Unbelievable weekend of racing just passed with a few horses stamping their tickets to the Derby while other contenders failed to impress. While the derby preps get all the attention, some of the undercard stakes really stole the show. Of course weather had to play a factor in 2 of the derby preps which might have made for more questions then answers. Lets dive in….
At Aqueduct Saturday we saw a very slow running of the Wood Memorial won by the immensely talented in only his 4th career start over 80-1 maiden Trojan Nation. Final time was the slowest of any Wood in history and no one came home particularly fast. Some may not have cared for the muddy track (shagaf?) or maybe it was just a weak group to begin with. Everyone klnows ive been on Shagaf’s band wagon for a long time and I am still driving that wagon. I don’t think he liked the mud and I really didn’t care for his trip to much. Fell to far back, made an eye catching move to get into contention on the turn, but ran up on heels instead of goiong around the tiring speed, and could never really re-rally. I still love his chances going to the derby, as I do with Outwork as well, who has worlds of talent. If I am right about Shagaf I will be rewarded handsomely as his odds are surely to rise.
In the undercard races, Salutos Amigos finally got his Grade 1 win in the Carter, which he rallied widest of all to wear down a stubborn Calculator and Dad’s Caps. A great win for the old veteran and he might be rounding back into form. Lewis Bay won the Gazelle for 3yr old fillies but not gets rewarded with a match up against the dominant Songbird in the Kentucky Oaks.
In Kentucky, The Blue Grass had a big field, but not much quality in my opinion, and to no surprise, besides favorite Zulu running out, it was very form full with Brodys Cause making a wide run and exploding down the lane to win his second Grade 1 on this Lexington track. My Man Sam and Cherry wine also rallied from well back to get the minor awards, all but assuring themselves into the derby. It didn’t receive a high beyer speed number, but Brody’s Cause couldn’t have looked any better running off like that.
In the Madison stakes, we saw 3 horses who last started in the Breeders Cup last fall and all 3 ran to their class. Sheer Drama, who was running at a not ideal distance was gritty down the stretch under Joe Bravo and wore down Stopcharginmaria late. It was a great race from start to finish. I really thought Clothes Fall Off would run better but really showed no energy at any point in the race. The Ashland was a 3 horse race on paper. but someone forgot to tell Weep No More who ran by the heavy favorites late in the stretch at 30-1. It looked like favorite Cathryn Sophia didn’t want to go that long, while Rachel’s Valentina ran unbelievable off the layoff to just miss, she might be a play back in the Oaks, if there was no Songbird running there.
Out west, Exaggerator blew his rivals off their feet in the Santa Anita Derby with a last to first sweeping move on the far turn. Mor spirit and Danzing Candy had no answers at the top of the stretch with Mor Spirit finishing second by default, with Danzing Candy fading badly down the lane after possibly running off with Mike Smith through very quick fractions on the sloppy track. I don’t know what to make out of this horse, after last race I thought he didn’t want to go this far and he proved me wrong, but was it the slop that moved him up so much? Mor Spirit didn’t handle it at all and might be live on Derby Day. In the co-feature Songbird did her usual thing and toyed with a bunch of overmatched fillies in the Santa Anita oaks, no doubt she will be a heavy heavy favorite in the Kentucky Oaks come May, she’s just unreal!