HRI Kentucky Derby Power 10, Week 8: No Change at the Top
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, March 24, 2010--And the big winner last weekend was..? Actually, there were two: Eskendereya, and the Wood Memorial on April 3rd.
Taking advantage of a strong, contested pace, Ice Box and Pleasant Prince, beaten a dozen and 10-¼ lengths, respectively, when demolished by Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth, returned to finish 1-2, respectively, in the nine furlong Florida Derby, finishing noses apart.
But don’t allow the seemingly diametrically opposed results alter long term thinking, however. These are three-year-olds in the spring, and five and a half weeks can be a developmental eternity, such is the nature of sophomoric leaps and bounds.
Off these strongly run nine-furlong fixtures, it’s hard to fathom what might happen a month from now when all three are scheduled to meet again. Obviously, 10-¼ lengths is thoroughbred racing’s equivalent to two football fields. But these are different animals in every sense of the term.
In the Fountain of Youth, the Florida Derby 1-2 finishers had to make up too much ground off splits of :47 4/5 and 1:12 2/5, a tall order for even the very best of three-year-olds. You would expect that an individual as talented as Eskendereya would accelerate given those fractions, but not with that kind of panache.
Notwithwtanding Eskendereya and Lookin At Lucky, name another colt that sets the 2010 Kentucky Derby pulse racing unless, of course, Awesome Act proves to be more than a one-race wonder.
There's plenty of brilliance out there but to date we haven't seen a lot of brilliance and stamina. But that's what the preps are for; finding out.
The Florida Derby colts have been improving lengths by the day. Pleasant Prince is the handier of the two; Ice Box wants to beat you. He would not be denied in his allowance victory three starts back over Saturday’s rival, and stuck it to him again last weekend. Say this for him: Ice Box can finish.
We are a Rule fan, as he is all racehorse. See the Delta Jackpot and Sam F. Davis for reference. And the classy Johnny Velazquez admitted post-race that he should have allowed the Florida Derby third to settle back after taking an early lead. In not doing so, his colt never had a chance to relax.
Because of what had become exigent circumstances, we still don’t know whether Rule can be rated and still be effective, or whether the Derby distance is within his reach. At this point, the best guess is no, he won't stay.
Conversely, a three-year-old named D’Funnybone proved he can run fast early and late--providing the race is seven furlongs long, the distance of Saturday G2 Swale and his third victory without defeat at the trip.
Edgar Prado showed extreme confidence making use of him throughout the backstretch run. But, like in the Hutcheson Stakes earlier at the meet, Prado was sneaking peeks back with a quarter-mile left to run. Rick Dutrow would do well to keep this guy going short around one turn; he's good at it.
Some shuffling among the HRI Derby Power 10, Week 8 edition. To wit:
1. Lookin At Lucky (36): The consensus leader still basking in the glow of a well earned victory in Oaklawn’s Rebel, in which he answered questions as to his ability to handle dirt, blinkers, and overcome adversity. Bob Baffert’s thinking about staying home for the Santa Anita Derby is prudent, given what was learned in Arkansas.
2. Eskendereya (27): Remained in the barn and still made news with the announcement he would run in the Wood Memorial instead, owner Ahmed Zayat preferring the four week run-up to the Derby over the Florida Derby’s six-week schedule. He absence cast a large shadow over Saturday‘s results.
3. Awesome Act (16): If the turn of foot and power he displayed winning the Gotham over Aqueduct’s winter surface is duplicated on the main track 10 days hence, overcoming the dreaded “Euro bounce,” he would be a serious Derby horse. The hot Derby pace figures to flatter his style.
3. Noble's Promise (16): Keeps surprising many observers with his obvious quality and consistency, overcoming a one-sided speedy pedigree. He continues to train well for Ken McPeek and has given ‘Lucky’ all he can handle on more than one occasion. Runs hard every time.
5. Conveyance (14): Worked a Baffert-like seven furlongs in 1:25 Monday for Sunday’s G3 Sunland Derby, the race that launched Mine That Bird last year. With his kind of speed and $800,000 up for grabs, why not? It’s not like the man doesn’t have other bullets to fire.
6. Discreetly Mine (13): Drew post seven in a field of 13 for Saturday’s G2 Louisiana Derby and was made a 7-2 early line favorite. Todd Pletcher will send out lightly raced, late developing Mission Impazible there, too. But Mr. Baffert has had The Program on the grounds for a fortnight, and Mr. Zito is coming with Fly Down. It Must be Derby time in America.
7. Sidney's Candy (12): Took advantage of soft fractions in winning the San Felipe but not many runners zip away with that kind of frontrunning acceleration on a synthetic surface. Strong on the gallop-out, he could be any kind, as racetrackers say. What he might not be, though, is ratable speed. Need to see more.
8. Interactif (11): Pletcher, Part III. Handles everything like an old pro and has a huge kick when his run is timed properly. Will not lack for fitness or Derby style, for that matter, but his overall ability remains an unknown quantity. Finished like a wild horse behind ‘Sidney’.
9. Odysseus (7): What he owns in class, style and ability he lacks in smarts. Remained in idle when Schoolyard Dreams rushed by on the turn at Tampa, then rallied late to nail that one in an unlikely finish. His prep schedule, seven weeks to the Derby, the difference between a rock and a hard place.
10. Ice Box (3): Earned his way onto the Power 10 with his Florida Derby finishing flurry and is the only member of this group to date that owns two wins at nine furlongs. An improving three-year-old in the spring is a loaded equine gun.
10. Dublin (3): Did not have the easiest of trips when a one-paced third at the finish of the Rebel but deserves another chance as he continues to train very well. The talent is there; the ability to handle 10 furlongs still worrisome. The Arkansas Derby should be instructive.
Written by John Pricci - Comments (1)