them. But let’s give Tapwrit the acclaim he deserves. In the Tampa Bay Derby, he stumbled at the start, got bumped around from both sides, then was bumped again on the first turn, dropping back to eighth, someplace he’d never been before. When Jose Ortiz asked him going into the far turn, he flew by horses, going inside Beasley, then outside No Dozing. He collared the pacesetting State of Honor and flew by him as well, cutting the corner beautifully and quickly drawing off to win by 4 1/2 lengths. The way he cut that corner so tightly with State of Honor still inside him and smoothly switched leads showed how athletic he is and how much run he had in him. Conrad Banderoff, son of Denali Stud’s Craig Banderoff, who consigned the colt, recalled, “He was pure class from day one. Physically, he was very impressive – athletic, strong, and well balanced. He had a commanding presence, a beautiful walk, and moved with a sense of purpose.” He demonstrated all those attributes in the Tampa Derby, substituting a beautiful walk for a beautiful stride. He also overcame adversity, showed an explosive turn of foot, and did it all in flawless fashion. So, would it sound pompous to say I like a $1.2 million yearling? All I know is that he tries hard and has been taking giant steps forward every race…and he doesn’t even know how much he cost.
Girvin Joe Sharp
Tale of Ekati—Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon
He had his first work since the Risen Star, breezing a half in :49 in company with stakes winner Cool Arrow with Rosie Napravnik in the saddle. The big question mark with him is pedigree, and it’s only a question whether it will be the stamina or the speed in his bloodlines that is going to prove dominant. If they cancel each other out then it will be his talent and class that will take over, and he has plenty of both. He is by a horse who was basically a miler who won a slow running of the Wood Memorial and his only sibling is a pure sprinter. And his maternal great-grandsire, Yes It’s True, was strictly a sprinter who sired mostly sprinters. But on the other side of the coin, his sire Tale of Ekati’s dam Silence Beauty is by Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Sunday Silence, whose offspring earned an otherworldly $713 million in Japan. Silence Beauty is a half-sister to Hall of Famer Sky Beauty, winner of the NYRA Filly Triple Crown and Alabama Stakes, and their dam, Maplejinsky, also won the Alabama Stakes. Girvin’s broodmare sire, Malibu Moon, is the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Orb, as well as Delaware Handicap and Beldame winner Life At Ten and Coaching Club American Oaks and Mother Goose winner Devil May Care. Girvin also has the Rasmussen Factor (RF), being inbred to the mare Monique Rene, who won 29 of 45 starts and 13 minor stakes. So it looks like Girvin is caught in a battle of the blood, and we’ll know soon enough which wins out. But for now, it is reassuring having Rosie work him and be able to convey her observations to her husband.
J Boys Echo Dale Romans
Mineshaft—Letgomyecho, by Menifee
There are some who question his lofty 102 Beyer speed figure in the Gotham Stakes, and others who feel he won the race because of a perfect pace setup. For some reason taking advantage of a pace setup and drawing off to a convincing victory is held against a horse, as if seizing an opportunity when it presents itself is a bad thing. Does that mean there is no way his victory should be applauded, only diminished? He won and he won impressively. There is nothing more he could have done. If he had won by 10 lengths in track record time, some still would have said it was the pace setup. One of these years, Dale Romans is going to win the Kentucky Derby, and those believers in fate and higher entities will claim it finally was his time to have the Derby gods smiling down on him as a true son of Kentucky who grew up in the shadow of Churchill Downs and spent a good deal of his childhood working there for his father, whose barn he still calls home after all these years. And add to that the Albaugh family losing their big horse, Not This Time, to injury. It would be quite ironic, to use an earthly word, for them to win the Derby 60 years after another owner, Calumet Farm, was faced with an identical situation, losing their big Derby horse, Gen. Duke, only to win with Iron Leige, who, like J Boys Echo, was considered a second-stringer early on. Oh, yes, J Boy’s Echo’s sixth dam, Lea Lark, is by Bull Lea, the sire of Iron Leige.
