By Tom Carley
The KENTUCKY DERBY picture is all set as the prep races are done. With no chances to earn points, the field is almost in place. Next week, I will begin an in depth analysis of the major players.
This week’s Featured Four:
I. Stakes Recap
There were two 3-year-old stakes races over the past weekend.
The ARKANSAS DERBY was predicted by many to be the final coronation of American Pharoah as a major contender for the KENTUCKY DERBY. His performance did not disappoint and he won with ease. It was impressive that he actually sat behind a horse for the first 1/2 mile (the only time he ever was behind a horse this season). Horses that caught my eye:
American Pharoah has now won both races in his three-year-old season. He looks stronger with each start, but did miss a lot of time due to last fall’s injury. He laid right off the leader and made one controlled run as the horses hit the 1/2 mile pole and won easily. He is thought of by many as a major contender.
POSITIVES for American Pharoah:
- Showed he has all the talent needed to win the KENTUCKY DERBY.
- Distance did not appear to tire him.
NEGATIVES for American Pharoah:
- Unknown how will he react when he does not get an easy lead and will have to pass more than one outmatched horse in the stretch.
- Questionable whether or not he has enough foundation to win the KENTUCKY DERBY with only two starts since late August?
Mr. Z still has only won a maiden race. He has been raced hard in the campaign, but did show his talent Saturday. Even though he did tire, only Far Right gained on him. No matter the result, Mr. Z earned enough points to get into the KENTUCKY DERBY.
POSITIVES for Mr. Z:
- Still shows natural talent.
- Showed he could race Saturday and run from the middle of the pack.
NEGATIVES for Mr. Z:
- Only win in twelve starts.
- Some question the mental ability of this horse as he continues to lag out in the stretch.
- Just does not appear that he belongs in the KENTUCKY DERBY as he has lost to most of the horses that will race in the KENTUCKY DERBY.
Far Right was expected to perform better based on his two prior wins in Arkansas. The way he ran might have convinced me that he had better racing luck getting to the rail in his two victories. While he still ran second in the race, I think a lot less of him for the KENTUCKY DERBY, than I did before the race. In the prior races including the DELTA DOWNS JACKPOT, as well as the two wins in Arkansas, he closed very strongly. Last Saturday his fractional times for the final 3/8 and 1/8 of a mile were much slower even though there was not much talent in the race except for American Pharoah. If he is going to have a chance in the Derby as a deep closer, he is going to have much quicker final fractions.
This prep was only worth 10 points to the winner. None of the horses entered had enough points either coming in or leaving the race to earn a spot in the KENTUCKY DERBY. Therefore, it will not be analyzed.
II. KENTUCKY DERBY ATTRITION CONTINUES FIELD SHIRNKS BY ONE
The first of the horses that had enough points to race in the KENTUCKY DERBY has announced they will not participate. The connections of Ami’s Flatter announced that he will focus on the Canadian Triple Crown. The connections of Danzig Moon are making final decisions in the next 7 to 10 days.
III. CURRENT POINT STANDINGS
These are the final points after all the preps have run. Please note Ami’s Flatter is going to focus on the QUEEN’S PLATE, and will pass on the KENTUCKY DERBY. Mr. Z is in the 20th spot as of the writing of this column. Keep an eye on defections in the next weeks before the field is entered.
One Lucky Dane