Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Bo Cruz, Squire Creek romp at Fair Grounds

March 6th, 2023

With only two months remaining until the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1), you might assume the weekly roster of impressive three-year-old maiden winners has been reduced to a trickle. But that’s simply not the case.

Need proof? Then check out last week’s results at Fair Grounds, where Bo Cruz and Squire Creek posted victories indicative of serious talent and potential.

Squire Creek was the first to strike. The Brad Cox trainee debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Thursday and obliterated his pursuers, dashing to the front through fast fractions of :21.65 and :44.92 before pulling away with authority to beat a seemingly deep field by 6 1/4 lengths. The son of champion Uncle Mo won under a hand ride and was eased up late, so all signs suggest Squire Creek is a possible stakes star in the making.

Equally impressive was Bo Cruz. Coming off a runner-up effort in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Fair Grounds, Bo Cruz thrived while stretching out for a one-mile and 70-yard maiden special weight on Saturday, breaking on top and carving out splits of :23.60, :47.19, and 1:12.59 before powering clear to win by 12 1/4 lengths in 1:42.25. The son of Grade 1 winner and Preakness (G1) third-place finisher Creative Cause looks like a good one for trainer Al Stall.

Another noteworthy contest took place on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The well-bred Good Magic gelding Scotland trailed during the early stages of a seven-furlong maiden special weight, but rallied relentlessly from behind fractions of :22.29 and :45.49 to catch pacesetter Let It Ride and prevail by a head. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott isn’t a frequent winner with first-time starters, so Scotland has upside to improve with experience.

At Oaklawn Park, the fourth time was the charm for Tivy. Third in his first three starts (including a couple of races at Churchill Downs last spring), Tivy thrived in his second start back from a long layoff, trouncing a six-furlong maiden special weight on Saturday. Dueling for command through fractions of :22.22 and :46.21 did nothing to tire the son of four-time leading sire Into Mischief, as Tivy drew off down the homestretch to score by 4 3/4 lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

We’ll wrap up with a mention of Bill Mott’s Victory Way. Less than an hour after Scotland won his debut, Victory Way did the same at Aqueduct, rallying from just off fractions of :22.97 and :46.38 to win a seven-furlong maiden special weight by 2 1/4 lengths. A son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light, Victory Way was produced by Sweet Way, a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup winners Life Is Sweet and Sweet Catomine. Victory Way reached the finish line in 1:24.25 and, like Scotland, should only get better with experience.