Under-the-radar Kentucky Derby contenders, volume 15

May 11th, 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.

Long Weekend

Chances are, Long Weekend will stick to sprinting this summer. Why mess with what works? The son of Majesticperfection has four wins from five starts and posted fast speed figures against quality competition in the Gazebo S. and Bachelor S., both 6-furlong dashes at Oaklawn Park this spring.

Trained by Tom Amoss, Long Weekend has an abundance of speed, coupled with the tenacity of a tiger. He was pressed every step of the way in the Bachelor — he set fractions of :21.82 and :44.97 and was never given a breather — yet he forged on down the lane to win by a head in 1:09.63.

But if Long Weekend continues to dominate the 3-year-old sprint division, it could be tempting to give him a try running long, and there is a chance he might relish the opportunity.

Though Majesticperfection was purely a sprinter, he has sired a handful of long-winded runners at stud, including Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lovely Maria. The bottom half of Long Weekend’s pedigree is also packed with stamina, which suggests longer distances could be within his capabilities.

Tap It to Win

A son of Tapit, out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Onepointhreekarats (a three-time stakes winner running a mile or farther on dirt), Tap It to Win is bred top and bottom to thrive running classic distances.

Under the care of trainer Mark Casse, Tap It to Win broke his maiden impressively at Saratoga last summer, when he pulled away to win a 6-furlong dash in 1:09.60, but his form declined sharply when he stepped up in class and distance. Last-place efforts in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Street Sense S. served as a disappointing conclusion to his juvenile campaign.

But a winter off appears to have reawakened Tap It to Win’s competitive spirit. He returned to action Saturday, in a 6-furlong Gulfstream Park allowance race for Florida-breds, and delivered a sharp performance.

Reserved right behind fractions of :22.36 and :45.09, Tap It to Win rallied smoothly down the straight to win by 1 1/2 lengths, in the snappy time of 1:09.95.

A Live Oak Plantation homebred, Tap It to Win seems destined to stretch back out in distance this summer. The postponement of the Kentucky Derby may buy him the time he needs to develop into a major player for the autumn classics.