Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Bright Future impresses with debut romp

March 21st, 2022

Not a single Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race took place last weekend. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t potential Kentucky Derby starters in action.

With seven weeks remaining until the Run for the Roses, there’s still time—albeit not much—for horses to break their maidens, squeeze into final-round prep races, and qualify to the Derby.

Keeping this possibility in mind, let’s review a pair of promising maiden winners from last week’s quiet racing slate.

Bright Future

It appears Bright Future has been given a very fitting name. The son of Curlin was much the best in his debut racing one mile at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, stamping his credentials as a colt with a bright future.

Bright Future actually wasn’t expected to win by bettors, starting as the 4-1 third choice in a field of eight. But after tracking the pace from third place, Bright Future swept past the favorites and drew off under jockey Irad Ortiz to score by 4 3/4 lengths in 1:35.48.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Bright Future is out of the Bellamy Road mare Sophia’s Song, winner of the Caesar’s Wish S. running one mile. Bright Future is bred to improve with distance and maturity, so he looks like an exciting prospect for the partnership of Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable.

Skate to Heaven

Skate to Heaven wasn’t in any hurry to break his maiden. The gelded son of Laoban was beaten in his first three starts, finishing seventh in his debut at Saratoga last summer before coming home second and sixth in a pair of January maiden heats at Oaklawn Park.

But Skate to Heaven put everything together in a one-mile maiden special weight on Saturday at Oaklawn. With David Cohen in the saddle for trainer Robertino Diodoro, Skate to Heaven settled in midpack through early splits of :23.31 and :46.74, advanced into contention through six furlongs in 1:11.47, and then unleashed a sustained bid down the homestretch to run down pacesetting Maasai Warrior and win by a nose in 1:38.14.

Owned by Cypress Creek Equine, Rick Wiest, and Clayton Wiest, Skate to Heaven was produced by Diamond Dona, a daughter of Preakness S. (G1) winner Bernardini. Skate to Heaven is nominated to the Triple Crown and might still have upside for improvement.