Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch: Winners in Florida and New York

February 12th, 2024

Two-time Kentucky Derby (G1)-winning trainer Todd Pletcher continues to add to his roster of contenders for the 2024 Run for the Roses.

Last Saturday, a pair of Pletcher-trained three-year-olds broke their maidens. Both have been nominated to the Triple Crown and could turn up on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

At Tampa Bay Downs, on the undercard of the Sam F. Davis (G3), Heartened beat five rivals in a one-mile and 40-yard contest. After cracking the trifecta in his first three starts sprinting on dirt and running long on turf, the son of Street Boss appreciated tackling a dirt route, tracking the early pace before taking over and kicking clear to win by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:39.91.

The fourth time was likewise the charm for Pletcher’s Eliminate, a son of two-time Horse of the Year and elite sire Curlin. Third, third, and fourth in his first three starts while facing rivals like Holy Bull (G3) runner-up Domestic Product and the promising Deterministic, Eliminate found the competition easier in Saturday’s 6 1/2-furlong sprint, rallying from last place in a field of five to prevail by one length in 1:18.32. It’s worth mentioning the runner-up pulled 11 1/2 lengths clear of the third-place finisher.

The following afternoon at Aqueduct, Saint Gaudens posted an eye-catching triumph in a one-mile maiden special weight. A son of Into Mischief (who has already sired Kentucky Derby winners Authentic and Mandaloun), Saint Gaudens isn’t currently nominated to the Triple Crown, but perhaps four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will change that before the next nomination deadline.

Saint Gaudens showed little when finishing fifth on debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct, but he improved dramatically in his second start, pressing fractions of :23.62 and :47.70 before taking over to dominate by 6 1/2 lengths in 1:39.59. The bay colt is progressing in the right direction and could be an intriguing contender for the March 2 Gotham (G3) or April 6 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct.

We’ll wrap with a mention of Beeline, who debuted with a flashy performance in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The son of Metropolitan H. (G1) winner Bee Jersey carved out an opening quarter in :22.06, got headed through half a mile in :44.90, and then found another gear to draw off and score by 3 3/4 lengths. He finished up nicely (final furlong in :12.53) to record a winning time of 1:09.74, so perhaps trainer Riley Mott will make Beeline a late nominee to the Triple Crown.