Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Well-bred Tuscan Gold romps

February 5th, 2024

Only time will tell if Tuscan Gold has the talent to win the Kentucky Derby (G1). But there’s no doubt the bay colt has the pedigree to shine on the first Saturday in May.

Tuscan Gold debuted in a one-mile maiden special weight on Nov. 4 at Aqueduct and ran well in defeat, rallying after a troubled start to finish fourth by 3 1/4 lengths. The quality of the field was deep, as the victorious Sierra Leone returned to finish second in the Remsen (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby while runner-up Change of Command won his next two starts.

Tuscan Gold elevated his game to another level when stretching out around two turns for a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park last Wednesday. The Chad Brown trainee settled in fifth place behind splits of :23.75 and :47.56 before advancing steadily and kicking clear late to dominate by 6 1/4 lengths in 1:46.42.

Handicappers won’t be overly impressed with Tuscan Gold’s winning time, but that’s where his pedigree comes into play. He’s a son of elite sire Medaglia d’Oro out of the Curlin mare Valadorna, runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Medaglia d’Oro and Curlin are both stamina influences who have sired classic winners, so Tuscan Gold is bred to improve with maturity and thrive running long. There’s long-term upside here, so keep an eye on this promising colt.

Two other maiden winners caught the eye last week. Both prevailed on Saturday at Oaklawn Park, and both could be bound for Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifiers in the future.

The first was Mr Fillip, a son of champion sprinter Mitole. Third and second in his first two starts sprinting at Remington Park and Oaklawn, Mr Fillip found the winning strategy in his third try, leading all the way to score by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:10.89. Robertino Diodoro trains the $300,000 two-year-old-in-training acquisition.

The third time was likewise the charm for Dimatic, sixth and third in his first two tries at Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds. Transitioning to Oaklawn worked wonders for the Steve Asmussen trainee, who rallied from behind splits of :23.26, :47.42, and 1:12.86 to win a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight by three lengths in 1:46.11. Perhaps we’ll see Dimatic wheel back on three weeks of rest for the Feb. 24 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn, a Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier worth 50-25-15-10-5 points to the top five finishers.