Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 13

April 20th, 2020

A weekly look at under the radar 3-year-olds who could step up and make an impact on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

Cajun Brother

A Florida-bred son of Cajun Breeze, out of the Strong Hope mare Bella Capri Z, Cajun Brother has shown talent and promise in his first two starts.

After he battled to an upset maiden victory sprinting 6 furlongs March 14 at Gulfstream Park, the Shadybrook Farm homebred returned to action in a 6-furlong allowance sprint Thursday and had little trouble beating older rivals in decisive fashion. Sent straight to the lead by jockey Miguel Masquez, Cajun Brother carved out splits of :22.84 and :46.13, before he pulled clear in the final furlong to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:11.15.

Trained by Michael Yates, Cajun Brother is bred more like a sprinter than a route runner. Cajun Breeze was unquestionably a sprinter, and the average winning distance of his foals is just 5.4 furlongs.

On the bright side, the speed and determination Cajun Brother has demonstrated might carry him farther than his pedigree suggests.


Will Rogers Downs isn’t typically where we look for up-and-coming Kentucky Derby contenders, but 2020 is shaping up to be an odd year, and it could pay to think outside the box.

Sold for just $6,000 as a yearling, Sugoi began his career at Turfway Park, where he finished fifth in his debut and rallied to beat older rivals in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint. Trainer William Morey then shipped Sugoi to Will Rogers, where the son of Karakontie successfully transitioned from Polytrack to dirt in a 1-mile allowance race against older horses. After he tracked quick early fractions of :22.65 and :46.17, Sugoi edged clear to score by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:37.46.

Owned by KM Racing, Sugoi is on the rise and has already earned $41,016, which makes him a profitable investment for his connections.

Produced by the Devil His Due mare Timeless Spirit, Sugoi has a classy pedigree, even if it is not commercially popular. Karakontie is off to a sharp start at stud (son Sole Volante is a graded stakes winner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby), and Timeless Spirit’s three previous foals have all won multiple races. Continued improvement could be in the offing for Sugoi.