Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Nash dominates for Godolphin

November 13th, 2023

Possible Road to the Kentucky Derby contenders were out in abundance on Sunday afternoon at Churchill Downs.

Nash was arguably the most impressive. The Godolphin homebred ranked among the key contenders in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight after finishing second in his debut sprinting at Keeneland. Few bettors could have expected Nash to lead all the way through splits of :23.83, :47.93, and 1:12.41 on his way to victory by 10 1/4 lengths, but that’s exactly what happened.

Indeed, Nash proved tons the best under the Twin Spires. The son of Medaglia d’Oro out of three-time graded stakes winner Sara Louise ran his final five-sixteenths of a mile in a strong :30.74 to dominate under an easy hand ride in 1:43.15, emerging as an exciting threat for the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

Nash’s winning time was 2.29 faster than the 1:45.44 clocking posted by Kitty Hawk in another 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight later on the card. Sixth, eighth, and sixth in his first three starts sprinting on dirt, running long on turf, and sprinting on turf, Kitty Hawk improved while tackling a dirt route, setting fractions of :24.12, :48.89, and 1:13.82 before turning back all challengers to win by one length. The gelded son of Not This Time is trained by Victoria Oliver.

There was also an impressive sprint winner on the Sunday card. Mystik Dan, runner-up in his debut dashing 6 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland, fired a giant effort while cutting back to 5 1/2 furlongs for a maiden special weight. Dueling through an opening quarter-mile in :22.78 and taking command through half a mile in :45.88 would tire some two-year-olds, but not Mystik Dan, who exploded his fifth furlong in a sensational :11.35 before running his final sixteenth in :06.04 to win easily by 7 3/4 lengths.

Mystik Dan recorded a final time of 1:03.27, missing the track record set in 2001 by only 0.75. A son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Goldencents, Mystik Dan looks like a talented sprinter in the making for trainer Kenny McPeek, though stretching out around two turns isn’t out of the question.

We’ll also mention a pair of flashy winners at Del Mar. Second-time starter Coach Prime was much the best while switching from turf to dirt for a one-mile maiden special weight on Friday, waiting in traffic around the final turn before charging between rivals and finishing fast (final furlong in :12.28) to dominate by 7 1/4 lengths. The son of Quality Road stopped the clock in 1:37.18.

Pilot Commander was likewise impressive in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Saturday; the son of Triple Crown winner Justify set fractions of :22.89 and :45.83 before kicking clear through a final quarter-mile in :23.99 to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:09.82. But both Coach Prime and Pilot Commander are trained by Bob Baffert, who is currently suspended by Churchill Downs Inc. As a result, Coach Prime and Pilot Commander will have to switch trainers in order to earn Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification points.