Classic Empire Mark Casse
Pioneerof the Nile—Sambuca Classica, by Cat Thief
Yes, I admit this colt has been bouncing up and down like a pogo stick, but now that he’s finally worked, and worked very well, which is all we needed to see right now, he makes it back on the Dozen, and because there is no one else I’m comfortable with ranking this high, he returns to where he’s been earlier, which is high up. Is this a premature move, and am I going to get burned again? I have no idea, but you have to start somewhere, and we have to keep reminding ourselves that this is the 2-year-old champion and impressive winner of two grade I stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. As for his work, his half-mile breeze in :48 4/5, out 5 furlongs in 1:01 3/5 was pretty darn strong for his first work back since the February 4 Holy Bull Stakes, ranking third fastest of 27 works at the distance. Now all he has to do to stay up here is continue to work on a regular basis with no crazy antics and no more physical setbacks until his final prep, which likely will be the Blue Grass Stakes, with the Arkansas Derby, a week later, as another option in case they feel he could use another week. He needs to get a lot of the race and you want to send him in there at close to 100 percent, as he will be facing a tough field of seasoned horses, regardless of which race they decide on.
Practical Joke Chad Brown
Into Mischief—Halo Humor, by Distorted Humor
This year, the big final preps will be do or die for so many top-name horses who are either trying to rebound off injuries or poor performances, and he is right up there with them, even though he’s had no setbacks so far. But he may be the biggest enigma of all in that he needs to show some sign he can be effective going two turns. He has shown his class and shown his courage, and he’s shown good sprint speed and a rapid-fire turn of foot. But in his only two-turn races, he has lost considerable ground from the eighth pole to the wire, which is something you most definitely do not want to see from a Derby horse, especially one whose pedigree is in question when it comes to going classic distances. You can make excuses, or reasons, for his two defeats around two turns, and he just may have been a bit short in the Fountain of Youth after making what looked to be a possible winning move on the far turn. But Gunnevera just blew right on by him and opened up nearly 6 lengths, and he had to fight to hold on to second over the pacesetting Three Rules. So the bottom line is it’s strictly a guess with him. If this were years ago when 3-year-oolds got gobs of weight from older horses in May, I would say run him in the Derby if you really feel he belongs, and if it doesn’t work out, drop him back in the Met Mile, a race that was won by 3-year-olds five times from 1982-96, and with Sword Dancer, Arts and Letters, Quadrangle, Gulch, and Holy Bull all winning it coming off the Kentucky Derby. And there surely won’t be any Ghostzappers running in it this year.
American Anthem Bob Baffert
Bodemeister—Indy’s Windy, by A.P. Indy
He suddenly stands alone as Baffert’s top, and possibly only, Derby horse, as the trainer tries to recover from the devastating loss of Mastery on the Derby trail. Gormley’s poor performance in the San Felipe Stakes didn’t exactly boost his reputation, and you have to start looking at that :25 4/5 final quarter of the Sham Stakes. But he is more than capable of winning the Rebel, with his speed and courage under fire and coming off a series of long fast works. Have you ever seen a top-class Baffert horse who didn’t work brilliantly on a consistent basis? That’s why his Derby horses always come to Churchill fit and sharp. After his latest 6-furlong work in a bullet 1:11 3/5, preceded by a series of brilliant long works (6f in 1:12 1/5, 5f in :58 4/5, and 6f in 1:13 2/5) don’t expect to see a short horse in the Rebel Stakes. With the likelihood of several fast horses who like to run on the lead showing for the 1 1/16 race that Baffert has owned in recent years, this would be the perfect time for American Anthem to show he can sit back off the pace and deliver the same kind of closing kick he demonstrated sprinting in his career debut. With only two career starts under him, he needs to be tested in his first start in 2 1/2 months in order to move on to his big final prep, likely the Santa Anita Derby, if Baffert sticks to his original plan of not shipping him to Oaklawn twice. We really have no idea how good this colt is, only that he was extremely game in his head defeat to the more seasoned Gormley in the Sham Stakes.
