A weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby:
Bred by White Birch Farm and owned by Peter Brant, Basquiat arrived with high expectations for his Saturday debut sprinting 7 furlongs at Gulfstream Park. A son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah out of the stakes-placed Distorted Humor mare Divalarious, Basquiat was heavily bet at 19-10 and cruised to a comfortable victory. With Irad Ortiz in the saddle, Basquiat settled three lengths behind quick early fractions of :22.29 and :44.85, ran down the pacesetters in the homestretch, and pulled clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over the late-charging 6-5 favorite Ashiham.
An imposing bay colt conditioned by Chad Brown, Basquiat looks like the type who will improve with experience and maturity. While he’s shown talent on dirt, Divalarious was a capable grass performer and American Pharoah’s progeny have excelled on the lawn, suggesting Basquiat could ultimately become a multi-surface threat.
Unraced since finishing second in his debut at Los Alamitos last September, Ragtime Blues returned to action on Friday with an impressive victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Sent off as the second betting choice in a 6-furlong maiden dash at Oaklawn Park, Ragtime Blues sprinted hard to the lead through stiff fractions of :21.83 and :44.99, opened up a 3 1/2-length lead in the homestretch, and held off a determined late charge from former stablemate Backshot to win by a head in 1:09.96.
Ridden to victory by Martin Garcia, Ragtime Blues sold for $500,000 as a yearling and races for the extensive partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Frederick Hertrich III, John D. Fielding, and Golconda Stables. A son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags out of the Street Cry mare Home of the Blues, Ragtime Blues is bred to relish classic distances and might prove even more effective running long than sprinting.
A son of Violence out of the War Pass mare Cruzette, Violent Pass took a big step forward while making his two-turn debut on Saturday at Oaklawn. Facing older rivals in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race, Violent Pass was prominent from the outset under jockey Joe Rocco, vying for the lead through fractions of :24.18 and :47.63. Rounding the far turn, Violent Pass allowed pace rival Ronamo to open up a four-length lead, but down the stretch Violent Pass erased the deficit and drew off to score by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:45.06.
Trained by Donnie Von Hemel for Norma Lee Stockseth and Todd Dunn, Violent Pass clearly relished the opportunity to stretch out after suffering defeats in his first two starts sprinting. He was overlooked at 25-1 on Saturday, but you can bet this up-and-coming colt will be a significantly shorter price next time out.