The first of the big days for Kentucky Derby prep races took place March 7, with three, 50-points to the winner races occurring.
The San Felipe at Santa Anita, Gotham at Aqueduct, and Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs saw three winners almost assure themselves a spot at the Kentucky Derby on May 2.
Authentic (San Felipe), King Guillermo (Tampa), and Mischievous Alex (Gotham) all looked the part, turning in impressive efforts in the wins. But what about the rest of the horses in the races?
What does the future hold for them?
Let’s run through each of the races.
San Felipe: There were four fairly highly touted horses in this race and they ran 1-4 as expected. Authentic (Bob Baffert trained) had a slight issue at the start but used his speed to the lead early and then impressively held off any challenges for the win.
The second-place finisher Honor A.P. stalked the pace, then made a bid when they were heading for home and while the horse was better than the rest, he was turned back by the winner.
Storm the Court, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ last year was a third and turned in a far better performance than his comeback race, the San Vicente in February.
Thousand Words entered unbeaten in three starts and seemed in a good spot to make a charge late, never fired and honestly had no excuses here. His next start will be crucial to the Baffert barn.
The first two finishers appear headed for a rematch on April 4 in the Santa Anita Derby. As for Storm the Court, it’s unclear where he may land next. Baffert appears ready to ship Thousand Words across the country to the Wood Memorial, also set for April 4.
Tampa Bay Derby: King Guillermo turned the horse racing world upside down, scoring at 49-1 in the race. With only his only win in a maiden race on the turf, King didn’t appear to figure here.
But after sitting second throughout the race he took the turn at the top of the lane and pulled away for a 4-length win. It appears King Guillermo will take eight weeks off from racing and train right up to the Derby.
Sole Volante came into the race as the favorite and the late runner ran his usual race, sitting well back in the field before weaving through the horses to get up for second. At this point, not sure where the horse will run next, but very likely will need more points to earn a spot in the Derby.
I still like this horse a lot and look forward to the next start.
Chance It was the second choice, but came up empty late, never really engaging in the race.
Gotham: I have never been a fan of the New York prep races and the Gotham did nothing to change my mind. Mischievous Alex was the prohibitive favorite and ran the race he needed to, taking the lead in the lane and then finishing under a drive for the win. He appears headed to the Wood as well. I am just not that sure if this horse wants the Derby distance.
By Dennis Miller