By Rob Fundter, AMATEURCAPPER
On the heels of REGAL RANSOM upsetting DESERT PARTY in the UAE Derby, QUALITY ROAD won the Florida Derby
which will assure an honest pace in the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum!
Brands. The two early pace winners could
join THE PAMPLEMOUSSE, OLD FASHIONED, and perhaps PAPA CLEM at the head of an honest, contested
Our TBA site is
filled with QUALITY ROAD posts from ASPIRING HORSEPLAYER, JEN'S THOROUGHBLOG,
CHALK EATING WEASEL, and THOROUGHBRED ZONE.
I was a QUALITY ROAD fan before the race and I'm still on the
bandwagon. But DUNKIRK was excellent in defeat and has earned my respect.
of PIONEEROF THE NILE, FRIESAN FIRE,
and I WANT REVENGE, the 2-3-7 ranked
horses on the Derby earnings list, will appreciate the multiple targets to run
at the final 1/8. Ditto for DESERT
Those of you who adore DUNKIRK...don't lose
hope. #1 earner prior to this weekend SQUARE EDDIE still hasn't run after
suffering shin splints/stress fractures.
# 4 VINEYARD HAVEN, nowhere
to be found after he was throttled by DESERT PARTY and REGAL RANSOM in a UAE
Derby prep. #13 MUSKET MAN, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby and #16 WIN WILLY, the Rebel S. winner, aren't
nominated to the Triple Crown yet. #18 CHARITABLE MAN hasn't started this year
(but he's been working every 6-7 days since Feb. 13) and it remains to be seen
what condition he'll be in if/when he starts prior to the Derby.
That's five outs
to use a poker term...not including TODD
PLETCHER's "ace in the hole" BITTEL
ROAD, who disappointed in the Lane's End last weekend. He sat at #12 prior to today's races. I'm sure the Coolmore boys would make it
worth the while of Scatuorchio & Iracane to scratch the turf horse (hush,
hush, wink, wink).
In 2007, CURLIN earned my respect when he ran on
for 3rd after an atrocious trip from the two hole in the Kentucky
Derby won by STREET SENSE. He justified my perception when he captured a
stunning Preakness over the Derby winner.
DUNKIRK has done the same.
DUNKIRK is a very, very, VERY good colt. He's improved leaps and bounds this spring
and the five weeks off before the Kentucky Derby is made to order after such a
hard race. The son of UNBRIDLED'S SONG
made a wide/winning move coming off the turn in the Florida Derby and stayed on
very gamely. However, he got victimized
Saturday by a enormous/speedy/classy colt in QUALITY ROAD on a speed-favoring
Gulfstream Park main track. I knew going
into the day DUNKIRK had his work cut out trying to run down the more
experienced Fountain of Youth winner, 113 Beyer figure notwithstanding. When BIG
DRAMA won (but was DQ'd) the Swale S. in track record time, DUNKIRK was
going to have to be SECRETARIAT to
win. Okay, so he's not the second coming
but can anyone argue that he's not destined to win multiple graded stakes races
before going off to stud?
I guarantee you
that Pletcher is fielding calls from top jockey agents around the country to
get on DUNKIRK should GARRETT GOMEZ choose PIONEEROF THE NILE. Those same same agents are calling BOB BAFFERT
to get on PIONEEROF THE NILE should DUNKIRK get in and GOMEZ goes with dirt vs
GARRETT GOMEZ, who do you choose? Both
BAFFERT and PLETCHER feel they have colts deserving of being a Derby
winner. They both use GOMEZ on many top
horses. Choosing one colt over the other
will surely put him in the other's dog house.
Next week's Santa Anita Derby will give GOMEZ more information to make
perhaps the most important decision in his life.