The Factor was the talk of the racing nation after dazzling in the Rebel Stakes on Saturday, but only minutes before a 3-year-old that many of us never heard of burst onto the scene loud and clear. It was Maclean's Music, who broke his maiden by 7 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita while running six furlongs in 1:07.44 under a hand ride. If you haven't seen the race yet, check it out.
Maclean's Music certainly caught all of our attention with his monstrous win, but on Monday when it was learned that he had earned a 114 Beyer, the highest score ever recorded for a first out starter, his buzz became even louder. The colt is by Distorted Humor, out of the Unbridled's Song mare Forest Music. He is a homebred of Jess Jackson's Stonestret Stables and is trained by Steve Asmussen.
On Tuesday, Asmussen talked a little bit about MaClean's Music but in typical fashion offered no clues about what might be next. It was evident, however, how much he thinks of his new star.
"Special might not even be the word to describe him," Asmussen said. "We're very excited and will manage him very carefully. He had shins late last summer and we had to wait on him from a timing standpoint. He had plenty of bottom under him going into this start and we will wait until he is just as ready for his next start."
Maclean's Music got started a little too late for the Kentucky Derby, but if he runs big in his next race the Preakness may not be completely out of the question. Asmussen did not squash those sentiments when asked.
"If everything goes well we'll breeze him back next Monday and then the discussions (about where he will run next) will begin."
Asmussen does have two horses on the Derby trail as of now. One of them is Astrology, who will make his season debut on Sunday in the Sunland Derby. Astrology won the Iroquois and ran second to in the Kentucky Jockey Club as a juvenile. Asmussen admitted that Astrology is behind the eight ball as far as the Derby goes.
"The original plan was to run in the San Felipe but he was under the weather and not himself. He had a setback that cost us a couple of weeks. The Sunland Derby is an ambitious start to his 3-year-old season but I feel very good about his health and conditioning. He's a beautiful individual. It's a very tall order to run a mile and an eighth off the bench but he will answer a lot of our questions."
Obviously, if Astrology wins the Sunland Derby or runs strong in defeat, the Kentucky Derby is still on the table. But at this point, the feeling I get is that if he doesn't rebound with a huge effort that Asmussen will back off and look forward to an ambitious summer campaign for him.
At this point, Asmussen's best Derby hope appears to be Silver Medallion, who was recently purchased and will point for the Santa Anita Derby. Silver Medallion won the Eddie Logan Stakes on turf in December and won the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate in his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 12. Asmussen is very pleased with his training since then and when asked to compare his Derby hopes to those of Astrology he was pretty transparent.
"Astrology is behind schedule but has the opportunity to prove what Silver Medallion already has proved."
Asmussen also has a pair of longshots in this weekend's Louisiana Derby, maiden winner Nehro and Le Mans, who ran fourth in both of his maiden starts. Ambitious spot for both colts but I think it's a wide-open race. I will have an analysis of the Louisiana Derby later this week but I know I wont be taking the chalk.
Finally, Asmussen made it very clear that he wasn't happy with the ride that Garrett Gomez gave his other top 3-year-old, Albergatti, in the San Felipe when he tired to finish ninth after contesting a ridiculous pace.
"I was very disappointed in the trip he got," Asmussen said. "Now we will have to regroup and try to get his confidence back to where it needs to be. I was hoping for a better chance with him."