One Liner Todd Pletcher
Into Mischief—Cayala, by Cherokee Run
The question is, will this colt’s immense talent be able to overcome his lack of racing mileage come May 6? There is no doubting his ability, but by having only one more prep and going into the Derby off four career starts, two sprints, and three races in 9 1/2 months, as well as a suspect pedigree, will he have the foundation and be battle-tested enough to handle the mile and a quarter and rigors of the Kentucky Derby? As of this writing, it’s been over three weeks since his victory in the Southwest Stakes and he hasn’t been back on the work tab. This apparently is the new Derby trail, or should we say Derby trail light. Sure, like everything, one day it will become the norm and we’ll be seeing less and less of the Derby contenders and know less about them leading into the Derby. Soon, any lightly raced horse will be able to win the Derby if the majority of the field also is lightly raced and foundation and racing experience no longer are a necessity. My colleague Lenny Shulman has more on this in Knocking on the Door. For now, we can only look at One Liner as a colt with unlimited potential who will be trying to accomplish what only two others have accomplished in the past century. The reason I keep repeating this is that, with no works and so few races, there simply is nothing more to say about him. I really have no idea who this horse is and what he is capable of.
Iliad Doug O’Neill
Ghostzapper—Little Swoon, by You and I
I’m expecting big improvement from him in what now looks to be a small and seemingly mediocre Santa Anita Derby field. Yes, he was soundly beaten by 6 3/4 lengths in the San Felipe, but he did rate nicely in third in his two-turn debut and moved up menacingly to challenge Mastery, accelerating on cue. When Flavien Prat hit him right-handed he ducked in and jumped over to his left lead, but quickly switched back to his right lead on his own. He simply was no match for Mastery in the stretch, which was no disgrace considering the winner’s 105 Beyer figure, and each time Prat hit him left-handed he threw his tail in the air, basically telling him to cut it out, he’s trying as hard as he can. He did go wide into the first turn and took the turn into the stretch a bit wide, so there was sufficient ground loss to make his race somewhat better than it appeared. Battle of Midway, the horse he trounced in the San Vicente, came back to win a good allowance race in his two-turn debut the day before the San Felipe, and he’s one of the horses he’ll have to beat in the Santa Anita Derby. He has enough stamina to keep stretching out and he should get a lot out of this race, so it makes sense to assume we’ll see a much-improved colt next time out.
Uncontested Wayne Catalano
Tiz Wonderful—Galileo’s Star, by Lil E. Tee
I have decided to resurrect him back into the Dozen leading into Saturday’s Rebel Stakes, based mostly on how brilliantly he’s been training since his debacle in the Southwest Stakes, in which it is believed he displaced his palate. It was originally decided to skip the Rebel, but when the colt bounced out of the Southwest Stakes and breezed a sharp 5 furlongs in 1:00 and then followed it up with a blistering 5 panels in :58 4/5, out in 1:10 and change and pulling up 7 furlongs in 1:24, he pretty much told his connections he needed to run. What impressed trainer Wayne Catalano, co-owner Harry Rosenblum, and jockey Channing Hill, who was aboard, was how little the work took out of him. “Channing said he wasn’t winded at all pulling up,” Rosenblum said. “He was instructed to go slow early and finish and it was like a walk in the park. This colt continues to amaze me. I’ve been in this business for 34 years and I’ve never been this impressed with a horse.” With all the speed in the Rebel, it is imperative he rates off the pace and uses those humongous strides and great tactical speed to his advantage. If he tries to run with American Anthem and Malagacy and even Royal Mo, after likely losing his air in the Southwest Stakes, then all bets are off.
