Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Cornishman, Quiet Wisdom strike

March 18th, 2024

Could a Road to the Kentucky Derby foray be in the cards for Cornishman? It’s not inconceivable, not after the Triple Crown nominee battled to victory in a 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds maiden special weight last Saturday.

Cornishman failed to flash early speed in his first two starts over the same track and class level, rallying to finish second in a six-furlong contest on Jan. 20 and second again in a 1 1/16-mile event on Feb. 17. But in his third try, Cornishman got off to a sharp start and tracked fractions of :23.48 and :47.06 before taking command through six furlongs in 1:11.62.

This change in running style proved pivotal to Cornishman’s success, as he was able to open up a 2 1/2-length lead down the homestretch and ultimately hold off a bid from fellow Triple Crown nominee Gun Party to prevail by half a length in 1:43.77.

Seven weeks out from the first Saturday in May might seem a bit late for a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender to break his maiden, but the fact Cornishman already has three starts under his belt gives him enough experience to realistically pursue the Derby. He’s a stoutly bred son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin out of Royal Delta (G2) winner Penwith, by champion Bernardini, so Cornishman is bred top and bottom to relish the Kentucky Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance. Perhaps we’ll see trainer Brad Cox send Cornishman to compete in the April 6 Blue Grass (G1) or the April 13 Lexington (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby at Keeneland.

We must also mention the breakthrough victory of Quiet Wisdom, who obliterated a one-mile maiden special weight for New York-breds on Thursday at Aqueduct. After hitting the board without winning in each of his first six starts, Quiet Wisdom improved dramatically in his seventh try, pressing splits of :23.59 and :46.99 before drawing off steadily to win by 10 3/4 lengths in 1:37.12.

Quiet Wisdom’s winning time stacked up well against the other one-mile contests on the card. He isn’t currently nominated to the Triple Crown, but the son of five-time leading North American sire Into Mischief could be an intriguing Wood Memorial (G2) contender should Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher choose to place the Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables runner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.