HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, April 11, 2021 — If the performance by Concert Tour was not an aberration, then the formerly undefeated impressive speedster may have exposed his limitations in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby.
Already qualified with a sufficient number of Derby points, there was no need for Bob Baffert to tighten the screws to the max, especially given the relatively short 21-days turnaround.
But, like Caddo River, he might need the lead to be at his best. Indeed, both runners also might have shown distance limitations as well. That will be up to their own connections to decide.
While the running time of 1:50.92 didn’t threaten the sound barrier, even with solid and contested fractions, the perfect-trip-sitting winner was closer to the pace than anticipated, which might explain a final three-eighths in a pokey 39.67. Still, it was a very good effort.
Super Stock will be interesting in three weeks. While his Arkansas Derby score likely will not vault him into anyone’s Top 5 Derby favorites, they will know he’s there as the latest of the now horses. The third race off the layup often leads to peak performance.
Trainer Steve Asmussen hurried him into the Rebel in preparation for Saturday’s nine furlongs. He promised a national cable audience that the colt would run a much improved race and he did that, in spades.
The quick turnaround figures to help Super Stock. Woefully short of condition but a game Rebel finisher, he moved forward with the added distance and a race under his belt as promised. Theoretically he should be a better horse three weeks hence.
As for Concert Tour, who knows? And the same goes for Caddo River. Undefeated Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World is a high quality speedster with enough scope and stride to get the full distance. But there are several in the Top 20 with tactical speed if called upon.
If all of them show up, a strong pace is extremely likely. Absent that, Essential Quality has more than enough brilliance and finishing power to keep any horse honest and stare him down. He had his mettle tested in the Blue Grass, passing the eyeball gut-check with class and courage.
As for the sloppy-track Lexington, which earned a much-the-best, long-striding King Fury 20 points, currently ranking him at 28th on the list, he will need an inordinate number of defections to sneak in. If relegated to the sidelines, the Derby winner can count on seeing him in Baltimore.
The biggest Kentucky Derby news this week may have been made at Payson Park earlier when Greatest Honour developed an issue. The Holy Bull/Fountain of Youth hero is back home in Ocala for a 60-day sabbatical. Figure that he’ll try catching up with the Triple Crown horses in Saratoga.
There are high profile Kentucky Derby defections every year, many involving a prominent horse. But life has not been good in 2021 for either his namesake or for Greatest Honour. So the next time a horseman says what a privilege it is to make it into the Derby starting gate, believe him.
Milestones and History Makers
If you cannot appreciate Paco Lopez’s 3,000th career victory coming at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, you need to have your sense of irony checked. Likely the most penalized rider in South Florida history, he reached a personal milestone when his number was put up, not taken down.
There was some carping on Twitter from those who thought the contact was incidental. Back to stewards’ school you go. DQ’d runner came out in deep stretch under lefthanded whipping and bumped Paco’s mount, Heart of God, twice, in the shadow of the wire. Paco lost the photo but won the war…
Trainer Michelle Lovell won her 500th race at Keeneland and her first stakes when Change of Control won the rescheduled Giants Causeway. The stakes win was also a first for jockey Colby Hernandez at Keeneland…
When Minella Times finished first in the Grand National, Rachael Blackmore became the first woman in history to win the iconic event, clearing all 30 tall steeplechase fences over the storied 4-mile journey.