Kentucky Derby Context: Sainthood

April 18th, 2021 horse racing analyst James Scully attended his first Kentucky Derby in 1981. Along with a brief profile of this year’s contenders, he is providing some historical context.

Sainthood earned his way to the Kentucky Derby by finishing second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park, a newly added major qualifier on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Owned by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, two of the principals involved in 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, Sainthood broke his maiden second time out at Fair Grounds in mid-February. He was arguably best when making his stakes debut in the March 27 Jeff Ruby, being forced to check hard and alter course by a wayward rival while advancing in midstretch.

The dark bay colt regained his momentum too late, but closed with a rush to miss by only a length in second. By Mshawish, Sainthood appears to have plenty of upside for top trainer Todd Pletcher.

With two Kentucky Derby wins, WinStar Farm is tied for the fourth most Kentucky Derby wins by owner. Kenny Troutt owns the prominent Thoroughbred racing and breeding operation in Versailles, Kentucky, and Elliott Walden is president, CEO and racing manager for WinStar.

Pletcher will be seeking his third Kentucky Derby win, as well. His most recent success came with Always Dreaming in 2017.

WinStar and Pletcher teamed together for their first Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, in 2010.

A smashing five-length winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs in his juvenile finale, Super Saver received plenty of notice entering his three-year-old season. However, he did not meet expectations when returning to action with a third as the favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3).

His final prep – a head second to 17-1 outsider Line of David in the Arkansas Derby (G1) -- generated mixed reviews, and the bay colt received little love from pundits entering the Kentucky Derby. His final odds (8-1) would have been higher if not for the presence of Calvin Borel in the saddle.

Super Saver put it all together over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs, rallying from just off the pace to win by 2 1/2 lengths, and that marked his final career win.

Sainthood lacks the credentials of Super Saver, but his high-profile connections always merit respect in the Kentucky Derby.