A weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby:
Edge of Fire: Bred and owned by Chiefswood Stables, Edge of Fire is a stoutly-bred son of Curlin out of the Tapit mare Leading Edge. With this stamina-oriented pedigree, you wouldn’t necessarily expect Edge of Fire to thrive sprinting 6 furlongs on debut, but this Jimmy Jerkens-trained colt had little difficulty beating a half-dozen rivals by two lengths on Saturday at Gulfstream. The fact Jerkens rarely wins with first-time starters makes Edge of Fire’s victory even more noteworthy, and while his final time of 1:11.83 was modest, you can expect this Ontario-bred chestnut to improve when stretching out in distance.
Palm Springs: Although he was no match for Violent City in his debut sprinting 6 furlongs at Gulfstream last month, finishing second as the 3-5 favorite, Palm Springs made amends when stretching out to a mile over the same track on Saturday. Favored at 1-2, Palm Springs raced wide while tracking the pace under Javier Castellano, took the lead around the turn, and gamely held off a late challenge to win by a nose in 1:37.16. A $1 million yearling purchase owned by China Horse Club and WinStar Farm, Palm Springs is conditioned by two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
Rushie: A Florida-bred son of Liam’s Map out of a Colonel John mare, Rushie boasts a reasonably solid pedigree for the classics. Sold for just $70,000 as a 2-year-old-in-training, Rushie was soundly beaten by Thousand Words in an Oct. 26 maiden sprint, but looked much sharper when stretching out to a mile on Saturday at Santa Anita. Leading all the way under Rafael Bejarano, the Michael McCarthy-trained colt prevailed by a well-measure length in 1:38.06.
West Sider: This $200,000 yearling purchase debuted for trainer Bob Baffert in a 7-furlong maiden sprint at Santa Anita on Sunday. With Baffert’s go-to jockey Drayden Van Dyke in the saddle, West Sider settled about three lengths behind a fast pace before rallying smoothly in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:22.50. Owned by Gary and Mary West, this son of Uncle Mo is bred for miler speed, so we’ll have to wait and see how far he can stretch out.