Kentucky Derby contender profile: Wells Bayou

March 23rd, 2020

He has speed. He has stamina. He has the pedigree of a two-turn route runner. With this perfect blend of talent and breeding, it’s safe to say Wells Bayou has emerged as major player on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Bred by Knowles Bloodstock, Wells Bayou is a son of two-time champion Lookin At Lucky, out of the Hard Spun mare Whispering Angel. His lineage is geared toward late maturity, which could explain why Wells Bayou sold twice as a yearling for the modest sums of $50,000 and $18,000.

Wells Bayou brought a bigger price when sold again as a 2-year-old-in-training. Lance Gasaway bid $105,000 to purchase the bay colt. Placed under the care of trainer Brad Cox, Wells Bayou showed plenty of potential in his initial runs. He won his debut sprinting 6 furlongs at Aqueduct, then claimed a 1-mile allowance race at Oaklawn Park in his third start.

A pure frontrunner, Wells Bayou retained his free-running style when he stepped up in class and distance for the 1 1/16-mile Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn. Disregarded at 8-1 by bettors, Wells Bayou carved out a fast pace (:22.89, :46.60, and 1:11.72), led into the stretch, and finished second, beaten only a length by the classy Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner Silver Prospector.

That set the stage for a tour-de-force performance in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. Wells Bayou broke like a rocket under jockey Florent Geroux in the 1 3/16-mile test and had no difficulty securing an uncontested lead, through modest fractions of :23.56, :48.00, and 1:12.42. Compared to his effort in the Southwest, this was a walk in the park for Wells Bayou, who stayed on strongly down the homestretch (he sprinted the final three-sixteenths in :18.86) to win by a length in 1:56.47.

Wells Bayou’s talent and potential has not gone unnoticed. Tactical speed, coupled with two-turn stamina, is the recipe that typically wins the Kentucky Derby (G1), and folks have been quick to jump on the Wells Bayou bandwagon. His ownership group has gradually expanded to include Lance Gasaway, Clint Gasaway, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables.

With 100 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification points for his victory in the Louisiana Derby, Wells Bayou has secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. And since the Derby has been postponed from May to September, Wells Bayou — with his late-maturing pedigree — could develop into an even greater threat by the first Saturday in September.