A weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled an abundance of 3-year-old maiden winners this winter, with Giocare being the latest. A son of Curlin out of the stakes-placed Storm Cat mare Stormin Maggy, Giocare debuted in a 1-mile and 40-yard event on Feb. 8 at Tampa Bay Downs, where he ran evenly to finish third behind stablemate Texas Swing. The latter returned to round out the trifecta in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
With this promising debut under his belt, Giocare took a step forward in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Favored at 1-2 with Irad Ortiz in the saddle, Giocare tracked a slow pace before gamely wearing down the pacesetter to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:45.19. Owned by Let’s Go Stable and Repole Stable, Giocare finished fast (sprinting the final sixteenth in :06.20) and could show further improvement when stretching out over classic distances.
Following three unsuccessful runs on both dirt and turf, Liam’s Pride broke through with a sharp victory on Saturday at Oaklawn Park. Favored at 3-2 in a 6-furlong dash, the gray son of Liam’s Map dueled for the lead through fractions of :22.16 and :46.06 before edging away to score by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:10.17.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Liam’s Pride was produced from the A.P. Indy mare Indian Snow, previously the dam of Grade 1 winner and 2010 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) runner-up Morning Line. Liam’s Pride is bred to stretch out and could develop into a bright prospect as he matures.
Will Sing for Wine:
Slow starts against tough competition compromised Will Sing for Wine in his first two races, but the Bill Mott trainee found an easier field on Saturday at Aqueduct, and dropping in class made all the difference. Settling off the pace in a small field, Will Sing for Wine made a mid-race move to take command at the quarter pole, and down the lane he fought on bravely to hold off race favorite Cousin Andrew and prevail by three-quarters of a length.
Will Sing for Wine’s final time of 1:39.82 was 1.02 slower than the winning time in the Gotham (G3) on the same afternoon, but slow early fractions of :24.22, :49.19, and 1:14.66 made it difficult for Will Sing for Wine to record a quicker time. He did sprint the final quarter in :25.16, a solid fraction over the slow track at Aqueduct.
Special Guest – King Guillermo:
King Guillermo won the Tampa Bay Derby as a 49-1 odds upset! Sole Volante was the race favorite, but was defeated in a twist with a winner not currently nominated to the Triple Crown. A feat only seen once or twice along the Road to the Kentucky Derby. King Guillermo will sit quietly awaiting his 50 points to take affect as a presumptive late Triple Crown nomination. For now, he sits near the top of the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.