Kentucky Derby Context: Soup and Sandwich

April 19th, 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.

Soup and Sandwich secured a Kentucky Derby bid by holding for second in the Florida Derby (G1). The gray colt will make his fourth career start in the Kentucky Derby.

A Florida-bred son of Into Mischief, Soup and Sandwich possesses good tactical speed. He figures to be forwardly placed in the Kentucky Derby for owner/breeder Live Oak Stud and trainer Mark Casse, and Tyler Gaffalione will pick up the riding assignment.

When making his career debut at Gulfstream Park in late January, Soup and Sandwich rolled to a 7 1/4-length, frontrunning tally in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight. He easily stretched to two turns for his second start a month later, recording a convincing entry-level allowance score at Tampa Bay Downs.

Soup and Sandwich broke running in the Florida Derby, powering his way to a short lead entering the backstretch. He dug in determinedly after being passed by the winning Known Agenda in the latter stages, finishing three lengths clear of third.

Casse noted how the promising three-year-old, who was based at Palm Meadows training facility over the winter, is still learning.

“I was very pleased, especially if he ever learns what he’s doing,” Casse said after the Florida Derby. “(The jockey) said he had to fight with him a little. He stayed on his left lead all the way down the stretch. He’s like that in the morning, too. The thing that will help him is it was a little difficult to ship him down from Palm Meadows. It got him a little worked up. He’ll run a lot better out of his stall at Churchill Downs.”

Soup and Sandwich is eligible to keep progressing, and his ability to race up close may prove advantageous in a Kentucky Derby field that has lost a couple of pace players.

Located on a 4,500-acre spread in Ocala, Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud has started four previous homebreds in the Kentucky Derby. High Fly (2005), Brilliant Speed (2011), and Win Win Win (2019) have not been a serious factor this century, but Live Oak nearly won with its first Kentucky Derby starter, Laser Light, 39 years ago.

A Grade 1-winning juvenile, Laser Light confirmed his participation in the 1982 Kentucky Derby by placing third in the Wood Memorial S. (G1). The bay sophomore was overlooked at 18-1 on the first Saturday in May, and Laser Light settled a long way back during the early stages, 18th of 19 runners entering the backstretch.

Laser Light began passing horses on the far turn and closed determinedly through the stretch at Churchill Downs. However, he was outfinished by Gato Del Sol, a 20-1 outsider who closed last-to-first to prevail.

Soup and Sandwich will try to garner an elusive Kentucky Derby victory for Live Oak.