Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Hall of Fame is very fast

January 22nd, 2024

Wouldn’t it be fitting if a horse named Hall of Fame wound up being inducted into horse racing’s Hall of Fame?

Suffice to say, the equine Hall of Fame took a solid first step toward a place in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame when he smashed a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on Saturday at Fair Grounds, in the process emerging as a contender for the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

Hall of Fame’s performance set the world abuzz. Coming off a rallying runner-up finish in his debut dashing seven furlongs at Churchill Downs, Hall of Fame thrived in his first start around two turns, tracking and pressing splits of :23.30, :46.76, and 1:11.43 before seizing command to crush his competition by 10 1/4 lengths.

The Steve Asmussen trainee reached the finish line in 1:44.27, a noteworthy time since the Lecomte (G3)—a 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier contested later in the afternoon at Fair Grounds—elapsed in 1:44.73. Hall of Fame’s significantly faster winning time bodes well for his future, and we’ll surely see this son of Gun Runner in a Kentucky Derby prep race before long.

Also on the Saturday card at Fair Grounds, Bee Dancer impressed when debuting in a six-furlong maiden special weight. The son of Metropolitan H. (G1) winner Bee Jersey was always prominent through fractions of :22.40 and :46.31 before wearing down the leaders and holding off a deep closer to prevail by one length in 1:10.92.

A Charles E. Fipke homebred trained by Dallas Stewart, Bee Dancer boasts a pedigree with potential for stretching out in distance, so a foray on the Road to the Kentucky Derby surely beckons.

We also have to mention Maymun, who sold for $900,000 last year. The son of Frosted debuted in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on Saturday at Santa Anita and set intense fractions of :21.72 and :43.91 before kicking away to win by 7 1/2 lengths in the fast time of 1:15.59.

Maymun clearly has an abundance of talent, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll target the Kentucky Derby. He’s trained by Bob Baffert, who is currently suspended by Churchill Downs Inc., so Maymun will have to transfer to a different trainer by Jan. 29 in order to be eligible to earn Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification points.