Taiba: Kentucky Derby contender profile
Following a smashing win in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Taiba will try to become the first three-year-old to win the Kentucky Derby in his third start since Leonatus in 1883. Talent isn’t a question, as Taiba overcame an adverse trip to impressively win his debut in fast time and ran down his multiple graded-stakes-winning stablemate Messier to capture the Santa Anita Derby going away by 2 1/4 lengths. The chestnut Kentucky-bred registered a co-field best 111 Brisnet Speed rating in his first stakes attempt, and Taiba looms as a serious contender if his inexperience doesn’t catch up to him.
Taiba Speed Figures
Top Brisnet Speed: 111, Santa Anita Derby
Top Brisnet Late Pace: 109, Santa Anita Derby
Sire: Gun Runner
A record-breaking leading freshman sire in 2021, Gun Runner appears poised to be a major influence in Triple Crown races. He has a pair of Kentucky Derby starters from his first crop, Taiba and Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Cyberknife, and Gun Runner finished third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby after winning the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds. Named Horse of the Year in 2017, Gun Runner is by Candy Ride, who is also the sire of champions Shared Belief and Game Winner.
Dam: Needmore Flattery
Taiba is out of Needmore Flattery, an Ohio-bred who won 14 restricted stakes at Beulah, Belterra, Mahoning Valley, and Thistledown. She’s by Flatter, a son of the great sire A.P. Indy, who was by 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
Owner: Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stables
A $1.7 million two-year-old purchase, Taiba will be the second Kentucky Derby starter for Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stables. Medina Spirit was disqualified and placed 19th last year.
Trainer: Tim Yakteen
Tim Yakteen took over training duties in late March for six-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, who is serving a 90-day suspension through early July, and Yakteen is also responsible for Santa Anita Derby runner-up Messier. They will be his first Kentucky Derby starters.
Jockey: Mike “Big Money” Smith
Along with riding 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, Mike “Big Money” Smith guided Giacomo to a 50-1 upset in the 2005 Kentucky Derby. The Hall of Famer leads jockeys with 27 Kentucky Derby starts, and he also has four seconds and a third. Smith made his first Kentucky Derby appearance in 1984.
Learn about all of the Kentucky Derby Contenders and the lead up to the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports here on TwinSpires.com