Petrov Ron Moquett
Flatter—Saracina, by Bertrando
I have been wanting to put this colt in the Top 12 for some time now, so with the Rebel Stakes coming up this weekend, and with enough speed this time to allow him to take back off the pace, he should finally get a setup he’ll be able to use to his advantage rather than having to chase Uncontested right from the start. It was extremely close whether to put him or Untrapped in the final spot, as I believe the first three finishers are all going to run well enough to occupy the Dozen through the Arkansas Derby and right up to the big race. I will talk more about Untrapped in Knocking on the Door, but you can consider him in a virtual tie for the final spot. As for Petrov, I just like the way this colt runs, with great determination, while giving his all from start to finish every race. He’s run second three straight races now, and it wouldn’t bother me if he runs second again in the Rebel and even the Arkansas Derby, because I don’t think he’s near peaking yet. As long as he’s closing this time, he should be fine. So, we have four chances, with American Anthem, Petrov. Untrapped, and Uncontested, to keep three on the Top 12. But the way this year is going, nothing is going to come as a surprise.
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR
It was difficult to get too excited about anything in racing on Saturday following the devastating injury to MASTERY just seconds after he did his best impression of American Pharoah by demolishing his field in the San Felipe Stakes in his long-awaited 3-year-old debut. With Arrogate ruling the racing world, Baffert looked to be on another amazing run after Mastery crossed the finish line 6 3/4 lengths ahead of Iliad in a performance that looked to catapult him to the head of the Derby class. But that all came crashing down when Mike Smith pulled Mastery up on the clubhouse turn and dismounted, unsaddling the colt. At first, it looked to be minor until it was discovered he had suffered a condylar fracture and would undergo surgery. To add to the heartbreak of losing such a brilliant colt, he earned a whopping 105 Beyer speed figure, winning in hand. It is always tough when the realization of losing a bona fide star such as Mastery sinks in and just how special a colt he was…or hopefully still is.
GORMLEY was the latest in the growing list of big disappointments this year. In a perfect striking position throughout, he surprisingly went into reverse when asked for his run, fading to fourth, beaten nearly 10 lengths. What made it so surprising was how brilliantly he had been working. The :46 3/5 and 1:10 2/5 fractions help contribute to the late close of TERM OF ART, a well-beaten fourth in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and winner of last year’s off-the-turf Cecil B. DeMille Stakes, who was able to get up for third, nearly two lengths behind his stablemate Iliad.
As for the beaten horses in the Tampa Bay Derby, none of them looked even remotely like a Derby horse. STATE OF HONOR again set the pace and couldn’t hold the lead, WILD SHOT was way too far back and couldn’t match strides with Tapwrit when the real running began, and NO DOZING again ran flat, even racing closer to the pace this time, further diminishing the form of last year’s Remsen Stakes. BEASLEY, coming off a game second to Battalion Runner in an allowance race, raced evenly and never threatened, and SONIC MULE tired badly.
Let’s be honest, this year so far has been a nightmare for the Derby trail. Looking at the three big horses at the start the year, Classic Empire, McCraken, and Mastery, they have combined to suffer a condylar fracture, a foot abscess, a strained ankle, a back problem, and various mental mishaps, including refusing to work. In addition, major stakes winners from last year, Mo Town and Gormley both faltered badly in big stakes. While all this was happening, names like One Liner, Girvin, and J Boys Echo came out of the woodwork to emerge as top Derby contenders. By the time horses get to the Derby these days we really know very little about them and who they are.
My colleague Lenny Shulman said it best when addressing the subject of minimal racing and conservative training nowadays on the Derby trail. Shulman wrote: “How am I supposed to know my Derby horse when they don’t show up under silks? Nowadays we have to base our opinions not on how these horses run in races but by how they look when we watch their workouts on social media. As the old ad goes, that’s no way to run an airline. So, who’s my Derby horse? Probably something coming out of California. I don’t know its name yet. I’ll figure it out standing next to Bob Baffert at the gap Derby week at Churchill Downs watching his horses train…You got a better idea?”
Shulman pointed out that in 1957, for example, the year of Bold Ruler, Gallant Man, Round Table, and Iron Leige, “the top five horses continually faced each other throughout the early months, racing as much as 10 times before the Derby. As recently as 1990, the Kentucky Derby field averaged 4.33 starts pre-Derby as 3-year-olds. By 2015, Derby starters were averaging 2.82 starts from January 1 until Derby Day. That number dipped as low as 2.68 in 2012.”
