Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Four winners running long

February 26th, 2024

Reasoned Analysis failed to factor in two starts as a juvenile, but the Chad Brown trainee broke through in his three-year-old debut, emerging as a possible Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.

The winning opportunity came in a one-mile maiden special weight on Sunday at Aqueduct. Reasoned Analysis pressed fractions of :24.29 and :49.46 from third place, took over through six furlongs in 1:15.72, and held off a late challenge to win by half a length in 1:42.00. The runner-up pulled 8 1/2 lengths clear of the rest.

Sunday’s performance marked a step in the right direction for Reasoned Analysis. One more jump forward could make the son of Upstart an intriguing contender for the April 6 Wood Memorial (G2) racing 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, though his connections will have to make Reasoned Analysis a late Triple Crown nominee if he’s going to take aim at the Derby itself.

The third start was likewise the charm for Give Me a Reason, a Steve Asmussen trainee who nabbed a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on Saturday at Oaklawn Park. Second and fifth in two starts as a juvenile, the gray colt moved forward in his three-year-old debut, carving out fractions of :23.51, :47.86, and 1:13.56 before digging deep to prevail by a nose in 1:45.50.

Give Me a Reason is a beautifully bred son of Triple Crown winner Justify out of Apple Blossom H. (G1) winner Dream of Summer, previously the dam of Belmont (G1) runner-up Destin, Preakness (G1) third-place finisher Creative Cause, and Grade 1 winner Vexatious. This is a pedigree geared toward success in the classics, so Give Me a Reason has upside for improvement throughout the spring, though he isn’t currently nominated to the Triple Crown.

Speaking of strong pedigrees, have you seen the bloodlines of Triple Crown nominee Corporate Power, who won a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight on Saturday at Gulfstream Park? He’s a son of two-time Horse of the Year and elite sire Curlin out of Golden Rod (G2) winner Road to Victory, who is in turn a daughter of four-time Grade 1 winner Quality Road.

Corporate Power debuted in a seven-furlong maiden special weight on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream, finishing fourth behind Speak Easy and Victory Avenue, who are entered in Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth (G2) this coming Saturday. Corporate Power found the competition easier while stretching out in distance for his second start, settling about three lengths behind fractions of :23.88 and 47.86 before rallying steadily down the homestretch to win by a neck in 1:51.08.

Corporate Power ran his final furlong in about :12.54, a solid fraction suggesting he can develop into a stakes horse for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

We also have to mention Tessuto. Third in each of his first two starts sprinting at Santa Anita, the son of Munnings improved when stretching out over one mile for a Sunday maiden special weight at the same track, stalking splits of :23.00 and :46.46 from third place before advancing steadily to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:37.90.

Trained by George Papaprodromou, Tessuto is nominated to the Triple Crown and could be a candidate for the April 6 Santa Anita Derby (G1) racing 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita if his connections choose to pursue the Road to the Kentucky Derby.