Kentucky Derby Sophomore Spotlight: Louisiana Derby, Sunland Derby

March 27th, 2018

A pair of graded races for sophomores headlined this past weekend.

Louisiana Derby (G2)

The Todd Pletcher-trained NOBLE INDY opened up a two-length edge turning for home, was passed by a pair of runners, and then gamely battled back to post a neck tally under John Velazquez. Take Charge Indy colt picked up his initial stakes triumph while getting nine furlongs in 1:50 1/5.

Noble Indy moved his lifetime mark to three-for-four and registered a lifetime-best 100 BRIS Speed figure for his efforts. I have mixed feelings about the colt, though I surely admire his courage. He has room to improve and become a real nice one with more seasoning.

LONE SAILOR made a big move to take a one-length lead in mid-stretch but fell just short in his best performance to date. Tom Amoss trainee did appear to tire inside the final furlong when drifting out some after looking like a winner. I like the colt but do question his ability to endure another furlong versus the top in his sophomore class.

MY BOY JACK, winner of the Southwest (G3) last time, came widest of all in the lane but hung a bit late in finishing a close third. Keith Desormeaux pupil proved that his Oaklawn score was no fluke when rallying from last in the Louisiana Derby, finishing more than seven lengths clear of his nearest foe.

Son of Creative Cause has posted 106 and 101 Late Pace figures most recently, though his lack of early interest is a concern of mine.

SNAPPER SINCLAIR and BRAVAZO were the disappointments to me in the field, mustering just fifth- and eighth-place finishes, respectively. While I admire each of the three-year-olds, this was not an ideal prep race in late March for either of the duo.

While the Louisiana Derby featured a competitive field and was a thrilling race, none of these sophomores left a huge impression upon me.

Sunland Derby (G3)

Joe Peacock's homebred RUNAWAY GHOST swept to the lead with ease at the top of the lane and cruised home an emphatic, 2 3/4-length victor. Todd Fincher trainee has been sharp with a pair of stakes wins from three races this season. Son of Ghostzapper was super impressive visually and I am intrigued by the bay.

Runaway Ghost always looked like he was full of run while traveling widest every step of the way, and pilot Tracy Hebert didn't get into him a whole lot inside the final furlong. I would love to see Runaway Ghost ship east to run in April.

DREAM BABY DREAM made a solid run in the stretch to be a very good second, six lengths clear of third. Steve Asmussen trainee still owns just a maiden win and can't be considered a Kentucky Derby contender at this stage.

The same can be said about the other 10 horses in the field.

Runaway Ghost dominated what appeared to be a decent field on paper and is a horse on the rise. This result does not yet put him with his more accomplished three-year-old classmates, but if he can produce another effort of this magnitude, it will be time to take Runaway Ghost seriously.

(Coady Photography)