All eyes were on a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Santa Anita March 9, especially on Bob Baffert’s highly regarded REACH THE WORLD, an impressive two-turn maiden winner, and the Jerry Hollendorfer/Fox Hill Farm colt BATTLE OF MIDWAY, coming off a well-beaten third in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes and stretching out to two turns. There were other promising horses in the field, including the Baffert-trained IRISH FREEDOM, making only his second career start, and the Neil Drysdale-trained filly VEXATIOUS, a maiden winner at a mile at Del Mar.
From a visual aspect, there was no doubt that Reach the World had the worst trip, breaking awkwardly, falling to the back of the pack, and making a big middle move down the backside, only to run into a traffic jam and getting the big squeeze. When he finally found a clear run, Battle of Midway had opened a clear lead. But Reach the World, under the whip, leveled off nicely and kept bearing down on the leader, falling a neck short, the 1 1/16 miles run in a moderate 1:44.
Battle of Midway made a handsome appearance before the race and stretched out beautifully, holding on gamely in the final sixteenth. What was impressive about his race was that he ran 39 feet farther than Reach the World and 50 feet farther than the third-place finisher Vexatious, who ran a terrific race against the boys.
Now, as for the Kentucky Derby, we can expect to see both colts in the Santa Anita Derby, but there is no lock they’ll be pointed for the big race. They still need to move up in class and run faster, and pointing them for the Derby would be asking them to do a lot in a short period of time. But we have so many lightly raced Derby hopefuls who have as many starts as they do, it wouldn’t be inconceivable if they headed to Churchill Downs with a big effort in the Santa Anita Derby. In Reach the World’s case, we’ll see where he winds up after the loss of Mastery, Three-year-olds have a way of making great strides this time of year, and both these colts have shown enough promise with plenty of room for improvement.
Next Saturday’s Rebel Stakes is shaping up as an intriguing event, with Baffert shipping in American Anthem and Pletcher sending the speedy MALAGACY, both of whom will assure a lively pace. And John Shirreffs will send Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner ROYAL MO. I haven’t had him in the Top 12, even knowing he could develop into a top-class colt. But he’s such a big muscular horse who hits the ground hard, I just don’t know yet if he has the speed and shiftiness he’ll need against better quality opponents. We’ll find out soon enough. With Gormley turning in such a disappointing effort in the San Felipe, it may be up to him to get John Shirreffs and Jerry Moss to the Derby, which everyone would love to see. Can the four speed horses distance themselves from the others or will they set it up for closers Petrov, Untrapped, LOOKIN AT LEE, who breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01, SILVER DUST, and SILVER BULLION, trained by Wayne Lukas.
As for UNTRAPPED, one might ask why is he not in the Top 12 if Girvin, who beat him two lengths in the Risen Star Stakes, is ranked No. 4? That is an excellent question. By keeping Iliad, I had room for only two of the three Rebel horses I wanted to fill the final two spots and went with the two local horses, which is why I stated earlier it is best to consider him in a virtual tie for No. 12, which, unfortunately, I am unable to do in a Derby Dozen. It would not surprise me in the slightest if he ran a big race and jumped way up in the rankings, considering he covered more ground than Girvin in the Risen Star and launched a powerful bid in the stretch from out in the middle of the track, only to have Girvin outrun him in the final furlong. But I like the way he was running at the end, as if he wanted more ground. And you have to ask yourself, after Untrapped ran a good second twice in stakes at Fair Grounds, why would Steve Asmussen send him to Oaklawn to run against one of his main Derby contenders, Lookin At Lee, when he has a shot to win with both horses at two different tracks and keep them separated? I doubt he’s that afraid of Girvin, so the logical thinking is he prefers to separate Untrapped and LOCAL HERO, third in the Risen Star after running off to a 6-length lead, which gives one confidence in Local Hero for the Louisiana Derby, having the Risen Star under his belt, and gives Asmussen two big closers for the Rebel Stakes in a race where a fast early pace is almost assured with the abundance of classy speed horses. Of course, the $900,000 purse of the Rebel might have swayed him.
