Kentucky Derby Top 10: Baffert unveils potential star

January 20th, 2020

The 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner may have been in action last weekend.

On Sunday five-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert unveiled Nadal in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden sprint at Santa Anita. A massive son of Blame, Nadal brought an eye-catching string of workouts to his debut and lived up to expectations with a powerful, 3 3/4-length victory.

Nadal wasn’t the only sophomore to post an eye-catching win over the weekend. Blackberry Wine brought his record on dirt to 2-for-3 with a gritty allowance victory at Fair Grounds.

Where do Nadal and Blackberry Wine rank in my latest Kentucky Derby Top 10? The answer might surprise you.

1. Nadal

Although he broke a step slow in his debut, Nadal recovered to carve out testing fractions of :21.88, :44.91, and 1:09.47, on his way to a final time of 1:15.82. This was a fast effort over the slow track at Santa Anita, and Nadal finished strong. As a son of Blame, out of a Pulpit mare, Nadal is bred to thrive over classic distances, which makes his eye-catching sprint debut all the more impressive.

2. Blackberry Wine

Blackberry Wine showed talent and grit in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race Saturday at Fair Grounds. After he raced to the front—and posted fractions of :24.20, :48.40, and 1:12.89—Blackberry Wine was passed at the top of the lane by 3-2 shot Digital. But Blackberry Wine had something left in the tank. He covered the fourth quarter-mile in :23.91 and the final sixteenth in :06.42 to reclaim the lead and prevail by a length. His final time of 1:43.22 was a half-second faster than the winning time in the Lecomte (G3) later that afternoon, so expect to see Blackberry Wine pop up in a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race next time out.

3. Anneau d’Or

He returned to the work tab on Friday, when he clocked 5 furlongs in 1:00 4/5 at Golden Gate Fields. He was equipped with blinkers for the work, a change I’m excited to see, since Anneau d’Or has had trouble finishing off his runs and could probably use a little more focus.

4. Thousand Words

Thousand Words cranked out a fast half-mile work in :47 2/5 Jan. 13, though workmate Paint Me Lucky—a 0-for-5 maiden—had his measure down the lane and finished the distance in :47 flat.

5. Maxfield

His victory in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) was flattered when distant third-place finisher Enforceable won the Lecomte (G3) on Saturday.

6. Storm the Court

He continues to train forwardly at Santa Anita, where he clocked 5 furlongs in 1:00 1/5 Sunday. The Feb. 9 San Vicente (G2), a 7-furlong sprint at Santa Anita, has been mentioned as a potential target.

7. Tiz the Law

Tiz the Law traveled to Gulfstream Park for a 5-furlong workout Sunday, and he casually breezed the distance in 1:01.55. This drill will give him some familiarity with the Gulfstream surface before he returns to action in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull (G3).

8. Authentic

He got back on the work tab Wednesday with an easy half-mile in :49 3/5 at Santa Anita. With so many potential Derby contenders in Baffert’s barn, juggling their schedules and keeping them separated will be a challenge.

9. Dennis’ Moment

The form of his Iroquois (G3) victory took another hit Saturday, when runner-up Scabbard finished fourth as the favorite in the Lecomte (G3). On the bright side, Dennis’ Moment has returned to serious training at Gulfstream, with a couple half-mile workouts this month, and he’ll get a chance to enhance form in the Feb. 29 Fountain of Youth (G2).

10. As Seen On Tv

Just 12 days after his gutsy, runner-up effort in the Mucho Macho Man S., As Seen On Tv rocketed 5 furlongs in a bullet 1:00.65 at Palm Meadows. This stoutly bred son of Lookin At Lucky is turning into quite a racehorse and could give Tiz the Law a fight if they meet in the Holy Bull.