Kentucky Derby contender profile: Caracaro

August 17th, 2020

The postponement of the Kentucky Derby (G1) has been detrimental to some horses and advantageous to others. You can definitely count Caracaro among the beneficiaries.

Sold for just $95,000 as a weanling, the son of Uncle Mo showed promise during the winter at Gulfstream Park, where he finished second in his debut sprinting, then crushed a 1-mile maiden race Jan. 11 by six lengths.

The future looked bright, but then Caracaro was sidelined by an injury, and he didn’t return to the work tab until May 29 — nearly four weeks after the Derby’s traditional date on the first Saturday in May.

Had the Derby been held as originally scheduled, Caracaro would have missed the race. But the postponement until Sept. 5 — and the expansion of the schedule of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races — has allowed trainer Gustavo Delgado to regroup and develop Caracaro into a late-maturing star.

Caracaro’s six-month layoff came to an end with a gallant effort in the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan (G2) on July 16 at Saratoga. With a step sharply up in class for his first start around two turns, Caracaro overcame a wide journey to finish second by a neck against the ground-saving Country Grammer. If not for a bumping incident in the homestretch, Caracaro might have prevailed.

This set the stage for an eye-catching performance in Saratoga’s historic 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1). While Caracaro was no match for runaway winner and Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law, the bay colt rallied gamely to finish clearly second-best, earned a 109 Brisnet Speed rating, and left Country Grammer far behind.

Bred by SF Bloodstock and owned by Global Thoroughbred and Top Racing, Caracaro was produced by the War Front mare Peace Time, a daughter of Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up Santa Catarina. As his strong effort in the Travers affirms, Caracaro has the pedigree to excel racing 1 1/4 miles. Uncle Mo has already sired a bevy of major winners running long on dirt, including champion and 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist.

Caracaro’s own affinity for route racing has quickly propelled him from an unknown into a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender. With 60 Kentucky Derby qualification points, Caracaro has locked up a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate, an accomplishment that would have been unthinkable two months ago.

And considering how Caracaro is improving with leaps and bounds, his best efforts are likely still to come.