Malagacy, a speedball who has won both his sprints by a mile, breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01 at Palm Beach Downs, while Royal Mo went 6 furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:13 2/5. Locally, Petrov breezed a half at Oaklawn in :49 and Untrapped breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01, out 6 furlongs in 1:14. Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride the son of Trappe Shot for the first time.
Despite IT’S YOUR NICKEL’S impressive victory in the John Battaglia Memorial on Polytrack, trainer Kenny McPeek will point the son of Dialed In to the Blue Grass Stakes, which is beginning to look like to the big go-to final prep for many of the big-name 3-year-olds. One interesting note about It’s Your Nickel, he has now won three consecutive races on grass, dirt, and synthetic. McPeek will be well represented in several upcoming Derby preps, running SENIOR INVESTMENT in the Louisiana Derby following his impressive allowance score at Fair Grounds, the late-closing Oaklawn maiden winner BLUERIDGE TRAVELER in the Spiral Stakes, and another Oaklawn maiden winner, OXFORD LANE, in the Sunland Derby.
Looking ahead to the UAE Derby in two weeks, Godolphin’s THUNDER SNOW, an absolutely gorgeous-looking colt, is the big 8-11 favorite with Skybet following his resounding victory in the UAE 2,000 Guineas. A couple of things to note, his pedigree has a number of sprinter/miler types, so we’ll see how well he stretches out. In the Guineas he was headed by the maiden BEE JERSEY in midstretch, but repulsed the challenge and drew off at will, despite remaining on his left lead the entire length of the stretch. As a point of interest, the U.S.-trained MASTER PLAN, who was a fast-closing second to Tapwrit in the Pulpit Stakes before winning the OBS Championship on Polytrack, is being quoted at 13-2. The son of Twirling Candy breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02. The Japanese colt, EPICHARIS, is the second favorite at 5-1, followed at 6-1 by FAWREE, who was a huge favorite in the Al Bastakiya Stakes, but broke through the gate right before the break, unseating his rider. One interesting horse is the 33-1 shot CAPEZZANO, another Godolphin colt, who defeated Fawree and Bee Jersey in a maiden race before finishing a well-beaten third in the UAE 2,000 Guineas and Al Bastakiya. By Bernardini, out of an Unbridled’s Song mare, he’s been one-paced in his last two, but might do better with different tactics. COSMO CHARLIE and FLY AT DAWN are two others with a shot at 9-1.
Several local horses pointing for the Louisiana Derby were on the worktab. GUEST SUITE and LOCAL HERO, had easy half-mile breezes, with the former going in :49 3/5 and Local Hero in :50 4/5, following that up on Monday with a 5-furlong breeze in 1:01 flat. Also, SHAREHOLDER VALUE breezed a half in :48 4/5 and the aforementioned Senior Investment went his half in :48 3/5.
Although it’s still a long way off, McCraken, Classic Empire, J Boys Echo, It’s Your Nickel, and EN HANSE all appear to be pointing for the Blue Grass Stakes, which promises to be a very competitive race with a great deal at stake for McCraken and Classic Empire.
BATTALION RUNNER, coming off a hard-earned allowance score over Beasley, stretched out to 6 furlongs, breezing in 1:13 4/5 for the Florida Derby. Champagne Stakes runner-up SYNDERGAARD is up to a half-mile in his works, going in :50 4/5, now at Palm Beach Downs. With the Derby out of the picture, watch for him down the road, perhaps in one-turn races.
Bob Baffert has been very high on WEST COAST, and following the oddity of having three vet scratches, the son of Flatter defeated only two opponents in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race, winning by 3 1/4 lengths at odds of 1-20. He is another to keep an eye on later in the year.